Jesus Never Existed: An Introduction to the Ultimate Heresy
With an interview by Chip Smith
Charleston, W.V.: Nine-Banded Books, 2014
Bert Cooper: “Even if this were true, who cares? This country was built and run by men with worse stories than whatever you’ve imagined here.”
“One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist.” — Maurice Casey
Not content with filling the world with essays on anti-natalism and novels of Nowickian despair, Nine-Banded Books has now decided to tackle “the ultimate heresy.”
No, it’s not pedophilia, or cannibalism, or wearing white after Labor Day. It’s the idea that Jesus Christ never existed.
Not much of a heresy? Think about it. Jews, whether secularist or worshipers of the sky-god JHVH-1, don’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah, but they do believe that there was a Jesus. According to the Talmud, he still lives, confined to a boiling pot of semen in Hades.
Agnostics and atheists, like those Four Horsemen of the New Atheism we hear far too much about, don’t believe Jesus was God, or the Son of God, or the right-hand man of God, but they do believe that he . . . was. Some praise him as a wise man about whom absurd legends were woven, some mock him as a deluded prophet of doom, but they all accord him the dignity of existence.
Kenneth Humphreys – along with, we shall see, increasing numbers of other skeptics — takes the last step, looks at the (lack) of evidence, makes up his own mind, and winds up endorsing the ultimate heresy: Jesus never existed.
Do you really think it all began with a sanctimonious Jewish wonder-worker, strolling about 1st century Palestine? Prepare to be enlightened.
To call this a heresy, of course, does not mean it hasn’t been argued before. In fact, it’s been around for some 200 years, from Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768) onward. You can read Humphreys’ chronology of scholars and laymen online here.
Even the Popes weighed in:
Boniface VIII (1294–1303) at a General Council at the University of Paris and, in front of King Philip of France, five archbishops, and twenty-two bishops, said; “There was no Jesus Christ and the Eucharist is just flour and water. Mary was no more a virgin than my own mother, and there is no more harm in adultery than in rubbing your hands together.”
Pope Paul III (1534–1549) said that “there is no valid document to demonstrate the existence of Jesus Christ’, adding ‘that Jesus Christ had never existed.”
Pope Alexander VI (1431–1503) openly revealed his thoughts about the fabricated nature of the Christian religion, saying; “Almighty God! How long will this superstitious sect of Christians, and this upstart invention, endure?”
At the turn of the last century, the Christ Myth seemed to be all the rage among academics, but for some reason – possibly connected with the rise of Fundamentalism, but certainly not connected with the discovery of any new evidence — the “scholarly consensus,” to use that much abused phrase, has swung to the aforementioned Big Bang Theory: “there must have been somebody, no matter how much of a schnook or schlemiel, to start the whole thing off.”
Even scholars like Bart Ehrman, for example; despite being an agnostic, and the author of a whole treatise on the early Christians as fanatical liars and forgers, Ehrman insists that there had to be some kind of real guy, and anyone who disagrees is just a kook.
There’s a problem with that, however; an instability within the Big Bang: if Jesus wasn’t, as academics admit, a miraculous wonder-worker, and no secular historian or contemporary document or carving deigns to mention this ordinary guy, then why postulate him at all? As Humphreys says on his website:
The New Apologetics is at its weakness at precisely those points where the old apologetics offers miracle and marvel to resolve difficulties. Why was Jesus notable if he did not draw multitudes from across the region? Why was he remembered decades later if he did not perform spectacular healings and miracles? Why did his followers “just start believing” that he had been resurrected if the laws of the universe had not been suspended?
A Jesus who did nothing of consequence and said nothing of consequence would not have been the catalyst for a religious revolution.
A nonentity of a Jesus, even a gifted carpenter, simply could not have inspired an overturning of established belief systems that had held sway for centuries, if not millennia. A minimalist Jesus (and in fact there were hundreds of men of that name!) obliges us to look elsewhere to explain the religious sea change.
Humphreys, like many — not all — of the Mythicists, suggests the well-known (in other religions) phenomenon of syncretism:
The truth is that Christianity grew from neither a god nor a man but out of what had gone before; a human Jesus was no more necessary than was a human Horus, Dionysos, Mithras, Attis, etc. Can we explain the emergence of Christianity without its humanoid superstar? Of course we can. Christianity, like all religious movements, was born from myth-making and many currents fed the myth, including astrological speculation, pagan salvation cults, Hellenistic hero worship, and the imperial cult itself, manufactured at precisely the “time of Jesus,” with its own sacrificed saviour (Divus Iulius), its own gospel of a son of god (Res Gestae Divi Augusti), its own priests and temples, established in the very same urban centres which later witnessed the emergence of early Christianity. In its various rival incarnations the Christian movement languished for two centuries. Thanks to civil war it got its big chance and finally triumphed in an omnibus edition of all that had gone before, the ultimate product of ancient religious syncretism.
Now, readers familiar with Traditionalists like René Guénon will recognize that “syncretism” is a Bad Thing which he is always insistent on distinguishing from his own notion of a “transcendent unity of religion” (in Schuon’s phrase) or “the traditional method” (Evola’s phrase). In the latter, distinct traditions are “unified” by tracing them to common principles of which they are local variants (Coomaraswamy’s “paths that lead to the same summit”); in syncretism, these traditions receive a premature, superficial, ultimately false unity on the basis of purely accidental local similarities. It is typical of the 19th-century pseudo-traditions that Guénon called “spiritism” or what today we would call ‘New Age cults.”
Now there are two interesting things to note here. First, Humphreys gives a pedigree for his notion of syncretism by adducing the examples of Alexander, who not only spread Hellenism but also encouraged his generals to dress as Persians and take Persian wives “in order to create a hybrid race” in other words, mongrelization — and the Romans, ‘who went even further,” creating a cacophony of races and religions in which Christianity became almost the natural alpha dog. This fits nicely with Guénon’s notorious anti-Classicism, noting a fundamental metaphysical defect in the “Greco-Latin” world that makes it the natural vehicle of cyclical degeneration, always disguised as the “new” or the “reborn.”
The other, however, presents a challenge to Guénon, who always thought of Christianity as an authentic tradition, and as the savior of the degenerate Greco-Roman world. But what if, in fact, Christianity is just another lousy syncretism, which has come to dominate the West not because it’s “true” but simply and precisely because it is the biggest, and most mundanely bureaucratized, syncretism of them all?
Finally, Christianity cut down to size; just another synthetic neo-pagan cult, no worse – or better – than any other.
About ten years ago, Kenneth Humphreys produced another book called Jesus Never Existed — subtitled The Tragic Fabrication of a Savior of the World and currently available from Nine-Banded as well — but given its size (533 pages) and controversial publisher (Historical Review Press), someone wisely decided that, in terms of getting the message out (a topic to which we shall return), a much shorter book was needed. Humphreys manages to boil down his argument to a spare 75 pages, and adds to that an intelligent and revealing interview with Nine-Banded’s own Chip Smith that takes up another 50 or so pages.
Though academically trained, Humphreys is not a “practicing” academic, and thus manifests both an independence of thought and clear, attractive prose style not generally associated with professional scholars (Schopenhauer’s “philosophers of the history of philosophy”).
I’m no professional scholar myself, to say nothing of being a trained Biblical scholar, but I’ve been aware of the Christ Mythers for a while now, having first been exposed to them through Michael Hoffman’s online research into the origins of religion in ancient drug cults, and Humphreys has some stuff here that was news to me.
I was particularly impressed by a chapter that demonstrates how the Passion Narrative shows clear signs of originating in a dramatic spectacle, a not infrequent part of ancient religious life; in another chapter, he reviews the imaginary and re-shuffled geography of the Gospels, showing how it serves to create an artificial but recognizable landscape for Jesus to circulate around during his supposed lifetime (sort of like our “ripped from the headlines” TV shows).
All this was “a necessary visual propaganda for an illiterate population.” Like the later cathedrals, the New Testament “books” were manufactured, brick by brick.
I’ll leave it to the reader to buy this slim, relatively inexpensive book and evaluate the arguments and evidence for themselves. And that’s the real point:
To consider and ultimately embrace the idea that Jesus never existed, the reader must, first of all, be a person who questions authority and does their own thinking.
Academic credentials are very important, almost as important as having an inquiring and logical mind and the courage to challenge received wisdom,
It has always been mavericks who have advanced knowledge rather than the time-servers of consensus. Thinking differently isn’t an eccentricity, it’s vital.
This, in fact, is the real heresy.
Now, you may think this is just a storm in a teacup, but the Christ Myth controversy has important lessons for, and should be inspiring to, the White Nationalist or pro-Western Civ or anti-globalist, and especially those who are following the path of metapolitics to change the culture. Are we not challenging the “consensus” of the “experts,” are we not pointing out the embarrassingly obvious, are we not putting forward our own, new, paradigm?
And do they not hate us with a similar passion?
“The endorsement of amateurs by amateurs is becoming a rampant, annoying and distressing problem for biblical scholarship . . . The disease these buggers spread is ignorance disguised as common sense . . . the popularity of the non-historicity thesis . . . now threatens to distract biblical studies from the serious business of illuminating the causes, context and development of early Christianity.” – R. Joseph Hoffmann
Caught between, on the one hand, a self-selected, self-sustaining academic establishment that cloaks itself in learned mumbo-jumbo, and on the other, a dumbed-down and uninterested general public that just wants to be left alone, the independent thinker — Christ Myther or White Nationalist — finds himself in a familiar positon.
Take economics, where the witch doctors of what Charles Hugh Smith has memorably called the “Keynesian Cargo Cult” are dancing around, either honestly trying to conjure up a recovery by the only method they know, or else hypnotize us into not noticing that things are worse than ever, and continue to pay their salaries. As Smith notes,
The cruel stupidity and immorality of the Keynesian Cargo Cult knows no bounds because they refuse to accept the reality that diminishing returns cannot be fixed by more debt and more squandering of good money after bad.
One is tempted to say, ‘twas ever thus, but it does seem as if the combined forces of tenure (supposed to ensure academic freedom, but actually doing the reverse, since getting it requires years of conformity that are hard to reverse) and money (student loans, and federal research funding, again all depending on conformity and subservience) have, as Evola would say, “hatched a real conspiracy” among so-called “scientists.”
If the people have no money, they may buy no goods, even essentials, without falling ever more deeply into debt. That is not so difficult to understand. Unless your paycheck demands that you not only cannot understand it, but not even see it, or talk publicly about it.
The harlots of finance and economics will say, ‘You laymen simply do not understand the mysteries of our science. Wages always lag in a recovery.’ Seven years is some lag.
Unfortunately economics these days has less in common with a natural science than it has with marketing. And at its worst, it has become a carney sideshow.
From New Testament studies to economics to climate “science” to Holocaustianity, the truth is, as Smith says, that “the failed cartel[s] . . . [have] to be leapfrogged and left in the dustbin of history.”
An intellectual cartel indeed. Humphreys writes:
There is a poverty, emptiness, and a certain hard-headed obstinacy, about a view that resolves those sort of difficulties with a shrug yet is quite insistent that “of course Jesus existed” and mercilessly vilifies those who say otherwise.
And another point of similarity and inspiration for us is the role of the internet in breaking the cartel. As Humphreys writes on his website:
Increasing numbers of web-savvy enquirers are asking, “What real evidence is there for a historical Jesus?” and are not convinced by the replies. The result is that a paradigm shift is in progress. The mythic Jesus, an idea largely ignored in the 20th century by the vested interests of religion and conservative scholarship, has argued its way back onto the agenda, if only to compel the mandarins to issue contemptuous rebuttals.
Yet whisper-thin defences of a historical Jesus do not cut it in the internet-enabled world – and established academics don’t like that one little bit. The on-line arena can be rude and crude but, as with the printing press six hundred years ago, the power of a cartel has been broken. For some tastes, the wrong kind of people have gained an audience.
White Nationalists, racialists, neo-pagans, and other Counter-Currents types — “the wrong kind of people,” if not necessarily “diseased buggers” — will find this book a pleasant-to-read introduction to a subject that should interest them both in itself, and as an inspiring example of how to stand up to the academic cartels.
1. Mad Men, Season 1, Episode 12: “Nixon Vs. Kennedy”
2. See Jesus Mythicism: An Introduction, ed. Minas Papageorgiou (iWrite.gr Publications, 2015), which includes interviews with 12 prominent Mythicists, including Kenneth Humphreys.
3. See more here.
4. See Greg Johnson’s “Lessing’s Ideal Conservative Freemasonry,” here.
5. Papageorgiou provides a fuller survey in his Jesus Mythicism: An Introduction., note 2 above.
6. Quoted with citations at “The Fake Gospel of Jesus’ Wife,” here.
7. Not confined to the Bible Belt; in 1999, the Confederation of Protestant Churches of Lower Saxony demanded the removal of theologian Gerd Luedemann, who, though not a Mythicist, had dared to suggest that only about 5% of the words attributed to this Jesus chap were authentic. See Geogeiou, “Interview with Gerd Ludemann,” op. cit.
8. See his Forged: Writing in the Name of God — Why The Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2011). For Humphrey’s account of the Christian “Fabrication Factory,” see here. A handy list of known Christian forgeries is here.
9. The resulting book, Did Jesus Exist?, is possibly the worst “scholarly” book I’ve ever (started to) read, and might be sufficient to make the layman go over to the other side, as Cioran once suggested about the Christian anti-Gnostic polemics. See the kooks strike back here: Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth: An Evaluation of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? Ed. Frank R. Zindler and Robert M. Price (American Atheist Press 2013); Humphrey’s own review is here.
10. Mark Twain once satirized the parallel search for the historical Homer by claiming the scholars had discovered that Homer’s works had not been written by Homer, but by another Greek, of the same name.
11. See Papageorgiou, op. cit,, loc. 302-313, on “The Trends” within Mythicism.
12. As in the Wall St. adage, “Dress British, think Yiddish!”
13. The idea that Christianity was simply the best organized of the available cults, and could therefore best provide a new structure for the crumbling Empire, has also been argued by Colin Liddell in “Apollonius of Tyana and the Alternative Empire” (Aristokratia III, 2015; reviewed here) but adds that it failed to save the Empire anyway.
14. See, for example, The Crisis of the Modern World. The Japanese seem to have a natural talent for assimilating other cultures without entirely giving up their own nature, as in the development of Zen; while post-war Japan delights in the most absurd kinds of syncretism (celebrating Christmas with crucified Santas in shop windows), the idea of “solving” its economic problems with immigration and interbreeding is never even considered.
15. See, again, Crisis, pp. 14-15. For Guénon, the Middle Ages were the high point of this reclamation effort; the much-vaunted “renaissance” was a zombified corpse, reanimated for anti-Traditional action. Evola, by contrast, never regarded Christianity as anything more than a pseudo-tradition, and gave credit for the Middle Ages to the “Roman” part of the “Roman church.”
16. “Two or three years ago it was just another snake cult, now . . . they’re everywhere.” Conan the Barbarian (1982); not to be confused with Just Another Snake Cult. Minas Papageorgiou (note 2 above) makes this point and emphasizes the special case of Greece where, ironically enough, paganism has labored under official censorship. On what basis can the Christos Mythos be given special consideration by the state?
17. Not to be confused with Michael A. Hoffman II, the revisionist researcher, although the coincidence continues to amuse me. See the research collected at egodeath.com. Humphreys briefly mentions John Allegro’s mushroom cult hypothesis, and avers there’s something to be said for it, although he eschews all such searches for “the” cause as prone to conspiracy thinking, rather than his more open-source syncretism thesis.
18. This could explain its unique attraction, from mediaeval plays to Bach’s passions, to Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ. The latter is especially interesting as a kind of Mythicist work, malgre lui; Gibson’s Catholic fundamentalist reading ironically horrified nominal believers who had never actually reflected on how bizarre the text really is; on the other hand, Gibson, one is tempted to say “in typically Christian fashion,” engaged in his own cut and paste work by silently incorporating passages from the mystical vision of Catherine of Emmerich, exactly the way the texts were originally concocted (“Hmm, this looks good, let’s toss it in.”).
19. For what it’s worth, Hoffmann replies to Humphreys thus: “I apologize for my error: I should have known better—and I do. Buggers do not spread disease. Probably an autocorrect for ideas.” Well, alrighty then.
20. “We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is: ‘Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won’t say anything. Just leave us alone.’ Well, I’m not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get MAD!” — “Howard Beale,” Network (Sidney Lumet, 1980).
21. “The Keynesian Cargo Cult: Dancing Around the Fire Waving Dead Chickens” by Charles Hugh Smith, here. The truth is the failed cartel of higher education has to be leapfrogged and left in the dustbin of history.”
22. “Those who are called “scientists” today have hatched a real conspiracy; they have made science their monopoly, and absolutely do not want anyone to know more than they do or in a different manner than they do” — Introduction to Magic: Rituals and Practical Techniques for the Magus (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2001), p. 4. For an example of the academic conspiracy against Evola himself, see Eliade’s contemptuous dismissal of Evola’s work as too non-academic to be worth considering, as analyzed in “Mircea Eliade’s Traditionalism: Appearance and Reality” in Aristokratia III and my review, op. cit.
23. “The reason there has been no recovery, in one chart,” here.
24. See my review of Nicholas Kollerstrom’s Breaking the Spell: “Dachau Blues: Applying History to Science and Science to History,” here.
25. Such as “diseased buggers.”