Atheism | Bethel | Jesus | Paganism | Sharing Jesus with the Cults | Why Should We Trust the Bible
Original article posted here.


Introduction to this issue:

As Dan Brown in his book ‘The Da Vinci Code’ writes: “Nothing in Christianity is original.”

It is in recent times that a great number of people are claiming that Jesus is simply a rehash of older pagan secretive religions, and of the religions of dying and rising gods. We see this masqueraded as truth in films such asZeitgeist, The Da Vinci Code andIrreligious which, to the layperson, seem to be factual and convincing. But how factually based are these claims? Surely anyone can misconstrue evidence to suit their presuppositional biases, especially if they don’t want to believe something. The first step for anyone really seeking to understand these allegations would be to consult the scholars in the relevant and necessary fields of expertise. What do they have to say? Is such an issue even on the table of debate nowadays? If so, or if not, then why?

In a nutshell this study will be focused on analysing these comparisons, the educated opinions of the scholars, and trying to see if anything of these pagan parallels are seen in the Jesus of the New Testament.

Who are the mythicists?

Bart Ehrman, the world’s leading sceptical New Testament scholar, asks:

“What is driving the mythicist’s agenda? Why do they work so hard at showing that Jesus never really lived? I do not have a definitive answer to that question, but I do have a hunch. It is no accident that virtually all mythicists (in fact, all of them, to my knowledge), are either atheists or agnostics. The ones I know anything about are quite virulently, even militantly atheist.”

Ehrman is certainly correct in his hunch. One of the leading mythicists of today is that of Richard Carrier, and Carrier happens to be an avid atheist that writes for the Secular Web. Now Carrier with two or three other proponents are the only scholars propounding this view of mythicism, the rest are not even scholars in the relevant fields of expertise – such is seen of Bill Maher (Irreligious), Dan Brown (The Da Vinci Code), James Coyman (Zeitgeist), and Brian Flemming (The God Who Wasn’t There).
Probably the two leading mythicists, that although ignored by historical, New Testament, Early Christianity, or Classical scholars are, as indicated above Carrier, and another man named Robert Price – these two men are the only ones that have, in recent times, really warranted any attention from the mainstream community of scholars, or at least one or two scholars in the mainstream community. Other than that the mythicist is ignored by the majority scholars in the relevant fields.

The allegation in a Nutshell:

Proponents of this view, known as mythicists, say that Jesus was nothing more than a copy of popular dying and rising fertility gods in various places from around the world, some of these gods would include Tammuz in Mesopotamia, Adonis in Syria, Attis in Asia Minor, and Horus in Egypt.

It has only been in recent times that the mythicist allegations have been re-established due to the rise of the Internet and the mass distribution of information from unaccountable sources. The only thing an online user needs to have to their name is the oxygen that they breathe – anyone can post anything online and masquerade it as truth. In this article we are going to examine these parallels, and see if they stand up to scrutiny. So, let us uncover the many reasons ‘why scholars know that Jesus is not a copy of pagan religions’.

Reason 1: Scholars unanimously reject the claim that Jesus is a pagan copy:

Today just about every scholar in the relevant historical specializations unanimously rejects the notion that Jesus is a copy of pagan gods. It seems that the available evidence has persuaded them against these alleged parallels. For instance, T.N.D Mettinger of Lund University opines:

“There is, as far as I am aware, no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct…”

Warner Wallace, a former homicide detective, of Cold Case Christianity writes:

“The more you examine the nature of the gods who were worshiped before Jesus, the more you will notice their dissimilarities and the dishonesty of trying to compare them to the historical Jesus.”

Professor Ronald Nash, a prominent philosopher and theologian notes in his writing ‘Was the New Testament Influenced by Pagan Religions?’:

“Allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth—at least during its early stages.”

Nash then goes on to say, “Today most Bible scholars regard the question as a dead issue.”

Another leading New Testament scholar Craig Keener writes: “When you make the comparisons, you end up with a whole lot more differences than you do similarities.”

JZ Smith, a historian of religion and Hellenistic religious scholar writes:

“The idea of dying and rising gods is largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts.”

Michael Bird, who is on the editorial board for the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, as well is a Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, clearly shows his annoyance when he writes:

“Now I am normally a cordial and collegial chap, but to be honest, I have little time or patience to invest in debunking the wild fantasies of “Jesus mythicists”, as they are known. That is because, to be frank, those of us who work in the academic profession of religion and history simply have a hard time taking them seriously.”

Lastly, James Dunn in his article on “Myth” in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, writes: “Myth is a term of at least doubtful relevance to the study of Jesus and the Gospels.”

Reason 2: All the experts in the field unanimously agree that Jesus lived, and that we can know things about him, which is unlike many pagan gods:

The most credible New Testament, Biblical, historical, and early Christianity scholars today, from all backgrounds of belief, agree wholeheartedly that Jesus existed. Of course the debate arises in what we can know about Jesus, but that is irrelevant to this discussion. This very much separates Jesus from many of the dying and rising gods that often have no place in history as historical figures. As Professor Bultmann, Professor of New Testament studies, once wrote:

“Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.”

As Paul Maier, former Professor of Ancient History, remarks:
“The total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus’ existence.”

Also, Craig Evans who is widely known for his writings on the subject of the historical Jesus says that:

“No serious historian of any religious or nonreligious stripe doubts that Jesus of Nazareth really lived in the first century and was executed under the authority of Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea and Samaria.”

Even the most sceptical of New Testament scholars Bart Ehrman (who is certainly no friend of Christianity) states that:

“These views are so extreme (that Jesus did not exist) and so unconvincing to 99.99 percent of the real experts that anyone holding them is as likely to get a teaching job in an established department of religion as a six-day creationist is likely to land on in a bona fide department of biology.”

Grant says, “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.’

The most telling admission comes from a leading atheist New Testament scholar in Germany, Gerd Ludemann writes:

“It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ”

So, if anything, the claim that Jesus never existed is not even on the table of historical scholarship, it is actually sitting in the trashcan in the corner of the room. I think just as Burridge and Could do, I quote, “I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that (that Jesus did not exist) anymore.”

Reason 3: We actually know very little about these pagan secretive religions:

As of history it seems that these pagan religions were really only known by those in the relevant communities, and most of whom had no intention of sharing it with outsiders. Of course this would leave modern historians in a tricky situation, as we can know only little snippets of who these groups really were, and what their practices were like. As Bart Ehrman, a leading New Testament scholar, himself notes:

“We know very little about mystery religions – the whole point of mystery religions is that they’re secret! So I think it’s crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this.”

C.S Lewis, a comforting and familiar name to many Christians, writes:

“The Pagan stories are all about someone dying and rising, either every year, or else nobody knows where and nobody knows when.”

As I quoted in the same manner in point 1, J.Z. Smith, a historian of religion and Hellenistic religious scholar writes:

“The idea of dying and rising gods is largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts.”

If we have late and ambiguous texts, a lack of these texts, and many of these texts postdating Christianity, then where, may I ask, are these mythicists getting these alleged parallels from? As J.Z. Smith notes above, it comes from highly speculative “imaginative reconstructions” solely in the minds of the mythicists.

Reason 4: Most of what we know of secretive pagan religions comes after Christianity, not before it:

If it is true that most of what we know of these secretive religions postdates Christianity, then why, may I ask, are mythicists propounding the view that these texts predate Christianity? Why do they claim that the early Christian community copied elements of these secretive religions when they, logically, could not have?

Professor T. N. D. Mettinger of Lund University, and the majority of other scholars in the relevant fields believe that there were no dying and rising gods before Christ, or before the advent of Christianity in the early 1st century:

“The consensus among modern scholars — nearly universal — is that there were no dying and rising gods that preceded Christianity. They all post-dated the first century.”

Mettinger goes on to say that: “The references to a resurrection of Adonis have been dated mainly to the Christian Era.”

Edwin Yamauchi writes that: “the supposed resurrection of Attis doesn’t appear until after AD 150.”

Professor Ronald Nash himself opines that: “Mithraism flowered after Christianity, not before, so Christianity could not have copied from Mithraism. The timing is all wrong to have influenced the development of first-century Christianity.”

Reason 5: The Jewish were a people who would certainly not allow pagan myths to invade their culture:

To begin, many times in the Old Testament the Jews would reject their one true God, and engage in idolatry. We know of this because it is reported, yet no evidence suggest that this happened in 1st century Palestine when Jesus was living, and the Pharisees he encountered would certainly not encourage pagan religion. Nevertheless, the Jews were an extremely strict community when it came to what they believed was the truth, and what they ought to be practicing in fulfillment of that belief. They were rigidly monotheistic (belief in one God), and we can see this in the narratives of Old Testament where the laws we strictly in place to avoid the influence of outside religions of the other wicked people, such as the Canaanites. Even the very first commandment issued to the Jews by God read, “I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me”. The Jews were the one culture that would not allow their heritage and tradition to be marred by paganism, which to their eyes is an abomination, and a disgrace.
William Lane Craig, a leading Christian intellectual, philosopher, and New Testament scholar writes in his article ‘Jesus and Pagan Mythology’:

“For Jesus and his disciples were first century Palestinian Jews, and it is against that background that they must be understood.”

Also, Ben Witherington, Professor of New Testament studies, notes that:

“This notion was not a regular part of the pagan lexicon of the afterlife at all, as even a cursory study of the relevant passages in the Greek and Latin classics shows. Indeed, as Acts 17 suggests, pagans were more likely than not to ridicule such an idea. I can understand the apologetic theory if, and only if, the Gospels were directed largely to Pharisaic Jews or their sympathizers. I know of no scholar, however, who has argued such a case.”

As William Craig goes on to say: “The spuriousness of the alleged parallels is just one indication that pagan mythology is the wrong interpretive framework for understanding the disciples’ belief in Jesus’ resurrection.”

And that: “…anyone pressing this objection has a burden of proof to bear. He needs to show that the narratives are parallel and, moreover, that they are causally connected.”

Craig concludes his writing when he says: “It boggles the imagination to think that the original disciples would have suddenly and sincerely come to believe that Jesus of Nazareth was risen from the dead just because they had heard of pagan myths about dying and rising seasonal gods.”

E.P. Sanders seems to suggest that Jesus is best made sense of within the world of the 1st century Judaism:

“…the dominant view [among scholars] today seems to be that we can know pretty well what Jesus was out to accomplish, that we can know a lot about what he said, and that those two things make sense within the world of first-century Judaism.”

Professor Martin Hengel notes: “Hellenistic mystery religions … could gain virtually no influence [in Jewish Palestine].”

Reason 6: The New Testament canon is history, unlike much of the pagan secretive mysteries:

The Gospels of the New Testament canon in which they reside are our most reliable pieces of information we have on Jesus. These texts are classified as Greco-Roman biography, as Graham Stanton of Cambridge University writes:

“I do not think it is now possible to deny that the Gospels are a sub-set of the broad ancient literary genre of ‘lives,’ that is, biographies.”

Also, the distinguished New Testament scholar Charles Talbert in his book ‘What are the Gospels’ speaks highly of another influential book that influenced scholars of the true genre of the Gospels: “This volume ought to end any legitimate denials of the canonical Gospels’ biographical character.”

Even David Aune, a prominent specialist in ancient literature, opines:

“Thus while the [Gospel writers] clearly had an important theological agenda, the very fact that they chose to adapt Greco-Roman biographical conventions to tell the story of Jesus indicated that they were centrally concerned to communicate what they thought really happened.”

What further corroborates the fact that the Gospels are biographical literature is archaeology. As Urban von Wahlde, a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, concluded:

[The archaeology] “demonstrates the full extent of the accuracy and the detail of the Evangelist’s knowledge…. The topographical references …. are entirely historical …. some [parts of the gospel] are quite accurate, detailed and historical”

Bart Ehrman also comments:

“If historians want to know what Jesus said and did they are more or less constrained to use the New Testament Gospels as their principal sources. Let me emphasize that this is not for religious or theological reasons—for instance, that these and these alone can be trusted. It is for historical reasons, pure and simple.”

What this shows is that the Gospels are routed in history, unlike many of the pagan secretive religions.

Reason 7: Unlike the pagan secretive religions, Jesus is an ancient figure we can actually know about, what he thought of himself, and what he did as a historical figure of history:

Whether one holds that Jesus was really the Son of Man, thus God himself, or just a religious genius of the 1st century, we can both glean facts about his life, and ministry – according to the scholars.
One of the leading New Testament scholars of today is Craig Evans, and he is widely known and respected for his writings on the historical Jesus. He thinks of Jesus thusly:

“…and so the consensus is, look, Jesus existed, he was Jewish, he wasn’t out to break the law. He was out to fulfil it. Jesus understood himself as the Lord’s anointed, that is as the Messiah.”

E.P Sanders another leading New Testament scholar of our time states that:

“Historical reconstruction is never absolutely certain, and in the case of Jesus it is sometimes highly uncertain. Despite this, we have a good idea of the main lines of his ministry and his message. We know who he was, what he did, what he taught, and why he died. ….. the dominant view [among scholars] today seems to be that we can know pretty well what Jesus was out to accomplish, that we can know a lot about what he said, and that those two things make sense within the world of first-century Judaism.”

Sanders goes on to say that, “I think we can be fairly certain that initially Jesus’ fame came as a result of healing, especially exorcism.”

Stanton, a prominent and widely respected New Testament scholar who now is deceased, once opined that “Few doubt that Jesus possessed unusual gifts as a healer, though of course varied explanations are offered.”

J Tomson, lecturer in the New Testament at Sydney Missionary and Bible College, Australia states that:

“Although he apparently considered himself the heavenly ‘Son of Man’ and ‘the beloved son’ of God and cherished far-reaching Messianic ambitions, Jesus was equally reticent about these convictions. Even so, the fact that, after his death and resurrection, his disciples proclaimed him as the Messiah can be understood as a direct development from his own teachings.”

Robert Grant, Professor Emeritus of Humanities and of New Testament and Early Christianity at the University of Chicago believes that, “Jesus introduced a very singular innovation. For he also claimed that he himself could forgive sins.”

Grant also writes that:

“Jesus lived his last days, and died, in the belief that his death was destined to save the human race.”

Maurice Casey, another leading scholar of New Testament studies and history, says:

“He believed that his death would fulfil the will of God for the redemption of his people Israel.”

Again E.P. Sanders says “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.”

What this list of quotes from the most prominent New Testament scholars of our day evidences is that we can actually know quite a lot about the Jesus of history. In other words the majority consensus of historians is that Jesus actually existed, that we can actually know what he set out to accomplish, and what he seemed to have thought of himself. This is unlike the sketchy traditions we find in the secretive religions. Sometimes scholars are highly uncertain about the existence of some of these historical figures behind a few of the pagan religions.

Reason 8: The Jesus of history does not fit the profile of someone that would be a myth:

In almost all aspects of Jesus’ life he was unique. This was so compelling to those in his day that they followed him, even to their deaths. Today modern scholars continue to be surprised and intrigued by this man who walked the lands of 1st century Palestine. As Edwin Judge, a well-established historian at Macquarie University, notes:

“An ancient historian has no problem seeing the phenomenon of Jesus as an historical one. His many surprising aspects only help anchor him in history. Myth and legend would have created a more predictable figure. The writings that sprang up about Jesus also reveal to us a movement of thought and an experience of life so unusual that something much more substantial than the imagination is needed to explain it.”

C.S Lewis who is best known for his essays on Christianity and for the fantasy series‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Even as of now, almost 50 years after his death, Lewis’ writings are still among the most widely read and discussed within Christian communities. On top of this Lewis was also an avid scholar in medieval literature, and was one such man that was certainly well versed in the skill of writing. Regarding the Gospels he comments:

“All I am in private life is a literary critic and historian, that’s my job. And I am prepared to say on that basis if anyone thinks the Gospels are either legend or novels, then that person is simply showing his incompetence as a literary critic. I’ve read a great many novels and I know a fair amount about the legends that grew up among early people, and I know perfectly well the Gospels are not that kind of stuff.”

At the very centre of the Gospels are the activities, the life, the ministry and the person of Jesus. Much of what is recorded in the Gospels is concretely based in the historical record, and cannot be myth, or cannot even be compared to myth – as Lewis noted “the Gospels are not that kind of stuff.”

Reason 9: Much of these secretive pagan religions have little to do with concrete history:

If in the first place these secretive pagan religions had very little to even do with actual history, then why are some so adamant to draw conclusions that Jesus is a copy?
As Edwin Yamauchi, a historian and Professor Emeritus of History, notes:

“All of these myths are repetitive, symbolic representations of the death and rebirth of vegetation. These are not historical figures …”

Leading New Testament scholar and philosopher William Lane Craig writes:

“In fact, most scholars have come to doubt whether, properly speaking, there really were any myths of dying and rising gods at all!”

Reason 10: Terrible, scrappy, dishonest scholarly work – the case in point of Dorothy Murdock:

Another somewhat known mythicist would be that of Dorothy Murdock. I’ve interacted with her personally on her Facebook page, Youtube channel, as well as also having consulted some of her articles on her website ‘The Christ Conspiracy‘.
That did not end well as when I tried to point out faults in her arguments (and they are many and obvious!) I was accused of being a sexist and a chauvinist. But hey, I never claimed to be perfect! 🙂
But on a serious note that, literally, was her response to me, and I was subsequently banned from her Facebook page.
There is also a lengthy back and forth text based debate on Mike Licona’s website ‘Risen Jesus‘ that is open to all that are interested in the whole mythicist debacle (see reference at bottom). Licona is another leading New Testament scholar of today, and he critiqued Murdock’s work rather convincingly. In fact, some of the quotes below come from Licona in that interaction. He also consulted scholars in specialized fields of expertise to further comment on Murdock’s thesis, I include these quotes.

Now, I don’t mean to belittle Murdock or intend this to be a personal attack, that is not my intention here, but what this will go to show is how the majority of scholars in the relevant fields view those in the mythicist camps.

Firstly, Bart Ehrman, who is no friend of Christianity, reviews Murdock’s book ‘The Christ Conspiracy’ and says that:

“It is filled with so many factual errors and outlandish assertions that it is hard to believe the author is serious.”

He goes on to write that “all of Acharya’s major points are in fact wrong”, and that “Mythicists of this ilk should not be surprised that their views are not taken seriously by real scholars, mentioned by experts in the field, or even read by them.”

Even the atheist scholar Bob Price calls Murdock’s book “sophomoric.” He also commented that her book is “a random bag of (mainly recycled) eccentricities, some few of them worth considering, most dangerously shaky, many outright looney.”

In her book, she claims that Jesus was a copy of one the Hindu god, Krishna. In fact, Murdock is even willing to take this further in her book ‘Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled’. However, regarding this point that Krishna was crucified before Jesus, Edwin Bryant, Professor of Hinduism at Rutgers University and who has translated the Bhagavata-Purana (life of Krishna) for Penguin World Classics, responds:

“That is absolute and complete non-sense. There is absolutely no mention anywhere which alludes to a crucifixion.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about! Vithoba was a form of Krishna worshipped in the state of Maharashtra. There are absolutely no Indian gods portrayed as crucified.”

Regarding the alleged parallels that Murdock tries to draw between Hinduism and Christianity, Benjamin Walker in his book ‘The Hindu World: An Encyclopedic Survey of Hinduism’ writes:

“[t]here can be no doubt that the Hindus borrowed the tales [from Christianity], but not the name.”

Murdock further claims that Christianity has failed in India because “the Brahmans have recognized Christianity as a relatively recent imitation of their much older traditions.” To this, Bryant simply commented, “Stupid comment.”

Mike Licona goes on to say that “Murdock’s claim that Christianity has borrowed substantially from Hinduism is without merit. Her claims are false, unsupported, and exhibit a lack of understanding of the Hindu faith.”

In addition to Krishna, Murdock cites similarities between the Buddha and Jesus as an example of how Christianity has borrowed from Buddhism. Professor Chun-fang Yu is on the Chair of the Department of Religion at Rutgers, and is a specialist in Buddhist studies comments:

“[The woman you speak of] is totally ignorant of Buddhism. It is very dangerous to spread misinformation like this. You should not honor [Ms. Murdock] by engaging in a discussion. Please ask [her] to take a basic course in world religion or Buddhism before uttering another word about things she does not know.”

Subsequently, Murdock writes on Josephus who mentions Jesus in his writing, ‘The Antiquities of the Jews’: “Although much has been made of these ‘references,’ they have been dismissed by scholars and Christian apologists alike as forgeries, as have been those referring to John the Baptist and James, ‘brother of Jesus.’”
In return Mike Licona comments that:

“Murdock’s claim is grossly naïve as well as false. Josephus’ passage on John the Baptist is regarded as authentic and is hardly disputed by scholars. Edwin Yamauchi, Professor of History at Miami University writes, “No scholar has questioned the authenticity of this passage, though there are some differences between Josephus’s account and that in the Gospels . . .” New Testament scholar, Robert Van Voorst of Western Theological Seminary likewise comments that the passage by Josephus on John the Baptist is “held to be undoubtedly genuine by most interpreters” and that “scholars also hold [it] to be independent of the New Testament.”
John Meier, professor of New Testament at The Catholic University of America writes that Josephus’ mentioning of John the Baptist is “accepted as authentic by almost all scholars” and that it “is simply inconceivable as the work of a Christian of any period.” Jewish scholar, Louis Feldman of Yeshiva University and perhaps the most prominent expert on Josephus comments on this passage: “There can be little doubt as to the genuineness of Josephus’ passage about John the Baptist.” Therefore, Murdock’s comment that this passage has “been dismissed by scholars and Christian apologists alike as forgeries” is demonstrably false.”

In her work, Murdock claims that myth enveloped early Christianity due to “the signs or constellations of the zodiac.”

In response to this Noel Swerdlow, a Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago responds that:

“…she is saying something that no one would have thought of in antiquity because in which constellation of the fixed stars the vernal equinox was located, was of no significance and is entirely an idea of modern, I believe twentieth-century, astrology.”

Mike Licona in response to Murdock claiming that Jesus never existed in history provides a challenge:

“I challenge Ms. Murdock to name someone other than Jesus who lived in the first century (e.g., Augustus, Tiberius, Nero, etc.), who is mentioned by 17 writers who do not share his convictions, and who write within 150 years of his life. No first century person was as well attested as Jesus”

Things become even more woeful for Murdock when Mike researched the sources that she had cited behind her work:

“Practically all of her sources are secondary rather than primary sources. For example, she quotes Adolf Hitler as saying that it was his Christian convictions which led him to attempt to exterminate the Jews. Where did Hitler say this? We cannot know from reading her book, because her source is The Woman’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets! On still another point, she quotes Otto Schmiedel. However, when you look at the endnote, you find that her source is Rudolf Steiner, a mystic.”

Licona goes on to give an analogy regarding Murdock’s work: “It is like someone arguing that terrorism is justified and cites ten terrorists claiming that terrorism is just. However, this does nothing to support their position that terrorism is justified; only that some believe that it is. It also indicates that she has not checked out the claims of her sources, but rather uncritically accepts what they say.”

Mike Licona concludes: “But in terms of this book being a responsible account of the origin of Christianity, it is unsalvageable.”

Now, it would be wise of me not to broadly define all those in the mythicist camp in the same light as Murdock, others like Price and Carrier would require more attention even though they are not seen as convincing by any means to the vast majority of scholars in relevant fields. It is work like Murdock’s that has caused almost everyone in mainstream scholarship to turn their heads the other way.

Reason 11: None of the mythicist scholars are scholars in the relevant fields of expertize on which they write:

Before we are to consider any of the arguments that the mythicist brings to the table our antennas should immediately shoot up. We ought to wonder why no-one in any of the relevant fields, or anyone that actually lectures at accredited campuses around the world seem to hold these radical views. As the Professor of New Testament Studies, Ben Witherington, notes:

“Not a single one of these authors and sources are experts in the Bible, Biblical history, the Ancient Near East, Egyptology, or any of the cognate fields….they are not reliable sources of information about the origins of Christianity, Judaism, or much of anything else of relevance to this discussion.”

John Dickson, a historian of religion of early Christianity and Judaism, states:

“But anyone who dips into the thousands of secular monographs and journal articles on the historical Jesus will quickly discover that mythicists are regarded by 99.9% of the scholarly community as complete “outliers,” the fringe of the fringe.”

Subsequently Michael Bird, who is on the editorial board for the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, as well is a Fellow of the Centre for Public Christianity, goes on to write:

“There is a reason why this view is the sole possession of an energetic bunch of fringe atheists and has never been entertained as a possibility by experienced and respected scholars working in the field of Christian Origins.”

It seems that many of these mythicists are known to be atheists, and of the atheist crowd that is vocally anti-religion. Could this be why many of them are proponents of the mythicist theory? It would make sense, as what better way is there to try to discredit a religion than to attack the person behind it, in this case Jesus. As Mettinger writes, I believe likewise: “From the 1930s. . . a consensus has developed to the effect that the ‘dying and rising gods’ died but did not return or rise to live again. Those who still think differently are looked upon as residual members of an almost extinct species.”

Reason 12: Jesus’ virgin birth is unique:

One of the events many Christians around the world celebrate on December 25th is that of Jesus’ birth. Of course no-where in the Biblical record does it anywhere allude to this specific date of Jesus’ birth, we simply do not know when Jesus was born. But regarding the uniqueness of Mary’s virginal conception the prominent Biblical scholar Raymond Brown concludes:

“No search for parallels has given us a truly satisfactory explanation of how early Christians happened upon the idea of a virginal conception…”

For those who claim that Mithras, a pagan god, was born of a virgin in the exact same manner as Jesus was, Manfred Clauss, professor of ancient history at the Free University of Berlin, in his book ‘The Roman Cult of Mithras‘ explains:

“The sequence of images from the mythical account of Mithras’ life and exploits begins, so far as we can make out, with the god’s birth. The literary sources here are few but unmistakable: Mithras was known as the rock-born god.”

Subsequently, following his own critical examination of this allegation, Louis Matthews Sweet writes:

“After a careful, laborious, and occasionally wearisome study of the evidence offered and the analogies urged, I am convinced that heathenism knows nothing of virgin births. Supernatural births it has without number, but never from a virgin in the New Testament sense and never without physical generation, except in a few isolated instances of magical births on the part of women who had not the slightest claim to be called virgins. In all recorded instances which I have been able to examine, if the mother was a virgin before conception took place she could not make that claim afterward.”

In his book ‘The Virgin Birth’ Thomas Boslooper notes that: “The literature of the world is prolific with narratives of unusual births, but it contains no precise analogy to the virgin birth in Matthew and Luke. Jesus’ ‘virgin birth’ is not ‘pagan’.”

Notable philosopher and New Testament scholar William Lane Craig writes:

“The Gospel stories of Jesus’ virginal conception are, in fact, without parallel in the ancient Near East.”

If anything Jesus’ radical virginal birth is explicitly unique, and this has convinced the vast majority of scholars in the field. It seems that those who claim otherwise go against the flow of historical scholarship.

Reason 13: Jesus’ death had a radical impact on his disciples, and many people – no pagan god can boast such a thing:

In an article on the New York Times Peter Steinfels, an American journalist and educator best known for his writings on religious topics, questions what could have drastically changed the lives of so many after Jesus’ death:

“Shortly after Jesus was executed, his followers were suddenly galvanized from a baffled and cowering group into people whose message about a living Jesus and a coming kingdom, preached at the risk of their lives, eventually changed an empire. Something happened … But exactly what?”

Even the leading sceptical New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, notes that “We can say with complete certainty that some of his disciples at some later time insisted that . . . he soon appeared to them, convincing them that he had been raised from the dead.”

E.P Sanders writes: “That Jesus’ followers (and later Paul) had resurrection experiences is, in my judgment, a fact. What the reality was that gave rise to the experiences I do not know.”

Rudolph Bultmann, hailed to be one of the most influential scholars of the New Testament writes:

“All that historical criticism can establish is that the first disciples came to believe the resurrection.”

Luke Johnson, a New Testament scholar at Emory University, goes on to say that:

“Some sort of powerful, transformative experience is required to generate the sort of movement earliest Christianity was.”

Dale C. Allision another prominent New Testament scholar, and ancient historian notes that, “I am sure that the disciples saw Jesus after his death.”

What makes this case even more compelling is that these very same followers, and the sceptics Paul and James, all went to their deaths proclaiming that Jesus had really appeared to them (with the exception of John who was exiled to the island of Patmos). What could have drastically changed the lives of so many men? Myth cannot account for this.

Reason 14: Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is unique:

As an event of history within the context of the 1st century Jewish culture, the resurrection of Jesus is a unique once off event. The alleged parallels that the mythicists seem to draw between Jesus and the pagan gods are spurious.
As New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman notes:

“there’s nothing about them [Hercules and Osiris] dying and rising again.” and “It is true that Osiris “comes back” to earth …. But this is not a resurrection of his body. His body is still dead. He himself is down in Hades, and can come back up to make an appearance on earth on occasion.”

T.D. Mettinger writes: “there were no ideas of resurrection connected with Dumuzi / Tammuz” and “The category of dying and rising deities as propagated by Frazer can no longer be upheld.”

Edwin Yamauchi: “there’s no resurrection of Marduk or Dionysus …… there was no real resurrection of Tammuz.”

Jonathan Z. Smith in ‘The Encyclopaedia of Religion‘: “There is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity.”

T.N. Mettinger of Lund University says that:

“While studied with profit against the background of Jewish resurrection belief, the faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus retains its unique character in the history of religions. The riddle remains.”

Professor Ronald Nash adds:

“Allegations of an early Christian dependence on Mithraism have been rejected on many grounds. Mithraism had no concept of the death and resurrection of its god and no place for any concept of rebirth—at least during its early stages.”

Prominent theologian Norman Geisler writes that there is vast distinction between Osiris’ and Jesus’ resurrection:

“The only known account of a god surviving death that predates Christianity is the Egyptian cult god Osiris. In this myth, Osiris is cut into fourteen pieces, scattered around Egypt, then reassembled and brought back to life by the goddess Isis. However, Osiris does not actually come back to physical life but becomes a member of a shadowy underworld…This is far different than Jesus’ resurrection account.”

We can see that leading experts in the field unanimously note that these alleged parallels are actually not parallels at all, but are instead spurious and forced comparisons on all levels. Not only that, but all of these alleged pagan gods post-date Christianity, and therefore the ones doing the copying could not have been the Christians of 1st century Palestine. The only alleged parallel that precedes the advent of early Christianity is that of the Egyptian god Osiris, but as we see there is absolutely no logical connection to the Jesus of history, as Norman Geisler noted.

Reason 15: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Mithras is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Mithras, they claim in the following comparisons that Mithras was:

1. Mithras sacrificed himself.
2. He was resurrected.
3. He had disciples.
4. Mithra was born of a virgin on December 25th.
5. He was called the Messiah.
6. He was born from a virgin.

This is immediately very iffy as very little is known about Mithraism, because no texts have been found, or none exist. What we know comes from archaeology in the form of hundreds of mithraea having been found, and in the writings of Christians and other pagans in the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

Secondly, scholars have found no clear evidence of Mithraism until the mid to late 1st century, after Christianity was established. Therefore the early Christians could not copy anything, as there was nothing to copy in the first place.

Thirdly, the comparisons are spurious on all levels. As for starters Mithras did not sacrifice himself at all, and no-one actually knows if or how he died. Scholars seem to think that Mithras was killed by a bull. This killing of by the bull seems to be the source of the Mithraic ritual, known as taurobolium, of killing a bull and allowing the blood to drench the worshiper. Now, there may be parallels between this ritual and Jewish animal sacrifice, or the Christian Eucharist, but the earliest reference to the ritual is the middle of the 2nd century – these comparisons, even if accurate, are spurious, and post-date Christianity. As Ronald Nash notes:

“Indeed, there is inscriptional evidence from the fourth century A.D. that, far from influencing Christianity, those who used the taurobolium were influenced by Christianity”

As, in the first place, we have no record of Mithras actually dying, there is no record of him being resurrected either, especially not in the way like Jesus seemingly was.

The claim that Mithras had disciples is incorrect, there is no evidence that he existed as a historical figure, and there is no evidence that he had any disciples. He was seen as a god, and not as a human.

Fourthly, Mithras was not born of a virgin, unless we count rocks as virgins. As Clauss, a professor of ancient history at the Free University of Berlin, in his book ‘The Roman Cult of Mithras‘ explains:

“The sequence of images from the mythical account of Mithras’ life and exploits begins, so far as we can make out, with the god’s birth. The literary sources here are few but unmistakable: Mithras was known as the rock-born god.”

Fifthly, I would encourage anyone to forward me evidence that Mithras was referred to as the “Messiah”, because there is no evidence of this.

As Professor Gary Lease of the University of California concludes:

“After almost 100 years of unremitting labor, the conclusion appears inescapable that neither Mithraism nor Christianity proved to be an obvious and direct influence upon the other”

Also, the scholar Edwin Yamauchi states: “We don’t know anything about the death of Mithras…We have a lot of monuments, but we have almost no textual evidence, because this was a secret religion. But I know of no references to a supposed death and resurrection.”

Reason 16: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Horus is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Horus, they claim in the following comparisons that Horus was:

1. Born on December 25
2. Mary, Jesus’ mother, is a copy of the Horus account.
3. Born of a virgin.
4. Three kings came to adore the new-born “saviour”.
5. Was a saviour.
6. He became a child teacher at the age of 12.
7. Like Jesus, Horus was “baptized”.
8. He had a “ministry”.
9. Had twelve “disciples”
10. Was crucified, was buried for three days, and was resurrected after three days.

Horus was born during month of Khoiak, this would be either October or November, and certainly not December 25 as the mythicist claims. Immediately we should note that we don’t actually know when Jesus was born, and it most likely was not on the 25th of December. This alleged parallel should immediately be rejected.

Secondly, Horus was born to Isis, and there is no mention in history of her being called “Mary” at any time or place, or by anyone. Even worse for those using this as an alleged parallel is that “Mary” is an Anglicized form of her real name which is actually Miryam or Miriam, therefore, “Mary” was not even used in the original manuscripts.

Thirdly, Isis was not a virgin. Isis was actually the widow of Osiris and conceived Horus with Osiris.
We read: that “[Isis] made to rise up the helpless members [penis] of him whose heart was at rest, she drew from him his essence [sperm], and she made therefrom an heir [Horus].”(Encyclopaedia Mythica)

Fourthly, there is no record of three kings visiting Horus at his birth. This becomes even more erroneous as the Gospel accounts never even state the actual number of magi that came to see Jesus at his birth. This parallel is likely conjured up in the mythicist’s mind because we they can recall three different gifts (gold, frankincense and myrrh) Jesus received when he was born, and therefore, conclude that there were three kings. I would encourage anyone to read over Gospels in Matthew 2:1-12.

Fifthly, Horus was not even a saviour by any means; he did not even die for anyone like Jesus did.

Sixthly, I would challenge anyone to produce a single piece of evidence that tells us of Horus being a teacher at the age of 12. There is none that scholars have ever found.

Seventhly, Horus was also not “baptized”, at least not like Jesus was at the hands of John the Baptist in the Jordan river. The only account of Horus that involves water is one story where Horus is torn to pieces, with Isis requesting the crocodile god to fish him out of the water. Sounds like a baptism doesn’t it?

We have no account of Horus ever having a “ministry”, especially not one like Jesus’.

Horus also did not have 12 disciples. According to data, Horus had four demigods that followed him, and there are some indications of 16 human followers and an unknown number of blacksmiths that went into battle with him. So, I ask, where are these 12 disciples?

Tenthly, there are different accounts of how Horus actually died, but none of them ever involves a crucifixion.

Lastly, we have no accounts of Horus even being buried for three days. We have no accounts of Horus being resurrected, and especially not in the bodily form as Jesus was. There is no account of Horus coming out of the grave with the body he went in with. Some accounts have Horus/Osiris being brought back to life by Isis and then becoming the lord of the underworld.

All these alleged parallels are spurious at best. I would encourage anyone reading this to just do an hour of research on this Horus-Jesus contention. You will end up scratching your head like I am.

Reason 17: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Dionysus is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Dionysus, they claim in the following comparisons that Dionysus was:

1. Born of a virgin.
2. Born on the 25th of December.
3. Turned water into wine.

Point 2 can immediately be dismissed as we don’t know when Jesus was born. Anyway, Dionysus is associated with the annual return of spring.

Secondly, there are two common stories of Dionysus’ birth. One story involves the god Zeus, who is his father, either impregnating the mortal woman Semele, or impregnating Persephone (the Greek Queen of the underworld). This has nothing to do with a virgin birth.
In the other narrative it is also not a virgin birth at all. It also seems that this story copied the Biblical text as it seems to describe what the book of Genesis said thousands of years before. In this narrative of Dionysus’ birth it describes fallen angels, and then impregnating human women.
So who is then doing the copying?

We are all likely familiar with the story of Jesus turning water into wine, but was this a copy from the pagan god Dionysus? Firstly, Dionysus gave King Midas the power to turn whatever he touched into gold. Also, he gave the daughters of King Anius the power to turn whatever they touched into wine, corn, or oil. But this should hardly be surprising as Dionysus was the god of wine.
However, there do seem to be stories where Dionysus supernaturally fills empty vessels with wine, but the actual act of turning water into wine does not occur.

Reason 18: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Krishna is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Krishna, they claim in the following comparisons that Krishna was:

1. Born of a virgin.
2. That there was an infant massacre.
3. That there was a star in the East that guided the wise men to his birth.
4. Was crucified.
5. Was resurrected.
6. Krishna’s father was a carpenter, like Jesus’ father.

Firstly, never is a virgin birth attributed to Krishna. In fact, his parents had seven previous children. Some mythicists claim that Krishna was born to the virgin Maia, however what we find is that this is incorrect, according to Hindu texts Krishna is the eighth son of Princess Devaki and her husband Vasudeva.

In the Gospels we see that King Herod felt threatened of Jesus’ birth, and resorted to killing the infants in Bethlehem. Is this a copy from a narrative concerning Krishna?
What we find is that Devaki’s six previous children were murdered by her cousin, King Kamsa, due to a prophecy foretelling his death at the hands of one of her children. This narrative tells us Kamsa only targeted Devaki’s sons, and never issued a command to kill male infants, unlike the Gospel accounts. We read in ‘Bhagavata, Bk 4, XXII:7“Thus the six sons were born to Devaki and Kamsa, too, killed those six sons consecutively as they were born.”

Thirdly, what about the star, and the wise men? This is logically fallacious as Krishna was born in a prison, and not a stable. His parents bore him in secret.

Some have even alleged that Krishna was crucified like Jesus was, but crucifixion is never once mentioned in any Hindu text. However, we are actually told how Krishna dies. The narrative tells us that he was mediating in the woods when he is accidentally shot in the foot by a hunter’s arrow.

What about a resurrection? Firstly, we have zero evidence that Krishna descended into the grave for three days and appeared to many witnesses like Jesus did, as the mythicist claims.
Instead, the actual account says that Krishna immediately returns to life and speaks only to the hunter by forgiving him of his actions.

Nevertheless, there are obvious differences between the resurrections of Jesus and Krishna’s appearance to the hunter who killed him. These are:

•Jesus’ resurrection defeated the power of sin and death. Krishna’s resurrection had no real effect on mankind.

•Jesus appeared to approximately 500 eye witnesses in the New Testament. Krishna appeared only to the hunter.

•Jesus rose from the dead three days later. Krishna immediately returned to life.

•Jesus did not ascend into Heaven until after the Great Commission. Krishna immediately “ascended” into the afterlife.

•Jesus was aware of what was to take place. Krishna had no foreknowledge concerning his death.

•Jesus ascended into a physical realm (Heaven). Krishna transcended into a mental state (or inconceivable region). The concepts between Heaven (Christianity) and Nirvana (Hinduism) differ greatly.

Lastly, was Krishna’s father, Vasudeva, a carpenter like Jesus’ Earthly father was? In fact, it is true that Krishna’s father was also said to be a carpenter, yet this is not evidenced anywhere within the Hindu texts. What we are told is that Vasudeva was a nobleman in the courts of Mathura as he was married to Princess Devaki. However, when Krishna fled the wrath of Kamsa with his foster parents, we are told his foster-father Nanda was a cow herder: “Thou art the most beloved of Nanda, the Cow-herd”(Bhagavata, Bk 8, I, pg 743).

Reason 19: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Attis is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Attis, they claim in the following comparisons that Attis was:

1. Born of a virgin.
2. Born on the 25th of December.
3. Crucified.
4. Was resurrected.

Before anything is to be considered, the accounts we have of Attis are wide ranging, and thus are not very reliable.

Anyway, we can see that Attis was not born of a virgin. In fact, according to this legend, Agdistis arises from the Earth as a descendant of Zeus. Agdistis gives birth to the Sangarius river which brings forth the nymph, Nana, who either holds an almond to her breast and becomes impregnated by the almond or sits beneath a tree where an almond falls into her lap and impregnates her. Nana later abandons the child who is then raised by a goat. We are left to assume Attis was conceived from an almond seed which fell from a tree as a result of Zeus’ spilled semen. Not a virgin birth.

Again, as mentioned repeatedly before, the 25th of December has no significance at all, we don’t know when Jesus was born, therefore, any alleged parallel cannot, logically, be a pagan parallel.

Thirdly, what about a crucifixion? Again, we see that this is a false parallel. We see that Attis castrates himself beneath a pine tree, and dies from bleeding to death. Attis castrates himself after he is made to go insane before his wedding by Agdistis. Subsequently, his blood flows onto the ground from his severed penis and brings forth a patch of violets. How is a crucifixion remotely hinted at here?

Fourthly, was Attis resurrected like Jesus was? There are different accounts of this. In one narrative we find that Agdistis is overcome with remorse for what she had done (causing Attis to castrate himself and die because of it), and thus requests for Zeus to preserve the corpse of Attis so that it never decomposes. Where is the resurrection?
Now, in the other account, Agdistis and The Great Mother carry the pine tree
back to a cave where they both mourn the death of Attis. There is no resurrection here. The resurrection story doesn’t surface until much later when Attis is transformed into a pine tree. Being transformed into a tree is vastly different from Jesus rising in bodily form from the dead.

It is now obvious that Jesus is anything but a copy of the pagan god Attis.

Reason 20: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Buddha (Gautama) is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Buddha, they claim in the following comparisons that Buddha was:

1. Born of a virgin.
2. There wise men at Buddha’s birth.
3. Presented with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
4. Born on the 25th of December.
5. Descended from a royal lineage, like did Jesus.
6. Crucified.

First off, Gautama was not born of a virgin, he was born to Suddhodana and his wife, Maya, of 20 years. Another reason for rejecting that Maya was a virgin is because she was the king’s favourite wife. The ‘Acts of the Buddha‘ shows us that Maya and her husband Suddhodana having sexual relations (“the two tasted of love’s delight…”).

Secondly, there seems to be no mention of wise men at all in the Buddhist texts. There also seems to be no record of these specific gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. What is, however, mentioned in a writing that post-dates Christianity we are told the gods (not wisemen) gave Gautama sandalwood, rain, water lilies, and lotus flowers for gifts – these are Buddhist symbols, and have nothing to do with Christianity. This is also not surprising as royal births are often celebrated with festivals and gifts in Buddhist culture.

Again, we are not told the birth date of Jesus, so this cannot, therefore, be a parallel. However, Gautama’s birth is celebrated in the spring month of Vesak by his followers, for interest sake.

Unlike Jesus, Gautama was an immediate royal descendant born into privilege. Jesus was a distant descendant of King David born into poverty. They are basically opposites.

There seems to be no mention of a crucifixion in any Buddhist source. In fact, we are told that Gautama actually dies of natural causes at the age of 80. His followers accompany him to a river and provide him with a couch:

“Be so good as to spread me a couch… I am weary and wish to lie down…’ Then the [Buddha] fell into a deep meditation, and having passed through the four jhanas, entered Nirvana.”

Reason 22: The notion that Jesus is a copy parallel of Zoroaster is rejected by scholars, here’s why:

Some claim that Jesus is a copy of Zoroaster, they claim in the following comparisons that Zoroaster was:

1. Born of a virgin.
2. Tempted in the wilderness.
3. Began his ministry at age 30, like Jesus.
4. Sacrificed for mankind’s sins.

There is no mention of a virgin birth in any Zoroastrian text nor do the events of Zoroaster’s birth seem to have any relation to Jesus. In fact, there are two different accounts of his birth.
In one narrative Zoroaster’s parents, Dukdaub and Pourushasp, were a normal married couple who conceived a son through natural means. Zoroaster is described as laughing when he is born as well as having a visible, glowing aura about him:

“[Zoroaster] had come into the posterity…who are Pourushasp, his father, and Dukdaub who is his mother. And also while he is being born and for the duration of life, he produced a radiance, glow, and brilliance from the place of his own abode…” (Denkard, Bk 5 2:1-2)

In the other narrative, which is a later text, an embellishment is added by the Zoroastrian followers. In this narrative we are told that Ahura Mazda (the main deity of Zoroastrianism) implants the soul of Zoroaster into the sacred Haoma plant and through the plant’s milk Zoroaster is born. Nothing like a virgin birth is present.

But was Zoroaster also tempted by an evil spirit to renounce his faith with the promise of receiving power over the nations, like Jesus was? This story is evident in theVendidad, a Zoroastrian text which lists the laws regarding demons. However, this was written well after the life of Jesus, it was written between 250 – 650 AD. Because of this late date the early Christians could not have copied anything in this text, anyway what we read sounds strikingly similar to Jesus’ 40 days in the desert, in the ‘Vendidad Fargad 19:6‘ we read:

“Again to him said the Maker of the evil world, Angra Mainyu: ‘Do not destroy my creatures, O holy Zarathushtra… Renounce the good Religion of the worshippers of Mazda, and thou shalt gain such a boon as…the ruler of the nations.’”

Like Jesus, Zoroaster was believed to have begun his teachings at the age of 30. Though Zoroaster technically came out of seclusion at the age of 30 to begin his teachings, he was shunned and ignored for 12 years until his religion was accepted by King Vishtaspa.
However, the narrative surrounding Jesus differs greatly. Jesus attracted followers instantly. Zoroaster was believed to be killed around the age of 77 while Jesus was killed at the age of 33.
This only becomes more spurious as Zoroaster is not mentioned until later texts dated to around 225 AD, that is almost 200 years after Christianity had already been in circulation. So who did the copying? Could not have been the early Christians.

Lastly, was Zoroaster’s death spiritually significant? It is believed Zoroaster was killed at the age of 77 after being slaughtered on one of his temple altars by Turanian invaders, however this aspect of his life is debated by scholars. Either way, his death was never believed to atone for sin or to hold any other spiritual purposes.

Reason 23: In a nutshell, Jesus’ crucifixion compared to other alleged deities is unique:

Kersey Graves in his book ‘The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors’, names the following as crucified deities, and therefore, the crucifixion of Jesus is a pagan copy. Well, let’s analyze these “crucifixions” to see if they actually, firstly, are crucifixions. If, in fact, they are crucifixions then we should compare them to Jesus’ crucifixion, and see if they are the same:

Mithras – Mithras was carried into heaven on a chariot, alive. This is not a crucifixion.

Bali – There are various accounts regarding Bali’s death. One says that he was forced down (bodily) into the underworld after being deceived by Vamana, an avatar of Vishnu. In other accounts, Bali is said to have been released and granted kingship. No crucifixion occurs in either story.

Romulus – Romulus was not crucified, but rather is said to have been taken up into the heavens whilst still alive.

Quirinus – No accounts seem to indicate him dying.

Iao and Wittoba – there seems to be no information regarding the deaths of these two figures in any original sources.

Orpheus – He was not crucified, but said to have been killed by Dionysus’ frenzied maenads after refusing to worship any god but Apollo.

Bel – He is often associated with Zeus, and no accounts seem to indicate his death.

Prometheus – He was chained to a mountain where an eagle ate his liver on a daily basis, as punishment from Zeus. Hercules would later free him. No crucifixion.

Indra – There are different accounts of Indra’s death. In one narrative he is swallowed alive by a serpent called Vritra. Vritra then spits him out at the commands of some other gods. Because Indra is saved by the gods there is no death, nor a crucifixion.

Dionysus – There is no crucifixion, instead he was eaten alive by Titans during infancy.

Esus/Hesus – His followers would participate in human sacrifices by hanging a victim from a tree after disembowelment. There is no mention of a crucifixion.

Attis – Attis bled to death after castrating himself below a tree.

Alcestis – Alcestis agrees to die for her husband after he makes a deal with the gods. When the time comes, Alcestis is described as being in bed. The gods are touched by her devotion, take pity on her, and reunite her with her husband. No crucifixion is indicated here.

Tammuz – He was allegedly killed by demons sent by Ishtar after she found him on her throne. Not a crucifixion.

Krishna – As we saw above, we know that Krishna was not crucified as he was shot in the foot with an arrow when he was meditating.

Osiris – Osiris was tricked by Set, then sealed into a chest, and dumped into the Nile. The method of crucifixion was not even invented by this time.

Questzalcoatl – Quetzalcoatl is never crucified at all. In one narrative he burns himself alive out of guilt for sleeping with a celibate priestess. In a different narrative we are told he was burnt by fire that was sent by the gods.

In Conclusion:

I think the nail has by now been knocked deep into the coffin of the mythicist. What we see in the case of the mythicist arguments are clearly spurious parallels that all post-date Christianity. For that reason it is just not possible for the early Christians to have copied anything, it is likely, as we saw explicitly with Zoroaster, that the pagan secretive religions did the copying of Jesus.

We have also seen that the vast majority of scholars in all the relevant fields of expertise see no parallels between the Jesus of history and that of the secret pagan religions. Not only do the scholars see that, but they also see the historical Jesus as a unique character of history, and that by seeing him within the light of 1st century Judaism this makes any interpolation of pagan parallels highly unlikely. The Jews were rigid monotheists, and moulded their community on that belief. We also see in the Gospels that the Jews have a very low view of the Roman pagans, and in the Old Testament saw the surrounding pagan religions as abhorrent – these are not the people who would incorporate pagan elements into their belief system. We have also seen that if Jesus was a pagan copy he would have been much more predictable, but he is not, he is utterly unique in his ministry, and with his impact on the world.

These are just some of the reasons that the mythicist argument is dead and buried, and has a long while been in that state. As Mettinger once wrote: “From the 1930’s. . . a consensus has developed to the effect that the ‘dying and rising gods’ died but did not return or rise to live again. Those who still think differently are looked upon as residual members of an almost extinct species.”

Additional resources:

Mike Licona vs. Dorothy Murdock – view the exchange here. (http://www.risenjesus.com/a-refutation-of-acharya-ss-book-the-christ-conspiracy)

To read our last article on Jesus and Pagan Myths, click here.