Friday, February 29, 2008

The Pagan Christ

Tom Harpur is an Anglican priest in Canada. His book The Pagan Christ came out maybe two years ago. At the time it was fairly controversial, though it's main thesis, that the supernatural aspects of Jesus were drawn out of other Mediterranean traditions, wasn't super offputting to me the idea that there therefore was no historical Jesus may be a bit of overreach. I've gone back and forth over the years, from accepting that there was indeed a man named Jesus of Nazareth to accepting the opposite and then, currently back to the fence. (A really, really good summary is here. The Evangelical Atheist is using his iPod to download the exact same stuff from iTunesU that I am).

Harpur may have a bit of overreach at times but certainly an important point is that there are similar traditions and stories of virgin births, demi-god births, resurrection, et cetera. Embellishment of someone's life would certainly draw on native traditions, undercutting the idea that Jews wouldn't create this or that story as it wasn't part of their tradition. As a people on the Mediterranean there's no end of these stories that Jews and pagans who begin to follow Christ would have been able to bring into the tradition. Keep in mind that the oldest copies of the New Testament were written in Greek, guaranteeing some exposure to other traditions. (You try learning a language without any refernce to the culture it comes out of)

Anyway, though I think there's something there, I wouldn't necessarily follow all the way to the complete mythicist position.

CBC Link here.

Video as she was found at Altoona Atheist.

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