Where did Jesus get his DNA?: a dispute between Catholics and Evangelical Christians

January 16, 2023 • 9:30 am

A reader’s comment in a recent post brought this issue to my attention. Lots of fun!

I should have figured that once genetics became established, theologians would realize that they had a problem. Two big problems, actually. The first, which I’ve discussed before, is that we’re all supposed to be descended from a man and a woman who were a couple living at the same time and place (Adam and Eve, of course).  Because this is not possible, scientifically inclined theologians have tried to save the Original Sin Couple for well over a decade. I won’t describe their solutions, but they are the subject of constant argument at the moribund BioLogos site (see here for a FAQ on Adam and Eve).

A bigger question, discussed at tedious length at the Evangelical Christian website below, is this: if Jesus was part human and part divine, but was born of a human mother (Mary), what was his genetic constitution? Clearly Joseph didn’t have a part in inseminating Mary, and if Jesus was a human, with 23 pairs of chromosome and a Y, did one set of chromosomes, containing an X, come from Mary, and the rest from God? That is, did God contribute half of Jesus’s genome, or did he create Jesus’s genome entirely?

Given the lack of evidence that a divine Jesus existed, or that even a Jesus person existed (some, like Bart Ehrman ,see Jesus as a real person but not divine: a messianic apocalyptic Jewish preacher), this argument would seem superfluous. Or trivial–like the number of angels waltzing on a pinhead. But Christians need answers, and so Finding Hope Ministries (FHM) supplies us with theirs.

Click below to read:

FHM first lists all the possibilities—eliminating the possibility Jesus was haploid, containing only 23 chromosomes from Mary, which would make the Savior inviable (and not male), but would explain the middle initial in “Jesus H. Christ”):

It seems there are only 3 options for considering the composition of Jesus’ DNA:

  1. Jesus has 100% Mary’s DNA with a divinely created Y chromosome to make Him male. [JAC: But did God take out one of Mary’s two X chromosomes, or was he XXY, a male with Klinefelter syndrome?]
  2. Jesus has 50% DNA from a human female (Mary) and 50% DNA from God, to replace that of a human male.
  3. Jesus has DNA created entirely by God at the time of His conception.

Several have proposed God supplied a Y chromosome to add to the X chromosome of Mary’s egg cell (ovum), which programmed for the male gender of Jesus.  In so doing God bypassed defective genetic weaknesses of the Adamic (male) genome.  However, this is a fallacious argument, as 22 other chromosomes must be contributed to match the other 22 chromosomes Mary produced in her ovum cell.

God, of course, could have done anything.

FHM then analyzes the Catholic position, which they ultimately reject (their bolding):

The Roman Catholic Church embraces the second option: Jesus has 50% DNA from a human female (Mary’s) and 50% DNA from God (to replace that of a sinful human male).  This enabled Mary to supply Jesus’ humanity.  God the Holy Spirit miraculously encapsulated the Divine nature in Jesus human body.  Mary and the Holy Spirit each contributed 50% to the end result.  But doesn’t Mary fall under the category of all humans who are born sinners? Catholic theologians cite Mary’s “Immaculate conception” as contributing a sinless human nature to Jesus.  Catholics believe Mary was without sin when she bore God’s Son.  Mary is considered the “Holy Mother of God.” She remained a virgin after delivering Jesus (according to the Catholic church). Therefore, Roman Catholicism insists Jesus’ other brothers and sister mentioned in Scripture (James, Jude, etc) were not siblings but cousins—not birthed by the Virgin Mary. The Holy Scriptures teach Jesus’ siblings were born of Mary, who did not stay a virgin after Jesus’ birth.  But the question about whether they share Jesus’ DNA remains unanswered.  Let us further examine the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church.

To ensure that Jesus was without Original Sin given that he had a human mother, Catholics adopted (in 1854!) the dogma of the Immaculate Conception: that Mary was sinless from the moment of her own conception—as sinless as the pre-serpent Adam. If so, then her offspring, Jesus, was also born without Original Sin.  To ensure that Jesus’s brothers and sisters remained sinful, it was proposed that they were not the result of Mary’s insemination by God. Instead, they were “cousins,” which I presume means fathered by Joseph with another woman. Adultery!

The Catholic solution is thus this, as stated by FHM:

Catholics teach Mary was sinless and conceived in perfection. They therefore propose Mary contributed Jesus sinless human nature. Jesus’ DNA would then consist of 50% contribution from Mary, and perhaps more if God only added the ‘Y’ chromosome.

Catholic theologians admit the doctrine of Mary’s Immaculate Conception, as defined by Pope Pius IX was not overtly taught prior to the 12th century. They also agree Biblical Scripture can’t prove this teaching. But they claim the doctrine is implicitly contained in the teaching of the church Fathers.

The church Fathers, of course, didn’t know anything about heredity, much less about the Y chromosome, so I’m not sure how that solution is “implicit” in their teaching. BUT to evangelical Christians such as those from FHM, this doesn’t solve the problem. Why? For two reasons. First, as they note:

Most Protestants reject the doctrine of Immaculate Conception. They do not consider the teaching authoritative because it is not supported by Biblical Scriptures.

Indeed. The Immaculate Conception was just made up to solve the problem of getting a sinless part-human Jesus—to save the Trinity. But if you reject this construction, then you face another problem: if Jesus really did contain some of Mary’s genome, and she still had Original Sin, then Jesus would also bear Original Sin. But he couldn’t have, for then he wouldn’t be Jesus.  Thus the Christians are forcd to accept the third solution—God created the entire embryo of Jesus:

It is more likely Mary nourished and “made” the infant Jesus from a single cell being conceived (created) only by God.  She gave it a virgin birth, protecting it from any sinful genetic contribution from the ‘seed of man.’  But God the Holy Spirit conceived and created the initial cell of Jesus that ultimately grew into the baby child born nine months later.  This was God’s miraculous conception without a man and without a woman.

. . . The Biblical record supports God intervened only once in human genealogy when Jesus became man. God picked Mary as the woman who would birth His Son because of His grace, not because He needed a sinless vessel to pass purity onto His son.  Mary provided nourishment and protection for God’s Son as He developed in her uterus. The virgin birth confirmed the purity of Jesus at childbirth.  So God the Holy Spirit placed a God-designed conception in the womb of Mary and she functioned as a surrogate mother.  God created His human nature.  Jesus existed eternally as Deity.  His God nature was never created, contrary to the teaching of Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses.

They cite scripture to support this (read the article), but of course Catholics cite scripture to support their own view. The thing is, if God can create a fertilized egg containing no human genome, and then make Mary bear it for nine months, why couldn’t he have created Jesus de novo without a pregnancy? That’s another question that I’ll leave to the readers, but I suppose pregnancy is part of the story that Jesus had at least some humanlike origin.

It gets even funnier when FHM explains why Mary could not have been without sin (remember, they reject the Immaculate Conception). It involves her having mutations in her DNA, mutations caused by SIN:

Inherent sin in the human genome produces inherited physical mutations. Over many generations, the human population has experienced myriads of genetic mutations, and these defects have been incorporated into the common human gene pool, affecting every infant ever born.  This is why the lifespan of men has declined from 900+ years in the pre-Flood world to 200+ years of Abraham’s contemporaries and ultimately to 70-80 years today.  Mary did not live to be 900 years old.  She was not martyred at a young age.  Her body suffered the ravages of imperfection.  She had a defective human genome and died a normal age (approximately 60) for a woman of that time.

Why sin produces mutations is unresolved, of course, and not all mutations are “defects”. But this solves the problem of a sinless Jesus born of a human mother, and kills another bird as well: the remarkable decline in human longevity since Biblical days.  No more Methuselahs! How clever these theologians are!  And it solves the problem of Jesus being both human and divine: the “human” bit wasn’t based on DNA, but on looking like a human and having been gestated in a human womb:

His body was truly “in the flesh,” but only “in the likeness of sinful flesh.” Jesus grew in the Mary’s womb like any other baby, yet he was different from all others. He was not genetically related to either Mary or Joseph, for both had an inherited sin nature. Jesus was sinless and without genetic flaw.  He was the spotless and sacrificial Lamb of God who offered Himself as a perfect propitiation (payment satisfactory to God) for the sins of mankind.

. . .But the most amazing miracle God performed was His creation of the “second Adam” at conception.  He fashioned the first Adam on the sixth day of creation as a full-grown man without sin and in God’s image.  Adam was not born of a woman. He received no human DNA from earthly parents.  Yet he was fully human.  God created Jesus at conception in His image without any DNA contribution from earthly parents.  Jesus said to his disciples:

“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him” (John 14: 7).

Problem solved! Oh, those clever Christians! They then summarize if the readers weren’t able to follow the argument:

However, the church has always taught Jesus is 100% human and 100% Deity (preexisting His incarnation as the Son of God -“the Word”).  The third option presented earlier satisfies all these requirements: Jesus has DNA created entirely by God at the time of His conception.  His Divine nature did not need to be created, as it was eternally present prior to His birth. God the Holy Spirit provided a human body untainted by the fallen sin-nature of Adam at conception and placed it in the uterus of a virgin, Mary.  She carried this child for the nine months of a normal pregnancy as a surrogate mother.  This infant had no mutations or defects because Jesus was truly created the “second Adam” in the image of God—like the “first Adam.”  God created the first Adam and Eve without sin as perfect adults.  Sin entered both of them at the fall, and subsequently infected the entire human race.  God similarly created Jesus’s human body at conception, so He could experience everything human from the beginning to the end of a human life. Hebrews 4:15 explains: “He was at all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” 2 Cor. 5:21 states: ” For He made him who had no sin to be sin for us. ”  God became man to sacrifice Himself for the sins of mankind.  The name “Jesus” means “God saves.”

Clearly the Catholics got it wrong! The clever theologians at Finding Hope Ministries have not only been able to show up those duplicitous Catholics, but found a way that Jesus can still be 100% human AND 100% divine and yet free of those sin-caused mutations. And it also explains the evolutionary reduction in human lifespan over the last two millennia! I am dumbfounded with admiration.

Can you believe that people get paid to ponder stuff like this? What’s even more incredible is that people believe these solutions.


97 thoughts on “Where did Jesus get his DNA?: a dispute between Catholics and Evangelical Christians

  1. This question “Where did Jesus get his DNA?” is ideal for a ChatGPT query. Here is its (Its?hers?his?their?) reply:

    “Jesus, as a historical figure, is believed by Christians to be the son of God, and therefore not to have been conceived through traditional biological means. The Bible states that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born to the Virgin Mary, which means that Jesus did not have a biological father. Therefore, He did not have DNA like human beings have.”

    Seems like the correct answer to me.

    1. I am reminded of a line from an episode of Hill Street Blues, wherein a cop refers to one of their “clients” as a “prelimbic single-helix mutoid”. Perhaps the character was Himself doing one of His “if you do it unto the least of these” excursions.

      1. By an amazing coincidence, today I saw a horror movie that dealt with–of all things–the DNA of Jesus! It’s called “The Devil Conspiracy” and concerns a group of Satanists who steal the Shroud of Turin to get JC’s DNA. They use it to create a clone of Jesus which they implant into the womb of a woman they’ve kidnapped. Why? So that Satan can possess the new Jesus! “Rosemary’s Baby” for the new millennium. Filled with no-name actors and some of the murkiest cinematography I’ve ever seen.

        Now at a theater near you!

  2. They certainly got all worked up in a sweat over that! At least one thing is certain. It is Jesus H Christ. No other letter will do. But why is that?

    1. That could be a later cause for schism – those who swear ‘Jesus H Christ’ and those who favour ‘Jesus X Christ’.

    2. Boy, you sure don’t know your Bible, pal!

      H. stands for Horatio, as clearly stated in the Gospels.

      Sheesh. Din’t ya pay attention in Sundee school?


  3. Woah – I think I’m becoming dysconscious…

    I guess that is why the church elders handle those questions, and the “sheep” (the “sheep” concept right out of Christianity) just don’t worry their pretty little heads over things that they can’t understand.

  4. So God the Holy Spirit placed a God-designed conception in the womb of Mary and she functioned as a surrogate mother.

    So the difference here between Evangelicals and Catholics is the difference between in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination — was Jesus a test-tube baby or a turkey-baster baby?

        1. Yes, quite a few things that the omniscient one either overlooked or thought were acceptable. If he’d included something about internet fraud in the Big Ten it would have helped his credibility, of course.

  5. In his letter to the Romans, Paul tells us what he thought, saying:

    “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh”.

    One can read this as Paul saying that Jesus’s body was literally made from David’s sperm.

    1. Quite bizarre to realize some of the Gospel authors (*not* “Matthew,” “Mark,” “Luke” or “John”) went through the contortions of presenting detailed genealogies connecting Jesus to David … through Joseph, who (according to the story) provided no sperm, DNA or anything else to his stepson’s conception.

      I mean, why bother? They didn’t know about DNA, but they did seem to (kinda, sorta, anyway) understand the basic mechanics of human reproduction, i.e. male provides sperm, female … something.

      The Bible is ridiculous, from start to finish. But few Christians have the faintest idea of its actual contents.

    1. Amen! Worthless work. Maybe they should put a little more effort into feeding the hungry, clothing the poor, welcoming the neighbor….

  6. The Evangelicals despise the Catholics, always have, always will. Don’t be fooled by their unholy alliance surrounding their shared stance on the issue of abortion. I’m remembering when the bestselling series, Left Behind, was first published. In my capacity as a librarian, I skimmed through the books so that I could better advise my patrons who might be wondering what the books are about. (This is SOP among us librarians.) I was appalled at the gleeful depictions of the comeuppance in store for both the Catholics and the Jews come Rapture time. What’s funny is that the Evangelicals get the authority for their bible from the Jews, whom they consider Christ killers, and the Catholics, whom they revile as the Scarlet Woman in the Book of Revelation.

    1. I grew up Catholic in a very Baptist area and in high school they had great glee in telling me where I would be going when I died. I got even with them because now that I’ve abandoned religion I can tell them that they are going nowhere when they and I die.

      1. I grew up Catholic in a very Baptist area and in high school they had great glee in telling me

        Whenever I hear stories like this (not that I’m doubting you), I wonder how on earth your schoolfellows got to know what your religion was. Do you have to put it on some forms, or something?
        I remember being moderately surprised to discover that my classmate (and son of one of Dad’s colleagues) Franz was a Jew. Three years into our time at school together, when the Religious Education teacher ran a series of half-hour presentations by the class’ members on their particular faiths. I just thought (correctly) that Franz had acquired his Germanic name via his grandfather being a refugee from the Nazis in the mid-30s. That he was a Jew as well as a German (well, ex-German) was news at that time. It was quite an entertaining series of presentations – even the class’s complement of JWs came into the class to do their spiel. To their families’ horror, the RE teacher had scheduled them to share the same session as me (doing atheism). They were held out of the class to avoid thought-crime from the Muslim, Hindu, Catholic and Protestant presentations.
        That was the only time I remember finding which religions my classmates had been brought up in. The RE class was the only place where religion came up at all in school. Well, that sort of religion.
        Of course, the religious war of United versus City were settled in blood on the playing fields every Monday after a Saturday war. But that’s orthogonal to the “spiritual” religions.

        Where in the US schooling system are you made to reveal your religion? Our RE presentations were entirely voluntary.

    2. I’m remembering when the bestselling series, Left Behind, was first published. In my capacity as a librarian, I skimmed through the books so that I could better advise my patrons who might be wondering what the books are about. (This is SOP among us librarians.)

      Do you get danger money for that part of the job? Or, at least, access to counselling after a particularly traumatizing read?
      Ha-ha, but serious.

      1. Yeah, combat pay is already in my contract, but now you’ve inspired me to renegotiate and ask for PTSD treatment as well. Thanks!😉

  7. The thing is, if God can create a fertilized egg containing no human genome, and then make Mary bear it for nine months, why couldn’t he have created Jesus de novo without a pregnancy?

    Well, hell, why couldn’t the Good Lord have just poofed him into existence at age 30, when Jesus supposedly began his public ministry? That would’ve omitted the problem of all time between his adolescence, when he was found tutoring the rabbis in the temple and turning water into wine at the Wedding in Cana, and his next appearance, not until 18 years or so later — or as it’s known, “Jesus: the Missing Years.” 🙂

  8. Well, of course Jesus had DNA supplied by his human mother and his human father. This is even consistent with the views of certain Christian writers, like whoever wrote the Gospel of Mark. The idea that he was born of a virgin is just a misreading of a passage from Isaiah by Luke and Matthew.

    However, if you assume that Jesus was born of a virgin then, it seems to me, that God manufactured either half of Jesus’ DNA or all of it (your option 2 or 3). I think I would go with all and Mary was just a surrogate. No particular reason, it just seems more like God would want to control all of his son.

  9. They might as well be arguing the genetics of how humans and elves, which were separately created races, were still able to produce fertile offspring like Eärendil…

    I mean seriously. The more secular society gets, the more deranged these theologians appear to be.

  10. Found it! I remember in the classic text: Strickberger Genetics, the following question: “A women claimed to produce a child by parthenogenesis. (a) What should its sex be? (b) How would you further test if her claim is true?
    I actually used it in exams long, long ago. Then I realized: Hey…. wait a minute!

    1. Post-coital, a sort of last supper, with the body & blood of her son?

      Ag – I have made too many comments… sorry.

  11. Or, they could just read the Gospel of Mark, which plainly says that Jesus was only adopted as the son of god at his baptism. Since there is no mention of anything unusual about his conception, birth, or childhood, he was presumably just an ordinary guy (albeit a particularly virtuous and worthy one) up to that point.

  12. Or, a biological solution more or less compatible with reality: The Y is silent, so one X and you’re male, two and you’re female. Since there’s not much on the Y chromosome, that’s not too far off and it saves a lot of tortured effort, leaving the middle name valid, to boot.

  13. Then all of this mishegoss gets wiped away in 1972 with “The Divine Miss M” by Bette Midler which includes “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “Daytime Hustler”.

  14. I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, that it is logical to compare the birth of Jesus with that of Helen and Pollux. I find the myth of Leda and the Swan far more interesting with far fewer machinations and less agonizing than the birth of Jesus. Helen and Pollux went on to lead very interesting lives, mythologically speaking of course, and far more interesting(to me) than the myth of Jesus. Now I need to return to my pin collection to determine if the number of Angels dancing is consistent across different pins. Maybe I’ll throw in a Cotter pin or two just for comparison.

  15. This is the same sort of nonsense that the religious have used throughout history when faced with the contradictions and inconsistencies that science reveals. They parse. They tie themselves up in knots. They dissemble. They do everything that they can to save the phenomenon they are trying to preserve.

    Eventually, they give up. The Earth does travel around the sun. Evolution is real. Humans are apes. The problem in the case discussed here is that the story of Jesus as human, sinless, and begotten through virgin birth is absolutely core to the entire theology. This story, too, will eventually fall to science. But, given its central importance, it’s going to take a while longer.

  16. Side astonishment: the belief that having sex with your husband (leading to conception or not) would mean Mary was no longer free of sin. Not pure enough for God.

    This root moral axiom — sex is dirty — permeates the world, including secular culture. Instead of The Joy of Sex, we have The Shame of Sex.

    Instead of sex with consenting partner as an expression and celebration of love, it is an admission of weakness, corruption, and sin — even though sex is the force enabling the perpetuation of humanity.

    This is species-level self-hate.

    1. Yup, in your DNA apparently… The shortest sentence in the Bible seems apposite at this point! (But “FFS!” does the job, too.)

  17. Reminds me of people who invent “fan theories” (or “head canon”) to explain away obvious plot holes in Star Wars, Tolkien, or Marvel products. I never quite saw the point.

    1. Star Trek writers, at least, took scientific criticism of their show seriously, and invented “Heisenberg compensators” and “ancient humanoids” to explain how transporters work and why almost all sentient species in the galaxy look much like a Terran (so much so, in fact, that makeup, facial prostheses, and hair styling can make a Terran look just like them 😉 ) rather than an independent evolutionary lineage.


      1. and why almost all sentient species in the galaxy look much like a Terran

        Larry Niven’s answer to that problem in “Known Space” (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Known_Space) – and also why 8ft (2.5m? thereabouts) tall felinoids from Tau Ceti can eat humans and digest them – is that 2 billion years ago there was a galaxy-wide civilisation who seeded suitable planets with “food yeast” that oxidised the atmospheres and mutated into a range of other microbes. Then metazoans, then animals. So everything on the planets humans have encountered are deeply related, even if things like number of sexes, symmetry (left-right versus radial) and blood chemistry (the Tau Ceti felines have purple-ish blood – maybe manganese instead of iron?) vary, the proteins and fats are mutually digestible.

        1. I’m looking at Ringworld and wondering where ideas like this – “… a rotating wheel artificial world, an alien construct in space 186 million miles (299 million kilometres) in diameter.” have gone in the sci-fi genre.

          Closest thing recently that I saw was the entire planet made into a weapon in one if the latest Star Wars movies.

          … also can’t help but note Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung, but that’s probably just an accidental naming similarity.

    2. What may have been the first fan theories in pop culture were the countless essays that were written to explain away the contradictions in the Sherlock Holmes stories (Was Watson’s first name John or James? Was his war wound in his shoulder or his leg?) The game was started by an Anglican minister as a spoof of this kind of exegesis.

  18. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Jesus was a Time Lord. His “human” DNA came from a chameleon arch, and disappeared when his Time Lord nature was restored by his faithful companion, John the Baptist. It makes more sense than most religious stories.

    1. but would explain the middle initial in “Jesus H. Christ” … now we just have to figure out where the “on a bicycle” part comes from.

  19. To ensure that Jesus’s brothers and sisters remained sinful, it was proposed that they were not the result of Mary’s insemination by God. Instea, they were “cousins,” which I presume means fathered by Joseph with another woman. Adultery!

    It seems that the “cousins” are deemed by different groups of the deluded to be either the children of Mary’s sister (confusingly also called Mary) or of Joseph from a previous marriage (that the Bible didn’t think worth mentioning): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brothers_of_Jesus

    1. I presume means fathered by Joseph with another woman. Adultery!

      The Patriarchs (Abraham and co.) were perfectly relaxed about polygamy. So, come to think of it was Solomon – he had a harem of 600-odd concubines.
      I don’t know when – or for that matter, if – the pre-Christ Jews actually outlawed polygamy.
      The Romans started getting stroppy about polygamy in the 20-odd BCE period. Augustus Caesar (Brian Blessed, in your handy BBC guide to Emperors) declared it illegal, and his daughter Julia got caught in flagrenti delicti almost immediately, meaning tears before bedtime. Whether those laws applied to non-Citizen subjects of the Empire … ?

  20. Don’t forget the further problem. Jesus is supposed to be a Jew of the royal line of David, descended from Jesse. Jewish genealogy didn’t allow for adoption. So how can Jesus belong to Jesse’s lineage? Wikipedia will give you a great deal of information about how this problem is dealt with in the Gospel accounts (two quite divergent accounts) of Jesus’s line of descent from Jesse, and hence from David. Many churches have beautiful Jesse windows portraying Jesus’s descent from Jesse, all of which face the problem of how Jesus is descended from Jesse if he has no human father.

    1. If I were a theologian I would just say his body was human but his spirit divine. No messy explanation needed. Just believe in tosh.

  21. What do I know? I’m a non-practicing Jew. But if he was supposed to be the son of God, doesn’t that imply he had God’s DNA?

  22. I read Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?. I wasn’t convinced. His main thesis is that the gospel authors had previous manuscripts they based their gospels on. These previous manuscripts were labeled by letters, yet there is no real proof these first manuscripts existed. Whatever proof he lays out is thin (I don’t even remember what it was). You can’t just posit Luke was using X manuscript that existed contemporaneously with Jesus without having good proof that the manuscript actually existed (or now exists in gospel form). The tone seemed a bit patronizing, and I felt his real motivation was to attack the “mythicists” (those who believe Jesus is pure myth). I’ve never read any books by the mythicists, and don’t intend to. I’ve realized that it doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, and it’s a waste of time to read about or ponder.

    Though it’s not as big a waste of time as trying to “solve” the problem of Jesus’s DNA. What is wrong with these people? Thanks for the laugh, though.

    1. The only reason to postulate these prior gospel versions (Q, L, M, etc) is because they won’t allow themselves to consider the possibility “the gospel writers made stuff up”. Ergo, they must have had a source.

      1. Yes, and with a scholar like Ehrman, I think he may suffer from the sunk-cost fallacy. He’s spent his entire career trying to “prove” Jesus was real; at least he doesn’t believe he’s supernatural. I’ll give him that.

        1. Even though there is no way we could ever have such a proof? Subsitute King Arthur for the Jesus bloke & you will find as many theories as ‘researchers’ even though he probably did not exist either.

    2. Historians are asking, given what we know, what is the simplest, best explanation for the origin of Christianity? That simplest. best explanation is that there was an itinerant Jewish apocalyptic preacher who had followers and a ministry and who ran afoul of the Romans. These followers came to believe he was resurrected by God. All these points are completely non-controversial among secular historians. The problem with Mythicism is that it’s an unnecessarily complex explanation.

      1. Yes, I agree with your Occam’s razor approach. Don’t know why “scholars” spend lifetimes trying to cross that t. Sorry…dot that i. It’s truly sad, the amount of human brain-power that has been pressed towards that which never happened…and can’t happen. Thousands of years later, dipshits still argue about supernatural occurrences and America loves their Creationism…hell, SCOTUS is on board in 2023. Whoop! It can’t be overstated how Turtle and Trump succeeded in disassembling American jurisprudence with their hacks on the Bench. The three wraiths picked by Trump will infect America for years and years. They’ve only started.

      2. I don’t agree that that’s the simplest explanation (or that secular historians consider it non-controversial, very few secular historians deal with this topic).

        Consider, the earliest writings we have (indeed the only 1st-century Christian writings for which we have some idea of the author), namely Paul’s letters. But he was not a “follower” of a human Jesus, he never met a human Jesus. Indeed, Paul has no concept of a “disciple” of Jesus (he never mentions that concept), only “apostles” for the religion (among which he includes himself).

        If your version is correct, then, in Paul’s time, Christianity would be awash with oral versions of proto-gospels, related by the disciples. But where does Paul get his information from? He tells us explicitly that he did not get it from any person! He tells us that he gets it from visions and from scripture. He quotes OT scripture over 100 times. Not once does he quote anything from a disciple. Not once is there anything like “named disciple relates that Jesus said …”.

        Again, he tells us explicitly that he got nothing from any disciple. Indeed, he seems utterly unaware that anyone could have met a human Jesus. He is openly contemptuous of the authority of people who (in the traditional account) would have lived alongside Jesus for years, regarding his own authority (from visions and scripture) as superior.

        After the Road to Damascus incident, does he go and talk to all the people who would have lived with Jesus? No, he tells us explicitly that he deliberately did not do that, but instead wandered around Arabia for 3 years. That only makes sense if he had no conception of Jesus as a recently-lived human, but conceived of him as a being known from visions and scripture.

        Again, these writings are the closest ones to the founding of Christianity, and they did not come from a follower of a human Jesus, and they make little sense if that were indeed the origin of the religion.

      3. And just to add, what is unnecessarily complex about mythicism?

        All it says is that, originally, the Christians god was a heavenly being, known about from scripture and personal revelation. What’s unlikely about that? Indeed, isn’t that exactly how Jesus is today?

        Then, after the AD71 war, “Mark” turned this into a story and parable (which was developed further, for theological reasons, by “Matthew” and then “Luke”). And what is unlikely about that? Inventing theological stories is what religions do.

  23. I suspect theologians are committed to a certain set of beliefs, but live in the real world. So they do what they can to think up arguments that reconcile the two.
    Someone who practices science is supposed to be willing to abandon their original beliefs about a subject, once evidence emerges that those beliefs are in error.

    They really cannot allow themselves to conclude that Jesus was either a regular person who became mythologized, or even entirely imaginary. With those possibilities excluded, and the option to just ignore the question ruled out, they need to come up with something.

    Since Catholics and Evangelicals have different basic sets of doctrines, they would be expected to come to different conclusions on these sorts of Talmudic arguments.

  24. Ok, I know that logic and theology don’t mix, but it’s still fun to stir them together and watch the explosion:

    But doesn’t Mary fall under the category of all humans who are born sinners? Catholic theologians cite Mary’s “Immaculate conception” as contributing a sinless human nature to Jesus

    So, original sin is entirely optional for God. He can just selectively block anyone or everyone from being tainted. The only reason not to, would be non-benevolence.

  25. It is of note that among Merrill’s sources is Henry Morris (his theological stuff) which at the least connects the author to the overtly creationist branch of biblical apologetics.

  26. The Evangelical position seems to be the Eutychian heresy, which held that Christ was not really human. Catholics, Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox would all regard this as heresy; I suspect non-evangelical Protestants (e.g. Lutherans) would regard it as heresy as well.


    1. It is like all the endless disputes of the Byzantine era, of one body/same body etc. Mohammedans have no problem with this of course! Monophysites,…

      1. Precisely right, Dom– Eutyches was from Constantinople! He died just before the fall of the Western Empire, so he was perhaps not quite Byzantine. There were endless flavors of Christology back then, and Eutyches was regarded as a monophysite.


  27. I must apologise Jerry – I read half then thought the whole subject is possibly more unrealistic than the plot of a superhero film. As you say, they just make it up as they go along… ☹️ They (theologians) are idiots!

  28. Folks we should delight in this controversy. Why? Its very existence is an acknowledgement of the priority of scientific explanations. Science has won the day. Faith won’t cut it anymore.

  29. “What’s even more incredible is that people believe these solutions.”

    Theologians are paid to produce ideas like these, and all lay people need or want is evidence that someone is addressing the hard problems, so they don’t have to worry and can just keep on the business of living a godly life. Keeping the question “open” so it doesn’t interfere with faith is all that is required. In fact it’s rather fun, like a logic puzzle. It’s not about seeking Truth per se, of course. Those who insistently demand truth, evidence and cogent reasoning can look elsewhere.

    My one question is- how would you test these propositions to see which one (if either) is correct?

  30. The angel Gabriel said to Mary, regarding her pending pregnancy despite her being a virgin–“The Holy Spirit will come upon you”.

    That’s some dirty talk right there….and it must have been quite a heavenly load.

  31. Jesus was made of the seed of David, so 50% of the DNA was from Joseph, who was a descendant of David. The Virgin Mary and the Original Sin were invented later.

    1. That’s not actually true. The first mention of “Joseph” in Christian writings is in the “Matthew” gospel, and that same gospel relates the virgin birth. So “Joseph” is not earlier.

      Indeed that gospel avoids saying that Jesus was Joseph’s son: “… Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus …”, then:

      “Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.”

  32. I don’t think about it much beyond this:
    1) It’s likely Jesus did exist
    2) His mother and father were human.

  33. I should have figured that once genetics became established, theologians would realize that they had a problem.

    I wonder why they didn’t just copy another chunk from the Epic of Gilgamesh (after the Utnapishtim/ Noah story) and make him two-thirds divine and one third human. Nice and simple!

  34. Lots of interesting speculation, especially if you believe in the divinity of Jesus, which I don’t. I go back to one of my favorite quotes, the “God created Man in His own image, and Man, being a gentleman, returned the compliment”. I think that says it all!

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