Table 1: Mythicists, Mythicist Sympathizers & Agnostics (and their Religious Backgrounds)
The following updated table was originally posted at
and again at
Further background to what led to this table can be found in those posts.
Only names of those who are or have been alive in this century are included.
The table was originally compiled to test claims by a number of critics that “mythicists” are generally reacting against fundamentalist Christian backgrounds.
Asterisked names appear more than once. They had different religious influences in their earlier life.
Names in the pink shading have not (to my knowledge) published in print or online arguments against the historicity of Jesus but are either open-minded towards the Christ Myth theory (e.g. Hector Avalos) or agnostic. I include myself here because I have not argued a case for mythicism even though I do believe Christianity and the New Testament writings can be explained without any reference to a historical Jesus.
Names in bold black hold doctoral qualifications in either biblical studies, religion or ancient history.
Names in bold maroon are prominent names in other areas.
Ellegård and Wells are professors of English and German respectively who have been recognized for their contributions in peer-review New Testament journals and/or achieved positive criticism among at least some NT scholars.
All names are linked to an identification with more detail about their views or background. All names of those listed as “mythicists” (in the bluish cells) are more fully annotated with their particular mythicist views below.
Roman Catholic Background
(Note N. American/Australian Catholicism is a notoriously liberal form of Catholicism)
Liberal or No Church Background
|David Fitzgerald||Joe Atwill
(Source: Caesar’s Messiah)
(Physician and biomedical researcher, documentary film maker, author of “The Jesus Mystery” and “Jesus and the ‘Egyptian Prophet’“)
(very positive towards Christianity)
(Irish Catholic. Very positive towards Christianity)
(very positive towards Christianity) Writes about Paul- also denies HJ
|Raphael Lataster*||Francesco Carotta
(very positive towards Christianity)
(Source: ch.3 Mystery Experience) (very positive towards Christianity)
(very positive towards Christianity)
|Robert M. Price
(very positive towards Christianity)
|Earl Doherty||Stephan Huller||Michael Martin Philosopher, author of The Case Against Christianity.|
|Charles O. Wilson
|Raphael Lataster*||Kenneth Humphreys
(no church background)
|Michael B. Paulkovich
Aerospace engineer and humanist-rationalist writer. Author of “The Fable of the Christ” in Free Inquiry and No Meek Messiah
|Frank R. Zindler||Roger Parvus
(Mexican Pentecostal: HJ agnostic) In The End of Biblical Studies writes “Robert M. Price … provides a devastating critique of historical Jesus studies in his Deconstructing Jesus — and we share many of his conclusions. Earl Doherty’s The Jesus Puzzle outlines a plausible theory for a completely mythical Jesus.” p. 197<
|René Salm (now Buddhist and atheist)||Harold Leidner||George Albert Wells
For many years published mythicist books but in recent years has come to argue Jesus existed at some time as a teacher of the Q community and was not crucified
|Neil Godfrey*||R. Joseph Hoffmann
Up to 2006 published positively of Christ Myth ideas among scholars in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (“the basic premises were sound” and works by G.A. Wells were “tightly argued” and “worth noting”, pp 20, 39 of Introduction to Goguel). Virulently anti-mythicist since Carrier and Doherty emerged as leading voices.
(source online email)
Evolutionary psychologist and author of “If Jesus Never Existed, Religion May Be Fiction“ in Huffington Post.
|Tm Widowfield||Peter Kirby
(See The Best Case for Jesus)
Developer of several valuable webtools such as Early Christian Writings, Early Jewish Writings, Online Books available in English, and CD, Historical Jesus Theories, Christian Origins and current Peter Kirby blog, the Biblical Criticism & History Forum, the BC&H Archives Search Engine, and maintainer of the Biblioblogs Top 50 site.
|D. M. Murdock (Acharya S)
(Nominal Catholic until age 15) Mendeley profile. See his review of Doherty’s Jesus Neither God Nor Man and his review of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?
|Philip R. Davies
Authored Did Jesus Exist? in which he is “inclined to accept” historicity of Jesus but argues that less certainty as to his existence would “nudge Jesus scholarship towards academic respectability.”
|Thomas L. Thompson
(Danish/European) Author of The Messiah Myth; reviewed by Robert M. Price. See also Thompson’s response to Ehrman.
(The Invention of Jesus — Video no longer available, Neil, 24th August 2015)
See outline of his paper “Jesus and Ned Ludd” presented at the Jesus Project conference at Amherst
|Thomas S. Verenna
Co-edited with Thompson ‘Is This Not the Carpenter’ and contributed chapter on intertextuality and the question of Jesus’ historicity.
|R. G. Price||Paul Hopper. See A Narrative Anomaly in Josephus.|
|Pier Tulip||Kurt Noll
Author of “Investigating Earliest Christianity without Jesus” in ‘Is This Not the Carpenter?’
|Edward van der Kaaij
(very positive towards Christianity)
|Clarke W. Owens
Author of Son of Yahweh: The Gospels as Novels.
|Raoul Vaneigem||Minas Papageorgiou
Author of Jesus Mythicism: An Introduction. See also “The Mythikismos and the historicity of Jesus”
|Loren Rosen III
See Mythicism: Two Theories
Strongly promotes David Fitzgerald’s book Nailed!
Noted for his historical commentary on Gospel of Mark
See guest post by Ben Goren, “The Jesus Challenge”. In Once again: Was there a historical Jesus? writes: “I have to say that I’m coming down on the “mythicist” side”.
“It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all, as has been done by, among others, Professor G. A. Wells of the University of London in a number of books, including Did Jesus Exist?.” The God Delusion, p. 97
Speaks of “the highly questionable existence of Jesus” in God Is Not Great, p. 114
Though convinced there was a historical Jesus he has said that he “admire[s] Arthur Drews and the Christ Myth theory is a serious hypothesis.”
Laments scholarly failure of scholars to take note of G. A. Wells’s views. Article in Christian and Judaic Invention of Christianity
See Carrier cold-cocks Ehrman
Grew up as a cultural Jew but was never religious. In The Better Angels of our Nature “Of course, there’s no direct evidence for anything that Jesus said or did… [T]he story of Jesus was by no means unique. A number of pagan myths told of a savior who was sired by a god, born of a virgin at the winter solstice, surrounded by twelve zodiacal disciples, sacrificed as a scapegoat at the spring equinox . . . symbolically eaten by his followers to gain salvation…” (p.12)
(Remained a Christian for some years but became an atheist about 2008. Found Price’s and Doherty’s works persuasive.) Mendeley profile. See his review of Doherty’s Jesus Neither God Nor Man and his review of Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?
|David Oliver Smith
(Episcopalian) In his book on the influence of Paul on the gospels he expresses agreement with Earl Doherty’s mythicist case.
I hope to update this list as I am notified of corrections and additions that need to be made. Feel free to notify me or add comments of anything you see that needs fixing.
Table 2: Contemporary Mythicist Authors
Names in the last column do not argue a case for the non-existence of Jesus but do argue that the Christ myth or Christianity can be adequately explained without any need to introduce a historical Jesus for whom there is no clear evidence. I suspect more scholars could be listed here.
All others present a case that there was no historical Jesus.
Listed below are further details of the thesis each name represents and the extent of their influence and reputation.
All names are hyperlinked to further biographical information.
Did not exist
Originated as a heavenly Christ
The Jesus figure lived in a remote past
The Gospel Jesus figure was based on someone else
The historical Jesus is not necessary to explain Christianity or
|Thomas L. Brodie||Richard Carrier||Derek Murphy||Timothy Freke||D. M. Murdock
(a.k.a. Acharya S)
|Alvar Ellegård||Joe Atwill
(Does not argue for non-existence of Jesus)
|David Fitzgerald||Earl Doherty||Jay Raskin||Peter Gandy||Tom Harpur||George Albert Wells
|Thomas L. Thompson
(Does not argue for non-existence of Jesus)
|Ken Humphreys||Pier Tulip||Lena Einhorn (‘The Egyptian’)|
|Raphael Lataster||Edward van der Kaaij||Stephan Huller
(Herod Agrippa I)
|Harold Leidner||Roger Parvus
|Sid Martin||Daniel Unterbrink,
(Judas the Galilean)
|Michel Onfray||Charles O. Wilson
|R. G. Price|
|Robert M. Price|
|George Albert Wells
|Frank R. Zindler|
Who’s Who . . . What they say about Jesus
A Roman imperial family, the Flavians, had created Christianity, and, placed a literary satire within the Gospels and War of the Jews to inform posterity of this fact. Author of Caesar’s Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy to Invent Jesus. Review by Robert M. Price
A highly respected New Testament scholar, at least until he publicly affirmed that much of his research led to the conclusion that the Gospels and epistles knew of no historical Jesus. (See the Wikipedia link from his name above.) The New Testament account of Jesus is essentially a rewriting of the Septuagint version of the Hebrew Bible, or, in some cases, of earlier New Testament texts. Author of Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery. Reviewed and covered in depth on Vridar
Julius Caesar was the historical Jesus, the Gospel is a rewriting of Roman historical sources, and Christianity developed from the cult of the deified Caesar. Author of Jesus was Caesar: On the Julian Origin of Christianity. Unable to find major reviews. I have not read it right through because unable to accept its methods of argument.
“I believe this will be the first comprehensive pro-Jesus myth book ever published by a respected academic press and under formal peer review. . . . I think this will be the first pro-Jesus myth book of any kind published by a university press in the last fifty years.” Source: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/4090. Author of On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. Contrasts the most credible reconstruction of a historical Jesus with the most credible theory of Christian origins if a historical Jesus did not exist. Reviews and Carrier’s replies listed on Carrier’s blog. My posts on Carrier’s preceding book discussing his method.
German pastor in the Dutch radical tradition. Runs Radikalkritik website. Identifies Paul with Simon Magus. Author of The Falsified Paul (or Fabricated Paul). Argues for a second century provenance of the epistles and gospels. His work on Paul implies the nonexistence of the historical Jesus.
Christianity began with belief in a spiritual heavenly Son of God; the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction; and no “historical Jesus” worthy of the name existed. Owner of The Jesus Puzzle website and author of The Jesus Puzzle, a work expanded in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Pioneered the current popular interest in the Christ Myth theory and influenced Robert M. Price and Richard Carrier. My review of The Jesus Puzzle.
See review by Robert M. Price of The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul, and her article presented at 2012 Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Jesus and the “Egyptian Prophet“.
Swedish Professor of English. Influenced by G. A. Wells.Paul thought Jesus had been a real person though one who had lived in the remote past; Ellegard identifies Paul’s idea of Jesus (who had appeared to the apostles in ecstatic visions) with the Teacher of Righteousness in the Dead Sea Scrolls. So the Jesus of the Gospels is essentially a myth; the Gospels are largely fiction. Author of Jesus: One Hundred Years Before Christ. Review by Doherty.
Author of Nailed!, “possibly the best ‘capsule summary’ of the mythicist case I’ve ever encountered . . with an interesting and accessible approach” — Doherty. I have defended Nailed! against certain criticisms on this blog.
Co-authors of The Jesus Mysteries and The Lost Goddess. Robert M. Price’s review of Lost Goddess. Peter Kirby’s outline of the argument in Jesus Mysteries. “Whilst our ideas clearly rewrite history, we do not see ourselves as undermining Christianity. On the contrary we are suggesting that Christianity is in fact richer than we previously imagined. According to the original Gnostic Christians, the Jesus story is a perennial myth with the power to impart the mystical experience of Gnosis, which can transform each one of us into a Christ . . .” Source: http://www.exminister.org/Freke-Jesus-mysteries.html
Anglican priest. Christian doctrines — the coming messiah, virgin birth, madonna and child, incarnation of spirit in the flesh — were borrowed from ancient Egypt originally as allegories of spiritual truths. Author of The Pagan Christ: Recovering the Lost Light. Influenced by Alvin Boyd Kuhn. Review by Robert M. Price.
Marcus Agrippa believed himself to be the true Messiah with a divine mission and Jesus, until his crucifxion, proclaimed him as such. Marcus Agrippa was the author of the Gospel of Mark. Author of The Real Messiah: The Throne of St Mark and the True Origins of Christianity. Huller responds to a positive review.
See The Best Case for Jesus for Peter Kirby’s most positive view of the evidence for Jesus. On the BC&H Forum, 8th April 2015, Kirby wrote of his changing view on the mythicist question: “[It took several years of conversation], by the way, for the skepticism that I have regarding the existence of Jesus. Years. I too was long arguing for, and now I’ve changed my mind about my methods and exact conclusions. Something happened somewhere in there. In fact I mostly tried to hide my change of mind for several years after my actual change of mind. For example, I hid my review of Doherty’s book, and in fact I took a long sabbatical from study immediately after reading his book, because I was distressed at what I had found. I as an atheist felt an emotional hole about losing my belief in Jesus not unlike that which I had when I lost my belief in God. I was also too timid and embarrassed to agree with my own conclusions and to say them out loud, even when they had somehow come to form. Funny, that.”
A PhD researcher (Studies in Religion) at the University of Sydney. The sources for the Biblical Jesus are so poor they cannot constitute good evidence for his existence and even give us reason to doubt he existed at all. Many methods used by Biblical scholars are spurious and Bayesian reasoning is used to justify scepticism. Author of There was no Jesus, there is no God: A Scholarly Examination of the Scientific, Historical, and Philosophical Evidence & Arguments for Monotheism.
Patent lawyer. The gospels abound with anachronisms and geographical errors, because the gospel writers used the Septuagint as the basis for their historical fiction. New Testament scholarship “creates scenarios and takes over material from the social sciences to give the impression that Christianity has an authentic historical origin. The pose of objective research is used to prop up the gospel story but no hard evidence can be found to support that story” Author of The Fabrication of the Christ Myth.
In 1999 Ludemann was removed from theological studies at the University of Göttingen because of his book, The Great Deception, casting doubt on the authenticity of most of the sayings of Jesus in the New Testament. In Jesus Mythicism by Minas Papageorgiou Lüdemann is quoted as saying: “I do admire Arthur Drews and the Christ Myth theory is a serious hypothesis about the origins of Christianity. However, the criterion of offensiveness and its results still convinces me that there was an historical person Jesus of Nazareth.”
Philosopher and Professor Emeritus at Boston University. Author of The Case Against Christianity. “Wells’s argument against the historicity of Jesus is sound, and recent criticisms against his argument can be met. So on the basis of Wells’s argument there is good reason to reject not only Orthodox Christianity but even those versions of Liberal Christianity that assume that although Jesus was not the Son of God he was an ethical teacher who lived in the first century.” (p. 67)
A Master of Theological Studies. Jesus is identified with a series of savior figures from Joshua to David to the Teacher of Righteousness—who founded the Essenes, the ancient Jewish sect who wrote the Dead Sea Scroll—to Rabbi Johanan Ben Zakkai, the founder of Rabbinic Judaism, and many others. The Gospel of Mark is ultimately an ingenious myth about the history of salvation in Israel. Author of Secret of the Savior.
Author of Truth Be Known website and several books on the Christ Myth theory through Stellar Publishing. Argues that Christianity began as an encapsulation of the ancient wisdom of astrotheology mediated through Egyptian beliefs. Catholic priests subsequently suppressed this truth. My reviews of the early chapters of Christ Conspiracy.
Completing a PhD in comparative literature. Author of Jesus Potter Harry Christ: The Surprising Parallels that Expose the Truth about the Historical Jesus, the Christ Myth, and the Secret Origins of Christianity. “Our question then is not whether Jesus Christ existed, but whether the literary character recorded in the New Testament was primarily inspired by a historical figure or previous literary traditions and characters.” My review and coverage of Jesus Potter Harry Christ.
French philosopher. Author of Atheist Manifesto. “Jesus was thus a concept. His whole reality resides in that definition. Certainly he existed, but not as a historical figure — unless it was in such an improbable manner that whether he existed or not is of little importance.”
Former Catholic priest. Vridar is serialising his series arguing that the original versions of Paul’s letters were penned by the one otherwise known as Simon Magus and that the Gospel of Mark is a reworked Simonian allegory.
I placed Paulkovich in the “agnostic” group in the table but have since learned he has been more decisive with an earlier book, No Meek Messiah (reviewed here). He writes: “The “Jesus mythicist” position is regarded by Christians as a fringe group. But after my research I tend to side with Remsburg—and Frank Zindler, John M. Allegro, Thomas Paine, Godfrey Higgins, Robert M. Price, Charles Bradlaugh, Gerald Massey, Joseph McCabe, Abner Kneeland, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Harold Leidner, Peter Jensen, Salomon Reinach, Samuel Lublinski, Charles-François Dupuis, Rudolf Steck, Arthur Drews, Prosper Alfaric, Georges Ory, Tom Harpur, Michael Martin, John Mackinnon Robertson, Alvar Ellegård, David Fitzgerald, Richard Carrier, René Salm, Timothy Freke, Peter Gandy, Barbara Walker, Thomas Brodie, Earl Doherty, Bruno Bauer and others—heretics and iconoclasts and freethinking dunces all, according to “mainstream” Bible scholars.” (See also Open Letter)
Creator of rationalrevolution webpage and author of several books. In Jesus – A Very Jewish Myth he argues the case for the Jesus story having developed out of existing Jewish messianic and apocalyptic literature and beliefs, with no historical person at the core of the story. In The Gospel of Mark as Reaction and Allegory he takes an in-depth look at the symbolism and scriptural references in the Gospel of Mark in order to explain how and why it was written.
See the Wikipedia article and his MindVendor webpage for his background and scholarly qualifications and affiliations. His earliest contributions to the Christ Myth debate were The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man and Deconstructing Jesus. He has since published The Amazing Colossal Apostle: The Search for the Historical Paul. He defends and applies the principles of higher criticism that were the basis of much radical scholarship in the nineteenth century.
A PhD in philosophy, adapted his thesis for publication as The Evolution of Christs and Christianities, which analyzes the gospels through the lens of his background in film studies. He writes: “I am doing narratological archaeology…. I use the jumps, contradictions and unusual constructions in sections of the [gospel] narrative to reconstruct the earlier layers of that narrative.” My review on Amazon.
I posted an interview with René Salm on this blog and have regularly addressed his best known book, The Myth of Nazareth. Salm has studied the archaeological reports related to Nazareth in depth and had his own response published in the peer-reviewed Bulletin of the Anglo-Israel Archaeological Society. Among his websites are Mythicist Papers: Resources for the Study of Christian Origins and The Myth of Nazareth. Other writings listed at Author website.
Author of KRST: Jesus a Solar Myth. Concedes the lack of evidence prevents him from “completely proving” his case. “But one result seems to me certain: Christianity of the origins was a solar religion and thus pagan like all those that preceded it, including Judaism.” Lacks the dogmatism and New-Age ideology found in Murdock’s astrotheological case.
Pastor aligned with Vredeskerk (Peace Church) Nijkerk, banned from preaching at the Reformed Church. Author of The Uncomfortable Truth of Christianity. Van der Kaaij believes Christianity becomes more meaningful once the truth of Jesus is recognized: the Christ is in all believers.
Belgian writer and philosopher. Author of Resistance to Christianity: A Chronological Encyclopedia of the Heresies from the Beginning to the Eighteenth Century. Influenced Michel Onfray.
Swedish. Has some interesting articles linked at The Jesus Character Critically Examined. Published in Vigiliae Christianae an argument disputing Carlson’s claim that Secret Mark is a forgery. Also preceded Carrier’s and Doherty’s argument for the James passage in Josephus. Author of The Jesus That Never Was. See also Bibelkritikern Roger Viklund kritisk granskad.
Emeritus Professor of German at University of London. Published the first of many books on mythicism in 1971 (The Jesus of the Early Christians). The most well-known Christ Myth advocate until Earl Doherty. In his most recent book, Cutting Jesus Down to Size (2009), Wells moved slightly away from his earlier position that Jesus had never existed and concluded that the person given the name Jesus was an obscure teacher whose sayings were recorded in the now-lost document (Q) that many scholars believe was a source for the Synoptic Gospels, but whose death had no redemptive significance for his followers.
Author of New Testament Origins: The Passover Slaughter of 4 BCE. Influenced by Joe Atwill’s argument that Christianity was an invention of the Flavian Roman emperors. Believes the Gospel of Mark is a coded rewriting of Josephus’s account of events surrounding Jannaeus.
Prominent American atheist and professor of biology and geology. See the Wikipedia article for his many roles and publications. Sets out several witty arguments against the historicity of the gospel narratives and characters in the first volume of his Through Atheist Eyes series. Authored The Jesus the Jews Never Knew disputing that Jesus is referenced in the Talmud even through ciphers. With Robert M. Price was responsible for Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, a collection of responses by Carrier, Doherty, Fitzgerald, Murdock, Price, Salm, Zindler to Ehrman’s attempt to refute mythicism.
Rene Salm has an annotated list of contemporary and past Christ Myth theorists: see Basic Mythicist Bibliography.
Kenneth Humphreys also has webpate listing many Christ Myth scholars with brief descriptions of each one — past and present.
For lists of historical Christ Myth theorists on this blog see
The names of scholars covered in those lists (but see the posts linked here for some account of the particular views of many of them):
- E. Carpenter
- G. Smith
- W. B. Smith
- Van Eysinga
If we add from the list of contemporary names those scholars (from all branches of scholarship as in the above list) who have made clear claims for mythicism:
Do advise me of any errors or omissions.