Choices Borrowing  Different
The Bible is True


These writers are necessarily in the same strait and invent apparitions of heroes and gods, since the beginnings on which they build are false and improbable; for how is it possible to finish conformably to reason what has been begun in defiance of it ?
Poybius, The Histories, 3.48 (2d century BC)
in Paton, W. R. The Histories (1912 / 1992), pg. 117

OK, so here's where we are. The ancient evidence under the Facts bar has proven lots of Pagan-Christian similarities. In this Reasons part of POCM we're going through the possible explanations of those similarities, looking at which explanations are comprehensive and consistent. And which aren't.


I get this email a lot: "Jesus could not possibly be a copy of some Pagan God, because we know exactly how Christianity got its ideas—from Jesus. The eucharist wasn't a knock off of Pagan mystery meals-with-the God, the eucharist was a celebration instituted in a historical place, at a historical time, by a historical man. Jesus. And Jesus wasn't copying Mithras. The New Testament gospels are accurate, first hand histories written by people who knew Jesus and recorded His teachings. Christian rituals and theologies are found in those teachings."


Flat-Earth Superstition
If you already think the bible stories are more or less historical, then this The Bible is True business probably sounds pretty good to you. But the gospels-are-histories theory has a few problems. First, the evidence doesn't support it. I know that if you're a conservative Christian you just snorted and now you're reaching for the mouse to click away. Everything you've heard and read tells you there is no reasonable doubt the gospels are historical. If that's you, I think you need to read more widely. Because...

There is a vast and detailed scholarly literature describing why the gospels can not be historical. POCM has (or will eventually have) an outline of a few of the main points, People of good will can disagree, of course, but my own experience is that the the gospels are NOT histories reasoning is convincing and The Bible is True scholarship is all in-house stuff, "scholarship" about how the bible is true, not whether is is true.

Which is why it is only circulated in house. Like the faithful man at the casino, The Bible is True advocates cling stubbornly to beliefs contradicted by clear and convincing evidence to the contrary. A theory like that cannot be distinguished from flat-Earth superstition.

There, I said it and I feel better.


The Bible is True has a couple other problems. It is not Comprehensive. It is non consistent.

The The Bible is True theory fails to explain the wider fact Christianity began in the middle of ancient western culture where lots of people had similar ideas.

Sort of Consistent


A scholarly and handsome reader Kicks POCM's Ass

Can you Kick POCM's Ass?

DhToast661 (at) aol (dot) com says:

The Bible says that all flesh is like grass and Glory of men are like a flower; the grass withers and the flower falls but the word of the Lord stands forever. What ever you say means very little because you to will one day fade away, but Gods words will still be here.

A scholarly and handsome reader Kicks POCM's Ass

1. How could anyone in their right mind die for a belief that supposedly occurred in their lifetime, but never did (the first extensive Christian persecution was in the early 60's)? No one would die for a lie - which, if Christianity were, people would have known due to the fact that there were so many eye witnesses around.

2. How could Christianity be false, since its basics (Jesus' existence, miracles, death on the cross) were testified to by reliable pagan historians, Jews and Christians? ....

3. Do you think that even though there are many pagan religions with beliefs that have apparently been incorporated into Christianity, that regardless, what is recorded in the New Testament actually did happen this time around?

4. Is Satan, as the master deceiver, really stupid enough not to have thought of developing pagan religions that copy the eventual true one, so as to mislead people into believing Christianity is false? People only try to counterfeit real money, not Monopoly money.

5. Why do miracles still occur today as a testament to the validity of Jesus' life and teachings? ....

Sincerely Yours

Good Books for this section

The Life of Jesus Critically Examined
first published 1835
by David Friedrich Strauss
translated by George Eliot

What you'll find:

An 800 page cause-and-effect analysis of the gospel stories, that basically destroyed the possibility of any rational defense of gospel literalism.

A world-changing classical book that's also fun and easy to read.



Ancient Christian Gospels Their History and Development
by Harvard Professor Helmut Koester

Do you know the oldest surviving manuscript for John? How about Mark, Matthew, Luke? When were each of the gospels first mentioned by another Christian writer? What is the evidence about who wrote them?

How about the Gospel of Thomas, the Egerton Gospel, the Synoptic Sayings Source, and other early non-canonical gospels? They're here too.

You'll even find detailed analysis of the late first and early second century Apostolic Fathers' (Clement, Polycarp, Ignatius) gospel quotations. [Hint—there aren't any; but the Apostolic Fathers did quote gospel-like saying of Jesus from other sources.]

Why does this matter? Because it shows that the gospels themselves are not reflected in any Christian records until the second half of the second century!

A well written, readable, but extremely technical scholarly analysis of the early Christian writings. Too detailed for beginners, but a fascinating read for advanced students and an excellent reference.




The Early History of God
Yahweh and the Other Deities in Ancient Israel
by Mark S. Smith

Like Christianity, Judaism had Pagan origins. Sound kooky? It's mainstream scholarship, though you don't come across it often. This well written, easy to read book is by one of the preeminent experts in the field.

Jewish ritual and mythology developed directly from Canaanite ritual and mythology. Yahweh was originally the son of the Canaanite God El and brother of the Canaanite God Baal.

How do we know this? Ugarit. In 1927 they dug up a Canaanite clay tablet library buried at Ugarit, an ancient city along the northern coast of Syria. Hundreds of ancient texts. Same myths. Same rituals. Same Gods. Only centuries earlier than Judaism.

Who knew?


Gospel Truth
The New Image of Jesus Emerging from Science and History and Why It Matters
by Russell Shorto

Instead of pushing his own theories and opinions, Shorto describes the spectrum of modern scholarly opinion, from Jesus-is-a-myth to the-gospels-are-history. You get the names leading scholars in each camp, with a synopsis of their opinions—a great aid to your further reading.

Absolutely the best introduction to modern New Testament scholarship, because it's written not by a scholar with an opinion to sell, but by an interested but dispassionate professional magazine writer who researched all sides of the issue and who knows how to write clearly.

The result is a clear and easy to read overview of modern New Testament scholarship, from Old Testament prophecy through resurrection and on to how modern pastors include, or ignore, NT scholarship in their daily ministry.

Out of print, but occasionally available at Amazon



Introduction to the New Testament
Volume 2
History and Literature of Early Christianity

by Harvard Professor Helmut Koester

This book is a treasure—an excellent place for new students to start and a valuable reference if you already know plenty. A clearly written, readable roundup of modern New Testament scholarship by a giant in the field.

Includes the history of who wrote what, when—and who copied from whom. Not just the canonical books, but also Q, the Gospels of Thomas, Hebrews, etc. etc. Wow.

Also details the history of which sects developed in each region, when. Not what you learned in Sunday school.

Highly recommended for any serious student.