12 Reasons Why Jesus Is a Legend (2 of 3)

12 Reasons Why Jesus Is a Legend (2 of 3) August 7, 2015

Apologist C. S. Lewis said that Jesus must be a liar (he knew that his claims of deity were false), a lunatic (his nutty claims are explained by his being crazy), or he was who he said he was, the Lord. But we can’t forget Legend. (You may want to read the introductory post and part 1 of this list.)

Let’s continue the list of twelve possible Christian rebuttals to the legend hypothesis.

Jesus legend

6. The disciples died martyr’s deaths. Who would go do their death defending a lie?

I don’t say it’s a lie; I say it’s a legend. Both are false, but the error in a legend isn’t deliberate. (I’ve already responded to the argument “Who would die for a lie?”)

I don’t imagine a sinister mastermind behind the creation of Christianity, just like there is no reason to imagine one behind Zoroastrianism or Mithraism, and there is none behind the corruption of a message in the game of Telephone. It’s just a story—a legend that grew over time.

I admit that I don’t know that the gospel story is false, and I don’t know that the supernatural elements were added during the decades of oral history. What I’m saying is that this is the null hypothesis; this is where we start. Only with extraordinary evidence (which doesn’t exist) can a supernatural explanation replace this.

The gospel story, the story of the George Washington of Galilee, the savior who was going to come back any day now to save the Jews’ bacon but who still hasn’t returned after 2000 years, evolved during 40 years of oral transmission. It was finally written down during a time when supernatural explanations were accepted and, indeed, may have been the most plausible explanation people had. It came from Palestine, the crossroads between Greek, Egyptian, and Mesopotamian cultures, each of which brought their own competing god claims.

Given our own experience with stories quickly getting out of hand (consider celebrities’ lives, for example), the Jesus story being a legend seems exceedingly plausible. The Christian position has the burden of proof, a burden that has yet to be met.

7. Just how skeptical are you? If you doubt the Jesus story, why imagine you can trust the stories of other figures from ancient history—Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great, for example? If you dismiss the Jesus story for insufficient evidence, the same logic discards most of our knowledge of history.

The big difference between the gospel story and historical account of the great leaders of antiquity is that the gospel story makes miracle claims, and any such claims in historical accounts have been scrubbed out. I discuss this here and here.

8. The game of Telephone is a poor analogy. There is no chance for participants to verify what they heard; they must simply repeat as best as they can a message that is deliberately convoluted. Not only could hearers of the gospel story ask for clarification, they could search out the source and verify it with him.

I agree that the game of Telephone is an incomplete analogy, in particular because of the huge time difference. A story passed from person to person over the course of 10 minutes can’t go through half a dozen people without significant change, and for the gospels we’re talking 40 years and more!

When you tell me a story, you’re right that I have the chance to make sure that I got it right, but why would I take advantage of that? I could easily have gotten it wrong but wouldn’t know. When I pass it on, particularly a story as long as the gospel, I will (inadvertently) add my errors. And so on as the story is retold from person to person. There is no maliciousness, and no central authority guides things; this is just fallible people doing their fallible best.

The Christian position seems to imagine a web of authorities, quick to correct any error in each telling of the story. But it’s unreasonable to imagine these authorities everywhere, eavesdropping on each conversation like Big Brother. And when someone said, “Hold on—that’s not how I heard the Jesus story,” which person was right? There was no written authority to consult before the gospels. Oral history isn’t self-correcting; errors are likelier to accumulate with time. (This is related to the Naysayer Hypothesis, which I refute here.)

Could eyewitnesses have been the final authority guiding the gospel story? That’s implausible given that eyewitness were likely far away. The gospels were written in cities all over the eastern Mediterranean, decades after the events. We can have no certainty that the handful of disciples of Jesus still alive at the time would be in Alexandria and Corinth and Damascus and Rome (or wherever the various gospels were written), ready to rein in incorrect stories.

This list of Christian arguments is concluded in Part 3.

There are lots of nice things you can do with sand, 
but do not try building a house on it.
— C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

(This is an update of a post that originally appeared 12/1/12.)

Image credit: aka Tman, flickr, CC

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  • primenumbers

    “Not only could hearers of the gospel story ask for clarification, they could search out the source and verify it with him.” yet never is there ever any evidence presented of this actually occurring. Indeed, we have across the gospels multiple different versions of similar stories with no early Christian coming forwards to set the record straight.

  • James

    Regarding the “who would die for a lie” trope, I’d answer a lot of people: Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází the founder of Babism, the forerunner of the Baha’i faith; Siri Guru Tegh Bahadur and Sri Guru Arjan Dev, two of the founders of the Sikh faith; Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon faith; Ali, founder of the Shi’ite sect of Islam, just to name a few of the most relevant. Nazism can be conceived of as a secular religion; most of its founders died for their (bad) ideas; the same is true of Soviet Communism. Most of these individuals didn’t know they were “dying for lies.” They died for what they believed in, and from where we stand these beliefs were wrong, bad, false, immoral, unworkable etc.

    • MNb

      “most of it’s founders died for their (bad) ideas”
      What’s more – SSers at the Eastern Front were totally willing to die for those ideas.

      http://www.militaryhistoryonline.com/wwii/articles/waffenss.aspx

      • James

        Yep. Fundamentalist Christians do love their special pleading, however. They never tire of telling us their martyrs are different, never mind they are extremely vague on what those differences actually are and they never seem to care that every “martyr,” regardless of whom, exists in the eye of the beholder.

    • Kirbmarc

      Exactly. If you count all the people who died for their beliefs as a proof that their beliefs are valid you have to assume that pretty much all beliefs are valid.

    • Thanks. I’m not familiar with most of those.

      Joseph Smith did die, and he surely knew that his creation was a lie (though I suppose people can come to believe their own lies).

      Someone dying for something that’s false happens all the time, if the person doesn’t know that it’s false. But dying for a lie that you know is a lie is much rarer. Smith is the only example I know of. Are the other people on your list similarly in this category?

      • Without Malice

        And let’s not forget the people and religion with the most martyrs of all: the Jews, millions of whom died believing that they were still the chosen of God, and for the most part, they died at the hands of Christians. Well, maybe I should take that back; if you add up all the Christians who have been killed by other Christians then I guess Christians would have the greatest number of martyrs. So in the end Christians can claim the duel title of having the most martyrs and creating the most martyrs. They’re the world champs at both.

        • I don’t think these are examples.

          The 9/11 hijackers were wrong that they were going to Paradise, but they didn’t know they were wrong. Knowing that your “beliefs” are all made-up bullshit is central to the “who would die for a lie?” argument.

          Joseph Smith made up his stuff, and he was killed for them. He counts. Of course I grant that there were Christians and Jews who were given the option, “Recant or die!” and chose death, but these don’t count since they didn’t know their beliefs were false.

        • Anti-religious regimes killed millions. Keep a watch on these anti-religious bigots. Especially the bullies. A guy like Bob can get a foul-mouthed angry woman like Kodie and a bottom of the barrel atheist like Mnb to believe all his stupid shit. So they probably aren’t a threat to harm many. Just a few fanatical women and men with keyboards and resentments. But in other nations we have people that aren’t as skeptical of these dumbshit’s philosophies and may just fall for it.

      • James

        The Bab had a passion story very similar to Jesus and was offered many opportunities to convert. The Sikh’s likewise where given the opportunity to recant their beliefs, and refused. Ali died in what any non-Muslim would consider a political struggle, but the same is also true of Jesus – challenging Caesar’s power alone was reason enough for the Romans to kill him. As for the Shiites, they consider Ali to be the greatest martyr in history.

      • Kirbmarc

        Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází probably died for a lie which he knew was a lie since he wrote his own holy book. Unless he came to believe his own lies, that is.

        The Reverend Jim Jones of the People’s Temple is arguably another example.

        I also think the line between “false belief” and “knowing you’re lying” is blurry. Many people followed Pascal’s advice and pretended to believe in something until they actually started to think it was the truth (or at least that it was worth dying for).

        There’s a difference to be made, IMHO, between someone who is deliberately scamming others for their own material benefit and someone who invents a story to cast themselves in the role of a saint or martyr and in the end doesn’t care about material gains as much as having their name remembered and starting a cult.

        Both individuals knowingly lie to others but the second one might be willing to die if it means they will inspire others to follow their teaching and to remember their name.

        • James

          That’s my impression – I think Siyyid `Alí Muḥammad Shírází, Muhammad and the Sikh gurus each set out to “correct” what they thought was the hopeless mess of theology they had inherited, and in the process of correcting it they came to rely on their own authority, creating their own religion by happenstance. The common thread that each seems to have is they expected the followers of the earlier religions – Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, etc -to upgrade to the new edition, just as Christians expected of the Jews, and the Jews appear to have expected of the pre-Jewish Canaanites. We see a similar tendency in modern pastors whom presume to speak on their deity’s behalf; a self-proclaimed prophet just carries it to a much further degree, changing scripture entirely rather than merely reinterpreting it to read however they please.

    • Without Malice

      And, in all truthfulness, no one has any real proof of how the disciples died, or even if they ever existed. Outside of the bible there is no mention of even the most famous of these men – Paul and Peter – until well after they passed from the scene.

      • MNb

        Wrong. John the Apostle is mentioned outside of the Bible.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycarp

        • Without Malice

          Not until he was already dead.

        • MNb

          That applies to the NT as well. So shrug.

        • Greg G.

          Paul mentioned him in Galatians 2:9 which would have been before Polycarp was born, which implies that if Polycarp actually knew John the Apostle, then John was alive when Paul wrote. Paul doesn’t connect John as a disciple of Jesus, though.

        • Pofarmer

          And third hand.

      • James

        Exactly. Every religion presents its own alleged martyrs in the best possible light and dismiss others. The notion that 11 of the apostles were martyred is likely BS. At the very least, it’s an assertion that Christians make, lacking any evidence in support of it

        • The oldest sources claim about 8 martyrs. The 16th-century Foxe’s Book of Martyrs gives the extra 4.

        • L.Long

          Also the few xtians that where killed by Romans did so because they moved in to the area and then refused to follow the Roman laws…That’s not martyrdom but Bad Aholery! So they don’t count.

  • busterggi

    “I admit that I don’t know that the gospel story is false”

    Actually as none of the four agree with the other three at least three of them must be false.

  • Sophia Sadek

    The early Christians were persecuted because they opposed certain aspects of Roman culture. They were attacked by zealous Pagans for being opposed to the gods. Natural disasters were blamed on them for fear that the gods were punishing Rome for allowing impious Christians to exist. The story is being repeated today, except that the superstitious zealots are now people who call themselves Christian.

    • The rate of persecution is also exaggerated, with some more notorious incidents (like being fed to lions) entirely false.

      • Sophia Sadek

        The intensity of persecution also differed significantly depending on the region of the Roman empire. North Africa was probably hit hardest because the Romans had a horrid fear of a resurgence of the empire of Carthage. Christians from parts of the empire with fewer martyrs bemoaned the fact that they did not have as many “saints” as the more beleaguered provinces.

        • That makes sense. It was a big place, after all. Apparently in North Africa martyrdom envy spread to the point of one sect (the Circumcellions) provoking people deliberately in hopes of being killed. Where that didn’t work, they’d just jump off cliffs en masse. As I recall suicide was made a sin partly to stop that stuff.
          By the way Sophia, I like the irony of your avatar 🙂

        • Sophia Sadek

          It is a tribute to Robert Lentz, the artist who painted the original. He’s a cool guy for a Catholic.

        • Ah, I see. Well I respect that it must be very hard being gay and a Catholic friar at the same time.

        • Sophia Sadek

          During the middle ages there were two options for homosexuals: joining a religious community or faking heterosexuality. Gay friars are not that extraordinary.

        • So I understand from my reading. In the US alone it’s estimated 15 to 50% of priests are actually gay.

        • Pofarmer

          Yep. The range is more like 15 to 60% with the low number being skewed because the Church considers you have to be sexually active to be considered homosexual. Another interesting note, catholic priests are/were treated for HIV at a rate about 6 times the normal population.

        • So what do they consider the people who don’t act on the desire? Anyway, it’s clear that many do if the statistic is right.

        • Pofarmer

          Technically, if they don’t act on the desire, they would probably call them nothing.

        • MNb

          Oh, they compensated after the Western Roman Empire had disappeared. Destroy a sanctuary, get killed while proselytizing (no correlation) and you become an instant saint in the 8th Century.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Boniface

    • and the Christians don’t even see the irony.

      • Sophia Sadek

        Because Pagan superstition is wrong and Christian superstition is right. Logic traps ‘r’ us.

        • James

          It’s not superstition if it’s true 😉

  • Olivia Jackson

    I really like this series, keep it up. I might share with my friends. 🙂

  • Kodie

    I still have to question a god who left it like this, in the words of mouths of a handful of people to disseminate the story of this miraculous event. Never mind that it happened to spread, but it’s bound to get fucked up. Not only are people fallible and mistaken regularly, it has taken much longer than instantly for Jesus to save people by dying 2000 years ago. It is an emotionally moving story (or is supposed to be, if you believe it), and designed to be so. It’s still very difficult for me to wrap my head around grown adults either not asking the obvious questions, or being dumb enough to swallow the terrible arguments, and it’s sort of funny to me that it is left up to these amateurs and they think they are qualified to parrot these shitty arguments they heard in a way that sounds like they know what they’re talking about. I guess that’s why they are often referring us to their favorite authors. They know they just can’t make it sound convincing, they are just regular people. This religion isn’t so clearly true that any idiot can convince you with decent arguments. They all look to someone else to “clarify” the arguments to them in some poetic way or else it is obviously difficult to convey. If god exists, my main question is why would he leave something so important to such incompetent people? Why does understanding the bible (the way god intended you to understand it, not just reading what it actually says) need a medium? Yes, even Christians have obvious issues and questions with it, but they turn to authorities “qualified” to tell them what the excuses are, like the slick shifty salespersons they are.

    I mean talk about telephone. “Telephone” is not a good argument? We get amateurs trying to repeat arguments they heard and failing at it, and then blaming us because we’re making things too complicated by not just believing everything they tell us. It must be so frustrating to not know anything or be able to think outside of what you’re told. They see some atheist blog or comments and they are compelled to say something without the intellectual means to keep up. They only know what they read somewhere and we see when they give an irrelevant answer. They don’t know what we’re asking, they only know what they learned elsewhere and if we don’t follow their script, they don’t know what else to say.

    • Greg G.

      It’s not just Telephone, it’s a few centuries of parallel Telephone games with a committee to straighten them out, along with politics as much was decided by vote. Keeping it unanimous was more than the Holy Ghost could manage.

      • primenumbers

        Throw in the deliberate alterations for theological needs and the transcription errors and notes that get incorporated into the texts.

        But even then the gap between the originals and what we have is so great, yet we know more major alterations occur earlier on, and thus we can only extrapolate to actually how different our best reconstructed texts are from the originals.

        We can in no way think the texts we have are reliable, and certainly not reliable enough to support any kind of report of miraculous or divine event. But of course people do, and that’s to their cognitive biases, and not to the worth of the text.

    • primenumbers

      I remember when I was rather young, into computing and also trying to figure out about religion that I found it a rather compelling argument against the divine being behind the bible texts that there was no check-sum for each line in the margin, and no chapter or book check-sum to make sure no pages were missing.

      On the other hand I now know the texts read very much as they were written by their human authors without any divine input at all and my check-sum idea is laughably advanced and would only even be reasonable if all the other evidence from the texts points to a divine origin and divine events, for which they don’t.

      • GubbaBumpkin

        Checksums are for detecting and correcting errors. If Lord God Jehovah was able to divinely preserve scriptures, it wouldn’t need checksums, it would just magically (!) never get miscopied or mistranslated.

        • primenumbers

          That is also true…. Only in wholly naturalistic universes are methods like checksums needed to preserve divine works as intended, and if there were checksums used it would be evidence that the divine is not behind them! Only would magical preservation be the sign of the divine.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        Heck if god thought the bible was so damn important, why did he wait all those years before making Guntenberg? Really, the tech needed to actually make his press had been around for a long time.

        • primenumbers

          Cos, well – (excuse goes here)….

  • RichardSRussell

    Could eyewitnesses have been the final authority guiding the gospel story?

    Assume arguendo that they were. So what?

    For much of human history, eyewitness testimony was widely believed to be the most reliable kind there was. Also for much of human history, the world was believed to be flat. Thanks to science we now know that both beliefs are false. (Word has yet to trickle down to the masses about the former, however.)

    • Cozmo the Magician

      Ask any cop, lawyer, or magician. They will tell you eye witness testimony sucks.

      • wtfwjtd

        Christian response: “Yeah, but how about four eyewitness accounts who copy off of each other,write down their contradictory recollections decades after the events, each by using a third-person narrative story line? Checkmate, atheists!”

        • Pofarmer

          Which is, strangely enough, exactly what MnB did in a couple of posts.

        • wtfwjtd

          Well, I don’t presume to speak for anyone, but my take on that was–we actually do have a story, written by “Mark”, that’s about a guy named Jesus, set in the first century. I believe we can all agree that the contents of the story is mostly if not all fiction. But, just having the story itself is good evidence of the existence of an actual guy named Jesus, and the simplest explanation is that it’s an embellished legend, with a kernel of truth at its core.
          It’s not the only piece of evidence, of course, but it’s an important piece. (My 2 cents worth)

        • Pofarmer

          Now if only someone could agree on what that kernel is.

        • Greg G.

          I have looked hard for that kernel in Mark but have only found reasons to think there is no kernel.

          I think the best hope would be the Gospel of Thomas. I have found plausible sources for most passages in the Synoptics but many of the conversations and monologs of Jesus with no other source just happen to correspond to Thomas passages. Many think Thomas is a collection of sayings from the New Testament but it is unlikely that the compiler would choose the few verses that have no other plausible source 2000 years later. Some of today’s Thomas sayings could be and I doubt it was complete before the NT gospels.

        • wtfwjtd

          I think just the existence of the story itself is considered the main piece of evidence. Showing the author’s sources is good, no, great, evidence to show that it’s mostly a work of fiction. But it’s still presumed to be a story about an actual character.
          I guess the whole “criterion of embarrassment” thing is an attempt to show that there are at least some elements of the story that have a grain of truth to them as well. The whole apocalyptic episode comes to mind, and maybe the babtism scene and a few other things.
          Is there any general agreement on G oT dating? Last I researched, there was a rather wide window, anywhere from around 50 to like 160 or 170. It would be nice if that could be narrowed up a bit.

        • Pofarmer

          The cannonical Gospels used to be dated much more widely than they are now, and there are still proponents of putting Mark as late as 125 A.D. Which actually matches up with some of the evidence. Only by the diligence of apologists posing as scholars have the dates gotten pushed back that far.

        • wtfwjtd

          I believe that the Gospel of Thomas wasn’t really “discovered” until something like 1945. Bits and pieces were floating around, but we apparently have only a few late copies of it. Maybe that’s part of the problem dating it, and why there is such a variance.

        • Greg G.

          I think there were references to it in very old documents. There were three partial Greek fragments with a half dozen sayings or so each discovered earlier in Egypt.

        • Greg G.

          I guess the whole “criterion of embarrassment” thing is an attempt to show that there are at least some elements of the story that have a grain of truth to them as well. The whole apocalyptic episode comes to mind, and maybe the babtism scene and a few other things.

          Everybody keeps saying there must be a kernel of truth in it but nobody will tell me what it is, dammit. I’m afraid I might need a conspiracy theory to explain why they won’t.

          I think the criterion of embarrassment is applied to things assuming the author wasn’t mocking the character. I think Mark may have deliberately made the disciples look silly. I think the Cephas, James, and John that Paul mentioned in Galatians were probably educated but Mark made them illiterate fishermen while exaggerating the way that Paul had sarcastically portrayed them. The chiastic structure in the ending of Mark would lead the reader to expect that the women to have gone and done something, like telling the disciples to go to Galilee like they were told. Instead it ends with them being afraid to tell, leaving a pregnant pause that might indicate that the “circumcision faction” got caught up in the destruction of Jerusalem instead of escaping.

          Is there any general agreement on G oT dating? Last I researched, there was a rather wide window, anywhere from around 50 to like 160 or 170. It would be nice if that could be narrowed up a bit.

          It all depends on whether one thinks the author of the Gospel of Thomas copied from the gospels or whether the gospel authors copied from Thomas. I am willing to accept that both are right. The document that each gospel authors had may have been different as Thomas was developed. But which is the real GoT? The earliest version or the one with sayings added over time? Do we define it as the complete Coptic version just because that is what we have? If so, then the interpolated Gospel of John with “cast the first stone” in it would have to be the authentic version, not the final draft written by the author.

          When you look at New Testament Narrative as Old Testament Midrash by Robert M. Price, there is a gap for most of Mark 4 but Mark’s Use of the Gospel of Thomas (Part 1) by Stevan Davies fills that gap with the Gospel of Thomas as most of Mark 4 is Thomas Sayings and discussion of them.

          When I look at Matthew, subtract out what he got from Mark and OT passages, there is a lot of what they call Q. But when I see The Sermon on the Mount Site: James and the Sermon on the Mount by Robert I. Kirby, and come to the conclusion that Kirby did not, that is that Matthew reworked the Epistle of James (who never, ever quotes Jesus, even though it would have greatly strengthened his arguments) into Jesus quotes, most of Q disappears and many of the passages that are left are Gospel of Thomas sayings and snippets of sayings.

          It is extremely improbable that a later compiler of Thomas would just happen to choose the particular lines to copy that would not have another plausible source 1900 years later while nearly all the surrounding verses do in both Mark and Matthew. It is more likely that Mark and Matthew had Thomas as a source. I think that jigsaw fit also supports the conjecture that Matthew used the Epistle of James.

          But, wait, there’s more! If you order in the next hour…

          When we look at the passages that Luke got from Mark, and assume that Luke got that so-called Q material directly from Matthew, there are several more lines that match up with Thomas sayings. That makes it less probable that Thomas was getting those passages from the gospels.

          But then there is the Parable of the Evil Tenants in Mark 12, which I think Mark could have made from Isaiah 5, 2 Chronicles 36:15-16, Genesis 37:20, and Psalm 118:22-23 but it sounds like Thomas 65 and 66. That is followed by the talk on the Tribute to Caesar which could be based on Romans 13:1-7 but sounds like Thomas 100. So those could have been copied into Thomas later.

          I don’t like the idea of a common source for Thomas and each of the canonical gospels. It would be just be indistinguishable from Thomas

          When the Coptic version is compared with the earlier Greek fragments the match up quite well, except one of the Greek sayings is not found in the Coptic. Saying 30 in the Coptic is an abbreviated version of Saying 77 but the Greek has the complete Saying 77 where Saying 30 should be. A copyist may have failed to copy the complete saying and someone corrected it by adding it later in the text. The Greek parts are not as old as the gospels. I think that shows Thomas was still being modified.

        • wtfwjtd

          The “grain” or “kernel” of truth I am referring to is simply the existence of the story itself. Apparently, there are people in Palestine following a dude named Jesus, people maybe are asking about this guy, and so viola! someone writes a story about him, and explains about his life and some of the stuff that his followers believe in. This is fairly common, is simple, and follows the pattern that we see in tons of other cases of religious origins.
          As for that criteria of embarrassment thing, that seems to be an attempt at teasing out the most truthful parts of the story. Personally, I’m not too impressed, but there are some that say it’s an effective tool. I think it has some value, but like all tools it definitely has its limitations.

          On another tangent, is there any speculation on who might have actually wrote the Gospel of Thomas? I kinda doubt it was a guy named Thomas, and I do wonder about where most of its sayings originate, and who might have put them together.

        • Greg G.

          The grain in three of the gospels is Mark. The grain in Mark is Paul’s epistles. The grain in Paul’s epistles is the Old Testament.

          I haven’t seen speculation about the author of Thomas except for it being Gnostic. The Incipit of the Coptic version says:

          These are the secret sayings which the living Jesus spoke and which Didymos Judas Thomas wrote down.

          The Greek fragments from Oxyrhynchus with an earlier date opened with:

          These are the [hidden] sayings [that] the living Jesus [sp]oke a[nd Judas who] is also Thomas [recorded.]

          Maybe it was written by several people over several decades and they were all named Thomas.

        • wtfwjtd

          “Maybe it was written by several people over several decades and they were all named Thomas.”

          “Hi, I’m Thomas, and this is my brother Thomas. And this is my other brother Thomas…”

          Sometimes, I see some of these names so often, it seems like every other guy in ancient Palestine was named Peter, James, or John. Or Thomas. Or Judas. Or now Judas Thomas. Sheesh.

          I guess the whole gnostic thing pissed off the official version of the religion that eventually won out, so anything of that persuasion naturally had to be purged at the earliest opportunity.

        • Greg G.

          “Hi, I’m Thomas, and this is my brother Thomas. And this is my other brother Thomas…”

          And this is my twin brother Thomas.

          I had to look up which two languages that words for twin are used. “Thomas” comes from the word for twin in Syriac and “Didymus” means twin in Greek.

      • Greg G.

        Ask any cop, lawyer, or magician.

        What about wizards?

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they have fireballs and you aint got enough hit points. {;

        • Greg G.

          Ward Parking Only!
          Violators will be Toad.

  • GubbaBumpkin

    to save the Jews’ bacon

    I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE

  • Cozmo the Magician

    Can not open the part one of this. It causes my IE to crash.

    • Weird. Try it again. Seems to work for me.

      • Cozmo the Magician

        Took several tries. I was either getting ‘this web page can not be displayed’ or it would load and then IE would crash. Finally got it to load. Not sure if it was Patheos, Disqus, my laptop, or the shitty Wi-Fi in my building.

        • Greg G.

          Let that be a lesson to not meddle in the affairs of wizards.

  • MR

    Another thing that drives me crazy is the amount of effort expended by theists to defend the possibility that this Jesus character could have existed and done all these marvelous things two thousand years ago, when supposedly he still exists and he still does all kinds of marvelous things today, yet they can’t seem to demonstrate the he does in fact exist or that he does in fact do anything.

  • koseighty

    Alexander the Great was said, of course, to be the son of Zeus and a mortal woman. Yet, we throw out his “divine” nature while accepting him as an historical figure. Why is that, I wonder?