The barbaric beheadings and crucifixions by ISIL illustrate how Islam is prone to cruel and merciless interpretations. But Christianity might also reflect on its own barbarity, not dissimilar to ISIL - seven crusades, the conquistadors, and centuries of merciless Inquisitions; all based on absolute intolerance of those who rejected Jesus Christ.
Since the 'Enlightenment' a rising tide of doubt has surrounded Christianity, the Bible's authenticity, and Jesus.
Inevitably, belief in God is slipping - and most noticeably among priests! In February this year the Australian Financial Review ran a piece titled "The New Atheist Priests" - showing that almost 20 percent of 'men of the cloth' had lost their faith and regarded the New Testament as fiction.
According to Catherine Dunphy, Executive Director of support group The Clergy Project, this is "the tip of the iceberg". More priests are questioning the authenticity of Jesus as fresh evidence mounts from a wave of contemporary historians.
Pope Pius XII first showed concern for the Bible's validity. In his 1943 encyclical it was clear the Vatican wanted to validate a questionable provenance of the Church. For two millennia Christian scholars had simply verified their own Christian history and ignored growing proof of fabrication within the New Testament.
So does it matter that the Jesus story is a myth?
For the vast majority of Christians it most certainly does matter. That message is summed up in crystal clarity by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:17. He says; "And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins".
But there's now a phalanx of modern Biblical scholars more concerned with historical fact than Biblical myth. Prominent among these is the historian Dr Richard Carrier. His recent book, "On the Historicity of Jesus", is a 700-page culmination of exhaustive research, going back to the earliest Greek, Hebrew and Latin texts to trace the founder of Christianity.
In meticulous detail he reveals an endless seam of pious fraud in the Gospels, Acts and Epistles. As merely one example, Carrier points to irrefutable proof that only seven of Paul's alleged thirteen Epistles are genuine, and that all references to Jesus are by visions, hallucinations and, together with his followers, speaking in tongues.
The four Gospels were written by unknown authors up to ninety years after Jesus' alleged death. Carrier lists endless "tampering" of translations, edits and re-copying, up to the Council of Nicaea in 325 CE, and beyond.
Throughout history the Church has claimed that non-Christian writers of the day have confirmed Jesus as a living being. They cite a list of chroniclers such as Josephus, Tacitus, Philo of Alexandria, Seneca the Young and others. But in scrupulous detail Dr Carrier shows why all this 'evidence' is fabricated, or imaginary.
The modern trend among professional historians is to weigh every piece of competing evidence with the analytical system known as Bayes's Theorem. Carrier shows conclusively that with this analysis the entire Jesus narrative is factually flawed.
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