Jesus Is A Myth, Just Like President Kennedy

I was born in 1961, so I was too young to recall the national tragedy that my mother remembered with such shock and dismay. She talked often of presidential assassination that occurred in 1963, and it was clear that it impacted her deeply. You probably already know the president to whom I am referring:

Jesus Kennedy Myth

Prior to his election, he had been a boat captain. He was related to a U.S. Senator, Attorney General, ambassador to Great Britain, and the mayor of Boston.

He was elected to Congress in ’47 and was the vice-presidential runner-up in ’56.

He was elected President in ’60.

He was in his thirties when he was president; his wife was a socially prominent twenty-four year old girl at the time of their marriage. She spoke French fluently.

While living in the White House, his wife suffered the loss of a child. His family consisted of three children.

As president, he was deeply involved in civil rights for African Americans.

He was assassinated and shot in the back of the head, on the Friday before a major holiday, while seated beside his wife (she was not injured).

On the day of his assassination, a staffer told him not to go to the event where he was murdered.

Following the assassination, there were insistent claims that the fatal shot must have come from a different direction.

His assassin was born in ’39, and was a southerner who held extremist views.

This assassin was murdered before he could be brought to trial; he was killed by a shooter who used a Colt revolver and fired only one, fatal shot.

After the assassination, he was eventually succeeded by a vice-president who was a southern democrat (and former senator) named Johnson.

Does this president sound familiar? I used to think so too, but I’m not so sure anymore. It turns out that the president I just described is not John F. Kennedy, but Abraham Lincoln. I think that my mother created this piece of fiction by borrowing the details from Lincoln’s personal story. After all, the details I just listed are accurate facts related to Lincoln. How could they also be true of Kennedy? I think my mom has been lying to me all along.

Well it turns out that both Lincoln and Kennedy share these common characteristics, and while this seems to make them nearly identical on paper, you and I know how different the two men really were. It’s easy to make people sound the same when we are selective about describing similarities and intentionally leave out all the characteristics that distinguish one from the other. Imagine that historians are researching Kennedy 2,000 years from now. Will they doubt his existence simply because Lincoln shared so many similarities? Will “Kennedy Skeptics” deny the historicity of Kennedy because he is so similar to Lincoln? Maybe.

There are lots of skeptics who try to deny the historicity of Jesus just because he allegedly shares some similarities with gods or mythologies that pre-date him. Truth be told, the similarities related to Jesus are more fiction than reality, but even if they were all true (like those I’ve listed related to Kennedy and Lincoln), the mere existence of similarities does not invalidate the historicity of Jesus (or Kennedy, for that matter). If we’re prepared to say that Jesus is a myth just because he shares a few characteristics, we better be ready to tell the world that there was never a president named John F. Kennedy.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.

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27 replies
  1. Andy Ryan says:

    We’ve got film of Kennedy and photos of Lincoln. Lots of direct quotes and contemporary accounts too. Not so with Jesus. They are dozens of other important differences too.

    Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        Jim Beam: “They didn’t have cameras in Jesus’s day”
        Who said they did?

        Dan Hoelscher: “that is hardly a good argument against someone’s existence”
        But having photos and video of someone IS a good argument FOR their existence.

        Sean Edit: “We have thousands of copies of eye witness testimony”
        You have thousands of eye witnesses or just thousands of copies? Number of copies doesn’t make something more reliable. And who are these eye witnesses? The earliest Gospel is Mark’s and that was written 65-80 years after Jesus’ crucifixion. The others were written even later. Not eyewitness accounts.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          I take back that dating of Mark’s Gospel, it wasn’t written 65 years after the crucifixion – but I still maintain that it was written long after the events described and by author unknown. It can’t be held up as an example of ‘eyewitness testimony’.

          Reply
    • Dan Hoelscher says:

      There are no pictures, video, direct quotes from my great, great, great grandfather either…but I’m pretty sure he existed. Not trying to be sarcastic, but that is hardly a good argument against someone’s existence.

      Reply
    • Sean Eidt says:

      We have thousands of copies of eye witness testimony. As well as corroborating evidence from various sources, even from enemies of Christians that lived during his life. Jesus is the most Historically verifiable people in history by far. You could make a better case that Plato or Socrates were not real people, but I never hear of anyone arguing that they never existed. Wonder why?

      Reply
    • Thomas Rothrock says:

      Andy, do you have videos or photos of Washington, Darwin, Isaac Newton?
      Do you doubt their existence?

      I think you get the point, you are just being argumentative.

      Jesus does have lots of direct quotes and personal testimony about his existence.
      Not really different than any historical figure that existed before film or photography.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Andy, do you have videos or photos of Washington, Darwin, Isaac Newton?”

        Certainly we have many, MANY photos of Darwin, from all stages of his life. We’ve got handwritten books by him too! And portraits painted during his lifetime. And transcripts of debates he had. That you seem unaware of this, thinking we don’t even have photos of him says little for your knowledge of the subject. Putting it down to me being argumentative doesn’t help you either.

        Sean Edit: “Jesus is the most Historically verifiable people [sic] in history by far.”

        This is simply nonsense. He’s more historically verifiable that Ronald Reagan, despite the fact that we can interview people who worked with him?

        Sean Eidt: “As well as corroborating evidence from various sources, even from enemies of Christians that lived during his life”

        Which enemies of Jesus do we have corroborating evidence from?

        Reply
    • esbee says:

      there are no photos of the rulers of Rome yet no one doubts there existed a Julius Ceasar or Caligula. If you say there are quotes and written history that prove they existed, there is also written history about a man called Jesus by Josephus, a historian of the time. But whether you believe or not does not negate the truth about Jesus.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        If there’s no evidence for something a thousand years from now, then sure, it’s sensible to treat that something with scepticism. If in 3017 someone claims there was a President but we’ve no video or photos, no direct quotes, no contemporary accounts of him etc, then one might treat claims about him with scepticism. If the occasional claims you get now that Elvis was still alive after 1977 are being repeated a thousand years from now, then people in 3017 should demand decent evidence for those claims.

        “there are no photos of the rulers of Rome yet no one doubts there existed a Julius Ceasar or Caligula”

        We have contemporary portraits and inscriptions for Caesar. Not so Jesus. We also have several eyewitness accounts. Caesar’s own, and Cicero’s and Sallust’s, but also Pompey (surviving collections of Cicero’s letters include letters from Pompey) and Augustus (Caesar’s adopted son and successor, who commissioned many inscriptions and coins). And Livy, a contemporary of Caesar, covers Caesar in his histories—and in their poetry, so do contemporaries Virgil, Ovid, and Catullus. The Gospels are not eyewitness sources, name no eyewitness sources, and have no verifiable eyewitness sources. There are no eyewitness sources for Jesus. There are at least nine for Caesar.

        Josephus was writing 60+ years after the death of Jesus. Further, the general scholarly view is that the Testimonium Flavianum is most likely not authentic in its entirety and was subject to Christian expansion/alteration. In particular, the very short passage relating to Jesus. No-one seemed to be aware of it at all until the fourth century when Eusebius suddenly ‘found’ it.

        In short, there is no comparison at all with the evidence for Caesar. To be honest, I wouldn’t EXPECT there to be as much evidence for Jesus as for a man who headed the Roman Empire, but then I’m not making the claim that the evidence is in any way comparable.

        Reply
    • G Thomas says:

      First, in 2000 years, those photos and videos will likely no longer exist as photos and video break down over time. Unless the country stays together, isn’t overrun by other countries, and proper investments are made to preserve those visual ‘proofs,’ they likely won’t exist.

      Next, as for your argument that the gospels weren’t written until decades after the crucifixion, it would be a worthy argument based on the complete lack of memory skills today’s modern society has. However, during Jesus’ time, men didn’t have libraries or access to TV and other mind-numbing devices; they literally could recall, with sharp accuracy, hours long sermons, books they read, and more. Knowledge they had firsthand of Christ, walking with him, and spending three years with him was certainly going to stick in their mind.

      Finally, most people who claim Jesus is a myth fail to answer the most pressing question: why would 12 apostles (no, Judas Iscariot doesn’t count), numerous disciples, and Paul … most of whom ran for their lives and even denied they even knew Christ when he was being beaten and crucified, suddenly become bold, declare his resurrection for years, without recanting, to their own torture and death? Why would Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, who had a powerful hatred of Christ and his followers (to the point of destroying every last one) preach the gospel to the end?

      With no financial gain, knowing they’d be damned to hell if they were lying, and no political power to gain, losing family and friends … why would they do that? At least a dozen (and there were many others with firsthand knowledge of Christ who did this as well). You can’t hold a conspiracy together with 4 people for decades when they are running a scam for personal gain, so how would you explain a dozen doing this in the face of death, torture, and extreme loss?

      You can’t. Not if you face it honestly and reasonably. If you can’t face it on those terms, then I wish you well and pray God opens your eyes.

      Reply
      • toby says:

        Why would Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees, who had a powerful hatred of Christ and his followers (to the point of destroying every last one) preach the gospel to the end?
        Personal gain. He had a vision a la Joseph Smith.

        With no financial gain, knowing they’d be damned to hell if they were lying, and no political power to gain, losing family and friends … why would they do that?
        No financial gain? Sure about that? Isn’t it Paul that says: 1 Tim. 5:17-18, “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” And 1 Cor 9 “9 For it is written in the Law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? 10 Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. 11 If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we should reap material things from you?”

        And of course after arguing that people should get paid double for preaching he humbly says, “And I am not writing these things that it may be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. 16 For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. 18 What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.”

        Right. He’s shaking his head waving away money with this left hand, but the right hand is held out with his wallet open.

        Paul was the first televangelist.

        Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “most of whom ran for their lives and even denied they even knew Christ when he was being beaten and crucified, suddenly become bold, declare his resurrection for years, without recanting, to their own torture and death?”

        Which disciples in particular do you mean, and what’s your evidence for this? You need to show that they died specifically for their Jesus claims and that they turned down the chance to save their own lives by recanting. When I’ve asked this before I’ve been told that it’s just ‘church tradition’ that this disciple or that was martyred.

        “You can’t hold a conspiracy together with 4 people for decades when they are running a scam for personal gain”

        Robert Popper scammed a bunch of people in the early 1980s with his religious claims. Then he was revealed to be a fraudster. And yet after a few years he started doing it again, fooling a bunch of new people. No great conspiracy – just gullible and uncurious people failing to do basic checks on the guy who’s making claims.

        Reply
  2. jorge garzon says:

    Andy, actually the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark, were wriiten by actually men who walked and spoke with Jesus so some of the saying are actually quotes from Jesus, even histoarians such as Joshiphas who was nota follower of Jesus speaks of Him in his writings, of coyrse just like people today want to deny the holocaust., time seems to help those who would deny any historical event

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Andy, actually the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark, were wriiten by actually men [sic] who walked and spoke with Jesus”

      No bible scholar believes that the Gospels were written by the actual Matthew, Mark or Luke.

      Wiki sums up Mark’s authorship thus:
      “The Gospel of Mark is anonymous. Early Christian tradition ascribes it to John Mark, a companion and interpreter of the apostle Peter. Hence its author is often called Mark, even though most modern scholars are doubtful of the Markan tradition and instead regard the author as unknown. It was probably written c.AD 66–70, during Nero’s persecution of the Christians in Rome or the Jewish revolt, as suggested by internal references to war in Judea and to persecution. The author used a variety of pre-existing sources, such as conflict stories (Mark 2:1-3:6), apocalyptic discourse (4:1-35), and collections of sayings (although not the Gospel of Thomas and probably not the Q source)”

      I quote from Wiki for convenience – if you think you have a better source that contradicts it, please feel free to quote from it in reply.

      Reply
  3. Thomas Rothrock says:

    Kennedy was 43 when he was elected, Lincoln was 51.
    I’m not sure where you got that either was in his 30s when he was president.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      “Kennedy was 43 when he was elected, Lincoln was 51.
      I’m not sure where you got that either was in his 30s when he was president.”

      And yet Wallace says: “After all, the details I just listed are ACCURATE FACTS related to Lincoln.”

      These are perhaps ‘alternative facts’ such as the ones Trump’s adviser Kellyanne Conway recently claimed she was giving us.

      Other apparently ‘great similarities’ include that they were assassinated by ‘Southern extremists’. There’s pretty much a 50/50 chance that they’ll be from either the North or the South, and there’s a fair chance that any assassin will be an extremist of some description. Being succeeded by a man called Johnson isn’t that unlikely either, given that it’s the second-most popular surname in the United States.

      Reply
  4. Ed Vaessen says:

    Sean Eidt says:
    “We have thousands of copies of eye witness testimony. As well as corroborating evidence from various sources, even from enemies of Christians that lived during his life.”

    I am getting it bit curious. Who were these enemies. You have a name?

    Reply
  5. Ed Vaessen says:

    Jorge garzon says:
    “Andy, actually the gospels of Matthew, Luke, and Mark, were wriiten by actually men who walked and spoke with Jesus so some of the saying are actually quotes from Jesus, even histoarians such as Joshiphas who was nota follower of Jesus speaks of Him in his writings, of coyrse just like people today want to deny the holocaust., time seems to help those who would deny any historical event”

    What is both disappointing and frightening about Christianity (and I think all other religions too) is that is supplies an environment in which these these extremely bad arguments are simply parroted again and again.
    The central message seems to be: “Lie as much as you can, if it supports our cause, then it is good!”

    Reply
    • toby says:

      The Backfire Effect. The tendency for someone to dig in deeper, often irrationally, when facts are presented that contradict their beliefs.

      Reply
      • Saved says:

        To all you Scholars on here listen up boneheads that’s why it is called faith it is impossible to please him without faith you either believe or you don’t and soon enough you’ll see and you’ll know the truth Percy the truth will set you free it is easy to not be held accountable by not believing in Jesus Christ or even in God so that might have missed a few of you up but to be held accountable that’s kind of tough in it that’s why he said Real Simple take upon you my yoke for it is easy and my burden is light I have taken it on for you just believe that’s what faith is about hope you get it

        Reply

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