Read The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus by Earl Doherty Online


During three years of exposure on the World Wide Web, where he has presented convincing evidence, on a half a million word website, that no historical Jesus existed, to enthusiastic (and not so enthusiastic) reaction from around the globe, Earl Doherty's first published book has been eagerly awaited. The wait will not disappoint. In a highly attractive product (the cover iDuring three years of exposure on the World Wide Web, where he has presented convincing evidence, on a half a million word website, that no historical Jesus existed, to enthusiastic (and not so enthusiastic) reaction from around the globe, Earl Doherty's first published book has been eagerly awaited. The wait will not disappoint. In a highly attractive product (the cover itself is stunning), the author presents all the details of his argument in an immensely readable and accessible format....

Title : The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus
Author :
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ISBN : 9780968925911
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 479 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus Reviews

  • Darrell
    2019-01-26 17:09

    In The Jesus Puzzle, Earl Doherty proves Jesus Christ never existed. He does this by analyzing the New Testament and other Christian writings of the time which reveal Christianity was created by combining Greek philosophy with Jewish mysticism and that the biographical information about Jesus was added later on.First, he examines the Epistles of Paul, which were written earlier than the gospels, and shows that Paul never considered Jesus to be an actual historical person, but rather a spiritual conduit through which God revealed information, similar to the Old Testament figure known as Wisdom.He devotes a slim chapter to the mystery cults of the time, showing that details of Jesus life could have been borrowed from Mithras, Attis, Osiris, or other gods. The Greek God Dionysis, for example, was born of a virgin, was killed and resurrected, and his followers enjoyed a sacred meal of raw meat and wine symbolizing his flesh and blood. He doesn't devote much room to the mystery cults, however; so if you want more information about them, look elsewhere.Doherty then goes on to examine the gospel tradition, showing that Matthew and Luke copied their biographical information from Mark and got the sayings attributed to Jesus from a now lost document known as Q. The Gospel of John appears to be a Gnostic document modified to fit Christian ideas.Q, which can be compared to the Gospel of Thomas, was a list of sayings based on Greek Cynic philosophy. Pretty much everything Jesus says is either a quote from The Old Testament or based on Greek philosophy.Doherty also shows that Mark's biographical information was all obtained through the Jewish process of midrash, which is reworking scripture to tell a new story. Everything that happens to Jesus comes from different passages in the Old Testament being combined together. Mark's gospel was a literary creation not meant to be taken literally.Doherty then examines Jewish and pagan historians of the time, showing that Jesus was unheard of before the second century. If Jesus were a real person, wouldn't at least one source outside the gospels mention his existence? The Jewish historian Josephus seems to mention Jesus, but the passages that do make mention of him are obvious insertions by later scribes. Interestingly, it seems that John the Baptist was an actual historical person inserted into the fictional tale of Jesus.As a final coup de grace, Doherty quotes from early Christian writers of the second century showing that their view of Jesus was as a spiritual personage, not an historical man. One of the early Christian writers, Minucius Felix, even expresses disgust at the idea of worshiping a crucified criminal. Christianity in the early stages was more of a Platonic philosophy, which only added biographical details of Christ later on.While bits of this book were enlightening, it mainly bored me. Doherty, in his attempt to be thorough, ends up sounding repetitious. He spends most of his time examining scriptures, and hurries over the interesting bits such as Jesus' similarity to other gods of the time. He only mentions in passing that New Testament geography is fictional, when he could have pointed out that almost all of the places mentioned in the New Testament don't exist. In fact, Nazareth, the city Jesus was from, didn't exist until long after he died.While he shows that Acts was written by someone not familiar with Paul's epistles by pointing out contradictions between the two, he ignores the numerous contradictions of the gospels, which would have added weight to his argument. He does notice the similarity of Jesus' teachings to Greek philosophy, but he fails to note that Jesus actually quotes from one of Aesop's fables at one point (compare Matthew 11:17 with Aesop's fable of The Fisherman Piping).The information Doherty does present is useful, however I found myself wanting the book to present some of the more interesting information out there, which he left out.

  • Matthew
    2019-02-04 12:12

    The idea that Jesus never actually existed as a physical, earthly person is an idea that is controversial enough - and important enough - to merit a good old-fashioned, sit-down read. Doherty makes a number of interesting arguments, which if true, would appear to make a mockery out of the Christian scriptural tradition - namely, that (apart from the gospels that tell the earthly life of Jesus), no early Christian writings, including the sum total of the entire rest of the New Testament, appears to even be aware of the idea of an earthly life of Jesus. These epistles appear instead to be concerned with a divine being who lives and resides in the heavens, who descended to a lower plane of the heavens which was ruled by demonic powers, who was killed by those demonic powers, and who ascended to his original level of the heavens following this death. None of the epistles' ideas seem to take place on Earth.Not only do the epistles paint a picture of a theology wholly at odds with an Earthly savior-son, but at no point in the arguments presented by the writers of the epistles where it would make a lot of sense to mention Jesus, cite to his acts, or repeat his words do the epistle writers do so. Given the opportunity to make a powerful argument by linking some text to the words of the man they supposedly follow, they instead choose to make weak arguments by citing only to Old Testament writers without any mention of Jesus at all.Instead of following the common idea that the epistle writers were simply writing in an unusual fashion, Doherty argues that they were wholly unaware of the idea of an Earthly Jesus - a claim bolstered by both the absence of any interest in visiting Christian holy sites by early Christians, an absence of any interest in collecting Christian artifacts until several centuries later, and the epistle writers apparent use of Jewish midrash interpretaion methods common to the time. All in all, an eye-opening read. Whether you believe it or not is a matter for you to decide, but it's worth the read simply for another take on the controversy alone.

  • Mike Grattan
    2019-02-16 15:02

    Doherty presents a compelling case for the non-historicity of Jesus of Nazareth. From the Pauline epistles to canonical gospels to the gnostic gospels, he explores apologist writings of the time. In addition, he also has thoroughly researched non-Christian historians of the time and finds that they knew nothing of a Jesus of Nazareth. The name 'Jesus', in its original translation, means 'anointed one'. The original followers of the religion did not know of a Jesus of Nazareth. Their religion was called the Kingdom of God religion and they anointed themselves in oil as part of their ritual. They were thusly called Christians due to this practice. It wasn't until decades later that the gospels were written that anyone ever heard of Jesus of Nazareth, a virgin birth, dying on a cross at Calvary, etc. The gospels were written in the Jewish tradition of Midrash, which is still in use today. Midrash involves the interpretation of Old Testament scriptures and the use of those scriptures as the basis for more fully developed stories. The resulting stories are not meant to be taken as fact; they are merely meant to help followers understand scripture.Doherty does an excellent job of reviewing the history of Christianity and showing readers that there really is no historical evidence that Jesus of Nazareth ever existed.I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to learn more about the history of this religion and its foundation in folklore and Midrashic traditions.

  • Jason
    2019-01-30 17:04

    Having dabbled in some of the online works regarding Jesus mythicism about a decade ago, but not pursuing it much further, in the last couple of years I’ve rekindled that interest and begun reading both sides of the debate. I decided that prior to reading Dr. Carrier’s magnum opus on the topic (“On the Historicity of Jesus”), that I would first read the book that piqued Dr. Carrier’s interest enough to take on the historicity challenge – Doherty’s book here, “The Jesus Puzzle.”I’ll grant you, this book is now nearly two decades old, and my review is beyond late. However, the book still seems to have enough interest that I decided to read and review it anyway. I read the 2005 edition, not that that matters.First, the praise:Overall, this is a fairly easy to read book. Doherty is not a scholar, and his writing does not get too technical for the average layperson. His scholarship however, is pretty good – not perfect, but better than I expected from someone who is, in fact, not a scholar. I will say though, he doesn’t always identify the scholarship behind the conclusions well enough (I’ll address that below). The book is filled with point after point, building his case, mostly using very sound logic. By the end, the conclusion I reach is that Doherty has presented a very strong case for the ahistoricity of Jesus. While some minor holes are there, the case is generally very solid and certainly warrants a better, more scholarly response than Ehrman’s “Does Jesus Exist?,” which was unimpressive to say the least (and I say that as an Ehrman fan).Now, the criticisms:1) The scholarship. I know I said his scholarship is pretty good, but I mean that in the sense that when checked, much of his interpretations and conclusions do have scholarly support, even if often not consensus scholarship. One problem with this book’s scholarship is the lack of documenting and footnoting it. There were many places where a statement Doherty made is factually correct, or backed by scholarship, but he completely neglects to show the scholarship supporting it. Doherty seems to have a habit of rattling off point after point, or fact after fact, but forgetting to buttress them by citing sources or footnoting the scholarship behind it. While reading such a presentation makes one want to whip out the highlighter and start marking the book, giving a sense of excitement at “puzzle pieces” not seen pieced together before, the lack of source citing or scholarly justification, often causes critics and naysayers to dismiss such writing out of hand (though often when checked, one will find he does have support for his interpretations, conclusions, etc.).2) The Q rabbit hole. Doherty leaves his ever growing case behind for a while, and chases a rabbit down the hole after the Q hypothesis. I personally do not subscribe to the Q hypothesis, particularly after Mark Goodacre’s excellent book, “The Case Against Q.” Granted, when Doherty first wrote TJP, he did not have Goodacre’s solid case from which to draw, but even in my 2005 edition, 3 years after Goodacre published TCAQ, Doherty did not budge on his Q argument. He admits that “there is no independent evidence for Q” (pg. 144) but understandably (albeit unfortunately) he sides with the consensus toward Q. Yet when he makes statements like, “no suggestion that Jesus is the Christ, no reference to the concept itself, ever surfaces in Q,” (pg. 148) one cannot help but note that he is basing part of his argument on a “factual” claim that something doesn’t exist in a document that itself has no independent evidence that it actually exists. The reality is that Doherty’s trip through Q country only weakens his overall argument. At the very least it does nothing to strengthen his thesis, and in my opinion, clearly weakens it if for no other reason, the ad hocness of the Q hypothesis itself. His book would have been much better if he had either completely dropped the Q leg of the argument, or at least condensed it into a short, single chapter as noteworthy, but not integral to his case.3) Lastly, the book structure. Related to my previous criticism, Doherty could have made a better presentation by dropping the Q material. He takes up 6 chapters and over 50 pages on this nonessential, even deleterious content, yet he fills appendices and notes at the end with quite pertinent information. I think a far superior presentation of his thesis would have been to eliminate, or drastically reduce the Q material, and to integrate the appendices and notes into the main text. Honestly, the Q material he goes on and on about, being the weakest material in the book, should be relegated to an appendix at best, if not left out altogether. If the book had been structured in that way, I think his case would have continued solidly throughout, but as is, the interruption by the Q diversion opens up a weak spot right in the middle of his presentation.In summary, the book is a worthy read. It does end up finishing very strong, despite the weaker middle. Doherty presents a very solid case for ahistoricity, but it’s important to note he had built on the work of others – it isn’t his own unique hypothesis. But Doherty has compiled the stronger points of previous mythicism research, while discarding most of the nonsense mythicism, into a very readable and not too lengthy book, that would be a good primer for anyone wanting to begin a study into the world of Jesus mythicism. I have little doubt that as I work my way through Dr. Carrier’s OHJ, that I will find it far more scholarly and will recommend it as the far superior Jesus historicity work, but I certainly can also recommend Doherty’s TJP as a worthwhile read that has its flaws, but presents a sound abstract of the ahistoricity case.

  • Sancho
    2019-02-09 15:52

    I understand that this is a question that might be central to many, and I appreciate the hard work that Doherty made to come up with the conclusion that... I won't ruin the book for you.Anyway, in my opinion, this question is just interesting from an historical perspective, but from a religious one, well, who cares if Jesus existed physically or not. If he did, whoever he was, he was not the son of any god, because there is no god, nobody can be born out of a virgin, nobody can walk on water, nobody can come back from death and fly into the sky... and most important, nobody can (or should, at least) die because of the "sins" of others... so my conclusion has always been that OF COURSE IT IS A MYTH.However it was a very interesting book and you can see how hard the author worked to reach his conclusion. The book is written like a story, where the main character is writing an historical novel and meets interesting people along the path. Love, drama and mistery.I got a little confused some times with some of the arguments and the way the author presented them, but his general line of thought is comprehensible and logical.My favorite excerpts?"With the earth teeming with so much evidence that life was an undirected, experimental work in progress, did the imposition of the primitive myths of some ancient scientifically-ignorant society constitute the ultimate insult, an offense to human intelligence which had labored so long to reach its present stage?""When we’re free of all these debilitating dogmas we’ve been saddled with, we can mold ourselves as we wish. We’ll find a source of strength inside, our own sense of self-worth.""How can you function efficiently in the world if you see it through unscientific and superstitious eyes? If the universe is governed by natural laws, how can you believe in miracles, or some vast network of forces engineering reincarnation? How are you going to make the right decisions in life if you rely on palmreading, or tarot cards, or psychics? When you understand the forces that govern the world, you don’t have to grovel before some higher power, you don’t beg for the intervention of an unpredictable deity, and you don’t fear the unknown. Fear and ignorance make you a slave. Understanding brings freedom. Science and rationality are not substitute gods; they’re servants. We can use them to better our lives and the world we live in".

  • Steve
    2019-01-23 17:21

    This is powerful stuff. Persuasive arguments on a consequential topic. I wish it got more attention generally. If there are substantive arguments that Doherty's wrong, I'd love to be able to consider them. Doherty defies the common view on this question, and if the common view is actually correct, I'd like to know why. If Doherty is as right as he seems, though, widespread consensus imagines a total fiction to be historical truth, with staggering consequences.Right now, I wish everyone would read this book.

  • Denise
    2019-02-02 13:01

    Information packed book worth reading. Appreciated the insights, summations of available information, and especially found Mark/Midrash fascinating. Not completely convinced of the Q hypothesis. Considering how many topics are placed in about 300 pages, I would recommend the book as a springboard for further investigation.

  • Jeffrey McKinley
    2019-02-11 12:05

    An impressive study that investigates whether Jesus ever existed. If you are interested in the current Jesus studies, this book is recommended.

  • Jonathan Bechtel
    2019-02-10 13:00

    Excellent book on the amalgamation of different currency in religion to form another religion. I love books like these.

  • Mike
    2019-02-01 15:57

    Christianity as we know it, says the author, was born when a single man, the author of the book of Mark, created a narrative which combined two current religious traditions--the Jerusalem tradition and the Galilean tradition. The Jerusalem tradition is portrayed in the epistles in which Christ is crucified and ressurected in the mythic realm, a figure who has little resemblance to the itinerate preacher from Nazareth--the Galilean tradition. I was also intrigued by author's discussion of the concept of midrash, the process by which Christian writers drew upon Old Testament scripture to create a story line for the gospel. There's more. There's a lot more. A well written, and by all appearances, a well researched book written in a style that is more conversational than it is academic.

  • Martin Brzezinski
    2019-02-12 17:16

    I found this to be a fascinating exploration of the origins of christianity in literature Doherty in this tour de force volume of scholarship presents a view unfamiliar to the general public - that contrary to the constant speculating about 'what Jesus would do' or 'what was the real Star of Bethlehem' that the figure of Jesus was most likely not based on the life and career of a real man in Judea in the 1st century AD. This book is a milestone in religious studies and is destined to become a source book for future historians interested in the development of religion in the Roman Empire.

  • Lewis
    2019-02-13 18:18

    The best argument in favor of the proposition that Jesus Christ was a fictional creation.

  • Lucas
    2019-01-23 12:14

    Questionable, but interesting.

  • Bryan Blakeman
    2019-02-17 16:03

    Mind-blowing insight! Did a man named Jesus really ever exist?

  • David
    2019-02-13 14:07

    I didn't think he'd make a case, but he does.

  • Les Gehman
    2019-02-12 14:58

    Very well documented history of early Christianity.

  • Karen Botten
    2019-01-28 17:11

    I'm now convinced that the Jesus Christians believe in never actually existed. Very interesting book.

  • Tracy Black
    2019-02-03 18:21

    Doherty argues a strong case. I'm sold.