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Op-Ed: Jesus as deity is demystified as Technology helps scholars study (Includes interview and first-hand account)

Among the leading scholars in this new understanding is Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD. His lectures now available on YouTube provide a detailed explanation as to how and why the Jesus of Christianity got deified. This reporter got to chat with Carrier as he said, “current technology has made it much easier for scholars to study more closely ancient texts and artifacts, without having to travel around the world.”

He noted at least two online sources he uses to help him in his research. These are: The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG®) and the Perseus Digital Library Project. These among other online and digitally based sources have been extremely helpful in the work Carrier does. He finds them extremely vital especially when working from home. With the invention of The Internet ushering in the “information superhighway” the validity of the sacred is put even further to the test.

With his Ph.D. from Columbia University in ancient history, Carrier specializes in the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, particularly ancient philosophy, religion, and science. With an emphasis on the origins of Christianity and the use and progress of science under the Roman empire, Carrier sees this history in the proper context. He is also a published expert in the modern philosophy of naturalism as a worldview.

Scholars today, have been able to look much deeper into traditional sources such as The Bible. Advancements of archaeology and anthropology thru forensic science have revolutionized biblical scholarship.
New discoveries and new approaches that technology has made possible, allows Carrier and others to examine The Bible and other ancient texts more thoroughly. He views The Bible and other texts with science and puts doctrines of faith to one side.
The traditional “Passion and Resurrection” is a major focal point of celebration during Easter and has been for centuries.
He noted that the traditional “passion of Christ” is not original to Christianity alone. Antiquity had its share of “dying and rising gods” long before.
Often referred to as ‘mystery cults’ the concept of a ‘dying and rising or a resurrected god-hero’ can be found throughout many cultures in ancient times. The cult of Mythra (most likely from Persia) had followers all throughout the Roman Empire. The funeral ceremonies of the Pharaohs of Egypt made reference to Horus, Osiris and Isis, an early form of a “trinity” as well as a resurrection. Traces of such sacred-religion ‘Passion stories’ existed even before Judaism and can be found in ancient Sumer – Mesopotamia with the goddess Inana. Or, Ishtar as she was referred to by the Babylonians.
Carrier considers this year’s Easter falling on April 1, (April Fool’s Day) as appropriate.

Carrier states, “the stories of it (the death and resurrection of Jesus) happening — were written a whole generation after the belief began, in a foreign land and language, after all the real witnesses appear to have been dead and far from where they ever lived. (These accounts of Jesus as the risen Lord)—are indeed pranks. Fake stories, that modern Christians totally swallow, hook, line and sinker, the true April fools they are.”

Dr. Richard Carrier  PhD specializes in the study of ancient texts. He is among the leading scholars...

Dr. Richard Carrier, PhD specializes in the study of ancient texts. He is among the leading scholars who has done extensive research into the history of Christianity.
Courtesy of Richard Carrier, PhD

Speaking at lectures and symposiums around the world, Carrier wants to get the actual facts out there. “The idea of a ‘personal savior god’ dying and rising from the dead to live again was not original to Christianity, ” he writes in his blog.
He goes on to say, “It was, in fact, fashionable. Many cultures all around the borders of, and traveling and trading through Judea, had one. It was all the rage. It was thus not surprising in that context that some fringe Jews decided to invent one of their own. And they may have done so deliberately, in a bid to reform what they believed was a corrupt religious system; or they may have done so unconsciously, their subconscious minds “reading into” the scriptures ideas they had unthinkingly absorbed from all these foreign cultures and fads, and then ‘convincing’ their conscious minds it was true by conjuring visions confirming their subtly-influenced intuitions.”
“Either way, he said, Jesus is just a late comer to the party – yet, one more dying-and-rising personal savior god. Only this time, Jewish.”

What many ordinary people don’t fully understand is that The Bible (including the Gospels) had not been written all at the same time by one author. The Bible is a collection of books. They were written over a time-frame of many, many centuries by many authors.”
The Bible as we know it today was nothing like the many collections or “canons” of books that were used in ancient times. The Council of Nicaea in 325 AD was commissioned by the Roman Emperor Constantine. It’s main purpose was to establish an official “creed” and doctrine of belief, from which Christianity would proceed as the official ‘state religion’ of the Holy Roman Empire.

The debate over doctrines and how scriptures were to be used, interpreted and of course conveyed to the people would continue. Many more councils would convene, especially as Christianity spread throughout Europe, leading up to The Reformation and beyond. In several of his lectures posted on YouTube, Carrier mentions that tangible and reliable evidence for the existence of the Jesus so many Christians believe in today, just isn’t there.

This past Easter  millions of people world-wide commemorated the life of Jesus as depicted in the Go...

This past Easter, millions of people world-wide commemorated the life of Jesus as depicted in the Gospels. Churches everywhere displayed motifs like this, emphasizing the “passion of Jesus” during Holy Week, leading up to Easter Sunday.

The Jesus story is actually historical fiction. The use of actual places and general events (such as the occupying of Judea by the Romans) to tell a story was common. Another example of this would be the story of the founding of Rome itself. Named after Romulus, who killed his brother Remus, the myth says the twin brothers had been abandoned by the Tiber River and nursed by a wolf who saw them. This myth was upheld so, that a cave near the Palatine Hill in Rome was venerated and ceremonies referred to as the Lupercalia were held there for centuries.

The power of myth is very strong in cultures throughout the world. The examination of such has been studied extensively from Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung to author Joseph Campbell. In the 1980’s with journalist Bill Moyers as host, PBS produced a six-part series based on Campbell’s books.

Perhaps with the publication of Carrier’s “On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason to Doubt,” in 2014, Carrier will become the source to go to for greater discernment of biblical texts, ideals and long-held beliefs. He has over a dozen titles, most of them having to do with the subject of Christianity.

To learn more about the facts about the myth of Jesus and how the story of Jesus got deified, visit Dr. Richard Carrier’s blogs and postings at his web site.

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