Deciphering The Gospels
Proves Jesus Never Existed

Supporting Scholarship
Deciphering the Gospels is based largely on independent research and analysis, yet it does not stand alone. Deciphering the Gospels is part of a growing body of scholarship that is revolutionizing our understanding of Christian origins.

Provided here are other works that support the case presented in Deciphering the Gospels:

The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? Challenging the Existence of an Historical Jesus; Earl Doherty, 1999

I did not actually read The Jesus Puzzle until after I had completed my research on the Gospels, but I had been aware of the major concepts put forward in the book. Upon reading The Jesus Puzzle, however, I immediately saw how the heavenly Jesus described by Doherty fit almost exactly with the conception of Jesus that I myself had arrived at. Whereas my research focused on the Gospels, The Jesus Puzzle is more focused on pre-Gospel works, and makes a solid case that the pre-Gospel Jesus was indeed a heavenly deity. In many ways, Deciphering the Gospels extends Doherty’s work with more extensive analysis of the Gospels.

On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt; Richard Carrier, 2014

On the Historicity of Jesus is certainly a seminal work in the field. While most of the writing for Deciphering the Gospels was completed before On the Historicity of Jesus was published, Deciphering the Gospels is very much in-line with the case presented by Dr. Carrier.

Indeed, Carrier mentions my work in On the Historicity of Jesus, though in reference to earlier stages of the thesis presented in Deciphering the Gospels. Carrier had the following to say about my work to that date:

“If ‘Jesus Christ began as a celestial deity’ is false, it could still be that he began as a political fiction, for example (as some scholars have argued-the best examples being R. G. Price and Gary Courtney). But as will become clear in the following chapters (especially Chapter 11), such a premise has a much lower probability (and thus is at a huge disadvantage over Premise 1 even before we start examining the evidence), and a very low consequent probability (though it suits the Gospels well, it just isn’t possible to explain the evidence in the Epistles this way, and the origin of Christianity itself becomes very hard to explain as well). Although I leave open the possibility it may yet be vindicated,” (pp 53-54)

This assessment was based on my writings from prior to 2009 which focused much more heavily on the Gospels themselves. Carrier’s assessment here assumes that I believed the concept of Jesus himself had originated with the first Gospel. This was not the case, though I see how that impression could have been given since my earlier work focused so heavily on the development of Gospels and gave little attention to the pre-Gospel conception of Jesus.

In Deciphering the Gospels it is made clear that the fictional Gospel Jesus is built on top of the imaginary heavenly Jesus that Paul preached. In short, the case presented in Deciphering the Gospels is that the human Jesus is a fictional character based on the heavenly Jesus that Carrier and Doherty make such a compelling case for.

Mark, Canonizer of Paul: A New Look At Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel; Tom Dykstra, 2012

I was made aware of Dykstra’s work after I published a 2014 web article laying out the major points of my current thesis. However, I didn’t actually read Dykstra’s book until after I had completed the manuscript for Deciphering the Gospels. Having now read it, I view it as an outstanding work of scholarship that makes a major contribution to our understanding of not only the development of the Gospels, but also the history of how that understanding has developed and been treated by the academic community.

Much of Dykstra’s assessment of the relationship between the letters of Paul and the Gospel of Mark mirrors my own work. We have independently arrived at many of same conclusions. I think our works complement each other’s very well, with his being of stronger academic rigor. Deciphering the Gospels, however, goes beyond the analysis provided by Dykstra to explore broader implications of the findings. Dykstra does not make a case against the existence of Jesus in his work, but provides much of the material needed for reaching such a conclusion.

Liberating the Gospels: Reading the Bible with Jewish Eyes; John Shelby Spong , 1997

While Spong does not question the existence of Jesus in Liberating the Gospels, he shows that the Gospel narrative is a work of literary invention in the mold of Jewish tradition. What Spong does in Liberating the Gospels is unequivocally make the case that the Gospels are not history, they are essentially fictional stories.

Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark; Wolfgang Roth, 1988

I was introduced to Roth’s work by Dykstra. I first began reading Roth’s work after Deciphering the Gospels was in print, but was astounded to see not only that Roth had identified many of the same parallels that I had, but that Roth even used the same passages to introduce the relationship between the Gospel of Mark and the Elijah-Elisha narrative.

In chapter 1 of Deciphering the Gospels I use the identification of John the Baptist as Elijah and the Transfiguration scene to introduce the nature of the literary allusions used in the Gospel of Mark. Little did I know that Wolfgang Roth had beaten to the punch some 30 years prior. Roth used these same passages to introduce his analysis as well.

The Preface of Roth’s work reads:

“This study advances the thesis that Mark’s work is basically, though not exclusively, patterned by a narrative of similar plot, cast, and volume present in that body of literature that is the primary matrix of early Christian reflection and writing: the Hebrew Scriptures.

Thus it is my goal to show how the appearance of Jesus, the martyr from Nazareth, was conceptualized and narrated by the second evangelist in the light of that paradigm, and to discuss the nature of the hermeneutic activity that, following scriptural codes, generated the gospel of Mark.” (pp xi)

This, of course, is in many ways the thesis of Deciphering the Gospels. Yet again, the scope of Deciphering the Gospels extends beyond that of this prior work.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul: The Influence of the Epistles on the Synoptic Gospels; David Oliver Smith, 2011

I was made aware of Smith's work by Robert M. Price after having published Deciphering the Gospels. Smith's work shares many points with my own. Like Dykstra and myself, Smith shows that the author of the Gospel of Mark made use of the Pauline Epistles. Smith also makes a case against "Q" as a second source. He makes the case that much of what is attributed to Q is Markan invention, which I think is certainly one of several plausible explanations for the Q material. Again, Deciphering the Gospels goes beyond the scope of these prior works to explore the full impact of these new findings.

The Case Against Q: Studies in Markan Priority and the Synoptic Problem; Mark Goodacre, 2002

Goodacre’s work is, in my opinion, a decisive blow against the Q hypothesis. While there have been many arguments against the concept of Q over the years, the arguments put forward in this work should rightfully put an end to the idea that there was any “second source” of material used by the other Gospel writers. This is a point critical to the case put forward in Deciphering the Gospels, which concludes that every biography of Jesus stems from a single source. While the case I put forward against Q in Deciphering the Gospels is not based directly on Goodacre’s work, The Case Against Q provides solid support for the idea that every biography of Jesus is derived from the Gospel of Mark.

Sowing the Gospel: Mark’s World in Literary-Historical Perspective; Mary Ann Tolbert, 1989

Sowing the Gospel is a fascinating analysis of the Gospel of Mark, unlike any other that I have seen. Professor Tolbert’s approach to the subject is radically different than that of most other biblical scholars and certainly much different than mine. Tolbert approaches Mark from a literary perspective. Her assessment is not based on technicalities or comparative textual analysis, etc. but rather on a deep knowledge of ancient literature and keen narrative insights.

Nevertheless, from this radically different perspective Tolbert comfortably observes what many other biblical scholars struggle to come to grips with – that, “Mark is a self-consciously crafted narrative, a fiction, resulting from literary imagination.” (Sowing the Gospel pp 30)

Sowing the Gospel reveals the literary genius of the Gospel of Mark in ways that no other work that I am familiar with does.

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