THE MYTH OF CHRIST


The Bible does not give a straightforward account of Christ.
It is not a biographical accurate portrayal of his life.
It does not even purport to be.

So we can be faced with the dilemma, of what is fact
and what is really Jewish hyperbolae.
What was really known about his life
and what was concocted to fill a need.
What is true and what invention.

We may realise that the stories of Jesus are not unique.
The tale of Jesus is mirrored in Other Faiths
The tale of Jesus is mirrored in Other Faiths(close)


  The Greeks had Zeus ruling the Sky,
whilst lesser Gods ruled sea and underworld.
Zeus somehow slept with a human woman
and gave birth to Perseus,
who became half God and Half man.
Perseus was to reconcile man back to the Gods
because men had rebelled against the Gods.

Similarly there is commonality of legend between
the Egyptian pantheon and those of Israel.
There is even similar iconography.

The commonality of religious experience and of their legends
need not deny the truth of any.
In questioning their historical basis
we can still affirm their spiritual reality.

Yet we may still see that the tales written
into our scriptures and doctrine
may have sources other than early Israel, or
may be crafted to include other religions
as Christianity spread throughout
the Roman Empire,
by decree.


We can ignore such anomalies
and accept what we are told to believe.
Many take that path, but such is not for me,
or you if you would join me on this journey.

The story of Jesus may be considered in four parts
The mythical stories of his birth and early life
The stories of his Birth (close)


Some of the stories of his birth are obvious invention;
crafted to enhance and support his divinity
as an introduction to the tale about him.

So Matthew starts with a focus on ancient prophecy fulfilled;
Luke with the humility of his birth and peasant involvement.
Mark, of course, starts his tale with Jesus as an adult
and John merely enhances that with a spiritual twist.

Can it be true that nothing is known,
really,
about the early life of Jesus?
Is what we are told pure conjecture,
What should have been, rather than what was?

For there should have been heavenly portends,
if he was what they said.
Prophecy should have been fulfilled
and his birth should have been miraculous.
His virginal mother should have rejoiced
at the unlikely tale she had to tell;
if Jesus was to out do Caesar,
challenge the might of empire.

Yet it does all seem rather nebulous,
contrived, perhaps even too good to be true.

The teaching and legends of his ministry
His Teaching and Legends(close)


 
Jesus was an obscure figure until some 30 years after he died.
Yet the tales he told and the deeds he did are reported with eye-witness clarity
and we glory in the very words reported and ponder over phrases and their eternal meaning.

Today some question the historicity of Jesus;
Not questioning his divinity, but whether he existed.
Was he a product of the need to focus opposition to empire
the product of a pamphleteers enthusiasm, preaching sedition within a holy envelope?

There are three historic documents mentioning Jesus though all through reference to his followers.
Each of these documents has been subject to Christian adjustment in some way,
but
no one in the ancient world denied that Jesus had existed despite their opposition to his cult.

We may know little about the ministry of Jesus.
We may doubt the detail of our information but it seems certain that someone initiated
the cult of Christianity even if what he was and did and said
was very different to what we think of him today.

The mythical stories of his death
The stories of his Death (close)


 
The death of Jesus was that reserved for treason
for those opposing the ruling power of Rome
claiming another Lord than Caesar.
another right than might, maybe.

Jesus was executed by the civil power,
backed by cooperative religion,
as a leader of insurrection;
a source of revolution.

Yet we see the story crafted through other eyes.
We read of injustice and betrayal by authority;
of "kangaroo courts" with pre-ordained result;
of courage and integrity in the crucified;
of admiration from bystanders and others;
Ideas crafted to a revolutionary agenda.

After crucifixion criminals were left to hang,
as an example to others, a dreadful warning,
before ending as waste in the common midden.
Yet, in the tinder-box of Passover,
maybe it seemed wise to remove the bodies
to remove them and dispose of them safely
where they could not be a focus for discontent.

Hence, maybe, the stories of a lost body
yet one exploited with tales of resurrection
tales that told of on-going unquenched revolution
"The fight is not over. We shall rise again."
as, not many years later, they did.

So we can see the Gospels as revolutionary tracts
embraced, as was the Jewish habit, within a religious cloak,
For the Messianic message of Christ
survived his physical death.
Christ did rise again, and Christianity is the fruit
of that revolutionary resurrection.

The legends created by the Church
The created Legends (close)


 
The embryo church was focussed on Jesus as Lord,
defying the dominant lordship of Caesar, the secular power;
yet struggled with what this implied. Was Jesus divine or human?

For three hundred years theologians locked in a debate,
of which we can see a pale image in the scriptures:
the different thrust of the later Gospel;
Paul's diatribes against his opponents;
development of teaching and legend.

Thus new doctrine came into being
unsupported by fact or scripture
endorsing the priestly position
controlling the faithful.

The Constantinian merge of state and church
gave new urgency to the debates of theologians
dissent became treason, and treason a capital offence.
The bounds of heresy needed stricter definition,
a Creed, set liturgies, approved readings,
destruction of all that strayed
and of the authors.


So, by decree:
Jesus, and even his mother, became divine.
His mother became a perpetual virgin.
Both remained ever free of sin.
The Trinity was born.
Forgiveness and the joys of heaven
became the gift of the priesthood;
the reward for good behaviour.

Christianity became embroiled in a jacket
which constrained it for over a thousand years
from which it is only now finding the freedom
to become what Jesus intended it to be.


From all this mix of fact and fiction, how can we extract
what is of eternal value or meaning?