In this series of posts, one side issue I tried to argue was the idea of Jesus as a mythical entity who was crucified in outer space as Richard Carrier argues for doesn’t make sense of the evidence, primarily because the crucifixion is trying to arouse guilt to inspire repentance and this theme doesn’t fit with sky demons executing Christ. But there is another related issue.
Carrier argues original Christianity was just another dying-rising God cult that were numerous at that time. The problem is that if original Christianity was just another one of these, it would make sense to the Gentiles. But, Paul says the gentiles found the idea of the religion centered around the cross to be ridiculous:
- “23 but we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to gentiles, (1 Cor 1:23)”
The idea of an executed deity as a object of worship in the ancient world was looked upon as ludicrous, hence the parody of Christian worship from around the year 200 with the The Alexamenos graffito (also known as the graffito blasfemo, or blasphemous graffito):
Ben Witherington comments:
The gist of this graffito is ridiculing the idea that a God could get himself crucified. The inscription speaks of Alexamenos worshipping his God, and the one of the cross has a donkey’s head. The implication is that this is an assine practice, so the graffito is strongly pejorative. https://www.patheos.com/blogs/bibleandculture/2022/07/23/the-graffito-about-the-crucifixion/
So, the first Christians were not just trying to sell another dying-rising God that were plentiful in the ancient world, because we have from multiple sources that the gentiles saw such ideas as silly.
My solution is that the gentiles would have been familiar with the idea of a personal and societal transformational death such as that of Socrates, but would have thought it foolish to think such a death would have the ability to have as profound personal and societal transformation as Jesus’ death was supposed to have. To overcome this unlikelihood, people would have to come to see Jesus as the specially chosen by God Davidic heir who was wrongly humiliatingly executed as a criminal. The more one sees Jesus as the specially and profoundly favored one of God, the more individual and societal hidden vileness is disclosed and hence the opportunity for repentance.
For the gathering post for this series of posts, see: https://secularfrontier.infidels.org/2022/05/i-get-interviewed-on-freethinker-podcast-about-mythicism-atonement-and-gnosticism/
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading!