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The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth
Does Easter celebrate a man, a savior, or a myth? Some say Jesus never existed and was a myth created by early Christians.
April 7th, 2012
08:32 PM ET

The Jesus debate: Man vs. myth

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN)– Timothy Freke was flipping through an old academic book when he came across a religious image that some would call obscene.

It was a drawing of a third-century amulet depicting a naked man nailed to a cross. The man was born of a virgin, preached about being “born again” and had risen from the dead after crucifixion, Freke says.

But the name on the amulet wasn’t Jesus. It was a pseudonym for Osiris-Dionysus, a pagan god in ancient Mediterranean culture.  Freke says the amulet was evidence of something that sounds like sacrilege – and some would say it is: that Jesus never existed. He was a myth created by first-century Jews who modeled him after other dying and resurrected pagan gods, says Freke, author of  "The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?"

“If I said to you that there was no real Good Samaritan, I don’t think anyone would be outraged,” says Freke, one of a group of mythicists who say Jesus never existed. “It’s a teaching story. What we’re saying is that the Jesus story is an allegory. It’s a parable of the spiritual journey.”

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

On Easter Sunday, millions of Christians worldwide mark the resurrection of Jesus. Though Christians clash over many issues, almost all agree that he existed.

But there is another view of Jesus that’s been emerging, one that strikes at the heart of the Easter story. A number of authors and scholars say Jesus never existed. Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age.  But in the age of the Internet and self-publishing, these arguments have gained enough traction that some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on.

Most Jesus deniers are Internet kooks, says Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar who recently released a book devoted to the question called “Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth.”

Your comments on Jesus deniers

He says Freke and others who deny Jesus’ existence are conspiracy theorists trying to sell books.

“There are people out there who don’t think the Holocaust happened, there wasn’t a lone JFK assassin and Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.,” Ehrman says. “Among them are people who don’t think Jesus existed.”

Does it matter if Jesus existed?

Some Jesus mythicists say many New Testament scholars are intellectual snobs.

“I don’t think I’m some Internet kook or Holocaust denier,” says Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor who argues in “Deconstructing Jesus” that a historical Jesus probably didn’t exist.

“They say I’m a bitter ex-fundamentalist. It’s pathetic to see this character assassination. That’s what people resort to when they don’t have solid arguments.”

 The debate over Jesus’ existence has led to a curious role reversal. Two of the New Testament scholars who are leading the way arguing for Jesus’ existence have a reputation for attacking, not defending, traditional Christianity.

Ehrman, for example, is an agnostic who has written books that argue that virtually half  of the New Testament is forged. Another defender of Jesus’ existence is John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar who has been called a heretic because his books challenge some traditional Christian teachings.

But as to the existence of Jesus, Crossan says, he’s “certain.”

He says some Jesus deniers may be people who have a problem with Christianity.

“It’s a way of responding to something you don’t like,” Crossan says. “We can’t say that Obama doesn’t exist, but we can say that he’s not an American.  If we’re talking about Obama in the future, there are people who might not only say he wasn’t American, but he didn’t even exist.”

Does it even matter if Jesus existed? Can’t people derive inspiration from his teachings whether he actually walked the Earth?

Crossan says Jesus’ existence matters in the same way that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s existence mattered.

If King never existed, people would say his ideas are lovely, but they could never work in the real world, Crossan says.

It’s the same with an historical Jesus, Crossan writes in his latest book, “The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus.”

“The power of Jesus’ historical life challenges his followers by proving at least one human being could cooperate fully with God. And if one, why not others? If some, why not all?”

The evidence against Jesus’ existence

Those who argue against Jesus’ existence make some of these points:

-The uncanny parallels between pagan stories in the ancient world and the stories of Jesus.

-No credible sources outside the Bible say Jesus existed.

-The Apostle Paul never referred to a historical Jesus.

Price, author of “Deconstructing Jesus,” says the first-century Western world was full of stories of a martyred hero who is called a son of God.

“There are ancient novels from that period where the hero is condemned to the cross and even crucified, but he escapes and survives it,” Price says. “That looks like Jesus.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus often cite two external biblical sources: the Jewish historian Josephus who wrote about Jesus at the end of the first century and the Roman historian Tacitus, who wrote about Jesus at the start of the second century.

But some scholars say Josephus’ passage was tampered with by later Christian authors. And Price says the two historians are not credible on Jesus.

“Josephus and Tacitus – they both thought Hercules was a true figure,” Price says. “Both of them spoke of Hercules as a figure that existed.”

Price concedes that there were plenty of mythical stories that were draped around historical figures like Caesar. But there’s plenty of secular documentation to show Caesar existed.

“Everything we read about Jesus in the gospels conforms to the mythic hero,” Price says. “There’s nothing left over that indicates that he was a real historical figure.”

Those who argue for the existence of Jesus cite another source: the testimony of the Apostle Paul and Jesus’ early disciples. Paul even writes in one New Testament passage about meeting James, the brother of Jesus.

These early disciples not only believed Jesus was real but were willing to die for him. People don’t die for myths, some biblical scholars say.

They will if the experience is powerful enough, says Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History.”

Carrier says it’s probable that Jesus never really existed and that early Christians experienced a mythic Jesus who came to them through visions and revelations.

Two of the most famous stories in the New Testament – the conversion of Paul and the stoning death of Stephen, one of the first Christian martyrs - show that people seized by religious visions are willing to die, Carrier says.

In both the Paul and Stephen stories, the writers say that they didn’t see an actual Jesus but a heavenly vision of Jesus, Carrier says.

People “can have powerful religious experiences that don’t correspond to reality,” Carrier says.

“The perfect model is Paul himself,” Carrier says. “He never met Jesus. Paul only had an encounter with this heavenly Jesus. Paul is completely converted by this religious experience, but no historical Jesus is needed for that to happen.”

As for the passage where Paul says he met James, Jesus’ brother, Carrier says:

“The problem with that is that all baptized Christians were considered brothers of the Lord.”

The evidence for Jesus’ existence

Some scholars who argue for the existence of Jesus says the New Testament mentions actual people and events that are substantiated by historical documents and archaeological discoveries.

Ehrman, author of “Did Jesus Exist?” scoffed at the notion that the ancient world was full of pagan stories about dying deities that rose again.  Where’s the proof? he asks.

Ehrman devoted an entire section of his book to critiquing Freke, the mythicist and author of “The Jesus Mysteries: Was the ‘Original Jesus’ a Pagan God?” who says there was an ancient Osiris-Dionysus figure who shares uncanny parallels to Jesus.

He says Freke can’t offer any proof that an ancient Osiris figure was born on December 25, was crucified and rose again. He says Freke is citing 20th- and 19th-century writers who tossed out the same theories.

Ehrman says that when you read ancient stories about mythological figures like Hercules and Osiris, “there’s nothing about them dying and rising again.”

“He doesn’t know much about ancient history,” Ehrman says of Freke. “He’s not a scholar. All he knows is what he’s read in other conspiracy books.”

Craig A. Evans, the author of “Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence,” says the notion that Paul gave his life for a mythical Jesus is absurd.

He says the New Testament clearly shows that Paul was an early enemy of the Christian church who sought to stamp out the burgeoning Jesus movement.

“Don’t you think if you were in Paul’s shoes, you would have quickly discovered that there was no Jesus?” Evans asks.  “If there was no Jesus, then how did the movement start?”

Evans also dismissed the notion that early Christians blended or adopted pagan myths to create their own mythical Jesus. He says the first Christians were Jews who despised everything about pagan culture.

“For a lot of Jewish people, the pagan world was disgusting,” Evans says. “I can’t imagine [the Gospel writer] Matthew making up a story where he is drawing parallels between Jesus’ birth and pagan stories about Zeus having sex with some fair maiden.”

The words of Jesus also offer proof that he actually existed, Evans says.  A vivid personality practically bursts from the pages of the New Testament: He speaks in riddles, talks about camels squeezing through the eye of a needle, weeps openly and even loses his temper.

Evans says he is a man who is undeniably Jewish, a genius who understands his culture but also transcends his tradition with gem-like parables.

“Who but Jesus could tell the Parable of the Good Samaritan?” Evans says. “Where does this bolt of lightning come from? You don’t get this out of an Egyptian myth.”

Those who argue against the existence of Jesus say they aren’t trying to destroy people’s faith.

“I don’t have any desire to upset people,” says Freke. “I do have a passion for the truth. … I don’t think rational people in the 20th century can go down a road just on blind faith.”

Yet Easter was never just about rationale.

The Easter stories about the resurrection are strange: Disciples don’t recognize Jesus as they meet him on the road; he tells someone not to touch him; he  eats fish in another.

In the Gospel of Matthew, a resurrected Jesus suddenly appears to a group of disciples and gives them this cryptic message:

“Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

And what did they see: a person, a pagan myth or a savior?

Albert Schweitzer, a 20th-century theologian and missionary, suggested that there will never be one answer to that question.  He said that looking for Jesus in history is like looking down a well: You see only your own reflection.

The “real” Jesus, Schweitzer says, will remain “a stranger and an enigma,” someone who is always ahead of us.

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Art • Belief • Books • Church • Culture wars • Easter • Easter • Faith • History • Jesus • Uncategorized • Virgin Mary

soundoff (8,773 Responses)
  1. levy214

    Any bible thumpher.. please explain the correlation between church density in economically challenged areas (a church on every corner) and blessings to the community. Are the churches stepping over each other trying to help the weak, under educated and deprived? Or are they merely sucking the "sap" out of a vulnerable community? Not seeing much improvements.. sky daddy must work in mysterious ways!

    April 13, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
    • CCN

      Lazybone! get off that couch and help someone in need.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:52 pm |
  2. levy214

    There is no God! period!

    April 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
    • Muneef

      Right;
      There is no GOD but Allah.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
  3. anonymous

    Jesus stuff is all myth...I do agree he was an actual HUMAN being

    April 13, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
    • Jeff

      (SARCASTICALLY)- You are going to He11 then. This book I have says so....
      Religion especially Christianity was the orginal "crowd-control", deterant of doing stuff the leader forbid. Could you imagine someone standing up in the dark ages and professing that if a God existed then prove it. I am sure if that happened you dissappeared, and not by Gods hand.....

      April 13, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
  4. sam

    well i think there is some serious issues with people especially in the west/USA. Many of them are outspoken atheists and defend it aggressively. not even defend they even attack Christianity... why is that? if you don't believe in God then keep quiet.. why are you consumed all the time in the thought of a god who never existed. Let people have freedom like you... live and let live, atheists...

    April 13, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • Commenter

      sam, "if you don't believe in God then keep quiet."

      Fine... and if you do believe in "God" then you keep quiet too, and quit trying to run the country with your imaginary being and fantasy rules.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
    • Jeff

      Why dont you set the example. The problem with religion is the people who beleive in something they cannot see, hear, touch, or prove get very distained when there is an argument against. In this day and era the argument against religion is much easier than for. BTW, dont let your priest catch you watching Harry Potter, you might end up in He11....

      April 13, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • levy214

      Very funny..I bet you hear that a lot as well. Explain why you deny science.. encourage changing curriculum to be more in line with your doctrine, deny global warming, deny gay rights, encourage fighting wars against your opponent (Islam). I dont perceive that as being quit.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
    • sam stone

      sammie when the religious stop interfering with others civil rights, we have an obligation to speak up.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:04 pm |
  5. Psalm 100

    1 Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

    2 Worship the LORD with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.

    3 Know that the LORD is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his[a];
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

    4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.

    5 For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations

    April 13, 2012 at 1:57 pm |
    • levy214

      your god was created to rule over people like you 2000 years ago when thunder was seen as an act of a mythical God!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • Jeff

      Thats great. Quote from a book written by a mortal man. Religion is the root of evil. The posts always show it touches a nerve. Christianity has a dark horrible background with murder, blackmail, and atrocity just like everthing else. During the crusades christians slogan was "convert or die". Religion=circular logic, I cant see it, touch it, but like he11 you better beleive it, or else.....The salem witch trials are my favorite christian stories. be accuse and prove your innocence. If God does exist why nothing after the advent of modern science. Its because we now know where thunder and lightning come from.....

      April 13, 2012 at 3:10 pm |
  6. Marilyn Stults

    After reading this article, I was curious about the "Osiris-Dionysius" Amulet, so I decided to do a little Web research. The info I uncovered told me that even before the amulet was lost, it had been determined to be a forgery, but in looking at it closely, there seems to be an obvious possibility that it may have originally been a Christian symbol which was overwritten (defaced) with the names of Osiris/Dionysius. This is quite possible if the amulet in fact dates from the 3rd Century, and the drawing and the wording really look like they came from two different hands.

    April 13, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
    • rsqdvr911

      By your logic then, I could do my own web research and find articles saying that it is not a fake. And we could go on and on around in circles with this line of reasoning with regards to authenticity of the bible, the shroud of Turin, the clotted blood of the saint that turns into liquid, etc......

      April 13, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
    • levy214

      Does your believe allows you to be impartial and permeable to facts, or are you just a happy christian warrior, working to earn his ticket to eternity?

      April 13, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  7. Lisa

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZgT1SRcrKE&w=640&h=390]

    April 13, 2012 at 1:17 pm |
  8. Heb 1:8

    Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, And the righteous scepter is the scepter of 1His kingdom.

    April 13, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  9. Shot Himself in the Foot

    So, let me get this stragiht, this is a THIRD CENTURY PAINTING? Correct? Okay, so when was Jesus alive? Around when King Herod was, First Century. Why were they still painting Pagan gods in a time period of Christianity? W

    You're saying that this painting is preceeding Jesus, when it has not. Going on, these paintings and myths were created after Jesus so the Pagans could make the Christians see that "Oh, it's actually a Pagan god!" when it was not. They tried to do that to counteract the martyr they created and the religion that was spreading. The Pagan relgion was failing them, so they had to do somehting.

    With that, this just furthermore proves that THIS ARTICAL IS A CONSPIRICY. It is out there to destroy religion! This is complete nonsense that non-believers came up with to diverge you away from Christ! God have mercy on you.

    April 13, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • WASP

      @shot foot: the pagans, polytheistic belief was here centuries before the murdeous monothesitic beliefs showed up. here is the link to teach you true history, not that indoctrinated crud your preacher taught you.
      http://www.ancientworldreview.com/2011/06/the-christian-war-against-paganism-part-one.html

      but truth is i doubt you have the cahonies to read it.

      April 13, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Cq

      Shot
      Remember Acts 14:12 where "Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker." All throughout the Old Testament the priestly-ruling class are depicted fighting against the worship of household gods like Baal and Ashtereth, basically women's gods. Common religion makes great political cement.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:21 pm |
  10. The Divine

    In Jesus Christ we see a Loving GOD.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • steviep

      god is love......and his rain falls down on believers and non believers...i wish these guys would just try to believe but how can they when they worship science and dismss jesus as real person....to not believe in even a creator ( whatever it may look like or substance it posses} is just stubbornly absurd to me ...theres so much proof , our very existance on this planet should be enough for anyone, no not the intellectual one, i mean does not science show how many thing have to take place for us to breathe this precious air and allow us to exist........co incidence?...i think not......just becaquse non believers expect god to appear to them in their own way whatever that is and he or it doesnt ...they say huh hes not there.....how many of us never answered the phone,, ohbut hes god so hes expected too,,,,bullsht,,,,,again WHO R WE TO SAY THERES NO GOD!?

      April 13, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • John

      SP – I don't believe in a lot of things like aliens, ufo and the like. I would not spend .000001% of my life thinking about those.

      Now, why is it that atheists are so consumed by God? Wouldn't you rather not spend your time not thinking about God if you have already denied his existence?

      The answer ofcourse lies deep within you. Whether you like it or not there is a yearning to seek faith and spirituality. Your dna is already hard wired for that thought that is why God and faith and belief and matters thereof keep haunting you.
      Your quest is ongoing and you will continue this painful process till you yeild to HIM. Let go let God!

      God loves you! John 3:16

      April 13, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Commenter

      John,

      If believers in aliens were trying to rule the country, pass laws and public policies in their favor and insist that their fantasies be taught in public schools, receive tax breaks and interfere in your daily life, I'll just bet that you would find a percentage of time to speak up. Would that mean that deep down you really believe in aliens?

      April 13, 2012 at 11:54 am |
    • WASP

      @steviep: we are the future. we require knwoledge and critcal thought. we don't buy into being indoctrinated into something that is a "you're not like us" outfit. we are the ones, that struggle to keep balance in a world destined to destroy itself. atheists don't start wars, religion does that for us then uses our inventions to wage said war. mainly we are tired of being quiet while your lot rants and raves about an end that isn't coming, or yells at us "you're going to hell" hate to break the news this is hell for us. we never get a break from you christian freaks. we show you hard proof, you show us a 2000 year old book. we show you the universe, you show us a 2000 year old book. we show you how to cure illness', you show us a 2000 year old book. that science you bashed, kept you from getting a number of life ending illnesses. so if your faith is so strong in god, never get another flu shot, vaccine or pennaciline booster again. remember if it's your time it's your time.....and if god wants you he will take you. trust me i grew up southern baptist, i've heard all the excusses for why folks die. truthfully i prefer the medical reasons; they sound more truthful.

      @john: we are here because we want to return the favor for everytime one of you christian crazies has ruined our weekends, our drives to work, tried to make our government a theocrasy, or denied someone anything on the grounds they don't fit into your little club.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • levy214

      Are you serious??..loving God? Where was he when countless perceived witches were set on fire? Where was your sky daddy when 6 million innocent Jews were gassed? Where was he and his money hungry bureaucracy around him when thousands of innocent children serving god in good faith, were so brutally violated?

      April 13, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
    • MNTaxpayer

      In french toast I see a virgin Mary.

      April 13, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
    • sam stone

      good for you.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • sam stone

      stevie: who is any individual to say that his or her god is the CORRECT god?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
    • try some learning

      "Atheists don't start wars" Hitler, Stalin, Mao and countless other were atheists.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
  11. Neiman

    JESUS
    IS
    GOD, "YAHWEH"

    John 1:3, "Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made."
    Job 33:4, "The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life."

    JESUS
    IS
    CREATOR

    Col. 1:16-17, "For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."
    Isaiah 40:28, "Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom."

    JESUS IS
    THE GREAT I AM
    John 8:58, "I tell you the truth," Jesus answered, "before Abraham was born, I am!"
    Isaiah 43:10, "You are my witnesses," declares the LORD, "and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me."–CARM

    April 13, 2012 at 9:36 am |
    • Cq

      You have Old Testament passages about God, and New Testament claims that these comments actually refer to Jesus. That's proof of nothing except how shameless Christians actually are, telling Jews that Jewish scripture is actually all about Christianity.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
    • The Gospels

      The good news must be shared with both Jews and Gentiles. That was the purpose of Christ coming down to earth fully as God and fully as Man. To be the sacrificial lamb for the atonement of sins of all mankind. John 3:16

      Not all folks understand old testament scriptures as it relates to Jesus Christ the messiah. But for the grace of God there,go I.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:33 pm |
    • Cq

      The Gospels
      But why is the Christian interpretation of Jewish scriptures better than their own? I've seen the claims for the expected messiah and Jesus really doesn't fulfill all of them. What you have is spin, even the fact that a person hanging from a tree is ritually unclean and could NEVER be a messiah is theologized. Truly amazing!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
    • The Gospels

      Read Isaiah 53.

      April 13, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
  12. steviep

    how about albert einstein...remember that name, and whats the guy who wrote about the genome? the book was the language of god......dna stuff!...and who knows y someone else didnt follow their instincts as u call them, maybe thay were texting and some people can be more in tuned with the spirit tyhen others as this blog proves that!,,,,and i think itsvery typical of the scientific mind to put a word to something and dismiss itl as important or not substantial or amazing!.....i know we can see thins at atomuic level and i think u give ur scientist too much credit because all things are done thanks to our god given ability.......pretty amazing world in science isnt it,...for all this stuff just to happen all by itself ,huh?

    April 13, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • AverageJoe76

      @steviep – The problem with organized religion is this; how could man understand such a being to the degree we can honestly say we know what 'it' wants? And why does it want anything from us? Seems to me, that if i can create an entire reality, I wouldn't need anything from one of my creations. What 'need' am I referring to? Worship. Why would a supreme being require praise and worship? To stroke his 'all-knowing' ego?

      April 13, 2012 at 10:42 am |
    • Cq

      Religion is pretty amazing too. Thousands of different faiths throughout history and thousands of different "truths" about how the universe was created and still people place their trust in this over a system that is working on one answer based on the evidence. Just amazing!

      April 13, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
    • rsqdvr911

      Steve~
      What is really amazing is how organized religion has able to assimilate different ideas, concepts and philosophy from other sources and cultures to make it more palatable and believable for new recruits to join in. I mean before Constantine consolidated the Christian religion in its current form (w/c btw I think was a brilliant political and military move), there were hundreds and if not thousands of different Christian sects not even counting Jewish sects. Those who did not believe the official Christian religion as approved by Constantine and his cohorts were either tortured and killed and all their culture and books burned and wiped out. This act makes Hitler and the Spanish inquisition look amateurish. Anyway, look at how modern sciences new findings (that resulted into our present modern and comfortable life) is being appropriated by organized religion by tweaking and massaging some words to make it seem somehow that this is God’s plan all along. Now that is what I call amazing don’t you think ;-)

      So I leave you with this question: Apart from your self consciousness (i.e. your ego, its judgments, its bias, its prejudices, etc…), are all these discoveries really amazing or have they always been there all along (before you and I were born and became self-aware) and that there is nothing special about them and no special person/being created them?

      April 13, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
    • try some learning

      "hundreds, maybe thousands of Christian sects"? Naw! There was divergent belief that Constantine hoped to reconcile. However, he did not wipe out those that disagreed. Churches that existed before his council of bishops continued to exist and many still do. "Non-Chalcedonian" churches are not uncommon at all in Central Asia and Central Africa. Even several hundred years after Constantine, the non-Chalcedonian Nestorian Christian Church had a much wider geographical reach than any other form of Christianity.

      April 13, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
    • rsqdvr911

      OK my mistake let's rephrase: the gnostics, the dualist christians, christians that did not have the old testament as part of their bible, all other non-christain religions (i.e.pagan religions) and the list could go on and on were persecuted by Constantine and their books and cultures burned or wiped out. Of course how can Constantine persecute some of the other Christian denominations that were out of his reach, not part of his empire and/or simply went underground. And then we could now fast forward to more recent history where the Imperial Christian European superpowers (i.e. Spain, Portugal, Britain, etc...) started ransacking, raping, killing, torturing, forced converting and wiping out whole native populations and cultures worldwide in the name of God. Once the natives were sufficiently pacified, tamed and converted, I specially like the lines of the missionaries and friars back then to keep the native in line when there is so much as a hint of rebellion "it is a sin to God if you rebel against us"

      April 13, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
  13. Yves

    Whats this bull about we dont go on blind faith in the 20th century? this must be an old article first were already in the 21 century buddy and yes we go on faith on tons of stuff... when ever I buy a loterry ticket... its just blind faith I dont have to rationolize every choice I make. When I vote on a public figure, he may tell me things that appeal to me but I put my faith in him to do what he promesses. As for Jesus existance, I think that event the existance of Paul could be contested, even the existance of Cesar could be contested as a mythical figures, their may have been a person called Cesar but did he actually do all of what people are saying Cesar did? if you want to go that road in 2000 year will anyone be able to prove the existance of John Blake from CNN I think not. After wars and technology changes, we will have to go on blind faith for that one too.

    April 13, 2012 at 9:23 am |
    • Cq

      The Caesars left a pretty impressive paper, or should I say stone, trail. They're on statues, coins, walls, in histories. They wrote personal letters. Jesus left nothing of this kind behind, right? That's why so many people are highly skeptical.

      One emperor, Vespasian, is reported to have performed miracles, but no serious historian considers this as accurate because performing miracles is something that happens in myth, and people claimed to be gods like the Roman Emperors were commonly said to do such things.

      April 13, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • Magic Jew

      Thanks, you just convinced me that 2000 years ago the creator of the universe impregnated a virgin in one of the more illiterate parts of the world with himself so that he could be sacrificed to himself in an effort to save our species from its inherently vile nature; all before resurrecting and floating to the sky to go live with himself for eternity as himself and also his son.

      Praise Jesus!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  14. Big Art

    I find it a bit discomforting how the author tends to label those on the side of Jesus' existence as "scholars":
    –"some of the world’s leading New Testament scholars feel compelled to publicly take them on"
    –"Bart D. Ehrman, a New Testament scholar"
    –"John Dominic Crossan, a New Testament scholar"

    . . . While merely giving the names of those on the side of his non-existence:
    –"Robert Price, a former Baptist pastor"
    –"Richard Carrier, author of “Proving History”"

    . . . Ignoring that fact that both of these latter are award-winning scholars themselves . . . Omitting, for example, that Price is not just any NT scholar, but a Fellow of the Jesus Seminar . . Possible bias on the part of the author, or merely oversight? Hmmmm . . .

    April 13, 2012 at 6:21 am |
    • DR

      You make a very good point!

      April 13, 2012 at 7:35 am |
    • Bob

      It is not an oversight on the part of blakey.The name of Jesus evokes a response even from satan. Blake sadly has a legion and only God can drive those demons away from him.

      April 13, 2012 at 9:01 am |
    • Cq

      Clear evidence of CNN's radical RIGHT wing leanings! ;-)

      April 13, 2012 at 12:48 pm |
  15. One GOD!!!

    From
    Adam
    to
    Abraham
    to
    Moses
    to
    Jesus
    to
    Mohammed,
    All were Muslim (one who submits to God Completely),
    There is only One God("Al Lah" means "The only God')
    of All creation who created them from nothing.

    Worship the creator not his creation!!!

    Read Quran, Bible & Torah in their Original Language and think, Analyse and see with open heart first, and you will know which is the word of God then word of people who corrupted them over time...We are in 21st Century and we got all our resources, so don't be a victim on the day of judgement that you haven't received the final message. God will not listen to this excuse!!! Research and then you will know if God wills,

    Peace!!!

    April 13, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Cheerup6

      That is truth... One God and everyone else, the messengers...

      April 13, 2012 at 10:50 am |
  16. King Missile

    Jesus was way cool
    Everybody liked Jesus
    Everybody wanted to hang out with him
    Anything he wanted to do, he did
    He turned water into wine
    And if he wanted to He could have turned wheat into marijuana
    Or sugar into cocaine
    Or vitamin pills into amphetamines
    He walked on the water
    And swam on the land
    He would tell these stories
    And people would listen
    He was really cool
    If you were blind or lame
    You just went to Jesus
    And he would put his hands on you
    And you would be healed
    That's so cool
    He could've played guitar better than Hendrix
    He could've told the future
    He could've baked the most delicious cake in the world
    He could've scored more goals than Wayne Gretzky
    He could've danced better than Barishnikov
    Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of
    Jesus was way cool
    He told people to eat his body and drink his blood
    That's so cool
    Jesus was so cool
    But then some people got jealous of how cool he was
    So they killed him
    But then he rose from the dead
    He rose from the dead, danced around Then went up to heaven
    I mean, that's so cool
    Jesus was way cool
    No wonder there are so many Christians

    April 13, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • harry

      That was hilarious!

      April 13, 2012 at 11:40 am |
    • CosmicC

      I'm not so sure about playing better than Hendrix.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  17. keyser

    Why do we continue to believe in this stone age nonsense? What is wrong with us?

    April 13, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  18. TJ

    To each his own. Peace

    April 13, 2012 at 12:05 am |
  19. False Dichotomy

    I find myself a little put out by references to believing in a "higher power" or "something bigger than yourself." Both of those imply that a non-believer thinks they are the most important or the "highest" power in the universe, which is typically the polar opposite of non-belief.

    On the contrary, most non-religious people see themselves as relatively trivial organisms in an unfathomably large universe. Religious believers on the other hand believe that they are the special chosen ones of the greatest supernatural power in the universe, and that power fusses over their every thought and behavior, and has a special plan just for them – a perspective that is not humble in the least.

    So, next time you consider those phrases, please think about which perspective actually puts humans on a pedestal, and reflects an inflated sense of self-importance relative to the universe.

    April 12, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
    • William

      You make a good point. You are careful to state 'most non-believers..." and not so careful to state "Religious believers...". You would be accurate if you left room for believers who see a God as creating what you say 'most non-believers' believe in. People are very different, even within religious circles and you may find many believers have no problem with a God that created all things without man having to be the center of it. Whenever one implies that all people within any given group are the same we tend to come to a conclusion that misses its mark. Had you left room for believers who may think as you I believe your conclusion would have read more thoughtful and less emotional.

      April 12, 2012 at 11:29 pm |
    • False Dichotomy

      I appreciate what you're saying, but to be honest I don't think I have come across any believers in God who don't also believe that He is watching over them personally, or that they can communicate with Him directly through prayer, or that their individual life has been planned out in advance according to his plan. One of these characteristics has been part of even the least conservative religious people I have known, and each of them is strikingly self-important. I am aware of other types of belief (such as deism), but these have not been people I have interacted with. They are not the ones I have heard refer, rather smugly, to a "higher power" or "something greater than themselves"

      April 13, 2012 at 1:20 am |
    • Clark1355

      Very well said! I love reading new and refreshing ideas like this. I will never get how anyone can understand what science has been able to give to us and people still look to religion. Its such a wonderful time to be alive! I don't think people really understand that we are related to EVERY living thing on this planet. The truth is so beautiful I love it!

      April 13, 2012 at 2:01 am |
    • Big Art

      I'm wondering what either of you would make of some of Big Al's thoughts on the subject:

      ”That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God” – Albert Einstein.

      “Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble” – Albert Einstein.

      “There remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion” – Albert Einstein.

      He seems to have managed the appreciation without the inflation?

      April 13, 2012 at 8:49 am |
    • momoya

      @BigArt

      Einstein never advo.cated a god that could be known or int.eracted with by humans:

      Quotations:

      A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot pe.ne.tr.ate, of the manif.esta.tions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty – it is this knowledge and this emotion that const.i.tute the truly religious att.itude; in this sense, and in this alone, I am a deeply religious man. (Albert Einstein)

      I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it. (Albert Einstein, 1954)

      I believe in Spinoza's God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with the fates and actions of human beings. (Albert Einstein)

      April 13, 2012 at 11:22 am |
    • CosmicC

      I think you've nailed the reason most people believe in religion when faced with science; being an atheist is scary. We are not the center of the universe. There's nothing out there looking out for us.
      Me? I can't hide my head in the sand.

      April 13, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
  20. CD

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLLMzr3PFgk&w=640&h=390]

    April 12, 2012 at 9:43 pm |
    • How great thou art!

      Indeed. Amen!

      April 13, 2012 at 8:56 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.