Earl Doherty: The Jesus Puzzle – Did Christianity Begin With a Mythical Christ? (Age of Reason Publications, Ottawa Canada, 2005) I’m convinced. In fact I’m pretty impressed by anyone who can wade through the unreadable prose of the assorted crazies responsible for early Xtian literature in order to establish the case that the Jesus figure was a literary fabrication. My only cavil is that Doherty does not even nod in the direction of David Friedrich Strauss whose Das Leben Jesu set out in gory detail all the inconsistencies and absurdities of the Gospels. Strauss succinctly stated Doherty’s own thesis in a brief formula to the effect that Xtianity like all religions at a certain stage of maturity begin to succumb to interpretations, both within and outside the cult, that deny their historical reality (pp.11 ff. Cf. also pp.150 ff.). Strauss also references his own forerunners: Toland, Bolingbrooke and Woolston (notably failing to mention Spinoza) as well as Heinrich Eberhard Paulus, who formulated a plausible basis in mundane events for the so-called miracles, and the extraordinary fragments from the Wolfenbüttel Collection gathered and published by Lessing. Many of Nietzsche’s polemics appeared against a background of Straussian scholarship. Doherty, for his part, does refer to F.C. Baur’s work on the authenticity, or rather inauthenticity of Paul’s Epistles (p. 329). It seems the patient work of debunking has to begin anew every hundred years or so as the institutional weight of established Xtianity helps to push previous generations of scholars from public consciousness. Aside from updated textual scholarship Doherty is much superior to his predecessors in that he makes quite clear that Xtianity is not a religion worth the time of day. It is wholly false and in fact rather repugnant. Strauss for one was a professor of theology and his ultimate position, derived from Schleiermacher, was that, even though the Xtian myth of the founder, is historically untenable, nevertheless it is incumbent on the ministry and educated Xtians to pretend that they believe. The doctrines of Xtian churches give identity, coherence and comfort to believing communities whose preservation was the goal of a higher value. Strauss gave this view a fillip of class snobbery with his distinction between the untutored congregation and their shepherds who know better. His solution fooled nobody as his unhappy fate attests. It did appeal to George Eliot, Strauss’ English translator, however; her Silas Marner is a picture of a Xtian community indifferent to the veracity of its beliefs but full of good works.