Conspiracy Theory – Christianity Is a Fiction

 

Adversaries of Christianity sometimes argue against the reality of Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, even as a real historical figure, by claiming Christianity itself is a fictional story. One conspiracy theory claims Christianity and thus Jesus are the result of various groups colluding to invent a morphed deity image of a messiah:[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 messiah figure would have been enormous, especially in an era without any means of electronic communication, media, even the printed word. Just the opposite occurred. Christianity rose so rapidly, Jewish leaders tried to snuff it out quickly and Rome tried to quell it by killing people who professed it.

To believe the claim of a morphed, fictitious messiah image who was a Jew, the theory wants people to believe that a Christianity conspiracy began “centuries” earlier.  Creating a Christian religion with a Jewish messiah ups the ante to the highest degree.

Jews were probably the most scorned, if not hated, ethnic group in the Roman Empire. Judaism itself viewed Christianity as blasphemous for its belief that Jesus is the Messiah.

Contrary to this theory in Biblical history, Jews themselves were warring against each other before being taken captive in Babylon. After being freed by the Persian overthrow, enemies still wanted to subvert the Jew’s efforts, yet this theory says there was collusion with them to develop a fictitious messiah strategy.[2]

Rulers of three Empires – Babylonians, Persians and Greeks – had to be complicit in the conspiracy for this theory to have merit.[3] It then has to be accepted this was a long term strategy “to unify the Roman Empire under one state religion” even though the concept of a Roman Empire was unknown.

Pilate had Jesus crucified and to refute that fact means declaring Tacitus, Suetonius and other Roman historians were wrong. The theory proposes that Jewish leadership was supporting Rome who was, in fact, crucifying Jews by the thousands eventually destroying Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 AD.[4]

For the invention of a fictional Jewish messiah, a deity or god, “created by members of various secret societies, mystery schools and religions,” a perfect profile would be expected. A fictitious messiah 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. Alleged collaborators would then have to weave this 2000 year history of a complex lineage into a messiah narrative.

Genealogy of Jesus of Nazareth was anything but flawless. While going back to the time of Abraham that included blessings, faith, forgiveness, miracles, redemption, prophecies issued and fulfilled; it also involved the most ignoble examples of disobedience to God and yet each involved blessings from God. Disgraceful accounts pulled straight from the Old Testament, the Tenakh, include deceptions, lies, a prostitute, Gentile intermarriages, voyeurism, adultery, murder, greed, lascivious pleasures, etc.

Grandson of Abraham, Jacob swindled his older twin brother’s inheritance blessing from his father, Isaac. Jacob was later renamed by God and became the father of the 12 tribes of Israel.[5]

Jacob’s own conniving sons sold their younger brother, Joseph, into slavery and lied to their father saying he had been killed by a wild animal. Joseph went on to become the second most powerful ruler in Egypt under Pharaoh and eventually saved his same Hebrew family from a famine.[6]

Rahab, a prostitute spared from the destruction of Jericho, married a Hebrew named Salmon and their son was named Boaz who became a wealthy resident of Bethlehem.[7] Boaz married the Gentile daughter-in-law of his Jewish relative Naomi, allowing Naomi to redeem her otherwise lost inheritance.[8]

Jewish sage Rabbi Rashi professed his distaste of having a Gentile in the prophetic lineage of the Messiah. His disgust appears in his commentary on the Bethlehem prophecy of Micah 5:2:[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 whose son, David, became the King of Israel.[10] David committed some dastardly deeds that would be scandalous in any century.

King David’s voyeurism led to an affair with his neighbor’s wife and when his plan to cover-up her illicit pregnancy failed, the King had her husband sent to the front lines of a war knowing he would be killed.[11] Subsequent prophecies foretold the future Messiah would come from the lineage of King David.

King Solomon, son of David, built his own palace first, then built and consecrated the promised Temple of God. In the interim, Solomon indulged in the pleasures of 700 wives and 300 concubines, many of whom were Gentiles who brought with them forbidden idolatry influences.[12]

A prefect lineage of a made-up messiah was simply not possible as demonstrated time and again by Scriptural history. This flawed genealogy would have been a huge obstacle for anyone who attempted to “rework[ed] them for centuries into the religion passed down to us today.” According to the Gospel accounts of Matthew and Luke, Jesus was born into this flawed Jewish royal lineage.

Unique to Christianity and the center of the its core creed are the Resurrection accounts of Jesus.[13] No one, including the followers of Jesus, ever believed a resurrection could happen before Jesus was crucified.

In one weekend, one morning dawn, everything changed; it did not take “centuries” to rework “the religion passed down to us today.” Adversaries of the Resurrection accounts necessitated that the witnesses or those who believed their accounts – Christians – to be refuted, ridiculed, imprisoned and even killed.

Arrival of Jesus of Nazareth happened during the era when Rome was entering it’s height of glory in which the early Christians lived. Accounts people heard about Jesus rang true, many believed and were labeled as “Christians.” Their belief was so strong, they were willing to die for what they believed. Would anyone die to defend a false legend?

Updated November 17, 2022.

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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 Conspiracy Theories>. Stitcher. image. 2018. <https://megaphone-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/podcasts/4b9e4b82-9bf9-11e8-ad4e-23b6913e004d/image/aa316e8eb017eeb2d66bd3ab5ef8270c329c2cdb5347f0e589403a20369416bc4a7f9ac6d6f18a9a13fd4eb5c6d622a7e506238a1124dbd66019deba3532d1ee.jpeg
[2] I Kings 11:26-12:24; Ezra 4;4, 5:6-17.
[3] Ezra 1:2-4, 6:7-12; 7:11-28. Spiro, Ken.  “History Crash Course #27: The Greek Empire.” Aish.com. 2001. <http://www.aish.com/jl/h/cc/48939587.html>  Hooker, Richard. “Hellenistic Greece: Alexander the Great.” Washington State University. 1999. <http://web.archive.org/web/20110104072822/http://www.wsu.edu/~dee/GREECE/ALEX.HTM>
[4] Suetonius (C. Suetonius Tranquillus or C. Tranquillus Suetonius). The Lives of the Twelve Caesars. Ed. Maximilian Ihm, trans. J. C. Rolfe. University of Chicago|Bill Thayer. n.d. “The Life of Titus.” 109 AD. <https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Suetonius/12Caesars/Titus*.html> “Siege of Jerusalem.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2020. <https://www.britannica.com/event/Siege-of-Jerusalem-70> Josephus, Flavius. Wars of the Jews. Book II, Chapter XIV, Book V, Chapter XI.. <http://books.google.com/books?id=e0dAAAAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false>
[5] Genesis 25; 27-28.
[6] Genesis 37; 41-46.
[7] Joshua 2, 6, Ruth 4; I Chronicles 2:1-17.
[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] 2 Samuel 11-12.
[12] 2 Chronicles 7, 9; I Kings 7-8, 10.
[13] I Corinthians 15:3-4.

Jesus of Nazareth – a Real Historical Figure?

 

Media today widely treats Jesus of Nazareth as a real historical figure. Evidence can be seen in many forms such as via NBC, National Geographic and The History Channel. The premises of these media presentations 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.

The History Channel mini-series The Bible in 2013 became the adaption into the 2014 major motion picture release of Son of God. The next year this was 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.[1]

National Geographic in 2015 published 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.” 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.”[2]

New York Times reported decades earlier in 1977 an article entitled Jesus of Nazareth which was then turned into a 6 hour TV episode that later aired on NBC.[3] US News & World Report magazine ran as its cover story on April 16, 1990, The Last Days of Jesus: The new light on what happened 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. While many may react by thinking the historicity of Jesus is an established fact, there are those who are skeptical with some adamantly insisting he never existed at all and, as a consequence, Jesus cannot then be the Son of God.

Of those skeptics 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.

Theories against the historicity of Jesus of Nazareth fall into two basic areas, one is based on a passive form of legend that developed over centuries about a figure known as Jesus. The other theory is loosely centered on some manner of Christian conspiracy where Christian activists created a fictitious messiah figure, some believing it is a full blown conspiracy.[4] Quotes from the promo webpage for the aptly named book, The Christ Conspiracy by D. M. Murdock, are examples of these views:[5]

“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 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 sources; major, non-Christian religions – even some atheists.

Credentials of these historical sources are important in weighing the integrity of their statements in-spite-of their antagonism. One is these 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 such as Tacitus and Suetonius. Perhaps the most credible sources are two major world religions, Judaism and Islam.

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 crucified.

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. Trial lawyers use this strategy to artfully extract common points of truth from witnesses to establish factual information. Using factual testimony of their opposing witnesses, they strengthen their own cases.

Over the past 2000 years up to this very day, the personage of Jesus of Nazareth has and continues to make a monumental impact on the world stage. Continually seen in current news stories, the name of Jesus still causes religious tensions, political turmoil, persecution, brutal atrocities of martyrdom and wars to be fought.[6]

What are the odds that all these consequences are the result of a false premise, one that says Jesus was not a real person? Something profound happened involving a historical figure two thousand years ago that forever changed history – even calendars – nevertheless, some will still continue to believe it is all a myth. Was Jesus of Nazareth a real person?

 

Updated November 11, 2022.

Creative Commons License

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

REFERENCES:

[1] “The Bible.” A&E Television Networks, LLC. 2022. <https://www.history.com/shows/the-bible>  “Son of God.” IMDb.com, Inc. 2022. <https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3210686> “Beyond AD.” NBCUniversal Media, LLC. <https://www.nbc.com/beyond-ad/about>  “Jesus of Nazareth. Amazon.co.UK. image. 2011. <https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/61mjpUpOKcL._AC_SL1051_.jpg
[2] 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>
[3] “Jesus of Nazareth.” The New York Times Company. 2022. <https://www.nytimes.com/1977/04/02/archives/long-island-opinion-tv-jesus-of-nazareth-starts-on-nbc-tomorrow.html>
[4] 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>
[5] Murdock, D.M. aka S., Acharya.  The Christ Conspiracy.  Advertisement.  <http://www.truthbeknown.com/christ.htm rel=”nofollow”>
[6] 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>