While reading the book Misquoting Jesus by Bart Ehrman (p 202-203), I came across an account of maybe the worlds first instance of Gaslighting. In about 250 CE, a man named Celsus, who was a pagan, wrote the following anti-Christian words:
And everywhere they speak in their writings of the tree of life …..I imagine because their master was nailed to a cross and was a carpenter by trade. So that if he happened to be thrown off a cliff or pushed into a pit or suffocated by strangling, or if he had been a cobbler or stonemason or a blacksmith, there would have been a cliff of life above the heavens, or a pit of resurrection, or a rope of immortality, or a blessed stone, or an iron of love, or a holy hide of leather. (Against Celsus 6, 34)
Celsus is making fun of Christians for following a carpenter. He gets pretty nasty going on about the tree of life being related to the cross and Jesus being a carpenter, and if he had been a stonemason maybe Christians would have a blessed stone, and so on.
An apologist of the time named Origen wrote a rebuttal. But he didn’t explain why a carpenter could be the Christ, instead he denied it all together
“[Celsus is] blind to this, that in none of the Gospels current in the Church is Jesus himself ever described as being a carpenter.”
Maybe Origen never saw a copy of what we call the Gospel of Mark, and never read Mark 6:3. But notice his clever wording: “none of the Gospels current in the Church…”. Ehrman states that there are several early copies of the Mark manuscript from this same time that had an altered text, where the words “son of” was inserted, so that it reads “Is this not the son of the carpenter”, making it agree more closely with Matthew 13:55.
It is believed that early apologist scribes added these words to counter the anti-Christian rhetoric that Jesus could not be the Christ, as he was “just a carpenter” So Origen could say what he did, and be technically correct.
This looks like a early example of Gaslighting, or as they called it back then, Oil lighting!