The Christ Myth by Arthur Drews. Book Cover. Download; Bibrec Uniform Title, Die Christusmythe. English. Title, The Christ Myth. Language. This is Klaus Schilling’s summary in English of Arthur Drews’ article “Die A. Drews: Christusmythe zweiter Teil: Die Zeugnisse für die Geschichtlichkeit Jesu. Okt. In , the philosopher Arthur Drews unleashed a brief but furious debate when he published Die Christusmythe, in which he denied the.

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Drews —along with Bruno Bauer — and Albert Kalthoff —is one of the three German pioneers of the denial of the existence of a historical Jesus. Drews emphatically argues that no independent evidence for the chfistusmythe existence of Jesus has ever been found outside the New Testament writings.

He denounces the Romanticism of the liberal cult of Jesus Der liberale Jesuskultus as a violation of historical methodand the naive sentimentalism of historical theology [1] which attributes the formation of Christianity to Jesus’s “great personality”. He mentions the key names of historical criticism that emerged in the late 18th century and blossomed in the 19th century in Germany. Consequences have been dramatic. Drews uses the new findings of anthropology collected by James Frazer — with his descriptions of ancient pagan christtusmythe and the concept of dying-and-rising god.

Drews also pays extreme attention to the social environment of religious movements, as he sees religion as the expression of the social soul. Drews argues that the figure of Christ arose as a product of syncretisma composite of mystical and apocalyptic ideas:.

The concept of Messiah liberator freeing the Jews in Palestine from Roman occupation and taxation. Mixed with the patterns of Persian and Greco-Roman dying-and-rising godmen — godly heroes, kings, and emperors, whose stories inspired the new anthropological concept of dying and rising gods popularized by Frazer — such as BaalMelqartAdonisEshmunAttisTammuzAsclepiusOrpheusPersephoneInannaalso known as Ishtaras well as Ra the Sun godwith its fusion with OsirisZalmoxisDionysusand Odinfiguring in mystery cults of the Ancient Near East.

Drews points out the marked similarities of the early Christ cult to the existing and popular mystery cults — a theme already developed by W. Robertson, and later echoed by Maurice Goguel and reprised by the older brother of G. The Christ Myth is sprinkled with comparisons between the Mithraic mysteries and the cult of Jesus.

Although the god Mithras was not exactly a dying-and-rising god, some similarities are meaningful. Especially the sacramental feast which allowed the initiated to experience a mystical union with the god. Mithraism, imported from Persia to Rome, spread rapidly through the Roman Empire in the 1st century, and was considered a certain rival to early Christianity.

The major images show the god being born from a rock. The central theme is the hunting and killing a bull with lots of blood pouring out. The sun was portrayed as a friend of Mithras, and banquets with him on the hide of the bull.

Females played no part in the images or the cult. The cult was popular among soldiers, and was likely spread by them. Few initiates came from the social elite, until the revival in the mid-4th century Emperor Julian.

Drews claims that the figure of Jesus seemed more concrete, his story more moving, and it appealed more to women and the underdogs of society. The premature death of Emperor Julian was one of the causes of the Jesus mystery eventually winning over the Mithraic mysteries. Drews asserted that everything about the story of Jesus had a mythical character, and that it was therefore not necessary to presuppose that a historical Christusmyths had ever existed.

In fact, Christianity could have developed without Jesus, but not without Pauland certainly not without Isaiah. Jesus was in this sense a product of the religious social soul and was made by Paul, with the required amount of reinterpretation and reconstruction, the chief interest of those communities founded by him. The historical Jesus is not earlier but later than Paul ; and as such he has always existed merely as an ideaas a pious fiction in the minds of members of the community The preface of this classic book states: He takes as example the case of Johannes Weiss.

How is it that Weinel knows the [innermost nature] of Jesus so well before beginning his inquiry that he thinks he can determine by this test what is spurious in tradition and what is not?

The gospels, it seems, are to be understood from “the soul of Jesus”, not from the soul of their authors!. There is a further principle, that all that seems possible Johannes Weiss is a master in If any one ventures to differ from him, Weiss bitterly retorts: Mark is merely incorporating an already existing tradition.


Drews, like Schweitzer in his Questfocuses mostly on German liberal theologians, while mentioning Ernest Renan — only en passant.

The Christ Myth by Arthur Drews

The Epistles of Paul, and doubts about their authenticity: Their lost text was reconstituted by Adolf von Harnack in Marcion: The Gospel of the Alien God] [24] [25]. Drews stresses that in the Germany of the s, the genuineness of those four chief “Paulinae” i. Paul’s Epistles “is so firmly held by [theologians] that any doubt about it is at once rejected by them as not to be taken seriously.

Drews says it loud and clear: There’s a vicious circle of methodology in historical theologians, and if they christtusmythe Jesusit’s because they assume in advance he’s already in the stories. Theologians have a ready-made “psychological” excuse to explain Paul’s silence on Jesus’ life: The epistles are occasional papers that never have reason to speak expressly about Jesusdrees if everything about Jesus had already been communicated cgristusmythe, and did not need to be repeated in the letters.

Arthur Drews

srthur Even when “[t]hese letters, [are] swarming with dogmatic discussions of the most subtle character”, remarks Drews. It’s one more excuse that theologians invent to conceal a major difficulty. Paul’s Christ does not point to the Jesus of the Gospels. The Pauline Christ is a metaphysical principleand his incarnation only one in ideaan imaginary element of his religious system.

The man Jesus is in Paul the idealised suffering servant of God of Isaiah and the just man due Wisdom an intermediate stage of metaphysical evolution, not an historical personality.

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In one case the connection between Gnosticism and Paul is so evident that it may be cited as a proof that Paul knew nothing of an historical Jesus; it is the passage in 1 Cor. It was long ago recognised by van Manen and others that by these princes we must understand, not the Jewish or Roman authorities, nor any terrestrial powers whatever, but the enemies of this world, the demons higher powerswhich do indeed rule the earth for a time, but will pass away before the coming triumph of the saviour-God.

That is precisely the Gnostic idea of the death of the Redeemerand it is here artur forward by Christusmyghe from that we may infer that he did not conceive the life of Jesus as an historical event, but a general metaphysical dramain which heaven and earth struggle for the mastery. This important part IV covers a complete christuemythe criticism and historical criticism of Gospel scholarship inin 14 chapters:.

The mythic-symbolic interpretation of the gospels sees in Isaiah 53 the germ-cell of the story of Jesusthe starting-point of all that is related of him, the solid nucleus round which all the rest has crystallised. Christtusmythe prophet deals with the Servant of Jahvehwho voluntarily submits to suffering in order to expiate the sin and guilt of the people. Isaiah 53 is seconded by the Suffering Victim in crucial Psalm 22especially its lines: My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Other psalms present passages supporting the figure of the Suffering Servant of Yahweh Psalm 1815232434374369,, dews,etc. Drews also underlines the contribution of the character of the Just or the Righteous in the Book of Wisdom christtusmythe, and Sirach. Then the particular motive of the death was furnished by the passage in Wisdom and the idea of Plato.

He died as a victim of the unjustthe godless. But that this nucleus is an historical personality, and not Isaiah’s Servant of Godthe Just of Wisdomand the Sufferer of the 22d Psalmis merely to beg the question; and this is the less justified since all the really important features of the gospel life of Jesus owe their origin partly to the mythpartly to the expansion and application of certain passages in the prophets. There is not in the centre of Christianity one particular historical human being, but the idea of man, of the suffering, struggling, humiliated, but victoriously emerging from all his humiliations, servant of God, symbolically represented in the actions and experiences of a particular historical person.

In Chapter 13, Drews emphasizes the mystery cult character of early Christian ecstatic reverence:. Isaiah’s suffering servant of Godoffering himself for the sins of men, the just arthyr Wisdom in combination with the mythic ideas of a suffering, dying, and rising god-saviour of the nearer Asiatic religions — it was about these alone, as about a solid nucleus, that the contents of the new religion crystallised.

The ideal Christ, not the historical Jesus of modern liberal theology, was the founder of the Christian movement It is more probable that Jesus and Isaiah are one and the same person than that the Jesus of liberal theology brought Christianity into existence.


Drews managed an intense advertising campaign in Germany with lectures, articles, interviews. It caused considerable controversy. His work proved popular enough that prominent theologians and historians addressed his arguments in several leading journals of religion.

Attended by 2, people, including the country’s most eminent theologians, the meetings went on until three in the morning. Dir New York Times called it “one of the most remarkable theological discussions” since the days of Martin Lutherreporting that Drews’s supporters caused a sensation by plastering the town’s billboards with posters asking, Did Jesus Christ ever live?

According to the newspaper his arguments were so graphic that several women had to be carried from the hall screaming hysterically, while one woman stood on a chair and invited God to strike him down. The following year, on March 12, another follow-up debate was organized. Case noted that within the last decade, doubts about Jesus existence had been advanced in several quarters, but nowhere so insistently as in Germany where the skeptical movement had become a regular propaganda, “Its foremost champion is Arthur Drews, professor of philosophy in Karlsruhe Technical High School.

Since the appearance of his Christusmythe in the subject has been kept before the public by means of debates held in various places, particularly at some important university centers such as Jena, Marburg, Giessen, Leipzig, Berlin. The anonymous reviewer recites the current objections addressed to Drews’s Srews Myth book.

He lists the general criticisms addressed by theologians, denouncing. This mythical personage was transformed into a demigod by St. His main grounds for disbelief in the existence of Jesus are the absence of any contemporary references to him except in the Gospels — a rather large exception, one drewws think. Passages of Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny are explained away as being late, or interpolated, or applying to the myth rather than to the person Drews proceeds ruthlessly to remove even this kernel [of a gracious life, with its marked individuality left by liberal theologians] and leaves virtually nothing in its place except a mass of floating ideas and ideals Drews] denies the originality of the sayings attributed to Jesus, and considers them tainted with other-worldliness It is, however, just the sort of presentment which attracts the half-baked mind that cannot judge of historic evidence.

Drews’s Christ Myth was to find an unpredictable reception in Russia, as his ideas reached the new Soviet Union leadership at the end of a very circuitous route — as a distant repercussion of the philosophy of Hegel and the reactions of his students, notably the relationship between Bruno Bauer and his young diee, Karl Marx.

Once the Bolsheviks gained power in the Soviet Union, Marxist—Leninist atheism became de facto the official doctrine of the state, under the leadership of Lenin, the Soviet leader from until his death.

Lenin was particularly receptive to the ideas of Bruno Bauer, a former friend and ally of Karl Marx when both were Young Hegelians. He accepted Drews’s thesis that Jesus had never existed as anti-Christian propaganda. Lenin argued that it was imperative in the struggle against religious obscurantists to adopt revolutionary ideas like those of Drews, and chrsitusmythe the icons of bourgeois society.

However, this acceptance of his ideas in Moscow and the Soviet Union christusmthe not save Drews, a believer, from Lenin’s attacks, for being a ” reactionaryopenly helping the exploiters to artuur old and rotten prejudices with new, still more disgusting and base prejudices”.

At home, the diffusion of his book in the USSR had no impact on Drews’s modest life as a teacher in Karlsruhe and were of no use to improving his social lot.

In a different development to the West, Arthur Drews became influential on the formation of the “Jesus existence denial” theories of Paul-Louis Couchoud and G. Fluent in German, they had followed the huge academic controversy over the Christ Myth, and were able to read all of Drews’s work in the original German. They both accepted and adapted Drews’s main ideas. Drews had finally found some followers abroad, both in France and England.

Wells, for instance, saw Jesus as a personification of Wisdomwhich had appeared on earth in some indefinite time past. Smith in the US, who also could read German fluently, remained a very close ally and a kindred soul.