What do I think of Albert McIlHenny’s book on Jesus Mythicism? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Albert McIlHenny is a friend of mine who has been writing a series of short Ebooks on Jesus mythicism and this, Neither New Nor Strange, is the first one I know of that went to Amazon first. If you missed the chance to get it free on the first day, you missed a treat. I’ve read all the others and frankly, they’re some of the best material I’ve read on the subject. Those who want to see a sampling of his material are invited to go to his website at Labarum. McIlhenny goes through the subject material step by step at a meticulous level in order to make sure his readers don’t miss anything.
This book is no exception, and yet it is quite short compared to many others in the series. Why is that? It’s frankly because of the mythicists themselves. Mythicists as a whole tend to avoid real research and just quote one another regularly instead of seeing what the real scholars have to say. Had they gone back and actually checked the original sources for these quotes, many times they would have seen the errors of their ways. There were a number of times a reader would think all McIlhenny needed to do was just show the original context of the quote and no commentary was really needed.
The book goes through the most important ones. It starts with Eusebius and if anyone is made to be the villain in church history, it’s Constantine. Right behind him would be his fan Eusebius. Of course, McIlhenny does not say that these were perfect men. Saying that does not mean that we make everything they do to be evil and showing they had some nefarious plot in mind, which could include not just knowing that Jesus was a myth supposedly, but also being people who are willing to encourage lying. McIlhenny takes it all on and removes and doubt whatsoever that the mythicists just don’t know what they’re talking about.
Another important figure is Justin Martyr, who is usually seen as trying to explain away parallels that supposedly existed between Jesus and pagan religion. McIlhenny points out that Justin is in fact not doing that. No one has come to Justin and said “Don’t you see Christianity is a copy of pagan religions?” and then he’s trying to explain that. Instead, he’s writing to the emperor who is condemning Christians for their beliefs. What Justin is doing is saying “Isn’t this similar to this other thing you believe?” He doesn’t think there are exact parallels, but he does hold that there are some ideas that can be said to be similar. Justin’s explanation was that the devil knew the prophecies and tried to fulfill them in advance. Do I buy Justin’s argument? No. The argument he made is really irrelevant however. What’s relevant is why he was making it. It was not to explain away parallels as if he was on the defensive. Justin is taking charge and writing to the emperor. The emperor did not ask Justin to write to him.
There are other fathers covered but in the end, the point is still the same. Mythicism just relies on bad history. If you want to be an atheist, be an atheist. You’re wrong, but that’s another matter. Just don’t go to a completely ridiculous position like mythicism. Mythicism should be seen as right on par with thinking that the Earth is flat or that the holocaust never happened. Atheists today should scorn their fellow atheists who go the mythicist route. Instead, they too often celebrate them.