William Benjamin Smith
William Benjamin Smith was a professor of mathematics at Tulane University
Tulane University
Tulane University is a private, nonsectarian research university located in New Orleans, Louisiana, United States...

. In a series of books, beginning with Ecce Deus: The Pre-Christian Jesus, published in 1894, and ending with The Birth of the Gospel, published posthumously in 1954, Smith argued that the earliest Christian sources, particularly the Pauline epistles, stress Christ's divinity at the expense of any human personality, and that this would have been implausible, if there had been a human Jesus. Smith therefore argued that Christianity's origins lay in a pre-Christian Jesus cult—that is, a Jewish sect had worshipped a divine being Jesus in the centuries before the human Jesus was supposedly born. Evidence for this cult was found in Hippolytus' mention of the Naassenes and Epiphanius
Epiphanius of Salamis
Epiphanius of Salamis was bishop of Salamis at the end of the 4th century. He is considered a saint and a Church Father by both the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic Churches. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of orthodoxy...

' report of a Nazaraean or Nazorean sect that existed before Christ, as well as passages in Acts
Acts of the Apostles
The Acts of the Apostles , usually referred to simply as Acts, is the fifth book of the New Testament; Acts outlines the history of the Apostolic Age...

. The seemingly historical details in the New Testament were built by the early Christian community around narratives of the pre-Christian Jesus.

Smith also argued against the historical value of non-Christian writers regarding Jesus, particularly Josephus and Tacitus.

Upon his death in 1934, Smith left a partial translation of Homer's Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

. This work was completed by his old Tulane colleague Walter Miller
Walter Miller (philologist)
Samuel Walter Miller, LL. D., Litt. D. was an American linguist, Classics scholar and archaeologist responsible for the first American excavation in Greece and a founder of the Stanford University Classics department....

and when published in 1944 was the first English translation in the original dactylic hexameter.
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