John Eleazer Remsburg

John Eleazer Remsburg (January 7, 1848 – 1919) was an ardent religious skeptic in America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. His name is sometimes spelled Remsberg.

n recent years a list of forty-two names from the “Silence of Contemporary Writers” chapter of The Christ (sometimes called the Remsberg List) has appeared in several books regarding the non-historicity hypothesis by authors such as James Patrick Holding, Hilton Hotema, Jawara D. King, Madalyn Murray O’Hair, Dorothy M. Murdock and Robert M. Price, Asher Norman, Frank Zindler, Tim C. Leedom et al, as well as appearing in some 200 blog posts regarding the non-historicity hypothesis. This Remsburg List was improved upon in 2012 with the book No Meek Messiah, augmenting the number of “Silent Writers” to 126. The list was published in Free Inquiry magazine in August 2014.

It must be mentioned that Remsburg stated “This volume on “The Christ” was written by one who recognizes in the Jesus of Strauss and Renan a transitional step, but not the ultimate step, between orthodox Christianity and radical Freethought. By the Christ is understood the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is the Christ of Christianity. The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth”.

Moreover Remsburg clarified that “It is not against the man Jesus that I write, but against the Christ Jesus of theology” explaining that “Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist.”

Furthermore, in “The Christ a Myth” chapter Remsburg described myth as falling into three broad categories: historical, philosophical, and poetic (a mixture of the previous two). Remsburg concluded the chapter by stating “While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable.”

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