Monday, February 13, 2006

The God Who Wasn't There (addendum)

Last year Brian Flemming released a film, The God Who Wasn't There, disputing Christ's existence. Reviews of the movie are not that common, and they tend to be rather short. Now we have a fuller anaylysis by GakuseiDon, a moderate Christian who has challenged key aspects of Earl Doherty's mythicist model. That model is generally regarded as the best, and it seems to be the one that Flemming follows. Don's considerable experience with mythicism has gone into the review, which extends beyond the specific claims in the movie and discusses mythicism as a broad category. The review is technically in four parts, of which the last is pending -- but it is the first three sections which deal primarily with the movie.

The first part is largely a treatment of the various parallels that are said to exist between Christ and pagan gods. Don argues something essential and easily forgotten -- that the primary sources for Christ have to be checked against the primary sources in the pagan literature. He shows that this is generally not done, and that we have essentially a set of "urban myths" floating around the internet. He offers a useful list of such parallels, and demonstrates the surprising degree to which Flemming relies on 19th century scholarship now rejected even by Doherty and his most scholarly supporters. To some extent, Flemming's work represents what might be called popular mythicism -- that broad category of mythicist claims about Jesus that have some popular appeal, regardless of whether or not the claims still appeal to intellectual skeptics.

In my own writings, I have dealt primarily with Doherty's model, because it is the one that seems to speak most to intellectual skeptics. It has been some time since I paid any attention to other models, which credulously generate parallels between numbers (numerology) and stories (indiscriminate parallels between Christian and pagan literature). Flemming himself does not dabble in numerology, but nevertheless his work succeeds in reminding me that mythicism has a life of its own apart from Doherty. It is these types of popular mythicism which are likeliest to make an appearance in a movie or DVD, even one made by a film-maker who generally follows Doherty's model and interviews Doherty himself.

Don's second section is my favorite, because it gives us a clear and convincing explanation for why the early Christian writers attempted to paint their own parallels between Christ and pagan gods. Flemming tries to build on these parallels in his movie but, as Don shows us, the pagans of antiquity did not accept them. The Roman empire tolerated those cults which were old or which showed a continuity with the past. The early Christians tried to win more respect for their religion by saying that their new movement was really nothing new, and certainly nothing deserving condemnation. So they stretched some of the similarities between Jesus' story and that of the pagan gods. And they went on to explain why the pagans did not recognize these parallels.

The third section deals with Paul's alleged silence about Christ's life. Don puts Paul's writings into perspective by describing other silences that might be seen in the ancient record -- for instance, the conspicuously late and thin literary witness to the eruption of Vesuvius. He allows that Paul's specific silences, however, might mean specific things about Paul's knowledge of Christ. And rather than treating the phrases in Paul that are usually fought over, Don focuses on statements by Paul that have received less attention. We are reminded here that Paul seems to place Christ, not in a timeless dimension, but in a historical place and time following the careers of Abraham and Moses.

And Don's overall method is a salutory one: he shows us the probability that various verses are pointing to a coherent conclusion, and he does not focus for too long on any single verse (something I can do too easily).

I highly recommend his review. Even more so, I second Don's own insistence that any reader go on to check the primary sources themselves.

4 Comments:

Anonymous GakuseiDon said...

Hi Kevin, my email account isn't letting me mail out, so I've added a comment here. Thanks for your review and feedback. I've updated the conclusion in Section 3 slightly.

You're right, Flemming is basically arguing by "urban myth". What surprises me is that none of the reviews of the movie by mythicists have picked up on the misinformation that Flemming presents. They've simply accepted info on "Beddru of Japan" (the TRUE God who wasn't there!) and pagan saviour figures as true information. It would be nice if Jesus Mythers actually looked into the claims in the movie for themselves. Jesus Mythers, consider that a challenge!

Regards,
Don

February 14, 2006 6:52 AM  
Blogger Kevin Rosero said...

Don, on the theme of misinformation, it's ironic that Flemming tries to replace a real man, Christ, with Beddru -- a god who wasn't there even as a literary figure.

February 15, 2006 10:06 PM  
Blogger J.L. Hinman said...

All any honest researher need do is actaully lookm at the sources used by most mythers. I've seen more than one use Cumont, apparenlty to pad their bib's because Cumont actually argumed that Mithras was influenced by Christianity when the Soldiers from Ostia (the major Mithras stornghold) were stationed in Jerusalem for short tours in 66.

Most fo the assumed paralells are just not there, and if only people would just look at real mythology books they would see the foudnational premise of the mytherism thing is a lie.

I've posted this on the Sec web many times, and everytime at least one person goes and looks it up and comes back and says "I'l be damned heis right." There's a floury of activity for a day then they all forget andm ake the samme idiotic assumptions agian next week.

February 17, 2006 6:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'A christian'/ (Don Gakusei) "I urge you to examine Acharya S's claims by looking at primary sources."

- LOL, uh huhh. Still haven't actually read her 2 books for your self have you. I see that you haven't paid a visit to any museums either. I can't help but notice that you're still relying on heresay. We've had the discussion about 'primary sources' before.

Also, "Concerning, "primary sources", I refer you to the following from the "Introduction" of "Suns of God": http://www.truthbeknown.com/introduction.htm

However, speaking of 'primary sources', where's yours Don?

While you claim that Mithra & other gods didn't exist before christ, you still refuse to accept the fact that even conservative xian scholars agree that the earliest records mention of the gospels didn't exist until 150 ish & names for the authors were *ALL* anonymous until 180 when titles were given to them at that time. We still have no Idea who really wrote them. What say you? Plus the fact that a great many changes occured to those gospels throughout the centuries to this very day. Where are the originals? Oh yeah, that's right, we don't have them.

History of Research into Solar Mythology and the Bible -

The knowledge that the stories in the Bible are actually allegories rooted in Solar Mythology is nothing new. There is evidence that people were well aware of it at the time of the formation of the Catholic Church. There is also evidence that these people were eliminated by the Catholic Church and all books exposing the allegory were burned.

Charles François Dupuis (1742-1809) wrote extensively on the subject. Chapter IX of his summary work, The Origin of All Religious Worship first published in 1798, is titled, An Explanation of the Fable, in which the Sun is worshipped under the name of Christ (starting on page 214). Chapter XII of this same work gives the Solar Mythology explanation of the Book of Revelation [also known as The Apocalypse] (starting on page 408). The Book of Revelation is just Solar Mythology, and makes sense as such, and doesn't make any sense in any other way.

Constantin François de Volney (1757-1820) also wrote about Solar Mythology and the Bible. Chapter XIII of his principal work, The Ruins; or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires first published in 1791, is titled, Christianity, or the Allegorical Worship of the Sun under the cabalistic names of Chrish-en or Christ and Yesus or Jesus.

Rev. Robert Taylor (1784-1844) also figured it out. In 1828 he wrote Syntagma of the Evidences of the Christian Religion the Preface reads, “Thou hast in this Pamphlet all the sufficient evidence, that can be adduced for any piece of history a thousand years old, or to prove an error of a thousand years standing, that such a person as Jesus Christ never existed; but that the earliest Christians meant the words to be nothing more than a personification of the principle of reason, of goodness, or that principle, be it what it may, which may most benefit mankind in the passage through life.”

In 1829 Rev. Robert Taylor published a thorough book on Comparative Religion titled The Diegesis; Being a Discovery of the Origin, Evidences, and Early History of Christianity, Never Yet Before or Elsewhere So Fully and Faithfully Set Forth.

In 1830-1831 Rev. Robert Taylor published Devil's Pulpit: Or Astro-Theological Sermons (vols. 1 and 2).

So you see the knowledge has been around for a long time. It just isn't being passed on to the next generation. Each generation is rediscovering what has already been known.

"We sorely need a new History of Religions School for the 21st century, to apply modern techniques to this important ancient material. Perhaps this book will help bring that about." ~ review of Achary's 'Christ Conspiracy', by Earl Doherty

Oh here's just a small sample of the positive evidence that still exists today worldwide that shows how legends, myths evolved from prehistoric times & turned into personifications of the SUN (son).

"Archaeoastronomy Links Stone-Age Tomb Builders With Sun"
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/archaeoastronomy-03a.html

Winter solstice sunrise in Newgrange 3600-3100 BC
http://www.knowth.com/loughcrew.htm
Ancient Sun Temple Uncovered in Cairo
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/03/0301_060301_egypt_2.html

As concerns for Acharya's claims about Horus - well, she has more than proved them, especially in 'Suns of God'. So, can *YOU* provide us with a specific claim she's made on her christ.htm page that *YOU* (erroneously) believe is fallacious? All of them are backed by the info in 'Suns of God'. Don't forget the extensive bibliography of Suns of God, which contains so many of those so called, "bad sources":
http://www.truthbeknown.com/bibliography.pdf

*** RECOMMENDED READING ***

Bruno Bauer, 1841, Criticism of the Gospel History of the Synoptics
David Friedrich Strauss, 1860, The Life of Jesus Critically Examined
Thomas Whittaker, 1904, The Origins of Christianity
William Benjamin Smith, 1906, Der vorchristliche Jesus
Albert Kalthoff, 1907, The Rise of Christianity
John M. Robertson, 1917, The Jesus Problem
Georg Brandes, 1926, Jesus – A Myth
L.Gordon Rylands, 1935, Did Jesus Ever Live?
Edouard Dujardin, 1938, Ancient History of the God Jesus
P.L. Couchoud, 1939, The Creation of Christ
Alvin Boyd Kuhn, 1944, Who is this King of Glory?
Karl Kautsky, 1953, The Foundations of Christianity
Guy Fau, 1967, Le Fable de Jesus Christ
http://members.cox.net/deleyd/religion/bookr.html

Okay, now with your favored Atheist quotes, you are once again wasting your time & have proved NOTHING beyond their ignorances & the adherence of your own.

Richard Carrier has seen fit to link a number of Acharya's pages on the infidel site, including the following:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/historicity.html

These are linked to Acharya's "Origins of Christianity" article.
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theism/bible.html

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jesuspuzzle.shtml
This one is linked to Acharya's review of Doherty's book. Where, pray tell, does any of this provide evidence that they believe she is "a joke?". LOL

Once again, your moronic dismissal of Acharya's work is clear for all to see. The fact that you can dismiss Doherty, who is adored within the atheist/infidel community, shows the depth of your denial.
_________________

"I contend we are both atheists, I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
~ Stephen F. Roberts

From 'The Beast' forum - http://thebeastmovie.com/phpbb2/viewtopic.php?t=1154&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=45&sid=8227a0b92332bc05c76fac0e56e39be5

;

May 04, 2006 2:28 PM  

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