We are all familiar with the story of Jesus as we are familiar with the story of King Arthur, Superman and Frodo Baggins. What makes the story of Jesus problematic is that Christians have made the supreme error of confusing allegory with historical reality and thinking they are the same thing. Of course we all know that Jesus was betrayed, arrested, tried and ultimately executed for being a tax-dodger and claiming to be a monarch (Luke 23:2), although He fudges that a little when he says “my Kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). We all know that he was executed for his crimes and that according to the various Gospels he came back from the dead (Mark 16:9) and then later flew away like Neo at the end of The Matrix (Luke 22:44-49). One wonders if the Voyager spacecraft may yet spot him somewhere beyond the orbit of the recently demoted former planet Pluto.
Later Paul, the artist formerly known as Saul, informs us that “Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, that he was buried and raised on the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians: 3-4). Notice that Paul insists that it is the authority of the written word here that he cites to back his story. But there are problems with this. First, what scriptures is he referring too? When Paul’s letters were written, there were no Gospels in existence. Only an oral tradition that would eventually yield the Gospels in several decades after Paul has himself been killed. We cannot be certain that Paul even composed his letters in their entirety and it is likely the above passage is an interpolation edited later for consistency with the much later Gospels.
Now, all of this is extremely strange. If one is a sincere Christian then one is forced to accept that the Omnipotent God of the Hebrew Old Testament was at some point trolling around ancient Judea looking for virgins (Matthew 1:18 & Luke 1:26-35). A Christian must also be willing to believe, if I might paraphrase Bill Maher, that in fact the destiny of this child is nothing less than a predetermined suicide mission. We understand that Jesus is supposed to die for the sins of the human race (Romans 4:25-5:2) but why couldn’t God simply decide to forgive peoples sins as he had apparently already been doing every Yom Kippur? The life and death of the Biblical Jesus only makes any sense if one is willing to believe in a God who hungers for the blood of his own child and is willing to damn those who refuse to believe something that is, lets be honest, very difficult to believe in the first place.
Historically Jesus is a gigantic question mark. He himself seems to have written nothing, and we cannot fix any date in his life including his birth. His parents are an even bigger mystery. Where were they born? Where were they buried? As one unsolved question piles atop another one is forced to conclude that the Biblical Jesus is clearly a literary invention as much as Homer’s Achilles or Jerry Siegel’s Superman. It is up to all of us as freethinkers to challenge absurdities at every turn and demonstrate time and again that Jesus is in fact a mything person and always was.