Skeptics have tried for 2,000 years to find methods of discrediting Jesus and the Bible. When Jesus was on Earth, people debated who and what He was. All kinds of mistaken concepts circulated, frequently controlled by the desires and beliefs of His enemies. Things have not changed. Sometimes skeptics have tried to explain away Jesus in terms of ancient pagan cultures or Jewish religious sects.
At one time, people claimed that the source of the stories about Jesus came from the Essenes, a sect of Jews who lived near the Dead Sea and left what are known as the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Essenes wrote about a man known as the “Great Teacher.” Skeptics suggested that this individual was elevated by his followers to be “the son of God,” and that led to the myth of Jesus Christ. Further research on the Dead Sea Scrolls and new archaeological discoveries laid that claim to rest.
People have tried to tie Christ to the ancient Egyptian cult of Isis. There is a story of a “resurrection” in that legend, and skeptics bent on discrediting Jesus claimed that was the origin of the story of Christ’s resurrection. Osiris was the Egyptian god of the underworld, and supposedly was the husband of Isis. In the Egyptian legend, Osiris was murdered by his brother and buried in the Nile. Isis recovered the body, but Osiris’ brother retrieved it, cut it up into 14 pieces, and scattered the pieces around the world. Isis found all 14 pieces and resurrected Osiris.
The story of Christ could not have been borrowed from the cult of Isis because it has none of the characteristics of the story. Nowhere in the resurrection account is there any supernatural battle between equal gods, no sex interest, and no war based on physical skill and intelligence. When Peter used his sword to cut off the ear of one of Christ’s attackers, Jesus healed the ear and told him to put away the sword. There is no struggle for political power in the story of Christ. The contrast between the story of Isis and the story of Christ is so enormous that even the rankest skeptic should be able to see the foolishness of trying to compare them.
Other attempts to explain the virgin birth by stories from pagan myths are even more ludicrous. In one case, the sun-god Apollo became a snake and impregnated the mother of Augustus Caesar, so the baby born was without a mortal father. Not only is this account used by some skeptics of Christ ridiculous in its content, but it was written after the biblical account had been recorded in the gospels. The gospel writers could not possibly have drawn from it.
Another claim was that the founder of Rome, Romulus, inspired the story of Christ. Romulus was supposed to have been fathered by the Roman god Mars. When he and his twin brother Remus were left to die in the Tiber River, a she-wolf adopted and raised them. Later Romulus killed Remus and became the founder and first king of Rome. Once again, one just has to read the account and ask if there is any similarity between this mythical story and the account of the birth, life, and death of Jesus.
Skeptics continue to look for ways of discrediting Jesus and the Bible. Relativism, materialism, selfishness, the total abandonment of morality, and the disintegration of the home make the Christian message unpopular. As people try to justify their lifestyles and selfish exploitation of others, they will resort to almost any way of discrediting Jesus and His beautiful and functional teachings. We need to answer the challenge as we demonstrate the love and service that Jesus commanded His followers to show.
— John N. Clayton © 2019