American in Spain

Rivals of Jesus

November 29, 2006

I've just watched two of three National Geographic documentaries that I've recently "acquired", collectively called "The Secret Bible". The first one was about the Knights Templar and consisted almost entirely of speculation, and no facts that I (or anyone that's read or seen The Da Vinci Code) didn't already know.1 Part two was called "Rivals of Jesus", and talked about the other cult religions that competed with Christianity throughout the first three centuries (a time scale arbitrarily defined by the success of Christiantity, of course).

Unfortunately, I can't find much about the series beyond links such as:

Frankly, I'm not surprised that such "heresy" can't be found on American television.

Despite the eye-opening "Jesus wasn't the only 'messiah' who was born on December 25th and rose from the dead after three days???" message of the documentary, I must say that I am quite appalled at the kind of historian (all with conspicuous American accents) that claims that a document written 50 or 70 years after events occur can be considered truthful. All of the sources for the information about Jesus' life in the documentary are taken from the New Testament. Keep in mind that this is the equivalent of my blog being the only written detailed account of the lives of Winston Churchill or Arthur Conan Doyle, who died in 1965 and 1930, respectively. And this is in an age of illiteracy, when I certainly wouldn't have read anything by a biographer or historian from their era.

Without putting into context the writers which you are using for your "facts", you are simply being a bad historian if you quote me for information about someone who died 76 years ago. Despite this hugely Christian bias, did you know that the following rituals/beliefs did not originate from Christianity, but, in fact, were adopted by Christianity in order to recruit new members?

  • The virgin birth of the Messiah
  • Three kings bearing gifts at the Messiah's birth (Merry Christmas, by the way)
  • The ritual consumption of bread and wine to represent the body and blood of the Messiah
  • The birth on December 25th
  • The crucifixion
  • The image of mother (Mary) with baby (Jesus) in her arms
  • The parading of the above motherly image at Easter, the Spring equinox (still popular in Catholic countries, such as Spain)
  • The resurrection after three days
  • The body of the Messiah rising into the sky, leaving no evidence of earthly existence
  • The Messiah as the son of God
  • No news about the Messiah between childhood and adulthood
  • The Messiah dies at the top of a hill
  • A last supper, where the Messiah's followers are told of their mission to spread the word
  • Baptism. Even Jesus was supposedly baptized by John the Baptist.

All of these myths predate Jesus or are part of competing cult religions in the first two centuries of Christianity. I find it quite fascinating that so many people can take the Bible so seriously, when there is so much evidence that Christianity is such a conglomeration of other mythological belief systems with most of the surviving documents written so far after the events they describe that most all of it should be called into question by even the most slightly skeptical among us.

Oh, wait, I forgot... Religion encourages unquestioning belief without (or in opposition to) actual evidence, and discourages skeptical, critical thinking.

Part three of the series is called "The Apocalypse". No doubt that the trilogy finale will be full of provable facts and not pure myth or speculation. I look forward to that one tomorrow...

1Long live October 13, '07!