The Jesus Myth is a reference to a late-blooming movement that reduces the person of Jesus Christ to that of a mythological figure, a "solar messiah," not unlike other mythological figures associated with various ancient pagan cultures. The modern Jesus Myth faith credits German philosopher Bruno Bauer (1809-1882), a student of the German idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831), as being its "founding father." Bauer regarded the Gospel of Mark as fictional and the other three canonical gospels as writings based upon Mark.
Bauer's belief has inspired the YouTube generation and led to internet videos such as this- Zeitgeist- Religion: The Greatest Story Ever Told, to promote the Jesus Myth. In short, the video's writer-producer makes the claim that Jesus-like mythological figures have been anthropomorphized by many pagan cultures, in accordance with their interpretation of the movements and interplay of the sun and the constellations, and that Jesus Christ is just one of the gang.
Egypt's Christ-like figure was Horus (3000 BC). In 1200 BC the Greeks idolized Attis. The Persian solar god was Mithra (1200 BC). Not to be outdone, India had Krishna (900BC). These gods and others, per the video, were usually said to have been born on December 25 and of a virgin. They had 12 disciples, performed miracles, were dead for three days and resurrected. So for the Mythians Jesus Christ was just another Horus, Attis, Mithra, etc. Another "solar messiah."
As the reformed theologian Cornelius Van Til taught, man's reasoning is never neutral. With that in mind, consider these statement's made in the the Zeitgeist video:
“The Bible is nothing more than an astrotheological literary hybrid, just like nearly all religious myths before it.”
“Christianity just is not based on truth.”
“Jesus was the solar deity of the gnostic Christian sect… and like all other pagan gods he was a mythical figure.”
“It was the political establishment that sought to historize the Jesus figure for social control.”
These statements are all by-products of the Mythians basing their faith and subsequent "truth determinations" on anti-Biblical premises. Some like to refer to this thinking process as the outworking of presuppositional thinking. In other words, we live and make decisions in accordance with our biases be they based in truth or falsehood. There's no escaping being a presuppositionalist. The Mythians flawed beliefs about Christ sewed the seed for further errant conclusions. If Christ is a myth, what else is bogus in the Bible?
In the video the narrator claims that the biblical account of Noah's Arc was lifted from the Epic of Gilgamesh (2600 BC). Moreover, the Mythians accuse Christians of plagiarizing the story of the birth of Moses, saying it's a ripoff of the account of the birth of Sargon of Akkod (2250 BC). Piling on even more, the Mythians suggest Spell 125, a segment of Book of the Dead, an Egyptian set of instructions for the afterlife, is said to be the source from which Moses drew upon when he plagiarized the Ten Commandments.
So you can begin to see the difficulties which arise when one assumes the Bible and its leading figures are myths. To make the central claim workable further deconstruction is required. For the Mythians to be accurate ultimately a humongous conspiracy must have been in the works, one that seems to have evaded historians for centuries. All of the new Testament authors and many of the Old Testament one (perhaps all of them), had to be at best Dr. Seuss wannabes. At worst, they were perpetuating a fraud, for whatever reason, to willfully lead as many people as possible into a life that Paul stated would be "most miserable" (I Cor 15:19).
The Bible declares "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands" (Psalm 19:1). With the Triune God as creator of the universe it's expected that the celestial bodies are not without meaning and purpose. It's also expected for the same to be an object and tool for deception. Astrology is one example. Others would be the creation of mythological figures such as Horus, Attis, Mithra and Krishna. Does the presence of fool's gold (iron pyrite, or FeS2) mean that real gold (Au) is of equal value, and that there's no tangible difference between the two? God does own the celestial bodies and they exist partly for His pleasure and purposes, in spite of the ways in which man exploits them for selfish purposes.
No doubt Christianity is not fully extricated from the weight of paganism as Christmas trees and Easter egg hunts will attest to. Nonetheless, erecting a Christmas tree is not the measure of salvation or even sanctification for that matter. However, to note parallels between pagan myths and Biblical revelation, and to conclude that the Bible is just another pagan myth, is an outworking of a faith steamrolled by the evidence. (For further study see the reference list at the end of this posting).
The Mythians contend there's an absence of the mentioning of Christ in the writings of first century historians. Many of these historians mentioned in the video were Aulus Persius, Columelta, Dio Chrysostom, Justus of Tiberias, Livy, Lucanus, Julius Florus, Petronius, Phaednus, Philo Judaeus, Phlegon, Pliny the Elder (not the same as Pliny the Younger, his nephew), Plutarch, Pomponius Mela, Quintus Curtius Rufus, Seneca, Silius Italicus, Statius Caelcius, Theon of Smyrna, Valerius Flaccus and Valerius Maximus. Not surprisingly these authors were of many non-Christian persuasions and in many cases poets, stoics, Romans and other stereotypes that one wouldn't expect to have written about Jesus Christ.
Conveniently ignored were historians and writers such as Pliny the Younger, who wrote a letter (Epistle X.96) to the Roman Emperor Trajan (c. 112 AD) about Christians who sing a hymn "to Christ as if to God." The Mythians failed to mention Cornelius Tacitus, a Roman historian who wrote of "Christus" (from Christos, which is Greek for "Christ") and his execution "at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius" [Annals (XV.44, c. 115 AD)]. What about Suetonius, the Roman writer, who described how the Emperor Claudius commanded the Jews to leave Rome for "continually making disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus" (Vita Claudii XXV.4).
Noted pagan philosophers—Celsus, Lucian of Samosata and Porphyry of Tyre—attacked Jesus in print. Early Christian writers —Polycarp (c. 69-155 AD), Irenaeus (c. 130-200 AD) and others—wrote about Jesus Christ as well.
The Alogi flourished in Asia Minor around 170 AD. They and the Ebionites plagued the early church with their denial of the deity of Christ. If Jesus Christ never existed why would they go to great trouble to attack His deity?
Apollinaris Claudius, the Bishop of Hierapolis in Phrygia, published his Apologia in 177 AD for Christians.
St. Ignatius of Antioch (also known as Theophorus) (ca. 35-107 AD) was a student of the Apostle John. Was he a martyr for a fictional tale? Would someone today submit to torture for not recanting faith in Popeye (the cartoon character) as Lord or is dying by way of torture to promote a fable worth it?
Saint Clement I was the Archbishop of Rome from 88 to 99AD. He wrote the non-canonical Epistles of Clement (I Clement and II Clement). They were addressed to the Christians in Corinth. He was a contemporary of Peter and Paul. Was he in on the conspiracy?
The Mythians seemed concerned with Christians being brainwashed to the extent that they're a nuisance, if not an outright plague, to society. It's noteworthy that Mythians don't hold to a belief in absolute truth, which implies there's not a standard by which they can make a credible and irrefutable conclusion about anyone's state of mind. Moreover, that can't confidently stake the claim that they themselves aren't "brainwashed." Brainwashing is a humanistic term not found in the Bible and detracts from the issue of whether or not Jesus Christ is the fountain from which truth and wisdom both originate and flow.
One can place their faith in Bruno Baer's work or the Christ of the Bible. Ultimately one must place their faith in someone or something as we all agree no mere mortal knows all. If there was a God that man could know exhaustively then would he really be God?
For Further Study (Note that I have not read these books but merely list them for those who might be interested in reading more on the topic).
Shirley J. Case - The Historicity of Jesus (links to full on-line book)
Fred C. Conybeare -The Historical Christ (this link leads to information on all these books) Maurice Goguel - Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History
Herbert Wood - Did Christ Really Live?
I Howard Marshall -I Believe in the Historical Jesus
Morton Smith - "The Historical Jesus," in Jesus in Myth and History
R.T. France - The Evidence for Jesus
Robert Van Voorst - Jesus Outside the New Testament