If you allow yourself to get entangled in debates with Jesus mythicists, you will regularly find yourself reaching a point at which you wonder how it can be that they so badly misunderstand the New Testament documents.
Then one of them will claim that Osiris was thought to be the Messiah, with a link to a website as “evidence,” and suddenly the problem becomes clear. If this sort of thing interests you, take a look at this website, where you will find photographic evidence that Osiris and Jesus not only both had beards, but had similar beards!
Hopefully most readers of this blog will have found that website as illuminating as I did. It obviously doesn’t illuminate anything to do with the historical Jesus. But it most certainly does illuminate the parallelomania, the fascination with the most superficial of parallels, the rejection of relevant historical context in favor of some other more distant context that is used to reframe the evidence, and of course the eschewal of any need for genuine expertise in favor of the view that anyone on the internet with interest can accurately make sense of ancient history. One can find very close parallels in the realm of pseudolinguistics to what we see here in this pseudohistorical and pseudoscholarly endeavor.
Even out of the midst of engagement with pseudoscholarship, positive things emerge, if only new and better ways to convey points about mainstream scholarship, the ancient Jewish context of early Christianity, and so on, to an interested general audience. It won’t convince mythicist true believers unless they undergo some profound soul searching about their methods and tactics, but it will be helpful for others (and perhaps eventually at least some mythicists – never give up hope for the power of truth to prevail and for expertise to carry the day instead of quackery!) A good example of this relates to Osiris and the resurrection, in a point articulated well by a commenter named Mark, who wrote:
Paul thinks the only miraculous thing that happened to Jesus is exactly what most every Jew of the time thought was going to happen to himself or herself. Did the pharisaical public think they were Osiris? Do Christians today think they are Osiris?
And another great quote from the same commenter, Mark:
Paul believed in ‘the historical Jesus’, a creature of ‘flesh and blood’, even when he was more anti-Christian than you are.
Elsewhere online related to mythicism, Lester Grabbe wrote an article about non-Christian sources that provide evidence for the historical Jesus. See also John MacDonald’s thoughts on the brother of the Lord as nickname.
Finally, here’s a ridiculous Amazon review by Harry McCall, in which he complains that there are no physical inscriptions from Jesus, as though that were relevant to the question of Jesus’ historicity. I wouldn’t have noticed it, nor paid attention to it, but for some reason he decided to email me a link to it. He’s clearly a very strange individual!