When I was in ministerial school, I recall a class discussion on the question, “Did Jesus really exist?”
Needless to say, it was a spirited debate. For some, merely raising the question was considered blasphemous.
One of my classmates posited that the Jesus story is borrowed from the myth of Horus, an Egyptian figure who supposedly existed thousands of years before Jesus’ time. Gerald Massey, an Egyptologist who studied the similarities between ancient Egyptian mythology and the Gospel stories, noted in his 1883 book The Historical Jesus and the Mythical Christ, “Christianity was neither original nor unique, but that the roots of much of the Judeo/Christian tradition lay in the prevailing Kamite (ancient Egyptian) culture of the region. We are faced with the inescapable realization that if Jesus had been able to read the documents of old Egypt, he would have been amazed to find his own biography already substantially written some four or five thousand years previously.”
This statement from Massey suggests that the Jesus we have come to know was an aggregate of Egyptian mythology. Needless to say, other historical scholars dispute Massey’s claim.
But does it really matter? Isn’t what Jesus represented the key?
In New Thought/ancient wisdom teachings, Jesus represents the Christ, which is that part of God within all of us. It is also God’s idea of humanity when we are at our highest and best. This idea encompasses the consciousness of peace, love, compassion, joy and creativity. It is something that is within all of us as potential and our job is to live out that potential and bring it into our world.
The Christmas season is really about the celebration of the birth of this Christ idea in our awareness, so it becomes the activity of our consciousness. Whether or not one accepts the traditional life story of Jesus to be true, its power lies in how we make what he represented a part of our life. To paraphrase a traditional Christian statement, even if the Christ presence is born a thousand times in Bethlehem, if that same presence is not born in us, it has no meaning.
If we accept that Jesus did, in fact, exist, what is most important is what came to Jesus’ awareness while he was here on Earth and whether the same awareness comes to us. When that happens, Jesus and all that he represents is real, whether he existed or not.
Peace and Blessings,