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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. Julisa/NJ

    All I want to say is that I feel bad for those who don't believe in Christ... however nothing is too late to convert. Start doing tomorrow! Seek God, it's good for you.

    God Bless

    April 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • god loves to get rimmers

      i find god every time i c0rnh0le a nun or choirboy!
      they always say OH MY GOD after i unleash my 11 inch python!

      April 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • nomdefaitour

      But which God do we worship, the Catholic or the Protestent or the Mormen or Allah or Yaweh or Odin; which books of the bible do we trust, the ones currently in the bible, or do we the Gnostic scriptures, do we believe the suppressed Gospel of Mary (and the other feminist tracts that were suppressed by the early male-dominated church), do we believe the suppressed h Omo er otic gospel that describes Jesus raising a young men from the dead, who asks to spend the night with Jesus, and wherein jesus consents? Just what IS it you think it means to be christian?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
  2. god loves to get rimmers

    i once r a p e d a nun!
    she loved it too!
    she kept reciting scriptures and begging for me to make her scream like a little choirboy!

    April 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  3. God is great

    SANTORUM 2012

    Bye bye nonbelievers!!

    HAPPY EASTER AND GOD BLESS ALL CHRISTIANS

    April 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "SANTORUM 2012"

      That's why he was on the list of most corrupt senators for 2005 and 2006. Yeah only a stupid Christian would support that.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • fsmgroupie

      romney is going to make santorum wear the magical underwear

      April 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  4. Jim P>

    "Such assertions could have been ignored in an earlier age."

    Nope, the followers of the "prince of peace" would have cheerfully put a person to a messy and lingering death for uttering such a thing throughout most of the history of their religion, probably raken his house and land and turned his family out to starve also.

    Without wandering through the four thousand posts here, I will wager there are death threats and promises of eternal torture for anyone denying the existence of the christian demi-god, usually stated as being the end product of god's "love" for people. So much love he created a special place to torture those who don't get it right.

    So many things in the gospels are clearly made up or pure fables, such as the destructive earthquake in Jerusalem when Jesus died and the dead rising from their graves to chat with folks back home, that you cannot take these books seriously. (No one else noticed this at all? Not one mention of either event in any chronicle? Both the Romans and the Jews were serious note-takers about stuff like this. Oh and where did the zombies all go when this was over? Did they all go back into their tombs and yank the covers shut? Or did the living (all of whom would surely have been appalled at what was going on), force them back into their graves at sword point? God's law says *any* contact with the dead leaves you unclean for a rather long period of time.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  5. God is great

    I love when nonbelievers show their anger on internet :D

    Keep going, you're just entertaining us more HAHAAHAHAH

    PS! You will end up in HELL HELL HELL HELL HELL your satanic

    April 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
    • Jim P>

      People like you are one of the major reasons I reject the idea of your god. if *you* are what comes out of that religion, I've no interest in what it offers.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • AJW3

      I just love it when the 'holier than thous' find it is their duty to decide who goes to hell or heaven. Stone throwers one and all.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Bored

      You do realize that we taunt you because its fun right? I dont care if you want to believe in fairytales, but its hilarious to see devout xtians get their underwear in a bunch. God is as fictional as harry potter, but a lot less entertaining. Boo-ya!

      April 8, 2012 at 8:18 pm |
    • Allah Thanks you

      I just love it when Christians promote Islam. "God is Great" is the characteristic prhase of Muslims; you know, "Allahu Akhbar".

      April 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  6. Bored

    you will all be doomed to an eternity of nothingness....because that's what happens when you die. Absolutely nothing.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • XoXo is pronounced "YoYo"

      NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YOU ARE A LYING PIG!!!!!!!!!!!!! DEATH CANNOT BE WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE!!!!!!!!!! THAT WOULD BE ABSURD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AND THINGS HAPPENING NATURALLY? INSANE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

      April 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
  7. Pearnel

    Snap – I don't know what happened but Jesus said "Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD your God, He it is that does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you." He will be with you always even to the end of this world. Deuteronomy 31:6. No one says it will be easy but He promises that He will be with you in all your struggles. I have always said I would rather serve God now and die to find out there is no God than to live my life without God and die only to find out there is truly a God but it is too late then to serve Him. I don't want you to miss your chance to make it into Heaven. So I implore you go to Him without any pre-conceived ideas, have an open heart and let Him fill you with His word and His love!

    April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Bill

      If there is a God and God is perfect then everything God makes should be perfect. If it's not perfect then God must have intended it to be that way or if God made everything maybe there is nothing but God. Maybe we're all God and just don't know it right now.

      April 8, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
  8. rochdoc

    SO- TH EHEBREWS NEVER DENIED THAT JESUS LIVED AND PREACHED AND PERFOMED MIRACLES. THE CASE OF SORCERY AND MAGIC IS DISCUSSED IN NT ITSELF. THIS IS ONE WAY THE SENHEDRIN TRIES TO KILL OF THE JESUS MOVEMENT.
    NOW AFTER 2000 YEARS WE NEED TO 'PROVE' THAT JESUS EXISTED.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
  9. pyne

    In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, (the Son of God) who will judge the living and the dead and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2)Preach the Word: be prepared in season and out, correct, rebuke and encourage with GREAT PATIENCE and careful instruction. 3)For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what they want to hear.4)They will turn from truth and turn aside to myths.5) But keep your head in all situations,do the work of an evangelist.2Timothy 4:1-5 This is what we're dealing with now and it's going to get worse.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • nomdefaitour

      You haven't answered....do you worship the god who Rap ed Mary and forced her to bear his spawn?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  10. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things . .

    April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Jesus

      ~Prayer doesn’t not; you are so full of crap and lies. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!"~ .. . .,

      April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
  11. sez

    And in the end you'll find out the same people that had that book written the people of means. That had the jack to have it written and distributed. Wanted you to be good workers and citizens. Scaring you with a hell that dosen't exsist in the Hebrew writtings. When you get to the end which you waited for so all the people that took advantage of you to get smoked. Your going to find out its to late for your life. The people of means wrote a real nice joke for you. So you could drudge all your life not taking a swipe at them or even saying anything. Clever way to do it but its very true.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  12. Julie the closet atheist

    Day before Good Friday.... my sons middle school teacher forced them to pray to God and read bible scriptures.
    Dunno what I should do because everyone in this town is fundamentalist Christians and will attack me if I do anything about it....

    April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Eric G

      Where do you draw the line? Forcing your children to pray? How about forcing your children to hate non-christians?

      Sorry to be blunt, but you need to grow a pair. Do not let them get away with it.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Cliff D

      How about moving to a place where there are no fundamentalist christians? Seems like a win-win for you, although I pray for your child........

      April 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      julie, it is hard to come out as an atheist. often, we lose friends and family that are members of the cult of christianity. but you still have to do it. be honest, be truthful. come out as an atheist. you're doing nothing wrong. it really sucks being in a small town though. very hard to deal with. it sucks when you're willing to be friends with these people but they aren't willing back - because you don't believe what they believe. but you still have to do it.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
    • Leo

      Christians don't teach their children to hate non believers. We are called to preach the Gospel to others... this is love not hate. It may not make you feel good and probably uneasy knowing you have rejected the Good News, but calling it hate is nothing less than deception. Good try though!

      April 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Jazzy

      I'm not a religious person but I have faith. What do atheists believe? How did we get here?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
    • Been there

      I empathize. I used to live in an area the was very heavily Bible-thumper, Mormon, and/or Tea Party. Very difficult people to be around, very one way. And they DO find petty ways to retaliate against non-conformists.

      Just ignore it and move on. I severely doubt they convinced your children of anything. Move if this is too much of a problem. They would make a pariah of you if you reminded them of the Constitution.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "How did we get here?"

      How did your god get here?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Reasonable

      How about you leave it alone? Those teachers are forced to teach a lot more secular b.s. than non-secular b.s. so chalk it up to diversity. Aren't you all for diversity?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
  13. Bootyfunk

    that's an easy one - myth!

    April 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
  14. well

    I'm smarter than everyone, and even though religious people have been shown to be happier, healthier, use fewer drugs, spend less time in prison than non-religious people, I know that religious people are all dummy heads.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      you should do your homework. atheists have a lower divorce rate, lower prison rate, higher education rate and study after study shows we know more about the bible (you know, the book you supposedly lead your life by) than christians. christians like to imagine atheists are unhappy, but the truth is, we're happier. we don't live by the pillars of christianity - guilt, fear and ignorance. we don't believe it's santa coming down the chimney to deliver toys to boys and girls - we know it was our parents that went out and worked hard to buy those toys for us - and that means a hell of a lot more than the fairy tale. grow up, think for yourself, realize you are worshiping a figment of your imagination. you are in a cult, it's called christianity. leave the cult. you'll be happier. or at least happy in a real way, not a deluded cult member way.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Bored

      I agree with Bootyfunk. I am so much happier now that I am free from idiocy.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Cliff D

      This is one of those myths that atheists love to perpetuate, that they are happier than Christians. The anecdotial evidence is that if they were so happy, why do they spend so much time tearing down Christianity? Don't get me wrong many do believe that they are happy and I have to believe them on that. That said, you will not find a study by a reputible organization that backs the belief that atheists are happier than Christians. That never stops Atheists, they'll keep repeating misinformation until you accept it. It's how they grow.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • well

      According to a recent study published in The American Journal of Psychiatry religious affiliation is associated with significantly lower levels of suicide compared to religiously unaffiliated people, atheists and agnostics.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • well

      Researchers have found that weekly attendance at religious services is associated with 2 to 3 additional years of life.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Buckhippo

      The flaw with those studies is that they don't take into account that it is the social support network that leads to the benefits, not the actual religion itself. For example, if you're muslim or christian or jewish or hindu or buddist, the "benefits" of being religiously affiliated has more to do with social and community support than it being due to the religion. Human beings evolved with social needs that religion has tried to fill over time. It is a way to identify oneself among others and that has led to human divisiveness that has ironically resulted in many wars throughout history. So, take studies like that with a grain of salt because they are, in fact, only the soft sciences.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Bill

      You nailed it Buckhippo, thank you.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:48 pm |
  15. rochdoc

    According to The Jewish Encyclopedia, Jesus was often accused by the Talmudists of performing magic.

    It is the tendency of all these sources to belittle the person of Jesus by ascribing to him illegitimate birth, magic, and a shameful death …

    Magic may have been ascribed him over against the miracles recorded in the Gospels …

    The sojourn of Jesus in Egypt is an essential part of the story of his youth. According to the Gospels he was in that country in his early infancy, but Celsus says that he was in service there and learned magic …

    According to Celsus (in Origen, “Contra Celsum,” i. 28) and to the Talmud (Shab. 104b), Jesus learned magic in Egypt and performed his miracles by means of it; the latter work, in addition, states that he cut the magic formulas into his skin. It does not mention, however, the nature of his magic performances (Tosef., Shab. xi. 4; Yer. Shab. 18d); but as it states that the disciples of Jesus healed the sick “in the name of Jesus Pandera” (Yer. Shab. 14d; Ab. Zarah 27b; Eccl. R. i. 8) it may be assumed that its author held the miracles of Jesus also to have been miraculous cures. Different in nature is the witchcraft attributed to Jesus in the “Toledot.” When Jesus was expelled from the circle of scholars, he is said to have returned secretly from Galilee to Jerusalem, where he inserted a parchment containing the “declared name of God” (“Shem ha-Meforash”), which was guarded in the Temple, into his skin, carried it away, and then, taking it out of his skin, he performed his miracles by its means. This magic formula then had to be recovered from him, and Judah the Gardener (a personage of the “Toledot” corresponding to Judas Iscariot) offered to do it; he and Jesus then engaged in an aerial battle (borrowed from the legend of SIMON MAGUS), in which Judah remained victor and Jesus fled.

    The accusation of magic is frequently brought against Jesus. Jerome mentions it, quoting the Jews: “Magum vocant et Judaei Dominum meum” (“Ep. 1v., ad Ascellam,” i. 196, ed. Vallarsi); Marcus, of the sect of the Valentinians, was, according to Jerome, a native of Egypt, and was accused of being, like Jesus, a magician (Hilgenfeld, “Ketzergesch.” p. 870, Leipsic, 1884). The accusation of magic is frequently brought against Jesus … As Balaam the magician and, according to the derivation of his name, "destroyer of the people", was from both of these points of view a good prototype of Jesus, the latter was also called "Balaam" …

    Jesus performed all his miracles by means of magic …

    April 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • flambeaux

      Uhhhh....... WOW! ........ OK..... not really sure what to do with all this.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Bill

      Mike please, believers don't attack non believers? Have you been reading all this?

      April 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
  16. mike

    For the people who do not believe in God or Jesus why do you spend so much energy trying to denounce God and Jesus? Saying God and Jesus do not exist? If God and Jesus does not exist why does it bother you that people believe in God and Jesus? People who believe in God and Jesus don't attack people who do not believe in God and Jesus. So, live and let live, love and be loved.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Larry, Third Cousin of God on his Mother's Side, Twice Removed.

      Because religious people keep trying to get their theology into the government and laws. We WILL keep your tyrrany out of our Constitution!

      April 8, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • nomdefaitour

      Mike you know very well your religion is just a belly laugh to us; it is christians who have and who continue to force their beliefs upon others, and have exterminated entire communities, waged wars, burned people at the stake, committed the inquisition, all in the name of their god.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      Amen, Larry. You hit the nail on the head.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
    • flambeaux

      I agree with you but people who believe in Jesus do quite a lot more attacking than the other way around actually. u didnt know that?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
    • PlayfulDreamer

      Why do believers spend so much time to convince me of his existence? They even show up at my door unannounced and uninvited to tell me all about him! When you can answer that question, you'll have the answer to your own.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • PlayfulDreamer

      As an added note, it's you "love and let love" Christians who seem to have a problem with gay marriage. So I guess it's "love and let love so long as you aren't gay, and you must believe in the same things I do."

      April 8, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
  17. pyne

    Godlessness in the Last Days: But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2)People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3)without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4)treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. Have nothing to do with them.2 Timothy 3:1-5

    April 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Bill

      Sounds llike a discription of many of the christians I've known.

      April 8, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
  18. XoXo

    Atheists....... Just imagine how much you will suffer in hell soon when you die.....
    Life's short

    I bet you will try to do anything to convert last minute

    April 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
    • Eric G

      Swing and a miss!

      April 8, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      No, we won't. I for one would not want to spend eternity with the likes of you.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm |
    • Bootyfunk

      just imagine how much time you're wasting worshiping a god that doesn't exist.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "ust imagine how much you will suffer in hell soon when you die.....
      Life's short

      I bet you will try to do anything to convert last minute"

      Thanks for proving how evil your god is and why your cult is so bad for society.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • XoXo is pronounced "YoYo"

      That's all Christianity boils down to: Threats.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • flambeaux

      You simply have so little understanding of how personal belief works if you think we"ll all run to convert. You see although we look at y'all as people who treat this as some kind of Jihad holy Christian war, it's actually not a war at all. I'm not at ALL a Christian. But I don't mind if you are – he seems like he was a great guy. But when you don't believe in Jesus as the Lord and Saviour, believe me, you are very at home with your connection to the universe and it's force of creation. Its all very OK and there is no need to convert and run from fear. Basically, there is very little need to act out of fear at all. Please ask yourself the same question. Are you operating out of fear by believing in Jesus? Cos from your post it sounds like you are. Like you're really gloating about being on the side of a conflict where one side's gonna get it and the other side is gonna get to live.
      I sure hope not. That wouldn't give you much credibility in the eyes of people who are perfectly 'live and let live' in their way of looking at y'all, now would it?

      April 8, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • Truthfully

      @Bootyfunk, if you are right you have nothing to lose; if you are wrong you will spend eternity in hell. If you have children they may very well end up in the same place you go if they respect your judgement. I would hate to end up in hell but it would be even worse to find out my children followed me there. You would be wise to do a thorough search for the truth before you make the decision that is the most important one everyone makes. Even secular historians acknowledge Christ lived and claimed to be the Son of God.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • Bill

      Truethfully

      You might consider continuing your serch for truth.

      April 8, 2012 at 11:05 pm |
  19. sez

    Disobey there parents like oh living at home when they reach 13? Then mom has to wear curlers all the time Dads always mad at you kind of thing? Many semetic people recognize 13 as the age of majority. I guess you didn't want that one or they didn't so they could educate you to be a debt slave and a worker for them never teaching anything about self sufficency. Not to mention the fact they never talk about lending. What thats all about or even what your getting into. Cause guess who doles out the paper for the labor in the schools not to mention for building them. Printing all the paper they want and making it the only legal means of trade is a good deal for them. For you. You get some food and a dwelling and work. You have to question things like that or well be a drone like most people I see.

    April 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm |
  20. Hasari insili

    I still don't get why nonbelievers comment on religious articles?!

    Get a life.....

    One day you'll realize your big mistake until it's too late.... say hello to hell

    April 8, 2012 at 7:59 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Look at you. Why are YOU here? You wouldn't bother unless there was some contention you could weigh in on, honey.

      If you're so irritated, leave.

      And the gloating about everyone who isn't JUST LIKE YOU going to hell? Not effective.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • OhPlease

      "One day you'll realize your big mistake until it's too late.... say hello to hell"

      Yeah, your god is so loving it had to kill it's own son and create a hell to instill fear in it's followers. That's an evil god you follow in your cult.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
    • Peteyroo

      This non-believer makes comments in an effort to help you through your confusion and wrongheadedness.

      April 8, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
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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.