Did Jesus Exist?

The book's cover

Sunday Read: Book Review

The Manila Times, March 24, 2013

You’d probably be aghast that I devote a column to what seems to be preposterous question.

But it has been asked starting way back in the 18th century by scholars. In recent years, interest on the question has intensified with probably a thousand doctoral and masteral theses, books as well as articles both from Christian and secular universities touching on the issue. In past few years a slew of books – both academic and popular – by scholars and authors called the “mythicists’”. They argue that Jesus Christ is a myth, concocted in the first and second centuries to become the core of a new religion.

The mythicists claim we cannot simply accept the myths and even legends of pre-scientific superstitious societies but examine them in the light of science and humanity’s bank of information.  This is obvious in the case of the Greek gods. Less obvious are the cases of  Santa Claus, Robin Hood, even St. Christopher  who turn out not to be real historical people but amalgams of persons mythicized over the centuries (e.g., Santa Claus a confused mix of a 4th century German bishop St. Nicholas and the pre-Christian Viking god Odin.)

The mythicists  claim that elements of the Jesus  story have been common in myths during  that era and in that part of the world. The theme of a dying-rising God has been common in ancient religions: Osiris, Attis, Heracles, Baal.  The Persian God Mithra (who was popular among Roman soldiers) was also born to a virgin. (more…)

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