ancient JesusLast week I poked some holes in Duncan’s trilemma, the argument that Jesus was either god, a liar, or a madman. This week I’d like to explore further. Is it possible that Jesus’ supposed claim of divinity can be whittled down to only three possible motivators? I doubt it. I will be sharing an additional three theories here. I’m sure there are more, and I would greatly appreciate learning about them, so feel free to comment!

Theory #1: Jesus was a Humanist. He spoke well of hard workers, the humble, the poor, women and children. He denounced religion and the strict followers of it. He condemned the rich and haughty, the judgmental, the elitists. If Jesus were alive in my time, we might even be hanging out together. He’d text me and we’d go out for wine (no miracles necessary), and to the backdrop of some bleeding-edge local sounds, we’d hash out solutions to all the world’s problems, then Uber it home. I’d remember everything he said (something like Matthew 23 probably), jazz up the wording a bit, throw in some quirky humor, and post it on my own blog, Love over Religion. Because blogging, my friends, is hard work. Don’t hate the player.

The difference between starting a Humanist movement in 30 CE and running a Humanist blog in the 21st Century is that the Internet is like a permanent record of things. Once something’s online, there isn’t much anyone can do to get rid of it, alter it, subtract from it, or add to it.  It’s there. It’s in black and white. It’s been read, shared, reposted, and commented on before you even realize you’ve got an embarrassing and blatant spelling error in it. Not that that’s ever happened to me, of course, because I closely proofread before I put things on social media to be read by thousands of strangers who aren’t familiar with my impeccable grammar. Questionable exhibit A:



In the first century CE, word of mouth was the primary source of information. Only three to 10 percent of the population could read and write.

This group comprised the very elite and the scribes, literate workers who made a career of reading and writing. To this select group was charged the responsibility of preservation of history, discernment of fact from fiction, the moral and ethical weight of transferring thoughts, experiences, and opinions to a semi-permanent state of existence, through a handmade ink onto a scroll of papyrus, parchment, or animal skins.  So, we have elitists who can read and write, and scribes who were paid by those in higher ranking positions, political and religious leaders with an expressed agenda. Either way, the documentation was not likely to be objective. Imagine if Fox News was our only news channel and it controlled all of our media and all of our entertainment, and also produced every written work we were allowed to access and then sent someone from Fox news to read it to us when we did.

This elitist control over information may explain how the New Testament (Written 50-100 years after Christ’s death) contains such conflicting information. It was the Church of Rome, this chosen group of elitists with a political and religious agenda, who decided what “news” went into the “Good News.” That might explain how 40 books were omitted from the Old Testament and five from the New.

In more recent history, archeologists have unearthed many new books from the early Christian era which could have been contenders for a position in the Big B, had they been discovered sooner.  We are all at least vaguely familiar with the term, “The Dead Sea Scrolls.” But powerful religious entities continue to control our “news.”  Every new piece of Biblical information is treated as hearsay and not religious doctrine, especially if it conflicts in any way with the currently accepted version of the Bible. Among the books rejected, not surprisingly, was the Gospel of Judas Iscariot (the disciple that allegedly betrayed Jesus.)

It is possible that Jesus was simply a good man, trying to fight the strict religious status quo of his day. His words suggest that people are more important than religion. But where there is religion, there is power, wealth, and control.  Why would the governing bodies disband religion, when they could simply create a new one? Without any physical documentation of Jesus’ original message, and without anyone to tweet about their egregious misconduct, It wouldn’t be hard for those in power to add a few words here and there and claim that Jesus himself was a God to be followed.

Theory #2: Jesus was a Pantheist. Pantheism is the view that God is not a separate creator, but exists everywhere and within everything. What scientists call “the universe,” or “nature,” Pantheists may call “God.” In the Book of John, Jesus did claim to be divinity. But he provided a curious explanation for his claim, suggesting that divinity was not only true of him, but of all humans.

“You, a mere man, claim to be God.” Jesus replied, “Is it not written in your law ‘I have said, you are gods?’” (John 10: 33-34)

 “When will the Kingdom of God come?”  Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by any visible signs. You won’t be able to say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘It’s over there,” because the Kingdom of God is already among you.” (Luke 17:20-21)

The idea of “the Holy Spirit” residing inside of us borders on a pantheistic view as well. The general worldview expressed in the “accepted Bible,” (apart from these few points) couldn’t be further from pantheism. But check out this description of God that Jesus provides in the Apocryphon of John (one of the books that didn’t make it into the Bible.)

The One is the Invisible Spirit.
            It is not right to think of it as a God or as like God.
            It is more than just God.

Nothing is above it.
Nothing rules it. 
            Since everything exists within it
                        It does not exist within anything.
            Since it is not dependent on anything
                        It is eternal.

It is absolutely complete and so needs nothing.
It is utterly perfect

The One is without boundaries
            Nothing exists outside of it to border it
The One cannot be investigated
            Nothing exists apart from it to investigate it
The One cannot be measured
            Nothing exists external to it to measure it

(This paints quite a different picture than the Christian version of a disciplinary father figure in the sky.)

Theory #3: Jesus was indoctrinated, bullied into religion to the point of martyrdom.  He did spend his youth studying religious law. No other activity of his childhood is mentioned. No play time, rest time, visits with Grandma. He experienced a divine birth, complete with angel announcements and an astrological phenomenon, one that spurred visitation of royalty from distant lands. And that’s it. He grows up with no mention of anyone coming to visit the miracle child, much less attempting to kidnap him, learn from him, or beseech his blessing. He simply hides out in religious temples, day and night.

Outside of the Bible, there is no historical evidence for Jesus’ birth in the manger or the appearance of the iconic star, leading me to wonder if the “miracle birth” was simply a skewed religious belief of Jesus’ own parents. Maybe Jesus was fed a story, like many of us are, and was then expected to live up to it. It would be a cruel childhood, devastatingly sad, to be told that you were chosen by God to die for the sins of others. But Jesus wouldn’t have been the first to hear that. In fact, child sacrifice had a long-standing tradition. For thousands of years, tribal and pagan people “appeased the gods,” by offering the sacrifice of a first-born child. It’s not difficult to imagine Jesus modeling his entire life around this instruction, this false belief, taking it upon himself to “fulfill” the prophecies forced on him. Did he believe he was God at that point? Or was he simply regurgitating the message he was taught, relentlessly, by those who (for political, social, and spiritual reasons) desperately desired a messiah?

Would it make Jesus a madman, to voluntarily accept the role of martyr, to validate his parents’ beliefs and appease his society? Is it difficult to imagine indoctrination resulting in indirect suicide?  Many Christians I have asked said they would be willing to die for Jesus. How is this any different?


Thanks so much for continuing to read and comment! I’m enjoying our weekly conversations. Starting next week, I’ll be posting the first segment of a very exciting interview I conducted with Richard Wade, who writes for The Friendly Atheist. With years of experience counseling families on matters of atheism and religion, Richard is a prolific writer who is practical, poignant, and engaging. I’m excited that he has generously agreed to share some of his wisdom here at Love over Religion. You don’t want to miss it!


55 thoughts on “Hexalemma

  1. As always, a thought-provoking post.

    One thing that’s happened to me in the years since I left Christianity is that I can no longer see Jesus as any kind of “divine” figure. While I lean towards the idea a Jewish man named Yeshua existed and very possibly “preached” about Yahweh to his own people, even that sentiment is based on dubious stories contained in a very old book.

    However, having said that, I do think the various perspectives you presented offer food for thought.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. This is one of those blog posts that is more about opening a discussion. I don’t necessarily adhere to any of these suggestions, but I think they are at least as likely as the two alternates presented in the original trilemma. Of course, for those who wholeheartedly accept the Bible as inerrant truth, I can see how the trilemma makes sense. It’s like, “One of these three things will happen when you get to the edge of the flat earth.” 😉

      Liked by 4 people

  2. What I find most fascinating is not the debate over Jesus’ existence and possible nature, but the profound societal impacts which have resulted from this one single idea. It speaks volumes about human psychology, group dynamics, and the role of religion in politics and social organization. I believe the search for Jesus is a dead-end, and that a deep examination of our obsession with that mythical or historical figure would be far more fruitful.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I agree, and this fact contributes to my lack of background on the historicity of Jesus. I have resources on it, but I’ve put off reading them, in favor of more current issues. Like you, I feel that it’s somewhat irrelevant, at this point. The far-reaching effects of Christianity on history and society aren’t dependent on Christ’s veritable existence. However, now and then I do like to tackle arguments that are used to propagate “evidence” of Biblical truth, to believers and nonbelievers. In the Christian world, things can be very one-sided, with no wiggle room for alternate perspectives. I suppose I feel that exercising my newfound freedom to question and philosophize is valuable both to my own journey and to others who may have been taught similarly “obvious truths” during their time in religion. Thanks so much for the comment! 🙂

      Liked by 4 people

      1. If I may Danica & Robert, there is a difference (an important one I think) between the historical Jesus and the historicity of Jesus. I am in agreement with you both about the apparent irrelevancy of whether Jesus existed or not — he and The Church are too entrenched over 2 millenia of transgenerational psyches to remove now — however, the real nature of Jesus’ Messiaship into an Apotheosis Incarnation IS very important, or rather the revelation of its nonsense begun by Paul/Saul, distorted by the Church Fathers, and solidified by Theodosius I and his Hellenistic successors. This is where Christianity, or rather Christology collapses. The coup d’état is the historicity of Jesus which can be sufficiently gleaned today with full interdisciplinary sciences.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no, Danica. You are being too modest Ma’am. It isn’t a drawback! We all need others to help in the “impossibility of knowing enough about everything”! Hahaha! We work as teammates better than tRumpsky-like Megalomaniacs. 😛

        Liked by 2 people

  3. My continuation of Lewis’s “three Ls” Trilemma, is my own “Three M’s”: Misunderstood, Misquoted, or Mythological.

    All of Lewis’s three L’s are dependent on accepting that what the Gospels say is reliable. And someone who accepts them as correct is already biased in favor of belief, and so doesn’t need Lewis’s argument at all. So my take is based on the idea that we can’t rely on the Gospel accounts.

    1. Misunderstood: Perhaps the disciples were indeed doing their best to pass on and record the things that Jesus said about himself. But when we look at some of those things, for instance, when Jesus said that he was speaking in parables so that ordinary people would not understand, it seems that Jesus was being deliberately confusing. So perhaps the disciples were also confused right from the start, and when they later passed on the teachings to be written down, their version was already muddled. It’s possible that what got written down didn’t match what Jesus originally meant.

    2. Misquoted: The problem of the giant game of “Telephone”. The story changes each time it’s recalled, each time it’s retold, and especially each time it’s translated into a different language. By the time it finally got to a literate author and was written down, there’s a fair chance that it bore little resemblance to the original. It may have contained bits of the original, some things people thought they heard from Jesus but were actually from somebody else, things they added themselves because they thought it was something Jesus would say or do, and their attempt to remember something someone told them years ago that they had gotten from a friend of a friend. Once it was written down, then add the problem of multiple copies of copies of copies over hundreds of years, and we really can’t be sure that we have a good account of anything this guy might have said or done.

    3: Mythological: Whether there was or wasn’t a historical figure at the start, the added exaggerations and legends that grew up around this cult leader could have entirely obscured any original story there may have been. The modern conception of “Jesus” as described in the gospels and interpreted by modern preachers is probably so different from anybody that actually lived as to make the question of “who was this person really?” a nonsensical thing to ask. (As a comparison, was Robin Hood based on a historical person, Sir Robert of Loxley? If he never existed, does it really make any difference to our legends and stories of “Robin Hood”? And do we think that reading those legends could give us any insight into the kind of person that a real Sir Robert of Loxley might have been? How about if we watch the modern interpretation in the Errol Flynn movie, does that help?)

    Maybe there was a real Jesus, and a core of actual teachings and events is somewhere in the gospel accounts, but we have no reliable way of separating those out from all the other stuff that wound up in those books.

    Liked by 4 people

      1. And yet, simultaneously, it is the “living Word” suggesting that it can grow and change and speak to the reader on a personal level. While still, magically, making it clear that everybody else’s interpretations are wrong, haha!

        Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m so glad you shared your three M’s with us! I was definitely hoping you would. Thank you for taking the time to provide these thoughts. I agree that they are all strong (probably the strongest) possibilities of all.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oooh, you ban me on your blog after ten minutes but deign to reply here?
        What fun!
        So you were not really interested in following my blog but were merely trawling for subscribers for your own, were you?
        There is a term for this you know? The more gentile term might be Sales-Lady. But you can use you noggin to work out the more colloquial word, I’m sure.

        I didn’t say everything would be hard to discern either. Stop behaving like a sanctimonious little tit.
        Rather than trying to use philosophy like some pseudo-intellectual suffering from constipation after swallowing a thesaurus, why not simply answer the question with a little straightforward honesty?
        Somewhat like answering the question: Are you a Christian, yes or no?

        So go on, try it. Explain how Jesus walked on water.


      2. And that answers that …
        Looks like I was right using the term Sales Lady.

        So, not going to even attempt to offer a straightforward answer?
        And the question of whether you are a christian will haunt me forever … but I can take a guess.
        Tell me, do you struggle with your hypocrisy or do you philosophically rationalize it?


      3. I only get into personal correspondence with people from blogland under very particular circumstances. However, I might reconsider this position if you answer whether or not you are a Christian?

        And please don’t come back with a question along the lines of: ”Why does it matter to you etc etc.?”
        A simple yes or no will suffice.


  4. Theory #1 and #2 are very intriguing Danica. And with #3 I’ve taken that damning HOLE of 17-years in his life (my latest post) much deeper, much further to debunk the Incarnation and show how true purer Jewish Messianism was hijacked by Paul/Saul — and exponentially by the Hellenistic Church Fathers — to fit inside their own Apotheosis sociopolitical agenda. These two pivotal historical alternatives, in my opinion, debunk the Incarnation and Messianic cornerstones of Christianity. 🙂

    Your approach here Danica, is also a much needed wider lens on a subject overly obscured by people and institutions in power, the most popular tool being the origins of morality/ethics, over two millenia! The more wide lenses we can impose upon this societal ignorance of manipulation, like yours Danica, the more closely and correctly we understand our own ancestral psychology, our world past-to-present, and the real essence of existence, yes? 🤩🧐

    Three cheers for Hexalemma!!! 🍾🍸🍸🍸

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Professor Taboo, why don’t you provide a few links to your articles mentioned in your comment? I will definitely enjoy reading them, and I’m sure many readers here will also be interested. Thanks so much for your observations!

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Did my reply here go into Moderation/Spam? It showed on my Reader that it posted with my blog-link. But now I don’t see it. Danica… you messin’ with me!? Or is that trickster-Gody creature up there in tha heavens messin’ with me!? 😛


      2. Hahaha!!! Well, there IS another logical explanation that I wasn’t sure about earlier…

        Right at the very pre-second I clicked “Send,” I lost internet. Two, three minutes later when it came back, my PERFECTLY structured comment with available PT-links, was gone! Vanished like starboy Messiah-G-man Jesus did for 17-years!!! 😨🤣

        And in my hunt for it/him I have discovered — much like the Church Fathers did too — that I must redo it, makeup and add to the storyline all sorts of phenomenal miraculous “facts”!!! Hahahaha! (I crack myself up sometime)

        Alright, off to rewrite that damn thing. Grrrrrrrrrrrr.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Thank you Danica, that is kind of you to ask. ❤ Currently, as far as your post Hexalemma and this series, I think my latest post is more applicable to the subject than my others:


        However, inside the above post is another link to another post "Constantine: Christianity’s True Catalyst/Christ” that covers the critical time-period between Emperor Carus and Constantine the Great. It shows how many various events primed FOUR key events within the Roman Empire to set the stage for later Church Fathers — from Constantine to Theodosius I and succeeding eccliastical authorities — to build the Roman Catholic Church and the monstrosity the religion is today. When one sufficiently removes the Greco-Roman apotheosis from Jesus, everything we were taught about Christendom/Christology collapses.

        I am very much looking forward Danica to your next post with Richard Wade. It should be another fascinating look inside the bowels(?) of Christology. 🤩

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, I’ll definitely check it out! And did my misspelled word glare at you? It’s already been shared all over Instagram and Facebook, so it’s too late for me to fix it. Maybe it will become a cult classic someday due to its raw perfection in imperfection or something esoteric like that, hahahaha.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. Looking forward to your next post.
    I think if Jesus the man existed, he’d be more of a humanist (hopefully) and he certainly would not be a republican or a trump supporter! ….just saying.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. lol

        GOP: “Jesus Christ, messiah. A man barely alive.”

        Andrew Schlafly: “Gentlemen, we can rebrand him. We have the technology. We have the capability to create the world’s first Republican savior. Jesus Christ will be that man. Meaner than he was before. Meaner, stingier, greedier.”

        {Props (and apologies) to the late Harve Bennett and Richard Anderson}

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I have read with interest the last two posts but what I have yet to read is what would be the ramifications if a 4th motivator would be that he was indeed the son of God. In the previous post two parts of the trilemma were mentioned but not the God one. I know that this might be considered troll-like to ask such a question here but color me curious to better understand where you are coming from. I apologize if you have written about it before just point me in that direction to read the answer.


    1. Well, the original argument is that Jesus must have been God, and that the only other two possibilities are he was crazy or a deceiver. With my last two blog posts I am debunking the validity of the argument by demonstrating that there are many possibilities that could explain Jesus’ claim of divinity, not just three. I am not arguing for any of these possibilities here, just proving that Duncan’s argument holds no water. I write from an atheist viewpoint, but welcome comments from all. Thanks for reading!


  7. Great article again…It made me think of the song (can’t remember the title and singer now): “What if God was one of us, just a person trying to find his way home, on a bus’…something like that…
    Wishing you a great weekend again! XxX

    Liked by 1 person

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