Recently I wrote a short refutation of AcharyaS’ defence of Zeitgeist. For anyone who would like a better refutation, I am posting a video refutation which was produced by the webmasters of Zeitgeist Challenge which goes into better detail that I do.
Most probably, if you are familiar with the “Christ-Myth” hypothesis then you probably have heard of anti-Christian author Acharya S (whose real name is Dorthy M. Murdock.) She was one of the main sources for the first part of Zeitgeist, the Movie as can be seen by the sources in the film’s transcript. She is the author of many books entitles The Christ Conspiracy and Sons of God. Much of her arguments can be accessed on her website Truth Be Known.
In a YouTube Video she takes it upon herself to “respond” to the debunking of Zeitgeist. She then says that despite claims that Zeitgeist, Part one has been debunked “the facts continue to to demonstrate otherwise.” The then complains that many of the refutations of the film have been directed largely at her. I cannot speak for all the other debunkers of Zeitgeist, but my fourteen part refutation of Zeitgeist doesn’t mention her even once. Also, my personal investigation of the facts has lead me to the conclusion that Zeitgeist is rooted in false claims.
Next Ms. Murdock makes the claim that the “detractors” whether theist or atheist didn’t study her work. — This claim is false. — R. G. Price, an Atheist who read her book Suns of God is very critical of her works calling it “bogus.” (See “Critical Reviewof Acharya S’ The Suns of God“). Also, Christian Apologist Mike Licona, who read her other book entitled The Christ Conspiracy effectively shows many flaws in her works. (Click here and here)
Ms. Murdock then makes the claim that her claims presented in Zeitgeist are not available to us because of the dangers in the past of losing their lives. She also claims that there is “deliberate censorship” of the facts by many encyclopedias. This is a quite an excuse she uses to inoculate herself against any independent research that refutes her. She is basically saying “Any investigation you do will not matter because I know more than you. So uncrittically take my word for it.” — If what she says were true, then at the very least there shouldn’t be any information in the sources that contradict her. But my investigation of Zeitgeist shows there are tons of contradictory evidences so her point is completely false.
To help make her point, she shows pictures of the inquisition while claiming that is why a lot of evidence has been silenced. The problem is that even if the inquisition silenced information about Pagan European gods, in her books she includes Oriental gods such as Krishna and Buddha on her list of Christ-like gods. — The truth is the inquisition didn’t reach all the way to India, China and Japan so according to her logic there should be an abundant amount of information which backs her up in this case, but there isn’t any.
Attis and Jesus
She then goes into certain paralels between Pagan gods and Jesus. As an example she mentions the god Attis. — To prove her point of a parallel she cites Professor A.T. Fear who contributed a chapter to the book entitled Attis and Related Cults. She claims that in the chapter entitled “Cybele and Christ” Professor Fear claims that Attis was killed and resurrected after three days during a celebration that depicts his resurrection out of a tomb.
As far as her claim claim goes, it is true (page 39) however the problem here is that Professor A.T. Fear, in the long run, does not support what Ms. Murdock is claiming. The ceremony that Dr. Fear describes is from a major festival of the metroac cult. But later he points out that this very cult had gone through changes which could have been “a deliberate attempt to rival Christianity” to ensure the cult’s survival in the market. (Page 44)
As a matter of fact, about the resurrection of Attis he says,
Attis too with his strong emphasis on resurrection seems to be a late-comer to the cult, the stress on the Halaria as celebrating the resurrection of Attis also appears to increase at the beginning of the Fourth century AD. : the same time as in the taurobolium towards the rite of personal redemption.
While these changes could simply be a mutation of religion over time, and it is important to remember that here we are discussing a period of centuries not merely years, they do seem to have been provoked by a need to respond to the challenge of Christianity. (Attis and Related Cults, pages 41, 42)
Dr. Fear does question whether the process of changing the Attis cult was conscious, but he never even implies that Jesus was influenced by Attis. He says that the Attis cult either mutated or that it responded to Christianity. — This completely contradicts what Ms. Murdock claims that he wrote. She misrepresented his views. Dr. Fear is implying that Christianity may have influenced Attis, not the other way around, if indeed one influenced the other. — Why didn’t she mention this? Obviously because it would have demolished her point.
The Day of Halaria, the Day of Joy of the festival (on March 25th) mentioned by Ms. Murdock in relationship to Attis’ “resurrection” was actually a post-Christian addition which was added to the festival either during the reign of Emperor Antoninus Pius or even later. This means the earliest the “resurrection” day was added is the year 138 AD. Also, the “three days of mourning” of Attis’ death were added by the Emperor Claudius between who reigned between 41 and 54 AD. (Text link) All of these days of the festival being post-Christian, this fact refutes Ms. Murdock’s insinuation that the festival of Attis’ “resurrection” influenced Christianity.
Krishna born of a virgin?
Next, she mentions Krishna and repeats the claim that his mother, Devaki, was a virgin. She defends the claim saying that it is only not widely known and on that ground alone is considered to therefore be wrong. She then quotes Philo of Alexandria (a Jewish historian) to prove her point. Assuming that the reference attributed does exist (I cannot find it) I still do not buy into the idea that we should depend on him so heavily on a subject that, chances are, he would not have known so mush about.
Unlike Ms. Murdock’s claims, the idea of Devaki’s virginity at Krishna’s birth is not assumed false because it is mostly unknown. I call the claim false because it contradicts basic Hindu tradition! Krishna was the youngest of a total of eight children that his mother had. (click here) So the fact is that there is no chance his mother was a virgin.
Is December 25th relevant?
Ms. Murdock goes on to mention that Christian apologists (like me) dismiss December 25th as being irrelevant to Christianity. But then she argues,
However, since the fourth century when this winter solstice celebration was designated as Christ’s birthday hundreds of millions of people have been taught that December 25th is the date of Christ’s birth. And hundreds of millions continue to celebrate that date every year. Indeed, Christian preachers today still insist that Jesus Christ is “the reason for the season.” Furthermore, in 2007, the United States House of Representatives passed house resolution 847 officially declaring December 25thto be the Birthday of Jesus Christ. Raising up this issue about the birthday of the Sun (S-U-N) is therefore entirely legitimate.
This argument is one that no intellectually honest person would ever give. Ms. Murdock apparently thinks that because Christians started to celebrate Christmas on December 25th in the 4th century AD and because the U.S. Congress officially declared it in 2007 that this makes the date relevant to the origins of Christianity. — The problem with her logic is obvious: If the practices indeed date so long after Christ, then they are irrelevant to Christ and Christianity, period!
The date of December 25thas Christ’s birthday is also completely contradictory of the Biblical account of Jesus’ birth. Luke 2: 8 says that during the night of Jesus’ birth shepherds were out in the fields. This would not be so if Jesus were born in the winter. This is proof beyond the shaddow of a doubt that the date hase no relevancy and later practices which Ms. Murdock appeals to cannot change this fact.
After this she says that when Christians say that this date is not Christ’s birthday that we prove her point that Jesus is not the reason for the season. — This shows that Murdock has no understanding of why Christians celebrate Christmas at all. It’s not the date that’s important, but the event.
The Three Kings
Ms. Murdock brings up the subject of the “three kings” in the Gospel of Matthew. In arguing against claims that they are not numbered as three she points out the gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. She argues that since there are three kinds of gifts that therefore there must be “three kings.”
Just because there were three kinds of gifts, that doesn’t necessarily mean that there were only three gifts and therefore only three magi. — There could have been five magi which gave the same three gifts. Or there could have been six. There are many ways that this can work out. Three so therefore three is just an irrelevant oversimplification.
She then tries to connect the three stars in the belt of Orion with the “three” wise men. She says that “Christian tradition” calls the three stars “the magi.” — Notice she says that it is “Christian tradition.” In other words, later tradition which has no bearing on the origins of Christianity.
The truth is they are not called “kings” in Matthew, but rather “wise men” or “magi.” However, she misleadingly uses all three terms interchangeably to insinuate her point even though they cannot be used as such. (For a good discussion, click here)
Basically, her defence of Zeitgeist is just a rehashing of refuted claims and, in many ways, is a defence of herself (which I do not see the point in answering.) Even though she claims that the facts have not refuted Zeitgeist, there is no reason to accept her claim. The fact is that most of the claimed parallels between Jesus and other gods are superficial or false.
Her claims that many of her critics have not studies her writtings are also wrong, as earlier I have linked crituiques of skeptics of her books, both a theist and and atheist.
Her further claims that the information that backs her up is hidden and censured seems like an attempt to neutralize any research by both real experts and laymen which falsifies her far-fetched claims. When I hear her say that, what I really hear is “Don’t ask questions or worry about the facts. Just believe me.” And unfortunately, that’s what her gullible disciples do.
After making its list of unsubstantiated claims that Christianity was copied from other Pagan religions it Zeitgeist then accuses it of fraud and of demanding blind obedience,
Christianity, along with all other theistic belief systems, is the fraud of the age. It served to detach the species from the natural world, and likewise, each other. It supports blind submission to authority. It reduces human responsibility to the effect that “God” controls everything, and in turn awful crimes can be justified in the name of Divine Pursuit. And most importantly, it empowers those who know the truth but use the myth to manipulate and control societies.
These are very popular anti-Christian claims which are also completely false. — The claim that Christianity is “the fraud of the age” is a very daring statement, but one that Zeitgeist has been unable to prove. I cannot prove that Christianity is the one true religion, but since I have been able to refute virtually all of the claims made in Zeitgeist against the origins of Christianity here, there is a much stronger case against Zeitgeist as the real fraud.
The claim that Christianity “blind authority to authority” is a popular (but false) stereotype among Atheists and “Christ-Mythers.” — It is true that Jesus Christs want obedience, but it is by no means “blind submission.” In John 14: 15, Jesus himself says “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” Since he told us why then by definition, submission to Christ is not “blind.” He wants obedience out of our love for him, not out of blindness. Zeitgeist is completely misrepresenting the definition of Christian submission.
Its claim that Christianity justifies crimes in the name of the name of “Divine Persuit” is disproven by the very obvious fact that Jesus and Paul taught love and not violence. There is no truly Christian justification for any crime against humanity.
Contrary to what it claims, the crucifixion of Jesus is unique to Christianity alone. Hardly any other gods that Zeitgeist mentions, with the exception of Attis, were born of virgins. Attis’ case, yet, is so different from Jesus’ that it is naive to claim a connection. Research in neutral sources is enough to disprove most (if not all) of Zeitgeist’s claims.
My final conclusion of Zeitgeist, the Movie, in its representation (or rather misrepresentation) of the origins of Christianity and of other religions makes it guilty of fraud and deliberate distortion of the facts in order to advance its anti-Religion agenda.
After making the unsubtantiated as well as refutable claim that Jesus never existed (refuted here), Zeitgeist then repeats a very popular claim in the “Jesus Myth” crowd about the so-called Council of Nicea (or Nicaea),
It was the political establishment that sought to historize the Jesus figure for social control. By 325 a.d. in Rome, emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicea. It was during this meeting that the politically motivated Christian Doctrines were established and thus began a long history of Christian bloodshed and spiritual fraud. And for the next 1600 years, the Vatican maintained a political stranglehold on all of Europe, leading to such joyous periods as the Dark Ages, along with enlightening events such as the Crusades, and the Inquisition.
Zeitgeist claims that the Council of Nicea was was convened for two reasons: 1) for social control and 2) to establish the Christian doctrines. The problem with the first claim is that there is little or no evidence to support the charge that the council was for social control. — And as for the second claim, there were no doctrines established at the council of Nicea.
The Encyclopedia of the Orient says that the main purpose for the Council was the concern caused by the Heretic Arius who questioned the already Christian belief that Jesus was equal to God the father. He believed that Jesus was more than a man, but that he was created by God therefore making him inferior to the Father God, not quite human or divine.
The Catholic Encyclopedia points out that the vast majority of Bishops present at the council were believers in the equality of Jesus to the father so this particular doctrine was not “established” at the council as Zeitgeist would have us believe. More accurately, it was affirmed.
Other than dealing with the deity of Jesus Christ, there were other less important issues that were dealt with such as the establishment of Easter and the prohibition of self castration. — None of these are “doctrines,” but rather side-issues. So it turns out that the assertions that Zeitgeist makes are just more examples of “garbage in, garbage out.”
Next, Zeitgeist blames the Vatican for the “Dark Ages” and dates the start of that period from the year of the council of Nicea (325 AD) and claims it lasted for 1,600 years. — This claim shows how uninformed the film makers are. First of all, if the Dark Ages lasted for that long from 325 AD, then they would have ended in about 1925. Obviously this is not true.
The truth is the Dark Ages (or the Early Middle Ages) are actually dated from the 5th century to the late eleventh century, around 600 years . Zeitgeist is not even close. Also, contrary to the film’s claims, the Vatican cannot be blamed for the Dark Ages. — The History Channel points out that,
No one definitive event marks the end of antiquity and the beginning of the Middle Ages. Neither the sack of Rome by the Goths under Alaric I in 410 nor the deposition in 476 of Romulus Augustulus, the last Roman emperor in the West, impressed their contemporaries as epoch-making catastrophes.
It goes on to describe other causes such as the invasion of Rome by Germanic tribes, severe economic problems, and the 300 years of primitive culture in the European society. Christianity and the Vatican cannot be fully blamed for the Dark Ages, much less the Council of Nicea.
As for blaming Christianity itself for the Crusades, it should be emphasized that what happened then actually goes against Christian ethics. But a major and little known fact is that Christians do not deserve all (or even most) of the blame for the Crusades. — Thomas F. Madden, Associate Professor of History at Saint Louis University in his essay about the Crusades points out that there are a lot of misconceptions about what happened in the Crusades,
For starters, the Crusades to the East were in every way defensive wars. They were a direct response to Muslim aggression—an attempt to turn back or defend against Muslim conquests of Christian lands. Christians in the eleventh century were not paranoid fanatics. Muslims really were gunning for them.
Why doesn’t Zeitgeist mention this? Because it doesn’t fit with the film maker’s agenda to prove Christianity is evil. The fact is that neither Christianity or Catholicism can be completely blamed for the “Holy Crusades.” They certainly were innocent of the provocation, in the first place any way.
As for the Inquisition, it goes completely against Christian teaching. Jesus himself would never have condoned such a thing. There is no justification (or anything that can be construed as a justification) in the New Testament for the persecution of non-Christians and heretics. There is no question that the images of Jesus and the Cross have been abused in history, but that is no reason to judge Christianity in such a negative way.
As Zeitgeist nears the end of part 1, it then calls the historicity of Jesus into question by saying not a single historian mentions Jesus. It then goes on to say,
Four historians are typically referenced to justify Jesus’s existence. Pliny the younger, Suetonius, Tacitus and the first three. Each one of their entries consists of only a few sentences at best and only refer to the Christus or the Christ, which in fact is not name but a title. It means the “Anointed one”. The fourth source is Josephus and this source has been proven to be a forgery for hundreds of years. Sadly, it is still sited as truth.
The film says that the first three historians mentioned only use the term “Christus,” or the “Christ,” and then goes on to say that it is only a title and not a name. — No Christian denies that Christ is a title. But it seems that the impression Zeitgeist is tying to give is that this “Christ” could be someone other than Jesus.
If that is the impression it is trying to give, then it is guilty of yet more deliberate distortions because at least one of then, Tacitus, is more specific as to what happened with “Christ” and his followers,
He [Nero] falsely charged with the guilt, and punished Christians, who were hated for their enormities. Christus, the founder of the name, was put to death by Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea in the reign of Tiberius: but the pernicious superstition, repressed for a time broke out again, not only through Judea, where the mischief originated, but through the city of Rome also, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular.
It is obvious to anyone who reads this that Tacitus is talking about the followers of Jesus. But there are some objections made by the “Jesus Myth” crowd against the use of this passage.
One is that it is not cited by Tertullian, or any other early Christian apologist to support their faith. The conclusion therefore many “Christ-Mythers” reach is that it is probably a later Christian forgery. — My answer to this objection is that no Christian apologist in the early Christian church cited it because there would have been no point to it because the passage is very anti-Christian and insinuates that Christians were guilty of heinous crimes,
Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.
Tacitus’ passage reflects the early Roman misconception of Christians being Atheists and Cannibals, exactly what the early Christians were trying to defend themselves against. So it would have made no sense at all for any early Christian to use Tacitus to defend the Christian faith. Also it is unlikely that the passage is a Christian interpolation because of its anti-Christian bias.
One argument is that Tacitus probably didn’t have primary sources for his personal information about Jesus himself. This suggests that Tacitus only uncritically accepted what others said as gospel without investigation. This, however, goes against Tacitus’ way of dealing with history. He actually reported hear-say and rumors for what they were around seventy times. He didn’t just uncritically accept anything.
One of many examples of Tacitus reporting his skepticism of a certain event is found in The Annals 15: 53 where he calls information he received from his friend Pliny the younger “absurd.” — Considering the fact that Tacitus was a critical historian, there is no reason to believe that he would all of a sudden throw away his standards just for this one passage mentioning Jesus.
Even with the unlikely event that Tacitus accepted the mention of Jesus without any investigation of the facts, he would have had much clearer knowledge of the “immense multitude” of Roman Christians which Nero had used as scapegoats. — The time of Nero’s persecution of Christians in 64 AD would have been close enough to the time of Jesus for any extremely early critic of Christianity to credibly claim that Jesus had never existed. Interestingly enough, that never happened because more than likely, Tacitus himself as well as any Christian hater would have reported it.
The next historian that has been cited to support the existence of Jesus is Flavius Josephus. — A famous passage in Josephus’ works known as the Testimonium Flavianum is often appealed to for mentioning Jesus as a worker of great deeds and as a very wise man. (Antiquities of the Jews, 18.63-64) — The problem with the passage is that it uses terminology that a dedicated Jew would never use. For example, it insinuates that Jesus was more than a man and also says, “He was the Christ.” It then goes on to say that after being dead for three days he was then resurrected.
However, the claim that Zeitgeist makes by saying that this passage “has been proven to be a forgery for hundreds of years” is actually am oversimplification. It is not that simple. — Livius.org, a website which specializes in ancient history in its discussion on the Testimonium Flavianum states,
Some argued that we had to admit that Flavius Josephus had become a Christian; others maintained that it was made up by some Byzantine monk who copied the Jewish Antiquities. The latter explanation can be ruled out because a more or less identical text had been found in an Arabian translation of a part of the Jewish Antiquities. In 1991, John Meier has suggested that Josephus did in fact mention Jesus, but that the text was glossed by a Christian author.
Scholars do not seem to object to the idea that Josephus actually mentioned Jesus. Where the objection lies is that there are detailes in the passage that would not likely have been used by a non-Christian Jew who was still awaiting the Messiah. — Personally, I believe the first option mentioned can be ruled out as well since there is no evidence that Josephus converted to Christianity. Basically in this case, it appears that secular scholars and Christian apologists (like J. P. Holding) are largely in agreement that the passage is authentic with later interpolations.
Other than the Testimonium, there is another passage that mentions Jesus in passing,
Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still upon the road. So Ananus assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of that Jesus who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some of his companions. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned. (Antiquities 20, 200)
The basic objection that the “Jesus Myth” crowd brings up is that Josephus uses the term “was called Christ” in association with Jesus. — However, Glenn Miller did a word study of the term used for “was called.” He concluded that the term used in Josephus’ passage “λεγόμενος” (pronounced as “legomenos”) was just a general term for naming without determining accuracy of the name. — Not to make simply an appeal to authority, I looked at how this term was used in the New Testament and it seemed to confirm what Glenn Miller argues (click here, and here).
Also Jeffery Jay Lowder, a skeptic of Christianity and a co-founder of Infidels.org, agrees and admits that Josephus’ terminology in this particular passage is “noncommittal” and is the strongest argument for the authenticity of the passage. (Text link) And although he considers many of the usually cited passages referring to Jesus as “inconclusive” he says in the conclusion that “the writings of Josephus also provide two independent, authentic references to Jesus.”
Robert E. Van Voorst, Professor of New Testament Studies, in his book “Jesus Outside the New Testament“ on pages 83 and 84 affirms that,
The overwhelming majority of scholars holds that the words “the brother of Jesus called Christ” are authentic, as is the entire passage in which it is found. [ . . . ] A Christian interpolator would have used laudatory language to describe James and especially Jesus, calling him “the Lord” or something similar. At least, [ . . . ] he would have used the term “Christ” in an absolute way. Josephus’s words “called Christ” are neutral and descriptive, intended neither to confess nor deny Jesus as the “Christ.”
Professor Voorst’s basic points are that the passage which mentions both Jesus and James in passing does not fit the profile of how a Christian interpolator would tamper with the text of Josephus. Such an interpolator would have used Christian language to describe James as “the brother of the Lord” like the Apostle Paul does instead of simply calling him “the brother of Jesus.” Also, the term used to describe Jesus doesn’t either affirm or deny Jesus’ role as the Messiah or Christ. The term is neutral, and no Christian interpolator wanting to show Jesus was the undisputed Christ would have been satisfied with such neutrality.
Louis H. Feldman, another higly credentialed Josephus scholar, confirms the Josephus passage “has generally been accepted as authentic.” He points out that if the passage indeed is an interpolation, then the forger would have had to be extremely careful not to contradict anything else Josephus said. (Josephus, the Bible, and History page 434) — These statements show that the authenticity of this particular passage confirming the existence of Jesus is heavily supported.
Another fact that supports the authenticity of the passage is that neither Jesus or James are even the focus of the passage — The High Priest Ananus is. This fact is also inconsistent with the hypothesis that this passage was tampered with by Christian copyists.
Lastly, a major objection used by the “Jesus Myth” crowd is that even if these passages were authentic that doesn’t mean that they are reliable because they were written decades after Jesus lived. The problem is with this kind of logic we would therefore throw out a lot of known history because a good amount of what he know comes from historians such as Herodotus and Xenophon who wrote their historical accounts decades and even centuries after the events they describe. But no reputable historian would ever make the claim that because they are not first hand accounts that therefore they are not authentic.
Even though Josephus was born in 37 AD, about six years after the death of Jesus, he was alive when the event he covers in his second passage was happening. He was writing about the stoning of James which historians believe happened in 62 AD, when Josephus would have been twenty-five years of age. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, page 53) There is therefore no reason why Josephus wouldn’t have had good information about this event about a man known as the brother of Jesus. – If the name was known, then almost certainly so was the man.
The truth is, whether or not the makers of Zeitgeist, the Movie or any other “Jesus-Myther” wants to admit it, the evidence leans towards the existence of Jesus being a fact which is supported by non-Biblical evidence given by Josephus. To say otherwise is to fly in the face of the best current scholarship. Attempts by “Jesus-Mythers” to show otherwise are only based on prejudice and wishful thinking.
As pointed out before, Zeitgeist makes several claims that Jesus is both an imitation of Pagan gods and a solar deity. These claims are easily refuted. However the film then ties the Old Testament story of Joseph to Jesus claiming that the former was a “prototype” for the latter,
In the Old Testament there’s the story of Joseph. Joseph was a prototype for Jesus. Joseph was born of a miracle birth, Jesus was born of a miracle birth. Joseph was of 12 brothers, Jesus had 12 disciples. Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver, Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver. Brother “Judah” suggests the sale of Joseph, disciple “Judas” suggests the sale of Jesus. Joseph began his work at the age of 30, Jesus began his work at the age of 30. The parallels go on and on.
The first problem here is the association of Joseph’s birth with Jesus’. They cannot be placed on par with each other even though Joseph’s birth could be seen as a miracle because at first she had trouble conceiving. But that is debatable. — His mother Rachel was not a virgin at the time of his birth.
In the comparing the 12 brothers to the 12 disciples, Zeitgeist uses tricky logic to fool the viewers. The distinction here is that Joseph is included among the twelve brothers, meaning he had 11. — Applying the same tricky (but faulty) logic, Zeitgeist should therefore include Jesus among his disciples (as it does with Joseph) therefore making 13. I’ll give you three guesses as to why Zeitgeist doesn’t apply the same standard in both cases.
Even if someone wanted to see the 12 brothers/disciples as a relevant parallel between Jesus and Joseph, there is still one fact that doesn’t help Zeitgeist’s case: The twelve brothers became the ancestors of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus seems to have taken this into account when he chose his disciples though he doesn’t say it point blank. (Matthew 19: 28 ) — If Jesus deliberately chose twelve to correlate to the twelve tribes then this should not be surprising.
It is true that Judah suggested selling Joseph, but most of Joseph’s brothers were also in on it, with the exception of Ruben who wanted to save him and Benjamin who wasn’t present (Genesis 37: 29, 30). In the New Testament Judas Iscariot was the only betrayer of Jesus. Also there is no indication that Judas Iscariot “suggested” the transaction. — It’s more like he was bribed into it.
It is true that Jesus was thirty years old when he began his ministry (Luke 3: 23). But the biggest and most obvious mistake that Zeitgeist makes is saying that Joseph “began his work at the age of 30” like Jesus. All the Bible says was that he entered the Pharaoh’s service at age thirty (Genesis 41: 46) but as for his “work,” he was more known as an interpreter of dreams which started at age 17.
Also, apparently in his twenties he was put in charge of running a prison (Genesis 39: 22) and before that he ran Potiphar’s house hold (Genesis 39: 6). — The bottom line is that there was a lot of “work” that Joseph did before he was 30 years old that it cannot be rightfully said that that was when he started.
As for the claims that the parallels between Joseph and Jesus go on and on, they do not! — What are being shown as parallels are based on either faulty or ticky logic. The fact is that even non-Christians do not buy into Zeitgeist’s parallels between Jesus and Joseph (Click here and here).
After making several assertions that Christianity is a plagiarization of pagan gods, myths and religions, Zeitgeist then makes the claim that the earliest Christian apologists were aware of the similarities and that they apparently tried to explain them away,
Justin Martyr, one of the first Christian historians and defenders, wrote: “When we say that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was produced without sexual union, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into Heaven, we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those who you esteem Sons of Jupiter.” In a different writing, Justin Martyr said “He was born of a virgin, accept this in common with what you believe of Perseus.”
Justin Martyr was a second century Christian apologist that wrote extensively to defend Christianity from popular demonizing myths. To defend Christianity to the Emperor Antoninus Pius, Justin wrote the the First Apology in which he refuted the myth that Christianity was atheistic and also argued in favor of its superiority to Pagan religions. (After Jesus: The Triumph of Christianity, Page 140)
The first quote that is cited which comes from Justin Martyr is taken from First Apology 21, though I use a different translation than Zeitgeist,
In saying that the Word, who is the first offspring of God, was born for us without sexual union, as Jesus Christ our Teacher, and that he was crucified and died and after rising again ascended into heaven we introduce nothing new beyond [what you say of] those whom you call sons of Zeus.
Justin later lists the sons of Zeus as Hermes, Asclepius (or Asclepios) and Dionysus — There are several problems with his examples, the most prominent one being that none of them were were born without sexual union.
According to Greek Mythology, the mother of Hermes, Maia “went up into his [Zeus’] holy bed” and afterwards she bore her son. — As for the second example, the mother of Asclepius, who was named Kronis, was “loved by the god Apollon” and she got pregnant with her child. Asclepius’ birth was just as sexual as yours and mine. He was also the son of Apollon, not of Zeus as seems to be indicated by Justin Martyr. — And as for Dionysis, in my fourth post I have already disputed the false claim that he was born of a virgin. Zeus has sexual relations in secret with Semele, Dionysus’ mother and that was how he was born.
Interestingly enough, in this particular quote stops right there and ignores what Justin continues to say. He mentions how these Greco-Roman gods are said to have died,
You know how many sons of Zeus the writers whom you honor speak of—Hermes, the hermeneutic Word and teacher of all; Asclepius, who was also a healer and after being struck by lightning ascended into heaven—as did Dionysus who was torn in pieces; Heracles, who to escape his torments threw himself into the fire; the Dioscuri born of Leda and Perseus of Danae; and Bellerophon who, though of human origin, rode on the [divine] horse Pegasus.
This is actually different than what Zeitgeist would have you believe. What the film is doing is giving the impression that Justin was admitting that other Pagan gods were crucified like Jesus. He is clearly saying that they did indeed die, but he gives different details which are unlike the Passion of Jesus. — If Zeitgeist had included this in its quotation of Justin Martyr then it would have demolished its point.
Also, in Chapter 22 of First Apology, Justin makes certain similar statements comparing Jesus to the same Greek gods,
If somebody objects that he was crucified, this is in common with the sons of Zeus, as you call them, who suffered, as previously listed. Since their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different, so his unique passion should not seem to be any worse—indeed I will, as I have undertaken, show, as the argument proceeds, that he was better; for he [Jesus] is shown to be better by his actions.
When one begins to read this, the first part seems to confirm Zeitgeist’s claims that Pagan deities were crucified. However when you read on Justin says that “their fatal sufferings are narrated as not similar but different.” — He goes on to call Jesus’ passion “unique.” In fact, Justin is saying through chapters 21 through 29 that Jesus is superior to the others. The reasons why Zeitgeist didn’t include this quote in the film is obvious: They would have demolished their own case.
— Also, to make matters worse for Zeitgeist’s claims, Justin says point blank (in First Apology 55) that none of these gods was crucified like Jesus.
As for the second quote that Zeitgeist gives (which is from First Apology 22) the film quotes a comparison of Jesus with Perseus,
If we declare that he [Jesus] was born of a virgin, you should consider this something in common with Perseus.
This quote, like the other, is a favorite of the “Jesus-Myth” crowd. But unfortunately for them, this statement does not hold water when one researches Perseus. — The second century BC Greek historian Apollodorus describes the birth of Perseus (The Library 2,4,1) as such,
However, she [Danae, Perseus’ mother] was seduced, as some say, by Proetus, whence arose the quarrel between them; but some say that Zeus had intercourse with her in the shape of a stream of gold which poured through the roof into Danae’s lap. When Acrisius afterwards learned that she had got a child Perseus, he would not believe that she had been seduced by Zeus.
The Primary Greek sources clearly say that Danae gave birth to her son, Perseus, through sexual relations. The description of sex may be odd to us, but according to the story it is still sexual.
So basically, when Justin Martyr claims that Perseus was born of a virgin like Jesus himself as he implies is the case with other gods, he is actually exaggerating the whole thing. The primary Greek sources actually say the opposite. — So much for Jesus-Mythers that use these passages by Justin to show that he knew Christianity to be basically the same as paganism.
The film Zeitgeist continues to say,
It’s obvious that Justin and other early Christians knew how similar Christianity was to the Pagan religions. However, Justin had a solution. As far as he was concerned, the Devil did it. The Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.
I think I’ve already adequately shown that Justin Martyr had exaggerated similarities between Jesus and the other religions (i.e., the virgin birth) so that point is moot.
The claim that Zeitgeist makes that Justin claimed that the Devil pre-Copied Christianity and the New Testament is completely false. He never said that. — What he didsay was that when the the Hebrew prophets wrote down their prophesies about the Christ, the demons immitated them and got them all wrong,
When they [wicked demons] heard it predicted through the prophets that Christ was to come, and that impious men would be punished by fire, they put forward a number of so-called sons of Zeus, thinking that they could thus make men suppose that what was said about Christ was a mere tale of wonders like the stories told by the poets. [ . . . ] But, as I will make clear, though they heard the words of the prophets they did not understand them accurately, but made mistakes in imitating what was told about our Christ. (First Apology 54)
From here it can be seen that Justin Martyr never claimed that “the Devil had the foresight to come before Christ, and create these characteristics in the Pagan world.” — Rather, he is saying that the devil tried to imitate the prophesies of him but basically screwed up. In other words, he’s saying demons tried and failed to copy the Old Testament, not the devil copied Christianity before it even existed.
So, in conclusion, it appears that Zeitgeist, in using the favorite Justin Martyr references, makes the same mistake that other Jesus-Mythers make: Abusing them, taking them out of context, and leaving out relevant details that are capable of defeating their case.
It is true that Justin Martyr seems to say that the sons of Zeus were born of virgins, however a simple investigation into the mythological literature disproves him pretty handily. His statements in this case go outside the evidence. However the claim that he confirms Greco-Roman gods were crucified like Jesus is completely false and disproved by any complete reading of his writings in their proper context.