If you believe that Jesus never existed and the gospels are a result of myth making, legend, and mystery religions, and you're looking for a single source that summarizes all the arguments to support this position, then Ken Humphreys' 2005 book Jesus Never Existed is your choice. Humphreys is the founder and editor of the popular website of the same name, and he brings the same flare that he exhibits on that website to this book. He also brings a kind of internet based formatting style to the book, using a two-column model that some readers may find distracting, but personally I found it very appealing.
Humphreys is a good writer, and his prodigious use of images is refreshing. His style alternates between inflammatory language, politically incorrect comments, and outrageously funny lines that force the reader to stay awake and on his toes. This style will make the book unappealing for someone looking for an "academic" text, and it limits the potential audience to the already convinced. Unlike Peter Gandy's The Jesus Mysteries, Humphreys is not trying to make a case - he has his case and he is prepared to crush his opponets with it.
The book is well organized. Humphreys provides a plethora of information about the Oriental, Jewish and Egyptian background to the Christian era (vanquishing some well cherished myths along the way), as well as the early Christian period. There is a bibliography but no footnotes. There is an appendix that consists of Humphrey's heroes - the significant contributions to de-mythifying Jesus, from Reimarus (1778) to Atwill.
The chapter headings are:
- Christianity without Jesus?
- What did the early Christians believe
- The syncretic heritage of Christianity
- Just who were the Jews?
- Christianity's fabrication factory
- Jesus - The imaginary friend
- Rome and the Jews
- Heart of Darkness
- The world that was lost
- Truth and consequence
This book will appeal to anyone interested in the history of Christianity and/or in the life of Jesus. It is written so that the average reader will benefit, yet its breadth and depth insures that even the most experienced scholar will find it informative and challenging.