Did Jesus Really Exist?   by Mark Thomas

Like most people (especially those raised Christian, like I was), I had always assumed that Jesus Christ had really existed, even though he may not have been divine.  After examining the biblical, extra-biblical, and early Christian evidence, along with the myths of the time, I have concluded that there is no reliable evidence that Jesus actually existed — and significant evidence that he was purely mythical.

Biblical Evidence

The typically accepted story of Jesus is a hodge-podge of stories primarily from the gospels, from Paul and the other epistle writers, and from the book of Revelation.  The first step is to separate these sources, to see what the authors wrote about.  This is made difficult by the fact that there's been significant editing, copying, and even forgery.  The authors, editors and transcribers did not treat the writings as sacrosanct and unchangeable.  Instead, they often treated the stories of Jesus as tales that could be modified to further their own agendas, or to make for better tales. [1]

The apocalyptic book of Revelation gives no support for the historicity of Jesus and can be dismissed easily as a reliable source, because of its other-worldly, hallucinogenic images.

The earliest known references to Jesus are in the writings of Paul (ne Saul of Tarsus), who suposedly had a “vision” of Jesus while he was on the road to Damascus (yet never wrote about it).  Paul's writings are part of the epistles, which were written after 48 CE [Common Era, equivalent to A.D.].  If there had been an actual Jesus, Paul should have written about his life and teachings.  He didn't (except for a few well-known interpolations). [1]  Paul and the other epistle writers — including Peter — don't seem to have known any biographical details of Jesus' life, or even the time of his earthly existence.  They don't refer to Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Calvary or Golgotha — or any pilgrimages to what should have been holy sites of Jesus' life.  They also don't mention any miracles that Jesus was supposed to have worked, his moral teachings, his virgin birth, his trial, the empty tomb, or even his disciples. [1]  The epistle writers don't even say (other than in apocalyptic revelations or well-known later changes) anything about what happened to Jesus before his death.  Paul does often refer to the Lord’s brothers, but this is just a term for baptized Christians.

I find this astounding!  The most basic details that we've been told about Jesus' life were unknown to the earliest Christian authors.  It wasn't that they simply neglected to mention these details.  There were many places that Paul and the others could have referred to the disciples or used Jesus' moral authority to emphasize their own points, but they didn't. [1]  The simple explanation is that these details didn't exist yet, and wouldn't exist until the gospels were written about twenty or more years later.

To the epistle writers, Jesus appears to have had little or no earthly existence. [2]  Paul is anything but a witness for the actual existence of Jesus, explicitly saying that he never met Jesus but just knew of him from scripture and revelation.  Paul and Peter refer to themselves as apostles (messengers), not disciples (followers).  Paul said he was not inferior to “super-apostles” who preached of a different Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:5 and 12:11), he explicitly opposed Cephas/Peter (Galatians 2:11), and he wrote (Galatians 2:6) that the apostles in Jerusalem (including James and Peter) added nothing to his message.  This makes no sense if Peter or James had physically known Jesus.  Paul also describes both his own and Peter's “visions” of Jesus using the same word. [1]  This means that Paul didn't think that Peter followed an earthly Jesus, but (like him) a spiritual celestial savior that could only be known thru revelation.  This savior was a spiritual intermediary between God in Heaven and men on Earth.  Paul even admitted that that all his ideas came from revelation and not from any man. [3]  In other words, he made it up or got his inspiration from Jewish Scripture and other religions.  Two prime candidates are Zoroastrianism and Mithraism, which had a center in Paul's hometown of Tarsus.

Jewish Scripture was the main source for Paul [1], probably using the Greek translation (called the Septuagint) [4].  He thought that the heavenly existence of its predicted messiah was revealed to him by God (Galatians 1:16) and in Scripture, with Jesus as the spiritual intermediary between heavenly God and earthly man — not as a recent living person, but as a mystery hidden for long ages past [5], to be revealed by Paul. [6]  Even in Galatians 4:4, where Paul referred to God's Son being “born of a woman,” Paul used vocabulary he peculiarly employed for divine manufacture, not biological birth. [7]  Paul often referred to Jesus as “The Christ” (a spiritual term).  Even the name “Jesus” appears some 218 times in the Septuagint, so it was not a new name to those familiar with the translation [4].  Paul also never even indicated when Jesus' life, sacrificial death and resurrection occurred, but implied that they had happened in the spiritual past.  He also blamed Jesus' death on evil demons, not the Jews or the Romans as in the gospels.  Paul's concept of an unblemished, sacrificial, humiliated savior came out of Isaiah 52-53 and Daniel 9. [1]  This idea helped make Christianity more popular among the lower classes during the first couple of centuries.  They could identify with a righteous man unjustly crucified by the despised ruling class, but who was eventually triumphant. [7]

Another problem with Paul is that his famous “vision” of Jesus has all the earmarks of an epileptic brain seizure.  We now know that epilepsy can cause religious delusions, hyperreligiosity (excessive concern with religion), hypersexuality (excessive concern with sexual matters), and hypergraphia (an overwhelming urge to write).  These are all characteristics that could be used to describe Paul, as revealed in his letters.  Perhaps epilepsy is the “thorn” that tormented him, which he referred to in 2 Corinthians 12:7, or the illness that he referred to in Galatians 4:13.  We can also tell that people were accusing Paul of lying, because he attempted to defend himself in Romans 3:5-8.

The main biblical references to Jesus are in the gospels, which were written by unknown authors after 70 CE (and quite possibly decades later).  In a semi-literate and superstitious society, that's a long time after Jesus' supposed life — a long time for myths to grow.  Most scholars agree that the first mention of what we call the gospels was by Papias in about 140 CE [8], altho he only referred to Mark and Matthew.  All four gospels were first mentioned by name in 180 CE, by Irenaeus of Lyons. [8]

Mark is the earliest gospel.  It is ungrammatical [9] and betrays its author's lack of knowledge of the geography and social situation of Palestine — showing that the author was not a local. [8], [10]  Luke copied Mark's error in geography (Luke 8), while Matthew changed the location and number of men (Matthew 8). [8]  Luke's author created a nonexistent hill near Nazareth and a synagogue that was never listed by Jews of the time (Luke 4:16-29), and Mark's author made the mistake of having Jesus quote from the Greek translation of Scripture (the Septuagint), instead of the original Hebrew. [8]  Both Mark and John begin with Jesus already a grown man — with no virgin birth, magic star, or other childhood stories.  A strong case can even be made that the gospel of Mark was written as a re-telling of the Homeric epics. [11]

Mark 4:11-12 [12] has Jesus revealing that Christianity began as just another mystery cult, like many others of the time.  If Jesus really wanted to save people, he would not hide his messages in parables that could only be understood by those who are in the faith.

The gospels of Matthew and Luke disagree on the year and other details of Jesus' birth, including his lineage.  Matthew has him born in the Bethlehem home of Joseph, during the reign of Herod the Great (who died in 5 or 4 BCE [Before Common Era]).  Luke thinks he was born in a stable during the census conducted by Quirinius in 6 CE — a difference of at least 9 years!  Matthew didn't write about the census, and Luke didn't write about the wise men or Herod's “slaughter of the innocents.”  Matthew and Luke disagree wildly on Jesus' ancestry, including even his grandfather. (Matthew 1:16, Luke 3:23).  Plus, the lists in Matthew and Luke differ from 1 Chronicles 3.  Note that even listing Jesus' male ancestry disagrees with the doctrine of a virgin birth (which was added later in the myth-making process).  Some apologists claim that Luke lists Mary's geneology, but that's impossible because Mary isn't mentioned and because at the time women were not thought to contribute any genetics to a baby, but were thought of as a fertile field where the seed (Greek: “sperm”) was planted.

If the gospels were written by eyewitnesses, why did they wait so long and why don't they describe Jesus?  Why were the gospels written mainly in third person format (like a story), instead of first person format?  The gospels often quote Jesus' thoughts or words when he was alone or with others.  These are examples of fictional narratives, not history.  Why do the gospels of Matthew and Luke plagiarize much of Mark (and add the childhood stories)?  Of Mark's 666 original verses, some 600 appear in Matthew (with improved grammar), some 300 in Luke. [9]  The gospel of Luke states that it was written as a retelling of previous accounts.  The gospels of Matthew and John also oddly refer to their supposed author(s) in the third person, and John hardly refers to Jesus as a real person with a real life.  It's the only gospel that refers to an eyewitness, but it does not name him.  Like Paul, the author(s) of John viewed Jesus as more of a celestial savior.

We know that the gospels have been changed over time, with editing and errors by transcribers.  There are even material differences between the different translations. [8]  Biblical scholars have shown that the last twelve verses of Mark (16:9-20) were added in the second century, likely to give Jesus post-resurrection activities.  The story of Jesus and the adulteress (a favorite of mine because it teaches personal responsibility) was not in the original gospel of John.  Evidence shows that it was likely added in the Middle Ages. [13]

Why should we trust the unknown authors and editors of the gospels?  How do we know that they weren't wacky or knowingly writing fiction?  We can even tell that the authors attempted to fulfill scriptural prophesy, because they got it wrong in many places: [14]

  • Jesus was born in Bethlehem to (incorrectly) fulfill Micah 5:2.
  • Matthew and Luke disagree on Jesus' male ancestry, and thus also with the virgin birth.
  • Mary was a virgin to (incorrectly) fulfill Isaiah 7:14.
  • Jesus' family went to Egypt to (incorrectly) fulfill Hosea 11:1.
  • Herod did the “slaughter of the innocents” to (incorrectly) fulfill Jeremiah 31:15.
  • Jesus was from Nazareth to (incorrectly) fulfill Judges 13:5.
  • On Palm Sunday Jesus impossibly rode two animals at once to (incorrectly) fulfill Zechariah 9:9.
  • Jesus' hands and feet were pierced on the cross to (incorrectly) fulfill Psalm 22:16.
  • Judas was paid 30 pieces of silver to (incorrectly) fulfill Zechariah 11:12.

There's even reliable evidence that Nazareth was uninhabited in the first century [8], [15], [16], with ancient tombs below it that would have prevented the existence of any Jewish village.  In an attempt to show that Jesus fulfilled scriptural prophesy, the unknown author of Matthew apparently confused “Nazareth” and “Nazarene” (a person from Nazareth) with “Nazirite” (a man who lives apart and has made a vow of abstinence). [14]

These errors aren't too surprising if you realize that the authors' native tongue was probably Aramaic, the (Old Testament) Scripture was originally in Hebrew, they were likely reading the Greek Septuagint, and they were writing the gospels in Greek.

All this disqualifies the gospels as any sort of reliable eyewitness accounts.  For more insights on the reliability of miracles or eyewitnesses, here are useful quotes:

“No testimony is sufficient to establish a miracle unless that testimony be of such a kind that its falsehood would be more miraculous than the fact which it endeavours to establish.”
— David Hume, Of Miracles (1748)

“Is it more probable that nature should go out of her course, or that a man should tell a lie?  We have never seen, in our time, nature go out of her course; but we have good reason to believe that millions of lies have been told in the same time; it is, therefore, at least millions to one, that the reporter of a miracle tells a lie.”
— Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason (1794)

“It is a fact of history and of current events that human beings exaggerate, misinterpret, or wrongly remember events.  They have also fabricated pious fraud.  Most believers in a religion understand this when examining the claims of other religions.”
— Dan Barker [17]

Christian historicity researcher David Fitzgerald wrote, “In the earliest Christian writings, such as the seven genuine epistles of Paul, Christ is a spiritual being revealed in Jewish Scripture, rather than a recent historical figure.  Decades later the anonymous author of what we call ‘The gospel according to Mark’ wrote an allegorical story of this mythological Christ set in pre-war Judea, borrowing from many ancient religious and literary motifs.  The idea of a Christ come to earth was irresistible; later Christians loved the story and couldn't help but make their own corrections and additions to ‘Mark's’ text, turning a purely literary creation into the basis of their own imagined biographies.  Dozens of these gospels were written, and centuries later four of them were eventually selected to form the beginning of our familiar New Testament.” [18]

Some early Christians even admitted the mythical origins of Christianity.  Arguing with pagans around 150 CE, Justin Martyr said, “When we say that the Word, who is the first born of God, was produced without sexual union, and that he, Jesus Christ, our teacher, was crucified and died, and rose again, and ascended into heaven; we propound nothing different from what you believe regarding those whom you esteem sons of Jupiter (Zeus).” [17]

The Jesus story reeks of mythology, with magic being added as the story was re-told over time. [17]  If the earliest Christians thought of Jesus as a spiritual celestial savior, his appearance in the later gospels as a living man must have been a fictional creation.

Some people claim that many of Jesus' disciples and apostles died for their beliefs, and this proves that Jesus must have existed and been divine.  However we don't even know if the disciples existed, much less how they died.  All of the information about them comes from later stories and the Bible, which we've seen is highly questionable.  Even if the stories about the apostles are true, they could easily have been deluded or crazy.

Other Religions and Myths of the Time

Studying other religions and myths of the time, and the (non-orthodox) competing versions of Christianity, is complicated by the fact that many of their texts and references to them were not copied or were destroyed by faithful Christians (especially during the notorious book-burnings of the fourth and fifth centuries).  Once a Christian sect gained absolute political power under Emperor Constantine in the fourth century, opponents were compelled by threat of death, prison, or dispossession to fall in line. [7]

Christianity has many similarities to what we know of previous religions from Greece, Persia, Egypt and still other places — and is by no means unique. [19]  There were more than a dozen other deities and saviors (Osiris/Serapis, Inanna/Ishtar, Horus, Perseus, Bacchus/Dionysus, Attis, Isis, Hermes, Romulus, Adonis, Hercules/Heracles, Zalmoxis, Tammuz, Asclepius, Krishna, and Prometheus) who were resurrected after violent deaths.  Many of these gods had their births announced by stars, had a virgin mother and divine father (or other miraculous birth), or had tyrants try to kill them as infants.  Adonis, Inanna, Osiris, Romulus, Zalmoxis were all "savior gods," were the son or daughter of God, underwent a "passion" (i.e. suffering or struggle), obtained victory over death (which they shared with their followers), had a form of baptism or communion, and pre-dated Christianity.  The two main Christian holidays were incorporated from earlier pagan rituals and festivals.  Easter (near the spring equinox, and with its fertility symbols of rabbits and eggs) was named after the pagan Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre.  Christmas was formerly the Roman festival Saturnalia (for the god Saturn), and more than a dozen gods were born on December 25 (the old winter solstice, when the sun is “reborn” and starts rising in the sky) — Jesus, Mithra, Zeus/Jupiter, Horus, Attis, Dionysus, Adonis, Tammuz, Hercules/Heracles, Perseus, Bacchus/Dionysus, Apollo, Helios, and Sol Invictus.

Mithra had the most similarities to Jesus.  Mithra was born in very humble circumstances with shepherds watching, had twelve disciples (as in twelve signs of the zodiac), raised the dead, was often depicted with a halo, and was known as “The Light of the World” and “The Good Shepherd.”  After he died, he joined God to judge the souls of the dead.  Thru him sinners could be reborn into eternal life.  Because Mithra was a sun god, he was worshipped on Sundays.  His followers had ritual meals of bread and wine, which represented his flesh and blood.  It's not surprising that Mithraism died out as Christianity spread.

The Christian custom of the Eucharist (with bread and wine) was likely derived by Paul from Mithraism, because drinking blood has always been an abomination in Judaism.

Former fundamentalist Robert M Price wrote, “In broad outline and in detail, the life of Jesus as portrayed in the gospels corresponds to the worldwide Mythic Hero Archetype in which a divine hero's birth is supernaturally predicted and conceived, the infant hero escapes attempts to kill him, demonstrates his precocious wisdom already as a child, receives a divine commission, defeats demons, wins acclaim, is hailed as king, then betrayed, losing popular favor, executed, often on a hilltop, and is vindicated and taken up to heaven.” [20]

Extra-Biblical Evidence

As for the extra-biblical historicity of Jesus, there is absolutely no reliable contemporary evidence that he ever even existed.  He made no impression on any historian of the first century.  If Jesus existed or if the spectacular events in the gospels really happened, they would have been noted by many writers — including Philo of Alexandria (who wrote extensively about Judea during the alleged time of Jesus), Seneca the Elder, Pliny the Elder, Justus of Tiberius, and over thirty others. [8], [18], [21]  None of these men referred to Jesus or the fantastical biblical events.  The earliest extra-biblical supposed references to Jesus or Christ are in one paragraph and one sentence in the writings (about 93 CE) attributed to the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (who also wrote about Hercules).  Here are the supposed references, in his Jewish Antiquities:

18.3.3 — “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man.  For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks.  He was the Messiah.  And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease.  He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him.  And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

20.9.1 — “...brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James...”

The sentence is far too brief to mean much.  The phrase "who was called Christ" is awkward and was likely inserted by a transcriber.  Plus, a few lines later Josephus refers to Jesus, the son of Damneus.  This is likely the Jesus referred to in the sentence. [18]  The paragraph looks like just about everything a Christian could hope for, to prove that Jesus actually existed.  Unfortunately, it's an obvious latter insertion — almost certainly created by “church historian” Eusebius, who first referred to it shortly before Emperor Constantine's Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.  We know this for several reasons:

  • Despite the fact that Josephus' writings were widely read, no Christian or scholar before Eusebius refers to it, especially not the Christian scholar Origen, whose library Eusebius used. [8], [18]
  • Origen even wrote that Josephus did not believe in Jesus Christ. [8]
  • If the pious Jew Josephus had truly thought that Jesus was the Messiah, he would have become a Christian.
  • It's unlikely that Josephus would have referred to the accusing Jews as “the principal men among us.”
  • There never was a “tribe of Christians.”
  • Copies of Josephus' works existed, that lacked either reference to Jesus. [8]
  • The style of the text is radically different from the rest of his writings.
  • The text is completely out of context with the paragraphs around it, and interrupts their story line.  The next paragraph begins, "About the same time also another sad calamity put the Jews into disorder..."  This refers to the previous paragraph, where Pilate had his soldiers massacre a large crowd of Jews in Jerusalem.
  • Josephus wrote extensively about many minor people of the time.  A single paragraph and sentence for the Messiah is impossible.

With these two spurious references removed from Josephus' writings, he becomes strong negative evidence for Jesus.  If Jesus had existed, Josephus would have written extensively about him.

There are some supposed second century references to Christians or Christ - by several men.  In about 100 CE, Pliny the Younger referred to Christians in Asia Minor, but he didn't refer to Jesus.  Another writer, Suetonius, in about 120 CE also referred to a man named Chrestus and his Jewish followers.  However, “Chrestus” is the correct Latin form of an actual Greek name, and is not a misspelling of “Christos.”  The most used Christian reference from that century is by Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus (55-120 CE).  He purportedly wrote around 117 CE about “Christos” being executed by Pontius Pilate.  However, Tacitus would have used Jesus' name, not his religious title “Christos.”  Notedly, Tacitus' reference was not mentioned by Origen, Eusebius, Tertullian (who quotes a great deal from Tacitus [8]) or Clement of Alexandria in the third century.  Plus, there is strong evidence that the oldest surviving copy of Tacitus' works was modified to change "Chrestianos" (i.e. "Chrestians" - followers of Chrestus) to "Christianos" (i.e. "Christians" - followers of Christ) [22].  It was likely modified around 1468, because no mention is made of it in any known text prior to then, but there are many later references. [8], [23].

Even if the references by Josephus, Tacitus, and others in the second century are original, they only amount to second-hand testimony or hearsay written 60 or more years after the purported events, or simply refer to Christian beliefs of the time.  The fact that modern Christians have to rely on these supposed references exemplifies the weakness of their claims for an historical Jesus Christ.

Some people think that the Shroud of Turin is physical evidence for the existence of Jesus.  However, scientific analysis shows that the Shroud is a forgery.  It depicts a man two inches taller in front than he is in back, its “blood” is actually the pigment red ocher (real blood would be black), and it's been carbon-dated to 1260-1390 CE - consistent with when it was first “discovered” in 1357.  It's also ludicrous to think that the Shroud was kept hidden for over 1300 years until the crusaders came to the Middle East, looking for souvenirs to take home (like most tourists).  Some enterprising forger likely made a bundle.

Could it be that “The Greatest Story Ever Told” is just a story?  Is one of the most influential characters in history just a myth?  Have billions of people believed in a fictional messiah?  Did people die for their Christian faith in vain?  This isn't so far-fetched; people believe lies all the time, and even kill or die for them or for their religion.  Look at Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, the Solar Temple, 9/11, suicide bombers, and the almost countless wars and slaughters based completely on religion.

Because many people's minds are infected with religion, they don't like to question the existence of their savior or prophet.  Religion causes people to accept irrational ideas with little or no evidence.  If I were to say that banana Popsicles can make people invisible, most people would likely ask for a little proof.  But, a very old book emulates other myths of the time and says that 2000 years ago some guy was born with a ghost as his father and a virgin as his mother; this guy did miracles, was killed, came back to life, and rose bodily up to heaven — and billions of people accept the story seemingly without question.

So, let's look at the evidence we have.  From the earliest Christian epistle authors such as Paul, we have little to indicate that Jesus was a real person.  And, we have strong evidence that to them he was just a spiritual celestial savior, constructed from earlier myths.  From the later (and unknown) writers of the gospels, we have a story that grew over time, with more fantastical events added as the story was told and re-told — just like a myth.  None of the gospel authors even claimed to have met Jesus.  From the historians of the first century we have nothing.  Nothing.

For more on Christian historicity and atheism, see www.godlessgeeks.com/LINKS/Debate.html#hist and www.godlessgeeks.com/WhyAtheism.htm

Copyright © 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017. Mark W. Thomas.  All rights reserved.

[1] The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty

[2] PAUL ON JESUS - Hebrews 8:4 — “If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts prescribed by the law.”

[3] PAUL ON THE SOURCE OF THE JESUS STORY - Galatians 1:11,12 — “I want you to know, brothers, that the gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.”

[4] Does Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians reveal a 'historical' Jesus?, by Acharya S

[5] PAUL ON THE SOURCE OF THE JESUS STORY - Romans 16:25-26 — “Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings ...”

[6] PAUL ON THE SOURCE OF THE JESUS STORY - 1 Corinthians 1:7 — “Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed.”

[7] On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt,
Not the Impossible Faith and How Historians Try to Rescue Jesus, by Richard Carrier

[8] Did Jesus Even Exist? and The Jesus the Jews Never Knew, by Frank Zindler

[9] Did a historical Jesus exist?, by Jim Walker

[10] In Mark 5 and Luke 8, Jesus went to the country of the Gerasenes, transferred demons from a man into 2000 pigs, and drowned them in the sea.  However that was about 31 miles from Galilee, the nearest sea.  The King James translators realized his, and changed the location to “the country of the Gadarenes,” which was close to the sea.  Later translators used the original.  [Check out translations of Matthew 8 for different locations.]  Mark 10 also has Jesus saying that a woman could divorce her husband, which was impossible in Palestine at that time.

[11] The Homeric epics and the Gospel of Mark, by Dennis MacDonald

[12] Did Christianity begin as a mystery cult?
Mark 4:11-12 (KJV) — And he said unto them, “Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them.”
[13] Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, by Bart Ehrman

[14] DID JESUS FULFILL PROPHESY?  [NOTE: It was easy to “fulfill prophesy” if they created the stories of the events they predicted.]
  • THE PROPHESIED COMING OF ISRAEL'S RULER - Micah 5:2 — But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
  • THE BIRTH OF JESUS FORETOLD - Luke 1:32,33 — [Jesus] will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob [Israel] forever; his kingdom will never end.  [NOTE: Jesus never reigned over Israel, and the virgin birth means that he was not descended from David.]
  • FALSE PROPHESY - Isaiah 7:14 — Therefore the Lord himself will give you [King Ahaz] a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.  [NOTE: The original word (“almah”) in Hebrew meant maiden, not virgin (“betulot”).  The context also shows that this was meant for its time, not about 700 years later.  In addition, 2 Chronicles 28 shows that King Ahaz lost the battle. And, Jesus was never called Immanuel in the Bible.]
  • THE PROPHESIED NAZIRITE - Judges 13:5 — “ ...because you will conceive and give birth to a son. No razor may be used on his head, because the boy is to be a Nazirite, set apart to God from birth, and he will begin the deliverance of Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” [NOTE: This actually referred to Samson, not Jesus (about 1100 years later).]
  • NAZARETH, NAZARENE, NAZIRITE CONFUSED - Matthew 2:23 — [Joseph] went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: “He will be called a Nazarene.” [NOTE: “Nazarene” and “Nazareth” are never used in the Old Testament.]
  • ISRAEL (JESUS?) IN EGYPT - Hosea 11:1 — “When Israel was a child, I [God] loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.”  [NOTE: This denotes a past event, not one over 700 years later. It likely referred to the mythical exodus of the Jews from Egypt.]
  • JESUS IN EGYPT - Matthew 2:13-15 — When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
  • PROPHESY OF THE “SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS” - Jeremiah 31:15 — This is what the LORD says: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.”  [NOTE: Matthew 2:18 refers to this, but Ramah was on the other side of Jerusalem from Bethlehem.  Also, a 600 year-old tale of one woman weeping for her children hardly conveys the magnitude of the supposed slaughter.]
  • HEROD'S “SLAUGHTER OF THE INNOCENTS” - Matthew 2:16 — When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under. [NOTE: This is not recorded by any historian of the time or in any other gospel. However, it fulfilled a common story line for saviors.]
  • THE PROPHESIED COMING OF ZION'S KING - Zechariah 9:9 — Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
  • JESUS RIDES TWO ANIMALS AT ONCE! - Matthew 21:7 — They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them. [NOTE: A person can't sit on the backs of two animals. The author mistranslated Zechariah 9:9, which actually meant one animal.]
  • CRUCIFICTION FORETOLD? - Psalm 22:16 — Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
  • JUDAS' PAYMENT FORETOLD? - Zechariah 11:12 — I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.
[15] The Myth of Nazareth, by Rene Salm

[16] Nazareth – The Town that Theology Built, by Kenneth Humphreys

[17] Did Jesus Really Rise From The Dead?, by Dan Barker

[18] Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that Show Jesus Never Existed At All,
Jesus: Mything in Action,
Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?, and
Evidence for Jesus is Weaker than You Might Think by David Fitzgerald

[19] 10 Christ-like Figures Who Pre-Date Jesus, by the Listverse Staff

[20] Christ a Fiction, by Robert M Price

[21] Writers Contemporary to Jesus?, by Michael B. Paulkovich

[22] The Chrestianos Issue in Tacitus Reinvestigated, by Erík Zara, Th.D.

[23] Fictional Christ, by Dennis McKinsey

How the Jehovah’s Witnesses Website Manipulates Readers on the Historicity of Jesus, by Richard Carrier

Comments?  Email Mark Thomas

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