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Regarding Mythicism, the idea that there was no historical Jesus, Earl Doherty wrote that in last 50 years, there has been almost no rebuttal offered to mythicism by mainstream scholars, and nothing of a comprehensive nature.  Bart Ehrman made a good attempt.  Mythicism could be true when it has not been examined properly.


Jesus Christ did not exist. If he did there is no acceptable evidence for it. And if there is acceptable evidence then it is too flimsy to justify taking Jesus seriously as a god or wizard. The nearest we get to evidence for Jesus having lived is the anonymously authored and partisan four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John for everything else is far more, or could be, hearsay than what they are.
That nobody forged writings in the name of Jesus but plenty in the name of his alleged associates speaks volumes.  Did they suspect there was no such man?
The first Christian writer we have, Paul the apostle who Christians believe was converted not long after Jesus rose from the dead, completely ignored the life of Jesus. Christians say he did this because he had no need for the life story but he focused on morality and defending the faith so much that he would have had to use it. Also Paul stated that he gave the world the complete gospel in its fullness (Romans 15:19). Yet he showed no interest in helping people to learn from Jesus' life story. He just had to do without it for there was nothing he could use. When he had nothing, the same must have been true of the apostles of Christ whom he knew. It is only nonsense that Paul was so wrapped up in the vision he had of Jesus that converted him that he wasn’t able to think about the life of Jesus for Paul never gives any indication that the vision had that large of a grip on him. He was more wrapped up in the crucifixion than any vision. When he was so interested in that event which happened before Jesus appeared he was interested in Jesus’ life. That he hadn’t more to be interested in indicates that he just had the bare facts about Jesus as stated to him in a vision of Jesus.
He said Jesus was born of a Jewish woman and was of Davidic descent and was crucified. But he could have been assuming all that because of the visions he had or he could have been told these things in the apparitions. He only spoke of visions of Jesus after his death and he does not even tell us when Jesus lived or died. Jesus could have died and rose the third day as he says but centuries before he began appearing to Paul and the apostles.

When trying in an epistle to convert the rebel Corinthian Christians who denied that there was a resurrection of the dead and that Jesus rose back to true Christianity, Paul never once quoted Jesus or gave a miracle story from his life to convince them that at least Jesus intended to rise and could do it. He just admitted that he had no way to convince them when he uttered so much nonsense. For example, that Paul and Co suffer to spread the gospel therefore the resurrection of Jesus happened (1 Cor 15:30) as if false prophets and the wicked don’t suffer for stupid things – it was a blatant boastful lie for him to use that argument. He even went as far as to say that the evidence for the resurrection was the visions of Jesus – the empty tomb story that the gospels have is refuted by its absence in such a crucial defence - and that if Jesus had not been raised the dead would be lost.
Now, they already knew about the visions but he did not elaborate on them or verify them because he couldn’t and then to fill the gap he tried to make out that the dead would be lost forever if Jesus had not risen which is an obviously silly argument and shows he was desperate and he couldn’t provide outside evidence that Jesus had died and was buried and vanished from the tomb. He knew that the heretics in Corinth had visions of their own which contradicted these visions and which was the basis of their belief that the resurrection was just a symbol for a spiritual experience which was why they were able to say the resurrection of all mankind had already happened. He was a fraud for he knew that there was no point in him bragging about his and the apostles’ visions when there were rival visions.
In Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 15, we find incontestable proof that Paul was not only into twisting facts to trick people into agreeing with him but had no evidence at all apart from ghost stories and perverted thinking that Jesus existed. His problem with the Christians of Corinth was that many of them were saying that Jesus never rose from the dead and that there is no resurrection. We know that Paul could not say that Jesus’ death and burial were real and use secular sources and testimonies to prove that. There is no point in trying to convince people who think the resurrection never happened that a resurrection is possible without showing with secular material that the resurrected man was dead in the first place. What he had to do was say that Jesus must have risen for it is unbearable if he did not. So he thinks that Jesus told him in a vision that he rose therefore he died! The reason he thinks Jesus rose is because he appeared in visions! So visions then are the basis for belief in the death of Christ.
Paul used the charism of speaking in tongues which he admitted was not a very good one as one of the evidences for Christianity (1 Corinthians 14:22) in the context of edifying believers and converting unbelievers to the Christian faith. The miracles of Jesus would have been better evidence but he never thought of making them up. He never thought of Christians meeting with the guidance of the Holy Spirit to contemplate and discuss the evidence for the faith as exemplified in Christ which would make sense and impress converts. Paul said that charity never gets angry though Jesus according to the gospels often did and had an acid tongue so if he could read the gospels he wouldn’t believe them.
Paul forbade association with sinners proving that the Jesus he believed in did not associate with prostitutes and the like though the gospels say he did that a lot. We read between the lines that nobody knew of this Jesus until he started appearing. Paul said that love is never offensive which shows that he denied the existence of the gospel Jesus who often offended the Jews and insulted them (Matthew 23).
Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 when discussing the morality or otherwise of divorce had to give his own view and couldn’t quote the saying of Jesus regarding divorce meaning that the gospels are lying when they said Jesus settled the divorce question.
Paul used to swear in things that were not very important (Galatians 1:20) showing the gospels made up the claim that Jesus forbade swearing and wanted people to be so truthful that they would not need to swear.

2 Corinthians 5:16: "From this time on, we know no person according to the flesh and if we have known Christ that way we don't do it anymore. But we know them according to the spirit." This says that just as we must forget what others were like before they were converted for they have been transformed by the power of God and just dwell on them the way they are now so we must focus on what Jesus is now a glorious risen personage in Heaven living in us now and not worry about what he did on earth. The earliest Church then opposed attempts to give Jesus a life story. Paul is plainly testifying that if gospels come we must reject them as impostures. Christians reply that he only meant we must look at the Jesus story spiritually, that is, draw spiritual lessons and strength through what we know of his life on earth. But Paul never gave a Jesus story or indicated that any of his converts had such a story. Also, Paul continually complained to the convert Corinthians about their actions and inability to believe properly even in the resurrection a very basic doctrine. He would not have meant that converts could be as good of a source of spiritual inspiration as Jesus. Even if he did, he would be indicating that not much was known of Jesus so there wasn't much one could do except use them as inspirations for it was better than nothing. Anyway, he clearly meant that the lives prior to conversion should be forgotten and or ignored just as the life of Jesus prior to now should be forgotten and or ignored. He says, "and if we have known Christ" so he is being hypothetical about knowing Jesus. His complaining about the Corinthians failing even in the basics shows that he believes that they knew nothing or little about Jesus. His meaning was, "From this time on because we live under the spiritual influence of God, we must forget and ignore the lives of others before conversion when they found God and became spiritual for we don't know them as being of the world any more and hypothetically even if we knew Jesus in the world way we must put that out of our minds and think about what he is now. We must know him as a spiritual help" .
Paul does not say who was present at the Last Supper and says he received the story from the Lord – in visions? Yes that is what it means for it could mean that. Take the simplest interpretation. Paul told the Corinthian Christians many of whom did not believe his claims about the resurrection or about Jesus that he received the rite of taking bread and drink in memory of the Lord Jesus from the Lord. This expression must mean that he received the rite in a vision for that is the simplest meaning. He invented the Eucharist and the gospels later lied about Jesus inventing it.

Clearly, nobody can be trusted to teach the word accurately without having visions of the Lord Jesus as a resurrected being. They need to be guided by visions all the time. This is a clear denial of the value of focusing on the earthly life of Jesus. Even Jesus has no authority unless he has risen from the dead. Paul’s Jesus didn’t do miracles in his pre-resurrection life. Paul’s preachers can only be trusted if they repeat parrot fashion what he hears in his visions and get confirmation from Jesus in visions that its all accurate. If Jesus had an earthly life only what he says about it in visions counts now. This attitude condemns gospels as heretical for you need the living prophet, not books and also implies that the second coming of Jesus and the resurrection of the dead and judgement would have to take place before the apostles die if Christianity is true. These events would be necessary to prevent pollution of the faith. We know the early Church did teach that all these happenings were to be expected any day back then.
Paul would then have dismissed the gospels as heretical nonsense or dubious at best. Their authors didn’t claim to be guided by apparitions. Paul’s Christianity is totally antithetical to the four gospels we have. The earliest Christian authorities didn’t approve of attempts to make gospels and the gospels are lies and cannot be contemplated as evidence for a historical Jesus.
If Jesus as a man taught us by his life and example and miracles and teachings none of what Paul wrote in the chapter would make any sense.
Because Jesus came back from the dead and went to God, he knows what God’s truth is. If we didn’t have the truth from the risen Jesus and wanted to go to the abyss for it that would mean God would have to raise him again to stop us. This indicates that God raised Jesus from the dead so that Jesus would be able to reveal God’s truth. Jesus did not do that when he was a man. He did it after he died and rose again.
The gospel Jesus then was a pack of lies, perhaps good ones and perhaps based on the lives and teachings of some Jewish saints to make them look real but lies all the same. If you read the epistle of James you get the impression that the teaching of Jesus was plagiarised from that of James and perhaps events from the life of James were used to make stories up about Jesus.
Paul said Jesus died according to the scriptures which must mean Isaiah 53 which speaks of somebody dying like Jesus in the PAST tense. There is no reason at all to not take this tense literally. Paul may be saying that Jesus died hundreds of years before.
Paul said that he received the information that Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3). It would seem then that if Jesus died recently Paul would not have to receive that news from God. But some say that what Paul received was not that Jesus died but that he died for sinners in accordance but the main thought is the death. Paul would have written that Jesus had died and that he received the information that it was for sinners had he meant what Christians say.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1 that Jesus sent him to not to baptise but to preach the gospel and not with eloquent wisdom in case the cross would lose its power. Clearly then if Paul did not preach, the cross would be powerless. That means Paul alone was proclaiming the cross. That means nobody heard or knew of the Messiah’s crucifixion until Paul started having visions of Jesus. That means that the evidence for Jesus resides in visions and not in concrete history. 1 Corinthians 2 says that when Paul proclaimed the cross in Corinth he did not use wisdom or thinking to show the message of God was true but just used the power of the Holy Spirit. This means he got the people to feel that the spirit was telling them the cross was true and he also says that it was just about the cross for he wants to know nothing among them but Christ crucified. Paul knew there were plenty of people claiming communication with the Spirit who gave out contradicting doctrines so he would not have used this dangerous method unless there was no wisdom to help him verify the story right.
Paul stated that he had nothing to offer the Jews who wanted signs from Heaven to verify the gospel but the cross of Jesus which was a stumbling block for them (1 Corinthians 1:22). The cross of Christ could only be a sign or a miracle if it was revealed wholly in visions. That is what Paul is getting at here.
When the main event in Jesus’ life, his crucifixion, was not historically verifiable like the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, was, that means that it never happened and that there is no reason to hold that he ever lived.
Paul, or a forger, once wrote that Jesus gave his noble profession in front of Pontius Pilate. This may mean a vision of the risen Jesus and James who Paul calls the Lord’s brother may not have been a blood brother for Paul indicates that nobody knew Jesus as a man but only as a risen being. Paul says the Church is the body of Jesus, that is the Church in some sense is Jesus so maybe that helps. Similar ideas were taught in paganism.
Paul in Philippians 4 stated that his followers must fill their mind with everything that is true, everything that is good and noble and everything that can be considered to be worthy of praise. Paul went on that they must keep doing all the things they learned from him and that they seen him do or heard he has done. Paul claimed to be a sinner and to be humble. He claimed that he honoured only Christ and nothing meant anything to him but the cross. Why didn't he tell them to do what they heard about Jesus doing? They didn't see that much of Paul that they could make a big thing out of copying him! The only answers that make sense is that there was no Jesus story then. Also Paul was desperate to give them an example and was stuck. There was no Jesus story so he had to put himself forward as an example.

Because Paul was the first writer what he says goes. The fact that we know who he was and how prominent he was makes him supersede the gospels no matter if they are plausible or not so even if he is the only one that gives evidence that Jesus never existed we can safely ignore any testimony as to Jesus’ existence after him. Such testimony is not being dismissed as worthless but as not being solid enough.
According to Irenaeus, a major Church father from the late second century, Simon the Magus claimed to be divine and hinted that he was the Messiah. Irenaeus declared that Simon said that it was said that he suffered in Judea but that he hadn't suffered at all. Simon was claiming to be Jesus who suffered the cross there. Perhaps, this reflects heretical Christian teachings that Christ did not really suffer or die on the cross but it only looked as if he did. If Jesus was really a contemporary of Simon, Simon could not have claimed such a thing and especially if he had become a Christian as the book of Acts claims. There could not be two Simons at the one time. Simon seems to be saying Jesus lived centuries before him and was a previous incarnation or appearance of his. This would refute the gospels for putting Jesus in the first century.
John in a first century epistle says that the Antichrists are denying that Jesus came in the flesh and was the Christ. So we have a plethora of people who regarded Jesus as important but denied that he was a real flesh and blood man and who denied that he ever claimed to be the Christ. They contradicted nearly everything in the gospels by saying that. If Jesus never claimed to be the Christ, then all the sermons in which he claimed to fulfil Old Testament prophecy are fabrications, and he never rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the cheers of the people like the Messiah was supposed to do. He would not do it even if he were just a vision for that would make the people think he was fulfilling Old Testament prophecy which the antichrist witnesses didn’t believe in.  These witnesses were saying that the gospels, whether they knew of them or not, are untrue. There might have been no gospels in those days but it does not matter. They were still proving that the gospel Jesus never existed. To ridicule these witnesses to the absence of historical data as heretics is totally foul and unfair and fraudulent for we know nothing about them as people. To say that Jesus existed despite them is as bad as saying that Jack is guilty of murder and not interviewing the witnesses who say they know he is innocent. When the Christians like John were boasting about being of God and saying that anybody that would not listen to their gospel was not of God (1 John 4:6) it is plain that they were too hellbent on convincing people and making threats and causing sectarianism to be trusted. Such nastiness only becomes an option when people know deep down that their opponents are right.
Written in 70 AD or earlier, Hebrews 8:1-6 states that if Jesus was on earth now he would not be a priest for there are priests on earth. The translators shove the word still between was and on to change the meaning but the word is not in the original. Obviously, Jesus could still be a priest even if there are priests on earth so God’s logic here is terrible. But anyway if priests on earth were stopping Jesus being a priest on earth who offers his life as a blood sacrifice that means that Jesus was crucified in Heaven or some other celestial world and was only known through visions for there were priests since the days of Moses.
The epistles and the Book of Revelation call Jesus the firstborn and sometimes the firstborn from the dead. They never hint that they mean he was just the first in line as heir and not the firstborn in the sense of firstborn son of God. They say he was the firstborn of many brethren meaning the first person was saved by God and adopted as his son. They say he was the firstborn from the dead meaning that he rose before any of the resurrections reported in the Old Testament. Jesus was thought then to have lived centuries before.

1 Peter 3 says that Jesus died and was raised as a ghost and went to preach to the spirits who had sinned before Noah’s day. Why just them then? The reason must be because he died before the flood. These people died during his day and before it.
The epistle says that Roman governors must be obeyed for God uses them to punish and reward people (1 Peter 2:13,14). It is thought that this denies that one of them, Pilate, killed Jesus – the gospels say Pilate sentenced Jesus to death by crucifixion. It seems Peter would be taking it for granted that we know to obey them only when they are right. But then why does he tell us to uphold the Roman governor’s decisions about meting out vengeance on people when most of their punishments were unduly harsh and they had little concern for justice? I agree with G A Wells that this command proves that the early Church did not believe that Pilate unjustly sent Jesus to the cross. Christians say that Pilate was forced by the Jews or Roman law or both but this is dubious for Pilate had the power to postpone a decision and could have decreed a discreet execution of a man who was not Jesus in Jesus’ place to save Jesus. The John gospel has Pilate killing Jesus because he is afraid of the Jews and then informing Jesus that he could release him if he would only clear himself before him so somebody wasn’t able to make up his mind about Pilate. The incoherence suggests that the Pilate episode may never have happened for it should not have been hard to report accurately about it if it had.

In 2 Peter 1 we read that the apostles seeing Jesus glorified and God telling them that he was his beloved son is not as sure a word as the word in the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament, saying it. So you should not look for evidence for Jesus that he lived and did what the Church says anywhere but in the Old Testament. That is clearly an admission that they had nothing else. The evidence for Jesus came from the Old Testament and if visions happened their purpose was to guide people to see what was in the Old Testament not to be equal with it. The epistle tells us then there was no evidence for Jesus except the Old Testament prophecies. But these are a matter of interpretation. They can be made to refer to Muhammad and Messiahs other than Jesus to mention two possibilities out of dozens.
The epistles show that the Jesus of the gospels never existed.
Other first century writings such as the Epistle of Barnabas, the Epistle of Diognetus, the Didache and the Letter of Clement to the Corinthians do things like saying that the resurrection of the dead will come for the phoenix rises from the ashes (meaning there was no evidence that Jesus rose but visions so something else had to be used as evidence however bad it was), that the Law of Moses is not literally true and that Jesus stood for loving your neighbour more than yourself which shows these sources were undermining the historical nature of the gospels which they fundamentally contradicted.
Now to the gospels.
The gospellers followed not Jesus but an interpretation of him which makes them unreliable for nobody’s interpretation is infallible and the Church never claimed that their interpretation was infallible only that the scriptures are which is unintelligible.
The gospels themselves give accidental clues that Jesus never existed especially when they say embarrassing things about Jesus that scholars think they would not have made up. But they did make everything up. Here is one instance. To believe that Jesus was able to cause trouble in the temple and put animals out and stop people coming in means he had a huge army with him to help him for the temple was a very big area is too much. He would have been apprehended as soon as he threw over the first stall.

If Jesus was violent in the temple he would have been arrested there and then which means that the stories of the last supper and his later arrest and crucifixion and resurrection are untrue for he was in jail.

It is thought that there are embarrassing things in the gospels like Jesus going into Jerusalem on a donkey which was like making an attempt to get political power. The Son of God failing to take over the land would look bad. But there is no doubt that the miracles were made up and when people can make embarrassing claims such as amazing powers for a person that they never had they would make up anything. All gods do embarrassing things and Jesus was no exception so the shaming things don’t mean the writers about Jesus were not making him up. The Church used the embarrassment of the crucifixion in such a way that it really ceased to be an embarrassment so they could have made it up. They used it to make people feel guilty that their sins allegedly put Jesus on the cross to make him pay for them to God or Satan.

The gospels say that Jesus was popular with the people and it was hoped and suspected by most that he would be the Christ. If he had been he would have been crucified a lot lot sooner. This means that nearly all the Jesus stories must be lies. He would not have been free to go about end of story for the Romans did not tolerate anybody who might be a claimant to Christship as the country was unstable and they tolerated no rivals. Also it is absurd that the Sanhedrin would have pulled in witnesses who could not agree on the simplest things at Jesus’ trial to try and secure an unjust conviction. The Sanhedrin were not that stupid. If they wanted Jesus dead so bad they would have been well prepared. They had been wanting rid of him for years according to the gospels.

The resurrection narratives are completely lacking in scientific verification. For example, no effort is made to prove that it was really Jesus who died on the cross – we are not told if anybody who knew Jesus had a good view of his face which was disfigured anyway. This indicates that the stories were made up by the gospellers for if something had really happened all objections would have been carefully refuted and they would have invented stories to remove all doubts. There is no evidence that the very early Church let the public read the gospels and plenty of indications that they did not. Another problem is the fact that Luke and Matthew report different things regarding the birth of Jesus and thereabouts. All four gospels differ on the events surrounding the resurrection. Yet they and Jesus believed that before anything could be accepted as reliable there had to be at least two level-headed and honest witnesses as the God of the Law of Moses commanded. The gospels then defied the law and showed themselves to be capable of religious fraud. Luke reported that Jesus once said that having the Law of Moses and the Prophets was more important than listening to anybody who managed to return from the dead which shows that those gospel-mongers who stressed the importance of Jesus himself were frauds. The supposedly most reliable account of Jesus’ life is his passion and crucifixion. But these stories are full of things that should have been said to silence critics but which were not showing that the stories were invented. Stories should get more convincing as critics are responded to.
The risen Jesus has many of the features associated with the pre-crucifixion Jesus. When the risen Jesus was made up why not the pre-crucifixion Jesus as well?

When all the big things in the Jesus story are fiction it follows that the lesser stories cannot be trusted at all either.

There is even a hint in the Gospel of John that it is only a novel. Jesus is made to say that human testimony is useless (John 5:34). Since, presumably, a human wrote the gospel that means that the gospel is only tongue-in-cheek though this insight is only intended for geniuses to happen upon. His Jesus lets it slip that there is nothing he can do to back up his claims except that since he wants to bring glory to God he cannot be a liar (John 7:18). But all false prophets say that!

There is nothing from a non-Christian source that gives a firsthand mention of Jesus in the first century. There were many prolific writers who never mentioned Jesus.
Christians say that arguments from silence prove little and can be misleading for Jesus did exist. But arguments from silence prove a person never existed when nobody mentions that person though you would expect them to. And even more so when it is several people who are saying nothing.

The best thing to do with people who allegedly said that Jesus lived is to find an early testimony that he did not. That would mean they were mistaken and the early bird comes first for it’s the one that has the worm.
Incidentally, the Book of Q, the original gospel of Jesus’ sayings which is believed to explain what Mark, Matthew and Luke have in common is only hypothetical. Mark could have easily have been the first ever Jesus story and the others just changed bits here and there but used a lot of him as raw material for their gospel. Yet the Book of Q is treated by many silly scholars as a document that brings us closer to the historical Jesus and some say it precedes Paul’s epistles!
The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus who died in 117 AD condemned Christianity as pernicious superstition. In 115 AD he wrote his Annals and declared that Christ – he doesn’t call him Jesus - had been executed under Pontius Pilate, lived in Judaea and created a new system of superstitious evil. Christians say he plucked this from the Roman legal records and sceptics counter that he was only taking for granted what Christians were saying which would mean he could not be used as proof for the existence of Jesus. A large piece of any historians work has to involve stuff that may be unreliable but they just use it anyway for you cannot substantiate everything. Its better than saying nothing. So the sceptics are right. It is possible that nobody heard of this man and his death under Pilate until some people reported apparitions that the messiah had been in obscurity and nailed under Pilate. Perhaps later a candidate who was thought to be that man was come up with. Do not forget that the Gospel Jesus says that there will be many saying that they are Jesus or the Christ and that the time is close - see Luke 21. Can we be sure that Tacitus means our Christ?
There is no evidence that Tacitus who wrote that Pilate crucified Christ was depending on official records. He had no reason to think that what the Christians were saying was not historical fact. Historians only check sources when there might be reason to think that they are dubious. We know from the New Testament that the Docetists, those who believed that Jesus was not a man but a hallucination sent from Heaven to enlighten us were around from the start which is good news for those who want to deny the existence of Jesus. More importantly nobody was able to refute them to the satisfaction of the rational person.
Why does Tacitus say executed and not crucified? Why does he call him Christ not Jesus? Tacitus hated Christianity so he would have been proud to say Jesus was crucified for crucifixion disgusted people those days and would have put them off Jesus for crucifieds were thought to have been cursed. Rome would not have liked Jesus being called Christ for Christ was a title for the true God given king of the Jews and they ruled Jesus’ country so Tacitus calling Jesus that would mean Tacitus was advertising him as a Christ. These observations make many believe that the bit about Jesus was put in there by a forger trying to create evidence for a real Jesus.
Jesus despite the gospels bellowing about his popularity was never mentioned among the Dead Sea Scrolls.

It is known that the part of what Josephus, the Jewish first century historian who collaborated with Rome, wrote that says that there was a Jesus who did miracles and was the Christ and who appeared after his death is a Christian interpolation.  There is no point in relying on anything that was tampered with for you never know what the original said.  Josephus mentioned James the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ later on in passing in book 20 of his Jewish Antiquities.  He denies that Jesus is the Christ.  He never hints that there is any evidence that this Jesus was a real man.  
About 150 AD, Justin wrote his Dialogue with Trypho the Jew. Trypho said that nobody from Jesus’ time knew him and that Jesus was invented. “If the Messiah has been born and exists somewhere, he is incognito and does not even recognise himself. He will have no power until Elijah will come and anoint him and tell all who he is. You [Christians] have listened to an unfounded rumour and have invented some kind of a Christ for yourselves” (Chapter VIII, Dialogue With Trypho). Trypho was an informed and worthy opponent when Justin had to write a book to challenge him. Justin, like Irenaeus much later, believed that Jesus lived to be an old man (page 40, St Peter and Rome) which conflicts with the gospels. This conflict is not surprising for Justin never knew the gospels in full. They were hidden. We know from the context of the entire Dialogue that the bits it contains that spell out gospel stories such as the massacre of the innocents and a couple of other gospel tales, are later insertions. We know this because not only did Justin have no need to bring them up where he did but they would have appeared earlier in the work when they were needed. They were needed earlier to shut Trypho up for saying Jesus was a total enigma. Justin gives many clues that he did not acknowledge anything the gospels are saying which shows that he either didn't regard them as always correct or that he didn't know them that well. Justin himself then inadvertently gives support to Trypho for Justin himself clearly knew nothing about Jesus. Thus we have a valuable witness to Jesus being a legend.
It is possible that Justin thought the gospels were useful but did not take them very seriously. That would mean that Justin rejected the largest body of evidence for the existence of Jesus.
In Chapter XXXIX we read, “Trypho said, ‘prove to us that the man who according to you was crucified and rose into Heaven is the Messiah of God. For you have proved by the scriptures you have recited before that the scriptures say the Christ must suffer and return to rule all nations. Show us that your Christ is the Christ”. Justin replies, “It has been proved sirs. It has been proven to those who hear and who have heard what you have heard and accepted by you. But I return to what I was discussing and will give the other proof later to you in case you say I cannot prove”.
Trypho says that the Christians are SAYING Jesus was nailed to the cross indicating that there was no evidence for it but their word. Justin, in reply, tells the Jews that the prophecies are proof enough. In other words, the prophecies must have been fulfilled so even if there is no evidence for Christ we know from the prophecies that the Christ story is true and can work out the details of the story from them. In other words, the prophecies are the only real record of Christ. In other words, if the interpretation is wrong then Jesus Christ never existed. The Gospels did the same thing, they used Old Testament verses out of context to show that the Jesus story was in the Old Testament. Christians forget that the New Testament teaches that the Old Testament contains the gospel and is superior. Jesus said it was better than anyone rising from the dead (Luke 16:30,31).

There is no reason to believe that Jesus lived. There is reason to believe that he did not.

An interpretation of Christian history that denies that Jesus existed. The main evidence for mythicism is as follows:
The silence of historians and writers from the time. Even if he had been mentioned, they would need to give some indication of having evidence that he existed. A bald, "There was a Jesus," is nothing more than hearsay.
There is no evidence that the first century Jewish historian, Josephus, mentioned Jesus for we know that a Christian interpolator edited his work and inserted references to Jesus and could have written all Josephus’ alleged references to Christ.
The gospel stories could have been invented. They could have been influenced by true stories where they ring true.
They contain huge errors like saying Jesus was publicly active while claiming to be the Messiah an act which would not have been tolerated by the Jewish leaders or Rome for even a day in those politically turbulent times. To claim to be Messiah or king was to declare war on the ruthless Roman occupiers of Palestine. The gospels cannot be trusted as evidence that Jesus lived. Maybe they are being truthful but what are we to do? The gospels are the only evidences for a historical Jesus. Even if the gospels seem fairly plausible to some, the fact remains that the earliest evidence counteracts them and denies them. The earliest evidence is what counts.
The idea that people would not say embarrassing things about Jesus in the gospels which they did so the stories must have been true and undeniable is of no hope to Christians. The stories are that he insulted pagan women with possessed daughters and was nailed to the cross as a political criminal. Now all invented gods have unflattering tales told about them. And the crucifixion was turned into an advantage for it led to the heart-warming idea that Jesus died for sinners in atonement and rose from the dead and showed himself stronger than his killers.
The first Christian writer, top Church leader and apostle, Paul of Tarsus, never placed Jesus in a historical setting or said when he lived and gives no reason for us to deny that all he said about Jesus came from his visions. He indicated that there was no evidence when he required faith in the crucifixion. You don’t need faith for what is historical fact in recent times. He told the Corinthians that he decided to know and hear nothing among them but Christ crucified and this was to happen not by the wisdom of men but by the inspiration of the Spirit (1 Cor 2:1-5). When he put this faith on something so dangerous as the feeling that you are inspired that shows that it was all he could do. He had nothing but visions and communications from the Holy Spirit to tell him that Jesus was crucified meaning it was NOT something a historian could accept. He couldn’t refute the Corinthian believers who denied the resurrection except to mention the visions of the risen Jesus that they scoffed at and say that Jesus must have risen because the dead would be lost if he didn’t. The desperation proves that there was no real evidence – he couldn’t say Jesus did miracles when alive and could have managed to return from the dead. If Jesus lived recently some of the sceptical Christians would have been saying that the resurrection was a misunderstanding for the wrong man was nailed or Jesus survived by trickery but he makes no effort to prove that Jesus was dead which he would have to do to show the resurrection happened. He can do nothing.
 Paul stated that Christ did not send him to baptise but to preach the gospel and not with eloquence and wisdom so that the cross would not be emptied of its power (1 Cor 1:17). This means that wisdom and intelligence would be no good to get people to believe in the cross and in its power but the cross has power to draw people to believe in it. That would only be right if there was no evidence for the cross but visions of a man who claimed to have been crucified and raised from the dead.
In Galatians 5:11, Paul declares that if he preaches circumcision the stumbling block of the cross is removed. This is plainly saying that to accept circumcision is denying the cross happened.
Notice that he doesn’t say denying the atonement or the propitiation but the cross, the historical event.
Hardcore Protestants argue that he was saying that the likes of Catholics are making the cross ineffectual. So it is necessary to deny that you can do anything to please God. Salvation is passive. Believing in Jesus doing all the work so that there literally nothing left for you to do is a sign of being saved and justified and forgiven.
Paul did not mean anything like that. If he had meant it he would have said that the circumcision is a stumbling block to the propitiation not the cross. That view would be pure nonsense. And Paul would have known it was for there were a lot of different views in early Christianity.  


Millions have believed in the cross as a vehicle of salvation and atonement without believing that it abolished good works and religious rites as specified in the Law of Moses. Catholics follow a replacement for the Law of Moses and still believe that Jesus died in their place for their sins. You could have circumcision without denying the atonement of the cross.
Why did believers of his day go as far as to say that to accept circumcision was doing away with the cross? There is only one possible answer. Jesus revealed that he was nailed to a cross in visions to the apostles. In those visions, Jesus stated that the cross had to happen to free Christians from the Law of Moses and circumcision by taking the punishment due to sin. We know this had to have happened for the gospels never portray a Jesus who was that emphatic about doing this. To reject the revelation is to reject the cross for the revelation is the only evidence that the cross even happened. If you accept circumcision you contradict Jesus who told the Church about the cross eliminating the need for it and if you contradict Jesus you also deny that he was reliable in relation to the cross having happened. To deny one then is to deny the other.
There is nothing else that could make the cross and the abolition of the law so inseparable.  
Paul talked as if the risen Christ was a mystical supernatural being who somehow was one person with the Church which was his body so in a sense he and his cult were Jesus Christ (Galatians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 6:15-17; 1 Corinthians 12) which may explain the reference to Jesus testifying to Pontius Pilate in one of his letters which most scholars however think is not really his work. Perhaps Jesus was thought to have had appeared to Pilate after his resurrection. There were many Christian legends from early times to that effect.
The Christianity of the apostles and Paul had nothing to do with a Jesus who provably lived but a visionary one – an entity that appeared to some people claiming to have been a man that was never known before who was crucified and raised from the dead. This was the testimony of the first Christian writer so it supersedes any evidence that allegedly shows that Christ lived especially when the other apostles of Jesus, Peter, James and John, accepted him as sufficiently Christian. So they must have agreed on that much.
1 Peter 3 says that Roman governors and officials must be obeyed for God uses them to punish and reward people (1 Peter 2:13, 14). Most of these punishments were unduly harsh and pagan and punishment is really vengeance if you administer it in a spirit of hatred and spite like they did so it is ridiculous to say that Peter means we should just approve of their punishments when they do right. He is saying we must approve of what they do just because it is God that lets them rule. This is a denial that Jesus suffered death under Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor.
2 Peter 1 says that the apostles believe that seeing Jesus glorified and transfigured (this seems to be referring to a resurrection vision) and God telling them that he was his beloved son is not as sure a word from God as the word of God in the Old Testament. So you should not look for evidence that Jesus lived or what he did except by looking at the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus. This admits that there is no evidence but the Old Testament. It therefore dismisses traditions about Jesus and gospels as fables.
The secular references to Jesus, which are very flimsy, could have come from hearsay that was understandably taken as fact just like some people believe that Joseph Smith of the Mormons really had golden plates even though that is part of the Mormon myth though without accepting any of the other Mormon legends. They take the plates as history and the rest as nonsense.
It is a mistake for those who oppose mythicism to disparage it. Even if it simply shows that the evidence for Jesus is not great or very weak or that nobody can know if Jesus existed or not or that it is one of the matters on which competent scholars can choose to disagree it still manages to destroy Christianity. If Christians would accept weak evidence, then they have no right to object if somebody invents a new creed on slender evidence and yet they intolerantly claim to follow Jesus who called himself “the Truth”.
St Peter and Rome, JBS, Irish Church Missions, Dublin, undated
The Historical Evidence for Jesus, G A Wells, Prometheus Books, New York, 1988