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Are the Gospels a Myth?

Myth

One of the most common pronouncements by the atheists is that “Christianity is a myth.” In one sense they are correct. The gospel story does operate like a myth. However, most of the atheists making this comment do not seem to have a very knowledgeable understanding of myth and how it works. They don’t seem to understand the richness and the ambiguity of the term “myth”.

When they say “myth” what they mean is “fairy tale”. Even the term “fairy tale” has far deeper and richer levels of meaning than they are aware of. They use the term “myth” to indicate a funny story about gods and goddesses that simple people made up long ago. When they say “myth” and mean “fairy tale” what they really mean is that “this is a made up pretend story which has no basis in history or scientific veracity.” When they say “myth” they mean “this is not a story like they read in the newspaper or in the history books.”

Indeed, this is one definition of the word “myth”. The most popular usage of “myth” is that it is a fabricated tale. It is a fiction. At worst it is simply a lie which gullible people believe and manipulative people promulgate. For those who are only interested in facts, this means that it is worthless, or at best, interesting as a folk tale or a fable might be interesting.

Hero With a Thousand FacesThe term “myth” however, has far deeper levels of understanding. The “mythologist” Joseph Campbell in his seminal work, The Hero With a Thousand Faces shows how one particular story (which he calls the mono-myth) recurs in many different ways in virtually every society. The mono-myth is the story of how a hero leaves his ordinary world and sets out on an adventure to overcome great evil and claim a great prize before returning home to save his people. Campbell recognizes that “myth” in this sense is a story that connects individuals and groups with the deepest themes within the collective mind, and that through the re-enactment of myth and the re-telling of stories individuals identify subconsciously with the hero and go on the quest with him.

Furthermore, while the hero’s mythic journey is a visible and outward journey, the outward story is reflective of the inner journey towards enlightenment and redemption. As the audience member participates in the story they face the dangers with the hero and are faced with the same moral choices that the hero must make–thus the power of “myth” within human culture and the human experience is powerful and profound.

The term “myth” in this sense can refer to any story that works on us in this vicarious, “mythical” manner. We think of the classical myths of Greece and Rome operating in this way, but almost any story from any culture might work on the audience as a myth. A supernatural story of gods and goddesses, which has no basis in history or fact might function as a myth, but so might a work of fiction which takes place in a realistic world. Thus many movies–and not just fantasy or science fiction–work as myths. In fact a template for a typical Hollywood script very often follows the hero’s quest as outlined by Campbell.

Furthermore, a story which is factual can also operate on a mythic level. When Grandad tells how he left home at eighteen to fight in the second world war, and recounts his adventures and tells how he came home a changed man and did his part to save the world, Grandad becomes a mythic hero and his story operates as a myth.

This brings us to the gospel account. Are the gospels a myth? Yes and no. If “myth” means a made up story with no basis in history or fact, then”no” the gospels are not myth. However, if “myth” means a story that functions as a myth, then “yes” the gospels (along with a good number of other Bible stories) function as myth. Through them a hero leaves his ordinary world and comfort zone and sets out on a great adventure to overcome evil and return victorious with a great prize for the salvation of his people.

Two of the twentieth century’s greatest myth makers–C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien had a famous conversation about this very topic. Lewis was, at this point, not a Christian. Tolkien, as a Catholic, had engaged him in a discussion about the topic of myth and how it functions. Lewis said that the Christian story was a myth a lie, but a lie “breathed through with silver”–in other words, a beautiful and useful fiction. He then went on to understand that the gospel story works on us just like the other myths, except that this myth was true and historical.

Does the gospel story connect with the myths of other religions? To some extent it does–but that’s because it is dealing with the same themes and symbols of dying and rising, light and darkness, good and evil. Does the similarity of the gospel story mean that it is therefore just a made up fairy tale or fable? No. The historical evidence for the essential facticity of the gospels is sound–what it does mean is that this story of Jesus Christ (because it is historical) not only works like a myth and connects with the deepest, shared aspects of humanity but it also gathers up all the myths that came before it and followed after it and fulfills and completes them.
 
 
Originally posted at Standing On My Head. Used with author's permission.
(Image credit: Caribatheist's Blog)

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Written by

Fr. Dwight Longenecker is an American who has spent most of his life living and working in England. He was brought up in an Evangelical home in Pennsylvania. After graduating from the fundamentalist Bob Jones University with a degree in Speech and English, he went to study theology at Oxford University. He was eventually ordained as an Anglican priest and then in 1995, he and his family were received into the Catholic Church. For the next ten years he worked as a freelance writer, contributing to more than fifty magazines, papers and journals in Britain, Ireland and the USA. In December 2006 he was ordained as a Catholic priest under the special pastoral provision for married former Anglican clergy. He now serves as parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary parish in Greenville, South Carolina. Fr. Dwight is the author of many books including The Quest for the Creed (Crossroads, 2012); More Christianity: Finding the Fullness of the Faith (Ignatius, 2010); and Catholicism Pure and Simple (Stauffer Books, 2012). Connect with his website DwightLongenecker.com, or his Patheos blog, Standing On My Heard.

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  • lozen

    The myth of Zeus. The myth of Isis. The myth of Yahweh/Jesus. All the same...

    • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

      Well that's hardly productive or demonstrative.

      Also, it's false, if only because at a historical level Jesus existed and was a man, whereas neither Zeus, nor Isis, did.

      Also, there's a fundamental distinction between the pagan polytheistic myths such as Greek/Roman and Egyptian pantheons vs. the monotheistic religions (call them myths if you must). The former is an expression of pantheism, where every aspect of the natural world gets a deity, and the deity is tied to the world, came into being, etc.

      The latter posits a Being who has always existed, and caused existence itself.

      Also, Jesus himself is different from any other religion yet again because nowhere in the history of religion has there been made a claim that a being was true God and true man, simultaneously.

      • Vicq_Ruiz

        nowhere in the history of religion has there been made a claim that a being was true God and true man, simultaneously.

        It took several hundred years of debate, among those who were not eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, before that conclusion was reached.
        Had Jesus explicitly made that claim, a number of church councils would have been rendered unnecessary.

        • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

          That's still irrelevant to my point. Christianity is a unique religion in that regard.

          • Michael Murray

            Or to be more precise a unique collection of 41,000 religions who can't quite agree.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            They agree on that, else they aren't Christian.

          • Michael Murray

            That's your definition of being Christian. In my experience the factions spend a lot of time arguing about who is Christian as well. Even with in the factions we can have endless discussions about who are "real Catholics", whose in, whose out, pre Vatican II, SSPX... . At least theres no doubt we are evolved from some kind of animal that lives best in small groups.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            Yes, there's "argument" about who is Catholic, in that people claim to be Catholic who aren't. Just because you say you're something doesn't make it true.

            The common thread of Christianity (and every day it seems more and more like its the only common thread) is that we assert that Jesus Christ was true God, and true man.

            "That's your definition" is such a condescending phrase, especially when the definition I gave is the only definition. Someone who thinks Jesus was "a cool guy" is not Christian. I don't know what they are, but if he's not God, he's not worthy of worship.

          • Michael Murray

            No it's not condescending it's a statement of fact. All Christian denominations will have their reason they think they (and some of the others) are genuine Christians. I grew up with a Catholic father and an Anglican mother. I've had some experience of this kind of thing. I always wondered why my mother was getting into heaven while taking a lot less trouble than we had to.

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            We're getting a little off-topic here. I'm not disagreeing with you that there's disagreement. I'm saying there's a common denominator though, common to *all* branches of Christianity.

          • Jon Hawkins

            I think this is a great demonstration of why people shouldn't be left to determine what is to be believed about God. God must show people what is to be believed about God.

        • http://www.facebook.com/joewetterling Joe Wetterling

          I don't see why it follows that Jesus making a claim renders any clarification or defense unnecessary. That there is a debate does not mean that one side is not right. (Nor is debate within a "side" evidence that the side is wrong - unless you're willing to accept that any disagreement among atheists renders atheism moot. (and I don't claim that, of course)

          If He made that claim - and there is significant textual and historical evidence that He did - then the point of uniqueness stands.

    • gabriel_syme

      I think this misses the point of the article in that Fr. Longenecker explicitly explains that while they all "myths," a myth isn't necessarily false. His example of Grandad's story of fighting in the war is a nice example of a myth that's true.

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      Iozen, just a quick warning. We're aiming for serious and substantial dialogue here so little hit-and-run comments like this, without and real weight or explanation, will be deleted in the future. Thanks!

      • josh

        The article does not supply any serious and substantial material, why expect a commenter to rebut it with anything more than laughter.

  • James H, London

    A particularly devastating critique of the Christ Myth myth is here:

    http://agentintellect.blogspot.co.uk/2010/04/christ-myth-myth.html

    The proposition that Jesus never existed has been abandoned by all professional historians. It survives in the fever swamps, though.

  • NoahLuck

    The interesting question is not whether there is a definition of "myth" under which we agree that the Gospels are a myth. It's whether the other, more colloquial and common definition is correctly applied to the Gospels. We already know we have a story with some fantastic elements. In our lives and our well-attested historical events, fantastic story elements are very rare, whereas in unhistorical stories they are very common. Do we have historical (and perhaps other) evidence strong enough to justify believing that these specific fantastic story elements really happened versus the possibility they are merely exceptional stories?

    To that question, I answer "No, not that I have been able to find." In my discussions and reading on the topic, I've only encountered one (non-orthodox) Christian who considered the balance of evidential weight (and remained Christian).

    • Christian Stillings

      NoahLuck, I'm interested in your thoughts about the story of Jesus walking on the water, which you're probably familiar with (but if you'd like a reference, it's in Matthew 14:22-33). One criterion by which a historical account can be evaluated is the "criterion of embarrassment", which posits that "accounts embarrassing to the author are presumed to be true
      because the author would have no reason to invent an embarrassing
      account about himself" (Wikipedia).

      I find the bit where Peter begins to sink and Jesus rebukes him for his lack of faith interesting. Peter was, by all accounts, a major figure in the early Christian church/movement/etcetera, and one may argue that he was the first Pope. We can probably assume that neither the author of Matthew (whoever it may be) nor any other early Christians have any reason to invent stories which slander Peter, so I think that this story could fit the criteria for the criterion of embarrassment.

      Do you think that the fulfillment of the criterion of embarrassment offers greater credibility to the historicity of this story?

      • http://weighandconsider.wordpress.com/ NoahLuck

        Yes, in general, if a person reveals an embarrassing story about themselves in a social context where there is stigma against revealing such a story, then that is evidence in favor of the story being useful to the person, which is often also evidence in favor of it being true. The weight of the evidence is proportional to the level of embarrassment, the severity of the stigma, and the lack of other ways besides truth of being useful.

        Now back to the case at hand. Mark's Gospel is the one where the material is typically attributed to Peter, and IIRC it does not contain that story. That story is in Matthew's Gospel. So the "criterion of embarrassment", though valid, doesn't apply to this specific case.

        • Christian Stillings

          It's my understanding that you believe that the content could fulfill the criteria of the criterion of embarrassment, but that it doesn't bolster the historical credibility of the particular story because the Gospel of Matthew may not be as proximate to Peter as the Gospel of Mark. (I'm not familiar with scholarship related to the Gospels' Petrine proximity, so I'm willing to grant your assertion without contest for the present time.) Is this a fair assessment?

          For the record, there are stories of Jesus walking on water in the Gospels of Mark and John, but it's true that only the Gospel of Matthew records a Petrine venture onto the water.

          I think your characterization of the criterion of embarrassment matches well with the initial characterization which I pulled from Wikipedia. However, I'd like to expand it slightly and see if you agree with the expansion.

          I believe that the criterion of embarrassment can be useful in evaluating other stories besides only those which are about the storyteller himself or herself. I believe that it's reasonable to expand the criterion to also fit other individuals who the storyteller esteems well.

          That's a slightly vague idea, so I'll try to flesh it out a little bit: an embarrassing story can be granted greater credibility if it is told about another individual who the storyteller esteems well and has no incentive to embarrass.

          For example: let's say that I really like my boss, and my spouse is aware that I esteem my boss highly. When I come home after work one evening, I relate to my spouse a somewhat embarrassing story about something that my boss did in the office today. Given that I esteem my boss highly and that I have no incentive to embarrass my boss in the company of my spouse, my spouse can likely assign the story a high credibility as far as containing truth content.

          (I apologize if the last paragraph is in any way labored; I tried to keep it perfectly gender-neutral.)

          Do you agree that my expanded version of the criterion of embarrassment can be reasonably used to assess the credibility of an embarrassing story?

          I don't think that we have any reason to believe that the author of the Gospel of Matthew had an incentive to embarrass Peter, though you're free to supply one if you have any handy. Without such a reason, I believe that my expansion of the criterion of embarrassment can be applied to this story and that its fulfillment of the criteria offers greater credibility to the historicity of the story. Do you agree?

          • http://weighandconsider.wordpress.com/ NoahLuck

            Something's missing from your expansion example. In your example about an embarrassing story about your boss told to your spouse, the motivation for truth-telling was no clearer than for slandering, so the likelihood ratio doesn't suggest evidence for either truth or slander.

            But it might work better for the story from Matthew's Gospel. I'll do a quick Fermi estimate rundown. The two relevant theories are that H1: the miraculous elements of that story really happened or H2: they didn't happen.

            Under H1, the author writing the text might not want to embarrass Peter, but given that it's now decades after the event and Peter's reputation is secure, and the distribution of the gospels is almost exclusively among Christians, and also given the centrality that the story gives Peter, the embarrassment will be minimal. The risk of increased social stigma also seems minimal. (Was Peter already crucified at this time anyway?) The motivation for spreading the story is that it teaches something about Christ. And it's a pretty cool story that the author knows is true. So the odds of sharing it seem good, like 10:1.

            Under H2, the author has the same motivations, but either knows the story is untrue, is unsure whether the story is true, or incorrectly believes the story to be true. So the odds of sharing the story are still good, but tempered by the risk of contradiction (there were spurious stories about Jesus in distribution that the Church later rejected), so maybe 5:1.

            So yeah, you're right, I'd estimate that the "criterion of embarrassment" is evidence in favor of this specific story being genuine, with a Bayes factor of, very roughly, 2:1.

            On the other hand, my prior was low. Again very roughly, it seems to me that fewer than one in a thousand people miraculously walk on water, so if my prior odds are 1:1000, then my posterior odds are 1:500, or 99.8% confidence in H2. The evidence from the "criterion of embarrassment" is quite real but too weak on its own.

            (If you object to my numbers, feel free to suggest your own.)

  • lozen

    Roman emperors (and Rome is where Christianity was born) claimed to be Gods/sons of Gods with human mothers. There were others at the time who claimed virgin birth, special favor with gods, etc. Mithra's story was almost exactly the same as Jesus' story. We all go to different authorities depending on what we want to prove. If we want to prove Jesus existed, unlike Zeus, Isis and the many other gods humans have worshipped over time, we go to church authorities. If we are interested in different viewpoints, we go to different authorities. Many unbiased biblical scholars know there is no historical evidence for the existence of Jesus outside of the Bible. Nobody wrote a word about the dead rising and walking through the town when Jesus was crucified. Don't you think somebody would have mentioned that besides the biblical writers?

    • http://www.brandonvogt.com/ Brandon Vogt

      lozen, thanks for commenting! A couple things in reply. You say:

      "Mithra's story was almost exactly the same as Jesus' story."

      The Mithras story was not "almost exactly the same" as Jesus' story. In fact there are almost *no* significant similarities. We're going to have an article about this soon, but for now here's a post that debunks this common myth:

      http://catholicdefense.blogspot.com/2011/11/jesus-and-mithras-debunked.html

      You then say, "Many unbiased biblical scholars know there is no historical evidence for the existence of Jesus outside of the Bible."

      This is simply not true and making such a claims only betrays your own ignorance about the scholarship in this area. Here's just a sampling of the many early-century, non-Biblical sources that confirm Jesus' existence:

      http://www.thedevineevidence.com/jesus_history.html

      • Vicq_Ruiz

        For a good read in "myths from which the Gospels might be derived" it's still hard to surpass Frazer's classic The Golden Bough, and I hope that your article in the works gives him some consideration.

        C.S. Lewis has I think the best counter-argument when he posits that these myths were predecessors of Christ, expressions of a human longing for something that had yet to happen in reality.

    • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

      Hahaha lozen you keep going around trolling like this and you're going to have everyone on here upset with you

      • lozen

        You are so respectful funny-name-man. How do you get by the censor?

        • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

          I'm nice and generally add to the topic.

          • lozen

            just a quick warning. We're aiming for serious and substantial dialogue here so little hit-and-run comments like this, without and real weight or explanation, will be deleted in the future. Thanks!

          • http://backroomcatholic.com/ EpicusMontaigne

            In your original post, once you take out all of the rhetoric and vitriol, there's very little to respond to, sadly. Normally, that indicates to me that there's a troll.

            To the moderators, I apologize if I am out of line. But it seems to me like his OP was worded to excite a response, since there was no substance that wasn't a) rhetoric (everyone's religion makes miraculous claims) or b) false (Mithras and Jesus were twins, No historical evidence of a man named Christ).

            I'm finished here now.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000651744387 Jim Russell

      Hi, Iozen--

      You wrote: "Nobody wrote a word about the dead rising and walking through the town when Jesus was crucified. Don't you think somebody would have mentioned that besides the biblical writers?"
      A question--what extant 1st-Century Judean written works do you have in mind that actually fail to mention the "dead rising and walking" when Jesus was crucified?
      Thanks,
      Deacon JR
      PS--Brandon--this is a *great* site! God bless your efforts!

      • josh

        How about, the 3 Gospels that aren't Matthew? Of course, we don't know that they are all first century with certainty (John at least probably isn't) , but it's pushing it to say that about Matthew itself. (I'm assuming by extant you mean 'an extant copy' and not a physical text written in that time period.) I'm pretty sure Josephus, Tacitus and Suetonius make no mention of dead people walking around Jerusalem.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000651744387 Jim Russell

          But here's the thing: the entire New Testament is all about the *one* dead person walking around Jerusalem that really mattered--Jesus Himself. Yet, He did not appear to everyone, and the others who, much like Lazarus. "rose" from their tombs at the death of Jesus (who would all die once again), according to Matthew (whose Jewish-Christian audience would likely have a heightened interest in this Jerusalem detail), did not make any appearance until after Jesus' own resurrection. So, it's an interesting detail, and not surprising that Matthew alone records it, since indeed it's a bit overshadowed by glorified and risen-for-all-time Resurrection of Jesus Himself.
          But the truth is (and my point was), to argue from the silence of the written record from 1st-century Judea is pretty weak, since it's not like we have reams of material to indicate the full breadth of what people witnessed and/or wrote about. The fact that Matthew's Gospel mentions this detail is intriguing and there is no indication that the detail is untrue...

          • josh

            Well, no... there is every indication that this 'detail' is untrue. It's a fantastic miracle claim with no evidence, which should be recorded with tons of evidence if it had actually happened, but which rather fits in perfectly as an embellishment/fabrication of a religious hero story, not unlike millions of mythic fictions found around the world and well explained by human psychology.

            The walking dead is not a 'Jewish detail', it would be interesting to everyone. The early Christians themselves were hungry for miracle stories about Jesus, and his followers, and his followers' followers, etc. The Romans (and Greeks and Jews and etc.) would have been astounded the same way you or I would to see a mass raising of the dead. The Romans would have readily interpreted it as an all-important omen. Suetonius records a number of less impressive omens involving wayward Eagles, lightning strikes, and withering/blooming trees (hmmm, where have I heard that one before?), attributing them to the fates of Emperors and such. You seriously think everyone except Matthew's author (who likely wasn't around at the time) just said "Huh, neat!" and forgot to write it down?

    • Pete the Greek

      I notice that lozan hasn't responded to either Jim or Brandon yet.

      • lozen

        Jeez Pete! I'm reading and trying to digest all this stuff that Brandon wants me to read. And I do have a life ya know? Give me time!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

    “If ‘myth’ means a made up story with no basis in history or fact, then no the gospels are not myth.”

    Why says that the story is made up? No one deliberately makes up what comes out of a decades-long period of oral history, but it’s incorrect nonetheless. I think “legend” is the better term.

    I’ve found a dozen Christian responses to the legend hypothesis. I respond to them here.

    • Christian Stillings

      "Wh[o] says that the story is made up?" Most folks wouldn't, but Richard Carrier and his fanboys do, and they tend to inexplicably make up a substantial contingent of the participants in Christian-and-atheist internet forums.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/ BobSeidensticker

        If most folks wouldn't, it'd be great if Christians like Dwight Longenecker wouldn't toss that out as a straw man.

  • ateo

    Why would you use Joseph Campbell as an example? The "hero" story is easily used to show that the story of Jesus is not original, and was easily plagarized from other cultures' stories that predate it.

    • Christian Stillings

      I took another look over Fr. Longnecker's summation of Campbell's "Hero" type, and I don't any particularly strong parallels. To recap:

      The mono-myth is the story of how a hero leaves his ordinary world and sets out on an adventure to overcome great evil and claim a great prize before returning home to save his people.

      1. A hero? Okay, sort of, though I'm not aware of any Christ-type "suffering heroes" in literature predating the first century AD.

      2. Leaves his ordinary world? Eh, I'm not sure that heaven counts as an "ordinary world", but one could *maybe* try to argue for a leaves-and-comes-back-home sort of narrative.

      3. An adventure? Eh, not really. The trip to Egypt wouldn't even really be close; it's not as though we derive any particularly adventurous content from it.

      4. Overcome great evil? Okay, we have our first good match.

      5. Claim a great prize? I can't think of anything that fits particularly well here- victory over death, maybe? However, I think other ancient adventure stories tend more toward "a beautiful woman" and less toward "redemption from sin... for everyone else".

      6. Before returning home? Not much to see here.

      7. To save his people? Okay, we have a second good match.

      Given Fr. Longnecker's summation of Campbell's "Hero", I don't think that 2 for 7 is a particularly good match. There are a couple ways you could try poking holes here:

      You could contest Campbell's scholarship and argue for stronger parallels between ancient heroes and Jesus as depicted in the Gospels.

      If you've read the Campbell book, you could contest Fr. Longnecker's characterization of the "Hero" type.

      You could contest my parallels between Fr. Longnecker's characterization and Jesus and proffer what you think would be stronger parallels.

      You could cite other pre-Christian stories which you think have closer similarities to the story of Jesus, which would in turn be subject to critique.

      Ready, set, have at it!

  • stanz2reason

    Are the gospels a myth? Yes and no. If “myth” means a made up story with no basis in history or fact, then”no” the gospels are not myth.

    I don't think this is what most people would say when regarding the christian myth as a 'myth'. I think it's fair to say that most people would agree that there is some 'basis in history or fact' in the christian myth much like there is for any other myth. Odysseus was king of Ithica, which was a real place, though this speaks nothing to the truth of 'The Odyssey'. You could demonstrate some historical evidence for King Arthur, though this speaks nothing of the truth of Merlins magical powers. And it seems likely that some person, or combination of persons around the time of christ could have been Jesus in a historical sense, though this says nothing about a single supernatural claim.

    It's misleading, if not downright dishonest, to suggest that the christianity leaps out of myth status because there is some level of underlying historical accuracy there. The christian myth is a myth because of the supernatural descriptions & internal inconsistencies do not hold up to even the slightest scrutiny.

  • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

    I appreciate Dwight Longenecker's reference to the work of Joseph Campbell, who did very good research across cultural bounds to show how our myths shape our world views, values and goals. People best remember things in story form, especially when the story evokes emotional response. This was especially important back when writing was rare and myths were passed by oral tradition. I agree that elders in a tribe would more care about the ability of stories to pass on ideas of values to the next generation than the factual or historical accuracy of the stories themselves. A good example is the teaching that was handed down in pre-Christian Greek culture through Aesop's fables.

    There are, however, times when the history and facts matter. If scripture tells you that faith protects you from deadly snakes, you need to know if it is factual before you go handle those snakes. If myth leads you to withhold medical treatment, such as transfusions, from your children, you need to know if they are going to get better in the real world or the mythical world. Same goes for establishing policies of withholding condoms or passing death penalties on gays in Africa.

    I always encourage people, religious or not, to look into the formal scholarship on scripture and the history of religions. With just a little work you will find that the mythology of the Gospels is something constructed by a Greek speaking community that wrote and collected them in the second century based on stories that were evolving in a first century oral tradition. They were written to get a theological picture across, not to relate actual facts. There is no reason to expect that an actual army of zombies walked the streets of Jerusalem after Passover, or any of the other miraculous events factually happened.

    • Christian Stillings

      I agree that elders in a tribe would more care about the ability of stories to pass on ideas of values to the next generation than the factual or historical accuracy of the stories themselves. A good example is the teaching that was handed down in pre-Christian Greek culture through Aesop's fables.

      I agree with your assessment of the content and genre of Aesop's Fables, but I don't think your implied parallel between them and the Gospels is faithful to the intention behind the latter. I don't think anyone believed that the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare was meant to convey an actual, historical race. However, I don't think the writers of the Gospels meant for their work to be understood in the same way.

      Your second paragraph... I won't tackle it presently. Maybe I'll get back to it soon.

      What scholarship are you reading? Dating the Gospels is disagreeable work, but the majority consensus unilaterally places the penning of the Gospels within the first century AD, and St. Paul's writings at mid-century. The "mythology" at the core of the Christian religion certainly existed in written form as early as mid-first century AD, and was understood then to relate to actual historical content. (Unless you'd like to suggest that St. Paul based his life's toils around a couple nice stories which he didn't actually think related to historical events?)

      They were written to get a theological picture across, not to relate actual facts.

      ... except when the author of Luke basically tells us that he's compiling a record of eyewitness testimony. If there were eyewitnesses, there must have been actual, historical events for them to have eyewitnessed. Unless you can supply a reason to believe that these "eyewitnesses" were actually a couple of first-century Jews who sat around, dreamed up imaginary stories about a Messiah, and decided to go around spinning them as history, I think it's fair to say that at least the Gospel of Luke is meant to be understood as a historical record, which means that your above assertion is false.

      Yes, St. Paul and the Gospel authors wrote about theological content, but it was content which was explicitly placed in a historical context, and it was meant to be understood as such. The burden is on you to demonstrate why anyone should believe otherwise.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

        Christian:

        I don't think the writers of the Gospels meant for their work to be understood in the same way.

        I’ve heard some (Karen Armstrong comes to mind) say that the idea of the Jesus story taken as historical fact is a recent invention. I wish I grasped the points better so I could provide more information.

        Unless you'd like to suggest that St. Paul based his life's toils around a couple nice stories which he didn't actually think related to historical events?

        The “Gospel of Paul” (I’ve written more here) is a paragraph in length. He gives us almost nothing of the gospel story. “A couple of nice stories” is more than Paul gives us. Sure, perhaps he had the gospel story in his head, but he didn’t let the rest of us in on the secret.

        If there were eyewitnesses, there must have been actual, historical events for them to have eyewitnessed.

        And were there eyewitnesses?! That’s the question. For Luke to say, “I checked with the eyewitnesses” doesn’t do much for me. Call me skeptical, but prepending “I saw this myself!” to a supernatural story doesn’t raise its credibility in my mind a bit.

        What we have are stories. Are they history? Maybe, but I’ll need a heckuva lot of evidence.

        Unless you can supply a reason to believe that these "eyewitnesses" were actually a couple of first-century Jews who sat around, dreamed up imaginary stories about a Messiah

        No one says that it was a deliberate lie or hoax. (Except Christians dreaming up strawmen.)

        The burden is on you to demonstrate why anyone should believe otherwise.

        You have a 2000-yo supernatural story and the burden is on the skeptic?! Allow me to humbly disagree.

        • Susan

          >What we have are stories.

          Yes. And an elaborate framework that has built itself up around those stories.

          >You have a 2000-yo supernatural story and the burden is on the skeptic?!

          Thank you for getting things back to basics.

        • Christian Stillings

          I'd be interested to read what evidence Ms. Armstrong would have for those assertions. "A recent invention"? Church figures have been taking them as nothing-but-history for as far back as we can tell. If they went from not-being-considered-historical to being-considered-historical, it must have been around the second century, and it'd be interesting to see someone try to demonstrate that. Perhaps I've misunderstood your idea, but I think that any claim that "the gospels weren't considered as history until recently" is bogus.

          Regardless of what St. Paul did or didn't know of Jesus' life (and I agree that he didn't say a lot), I was specifically responding to the idea that Paul would've so devoted his life to things which he believed to be a-historical. Q. said that "[the NT writings about Jesus' life] were written to get a theological picture across, not to relate actual facts." My response was "you think St. Paul poured his life into spreading a couple nice stories that had nothing to do with actual historical facts?"

          With the eyewitnesses, I was again responding to Q.'s assertion about the non-historical intentions behind the Gospels. The author of Luke believed that he was getting his facts from eyewitnesses, and eyewitnessing requires actual historical events. Contra Q., I think it's very clear that *at least* the Gospel of Luke is meant to be understood as a historical document, not as a collection of a-historical theological musings. Questions about what the purported eyewitnesses did or didn't actually see are another matter entirely.

          No one says that it was a deliberate lie or hoax. (Except Christians dreaming up strawmen.)

          Again, I'm specifically responding to Q.'s assertion that the Gospels were just about an abstract theological picture and not meant to actually relate to history. If the Gospels weren't meant to be understood as history, either their authors didn't intend for them to be read as history (which I specifically countered regarding Luke), or the sources of the Gospels' content (assuming them as non-eyewitness accounts) dreamed up some a-historical theological musings, which the Gospel authors gullibly believed to be historical narratives and recorded as such.

          You have a 2000-yo supernatural story and the burden is on the skeptic?! Allow me to humbly disagree.

          Q.'s specific burden, to which I was referring, is the burden of demonstrating that the NT authors didn't mean for their content to be understood as historical. From the context of my paragraph:

          ... it was content which was explicitly placed in a historical context, and it was meant to be understood as such. The burden is on you to demonstrate why anyone should believe otherwise.

          Q. asserted that the NT writings were meant to be understood as non-historical theological musings. I think I've made a good case, both with St. Paul's writings and with the Gospel of Luke, that they're meant to be understood as history. The burden is on Q. to demonstrate why we should believe that their intention was to be understood as anything but history. You jumped to the question of "you expect me to believe this?!", which is a fair question, but it's not the burden which I was posing to Q.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

            Christian:

            Perhaps I should’ve said “literal” instead of “historical.” And “recent” means about a century ago.

            The point was that an early Christian would dismiss contradictions between the gospels as unimportant. So the synoptics have the crucifixion on the day after Passover and John has it the day before—who cares? The fundamentals of the story are still intact. By contrast, many modern Christians dismiss the contradictions by trying to harmonize them.
            I confess that, while I've heard this thinking from scholars several times, I don't grasp it enough to present it well here. Homework for me, I guess.

            I was specifically responding to the idea that Paul would've so devoted his life to things which he believed to be a-historical.

            Wouldn’t some people back then see some things as mytholically true but not historically true? The priests in the cults of the various Greek or Roman gods, say.

            I think it's very clear that *at least* the Gospel of Luke is meant to be understood as a historical document, not as a collection of a-historical theological musings.

            Perhaps. I was approaching this from another angle: just because someone makes a claim of fact doesn’t mean that we have warrant to accept it as such.

            which the Gospel authors gullibly believed to be historical narratives and recorded as such.

            And this is very different from anyone concocting a lie or hoax.

          • Christian Stillings

            I've heard, though I don't have a specific citation at present, that Patristic era theologians (AD 30-c. 500) wrote harmonizations of the Gospel narratives, which would indicate a belief in literal historicity. I can try to find a citation if you'd like.

            Wouldn’t some people back then see some things as mytholically true but not historically true? The priests in the cults of the various Greek or Roman gods, say.

            I don't think this is a good parallel. If you were a priest in, say, the Cult of Dionysus, you could probably expect to take part in some crazy drunken orgies. Our best indications tell us that St. Paul didn't have anywhere near this much fun. Who goes around getting himself or herself thrown in prison for kicks and giggles?

            Plus, the cults of various Greco-Roman gods were basically a part of society at the time. Paying tribute to the gods was the equivalent of a modern American going to see fireworks on the 4th of July- it was just an established part of the social order. Early Christians, on the other hand, got into a lot of trouble for their own beliefs, which required that they not participate in the civic worship of the cultural gods. If St. Paul was myth-making in the tradition of the Greco-Roman gods, the resulting mythology should've looked a LOT different than it did. Of course, St. Paul could've been notoriously terrible at story-weaving (and inexplicably clung more tightly to his story as it continued to get him into trouble), but I think the former possibility is much more likely.

            Perhaps. I was approaching this from another angle: just because someone makes a claim of fact doesn’t mean that we have warrant to accept it as such.

            Did I just get Bob Seidensticker to partially concede a point? Huzzah! :-P More seriously, I agree that we need not accept all purported facts as being factual. I think we've clarified that we were approaching it from different angles: I set my eye on the modest prize of demonstrating that the author of Luke meant to convey history through his writing. Whether or not a reasonable reader ought to accept the content as representative of actual history is another matter, and not one which I intended to tackle.

            And this is very different from anyone concocting a lie or hoax.

            Sure. There are a several options I see on the table for assessing the content of the Gospels:

            1. The Gospel accounts contain factual history and were meant to be read as such. They were written by eyewitnesses or by later authors consulting oral tradition.
            2. The Gospel accounts blend factual history with mythology and were meant to be read as entirely factually historical. The authors, who weren't eyewitnesses, were duped into accepting mythology as factual history. The source of the mythological content is indeterminable.
            3. The Gospel accounts blend factual history with mythology and were intended to be read as a mix of the two. The authors were aware of the different content types and failed to distinguish clearly in the text which portions pertained to each type.
            4. The Gospel accounts are entirely or nearly-all mythological and were meant to be read as entirely factually historical. The authors, who weren't eyewitnesses, were duped into accepting mythology as factual history. The source of the mythological content is indeterminable, although Bill and Ted are highly suspected.
            5. The Gospel accounts are entirely or nearly-all mythological, yet at least one Gospel writer (Luke) presents his account clearly as history. The other Gospel writers write in a biographical style unknown to fiction of the time, yet mean for the accounts to be read as mythology without making this explicitly clear in any way.

            My best guess is that you (Bob) opt for #2, but I'm curious to hear your own thoughts on my list. Do I summarize various perspectives well? Are there any perspectives you think I left out? I look forward to your feedback!

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

            Christian:

            If you were a priest in, say, the Cult of Dionysus

            Such a priest would think that Dionysus really was reborn, but he wouldn’t place it in history. It would be “long ago.” This is a mythological context.

            Who goes around getting himself or herself thrown in prison for kicks and giggles?

            Who crashes planes into buildings for kicks and giggles? No one is suggesting that Paul didn’t believe something or it was a hoax.

            Early Christians, on the other hand, got into a lot of trouble for their own beliefs

            Sure—but so what? You can’t be suggesting that Christianity was the only persecuted minority religion.

            If St. Paul was myth-making in the tradition of the Greco-Roman gods

            Again, no one is suggesting a deliberate fiction. A legend, on the other hand, is what I’m suggesting.

            As for your list of options, there’s an important difference between myth (“long ago and far away”) and legend (“my cousin Vinnie has it on good authority that …”). Legend is more about people than gods (myth is vice versa) and is grounded in our history (“in the time of Caesar Augustus,” say).

            “Legend” is the bin in which to place the gospels, IMO. As I mentioned earlier, I think that the claim that the gospels were intended to be history (or initially read as such) is debatable, but I don’t have the data to clarify that position.

          • Christian Stillings

            My point is that it makes no sense to put St. Paul's beliefs in the same category as pagan beliefs, such as those held in the Cult of Dionysus. When I said that St. Paul's devotion indicated the historical nature of his beliefs, you suggested that some people, such as the contemporary pagans, devoted their own lives to things which they believed to be "mytholically true but not historically true."

            I think that the qualitative effects of each kind of belief disqualify any attempt to portray them as parallel. Devoting oneself to pagan beliefs was socially acceptable and beneficial; being a Christian was quite the opposite. Being a priest in the Cult of Dionysus would get one laid. Being the "slave of Jesus Christ" got St. Paul thrown in prison. If St. Paul wanted, like a contemporary pagan priest, to devote his life to a mythological-but-not-historical belief, his particular choice of belief makes little sense. His persistence through persecution makes it even more bizarre.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

            Christian:

            You said that Paul wouldn’t devote his life to things that he believed were a-historical. I responded that others did. Sounds like we’re in agreement. My point is that someone devoting his life on non-historical (but mythical, perhaps) things isn’t unheard of.

            His persistence through persecution makes it even more bizarre.

            He believed a legend. What is left unexplained?

          • Christian Stillings

            I should've clarified that his specific kind of devotion, especially in light of his particular circumstance, indicated a devotion to a belief in historical facts. The kind of devotion displayed by pagan clerics of the day is qualitatively different, and I think that the specific circumstances invalidate any attempt to meaningfully parallel the two.

            He believed a legend. What is left unexplained?

            Again, I was discrediting the idea of parallel pagan-Paul devotion. His persistence would have made no sense had he not believed that (what he knew of) the Jesus story was rooted in historical facts. Whether or not those beliefs correspond to actual historical facts is a separate issue.

          • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined Bob Seidensticker

            Christian:

            [Paul’s] persistence would have made no sense
            had he not believed that (what he knew of) the Jesus story was rooted in historical facts.

            OK. He heard a legend, and he believed it. Again: what’s left
            unexplained?

          • Christian Stillings

            Bob, you keep taking my argument further than I intend for it to go and addressing questions that I haven't. All I'm arguing presently is that St. Paul believed the Jesus story to have taken place in real, factual history. If you agree with that assertion, I don't feel compelled to pursue this particular conversation further. If you disagree with that assertion, I'm interested in hearing your reason for disagreement.

            Instead of addressing the question which I've been addressing- "of what nature were St. Paul's beliefs about Jesus?"- you tried to answer a different question, "for what reason(s) might St. Paul have held his beliefs?" Your answer is one which could satisfy the question, and it's certainly worth further discussion. However, that's not a discussion I've tried to engage, and it's not one which I intend to engage presently.

            As I said in my most recent comment, "Whether or not those beliefs correspond to actual historical facts is a separate issue." I understand your inclination toward addressing the issue, but I've not tried to do so at any time in this conversation, and I don't intend to do so now. I'm simply interested in whether or not you agree with my assertion that "St. Paul believed the Jesus story to have taken place in real, factual history."

      • Michael Murray

        Unless you can supply a reason to believe that these "eyewitnesses" were actually a couple of first-century Jews who sat around, dreamed up imaginary stories about a Messiah, and decided to go around spinning them as history,

        Did you ever read Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted Word

        http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Haunted-World-Science-Candle-ebook/dp/B004W0I00Q/ref=la_B000AQ27JQ_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370596426&sr=1-1

        He talks about crop circles which where invented by a couple of guys in the UK. Even after they came out and admitted it and explained how they did it people who thought aliens had done it still believed.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_circle

        People are capable of being very strange.

      • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

        Hi Christian, you wrote:

        What scholarship are you reading? Dating the Gospels is disagreeable work, but the majority consensus unilaterally places the penning of the Gospels within the first century AD, and St. Paul's writings at mid-century. The "mythology" at the core of the Christian religion certainly existed in written form as early as mid-first century AD, and was understood then to relate to actual historical content.

        I agree that the synoptic gospels were written in some form in the latter first century and then the gospel labeled "John" later, much closer to the turn of the century or in the first decade of the second century. At your prodding I went back an re-read what I had written, and I see that I was not clear about that, and gave the impression that I thought they were both written and collected in the second century, when I meant to say that they were written by the Greek speaking community, and then collected by that community, that collecting part during the second century. That was my fault.

        We have evidence of the fact of first century writing of the synoptics because of commentaries about them and the pegging of a few historical events. However, we don't know what was actually in them when they were first written. The primary means of telling the Jesus story in the first century was actually telling the story, orally, by the preachers to people who were not usually expected to be able to read.

        My comment is specifically directed to the four canonical gospels, and not Acts or the letters attributed to Saul of Tarsus (Paul). Those relate events after Jesus, that even if not completely accurate, most historians do take seriously. Please note that what I wrote did not say that no events in the canonical gospels really happened. Some historians, such as Richard Carrier, may hold that Jesus was entirely fictional, but that is not what I wrote. You can go dig into the scholarship across the spectrum of belief to read about things that the gospels got right or got wrong, historically, that was not my point.

        I was writing about the purpose of the canonical gospels. When the preachers of the first century passed away, it became more important to write the story down. In the second century the fights between the different groups made it important to get the story to be uniform, and to relate events that could be interpreted as the fulfillment of prophesy in prior scripture. Again, we don't know what changes were made to the texts during this period. My whole point was that the canonical gospels were written long after the life of Jesus (I think there probably was a life of Jesus) so as to be what Joseph Campbell describes as a hero's journey.

        • Christian Stillings

          Hey Q., thanks for clarifying your thoughts. I'll briefly respond to a few thoughts from your last comment:

          Again, we don't know what changes were made to the texts during this period. My whole point was that the canonical gospels were written long after the life of Jesus (I think there probably was a life of Jesus) so as to be what Joseph Campbell describes as a hero's journey.

          I think the burden is on the skeptic (sorry, Bob!) to demonstrate why we should consider the textual-changes hypothesis to be very likely. If these were believed to be sacred texts (or at least texts pertaining very closely to the sacred God-Man Jesus Christ), I consider it unlikely that fudging would've been allowed, let alone practiced. Further, if Christian scribes were in the practice of revising the Gospel manuscripts, we should expect them to have ironed out some of the apparent difficulties which arise in comparing the different Gospel accounts, but they didn't. I think there are much better reasons supporting the texts-weren't-changed hypothesis than the texts-were-changed hypothesis, and it sounds like you're placing your bet on the latter.

          As I noted in my response above to Ateo, the Campbell "hero type" only lines up with the Jesus story on 2 of 7 significant points. Your'e free to contest my arguments from up there, but I think they're pretty solid. If Christians had revised the written accounts of the Jesus story in order to make Jesus more like Campbell's "hero type", they did an extraordinarily poor job of it.

          Plus, the two points on which Campbell's mono-myth and the Jesus story match ("overcome great evil" and "to save his people") are substantially present (Aquinas humor!) in the letters of St. Paul, which you'd probably agree emerged within a few decades of Jesus' time on earth. The Jesus story's only significant comparisons to Campbell's mono-myth go back to the (probably) earliest written materials regarding the Jesus story. If Christians changed the life story of a historical Jesus in order to better match it to Campbell's myth, it must have been very early (before St. Paul's letters) and very poorly-done.

          In short, your assertion that "the Jesus story was changed to match the the heroic mono-myth" doesn't hold up very well. It's highly implausible on several counts.

          Did he ever read the canonical gospels? Probably not the writings that did not happen until after his death.

          When I said "a couple nice stories", I meant the parts of the Jesus story with which St. Paul was clearly familiar. Even assuming that the Gospels weren't written until after St. Paul's death (which is a contestable hypothesis), they're irrelevant to the facts that Paul was clearly familiar with the most essential parts of the Jesus story and that he proliferated them with great toil. My assertion, which I think still stands, is that St. Paul's toils and writings indicate that he believed the Jesus story (or at least what he knew of it) to be historical fact and not a-historical theological musings. It wouldn't make sense for him to put such labor into evangelizing if he believed that Jesus' life, death, and resurrection were "just a couple nice stories" which didn't relate to factual history.

          • http://quinesqueue.blogspot.com/ Q. Quine

            I think the burden is on the skeptic (sorry, Bob!) to demonstrate why we should consider the textual-changes hypothesis to be very likely.

            Christian, yes that is true if we wanted you to believe it. However, if you believe that the text is true because a supernatural power makes it true, no evidence is going to make any difference. You are entitled to believe it, and it is fine with me if you do. However, we who do not believe, look first for a natural explanation. The burden is upon anyone else to present evidence to us that something beyond Nature is going on.

            Further, if Christian scribes were in the practice of revising the Gospel manuscripts, we should expect them to have ironed out some of the apparent difficulties which arise in comparing the different Gospel accounts, but they didn't.

            Yes, they did, and we have no idea how much. Listen to what we do know about from Biblical Scholar, Bart Ehrman

            The hero story pops up in all cultures. In this one, the hero suffers and sacrifices himself to save the entire human race who are suffering because of The Fall. It is deeply psychological. Something was needed when the expected characteristics of the Messiah (leading the expulsion of the Romans) did not materialize.

            I am completely convinced that Saul (Paul) was a true believer. That does not mean that what he believed was any more true than the Islam that many people have given their lives for, or that that Emperor of Japan was divine just because suicide warriors were willing to die for his honor. I suspect Saul had a stroke or epileptic seisure, and the temporal lobe of his brain synthesized a delusion which he interpreted as meeting with a ghost Jesus, and that experience changed his life. I can't prove that, but it is a natural explanation that is vastly more plausible than the supernatural alternative. I don't expect that to make any difference to you, but I have already explained that that is your business.

            .

  • JOR EL VAZQUEZ LIMON

    HOLA A TODOS NUEVAMENTE. DISCULPEN SI LES ENVIÉ MUCHAS VECES UN MISMO MENSAJE O COMENTARIO, ES CONSECUENCIA DE LA FALTA DE COSTUMBRE Y CONOCIMIENTO A UTILIZAR LAS REDES SOCIALES Y EL INTERNET (COMO ME DIO "GUERRA" EN LA UNIVERSIDAD, ME COSTABA MUCHO TRABAJO HACER LAS TAREAS POR COMPUTADORA, ETCÉTERA).

    HE AQUÍ MI COMENTARIO:

    YO NO CREO QUE SEA UN MITO LA BIBLIA....MMMM....LEYENDA TAL VEZ UN POQUITO, PERO MUY POQUITO EN ALGUNAS PARTES QUE CONFORMAN LO QUE ES EL NUEVO TESTAMENTO.

    POR EJEMPLO:

    TODOS SABEMOS QUE LOS AUTORES DEL NUEVO TESTAMENTO (EN LA PARTE DONDE SE HABLA DE LA ENCARNACIÓN Y NACIMIENTO DE JESUS, SU BAUTIZO, SUS PREDICACIONES Y MILAGROS REALIZADOS, SU PASIÓN Y MUERTE, Y SU RESURRECCIÓN AL 3° DÍA....) SON: SAN MATEO, SAN LUCAS, SAN JUAN.

    SIN EMBARGO HAY ACTOS QUE NO MENCIONAN LOS 3...O BIEN LOS DESCRIBEN DE MANERA DIFERENTE; EJEMPLO:

    UNO DESCRIBE QUE UN DÍA QUE JESUS IBA EN CAMINO CON SUS DISCÍPULOS POR LAS CALLES, UNA MUJER QUE PADECÍA UNA HEMORRAGIA: SE LE ACERCO POR DETRÁS Y LE TOCO EL FLECO DEL MANTO. AL INSTANTE ELLA QUEDO SANA; JESUS SE DIO LA VUELTA Y LE DIJO: "ANIMO, TU FE TE HA SALVADO".

    PERO OTRO AUTOR MENCIONA QUE JESUS AL VOLVERSE PREGUNTÓ: "¿QUIEN ME HA TOCADO?", SUS DISCÍPULOS LE RESPONDIERON: "SEÑOR ES LA MULTITUD QUIEN TE EMPUJA". EL RESTO YA LO SABEN USTEDES.

    Y ES AHÍ EN DONDE ENTRA LA DUDA A CUALQUIER SIMPLE LECTOR QUE LEE O ESTUDIA LA BIBLIA DE VEZ EN CUANDO.

    ADEMAS HAY INFINIDAD DE NARRACIONES DE SUCESOS QUE SABE DIOS QUIEN LOS EMPEZÓ A PROPAGAR. ESTA POR EJEMPLO UNO, QUE DICE QUE LOS SOLDADOS ROMANOS IBAN PERSIGUIENDO A MARÍA (CON EL NIÑO JESUS OCULTO ENTRE EL MANTO DE SU PECHO) Y JOSÉ, LES DIERON ALCANCE Y LE OBLIGARON A MARÍA A DESCUBRIRSE EL MANTO DEL PECHO, Y EN LUGAR DEL NIÑO JESUS SOLO HALLARON UN RAMO DE FLORES....

    ES POSIBLE, OPINO Y PIENSO YO QUE ES POSIBLEMENTE QUE POR ESAS LEYENDAS LOS ATEOS Y OTRAS PERSONAS CON DIFERENTE RELIGIÓN O CREENCIA PIENSEN QUE LA BIBLIA SEA UN MITO.

    POR MI PARTE YO ME QUEDO CON LA IDEA QUE LA BIBLIA ES LA NARRACIÓN DE SUCESOS Y HECHOS RELIGIOSOS--QUE RELACIONADOS CON EL DIOS YAVÉ, LA SAGRADA FAMILIA Y TODOS LOS SANTOS--LOS CUALES AL PASO DE TODOS LOS TIEMPOS LAS DIVERSAS Y VARIADAS GENERACIONES HUMANAS (POR SU PROPIA CUENTA) LOS HAN IDO CONVIRTIENDO EN: "LEYENDA". HE DICHO.