Mythicism is the general position that Jesus was not a historical person but a legend and that the gospels were therefore written as a work of fiction. Much the same as William Tell, Paul Bunyan, Robin Hood and King Arthur are generally considered non-historical, mythicists argue that Jesus should added to the list. The reasons for mythicism is typically an argument from silence and the parallels to other known myths.
- There is no contemporary evidence such that Jesus existed.
- The story of Jesus resembles the stories of other generally fictional characters.
- The onus is on those individuals who claim there was a historical Jesus to back up this positive claim.
- One should not believe in a historical Jesus.
There is contemporary evidence for Jesus
- The Gospels
- Four text copied from each other, Mark perhaps having been written as fiction and the source of the story itself.
- The writings of Paul
- Paul may have been writing about a divine figure rather than a historical one.
- Christian apocrypha
- Stories about the stories do not qualify as historical evidence, any more than additional books about Superman prove the existence of Superman.
- There are good reasons to assume the relevant passages in Josephus are a forgery.
- Tacitus reported on the existence of Christians. Nobody disputes the existence of Christians.
- Suetonius: As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [Claudius] expelled them from Rome
- Chrestus is a Jewish word meaning good or useful. The reference is about events 20 years after Jesus is said to have died. The passage might just be referring to Christians.
- Pliny the Younger: Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshipped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.
- The passage refers to Christians being annoying rather than a historical Jesus.
- Many early Christians (who may have known a historical Jesus) died for their beliefs, and they wouldn't die for a lie.
- The above passage of Pliny the Younger suggests that they start worshiping Roman gods and cursing Christ, long before giving their lives.
The story of Jesus resembles other myths
- Those stories are invented by the devil.
- A lot of parallels are stretches.
- For example Horus is said to be born of a virgin, when he was born (in one telling of the story) of Hathor and the reassembled body of Osiris.
- Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces showed a general outline for myths, even without the myths being inter-related. A notable amount of the argument for mythicism is that the early Christians stole the God ideas from other groups rather than invented them outright. This is not necessarily the case.
The burden is on those who argue there is a historical Jesus
- It is generally accepted that there is a historical Jesus.
- The places in the Gospels exist.
- Mythicism is a fringe position.
In the weak form — "we shouldn't believe in a historical Jesus or actively disbelieve the proposition" — it is hard to argue that a character should be accepted as due to the lack of good evidence of historicity. Keeping this in mind, it becomes progressively harder to accept a divine one if there doesn't exist the grounds for a historical one.