Even those who deny that Jesus existed - and I am one of them – must agree that whether the gospels are true or not they don’t give us any confidence in the sanity of Jesus Christ. Even if Jesus didn’t exist the gospels could have been based on stories about eccentrics and fairly obscure prophets of the time who did exist.
If we can prove that the Jesus Christ in them was disturbed or mad then that is all we need to destroy Christianity. It would mean that the apostles he chose and the Church he founded were all very silly people indeed. It would mean that we have to be on guard against any other religious movement because if Christianity was founded on the ravings of a madman and was such a success any other religion could have been the same.
We can be sure that there is no evidence for Jesus’ sanity and plenty of evidence against it.
You will see plenty of Christian books written in defence of the faith that deny that Jesus was mentally ill and claim that he was the sanest person that ever lived.  None of the psychiatrists or psychologists have the right to pretend they have the authority to assess somebody at a distance especially when the distances is 20 centuries!


In those times, a bird descending on a person during a religious ceremony was sometimes seen as a demon or evil magical influence being removed.  We read in the gospels that the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended on Jesus at his baptism by John.


Jesus in his core statement of morality, the Sermon on the Mount, said that merely wanting sex with somebody's wife was adultery and merely calling somebody a fool was murder.  These ideas are pure paranoia and it is remarkable that the crowd didn't say, "He is crazy.  Let us go away.  We are not wasting another minute listening to this rubbish."  We must keep remembering these extreme statements and let them define Jesus for us.


A woman was brought to him to see if he would allow her to be stoned to death for adultery.  If he didn't they could say he was taking a stand against God's word which demanded that she be liquidated brutally.  Strangely he wrote on the ground and said that whoever has no sin can stone her.  Thus he said that stoning her is an honour.  He dragged it out for all he had to do was walk away for they could not stone her anyway.  It was banned by the Romans and the mob had not followed the proper legal procedure as laid down by the God Jesus, according to some, claimed to be.  He punished her with terror.


The Bible God decrees that all offenses such as murder, adultery must be followed by stoning the persons involved to death.  Moses was forgiven for murdering.  So when directly dealing with God an exception could be made.  Jesus then if he freed this woman was not implying that the law must be suspended in other cases.
Albert Schweitzer held that Jesus was insane. His Jesus believed that the kingdom of God, the overthrow of all the nations and the replacement with God’s kingdom, was about to happen any day and when he was on the cross he cried that God had forsaken him for he was dying and none of what he had predicted had taken place.  His Jesus gave insane teachings believing that it was foolish to bother trying to stop somebody thieving for the world was about to end.
Jesus said many irrational things such as that God saying he was the God of the deceased Abraham, Isaac and Jacob meant that God was God of the living not the dead so that the dead were still alive. There was no reason to take such a bizarre interpretation of what God said. God said it in the Law of Moses, in the Book of Exodus, and the Law never gives any hint of an afterlife. It promises only material blessings for obeying God.
We are not told that the people he associated with were really close friends. Everybody has friends even when they are crazy. But close is a different matter.  He did not accept everybody. He told a woman that she and her suffering daughter were dogs (Matthew 15:26) and to confirm it he only helped he after she admitted it.  Dogs in the Bible according to many theologians refer to those pagans who do not believe in God and hate what he stands for. They say the problem with the woman was that she had no real intention of following Jesus. She just wanted the miracle. Instead of being a guest at Jesus’ table and having all the miracles she wants, she chooses to get the scrap from it, the miracle without obligation.  This account though ignores the fact that Jesus knew she had faith and did not care.  And the story says nothing about her as a rebel and a sinner so who are they to judge this woman?
The claim by some that Jesus was not ego-bloated is untrue. The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel says that.  But the book would answer that Jesus made great claims about himself just because they were true and he backed them up with evidence. The Case for Christ maintains that Jesus gave unique teachings, worked miracles over nature and did healings to prove that he was who he said he was. But the trouble with miracles is that all believers are selective in what miracles they will believe in. For example, the Protestant regards the miracles unique to Catholics as psychic fraud, trickery or the Devil’s work as he schemes to keep people away from the truth and get people damned in Hell with himself and his angels. The Catholic Church only recognises miracles as from God if they fit its theology and if they don’t the Church ignores them. So this is doctoring the evidence. Also the gospel miracles are not as well backed up as modern miracles are. And miracles are so extraordinary that one can be forgiven for not believing in them unless one sees them – an attitude the apostle Thomas had. The bigger and stranger the claim the more evidence is needed. Jesus’ miracles would be no help for we cannot have commonsense and believe in them.
It is no less equally certain that if Jesus did not claim to be God but to be the greatest man ever or the supreme messenger of God he was still insane. Strobel’s book tells us that Jesus said that John the Baptist was the greatest man ever meaning he thought he himself was better than John for in other places he claimed to be superior to John. Jesus should have said nothing and let others decide. After all, if God was with him God could influence them to see that so that Jesus wouldn’t need to say it. His saying it was therefore boasting.


It is absolutely certain that if Jesus claimed to be God or to be the greatest prophet ever that he was insane. Why? Because he left no reason for us to believe in his claims. The Christians argue that he couldn’t have been insane for he backed up his claims with miracles. The resurrection suffers from the fact that no evidence is given about what happened to the body.  The tomb was found open so anything could have happened to the body.  Jesus could have been stolen and risen anyway but nobody told us anything.  Jesus destroyed any case for himself when he said that false Messiahs would come showing great signs that could fool even the elect.  He did not say their miracles would be fake.  He said they would point to lies.  He had something to hide when he said that anybody who thought God wasn't giving him the power to get demons out was guilty of an eternal sin for thinking that.
Jesus' own mother thought he was mad and he refused to meet her saying he had found new family, those who listened to the word of God.  She had diagnosed him with possession.   She said so in public.  In public.  He claimed to be in danger at the time so this is significant.  How she could think that would help him is anybody's guess.  Mary and her entourage tried to take custody of him then too which is worse.


Jesus' behaviour, if you read Josephus, was different but not that unusual.  There were many faith healers and similar hellfire and brimstone preachers.  This only shows how sure Mary was.


If you read the gospels, people with epilepsy and mental illness were considered possessed.  This was so cruel that it shows that when Jesus validated that evil culture of fear by exorcising he did more harm than good. 
The Jews when they accused Jesus of being mad meant he was demon possessed (John 10:20). They were not saying he was a madman foaming at the mouth. Jesus was not that kind of madman. They were saying he was very eccentric. Perhaps he seemed normal most or some of the time. That would make them feel he was possessed for nobody can see a demon and not all possessions are necessarily gruesome and tormenting. Satan might possess a man to use him to lead people away from the truth and ruin God’s plan.
Jesus attracted people who as far as rationality was concerned had problems. Most people are weak at rationality especially when it comes to religious claims they want to believe in and so they would devote themselves to lunatics who seem relatively sane. Jesus failed to attract people of great intellectual calibre, though he brought in some who thought they had, which often happens when lunatics run a sect.
Sanders mentioned the fact that in the ancient world and in Palestine at the time of Jesus, exorcists were known to engage in frenzied and erratic behaviour. Jesus was known to be an exorcist. He certainly did strange things at times such as writing on the ground aimlessly and spitting on the ground to make mud paste that he rubbed into the eyes of the blind. He claimed to be equal to God in some way. This resulted in the Jews lifting stones to kill him. He engaged in long and raving rants against the Jews.
It is thought that since Jesus lived in a society that expected the Messiah and an apocalyptic disaster that since he was conditioned by these beliefs he was not insane for taking them as seriously as he did. It is true that sane people can expect god men to appear and the world to end but if one of them starts claiming to be a god like being and the instigator of the end that is a totally different thing. Christians expect the world to perish in fire or nuclear war because the Bible says so. If one of them started a nuclear war because of that belief even the Christians would say he was insane. They would not use the fact that the person believed as they do as evidence that he was sane.
It is thought that if Jesus was suffering from a disorder those who took him seriously such as his disciples must have been as well. But perhaps it was the disciples being conditioned by the intense desire for the Messiah to come at that time that made them devoted to him and turn a blind eye to signs of Jesus' madness?
Others say that though Messianic claimants are often insane, Jesus was not for he thought he had reason to claim to be the Messiah. Actually he had not. The gospels are forced to invent implausible genealogies for him to show that he fitted the requirements. And Jesus himself spoke of fake messengers of God who could do miracles and heal like he could. Also Jesus learned the Old Testament off by heart like all Jews did. And when he tried to fulfil prophecy, he was fulfilling prophecy that was not in the real Old Testament but in a Greek mistranslation of it. Plus he was consciously trying to fulfil these prophecies as he did in the case of the entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. That does not sound like the behaviour of a man convinced on rational grounds that he was the Messiah. If he thought he was the Messiah then he did not think this on solid grounds or excusable grounds.
Caiaphas had to try Jesus. He went to the trouble of getting lying witnesses so as to be able to find Jesus guilty of blasphemy which carried the death sentence. He didn't know that Jesus was more than willing to be convicted and put to death and had been making that clear by his behaviour and statements during arrest and so on. A man wanting to be put to death like that is mentally diseased.


The gospels indeed have failed to convince us that Jesus was sane. 
The Christian system was designed to produce psychopaths and neurotics.  And it did that with insane saints like Mother Teresa and St Margaret Mary.  You can't expect much else when you look at the ravings of its founder particularly in the Sermon on the Mount. Gaze at its bloody history for proof. It has been very successful in producing religious mental disease. 
THE CASE FOR CHRIST, Lee Strobel, HarperCollins/Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1998
PORTRAIT OF A KILLER, Patricia Cornwell, Little Brown, London, 2002
THE RISE AND FALL OF JESUS, Steuart Campbell, Explicit Books, Edinburgh, 1996


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