Surely, you have heard the stories. How there was a flood in ancient mythology which mirrors the Biblical flood of Noah. How there are certain gods in ancient mythology who (eerily like Jesus) are born of a virgin, died and rose again, bla bla bla and all that nonsense from Bill Maher and his cohorts. What they do not tell you though is that there are so many variations and versions of ancient mythology and to couch a narrative that roughly aligns with Jesus, you have to cherry pick certain elements of different variations and lump them into one.
What they also do not tell you is that the life and acts of the historical Jesus actually influenced mythology of the AD (or CE) era. Hercules for instance who prior to Christ was a drunk, irrational and unpredictable demi god all of a sudden became a paragon of virtue who walked on water as well.
There are however a number of critical factors that distinguish the stories of Christianity and the Bible from mythical accounts. Now a “myth” is a story or an event which people use to explain naturally occurring phenomena. In a sense, it is tempting to look at the Genesis account of creation for example and say, this is Christian mythology to explain the origin of evil and of the universe.
However, the whole of Christianity as the name suggests, is centred on Jesus Christ. Same thing with the Bible. In this sense all the “Bible stories” have a significance that Christ is the centre of. Hence Jesus makes reference to “the sign of Jonah” or how His second coming would be like the days of Noah and Lot. These things He referenced, not as metaphorical philosophical events but as literal historical occurrences.
Now even if we assume Genesis is a myth, the fact that a historical person, Jesus Christ came as a result of this “myth” would mean there is something more to it. Now, we are not referring to myths being made about an actual historical person (for example the many myths about Alexander the great) but a mythical story directly leading to the manifestation of a historically verifiable person who then performs an action that has a significant effect on the “myth” such that both the “myth” and the person form a seamless coherent story.
To bring it home, Genesis tells of man’s loss of a relationship with God, which is the origin of evil, this then necessitates the need for a Saviour, Jesus, who by His death and resurrection restores man’s relationship with God.
Also, remember that the life and times of the historical Jesus Christ were foretold in the Old Testament. His tribe and lineage as swear foretold (2Samuel 7:14), His virgin birth was foretold (Isaiah 7:14), His place of birth was foretold (Micah 5:2–5), His death and abandonment were foretold.
In no other mythology does history seamlessly intertwine. Now that begs the question, are the acts of Jesus then not just mythology based on an actual historical person?
This ignores the fact that there were witnesses to these acts. No other myth claims to have eye witnesses. Peter declares,
“For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty” (2 Peter 1:16)
“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1)
Paul on his own part states,
“…Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?…” (1 Corinthians 9:1)
James, the writer of the epistle was a half brother of Jesus and if you recall from the gospel of John, His brothers did not believe Him at the start of His ministry (John 7:5). Surely, it would have taken some evidence to turn them from skeptics to disciples.
Furthermore, Jesus instructs these eye witnesses to spread His story to all nations and generations.
“ …and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
To recap, my question is what myth, has a historical reference point like Jesus, claims to have eye witnesses or gives the slightest impression that it must be preached all around the world because of its importance? The answer? None.
There is a reason history and Christianity…even more to the point, history and Jesus Christ dovetail so effortlessly (hence we have BC. Before Christ and AD, Annus Domini meaning in the year of our Lord, in our timelines). This is because Jesus Christ and the Christian faith are no myth.