Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed
an overview

 By - 9/1/2018

My new book, Deciphering the Gospel Proves Jesus Never Existed, seeks to prove “beyond a reasonable doubt” that the Jesus of the Gospels is a fictional character based on a heavenly messiah worshiped by a small first century cult – evangelized by Paul. The book also explains why the Roman elite came to believe that an otherwise unknown Jewish prophet was the one true god of the universe and why Christianity rose to dominance in the Roman Empire. This work is based on years of independent research and analysis of the Gospels and other early Christian and Jewish writings. All the primary elements of the case presented are based on novel analysis and interpretation of ancient texts, which are presented in full context for readers to see for themselves. What sets this work apart from other books of this genre is the volume of independently researched concrete evidence that is presented to prove that various scenes and teachings of the Gospels are ahistorical. No other work has definitively proven that various aspects of the Gospel narrative are completely fictional in the way that this work does.

However, the first question that arises is, can you really prove that a figure from ancient history didn’t exist? Isn’t that impossible to prove? While I would concede that it is impossible to prove with absolute certainty, it is certainly possible to prove with “reasonable certainly.” It can be proven that Jesus never existed in just the same way that it can be proven that Luke Skywalker never existed, or Huckleberry Finn, or that humans were not created from clay in the Garden of Eden, or that someone didn’t commit a crime. All of these things are proven by proving that alternative explanations are true.

In this case it is proven that Jesus never existed by proving that Jesus was originally conceived as an immaterial heavenly messiah in the pattern of other legendary Jewish figures, such as Enoch, and that the Gospels, which are presumed to record the deeds and teachings of Jesus, are entirely “fictional.” The case is generally proven along the following points:

  1. The Gospel of Mark is a fictional work that was written in reaction to the First Jewish-Roman War of 67-73 CE.
    1. All of the major scenes in the Gospel of Mark are based on literary allusions to the Hebrew scriptures.
    2. The character of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark is based on Paul and the teachings of Jesus are actually Paul’s teachings, copied from the letters of Paul.
  2. The concept that Jesus was an actual human being was introduced by the Gospel of Mark.
    1. Every biography of Jesus is based directly or indirectly on the Gospel of Mark.
    2. The theology and descriptions of Jesus by Paul show that he viewed Jesus as a heavenly being and had no knowledge of a real human Jesus.
  3. Many early Christians believed that Jesus was an immaterial, purely spiritual being.
  4. The only evidence used by early Christians to counter the claim that Jesus was immaterial was the Gospels.
  5. There are no records of the existence of Jesus outside of the Gospels.
  6. The biographies of all the figures of early Christianity are fabricated. The only figure of early Christianity that we know anything meaningful about is Paul.

The book leads off with the most compelling evidence in the case against the historical veracity of the Gospels. In the first two chapters I provide overwhelming concrete evidence that the Gospel of Mark is an entirely fictional work written in reaction to the First Jewish-Roman War. I show with multiple examples, that the scenes in the Gospel of Mark are based on literary allusions and that the character and teachings of Jesus are based on the letters of Paul. This shows that the writer of the Gospel of Mark developed the entire narrative of his story on his own and that the Markan narrative is not based on any oral traditions or prior narratives about Jesus.

The next chapter shows that all of the major scenes of the other canonical Gospels are clearly derived from the Gospel of Mark. I show how our understanding of the literary allusions in the Gospel of Mark proves that none of the other Gospel writers had any knowledge of Jesus, because they all copy scenes from Mark that originated from literary allusions. That the scenes are based on literary allusions means that we know they never happened and that they don’t come from older oral traditions. That the scenes are used by the writers of the other Gospels means that their only knowledge of the Jesus narrative is the Gospel of Mark.

I then show, using extensive quotations from early Christian scholars, that the key “evidence” that led Greeks and Romans to believe that Jesus was the one true divine Lord and embodiment of God was the relationship between scenes in the Gospels and the Jewish scriptures. I show that the literary allusions used by the author of Mark to craft his narrative were interpreted by later readers as evidence that Jesus had precisely fulfilled many ancient Jewish prophecies. I show that the ancient Greeks and Romans believed heavily in the power and importance of prophecy and saw prophecy as a sign of divinity. I show that the many literary allusions created by the author of Mark, and copied into the other Gospels, were viewed as the most thorough and concrete evidence for divinity ever seen by the Greeks and Romans, and it was these textual relationship that led to the adoption of the Christian religion by Roman elites, thus leading to its official adoption as the state religion of Rome.

Following this the book shows that many early sects believed that Jesus was an immaterial heavenly being, and that the only evidence used against such claims by those that thought he was a real live person were the Gospels. I explain that there was a great need for early Christian sects who believed that Jesus was a real person to prove their case, and they tried strenuously to do so, for it was a question of major doctrinal importance. For all their efforts, the only evidence for Jesus’s existence that early Christians could come up with was the Gospel narratives.

From there the book goes on to shore up key elements of the case and address many remaining questions about how early Christian literature and beliefs developed in the absence of a real human Jesus. I explain why the most reasonable explanation for material in the other Gospels that doesn’t derive from Mark is that it was itself invented by the respective authors or was otherwise an expansion of the Markan narrative. I address non-canonical Gospels and show that all of the non-canonical Gospels that describe a human Jesus also show dependence on the Gospel of Mark. I explain how the concept of a heavenly messiah developed in Jewish culture and show that the writings of Paul clearly indicate that Paul described Jesus as a heavenly deity who had not yet come to Earth. Non-Christian accounts of Jesus, or lack thereof, are addressed, showing that there are no accounts of Jesus by anyone that show independence from the Gospel narrative. The case concludes with evidence showing that it’s not just Jesus that never existed, but that the entire cast of early Christian history is fabricated. Almost none of the figures of early Christian history were real, and of the few that were real people, such as Peter and James, virtually everything written about them is fabricated.

Key proposals presented in the book are:

  • It is explained why the Gospel of Mark is best understood as a fictional political allegory, the narrative of which was developed by a single individual entirely after the First Jewish-Roman War.
  • Many scenes from the Gospel of Mark are explained as literary allusions to the Jewish scriptures.
  • Many teachings of Jesus are shown to be derived from the letters of Paul.
  • James and John “Zebedee” are explained to be the James and John described by Paul as the leaders of the early Jesus cult (as opposed to the James described by Paul being Jesus’s literal brother).
  • A resolution to the Synoptic Problem is proposed: The authors of Matthew and Luke both used a longer version of Mark as their common source, in which all of the “Q” material was already present.
  • It is proposed that the author of Matthew invented his birth narrative himself based on scriptural references and that the author of Luke based his birth narrative on oral accounts of the narrative from Matthew.
  • It is proposed that the “miraculous signs” narrative in the Gospel of John was invented by the author of “John” as part of the larger anti-Jewish theme of the work.
  • It is proposed that the Gospel of “John” is a highly anti-Jewish work, in which the disciples of James and John were intentionally omitted to blot them out of history. That later Christian scholars attributed the Gospel to the very person that the writer tried to eliminate from history is a major blunder of Christian scholarship.
  • It is shown that all narratives of Jesus, including non-canonical narratives, are based on the Gospel of Mark.
  • The case is made that the best explanation for the Testimonium Flavianum is that it arose from the accidental incorporation of a marginal note.
  • The Eucharist ritual in 1 Corinthians is explained as a revelation by Paul regarding the night the heavenly Jesus was “sacrificed”, not “betrayed”. The Eucharist ritual from Paul was used by the author of Mark in his narrative, and thus made its way into the Gospels.
  • The works of Paul are examined to show that Paul did not conceive of Jesus as a being that had ever been a person on earth.
  • It is demonstrated why Paul’s mention of “James, the brother of the Lord” did not mean literal brother. It is proposed that “James brother of the Lord” was a title of status akin to “James the Just”, and that both titles are synonymous.
  • It is demonstrated that there was need to defend the earthly existence of Jesus as early as the late first century, but despite much effort, no valid evidence beyond the Gospels was ever produced.
The book does not include any diagrams or images, but the diagrams below clarify my explanation for the development of the Gospels, and resolutions to the Synoptic Problem.

The traditional Christian view is that the Gospels of Matthew and John are eyewitness accounts of Jesus, while the Gospel of Mark is an account based on the testimony of Peter and the Gospel of Luke is based on the testimony of Paul. The traditional view is that Paul was an independent witness to Jesus via revelation and a witness to the early Christian community. The letters of Paul were written independently, after the other major Gospels and not influenced by them. The traditional view holds that all of the Gospels and letters of Paul were written before the First Jewish-Roman War and that Jesus himself had predicted aspects of the war. The traditional view sees the events of the Gospels as leading to the war, with the war being a punishment from God for the Jews having killed Jesus.

traditional

While there is no absolute modern consensus, I describe the general modern consensus as follows: There was some real person named Jesus whose teachings and actions inspired the early Christian movement. Jesus's teachings and actions were preserved in some fashion via a community of people who had witnessed his life. The oral accounts of Jesus's teachings and actions were passed on and ultimately recorded by various chroniclers in the Gospels and other early texts. The degree to which the Gospels reflect Jesus's actual actions and teachings is up for debate, but ultimately it is agreed that the Gospel narratives and teachings are inspired by the accounts of Jesus's life. The modern consensus holds that the Gospel narratives were developed largely before the First Jewish-Roman War, but, for some unexplained reason, not recorded until after the war. The modern consensus does view Paul's writings as independent works that bear independent testimony to the teachings of Jesus as passed on via the early Christian community.

modern consensus

My proposal has two variations on the same theme. My proposal is that there was no real Jesus at all. The Jesus being worshiped by the early Christian community was an immaterial heavenly messiah. Paul was a member of this community, though his views were in conflict with the leadership of the community. The primary leadership of the Jesus cult viewed the movement as a purely Jewish one, while Paul regarded Jesus as a messiah for all people, Jews and non-Jews alike. Paul developed his own teachings and preached them among a community of non-Jewish followers throughout the Mediterranean prior to the First Jewish-Roman War. Shortly after the war, some follower of Paul wrote a fictional allegory about the cause of the war in which they cast Jesus as the protagonist. The Jesus character in this story is based directly on Paul himself and the teachings of Jesus in the story are Paul's teachings, copied from his letters. The entire narrative was developed by a single individual after the war and is not based on any prior oral accounts. The original story was either what we currently call the Gospel of Mark or it was a longer version that included the material now called "Q". The Gospels of Matthew and Luke are both copied from the longer version of Mark. That longer version is either the original story (Full Mark) or what we now call the Gospel of Mark is the original and a longer intermediate version (Expanded Mark) was created by someone else. In either case, the longer version has since been lost. The birth narrative was invented by the author of Matthew and the author of Luke based his birth narrative on an oral account of the narrative from Matthew. The Gospel of John is based on some combination of the Synoptic works, either via oral accounts of them or a reading of multiple accounts.

expanded mark full mark

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