Civil War Wiki
Advertisement

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.

Early life[]

Remsburg was born in Fremont, Ohio, a son of George J. and Sarah A. (Willey) Remsburg. He enlisted in the Union army at the age of sixteen during the American Civil War. He married Miss Nora M. Eiler of Atchison, Kansas, October 9, 1870; he was a teacher for 15 years, then a writer and lecturer in support of free thought, his lectures being translated into German, French, Bohemian, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian. Bengali and Singalese.

Public service[]

He was superintendent of public instruction in Atchison County, Kansas, for four years; was a life member of the American Secular Union, of which he was president from 1897–1900; a member of the Kansas State Horticultural Society; author of a Life of Thomas Paine (1880); The Image Breaker (1882); False Claims, (1883); Bible Morals (1884); Sabbath Breakers (1885); The Fathers of Our Republic (1886); Was Lincoln a Christian (1893); Was Washington a Christian (1899); The Bible (1903); Six Historic Americans (1906); and The Christ (1909).

Views[]

Remsburg, who wrote Six Great Americans, was a rationalist and critic of morality as found in the Bible. Although he lived in Atchison, Kansas, that town’s library has no copies of his work, according to Fred Whitehead in Freethought History (#2, 1992). In Bible Morals, he cited twenty crimes and vices sanctioned by scripture. In his The Bible, he condemns as pernicious and false such Biblical views as:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit; Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth; If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out; If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off; Whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery; Resist not evil; Whosoever shall smite thee on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; Love your enemies; Lay not up for yourselves treasurers upon earth; Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what he shall drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on; Take therefore no thought for the morrow."

Such views, combined with the name of Christ, Remsburg held, have caused more persecutions, wars, and miseries than any other.

Remsburg "delivered over 3.000 lectures, speaking in fifty-two States, Territories and Provinces, and in 1,250 different cities and towns, including every large city of United States and Canada."[1]

The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence was reprinted in 1994 and was republished under the title Christ Myth in 2007.

Role in Christ Myth debate[]

In recent years a list of names from the "Silence of Contemporary Writers" chapter of The Christ (sometimes called the Remsburg|Remsberg list) has appeared in a handful of self published books regarding the nonhistoricity hypothesis by authors such as James Patrick Holding[2], Hilton Hotema [3], Jawara D. King[4], Madalyn Murray O'Hair[5], and Asher Norman [6] as well as appearing in some 200 blog posts regarding the nonhistoricity hypothesis.

However at best The Christ along with The Bible and Six Historic Americans is regarded as an important freethought book[7] rather than a major contribution to the Christ Myth hypothesis.

It must be mentioned that while Remsburg challenged the Gospel account of Jesus, he did not deny the existence of an historical Jesus. Furthermore, Remsburg defined Christ myth very broadly saying "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."[8]

Remsburg also stated:

"The conceptions regarding the nature and character of Christ, and the value of the Christian Scriptures as historical evidence, are many, chief of which are the following

1. Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is a historical character, supernatural and divine; and that the New Testament narratives, which purport to give a record of his life and teachings, contain nothing but infallible truth.

2. Conservative Rationalists, like Renan, and the Unitarians, believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical character and that these narratives, eliminating the supernatural elements, which they regard as myths, give a fairly authentic account of his life.

3. Many radical Freethinkers believe that Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis, but that these narratives are so legendary and contradictory as to be almost if not wholly, unworthy of credit.

4. Other Freethinkers believe that Jesus Christ is a pure myth—that he never had an existence, except as a Messianic idea, or an imaginary solar deity."[9]

Footnotes[]

  1. Who's Who International (1911). The International Who's who. International Who's Who Publishing Company. 
  2. Holding, James Patrick (2008). Shattering the Christ Myth. Xulon Press. pp. 52. ISBN 1606472712. 
  3. Hotema, Hilton (1956). Cosmic Creation. Health Research. p. 178. ISBN 0787309990. 
  4. King, Jawara D. (2007). World Transformation: A Guide to Personal Growth and Consciousness. AuthorHouse. pp. 35. ISBN 1434321150. 
  5. O'Hair, Madalyn Murray (1969). What on earth is an atheist!. Austin, Texas: American Atheist Press. pp. 246. ISBN 1578849187. 
  6. Norman, Asher; Tellis, Ashley (2007). Twenty-six reasons why Jews don't believe in Jesus. Black White and Read Publishing. pp. 182. ISBN 0977193705. 
  7. Brown, Marshall G.; Gordon Stein (1978). Freethought in the United States: A Descriptive Bibliography. Published by Greenwood Press, University of California. pp. 52. ISBN 031320036X. 
  8. Remsburg, John E. (1909). The Christ. New York: Truth Seeker Co. ISBN 0879759240. http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg00.htm. 
  9. Remsburg, John E. (1909). The Christ. New York: Truth Seeker Co. ISBN 0879759240. http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/rmsbrg00.htm. 

See also[]

32x28px United States Army portal
32x28px American Civil War portal

External links[]

Advertisement