Is Jesus merely a myth like Santa Claus?
This is the season when millions of Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ and millions of children believe in a ‘magic’ coming of Santa Claus on Christmas Eve. Adults all know that Santa is a fun myth perpetrated on young children this time of the year but lately atheist billboards have claimed that the story of Jesus is in the same category.
Also in the last 10 years or so a number of articles and books have championed the idea of a non-historical ‘mythical Jesus’– that there never was a real man called Jesus of Nazareth. Therefore they contend that the whole Nativity story is nothing more than an elaborate hoax or myth?
However, there is ample historical evidence supporting the existence of a real man called Jesus of Nazareth- the real ‘reason for the season’ after all. Whether he was actually born on December 25 is a different question entirely but the story of his birth can be found in Matthew (Mt 1:18-2:18) and in Luke (Lk 1:26-56, 2:1-40).
The fact remains that most actual scholars in the related historical fields about Christian origins and 1st century Roman Judea continue to accept that there was a real historical man called Jesus who lived in 1st century Judea. Though there are major disagreements over what he actually might have done, what he said, and who he really was— just a man, a religious leader, a prophet, The Messiah, or the Son of God.
Here’s a great article about what real scholars in the field actually think about the historicity of the man Jesus and those who claim he is nothing more than a myth. I found it on Dr. Ben Witherington’s blog:
“Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars” by Larry Hurtado
Here’s the opening paragraph from the article:
The overwhelming body of scholars, in New Testament, Christian Origins, Ancient History, Ancient Judaism, Roman-era Religion, Archaeology/History of Roman Judea, and a good many related fields as well, hold that there was a first-century Jewish man known as Jesus of Nazareth, that he engaged in an itinerant preaching/prophetic activity in Galilee, that he drew to himself a band of close followers, and that he was executed by the Roman governor of Judea, Pontius Pilate. …
Note: Dr. Larry Hurtado is a New Testament scholar, historian of early Christianity and Emeritus Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland
(Reprinted from the Apologetica page)