Is Jesus Christ a Myth? Part Two
7) Avoid up-to-date scholarship that will probably pour cold water over your vaunted theories. One particular problem to ignore is that the Persian Mithras was much earlier and had almost nothing to do with the Roman god of the same name. Worse still, the Roman god only became widely worshiped after the birth of Christ, so cannot have been a model for Jesus at all. Also, take Sir James Frazer and Francis Cumont seriously, even if today's scholars do not. You will find plenty of other 19th-century and early-20th-century writers with a bone to pick who can support your wildest speculations. Finally, don't worry if some of the evidence, like the picture of a crucified Bacchus on the cover of your book The Jesus Mysteries, turns out to be fake. It is not your problem, even if you knew about it in advance.
8) Do not worry if not everyone agrees with you; you can always dismiss the dissenters as Christian apologists or as those unable to cope with your earth-shattering ideas. And don't panic if someone turns up arguing about primary sources, dating evidence, footnotes, and boring stuff like that. They are probably in the pay of the pope. Using this guide, you should be able to produce as many parallels as you require in order to convince even the most blinkered of readers that Jesus was actually a pagan god-man.
As you can tell, I am not impressed by the pagan myth hypothesis. It is telling that in spite of their vast amount of learning, their hostility to orthodox Christianity, and their willingness to allege that much of the New Testament is fictional, not even John Dominic Crossan or Bart Ehrman have any time for the idea that Jesus was made up of pagan motifs. Nor indeed do the vast majority of liberal scholars. The pagan myth hypothesis is firmly outside the pale of modern scholarship. That's also the reason why refuting authors like Tom Harpur tends to be left to Christian writers. Academic historians just don't think it is worth wasting time on anything so obviously wrong.
Editor's Note: For other online sources of information on the pagan parallels theories, see this detailed examination of various pagan deities and whether their stories coincide with that of Jesus, this note from William Lane Craig, or (as a more specific example) this response to the Jesus-as-Mithras claim, or this article from Ronald Nash. For book-length responses, consult R. T. France's The Evidence for Jesus or Nash's The Gospel and the Greeks.
The third part of this series will turn to the claim that Jesus is probably mythological because there is very little about him in the writings of Paul.
James Hannam earned degrees in physics and history from Oxford and London universities, and his doctorate in the history of science from Cambridge University. He blogs at http://bedejournal.blogspot.com and recently published God's Philosophers: How the Medieval World Laid the Foundations of Modern Science (London, 2009), the first history of medieval science written for the layperson.