I tend to the view that Jesus Christ belief developed from a non-historical beginning in several phases :
Jesus Christ was initially a purely heavenly or spiritual being - with a few details known to an early mystery-like cult of proto-Christians which included a Peter, and a James entitled 'brother of the Lord';
expanded by Paul's visionary journey to Paradise in the Third Heaven - to a son-of-God who really was crucified, died, buried, and finally resurrected - all in Paradise in the Third Heaven;
further expanded into a grand religious myth by the seminal Gospel of Mark - woven from the Jewish scriptures and the Greek mysteries - so good it was copied and expanded by others.
The Gospels and their stories spread slowly among the earlier Jesus Christ communities, and were increasingly thought to be historical. There was no conspiracy, no hoax, no fraud or lies - just a series of beliefs and mis-understandings and gullibility turning a heavenly or mythical being into a supposedly historical person.
I explain the details in The Paradise Theory.
My original Table of citations which shows the use of certain key words and phrases through all the NT and the early Christian writings.
The contemporary writings of the Roman and Greek world say little of Jesus or the early Christians or the Gospel events.
Christianity really got going with Paul, a proto-Gnostic, who spoke of a Christ Jesus who was purely spiritual yet personally knowable, using terms and methods of mystics and the mysteries.
Various important arguably non-historical references to Jesus Christ in Paul and elsewhere are evaluated here.
last updated : Guy Fawkes' Day 2017
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