Mediterranean Influences on Christianity

Essay by trifleHigh School, 11th gradeB, December 2006

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Christians believe that the life of Christ as told in the Bible is, without question, unique. And because of that, they think that the foundation and principles of Christianity came to exist within their faith for the first time in the history of civilization. But research by scholars show that long before Jesus Christ lived, the Egyptians and other Mediterranean civilizations had already created myths that contained all the main aspects of the life story of Christ; the coming of a messiah and his death and resurrection, for example.

When you look outside of the Gospels, at the first century epistles, we find a huge gap. There isn't a single reference to Pontius Pilate, Jesus' executioner. The earliest reference to Jesus as any kind of a teacher shows up in 1 Clement, just before the writings of St. Ignatius, and Ignatius himself doesn't seem to know of any of Jesus' teachings.

For the first indication of Jesus as a miracle worker, you have to look beyond Ignatius to the Epistle of Barnabas. Other important parts of the Gospel story are just as hard to find.

This lack of any mention of the Gospel of Jesus that you see in almost one hundred years of Christian correspondence has no explanation. It is just dismissed by New Testament scholars as unimportant, or they say that early Christian writers "show no interest" in the earthly life of Jesus. But something is going on there. Paul and every other Christian writer of the first century seem to be a part of this.

But some religious writers think there are a lot of reasons for believing that Paul knew about the historical Jesus. One reason is that since Paul was a committed Jew, he was probably in Jerusalem at the time of Passover, just...