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The Jesus Puzzle. Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? : Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus Paperback – October 19, 1999
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Top Customer Reviews
If you want to read the Christian side (and you should) I recommend "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Strobel is very selective in his use of evidence, but the book is a good read, and probably the best that can be done for the Christian faith. Read it first if you like, and then read Doherty. There's no comparison.
Doherty also has a web site. I recommend you first read his book and then visit the site. Spend the time to go through everything he presents there - it's well worth it. The site also contains a novel (also titled "The Jesus Puzzle") I thought it was excellent. It deserves to be published. Doherty also provides a lengthy and devastating critique of the Strobel book on his site.
As I read "The Jesus Puzzle" I was surprised at how resistant I was to the thesis that there had been no historical Jesus (I'm not a Christian), but I was impressed at how thoroughly Doherty overwhelmed my resistance. This book deserves the whole world as its audience. Buy it, read it, buy more copies and give them away, spread the word. Nineteen hundred years of misconception has finally been clarified.
In his book "The Jesus Puzzle", Earl Doherty demonstrates beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus Christ is a fictional character. No such person ever existed. The notion may be shocking to the general populace, but it is not a new idea, and has been endorsed by a minority of scholars for over a century.
The best evidence comes from the Christian writers themselves. The New Testament epistles and most of the non-canonical literature until the mid-2nd century show a resounding silence on the earthly life of Jesus. No teachings or miracles. No references to Mary, Joseph, the disciples or the holy places, such as Bethlehem, Nazareth and Calvary. No trial or details of the passion story. And so on.
Scholars try their best to explain this phenomenon, but this degree of silence from so many writers over so many years has one and only one adequate explanation: the writers ignore Jesus's life on earth because they don't KNOW of a life on earth. Jesus Christ started out as an entirely divine being, just like all the other gods in all the other religions of the day. The idea that he lived a full, human life was a later development in Christian mythology which gradually caught on, proved to be popular and eventually became standard orthodox belief.
Another problem with the traditional view of Christian origins is the wide diversity of expressions shown in the early Christian record. These are unlikely to have stemmed from the life of a highly-revered human founder.Read more ›
"What is needed is a new paradigm, a new set of assumptions by which to judge the epistles (as well as the other non-canonical documents ...), one capable of resolving all those contradictions and uncertainties. That paradigm should be determined by what we can see in the epistles themselves and how we can relate their content to what we know of the spirit and conditions of the time."
This is how Doherty approaches not only the epistles but the gospels and noncanonical writings as well.
Why do the earliest New Testament documents (the epistles) show no knowledge of the life and teachings of the historical Jesus (apart from a few passages that are said to be revealed via scripture or vision) yet speak of this Jesus, without any justifying reference to his human life, as God and sustainer of the universe? Doherty shows that the traditional scholarly explanations for this puzzle are with less than adequate documentary and logical support. But by looking at the philosophical and theological milieu of the authors of the epistles (who wrote before the gospels were known to them) we see that their ideas of Jesus Christ are a part of the broader literature about an increasingly personified divine Messiah, Logos, Wisdom figure.Read more ›
Still, I find some of Doherty's points troublesome to accept and would therefore focus criticism on certain gaps I think need to be addressed in 'The Puzzle', gaps which left me confused and not yet completely convinced. Mainly I have some issues with trying to see how two supposedly distinct traditions, one related to Paul, the other to the Gospels, come together to form a cohesive story like we see in the New Testamant without being directly related.
Briefly, Doherty believes that the historical Jesus was a myth. His theory is largely based on the premise of reversing the precedence of the New Testament texts, making Paul's Epistles come before the Gospels. Instead, the latter 'Q" inspired texts were actually later contrived documents designed to validate a movement Paul was instrumental in spreading.
1. Doherty believes that the Jesus of the Gospels was made up, a myth. If so, then what about Paul, Peter and the other disciples? Were they real or not? And if they were real -- according to Doherty at least Paul and Peter are -- than why not Jesus?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The author provided a plausible explanation for why the epistles of the bible are so different from the gospels.Published 9 months ago by JP
This book shows that what is written in the New Testament about Jesus is not history. It is well reasoned and is appropriate for both the inquisitive and serious student of the... Read morePublished on November 10, 2013 by Garry
great rare book, exposes people to the mythical beginnings of Christianity everyone should read this book and be exposed to itPublished on October 14, 2013 by Domingo Vega
Earl J. Doherty (born 1941) is a Canadian author who has also written books such as Jesus: Neither God Nor Man - The Case for a Mythical Jesus, Challenging the Verdict: A... Read morePublished on July 31, 2013 by Steven H Propp
I've grown tired of the basic arguments for atheism, and wanted to look at the issue of Christianity, in particular, in more detail. Read morePublished on July 7, 2013 by Stanley Dorst
The idea that the historical Jesus never existed is often labeled a fringe position that is only reserved for conspiracy theorists and other lunatics. Read morePublished on June 28, 2010 by James Wagner
Reading the last review after reading Doherty's book makes it clear what good writing, clear thinking, and careful scholarship is worth. Everything. Read morePublished on May 29, 2006 by Larrimore
IF YOU READ A REVIEW, READ THIS ONE!!
I would recommend it to any reader though because it puts together thoughts well. Read more
I saw the review by Jeri Nevermind, and it got me thinking: hmmm, I wonder what other books this guy reads. Read morePublished on September 20, 2005 by Brendan Hogan