I recently blogged about The Myth of the Mythical Jesus. Among other things, I argued against those who saw Jesus as a repurposed myth – that is, he was borrowed from some earlier Middle Eastern archetype, perhaps a “dying and rising god” figure.
And oh my, do these ideas go back a long way. As early as 1827 (yes, 1827) French scholar Jean-Baptiste Pérès published a wonderful satire of some of the claims about Jesus circulating even then. He particularly went after an Enlightenment radical called Charles-François Dupuis, who had identified Christ as a misunderstood form of sun-worship. In 1795, Dupuis expressed these ideas in his book l’Origine de tous les Cultes, ou la Religion universelle, which became (so to speak) the Bible of rationalism and atheism.
To make his point, Pérès produced abundant evidence to show that by the same standards, the Emperor Napoleon had never existed, and was in fact a solar myth, whose followers had made him into a real historical character. (At that point, the real Napoleon had been dead a mere six years). Pérès’s work was called the Grand Erratum (lovely name) and the only problem with it is that it is so convincing you start to believe he’s serious, and he really believed that Napoleon was a personification of Apollo. He wasn’t: he was just a magnificent satirist.
To see what I mean, see the summary at that wikipedia link, or else here. A sample:
Of Napoleon’s four brothers, three (they say) were kings, and these three kings were Spring, who reigns over the flowers, Summer, who reigns over the harvests, and Autumn, who reigns over the fruits. And just as these three seasons owe everything to the powerful influence of the sun, it is said that the three brothers of Napoleon owed their kingly status to him and reigned only at his pleasure. And when it is added that, of the four brothers of Napoleon, there was one who was not a king, it is because, of the four seasons of the year, there is one which reigns over nothing: Winter….
It is therefore proven that the alleged hero of our century was only an allegorical character, all of whose attributes are borrowed from the sun. And consequently Napoleon Bonaparte, of whom people have said and written so many things, never even existed, and the error before which so many people have bowed their heads comes from a quid pro quo – that is, they have taken the mythology of the 19th century for history.
Anyone tempted to the “Christ-Myth” perspective should certainly read that whole brilliant text before proceeding further.
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