The Jesus Horus Link Revisited For Christmas

Quite awhile ago, I shared some information I had found through American Atheists. It was titled What Other Deities Were Born On Jesus' Birthday? I realized after I published it that it might not have been sourced well, but I left it up because it's an example of how even skeptics and atheists trying to disseminate good information can make mistakes. I fell into the trap of an Appeal to Authority when I wrote it. The original information came from American Atheists, and why wouldn't they always be accurate, right? Well, even people or organizations with the best intentions are human and make mistakes.

I listened to The Skeptic's Testament yesterday and they talked about the Jesus/Horus link and myths borrowing from each other in general. I transcribed that part of the podcast for you (the whole episode is great, so if you can, give it a listen):

The Jesus Horus Link is complete rubbish made up by the movie Zeitgeist. Brian Dunning explains in Skeptoid Episode 196 why it's just fabricated conspiracy mongering.

The following is from The Skeptic's Testament, episode 24:
3:27: With the work of people like Robert Price, which many skeptics have read, they

unjustly make the case that all of the Jesus traditions were borrowed from previous sources. Price doesn't even argue that.

It is incorrect to say that one borrowed from the other. Christianity borrowed from Hinduism or Mithraism or vice versa, simply because the nature of history as a forensic science cannot say anything other than that one came after the other.

To establish sharing like that, or borrowing, and taking, would require something very astounding, something that doesn't fossilize. It would require something that history has never dished up to us before.

This is one example of what we're up against.

Firstly, you would have to establish a trade route between the two factions. Then one would have to show that they swapped stories about their holy men, and furthermore, one party or both went home, conflated the information he just learned about the other faction's holy man or men, and then spread that in the community, only about their own holy men.

And it's just far too difficult to prove no matter which way you cut it, because after then they would have had to written it down, and that would be passed on to our day.

So it is far better in my opinion to argue that these common motifs or what we know as hero archetypes that were commonly attributed to holy men, it's far better to argue, why should we believe one faction and not the other about the claims that they make about their holy men?

To me I don't see any reason to go any further than that. That's an extremely powerful argument as it stands.

The similarities are much more likely to be just because of common psychology that those sort of things resonate with humans.
It would be the common motifs and how people explained and portrayed their holy men. This is very common amongst human psychology. In fact you can even Google "hero archetypes" and it will give you a whole list of commonalities between heroes in the past.

From there you can make the argument stronger, but there really is no point in saying that one borrowed from the other. Especially the Jesus/Horus link because there simply isn't one. That is complete nonsense made up by Joseph the writer of Zeitgeist.

So this would be an opportunity where as skeptics we can show our affinity toward evidence and facts simply by doing the research that is required. Actually read the Horus story and see if you can find any links in there yourself.

On the hero archetype, I would recommend The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama by Lord Raglan.


So what are your thoughts on the origins and borrowings of myths? Personally I think that the Skeptic's Testament guys have a point. I think that basic human psychology explains a lot of it right off the bat, which would be a good use of Occam's Razor. It still makes sense that myths can be spread and adapt to new cultures, with the help of common psychology, superstition and confabulation. I'm not sure if that is a reality though. What do you think?

I think the most important thing I got out of this, and it's really just a side thought, is that it makes no difference how the story of Jesus developed. Most biblical scholars agree that someone fitting the sandals of Jesus (probably named Yeshua or Joshua) was most likely wandering around Judea around the right time. I would say there were probably lots of apocalyptic rabbis at the time. Even if he existed, it really means nothing. It's just history. It doesn't mean that the bible is suddenly inerrant, or that any gods exist. It's not a relevant issue.

One reason given for Jesus' existence is how hard the gospel writers actually had to work to fit their character and his story to the prophecies. If Jesus didn't exist, they could have made him fit perfectly.

Of course, I should point out, that doesn't mean that Jesus actually performed miracles or rose from the dead. Those extraordinary claims would require extraordinary evidence to prove. And the bible does not prove them at all. They are just a bunch of anecdotal stories that are second hand at best. Certainly not something over which people should change their lives.

And Nicholas from the podcast also brought up another point. Many holy men of their time allegedly performed miracles. Why assume that only Jesus' miracles are genuine and everyone else were just charlatans? There are holy men in India right now performing these gimmicks daily. Of course, they are just magic tricks meant to dupe their flock, which is the most plausible explanation for such dubious occurrences.

So what are your thoughts on this touchy christmas topic? Does it matter to you if Jesus was born? Do you think he was? Or do you think he's completely mythical?


  1. I guess what matters is what did the gospel writers believe when they wrote about Jesus? When they took their real man and made him into the "christ" to fit with what the old testament said, did they consider the old testament prophetic? I didn't come up with that reason, that is from a consensus of scholars. So I don't really know.

    Personally I'm on the fence about Jesus' existence. I could be swayed either way, but honestly it makes no difference whatsoever whether such a man existed or didn't. Many people believed that he did, and that he was half god, so that's what really matters. That's what we really have to work with. His actual existence makes no difference in that respect.

  2. Jesus the person, the one who claimed to be the only son of God, is rather difficult to disprove.
    The Jewish authorities of his day never did figure out a way to do so.
    They didn't even have to prove that Jesus never existed as a person, simply that he wasn't who he claimed to be, ie: the son of God.

    The Jews killed some of the witnesses, drove many of them underground, but they just weren't able to kill that stupid belief in the one who had risen from the dead. Must of been rather slow, no?

    Interestingly enough, Jesus' claims - and the belief of his followers - all rested on one simple thing. That he had risen from the dead. Disprove that one thing, everything else is a sham.

    They knew where he had been interred. One of their own, Nicodemus, had provided the grave. All they had to do was produce the body, and all those psychotic "believers" are shown to been tools, or fools, or both.

    So, where is that body?

    Where is the body of the one that was so hated, that he was crucified for making a claim that is proven false if there is a body?

  3. "It’s up to those who claim that he was the son of God to prove their claims, not for the rest of us to disprove."


    An entire website devoted to showing the world that atheism is the one true religion, and that pitiful statement is the best you can do?

    Again, why didn't they just produce the body? Kill all those ignorant rumors? As i stated earlier, they (the Jewish authorities) knew where Jesus was buried.

  4. @Hugh--Mistake, Hugh. Atheism, if you take the word apart, is "no theism", which is NOT disbelief, but a lack of belief, as Neece has stated repeatedly on her site. And the burden of proof being on the believer is rule of logic, NOT Neece's invention. Ever taken a class in logic, debate, or statistics or even a math class where you had to prove theorems? You CANNOT prove a negative. Period.

  5. Hi there Eric

    "The fact that the authors of Matthew, Luke, and John felt free to change the details of the original Mark suggests to me that they didn’t view the story as historical truth"

    In fact, one reason we know Luke and Matthew copied from Mark is the wholesale, verbatim, word for word copying we see. There are very few changes, mostly abbreviations of stories and what drives a theological point further.

    At the same time, what you say is not quite what is going on in the Gospels and i fear this is a sentiment that permeates through the skeptical and some religious communities alike, that the Gospels are intended to be works of historical truth. We as skeptics, free thinkers etc, are supposedly have an affinity toward evidence, sound rationale and logic and when it comes to scripture we have an extraordinary amount of evidence to show these Gospels are clearly works of faith, that is, they have a theological end and use the known stories of Jesus (whether they are factual or not) to drive their theology. First of all, John had his own sources. There is nothing much to suggest the writer copied from Mark, that was only Luke and Matthew. This actually attests to the oral tradition of the Jesus stories. Also, John is written in quite a fancy ancient Greek and has a high christology, Jesus is equal to if not God incarnate, something not found in the synoptics. When we break the Gospels apart for careful analysis we actually see why they are works of faith. They are faithful portraits of Jesus each with their own theology driving the plot so to say the writers 'didn’t view the story as historical truth' is irrelevant and is imposing our current cultural attitudes on what story telling (especially relating to historical figures) is about. From a literary perspective they were never meant to be accurate historical accounts, they are more related to the genre of historical fiction but not quite fully (maybe a cousin?). For example, only John refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God hence Jesus is fittingly crucified on the passover eve when the lamb is sacrificed for the passover. John is drawing a sacrificial distinction between the two while the synoptics have Jesus crucified on the passover but you see how one drives a theological point. When you break up the intended prophecies you can see how hard the authors have tried to fit Jesus into them. It is actually quite a good argument for a historical Jesus along with quite a few others. I would recommend again the book by atheist historian Michael Grant who argues for a historical Jesus and has some excellent sources in his work.

    I have mentioned this before, the idea that a story needs to be told the same way all the time is a very modern view of story telling. It is truly unfair to impose our way of story telling onto pieces of ancient human artefacts, that's just not how stories were told nor the purpose of story telling back then. This is why we have so many traditions of stories in the Old and New Testaments, they were changed to cater the needs of their audience. If you would like me to give examples of some of the types of changes we see in the copying of the stories i'd be happy to. Either way the synoptic problem is coming up on an episode shortly.

  6. It was Joseph of Arimathea who gave Jesus his tomb... Nicodemus was a Palestinian Jewish Pharisee and just out of curiosity where is the textual evidence that the Jews (i am assuming you mean the Sadducees and Pharisees) knew where Jesus was buried?

  7. Thank you for explaining this Nicholas! I always learn so much from you.

    For those of you who don't know, Nicholas leads The Skeptic's Testament podcast which I highly recommend. It's all about looking at the bible critically.

  8. "Bla bla bla I don't know what I'm talking about bla bla bla"

    Produce what body? How do you produce the body of a mythical person that never existed? Plus, would anybody accept seeing a body? No. They'd just claim it wasn't the real body. Just like you would now... because you just like they did believe so much that there would be no body, that even if you saw one, would deny it. Kill a rumor? Just as later Christians have tried to kill everybody who didn't believe in Jesus, it isn't quite so easy to murder an idea. After all, religious nutcases haven't even got the memo that Mary was not a virgin, that the original translation never says that. Or how about that Jesus fulfills NONE of the Messianic prophecies? It is practically laughable at how much you outright ignore just to keep intact silly beliefs.

  9. GM

    All Hebrew scholars agree 'almah' in Isiah 7:14 should be translated as 'young woman'. The Septuagint makes the err here translating 'almah' into virgin and this is undoubtedly where the writer of Matthew is trying to connect Mary from, the Greek version of the OT. Just clearing up what 'the original translation never says that' means, lest the be room for interpretation by any Christians who read this.

    Now to the bigger question of your claim that Jesus never existed, i have a question for you. Why do you think Jesus did not exist? Not only do ALL critical scholars, Christians, agnostics and atheist alike think such a claim is utterly absurd. They all point out the same thing, should we concede to the criticism of some of the Jesus myth theorists we would have to throw out people like Socrates, Plato and much of the life Alexandra the Great. in any case, not even the forefront of Jesus myth theorists venture into the territory you just did, Robert M. Price argues that if there was a historical Jesus there is so much myth surrounding him we would hardly be able to know anything about the man. He uses the stain glass curtain as a metaphor and other like Doherty and Crosson express very similar sentiments.

    I recommend a great book on the topic by atheist historian, Michael Grant's Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels


    PS i am an atheist in case you were wondering

  10. No, critical scholars who aren't believers don't believe a "Jesus Christ" existed.

    Ignoring that the name "Jesus" would never have been the name, we have a "Yeshua". All critical scholars, acknowledge that due to probability, there could have been a random Yeshua walking around preaching the end of times. Even supposing this random Yeshua's parents were indeed Joseph and Mary, they're last names were not "Christ". Christ is used to infer the child of god aspect. When people talk about Jesus Christ, they are not talking about some random mortal, they are talking about their god. Hugh even said "son of god", not the name Jesus. When Hugh asked for a body of Jesus Christ, would some mortal body of a random Yeshua be enough? No, because Jesus Christ was supposedly a god and would not produce a dead body. Catch 22 of course.

    Could there have been a random twat named "Yeshua" back then? Sure, whatever.

    Was there a chance for a "Yeshua Christ"? No.

    So to reiterate, was there a Jesus Christ? No, but there could have been some random mortal named Yeshua... which is totally, completely and utterly, irrelevant.


    Socrates, Plato, and any of person from past are unimportant. In other words, if they didn't exist, it simply doesn't matter. We know somebody authored the works of Plato and so forth, it doesn't really matter who because they are known by their works. What would happen if the man named Plato didn't actually ever exist? Nothing. We don't have to have some perfect view of history, it doesn't hurt us if somebody didn't actually exist as we are lead to believe by evidence produced by works. If Jesus Christ didn't exist, the whole philosophical underpinnings of Christianity fails, because it is reliant upon the existence of specifically him and all the given actions thereof. In other words, it wouldn't be enough for Christianity if there was just a man named Yeshua, it HAS to be Christ.

  11. GM

    You're playing with semantics here, you well know what i meant. I am talking about a historical Jesus. Christ is not used to 'infer the child of god aspect', Christ (Khristos in Greek) just means 'the anointed one', the Hebrew 'Masiah', from a historians perspective there is no reason to doubt that a man named Jesus claimed to be the Christ, the Messiah, there were plenty of them. So no, not even that is difficult to believe. You're confusing the miracle worker (the miracles being difficult to believe with good reason) with what is actually plausible, a man named Jesus who claimed to be the Christ (or a man named Yeshua who claimed to be a Masiah since it would seem from your semantics you don't allow for English transliterations and invent actual definitions of the words we use).

    In all i think we agree, there is no problem with a historical person behind the myth. No?

    PS i understand the relevance and difference between Jesus and Plato etc, the point is, scholars and historians use an enormous number of critical methods to establish whether or not any of these works can go back to a real person and furthermore what we can know about them. The same methods are applied to Jesus, this is apart of what we call the Historical Critical approach, and it turns out we can know a little bit about the same with a good deal of certainty. We can also know, with a good deal of certainty, sayings or acts attributed to Jesus that probably don't go back to him, and were only later ascribed to him. I discuss a couple of these ascriptions which don't go back to Jesus in episode 13 of the show.

  12. Yeah, well none of us besides you are talking about some retard named Yeshua, or as you call him, historical Jesus. You talked to my post asking why I referred to Jesus Christ, the son of god, as a mythical figure, you got why.

    Even you, with your backwards inane talk, referred the Jesus Christ as a myth. JESUS CHRIST didn't exist. Some twat named Yeshua who claimed he was the Messiah maybe. BUT HE DOESN'T MATTER IN THE SCOPE OF THIS TALK. And even then, there is no agreement that there was some twat named Yeshua, but that there MIGHT have been on. There is literally 0 evidence that one existed at all, nothing in the records anywhere outside of church documents. NO ONE has even the slightest shred of evidence that a historical Jesus even existed, it's a pluasability and a pluasability alone.

    Plato, AND AUTHORS, are different. We know the authors of books exist, because we have the books. The name, the actual person, are not important to the works. And we don't have to treat their works as the unassaultable truth. The same methods you describe to authenticate things, has determined that that authors of the bible lived around 6 decades or so AFTER Jesus. If we go by that, we already know they were big fat liars, didn't actually know the person they were supposedly with and wrote about, and made up the stories. But ALL OF THIS, is completely besides the point.

    What do you not understand about that we are not talking about some mortal idiot named Yeshua who rambled about being the Messiah? We are talking about whether or not the son of god existed. Period. So take your talk elsewhere.

  13. GM

    Your rant is complete diatribe making little sense on any side of the issue and exposes a huge lack of understanding on the topic, semantics or otherwise, which i have little time to educate you on. It serves me well to take the evidence based, rationally sound understandings elsewhere.

  14. GMN, that's a bit harsh, don't you think? Nicholas is a friend of mine and knows the bible quite well. He's a biblical scholar. It's one thing to argue amicably and debate points, it's another to get nasty.
    I have talked to several biblical scholars, or as Nicholas puts it, critical scholars, and the consensus is that Jesus existed. Of course his name was Yeshua, not Jesus. But the evidence says that he did. I don't know all the details, but they are the scholars on this, not me.
    No, the son of God didn't exist because gods don't exist, but an apocalyptic Rabbi named Yeshua probably did. That's the point.
    Running off people who are arguing intelligently and amicably really isn't called for.

  15. Nice one quoting that passage from Robert Price there Eric, you actually managed to supply an argument FOR the consensus that there was an historical Jesus. Roberts point matches Nicholas's points beautifully. You seem determined to ignore that you need not believe the content of the text to accept certain conclusions drawn from the study of the history of the texts. You make pointless comments like "Well, for one thing, there are no legions of Socrateseans with an a priori assumption of, and an emotional attachment to, the historicity of Socrates." Who is adding the emotional attachment here Eric? Nicholas certainly isnt.

    You then create this bizarre and dishonest binary option - "You’re starting from the assumption that the gospel account is an accurate historical record, not a literary creation." What about a bit of both Eric? Nicholas has not once made that claim so why are you stating that he did? Could it be because if he had made that claim it would make your arguments work better? How about worrying less about winning some strangely perceived contest here and focus more on what is being said and what you might gain or not gain from it. Take your eyes off the red flag for a second and read through this thread again.

  16. Eric

    As for Price's comments, he is not saying a Jesus never exited. He is pointing out that what we have has covered who that man really was, again the stained glass curtain i employed to explain his position.

    'The original is irrecoverable, unless someone invents a time machine and goes back to meet Jesus'

    Over and over again you will also hear him say he is ultra radical, that the overwhelming majority do not think like him. What you never see Price say is 'Jesus never existed' why? He is a noteworthy scholar and realizes that fallacy behind making such a bold assertion in a historical context.

    Above i was addressing comments like 'How do you produce the body of a mythical person that never existed?' which GM then stumbled back into 'there could have been some random mortal named Yeshua (Jesus as English's transliteration) which is both moving the goal post and contradictory. This type of comment i find everywhere and severely undermines what it means to be an expert historian, as well as misquoting the very few Jesus myth proponents.

    'Well, for one thing, there are no legions of Socrateseans with an a priori assumption of, and an emotional attachment to, the historicity of Socrates.'

    This doesn't mean that the same standards and methodology used to study his life wouldn't work on the life of Jesus. If you're suggesting that the scholarly community is completely biased because they're Christian and have a vested interest in the life of Jesus then you're wrong. No doubt few have a vested interest however, I have already told you of a few atheists, some have come back from their Jesus myth conclusion, who spend their time studying and reconstructing the life of Jesus, all using the same methods (source, form, literary and textual criticism as well as all sorts of other techniques honed over many years). They apply to Jesus the same standards applied to anyone of antiquity and that's why there is a consensus about many aspects of Jesus' life.

  17. Eric

    That's perfectly fine, i don't mean to imply you think it's okay to state things like 'Jesus didn't exist', but i have a question for you. Do you deny the existence, the historicity, of an historical person named Menahem ben Hezekiah?

    I doubt that many would! However, those who also don't buy into the historical Jesus leave me wondering, why not? He lived exactly during the time Jesus was alive (~30CE), he claimed to be the Christ and was called 'the comforter who should relieve'. He is not attested to by a single contemporary, first being mentioned ~90CE by Josephus and one other time in the Babylonian Talmud which is around ~200CE. He fits many of the criterion others use to deny a historical Jesus so it follows Menahem also never existed. You see how ridiculous this claim is when applied to someone who is not as important to some as Jesus is.

    As for his ultra radical position, keep reading and listening =). Are you friends with him on MySpace or facebook? Read his 'about me' section, 'Ultra-Radical New Testament scholar', it says it right there. I am a huge fan of Robert Price, i own all his work and podcasts and often have conversations with him. He has agreed to come on the show sometime, i didn't follow up his last response but that will (as long as Price is up for it still) happen this year.

    As for the inconsistencies, i toyed with an apologetic to get me out of that bind but decided not to, that would be me being dishonest with myself. I should have explained myself better so kudos to you for not letting me get away with that. What must be pointed out is phrases like 'utterly absurd' and 'no sane person' do not carry the same historical significance in history as a forensic science like absolute claims with 100% definite conclusions like 'Jesus did or didn't' exist. They are not being universal claiming to be 100% certain of something, they are pointing out the evidence is at the point where Jesus very likely existed and it is absurd to conclude (based on the current evidence) otherwise. I guess this is the problem with quote mining, since they explain very carefully in their work the context of such statements.

    Again, Price is on his lonesome for the most part regarding what the consensus is and coupled with his often confession that he is 'ultra radical' (even more so than the Dutch radical scholars, his words not mine) and 'way out there', him and other like him, have an enormous amount of work to do to prove otherwise (and that's how it should be, his sentiment's not mine but i agree).

    There is very much a reliable community of scholars and academics out there, very much the same as the scientific community. They are a consensus scholars who challenge their assumptions almost all the time, take a look at the Jesus seminar, that was extremely critical of the Bible. I would recommend you get all the volumes of the Jesus seminar, Price contributed a fair bit along with other Jesus myth theorists as well as ultra conservatives. The aim? To try to reach a middle ground of what we can know with varying probabilities, about Jesus the man. Price often says he thinks they did a good job but for him they were too conservative.

  18. Eric

    Saying 'we just don’t have enough evidence to conclude that he [Jesus] did [exist]' and then saying 'I don’t deny the existence of Jesus' is a contradiction in terms. So, i wonder, what piece of evidence do you think is lacking from the historical record in order to prove a historical Jesus?

  19. I think you don't quite understand the difference between these two types of statements:

    A man named Jesus could have existed.

    Jesus, who did these things, existed.

    "what piece of evidence do you think is lacking from the historical record"
    There is no historical record of Jesus outside the Bible. You've still failed to give any evidence, as well as, well, everybody.

  20. GM

    'There is no historical record of Jesus outside the Bible'

    The Bible is apart of our historical record like it or not, then there is Josephus which in case you write off as spurious and interpolated take the time to read at the very least a critical commentary on Josephus and/or Book 18 and 20 of Antiquities of the Jews.

    I haven't the time nor the want to educate you on how the the Bible is a part of our historical record. Instead i will save time and redirect you to a recent show i did on the subject matter where i deal with how most people conflate Testimonium Flavianum with a verse in book 20 chapter 3 which no scholar thinks is spurious or interpolated.

  21. You seem to have ignored my above post:

    "To make the case for a historical Jesus, we must first say the Bible is wrong. The Bible does not tell the truth like it is. And then we take information from it to make some case for somebody? But you just said the Bible was wrong!"

    We already know the bible is not an accurate or reliable source for historical purposes.

    You also even seemed to completely ignore what I said (as usual):

    "I think you don’t quite understand the difference between these two types of statements:

    A man named Jesus could have existed.

    Jesus, who did these things, existed."

    Do I dare add:

    "he most widely held current scholarly opinion is that the Testimonium Flavianum is partially authentic; but that those words and phrases that correspond with standard Christian formulae are additions from a Christian copyist."

    And the Jesus from Josephus outlines a different character than the one from the bible. Which Jesus is it?

  22. GM

    You're not making any sense, i can't decipher what you're asking. That might be my problem.

    Firstly you start off with comments like ‘How do you produce the body of a mythical person that never existed?’ which i have already pointed out you then clumsily stumbled back into ‘there could have been some random mortal named Yeshua (Jesus as English’s transliteration) which is both moving the goal post and contradictory. Then you play with nonsense semantics between Jesus Christ and Yeshua inventing your own meaning for Christ which is to 'infer the child of god aspect’which you then attempt to disprove thereby making your entire argument a strawman. At the same time you pretend to know what atheist Biblical scholars and historians believe (Jesus Christ, which follows your semantical argument) as if i don't work with them and talk to them on a daily basis. Then you continue with 'We already know the bible is not an accurate or reliable source for historical purposes.' which is absolutely laughable. Historians find it very useful but of course we don't expect you to know that.

    On top of all of that you quote yourself as though i am purposely ignoring your flimsily constructed points. 'To make the case for a historical Jesus, we must first say the Bible is wrong' what? How does disproving the Bible (as if it is one book and it so clearly not) make a case for an historical Jesus...

    You are clearly unaware of the hundreds of criterion scholars and historians use to try their best to get to the man behind the myth. I'm not buying anything you're saying mostly because you've demonstrated you have little idea what you're talking about and i am not able due to time constrains to educate you.

    The best i can do for you is a couple of book recommendations and my podcast.

    Atheist historian Michael Grant Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels

    You already have a link to my podcast so feel free to listen and send through your feedback. If it's coherent it might make the show.