Well, its that time of year. Christmas is almost a week away and we are already seeing various media channels releasing stories, articles, and documentaries on Jesus. And when the dust settles, they all make the same point: the real Jesus is a lot different than you think.
As some might recall, this same sort of thing happened last Christmas with Kurt Eichenwald’s Newsweek article, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” You can read my two part response hereand here.
This Christmas it is happening again with an article by Valerie Tarico, “Here are Five Reasons to Suspect Jesus Never Existed.” But she takes things even further than most other Christmas articles on Jesus. Rather than suggesting Jesus is different than we think, she is arguing that Jesus never existed at all.
I suppose that might put a damper on some people’s Christmas.
Before I respond to her five reasons below, it may be helpful to understand how unusual articles like this really are. The reason most Christmas articles simply want to rewrite the story of Jesus is because virtually all scholars agree–liberal and conservative alike–that there is little reason to doubt his existence.
Indeed, so convinced are scholars that Jesus certainly existed, that it is difficult to even find scholars who might argue otherwise. The most notable modern example is no doubt Richard Carrier and his book, The Historicity of Jesus.
And incredibly, even the consummate biblical critic, Bart Ehrman, has responded to Carrier in his book, Did Jesus Exist? I must say, it is an unusual experience reading Erhman when he is actually defending (to some degree) the historicity of the Gospel accounts!
So, can Tarico (a psychologist by training) overcome the vast scholarly consensus in favor of Jesus’ existence? Here are her five arguments: