The verdict seems to be an emphatic no. Paul it seems cannot even tell us about whether he was historical.
I was looking for an introduction to this post and I think Jesus in wonderland by Ark does it for me.
In his book, Christ Myth( which yours truly is currently reading) Arthur Drews concludes and I quote
Whether there was a place called Nazareth in pre-Christian days must be considered as at least very doubtful. Such a place is not mentioned either in the old testament or in the Talmud, which, however, mentions more than 60 Galilean towns; nor again, by the Jewish historian Josephus, nor in the Apocrypha. Cheyne believes himself justified by this in the conclusion that Nazareth in the new testament is a pure geographical fiction.
The ‘nazorean’ is applied to Jesus only as guardian of the world, protector and deliverer of men from the power of sin and demons, but without any reference to a quite obscure and entirely unknown village named Nazareth, which is mentioned in documents beyond any dispute, only from the fourth century.
That bible does not tell you. I have laughed at this. The things people believe and the extremes they are willing to jump to justify their belief is unbelievable!
Today, I want to share with you insights on the few books I have been reading in the past month and to recommend that in case you haven’t read any of them, that you do create time to at least read a few of them if not all. Don’t create excuses for not reading, in a day you have 24 hours and in one of those you are probably bumming or in a train, tram or bus or waiting at the train station; that is the time to read, so no excuses. The books will follow no particular order. I ask you to forgive the brevity of my reviews, I am a minimalist in practice, and ask you to share your thoughts on any of the books that I have listed below if you have read them. I will populate the list as we go along. I have a goal of reading between 30-50 books in the remaining days to the end of the year and to keep this blog up to date.
1. Thinks by David Lodge
One of the reviewers, Sunday Times, writes ‘a fizzingly thought-provoking comedy’. If you want to have a good laugh and at the same time to be provoked into thinking this is the book for you. In one of the pages he quotes Descartes ‘I think therefore I am’ then goes ahead to say, ‘to am’ is to not think.
2. The Christ-Myth and its problems by Robert M. Price
In this book, the author looks at the New Testament scholarships on the subject of the historicity of Jesus. It’s a must read for both the believer and especially for the non-believer who still romanticizes about Jesus having been a great moral teacher [if he lived]. His arguments and conclusions are both powerful and convincing. I would want to see a christian who has any proper refutation to any of the claims in the book.
3. Philosophers without Gods by Antony Louis M
This book is a reflection by different philosophers on their journey to atheism, morality, and meaning in a life without Gods.
4. A history of God by Karen Armstrong
As the title suggests, Armstrong follows the evolution of the gods of the three Abrahamic [Christianity, Judaism and Islam] religions and how the faithful have interpreted or understood their god. Of importance is the contribution to philosophic thought to the changing face of god from the ancients to the present.
5. Confession of a Buddhist Atheist
is the journey of faith of a young man from Europe to Asia to the origins of Buddhism who ends up being an atheist. It is well written and engaging. He brings the story of the Buddha seamlessly into his story as he talks of his doubts, difficulties and insights into his journey of faith. He also brings the story of Buddha closer home and tries to remove much of the religious baggage associated with the Buddha.
6. Did Muhammad Exist: An inquiry into Islam’s obscure origins by Robert Spencer,
if after reading the Christ Myth Theory and its problems you find the ground swept under you, this will actually leave you floating in space. Even though the writer asks at the end that we suspend judgement on whether Muhammad existed, he presents evidence that supports the theory that he, Muhammad, is a myth just like any other in religions before him if we leave out Buddha and Confucius. One of the enduring chapters in on the Qur’an and he posits a question why does the writers of the book insist that it is in Arabic if it wasn’t contested? Islam hasn’t received a fair share of criticism as other religions since it’s adherents are too quick to declare fatwas, issue death threats to anyone who questions their religion but this book and many others offer a glimpse into the shaky grounds on which Islam is based.
7. Atheism: The case against God by George Smith
God is not on trial per-se but this book makes a proper case for atheism. There is no need to say more than that!
8. A guide for the godless by Andrew Kernohan,
is a personal journey into the meaning of life without a transcendent being.