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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. Joyce

    I was raised in the Catholic church, and tried very hard to believe, and be a good Christian. I went to church and prayed for faith after the death of my parents when I was young, through my divorce, and through my depression. I cried every time, because I felt that my faith wasn't strong enough, and that it was my fault that I struggled so much.

    I have since left the church, because to me, it seemed about instilling guilt on believers, and that any suffering a believer experienced was due to their lack of faith.

    I'm fine with people who believe that Jesus is their savior, but I just can't, despite my efforts to do so. If their belief in Jesus helps them be better people and get through their suffering, God bless them.

    Fundamentally, a belief in a "God" is universal, whatever that means. "God" can be many things to many people, but believing that there is a meaning for all of our lives, and a meaning for our suffering serves many of us, as opposed to our lives, and suffering, having no meaning at all.

    I don't think that proving Jesus existed, or didn't exist, or wasn't who Christians believe him to be, serves anyone, and I don't quite understand why people would put so much effort in disproving His existence.

    Allow people their faith. Allow people to get strength from whatever they believe. Jesus might not have existed, or he might have been a simple man, or he might have been our Savior. Whatever he was, or wasn't, let him be.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • John

      Joyce, the reason Jesus came was not to explain your suffering. He came to forgive our sins. We are not asked to try harder. We are asked to believe that He died for our sins, and that through his death and resurrection we are saved. He, God, has become a human, so we humans can have eternal life. Our suffering is due to this corrupt world we live in.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • OhPlease

      "Joyce, the reason Jesus came was not to explain your suffering. He came to forgive our sins. We are not asked to try harder. We are asked to believe that He died for our sins, and that through his death and resurrection we are saved. He, God, has become a human, so we humans can have eternal life."

      So basically your god screwed up again and had to find a way to fix it's mistake....again. That is one dumb god.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • John

      No, you screwed up. God gave us freedom to choose. How would you like to be a robot? You probably would force others to think just like you, yet God has chosen to create us free. FREE!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • OhPlease

      "God gave us freedom to choose. How would you like to be a robot? You probably would force others to think just like you, yet God has chosen to create us free. FREE!"

      So when your god killed thing on the planer but a few it couldn't see enough into the future to see his creation would still come out screwed up? Then it has to create a son to kill so it could justify itself. You do get it didn't need to do any of that since it's a god, it could have been compassionate enough not to even have a need to kill it's son. That is one screwed up god and it's so powerful since it couldn't see into the future. The whole story was stolen from other pagan religions of that time. LMAO!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • John

      You don't understand the word free, do you? God has give human beings the choice to act according to the way they want. How everything else plays out is the action and reaction to that dynamic free will that was given to humans! Could God have created a perfect world? Yes, but that would not be inhabited by free agents. Think again: FREE! And by the way, Christianity is not dangerous like you said in your other post – You control freak!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • OhPlease

      "God has give human beings the choice to act according to the way they want. How everything else plays out is the action and reaction to that dynamic free will that was given to humans! Could God have created a perfect world? Yes, but that would not be inhabited by free agents. Think again: FREE! And by the way, Christianity is not dangerous like you said in your other post – You control freak!"

      Yo, moron, if your god is as powerful as it's claimed to be it' knows your choices already, it knows what you are going to do, otherwise it's a pretty lame god. It allows people to be born knowing the choices they will make and still sends them to burn in hell. Well guess what only 33% of the people on the planet are Christians so basically 67% of the people are doomed for hell that is an evil god, especially if it's as loving as it's suppose to be wouldn't do that in the first place. It's pretty sad it had to create hell in order to instill fear so people will love it just in case.... LMAO!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Joyce

      John, are you saying that I must believe in the mystery of Jesus Christ, in order for God to care about me? That is what I find difficult and disturbing. I believe that God has a plan for mankind, and that there is a reason each of us is alive. I don't know what that plan is. Jesus suffered, why not any of us? Perhaps that is the plan, and my suffering somehow relieves that in another, in the grand plan.

      I think that, and believe that, if there is a God, or some grand order of things, we would not be required to believe in Jesus Christ the way Christians do. He/she would forgive us for our inability to believe, and would not condemn us because we can not.

      I respect your belief, but do not believe that I will be condemned if I don't do so myself......nor any of the other wonderful, caring people who aren't Christians.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:19 am |
  2. Rainer Braendlein

    The ruler of the universe visited bad old earth. That is history and that is great!

    Jesus was historical. It is proved by science of history!

    There was a very famous historian of the Roman Empire, which lived in the first century after Christ (AD 56 – AD 117), that means extremly near-term to the events, which had came to pass in Palestine. He, Tacitus, was a pagan, which had no reason at all to promote Christianity and to tell us lies about Jesus. We can be sure that it was historical, what he wrote about Jesus, because he was an enemy of Jesus:

    "Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superst-ition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multi-tude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind".

    This passage is a clear evidence for the historicity of Christ Jesus.

    There was a famous Jewish historian of the first century, who gives acount of Jesus Christ. Jews have no reason to promote Christianity and thus we can be sure that Flavius Josephus told us the truth about Jesus:

    "And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator. But the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus... Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned."

    A Jew confirms the historical reality of Jesus, the founder of Christianity. That is very great!

    April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • YeahOk

      Any evidence that Jesus was the son of God, or that God exists?

      April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Godfrey

      "This passage is a clear evidence for the historicity of Christ Jesus."

      No, it's clear evidence for the historicity of Christians. It's not the same thing.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:54 am |
  3. Good Without God

    Expres12, Sure, I'd love to see the debate!

    All I can say is I think all this worship is laughable at best.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
  4. Slovensko

    The proof that Jesus is alive isn't only in the records of history, its in the evidence of people's changed lives by having a relationship with Him.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Good Without God

      lol, He Lives! He Died!
      You need to get your stories straight.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • OhPlease

      "The proof that Jesus is alive isn't only in the records of history,"

      That's why the bible has been proven not to be a historical book. LMAO! By the way science has proven it's about the chemistry in your brain, it has nothing to do with a god.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Matthew

      OhPlease: It's cute that you flaunt your 3rd grader understanding of neurochemical events in the brain. Implicit in your argument is that because there is a scientific explanation for emotions, namely a synchrony of neurotransmitters acting at receptors, that this discredits the possibility of a Creator behind them. You probably also think that believing in the Big Bang flows counter to the genre of Genesis. Perhaps you should read a little.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:56 am |
    • OhPlease

      "You probably also think that believing in the Big Bang flows counter to the genre of Genesis. Perhaps you should read a little."

      You might want to read up on the fact that the bible has been proven not to be a historical book, yeah that's right it's a work of fiction, which is why your cult is so bad for our society. It might help if you read up on the real truth.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Matthew

      OhPlease: you clearly lack any independent neurological thought processes of your own. Please refer me to the scientific literature that supports your contention that the "Bible has been proven to not be true." This sounds like a statement that a 12 year old kid would make. Seriously? Go through puberty and actually advance your education a little. While ad hominem attacks are usually not my style, your arguments are so pathetic that there is more challenge in that approach than actually addressing them.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • OhPlease

      "lease refer me to the scientific literature that supports your contention that the "Bible has been proven to not be true." This sounds like a statement that a 12 year old kid would make."

      Your the one showing your stupidity, it was the Smithsonian that proved moron, oops you were to lazy to do your homework.

      April 8, 2012 at 12:57 pm |
  5. Beth

    In historical research the researcher should be neutral and ask a question and from that point start his or her research. But that is very rare in New Testament research or any biblical research. Most biblical scholars are themselves religious from childhood and have already decided the outcome of their 'research' before starting it. Someone who has been taught since early childhood that Jesus is real and who fully believes in all the tenants of their type of Christianity and then sets out to prove Jesus was real is going to look for proof that proves Jesus was real and is going to try to prove anything else is false. This person is *not* going to consider several possibilities and give them all and equal chance through actual research. The possibility that Jesus wasn't real won't be fully considered by such a person. The fact that these scholars fail to recognize this fatal flaw in their research is what puts people like me off. I have yet to year a convincing scholar talk about this issue. Maybe Jesus existed and maybe he didn't. If the only proof is the Christian bible then that's circular proof and not good proof at all. I took a course on Buddhism in college and the teacher read the story of the birth of the Buddah and there were 3 wise men who followed a star and came to see a virgin give birth and we all thought she was reading the story of Jesus' birth but it was the story of Buddha's birth. It had so many similarities that it was striking. There were also others who claimed to be the Messiah just before and around the time of Jesus' supposed life time. He was not the only supposed Messiah. We don't know if Socrates lived, either. Just because someone writes about someone doesn't mean they existed. I would like to see a non-biased person who doesn't have an axe to grind and isn't such a believer that he or she can't consider anything else do this research. I'd like a bunch of top agnostic scholars who were not raised in any tradition to do this research. The thing is, nearly 100% of people who get PhDs in anything to do with religion are very religious themselves so such people are few and far between. The rest are biased.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • rdeleys

      Not true. Robert Price started out as a believer, but study convinced him that what he believed was false. He changed his mind based on the evidence he saw.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
    • Godfrey

      Same with Bart Uhrman and a number of others. Beth has no idea what she's talking about here.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Beth

      I'm talking about those top scholars who claim that Jesus existed. Almost all, from early childhood, were taught Jesus existed and believe full that he existed and so their 'research' doesn't fully consider the possibility he might not have. People who do not believe Jesus existed or who say he may or may not have existed are generally not taken seriously in the field as the article shows.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:55 am |
    • DownSouth

      Do you really believe the new secular myths are any more truthful than the old religious ones they replaced?

      Face it! Human beings cherish certainty and abhor doubt, and they don't do reality because so little is known about reality.

      When the secular myths triumphed in the latter part of the 18th century, we just replaced the old deceptions with new ones.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Beth

      The fact that two who claim he didn't exist are former believers proves what I am saying about the field in general. It is not made up of mostly unbiased researchers and the research done tends to be quite biased and not follow normal research methods because the conclusion is already decided in the head of the 'researcher'. The fact that a few saw their way out of this doesn't mean that this isn't true of that field as a whole. At one point I was interested in majoring in religion and I was told that as an athiest/agnostic I almost certainly could not do that and that belief was a near necessity in the field. If you look at the top scholars nearly all are believers.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Godfrey

      We provided the names of two people who don't fall into that category. There are many, many more. You're simply wrong.

      There are also examples of religious men and women who are able to separate what they find from their religious views, like Israel Finkelstein and Neil Asher Silberman (The Bible Unearthed), who, in spite of being observant Jews, postulate that the Exodus could not have actually happened.

      As an atheist myself, I understand the impulse to doubt believers, and it's always a good idea to question. But in many cases their works stands on its own.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Godfrey

      Down South: what do you men by "secular myths"/

      If you have a point, make it.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:05 am |
    • John

      Are you kidding me... You are asking an agnostic scholar to do an objective research? I can tell you his/her conclusion. We could not be sure whether he existed or not. How about Tacitus and Josephus. Aren't they objective writers? Neither was a Christian.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:06 am |
    • Godfrey

      John: Neither was contemporary either. Tacitus was born decades after Jesus died. Josephus' primary account was an obvious interpolation.

      But there are other reasons for believing that Jesus (the man) existed. Nothing decisive, but, in my view, enough to support the conclusion. That's the problem here: there is no "real" certainty to be had with regard to the historical Jesus: only false certainty.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Beth

      I would like to see the question researched by someone who does not have an already forgone conclusion at the outset of their research. Much of the top of NT scholarship is made up of people who are deeply religious Christians, thereby eliminating them from this category. An atheist would be a lot more objective, yes. An atheist means they do not believe in god, not that they don't believe in the possible historical person of Jesus. There is a difference. The fact that some in the field are what you two think are not biased doesn't mean bias isn't a big problem in research in this field. It most certainly is.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Beth

      Finkelsteina dn Silberman - are they NT scholars? Judaism does not require any belief. Many Jews doubt that Exodus happened. That is not unusual and does not prove in any way that the question of whether or not Jesus actually existed is given a fair consideration by people who believe 100% for sure that he did exist and that he was the son of god. Such people are NOT giving it fair consideration as a whole. they have a foregone conclusion and are looking for research to prove their belief. When one does that one is going to see history quite a bit differently than someone with an open mind and without that bias.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Beth

      Belief in Jesus's existence is fundamental for Christians. Belief in the Exodus or even in anything in the Jewish bible is not a requirement to be Jewish. The two are not equivalent situations.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Beth

      There is no threat to a Jewish scholar's Jewishness by finding holes in the bible's stories. There is a huge threat to a religious Christian scholar if they find Jesus might not have existed.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:26 am |
  6. Ted

    On the most Holy day of the year for Christianity...Easter Sunday...and you have to have this type of story on the front page! I am shocked and extremely saddened that we as Christians could not have been given one day free of Christian bashing! CNN you should be ashamed of yourself for having this article on the front page of your internet site and not having the ability to refrain from bashing Christianity for at least one day...

    April 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Beth

      The article is actually the opposite–it is dismissive of those who question Jesus' existence and calls them 'internet kooks'.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Good Without God

      You need to research Easter, you really do.
      Easter has nothing to do with Jesus, really, do yourself a favor and look up the Pagan origins!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  7. conrad215

    Anyone who believes a man was killed & then magically rose from the grave deservesto be put down. "Internet kooks"? Trying to sell books? The Bible IS the best selling book in history right? And it didn't even have a main character like Edward, Jacob, Harry or Katniss.......

    April 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Andrew

      Yeah you're a real intellectual. Katniss??? Do some research.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • HARRY

      WHEN YOUR ALL IN PAIN OR ON YOUR DEATH BED THE MOST COMMON WORDS HEARD...OH GOD HELP ME...SEEN IT OVER AND OVER...SORRY IT WILL BE TOO LATE THEN.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:53 am |
    • YeahOk

      @HARRY
      "WHEN YOUR ALL IN PAIN OR ON YOUR DEATH BED THE MOST COMMON WORDS HEARD...OH GOD HELP ME...SEEN IT OVER AND OVER...SORRY IT WILL BE TOO LATE THEN."

      You have proof that these are the last words?

      April 8, 2012 at 9:59 am |
  8. Bla

    The key thing I noticed right away – "religious scholars" are saying this.

    Not historians, but "religious scholars". Nice try.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • conrad215

      It's easy to be a scholar of religious beliefs when none of it can be proven. In the land of he blind, the 1 eye man is the king.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Godfrey

      Biblical scholars use the same methodology as historians. It's a credible field. You really should learn what you're talking about before you embarrass yourself further.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Andrew

      Godfrey is right. Religious scholars are simply archaeologists and experts on ancient linguistics and history that happen to focus on religious fields. Think about what you're saying rather than just making blanket assumptions. Whether or not you're a Christian, one has to admit there's a lot of stupidity by secularists here.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:54 am |
    • Godfrey

      True. But there's a lot of stupidity by theists here as well.

      Ah, the human condition.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  9. Godfrey

    This is probably the biggest division among atheists. The mythicists ARE generally viewed as misguided (and some as kooks). From what I can tell on discussion forums like freeratio.org, most of us atheists believe that there is fairly convincing evidence that a man named Jesus existed; and by that I mean a Jewish spiritual teacher who was executed by crucifixion during the time of Pilate. The other stuff: the rising from the dead, the virgin birth, the divinity etc. is obvious nonsense. But Happy Easter anyway!

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • I thought jesus was white

      you might clear up your thinking.. atheists are divided because they are independent thinkers, unlike the religious followers.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Godfrey

      What does that have to do with what I said? Of course atheists are independent thinkers: we've shrugged off one of the most pernicious cultural memes known to man.

      I never opined as to "why" the division exists. But it does.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:49 am |
  10. I thought jesus was white

    jesus must have smelled pretty bad.. you know, being dead for a while and stuff

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  11. bugmetoo

    This article is Cnn's little way to compare Obama to Jesus.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  12. HispanicMan

    Jesus was resurrected so obviously, all the rabbits went and layed colorful eggs for all Christians to signify the importance of that. I bet Santa Claus is the one who bred the rabbits that lay eggs only on Easter Sunday.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  13. Jason

    Here is a short list of religious figures that PRE-DATE the Jesus Story. Horus – Attius – Zoroaster – Krishna – Buddha – Glycon – Heracles – Dionysus – Odysseus – Romulus. Most of wich were born on Dec 25th, of virgin birth. Were all crucified, or martyerd in some was only to rise again. Many had twelve diciples, were refered to as "the son of god", and even had mothers who's names start with the letter "M". Even stories of Noah, Moses, are ripped off from pre-dated stories in other religions. All of them are similar because they are just explainations of the SUN of God ... not the Son of god, as it moves through the sky and to mark the solstices.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Nii

      The person does not know the difference between a god and a religious figure.
      1) Horus, Heracles-gods
      2) Bhudda, Zoroaster,-religious figures
      3) They were not born on Dec 25
      4) You have been spiritually abused as the internet age pushes more opinion than fact and u were trained not to distinguish

      April 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • W.G.

      To Jason A personb accused of murder is convicted or let off the hook by evidence or WITNESSES ! Peter the
      Apostle said Nobody told us of these miracles preformed by Jesus We WITNESSED THEM ! Sure there a lot of stories that come close . But CLOSE NEVER WON A CIGAR .

      April 8, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  14. Frank

    On Easter morning, CNN leads with this. Can't Christians just be allowed to practice our faith on our most holy week without an assault on the validity of our religion. Why don't they do this for the Muslim holy days? Because that would be insensitive, but it doesn't matter how much we offend Christians.
    Shame on CNN for making this the first thing I have to see on Easter morning.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • reason

      You should have known better when a CNN employee came to your door, put a gun to your head and forced you to read the article.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Phil

      Amen!!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:48 am |
    • Andrew

      You're absolutely right. You'll never read an article on CNN questioning the validity of the Quran or other religions on their holidays. But Christians? Go ahead! This is idiotic and poor reporting. Peace out CNN... movin on to other news sources!

      April 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  15. Rainer Braendlein

    Jesus was the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven, became flesh, died, resurrected and returned to heaven.

    Jesus Christ proved his divine sonship by the miracles, which he wrought and moreover he fullilled many prophecies of the Old Testament, which was a further miracle in itselfs.

    It was predicted that he shall be born in Behtlehem centuries ago. How should he influence that and deceive?

    Dear reader, have you influenced the place, where you got born?

    April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • OhPlease

      "Jesus was the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven, became flesh, died, resurrected and returned to heaven."

      It's funny so did other pagan gods but guess what it's all fake. You have NO proof this statement is actually true. Duh! Your cult is so bad for our society.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • YeahOk

      @Rainer Braendlein
      "Jesus was the eternal Son of God, who came down from heaven, became flesh, died, resurrected and returned to heaven."

      No evidence.

      "Jesus Christ proved his divine sonship by the miracles, which he wrought and moreover he fullilled many prophecies of the Old Testament, which was a further miracle in itselfs."

      No evidence, hearsay.

      "It was predicted that he shall be born in Behtlehem centuries ago. How should he influence that and deceive?"

      No evidence. Plausible post story editing.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:55 am |
  16. HARRY

    Do you believe in GOD...WHAT IF YOUR WRONG...................................

    April 8, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • reason

      The gods of all organized religions, if true, would all be horribly unjust and evil deities to send billions of people to eternal suffering for choosing the wrong one or being born in the wrong place. Looking at organized religion objectively, they are myths from stone age societies that were trying to explain the world, and there is virtually no chance any one is truth.

      Rationally speaking if there is a just god and an afterlife, you will be judged on how you live your life. Rejecting reason and deluding yourself in blind faith does not help your case.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
    • Boomer2039

      Then nothing happens

      April 8, 2012 at 9:45 am |
  17. Big Man

    Funny, CNN writes such material about a religious figure on an important holiday. Notice they never highlight the current deflation of the myths of the jewish talmud (Hmmm, the Exodus comes to mind as a good example). Perhaps this news outlet should be renamed JNN.
    By the way, I am writing as a non-Christian/Muslim.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • rdeleys

      The Exodus never happened either.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  18. dstruve

    its called faith.
    1) When people are on their death bed they will change their tune
    2) No matter what kinda attack they wish to use, Jesus is not going anywhere so bring it on and feel the presence of God.
    3) BTW JESUS IS GOD. its called the trinity, 3 in One.

    April 8, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • rdeleys

      Right, Jesus fathered himself. Seems believable to me! (cough, cough)

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • Sardukar

      that sounds gay

      April 8, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  19. nibiro

    I want your love by WHAM :)

    April 8, 2012 at 9:42 am |
  20. Abolish All Religion

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

    April 8, 2012 at 9:42 am |
    • HARRY

      If we evolved from monkeys,how come we still aeve monkeys?

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 am |
    • YeahOk

      @HARRY
      "If we evolved from monkeys,how come we still aeve monkeys?"

      We didn't. And after you have done a little research as to what evolution really says, then come back and try to make an intelligent argument.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • reason

      Harry, that is how evolution works with all species. New species branch off of existing ones, they do not replace them.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Abolish All Religion

      @HARRY: Hardy har har!!!! Typical illiterate religious m0r0n. Do they teach you all the same line in church? First of all we did not "evolve from monkeys". Both humans and monkeys evolved from an ancestral ape. Second of all, evolution of one species from another is not a cause for the first to disappear. Evolution is not an overnight transformation the way uneducated believers imagine in their pea-sized "brains".

      April 8, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Matthew

      Asserting that we evolved from monkeys only moves the bifurcation of inquiry further up the road...who created monkeys, etc. Let's just go to the beginning...who/what created the universe?

      April 8, 2012 at 10:00 am |
    • Ok

      "Let's just go to the beginning...who/what created the universe?"

      Who created your god? Oh...that's right its a theory made up by man without any proof. There is proof to the theory of evolution....LMAO!

      April 8, 2012 at 10:16 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.