3 Reasons Jesus Probably Didn’t Exist

3 Reasons Jesus Probably Didn’t Exist

Jesus Probably Didn’t Exist

A lot of people either aren’t familiar with or don’t understand Mythicism. . So, today I want to tell you three reasons why I’m a mythicist and think Jesus probably didn’t exist. In another video, I will cover the lack of extra-biblical sources, but today I’ll cover a few things central to the mythicist argument that you may not know.

PhiloPhilo of Alexandria

First I want to introduce you to Philo of Alexandria. He is a first century Jew that was writing before Jesus supposedly pimp walked around Judea. He is important to the Mythicist position because he is a prime example of a Jew that believed in a pre-existent celestial being named Jesus who was the First born son of God, the celestial image of god, god’s agent of creation, and god’s celestial high priest 1 4. These are all things that describe Jesus in the New Testament, literally. There is a bible verse that matches every one of these claims made by Philo.

Philo was born around 10 – 20 BCE and died prior to 50 CE. Philo wrote a doctrine on the Logos of Judaism around 10 – 35 CE 7. This was a description of the very savior that is central to Christianity. In “On the Confusion of Tongues” #63, Philo says:

For the Father of the universe has caused him to spring up as the eldest son, whom, in another passage, he calls the firstborn; and he who is thus born, imitating the ways of his father, has formed such and such species, looking to his archetypal patterns 2.

In this passage Philo identifies this “eldest son” as the “firstborn” and who “[imitates] the ways of his father” and calls him as an agent of creation being that he “formed such and such species.” His idea of the Logos stems from an understanding of Jewish theology surrounding the messiah figure. The firstborn son idea is noted in Psa. 89:27; several verses identify the messiah as both God and man. The servant or agent of creation portion can be found in  several verses and include Zech. 3:8, and Zech. 6:12-13 which label him as both a priest and a king 4. Zechariah 6:11-12 even directly uses the name Jesus for the messiah 5. Philo is a perfect example of how Jews were looking to the Scriptures for a messiah figure and the Jesus character we ended up with is precisely the one Jewish theology described. Which leads me into my next point.

Biblical Prophecy

Scriptures

There is a list of 353 prophecies 6 in the Bible that supposedly prove that Jesus was indeed predicted, existed, and is God himself. To many apologists these prophecies are hands down proof that Jesus was real. What’s interesting is that none of the Gospels include Jesus fulfilling all prophesies. So  I ask you, what is more probable? That a man-God was born and fulfilled all of these prophecies … like all 353 of them? Or that groups of people who ended up writing the gospels had different ideas about which prophesies were fulfilled, writing in some, and leaving out others? Considering the fact that all the prophecies are filled in various gospels and none of the Gospels confirm every single prophecy of Jesus, nor were they recorded at the time the prophecy was supposedly fulfilled, it seems far more likely that the figure of Jesus was compiled from earlier, Jewish texts. All that aside, magical prophesy is questionable to begin with. Any natural explanation will always be far more probable than a supernatural one.

We know that the early Christians were using the scriptures to get their information about the Messiah for a couple of reasons. First we have Paul who stresses that he got his information from no man and only received information from revelation of the risen Christ and scriptures (Gal. 1:11-12, 1 Corinthians 15:1-8, 1 Corinthians 11:23)4. Then we have the first Gospel composed, which was Mark, which starts off by quoting a cobbled together prophecy from different parts of the Old Testament. This is proof that several different sects of Jewish-Christians were using the scriptures to determine information about this Messiah figure known as Jesus. They were not getting their information from actual historical accounts. I would say the likelihood of Jesus being created by these Jewish-Christians is higher than one guy just existing. While this may seem like an easy refutation of a Biblical Jesus, the fact that they were not recording history but instead writing theology is a substantial blow to the idea of a historical Jesus.

Literary Devices

Mirrors, Parallels, and Allusions

Finally, due to the fact that the first Jewish-Christians were using the scriptures to write theology and not history, you would expect to see this reflected in the Gospels, and we do. We see it all over the Gospels through allusions, parallels, mirroring, and other literary devices 3.

So allusions connect content currently being written about with ideas and emotions of past events. An example of allusions in the bible are miracles that Jesus performs. These connect Jesus to the prophets in the Old Testament that performed similar miracles. Raising people from the dead is a common allusion throughout the Bible. Luke’s account describing raising the son of the widow of Nain is an allusion to the raising of the dead son of the widow of Sarepta/Zarephath. The two stories are modeled exactly the same. Early Christians understood from Isaiah 26:19 that the messiah would raise the dead 3. They saw the miracles of the Old Testament to be allusions to this messiah. This is only one example of multiple allusions that occur throughout the Bible.

Parallels are also used in the New Testament to create an allusions to figures in the Old Testament. Matthew’s birth narrative of Jesus is a mirror of and allusion to Moses. In Moses’s story, Pharaoh goes to kill all the young Jewish boys, just like Herod did in Matthew, and Moses is hidden from Pharaoh, just like Jesus was in Matthew, until he couldn’t be hidden and he is sent away. Moses is picked up by the Pharaoh’s daughter and Jesus’s family escapes Judea to Egypt. Moses later flees Egypt but comes back to be the Jewish people’s savior. The same thing happens with Jesus. This is definitely a parallel and Jesus’s story is alluding to Moses’s story because he was one of the great prophets of the Old Testament. Matthew’s author purposely made this connection for theological purposes.

Another example is Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac, which is a parallel to God’s sacrifice of his son Jesus. God’s “sacrifice” is greater though, not because it actually happened in history, but because it had to be a bigger sacrifice given that this sacrifice “saved” man. These are theological constructions, not actual history. These examples are just a few of many parallels in the Bible.

So if the New Testament gospels are generated using the Old Testament, Paul only specifies scriptures and visions as his sources, and Philo of Alexandria lays out a template for the Messiah prior to these stories being circulated, then what real evidence do we have that cements Jesus in history? What is supposed to convince us that he wasn’t some made up figure to complement the Old Testament prophesies? Outside sources? I think not…

References

[1] Firstborn son of Philo

[2] On The Confusion of Tongues

[3] Gospel Fictions

[4] Historicity of Jesus Slides

[5] Zechariah 6 (Septuagint)

[6] 353 Prophecies

[7] Niehoff, Maren. “Sociology department at City College of New York”. P. 245

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