by Herb Cutner
In 1950, mythicist Herb Cutner published his excellent work, Jesus: God, Man or Myth?, which not only explores the mythical nature of Jesus Christ but also provides a rare and much-needed summarization of the debate between mythicists and historicizers over the past few centuries. Contrary to popular belief, the idea that Jesus Christ is a mythical character is not new: In fact, the questioning and doubting of the gospel tale started at the beginning of the Christian era and has been continued by thousands, if not millions, since then. The historicization and carnalization of the Christ character was fought by the Docetic Gnostics, and the disbelief was addressed by early orthodox Christians as well, including the writers of the canonical epistles of John. Indeed, 1 John 4 condemns as “antichrists” those “spirits” who do not confess that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh,” as does 2 John 7, which says:
For many deceivers have gone out into the world, men who will not acknowledge the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh; such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist.
Many, says 2 John, have contested the historicity of Jesus Christ, even by the epistle writer’s day. Obviously, therefore, this dissension began with the dawn of the Christianity, which is understandable. If, for example, the average American today were approached with wild tales about some obscure religious fanatic who lived decades ago in, say, Mexico, and who purportedly did many miracles, from manifesting food and raising the dead, including himself, to ascending to heaven, would the person simply believe it, without any proof whatsoever? And be willing to accept this obscure preacher as the “Son of God” and God Almighty Himself? Such is the case with the story of Jesus Christ. In reality, the doubting of Christ as a historical character is not a “new fad”; those who argue otherwise are not informed on the subject.
The writings of early Christians also verify that Christ was perceived by the Pagans as a typical sun god, an idea that came to fruition in the works of French scholar Charles Dupuis at the end of the 18th century, when he wrote his multivolume Origine de tous les cultes. Dupuis’s work was widely read by the European elite, the clergy of which, naturally, was compelled to spend time disparaging it, even though Dupuis was building upon a long line of evidence, including the admissions of Christian authority Tertullian during the third century that the Pagans believed the Christian god to be the sun. Although Dupuis was the first to break through the censorship of the Church in such a spectacular fashion, the fact is that there were other writers prior to him who put forth similar information as best they could in the face of tremendous persecution that included the Inquisition and its heinous machinery. One of these individuals was the Neoplatonist and priest of the 15th century Marsilio Ficino, who in his treatise De Sole or The Book of the Sun outlined ancient astrotheology and sun worship, as well as their connection to Platonism and Christianity. No doubt thousands of other such texts did not escape the widespread book-burning by Catholic authorities.
Dupuis was followed by Count Volney, another brilliant French mythicist, and the floodgates opened, with the German School of biblical criticism kicking into full gear, the Dutch throwing their hats into the arena, and the British making a tremendous impact that is likely responsible for the extremely low rate of church attendance in Britain today. Particularly notable among the British were Godfrey Higgins, Rev. Robert Taylor, Gerald Massey and JM Robertson, although Higgins was apparently a “sincere Christian” and not a mythicist in the strictest sense of the word. The German school culminated in the excellent works of Arthur Drews, while the French also produced Couchoud and Dujardin. The mythicists made such inroads that by the end of the 19th century the Right Reverend JP Lundy acknowledged the bulk of their arguments as truthful – up to the point where they claimed Christ to be a myth. Admitting left and right in Monumental Christianity the correspondences between Paganism and Christianity, Lundy, an expert on early Christian monuments/artifacts, nevertheless attempted to assert the reality and superiority of Christianity by claiming that all the preceding Pagan gods who so resembled “our Lord” were mere prototypes fulfilled in Christ, an argument also used by the early Church fathers/apologists. Lundy was not at all alone in his acknowledgement of the Pagan origins of Christianity; indeed, some decades later Christian apologist Sir Arthur Weigall composed his work The Paganism in Our Christianity, in which he repeatedly admitted the unoriginality of the Christian fable but declared nevertheless that Christ’s Passion, at least, really did happen and was a miracle.
In Jesus: God, Man or Myth? Cutner goes into some detail about this important development and debate, which was so widely known among the elite for decades, if not centuries, but which is almost completely unknown to the masses at large. Indeed, in response to my book The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold, a number of individuals have expressed that they’ve “never heard such a thing before!” That such an allegation that Jesus Christ is a mythical character is simply “outrageous,” and, as one Christian apologist claimed, “There must be three people in the universe who don’t believe Jesus existed.” This latter assertion is completely erroneous, obviously. As stated, thousands of people have questioned and disbelieved in the historicity of Christ – and many of them have been some of the most intelligent and erudite individuals to live on planet Earth. The idea that this information, once “discovered” or expressed, would then be embraced and revealed to the public is not only naive but silly, especially considering that not only are reputations and vocations at stake but also are billions of dollars annually in the religion business. Because of such entrenched concerns, the mythicist school was fought tooth and nail, and almost buried, save for the few daring individuals who kept it alive over the past decades. Cutner is one of these rare and courageous individuals who risked the malevolence and vitriol of the clergy and its zealots. In his synopsis of the historical-versus-mythical, Cutner notes that the clergy’s “adversaries” were dispatched in the most unprofessional and puerile manner:
Long ago the celebrated Dr. Bentley, in trying to dispose of Anthony Collins, had found one very fine method: convict your Freethinking opponent of fraud, ignorance, and bad scholarship, and his thesis falls to the ground. I should say rather, try to convict your opponent by this method, for some of the mud thrown is sure to stick…. By thus concentrating on mistakes of grammar or Greek, the reader is unwarily led away from the main issue which is exactly what the critic wants. Over and over again Christian controversialists have pursued this method, as if it always mattered greatly that a present tense of Greek should be the imperfect, or that a date should be conjectured as, let us say, 1702 when it ought to be 1712 in the opinion of somebody else. (27-28)
Indeed, there is hardly a mythicist who has not experienced such treatment, even at the hands of other mythicists and/or freethinkers, another fact highlighted by Cutner, who shows that the early modern mythicists were viciously attacked not only by Christians but also by other “rationalists” and “freethinkers” who, in their attempts to remain “respectable” with the Christian elite, mindlessly fell in line and displayed a real lack of critical thinking. Professional jealousy also factors into this type of vitriol, as various scholars want their particular interpretation to become that which is accepted by the establishment.
The Dating of the Gospels
In his remarkable book, Cutner not only provides an abstract of the debate to his day but also establishes – or reestablishes – a number of the most important contentions and facts exposed by mythicists and other Bible critics, including the fact that the four canonical gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, appear nowhere in the historical/literary record until the end of the second century, despite the claims and wishful thinking of Christian proponents, many of whom, unbelievably, still maintain that these gospels were written by the apostles/disciples themselves and are “eyewitness accounts.” These apologist assertions are simply wrong, as has been demonstrated repeatedly over the centuries by the ablest of scholars and scientists, many of whom were Christians. Concerning the gospel dating, Cutner says:
The dates given by the orthodox Churches to the composition of the Gospels have been proved to be utterly erroneous. The four Gospels as we have them were certainly unknown to the early Church Fathers (before about 180 A.D.). A typical instance is the case of Justin Martyr whose date is somewhere about 150 A.D. His works in defence of Christianity contain hundreds of quotations from the Old Testament and many from some kind of Gospels, Apocryphal or otherwise, but he never mentions the names of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Some of his quotations come near to similar passages in these four writers, so that there can be no doubt some Gospels were known in his day, though he himself calls those he quotes the “Memoirs of the Apostles.” He even quotes things which are not in the canonical Gospels as “gospel” truth; and also, according to some authorities, quotes from a “Gospel of Peter.” Here is one of the earliest and greatest of Christian apologists, writing in defence of Christianity, and he appears to know nothing at all about our four Gospels, all of which, we are given to understand, were in common circulation in his day, having been composed between 60 A.D. and 90 A.D. or thereabouts…
If Justin never mentions our Gospels by name in either of his two Apologies or in his Dialogue with Trypho, written about the year 150 A.D., and yet chatters ad nauseam about Jesus, it is fairly good proof that in his day they were unknown, or not in the form we have them… (25-27)
Cutner further states:
…in the form that we have them, [the Gospels] are certainly late products of the second century, how in the world can they be in any way trusted as history? And if not history, of what use are they to prove that Jesus really lived? (260)
Cutner is well aware of the arguments attempting to place the gospels at a much earlier date, as well as the fallacious contention that early Church father Justin Martyr did indeed use the canonical gospels but merely misquoted them and never bothered to note their authors, for some peculiar reason. These erroneous assertions were set to rest quite thoroughly by Cassels in his 1100-page tome Supernatural Religion, in which he goes into intense detail concerning a vast number of early Christian writings, showing conclusively that the gospels were not in circulation, if they even existed, by Martyr’s time. Further inquiry into this matter should be made by consulting Cassels’s book, as we cannot, nor would we want to, reproduce his tremendous erudition and analysis here.
As concerns the order of the gospels, Cutner goes against the tide and disagrees that Mark is the earliest. His reasoning is thus:
I hold – with John M. Roberston – that far from being Mark being the earliest Gospel, because his Jesus is more of Man than a God, that it is, in all probability, one of the latest of the Gospels, if not the latest. (268)
Indeed, Mark’s gospel reads like a “Reader’s Digest” version written for those who were already familiar with one or more of the other gospels. Further details concerning the gospel dating and order may be found in my book Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled, in the chapter The “Historical” Jesus?
The Value of Paul
In any case, the gospels are not the earliest canonical texts. That designation falls to the so-called Pauline epistles, which are essentially useless in establishing a historical Jesus. Like so many others, including Earl Doherty of late, Cutner shows that the “truest apostle,” Paul, seems completely oblivious of any “historical” Jesus and deals with a spiritual figurehead that had been in existence in mystery schools for centuries if not millennia prior to the Christian era. Cutner also notes that the genuineness of the so-called Pauline epistles is questioned, as is the historicity of Paul himself, as depicted in Acts:
First of all, it is rather difficult to account for the fact that Josephus never mentions Paul considering that in Acts xxiv, 5, we are told that “We have found this man [Paul] a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sects of the Nazarenes.” A man who led sedition against all the Jews then living, wherever they were, must have left a fairly hefty reputation behind him; yet there is not a line in the Jewish historian which indicates that he had ever heard of Paul. (50)
Cutner further points out that Paul does not appear to be Jewish in any manner, despite the claims of his being not only a Jew but a Pharisee. The apostle to the Gentiles never uses the Hebrew bible, and does not seem to know Hebrew at all. In fact, Paul is as thoroughly Greek as can be, with a fairly poor understanding of Judaism, Jewish scholars assert, but, as Cutner relates, “a profound knowledge of Gnosticism.” The suggestion is, then, that “Paul” was a Pagan convert to Judaism, although he may have been a very Hellenized Jew.
The “Testimony” of Jews
It has always mystified believers and assorted other historicizers that the story of Jesus Christ appears in no contemporary historical record. Of at least 40 writers of the first several decades of the Christian era, including philosophers and historians, not one mentions Christ, Christians or Christianity. With such a suspicious development concerning a man who “supposedly shook up the world,” apologists have been forced to resort to a few pitiful and inadequate “references” in non-Christian sources dating to decades later. Cutner provides an astute analysis of the purported references to Jesus in secular literature, including supposed Jewish “testimony” such as the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus and the Talmud. In the first place, the authors of these texts are not witnesses at all, having lived many decades to centuries after the supposed advent of Christ. Secondly, it is evident that (non-Christian) Jews of the second century had no clue as to any “historical” Jesus. In the second century, we get a clear picture of Jewish disbelief in the “historical Christ” from the Jew Trypho in Justin’s Dialogue with him, in which Justin portrays Trypho as questioning the very historicity of Jesus:
But Christ if he is come, and is anywhere, is unknown… But you, having got an idle story by the end, do form yourself an imaginary Christ, and for his sake you foolishly and inconsiderately rush headlong into dangers…
It is quite evident that the standard apologist pretense that “the Jews never doubted that Jesus existed” is utterly false; yet, it will be repeated endlessly. The other dead horse continually beaten by Christian apologists is the infamous blurb in the massive works of Josephus called the “Testimonium Flavianum” (“TF”). This short passage glaringly sandwiched in between a litany of Pilate’s deeds is a gushing precis of the Christian tale that need not be repeated here. The arguments against its authenticity are many and have been reiterated ad nauseam, which is why they were not repeated in The Christ Conspiracy. Further detail, however, is provided in Suns of God. Recently, Doherty composed a lengthy refutation of the TF, as have others before him. In fact, the TF had been so thoroughly debunked by the turn of the 20th century that few credible Christian scholars even mentioned it in their proofs of Christianity. Those who have truly studied the subject are aware of these facts; yet, a vocal majority continue to wave about this passage in Josephus, either as wholly genuine or as containing “some” authenticity under a Christian lacquer. A handful even speculate that the TF replaced some other mention of Jesus by Josephus. Concerning the TF, Cutner states:
How any reader of this passage, knowing that Josephus was a Jew and proud of his race, could imagine that he had written it, is one of the most mysterious puzzles connected with the Jesus problem. The whole paragraph shrieks forgery; it aroused the most scathing contempt from Gibbon, and most Christian theologians, thoroughly ashamed of its unmitigated imposture, have denounced it in no unmeasured terms…. Baring-Gould, writing in 1874 in his Lost and Hostile Gospels, had hardly patience dealing with it. “One may be, perhaps, accused of killing dead birds, if one examines and discredits the passage,” he says, contemptuously.
The early Church fathers, Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, knew nothing about the passage. The first Christian writer to call attention to it was Eusebius (about 320 A.D.) but even later Christians than he ignored it. Eminent modern Christians like Chalmers, Milman, Farrar, Keim, Hooykaas, and a number of others all rejected it, though some rather shame-facedly claimed that there may have been a passage about Jesus which was suppressed by Christians and the present one substituted. Yet in spite of all this wholesale rejection by their own authorities, many Christians never scruple using Josephus as a witness for Jesus outside the Bible whenever they can do so unchallenged. (105)
Modern apologists unabashedly, and with apparent ignorance of these facts, continue to raise up the specter of Josephus, reflecting a very shabby educational system. It should be noted that the various early Christian defenders of the faith mentioned by Cutner were for the most part extremely well acquainted with the works of Josephus; indeed, it was Christians who preserved Josephus’s works for posterity. Furthermore, as have others, Cutner also dispenses with the second blurb in Josephus held up by apologists as “evidence” of Christ’s existence, the passage in Antiquities referring to the death of James, terming him “the brother of Jesus who was called Christ”:
This clause is just as barefaced a forgery as the other passage. In any case, this death is put seven years before the death of James the Just, who is considered by the primitive Church to be the “brother” of Jesus.” (106)
Cutner further relates that the Christian authority Baring-Gould not only considered these two passages to be forgeries but spilled considered ink attempting to explain why Josephus was silent on the matter of Christ, Christianity and Christians. Baring-Gould further wonders at the Pagan critic Celsus’s apparent inability to find any Jewish authority to verify the gospel story:
“It is remarkable that Celsus, living in the middle of the second century, and able to make inquiries of aged Jews whose lives had extended from the first century, should have been able to find out next to nothing about Jesus and his disciples, except what he read in the Gospels. this is proof that no traditions concerning Jesus had been preserved by the Jews, apart from those contained in the Gospels, Canonical and Apocryphal.” (107)
As concerns the Talmud, that enormous collection of Jewish law and commentary on the Torah/Tenach/Old Testament, the main body of laws called the “Mishna” has practically nothing to say about Jesus or Christianity. It is only in the Gemara, or commentary on the Mishna, that we find any sort of mention of Christ and Christians. The writing of the Talmud is traditionally placed as having been begun in the third century and continued for at least two centuries afterwards. Obviously, the Talmud is not an “eyewitness” account of the events of the Christian tale. In fact, whatever statements are made in the Talmud are in response to later Christian claims, according to Christian legends already in existence and not as a record of actual events. Therefore, the Talmud is worthless as a non-Christian source demonstrating the historicity of Christ. Concerning the Talmud, Baring-Gould again expressed his surprise at the Mishna’s lack of knowledge regarding Christ, Christianity and Christians. Cutner also remarks:
…supposing there had never been a Jesus Christ going about “doing good” and that he was a literary creation slowly built up in the second century, would not that account for the silence of the Mishna? Why should the rabbis know anything about these literary fictions of a Jesus represented so variously by different communities, each probably with a gospel of its own, and which were only centuries later separated into the “true” and “false” ones? (95)
As we can see, when the claims regarding Jewish “testimony” are investigated closely, they fall completely apart, as do, in fact, those regarding other non-Christian sources, such as Pliny, Tacitus and Suetonius, which Cutner also demonstrates.
The arguments reflecting the uselessness of the “references” in these Pagan writers’ works include that: 1. they are too late to serve as anything except for an account of tradition; 2. they are oblique, not necessarily referring to Christ at all; and 3. in the case of Tacitus in particular, they are spurious. These arguments need not be repeated in full here, as they have been made by several authorities, including Robert Taylor. Further detail may also be found in Suns of God. In any case, referring to one of these non-Christian sources, the Roman politician Pliny, whose “reference” to Christians and Christ purportedly appeared some 70 years after the alleged crucifixion of Christ, Cutner says:
Pliny, born about the year 61 A.D., is said to have written to the emperor Trajan a letter showing how he dealt with Christians in the year 106 A.D., while acting as proconsul in Bithynia. It has been urged that this letter is a forgery, but that is a matter of small moment for it is possible that Christians were in the province in Pliny’s time. But Pliny – surely a tolerant Roman – is made to say that “those who were brought before him” had to confess that they were Christians; or if they would not, they were either “punished” or “executed.” They admitted that on a certain day “before it was light” they sang hymns to “Christ as a god.” This proves, say the Historicists, that Christ really existed as a man (or Man).
If Pliny had been interviewing the worshipers of Serapis or Apollo they might reasonably have confessed that they sang hymns to Serapis or Apollo, but surely this does not prove that these pagan gods existed as men. All we are entitled to say from Pliny’s letter is that there were, when he was in Bithynia., a number of Christians who were worshiping somebody called Christ, not, be it noticed, Jesus; and for my part I see no particular reason to doubt that there were Christians then who worshiped “Christ” just as there were Jews who worshiped “Jehovah.” This does not prove that either Christ or Jehovah were real men. (111)
These sound arguments and others readily demonstrate Pliny to be worthless in establishing a historical Christ. Another of these purported “references” is that found in the Annals of Tacitus. In reality, this text appears nowhere in the historical or literary record until it was “found” in the 15th century. In other words, no early Church father uses it to bolster his faith. The Tacitean passage refers to Nero’s alleged persecution of followers of “Christus,” who was “punished as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate.” These Christians, “Tacitus” asserts, constituted a “vast multitude” at Rome by his time, an incorrect contention. Again, this text, if genuine, would date no earlier than the early second century, so it is not an “eyewitness account” of the existence of Jesus Christ. Cutner doubts the passage’s authenticity and remarks:
…If there had been a Neronian persecution, why in heaven’s name has so remarkably little been found concerning it elsewhere? Even allowing for poetical license, what did Tacitus mean when he declared that there was a “vast multitude” of Christians in Rome about 64 A.D.? Why, there was not a vast multitude in Jerusalem, or even in the whole of Judea at that time. How comes it that such a passage was never quoted by Tertullian (who often quotes Tacitus) or by Eusebius or even by any of the other Christian apologists always ready to enlarge on the terrible sufferings of the early Christians steadfastly acclaiming their faith in Jesus? (112)
Another fact that calls into question the authenticity of this passage is that nowhere else in his other writings does Tacitus mention Christ, Christians or Christianity. Again, this passage – and the entire Annals, in actuality – was unknown until the 15th century, when it was “discovered” by Poggio Bracciolini. In 1878, JW Ross, an “excellent Latin scholar,” wrote Tacitus and Bracciolini, in which he attempted to prove that Bracciolini himself had forged the Annals. With his expertise in Latin, Ross was readily able to demonstrate that the Annals differed in style from Tacitus’s genuine writings. Indeed, some of the phrases match those employed by Bracciolini in his own writings. Regarding the Tacitean passage, Cutner further remarks:
I have dealt with Tacitus at length deliberately, for over and over again we, who take up the Mythicist position, are accused of avoiding the testimony of the Roman historian. I deny that there is any testimony at all, even if the passage is genuine. It is obviously only a report from believers in “Christ,” who certainly is not shown by Tacitus to have been a “man.” (125)
Cutner likewise dispatches – much more quickly – the passage in the Roman writer Suetonius referring to “Chrestus,” who purportedly provoked “the Jews” to riot in Rome. The arguments against this passage serving as “testimony” include that, like the others, it is too late to serve as evidence of the gospel tale, which it does not reflect in any case. The word “Chrestus” is not the same as “Christus” (Christ) but means “good” or “useful” and was an epithet designating many individuals, humans and gods alike. Obviously, “Jesus of Nazareth” was never at Rome, according to the gospel tale. In any event, these “references,” even if genuine and/or referring to Christ, are nothing more than hearsay long after the fact.
Origins of the Christ Myth
Having established that there is no evidence of a “historical Jesus,” Cutner proceeds to the Christian mythology at the center of the debate, reiterating the solar-mythos thesis, with its virgin birth and so many other motifs found within Christianity. He refers to the insistence, for example, of JM Robertson, Drews and Whittaker that “there was a pre-Christian Jesus cult” involving a “Jesus” or Joshua who was “possibly a Savior God of some kind, in a ‘mystery’ religion in Palestine.” Indeed, it is evident there were several pre-Christian “Jesus” cults, including the Palestinian or Jewish/Israelite followers of the Old Testament “hero,” or rather, god Joshua, as well as the Greek followers of Jason and Dionysus, whose epithet was Ies, which, with the Latin terminus -us, becomes Iesus or Jesus. Regarding astrology or astrotheology and biblical stories and rituals, Cutner remarks:
… Nearly all the solar deities had a Virgin for a mother… The birthday of Jesus, like that of Mithra and other solar gods, was about December 25, and his twelve Apostles certainly correspond to the twelve signs of the Zodiac. When Jesus (who was the Sun of Righteousness) was “crucified,” the Sun naturally died; it was eclipsed. And of course, Jesus rose with the Sun on the day of the Sun. It would have been out of the question for him to rise on any other day – say on Moon-day. “Every detail of the Sun Myth,” says R.A. Proctor, the famous writer on astronomy, “is worked into the record of the Galilean teacher.” It could hardly have been otherwise.
Judaism itself, as far as its imagery is concerned, is packed with Sun worship, most of it quite unknown to its votaries [adherents]. (144)
Hence, as was asserted by the early Pagan critics, per Tertullian’s famous retort, Christians are in reality sun worshippers, although this fact has been closely guarded by the Christian elite, many of whom have known the truth but have deliberately squelched it. Indeed, when confronted more erudite clergymen may confess that they know “it is all a myth,” claiming that these stories are “for the unthinking lay public,” as did one cleric when approached with the evidence in The Christ Conspiracy. Another clergyman, an ex-Catholic priest, called The Christ Conspiracy a “very scholarly work, wholly researched.” Obviously, these individuals are not about to come forward and make themselves known, which is one of the major reasons why this information has remained buried for centuries and why the general public is unaware of its existence and, thus, the truth about Christianity.
Fortunately, some individuals have braved the waters, including Dupuis, a dauntless soul whose work included an analysis of the motif of “The Twelve,” which represent the signs of the Zodiac (as related by Cutner):
These twelve Apostles were supposed to rule over the twelve tribes of Israel, and if the reader cares to take up his Bible and turn to Genesis, chapter 49, he will find an excellent description of the twelve sons of Jacob mostly in the very terms of the Zodiac…. (139)
Cutner then lists all twelve tribes/sons and elaborates upon their zodiacal significance. This analysis is supported by the statements of both Josephus and the early Christian authority Clement of Alexandria, who, concerning the accoutrements of the Jewish priests, wrote:
“The bright emeralds upon the ephod [apron] signify the Sun and Moon; and the twelve precious stones arranged in four rows describe to us the Zodiacal circle relatively to the four seasons of the year.” (141)
As an example of how the Christian “Holy Twelve” are in actuality not “real people” but part of the classic astral mythos, Peter, as many have evinced, is the Roman god Janus, the genius of the month of January or Aquarius. Janus is likewise Jonah or Jonas, the sun in Aquarius, the sign also represented by John the Baptist. Peter is also Jupiter, as is evidenced by the fact that the old Roman statute of Jupiter in the Vatican was converted into “St. Peter.” Thomas is the Syrian dying-and-rising savior god Tammuz, Cutner states, as have many before and after him, representing the “Twins” or Gemini. And so on with the rest of “the Twelve.”
This astrotheological discussion includes the non-historicity of John the Baptist, who, as Cutner says, “is based on the ‘Oannes’ of Berosus – a fish-god who is supposed to have come out of the Erythraean Sea.” In his assertion regarding Christ’s Forerunner, Cutner analyzes the purported reference to the Baptist in Josephus. He points out that the Baptist tale in Josephus is “hopelessly at variance with the Gospel story,” which means that one or the other is certainly incorrect. Neither account proves that John was a historical character, of course, especially since the authenticity of the Josephus passage is suspect. As Cutner points out, once it is admitted that Josephus’s works have been tampered with – i.e., the Testimonium Flavianum regarding Christ is acknowledged to be a forgery, as it has been by many learned Christian authorities over the centuries – there is good reason to be suspicious of other passages in favor of Christian claims. Says Cutner:
The fact is that as Josephus was copied by Christian monks, it was quite easy to insert here and there clumsy forgeries, and the reference to John equals in veracity those to “Christ.” (200)
In any case, other astrotheological motifs in the gospel tale include “the 72” disciples also mentioned in scriptures (Luke 10:1, 17):
Seventy-two is the number of years it takes “for the Sun-God, the place of the Sun at the Vernal Equinox, to progress one degree at the celestial circle” says J.D. Parsons in Our Sun God. Jesus said the names of these disciples would be “written in heaven,” which is quite naturally the case; and no one ever heard of them again. (149-150)
As detailed in The Christ Conspiracy and elsewhere, the Apocalypse, or Revelation, which so many purport to be “prophecy,” is in reality a “mine of astral worship, as a glance at W.G. Collingswood’s Astrology in the Apocalypse would prove.” (152)
Other mythoses that contributed to that of the Christ myth, Cutner likewise demonstrates, include those of the Indian avatars Krishna and Buddha, neither of whom, like Jesus, can logically be considered “historical” personages. Moreover, as Cutner reiterates, much of the cult of the Persian sun god Mithra was “absorbed” by Christianity. “…[I]t is curious to note,” says Cutner, “that the founder of the Christian sect known as the Manicheans – Mani or Manes – according to Mosheim, taught that ‘Christ is the glorious intelligence which the Persians call Mithras… His residence is the sun.'” (177)
Cutner ends his book with a further discussion of the history of the debate between historicizers and mythicists, a very necessary and revealing synopsis. He details the arguments on both sides, including further responses to various claims by proponents and opponents as the controversy progressed over the decades and centuries. It is important to note that the arguments put forth today against the mythicist perspective are the same as those used in the past, even though they have been thoroughly addressed and refuted many times. Jesus: God, Man or Myth? is a valuable work which handily shows that the subject has been hotly contested behind the scenes and over the heads of the masses, who are almost completely unaware of its existence, to the point where mythicists today are considered oddities who seemingly pop up out of nowhere, a false impression, to say the least. Interestingly, when it comes to the Greek gods, for example, the mythicist perspective is deemed the most sensible and rational, even though this opinion was considered “heresy” and “blasphemy” when first expressed by the great Greek thinkers. In the future, as the gods du jour likewise fall into disfavor, the mythicist perspective will be applied to Christianity as well, as also representing the most reasonable, judicious, scientific and erudite viewpoint.