I understand this is your interpretation of the evidence. It's just that the impression I got from your article and your response to the pastor (not that I'm defending him or his approach) seemed to say that your interpretation was what the leading scholars say. Scholars come in all stripes and flavors and there is plenty of debate still on the origins of Christianity.
Article on Origins of Xristianity I Wrote REALLY UPSET Local Christians
How dare you be open minded enough to look at the history of the sacred COW and then write an honest article.
Hmmm... I would say lousy logic. If we conclude that there is not so much "party" food atall in the world whcih can be afforded by normal humans, then you will fidn that the same food is used in different cultures, times etc. To claim that because of this one is borrowed from other is a far stretching. But that's actually is not problem. Problem is that between lines author (and obviously pastor get hooked on that) inserts that Christianity claims some exclusivity to Christmas food or time of celebration. Well it is like saying that I am worshiping Indian gods because I eat potatoes and tomatoes. Next... about Christian origin as pagan origin, that is another example of lousy logic, in short it is saying that crocodile is cucumber because both are green. There are meny topics on interent whcih explicitly examines these claims and prooves that there is on case of two 1) Similarity and origin is only illusion when looked with halfblind eyes or selective sight 2) There is signs that the truth was revealed to pagans, and the truth was degenerated over centuries so it contains the core, but dressing is changed, and when the core is revealed in Christianity, you get impression as if Christianity borrowed something. Next about Paul. Why would Paul repeat things which are repeated 3-4 times in gospels? Pauls ministry was to gentiles and with them he dealt. And the core of Christs work - death and ressurection is not ommited in Pauls letters. So to claim that he is some false witness just because he does not repeat the same again and again, is special pledging and another example of losy logic. I am not upset about article, it just shows again how much unbelievers does not understand and how much they are ready to do just to justify their blunders instead of really studing the matters, which you need not several weeks but years as with any serious matter. Go and read Early Church Fathers, they were there... they know better what and how happenned, they do comparison with pagan religions all the time. If your predisposition is that Christ is Elvis Presly, you will allways find scholars who will help you with this. But I suggest instead of this, try to find out truth, for that you need wisdom and courage. But to trash Christianity in culture which makes millions on trashing Christianity, that's not big deal.
<quote>I dare you! No, double dare you to write such a piece about Islam in the Middle East or Europe. Call the origins of Mohammad a Greek myth and tomorrow some fanatic will be more than happy to kill you and your family. Also all your known relatives.
Do you think that Christians are such easy prey. Because we won't kill you for your blasphemy, you have license to write such blatant lies about our faith? Or our faiths origins.
I think not.</quote>
It always find it interesting how religious people (and the dubs are no exception) use the threat of Islamic extremeism to try and frighten enyone who criticises them.
Excellent article and well presented.
I too am always amazed at the ubiquitous ignorance of the majority of religionists (be they xtian, jewish, muslim, etc) as to the true and genuine origins of their
"faiths". It's ironic, nobody bats an eyebrow when the origins and real history of the so-called "dead" religions, like those of ancient Greece and Rome or Egypt are
analyzed logically and critically. I fear we will never be able to freely present our examinations or analyses of these real origins until all of the "current" mainstream
religions take their inevitable place amongst all the other ancient and dead religions.
The article and your response makes it appear that all scholars are agreed on these points. Are they really? Certainly, there are scholars who take the view you're proposing but is there agreement by all scholars on this? Are these the "leading" scholars in these fields? Or, is this one faction of a debate?
That was my thought too...the "Jesus myth" perspective of Freke/Gandy/Doherty/etc. is just one of several different approaches, and in fact most scholars do not take this point of view. That is not to say that the radical view is wrong (personally I concur with many of its points), but it is hardly the only or even the best explanation of the facts. The "pagan parallels" imho are less convincing than Jewish, and specifically, OT models for the Jesus story, and these are less often mentioned in "pagan Christ" models even tho the gospel stories are clearly steeped in OT intertexts (with Jesus in the role of Moses from the Pentateuch, or David and Elijah/Elisha from the Deuteronomistic History, or the Suffering Servant from Deutero-Isaiah, or the "Son of Man" figure from both Danielic and Enochic traditions). At the same time, Jewish beliefs such as resurrection, eschatological judgment, divine Wisdom, and immortality of the soul were influenced by non-Jewish views (e.g. Persian and Greek) as well. Early Christianity was also a very diverse social/religious movement that drew on different streams of thought....the proto-gnostic and Pauline groups probably drew more on Hellenistic thought than other groups (such as the Jamesian faction). Gabriele Boccaccini, for instance, has made a convincing case that Christianity was largely an outgrowth from Essene Judaism, which itself drew on earlier Enochic and Zadokite Judaism. I do not doubt that there was influence from syncretistic mystery religions, particularly in the Gentile churches, but I don't agree that this was the case in general, that Christianity in its entirety can be boiled down to just another Hellenistic mystery religion. As to whether there was a "historical Jesus," while I agree that empirical evidence is pretty weak and attempts by scholars to construct the "real" historical Jesus are highly subjective and unreliable, I would certainly not state affirmatively that it is a fact that Jesus did not exist. I think it is certainly plausible that there was a Jesus figure (or figures) which later stories fleshed out (see GA Wells, for instance), e.g. an apocalyptic teacher crucified under Pontius Pilate, tho at the same time I find the contrary point of view a plausible hypothesis as well.
Well, things got worse today. This Pastor, when he called the publisher, threatened to organize a bunch of churches in the area to denounce me and the papers I work for, and ask for a boycott. My publisher succumbed to the pressure and agreed to print a "the ideas as presented in this article by Seeker4 are not necessarily those of this paper," etc. etc. disclaimer. I ended up writing the damn thing myself!
Then my JW ex-wife calls this evening, after seeing all of this in the paper over these last few weeks, and goes at me for using my position as a writer to present these varying viewpoints. There was a lot to this discussion, and some of it you'll find interesting - I'll try to present later (I think it may have to do with their "expectations" regarding the "stir" the new false religion tract was supposed to make).
I told here that there is a movement afoot to speak up among folks who see it as dangerous for the world to give in to the ideas of bronze age mythology without question, and that I agreed with it. When I get tired of writing the pablum (sp?) that accounts for much of what I have to do, that once in a while I try to throw out an idea that makes people think, makes them question. Unfortunately, you can risk your job and your life by doing so.
So, in addition to this being an exhausting work day, it was an emotionally exhausting one as well.
Anyone out there feel like writing a letter to the editor in defense of any of these ideas? All anyone here is hearing is the anger of this uber-religious folks. Anyone want to be a voice of reason?
A couple of the above posts are pretty hard to read the way they are written and formatted, but I think I followed most of the ideas. Shazard's post didn't make a lot of sense to me. I'm not sure that this is a culture that "makes millions" trashing Christianity. I really got my ass kicked by just suggesting that there may be an explanation beyond what most fundamentalists believe. If you can suggest a way I could make just a million or two with these ideas, please let me know!
I would say that I think most scholars agree that Christianity didn't spring full-blown from nothing, but that it was deeply influenced by the various sects of Judaism and the pagan world. Just how much is the area of debate, and there are a variety of ideas. I appreciated your thoughts on that, Leolaia.
As a Witness, I wondered where the resurrection and Satan came from, as the OT is pretty mum on these, except Job, which is so obviously a work of fiction - unless we're willing to believe that these ancient Hebrews spoke in the equivalent of iambic-pentameter.
Even when I was a JW, the gospel of John always gave me pause, with its opening about The Word, which was definitely phrasing from the pagan Greek/Roman world.
I certainly didn't intend in the original article I wrote to indicate that there was one and one only explanation to this, nor in my list of references in the letter to the editor response. Pagels is certainly not in the same place as the people in The God Who Wasn't There, nor is Durant or the others. They do present a variety of ideas. Where they create a problem is in suggesting that Christian ideas come from some place beyond Christ himself.
Anyway, thanks for the responses.
Good grief! People sure can get their shorts in a knot over things.
Sorry you had to write that disclaimer. Unbelievable that there was such a fuss over that. All Christmas season, there have been shows on television, about Jesus, did he exist?, the origins of the Christian movement, all of them questioning things and presenting historical facts, but you can't write about it?
Then my JW ex-wife calls this evening, after seeing all of this in the paper over these last few weeks, and goes at me for using my position as a writer to present these varying viewpoints.
You mean the WTS never publishes and JWs never place magazines in December that deal with the pagan origins of Christmas?? Give me a break!! The December 15 Watchtower happens to be their annual Christmas-bashing jihad.
***w01 12/15 pp.3-4 "Who Are Men Saying That I Am?"***
***w00 12/15 pp.3-7 Christmas Customs—Are They Christian?***
***w99 12/15 pp.3-4 Christmas in the Orient***
***w99 12/15 pp.4-8 Christmas—Why Even in the Orient?***