'The Christ Conspiracy' in the Huffington Post
September 14, 2009
My friend Dr. Robert Eisenman, a well-known Bible scholar, has just scored a major coup—albeit one that may not be immediately recognized—in his article for the Huffington Post entitled, "Redemonizing Judas: Gospel Fiction or Gospel Truth?" In this essay, Dr. Eisenman—a major mover behind getting the Dead Sea Scrolls released to the public—explores the propensity of scholars, journalists and other writers to simply accept a priori the story of Jesus Christ in the New Testament as factual and to proceed from there. His analysis—"castigation" may be a fairer term—is prompted by a recent New Yorker article regarding the Gnostic text "The Gospel of Judas," which created such a brouhaha some years ago when it was given a great deal of publicity.
The Gospels as "history?"
In his article, Eisenman approaches to the heart of the issue—one that I have been writing about for almost two decades—in describing his eloquent outburst at a National Meeting of The Society of Biblical Literature, which he terms "the premier organization in this field." Rising at the end of a discussion of the Gospel of Judas by various scholars, Eisenman remarked:
What makes you think any are historical and not just retrospective and polemical literary endeavors of a kind familiar to the Hellenistic/Greco-Roman world at that time? Why consider one gospel superior to the another and not simply expressions of retrospective theological repartee of the Platonic kind expressed in a literary manner as in Greek tragedy? The Gospel of Judas was clearly a polemical, philosophical text but, probably, so too were most of these others. Why not consider all of them a kind of quasi-Neoplatonic, Mystery Religion-oriented literature that was still developing in the Second Century and beyond, as the Gospel of Judas clearly demonstrates?"
Eisenman next relates:
A sort of hushed silence fell on the three hundred or so persons present in the audience, because there was a lot of interest in this Gospel at that time, as I continued: 'Why think any of them historical or even representative of anything that really happened in Palestine in the First Century? Why not consider all Greco-Hellenistic romantic fiction or novelizing with an ax-to-grind, incorporating the Pax Romana of the earlier Great Roman Emperor Augustus, as other literature from this period had and, of course, the anti-Semitism and anti-Jewish legal attachments which were the outcome of the suppression of the Jewish War from 66-73 CE?'"
As if that estimation were not enough, Eisenman continued:
The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were masters of such man/god fiction and the creation of such characters as Osiris, Dionysus, Asclepius, Hercules, Orpheus, and the like as the works of Hesiod, Euripides, Virgil, Ovid, Petronius, Seneca, Apuleius, et. al. demonstrate. Why not consider all of this literature simply part of this man-God/ personification literature, in this instance incorporating the new Jewish concept of 'Salvation'— 'Yeshu'a'?"
Bravo, Dr. Eisenman! In these three pithy paragraphs, you have epitomized what I call, "The Christ Conspiracy," the title of my first published book, subtitled, "The Greatest Story Ever Sold."
Jesus Mythicism in a nutshell
This thesis, which is called "Jesus Mythicism," evinces that the Christ myth was created by various factions in the Roman Empire, based on certain mythical motifs concerning the numerous gods and goddesses of antiquity, and largely for the purpose of uniting Judaism and Paganism.
Horus and SetAs concerns the issue of Judas specifically, when the subject is studied in depth, factoring in not only the Jewish scriptures but also Pagan writings and traditions, it is obvious that the Judas character is fictional, based on the Jewish people as a whole and designed to play the "heavy" in an old mythical drama predating the common era for centuries. For example, "Judas" takes the role of the Egyptian god Set/Seth in the Horus-Set battle, as outlined in the Egyptian texts as well as the writings of Greek historian Diodorus Siculus (90-27 BCE). In his Antiquities of Egypt, Diodorus recounted that Horus was killed by Set in the form of a scorpion, after which the Egyptian solar deity was resurrected from the dead. As I discuss in my book Christ in Egypt, Diodorus uses the Greek verb anastesai to describe Horus's resurrection—the very same word used in the later Christian texts to describe Jesus's resurrection.
It is highly obvious from Eisenman's comments that this first-rate professional scholar is well aware of the "Christ Conspiracy" thesis, so to speak, and has worked it out quite well. The question is will other academicians follow suit by pursuing this most rational explanation of the origins of Christianity? Eisenman's motivation for expressing this unpopular but logical viewpoint is clear: Jews over the centuries have been unfairly targeted and persecuted by being called "Christ-killers," when in fact the entire story smacks of a fictionalized rehash of the myths of earlier gods, goddesses, heroes and so on. In the end, to continue this fallacious perception of the gospel story as "history" represents a disservice to all peoples, as such a position not only deludes but also prevents us from knowing the true meaning behind the myths.