Jesus and paganism

I view Jesus mythicism on the internet as akin to thinking the lunar landing was a hoax, the earth is flat or Christians who think the earth is 6,000 years old and there were penguins on the ark. The point is despite evidence being incontrovertible for many things, lots of people find ways to disagree with it. The idea that a historical Jesus did not exist is one of them. It is a fringe belief.

Now if by “historical Jesus” we mean Jesus said and did everything in the four canonical Gospels which are extremely reliable and accurate in all that they affirm, then it is vastly reasonable to disagree with that assertion. In fact, the majority of NT scholarship does that. Evangelicals mainly teach in seminaries. Universities are generally run by a different type of scholar. So when I say critical scholarship I mean the universities, not the theology schools where the teachers have to sign strict creedal confessions each year).

Critical New Testament scholars have long recognized the problems with using the four gospels as historical documents. One has to vet them and judge material individually after fully evaluating the nature of the source, the author’s theological hobbyhorses and so on. Take for example Judas iscariot. Did he witness Jesus walking on water, controlling the weather, multiplying loaves and fish twice, raising people from the dead, stilling the storm, performing exorcism after exorcism, supernatural healing after supernatural healing and countering and silencing the Jewish teachers repeatedly with his exegetical prowess? You want me to believe Judas betrayed that rock star for 30 pieces of silver? I’m not buying it. But if the gospels are embellished and the healings of Jesus are exaggerated, within the conventions of the time, and they most certainly are, then a close follower betraying Jesus is a painfully real possibility many of us have dealt with such a thing on our own life. Not only that but Judas becomes a powerful witness for the historicity of the crucifixion. Why on earth would any Christian invent the notion that Jesus, their Lord and savior chose a man to be one of the twelve apostles that actually betrayed him? They wouldn’t but since it happened what they would do is claim that Jesus knew all along (I think John) or that it “had to happen according to the scriptures.” There is theological damage control in the gospels. You don’t invent the source of your own problems.

So in the end, I am not sure what you mean. When I say the historical Jesus and is crucifixion is certain I mean what critical scholars mean: he lived in the first third of the first century, he was considered a miracle worker and teacher, he amassed a following and called disciples, he was crucified by Pontius Pilate, belief in him continued after his death, and some of his earliest followers claimed to have seen Him resurrected.

To this many questers would add specifics such as a brother named James, betrayal of some sort by a close follower, baptism by John (why subject Jesus to a baptism for the remission of sin if its not historical) the institution of the twelve, and for many the imminent eschatology that turned out to be mistaken…

But sometimes these arguments are disputed on historical grounds. Thinking it was embarrassing for Jesus to undergo a baptism by John for the remission of sin is only embarrassing if we assume the early church thought Jesus was sinless. The later church and we Christians today do, but that doesn’t qualify as a historical argument. In the earliest Gospel jesus says “why do you call me good only God alone is good.” But even then, most think Jesus probably started off as a follower of JBap and then branched off on his own and that is used to explain the Gospel traditions on historical grounds. The sky, the dove, the voice from heaven, usually viewed as theological damage control.

It bothers me that they do not know Jesus like I do. I wish everyone did. But I find people disagree with what I think all the time and people usually aways attempt to justify what they believe in. But claiming there was no Galilean rabbi from Nazareth who started a movement and died on a roman cross and denying the full gospel portrait is historical are two very different things. The latter is reasonable, the former is not. There are fundamentalist Christians and fundamentalist (militant) atheists on the internet. In my experience, both groups woefully misunderstand critical New Testament scholarship.

Jesus mythicism claims there was some cosmic Christ that was historicized. Not that here was a Galilean rabbi with a high view of himself that was deified. Their entire argument is based on the silence of the epistles to mention concrete details about Jesus. No parables, no sayings, no reference to Gospel stories and so on. Why is there such a silence in all these letters on the earthly deeds of Jesus? Why do they not appeal to the words of Christ to settle matters? This is a tremendous observation and a point worth serious attention. It has been known to scholars for a long time.

But there are references in the Pauline corpus. So they then dispute it. Paul calls Jesus of the seed of David, mentions his brother James, the last supper, a teaching on divorce, and the cross and his appearances amongst other things I can’t remember. All of this is reinterpreted and sometimes wiped away. James is his spiritual brother, the saying on divorce is attributed to the “Lord” by Paul, not tradition Paul received, Jesus being of the seed of David is some cosmic-sperm bank in space view, the evidence of the Jewish historian Josephus in 93 CE and Roman historian Tacitus (ca 115) don’t count because they just repeat the conventional knowledge of Jews and Christians at the time, the gospel of Mark is more or less pure fiction, if there was a Q, it wasn’t about Jesus or was about a man merged with the cosmic Christ, John is almost always seen as dependent on the synoptics, the NT gospels are usually dated later than mainline scholarship does (mainline = 65-100) etc. They end up starting with what they see as an inexplicable silence (yes the whole enterprise is built on an argument from silence!) and force everything to fit into that paradigm. What they become is apologists backpedaling up a never ending hill. The atheist version of inerrancy touting evangelicals.

The truth is Paul knows James, the brother of the Lord shortly after the death of Jesus. He met with him and Peter. This same brother mentioned in the Gospels and also in Josephus who references James admiringly when he refers to him as the brother of the so called Christ. Does that sound like a favorable reference to Jesus? Triple independent testimony of source and form (gospel, epistle and historiography), and one by a non-Christian that a man named Jesus had a brother named James. Paul by his own autobiographically testimony says that he met him. This alone is more than an enough historical evidence to believe it highly probably Jesus existed. Doesn’t tell us much about him but the thesis that a cosmic Christ was historicized as a lowly rabbi from Nazareth is absurd. It is so much easier to make sense of the material that survives by supposing embellishment in the other direction. We can actually see this happening when we look at the changes Matthew and Luke make to Mark in copying his Gospel.



What didn’t they notice? I’m guessing all these guys you just listed are atheists?

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I think he was going for Christ-myth proponents.

Modern day you would read Wells (he thinks two streams were merged), Carrier, Doherty, Price and if you want to go deep down the rabbit hole Acharya S.

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hi Vinnie. As a Christian, the question that worries me is: if part of the gospel is fiction and part of the gospel is embellished, is it trustworthy? How do we know what is true and what is fiction? What if the Resurrection of Jesus is also fiction? How do you answer this question for yourself? Thank you!

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  • The joys of discovering “cross-cultural traits often found in the accounts of heroes, including mythical heroes.” [Source: The Rank–Raglan Mythotype.]
    • Otto Rank developed his concept of the “Mythic Hero” in his 1909 text, *The Myth of the Birth of the Hero" that was based on Freudian ideas. It includes a set of 12 traits that are commonly found in hero myth narratives.
    • Lord Raglan developed his concept of the “Mythic Hero” as an archetype on a ritualistic interpretation of myth, in his 1936 book, The Hero, A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama . It is a set of 22 common traits that he said were shared by many heroes in various cultures, myths and religions throughout history and around the world.
    • These theories have been criticized by scholars as being very flawed and loose to the point that historical persons such as Abraham Lincoln would fit the mythotypes. Furthermore, “one should make obvious that many fictional non-royal figures will score low on the scale, while historical rulers will start off with a number of points automatically” which would lead to false mythotyping of historical persons.
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I feel like I answered this same question (maybe in a different form) in another thread? I apologize if I am wrong but I think that answer applies just as well. You asked me:

“Hello Vinnie! How do you keep faith in Jesus despite all the contradictions in Scripture? Thank you”

I responded with: “I became a Christian and remain one due to personal experiences while reading about Jesus in the Gospels, not because through a careful study in my high school years I realized a 2,000 year old anonymous text written 40 years after the nature-defying, miraculous events it reports are all demonstrable true. God is sovereign and speaks to us how he wants and through whatever method he chooses.”

There is no historically proving the resurrection so what I am saying has no impact on it. It is faith or nothing. I have pointed out it is historically secure that Jesus’s followers thought he appeared to them after his death. Nothing more can be said than that. There is no plausible reason to suppose the Gospels can be used as positive evidence to prove a resurrection, as if God’s salvific grace and sovereign ability to speak to us is dependent on the mighty intellectual prowess of apologists.

I mean how many Christians throughout history didn’t even possess complete Bibles and were illiterate? God still managed to reach them despite their inability to historically prove all the details in the gospels were true. Historical apologetics bas some value but i can’t give any consent to basing faith on it.



If we want to base Christianity on historical apologetics I think it fails miserably, This is pasted from a section on one of my writings on " If the Bible has errors how do we know what is true?"


God is the Best Hermeneutic

Sometimes the question posed in the title of this article is a person looking for a list of man-made rules that would allow us to distinguish between what is true and what is false in the Bible. Steps to follow to decipher scripture. I tried to offer a generalized version of this in section one. There is nothing wrong with trying to read a text in context and interpreting it as it would have been when written using the historical-critical method but scripture needs to be read through faith, while listening to the Holy Spirit. Asking for a decoder ring may approach Scripture from the wrong angle and neglect the most important Resource we have: God himself. If we really desire a full list of rules let me provide some context and see where that leads.

All Christians have to first identify what constitutes the Bible, then translate and interpret it, and finally figure out how to apply that in our lives. Three steps and each is fraught with many difficulties. Before we can ever even begin to read Scripture we have a lot of hoops to jump through. Our English New Testament comes from publishers, not heaven. It is ink printed on cellulose and the molecules composing it are no more special than any other molecules. The books of the Bible were written by many different authors over a long period of time and had to be gathered together into a definitive canon over an even longer duration. We can’t even agree on how many books make up the Bible. My Catholic version has 73 books whereas the Protestant canon typically has 66 and the Greek Orthodox church 81. All three at least agree on the 27 books that constitute the New Testament. We don’t have any original copies of the individual works making up that Christian canon and they were written in a different language. What we do have are similar versions (ESV, NIV, NLT, NRSV and even the KJV, etc.) translated by a committee based off of accepted critical editions of the Greek New Testament which in turn are based off of collections of manuscripts and attempts to reconstruct the earliest version of what the original authors actually wrote. There are thousands of variants between the manuscripts though most (not all ) of them amount to very little. Not only this but there were many other Christian works in antiquity that didn’t make the canonical cut and not everyone was happy about this or all the works that did. Though this process is certainly not arbitrarily picking and choosing, and though on textual critical grounds, the New Testament is much better attested than some comparable works, there is a lot going on behind the scenes when we open up our Bible. How many choices and decision were made in selecting a specific version? More importantly, how many choices and decisions were already made for us by scholars and Church fathers? Speaking of the Church Fathers we rely on for our canon, they were fond of an allegorical intepretation (in addition to a literal one) that we have since largely ditched.

Things can get complicated in a hurry when we look for a set of criteria by which we can judge scripture. First we have to identify and translate it before moving on to interpretation. Once there we can come up with a list using the historical-critical method assuming we are well versed in ancient history and the sociology of agrarian societies. If we want to get everything right then these rules are important and we need to do a great deal of studying. But at the end of the day, the truth is we don’t need to be fluent in Biblical Greek, read the writings of Flavius Josephus or Roman Classical authors. We don’t need to be textual critics, Church historians, ancient Jewish historians, linguistic experts or college professors to read and benefit from the Bible. Seeking a list of rules, while helpful at times for sure, can over-complicate things. The “one rule to rule them all” that I would give first is to read the Bible while being attentive to the Holy Spirit. Read and listen at the same time and my apologies for the Lord of the Rings reference. I couldn’t resist. At the risk of oversimplification, I’d like to lay out Karl Barth’s position on the matter: the Bible was not inherently inspired, that is, in and of itself. Instead, it consists of purely human works though they are certainly a valuable witness to the true Word of God (Jesus). The true inspiration of Scripture comes as the Holy Spirit communicates divine truths to us as we read the Bible with an open heart. (Barth, Church Dogmatics V1 pt 2 500). Whether we agree or not with all of Barth’s position, he does raise a valuable point. If we are attempting to read the Bible and apply it in our lives without the Holy Spirit, we may be little more than swine trampling pearls. I think we will make more mistakes without understanding the full context of various Biblical works and passages, but what matters most in our lives is not doctrine. The church itself grew and blossomed before the New Testament was even composed and many later groups survived with only a few written works! Some Christian doctrines took a long time to develop in the Church (e.g. the trinity) and needed hashing out (e.g. the duel nature of Christ). It is our relationship with God and the works that faith produces in our lives that is important. My point here is that interpreting scripture is not just about utilizing the historica-critical method and sound hermeneutical rules. It should be read as an open dialogue with God. It is our superior God that saves and convicts us as we read, not our inferior intellect making informed interpretions of Scripture. I’d like to share a quote from Dale B. Martin to end this and though it is on the infallibility of scripture, it is very much applicable to this discussion.

"Thus, like every other proposition or confession, theological or otherwise, the claim that “scripture is infallible” is both true and false. It is false if taken to mean that the Bible, read just like an instruction manual, a history book, a biology textbook, or even a book of dogma and doctrine, will provide straightforward answers in propositions that correspond to reality. It is false if it is taken to mean that the narratives of Genesis provide a correct “history” of the beginnings of the universe and human beings. It is false if it is taken to mean that the accounts of Jesus’s words and actions can be accepted as “what really happened” according to modern historiographical methods. It is false if it is taken to mean that Paul’s statements about behavior should be followed by modern Christians the way we would follow Robert’s Rules of Order or some “owner’s manual” for our bodies and lives. In other words, the statement “scripture is infallible” is false if it is taken the way it has been by the great majority of modern Christians in the past two hundred years.

But like almost all the theological propositions or confessions addressed in this book, it is true if it is interpreted correctly. It is true if it means that Christians may justly trust that scripture, as long as it is read in faith by the leading of the holy spirit, will not lead us to fatal error. We may trust scripture to provide what we need for our salvation. We may trust that we can read scripture in prayerful hope that God will speak to us through our reading that text. But ultimately this belief-or, perhaps better put, this stance, attitude, or habitus-is actually an expression of our faith not in a text but in God and the holy spirit. We “leave it up to the holy spirit” to protect us from damnable error in our readings of scripture. We depend on God to keep us with God in our readings of scripture. Properly understood, the doctrine of the infallibility of scripture is a statement less about a text and more about God." [Biblical Truths]

The first paragraph from Martin is certain to raise more eyebrows than the second but my faith is in God, not cellulose. To finish up let us circle back to the beginning. If the Bible has errors how do we know what is true? Well we can’t claim this for minor doctrines and peripheral issues but if we are asking exclusively about the big picture of salvation history, we know that is true quite simply because we trust God. I suppose leading with that might have saved us a lot of time but I hope this helps shed some light on a very good question!


So if you get my gist, making Christianity depend on historical apologetics, that is the intellectual merit and achievements of apologists is wrongheaded to me. it makes faith too hard and inaccessible many people today and throughout history. It probably also makes a mockery of a lot of Christian missionary activity. I think apologetics are more for Christians experiencing doubt. Christianity only works when it is grounded in God. That is why Barth said that without God, scripture looks like any other human work. All these “believe because I can prove the resurrection” apolgetics are just setting Christianity up for intellectual rejection by the world and for Christians to deconstruct if they actually leave their echo-chambers and go off to university…


You should read what historyforatheists says about Richard Carrier!

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Hold on a second! There’s no proof that he got his hand stuck in a cookie jar, is there?

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OMG! A rational, reasonable atheist! How refreshing! To see what he says about Richard Carrier (and to read Carrier’s response), use the search button.

Richard Carrier is displeased again.

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  • Sacred king
    • Sir James George Frazer, author of the multi-volume The Golden Bough.
      • A sacred king, according to the systematic interpretation of mythology developed by Frazer in The Golden Bough (published 1890), was a king who represented a solar deity in a periodically re-enacted fertility rite. Frazer seized upon the notion of a substitute king and made him the keystone of his theory of a universal, pan-European, and indeed worldwide fertility myth, in which a consort for the Goddess was annually replaced. According to Frazer, the sacred king represented the spirit of vegetation, a divine John Barleycorn. He came into being in the spring, reigned during the summer, and ritually died at harvest time, only to be reborn at the winter solstice to wax and rule again. The spirit of vegetation was therefore a “dying and reviving god”. Osiris, Dionysus, Attis and many other familiar figures from Greek mythology and classical antiquity were re-interpreted in this mold. The sacred king, the human embodiment of the dying and reviving vegetation god, was supposed to have originally been an individual chosen to rule for a time, but whose fate was to suffer as a sacrifice, to be offered back to the earth so that a new king could rule for a time in his stead.
      • Especially in Europe during Frazer’s early twentieth century heyday, it launched a cottage industry of amateurs looking for “pagan survivals” in such things as traditional fairs, maypoles, and folk arts like morris dancing. It was widely influential in literature, being alluded to by D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and in T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, among other works.
      • Robert Graves used Frazer’s work in The Greek Myths and made it one of the foundations of his own personal mythology in The White Goddess, and in the fictional Seven Days in New Crete he depicted a future in which the institution of a sacrificial sacred king is revived. Margaret Murray, the principal theorist of witchcraft as a “pagan survival,” used Frazer’s work to propose the thesis that many kings of England who died as kings, most notably William Rufus, were secret pagans and witches, whose deaths were the re-enactment of the human sacrifice that stood at the centre of Frazer’s myth.[6] This idea used by fantasy writer Katherine Kurtz in her novel Lammas Night.

This goes a bit into some of it. It’s basically archetype. It’s similar to the green man. Jesus for with that narrative really well.

Jesus is referred to as the tree of life. Z
He cursed a fig tree.
He did a miracle with wine.
He was associated with birds as a dove landed on him.
Before his ministry begin he spent time in the wilderness among the animals.
Jesus was from Nazareth and Nazareth means place of branches possibly. Tim Mackie seems to think it’s a good option. Neser as opposed to nasar.

It’s sort of how the prodigal son is a archetype. Peter sort of played the role of a prodigal son. In many stories there is often someone close to the inner circle who turns out to be the betrayer .we see that in Judas.

I don’t think any of this is a bad thing either. Just that over the centuries certain archetypes developed. Personalities, mannerism and characteristics that all seem to predominantly move towards the same type of character.

In the trilogy ( Unbreakable, Split and Glass ) the true villain behind the scenes brings up hero’s looking handsome and strong and the villains are always weird in some way. Big heads and ect… and how they should have known, including himself, that he’s the villain , which was mocking the concept.

So I think these typical characters that we see reflected everyday in people and stories are just a natural part of the world that keeps reoccurring and that’s it’s ok the gospels and the Old Testament does. Even in the Bible we see these same similar stories that keep happening.

Abraham was willing to go into Sodom risking himself to save others.
Moses was willing to die for the Jews.
The scouts were willing to face the giants.
David was going against Goliath.
Jesus took on death.

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Would anyone seriously use the fact that Jesus supposedly fits the hero archetype as an argument against his existence?
It seems obvious we want superheroes to have certain positive character traits, fight evil, stand up for the oppressed etc.
It’s also completely obvious, to Christians at least, that these are exactly same characteristics we would expect Jesus to have. Otherwise He couldn’t be who He said He was.
So if one of us shares certain characteristics with an archetype… does it mean we don’t exist?lol


Absolutely yes.
Bill Maher and Larry Charles, two popular American comedians and TV personalities who are atheists, supposedly refer to the “Horus and Isis” and “Jesus” similarities in order to argue against the existence of Jesus.

And Tom Harpur, citing Higgins, Massey, and Kuhn: “The Pagan Christ”. [Source: Tom Harpur

  • Thomas William Harpur (1929–2017), known as Tom Harpur , was a Canadian biblical scholar, columnist, and broadcaster. An ordained Anglican, he was a proponent of the Christ myth theory, the idea that Jesus did not exist but is a fictional or mythological figure.

Yup! In fact, I’m surprised no one–at least no one that I’ve ever heard of–has ever tried “to prove” that Satan does not exist because the "Trickster is an ancient and international archetype.

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Of course, if somebody actually did try to prove that Satan does not exist, I bet Satanists would really get upset. :smile:

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This nonsense is known as the copycat thesis.
Good answers:

Shattering the Christ Myth (Tekton Building Blocks) Paperback – June 27, 2008
by James Patrick Holding
google “copycat thesis” “Christian Apologetics”

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I find Jesus mythicism woefully inadequate but I don’t like to caricature and straw man views I disagree with. The apologetical responses are sometimes very bad because their view of the Gospels goes to the opposite extreme of Jesus mythicism. Nothing is historical to virtually everything is historical. The latter might find proponents in theological seminaries pumping out conservative evangelicals but in universities, both beliefs are fringe viewpoints.

The idea is for mythicism is built on silence and the gospels being unreliable/mythological.

  1. our earliest witness, Paul, is said to be entirely consistent with a cosmic Christ. It is said that outside the gospels which are all dependent on Mark, no one really seems interested in any historical Jesus information in the New Testament and for some authors outside it. The epistles speak of a heavenly Jesus.

  2. The gospels tell the story of Jesus in such a way that they are largely mythological supporting the idea that a cosmic Christ was historicized.

If an ancient author writing a story about Jesus and it parallels other works at its core, then borrowing is only logical. The idea is that the borrowing would have prompted Mark to make up details to fit the pattern. Also we can look at the Matthew infancy narrative, which by any sober canon of historicity is largely fiction. He is making Jesus the new and greater Moses by patterning his life after that story. Add to that the absurdity of a star setting over someone’s house and behaving in an odd way with the fact that a virgin birth for one’s heroes/god is a common enough thing in antiquity. Whole schools of thought evince no knowledge Jesus was from Bethlehem (nothing in Mark and even the demons know where he is from and people ask can anything good come from there)

The following is paraphrased from a listing by Raymond Brown in the Birth of the Messiah (pg 113):

    1. Joseph takes the child away as Herod sought to destroy him. Moses also went away as the Pharaoh sought to kill him (Matt 2:13-14 and Exod 2:15).
    1. Herod massacred all the boys two and under in Bethlehem and the Pharaoh had every male boy be cast into the Nile.
    1. Both Kings died (Matt 2:19; Exod 2:23).
    1. Moses is told to return to Egypt by God and an Angel tells Joseph to go back to the Land of Israel. Both were told those seeking him are dead (Matt 2:19-20, Exod 4:19).
    1. Both Joseph and Moses take their wife and offspring back to the destination commanded of them ( Matt 2:21 and Exodus 4:20).

There are other parallels in Matthew such as Moses receives commandments on Sinai, Jesus delivers the sermon on the mount (Luke has a plain and much shorter version).

Mythicists just think the whole gospels just do what most scholars think Matthew and Luke do in their infancy narratives.


So what are you saying?


You wrote:

  • The claim that Jesus was copied from earlier pagan myths is called [depending on the spelling of the Thesis’ name]:
    • The Copycat Thesis,
    • The Copy Cat Thesis, and
    • The Copy-cat Thesis
  • The Copycat Thesis is “a thing”, that is: it’s the idea that the gospels copied its stories about Jesus from pagan myths.
  • The “Horus Myth” is just one of many myths that mythicists like to use. Here’s a very short Youtube about the “Horus Myth”: Jesus vs. Horus
  • There are a lot of them, as the playlist shows at Refuting the Copycat Thesis
  • "Jesus Mythicists" like to use them in order to confuse people and “convince” them that Jesus never existed.
  • Do not be fooled, Jesus existed and there are people, Christians AND Atheists who are willing to explain why they are certain that he existed.
  • Wait! What did Terry Sampson just say? That there are Atheists who will argue that Jesus existed? Yes, that’s what I said. Here’s one: Tim O’Neill. Bart D. Ehrman is another, even more well-known Atheist, who says that Jesus existed and that Jesus was crucified.

@Ravetastic @Trippy_Elixir @marta For your information


Well, read this thread and see if you still think that.

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