While I quit believing in God nearly 20 years ago I never thought to question the literal existence of Jesus. If anything I thought he was merely the equivalent of a traveling evangelist who said some nice things. Over the last few years I’ve come to realize that the story of Jesus is much more complicated than one would imagine. The God Who Wasn’t There puts the pieces together and shows that the story of Jesus is mostly myth.
For example the Pauline Epistles were written well ahead of the biblical gospels and make no mention of a human earthbound Jesus. Many of the stories that are contained in the gospels (which contradict) have no historical collaboration. The story of Jesus is very similar to the tales of other heroic god-men, some of which predate him.
Clips from interviews with Christians outside a Billy Graham service are shown throughout. These clips drive home the idea that many Christians are severely uninformed when it comes to the history of Christianity. The interview with the superintendent at Mr. Flemming’s former school is amusing in a sad kind of way.
The film is not without it’s disturbing moments. There is one section that addresses the hate, violence and threats of modern Christian movements and their leaders. Even more disturbing is how Mr. Flemming ties these into ancient terrorism such as the Inquisition and how these modern fundamentalist Christians are more in line with historical Christianity than the so-called moderate/liberal Christianity. Another addresses the adulation of violence involving the proposed execution of Jesus. Fictional or not, there is something extremely wrong with glorifying in the brutality shown in such films as the Passion of the Christ.
What I most enjoyed about this film was the extended interviews with Richard Carrier, Robert Price and Sam Harris. There’s also a slide presentation of other information, but I found that slightly annoying because it opened up a dozen or so browser windows in the background.
All in all this is a great introduction to the Jesus myth and the (real) history of Christianity and the church.