Which Jesus Behind the Stories?

Which JesusMatt Brisancian did a fine infographic on the Easter story. At the end of his graphic, he proposes five ways of looking at the Jesus story. Of these five ways, Atheists tend to take the #4 or #5 options:  4. Growing Legend, 5. Christ Myth.

But the contrast between these views may not be as strong as some imagine. To illustrate my point, above I made an imitation and expansion of Matt’s options #4 & #5 to show a 4 a,b,c and d.  With these, I try to illustrate that depending on how much truth you feel the Jesus legend version (#4) contains, it can so easily approach the Christ Myth version (#5) in a way as to be almost indistinguishable.

I tried to capture the same idea here in my post & graphic called “The Jesus Pie” — see my own personal pie here.

Question to Readers:  Where do you tend to stand?



Filed under Philosophy & Religion

12 responses to “Which Jesus Behind the Stories?

  1. I like ‘C’ because the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. 😉

  2. I see myself as, more often than not, a skeptical non-christian. When I consider the Jesus of the Evangelicals I am quickly reminded of the numerous Jesus like stories that existed prior to the Jewish carpenter Jesus. Seems to me that Jesus was just a reincarnation of a previous thought. However, I am not entirely opposed to the story of a man who preached ‘loving others’ and who put self righteous people in their place. I can jive with that.

  3. Another approach is this: we don’t know the truth and we’ll probably never know it. We should emphasize the things we know. For example, that it was Constantine who decided what Christians should believe and it was he who provided the necessary fuel for Christianity. Whether Jesus would recognize Constantine’s Christianity or not is also unclear.

  4. @Takis
    We’ll never know the “truth” about many historical figures. You see to imply we do know something solid about Jesus — what would that be? Or, are you saying, we know constantine introduced correct doctrine and Jesus did not?

  5. @ Howie,
    Right — the “middle way” myth! 😉

    @ Called to Question,
    Seems you are happy with whatever story they settle on, as long as the story makes nice people who don’t think only they get to go to heaven!

  6. @Sabio: No, not at all: I’m not saying that Constantine introduced correct doctrine and Jesus did not. (There is no such thing as “correct”. All doctrines are equally arbitrary.) I’m saying that Christianity and Jesus are two related but not identical issues. If it is Christianity we worry about, then we might as well focus on those who actually happen (Paul, Constantine,…) and see what is it that they did and made Christianity happen. If we worry of Jesus, then, unfortunately, it appears we have less information than the others. I’m sorry but I, simply, don’t know what, historians, say, agree as being an objective information about Jesus. So, I can’t tell myself. Also, the amount of indoctrination I have received (unwillingly: I did not choose to have religious classes at school; I was forced to) does not allow me to distinguish fact from fiction.

  7. @Takis
    So, if you were to try and sit down and write what you thought was true about the Historical Jesus (the real one), you wouldn’t know where to begin. But you don’t really care because he wasn’t a god anyway, right?

  8. Exactly, I wouldn’t know where to begin. And I wouldn’t have the time to look and unravel the meager information we may have. Apparently, others have done this and haven’t reached any major conclusions.

    Moreover, if I claimed that he was a god then
    (i) I would have to base my claim on something, and there is nothing I can base it on, and
    (ii) I would be in contradiction to, say, Muslims who say that Jesus was a prophet and not a god, and they, too, have nothing they can base their claims on.

  9. @Takis,
    d’accord; 同意; einverstanden; συμφωνούμε

  10. Wow Sabio – I usually have a difficult time interpreting what you mean, but with this last comment of yours to Takis you’ve taken it to a whole new level. 🙂

  11. @Sabio:
    I understand the first, third and fourth word without dictionary. Unfortunately, I know no non-Indo-European language. To that, I can also add “estamos de acuerdo” and will have exhausted my spectrum (beyond which I will have to google-translate 🙂 )

  12. Mara

    This is where I say “Praise the Lord!”

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