Two “criteria of inauthenticity” that I have encountered used by mythicist have been on my mind today. One is the argument that early Christians are inherently untrustworthy when it comes to the matter of Jesus’ existence, since they were committed to him and so had a bias towards believing he existed.
This seems entirely backwards – like saying that I am biased towards believing James Dunn exists because I was his student, or that you are biased towards believing I exist because you enjoy reading my blog.
I wonder whether mythicists could not even take on Descartes: “You think, therefore you exist?” Why would you let yourself be persuaded by such an argument, when you are obviously biased in favor of your own existence and thus untrustworthy when it comes to such matters?
The other problematic criterion claims that, if something in the New Testament resembles some detail in Scripture, that is reason to believe that the story was fabricated on the basis of that Scripture.
The problem is that we know that early Christians (like more recent Christians) often connect their own experiences with Scripture.
Are we really to conclude that Paul could not have had a genuine personal experience of a sense of calling, because he couches his mention of it in language borrowed from a description of Jeremiah’s sense of calling? Or that some Jews in Paul’s time did not reject the Christian message, simply because Paul quotes Scripture in reference to it? Surely given the quotations from Scripture, it is more natural to conclude that he invented the whole thing from Scripture, isn’t it?
I am unimpressed by these arguments. What arguments have you found mythicists to use that you find unpersuasive? If you find these mythicist arguments persuasive, perhaps you would be so kind as to explain why.