Malaysian Atheist

An avowed atheist living in Malaysia.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

The God Who Wasn't There

The God Who Wasn't There is an interesting and entertaining documentary by filmmaker and former fundamentalist Christian, Brian Flemming. The film attempts to trace the origins of Jesus Christ and Christianity, and also examines the beliefs of modern-day fundamental Christians.

I found the first part on the historical Jesus more interesting, and that is what I'm going to write about here. What most Christians today know about the life of Jesus comes exclusively from the Gospels - Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Most historians agree that these Gospels where written 50 years or more after Jesus reportedly died and rose to heaven. That's like writing about a person or event that took place in the 1950s. I can't imagine it because I wasn't even around in the 50s. How is it possible that the Gospels contain so much details from the words spoken by Jesus, to the number of disciples who followed him around, to the number of silver pieces paid to Judas to betray Jesus?

It is more likely that these stories were inspired by word-of-mouth tales, greatly distorted and exaggerated. Brian Flemming likens it to urban legends or glurge stories, stories that have started out as fiction but over time, with the addition of details, became told as true stories. Historians also suspect that the Gospels were allegorical in nature since it was consistent with the form of literature at the time. There are also apocryphal texts which were excluded from the Bible (depending on which denomination of Christianity) for various reasons. With all these problems, it seems most unlikely that the Bible is the Word of God that Christians today believe it to be.

There is also the fact that the story of Jesus as a Saviour has many parallels with other heroic characters that were worshipped long before Jesus lived. We have Dionysus, Osiris, Zoroaster, Krishna and many more. Elements such as the virgin birth, miracles, healing of sicknesses, violent death and resurrection have been used before to tell the stories of these now-mythical characters. Oddly, the Christian response to this is that Satan had created these 'imitations', thousands of years before Jesus appeared (Satan had great foresight), in order to confuse everyone. How convenient.

As a whole, I think this documentary is rather informative and creative in its attempt to mythify the story of Jesus as told by the Gospels. I think Brian Flemming has done a great job of dealing with a serious topic in a non-serious way.

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At 6:23 PM, December 18, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

came across what u wrote in this article. didnt read this book b4. bt will definitely try to find it... :)
well written, i like ur style. frank & bang!
keep it up! waiting to read more. way to go!

At 11:45 PM, December 19, 2006, Blogger Meursault said...

Hi there,

Thank you for your kind words. I'm pretty busy now finishing all my work before next week's long break. Will write more during the break.

Till then...

At 5:18 PM, December 19, 2009, Anonymous Hedonese said...

The theory of borrowing from pagan sources was popular in the early 20the century, but most serious historians (secular and nonChristians) have since recovered a more Jewish root for understanding Jesus' life from a historical basis. Since the Gospels were written based on eyewitness accounts, the kind of trivial details that come up are precisely what you would expect. If you had lived thru the 50's as a 20 year old, it would not be irrational for you to write an eyewitness acct of an event you saw 20-40 years later. If u compare that with other ancient accounts of Julius Caesar, Alexander the great etc, the historical evidence of what we know about Jesus is beyond comparison.

Dun take my word for it. Do a scientific research:

1. how many years passed between the event and the first written account?

2. how many surviving texts and how early are those texts to the year they were first written?

Do a chart comparison of historical figures who lived about 2000 years ago and viola! no more debate


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