Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt: Should We Still Be Looking for a Historical Jesus?
By Richard Carrier, Ph.D. | Independent Scholar | www.richardcarrier.info
Contrary to an oft-repeated myth in contemporary scholarship, before Christianity began both Romulus and Osiris were believed by their devotees to be slain deities subsequently resurrected to heavenly glory (as were many others of the type, from Zalmoxis to Dionysus to Adonis to Inanna), who now could bring glory or salvation to their followers.
Osiris like Balder was slain and considered alive in the other world - in Osiris' case that of the dead. He was NOT resurrected again ON EARTH.
Romulus was not even slain, but disappeared in battle and was therefore considered to have been a manifestation of the divine.
Osiris could bring salvation - because he was lord of the dead, precisely because he was NOT resurrected.
Romulus could bring glory - because while alive on earth he was a warrior.
It is possible that Osiris was a real man, it is overwhelmingly likely that Romulus was one.
I place the probability that Odin and Thorr were real men somewhere in between. If Hebrews, I hope Thorr repented and Christ indirectly made reference to his return to Holy Land by the explanation of why James and John were called Boanerges.
I think it is more likely that Jesus began in the Christian mind as a celestial being (like an archangel), believed or claimed to be revealing divine truths through revelations (and, by bending the ear of prophets in previous eras, through hidden messages planted in scripture). Christianity thus began the same way Islam and Mormonism did: by their principal apostles (Mohammed and Joseph Smith) claiming to have received visions from their religion’s “actual” teacher and founder, in each case an angel (Gabriel dictated the Koran, Moroni provided the Book of Mormon).
The problem with this is, with the false Gabriel, we know who witnessed his appearance, namely Mohammed, and we know it was one man. And Gabriel was not believed to have been born as a man himself.
With Moroni, we know who witnessed his appearance, also exactly one man, Joseph Smith, and we know Moroni himself was not believed to be one man.
With Delphic Apollo, you have instead a succession of mediums, though with Nine Muses and Egeria we are back to the one man as intermediate, again : Hesiod and Numa Pompilius.
Nowhere are Nine Muses, Egeria, Moroni or Jibreel believed to be men.
And nowhere are they believed to be seen by more than one person at a time, as with Delphic Apollo not being "experienced" by more than one person at a time.
Nowhere do we find gods clearly becoming men, while we do find men becoming gods (though Euhemerus may have overdone it with Zeus and Kronos and Uranos - or he might have not so, I think Saturn was legitimately ancestor of Latinus and Lavinia, and I think this implies a rebellious son back in Greece : for Odin and Thorr and Frey, I have as little or less doubt about human historicity).
This “Jesus” would most likely have been the same archangel identified by Philo of Alexandria as already extant in Jewish theology. Philo knew this figure by all of the attributes Paul already knew Jesus by: the firstborn son of God (Rom. 8:29), the celestial “image of God” (2 Cor. 4:4), and God’s agent of creation (1 Cor. 8:6). He was also God’s celestial high priest (Heb. 2:17, 4:14, etc.) and God’s “Logos.” And Philo says this being was identified as the figure named “Jesus” in Zechariah 6. So it would appear that already before Christianity there were Jews aware of a celestial being named Jesus who had all of the attributes the earliest Christians were associating with their celestial being named Jesus. They therefore had no need of a historical man named Jesus. All they needed was to imagine this celestial Jesus undergoing a heavenly incarnation and atoning death, in order to accomplish soteriologically what they needed, in order to no longer rely upon the Jewish temple authorities for their salvation.
You are forgetting the possibility that Philo may have ultimately become a Christian. And identified Zecharias 6 as a prophecy about him. So did St Jerome later:
Jesus. When the prophet set the crown on the high priest's head, in order to shew that it did not belong to him, except as a figure of the Messias, he added, behold a man, who is also God, called Orient, or "raising up," and establishing the kingdom, which was promised to David. (St. Jerome) (Worthington)
Hans Georg Lundahl
All Souls' Day