I am busy reading (again) The Christ, by John Eleazer Remsburg. It is available for free online at The Project Gutenberg.
And what a read it is! Marvelous.
Apologists are forever it seems ridiculing non-believers about any stance regarding the non historicity of the character Jesus Christ and if one is fairly new to this argument one might be forgiven for thinking it is in fact a new argument. And when I say new, I mean new-ish, in the sense that since the advent of the internet and more so Youtube there have been a flurry of videos featuring proponents refuting the existence of the miracle-wielding biblical character.
And yet … the following book was published in 1909!
Remsburg’s position seems agnostic in regard Jesus being wholly a myth but he certainly makes a brilliant case for the fallacy of a miraculous god-man.
If you haven’t read the book, I recommend it.
A couple of snippets.
Christ’s Real Existence Impossible
… these and a hundred other miracles make up to a great extent this so-called Gospel History of Christ. To disprove the existence of these miracles is to disprove the existence of this Christ.
Canon Farrar makes this frank admission: “If miracles be incredible, Christianity is false. If Christ wrought no miracles, then the Gospels are untrustworthy” (Witness of History to Christ, p. 25).
Dean Mansel thus acknowledges the consequences of the successful denial of miracles: “The whole system of Christian belief with its evidences, … all Christianity in short, so far as it has any title to that name, so far as it has any special relation to the person or the teaching of Christ, is overthrown” (Aids to Faith, p. 3).
Dr. Westcott says: “The essence of Christianity lies in a miracle; and if it can be shown that a miracle is either impossible or incredible, all further inquiry into the details of its history is superfluous” (Gospel of the Resurrection, p. 34).
Christianity arose in what was preeminently a miracle-working age. Everything was attested by miracles, because nearly everybody believed in miracles and demanded them. Every religious teacher was a worker of miracles; and however trifling the miracle might be when wrought, in this atmosphere of unbounded credulity, the breath of exaggeration soon expanded it into marvelous proportions …
Silence of Contemporary Writers.
That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written. E. Renan and others have attempted to write it, but have failed—have failed because no materials for such a work exist. Contemporary writers have left us not one word concerning him. For generations afterward, outside of a few theological epistles, we find no mention of him.
The following is a list of writers who lived and wrote during the time, or within a century after the time, that Christ is said to have lived and performed his wonderful works:
Josephus,Philo-Judaeus,Seneca,Pliny the Elder,Arrian,Petronius,Dion Pruseus,Paterculus, Suetonius,Juvenal,Martial,Persius,Plutarch,Justus of Tiberius,Apollonius,Pliny the Younger,Tacitus,Quintilian,Lucanus,Epictetus,Silius Italicus,Statius,Ptolemy,Hermogones,Valerius Maximus,Appian,Theon of Smyrna,Phlegon,Pompon Mela,Quintius Curtius,Lucian,Pausanias,Valerius Flaccus,Florus Lucius,Favorinus,Phaedrus,Damis,Aulus Gellius,Columella,Dio Chrysostom,Lysias,Appion of Alexandria.
Enough of the writings of the authors named in the foregoing list remains to form a library. Yet in this mass of Jewish and Pagan literature, aside from two forged passages in the works of a Jewish author, and two disputed passages in the works of Roman writers, there is to be found no mention of Jesus Christ.
On the Testimonium Flavianum by Josephus
The early Christian fathers were not acquainted with it. Justin Martyr, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Origen all would have quoted this passage had it existed in their time. The failure of even one of these fathers to notice it would be sufficient to throw doubt upon its genuineness; the failure of all of them to notice it proves conclusively that it is spurious, that it was not in existence during the second and third centuries.
As this passage first appeared in the writings of the ecclesiastical historian, Eusebius, as this author openly advocated the use of fraud and deception in furthering the interests of the church, as he is known to have mutilated and perverted the text of Josephus in other instances, and as the manner of its presentation is calculated to excite suspicion, the forgery has generally been charged to him. In his “Evangelical Demonstration,” written early in the fourth century, after citing all the known evidences of Christianity, he thus introduces the Jewish historian: “Certainly the attestations I have already produced concerning our Savior may be sufficient. However, it may not be amiss, if, over and above, we make use of Josephus the Jew for a further witness” (Book III, p. 124).
Chrysostom and Photius both reject this passage. Chrysostom, a reader of Josephus, who preached and wrote in the latter part of the fourth century, in his defense of Christianity, needed this evidence, but was too honest or too wise to use it. Photius, who made a revision of Josephus, writing five hundred years after the time of Eusebius, ignores the passage, and admits that Josephus has made no mention of Christ.
Twenty books—nearly all of the remaining books of the New Testament—are said to have been written by the three apostles, Peter, John, and Paul, a portion of them after the first three Gospels were written; but it is admitted that they contain no evidence whatever of the existence of these Gospels.
There are extant writings accredited to the Apostolic Fathers, Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius, and Polycarp; written, for the most part, early in the second century. These writings contain no mention of the Four Gospels.
The Four Gospels were unknown to the early Christian Fathers. Justin Martyr, the most eminent of the early Fathers, wrote about the middle of the second century. His writings in proof of the divinity of Christ demanded the use of these Gospels had they existed in his time. He makes more than three hundred quotations from the books of the Old Testament, and nearly one hundred from the Apocryphal books of the New Testament; but none from the Four Gospels. The Rev. Dr. Giles says: “The very names of the Evangelists, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, are never mentioned by him [Justin]—do not occur once in all his writings” (Christian Records, p. 71).
And it only gets better …