Edwin Johnson

Edwin Johnson 1842 – 1901 [England]
Johnson worked as a professor for Classic Literature at New College in South Hampstead, England. He started analyzing the Bible in a critical way, following the path of Baur and Harnack. From 1894 onwards, after retiring, Johnson, who had already received harsh criticism after publishing some of his new ideas, wrote the result of his life-long research down in the form of a book called “The Pauline Epistles.”

The result is quite revolutionary: The Christian church was created in the Benedictine monasteries of France (Paris and Lyon) around 1500. The classical ‘Fathers of the Church’ were written by poorly skilled monks; the New Testament followed later. There are no older texts, and the content allows us to find out the historical moment: the invention of printing. Martin Luther’s reform was the first attempt to block the expansion of the French Catholic Church; before that, there was no church at all.

However, these theses are the most radical ones we know; they are based on Hardouin. Morosov and Fomenko knew Johnson’s books and used them for their research. Johnson translated the “Prolegomena” of Hardouin (published by Petherick in Sidney 1909), recently re-edited by H. Detering in Germany (2010).
Selected Publications:
1887: Antiqua Mater. A Study of Christian Origins (Trübner; London)
1890: The Rise of Christendom (London)
1894: The Pauline Epistles (Watts, London)

Edwin Johnson is best known for his radical criticisms of Christian historiography, continuing scholarship in the vein of Bruno Bauer, S.A. Naber, and Allard Pierson. Among his works are “Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins” (1887, published in London anonymously) and “The Pauline Epistles: Re-studied and Explained” (1894).

In Antiqua Mater Johnson examines a great variety of sources related to early Christianity “from outside scripture” [archive.is/8qmZ], coming to the conclusion that there was no reliable documental evidence to prove the existence of Jesus Christ or the Apostles. He asserts that Christianity had evolved from a Jewish Diaspora movement, which he provisionally called the Hagioi. They adhered to a liberal interpretation of the Torah with simpler rites and a more spiritualized outlook. Hagioi is a Greek word meaning “saints,” “holy ones,” “believers,” “loyal followers,” or “God’s people,” and was usually used in reference to members of the early Christian communities. It is a term that was frequently used by Paul in the New Testament and in a few places in Acts of the Apostles in reference to Paul’s activities. Both Gnosticism as well as certain Bacchic pagan cults are also mentioned as likely precursors of Christianity.

In The Pauline Epistles and The Rise of English Culture, Johnson made the radical claim that the whole of the so-called Dark Ages between 700 and 1400 A. D. had never occurred but had been invented by Christian writers who created imaginary characters and events. The Church Fathers, the Gospels, St. Paul, the early Christian texts, and Christianity, in general, are identified as mere literary creations and attributed to monks (chiefly Benedictines) who drew up the entire Christian mythos in the early 16th century. As one reviewer said, Johnson “undertakes to abolish all English history before the end of the fifteenth century.” Johnson contends that before the ‘age of publication’ and the ‘revival of letters,’ there were no reliable registers and logs, and there was a lack of records and documents with verifiable dates.
References –
– “Radicalism in England: Johnson from “The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present” by Arthur Drews.
– “Jesus — One Hundred Years Before Christ” by Alvar Ellegard.
– “The Abolition of History,” The New York Times, May 14, 1904, Page BR328. (.pdf)

Edwin Johnson, A Radical Advocate of Chronology Criticism” (2001, by Uwe Topper; machine translation with some cleanup by Michael Hoffman).


The Colloquies of Erasmus” (1878, translated by N. Baily, edited with notes by the Rev. Edward Johnson, M.A.), vol. 1
The rise of English culture” (1904, with Edward Augustus Petherick) (.pdf)
Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins” (1887) (.html)
The Pauline Epistles – Re-Studied and Explained” (1894, by Edwin Johnson, M.A.)
The English language translation of “Prolegomena” by Jean Hardouin, the original text of the Prolegomena.
* Theological Translation Fund Library, Vol. 23 & 24: Commentary on The Psalms, by Dr. G. Heinrich A. V. Ewald, Professor of Oriental Languages in the University of Gottingen (1880, translated into English by the Rev. E. Johnson, M. A.), vol. 1 (.pdf), other formats; vol. 2 (.pdf)
* “The Mouth of Gold: A Series of Dramatic Sketches Illustrating the Life and Times of Chrysostom” (1873, by Edwin. Johnson) (.pdf)
* “The Rise Of Christendom” (1890) (.pdf)
* “Critical and exegetical hand-book to the Epistle to the Romans” (1884, with the Rev. Edwin Johnson), vol. 1 (.pdf), vol. 2 (.pdf)