A few years ago I was listening to the radio - and it was the 6am news on Christmas Day…. and the newsreader said something like….
And Christmas Celebrations are underway in Bethlehem … where it’s believed Jesus was born.
And for me it was one of those moments ….. WHAT ?
Are you suggesting that Jesus possibly wasn’t born in Bethlehem?
OR Are you suggesting that Jesus possibly was never born?
Just astonishing … and so I remember emailing the newsroom … saying you need to fix that.
Because Ancient Historians hold that Jesus did exist.
Now people debate
- whether he rose from the dead,
- whether he fed 5000,
- whether he walked on water.
But whether there was a man called Jesus….. in that there was a man called Alexander the Great or Julias Caesar …. I think that case is settled.
In fact … in the library of Macquarie University, home to the largest ancient history department in the country, there are probably as many books devoted to the historical Jesus as there are to Alexander and Caesar combined.
John Dickson - the Anglican Minister at Roseville - and the founding director of the Centre for Public Christianity - and he lectures in this area at Sydney Uni … in fact famously offered ….
I will eat a page of my Bible if someone can find me just one full Professor of Ancient History, Classics, or New Testament in an accredited university somewhere in the world (there are thousands of names to choose from) who thinks Jesus never lived.
Anyway … the man we are going to talk to now, has put out a short self published book … and an article that got a bit of traction around Christmas…..on ‘the conversation website’ and it was picked up by the New York Times.
And he’s a guy who says - Jesus never lived.
His name is Rafael Lataster …
I raised my eyebrows when I heard of him… I thought -
Wow, you mean there is someone who thinks this ...
Anyway, The response was pretty strong … Lecturer Michael Bird from Melbourne wrote … of theories like Mr Lataster's …
Those of us who work in the academic profession of religion and history simply have a hard time taking them seriously. They are the equivalent of climate change deniers or 9/11 conspiracy theorists. None of them are bonafide academics with tenure at a respected institution in this field, have peer-reviewed publications, and are recognised as experts in their area.
The Jesus mythicists are a group of enthusiastic atheists who through websites and self-published books try to prove the equivalent of a flat earth.
Michael Bird goes on …
I serve on the editorial board for the Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus, where we have an editorial team of people (from all faiths and none), celebrated experts in their fields; and I can tell you that the Jesus mythicist nonsense would never get a foot in the door of a peer-reviewed journal committed to the academic study of the historical Jesus.
Mr Bird says the view that Jesus was a myth is promoted by ….
An energetic bunch of fringe atheists and has never been entertained as a possibility by experienced and respected scholars working in the field of Christian Origins.
In a moment we are going to talk to Dr Lionel Windsor - he’s a lecturer in New Testament at Moore Theological College Newtown and get his take…
But, First, I caught up earlier with Raphael Latasater,