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July 1st, 2010
01:49 PM ET

Gospels don't say Jesus was crucified, scholar claims

Update July 2 8:04 a.m. After this article posted Gunnar Samuelsson got in touch to stress that his research focuses specifically on the narratives of Jesus's execution in the four Gospels, not on the entire New Testament, so "Gospels" has been substituted for "Bible" in the headline.

There have been plenty of attacks on Christianity over the years, but few claims have been more surprising than one advanced by an obscure Swedish scholar this spring.

The Gospels do not say Jesus was crucified, Gunnar Samuelsson says.

In fact, he argues, in the original Greek, the ancient texts reveal only that Jesus carried "some kind of torture or execution device" to a hill where "he was suspended" and died, says Samuelsson, who is an evangelical pastor as well as a New Testament scholar.

"When we say crucifixion, we think about Mel Gibson's 'Passion.' We think about a church, nails, the crown of thorns," he says, referring to Gibson's 2004 film, "The Passion of the Christ."

"We are loaded with pictures of this well-defined punishment called crucifixion - and that is the problem," he says.

Samuelsson bases his claim on studying 900 years' worth of ancient texts in the original languages - Hebrew, Latin and Greek, which is the language of the New Testament.

He spent three years reading for 12 hours a day, he says, and he noticed that the critical word normally translated as "crucify" doesn't necessarily mean that.

"He was handed over to be 'stauroun,'" Samuelsson says of Jesus, lapsing into Biblical Greek to make his point.

At the time the apostles Matthew, Mark, Luke and John were writing their Gospels, that word simply meant "suspended," the theologian argues.

"This word is used in a much wider sense than 'crucifixion,'" he says. "It refers to hanging, to suspending vines in a vineyard," or to any type of suspension.

"He was required to carry his 'stauros' to Calvary, and they 'stauroun' him. That is all. He carried some kind of torture or execution device to Calvary and he was suspended and he died," Samuelsson says.

Not everyone is convinced by his research. Garry Wills, the author of "What Jesus Meant," "What Paul Meant," and "What the Gospels Meant," dismisses it as "silliness."

"The verb is stauresthai from stauros, cross," Wills said.

Samuelsson wants to be very clear about what he is saying and what he is not saying.

Most importantly, he says, he is not claiming Jesus was not crucified - only that the Gospels do not say he was.

"I am a pastor, a conservative evangelical pastor, a Christian," he is at pains to point out. "I do believe that Jesus died the way we thought he died. He died on the cross."

But, he insists, it is tradition that tells Christians that, not the first four books of the New Testament.

"I tried to read the text as it is, to read the word of God as it stands in our texts," he says - what he calls "reading on the lines, not reading between the lines."

Samuelsson says he didn't set out to undermine one of the most basic tenets of Christianity.

He was working on a dissertation at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden when he noticed a problem with a major book about the history of crucifixion before Jesus.

What was normally thought to be the first description of a crucifixion - by the ancient Greek historian Herodotus - wasn't a crucifixion at all, but the suspension of a corpse, Samuelsson found by reading the original Greek.

The next example in the book about crucifixion wasn't a crucifixion either, but the impaling of a hand.

Samuelsson's doctoral advisor thought his student might be on to something.

"He recommended I scan all the texts, from Homer up to the first century - 900 years of crucifixion texts," Samuelsson recalled, calling it "a huge amount of work."

But, he says, "I love ancient texts. They just consume me." So he started reading.

He found very little evidence of crucifixion as a method of execution, though he did find corpses being suspended, people being hanged from trees, and more gruesome methods of execution such as impaling people by the belly or rectum.

The same Greek word was used to refer to all the different practices, he found.

That's what led him to doubt that the Gospels specify that Jesus was crucified.

At the time they were written, "there is no word in Greek, Latin, Aramaic or Hebrew that means crucifixion in the sense that we think of it," he says.

It's only after the death of Jesus - and because of the death of Jesus - that the Greek word "stauroun" comes specifically to mean executing a person on the cross, he argues.

He admits, of course, that the most likely reason early Christians though Jesus was crucified is that, in fact, he was.

But he says his research still has significant implications for historians, linguists and the Christian faithful.

For starters, "if my observations are correct, every book on the history of Jesus will need to be rewritten," as will the standard dictionaries of Biblical Greek, he says.

More profoundly, his research "ought to make Christians a bit more humble," he says.

"We fight against each other," he reflects, but "the theological stances that keep churches apart are founded on things that we find between the lines.

"We have put a lot of things in the Bible that weren't there in the beginning that keep us apart. We need to get down on our knees as Christians together and read the Bible."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Belief • Bible • Christianity • Jesus

soundoff (1,530 Responses)
  1. Corso

    If you deny the cross, you are against GOD's plan for salvation. Many people from that era came up with the writins of the gospel. The interpretation has been questioned, analyzed and under serious scrutiny many times over. This person seems to be obsesed with a plan to change this already, sponsored by people whose names are not mentioned in the article. Even scholars that study the gospels as work of literature agree about the unity and harmony of the stories about the death of our LORD Jesus Christ. The written word came later while the oral tradition was first. The central message of the bible is the salvation of humankind by this sacrifice. The Good News were that Jesus had died on the cross and that he had ressurrected on the 3rd day, all according to phrophesy. That was the initial message.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • GregB

      The only "scholars" who analyze the Bible and actually find facts in are the ones standing before you on Sunday mornings preaching their lessons. They're also the same ones sodomizing our children and mentally enslaving our population. Do you really want to believe them?

      Think about it.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      deny the cross? the cross is a pre-Christian symbol found as far back as ancient Sumeria, there probably
      was no crucifiction and even if there was how would this pagan ritual, a blood sacrafice of a scapegoat redeem us from wordly trangressions against an all loving Father being?

      July 1, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      @Greg wow! you dint hold back any punches! awesome
      and so true why should we believe these "authorities' about the nature of the infinite when their own natures show how little they care for his rules or even basic human compassion that many Atheists and non-Christians have?

      July 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      Right. God's plan for salvation... An all-powerful god of love. Ask yourself this: Do you think if you were raised in a Muslim country, by Muslim parents, that you would be taking that argument to your grave, instead of the Christian one? Since you are of a nature that you accepted the reality presented to, as most people are, the answer is yes – which would mean you could not be saved – you would have no choice about going to hell. (Of course there isn't really such a place for your god of love to send us.)

      July 1, 2010 at 4:07 pm |
    • Toby

      Personally, I deny the cross, the Holy Spirit, God, Jesus, and the whole lot. I affirm that the natural world is supreme and all life flows from it and returns to it after death. To promise my life to an unseen, unproven, untestable, unfalsifiable deity in return for merely a PROMISE (not proof or evidence, just a promise) of some reward after this life is just insanity.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:51 pm |
    • Mary

      not all christians place emphasis on the manner of Jesus's death and i don't believe questioning whether he was crucified or not is wrong. God is about truth.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • KeithTexas

      No place in the bible does Jesus profess to be your lord. He professes to be your servant. He does not claim to be the son of god he claims to be the son of Man. Upon his baptism by John a voice from the sky proclaimed "this is my beloved son,in whom I am well pleased, hear yea him. Most scholars of the theosophical age believed that at the time of the baptism was when the Christos or the Christ spirit moved into Jesus. The whole combination of books that are now accepted as the New Testament are only the holy books, chosen from thousands, By the Church to be the true teachings of God.

      You can believe what you wish really, because to believe is an act of faith, the source will not stand up to the scrutiny of logical study. The Christians of the 1600's would not recognize the Christianity of the average Fundamentalist Christian of today. About that time was the birth of the idea of the Trinity, I guess the 17th Century Christians got tired of the one God idea.

      From my writing you are probably thinking that I am an unbeliever. You would be wrong, I choose to have faith even knowing that the ideas presented are based on hope instead of facts. I certainly am not a fundamentalist. I do not believe that Christians are the only people that will spend eternity in the presence of God. My faith does inspire and comfort me in difficult times, and I am secure in my faith and salvation.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:34 pm |
  2. amoeba

    I think it's time we all finally say "hi, I'm John, human, evolved from planet earth". Then we can get down to the business of trying to survive. Hopefully the end goal will be finding a new rock. It's time to look around, understand the science. It's time to work together, not waste our resources fighting each other. If we're not careful, we're going to be the oil for whatever comes next.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Ana

      Thank You! this is probably the best comment on the board. Jesus would be horrified by all the pseudo-medieval-intellectual arguing over inessentials still going on. We have real survival crises today that require all of our creative talents brought into focus, and we need to work together, IMO.

      July 2, 2010 at 11:57 am |
  3. Eric G

    Who cares? If you were to pick something from to bible to research and verify, you can come up with a load of better stuff than his death. Why not research the resurection? Isn't that the part that really needs the proof? I mean, come on, everyone mentioned in the bible is dead. Everyone dies........ It's that comming back part that needs the explaination.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      And of course the accounts of the resurrection are contradictory.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:04 pm |
    • Toby

      Eric- That is an outstanding question! Absolutely, the resurrection IS the only part that truly matters to Christianity-without that, it all means absolutely squat.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  4. Ddubbya

    And you received your degree in theology from where, Craig?

    You are simply having a knee jerk reaction to one aspect that bothers you. You claim the method of the death of Jesus isn't an issue, however the name calling and attempt to discredit this man demonstrates something quite to the contrary.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  5. GregB

    Why does no one point out the fact that the bible also states that he was taken down after he died, wrapped in cloth and then buried in a stone and how this story is completely opposite of the standard procedure for crucifixion at this time? The condemned victim was hung from a cross or a pole and suspended for days to die and then to rot away. It was form of public humiliation as well as a death penalty.

    The reason for the contrast? Because the gospel was written by second age witnesses. It's a great moral lesson and great mythological story – but nothing more.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • dalis

      The Gospels account for this inconsistency. It's written that Joseph of Arimathea, an influential member of the Sanhedrin, who appealed to Pontius Pilate to have the body released to him (John 19:38) and with another Pharisee, Nicodemus, had him removed (John 19:39), anointed, and wrapped in linen (Mark 15:46), and was buried in his family's tomb, specifically, Joseph's own niche.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • GregB

      I'll accept that.

      How does the Bible account for the inconsistency in the gospels regarding the resurrection and the witnesses? The gospel of Mark, Luke, John and Mathew each have different eye witness accounts of the scene of the resurrection. That is another dilemma.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm |
    • gerald

      Gregb,

      THe dilema is not as insurmountable as you think. Give me an alledged contradiction and I will reconcile it. Lets start off with an example. In one place it says that Judas hung himself. In another it says his guts were splatered all over the ground. Contradition? Perhaps but it is just as likely that the rope that he hung himself from broke and his bowls were opened up in the fall. Is this for sure what happened? I don't know. But it is reconcilable. I can bet that someone has come up with a plausable explanation for each dilema from scripture you propose.

      July 3, 2010 at 5:56 pm |
    • Jo

      I've always thought the different versions were included in the traditional Bible so that one may contrast the various accounts. Even at trial today, witnesses seldom give 100% consistent testimony. If they did, that would be a sure indication of dubious corroboration, (and that's when they haven't been sequestered by a 100 years or so and the testimony is first hand). The Bible is a more scholarly work because of it. Besides, the main idea remains the same and equally as important. You be the judge.

      July 5, 2010 at 5:24 am |
  6. Josef

    why would the Romans kill Christ, he was not a threat to them. Romans conquer countrys but never stop the people from whorshiping their own god. Did they make the jews whorship a Roman god nio. Christ if he existed at all was place to death by the jews, he was a threa to them, not the Romans. If people would really read the gosples they';d have all kinds of questions. why did Judas need to identify him , when Christ was out there preaching in the light of day. He even rode a donkey into Juresalem where everyone saw & welcomed him, why the need to be id. Also how do we know what he dasi in the garden igf he was alone , no apostles, so how do we know what he said. This are just 2 points from many that don't make sense. Ziet-Giest: you're right all the way. Christianity , Judism, & Islam all come from Pagan religions.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      Thanks Josef
      glad to see someone else has done their homework and realizes the Pagan origins of the Abrahamic religions
      just look at the fish hat worn by the Pope it is exactly the same as worn by the fish priests of Dagon in Sumeria
      all the "Christian" iconography can be traced to Sumeria and Egypt, culture that existed thousands of years before Jesus was suppodsed to live

      July 1, 2010 at 3:58 pm |
    • Christ Loves You

      @Josef: The Romans did NOT kill Jesus, the Pharisees did! If you know and have read the Bible, then you would see that the Pharisees and the people of Jerusalem advocated for Jesus' death, NOT the Roman emperor. The Roman emperor asked the people of Jerusalem if they wanted Jesus killed and they all agreed...Yes!

      July 1, 2010 at 4:37 pm |
    • Carole Clarke

      Rome did feel Jesus was an insurrectionist and tried him for civil crimes, not religious ones. Rome welcomed all religions. Jesus may have been swept up in the move against the zealots who regularly attacked Rome in that area. They raised the sword against Rome, that was not permitted.

      July 2, 2010 at 10:27 am |
    • Jo

      Referenced in an earlier post, the Talmud may give an indication of a need for an ID. Jewish law seemed to require not one but two attempts at doubt. (Interestingly, translated as benefit of doubt) So perhaps under that doctrine a person could not face a capital sentence without an ID.

      July 5, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  7. Just2Reason

    I'm impressed this conservative can see outside the box. They usually can't. Not that I think any of the events in the Gospels, or elsewhere in the bible, necessarily happened (the miracles certainly didn't).

    July 1, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
  8. RJ

    How appropriate it is to compare jesus to the easter bunny since both a fictional.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Christ Still Loves You Even After Saying that Comment RJ

      Very inappropriate and rude comparison! Don't make a mockery of Jesus Christ!

      July 1, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      @Christ Still Loves You...: You are confused what love is. Christians think God will send you to hell if you don't accept Christ – but Christ still loves you?

      July 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
  9. Sander

    yeh ur totally right;) just by spending a lot of time reading and studying the Bible doesnt make the Bible a fact either does it;) Wake up and stop living and believing in lies.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
  10. Zeit-Geist

    @dalis
    if you research astro-theological myth or the real origins into the Christian Myth you will see that the
    entire Christ saga is based on much older resurrection theologies that come out of Egypt, Christianity being a direct
    descendant of the Atonist Solar Cult, the so called "Lords prayer' can be found almost verbatim on a pyramid wall

    July 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Carole Clarke

      Are you talking about Ank Aton, the odd Pharoah who believed in one God? Would like to know where that earlier Lord's Prayer is, is there a photo of it? Alot of Jesus' teaching confirm the 10 Commandments but some are new. The idea of turning the other cheek was astonishing for a world warred over for so long and ruled by Rome. I expect there were religions out of India that had civil disobedience instead of violence as part of their mantra. Ghandi made it work in our own lifetime. My favorite Jesus moment was when he said "Render unto Caesar...".

      July 2, 2010 at 12:07 am |
      • LaJollaRich

        King Akhenaten and his Queen Nef and their 6 daughters created the concept of monotheism. Queen Nef found King Tutakenaten because she had no son's and the male family members (Moses, etc.) ran pending a religious coup.

        July 2, 2010 at 12:50 am |
        • LaJollaRich

          Moses returned years later to reclaim the throne after Tut died young and he was dismissed and eventually left Egypt with 'his' people that believed in monotheism. Like someone of that 'persuasion' told me, they would have believed in anything to get out there - wouldn't you?

          Anyway, monotheism was short-lived in Egypt and was banished to the Arabian desert where it thrived.

          July 2, 2010 at 12:55 am |
        • LaJollaRich

          There was a religious coup in Ancient Egypt circa 1400 BCE. King Akhenaten, Queen Nef (her whole name is censored for some reason), Moses, and child-king Tutakenaten factored significantly.

          The Ancients went back to worshipping Isis & Horus (Mary & Jesus copies), Osiris, and all the other gods. Europeans worshipped them, also, before The Inquisitions of The Roman Catholic Church.

          July 2, 2010 at 1:00 am |
    • Jo

      Wow...It seems as if some of these ideas have been around a very long time. At least since the time of Moses, maybe since the birth of human conscience. Your right..it's probably just nonsense.

      July 5, 2010 at 4:52 am |
  11. Robert

    How quaint for Mr Samuelsson to not be confronted by any actual scholar in the article.

    Its rather terrible journalism here (not that this should surprise us) to just offer his account and not look to another scholar to counter his claims. These claims are baseless and foolish. I've spent plenty of time reading the text, researching the words, and reading scholarship about these kinds of matters too. He is taking a poor slant on the word and not considering valuable extra-biblical work and comparing the texts to other New Testament usage.

    The whole argument is specious.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      It sound very credible. You don't think a doctoral candidate you reads 12 hours a day for 3 years is a scholar?

      July 1, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
  12. Just2Reason

    I'm impressed this conservative can see outside the box. They usually can't. Not that I think any of the events in the Gospels, or elsewhere in the bible, necessarily happened (the miracles certainly didn't).

    July 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  13. Osman

    Jesus The Mesiah (Peace Be Upon Him) was the Promised Mesiah of the God. How the messiah can die. Very simple. This
    secret is revealed by the Quran that God made a same image on the Cross and they (Greeks/Jews) thought that they killed him.So they said ! Oh ! you saw we killed him ,so he cannot be the messiah.
    But God took him over the skies and Of course he will come and rule the world as a messiah then God's promsie will be fulfiiled upon us.
    And he will authenticate Mohammed Peace be upon him as his brother and Last Prophet of God. So Jesus the Mesiah Peace be upon him, got two great honours The Prophet ,The Messiah, and Companion and Authenticator of Mohammed PBUH.
    Thanks

    July 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      And who was Muhammad? Do you think if you were raised in a Muslim country, by Muslim parents, that you would be taking that argument to your grave, instead of the Christian one?

      July 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • DanW

      Osman: Mohammad wrote about Jesus six hundred years after He lived. He was not an eye-witness. Mohammad knew nothing about Him, nor could he have, because he was illiterate and got his information from a twelve year old slave boy who was raised Christian.

      July 2, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  14. dalis

    @ buzzkill Ok, present your evidence.

    @ everyone else and particularly Craig Must reiterate the need for civil language on this and all other boards.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  15. iLOVEdocking

    Thank you, Zeit-Geist. It is refreshing to encounter someone with a brain who is actually able to compile and analyze facts and then come to a rational conclusion. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster bless you with His noodly appendage. Ra-men.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:32 pm |
  16. Mizzle

    The fact is Jesus died for us, to wash away our sins. Let's stop trying to disprove the writings, and the bible and look at the facts. The fact that Jesus did exist, and he died so that we all may be saved.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:27 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      how do you know what is fact? you only believe the lies that you were indoctrinated with and you dont even question their logic or whether or not they have an basis in reality

      July 1, 2010 at 3:30 pm |
    • Toby

      I think you fail to understand the difference between a "fact" and something you hope, wish, or believe to be true. The existence of Jesus cannot be proven-to say nothing of his supposed divinity or resurrection. You may choose to believe these ideas, and you are certainly free to do so, but you are not at liberty to claim them as facts. This is one of the many troubling things about Christianity; the faithful present the absurd, illogical, and immoral as "facts" to the innocent minds of their young children and these poor kids grow up to believe that the dead come back to life, virgins give birth, or that they can absolve themselves of their wrongdoings and responsibilities by simply forcing themselves to believe fantastic tales. Sick, sick, sick.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:37 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      And how is believing that Jesus was not crucified -while 4 different testimonies write about- is NOT being indoctrinated? Foolish.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      You fear deceit and lies because you live by deceit and lies. If you wouldn't be living by the lie, then you would not have to fear anything.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:40 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      To wash away our sins... And you also think love is something to be feared, and fail to see the contradiction.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:43 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      Jesus died for us?? thats a pagan ritual called the scapegoat. Do you believe in Pagan Religion?
      how can blood spilled in a pagan ritual "wash away sins"? this is nothing but sympathetic magicK

      July 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      By the way, being a logical thinker doesn't have anything to do with SKEPTICISM, that is the domain of neurotics – not intellectuals. Stop thinking you are smart and listen to some self-motivational tapes or something. Confusing intellectualism with skepticism is the #1 error of all the so called free thinkers. From an intellectual view-point, it looks very foolish.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      @DAVINCIKODE: Christians (most of them) believe Muslims will go to hell. Ask yourself this: Do you think if you were raised in a Muslim country, by Muslim parents, that you would be taking that argument to your grave, instead of the Christian one? Of course you would. You are of such a makeup that you accepted the reality presented to you, and this is typically what humans do.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • GregB

      Modern science and biology have basically shown the story of Adam and Eve to be mostly metaphorical. Even the Catholic Church has thrown up their hands in defeat and said that yes, the story is mostly metaphorical.

      So your deity, Jesus, was sent on a suicide mission from his father to preach to true religion and then die to resolve us from a sin derived from a metaphorical story about a garden, a snake and an apple?
      Am I the only one confused here?

      July 1, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @Just2Reason

      I don't believe that at all. All religions are the same in essence, and the essence is called Truth, another name for God.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:59 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @GregB

      You are an very unfortunate person. This type of knowledge is GIVEN to you, it is not book-knowledge. An atheist has a hard time understanding what faith is and matter of fact, will never understand what faith is as long as he keeps arguing with his own fearful perceptions.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:01 pm |
    • GregB

      DAVINCIKODE: Fearful perception? How do you figure? Because I have come to terms and accepted that what we see around us and our lives are so inconsequential and cosmically unimportant that I don't bother trying to it explain it by the writings of some Bronze age goat herders?

      If your deity exists and sees all, than he would understand that everyone's brain functions differently. I'd love to believe that there is a logical purpose behind our existence and that we can explain it in simple terms, but I can't. Pretending otherwise is foolish.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • SueK

      DAVINCIKODE – 7 different books tell me harry potter is real. Will that make him real 2000 years from now ?

      July 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm |
    • Corso

      To GregB...Reason can not prove God, faith and free will, but science can not disprove God, faith and free will. What other method are there useful to us as human being to explain our nature? It is above Reason.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @GregB

      Your conclusion, not mine at all. The only key to understanding what religion about is humility.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:17 pm |
    • GregB

      DAVINCIKODEL:
      I agree. I take a humble approach towards our existence. Humanity is the cosmic equivalent to a spec of sand on the beach. For us to claim that we can even fathom the understanding of why it's here, why we're here or what will the future bring for us is foolish. I take a humble approach and accept the fact that there is no way we can ever hope to comprehend our existence.

      Furthermore, a day of reading and researching regarding the evolutionary traits of human nature concerning the need for a higher power and an authority figure will shed some light as to why some of us more prone to accept such mythology and fantasy and others, like myself, find it laughable.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:27 pm |
    • DAVINCIKODE

      @GregB

      I agree, the richness of our God given existence is beyond definition, but it is simultaneously the excitement of being alive.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm |
    • Mary

      We do not know that he died for our sins. That is just the spin the early christians chose to put on his execution. I firmly beleive no just god would ever accept a human sacrifice. That is the work of man- not God.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:06 pm |
    • Sigh

      @DAVINCIKODE
      Actually, just as monotheists have faith, so do atheists. Monotheists have faith that their god exists. Atheists have faith that god does not exist. Since neither belief can be proven for fact, both beliefs rely entirely on faith.

      July 1, 2010 at 11:56 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      @Corso: Re: "Reason can not prove God... What other method are there useful to us as human being to explain our nature? It is above Reason." Yes, reason is above this. Observe human nature. A person raised Christian will typically take that argument to his grave, as will a Muslim. The religions have contradictory paths to salvation – as most Christians believe a Muslim who has not accepted Christ will go to Hell. A person who can reason clearly will observe human nature, and be able to reject all religions – as none of them have any more evidence supporting them than any other one.

      July 2, 2010 at 2:24 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      @DAVINCIKODE: I was talking about "most Christians." "Most Christians" do not believe "All religions are the same in essence" – as that statement is contradicted numerous times in the New Testament. Nearly every "Christian" who heard you make that statement would say you are not a Christian.

      July 5, 2010 at 11:02 am |
  17. Zeit-Geist

    having something die for your sins is an ancient Pagan ritual called a scapegoat, why would an all powerful, all loving being kill his supposed "only son" in a bloody pagan ritual and in what possible way would this redeem you for mistakes and wrong decisions you made? or original sin (a woman eating an apple?) does this sound logical/ does this sound like the work of an infinite being?

    July 1, 2010 at 3:26 pm |
    • let's be real

      You really truly don't have a clue about this. This is not an act on your behalf. Please do alot more research before you comment. There is so much more to learn.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:45 pm |
    • Josef

      wow you know your stuff. If the rest were not affraid of going to "hell" They might do their reseach and actualy learne something. great posts.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:57 pm |
    • subathkares

      su bath kares!

      July 1, 2010 at 4:09 pm |
    • Zeit-Geist

      thanks again Josef, yes I think I do, Ive done a lot of research and i dont claim to know the entire truth but i do know what does not make sense.....
      actually hell does not exist even in the Bible! the actual word translated as "Hell" (which has a Germanic origin) in the original Hebrew is Sheol, which was a temporary resting place for souls (like the Greek myth of Hades) and was not an eternal place of punishment and brimstone
      keep searching for truth brother
      peace

      July 1, 2010 at 4:14 pm |
    • Mary

      Jesus was executed as a criminal and dressing it up as 'dying for our sins' was added to make this brutal act serve a purpose.

      I agree.

      July 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm |
    • Nic

      Zeit-Geist, would you do something for me? Imagine, if you will, a god. Any type of god, I don't care. Imagine a way in which that god would create the world, create humans, and give them some sort of agenda in life. Imagine how this god would organize the world that humans live in, how he/she would asked to be worshiped, how he/she would contrive a way for the eventual salvation of mankind from their degradation. Are you imagining? Ok, now throw all of those imaginations out the window. When it comes down to it, there is no way for a creation, a human, to even begin to understand the plans of God, or any god for that matter. For you to say "Does this sound like the work of an infinite being?" is absolutely ridiculous. Maybe there is a god, maybe there isn't, but for you to think that you can put some sort of human-made "logic" and "order" and "sense" on a supernatural, all-powerful, infinite being is laughable. If you can start to tell me what a god "sounds like," then maybe I should start worshiping you for your profound revelation! You know the nature of god?! Wow, tell me, please!

      All of your astro-mythological stuff may or may not have some credit, there might be some actual historical truth to it. Even so, it is bold and unwise for you to attempt to disprove the Judeo-Christian god by what He should "sound like." For you to claim how God "sounds" is quite funny, actually.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:20 pm |
    • Nic

      In addition, I would like to take a look at your claim about hell. First, there are plenty of references in the Bible (because that is the book that you are working out of) of hell being both "eternal" and "fiery (brimstone)." In fact, Sheol's most significant reference was Gehenna, the historical trash heap of Jersualem located in the Valley of Hinnom. Yes, this valley is cited in the Bible as a place that was used for pagan idolatry. Later, it was where Jerusalem sent all of their trash. Once the trash got there, it was burned. The valley was literally always burning. This is what Sheol is usually compared to. An eternally burning trash heap.

      Also, the references of Sheol in the Bible that you use all come from before Jesus lived. Christians today believe (it is a point of contention, however) that the place was actually temporary before Jesus came. In some way, the people before Jesus had to get a legitimate chance to accept or reject Jesus. Those who didn't follow God before he came still got a chance, but they had to wait in a pretty nasty place. Once Jesus came, everyone got a choice. There is no longer any need for a temporary resting place. Now, you either accept or reject. If you accept, you get an eternal heaven; if you reject, you get an eternal Gehenna.

      Yes, you know some things, and yes it is impressive. But please consider these historical facts, and maybe seek to modify your argument. In the end, no supposed "historical" truth or argument (or what you call and argument, which is really more of a half-researched scare tactic) will deter us from a faith that we believe saves.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:29 pm |
  18. Zeit-Geist

    having something die for your sins is an ancient pagan ritual called a scapegoat, why would an all powerful, all loving being kill his supposed "only son" in a bloody pagan ritual and in what possible way would this redeem you for mistakes and wrong decisions you made? or original sin (a woman eating an apple?) does this sound logical/ does this sound like the work of an infinite being?

    July 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • ManicZorbian

      Oooh! Ooooh! I know the answer to this one!

      He wouldn't, because he can't, because he DOESN'T EXIST.

      July 2, 2010 at 1:01 am |
      • Winston Sumirsan

        Wow... you are dead right. He doesn't exist in humans' sinful world. Even when he was in this humans' sinful world, he existed only in Divine nature. Umm... I thought that you might sometimes see him, but,now I realize that you might still need to work to go a little bit to get into initial Divine nature so that you see his existence. Try not wanting to see Master of Hell, if you call Jesus in front of Master of Hell for help, I bet it will be really expensive, much more expensive than international phone call. Thanks,

        July 2, 2010 at 1:58 am |
        • Christopher Alan Fields

          The Bible and all Religious BS was Created to Control People, You Only Live Once so Stop Wasting Your Time in the Fantasy Religious World.

          July 2, 2010 at 2:09 am |
        • LaJollaRich

          The Age of Pisces (fish) is nearly over. Time to evolve into the soon-arriving Age of Aquarius (water). The Ancients may or may not have anything to tell us about it as ages are approximately 26,000. The Age of Aquarius just may be an era of all new things. I have some studying to do.

          July 2, 2010 at 3:12 am |
        • Andacar

          Do you use the same screed whenever you're gliding through the news and spot an article on religion to pounce on, or do you actually take the trouble to write different ones? Seems to me atheist trolls use pretty much the same message for all occasions. Did you even read the article?

          July 2, 2010 at 3:16 am |
        • True Believer

          Following verses of the Quran would make things crystal clear..

          Chapter 4:
          Verse 156. That they rejected Faith; that they uttered against Mary a grave false charge;

          Verse 157. That they said (in boast), "We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of Allah.;- but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not:-

          Verse 158. Nay, Allah raised him up unto Himself; and Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise;-

          God himself has said that Jesus (peace be upon him) was NOT crucified. Jesus was raised unto Him and will return before the Day of Judgment. He was a prophet like Abraham, Moses, Jacob, and the others (Peace be upon them all) and gave glad tidings in the bible of the last prophet to come – Muhammad.

          July 2, 2010 at 3:38 am |
        • Stocko

          Thanks a lot True Believer. I gotta tell ya, when somebody quotes from some book I just instantly believe. Mein Kampf anyone?

          July 2, 2010 at 3:52 am |
        • Peace2all

          True Believer....And HOW EXACTLY does your posting of versus from the Q'uran prove anything and make things 'crystal clear' now...?

          July 2, 2010 at 3:55 am |
        • True Believer

          @Peace2all
          cuz the Quran is the only book which God has taken the upon himself to protect it – not a SINGLE word from it has changed for over 1400 years, and it was revealed directly by the angel Gabriel. You would not believe it but the miracle of the Quran is such that even 6-7 year old children (hundreds of thousands of them) have memorized the entire Quran by heart – fulfilling God's promise of protecting it.

          July 2, 2010 at 4:07 am |
        • Anth

          TrueBeliever, thank you for warning us about your future militant children and what a shame that your children don't matter so much to you, as to do the things you do to them.

          July 2, 2010 at 4:18 am |
        • ybs

          OK. Just in case... let's get 72M virgins ready!

          What a compelling story! Convert me! 🙂

          July 2, 2010 at 5:48 am |
        • CatholicMom

          True Believer,
          The Bible is over 1600 years old. It is the Word of God Himself and even the Angel Gabriel cannot change the Truth. What was true then is true now. The Catholic Bible is still the same Bible from that time. Yes, the Bible was taken by protesters and parts of the Bible were thrown out and words were omitted or added but you can trust the Words of the Bible if you make sure it is Catholic. Your conscience should tell you to read it if you are a true believer.

          July 2, 2010 at 7:01 am |
        • Peace2all

          and the christian trolls don't use the same worn out old unprovable arguements....?

          July 2, 2010 at 3:46 am |
        • Chicago Art

          Tell that to Gandhi & King–my, my, my, how much of their lives they wasted acting out their religious beliefs.

          July 2, 2010 at 3:32 am |
    • ybs

      Why? So, we can be humble! 🙂

      July 2, 2010 at 5:41 am |
  19. Atomicbuddha

    The Bible is a fantastic piece of fiction.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • Christ Loves You

      You Forgot "Non-" before fiction. Its OK, I fixed it for you!

      July 1, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Just2Reason

      Fantastic? Dangerous.

      July 1, 2010 at 3:44 pm |
    • Ironkitten

      The bible is a history book of the Jews. Many of the events took place. In the hands of the ealy Christians it became a creation story and mythology to control the peasants.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:05 pm |
    • Toby

      Great observation. The Bible belongs shelved with such great fictional classics as The Illiad and Shakespeare.

      July 1, 2010 at 6:42 pm |
    • Winston Sumirsan

      Is this fiction what you had meditated to get enlightened?

      July 2, 2010 at 1:51 am |
  20. Drew

    Everyone can give their opinion, that is the point of believing in somethings. But to all the people here saying how Jesus did not exist. You can say that all you want, I really don't care. I know where I stand in my faith, other people do two. It takes a lot to change someones mind and saying one little thing like that on a CNN blog wont change anyone's mind. If you really want to debate religion talk to someone in person it is better then being safe at your computer. It is just sad that some people fight over the Internet only thing it does it get people mad.

    July 1, 2010 at 3:22 pm |
    • Dan

      It does not take a lot to change someone's mind: it just take honesty and education.... IF you are honest and study, you can only come to the conclusion, that JC never existed... Just a myth... So you can have him died, resurrected,... However you want as it is completely irrelevant. Santa Clauss is actually MORE real than JC: you get gifts....

      July 2, 2010 at 1:23 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.