Conspiracy Theory – Jesus a Fictional Messiah?

Adversaries of Christianity argue against the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, even as a real historical figure. One contention is based on a conspiracy theory saying “Jesus” and “Christianity” are the result of various groups colluding to invent a morphed deity image of a messiah, the Son of God:[1]

“…Christianity and the story of Jesus Christ were created by members of various secret societies, mystery schools and religions in order to unify the Roman Empire under one state religion.  …this multinational cabal drew upon a multitude of myths and rituals that existed long before the Christian era, and reworked them for centuries into the religion passed down to us today.” – Acharya S.

Challenges to create a fictional deity messiah figure would have been enormous, especially in an era without any means of electronic communication, media, even the printed word. Just the opposite, Rome was compelled to quell the rapid rise of the new belief by killing many who were deemed to be Christians.

Creating a Christian religion with a Jewish messiah ups the ante to the highest degree. Not only were the Jews probably the most scorned ethnic group in the Roman Empire, Judaism itself viewed as blasphemous Christianity’s belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

Jewish leadership, in essence, would have to be considered as co-conspirators because of the role they played by placing Jesus on trial and compelling him to be executed . So Jewish was Jesus, that he was called “teacher” by Jewish leaders. The biggest part of the image that could be considered unique to Christianity is the Resurrection accounts of Jesus necessitating the many witness accounts to be refuted.

For a fictional Jewish messiah – a deity or god – to have merit, a perfect profile would be expected. A fictitious image would call for a flawless ancestral background of pure Jewish lineage, not to mention a flawless ancestral history free of unsavory or illegal activities.

Reality that earthy ancestral perfection was not possible, collaborators would then be compelled to weave into a false narrative the 2000-year old lineage timeline going back to Abraham . The detailed lineage accounts of Jesus of Nazareth included blessings, faith, forgiveness, miracles, prophecies issued and fulfilled along with the most ignoble examples of disobedience to God. Disgraceful accounts pulled straight from the Old Testament, the Tenakh, include deception, lies, a prostitute, Gentile intermarriages, voyeurism, adultery, murder, greed, etc.

Grandson of Abraham, Jacob swindled his older twin brother’s inheritance through a deception perpetrated on their aged, blind father, Isaac.[2] Still, God later blessed Jacob changing his name to Israel who went on to become the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.[3]

Jacob’s own conniving, jealous sons sold their younger brother Joseph into slavery and lied to their father saying he had been killed by a wild animal. Better than a movie script, Joseph went on to become the second most powerful ruler in Egypt under Pharaoh who eventually saved his father, brothers and their families from a famine.[4]

Israel’s military leader, Joshua, sent two advance spies into the Promised Land to surveil the walled city of Jericho.[5] Word reached the King who dispatched a manhunt for the spies. Hiding at the house of a prostitute named Rahab, she struck a deal with the spies in exchange for helping them escape – they would spare the lives of her and her family when the Israelites attacked.[6]

Salmon, a Hebrew, married the Gentile (non-Jewish) Rahab and bore a son named Boaz who became a wealthy resident of Bethlehem.[7] A widow herself, Naomi had no surviving sons placing her at-risk of losing her marital inheritance.

Boaz married the Gentile Ruth, Naomi’s daughter-in-law, allowing Naomi to redeem her otherwise lost inheritance in the celebrated Jewish story of redemption.[8] Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi displayed his distaste of having Ruth in the prophetic lineage of the Messiah in his commentary on the Micah 5:2 Bethlehem prophecy:[9]

“you should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah: [Rashi] You should have been the lowest of the clans of Judah because of the stigma of Ruth the Moabitess in you.” – The Complete Jewish Bible

Grandson of Boaz and Ruth was Jesse. [10] The prophet Isaiah foretold the Messiah would come from the root of Jesse, later identified as King David in the prophecies of Jeremiah and Zechariah.[11] David was not a faultless King, his dastardly deeds would be scandalous in any century.

David’s voyeurism led him to discover his soon-to-be paramour as he watched her taking a bath from his palace rooftop. Using his celebrity and power, the King seduced the married Bath-Sheba and she became pregnant. Her husband, Uriah, was one of David’s top military officers away fighting a war.[12]

Uriah was sent by the King to the front lines of the army with the hope he would be killed in battle – and he was. As punishment from God, Bath-Sheba’s illegitimate baby died, yet while being consoled in her grief by David, she conceived another son named Solomon who would become the next king of Israel.[13]

Solomon’s wisdom and wealth became legendary, even attracting a visit from the Queen of Sheba.[14] He indulged in the pleasures of 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were Gentiles who brought with them heathen idolatry influences.[15] Yet, Solomon built and consecrated the Temple.

Deteriorating with succeeding generations of immoral kings, the House of David split into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel, eventually going to war against each other.[16] The downward spiral hit an end with King Jeconiah’s curse and the Babylonian captivity.[17] The curse on Jeconiah expired and soon Jerusalem and the Temple were rebuilt.

According to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus of Nazareth was born into this flawed Jewish royal lineage and its past. Alleged conspirators could not undo this nearly two-millennia history to create a false Messiah and as such, it would all have to be tied together.

What is the extreme improbability that alleged conspirators over centuries, most alleged conspirators not ever knowing the other, could interweave such a complex history to invent a false Messiah narrative?

 

Updated November 17, 2021.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[1] Acharya S. (Murdock, D.M.)  The Christ Conspiracy. Google Books advertisement. n.d. <https://books.google.com/books/about/The_Christ_Conspiracy.html?id=KnIYRi3upbEC
[2] Genesis 25; 27-28.
[3] Genesis 28; 32; 35.
[4] Genesis 37; 41-46.
[5] Joshua 2.
[6] Joshua 6.
[7] Ruth 4; I Chronicles 2.
[8] Ruth 2-4.
[9] The Complete Jewish Bible with Rashi’s Commentary. Micah 5:2 Rashi commentary.
[10] Ruth 4; I Chronicles 2.
[11] Isaiah 11; Jeremiah 23, 33; Zechariah 12.
[12] 2 Samuel 11.
[13] 2 Samuel 12.
[14] 2 Samuel 12.
[15] 2 Chronicles 9; I Kings 10.
[16] 1 Kings 11.
[17] I Kings 12, 16, 21, 22.
[18] Jeremiah 22.

Jesus of Nazareth – a Real Historical Figure?

Media pop culture today widely treats Jesus of Nazareth as a real historical figure. Evidence can be seen in many forms such as the 2013 History Channel mini-series The Bible and its adaption into the 2014 major motion picture release of Son of God. The next year followed with the 2015 NBC mini-series A.D.: Beyond the Bible picking up where the Gospels ended with the crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus.

National Geographic published in 2015 the hard cover book Jesus: An Illustrated Life where its website promo begins by saying “Two thousand years after his death, Jesus of Nazareth remains one of history’s most influential and fascinating figures.”[i] The 2016 spin-off magazine special edition entitled The Story of Jesus states “Jesus of Nazareth remains one of history’s most influential and fascinating figures.” The premise of both is based on the factualness of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem during the end of King Herod’s reign; his Roman crucifixion at Jerusalem, and the claims of his Resurrection that spawned a new religion.

Decades earlier the magazine US News & World Report ran as its cover story on April 16, 1990, “The Last Days of Jesus:  The new light on what happened.” The article was based on the premise that Jesus was a real person who lived, died and quite possibly rose from the dead.

Movies, books and magazines do not necessarily prove Jesus was a true historical figure. Did Jesus really exist – was he a real historical figure? While many may react by thinking this is a dumb question, there are those who are skeptical with some who adamantly insist that he never existed at all and, as a consequence, Jesus cannot then be the Son of God.

Of those who do not believe the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth, that small percentage still translates into millions of people. Many consider themselves to be agnostics or atheists, but not all. On what do they base their belief that Jesus never existed?

Theories loosely center on some manner of Christian conspiracy ranging from a passive form of legend that developed over centuries to a full blown conspiracy where Christian activists created a fictitious messiah figure.[ii] Quotes from the promo webpage for the aptly named book, The Christ Conspiracy by D. M. Murdock, are examples of these views:[iii]

“Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it.” – C. Dennis McKinsey

“The gospel story is an artificial, non-historical work. It has been fabricated from source materials that can be identified and traced to their incorporation into the gospels. There is not a particle of hard evidence that ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ ever existed.” – Harold Leidner

Standing opposed to these charges are diverse sources outside the Bible reaching from today back through the centuries to within just a few years after the Roman destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 AD. They come from Roman era historians and a Greek celebrity; non-Christian major religions – even some atheists. 

Virtually all the sources that corroborate the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth are antagonistic toward Christianity. When opposing forces agree on a common point of information, it becomes the strongest form of a truth because both sides have essentially established – willingly or reluctantly – that it is a fact. It is a strategy used by courtroom lawyers who artfully attempt to extract common points of truth from the witnesses who testify in a trial. Using the testimony of their opposing witnesses, they extract truths and establish facts that strengthen their own cases.

Some sources do not directly discuss the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem, but in denouncing or criticizing the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, they have conceded by inference that he was born, lived and walked this earth. Others refer to the crucifixion of Jesus, a recognition that he once lived in order to be put to death.

Credentials of each of these sources are key to weighing the integrity of their statements or positions in-spite-of their antagonism. One is the highly recognized Roman historian of the Jews, Josephus, himself a former Jewish Pharisee priest and military General. Others include prominent Roman historical figures. Perhaps the most credible sources are two other major religions, Judaism and Islam.

Setting all the evidence of those sources aside, there is one overarching impression to consider. The personage of Jesus has made such an impact on the world over the past 2000 years up to this very day – as can be witnessed weekly if not daily in current news stories – the name of Jesus of Nazareth still causes religious tensions, political turmoil, persecution, brutal atrocities of martyrdom and wars to be fought.[iv]

What are the odds that all these consequences are the result of a false premise, one that says Jesus was not a real person? To many, these things alone attest to the fact that something profound happened involving a historical figure two thousand years ago that forever changed history; nevertheless, some will still continue to believe it is all a myth. Was Jesus of Nazareth a real person?

 

Updated September 1, 2021.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

REFERENCES:

[i] Isbouts, Jean-Pierre. “Jesus: An Illustrated Life.” National Geographic Society. 2015. <http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Illustrated-Life-Jean-Pierre-Isbouts/dp/1426215681/ref=sr_1_1/185-6473608-4923818?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1462376067&sr=1-1&keywords=national+geographic+jesus>
[ii] Gauvin, Marshall J. “Did Jesus Christ Really Live?” (ca. 1922).  Infidels.org. <http://www.infidels.org/library/historical/marshall_gauvin/did_jesus_really_live.html>
Ron Csillag. “For scholars, a combustible question: Was Christ real?” TheStar.com. 2008. <http://www.thestar.com/article/557548
“Was Jesus a Real Man?” The Atheist Apologist. 2010. <http://www.atheistapologist.com/2010/06/was-jesus-real-man.html>
“Historicity of Jesus.” New World Encyclopedia. 2012.  <http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Info:Main_Page>
Roussos, Ioannis. “On the Historicity of Jesus Christ.” Atheist Foundation of Australia. <http://atheistfoundation.org.au/article/on-the-historicity-of-jesus-christ rel=”nofollow”>
Rich, Tracey R. “Looking for Jesus?”, JewFAQ.org. <http://www.jewfaq.org/search.shtml?Keywords=what+about+Jesus>
Wolchover, Natalie.  “Proof of Jesus Christ?  7 Pieces of Evidence Debated.” 2013. LiveScience.com.  <http://www.livescience.com/38014-physical-evidence-jesus-debated.html>
Gloag, Paton J.  Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels. 1895.  “Introduction to the Synoptic Gospels.”  Online Books Page. <http://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008728595>
[iii]  Murdock, D.M. aka S., Acharya.  The Christ Conspiracy.  Advertisement.  <http://www.truthbeknown.com/christ.htm rel=”nofollow”>
[iv]   Chiaramonte, Perry. “Christian persecution seen in more locations across the globe, new report shows.” February 02, 2017. <http://www.foxnews.com/world/2017/02/02/christian-persecution-seen-in-more-locations-across-globe-new-report-shows.html>