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jesus: living legend ?

So, let's compare a real legend with Jesus' story to see if they look the same. If Jesus (as we know him) is a legend, he should at least have the decency to look like one.

  • c. 460-500 AD Celtic Warrior King repels tide of Saxon invaders for over 30 years. He dies. Saxons conquer England.
  • c. 1135 AD Geoffry of Monmouth writes story based on sketchy oral tradition of said warrior King. Sees gaps. Fills with his own best guesses.
  • c. 1150 AD Geoffry is bestseller. Stories adapted by other writers into poetry.
  • c. 1180 AD Court at Camelot invented and adopted into legend.
  • c. 1190 AD Search for Holy Grail invented and adopted into legend. Other additions at this time include: Merlin and Lady of the Lake.
  • c. 1485 AD Thomas Malory pens epic poem "Death of Arthur". Most modern ideas about King Arthur stem from his ideas.
  • c. 1975 AD Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Knights who say Ni!, Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch and Guy de Lombard make their first appearance in the tale.

Making the comparison with Jesus, we want to know when this fanciful story of him rising from the dead, and claims to diety first make their first appearance. Remember, the Arthurian myth (like any self-respecting legend) took around a thousand years to reach the form we'd recognise today.

Jesus' resurrection is told in the four gospels and in some of the new testament letters. This is unusual in legend terms, because they have not since been added to or embelished in any way. The story we hear on Easter Sunday is the very same as was told by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul et al so many years ago.

St. Paul was putting that very same story about for years before he was executed for telling it. He was beheaded in (or near) Rome under Nero during the mid-60s AD. He was a keen letter writer and between about 49-6? AD shortly before "heads off" time, wrote to his friends all round the Med, with such gems as:

"Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:" 1 Cor 15:3-4

Sound familiar at all? Of course it does. The message hasn't changed. And that was barely twenty years after Jesus died!

What about the Gospels? Some would have you believe that they were written hundreds of years later by Christian spin-doctors in Rome. I say otherwise. Even the most conservative estimates now suggested by academics place Mark's Gospel around the turn of the century (70-105 AD). And that's a worst case scenario!

Early Gospel Manuscripts

  • In the John Ryland Library, University of Manchester is a fragment of St. John's Gospel dated at 120-130 AD.
  • In Magdalen College, Oxford, lies the controversial Magdalen Fragment, a scrap of St. Matthew's Gospel dated as early as 70 AD. (This date is subject to considerable dispute).

Plus, as Legends go, it's not a very good one. Consider ..

  • A bizarre, unexplained and frankly embarrassing seven week gap between Easter and Pentecost.
  • Giving the role of eye witness to a group of women, when in Jewish law the testimony of women was invalid.
  • The regular, unabashed trashing of the disciples' reputations in a new testament "tabloid exposé" style.

Jesus Christ: Legendary? Not Likely!

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Top Five Arthurian Quotes

1. "It's just a flesh wound!"
2. "Go away or I will taunt you a second time!"
3. "Fetchez la vache!"
4. "If I went round claiming to wield supreme executive power just because some moistened bint lobbed a scimitar at me, I'd be locked up!"
5. "Bring us - a shrubbery!"