Robert M. Price’s Podcast “The Human Bible”

Robert M. Price is an amusing, charismatic, and atheistic scholar of the Bible. Since February he has been doing a radio show/podcast for the Center For Inquiry called “The Human Bible”, wherein he explains all the ins and outs of the Bible from a scholarly and skeptical perspective. Below the fold are brief episode summaries and links to help you find what episodes most interest you or answer questions you have wanted answered:

Episode 1:  Join host Robert Price as he answers listeners’ questions and delves into amusing, peculiar, and puzzling issues in regular segments like “Prophetic Scorecard” and “Is That in the Bible?!”

We’ll cover everything from the Q Source (including explaining what the heck that means) to that one time God wanted to kill Moses for having a foreskin.

Episode 2: In this episode, we answer listener questions about unicorns and dragons, learn about the Old Testament’s sources, premiere a new segment called “Apologetics Is Never Having to Say You’re Sorry,” and ask whether or not the Bible thinks human sacrifice is A-ok!

Episode 3: Today, we get up to speed on the many names of God—can’t he just pick one already? We answer questions on plagues and virgin births, wonder where C.S. Lewis came up with some of that stuff, and read into the verse that claims Paul took over for Jesus when he wasn’t quite suffering enough—wait, what? Don’t miss it!

Episode 4:Today on The Human Bible, we first talk about the pivotal Biblical character Marcion of Pontus and what he had to do with the formation of the New Testament. We read from and discuss one of the Bible’s best erotic poems, the Song of Solomon. (Yes, you read that correctly.) In this week’s Prophetic Scorecard, we wonder how Jesus managed to mess up that whole the world ending in his generation thing and what we can learn from it. And, we answer a listener question about the concept of grace and what the Bible really has to say about it.

Episode 5: This week on The Human Bible we get up to speed on how the Bible wound up split into chapters and verses. Spoiler: it definitely wasn’t written that way.

A caller from Minnesota asks about the nature of Hell—does the Bible say it’s a fiery, demon-supervised pit of eternal torment, or something closer to just a big pile of garbage? We respond to apologists who suggest that the claims the Bible makes about Jesus must be true because if they weren’t, someone totally would have called them on it. We answer a listener question about the word “elohim” as it appears in the Bible—space alien, God speaking of himself in the plural, or something else? To close out the episode we have a look at reincarnation and ask, “Is That in the Bible?!”

Episode 6: In today’s episode, we learn about Biblical Form Criticism—what does scripture have in common with knock-knock jokes and superheroes anyway? We answer a question from the Human Bible Hotline about the Epic of Gilgamesh and whether or not the Bible took some serious notes from it.

We also take a look at yet another failed prophecy in Ezekiel, wonder if Yahweh was a volcano god, and read some verses in the Bible that many people would probably like to pretend aren’t there.

Episode 7: This week on The Human Bible we learn some more about Form Criticism and how the Bible tends to repeat itself over, and over, and over. We take an in-depth and critical look at what the Bible actually has to say about homosexuality—and it might surprise you. In this week’s “Apologetics is Never Having to Say You’re Sorry” we examine yet another argument by C.S Lewis. This time it involves stacks of books, cucumbers, and one big false analogy. Finally, we look into what the Bible says about the afterlife—a lot of very different (and conflicting) things, it turns out.

Episode 8: This week we look into some of the harsh lessons the Bible teaches, most involving some kind of horrible death. We introduce a new segment called “Audience Inquisition in which we ask you, dear listener, for some answers. This week we ask if you’ve ever heard someone ‘quote’ something from the Bible that isn’t actually in the Bible.

We also wonder where the heck the original writings that make up the Bible actually are. My first guess: the same mysterious place that entire bag of M&M’s I dropped down the couch went. And, we inquire about the most distant places from Jerusalem that the Bible mentions.

And, most important of all, we break some news about the Bible and masturbation. It’s good news, people. I mean, uh, it’s probably good news for this one friend of mine.

Episode 9: This week on The Human Bible we do some more Biblical form criticism; this time taking a look at look at parables in the Bible. We follow up on last week’s ‘Audience Inquisition’ question: “Have you ever heard someone ‘quote’ something from the Bible that isn’t in the Bible? If so, what was it?” We got some great answers—one of which comes from Pulp Fiction.

We answer a couple great listener questions coming from both ex-Mormons and an ex-Jehovah’s Witness on the Sacrament and on the Bible’s thoughts on earthly, rather than heavenly, rewards.

And finally, on this week’s ‘Is That in the Bible?!’, we look at what the Bible actually says happened between Jesus and the two others was crucified with. Criminials, sure, but were they really such jerks to Jesus?

Episode 10: This week in “Up to Speed” we delve into the Psalms and learn how to actually understand what they’re talking about, and where the authors were coming from. We wonder why God changes his mind so much, considering he’s unchanging and all that. We answer a few listener questions: one about Noah’s fascinating great-granddad Enoch, and one about the 10 Commandments-where did they come from? And 10? Why 10? The answer is much more trivial (and amusing) than you’d think. And, because we have trouble going a week without doing so, we describe another monster found in the Bible-this time it’s an armor plated dragon that breathes fire. Yes, really.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/ Lou Doench

    Great… like I need more podcasts to listen too… ;)

  • Sili (I have no penis and I must jizz)

    I hope it’s better than his Bible geek podcast. That was rather annoying to listen to, to say the least.

    Not to mention his AGW denial.

    • brenda

      “Not to mention his AGW denial.”

      Conspiracy theories are all essentially the same. They all see the workings of invisible hands and nefarious intent at work in history. The reason people buy into conspiracy theories is because they appeal to our deepest desires to have relevance and agency in our lives.

      “I’m not really just an insignificant nobody, one among billions, who will never amount to anything nor effect history in any meaningful way. I am fighting the good fight against a vast array of forces that seek to enslave not just me, but all of humanity!”

      Thus climate denialists do battle against the shadowy Global Elite who would enslave us all in their carbon taxes and many atheists do battle against the Priestly Overlords who *invented* religion thousands of years ago to imprison all mankind. Religion just *can’t* be a natural, organic adaptation to a hostile world. It *must* be a grand evil conspiracy to enslave the mind of humanity. Because if religion is not inherently evil then evil could be anywhere. Even in me. Even in the very things that I value above all else. And that just cannot be.

  • Stephen Beesley

    I love his stuff and I have some of his books. His almost daily podcast The Bible Geek is a bit heavier but still very enjoyable. I must confess he produces that one faster than I can consume it. His social conservatism grates a little with me but his genial attitude and overall humanity takes the sting out of that. Some of his scholarly views and opinions I don’t necessarily agree with, but it’s all good. I think he’d hate us all just to be echoes for his opinions.

    As to The Human Bible, well it’s great ammunition for anyone who wants to do some debunking for the benefit of biblical inerrantists. But it still allows us to be fascinated and intrigued by what the all-too-human authors were saying and the milieu they worked in.

  • John

    I’ve wanted more atheist podcasts focusing on counter apologetics to listen to, so I will give this a listen. Price is interesting, though when I heard the interview with him on Reasonable Doubts some of the things sounded like conspiracy theories.

    Still, worth putting on while I do my chores and walk the dogs; thanks for putting this up!

    • brenda

      Because that is exactly what they are.

  • grumpyoldfart

    Just listened to episode one. Loved it. I’ve downloaded all episodes and bookmarked the site. Thanks for the links.

  • brenda

    From his Wikipedia page which seems woefully sparse to me:

    A Review of Jesus is Dead in Review of Biblical Literature (2009)

    Parts of the review I agree with and not others.

    “While Price argues that he does not subscribe to “naturalistic presuppositions” because he asserts “I have none”(4), he goes on later to claim that naturalistic explanations are best explained by the “Principle of Analogy” that the “standard of current-day experience to evaluate claims from the past” is the only standard we have (275). Hence, Price commits himself to a philosophical worldview (although he denies having one) of naturalism. All researchers have a worldview to which they commit themselves.”

    I don’t fault him for naturalism but you should own up to your basic metaphysical posits and not try to avoid stating them from the beginning.

    “One of the annoying tendencies throughout Price’s book is his ad hominem attacks on various writers he disagrees with. [..] Instead of engaging them professionally, he dismisses them with mocking and insulting epithets, which is academically and professionally unacceptable. While scholars may differ on their views in the field of study, such differences should be discussed professionally and collegially as among friends instead of trying to demean and caricature others.”

    Yeah, that’s a pretty big problem and all to common among the New Atheists both on blogs and in the media. “Don’t be a dick” is good advice, really, it is.

    “…it is evident that Price fully subscribes to the position of the religionsgeschichtliche Schule. There is also an evident hyper-skepticism about anything the New Testament contains and extrabiblical materials such as Josephus. Price not only dismisses the references to Jesus in Josephus as spurious; he likewise dismisses the reference to John the Baptizer as equally spurious (88–89).”

    Motivated reasoning is very difficult to see in one’s own writings. So when people come to a cultural touchstone like the Bible with an agenda, like Price does with an atheist perspective or as Hugh J. Schonfield did in “The Passover Plot” from a Jewish perspective. We should not be surprised that they reach their predetermined objectives. That’s the whole point but that process is invisible to the one engaged in motivated reasoning. What both Schonfield and many of the New Atheists today have in common is a belief in a grand conspiracy surrounding the origins of Christianity.

    William Shakespeare was a real historical figure too.

    • busterggi

      We know Shakespeare was real because we have lots of contempory evidence. Jesus, nope.

      You’re probably jealous of his E.O.D. mitre.

    • brenda

      @ busterggi – I don’t know what an E.O.D. mitre is. – The point is that you can always construct an argument that serves your interests and it’s *very* difficult for one person to fight against that. The same conservative who points at the unscientific beliefs held by some liberals, like say beliefs against fracking or nuclear energy, will not doubt his/her own belief that global warming is a hoax and vice versa.

      The truth tends to be nuanced and not black and white. So I think that Jesus likely was an historic person but as an agnostic I don’t believe in the religious parts. I think he lived and died and was a great figure of history. Just like Buddha or Confucius were.

      Everyone brings something to the table. Those who think they and they alone are in the right are to be avoided at all cost.

    • http://lordsetar.wordpress.com Setár, self-appointed Elf-Sheriff of the FreethoughtBlogs Star Chamber

      Low-hanging fruit, much? If you want to criticise mythicism, Richard Carrier is a few doors down and would probably love to talk with you. Price’s Ph.Ds are in Systematic Theology and New Testament; Carrier has a Ph.D in ancient history.

      …of course, your only substantive and relevant criticism of Price is his mythicist position; your other ‘criticism’ is a non-sequitur where you take his AGW denialism and leap* to that somehow meaning (at least, based on what you implied) that he thinks religion is some sort of conspiracy as well. As though all you’re trying to do is poison the well and discredit Price by calling him a conspiracy theorist.

      I would love to see you make the same accusations of Richard Carrier. Go on. I’m waiting.

      * – A leap you could have avoided by doing some research and quoting Price directly. You didn’t even refer to him making such an argument; ergo, all we’re left with is you thinking that his opposition to religion and AGW denialism have a linked cause.

      It is quite convenient that, so far as I know, Richard Carrier has not denied AGW or made any other quacky pronouncements, thus preventing you from making similar leaps of logic in his case. And so we come back to the initial question: why are you attacking the theologian Price, rather than the historian Carrier?

  • Tyrant al-Kalām

    So I think that Jesus likely was an historic person

    Jesus is even a contemporary person, I’ve met a fair share myself in the past few years, mostly from the holy land of mexico, though. Saying that “Jesus was a historic person” is not such a well-defined statement. Was it one Jesus, and if it is roughly based on one jesus, how much of his personality do the gospels reflect? Did he provide more than his name to the myth? Is the historical basis maybe an amalgam of selveral persons, one of whom lend the name.

    • brenda

      @ Tyrant al-Kalām

      Getting confused about who I was talking about is I’d guess your idea of humor. If you are seriously unable to understand whom I was referring to then I think there are larger problems that need attention. ;)

      “Was it one Jesus”?

      Are you one “Tyrant al-Kalām”? Do the texts of *any* historic figure that purport to tell us about their lives accurately reflect them? Is there even such a thing as one authoritative text on anyone’s life? Is *your* own private history maybe an amalgam of several persons who lay claim to the name of “Tyrant al-Kalām”?

      Is the Iliad that we know an accurate portrait of what we would have heard sung about ancient Greek campfires? Is Homer it’s author? Did he even exist? Is it reasonable to assume that Homer was an historical figure who lived and breathed? I think so. I see no reason to doubt the verdict of history that there was such a man.

      Neither do you, do you? I suspect the reason some will not extend that same assumption to religious figures like Jesus is because they begin with a particular world view and then reason their way to their preferred solution.

      I had not even heard of Robert M. Price before but in reading the review I linked to above that criticizes his unprofessional behavior and then learning he is a denialist gives me pause. I have my suspicions but I don’t know. Maybe he’s right, maybe not, who knows? Who cares? Not me. Maybe *no* religious figure ever existed. How would that change anything? Blargh… Is there any topic more tedious? I can’t think of any right now.

    • dblbassbill

      His detailed rebuttals of the josephus passages are always great to listen to. That people take them seriously still makes me shake my head. It would be like believing that Rev. Jerry Falwell believed Joseph smith had actually met an angel who gave him golden tablets. Bob Price has been great to listen to since he was a guest on The Infidel Guy.

    • Tyrant al-Kalām

      @ Tyrant al-Kalām

      Getting confused about who I was talking about is I’d guess your idea of humor. If you are seriously unable to understand whom I was referring to then I think there are larger problems that need attention. ;)

      I don’t see justification for your condescending sarcasm. I was being only semi facetious about the “I’ve met Jesus last year” thing. I wanted to illustrate that it makes only limited sense to talk about the historicity of jesus if all that’s left of the person is his name. It is in my mind a overly simplistic statement.

      “Was it one Jesus”?

      Are you one “Tyrant al-Kalām”? Do the texts of *any* historic figure that purport to tell us about their lives accurately reflect them? Is there even such a thing as one authoritative text on anyone’s life? Is *your* own private history maybe an amalgam of several persons who lay claim to the name of “Tyrant al-Kalām”?

      To varying levels of accuracy, yes. We know where Charlemange lived, some of the stuff he wrote and decreed, and so on. Uniquely attributable to one certain person, frankish king and emperor of the later holy roman empire. We know this to an even greater extent about say Napoleon, and to a lesser about King Herod. All these people however held political offices and are documented to have existed as the ruler of a certain region for a specified amount of time. This for example gives us a very unambiguous handle how to define who we mean historically when talking about, i.e. Julius Cesar. This is vastly different from the biblical Jesus of maybe Nazareth or Bethlehem or whatever.

      Is the Iliad that we know an accurate portrait of what we would have heard sung about ancient Greek campfires?

      I am sure that this is a legitimate question for cultural/historical studies to address. What’s your point?

      Is Homer it’s author? Did he even exist? Is it reasonable to assume that Homer was an historical figure who lived and breathed? I think so. I see no reason to doubt the verdict of history that there was such a man.

      A debate can indeed be had whether there was such a person as Homer, and as far as I am aware, the question is not definitely settled. Same for Sokrates.

      Neither do you, do you? I suspect the reason some will not extend that same assumption to religious figures like Jesus is because they begin with a particular world view and then reason their way to their preferred solution.

      As I said before, there are many “historical figures” I will not extend this assumption to, such as Homer and Sokrates, for much of the same reasons. The problem is that religious people stick to this naiive notion of a “historical Jesus” who somehow is supposed to have embodied the essence of what makes Jesus Jesus in the religious sense, no matter how made up or inaccurate the whole surrounding story is. If there was some guy back in the Year -30 who was named Jesus, and he was the namesake for a fictional character in a holy book doing all kinds of magic, this is completely equivalent to there not having been a “historical Jesus” at all.

      I had not even heard of Robert M. Price before but in reading the review I linked to above that criticizes his unprofessional behavior and then learning he is a denialist gives me pause. I have my suspicions but I don’t know. Maybe he’s right, maybe not, who knows? Who cares? Not me.

      Oh, you don’t care? Somehow I didn’t get that vibe from your writing.

      Maybe *no* religious figure ever existed. How would that change anything? Blargh… Is there any topic more tedious? I can’t think of any right now.

      How dare people provoke such ennui in you, forcing you to read this post at gunpoint and all that.

    • brenda

      @ Tyrant al-Kalām – “Oh, you don’t care?”

      It’s not as important to me as it seems to be for some. I think the comparison to Socrates is good. Did Socrates exist? Does Plato’s account accurately represent the person of Socrates? In the end I feel that same “meh…” for the historical persons of both Socrates and Jesus. We have what info we have. The judgment of history is that they lived and they were important figures. They were of course both men.

      “I don’t see justification for your condescending sarcasm.”

      Relax, the smiley thingie labels what I said as light sarcastic humor. I wasn’t serious just like you were not being serious when you claimed to be unable to know who I was talking about. We all have a shared background or history that informs us. When people talk about Jesus or Homer or Socrates they are referring to that common background. If you truly cannot parse sentences containing Jesus or Homer or Socrates then yeah, there is something wrong. But I’m confident you can and were just being silly.

  • Andrew EC

    Price is a guy you have to follow if you care at all about how the Bible is the way it is.

    I disagree with Price on a lot of the basics — I think Jesus was likely (to some degree) a historical figure; I think he’s nuts when it comes to politics and in particular climate change — but a) the man is a bona fide scholar, and b) Price actively flags areas where he knows he’s in the overwhelming minority and challenges you to make the counter-arguments.

    One tip: I do listen to his podcasts at 2x speed on my iPhone; he’s got kind of a slow speaking voice. But seriously, other than that, you owe it to yourself to listen if you care at *all* about Biblical inerrancy, textual criticism, source criticism, the history of Christianity, or Christ mythicism.

  • John Morales

    My thoughts?

    His writings on the Christian mythos are nowhere near as entertaining as those on the Cthulhu Mythos.

    Also, podcasts take too long to listen to.

    (Gimme transcripts any day)

  • Ray Moscow

    There is also a ‘The Bible Geek’ Facebook group for followers of his podcasts and books. It’s a fun group.

  • Andrew EC

    Also (and OT) — Daniel, I’m pretty disappointed that Leah Libresco has failed to respond to your critique. It seems to me that you’ve made a pretty good case that moral realism and naturalism aren’t incompatible (to say nothing of the other logical errors in her argument). I’m curious what, if anything, she has to say to that.

    • http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers Daniel Fincke

      Thanks Andrew. She’s busy, we’re in touch. She’ll respond.

  • Minus

    I’ve been listening to Price for a couple of years now. I totally enjoy his work and his amazing encyclopedic mind. This guy puts out several podcasts a week and they are always entertaining and educational.

    One of the many things that impress me about Dr. Price is that he is a work in progress. If you go back and listen to old shows and follow them forward you will see that his thoughts are constantly developing; he is always learning, thinking and looking for new ideas. Hey, he started out as a bible pounding evangelist and look where he is now. Who knows where he may end up.

    Yeah his politics are sometimes odious and uniformed, I forgive him.

  • Andrew EC

    Daniel — That’s good to hear. It’s distressing to see someone as smart as Leah make two very basic errors — although, as you point out, these are often errors made by atheists in describing themselves; to wit:

    1. That being an atheist means being a philosophical materialist; and

    2. That materialism is incompatible with moral realism.

    To that, I suppose I could add a third, which is to say that the intuition of moral realism doesn’t justify moral realism (just intuitionism) in any event.

    • John Morales

      Andrew:

      It’s distressing to see someone as smart as Leah make two very basic errors [...]

      Whyever do you imagine Leah is smart, given the evidence?

      (Accept the reality and thus alleviate that distress)


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X