For about a year now, I’ve been trying to wrap my brain around the cultural phenomenon known as the “Jesus-as-myth” hypothesis. It’s an idea that is gaining steam, not with credible historians and scholars, but among “popularizers” who state categorically as fact that “Jesus never existed” on numerous websites, blogs and discussion boards. This crackpot conspiracy theory may be simply stated as follows:
Since there was no contemporary historian living in Judea in the first century who recorded the life of Jesus, then there is no proof that Jesus existed.
What is being contended against is not the historicity of the miraculous works, the resurrection, or the divinity of Jesus, but the very existence of a historical person named Jesus of Nazareth. The Jesus-myth hypothesis was first proposed by Bruno Bauer in a work entitled Christ and the Caesars in 1877. Prior to the 1800s, no pagan, Jewish, Muslim, or atheist critic of the New Testament ever thought to challenge the veracity of the person called Jesus. Then Bauer came along and claimed that the bulk of the New Testament was written in the late second century — a full 150 years after Jesus lived — and took skepticism to the next level by claiming that the very existence of Jesus was doubtful.
At the time, Bauer was thought of as a radical fringe free thinker. Even his former students, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, both atheistic communists, sought to distance themselves from his writings. The idea then gained some popularity among scholars in the early 20th century, but when serious critics began to see the solid evidence for the first century dates of New Testament books — still interpreting them as pseudonymous works written after the time of Apostles, but accepting that they were written early enough to have been read and circulated by the earliest Christians — they rejected Higher Criticism for a modified form of liberalism.
The works of Bauer and the German Higher Critics were not respected even in their own day, even by atheists and skeptics such Mark and Engels. Most of their works have never been translated into English. One liberal theologian, Dr. John Henry Ludlum, one of the greatest linguistic scholars ever to come out of Yale University, began to study the Higher Critics in German only to see that the whole thrust of their work as baseless conjecture to support a political agenda of anti-semitism. In fact, Bauer and several of the 19th century German critics sought to prove that Christianity could not have had its roots in Semitic Judaism. Therefore, the Jesus-as-myth hypothesis has had a serious credibility gap even among liberal theologians.
To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first rank scholars.’ In recent years, ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus’ or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. – Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (Scribner, 1995).
There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more. – Burridge, R & Gould, G, Jesus Now and Then, Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2004, p.34.
«- Was there a "Massacre of the Innocents" in Bethlehem after Jesus' birth?
- Real Jesus
-» Jesus, Mohammed, Shakespeare: Did they really exist? (part 2)
Your comments are welcome!
Download the Free Study Guide!
Just what is Calvinism?
Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?
This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.
Running Time: 257 minutes
$19.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
$17.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
“Here I stand … I can do no other!”
With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.
The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.
Running time: 105 minutes
Special offer: Order 5 or more for $5 each.
Watch a clip from Martin Luther.
$9.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 200 pages
A Reasonable Response to Christian Postmodernism
Includes a response to the book Christian Jihad by Colonel V. Doner
The title of this book is a misnomer. In reality, I am not trying to get anyone to shut up, but rather to provoke a discussion. This book is a warning about the philosophy of “Christian postmodernism” and the threat that it poses not only to Christian orthodoxy, but to the peace and prosperity our culture as well. The purpose is to equip the reader with some basic principles that can be used to refute their arguments.
Part 1 is a response to some of the recent writings by Frank Schaeffer, the son of the late Francis Schaeffer. This was originally written as a defense against Frank’s attacks on pro-life street activism – a movement that his father helped bring into being through his books, A Christian Manifesto, How Should We Then Live? and Whatever Happened to the Human Race? These works have impacted literally hundreds of thousands of Christian activists.
Part 2 is a response to Colonel Doner and his book, Christian Jihad: Neo-Fundamentalists and the Polarization of America. Doner was one of the key architects of the Christian Right that emerged in the 1980s, who now represents the disillusionment and defection many Christian activists experienced in the 1990s and 2000s. There is still great hope for America to be reformed according to biblical principles. As a new generation is emerging, it is important to recognize the mistakes that Christian activists have made in the past even while holding to a vision for the future.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)
High Quality Paperback — 219 pages
Foundations in Biblical Orthodoxy
Driving down a country road sometime, you might see a church with a sign proudly proclaiming: “No book but the Bible — No creed but Christ.” The problem with this statement is that the word creed (from the Latin: credo) simply means “belief.” All Christians have beliefs, regardless of whether they are written.
Yet a single book containing the actual texts of the most important creeds of the early Church will not often be found. Out of the multitude of works on the evangelical Christian book market today, those dealing with the creeds of the Church are scarce.
Why Creeds and Confessions? provides a foundation of biblical orthodoxy as a defense against the false and truly heretical doctrines advanced by the spirit of this age.
$14.95 — ORDER NOW!(We accept all major credit cards and PayPal.)