"Specializing in Archaeology, History, Astrotheology, Mythology and
What is a Mythicist?
by D.M. Murdock/Acharya S
The terms "mythicism" and "mythicist" may be new to many people, even though they have been
around for a couple of centuries. "Mythicist" was first coined in German and English to describe people who doubted
the historical veracity of the Judeo-Christian Bible. The word is used these days particularly to define scholars,
researchers and others who investigate whether or not the New Testament character of Jesus Christ was a real,
historical person or a myth along the lines of the gods, godmen and heroes of other cultures, such as Hercules,
Mithra or Horus. Therefore, the word "mythicist" has come into greater currency of late, because of the
increasing popularity of one of its main foci: To wit, the evident non-historicity of Jesus Christ.
A mythicist may also question the historicity of other biblical figures such as Adam, Eve,
Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon and so on. When the religion and mythology of other ancient cultures
are studied, there exists good reason to doubt that these figures are historical, especially since we possess
no credible and scientific archaeological or historical evidence for their existence as real people. The Bible is
often the only purported proof we have of these individuals' alleged reality as historical personages.
The Definition of Mythicism
The term "mythicism" as it has come to be developed in the present day may be defined as I have
done in my book Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus
Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other
heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not "real
people" but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of
these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets,
constellations, etc., constituting what is called "astromythology" or "astrotheology." As a major example
of the mythicist position, it is determined that various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan,
Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon and Jesus Christ, among other entities, in reality
represent mythological figures along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek,
Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures.
A "mythicist" thus represents in part someone who perceives certain biblical characters
as mythical, the same as the gods, godmen and heroes of other cultures. In short-
a person who views various figures of antiquity, including both pagan gods and major
biblical characters, as mythical.
Moreover, a mythicist may also recognize the origins of these myths as based in nature
worship and what is called "astrotheology."
The Mythicist Position and Astrotheology
One of the major planks of mythicism is recognizing the ancient astrotheology and nature worship
engaged in by the cultures of antiquity whose religions and myths contributed to the formation of the Bible-based,
Abrahamic faiths such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam in particular, but other religions as well. This
astrotheology can be summed up in a nutshell as the reverence for and personification of the sun, moon, earth,
planets, stars and constellations, as well as other celestial bodies and natural phenomena. The study of mythicism,
astrotheology and archaeoastronomy reveals a very ancient body of knowledge that is both highly fascinating and far
too overlooked in today’s society.
The astrotheological aspect of mythicism may be seen in remarks such as those by the ancient
Greek writer Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-21 BCE):
"Now when the ancient Egyptians, awestruck and wondering, turned their eyes to
the heavens, they concluded that two gods, the sun and the moon, were primeval and eternal; and they
called the former Osiris, the latter Isis..." (Murphy, 14)
Latin writer Macrobious (c. 400 AD/CE) also wrote about the astrotheology of the ancients, asserting that "all the gods of the Greek and Roman
mythology represent the attributes of the one supreme divine power-the sun." In the modern era, archaeologists
and archaeoastromers have confirmed this ancient astrotheology in numerous sites throughout the world, as
summarized by astronomer Dr. Edwin C. Krupp in his book In Search of Ancient Astronomies:
"At Stonehenge in England and Carnac in France, in Egypt and
Yucatan, across the whole face of the earth are found mysterious ruins of ancient monuments, monuments
with astronomical significance. These relics of other times are as accessible as the American Midwest and
as remote as the jungles of Guatemala. Some of them were built according to celestial alignments; others
were actually precision astronomical observatories... Careful observation of the celestial rhythms was
compellingly important to early peoples, and their expertise, in some respects, was not equaled in Europe
until three thousand years later."
The mythicist position brings forward the ancient astrotheology as expressed in these numerous
cultures and ties it into the more modern religious traditions, which in many aspects are simply rehashes of the
earlier religion and mythology of antiquity: To reiterate, Jesus Christ is a mythological character along the same
lines as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian or other mythical gods, goddesses, godmen and
heroes. This particular field is called "Jesus mythicism," while its adherents are sometimes
(derogatorily) labeled "Christ mythers."
The History of Mythicism
Although many people may not be aware of the long-term and voluminous studies involved in what
is called "mythicism," the questioning of the Bible as representing mythology goes back several centuries. Much of
the major work in this field has occurred in Europe, especially in France and Germany. In France, at the end of the
18th century appeared the multi-volume work of Professor Charles François Dupuis (1742-1809), who put together
a massive amount of evidence showing that many of the ancient gods and goddesses were solar in nature and that
biblical characters such as Jesus shared numerous aspects in common with these deities. Dupuis was followed by
Count Volney (1757-1820), both of whom tutored French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who himself is reported as
having stated that it was a "big question" whether or not Jesus Christ really existed.
In the 19th century, these French scholars were followed by Dr. F.C. Baur of the Tübingen School
in Germany, along with his pupil Dr. David F. Strauss, who was attacked and lost his occupation for writing a "Life
of Jesus" asserting that much of the gospel story was mythical. Strauss practically defined "mythicism" for a time,
but was followed famously by Dr. Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), who likewise cast doubt on the Bible as "history."
Although they brought forth novel notions, Baur, Strauss and Bauer were
preceded by many others who stepped out from the shadows of the Catholic Inquisition to voice unpopular ideas
that had doubtlessly circulated surreptitiously for centuries. Prior to this seemingly sudden burst of
mythicism, there appeared in addition to the voluminous writings published in 1795 by Dupuis, as well as
those of Volney, the works of Rev. Dr. Robert Taylor (1784-1844), who spent three years in prison in the
late 1820's and early 1830's for two convictions of "blasphemy," based on his popular
lectures asserting that Christ was a myth. This punishment did not deter Taylor from publishing a number of
books on the subject, including The Syntagma (1828), The Diegesis (1829), and The
Devil's Pulpit (1831). Yet, his ordeal was so infamous and horrifying that
it haunted evolutionist Charles Darwin, who feared his own writings would land him a similar fate. Following
this brouhaha, in 1840 an individual wisely maintaining his anonymity by calling himself merely a "German Jew"
(J.C. Blumenfeld?) published a series of pamphlets in a volume entitled, The Existence of Christ Disproved
by Irresistible Evidence.
Strauss and Bauer were also succeeded by the publication in 1841 of The Christian Mythology
Unveiled, whose anonymous author later published under the name of Logan Mitchell. Mitchell was
followed by lay Egyptologist Gerald Massey (1828-1907), whose monumental works highlighted the comparisons between
Christianity and the Egyptian religion. Another earlier scholar who extensively dipped into mythicism was Sir
Godfrey Higgins (1772-1833), although he was not a mythicist per se but an evemerist who believed that
under all of the mythical attributes of various godmen lay a "real person."
The Evemerist Position
The evemerist or euhemerist perspective, named for the Greek philosopher Euhemerus (4th cent.
BCE), who posited that the gods of old were in reality kings and assorted other heroes who were deified, remains
one of the most commonly held opinions regarding Jesus Christ, along with the believing and mythicist
Although many people believe evemerism to be a "reasonable" position, often
expressing that, while they do not believe Jesus was the Son of God, they do believe he was a "real person,"
the fact is that there simply exists no valid, scientific evidence for this "real person," such as any
historical record or archaeological remains. Moreover, when the mythological layers are peeled, there remains
no "historical" core to the onion. To paraphrase Massey, a composite of 20 people is no one. Evemerism is
generally the result of skepticism as concerns miracles, yet lacking an in-depth knowledge and
understanding of the mythicist position.
The evemerist position has been popular enough for a definition to be widely available in
dictionaries and encyclopedias, while the mythicist position does not likewise enjoy such widespread recognition.
Considering that mythicism was the major thrust of many well respected scholars for centuries in
Europe-as well as an interest of several American Founding Fathers and European dignitaries-this oversight would seem to be both contrived and egregious. We hope that this
article will help to establish this previously marginalized and ignored position as a viable
option worthy of respect and scientific study.
Mythicism in Modern Times
In modern times, there exists a real reluctance within the hallowed halls of academia to delve
into mythicism, despite the mountain of fascinating evidence, expressed now and again by individual scholars within
a variety of fields. With the treatment endured by Dr. David Strauss, Rev. Robert Taylor and others,
this hesitancy may be viewed as understandable. However, the burying of this massive body of astromythological
information, which reflects virtually the entire modus vivendi of certain cultures such as that of ancient
Egypt, has been at the core of much cultural degradation and loss. The resurrection of this ancient
astrotheological knowledge as one of the foundations of mythicism may indeed constitute one of the most important,
world-changing events we can strive to achieve, a paradigm shift comparable to that of Galileo.
Despite the pitfalls, more than a few scholars, researchers and writers in the 20th century and
today fall within the category of "mythicists" as well. Individuals who continued the mythicist position into the
modern era include John E. Remsburg (1848-1919), Dr. William Benjamin Smith (1850-1934), John M. Robertson
(1856-1933), Dr. Arthur Drews (1865-1935), Edouard Dujardin (1861-1949), Herbert Cutner (fl. 1950), Dr.
John G. Jackson (1907-1993), Dr. Frank Zindler, Dr. Robert M. Price, Earl Doherty, Ken Humphreys and
others. I myself have three published books specifically about the mythical nature of Jesus Christ, as well as
other popular religious figures, while a fourth investigates the non-historical character of the gospels:
The first three texts in this list delve specifically into comparative religion and mythology,
demonstrating that there is little original or "historical" about the Christ myth as a whole. The last inspects the
canonical gospels themselves to see whether they could possibly be considered reliable history. These various
approaches constitute the main planks of mythicism in a nutshell, which, again, often highlights the
astrotheological origins of the myths, such as I demonstrate throughout my books, articles and ebooks,
A popular form of mythicism may be seen also in the first part of internet movie
"ZEITGEIST," which purportedly has been viewed over 100 million times worldwide and for which my work served as a
significant source. Comedian and cultural commentator Bill Maher's "Religulous" also touches upon the subject of
the Horus-Jesus comparisons, which serve as a significant basis for the mythicist position and which can be
found in my book Christ in Egypt.
The Value of Mythicism
Mythicism has much to offer to those who find it difficult to believe in the gospel story as
"history" but who wish to know the deeper meaning behind the story. Indeed, the mythicist position importantly
serves as a bridge between theism and atheism, as it does not seek to discount or denigrate the long and exalted
history of thought concerning religion and mythology, dating back many thousands of years, as manifested in the
religious and spiritual practices of man beginning millennia ago and continuing since then. The pinnacle of
mythicist cultures-more specifically those based on astrotheology-can be
seen in the massive and mysterious civilization of Egypt, for example. Rather than being ignored and dismissed,
such wondrous creations should be explored and treasured as unique and glorious contributions to the overall human
One criticism as concerns the mythicist position is that it has not been taken
seriously by mainstream academia because it is "absurd." But, what is more "absurd," accepting the fabulous
fairytales of a particular culture as "historical" without a shred of credible, scientific evidence, or
suspecting these tall tales to be along the same lines as those of other cultures, such as the Sumerian,
Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek and Roman, which are currently accepted as myths? When it comes to
the gods of all other cultures, including those of the ancient religions and extending to
those still in currency in "modern" faiths such as Hinduism, Christians and mainstream non-Christian and
atheistic scholars alike are in agreement that these entities are myths. Hercules, Zeus, Athena, Neptune, Diana, Ganesha, Hanuman-these are all myths. Therefore, as concerns the non-biblical
characters in religions globally for eons, Christians and mainstream scholars are mythicists. It is
only the biblical figures who receive special consideration and pleading. In reality, in dismissing
mythicism, Christian believers are in effect negating themselves.
Again, mythicism allows us to step outside the theist-versus-atheist box and to value the vast
human creation of religion and mythology, without being either antagonistic toward it or believing it as
dogma. Mythicism goes beyond the ceaseless theist-atheist debate, in fact, which is in the end futile,
since cases for both perspectives can be and have been made ad infinitum, under a variety of
circumstances, and since experience shows us that this discussion will never be resolved-except, indeed, in the
mythicist position, which neither believes nor dismisses but which understands and appreciates humanity's
longstanding interest in religion and spirituality. The mythicist position does not necessarily accept
religious traditions as based in third-dimensional reality and history. Nevertheless, mythicism itself is
rooted in reality and is an end product of freethought and scientific endeavors as well as the recognition of
profound human imagination and creativity. The mythicist position allows us to create greater harmony
by acknowledging and enjoying the similarities and differences in religious traditions founded upon valid
evidence grounded in natural phenomena.
Sources & Further Reading
Force, James E. and Popkin Richard H., Essays on the Context, Nature, and
Influence of Isaac Newton's Theology, Springer, 1990. Jenaische Allegemeine Literatur-Zeitung vom Jahre 1815, IV, Leipzig,
Matheson, George, Aids to the Study of German Theology, T&T Clark, Edinburgh, 1876.
Murphy, Edwin, The Antiquities of Egypt: A Translation, with Notes, of Book I of the Library of History
of Diodorus Siculus, Transaction Publishers, 1990.
Nampon, Adrien, Catholic Doctrine as Defined by the Council of Trent, Peter
F. Cunningham & Son, Philadelphia, 1869.
Röhr, Johann Friedrich, Kritische Prediger-Bibliothek, Johann Karl
Gottfried Wagner, 1836.
Strauss, David Friedrich, Das Leben Jesu, kritisch bearbeitet, Verlag von C.F. Osiander, Tubingen,
-The Life of Jesus, or A Critical Examination of His History, Taylor, Smallbrook, Birmingham, 1844.
-The Opinions of Professor David F. Strauss, as Embodied in His Letter, John Chapman, London, 1844. The History of Mythicism Astrotheology of the Ancients Was Jesus God, Man or Myth? Evemerist v. Mythicist Position Astrotheology and Mythicist Videos