Frank Zindler - The Christ Myth

March 7, 2011

Host: Robert M. Price

One of the most effective (not to mention hilarious) speakers for atheism and secular humanism today is Frank Zindler, author, linguist, translator, Bible scholar, and scientist—truly a Renaissance Man.

He is an advocate as well for the much-despised but increasingly hard to ignore Christ Myth hypothesis, which he has ably defended in books such as The Jesus the Jews Never Knew and articles like "Where Jesus Never Walked."

He was acting President of American Atheists in 2008 and is editor of both The American Atheist Magazine and American Atheist Press. Frank has also been on the ground floor of The Jesus Project and the Secular Criticism of the Bible group of the Society of Biblical Literature. Though a veteran in the rationalist field, Frank Zindler always manages to supply new and unique insights even on the most familiar questions.

He has debated William Lane Craig and many others. Come and see if he'll be just as tough on Point of Inquiry host Robert M. Price!

Books Mentioned in This Episode:


Comments from the CFI Forums

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This is a post by Dgsinclair (entered in another subforum by error so moved here)

While it may be that a myther could not get a job at an evangelical institution, most ivy league schools are now so post christian that they are secular.

there is more evidence for the persecution of anti evolutionists in university ... talk about myths. scientists who dare challenge evolution are at serious risk.

additionally, the fact that a major evangelical publisher accepted your work shows that another myth is that of evangelical anti intellectualism.

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Posted on Mar 11, 2011 at 11:28am by Occam. Comment #1

While I find biblical scholarship interesting, I also find much of it unpersuasive; there’s simply an absence of data to the degree that makes much research an exercise in wishful thinking.  Did Jesus exist?  I don’t know and don’t care much, or at least no more than I care whether or not Socrates existed.  Interesting, but not important.  Zindler seems to take the absence of evidence in support of the biblical narrative as almost certain evidence that Jesus never existed, and I think his confidence is foolish to the point of undermining his credibility.  A rational atheistic position doesn’t depend on the non-existence of Jesus, it just depends on his lack of supernatural-ness.  Zindler’s effort to assert that Jesus didn’t exist because places like Nazareth didn’t exist is a risky tactic, because he’s going to look silly if archeological evidence changes in this regard in the future.

Posted on Mar 12, 2011 at 1:33pm by Taylor Comment #2

Zindler’s effort to assert that Jesus didn’t exist because places like Nazareth didn’t exist is a risky tactic, because he’s going to look silly if archeological evidence changes in this regard in the future.

That was my impression too. As a liberal Christian, I accept that a lot of the places traditionally associated with the Holy Family or the saints are pious frauds at best—and rank manipulation and/or commercialism of the sort Jesus himself was said to denounce, at worst—e.g. the Egyptian pilgrimage sites, Mexico’s Our Lady of Guadeloupe—and personally, all the sites in the “Holy Land” can’t be that holy if they cause so much strife and discord!

But it seems odd to root the argument on proving that certain sites don’t exist. It’s more likely that they existed but are not important enough—or should we not have discovered polemics to that effect by now? Not necessarily among Gnostics or heretical Christians, but within Rabbinical Judaism.

The Jesus Seminar’s approach seems at least equally valid, showing that, yes, there can be a historical Jesus that does not claim to be the divine being most Christians, especially among fundamentalists and evangelicals, worship.

Posted on Mar 16, 2011 at 4:23am by Michel S. Comment #3

Zindler’s effort to assert that Jesus didn’t exist because places like Nazareth didn’t exist is a risky tactic, because he’s going to look silly if archeological evidence changes in this regard in the future.

If I recall correctly, Nazareth was little more then one of those really small habitations which barely qualified as a village at the time Yeshua Bar Yosef was born. Barely even what we would call a whistlestop these days.

Be that as it may, inferring that Yeshua didn’t exist because this particular location “didn’t exist” really confuses the issue.

The problem from the perspective of the historical record is that there is no primary i.e. first hand source data…no birth records, no records of his trial and execution, no works clearly written by his own hand, or even anything written by his immidiate circle of followers who knew him in the flesh.

On a lot of levels, this shouldn’t really come as much of a shock. The original deciples were largely illiterate so wouldn’t be writing much of anything. Ditto for Yeshua since he has been presented as a craftsman of some kind, typically a carpenter. Like the rest of “The Great Unwashed” of his day, he would have had very little in the way of an education beyond being an apprentice to his father.

Likewise, the lack of any record of his arrest, trial, and execution shouldn’t come as much of a shock, especially with a guy like Pilate who was known to skip the legal nicities and go straight to the execution without bothering with a trial. Josephus speaks to that much.

Those who followed, like Paul, never knew him personally though he did seem to know or know of some of the original followers such as Peter, with whom he had some fairly signifigant issues. That leaves us with at best, secondary, and often tertiary sources from which to draw. While I believe that these can at least show that there was in fact a man behind the myth, none of them really get us anywhere near the man.

Posted on Mar 16, 2011 at 8:11am by Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon Comment #4