If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded,
though one rose from the dead.
"The notion that Jesus never really existed is the least defensible of all the legend theories. Yet, it has become one of the most popular views among critics of the Christian faith…just not serious critics of the Christian faith.
Every critic who rejects Jesus as Lord suffers the same fate, whether he concluded that Jesus didn’t
exist after watching a few homemade YouTube videos from ignorant internet infidels or he concluded that Jesus wasn’t God after careful and lengthy (i.e. “serious”) academic study.
Those who engage in a serious critical study may indeed reject Jesus’ divinity but they almost never reject his historicity. “Online skeptic sites and atheists’ popular writings continue to repeat the charge.”
They have repeated this charge so much that the belief that Jesus never existed has received its own name: “Mythicism.”
Mythicism can be defined as “the claim that Jesus never lived or that the story of Jesus as told by Christians is an amalgamation of various ancient mystery religions.” Mythicism, though utterly ridiculous in the minds of even the most amateur Christian apologists, has recently required a substantial response from defenders of the Christian faith.
Christian apologist William Lane Craig demonstrated the efficacy of such a response during three 2013 dialogues with scientist Lawrence Krauss on the subject of whether or not it is reasonable to believe in God. Krauss is an eminent theoretical physicist who holds a Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and the author of the best-selling book A Universe from Nothing. He is also a vociferous atheist. During the course of his dialogues with Craig, Krauss stated:
“…the other thing that is important…is that there is nothing special about Jesus that’sCraig’s response to Krauss...
any different than the other gods or any other fictional heroes for that matter. First of all, there’s no empirical evidence that he was divine—none, not one iota. In that sense he shares it with every other god that’s ever been proposed…Virgin birth: nothing special about Jesus. Look at all of these; they are all supposed to have been born of virgins…take Dionysus, the Greek god of wine versus Jesus, it is exactly the same. They were both born of the virgin mother, they’re fathered by the king of heaven, they returned from the dead, they transformed water into wine. In fact, you know, they talked about eating and drinking the flesh and blood of the creator…they were taken as liberator of mankind. That story has been told over and over again and this is just one of the most recent renderings; nothing special. And the resurrection is nothing special. The myth of resurrection’s been around since Osiris. You know, Osiris was one of the major Egyptian gods and used to be just the kings in Egypt would be resurrected when Osiris was resurrected but eventually in the new kingdom anyone can be resurrected with…Osiris (I was going to say with Jesus, but it doesn’t matter) if they followed the correct religious rituals; the same, the same nonsense.
“Well, what I wanted to say, Lawrence, is that your comparisons of Jesus of Nazareth
with Dionysus and Osiris is based upon scholarship that is more than one hundred years out of date…I think you’ve been fed a lot of misinformation by skeptics and Internet infidel types that are really misleading you on…where historical Jesus scholarship is today. Let me explain two things about this, why this view is…Scholars in comparative religion and in the history of religions during the late 19th century ransacked the literature of ancient mythology looking for these kind of parallels to Jesus, and some tried to explain the origins of Christianity from these. That movement soon collapsed, however, primarily for two reasons.
First of all, the parallels turned out to be spurious. When you look at these supposed parallels, between Dionysus and Jesus, or Osiris and Jesus, they just don’t hold up. Dionysus was not raised from the dead. Osiris, in the myths, lives on in the underworld. The, the pieces of his body were scattered and reassembled by his wife; he doesn’t rise from the dead. So, in fact, there is nothing in the ancient world comparable to belief in the resurrection of Jesus in these myths….
the second thing to be said about this, this myth theory is that there is no causal connection between these myths and these earliest disciples. These kinds of cults of dying and rising gods weren’t even present in first century Palestine. And it would be unthinkable that these original disciples of Jesus would have come to believe he was risen from the dead because somebody had said something about Osiris.
Despite his great learning, albeit in subjects unrelated to Comparative Religion, Krauss was repeating the hokum history that is Mythicism. The overwhelming majority of historical scholars put almost no stock into pagan god parallels nor are they remotely open to the idea that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t a historical figure. “The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the `Christ-myth’ theories”
Robert Price, author of The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems is the only legitimate New Testament scholar known to hold to the position that Jesus never lived. New Testament Historian Bart Ehrman, who is himself a proponent of the legend option of the quadrilemma, has given perhaps the bluntest and most straightforward refutation of Mythicism: “The view that Jesus existed is held
by virtually every expert on the planet.” Affirming Mythicism more or less puts one off of the planet where scholarship, liberal or conservative, is concerned. Mythicism essentially falls into the “tin foil hat” category of historical thought.
So why has it enjoyed a resurgence in contemporary discourse? Ehrman’s literary pursuits provide some hint as to the answer to this question. He has dryly quipped, “In my writing, I try to alternate between trade books for general audiences, textbooks for college students, and serious scholarship for the six people in the world who care.” The tragic reality is that a great many skeptics are wholly uninterested in a responsible pursuit of historical truth where Jesus of Nazareth is concerned. It is for this reason that a dismissive, even satirical, response to Mythicism is in order.
Satirizing Mythicism is the route that has been taken by Pastor Hans Fiene, the founder of Lutheran Satire. In his popular “Horus Ruins Christmas” YouTube, Fiene has provided what is perhaps the most poignant explanation for the recent popularity of Mythicism:
“…I suppose it is strange that people who insist that they won’t believe anything without verifiable evidence are more than willing to believe anything without verifiable evidence as long as that thing can be used to mock the gospel. But we shouldn’t be surprised when people reject proof of Christ’s resurrection in favor of demonstrable lies that let them remain in unbelief. After all, Jesus did say, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” Pulpit&Pen