Chapter 6 of Earl Doherty’s Jesus: Neither God Nor Man

My blogging through Earl Doherty’s book Jesus: Neither God Nor Man continues here with chapter 6. For those who wish to read a post trying to put a positive spin on the weak and unpersuasive claims in this chapter, Neil Godfrey has what you are looking for on his blog Vridar. What I will offer here is a discussion of why the chapter, like the rest of the book so far, represents when at its best unconvincing arguments and unsubstantiated claims about its subject matter, and at its worst, tactics you may be familiar with from other examples of apologetics in the worst sense of that term.

The chapter begins with the letters of Ignatius, arguing against Docetism, a viewpoint which, as far as we can tell, never involved a denial that Jesus appeared in human history, but simply, as a result of the development of belief in his divinity, a denial of his genuine humanity. Doherty also notes that Ignatius knows biographical details about Jesus, even though he does not show clear signs of knowing written Gospels such as those that made it into the New Testament (pp.57-58). That these considerations might themselves provide reasons for drawing a conclusion different than the one Doherty is heading for is never considered.

Doherty proceeds to consider details from the Gospels that he considers it surprising Paul and other epistle writers never mention in their letters. Often his response to the material borders on the bizarre. Why is it surprising that the later and clearly legendary details in the infancy stories in Matthew and Luke are not reflected in earlier literature? It is unsurprising to mainstream historical scholarship, which is familiar with countless examples of the same phenomenon, namely the development of mythologized birth stories around a historical figure.

There follows after that an attempt to derive from Paul’s silence about whether Jesus was circumcised an argument in support of mythicism. It seems that Doherty has failed to familiarize himself even at a superficial level with the debates that Paul was engaged in, which were about the question of whether Gentiles who became Christians had to be circumcised. That Jesus and all his earliest followers, including Paul, were Jewish and had been circumcised when they were eight days old was not relevant to resolving that issue, for reasons that should be obvious. Paul nowhere advocates reversal of circumcision for Jews.

Doherty then moves on to what is the highlight of the chapter in its “breathtaking inanity” (if I may borrow a phrase from Judge Jones). One piece of evidence in favor of there having been a historical Jesus is the fact that Paul, our earliest Christian source, makes reference to having met “James the brother of the Lord” (Galatians 1:19). Doherty is determined to find a way to avoid the plain meaning of such language at any cost, even if it means positing that the phrase meant “the brother of God” – a concept for which we have no evidence either in Judaism or Christianity (p.60).

A substantial amount of space is dedicated to trying to get the reader to not notice that the terminology “brother(s) of the Lord” and “brother(s) in the Lord” are distinct in meaning, and clearly so. It is not the same thing to speak of “the Nigerian president in the United States” as to speak of “the Nigerian president of the United States.” Nor is it the same thing to speak of “father in the modern military” and “father of the modern military.” I could go on, but I trust that readers know enough of at least one language to be able to notice Doherty’s sleight of hand. The careful reader is forced to choose between Doherty’s being an incompetent reader of Paul’s letters and his being a deceitful manipulator of them. Either way, I cannot imagine why anyone would choose to accept his claims or fall for his misdirection. The attempt to treat the reference to “James the brother of the Lord” as simply one more example of the use of “brother” for all Christian believers fails, because it does not do justice to what Paul actually wrote.

And so, if one is convinced that the phrase means what it clearly seems to, Doherty has other “solutions” – for instance, one can always assume it is a later interpolation, in spite of there being no manuscript evidence to support this. Doherty rightly points out that our earliest manuscripts are somewhat later rather than original copies (pp.61-63). But this is true of pretty much all our ancient texts, and so unless one is going to propose a moratorium on all historical reconstruction, historians must continue to draw the best conclusions they can based on the evidence available. And to his credit, Doherty acknowledges that the attempt to chalk matters up to changes to manuscripts, which were made before our earliest copies and which left no trace in the extant manuscripts, cuts both ways (p.62). It is as easy to posit that references to a historical, flesh-and-blood Jesus were later excised as that references to a historical, flesh-and-blood Jesus were added. Either we work with the available evidence or we remain agnostic until we find original manuscripts and/or unambiguous archaeological evidence for past events. In neither case does one end up with a basis for concluding that mythicism is more probable than mainstream historical scholarship’s conclusions.

All that we have discussed might well be enough to make clear that mythicism does not reflect or represent a well-informed, scholarly approach to the question of the historical Jesus. But Doherty is not done illustrating this just yet. Next he turns to lack of information about “Jesus’ personal life” in the epistles. Such details are also absent from the Gospels, which Doherty believes later attempted to turn a celestial Jesus into a historical one, and their absence even from allegedly historicizing sources ought to have given him pause. At any rate, Doherty’s utter lack of awareness of the characteristics of ancient literature (Acts lacks similar details about Paul and the other early followers of Jesus) and, even more so, the realities of ancient life for ordinary people, is astounding. He even goes so far as to point out that “We know not the slightest feature about him, his living accommodations, how he dressed, his tastes in anything from food to recreation” (p.63). Doherty is allowing his modern common sense to be his guide, as he states explicitly. But common sense is not a reliable guide to the realities of ancient life, and what one can expect to be mentioned regarding people who for the most part had no time for recreation and no choice about what they ate or what they wore.

Doherty compares the Gospels to John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress (p.64). Having read both, I can scarcely believe that Doherty has read both as well, or that he intends this comparison to be taken seriously. That he finds the character of Jesus two-dimensional, whether you agree with him or not, is probably a result of the Gospels’ typically ancient lack of interest in characters’ psychology. That the Gospel authors at times make Jesus a mouthpiece for their own understanding is often noted by mainstream scholarship and thus not in any obvious way an argument for mythicism.

Doherty next turns attention to the lack of miracles attributed to Jesus in the epistles. If these are a later legendary development, as Doherty is aware that mainstream historical scholarship concludes, then there is a perfectly legitimate explanation (pp.66-67). But let us not let Doherty off the hook even that easily. Surely if absence of miracles is an issue, then that is as true in the case of a mythical Jesus as a historical one, if not more so. If we should expect Paul to mention miracles performed by a historical Jesus who may not have done them or at least may not have done as many or as impressive ones as later Gospels would claim, then should we not expect him to recount the healing that ancient people always expected from their divine saviors? But like many apologists for a range of views, Doherty is not interested in logically evaluating evidence, nor considering all possible interpretations and working out which is best, but offering any and all arguments he can in favor of mythicism, no matter how weak or unpersuasive, or – as in this case – how much they work at least as well against mythicism as for it.

Doherty continues with an attempt to eliminate the significance of the reference to Jesus having “suffered outside the gate” in Hebrews, and concludes with mention of the Lord’s Supper as found in the Didache, as usual without seeming to recognize how the connection of Jesus with David, there as in the New Testament, would have been understood by ancient Jews.

Any attentive reader of Doherty’s book, especially one who is actually familiar with historical study and/or what we know about ancient Judaism and/or Christian origins, would realize that they are being taken for a ride. Unfortunately, as often happens with the natural sciences, so too with history, there are many who lack the familiarity with genuine scholarship necessary to detect obvious imitations.

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    The ancients (or primitive cultures) view medicine as “miracle”, because they do not understand it…this is how the Church can justify “global initiatives” under the guise of the “Cross”…as mercy works…

    Just as mythicists/historicists (psycholgists and sociologists) use Jesus life as exemplary for missionary purposes to serve the Church’s interests.

    Then, the Church can remain “true to the text and tradition”, while undermining another’s “life and experience” (or reason and experience)….and all for “the greater good” of a “collective identity” :-(…no ethical egoism here, only virtue ethics!!!

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    The ancients (or primitive cultures) view medicine as “miracle”, because they do not understand it…this is how the Church can justify “global initiatives” under the guise of the “Cross”…as mercy works…

    Just as mythicists/historicists (psycholgists and sociologists) use Jesus life as exemplary for missionary purposes to serve the Church’s interests.

    Then, the Church can remain “true to the text and tradition”, while undermining another’s “life and experience” (or reason and experience)….and all for “the greater good” of a “collective identity” :-(…no ethical egoism here, only virtue ethics!!!

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    I think ALL religions are a matter of choosing the between “evils”…they all like to suggest they have some type of understanding that usurps independence, personal rights, and free thinking….Our nation was a free thinking nation, unlike religious traditions that like to define everything for the ‘collective’…..instead of the individual determining for himself where his definitions will lie….Ethical Egoism, versus Virtuous Passion….leaves little in common….but it does suggest how our nation’s political persuasion has split….I vie for conservative libertarianism…Republican virtue…..not democratic degregation, and collective identification….s

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    I think ALL religions are a matter of choosing the between “evils”…they all like to suggest they have some type of understanding that usurps independence, personal rights, and free thinking….Our nation was a free thinking nation, unlike religious traditions that like to define everything for the ‘collective’…..instead of the individual determining for himself where his definitions will lie….Ethical Egoism, versus Virtuous Passion….leaves little in common….but it does suggest how our nation’s political persuasion has split….I vie for conservative libertarianism…Republican virtue…..not democratic degregation, and collective identification….s

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Angle, when I speak of historicists I am not referring to a religious viewpoint, but to the conclusions drawn by mainstream secular historiography.

    • Angie VanDeMerwe

      Then, the question is; is history itself geared toward a certain political persuasion? I think it is….or is there a way to gauge and come to consensus regarding history? Isn’t this the reason why there are differences in scholarship accross the board (in the Academy)? Mythcists, or historicists…lend themselves to a certain bias…

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Angle, when I speak of historicists I am not referring to a religious viewpoint, but to the conclusions drawn by mainstream secular historiography.

    • Angie VanDeMerwe

      Then, the question is; is history itself geared toward a certain political persuasion? I think it is….or is there a way to gauge and come to consensus regarding history? Isn’t this the reason why there are differences in scholarship accross the board (in the Academy)? Mythcists, or historicists…lend themselves to a certain bias…

  • Mullerb

    I looked at Vridar review on Chapter 6 of Doherty’s new book.
    About “brother of the Lord”, Neil mentioned seven points made by Doherty:
    1) “The term “brother” appears throughout Paul’s letters meaning nothing more than “fellow Christians”: 1 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1. 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Corinthians 6:5-6.”
    BM: So what? Would that prevent Paul to use “brother” for someone generated by the same parent?
    2) ““Brothers in the Lord”, as in Philippians 1:14, suggests that this is the meaning of James as the brother of the Lord.”
    BM: Doherty should know that “in” does not mean “of”. Furthermore “brothers/brethens in the Lord” in Php1:14 in not an accurate translation of the Greek, which would be better rendered as: RSV “brethens have been made confident in the Lord”.
    3) “James seems to have been the head of a Jerusalem community, bearing witness to a spiritual Christ, who called itself “brethren of/in the Lord””
    BM: Where did Doherty get that? More so when Paul never called this community or any of its members as just “brother(s)/brethen(s)” or “in Christ/in (the) Lord”.
    4) “The phrase is always “of the Lord” and never “of Jesus”, and there is always the possibility that Lord refers to God.”
    BM: In Gal1:19, if “Jesus” had replaced “Lord”, I would have suspected an interpolation because , in that epistle, the word “Jesus” is always together with “Christ” and/or “Lord”. And in “Galatians”, “Lord” never refers to “God”, but most of the time to Jesus.
    Furthermore, when the bearer of a title has been identified, then the next mention of someone defined only by that same title refers to the aforementioned bearer. So looking back, we have: 1:3 “our Lord Jesus Christ” written only sixteen verses before “James, the brother of the Lord”.
    As for “brothers of the Lord” in 1Cor9:5, the “Lord” is identified as “Jesus Christ our Lord” four verses earlier.
    That would also take care of the possibility of “Lord” being “God”.
    5) ““Brother” was also a designation for initiates in Greek mystery cults.”
    BM: So What? That did not prevent the existence of blood brother(s) in antiquity.
    6) “1 Corinthians 9:5 refers to both brothers of the Lord and to a sister wife. While many commentators assume the brothers refer to male siblings of Jesus, the word for sister is always said to refer to a female member of the sect.”
    [quote from Doherty's book follows:] “The more archaic rendering as “brethren of/in the Lord” conveys the right connotation: it refers to a community of like-minded believers . . . . (p. 60)”
    BM: A sister wife? More realistic translations are “a believing wife” OR “a sister, a wife” (interpretive translations differ). And I would find very strange that “sister” here would mean a woman in Christ, travelling with a male apostle/brother, immediately lending rumours of an unlawful relationship.
    If Paul used “sister” as a female in Christ (Rom16:1), he also used “sister” as a blood sister in Rom16:15 “Nereus and his sister”. That also infers that “brothers” can be used both way, just like for “sister”.
    7) “Ephesians 6:21 and Hebrews 2:11-12 speak of “brother” being linked with Jesus in a spiritual sense — as spiritual brothers of Jesus.”
    BM: Again, so what? First, neither “Ephesians” nor “Hebrews” were written by Paul anyway. Second, the context is very clear about those “brother(s)” are to be taken in a spiritual sense (back to 1) point).

    Then Neil quotes Doherty again: “It is surprising how frequently apologetic argument maintains that “brother” in Galatians 1:19 has the ‘natural’ meaning of sibling when the vast majority of cases use the word in a sense which has no such meaning.” (p. 61)
    BM: Well, does that matter if one meaning of “brother” is in the minority compared to another one?
    Why is someone apologetic in declaring “brother” in Gal1:19 as blood relation, in view of Doherty’s very weak and often unfounded “argumentation” against it?

  • Mullerb

    I looked at Vridar review on Chapter 6 of Doherty’s new book.
    About “brother of the Lord”, Neil mentioned seven points made by Doherty:
    1) “The term “brother” appears throughout Paul’s letters meaning nothing more than “fellow Christians”: 1 Corinthians 1:1, Colossians 1:1. 1 Corinthians 15:6, 1 Corinthians 6:5-6.”
    BM: So what? Would that prevent Paul to use “brother” for someone generated by the same parent?
    2) ““Brothers in the Lord”, as in Philippians 1:14, suggests that this is the meaning of James as the brother of the Lord.”
    BM: Doherty should know that “in” does not mean “of”. Furthermore “brothers/brethens in the Lord” in Php1:14 in not an accurate translation of the Greek, which would be better rendered as: RSV “brethens have been made confident in the Lord”.
    3) “James seems to have been the head of a Jerusalem community, bearing witness to a spiritual Christ, who called itself “brethren of/in the Lord””
    BM: Where did Doherty get that? More so when Paul never called this community or any of its members as just “brother(s)/brethen(s)” or “in Christ/in (the) Lord”.
    4) “The phrase is always “of the Lord” and never “of Jesus”, and there is always the possibility that Lord refers to God.”
    BM: In Gal1:19, if “Jesus” had replaced “Lord”, I would have suspected an interpolation because , in that epistle, the word “Jesus” is always together with “Christ” and/or “Lord”. And in “Galatians”, “Lord” never refers to “God”, but most of the time to Jesus.
    Furthermore, when the bearer of a title has been identified, then the next mention of someone defined only by that same title refers to the aforementioned bearer. So looking back, we have: 1:3 “our Lord Jesus Christ” written only sixteen verses before “James, the brother of the Lord”.
    As for “brothers of the Lord” in 1Cor9:5, the “Lord” is identified as “Jesus Christ our Lord” four verses earlier.
    That would also take care of the possibility of “Lord” being “God”.
    5) ““Brother” was also a designation for initiates in Greek mystery cults.”
    BM: So What? That did not prevent the existence of blood brother(s) in antiquity.
    6) “1 Corinthians 9:5 refers to both brothers of the Lord and to a sister wife. While many commentators assume the brothers refer to male siblings of Jesus, the word for sister is always said to refer to a female member of the sect.”
    [quote from Doherty's book follows:] “The more archaic rendering as “brethren of/in the Lord” conveys the right connotation: it refers to a community of like-minded believers . . . . (p. 60)”
    BM: A sister wife? More realistic translations are “a believing wife” OR “a sister, a wife” (interpretive translations differ). And I would find very strange that “sister” here would mean a woman in Christ, travelling with a male apostle/brother, immediately lending rumours of an unlawful relationship.
    If Paul used “sister” as a female in Christ (Rom16:1), he also used “sister” as a blood sister in Rom16:15 “Nereus and his sister”. That also infers that “brothers” can be used both way, just like for “sister”.
    7) “Ephesians 6:21 and Hebrews 2:11-12 speak of “brother” being linked with Jesus in a spiritual sense — as spiritual brothers of Jesus.”
    BM: Again, so what? First, neither “Ephesians” nor “Hebrews” were written by Paul anyway. Second, the context is very clear about those “brother(s)” are to be taken in a spiritual sense (back to 1) point).

    Then Neil quotes Doherty again: “It is surprising how frequently apologetic argument maintains that “brother” in Galatians 1:19 has the ‘natural’ meaning of sibling when the vast majority of cases use the word in a sense which has no such meaning.” (p. 61)
    BM: Well, does that matter if one meaning of “brother” is in the minority compared to another one?
    Why is someone apologetic in declaring “brother” in Gal1:19 as blood relation, in view of Doherty’s very weak and often unfounded “argumentation” against it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I had read some of the stuff you mentioned in chapter 6 at Vridar and thought the same thing. The use of Ignatius as supposed evidence of historicist combating Mythicism was like Von Danikan’s use of well known religious iconography to argue for rockets to people who may not be familiar with the material. since their is no clear mention of the theory he is arguing, unlike the clear mentions of Jesus as a human in history, he hopes to be able to hijack some material that already has perfectly reasonable, and well known understandings into his own theory. Just like Von Daniken.

    I also noticed how odd it would be to bring Jesus into an argument on circumcision, since it would be taken for granted that all the Jews in Christianity were circumcised out of tradition. His mention of Jesus’ marital status is more interesting, but hardly enough to make a case for a Jesus myth on. Any how, if God can have a son, couldn’t he or his mythic son have a wife? why isn’t that used in the arguments (it is better to be un-married, like God is unmarried)? Probably because the marital status of a being that sits at the right hand of God might make a poor analogy for the rest of the community. Paul clearly sees Jesus as more than some dude from Israel, that he wasn’t married (as seems to be the case) could be expected of someone who achieved union with the Father.

    As I’ve noted before, if you look though the epistles of the first couple of centuries, you will notice that even authors who clearly support a historical Jesus, don’t make a lot of use of his sayings and much less of his actions. so the argument that people 20 years after the mans death don’t make heavy use of the material isn’t a strong argument for mythicism.

    • Anonymous

      To quote Mike Wilson:

      “Evan,of (sic) course the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament is fictional and invented!”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I had read some of the stuff you mentioned in chapter 6 at Vridar and thought the same thing. The use of Ignatius as supposed evidence of historicist combating Mythicism was like Von Danikan’s use of well known religious iconography to argue for rockets to people who may not be familiar with the material. since their is no clear mention of the theory he is arguing, unlike the clear mentions of Jesus as a human in history, he hopes to be able to hijack some material that already has perfectly reasonable, and well known understandings into his own theory. Just like Von Daniken.

    I also noticed how odd it would be to bring Jesus into an argument on circumcision, since it would be taken for granted that all the Jews in Christianity were circumcised out of tradition. His mention of Jesus’ marital status is more interesting, but hardly enough to make a case for a Jesus myth on. Any how, if God can have a son, couldn’t he or his mythic son have a wife? why isn’t that used in the arguments (it is better to be un-married, like God is unmarried)? Probably because the marital status of a being that sits at the right hand of God might make a poor analogy for the rest of the community. Paul clearly sees Jesus as more than some dude from Israel, that he wasn’t married (as seems to be the case) could be expected of someone who achieved union with the Father.

    As I’ve noted before, if you look though the epistles of the first couple of centuries, you will notice that even authors who clearly support a historical Jesus, don’t make a lot of use of his sayings and much less of his actions. so the argument that people 20 years after the mans death don’t make heavy use of the material isn’t a strong argument for mythicism.

    • beallen0417

      To quote Mike Wilson:

      “Evan,of (sic) course the Jesus of Nazareth of the New Testament is fictional and invented!”

  • Mullerb

    Again commenting on Vridar review of Chapter 6:

    “Another aspect to the debate is the particular wording that speaks of “the” brother of the Lord in Galatians 1:19. Some have suggested that this is an indicator that James was a literal sibling, but Doherty replies that no other single individual is ever called “the” brother of the Lord.”
    BM: So what? If ten or twenty named individuals were qualified as “brother of the Lord”, that would prove the mythicist cause. But one, or a few! It seems Doherty is desperate on his argumentation.

    “So why would Paul have identified James as a brother of the Lord?
    Doherty acknowledges we can only speculate: were the readers more familiar with Peter than with James? was there another James in the Jerusalem circle who was not a member of the original sect?”
    BM: There is no need for speculation when we look at ‘Acts’:
    During that visit in Jerusalem (around 38 CE), there was another prominent member of the community by the name of James, that is the brother of John. That James was singled out and executed by Agrippa I around 42 CE. So it is very understandable Paul identified the ‘James’ he met in order to avoid confusion.

    • Anonymous

      Really? If ten or twenty named individuals were qualified as “brother of the Lord” then it would prove the mythicist case? That is very interesting. That must mean the mythicist case is quite strong, if that is all it lacks for proof. Thanks for allowing that.

      It also highlights what a thin reed the historicist case is based on and how much Galatians 1:19 is used as a prooftext for historicists.

      Certainly you must admit that the Acts of the Apostles never mentions James as a sibling of Jesus, nor does the epistle of James. Why do you think this might be? Also, why does the book of Jude mention James as a sibling of Jude, but not Jesus?

      • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Beallen0417, you were nearly right. All mythicism lacks is evidence.

        It is entertaining to watch mythicists, who claim to be guided by the principle that the epistles are earlier and more reliable, while the later Gospels essentially turned a mythical Christ into a historical figure, jettison that supposed principle whenever it becomes inconvenient. When evidence of a historical Jesus is highlighted in the epistles, they will appeal to Acts, or epistles likely to be later forgeries, in an attempt to avoid the clear meaning of Paul’s reference to James as Jesus’ brother.

        Mainstream historical scholarship can be discussed in terms of whether it’s conclusions are justified upon the basis of its methods. Or one can discuss whether the methods themselves are valid. In the case of mythicism, neither is possible, because it has no consistent methods and no conclusions, just foreordained outcomes and the use of any tools selectively that will allow one to reach them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Or to put it simpler still, why do you trust Acts to indicate what Paul meant by “James” yet reject it when it comes to what Paul meant by “Jesus”?

      • Mullerb

        Hmm, I did not really mean that. Excuse my wording. But you have to admit 10 or 20 named individuals called “brothers of the Lord” would put historicists in the hot seat. But this is rather academic, because there is only one named individual called as such.
        There is a lot more than Galatians1:19 in favor of historicists. And on the other side, as judging from Vridar review on Chapter 6, ill-evidenced argumentation & imagined theories, fabricated self-serving red herrings, and argument from silence is what makes Doherty’s case.

        • Anonymous

          Mullerb:

          Jesus in 10% historical and 90% mythical. Would you think that a true statement?

          Dr. McGrath would have you believe that someone who doubts the 10% is a
          fringe crackpot. Yet after multiple attempts to get clarification, all
          that we can get from him that is certain is that Jesus was a human being
          with siblings who died. Not much of a biography if you ask me.

          • Mullerb

            Yes, as the reference being 100% historical for conservative/fundamentalist Christians.
            There are billions of people who do not have any biography, but at one time or another they lived on earth. Among them are some of the most important people in Roman antiquity, including  governors, prefects, etc …
            Even if it is only accepted that Jesus was a human being with siblings who died, that would kill the case of a 100% mythical Jesus.
            As for me, after years of research, I managed to describe (with few reliable details) the main events of his last year, explaining how an uneducated poor Galilean would wind up in Jerusalem as “Christ crucified”, starting the ball rolling for a progressive development of Christian beliefs, and a cult around a hugely enhanced & heavenly expanded Jesus.
            BTW, I am an atheist and non-religious, and more convinced than ever because of my study. And do you have to believe Mohammed did NOT exist for not being a Moslem?
              

          • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

            The Disqus e-mail says: “Options: Respond in the body to post a reply comment.”
            So I am going to test that.
            But I do like the 10/90 question. It seems to get us somewhere. No?

            • Anonymous

              Sabio, I think it’s a critical point. If we could establish that there was a historical man named Robin Hood, who was a tailor who worked in the King John’s palace during the 12th century, who never robbed a single person, never entered the woods, never met anyone named Tuck and never fired a bow and arrow, would that mean Robin Hood was historical?

              I think not, but evidently, if you’re talking about the historical Jesus, that’s all you need.

              For Dr. McGrath, Jesus was for certain historical if he simply existed — his criteria for this are that he was a human being who bled and died and had at least one sibling.

              I think that’s pretty paltry. Surely Hercules has as many human characteristics in the literature from multiply attested authors who never doubted his historicity, and it may very well be there was an originally human person who the myths of Hercules were based on. But scouring through the texts we have regarding Hercules, looking for facts about the historical Hercules are a total waste of time and effort.

              Bultmann was very clear:

              “It is impossible to repristinate a past world picture by sheer resolve, especially a mythical
              world picture, now that all of our thinking is irrevocably formed by
              science. A blind acceptance of New Testament mythology would be simply
              arbitrariness …”

  • Mullerb

    Again commenting on Vridar review of Chapter 6:

    “Another aspect to the debate is the particular wording that speaks of “the” brother of the Lord in Galatians 1:19. Some have suggested that this is an indicator that James was a literal sibling, but Doherty replies that no other single individual is ever called “the” brother of the Lord.”
    BM: So what? If ten or twenty named individuals were qualified as “brother of the Lord”, that would prove the mythicist cause. But one, or a few! It seems Doherty is desperate on his argumentation.

    “So why would Paul have identified James as a brother of the Lord?
    Doherty acknowledges we can only speculate: were the readers more familiar with Peter than with James? was there another James in the Jerusalem circle who was not a member of the original sect?”
    BM: There is no need for speculation when we look at ‘Acts’:
    During that visit in Jerusalem (around 38 CE), there was another prominent member of the community by the name of James, that is the brother of John. That James was singled out and executed by Agrippa I around 42 CE. So it is very understandable Paul identified the ‘James’ he met in order to avoid confusion.

    • beallen0417

      Really? If ten or twenty named individuals were qualified as “brother of the Lord” then it would prove the mythicist case? That is very interesting. That must mean the mythicist case is quite strong, if that is all it lacks for proof. Thanks for allowing that.

      It also highlights what a thin reed the historicist case is based on and how much Galatians 1:19 is used as a prooftext for historicists.

      Certainly you must admit that the Acts of the Apostles never mentions James as a sibling of Jesus, nor does the epistle of James. Why do you think this might be? Also, why does the book of Jude mention James as a sibling of Jude, but not Jesus?

      • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

        Beallen0417, you were nearly right. All mythicism lacks is evidence.

        It is entertaining to watch mythicists, who claim to be guided by the principle that the epistles are earlier and more reliable, while the later Gospels essentially turned a mythical Christ into a historical figure, jettison that supposed principle whenever it becomes inconvenient. When evidence of a historical Jesus is highlighted in the epistles, they will appeal to Acts, or epistles likely to be later forgeries, in an attempt to avoid the clear meaning of Paul’s reference to James as Jesus’ brother.

        Mainstream historical scholarship can be discussed in terms of whether it’s conclusions are justified upon the basis of its methods. Or one can discuss whether the methods themselves are valid. In the case of mythicism, neither is possible, because it has no consistent methods and no conclusions, just foreordained outcomes and the use of any tools selectively that will allow one to reach them.

        • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

          Or to put it simpler still, why do you trust Acts to indicate what Paul meant by “James” yet reject it when it comes to what Paul meant by “Jesus”?

      • Mullerb

        Hmm, I did not really mean that. Excuse my wording. But you have to admit 10 or 20 named individuals called “brothers of the Lord” would put historicists in the hot seat. But this is rather academic, because there is only one named individual called as such.
        There is a lot more than Galatians1:19 in favor of historicists. And on the other side, as judging from Vridar review on Chapter 6, ill-evidenced argumentation & imagined theories, fabricated self-serving red herrings, and argument from silence is what makes Doherty’s case.

        • beallen0417

          Mullerb:

          Jesus in 10% historical and 90% mythical. Would you think that a true statement?

          Dr. McGrath would have you believe that someone who doubts the 10% is a
          fringe crackpot. Yet after multiple attempts to get clarification, all
          that we can get from him that is certain is that Jesus was a human being
          with siblings who died. Not much of a biography if you ask me.

          • Mullerb

            Yes, as the reference being 100% historical for conservative/fundamentalist Christians.
            There are billions of people who do not have any biography, but at one time or another they lived on earth. Among them are some of the most important people in Roman antiquity, including  governors, prefects, etc …
            Even if it is only accepted that Jesus was a human being with siblings who died, that would kill the case of a 100% mythical Jesus.
            As for me, after years of research, I managed to describe (with few reliable details) the main events of his last year, explaining how an uneducated poor Galilean would wind up in Jerusalem as “Christ crucified”, starting the ball rolling for a progressive development of Christian beliefs, and a cult around a hugely enhanced & heavenly expanded Jesus.
            BTW, I am an atheist and non-religious, and more convinced than ever because of my study. And do you have to believe Mohammed did NOT exist for not being a Moslem?
              

          • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

            The Disqus e-mail says: “Options: Respond in the body to post a reply comment.”
            So I am going to test that.
            But I do like the 10/90 question. It seems to get us somewhere. No?

            • beallen0417

              Sabio, I think it’s a critical point. If we could establish that there was a historical man named Robin Hood, who was a tailor who worked in the King John’s palace during the 12th century, who never robbed a single person, never entered the woods, never met anyone named Tuck and never fired a bow and arrow, would that mean Robin Hood was historical?

              I think not, but evidently, if you’re talking about the historical Jesus, that’s all you need.

              For Dr. McGrath, Jesus was for certain historical if he simply existed — his criteria for this are that he was a human being who bled and died and had at least one sibling.

              I think that’s pretty paltry. Surely Hercules has as many human characteristics in the literature from multiply attested authors who never doubted his historicity, and it may very well be there was an originally human person who the myths of Hercules were based on. But scouring through the texts we have regarding Hercules, looking for facts about the historical Hercules are a total waste of time and effort.

              Bultmann was very clear:

              “It is impossible to repristinate a past world picture by sheer resolve, especially a mythical
              world picture, now that all of our thinking is irrevocably formed by
              science. A blind acceptance of New Testament mythology would be simply
              arbitrariness …”

  • Anonymous

    Brother-of-the-Lord is where the mythicists lost me.

  • Scott__F

    Brother-of-the-Lord is where the mythicists lost me.

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    And, since our nation is understood within a certain framework (Judeo-Christian), then isn’t a secular view a destruction or undermining of previous traditional understanding? Would this be the atheists/scienctist/U.N. agenda to rid the world of any Nation, as priviledged? Globalists and or revolutionists would like the progressive approach…This is a useful for mythological approaches…to tradition…or undermining the myth of tradition…. through science. The world still has the problem of government and leadership, and decision making, even when one unifies under one “Flag”, the U.N.

    But, the traditionalists, holds to the (Judeo-Christian), so that the nation-state is protected. It is affirming Constitutionalism. And I think this is more my frame of reference..which is identifying with American values and culture, which is historicizing my identity.

  • Angie VanDeMerwe

    And, since our nation is understood within a certain framework (Judeo-Christian), then isn’t a secular view a destruction or undermining of previous traditional understanding? Would this be the atheists/scienctist/U.N. agenda to rid the world of any Nation, as priviledged? Globalists and or revolutionists would like the progressive approach…This is a useful for mythological approaches…to tradition…or undermining the myth of tradition…. through science. The world still has the problem of government and leadership, and decision making, even when one unifies under one “Flag”, the U.N.

    But, the traditionalists, holds to the (Judeo-Christian), so that the nation-state is protected. It is affirming Constitutionalism. And I think this is more my frame of reference..which is identifying with American values and culture, which is historicizing my identity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I think Neil would argue, Bernard, that the brother issue is a side show compared to all the other evidence that Jesus was a myth, and so his tortured rendering of the offending passages is mandated because of the the overwhelming evidence for Doherty case. Unfortunately, part of the evidence for his case is that Paul never mentions earthly details of Jesus, so to say that we can dispense with this anomaly of Paul speaking of a detail of the earthly Jesus because Paul doesn’t discuss an earthly Jesus is circular. Obviously Paul speaks of an earthly Jesus.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I think Neil would argue, Bernard, that the brother issue is a side show compared to all the other evidence that Jesus was a myth, and so his tortured rendering of the offending passages is mandated because of the the overwhelming evidence for Doherty case. Unfortunately, part of the evidence for his case is that Paul never mentions earthly details of Jesus, so to say that we can dispense with this anomaly of Paul speaking of a detail of the earthly Jesus because Paul doesn’t discuss an earthly Jesus is circular. Obviously Paul speaks of an earthly Jesus.

  • Mullerb

    Commenting on Vridar review of Chapter 6 (Part 3):
    “Doherty points to “a very telling silence in the epistles” — the marital status of Jesus. We know it was the norm for Jewish rabbis and itinerant apostles to be married. If Jesus had been married, then what do we think when Paul asserted the right for himself and other apostles to be married without appealing to Jesus as the example?”
    BM: So, maybe Jesus was not married, as Paul and as Josephus until being commanded to do so by Vespasian.

    “But then again, what would we make of Paul’s claims that celibacy was a preferable state than marriage? Paul did warn against marriage “in the present circumstances” — presumably facing persecution. So if Jesus (who also faced persecution) was not married, is it not curious that Paul did not appeal to him as a model?”
    BM: “in the present circumstances” (1Cor7:26) refers to the near arrival of the kingdom, not persecutions (7:29,31). Furthermore never in 1Cor7 Paul defended his marital status and therefore did not need to bring Jesus’ example.
    Paul advocated celibacy and abstinence for married couples (because “this world is passing away”). But mentioning, as an example, an unmarried Jesus (reaching adulthood around 15 CE, some 40 years after Paul’s epistle!) would have created many doubts about the end being soon.
    And that’s one good reason Paul never had Jesus preaching the Kingdom is near (some 25 years before Paul’s time, when it still did not arrive!).

  • Mullerb

    Commenting on Vridar review of Chapter 6 (Part 3):
    “Doherty points to “a very telling silence in the epistles” — the marital status of Jesus. We know it was the norm for Jewish rabbis and itinerant apostles to be married. If Jesus had been married, then what do we think when Paul asserted the right for himself and other apostles to be married without appealing to Jesus as the example?”
    BM: So, maybe Jesus was not married, as Paul and as Josephus until being commanded to do so by Vespasian.

    “But then again, what would we make of Paul’s claims that celibacy was a preferable state than marriage? Paul did warn against marriage “in the present circumstances” — presumably facing persecution. So if Jesus (who also faced persecution) was not married, is it not curious that Paul did not appeal to him as a model?”
    BM: “in the present circumstances” (1Cor7:26) refers to the near arrival of the kingdom, not persecutions (7:29,31). Furthermore never in 1Cor7 Paul defended his marital status and therefore did not need to bring Jesus’ example.
    Paul advocated celibacy and abstinence for married couples (because “this world is passing away”). But mentioning, as an example, an unmarried Jesus (reaching adulthood around 15 CE, some 40 years after Paul’s epistle!) would have created many doubts about the end being soon.
    And that’s one good reason Paul never had Jesus preaching the Kingdom is near (some 25 years before Paul’s time, when it still did not arrive!).

  • Anonymous

    Assuming that Doherty is attempting an argument from silence, then anything that breaks that silence endangers the argument. In this case we have an apparent break in the silence that requires a lot of explaining. I am used to arguments from silence where there is a silence not one where apparent breaks in the silence must be enplaned away.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think this is a good way of putting it: mythicism isn’t so much an argument from silence as an argument for silence. :-)

  • jgoodguy

    Assuming that Doherty is attempting an argument from silence, then anything that breaks that silence endangers the argument. In this case we have an apparent break in the silence that requires a lot of explaining. I am used to arguments from silence where there is a silence not one where apparent breaks in the silence must be enplaned away.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      I think this is a good way of putting it: mythicism isn’t so much an argument from silence as an argument for silence. :-)

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    James,
    Sorry, I don’t follow any of this carefully, but I have a question: Which of the mythicists do you think comes the closest to presenting the best arguments or doing the best historical criticisms. Even if you highly disrespect all of them, I am just curious.
    Thank you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Richard Carrier. I expect that he’ll eventually change his mind, since he is using mainstream historical methods, or where he finds them inadequate, actually trying to improve upon them. But even if he doesn’t, he’s taking historical questions seriously using historical methods, and my biggest regret is that a podcast he did on arguments mythicists shouldn’t use is no longer available to be listened to online.

    • Angie VanDeMerwe

      Just out of curiosity, and maybe you’d be interested in answering, Sabio, as an atheist,
      Are mythicists usually geared toward science, looking at the text, as a religious document as a religious “identifier”, while historicists are geared toward the text, itself? If so, how does one view the broader view of world history?

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    James,
    Sorry, I don’t follow any of this carefully, but I have a question: Which of the mythicists do you think comes the closest to presenting the best arguments or doing the best historical criticisms. Even if you highly disrespect all of them, I am just curious.
    Thank you.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Richard Carrier. I expect that he’ll eventually change his mind, since he is using mainstream historical methods, or where he finds them inadequate, actually trying to improve upon them. But even if he doesn’t, he’s taking historical questions seriously using historical methods, and my biggest regret is that a podcast he did on arguments mythicists shouldn’t use is no longer available to be listened to online.

    • Angie VanDeMerwe

      Just out of curiosity, and maybe you’d be interested in answering, Sabio, as an atheist,
      Are mythicists usually geared toward science, looking at the text, as a religious document as a religious “identifier”, while historicists are geared toward the text, itself? If so, how does one view the broader view of world history?

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    @ James
    (1) Thank you. That is what I was curious about. Perhaps you could do a simple post listing the main mythicists, linking to their sites and summarizing your eval of them as historians, bible scholars, and such.

    (2) Since your layered comments is turned off, may I suggest that you write “@” to the person you are addressing (or the equivalent) to guide readers when they visit. I wonder if Patheos can turn off the “reply” button at the bottom of each comment and just have “add a comment” at the end of the thread.

  • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

    @ James
    (1) Thank you. That is what I was curious about. Perhaps you could do a simple post listing the main mythicists, linking to their sites and summarizing your eval of them as historians, bible scholars, and such.

    (2) Since your layered comments is turned off, may I suggest that you write “@” to the person you are addressing (or the equivalent) to guide readers when they visit. I wonder if Patheos can turn off the “reply” button at the bottom of each comment and just have “add a comment” at the end of the thread.

  • Earl Doherty

    Thanks to Bernard for pointing out that “of” doesn’t mean “in’. That’s the usual level of his argumentation, which he thinks seals the case. And his ‘preferred’ translation for Phil. 1:14 demonstrates an arbitrary ignorance of the Greek.

    However, my point in that particular regard is that when you have a phrase clearly referring to fellow believers as brethren, as in “the majority of brothers in the Lord,” showing that a phrase of this nature was current to refer to the circles of the faith Paul moved in, it takes some pretty hefty blinders and eye-and-ear-covering denial to blithely say that a phrase like “brother of the Lord” with a slightly different preposition cannot possibly refer to a fellow-believer as well, especially in the face of the vast majority of usages of “brother” in the epistles to refer to a fellow-believer and not a sibling, in the face of a complete silence anywhere else that Christ Jesus had a sibling, even in the letters of James and Jude. And even in the face of a manuscript tradition which is two centuries removed from the autographs. Are we so confident than nothing has gone amiss in the nitty-gritty prepositions of either Galatians or Philippians in those 200 years?

    If you people want to snuggle up to Gal. 1:19 and less than a handful of other equally unreliable/ambiguous phrases, and blind yourselves to everything else in the record, be my guest. I have no compulsion to convert minds that are set in concrete. Or a “scholar” who reviews a book after reading 5% of it and deliberately implies that he has read and can discredit everything in it. Especially when he has done such a wretched job of that first 5%.

    Earl Doherty

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      If you object to my being swayed by the evidence so much so that I am unwilling to accept that one phrase means the same as another simply because some of the words are the same, that is your prerogative. But it remains the case that you are pretending Paul didn’t write what he wrote, or when you are not, you are insisting that because he only wrote a few things that disprove your claims, those things shouldn’t matter.

    • Anonymous

      I suppose the problem is that the orthodox text is available and any changes are not. Detecting changes without an original is challenging at the least. Yea I think there are changes but what they are without extensive evidence is problematical.

      Yea there are a heap of brothers that are not biological, but the plain text in 1:19 reads as it does. I may be in a church with a 1000 brothers and sisters in the lord and tire of saying brother or sister beyond endurance, but when I say this is the brother of x, no one doubts the family relationship.

      • Anonymous

        Yes, jgoodguy, and if Paul said James the brother of Jesus, then that would be a different sort of evidence. But of course, he doesn’t. He says James the brother of the Lord, which became in the orthodox tradition James Adelphotheos (not James Adelphoiesous or James Adelphokurious).

        • Mullerb

          As I said before, if Paul wrote “James the brother of Jesus”, I would be highly suspicious, because, in Galatians, Paul never wrote “Jesus” on its own, always with “Lord” or/and “Christ”. However, a few times, he called Jesus just “Lord”.

    • Mullerb

      Doherty wrote:
      “Thanks to Bernard for pointing out that “of” doesn’t mean “in’. That’s the usual level of his argumentation, which he thinks seals the case. And his ‘preferred’ translation for Phil. 1:14 demonstrates an arbitrary ignorance of the Greek.”

      Yes, you had to be reminded about it because you said “brother of the Lord” has the same meaning than “brother in the Lord”. And I do not think ‘of’ is a “slightly different preposition” of ‘in’.
      For “brother in the Lord” in Phil. 1:14, at first I accepted it, but during a debate with Richard Carrier on his blog, I was sternly told by him that did not show in the Greek for that verse. So if you have problem with that, please contact Richard (and the RSV, NASB & Darby people).

      Once again, you make an argument about a particular use of “brother” (=fellow Christian) which is in a vast majority. But in no way that precludes Paul used “brother(s)” in the more mondane meaning, just like he used “sister” both way.
      Since you cite ‘Acts’ for evidence, let’s note also it mentions Jesus’ mother and Jesus’ brothers in Jerusalem (1:14). So the author was not denying blood brothers of Jesus, rather the opposite.
      And you do not say anything about Josephus’ Antiquities XX, which also refers to James as a brother of Jesus called Christ. (BTW, Josephus as a young man was a contemporary of James (as an elderly man), and both living in Jerusalem at the same time for a period of several years.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Thanks to Bernard for pointing out that “of” doesn’t mean “in’. That’s the usual level of his argumentation, which he thinks seals the case. And his ‘preferred’ translation for Phil. 1:14 demonstrates an arbitrary ignorance of the Greek.

    However, my point in that particular regard is that when you have a phrase clearly referring to fellow believers as brethren, as in “the majority of brothers in the Lord,” showing that a phrase of this nature was current to refer to the circles of the faith Paul moved in, it takes some pretty hefty blinders and eye-and-ear-covering denial to blithely say that a phrase like “brother of the Lord” with a slightly different preposition cannot possibly refer to a fellow-believer as well, especially in the face of the vast majority of usages of “brother” in the epistles to refer to a fellow-believer and not a sibling, in the face of a complete silence anywhere else that Christ Jesus had a sibling, even in the letters of James and Jude. And even in the face of a manuscript tradition which is two centuries removed from the autographs. Are we so confident than nothing has gone amiss in the nitty-gritty prepositions of either Galatians or Philippians in those 200 years?

    If you people want to snuggle up to Gal. 1:19 and less than a handful of other equally unreliable/ambiguous phrases, and blind yourselves to everything else in the record, be my guest. I have no compulsion to convert minds that are set in concrete. Or a “scholar” who reviews a book after reading 5% of it and deliberately implies that he has read and can discredit everything in it. Especially when he has done such a wretched job of that first 5%.

    Earl Doherty

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      If you object to my being swayed by the evidence so much so that I am unwilling to accept that one phrase means the same as another simply because some of the words are the same, that is your prerogative. But it remains the case that you are pretending Paul didn’t write what he wrote, or when you are not, you are insisting that because he only wrote a few things that disprove your claims, those things shouldn’t matter.

    • jgoodguy

      I suppose the problem is that the orthodox text is available and any changes are not. Detecting changes without an original is challenging at the least. Yea I think there are changes but what they are without extensive evidence is problematical.

      Yea there are a heap of brothers that are not biological, but the plain text in 1:19 reads as it does. I may be in a church with a 1000 brothers and sisters in the lord and tire of saying brother or sister beyond endurance, but when I say this is the brother of x, no one doubts the family relationship.

      • beallen0417

        Yes, jgoodguy, and if Paul said James the brother of Jesus, then that would be a different sort of evidence. But of course, he doesn’t. He says James the brother of the Lord, which became in the orthodox tradition James Adelphotheos (not James Adelphoiesous or James Adelphokurious).

        • Mullerb

          As I said before, if Paul wrote “James the brother of Jesus”, I would be highly suspicious, because, in Galatians, Paul never wrote “Jesus” on its own, always with “Lord” or/and “Christ”. However, a few times, he called Jesus just “Lord”.

    • Mullerb

      Doherty wrote:
      “Thanks to Bernard for pointing out that “of” doesn’t mean “in’. That’s the usual level of his argumentation, which he thinks seals the case. And his ‘preferred’ translation for Phil. 1:14 demonstrates an arbitrary ignorance of the Greek.”

      Yes, you had to be reminded about it because you said “brother of the Lord” has the same meaning than “brother in the Lord”. And I do not think ‘of’ is a “slightly different preposition” of ‘in’.
      For “brother in the Lord” in Phil. 1:14, at first I accepted it, but during a debate with Richard Carrier on his blog, I was sternly told by him that did not show in the Greek for that verse. So if you have problem with that, please contact Richard (and the RSV, NASB & Darby people).

      Once again, you make an argument about a particular use of “brother” (=fellow Christian) which is in a vast majority. But in no way that precludes Paul used “brother(s)” in the more mondane meaning, just like he used “sister” both way.
      Since you cite ‘Acts’ for evidence, let’s note also it mentions Jesus’ mother and Jesus’ brothers in Jerusalem (1:14). So the author was not denying blood brothers of Jesus, rather the opposite.
      And you do not say anything about Josephus’ Antiquities XX, which also refers to James as a brother of Jesus called Christ. (BTW, Josephus as a young man was a contemporary of James (as an elderly man), and both living in Jerusalem at the same time for a period of several years.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Sabio, I’ve not yet found a way to eliminate the “reply” feature altogether, but once we all get into the habit of using @ I think it should be fine, whether some, all, or no people use it.

    If anyone has suggestions on working with Disqus comments to facilitate conversations, let me know!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Sabio, I’ve not yet found a way to eliminate the “reply” feature altogether, but once we all get into the habit of using @ I think it should be fine, whether some, all, or no people use it.

    If anyone has suggestions on working with Disqus comments to facilitate conversations, let me know!

  • VinnyJH

    That Jesus and all his earliest followers, including Paul, were Jewish
    and had been circumcised when they were eight days old was not relevant
    to resolving that issue, for reasons that should be obvious.

    I am afraid that the reasons are not obvious to me.  While I understand that Paul did not believe that it was relevant, it is difficult for me to conceive that the proponents of circumcision would not have thought it was relevant and would not have cited it in their support, much the same way the Pope continues to cite the fact that all the apostles were men as proof that women can’t be priests.  Had Paul believed those proponents to be men who had actually been disciples of the Lord during his earthly ministry, I don’t think he could have gotten away with dismissing them as cavalierly as he does in Galatians.  This is a point on which I find the historicists’ arguments pretty weak.

  • VinnyJH

    That Jesus and all his earliest followers, including Paul, were Jewish
    and had been circumcised when they were eight days old was not relevant
    to resolving that issue, for reasons that should be obvious.

    I am afraid that the reasons are not obvious to me.  While I understand that Paul did not believe that it was relevant, it is difficult for me to conceive that the proponents of circumcision would not have thought it was relevant and would not have cited it in their support, much the same way the Pope continues to cite the fact that all the apostles were men as proof that women can’t be priests.  Had Paul believed those proponents to be men who had actually been disciples of the Lord during his earthly ministry, I don’t think he could have gotten away with dismissing them as cavalierly as he does in Galatians.  This is a point on which I find the historicists’ arguments pretty weak.

  • VinnyJH

    But this is true of pretty much all our ancient
    texts, and so unless one is going to propose a moratorium on all historical
    reconstruction, historians must continue to draw the best conclusions they can
    based on the evidence available.

     

    One need not propose a moratorium on all historical
    reconstructions.  However, one might be
    justly skeptical of reconstructions that are insufficiently robust to withstand
    the possibility of a single verse being an interpolation.  As far as I can see, the reference to James
    as the brother of the Lord is the only verse that goes to establishing Paul’s
    belief that a contemporary of his had encountered Jesus prior to the
    resurrection.

    • Mullerb

      But if it is accepted that Paul wrote Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites and a woman (which he did), then that Jesus would have encountered others.
      Paul was not a historian. He never intended to write the history of Jesus. His only interest was about Jesus being crucified as Christ and then resurrected (spiritually). And if Paul wrote or implied Jesus was human (and a man, poor, under the Law, had a brother named James & servant of the Jews), that allows for a critical/skeptical examination of the gospels in order to find reliable data within the fiction in order to make a comprehensive reconstruction. And that’s the simplest way to explain how Christianity started and a rustic Jew got into it. 

      • VinnyJH

        Mullerb,

        Suppose that my earliest source for the existence of Sitting Bull was a man whose only contact with Sitting Bull was an encounter with his ghost.  Further suppose that this man didn’t know anyone who knew the living Sitting Bull, but only knew other people who had encountered his ghost.  Further suppose that this sourced did not demonstrate any knowledge of when or where Sitting Bull lived or died or what he had said or done during his life.  Would such a source help me to determine whether Sitting Bull was an actual historical person rather than a legendary figure?

        These seem to me to be the kinds of problems posed by our earliest source for Jesus.

        • Anonymous

          I’d suggest another example is analyzing dime western novels of the late 19th century for actual history.  In fact a worthwhile project might be to apply various HJ methodologies to that genre of literature and see what the result is.

        • Anonymous

          I’d suggest another example is analyzing dime western novels of the late 19th century for actual history.  In fact a worthwhile project might be to apply various HJ methodologies to that genre of literature and see what the result is.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          VinnyJH wrote:

          “Suppose that
          my earliest source for the existence of Sitting Bull was a man whose
          only contact with Sitting Bull was an encounter with his ghost.”

          BM: Paul did say
          he encountered Jesus’ brother James, not only the heavenly Jesus.
          Paul also said Jesus was a servant to the Jews, who in these days,
          were living on earth. Some of those Jews were likely to transmit
          info about him.

          “Further
          suppose that this man didn’t know anyone who knew the living Sitting
          Bull, but only knew other people who had encountered his ghost.”

          BM: How can you
          postulate Paul did not know anyone who knew HJ? Here is a passage
          which indicates Paul and his Christians had learned about a wordly
          Jesus:

          DARBY 2Cor5:16-17
          ” … and even if *we* have known['ginosko' (come to know,
          understand), Greek perfect indicative: at some time in the past]`
          Christ according to the flesh,[reference to some worldly
          knowledge/understanding about Jesus]` yet now we know ['ginosko']
          no longer. So if any one in Christ, a new creation; the old things
          have passed away; behold all things have become new.”
           

          “Further suppose
          that this source did not demonstrate any knowledge of when or where
          Sitting Bull lived or died or what he had said or done during his
          life. Would such a source help me to determine whether Sitting Bull
          was an actual historical person rather than a legendary figure?”

          BM: And what would
          be the motivation of Paul to say that in his epistles? Do you think
          his Christians did not know already some basic facts about Jesus? My
          previous quote says otherwise. And why should we limit ourselves to
          Paul, and not look at a gospel written only 15 years later?

          And Paul alluded
          HJ got sacrificed in “Zion”. See

          http://historical-jesus.info/djp1.html#skandalon

          And my position is
          HJ did not do anything spectacular (or even was a teacher) except he
          was crucified as Christ (which we hear a lot of the later from
          Paul!).

          • VinnyJH

            Bernard,

            If there was a historical person behind the Jesus of the gospels, it is likely that some of the Jews who knew him transmitted information to Paul and it is likely that Paul’s Christians knew some basic facts about him.  
            I just don’t think that much in Paul helps us establish that there was such a historical person.  Being a “servant of the Jews” could refer to someone who lived at a lot of different times and a lot of different places.  In 2 Cor 5:16-17, Paul says “we” have known thereby including himself.  I would assume therefore that he is referring to some sort of spiritual relationship.

            I don’t think that we need limit ourselves to Paul’s letters, but neither can we assume that Paul’s understanding was the same as those who wrote later (or even earlier necessarily).  Our best evidence for what Paul and his Christians thought and knew is what Paul himself wrote.
             

  • VinnyJH

    But this is true of pretty much all our ancient
    texts, and so unless one is going to propose a moratorium on all historical
    reconstruction, historians must continue to draw the best conclusions they can
    based on the evidence available.

     

    One need not propose a moratorium on all historical
    reconstructions.  However, one might be
    justly skeptical of reconstructions that are insufficiently robust to withstand
    the possibility of a single verse being an interpolation.  As far as I can see, the reference to James
    as the brother of the Lord is the only verse that goes to establishing Paul’s
    belief that a contemporary of his had encountered Jesus prior to the
    resurrection.

    • Mullerb

      But if it is accepted that Paul wrote Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites and a woman (which he did), then that Jesus would have encountered others.
      Paul was not a historian. He never intended to write the history of Jesus. His only interest was about Jesus being crucified as Christ and then resurrected (spiritually). And if Paul wrote or implied Jesus was human (and a man, poor, under the Law, had a brother named James & servant of the Jews), that allows for a critical/skeptical examination of the gospels in order to find reliable data within the fiction in order to make a comprehensive reconstruction. And that’s the simplest way to explain how Christianity started and a rustic Jew got into it. 

      • VinnyJH

        Mullerb,

        Suppose that my earliest source for the existence of Sitting Bull was a man whose only contact with Sitting Bull was an encounter with his ghost.  Further suppose that this man didn’t know anyone who knew the living Sitting Bull, but only knew other people who had encountered his ghost.  Further suppose that this sourced did not demonstrate any knowledge of when or where Sitting Bull lived or died or what he had said or done during his life.  Would such a source help me to determine whether Sitting Bull was an actual historical person rather than a legendary figure?

        These seem to me to be the kinds of problems posed by our earliest source for Jesus.

        • jgoodguy

          I’d suggest another example is analyzing dime western novels of the late 19th century for actual history.  In fact a worthwhile project might be to apply various HJ methodologies to that genre of literature and see what the result is.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          VinnyJH wrote:

          “Suppose that my earliest source for the existence of Sitting Bull was a man whose only contact with Sitting Bull was an encounter with his ghost.”

          BM: Paul did say he encountered Jesus’ brother James, not only the heavenly Jesus.
          Paul also said Jesus was a servant to the Jews, who in these days, were living on earth. Some of those Jews were likely to transmit info about him.

          “Further suppose that this man didn’t know anyone who knew the living Sitting Bull, but only knew other people who had encountered his ghost.”

          BM: How can you postulate Paul did not know anyone who knew HJ? Here is a passage which indicates Paul and his Christians had learned about a wordly Jesus:
          DARBY 2Cor5:16-17
          ” … and even if *we* have known['ginosko' (come to know, understand), Greek perfect indicative: at some time in the past]
          ` Christ according to the flesh,[reference to some worldly
          knowledge/understanding about Jesus]
          ` yet now we know ['ginosko'] no longer. So if any one in Christ, a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new.”

          “Further suppose that this source did not demonstrate any knowledge of when or where Sitting Bull lived or died or what he had said or done during his life. Would such a source help me to determine whether Sitting Bull was an actual historical person rather than a legendary figure?”

          BM: And what would be the motivation of Paul to say that in his epistles? Do you think his Christians did not know already some basic facts about Jesus? My previous quote says otherwise. And why should we limit ourselves to
          Paul, and not look at a gospel written only 15 years later?
          And Paul alluded HJ got sacrificed in “Zion”. See
          http://historical-jesus.info/djp1.html#skandalon
          And my position is HJ did not do anything spectacular (or even was a teacher) except he was crucified as Christ (which we hear a lot from Paul!).

          • VinnyJH

            Bernard,

            If there was a historical person behind the Jesus of the gospels, it is likely that some of the Jews who knew him transmitted information to Paul and it is likely that Paul’s Christians knew some basic facts about him.  
            I just don’t think that much in Paul helps us establish that there was such a historical person.  Being a “servant of the Jews” could refer to someone who lived at a lot of different times and a lot of different places.  In 2 Cor 5:16-17, Paul says “we” have known thereby including himself.  I would assume therefore that he is referring to some sort of spiritual relationship.

            I don’t think that we need limit ourselves to Paul’s letters, but neither can we assume that Paul’s understanding was the same as those who wrote later (or even earlier necessarily).  Our best evidence for what Paul and his Christians thought and knew is what Paul himself wrote.
             

  • Mullerb

    I suppose Judeazers could say to Gentile Christians: Get circumcised because Jesus was. What could Paul answer? Don’t get circumcised because Jesus was (self-defeating, absurd!). Of course if Jesus had not been circumcised, Paul would have an excellent & strong argument against those Judeazers trying to circumcise his Gentile converts. 

  • Mullerb

    I suppose Judeazers could say to Gentile Christians: Get circumcised because Jesus was. What could Paul answer? Don’t get circumcised because Jesus was (self-defeating, absurd!). Of course if Jesus had not been circumcised, Paul would have an excellent & strong argument against those Judeazers trying to circumcise his Gentile converts. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    God, the new site is awesome. Its like a costume party! getting to figure out who everybody is. Beallen, what would this place be with out your zany irrelevant commentary!

    On the issue of of the discrediting the book at 5% in, One should try to hook the reader into reading to the finish, especially if 6 chapters is only 5% of the the book! Vridar of course has been doing his part to put Doherty’s argument in the best light

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    God, the new site is awesome. Its like a costume party! getting to figure out who everybody is. Beallen, what would this place be with out your zany irrelevant commentary!

    On the issue of of the discrediting the book at 5% in, One should try to hook the reader into reading to the finish, especially if 6 chapters is only 5% of the the book! Vridar of course has been doing his part to put Doherty’s argument in the best light, but even there, the arguments don’t work, and when you point out why, he just tells you you have read him wrong. It’s like the magic picture you have to stare at cross eyed to see a sail boat.

    I presume later we will get the sub lunar real business, and that may be fun, but the set up to why we should seek a mythic understanding of Christian origins has so far failed to offer a reason to suspect one. Its all based on false premises. The earliest text don’t present Jesus as God, they do present him as a human in history, early Christian text rarely made use of the deeds or words of Jesus, even when we know they were aware of such traditions and accepted those traditions.

  • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

    Has anyone ever noticed that “Brother of the Lord” occurs in a area talking about James. Has anyone ever talked to Robert Eisenman to see if he believes this phrase was original, or… if it could simply have been added. I know that he has written extensively on his view that James was a critical character in Judaism of that time. And that the Jesus cult tried to write James out, or minimize him wherever possible. It does not seem unreasonable to me for this phrase (brother of the Lord) to have been added at a later time, in an attempt to redirect the attention of the reader that this portion of Josephus is actually about James. We know that other than this Josephus copies have only a single other reference to Jesus, which is acknowledged to be a later addition by the Christian Church.

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

    Has anyone ever noticed that “Brother of the Lord” occurs in a area talking about James. Has anyone ever talked to Robert Eisenman to see if he believes this phrase was original, or… if it could simply have been added. I know that he has written extensively on his view that James was a critical character in Judaism of that time. And that the Jesus cult tried to write James out, or minimize him wherever possible. It does not seem unreasonable to me for this phrase (brother of the Lord) to have been added at a later time, in an attempt to redirect the attention of the reader that this portion of Josephus is actually about James. We know that other than this Josephus copies have only a single other reference to Jesus, which is acknowledged to be a later addition by the Christian Church.

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • Earl Doherty

    This posting contains a typical McGrath pseudo-argument:
    Doherty does not take into account that evidence he is examining can actually
    be used to argue for historicity, as for example the declaration by Ignatius of
    certain Gospel-like biographical data for an historical Jesus. Duh. I hardly
    need to make the point that such evidence IS used by historicists to argue for
    Jesus being historical. That’s a given. And we know that Ignatius (or whoever
    might have forged the letters in his name a little after his death) does
    believe in an historical Jesus. What I am doing is examining that evidence to
    see if he was right, as well as whether historicists are justified in their
    conclusions from such evidence. I’m sure Copernicus addressed astronomical evidence
    for the Ptolemaic system which adherents to the latter would have argued was
    evidence for their own geocentric convictions. If Copernicus reinterpreted
    those observations in a different direction, in favor of a solar-centric
    universe, was he “failing to take into account evidence” for Ptolemy, of not
    acknowledging such evidence as being against his new astronomical paradigm and
    in favor of Ptolemy?

     

    Now, in this chapter I am examining a range of Gospel
    biography to see who “knew what and when,” to see where are the earliest signs
    of any biographical knowledge attached to the Christian Jesus and what the
    pervasive silence on this bio data should indicate. Here I spend two pages on
    Ignatius, but later in the book I spend an entire chapter on him, and I alert
    the reader not only to this fact, but inform him/her that I will be addressing
    my view that Ignatius’ has opponents who are docetist as well as opponents that
    are rejecting Ignatius’ historicism. McGrath is so far totally ignorant of that
    later discussion, so of course he makes no attempt to rebut it but simply
    declares in favor of his traditional paradigm. This shows the folly of
    ‘reviewing’ a book before reading it in its entirety.

     

    And once again I have to point out that I am not addressing
    this book solely or even primarily to critical scholarship, so I am going to be
    dealing as well with silences on things which critical scholarship, in its
    commendable wisdom, has already rejected as historical.

     

    I am pleased that Jim has in fact not chosen to throw in the
    towel yet. I will make further comments on his ‘review’ of this chapter in the
    next day or two.

     

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

      Hey Earl, Would be great if you register with Disqus. Then folks like me can “follow” you. Disqus has a “follow” option similar to twitter and facebook, but… one has to be “registered” before another person can follow them.

      Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • Earl Doherty

    This posting contains a typical McGrath pseudo-argument:
    Doherty does not take into account that evidence he is examining can actually
    be used to argue for historicity, as for example the declaration by Ignatius of
    certain Gospel-like biographical data for an historical Jesus. Duh. I hardly
    need to make the point that such evidence IS used by historicists to argue for
    Jesus being historical. That’s a given. And we know that Ignatius (or whoever
    might have forged the letters in his name a little after his death) does
    believe in an historical Jesus. What I am doing is examining that evidence to
    see if he was right, as well as whether historicists are justified in their
    conclusions from such evidence. I’m sure Copernicus addressed astronomical evidence
    for the Ptolemaic system which adherents to the latter would have argued was
    evidence for their own geocentric convictions. If Copernicus reinterpreted
    those observations in a different direction, in favor of a solar-centric
    universe, was he “failing to take into account evidence” for Ptolemy, of not
    acknowledging such evidence as being against his new astronomical paradigm and
    in favor of Ptolemy?

     

    Now, in this chapter I am examining a range of Gospel
    biography to see who “knew what and when,” to see where are the earliest signs
    of any biographical knowledge attached to the Christian Jesus and what the
    pervasive silence on this bio data should indicate. Here I spend two pages on
    Ignatius, but later in the book I spend an entire chapter on him, and I alert
    the reader not only to this fact, but inform him/her that I will be addressing
    my view that Ignatius’ has opponents who are docetist as well as opponents that
    are rejecting Ignatius’ historicism. McGrath is so far totally ignorant of that
    later discussion, so of course he makes no attempt to rebut it but simply
    declares in favor of his traditional paradigm. This shows the folly of
    ‘reviewing’ a book before reading it in its entirety.

     

    And once again I have to point out that I am not addressing
    this book solely or even primarily to critical scholarship, so I am going to be
    dealing as well with silences on things which critical scholarship, in its
    commendable wisdom, has already rejected as historical.

     

    I am pleased that Jim has in fact not chosen to throw in the
    towel yet. I will make further comments on his ‘review’ of this chapter in the
    next day or two.

     

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

      Hey Earl, Would be great if you register with Disqus. Then folks like me can “follow” you. Disqus has a “follow” option similar to twitter and facebook, but… one has to be “registered” before another person can follow them.

      Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • Earl Doherty

    I don’t know why the above post turned out so wretchedly with broken lines and widely separated paragraphs. My apologies for technological workings I evidently have no control over.

    Earl Doherty

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

       Earl, It is most likely because you wrote your post in something else, and then pasted it into here. Disqus replace new line and return characters with the html BR character. So if you are working on a system that use RETURN and NEWLINE as the end of line mechanism (windows I believe) you get double spacing between paragraphs, because Disqus replaces BOTH with a BR. You can change whatever editor you are writing in to use UNIX end of lines, and I think that takes care of the problem, since they use just the one character for an end of line. BTW… Disqus has a very sophisticated mechanism for keeping track of the text you input BEFORE you hit post, and it is almost impossible to loose it. You can come off the browser page, and return to this page, and the text you were working on will be there just as you left it. So… if you are writing in some editor and pasting it in here cause you don’t want to lose your work, you may not even have to worry about that. Just type your stuff right in here, and then copy it OUT if you want a backup, instead of writing outside and pasting it in. That will make sure you don’t get double spaces between your paragraphs too.

      Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • Earl Doherty

    I don’t know why the above post turned out so wretchedly with broken lines and widely separated paragraphs. My apologies for technological workings I evidently have no control over.

    Earl Doherty

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

       Earl, It is most likely because you wrote your post in something else, and then pasted it into here. Disqus replace new line and return characters with the html BR character. So if you are working on a system that use RETURN and NEWLINE as the end of line mechanism (windows I believe) you get double spacing between paragraphs, because Disqus replaces BOTH with a BR. You can change whatever editor you are writing in to use UNIX end of lines, and I think that takes care of the problem, since they use just the one character for an end of line. BTW… Disqus has a very sophisticated mechanism for keeping track of the text you input BEFORE you hit post, and it is almost impossible to loose it. You can come off the browser page, and return to this page, and the text you were working on will be there just as you left it. So… if you are writing in some editor and pasting it in here cause you don’t want to lose your work, you may not even have to worry about that. Just type your stuff right in here, and then copy it OUT if you want a backup, instead of writing outside and pasting it in. That will make sure you don’t get double spaces between your paragraphs too.

      Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, after looking through Vridars post on chapeter 6, i may have misunderstood the focus of his presentation of Ignatius. While Neil seems to emphasise that Ignatius is arguing for a historical Christ (“he pleads that Jesus “really was” the son of Mary, “really was” born, “really was” crucified under Pilate. Ignatius appears to be arguing for the very literal historicity of Jesus Christ.”), which give the impression that this is to counter possible Christ Mythers of his day, that doeasn’t seem to be the point of the rest of the argument. it seems to be that Ignatius seems to be unaware of the gospels because he doesn’t cite them to support his claims.

    #1. Does

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, after looking through Vridars post on chapter 6, i may have misunderstood the focus of his presentation of Ignatius. While Neil seems to emphasis that Ignatius is arguing for a historical Christ (“he pleads that Jesus “really was” the son of Mary, “really was” born, “really was” crucified under Pilate. Ignatius appears to be arguing for the very literal historicity of Jesus Christ.”), which give the impression that this is to counter possible Christ Mythers of his day, that doesn’t seem to be the point of the rest of the argument. it seems to be that Ignatius seems to be unaware of the gospels because he doesn’t cite them to support his claims.

    #1. James, does Doherty use this as an argument that Ignatius is combating mythicism? Your post seemed to imply that, as did Vridar.
    #2. Why would Ignatius use gospels to support his claim? They don’t seem to have a lot of authority in their early history, as Luke and Matthew feel free to make a number of alterations. and of course by this time you may well have how many gospels in circulation, maybe one for every congregation. I’m not sure how authoritative that would be. Ignatius would have been only a generation or two removed from Peter and Paul, and one gets the impression that in the early years bishops were expected to know the traditions that were handed to them by the apostles, not look them up in somebody’s book.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    You know, I was looking though Ignatius’ letters, having thought that it may be interesting to do again, keeping in mind he is a near contemporary with Luke and John.

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

      Hello Michael, what do you think are the dates of Ignatius writing. I understand his life to have run from 38-108CE. I have been studying early Christianity for about 20 years now. I am always happy to meet others to discuss it with online. Disqus is a good tool that expands commenting outside of a single blog, and creates an environment more like a BBS or IRC network. I am a retired computer professional, and now instead of having to build systems, I now get to use them to talk with people about the interests that I also now can give more time to enjoying.

      I like keeping track of various ideas about how early Christianity grew. I am not a supernaturalist, but study the subject as a historian. As I said, I am always looking for others that are also interested in the historical study of the origins and growth. I have been particularly interested in Irenaeus and his time in the last few months.

      Happy to talk more.

      Cheers!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        Rich, I have the same appx time line for his life, which seems roughly accurate, though I suspect the life spans of these people grew over the years, to connect them as close to Jesus as possible, but dying in the time of Trajan and being born in the early days of Christianity seems likely. Bernard Muller has a case for the letters being forgeries to strengthen the authority of a number of Bishops by appealing to a revered figure of the recent past. I haven’t looked at in depth, and so far as I know, the letters are regarded as genuine by most, so that’s how I treat them, I’ll see if if I have a different opinion after Bernard’s article.

        • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

          Hello Michael, So… if Ignatius lived from 38-108CE, how old do you think he was when he wrote the texts you are reading? And therefore what you do you see these texts being written in? Let’s say he was 50 when he wrote, that would make the writings date at 88CE. I just made up the at 50. What age do you think he was? and/or what year do you see the text as written in?

          Ignatius is some of our earliest texts. There are few acknowledge historical figures in christianity before him. So we can almost start to date the beginning of Christianity at that time.

          For example, Papias, or even Polycarp seem almost legendary figures, we certainly don’t know much if anything about them from a historical stand point. Basically everything we THINK we know about them is a carry over from Church legends and dogma.

          One of the things that interests me is trying to separate that very early period of historically demonstratable vs not historically demonstrateable figures in the early Christian legends. Then, I try to use only the data available on those demonstratably historical people to try to understand where, why, and how early Christianity started.

          I always enjoy hearing what different people think, and how different people try to explain early Christianity. I avoid getting into any supernaturalism discussions or arguments, and approach the subject only from a historical stand point.

          If that is the kind of thing that also interests you, or anyone else, I am happy to continue ongoing conversatons, either here, or on some other disqus forum, or even via email or IM, etc…

          Cheers!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, I was looking though Ignatius’ letters, having thought that it may be interesting to do again, keeping in mind he is a near contemporary with Luke and John. I noticed in his letter to the Smyrnaens he uses the phrase “baptized by John for His fulfilling of all righteousness”. The phrase “to fulfill Righteousness, is one specifically from Matthew. It isn’t in Mark or Luke. It is Matthew’s attempt to explain that Jesus doesn’t need his sins forgiven. I think it raises the likelihood that Matthew and Mark were around in his time. It is one thing to argue that his knowledge of the baptism of Jesus is from a source independent of the gospels, but this seems like a very specific line, and one that seems to have been invented in reaction to another gospel. What do you think James?

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

      Hello Michael, what do you think are the dates of Ignatius writing. I understand his life to have run from 38-108CE. I have been studying early Christianity for about 20 years now. I am always happy to meet others to discuss it with online. Disqus is a good tool that expands commenting outside of a single blog, and creates an environment more like a BBS or IRC network. I am a retired computer professional, and now instead of having to build systems, I now get to use them to talk with people about the interests that I also now can give more time to enjoying.

      I like keeping track of various ideas about how early Christianity grew. I am not a supernaturalist, but study the subject as a historian. As I said, I am always looking for others that are also interested in the historical study of the origins and growth. I have been particularly interested in Irenaeus and his time in the last few months.

      Happy to talk more.

      Cheers!

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        Rich, I have the same appx time line for his life, which seems roughly accurate, though I suspect the life spans of these people grew over the years, to connect them as close to Jesus as possible, but dying in the time of Trajan and being born in the early days of Christianity seems likely. Bernard Muller has a case for the letters being forgeries to strengthen the authority of a number of Bishops by appealing to a revered figure of the recent past. I haven’t looked at in depth, and so far as I know, the letters are regarded as genuine by most, so that’s how I treat them, I’ll see if if I have a different opinion after Bernard’s article.

        • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

          Hello Michael, So… if Ignatius lived from 38-108CE, how old do you think he was when he wrote the texts you are reading? And therefore what you do you see these texts being written in? Let’s say he was 50 when he wrote, that would make the writings date at 88CE. I just made up the at 50. What age do you think he was? and/or what year do you see the text as written in?

          Ignatius is some of our earliest texts. There are few acknowledge historical figures in christianity before him. So we can almost start to date the beginning of Christianity at that time.

          For example, Papias, or even Polycarp seem almost legendary figures, we certainly don’t know much if anything about them from a historical stand point. Basically everything we THINK we know about them is a carry over from Church legends and dogma.

          One of the things that interests me is trying to separate that very early period of historically demonstratable vs not historically demonstrateable figures in the early Christian legends. Then, I try to use only the data available on those demonstratably historical people to try to understand where, why, and how early Christianity started.

          I always enjoy hearing what different people think, and how different people try to explain early Christianity. I avoid getting into any supernaturalism discussions or arguments, and approach the subject only from a historical stand point.

          If that is the kind of thing that also interests you, or anyone else, I am happy to continue ongoing conversatons, either here, or on some other disqus forum, or even via email or IM, etc…

          Cheers!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @RichGriese, if we are free to simply posit interpolations and tamperings simply because the text as it stands doesn’t support our viewpoint, then by all means let’s all play that game! I can just respond then by saying that Docetists excised an even larger number of mentions of Jesus’ life and teaching from Paul’s letters! :-)

    But I don’t really want to play that game. Those are tactics used by apologists, and not appropriate to the scholarly investigation of the historical Jesus. If you want to engage conservative Christian apologists with the same sorts of arguments they use, there are plenty of other sites for that. Here, I’m interested in the application of the methods of historical critical scholarship to what we can know about Jesus.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @RichGriese, if we are free to simply posit interpolations and tamperings simply because the text as it stands doesn’t support our viewpoint, then by all means let’s all play that game! I can just respond then by saying that Docetists excised an even larger number of mentions of Jesus’ life and teaching from Paul’s letters! :-)

    But I don’t really want to play that game. Those are tactics used by apologists, and not appropriate to the scholarly investigation of the historical Jesus. If you want to engage conservative Christian apologists with the same sorts of arguments they use, there are plenty of other sites for that. Here, I’m interested in the application of the methods of historical critical scholarship to what we can know about Jesus.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Vinny, I don’t think this is the only verse that refers to a historical Jesus. Do you find Doherty’s attempts to rerlocate the birth, bleeding, suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?

    @beallen0417, Doherty and other mythicists are not saying that we only have so little reliable information that we cannot write a good biography. They are saying that it is (as far as details about the life of Jesus are concned) 100% fictional, whether derived from earlier myths, Scripture, or inspired by some other real or historical figure. Is that your viewpoint? Is your stance that we know less than we’d like to, or are you doing what creationists do, and pointing to things we do not know as though they are evidence that we don’t know anything?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Vinny, I don’t think this is the only verse that refers to a historical Jesus. Do you find Doherty’s attempts to rerlocate the birth, bleeding, suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?

    @beallen0417, Doherty and other mythicists are not saying that we only have so little reliable information that we cannot write a good biography. They are saying that it is (as far as details about the life of Jesus are concned) 100% fictional, whether derived from earlier myths, Scripture, or inspired by some other real or historical figure. Is that your viewpoint? Is your stance that we know less than we’d like to, or are you doing what creationists do, and pointing to things we do not know as though they are evidence that we don’t know anything?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @MikeWilson, I regarded Doherty’s introduction of Ignatius to possibly be hinting at two things, at least one of which, if I remember correctly from the first edition of the book, Doherty tackles later on. If Ignatius didn’t know written Gospels, then they may have been composed by his time, but they were at least relatively recent. And so that maximizes the gap between Paul and the works that turned Jesus into a historical figure. I could also see Doherty trying to do with Ignatius what Morton Smith did with Clement’s let term namely treat the opponents as representing the more original viewpoint. But the big problem is that the Docetists we hear of were not people who denied that Jesus appeared in history, but people who denied that he was fully human, which makes sense on the mainstream scholarly reconstruction of Christian development, since Jesus was not originally viewed as divine, and he increasingly came to be so viewed, then he was also increasingly viewed as being untouched by human weakness and frailty.

    Since Earl Doherty himself is here, I happily defer to him to clarify what he meant.

    As for the book review on Amazon, if it turns out that the revised and “improved” edition of the book is radically different from the first five chapters, I’ll gladly offer a retraction, even though the first five chapters are such bunk.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @MikeWilson, I regarded Doherty’s introduction of Ignatius to possibly be hinting at two things, at least one of which, if I remember correctly from the first edition of the book, Doherty tackles later on. If Ignatius didn’t know written Gospels, then they may have been composed by his time, but they were at least relatively recent. And so that maximizes the gap between Paul and the works that turned Jesus into a historical figure. I could also see Doherty trying to do with Ignatius what Morton Smith did with Clement’s let term namely treat the opponents as representing the more original viewpoint. But the big problem is that the Docetists we hear of were not people who denied that Jesus appeared in history, but people who denied that he was fully human, which makes sense on the mainstream scholarly reconstruction of Christian development, since Jesus was not originally viewed as divine, and he increasingly came to be so viewed, then he was also increasingly viewed as being untouched by human weakness and frailty.

    Since Earl Doherty himself is here, I happily defer to him to clarify what he meant.

    As for the book review on Amazon, if it turns out that the revised and “improved” edition of the book is radically different from the first five chapters, I’ll gladly offer a retraction, even though the first five chapters are such bunk.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Sabio, I don’t know whether the 10/90% idea is helpful. Personally, I think it gives a false impression on both sides of the slash. In historical study (not just the historical study of Jesus) the things that we are confident about are not absolutely certain so that no new evidence could ever require us to revise our thinking. And of that 90% that has a still lesser degree of certainty, I think that there is material for which a good case for historical authenticity can be made. And so we might need more than two categories to group material into, and the divides between them would be rather arbitrary – like the half a point in a humanities class that gets you a B+ rather than an A-.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Sabio, I don’t know whether the 10/90% idea is helpful. Personally, I think it gives a false impression on both sides of the slash. In historical study (not just the historical study of Jesus) the things that we are confident about are not absolutely certain so that no new evidence could ever require us to revise our thinking. And of that 90% that has a still lesser degree of certainty, I think that there is material for which a good case for historical authenticity can be made. And so we might need more than two categories to group material into, and the divides between them would be rather arbitrary – like the half a point in a humanities class that gets you a B+ rather than an A-.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, again I ask, why is it that much later Christian doctrine is cited as evidence when it supports mythicism, but not as late Christian sources are set aside when they provide evidence for a historical Jesus? Selective use of evidence for the purpose of apologetics shouldn’t persuade anyone.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath, later Christian doctrine is not being cited as evidence that “supports” mythicism. It’s being cited as evidence that there was no uniform understanding of the text that you are using to prooftext the historical Jesus.

      You should be able to understand this. You don’t think that Mark was written in 40 CE (at least I hope you don’t), but you are happy to cite someone who does when you criticize Doherty, and you do this with the intent to show that there is a variety of opinions, some of which if they are true, are falsifiers for Doherty’s thesis.

      It is obvious think someone would have to be a fringe-thinker to read Galatians 1:19 differently than you do, but Christians of the 3rd century did not see the plain text meaning the same way that you do.

      Of course 3rd century proto-Orthodox Christians like Origen believed in a historical Jesus, but they believed the gospels were sober histories as well. You obviously don’t believe that and yet you are trying to show that there is only one possible reading of Galatians 1:19 and anyone who says otherwise is crazy.

      This, of course, means that you think the Catholic church is crazy … which is the norm among the young-earth creationist, fundamentalist, Jesus historicist camp.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, again I ask, why is it that much later Christian doctrine is cited as evidence when it supports mythicism, but not as late Christian sources are set aside when they provide evidence for a historical Jesus? Selective use of evidence for the purpose of apologetics shouldn’t persuade anyone.

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath, later Christian doctrine is not being cited as evidence that “supports” mythicism. It’s being cited as evidence that there was no uniform understanding of the text that you are using to prooftext the historical Jesus.

      You should be able to understand this. You don’t think that Mark was written in 40 CE (at least I hope you don’t), but you are happy to cite someone who does when you criticize Doherty, and you do this with the intent to show that there is a variety of opinions, some of which if they are true, are falsifiers for Doherty’s thesis.

      It is obvious think someone would have to be a fringe-thinker to read Galatians 1:19 differently than you do, but Christians of the 3rd century did not see the plain text meaning the same way that you do.

      Of course 3rd century proto-Orthodox Christians like Origen believed in a historical Jesus, but they believed the gospels were sober histories as well. You obviously don’t believe that and yet you are trying to show that there is only one possible reading of Galatians 1:19 and anyone who says otherwise is crazy.

      This, of course, means that you think the Catholic church is crazy … which is the norm among the young-earth creationist, fundamentalist, Jesus historicist camp.

  • VinnyJH

    @Vinny, I don’t think this is the only verse that refers to a historical
    Jesus. Do you find Doherty’s attempts to rerlocate the birth, bleeding,
    suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?

    I think I was very careful in the way I phrased my comment:  This seems to be the only verse that goes to establishing Paul’s belief that any contemporary of his had encountered Jesus prior to the resurrection.  I agree that there are other verses that point to Paul’s Jesus being human, but I don’t think that is sufficient to establish that Paul’s Jesus was historical.

    I am agnostic about the historical Jesus in large part because I don’t find much in Paul or the other early epistles to indicate that the human Jesus was someone who was personally known to anyone within the community prior to his crucifixion.  Absent your preferred reading of “the brother of the Lord,” the only point of contact seems to the have been with an exalted heavenly being. 

    I haven’t read Doherty so I cannot say whether I would find it persuasive or not.  If I did, I am sure that I would have to do an awful lot of independent research before I could reach a conclusion.  I suspect that I would decide that the problems with the sources pose at least as big an obstacle to a positive mythicist case as they do to a positive historicist case.

  • VinnyJH

    @Vinny, I don’t think this is the only verse that refers to a historical
    Jesus. Do you find Doherty’s attempts to rerlocate the birth, bleeding,
    suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?

    I think I was very careful in the way I phrased my comment:  This seems to be the only verse that goes to establishing Paul’s belief that any contemporary of his had encountered Jesus prior to the resurrection.  I agree that there are other verses that point to Paul’s Jesus being human, but I don’t think that is sufficient to establish that Paul’s Jesus was historical.

    I am agnostic about the historical Jesus in large part because I don’t find much in Paul or the other early epistles to indicate that the human Jesus was someone who was personally known to anyone within the community prior to his crucifixion.  Absent your preferred reading of “the brother of the Lord,” the only point of contact seems to the have been with an exalted heavenly being. 

    I haven’t read Doherty so I cannot say whether I would find it persuasive or not.  If I did, I am sure that I would have to do an awful lot of independent research before I could reach a conclusion.  I suspect that I would decide that the problems with the sources pose at least as big an obstacle to a positive mythicist case as they do to a positive historicist case.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Beallen0417, Thanks for clarifying where you are coming from. Here I’m engaging the mythicist claim that Jesus is unlikely to have existed as all. I’m a great appreciable of Bultmann, and although I am inclined to agree with his students who thought that a quest for the historical Jesus Was still worthwhile, I think he was right that what we can be confident in with a very high degree of certainty is extremely minimal.

    I think your comparison with Catholic dogma is instructive. Dogma is not history, and the fact that people have claimed all sorts of things about Jesus is precisely one of the reasons why historians approach the texts as they do, in an effort to avoid reading later dogmas and doctrinal developments into texts. And so whether it is Catholics or mythicists trying to claim that Jesus didn’t have a brother based on their dogma, they are not doing historical scholarship. How they make the claim will determine whether it is crazy, pseudoscholarship, or simply an uncritical and non-historical approach to knowledge. But you are quite right to place Catholic dogma and mythicism in the same sort of category viz-a-viz historical critical scholarship. Of course, as with all dogmatic claims and pseudoscholarship, some things will correspond to what scientists, historians and other scholars conclude. But that is simply a matter of chance and not of method.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Beallen0417, Thanks for clarifying where you are coming from. Here I’m engaging the mythicist claim that Jesus is unlikely to have existed as all. I’m a great appreciable of Bultmann, and although I am inclined to agree with his students who thought that a quest for the historical Jesus Was still worthwhile, I think he was right that what we can be confident in with a very high degree of certainty is extremely minimal.

    I think your comparison with Catholic dogma is instructive. Dogma is not history, and the fact that people have claimed all sorts of things about Jesus is precisely one of the reasons why historians approach the texts as they do, in an effort to avoid reading later dogmas and doctrinal developments into texts. And so whether it is Catholics or mythicists trying to claim that Jesus didn’t have a brother based on their dogma, they are not doing historical scholarship. How they make the claim will determine whether it is crazy, pseudoscholarship, or simply an uncritical and non-historical approach to knowledge. But you are quite right to place Catholic dogma and mythicism in the same sort of category viz-a-viz historical critical scholarship. Of course, as with all dogmatic claims and pseudoscholarship, some things will correspond to what scientists, historians and other scholars conclude. But that is simply a matter of chance and not of method.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Vinny, you’re right, I didn’t do justice to the precision with which you nuanced your comment. I know that your qualms are largely related to the amount of evidence and what it is safe to conclude based on it, and that is a very different stance than that of the mythicists, who are not simply agnostic based on a consistent methodological concern, but are quite happy to prefer less persuasive interpretations of texts in order to try to deny that Paul and other early Christians believed Jesus was a historical figure. Your stance, on the other hand, is that Paul seems to have believed that Jesus was a historical figure, but you are not confident that we can know he was right with a sufficiently high degree of probability so as to warrant confidence. Have I understood you correctly?

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath you seem to be making a false dichotomy. We routinely describe stories about Hercules, Jason, Orpheus and others as myths. We don’t exhaustively comb the literary traditions for possible historical cores to the stories we have about them. In their mythologies all of these individuals were people who lived on the earth that myths were written about. Some of them went to the heavens, some went to hell, others stayed on the earth, but we regard them all as mythical.

      Jesus is mythical according to Bultmann because all we have left about him are myths from a mythical worldview.

      What is different about Hercules? It is surely possible there was a historical Hercules. Ought we determine by your criteria what we can know about him? I imagine it will be something like that he was born, bled and died … and had a half-brother (Dionysus). Does that minimal set of facts remove him from mythology?

    • VinnyJH

      Dr. McGrath,

      I would say that captures my views reasonably well.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Vinny, you’re right, I didn’t do justice to the precision with which you nuanced your comment. I know that your qualms are largely related to the amount of evidence and what it is safe to conclude based on it, and that is a very different stance than that of the mythicists, who are not simply agnostic based on a consistent methodological concern, but are quite happy to prefer less persuasive interpretations of texts in order to try to deny that Paul and other early Christians believed Jesus was a historical figure. Your stance, on the other hand, is that Paul seems to have believed that Jesus was a historical figure, but you are not confident that we can know he was right with a sufficiently high degree of probability so as to warrant confidence. Have I understood you correctly?

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath you seem to be making a false dichotomy. We routinely describe stories about Hercules, Jason, Orpheus and others as myths. We don’t exhaustively comb the literary traditions for possible historical cores to the stories we have about them. In their mythologies all of these individuals were people who lived on the earth that myths were written about. Some of them went to the heavens, some went to hell, others stayed on the earth, but we regard them all as mythical.

      Jesus is mythical according to Bultmann because all we have left about him are myths from a mythical worldview.

      What is different about Hercules? It is surely possible there was a historical Hercules. Ought we determine by your criteria what we can know about him? I imagine it will be something like that he was born, bled and died … and had a half-brother (Dionysus). Does that minimal set of facts remove him from mythology?

    • VinnyJH

      Dr. McGrath,

      I would say that captures my views reasonably well.

  • Mullerb

    To Mike: I have a page on
    Ignatius, where everything fit together:

    Click
    here

    Some on my conclusions: All epistles
    are forgeries, written by different authors in the 125-145 period
    (except ‘to Polycarp’ written later). Ignatius was never a bishop.
    The “really was” clauses were addressed against
    Gnostics/Docetists. Some authors knew about gospels (‘to the
    Smyrneans’ and ‘to the Ephesians’). From that standpoint, I do not see how
    the Ignatian epistles can help the cause of either Historicists or
    Mythicists.

  • Mullerb

    To Mike: I have a page on
    Ignatius, where everything fit together:

    Click
    here

    Some on my conclusions: All epistles
    are forgeries, written by different authors in the 125-145 period
    (except ‘to Polycarp’ written later). Ignatius was never a bishop.
    The “really was” clauses were addressed against
    Gnostics/Docetists. Some authors knew about gospels (‘to the
    Smyrneans’ and ‘to the Ephesians’). From that standpoint, I do not see how
    the Ignatian epistles can help the cause of either Historicists or
    Mythicists.

  • Mullerb

    That Patheos is butchering my posting. And why don’t they have a preview feature? I also noticed long freeze when nothing is accepted in the posting box.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Bernard, you can edit comments even after posting, so if something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, you can go back and fix it.

  • Mullerb

    That Patheos is butchering my posting. And why don’t they have a preview feature? I also noticed long freeze when nothing is accepted in the posting box.

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      Bernard, you can edit comments even after posting, so if something doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to, you can go back and fix it.

  • Earl Doherty

    Rich, I am a technological ignoramus most of the time. I
    don’t know what “Disqus” is and don’t know what you mean by “follow” me. And I pasted
    both my postings here so far, exactly in the same way, from Word, and one got the
    layout garbled and the other didn’t. Also, I’d like to know why when I link to
    this page, sometimes there is no “Response” option at the end, and other times
    there is. No wonder I feel like tearing my “old dog” hair out at all these
    Internet mysteries and challenges. The New Testament is a piece of cake in
    comparison.

     

    And a little comment to Vinny, who said: “I haven’t read
    Doherty so I cannot say whether I would find it persuasive or not.  If I
    did, I am sure that I would have to do an awful lot of independent research
    before I could reach a conclusion.  I suspect that I would decide that the
    problems with the sources pose at least as big an obstacle to a positive
    mythicist case as they do to a positive historicist case.”

     

    What “independent research” are you thinking of? Sources
    outside the NT? Much of these are covered in my books, but my position is that
    a strong case for mythicism can be made simply through a study of the NT
    itself, particularly of course the non-Gospel (and Acts) portion.

     

    And Jim asked you: “Do you find Doherty’s attempts to
    relocate the birth, bleeding, suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?” I
    don’t know how he expects you to answer that if you haven’t read those
    “attempts.” The problem is, I don’t know how HE can judge those things for himself,
    because he hasn’t yet read those portions of the book! All he is doing is
    signalling his personal incredulity on such a concept simply on the basis of
    being introduced to it.

     

    Anyway, I’m making one more attempt to paste in from Word.
    Hopefully the Response system just had indigestion yesterday….

     

     

    • VinnyJH

      What “independent research” are you thinking of? Sources outside the NT? Much of these are covered in my books, but my position
      is that a strong case for mythicism can be made simply through a study of the
      NT itself, particularly of course the non-Gospel (and Acts) portion.

       

      I am highly skeptical that a strong
      case for mythicism can be made at all,  much
      less made solely on the New Testament writings. 
      My reading of the New Testament leads me to think that a Jesus who is
      mythical for all practical purposes is a possibility that cannot be eliminated,
      but I doubt that the possibility that there is a historical person behind the
      gospels could ever be eliminated either.  We simply have too few pieces to the puzzle.

  • Earl Doherty

    Rich, I am a technological ignoramus most of the time. I
    don’t know what “Disqus” is and don’t know what you mean by “follow” me. And I pasted
    both my postings here so far, exactly in the same way, from Word, and one got the
    layout garbled and the other didn’t. Also, I’d like to know why when I link to
    this page, sometimes there is no “Response” option at the end, and other times
    there is. No wonder I feel like tearing my “old dog” hair out at all these
    Internet mysteries and challenges. The New Testament is a piece of cake in
    comparison.

     

    And a little comment to Vinny, who said: “I haven’t read
    Doherty so I cannot say whether I would find it persuasive or not.  If I
    did, I am sure that I would have to do an awful lot of independent research
    before I could reach a conclusion.  I suspect that I would decide that the
    problems with the sources pose at least as big an obstacle to a positive
    mythicist case as they do to a positive historicist case.”

     

    What “independent research” are you thinking of? Sources
    outside the NT? Much of these are covered in my books, but my position is that
    a strong case for mythicism can be made simply through a study of the NT
    itself, particularly of course the non-Gospel (and Acts) portion.

     

    And Jim asked you: “Do you find Doherty’s attempts to
    relocate the birth, bleeding, suffering and death of Jesus to a location on the firmament persuasive?” I
    don’t know how he expects you to answer that if you haven’t read those
    “attempts.” The problem is, I don’t know how HE can judge those things for himself,
    because he hasn’t yet read those portions of the book! All he is doing is
    signalling his personal incredulity on such a concept simply on the basis of
    being introduced to it.

     

    Anyway, I’m making one more attempt to paste in from Word.
    Hopefully the Response system just had indigestion yesterday….

     

     

    • VinnyJH

      What “independent research” are you thinking of? Sources outside the NT? Much of these are covered in my books, but my position
      is that a strong case for mythicism can be made simply through a study of the
      NT itself, particularly of course the non-Gospel (and Acts) portion.

       

      I am highly skeptical that a strong
      case for mythicism can be made at all,  much
      less made solely on the New Testament writings. 
      My reading of the New Testament leads me to think that a Jesus who is
      mythical for all practical purposes is a possibility that cannot be eliminated,
      but I doubt that the possibility that there is a historical person behind the
      gospels could ever be eliminated either.  We simply have too few pieces to the puzzle.

  • Earl Doherty

    The problem with composing a response directly in the Response box, if anything goes wrong as you’re going along, you lose it. That has happened to me on occasion on various blogs, whereas (especially with longish postings) composing in Word means you can save as you go along.

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to overcome this pasting problem, or why it’s happening? My first posting above a couple of days ago did not react like that.

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

      Hello Earl,

      Ok, the problem is that you are using Microsoft Word, and pasting that text into a application that expects plain text. Word (a word processor) is different than a text editor. What you want to do is work locally in a “text editor” not Word, and then copy and paste that text into these web forms. Work in notepad.exe on your local machine, NOT Word, and you will be able to copy and paste into this form better.

      If you do not know about notepad.exe I have provide a handy trick to help you find/load it if you cannot find it. simply point your browser to http://richgriese.net/textfile.txt and open my sample text fie in your browser. Then, SAVE that file to your desktop, because that is a text file, if you double click on it, your computer should open it up in notepad, and WHAM you now have notepad open.

      The textfile also has simple instructions in a bit more depth. Fee free to email me if you have any problems.

      BTW… it is a good idea to use the REPLY feature if you are posting to a person. That will allow your target person to use computer magic to find your post. If you participate in say 20 conversations, and each has like 20 posts a day, you can imagine that is a lot of posts. Some people filter those posts, and direct items where people REPLY to them to a separate folder so that they can can separate stuff to them from just general stuff. If you type “Hey Rich,” in a post it is no the same has hitting REPLY on a post that was originally by “Rich”. Just keep that in mind if it seems you are talking to someone and they are not responding. They may be looking only at their REPLY stuff, and just deleted or overlooked the post you thought you were sending them.

      Cheers! RichGriese@gmail.com

      • Earl Doherty

        Thanks for the advice, Rich. I’ll have to experiment a bit.

        I’ll probably be able to return to the fray tomorrow, at least for another short installment.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      Earl, I have found that certain formatting in word causes the problem. Try selecting all your text and use the Style drop-down box and click “clear formatting”.

      • Earl Doherty

        Thanks for the tip.

  • Earl Doherty

    The problem with composing a response directly in the Response box, if anything goes wrong as you’re going along, you lose it. That has happened to me on occasion on various blogs, whereas (especially with longish postings) composing in Word means you can save as you go along.

    Does anyone have suggestions on how to overcome this pasting problem, or why it’s happening? My first posting above a couple of days ago did not react like that.

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

      Hello Earl,

      Ok, the problem is that you are using Microsoft Word, and pasting that text into a application that expects plain text. Word (a word processor) is different than a text editor. What you want to do is work locally in a “text editor” not Word, and then copy and paste that text into these web forms. Work in notepad.exe on your local machine, NOT Word, and you will be able to copy and paste into this form better.

      If you do not know about notepad.exe I have provide a handy trick to help you find/load it if you cannot find it. simply point your browser to http://richgriese.net/textfile.txt and open my sample text fie in your browser. Then, SAVE that file to your desktop, because that is a text file, if you double click on it, your computer should open it up in notepad, and WHAM you now have notepad open.

      The textfile also has simple instructions in a bit more depth. Fee free to email me if you have any problems.

      BTW… it is a good idea to use the REPLY feature if you are posting to a person. That will allow your target person to use computer magic to find your post. If you participate in say 20 conversations, and each has like 20 posts a day, you can imagine that is a lot of posts. Some people filter those posts, and direct items where people REPLY to them to a separate folder so that they can can separate stuff to them from just general stuff. If you type “Hey Rich,” in a post it is no the same has hitting REPLY on a post that was originally by “Rich”. Just keep that in mind if it seems you are talking to someone and they are not responding. They may be looking only at their REPLY stuff, and just deleted or overlooked the post you thought you were sending them.

      Cheers! RichGriese@gmail.com

      • Earl Doherty

        Thanks for the advice, Rich. I’ll have to experiment a bit.

        I’ll probably be able to return to the fray tomorrow, at least for another short installment.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      Earl, I have found that certain formatting in word causes the problem. Try selecting all your text and use the Style drop-down box and click “clear formatting”.

      • Earl Doherty

        Thanks for the tip.

  • Earl Doherty

    Now, you see, no problem on that last one.

    Must be those pesky demon spirits that Paul and all other early Christians (including the Gospel Jesus) believed in and explained so many things by. Makes you confident in trusting the Gospels as reliable “history”, doesn’t it?

  • Earl Doherty

    Now, you see, no problem on that last one.

    Must be those pesky demon spirits that Paul and all other early Christians (including the Gospel Jesus) believed in and explained so many things by. Makes you confident in trusting the Gospels as reliable “history”, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Earl, based on everything I’ve read by you, I can’t say that you cope better with the New Testament than with technology.

    So far, none of the claims made in the book has improved on what those who’ve read your web site, other online discussions, or the first edition of your book are familiar with. Are you suggesting that in your treatment of notions like a celestial crucifixion, the sub-lunar realm and the firmament, what follows in this edition of your book is not only better but different from what we’ve heard from you before?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Earl, based on everything I’ve read by you, I can’t say that you cope better with the New Testament than with technology.

    So far, none of the claims made in the book has improved on what those who’ve read your web site, other online discussions, or the first edition of your book are familiar with. Are you suggesting that in your treatment of notions like a celestial crucifixion, the sub-lunar realm and the firmament, what follows in this edition of your book is not only better but different from what we’ve heard from you before?

  • Mullerb

    Test:
    http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
    If it works, that’s the page I wanted to post for Mike.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

      Bernard. It looks like an interesting case you make. I’ll have to look it over in detail.

  • Mullerb

    Test:
    http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
    If it works, that’s the page I wanted to post for Mike.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

      Bernard. It looks like an interesting case you make. I’ll have to look it over in detail.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, are you suggesting that we have a letter or other comparable source written by someone who had met Hercules’ brother within a decade of his death, and thus was well poised to ascertain his historicity? What exactly seems comparable between Jesus and Hercules, and what is the point of your comparison? Is it simply to link Jesus and Hercules in a sentence, in the hope that uncritical readers will think “Oh, maybe Jesus was like Hercules”?

    At any rate, I have written a lot online and elsewhere about my views on the historical Jesus, both in terms of the big picture and the details. Since this is our first conversation, would you mind explaining what your own view is, what you think we can know about the historical Jesus and how?

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath — you assume the consequent when you suggest there was a letter written “within a decade of his death”. If there was no historical person who died, any timeline in relation to the Pauline epistles vanishes into thin air.

      You can ask me what seems comparable between Jesus and Hercules, yet you deride Earl Doherty for his ignorance of ancient context. Wow.

      Here is your list of comparisons between Jesus and Hercules, who have exactly the same number of contemporary attestations and archeological artifacts:

      1. Son of the supreme deity and a mortal
      2. Both escape a wicked ruler who tries to kill them in childhood.
      3. Both traveled the earth helping mankind and doing good deeds, then suffer and are killed.
      4. Both are sent to hell and return after cheating death.
      5. Both become immortal and sit at the right hand of this deity.
      6. Josephus regards Hercules as a historical person.
      7. Tacitus regards Hercules as a historical person.

      Mullerb disagrees with you about the dating of the epistles, he thinks all the epistles date to the second century. Yet you are not criticizing him for being a nutcase like you do Earl Doherty, who believes the same timeline for the epistles as you sans historical Jesus. What makes one of them a nut and the other not?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, are you suggesting that we have a letter or other comparable source written by someone who had met Hercules’ brother within a decade of his death, and thus was well poised to ascertain his historicity? What exactly seems comparable between Jesus and Hercules, and what is the point of your comparison? Is it simply to link Jesus and Hercules in a sentence, in the hope that uncritical readers will think “Oh, maybe Jesus was like Hercules”?

    At any rate, I have written a lot online and elsewhere about my views on the historical Jesus, both in terms of the big picture and the details. Since this is our first conversation, would you mind explaining what your own view is, what you think we can know about the historical Jesus and how?

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath — you assume the consequent when you suggest there was a letter written “within a decade of his death”. If there was no historical person who died, any timeline in relation to the Pauline epistles vanishes into thin air.

      You can ask me what seems comparable between Jesus and Hercules, yet you deride Earl Doherty for his ignorance of ancient context. Wow.

      Here is your list of comparisons between Jesus and Hercules, who have exactly the same number of contemporary attestations and archeological artifacts:

      1. Son of the supreme deity and a mortal
      2. Both escape a wicked ruler who tries to kill them in childhood.
      3. Both traveled the earth helping mankind and doing good deeds, then suffer and are killed.
      4. Both are sent to hell and return after cheating death.
      5. Both become immortal and sit at the right hand of this deity.
      6. Josephus regards Hercules as a historical person.
      7. Tacitus regards Hercules as a historical person.

      Mullerb disagrees with you about the dating of the epistles, he thinks all the epistles date to the second century. Yet you are not criticizing him for being a nutcase like you do Earl Doherty, who believes the same timeline for the epistles as you sans historical Jesus. What makes one of them a nut and the other not?

  • Bernard Muller

    Where can I find info on how to edit (after posting), how to get my picture in, with my complete name? And I have been faced with deciphering letters which are so difficult to guess that I had to try several times. I switched to my Google account. Maybe it’s going to solve some problems.

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

      Hello Bernard,

      If you log in, you will be able to edit any post after you post it. a edit button appears just above your post. You can create a login simply by identifying to any of your twitter, google, facebook, yahoo, etc… accounts with a single click, or you can create a disqus account. it is really the simplest system to get an account with. but, the feature you want is only available if you are logged in. Logged in means having an account. Since you can edit, and reedit posts, there is really no reason for a “preview” button as in other comment systems. If you post a comment, and find you made an error, or want to change it, you simply edit it, and change it.

      If you need help feel free to contact me. I am happy to help anyone with tech stuff. I am a retired computer guy, and love that computers can now be used more and more to allow people to talk together. For me, that is a real benefit. If I walked around my town looking for people that are interested in Christian origins till about 200CE I would not find many. but online, I can, and do, have friends all over the world that I regularly talk to on the topic. Feel free to email me any time if you need any tech help getting a grasp on disqus.

      Cheers!

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Where can I find info on how to edit (after posting), how to get my picture in, with my complete name? And I have been faced with deciphering letters which are so difficult to guess that I had to try several times. I switched to my Google account. Maybe it’s going to solve some problems.

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

      Hello Bernard,

      If you log in, you will be able to edit any post after you post it. a edit button appears just above your post. You can create a login simply by identifying to any of your twitter, google, facebook, yahoo, etc… accounts with a single click, or you can create a disqus account. it is really the simplest system to get an account with. but, the feature you want is only available if you are logged in. Logged in means having an account. Since you can edit, and reedit posts, there is really no reason for a “preview” button as in other comment systems. If you post a comment, and find you made an error, or want to change it, you simply edit it, and change it.

      If you need help feel free to contact me. I am happy to help anyone with tech stuff. I am a retired computer guy, and love that computers can now be used more and more to allow people to talk together. For me, that is a real benefit. If I walked around my town looking for people that are interested in Christian origins till about 200CE I would not find many. but online, I can, and do, have friends all over the world that I regularly talk to on the topic. Feel free to email me any time if you need any tech help getting a grasp on disqus.

      Cheers!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-1cae2f00931d74e1d949ae907d9e6b32:disqus , depending which browser you use, the comment system will look somewhat different, since it is script based. But you should be able to go to Disqus.com, create an account, and not only keep track of your comments but also show a photo or other image and do other next things. But it should work fine logged in with Google, too, I think.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @google-1cae2f00931d74e1d949ae907d9e6b32:disqus , depending which browser you use, the comment system will look somewhat different, since it is script based. But you should be able to go to Disqus.com, create an account, and not only keep track of your comments but also show a photo or other image and do other next things. But it should work fine logged in with Google, too, I think.

  • Bernard Muller

    Rich Griese wrote:
    “I like keeping track of various ideas about how early Christianity grew. I am not a supernaturalist, but study the subject as a historian. As I said, I am always looking for others that are also interested in the historical study of the origins and growth.”

    Then, maybe you should look at my website:
    http://historical-jesus.info/

    • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

      Hello Bernard,

      Thanks for the post. Converting your intro via text to speech right
      now, and will give it a listen in a bit. Sad that your site does not
      have a RSS feed. That makes it impossible for people to keep up with
      your stuff. you might consider adding a RSS feed to your world. Feel
      free to email me if you want to talk further RE early Christianity in
      general. If/when you do, I am always happy to have others to exchange
      emails with RE the topic. I have been building a number of tools to
      help me sort and organize some of the info RE Christian origins, and
      it’s always great to have others to compare notes with, exchange ideas
      with, and in general, simply talk about the topic on a regular basis.

      Cheers!

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Rich Griese wrote:
    “I like keeping track of various ideas about how early Christianity grew. I am not a supernaturalist, but study the subject as a historian. As I said, I am always looking for others that are also interested in the historical study of the origins and growth.”

    Then, maybe you should look at my website:
    http://historical-jesus.info/

    • http://RichGriese.NET/ RichGriese.NET

      Hello Bernard,

      Thanks for the post. Converting your intro via text to speech right
      now, and will give it a listen in a bit. Sad that your site does not
      have a RSS feed. That makes it impossible for people to keep up with
      your stuff. you might consider adding a RSS feed to your world. Feel
      free to email me if you want to talk further RE early Christianity in
      general. I am always happy to have others to exchange
      emails with RE the topic. I have been building a number of tools to
      help me sort and organize some of the info RE Christian origins, and
      it’s always great to have others to compare notes with, exchange ideas
      with, and in general, simply talk about the topic on a regular basis.

      Cheers!

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, I am assuming the result of my earlier discussion and of the entire body of historians and professional scholars. If we treat each detail in isolation then we won’t make good sense of any of it. And unless you wish to posit a supernaturally long life for Jesus’ brother, then I cannot have been off by much.

    You seem not to be aware of whom you a speaking to, or to read comments vey carefully. I asked why you believe Jesus and Hercules are comparable. You offered some vague similarities (and some which, however much you may see them repeated on the Internet, you will find no primary source for, but I invite you to try) that neglect important differences, such as what “son of God” meant in a Greco-Roman religious context vs. in reference to the expected Davidic ruler.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath I’m surprised you can’t see the fallacy of assuming the consequent here. The only way that Paul’s reference to the brother of the the lord (he never says brother of Jesus), can refer to a historical Jesus is if there was a historical Jesus. This is the point in dispute.

      Therefore, when you suggest that Paul’s epistles date to within a decade of the death of the historical Jesus, you are assuming the consequent.

      Nobody can doubt that you do assume such, but your task as a scholar is to prove it. You hang quite a bit of weight on Galatians 1:19, as everyone who is reading this can see.

      One also has to wonder at your grasp of intertextuality in the ancient world if you think that the hero-myth is composed of “vague similarities”. Do you think there are “vague similarities” between Jesus and Moses? How about Jesus and Elijah? How about Jesus and Asclepius? Would you say there are “vague similarities” between Aeneas and Odysseus?

      The primary external criteria for literary borrowing are date and accessibility. Do you doubt that the above stories pre-date the Jesus story?

      The secondary external criteria are status of a text and analogous borrowing. Do you think the above myths were low status and we have no other analogous borrowings?

      If you can’t answer no to the above questions, then you have a prima facie case for literary borrowing, not historicity, as the source of the text.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, I am assuming the result of my earlier discussion and of the entire body of historians and professional scholars. If we treat each detail in isolation then we won’t make good sense of any of it. And unless you wish to posit a supernaturally long life for Jesus’ brother, then I cannot have been off by much.

    You seem not to be aware of whom you a speaking to, or to read comments vey carefully. I asked why you believe Jesus and Hercules are comparable. You offered some vague similarities (and some which, however much you may see them repeated on the Internet, you will find no primary source for, but I invite you to try) that neglect important differences, such as what “son of God” meant in a Greco-Roman religious context vs. in reference to the expected Davidic ruler.

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath I’m surprised you can’t see the fallacy of assuming the consequent here. The only way that Paul’s reference to the brother of the the lord (he never says brother of Jesus), can refer to a historical Jesus is if there was a historical Jesus. This is the point in dispute.

      Therefore, when you suggest that Paul’s epistles date to within a decade of the death of the historical Jesus, you are assuming the consequent.

      Nobody can doubt that you do assume such, but your task as a scholar is to prove it. You hang quite a bit of weight on Galatians 1:19, as everyone who is reading this can see.

      One also has to wonder at your grasp of intertextuality in the ancient world if you think that the hero-myth is composed of “vague similarities”. Do you think there are “vague similarities” between Jesus and Moses? How about Jesus and Elijah? How about Jesus and Asclepius? Would you say there are “vague similarities” between Aeneas and Odysseus?

      The primary external criteria for literary borrowing are date and accessibility. Do you doubt that the above stories pre-date the Jesus story?

      The secondary external criteria are status of a text and analogous borrowing. Do you think the above myths were low status and we have no other analogous borrowings?

      If you can’t answer no to the above questions, then you have a prima facie case for literary borrowing, not historicity, as the source of the text.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    beallen0417 wrote:
    “Mullerb disagrees with you about the dating of the epistles, he thinks all the epistles date to the second century.”

    What epistles are you talking about?
    If they are Paul’s seven, my dating is late 50 to early 58.
    Maybe you are confused from my dating of the Ignatian letters.
     

    • Anonymous

      Yes, evidently I thought when you said “all the epistles” that you meant all of them. My apologies. I wonder though, if someone who dated the NT epistles to the second century, but accepted a historical Jesus, would be considered a nutcase by Dr. McGrath and yourself.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        to beallen0417:
        Sadly enough, many mythicists put Paul’s epistles and any other ones, as creations in the second century, if not later.
        Some years ago, I had some correspondance with Hermann Detering. Both agreed that the Pauline epistles referred to a human & earthly Jesus, here and there. He said Doherty was wrong to think otherwise. Then a few months later, Detering came up with his “Fabricated Paul” (in the 2nd century). Many mythicists, some with reluctance at first, followed him on that path. Acharya went that way also. Even Robert Price was rumored to write a book to justify that, but I do not think he did.
        What do I think? When you throw out, under any pretext, any kind of historical evidence from the NT (and Josephus’ Ant. XX) you don’t like, you are pretty well in the open, and free to roam everywhere you like, and create countless of wild theories.
        There is a crazy world out there.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        to beallen0417:
        Sadly enough, many mythicists put Paul’s epistles and any other ones, as creations in the second century, if not later.
        Some years ago, I had some correspondance with Hermann Detering. Both agreed that the Pauline epistles referred to a human & earthly Jesus, here and there. He said Doherty was wrong to think otherwise. Then a few months later, Detering came up with his “Fabricated Paul” (in the 2nd century). Many mythicists, some with reluctance at first, followed him on that path. Acharya went that way also. Even Robert Price was rumored to write a book to justify that, but I do not think he did.
        What do I think? When you throw out, under any pretext, any kind of historical evidence from the NT (and Josephus’ Ant. XX) you don’t like, you are pretty well in the open, and free to roam everywhere you like, and create countless of wild theories.
        There is a crazy world out there.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    beallen0417 wrote:
    “Mullerb disagrees with you about the dating of the epistles, he thinks all the epistles date to the second century.”

    What epistles are you talking about?
    If they are Paul’s seven, my dating is late 50 to early 58.
    Maybe you are confused from my dating of the Ignatian letters.
     

    • beallen0417

      Yes, evidently I thought when you said “all the epistles” that you meant all of them. My apologies. I wonder though, if someone who dated the NT epistles to the second century, but accepted a historical Jesus, would be considered a nutcase by Dr. McGrath and yourself.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        to beallen0417:
        Sadly enough, many mythicists put Paul’s epistles and any other ones, as creations in the second century, if not later.
        Some years ago, I had some correspondance with Hermann Detering. Both agreed that the Pauline epistles referred to a human & earthly Jesus, here and there. He said Doherty was wrong to think otherwise. Then a few months later, Detering came up with his “Fabricated Paul” (in the 2nd century). Many mythicists, some with reluctance at first, followed him on that path. Acharya went that way also. Even Robert Price was rumored to write a book to justify that, but I do not think he did.
        What do I think? When you throw out, under any pretext, any kind of historical evidence from the NT (and Josephus’ Ant. XX) you don’t like, you are pretty well in the open, and free to roam everywhere you like, and create countless of wild theories.
        There is a crazy world out there.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, if someone makes a case for a viewpoint I disagree with while following the methods of academic investigation and the tools of historical critical study, I simply disagree with them. If someone pretends to be taking an intellectually rigorous approach but in fact is simply trying to reach a predetermined outcome, I wouldn’t in all likelihood regard that person as a “”nutcase” but I might well regard them as a crank and/or apologist.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, if someone makes a case for a viewpoint I disagree with while following the methods of academic investigation and the tools of historical critical study, I simply disagree with them. If someone pretends to be taking an intellectually rigorous approach but in fact is simply trying to reach a predetermined outcome, I wouldn’t in all likelihood regard that person as a “”nutcase” but I might well regard them as a crank and/or apologist.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, there are certainly plenty of examples in the New Testament of an individual being depicted through the lens of and with intentional echoes of another figure: Jesus compared to Moses in Matthew’s Gospel, Paul compared to Socrates in Acts. These are common features in ancient literature, so much so that the presence of them simply cannot be used as a determining factor regarding the historicity of the individual. We can regard those places where Matthew modifies the tradition so as to highlight the similarities as unhistorical, but they are at the same time telling us about how an author viewed Jesus, since if he had not thought there was any similarity, he presumably would not have created an infancy story based on the story of Moses, set Jesus’ teaching on a mountain, and made other such changes so as to make the point.

    At any rate, your comment seems to be assuming that historical figures were never depicted as like earlier figures, with the corollary that we must choose between a figure having existed in history or having been created through a process of literary borrowing. But those are not the only options.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @beallen0417, there are certainly plenty of examples in the New Testament of an individual being depicted through the lens of and with intentional echoes of another figure: Jesus compared to Moses in Matthew’s Gospel, Paul compared to Socrates in Acts. These are common features in ancient literature, so much so that the presence of them simply cannot be used as a determining factor regarding the historicity of the individual. We can regard those places where Matthew modifies the tradition so as to highlight the similarities as unhistorical, but they are at the same time telling us about how an author viewed Jesus, since if he had not thought there was any similarity, he presumably would not have created an infancy story based on the story of Moses, set Jesus’ teaching on a mountain, and made other such changes so as to make the point.

    At any rate, your comment seems to be assuming that historical figures were never depicted as like earlier figures, with the corollary that we must choose between a figure having existed in history or having been created through a process of literary borrowing. But those are not the only options.

  • Impartial Observer

    It’s patently obvious that Doherty has a predetermined conclusion that he’s determined to get to, no matter what.  He uses bits of scholarship here and there but what he himself is doing is not scholarship, it’s propaganda for a cause.

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      “impartial observer” — no such thing!

      —–Original message—–

    • Earl Doherty

      This is “impartial”? About as impartial as Jim, maybe.

      It’s the same old demonizing ploy used against mythicists, with their devilish predetermined conclusions. Demonizing ain’t impartial, buddy.

      (I call you buddy, of course, since you hide behind anonymity, another contraindication to impartiality.)

  • Impartial Observer

    It’s patently obvious that Doherty has a predetermined conclusion that he’s determined to get to, no matter what.  He uses bits of scholarship here and there but what he himself is doing is not scholarship, it’s propaganda for a cause.

    • http://triangulations.wordpress.com/ Sabio Lantz

      “impartial observer” — no such thing!

      —–Original message—–

    • Earl Doherty

      This is “impartial”? About as impartial as Jim, maybe.

      It’s the same old demonizing ploy used against mythicists, with their devilish predetermined conclusions. Demonizing ain’t impartial, buddy.

      (I call you buddy, of course, since you hide behind anonymity, another contraindication to impartiality.)

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    VinnyJH wrote:
    “In 2 Cor 5:16-17, Paul says “we” have known thereby including
    himself. I would assume therefore that he is referring to some sort of spiritual relationship.”
    BM: I do not think the context allow for that. The “we” refers to Paul and his helpers:

    2Cor5:16-18 RSV “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.
    Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”

    • VinnyJH

      Bernard,

      I agree that the “we” refers to Paul and his helpers.  However, Paul and his helpers were not followers of Jesus during his earthly ministry.  Therefore, whatever “we
      once regarded Christ from a human point of view” means, I don’t see how it could mean “we knew a particular historical individual during his earthly life.”  Therefore, I don’t think that particular passage helps establish that Paul believed Jesus to have been someone who was personally known to people that Paul knew.

      • Earl Doherty

        You’re right, of course, Vinny. But Muller also overlooks that the idea has been applied not only to Christ but to “any man.” Is Paul going to be saying that we no longer know those historical individuals during their earthly lives?

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Doherty wrote: “You’re right, of course, Vinny. But Muller also overlooks that the idea has been applied not only to Christ but to “any man.” Is Paul going to be saying that we no longer know those historical individuals during their earthly lives?”

          BM: Always making red herrings.
          In 2Cor5:16 YLT “So that we henceforth have known no one according to the flesh, and even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him no more;”
          Paul said he (& helpers) had known Christ through human
          perception. However Paul wanted to forget about that Christ. Who was that Christ known in the past “according to the flesh”? A heavenly Deity? Most likely, known through others, the humble Jew who got “crucified in weakness” (2Cor13:4). And Paul said no one was looked by him (& helpers) with human perception to justify his new outlook on Christ. And the previous & next verses (15,17) suggest the passage from old to new occurred through Christ death & resurrection.

          I made a slip of the pen about a “worldly Christ”. I checked
          where I used that verse in my website and I have “reference to some worldly (& possibly unChristian?) knowledge/understanding about Jesus …” for the second ‘kata sarka’ of 2Cor5:16, so I did not mislead my readers.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    VinnyJH wrote:
    “In 2 Cor 5:16-17, Paul says “we” have known thereby including
    himself. I would assume therefore that he is referring to some sort of spiritual relationship.”
    BM: I do not think the context allow for that. The “we” refers to Paul and his helpers:

    2Cor5:16-18 RSV “From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once regarded Christ from a human point of view, we regard him thus no longer.
    Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation;”

    • VinnyJH

      Bernard,

      I agree that the “we” refers to Paul and his helpers.  However, Paul and his helpers were not followers of Jesus during his earthly ministry.  Therefore, whatever “we
      once regarded Christ from a human point of view” means, I don’t see how it could mean “we knew a particular historical individual during his earthly life.”  Therefore, I don’t think that particular passage helps establish that Paul believed Jesus to have been someone who was personally known to people that Paul knew.

      • Earl Doherty

        You’re right, of course, Vinny. But Muller also overlooks that the idea has been applied not only to Christ but to “any man.” Is Paul going to be saying that we no longer know those historical individuals during their earthly lives?

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Doherty wrote: “You’re right, of course, Vinny. But Muller also overlooks that the idea has been applied not only to Christ but to “any man.” Is Paul going to be saying that we no longer know those historical individuals during their earthly lives?”

          BM: Always making red herrings.
          In 2Cor5:16 YLT “So that we henceforth have known no one according to the flesh, and even if we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him no more;”
          Paul said he (& helpers) had known Christ through human
          perception. However Paul wanted to forget about that Christ. Who was that Christ known in the past “according to the flesh”? A heavenly Deity? Most likely, known through others, the humble Jew who got “crucified in weakness” (2Cor13:4). And Paul said no one was looked by him (& helpers) with human perception to justify his new outlook on Christ. And the previous & next verses (15,
          17) suggest the passage from old to new occurred through Christ death & resurrection.

          I made a slip of the pen about a “worldly Christ”. I checked
          where I used that verse in my website and I have “reference to some worldly (& possibly unChristian?) knowledge/understanding about Jesus …” for the second ‘kata sarka’ of 2Cor5:16, so I did not misled my readers.

  • Mike WIlson

    Wow, this subject is rating gold, if blogs got ratings.
    Rich, Ignatius seems to be writting a series of letters before his execution in Rome, Bernard though, seems to present a case that we should not see these leters as authentic, and in fact from a a decade or two after that execution (he has a link way up the page). I haven’t had a chance to look at it throughly(but hope to soon) and so going from the consensus position that they are his, I would say he was between 60 and 82.  I lean lower, old age was hard to come by at the time, but every body loved an old saint.

    If the letters are forgeries, then they may be later, but I would doubt that we that off on Ignatius’ biography. There is no point in inventing ancient authorities when you can just put words into the mouth of known ones.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Mike Wilson wrote:
      “There is no point in inventing ancient authorities when you can just put words into the mouth of known ones.”
      BM:I agree. This what I wrote at the end of my page:

      “Who was Ignatius? Considering:
      a) The incongruities of (& for) Ignatius’ trip from Syria to Italy
      b) Ignatius presented initially as just a member of a church in Syria and suffering execution in Rome
      c) Ignatius’ martyrdom, with the prestige derived from it, being used (aggressively) from the first letter
      d) The seven letters of the middle recension being written many years after the alleged facts, by Asia minor Christians for their own benefit and/or church
      It is most likely:
      Ignatius was truly a zealous Christian from Syria who got executed in Rome (likely for his preaching), probably during Trajan’s rule. However the offence was not committed in Syria, but in Rome.
      Then, later on, Ignatius’ city of origin got forgotten as also the place of his condemnation. And because he was still fondly remembered as a Christian from Syria given to the beasts in Rome, a preeminent cleric of Ephesus postulated his “crime” occurred in Syria, forcing the already convicted martyr to travel westward, through Asia minor (as a detour!), and, above all, on his way, addressing the Ephesians after he “received your whole multitude in the person of Onesimus, … who is moreover your bishop” (Ephes.1:3)
      And if the letter helped Onesimus to assert his authority as THE bishop of Ephesus, then, in another city not too far away …”

      • VinnyJH

        Bernard,

        I just think that there is so much space between those dots that there are a quite a number of different shapes that can plausibly be drawn. Connect one set of dots and you get the Big Dipper.  Add a few more and connect them differently and you get the Great Bear.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          To VinnyJH,
          Well thanks for the imagery. The four points can be evidenced. What would be wrong about my conclusion? Do you have alternative conclusions still complying with the 4 points? Do you not accept one or more of these 4 points? 

          • VinnyJH

            Bernard,

            Regarding your point (a), I don’t think it means a lot that Paul describes Jesus as having been a human.  The fact that Paul thought of Adam as having been a human does nothing to establish that Adam was historical rather than mythical or legendary.

            Regarding your point (d), 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 appears to me to be a theological statement about the spiritual transformation in the believer’s way of knowing and experiencing the world after he comes to faith rather than a historical statement about the physical transformation in Jesus from a person that some believers had once known personally to a heavenly being.  It is not just Jesus that the believer knows differently.  It is everyone.

            Regarding your points (2) and (3), it is certainly true that if Paul thought of James as Jesus’ biological brother, it would indicate his belief that Jesus was a recently deceased person who had been known to Paul’s contemporaries.  

            If the only four points to be considered were your four points, I might agree that there was nothing wrong with your conclusions.  However I think that there are other points to be considered, the most important of which for me, is Paul’s silence on other issues.

            Had Paul and his converts thought of Jesus as a wonder working Rabbi who had been personally known to members of the Christian community, I think that the meaning of the things Jesus had said and done during his life would have been vitally important.  Just as the meaning of Ronald Reagan’s life and legacy is a topic of constant conversation among Republicans, Jesus’ sayings and activities would have been parsed and debated over and over.  I don’t see any evidence of such debates in Paul’s letters or the other early epistles and I don’t find the historicists’ explanations for their absence at all persuasive.

            If the only evidence I had concerning the historicity of Paul’s Jesus was his reference to the brother of the Lord, I would probably conclude that Paul thought Jesus was the biological brother of a man that he knew.  However, taking everything Paul wrote into account, I am less than convinced.

  • Mike WIlson

    Wow, this subject is rating gold, if blogs got ratings.
    Rich, Ignatius seems to be writting a series of letters before his execution in Rome, Bernard though, seems to present a case that we should not see these leters as authentic, and in fact from a a decade or two after that execution (he has a link way up the page). I haven’t had a chance to look at it throughly(but hope to soon) and so going from the consensus position that they are his, I would say he was between 60 and 82.  I lean lower, old age was hard to come by at the time, but every body loved an old saint.

    If the letters are forgeries, then they may be later, but I would doubt that we that off on Ignatius’ biography. There is no point in inventing ancient authorities when you can just put words into the mouth of known ones.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Mike Wilson wrote:
      “There is no point in inventing ancient authorities when you can just put words into the mouth of known ones.”

      BM:I agree. This what I wrote at the end of my page:
      “Who was Ignatius?Considering:a) The incongruities of (& for) Ignatius’ trip from Syria to Italyb) Ignatius presented initially as just a member of a church in Syria and suffering execution in Romec) Ignatius’ martyrdom, with the prestige derived from it, being used (aggressively) from the first letterd) The seven letters of the middle recension being written many years after the alleged facts, by Asia minor Christians for their own benefit and/or churchIt is most likely:Ignatius was truly a zealous Christian from Syria who got executed in Rome (likely for his preaching), probably during Trajan’s rule. However the offence was not committed in Syria, but in Rome.Then, later on, Ignatius’ city of origin got forgotten as also the place of his condemnation. And because he was still fondly remembered as a Christian from Syria given to the beasts in Rome, a preeminent cleric of Ephesus postulated his “crime” occurred in Syria, forcing the already convicted martyr to travel westward, through Asia minor (as a detour!), and, above all, on his way, addressing the Ephesians after he “received your whole multitude in the person of Onesimus, … who is moreover your bishop” (Ephes.1:3)And if the letter helped Onesimus to assert his authority as THE bishop of Ephesus, then, in another city not too far away …”

      • VinnyJH

        Bernard,

        I just think that there is so much space between those dots that there are a quite a number of different shapes that can plausibly be drawn. Connect one set of dots and you get the Big Dipper.  Add a few more and connect them differently and you get the Great Bear.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          To VinnyJH,
          Well thanks for the imagery. The four points can be evidenced. What would be wrong about my conclusion? Do you have alternative conclusions still complying with the 4 points? Do you not accept one or more of these 4 points? 

          • VinnyJH

            Bernard,

            Regarding your point (a), I don’t think it means a lot that Paul describes Jesus as having been a human.  The fact that Paul thought of Adam as having been a human does nothing to establish that Adam was historical rather than mythical or legendary.

            Regarding your point (d), 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 appears to me to be a theological statement about the spiritual transformation in the believer’s way of knowing and experiencing the world after he comes to faith rather than a historical statement about the physical transformation in Jesus from a person that some believers had once known personally to a heavenly being.  It is not just Jesus that the believer knows differently.  It is everyone.

            Regarding your points (2) and (3), it is certainly true that if Paul thought of James as Jesus’ biological brother, it would indicate his belief that Jesus was a recently deceased person who had been known to Paul’s contemporaries.  

            If the only four points to be considered were your four points, I might agree that there was nothing wrong with your conclusions.  However I think that there are other points to be considered, the most important of which for me, is Paul’s silence on other issues.

            Had Paul and his converts thought of Jesus as a wonder working Rabbi who had been personally known to members of the Christian community, I think that the meaning of the things Jesus had said and done during his life would have been vitally important.  Just as the meaning of Ronald Reagan’s life and legacy is a topic of constant conversation among Republicans, Jesus’ sayings and activities would have been parsed and debated over and over.  I don’t see any evidence of such debates in Paul’s letters or the other early epistles and I don’t find the historicists’ explanations for their absence at all persuasive.

            If the only evidence I had concerning the historicity of Paul’s Jesus was his reference to the brother of the Lord, I would probably conclude that Paul thought Jesus was the biological brother of a man that he knew.  However, taking everything Paul wrote into account, I am less than convinced.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    to VinnyJH,
    “Therefore, whatever “we once regarded Christ from a human point of view” means, I don’t see how it could mean “we knew a particular historical individual during his earthly life.”
    BM: I never meant they knew Jesus during his earthly life, but  through others like James, or Peter. Maybe that does not “prove” it, but that’s a piece of evidence, when combined with others, establishes a wordly Jesus was known indirectly by Paul.
    Other pieces of evidence: Jesus being born as a regular human, having brothers, one being James who Paul meant several times.
    It is like doing detective work. A small piece of evidence can give some clue, but several of them put together can provide a most probable fact.
    Let’s say we do not know about the gospels, only Paul’s epistles:
    a) Jesus is described as having been a human and then crucified as Christ.
    b) Jesus had a brother called James, who would know a few things about his own kin, including how he died  (directly or not).
    c) Paul met that James several times.
    d) Paul in 2Cor5 wrote he knew about a wordly Jesus but wished to forget about that HJ.
    Let’s connect the dots.
    Wouldn’t that tell you that Paul knew second hand about a wordly Jesus who existed as a man not too long ago?

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    to VinnyJH,
    “Therefore, whatever “we once regarded Christ from a human point of view” means, I don’t see how it could mean “we knew a particular historical individual during his earthly life.”
    BM: I never meant they knew Jesus during his earthly life, but  through others like James, or Peter. Maybe that does not “prove” it, but that’s a piece of evidence, when combined with others, establishes a wordly Jesus was known indirectly by Paul.
    Other pieces of evidence: Jesus being born as a regular human, having brothers, one being James who Paul meant several times.
    It is like doing detective work. A small piece of evidence can give some clue, but several of them put together can provide a most probable fact.
    Let’s say we do not know about the gospels, only Paul’s epistles:
    a) Jesus is described as having been a human and then crucified as Christ.
    b) Jesus had a brother called James, who would know a few things about his own kin, including how he died  (directly or not).
    c) Paul met that James several times.
    d) Paul in 2Cor5 wrote he knew about a wordly Jesus but wished to forget about that HJ.
    Let’s connect the dots.
    Wouldn’t that tell you that Paul knew second hand about a wordly Jesus who existed as a man not too long ago?

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Fighting Patheos, trying to erase text which appears in my next post.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    VinnyJH wrote:
    “Regarding your point (a), I don’t think it means a lot that Paul describes Jesus as having been a human. The fact that Paul thought of Adam as having been a human does nothing to establish that Adam was historical rather than mythical or legendary.”
    BM: Paul declared Jesus as a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites and a woman. That should also count. And even if Abraham, Jesse, David, Adam were mythical, they are presented as having existed as flesh & Blood humans and believed as such by Paul.
     
    “Regarding your point (d), 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 appears to me to be a theological statement about the spiritual transformation in the believer’s way of knowing and experiencing the world after he comes to faith rather than a historical statement about the physical transformation in Jesus from a person that some believers had once known personally to a heavenly being.”
    BM: Your statement on the two verses of 2Cor5 looks very convoluted. In these verses, Paul made a clear statement that he learned in the past about a wordly Jesus but he grew up out of it & discarded it. And he asked his Christians to do the same in favor of the enhanced Christ of his gospel.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    VinnyJH wrote:

    “Regarding your point (a), I don’t think it means a lot that Paul describes Jesus as having been a human. The fact that Paul thought of Adam as having been a human does nothing to establish that Adam was historical rather than mythical or legendary.”

    BM: Paul declared Jesus as a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites and a woman. That should also count. And even if Abraham, Jesse, David, Adam were mythical, they are presented as having existed as flesh & Blood humans and believed as such by Paul.

    “Regarding your point (d), 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 appears to me to be a theological statement about the spiritual transformation in the believer’s way of knowing and experiencing the world after he comes to faith rather than a historical statement about the physical transformation in Jesus from a person that some believers had once known personally to a heavenly being.”

    BM: Your statement on the two verses of 2Cor5 looks convoluted and somewhat creative. In these verses, Paul made a clear statement that he learned in the past about a wordly (according to the flesh) Jesus but he grew up out of it & discarded it. And he asked his Christians to do the same in favour of the enhanced Christ of his gospel.

    “Regarding your points (2) and (3), it is certainly true that if Paul thought of James as Jesus’ biological brother, it would indicate his belief that Jesus was a recently deceased person who had been known to Paul’s contemporaries.”

    BM: We have confirmation from Josephus Ant. Ch XX about James the brother of Jesus called Christ. That should count too, not only for my second point, but also for the first one (Jesus existed as a human).

    “Had Paul and his converts thought of Jesus as a wonder working Rabbi who had been personally known to members of the Christian community, I think that the meaning of the things Jesus had said and done during his life would have been vitally important … Jesus’ sayings and activities would have been parsed and debated over and over. I don’t see any evidence of such debates in Paul’s letters or the other early epistles and I don’t find the historicists’ explanations for their absence at all persuasive.”

    BM: How do you know Paul and his converts thought of Jesus as “a wonder working Rabbi”? There is no evidence for that in Paul’s letters and you agree with that fact. You are setting a red herring, then disprove it, then use that as a proof to doubt Jesus’ existence as a flesh & blood human being.

    As for me, if you had looked at my website, you would know I prove HJ was nowhere close to “a working wonder Rabbi”, clearly explaining the silence of Paul about it.

    • VinnyJH

      Your statement on the two verses of 2Cor5 looks convoluted and somewhat creative. In these verses, Paul made a clear statement that he learned in the past about a wordly (according to the flesh) Jesus but he grew up out of it & discarded it. And he asked his Christians to do the same in favour of the enhanced Christ of his gospel.

      Bernard,

      I think my reading of those verses is pretty standard fare.  For example, the footnotes to 2 Cor. 5:16-17 in the New American Bible read “Consequently, the death of Christ described in vv. 14-15 produces a whole new order and a new mode of perception.  According to the flesh: the natural mode of perception, characterized as “fleshly,” is replaced by a mode of perception proper to the Spirit.”  Thus, “according to the flesh” refers to the believer’s former mode of perception rather than the former nature of the thing being perceived.  You could be right about what Paul really meant but I think your interpretation is the novelty.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        I agree with you on this one Vinny.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    VinnyJH wrote:

    “Regarding
    your point (a), I don’t think it means a lot that Paul describes
    Jesus as having been a human. The fact that Paul thought of Adam as
    having been a human does nothing to establish that Adam was
    historical rather than mythical or legendary.”

    BM: Paul declared
    Jesus as a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites and a
    woman. That should also count. And even if Abraham, Jesse, David,
    Adam were mythical, they are presented as having existed as flesh &
    Blood humans and believed as such by Paul.

    “Regarding
    your point (d), 2 Corinthians 5:16-17 appears to me to be a
    theological statement about the spiritual transformation in the
    believer’s way of knowing and experiencing the world after he comes
    to faith rather than a historical statement about the physical
    transformation in Jesus from a person that some believers had once
    known personally to a heavenly being.”

    BM: Your statement
    on the two verses of 2Cor5 looks convoluted and somewhat creative. In
    these verses, Paul made a clear statement that he learned in the past
    about a wordly (according to the flesh) Jesus but he grew up out of
    it & discarded it. And he asked his Christians to do the same in
    favour of the enhanced Christ of his gospel.

    “Regarding your
    points (2) and (3), it is certainly true that if Paul thought of
    James as Jesus’ biological brother, it would indicate his belief
    that Jesus was a recently deceased person who had been known to
    Paul’s contemporaries.”

    BM: We have
    confirmation from Josephus Ant. Ch XX about James the brother of
    Jesus called Christ. That should count too, not only for my second
    point, but also for the first one (Jesus existed as a human).

    “Had Paul and
    his converts thought of Jesus as a wonder working Rabbi who had been
    personally known to members of the Christian community, I think that
    the meaning of the things Jesus had said and done during his life
    would have been vitally important … Jesus’ sayings and activities
    would have been parsed and debated over and over. I don’t see any
    evidence of such debates in Paul’s letters or the other early
    epistles and I don’t find the historicists’ explanations for
    their absence at all persuasive.”

    BM: How do you
    know Paul and his converts thought of Jesus as “a wonder working
    Rabbi”? There is no evidence for that in Paul’s letters and you
    agree with that fact. You are setting a red herring, then disprove
    it, then use that as a proof to doubt Jesus’ existence as a flesh &
    blood human being.

    As for me, if you
    had looked at my website, you would know I disprove HJ was nowhere
    close to “a working wonder Rabbi”, clearly explaining the
    silence of Paul about it.

    Type your comment here.

    • VinnyJH

      Your statement on the two verses of 2Cor5 looks convoluted and somewhat creative. In these verses, Paul made a clear statement that he learned in the past about a wordly (according to the flesh) Jesus but he grew up out of it & discarded it. And he asked his Christians to do the same in favour of the enhanced Christ of his gospel.

      Bernard,

      I think my reading of those verses is pretty standard fare.  For example, the footnotes to 2 Cor. 5:16-17 in the New American Bible read “Consequently, the death of Christ described in vv. 14-15 produces a whole new order and a new mode of perception.  According to the flesh: the natural mode of perception, characterized as “fleshly,” is replaced by a mode of perception proper to the Spirit.”  Thus, “according to the flesh” refers to the believer’s former mode of perception rather than the former nature of the thing being perceived.  You could be right about what Paul really meant but I think your interpretation is the novelty.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        I agree with you on this one Vinny.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I agree with you Bernard on that last point. It is always tossed out that if Paul thought of Jesus as a wonder working rabbi or a teaching rabbi, they should talk about his miracles and teaching. This might be a result of the popularity of Crossan, who molded Jesus into a form he could respect, and that caught on with liberal Christians. It seems clear to me that the overwhelming importance that Paul has in Jesus is as a the risen savior, a role that is cosmic but does not exclude a human life before, in fact requires it. I have noted that later Christian works, from people who thought Jesus historical and had access to gospels, rarely use that material to make arguments. The gospels are Christian fluff, the Gospel is what is important. While the belief that Jesus was wise and performed miracles would be important to establish his claim as messiah, once you accepted that claim, the important thing was how you viewed the salvation messages built around him. If you thought Jesus turned wagon wheels into bagels, Paul probably wouldn’t be that concerned. specifics on words and deed probably got varied quickly, and keeping every one on the same page on such activities wouldn’t be a priority any more than the tea party tries to make sure that people only believe true embarrassing facts about Obama.

    • VinnyJH

      While the belief that Jesus was wise and performed miracles would be
      important to establish his claim as messiah, once you accepted that
      claim, the important thing was how you viewed the salvation messages
      built around him.

      I don’t see why the things Jesus said and did would be any less important in establishing competing views of the salvation message than they had been in establishing him as the Messiah..  If Jesus had been a circumcised Jew who followed the law, advocates of gentile circumcision would not have hesitated to cite that fact as support for their position.  On any disputed point–and there appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on their side.  Even if Jesus had never addressed the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and attribute it to him would have been extremely strong.   I would think that determining the authenticity of teachings attributed to Jesus would have been important in any theological controversy that arose.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        Vinny, you should look through epistels writen by authors who are definately HJ and see how little they do what you think they should. Whatever the reason, your points “On any disputed point–and there appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on their side. Even if Jesus had never addressed the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and attribute it to him would have been extremely strong.” don’t hold. What ever importance you think that this sort of argument would have for them, they disagree, and yet we don’t doubt that these later writers are HJ, and if don’t go with Doherty’s intepretations, we really don’t have a reason to doubt the NT epistels are also HJ.

        • VinnyJH

          Michael,

          I have looked at that a little, however, the problem I see is that the way I would determine they are definitely HJ is by them speaking to the kind of points about which Paul is silent.  As a result, the very fact that I can confirm their HJ-ness might seem itself to support the thesis that Paul wasn’t HJ.  It seems like the kind of thing that could support arguments on either side.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

            Vinny, I think you should look at at as a ratio problem. look at the number of times in the NT epistles that we have a verse that we can reasonable say speaks of a historical Jesus. Then look at a selection of early epistles and look at the number of lines that  do the same. Keep in mind that multiple letters from the same author can reasonably be assumed to share the same beliefs, and that relatively late letters used by groups that support a HJ likely came from authors who do as well. If we assumed that all letters that use an amount of HJ references similar to Paul, we would have to conclude that Jesus Mythers were in fact the leading form of Christianity for a couple of centuries, and i think the Jesus myth theory really needs for it to be the first position that was quickly made a minority one, if it were the most popular form of Christianity for so long then we would absolutely expect some explicit reference to its beliefs. We can speculate as to why they don’t use references to the words and deeds more often in their arguments, but I don’t think that we should conclude that adherence to any particular sect of or understanding of Christ nature, much less one not attested to in the textual record, can explain it, as it seems to be common to a wide spectrum of Christian beliefs

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        VinnyJH wrote:
        “If Jesus had been a circumcised Jew who followed the law, advocates of gentile circumcision would not have hesitated to cite that fact as support for their position.”
        BM: Maybe they did, maybe they did not. Even if they did, Paul could certainly not use the fact that Jesus was circumcised to make a counterpoint. However Paul made some long arguments in ‘Galatians’ to “prove” his Gentile converts did not have to be circumcised (such as faith replacing the Law).

        “On any disputed point–and there appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on
        their side.”
        BM: Well, if Jesus was not a teacher, case closed (up to 70, when sayings and parables could be invented with no risk of denial by eyewitnesses). As far as practice, Paul
        certainly used the Crucifixion a lot. Also he made a point
        (dubiously) from the poverty of Jesus (2Cor8:9) (can poverty exist in heaven?).

        “Even if Jesus had never addressed the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and attribute it to him would have been extremely strong. I would think
        that determining the authenticity of teachings attributed to Jesus would have been important in any theological controversy that arose.“
        BM: These are suppositions stacked on each other, which makes a conclusion favourable to your case mathematically improbable.
        If he was not known early on to be a teacher, any teachings attributed to Jesus would have looked suspect. Written later, Mark’s gospel is still very “light” on Jesus’ teachings, but the later gospels will show many of them. We can see the trend.
        Paul did not develop his Christology/Christianity from teachings of Jesus, but from “Christ crucified (& resurrected)”, the OT, the Holy Spirit (!), and some revelations (!). Other epistle writers followed his lead.
        And if Jesus had been strictly mythical, teachings from his heavenlyness could as well be invented (with no interference from eyewitnesses!). Actually, early teachings
        by heavenly Jesus (as Paul “reported” a few times) would have been much easier to sell than teachings from someone not known to be a teacher.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I agree with you Bernard on that last point. It is always tossed out that if Paul thought of Jesus as a wonder working rabbi or a teaching rabbi, they should talk about his miracles and teaching. This might be a result of the popularity of Crossan, who molded Jesus

    • VinnyJH

      While the belief that Jesus was wise and performed miracles would be
      important to establish his claim as messiah, once you accepted that
      claim, the important thing was how you viewed the salvation messages
      built around him.

      I don’t see why the things Jesus said and did would be any less important in establishing competing views of the salvation message than they had been in establishing him as the Messiah..  If Jesus had been a circumcised Jew who followed the law, advocates of gentile circumcision would not have hesitated to cite that fact as support for their position.  On any disputed point–and there appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on their side.  Even if Jesus had never addressed the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and attribute it to him would have been extremely strong.   I would think that determining the authenticity of teachings attributed to Jesus would have been important in any theological controversy that arose.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

        Vinny, you should look through epistels writen by authors who are definately HJ and see how little they do what you think they should. Whatever the reason, your points “On any disputed point–and there appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on their side. Even if Jesus had never addressed the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and attribute it to him would have been extremely strong.” don’t hold.

        • VinnyJH

          Michael,

          I have looked at that a little, however, the problem I see is that the way I would determine they are definitely HJ is by them speaking to the kind of points about which Paul is silent.  As a result, the very fact that I can confirm their HJ-ness might seem itself to support the thesis that Paul wasn’t HJ.  It seems like the kind of thing that could support arguments on either side.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

            Vinny, I think you should look at at as a ratio problem. look at the number of times in the Nt epistles that we have a verse that we can reasonable say speaks of a historical Jesus. Then look at a selection of early epistles and look at the number of lines that  

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        VinnyJH wrote:
        “If Jesus had been a circumcised
        Jew who followed the law, advocates of gentile circumcision would
        not have hesitated to cite that fact as support for their position.”
        BM: Maybe they did, maybe they did
        not. Even if they did, Paul could certainly not use the fact that
        Jesus was circumcised to make a counterpoint. However Paul made some
        long arguments in ‘Galatians’ to “prove” his Gentile converts
        did not have to be circumcised (such as faith replacing the Law).

        “On any disputed point–and there
        appear to have been many–the competing factions would have wanted
        to claim that the practice or teaching of the Messiah himself was on
        their side.”
        BM: Well, if Jesus was not a teacher,
        case closed (up to 70, when sayings and parables could be invented
        with no risk of denial by eyewitnesses). As far as practice, Paul
        certainly used the Crucifixion a lot. Also he made a point
        (dubiously) from the poverty of Jesus (2Cor8:9) (can poverty exist
        in heaven?).
        “Even if Jesus had never addressed
        the point in question, the temptation to invent some teaching and
        attribute it to him would have been extremely strong. I would think
        that determining the authenticity of teachings attributed to Jesus
        would have been important in any theological controversy that arose.

        BM: These are suppositions stacked on
        each other, which makes a conclusion favourable to your case
        mathematically improbable.
        If he was not known early on to be a
        teacher, any teachings attributed to Jesus would have looked
        suspect. Written later, Mark’s gospel is still very “light” on
        Jesus’ teachings, but the later gospels will show many of them. We
        can see the trend.
        Paul did not develop his
        Christology/Christianity from teachings of Jesus, but from “Christ
        crucified (& resurrected)”, the OT, the Holy Spirit (!), and
        some revelations (!). Other epistle writers followed his lead.
        And if Jesus had been strictly
        mythical, teachings from his heavenlyness could as well be invented
        (with no interference from eyewitnesses!). Actually, early teachings
        by heavenly Jesus (as Paul “reported” a few times) would have
        been much easier to sell than teachings from someone not known to be
        a teacher.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To VinnyJH,

    Yes, I have to admit that 2Cor5:16-18 can be interpreted differently. Another example, the NIV comments on 5:16 as such: “Paul is admitting that before his conversion he held
    views of Christ that were worldly – based on purely human
    considerations”.
    I just wonder how Paul, either before or after his conversion, could have known Christ through worldly views if that Christ was thought to be (only) a heavenly being.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To VinnyJH,

    Yes, I have to admit that 2Cor5:16-18 can be interpreted differently. Another example, the NIV comments on 5:16 as such: “Paul is admitting that before his conversion he held
    views of Christ that were worldly – based on purely human
    considerations”.
    I just wonder how Paul, either before or after his conversion, could have known Christ through worldly views if that Christ was thought to be (only) a heavenly being.

  • GakuseiDon

    I agree with Michael Wilson there. Vinny is doing what Doherty does throughout his book: he evaluates Paul in terms of what **we** would expect Paul to write. But when looking at the early literature as a whole, we can see something else going on, even among the “HJ” writers of the time. That is the framework under which we should evaluate Paul, and Doherty simply hasn’t done that analysis.

    • VinnyJH

      GakuseiDon,

      Are you aware of anyone who has done that kind of analysis?  I think it would be valuable.  What I tend to find is historicists who simply make assertions like “Paul was writing epistles, not gospels” which I don’t find terribly helpful.

    • Earl Doherty

      Don, I shot this down in flames in my rebuttal to your review of JNGNM. Typical of you, you ignore what I have said on the matter and continue to restate your claim. It is why you are impossible to debate and why I essentially ignore you now.

  • GakuseiDon

    I agree with Michael Wilson there. Vinny is doing what Doherty does throughout his book: he evaluates Paul in terms of what **we** would expect Paul to write. But when looking at the early literature as a whole, we can see something else going on, even among the “HJ” writers of the time. That is the framework under which we should evaluate Paul, and Doherty simply hasn’t done that analysis.

    • VinnyJH

      GakuseiDon,

      Are you aware of anyone who has done that kind of analysis?  I think it would be valuable.  What I tend to find is historicists who simply make assertions like “Paul was writing epistles, not gospels” which I don’t find terribly helpful.

    • Earl Doherty

      Don, I shot this down in flames in my rebuttal to your review of JNGNM. Typical of you, you ignore what I have said on the matter and continue to restate your claim. It is why you are impossible to debate and why I essentially ignore you now.

  • GakuseiDon

    Vinny,

    Yes, I made that analysis in my website back in 2005, when I looked at Doherty’s view of the silence in Second Century literature. The link is below. You will also find a link to Doherty’s response there as well.
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/Doherty2ndC_Review.htm

  • GakuseiDon

    Vinny,

    Yes, I made that analysis in my website back in 2005, when I looked at Doherty’s view of the silence in Second Century literature. The link is below. You will also find a link to Doherty’s response there as well.
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/Doherty2ndC_Review.htm

  • GakuseiDon

    Vinny, I also added additional comments on this in my review of Doherty’s “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man”, here:
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/JNGNM_Review2.html

  • GakuseiDon

    Vinny, I also added additional comments on this in my review of Doherty’s “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man”, here:
    http://members.optusnet.com.au/gakuseidon/JNGNM_Review2.html

  • Gilgamesh42

    Since so much of the argument here from Dr. McGrath concerns the meaning of “brother of the Lord” in Gal 1:19, I am surprised no one has brought up early Christian commentary on this verse.  James is arguing that a biological understanding is the most obvious here and that other suggestions are weak in comparison.

    However, there are two sources to consider that may make this reading not so much more plausible than the non-genetic reading.  First I point to the First Apocalypse of James from the Nag Hammadi library.  It opens with Jesus calling James his brother “although you are not my brother materially.”  This is Gnostic literature and so has an agenda, but it does appear that the spiritual reading is plausible.

    More interesting is Origen, Contra Celsum 1.47.  There he cites this particular passage but says James was called ‘brother’ by Paul because he was righteous and had the right doctrine.  From what I can tell, this is the earliest commentary on this verse.

    With these sorts of statements from our earliest commentators on this matter, it seems that Dr. McGrath’s reading is not necessarily the default as it was not for Origen.  Had Doherty cited these sources, perhaps his case could have been better.  I won’t claim that this means the non-genetic meaning of ‘brother’ is improbable now, but it does take away some of the advantage by James wants to use against mythicists.

  • Anonymous

    Since so much of the argument here from Dr. McGrath concerns the meaning of “brother of the Lord” in Gal 1:19, I am surprised no one has brought up early Christian commentary on this verse.  James is arguing that a biological understanding is the most obvious here and that other suggestions are weak in comparison.

    However, there are two sources to consider that may make this reading not so much more plausible than the non-genetic reading.  First I point to the First Apocalypse of James from the Nag Hammadi library.  It opens with Jesus calling James his brother “although you are not my brother materially.”  This is Gnostic literature and so has an agenda, but it does appear that the spiritual reading is plausible.

    More interesting is Origen, Contra Celsum 1.47.  There he cites this particular passage but says James was called ‘brother’ by Paul because he was righteous and had the right doctrine.  From what I can tell, this is the earliest commentary on this verse.

    With these sorts of statements from our earliest commentators on this matter, it seems that Dr. McGrath’s reading is not necessarily the default as it was not for Origen.  Had Doherty cited these sources, perhaps his case could have been better.  I won’t claim that this means the non-genetic meaning of ‘brother’ is improbable now, but it does take away some of the advantage by James wants to use against mythicists.

  • Gilgamesh42

    Sorry, should read “I won’t claim that this means the non-genetic meaning of ‘brother’ is probable now…”

  • Anonymous

    Sorry, should read “I won’t claim that this means the non-genetic meaning of ‘brother’ is probable now…”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Gilgamesh, these arguments have been used here before. The are as valid as Doherty’s own arguments for determining the meaning of brother in relation to James. They are late and are solely for preserving the authors conclusion. It would be odd for the position that Jesus was spirit brother of James to be first, followed by the very popular Mark that literalized it, only to have everybody trying to cook up some reason it shouldn’t be taken literally.

    • VinnyJH

      It would be odd for the position that Jesus was spirit brother of James
      to be first, followed by the very popular Mark that literalized it, only
      to have everybody trying to cook up some reason it shouldn’t be taken
      literally.

      I don’t think that it would be any odder than the other changes that James undergoes in the New Testament.  For Paul, James the brother of Lord is a companion of Peter and an important figure in Jerusalem.  In Mark, Jesus’ family members think he is crazy.  Mark doesn’t demonstrate any knowledge of James playing any role in the Christian community.  In Luke/Acts, Jesus’ family members no longer call him crazy and his brothers are with the apostles in the upper room.  Nevertheless Luke never says that the James is one of Jesus’ brothers.

      I don’t think the confusion about James’ relationship to Jesus was anything “cooked up.”  It is the natural result of the diversity of the New Testament accounts.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        VinnyJH wrote:
        “Mark doesn’t demonstrate any knowledge of James playing any role in the Christian community.”
        BM: Why would he? His gospel does not cover the period after the alleged Empty Tomb. And James could have been not a follower of Jesus initially but eventually become one after his death. That’s what pieces of positive evidence show (from the earliest epistles and the earliest gospel).
        However, I understand your position. You look at all the confusion in the NT and other later Christian texts and you are overly skeptical (about HJ or MJ, among many other
        items).
        I agree, but only on a religious level, that is, that there is so much crap in these texts that Christian beliefs should be rejected.
        But if someone is inquisitive (as I) wants to know how Christianity started (and it did start), then you have to dig deeper and sort out the crap, not just tell about it and seat on the fence.

        • VinnyJH

          Bernard,

          I simply think that there is too much crap to do much more than talk generally about some possibilities.  I often make an analogy to the Mormons.  If we wanted to know how the Church of Latter Day Saints started, but the only information we had was the writings of its earliest adherents, we would be out of luck.  Without the writings of non-Mormons who dealt with Joseph Smith and his followers and ex-Mormons who left the fold, we wouldn’t be able to guess at much beyond the most general outline of the story.  Given that our source materials for the origins of Christianity are almost exclusively the writings of its most devoted adherents, I think we have to be content with examining what they believed without being able to say much with certainty about the actual historical events that gave rise to those beliefs.

          • Mike Wilson

            Bernard your thoughts on the “James brother to Jesus in terms of righteousness” from above is right on. I’m kicking my self for not noticing that he really isn’t deny they are blood relatives at all. While some mythicist make a big deal about James and Jude not mentioning the relation to Jesus in the letters, it makes sense that a movement so against the flesh wouldn’t hype blood relations of people in the group, especially if those blood relatives were at odds with your ideas.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Gilgamesh, these arguments have been used here before. The are as valid as Doherty’s own arguments for determining the meaning of brother in relation to James. They are late and are solely for preserving the authors conclusion. It would be odd for the position that Jesus was spirit brother of James to be first, followed by the very popular Mark that literalized it, only to have everybody trying to cook up some reason it shouldn’t be taken literally.

    • VinnyJH

      It would be odd for the position that Jesus was spirit brother of James
      to be first, followed by the very popular Mark that literalized it, only
      to have everybody trying to cook up some reason it shouldn’t be taken
      literally.

      I don’t think that it would be any odder than the other changes that James undergoes in the New Testament.  For Paul, James the brother of Lord is a companion of Peter and an important figure in Jerusalem.  In Mark, Jesus’ family members think he is crazy.  Mark doesn’t demonstrate any knowledge of James playing any role in the Christian community.  In Luke/Acts, Jesus’ family members no longer call him crazy and his brothers are with the apostles in the upper room.  Nevertheless Luke never says that the James is one of Jesus’ brothers.

      I don’t think the confusion about James’ relationship to Jesus was anything “cooked up.”  It is the natural result of the diversity of the New Testament accounts.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        VinnyJH wrote:
        “Mark doesn’t demonstrate any
        knowledge of James playing any role in the Christian community.”
        BM: Why would he? His gospel does not
        cover the period after the alleged Empty Tomb. And James could have
        been not a follower of Jesus initially but eventually become one
        after his death. That’s what pieces of positive evidence show (from
        the earliest epistles and the earliest gospel).
        However, I understand your position.
        You look at all the confusion in the NT and other later Christian
        texts and you are overly skeptical (about HJ or MJ, among many other
        items).
        I agree, but only on a religious
        level, that is, that there is so much crap in these texts that
        Christian beliefs should be rejected.
        But if (as I did) someone wants to
        know how Christianity started (and it did start), you have to dig
        deeper and sort out the crap, not just tell about it.

        • VinnyJH

          Bernard,

          I simply think that there is too much crap to do much more than talk generally about some possibilities.  I often make an analogy to the Mormons.  If we wanted to know how the Church of Latter Day Saints started, but the only information we had was the writings of its earliest adherents, we would be out of luck.  Without the writings of non-Mormons who dealt with Joseph Smith and his followers and ex-Mormons who left the fold, we wouldn’t be able to guess at much beyond the most general outline of the story.  Given that our source materials for the origins of Christianity are almost exclusively the writings of its most devoted adherents, I think we have to be content with examining what they believed without being able to say much with certainty about the actual historical events that gave rise to those beliefs.

          • Mike Wilson

            Bernard your thoughts on the “James brother to Jesus in terms of righteousness” from above is right on. I’m kicking my self for not noticing that he really isn’t deny they are blood relatives at all. While some mythicist make a big deal about James and Jude not mentioning the relation to Jesus in the letters, it makes sense that a movement so against the flesh wouldn’t hype blood relations of people in the group, especially if those blood relatives were at odds with your ideas.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Here is the passage mentioned by Gilgamesh (Origen, Contra Celsum 1.47 reads as such):
     “Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine.”
    BM: I see Origen acknowledged the blood relationship, but wanted more that James be considered Jesus’ brother because of (allegedly) common virtue & doctrine.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    Here is the passage mentioned by Gilgamesh (Origen, Contra Celsum 1.47read as such):
     “Paul, a genuine disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother
    of the Lord, not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their
    being brought up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine.”
    BM: I see Origen acknowledged the blood relationship, but wanted more that James be considered Jesus’ brother because of (allegedly) common virtue & doctrine.

  • VinnyJH

    These are suppositions stacked on each other, which makes a conclusion favourable to your case mathematically improbable.

    We know from 2 Thessalonians that people forged letters in Paul’s name in order to bolster their positions.  I think it pretty unlikely that someone wouldn’t have tried to bolster their position by attributing a teaching to Jesus.

    If Jesus was known not to be a teacher, that might explain the absence of any discussion of his teachings.  I don’t think that the possibility of being contradicted by eyewitnesses would slow down the process much though.

  • VinnyJH

    These are suppositions stacked on each other, which makes a conclusion favourable to your case mathematically improbable.

    We know from 2 Thessalonians that people forged letters in Paul’s name in order to bolster their positions.  I think it pretty unlikely that someone wouldn’t have tried to bolster their position by attributing a teaching to Jesus.

    If Jesus was known not to be a teacher, that might explain the absence of any discussion of his teachings.  I don’t think that the possibility of being contradicted by eyewitnesses would slow down the process much though.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , could you provide a link to where you “shot Don’s arguments down in flames” so that the rest of us can judge for ourselves?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , could you provide a link to where you “shot Don’s arguments down in flames” so that the rest of us can judge for ourselves?

  • GeoffHudson

    James wrote:”One piece of evidence in favor of there having been a historical Jesus is the fact that Paul, our earliest Christian source, makes reference to having met “James the brother of the Lord”. (Gal.1.19) 

    Gal. 1: 13-24 The editor is guilty of a complete dissimulation.  He knows that James himself wrote this epistle, so he has his pseudo author Paul apparently seeing only James and the fictitious Peter in Jerusalem.  He then, apparently, isolates Paul from James by having him unknown to the Judean assemblies, despite saying Paul persecuted them.   “They only heard the report” of his conversion, and Paul is whisked away to Syria and Cilicia. The whole passage is inconsistent, and has the distinct odour of fabrication.  
     
     

  • Anonymous

    James wrote:”One piece of evidence in favor of there having been a historical Jesus is the fact that Paul, our earliest Christian source, makes reference to having met “James the brother of the Lord”. (Gal.1.19) 

    Gal. 1: 13-24 The editor is guilty of a complete dissimulation.  He knows that James himself wrote this epistle, so he has his pseudo author Paul apparently seeing only James and the fictitious Peter in Jerusalem.  He then, apparently, isolates Paul from James by having him unknown to the Judean assemblies, despite saying Paul persecuted them.   “They only heard the report” of his conversion, and Paul is whisked away to Syria and Cilicia. The whole passage is inconsistent, and has the distinct odour of fabrication.  
     
     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I think the entirety of Gdons work should be linked to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    I think the entirety of Gdons work should be linked to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, your right Earl doeas suggest that the teachings thought to be directed at docetics are in fact refrences to his lost MJ Christians
    “First of all, there are indications in epistles around the turn of the second century that there were indeed circles of the faith which denied the fact that Jesus had been on earth. Ignatius, in his insistence that Jesus had truly been born of Mary, baptized by John and crucified by Pilate, condemns those who do not preach such a Christ. Nor is this directed against simple docetism. (I have argued this in an Appendix of The Jesus Puzzle.) The first two epistles of John speak of those who do not acknowledge Jesus as having come in the flesh, an argument made by an appeal to the proper “spirit,” meaning revelation, not historical tradition; the author refers to such circles of belief as “Antichrist.” (See my Supplementary Article No. 2.) ”
    http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesGDon.htm

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, your right Earl doeas suggest that the teachings thought to be directed at docetics are in fact refrences to his lost MJ Christians
    “First of all, there are indications in epistles around the turn of the second century that there were indeed circles of the faith which denied the fact that Jesus had been on earth. Ignatius, in his insistence that Jesus had truly been born of Mary, baptized by John and crucified by Pilate, condemns those who do not preach such a Christ. Nor is this directed against simple docetism. (I have argued this in an Appendix of The Jesus Puzzle.) The first two epistles of John speak of those who do not acknowledge Jesus as having come in the flesh, an argument made by an appeal to the proper “spirit,” meaning revelation, not historical tradition; the author refers to such circles of belief as “Antichrist.” (See my Supplementary Article No. 2.) ”
    http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesGDon.htm

  • GeoffHudson

    “Bernard Muller” wrote 2Cor. 5.16.

    5.14.For [Christ’s love] {the Spirit} compels us, because we are convinced that 

    [one died for all, and therefore all died. 
    5.15.And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
    5.16. So from now on]

    we regard no-one from a [worldly] {priest’s} point of view. Though we once regarded [Christ] {people} in this way, we do so no longer.

    There must be agreement between “no-one” and “people”.

    2 Corinthians was originally written in a Jewish context of priests and prophets, a prophet being the writer.  5.15 is obviously a later interpolation.

  • GeoffHudson

    “Bernard Muller” wrote 2Cor. 5.16.

    5.14.For [Christ’s love] {the Spirit} compels us, because we are convinced that 

    [one died for all, and therefore all died. 
    5.15.And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.
    5.16. So from now on]

    we regard no-one from a [worldly] {priest’s} point of view. Though we once regarded [Christ] {people} in this way, we do so no longer.

    There must be agreement between “no-one” and “people”.

    2 Corinthians was originally written in a Jewish context of priests and prophets, a prophet being the writer.  5.15 is obviously a later interpolation.

  • GeoffHudson

    “people” could be “everyone” in 2 Cor.5.16.

    “we” occurs consistently four times in 5.14 and 5.16.  Clearly these verses follow-on.  5.14b “one died” to 5.16a “so from now on” is interpolation.  

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      @f3a85ef3587d266dd38f72f6413e00d6:disqus , All I have to say in response to your many comments so far is about the word “clearly” which you keep repeating. Borrowing from The Princess Bride, “That word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • GeoffHudson

    “people” could be “everyone” in 2 Cor.5.16.

    “we” occurs consistently four times in 5.14 and 5.16.  Clearly these verses follow-on.  5.14b “one died” to 5.16a “so from now on” is interpolation.  

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      @f3a85ef3587d266dd38f72f6413e00d6:disqus , All I have to say in response to your many comments so far is about the word “clearly” which you keep repeating. Borrowing from The Princess Bride, “That word you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means.”

  • Earl Doherty

    I am very tempted to give up on this blog, because it’s workings are too chaotic in terms of postings. Quite apart from the layout garbling it (only sometimes) does to posts constructed in a simple Word program, I made a few short “replies” to various posts yesterday, expecting them to be attached to the posts I was replying to. Instead, today I find that they have all been separated out in a group, with no “quote” record of what it is I am replying to. How can a blog function like this?

    One of my responses was to Don, who said:

    “Vinny is doing what Doherty does throughout his book: he evaluates Paul
    in terms of what **we** would expect Paul to write. But when looking at
    the early literature as a whole, we can see something else going on,
    even among the “HJ” writers of the time. That is the framework under
    which we should evaluate Paul, and Doherty simply hasn’t done that
    analysis.”

    I indicated (to Don, and he knows damn well what and where I am referring to) that I had shot down his contentions regarding our expectations of what Paul would write. Jim now asks me where I did this. He may remember that earlier, on another page, I referred to Don’s review of my new book, and to my rebuttal to that review which is now up on my website at: http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesDonJNGNM.htm
    Jim might be well advised to read the thing through, to find out what other extremely biased reviewers try to claim about JNGNM and how they are easily countered. It might help him avoid similar mistakes in his own attempts.

    I am not sure I am going to persist with replying to Jim and others on this blog. The technical difficulties seem to be creating too much trouble.

  • Earl Doherty

    I am very tempted to give up on this blog, because it’s workings are too chaotic in terms of postings. Quite apart from the layout garbling it (only sometimes) does to posts constructed in a simple Word program, I made a few short “replies” to various posts yesterday, expecting them to be attached to the posts I was replying to. Instead, today I find that they have all been separated out in a group, with no “quote” record of what it is I am replying to. How can a blog function like this?

    One of my responses was to Don, who said:

    “Vinny is doing what Doherty does throughout his book: he evaluates Paul
    in terms of what **we** would expect Paul to write. But when looking at
    the early literature as a whole, we can see something else going on,
    even among the “HJ” writers of the time. That is the framework under
    which we should evaluate Paul, and Doherty simply hasn’t done that
    analysis.”

    I indicated (to Don, and he knows damn well what and where I am referring to) that I had shot down his contentions regarding our expectations of what Paul would write. Jim now asks me where I did this. He may remember that earlier, on another page, I referred to Don’s review of my new book, and to my rebuttal to that review which is now up on my website at: http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesDonJNGNM.htm
    Jim might be well advised to read the thing through, to find out what other extremely biased reviewers try to claim about JNGNM and how they are easily countered. It might help him avoid similar mistakes in his own attempts.

    I am not sure I am going to persist with replying to Jim and others on this blog. The technical difficulties seem to be creating too much trouble.

  • Earl Doherty

    I guess it helps being under 40 (or whatever) these days. Older than that, the workings of computers and internet can be perplexing, and not too intuitive. OK, I see now how the Reply business works and where the quote is located. Now I have to solve the cut and paste business.

  • Earl Doherty

    I guess it helps being under 40 (or whatever) these days. Older than that, the workings of computers and internet can be perplexing, and not too intuitive. OK, I see now how the Reply business works and where the quote is located. Now I have to solve the cut and paste business.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , one can indicate replies easily, by mentioning the name of the person whom one is addressing. 
    Microsoft Word adds formatting to text, and so it is the use of that program that is creating issues, not the blog itself.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , one can indicate replies easily, by mentioning the name of the person whom one is addressing. 
    Microsoft Word adds formatting to text, and so it is the use of that program that is creating issues, not the blog itself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Earl, I think the belief that you “shot down” his contentions is a bit of an overstatement.
    “If this were the view of Paul and his contemporaries, that their Jesus had at some time lived on earth, we would expect a degree of speculation as to when and where he had lived, whether or what he might have taught, the role of other people in his life, especially those who had crucified him; we would expect an interpretation of him in terms of his possible earthly circumstances. We would also expect to find questions about these things put to apostles like Paul, and efforts by Paul to answer them as best he could.”

    Your observation here, which you think is best answered by your theory, is is completely erroneous, so your opinion on “The expectations quoted just above are things we have no reason to think would not be timeless and universal; they would be part of human nature,” is worthless. Conversation on this site have shown several reason why Paul is not fielding questions on “speculation as to when and where he had lived” or “whether or what he might have taught”.

    You expect this and your uneducated target audience expects this. I don’t because I don’t see it as issues in many later Christian letters, because Paul is writing to people who are already Christians so have presumably been familiarized with this, because Paul’s specific message has nothing to do with that kind of information, and that is why the churches collected them. Keep in mind that when people read Paul as a part of a normal reading of the NT, they aren’t wondering who Paul is talking about because they have just read narrative of what Jesus did up to the time of his death. Presumably, since Paul’s letters would not tell us enough to adopt his religion, he must have explained this sort of material to his congregation. Whether it was Jesus, the teacher born in Israel, crucified by Pilate, or Jesus the Logos, born of Wisdom, crucified by demons. I don’t evidence of Paul addressing a lot of frivolous subjects in his letters.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Mike:
      Doherty wrote rebuttal to anyone who did a critique of his books. I think it is very important to compare point by point the critique with the rebuttal. A lot of times, you will see Doherty is off target, making use of ambiguities in order to develop self-serving red herrings (which, of course, he “demolishes”), objecting with an avalanche of words with no “meat”, etc. One thing you do not see by looking only at Doherty’s rebuttal is all the points made by the critic which hit his views & interpretations and that he chooses to ignore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Earl, I think the beleif that you “shot down” his contentions is a bit os an overstatement.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Mike:
      Doherty wrote rebuttal to anyone who did a critique of his books. I think it is very important to compare point by point the critique with the rebuttal. A lot of times, you will see Doherty is off target, making use of ambiguities in order to develop self-serving red herrings (which, of course, he “demolishes”), objecting with an avalanche of words with no “meat”, etc. One thing you do not see by looking only at Doherty’s rebuttal is all the points made by the critic which hit his views & interpretations and that he chooses to ignore.

  • Earl Doherty

    Let’s try a “.txt” paste:

    By now we are all familiar with how much historicists
    rely on Galatians 1:19 and its “brother of the Lord” to find an
    historical Jesus within the epistles. It’s one of a small handful of life
    preservers thrown into the waters to try to rescue Paul from drowning in a
    mythical sea. I would like to put an additional emphasis on one of the
    arguments I have used to poke holes in this particular preserver. I have
    pointed out that Philippians 1:14 uses a similar phrase to Galatians 1:19,
    namely “brothers in the Lord” (ton
    adelphon en kurio
    ). This can hardly be taken any other way than
    meaning “fellow-believers in the Lord” and indicates the usage of a
    phrase to describe a group of sectarians Paul is acquainted with. The very fact
    that it is so similar to the Galatians phrase should be a strong argument that
    the latter is likely to have the same meaning.

     

    We might also include here the “brothers of the
    Lord” (hoi adelphoi tou kuriou of 1 Cor. 9:5. It would
    seem that both these phrases refer to members of a sect which is known by that
    name, with the preposition in it somewhat fluid and interchangeable. I referred
    to the difference in prepositions between Gal. 1:19 and Phil. 1:14 as
    “slight.” (Actually, in the “of” form, the preposition is
    understood within the genitive of the definite article before
    “Lord”.)

     

    Bernard, with his peerless command of language both
    English and Greek, disputed the “slight”. But let’s see if we can
    illustrate how there is essentially no difference in sample phrases which
    interchange these two prepositions. These examples can only be in English, but
    I would challenge anyone to demonstrate that in Greek there would be any
    particular prohibition to understanding these examples as essentially meaning
    the same thing, no matter which preposition/case is used.

     

    Example 1:

    “We are students in the art of love.”

    “We are students of the art of love.”

     

    Example 2:

    “We are fellow-seekers in the truth.”

    “We are fellow-seekers of the truth.”

     

    Example 3:

    “We are practitioners in outdoor sports.”

    “We are practitioners of outdoor sports.”

     

    Example 4:

    “We are advocates in the practice of
    rationality.”

    “We are advocates of the practice of
    rationality.”

     

    Given that Phil. 1:14 can only have the one meaning,
    these examples show that Galatians 1:19 could also have the same meaning,
    undercutting if not destroying any claim by historicists that the latter phrase
    can “only have one natural meaning,” namely that of sibling. Not even
    a probability of that meaning can be maintained, since nowhere else in the
    entire early record outside the Gospels is James identified as the sibling of
    Jesus, despite several inviting opportunities to do so, as in the letters of
    James and Jude, and also in Acts. Nor in the Gospel of Thomas (saying 12) is James
    identified as Jesus’ very brother (despite having heaven and earth made for
    him). Explanations for such silences are indeed ad hoc and entirely
    unconvincing (see JNGNM, note 29). And of course, we have the vast majority (if
    not them all) of Pauline/epistolary usages of “adelphos
    to mean a member of the sect.

     

    We can also note that the Gal. 1:19 (and 1 Cor. 9:5)
    phrase is “brother(s) of the Lord”, not “brother of Jesus”
    which we might expect if Paul’s thoughts were focused on a sibling relationship;
    whereas Phil. 1:14, which is focused on belief and membership in a sect, uses
    “the Lord” for such a focus, leading us to assume the same focus in
    Galatians with its similar language.

     

    The naïve claim that Galatians 1:19 can only have the
    meaning of sibling and is primary ‘proof’ of the existence of a human Jesus
    cannot stand, and is little short of ludicrous. And that’s even before we
    consider the feasibility of interpolation.

     

    So what’s left? Romans 1:3? Another passage as having
    only one possible meaning? Galatians 3:29, the gentiles as “seed of
    Abraham”: obviously NOT a physical linkage but a mystical one. Ergo,
    “seed of David” does not have only one possible meaning. “Born
    of woman”? Let’s wait until Jim gets to my Chapter 15.

     

    They’re falling like tenpins.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty:
      If “brother(s) of the Lord” means the same as “brother(s) in the Lord, and “in the Lord” (meaning Christian) is a common expression in the Pauline epistles, but never “of the Lord” (meaning Christian), then why Paul did not write “brother in the Lord” in Gal1:19?
      And noboby in the church of Jerusalem is called “brother” (meaning fellow Christian) or “in Christ” or “in the Lord”. How do you explain that?

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty,
      The gentiles might be seed of Abraham in Gal3:29, but Abraham was believed to have existed as an earthly human and these gentiles were also humans. So that might be not by blood, rather by adoption. However can a heavenly deity be  seed of Abraham (ref Gal3:16). If you answer yes, can you provide examples from the OT or NT? I can certainly provide quotes showing that human can be considered seed of another (real or believed as) earthy human.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty,
      Carrier did write to me there is no “brothers in the Lord” in Phil1:14:
      I quote him (emphasis mine): “And that once is in fact not what he claims, since the Greek says “most of the brethren having confidence in the lord because of my bonds more abundantly dare to speak the word of the Lord without fear.” Most modern Bibles conceal the fact that “in the Lord” is here the prepositional object of the participle of “have confidence” and not an identifier (“my bonds” being a causal clause, i.e. the cause of the confidence, not the object of “have confidence”). In other words, Paul is not calling Christians “brothers in the Lord” here at all. He is saying the brothers have confidence in the Lord. See the RSV translation for a more accurate rendering of the meaning of the Greek.”

  • Earl Doherty

    Let’s try a “.txt” paste:

    By now we are all familiar with how much historicists
    rely on Galatians 1:19 and its “brother of the Lord” to find an
    historical Jesus within the epistles. It’s one of a small handful of life
    preservers thrown into the waters to try to rescue Paul from drowning in a
    mythical sea. I would like to put an additional emphasis on one of the
    arguments I have used to poke holes in this particular preserver. I have
    pointed out that Philippians 1:14 uses a similar phrase to Galatians 1:19,
    namely “brothers in the Lord” (ton
    adelphon en kurio
    ). This can hardly be taken any other way than
    meaning “fellow-believers in the Lord” and indicates the usage of a
    phrase to describe a group of sectarians Paul is acquainted with. The very fact
    that it is so similar to the Galatians phrase should be a strong argument that
    the latter is likely to have the same meaning.

     

    We might also include here the “brothers of the
    Lord” (hoi adelphoi tou kuriou of 1 Cor. 9:5. It would
    seem that both these phrases refer to members of a sect which is known by that
    name, with the preposition in it somewhat fluid and interchangeable. I referred
    to the difference in prepositions between Gal. 1:19 and Phil. 1:14 as
    “slight.” (Actually, in the “of” form, the preposition is
    understood within the genitive of the definite article before
    “Lord”.)

     

    Bernard, with his peerless command of language both
    English and Greek, disputed the “slight”. But let’s see if we can
    illustrate how there is essentially no difference in sample phrases which
    interchange these two prepositions. These examples can only be in English, but
    I would challenge anyone to demonstrate that in Greek there would be any
    particular prohibition to understanding these examples as essentially meaning
    the same thing, no matter which preposition/case is used.

     

    Example 1:

    “We are students in the art of love.”

    “We are students of the art of love.”

     

    Example 2:

    “We are fellow-seekers in the truth.”

    “We are fellow-seekers of the truth.”

     

    Example 3:

    “We are practitioners in outdoor sports.”

    “We are practitioners of outdoor sports.”

     

    Example 4:

    “We are advocates in the practice of
    rationality.”

    “We are advocates of the practice of
    rationality.”

     

    Given that Phil. 1:14 can only have the one meaning,
    these examples show that Galatians 1:19 could also have the same meaning,
    undercutting if not destroying any claim by historicists that the latter phrase
    can “only have one natural meaning,” namely that of sibling. Not even
    a probability of that meaning can be maintained, since nowhere else in the
    entire early record outside the Gospels is James identified as the sibling of
    Jesus, despite several inviting opportunities to do so, as in the letters of
    James and Jude, and also in Acts. Nor in the Gospel of Thomas (saying 12) is James
    identified as Jesus’ very brother (despite having heaven and earth made for
    him). Explanations for such silences are indeed ad hoc and entirely
    unconvincing (see JNGNM, note 29). And of course, we have the vast majority (if
    not them all) of Pauline/epistolary usages of “adelphos
    to mean a member of the sect.

     

    We can also note that the Gal. 1:19 (and 1 Cor. 9:5)
    phrase is “brother(s) of the Lord”, not “brother of Jesus”
    which we might expect if Paul’s thoughts were focused on a sibling relationship;
    whereas Phil. 1:14, which is focused on belief and membership in a sect, uses
    “the Lord” for such a focus, leading us to assume the same focus in
    Galatians with its similar language.

     

    The naïve claim that Galatians 1:19 can only have the
    meaning of sibling and is primary ‘proof’ of the existence of a human Jesus
    cannot stand, and is little short of ludicrous. And that’s even before we
    consider the feasibility of interpolation.

     

    So what’s left? Romans 1:3? Another passage as having
    only one possible meaning? Galatians 3:29, the gentiles as “seed of
    Abraham”: obviously NOT a physical linkage but a mystical one. Ergo,
    “seed of David” does not have only one possible meaning. “Born
    of woman”? Let’s wait until Jim gets to my Chapter 15.

     

    They’re falling like tenpins.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty:
      If “brother(s) of the Lord” means the same as “brother(s) in the Lord, and “in the Lord” (meaning Christian) is a common expression in the Pauline epistles, but never “of the Lord” (meaning Christian), then why Paul did not write “brother in the Lord” in Gal1:19?
      And noboby in the church of Jerusalem is called “brother” (meaning fellow Christian) or “in Christ” or “in the Lord”. What do you make out of that?

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty,
      The gentiles might be seed of Abraham in Gal3:29, but Abraham was believed to have existed as an earthly human and these gentiles were also humans. So that might be not by blood, rather by adoption. However can a heavenly deity be  seed of Abraham (ref Gal3:16). If you answer yes, can you provide examples from the OT or NT? I can certainly provide quotes showing that human can be considered seed of another human.  

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Doherty,
      Carrier did write to me there is no “brothers in the Lord” in Phil1:14:
      I quote him (emphasis mine): “And that once is in fact not what he claims, since the Greek says “most of the brethren having confidence in the lord because of my bonds more abundantly dare to speak the word of the Lord without fear.” Most modern Bibles conceal the fact that “in the Lord” is here the prepositional object of the participle of “have confidence” and not an identifier (“my bonds” being a causal clause, i.e. the cause of the confidence, not the object of “have confidence”). In other words, Paul is not calling Christians “brothers in the Lord” here at all. He is saying the brothers have confidence in the Lord. See the RSV translation for a more accurate rendering of the meaning of the Greek.”

  • Earl Doherty

    I give up.

    Well, you will all have to live with this damn layout garbage, because I cannot type a posting like this straight into the box.

  • Earl Doherty

    I give up.

    Well, you will all have to live with this damn layout garbage, because I cannot type a posting like this straight into the box.

  • Earl Doherty

    And why the hell would any blog system create half a dozen blank lines out of one Return symbol in Word? This is the latest blog technology???

  • Earl Doherty

    And why the hell would any blog system create half a dozen blank lines out of one Return symbol in Word? This is the latest blog technology???

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, Word inserts formatting into text. If you use Word, this is what will happen. I honestly don’t mind the extra spaces. They do not seem to me to distract from your points.

    But your points are weak. It is simply not the case that “of” in all expressions can substitute for “in” and vice versa. What you need is some example of “sibling in” and “sibling of” being synonmous. Without that, your claim that they can be synonymous has no evidence to support it.

    As for your claim about Jesus vs. Lord, it too is seriously flawed. If someone living in England referred to the sister of the Queen rather than the sister of Elizabeth, not only would we not misunderstand the phrase, we would find it unsurprising. For Paul, Jesus is Lord. Since that is clear from what he wrote, it seems that your attempt to split these hairs will not open up a space wide enough for you to import your mythicist views into it.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, Word inserts formatting into text. If you use Word, this is what will happen. I honestly don’t mind the extra spaces. They do not seem to me to distract from your points.

    But your points are weak. It is simply not the case that “of” in all expressions can substitute for “in” and vice versa. What you need is some example of “sibling in” and “sibling of” being synonmous. Without that, your claim that they can be synonymous has no evidence to support it.

    As for your claim about Jesus vs. Lord, it too is seriously flawed. If someone living in England referred to the sister of the Queen rather than the sister of Elizabeth, not only would we not misunderstand the phrase, we would find it unsurprising. For Paul, Jesus is Lord. Since that is clear from what he wrote, it seems that your attempt to split these hairs will not open up a space wide enough for you to import your mythicist views into it.

  • Earl Doherty

    Following someone’s suggestion, I have fed this through Notepad.

    Mike: Your observation here, which you think is best answered by your theory, is completely erroneous, so your opinion on “The expectations quoted just above are things we have no reason to think would not be timeless and universal; they would be part of human nature,” is worthless. Conversation on this site have shown several reason why Paul is not fielding questions on “speculation as to when and where he had lived” or “whether or what he might have taught”.

    Oh? And what has that “conversation” contributed to proving my expectations worthless, Mike? The claim that Paul never addressed anything to do with Jesus’ life, teachings, prophecies, anything before the bare fact of crucifixion, because everyone, in every community Paul and every other epistle writer ever wrote to, already knew everything there was to know about Jesus and none of those writers felt any need or urge to say anything of what they supposed everyone already knew? Because no one ever had any doubt or question to ask Paul about what Jesus had done or taught, or Paul never had any occasion to back up what he says by mentioning features of Jesus’ life? Is this a joke, Mike? Do you really consider such an explanation likely, let alone rational, with my expectations about such things “worthless”?

    Aside from you, Bernard and Jim, is there anyone else here who will stand up with a straight face and make such claims? Oh, I forgot. There’s Don as well. Why don’t we invite J. P. Holding to join the club, he’s made similar claims. When the defence of historicism is built on nonsense like this, mythicism might as well depart to more rational climes.

  • Earl Doherty

    Following someone’s suggestion, I have fed this through Notepad.

    Mike: Your observation here, which you think is best answered by your theory, is completely erroneous, so your opinion on “The expectations quoted just above are things we have no reason to think would not be timeless and universal; they would be part of human nature,” is worthless. Conversation on this site have shown several reason why Paul is not fielding questions on “speculation as to when and where he had lived” or “whether or what he might have taught”.

    Oh? And what has that “conversation” contributed to proving my expectations worthless, Mike? The claim that Paul never addressed anything to do with Jesus’ life, teachings, prophecies, anything before the bare fact of crucifixion, because everyone, in every community Paul and every other epistle writer ever wrote to, already knew everything there was to know about Jesus and none of those writers felt any need or urge to say anything of what they supposed everyone already knew? Because no one ever had any doubt or question to ask Paul about what Jesus had done or taught, or Paul never had any occasion to back up what he says by mentioning features of Jesus’ life? Is this a joke, Mike? Do you really consider such an explanation likely, let alone rational, with my expectations about such things “worthless”?

    Aside from you, Bernard and Jim, is there anyone else here who will stand up with a straight face and make such claims? Oh, I forgot. There’s Don as well. Why don’t we invite J. P. Holding to join the club, he’s made similar claims. When the defence of historicism is built on nonsense like this, mythicism might as well depart to more rational climes.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, you are making much out of silence in your comment to Mike. we can only speculate about why someone does not say what we expect them to. The key issue is what the positive evidence suggests, and when the positive evidence points to a historical Jesus (and it does), the silences may be puzzling, but they simply cannot serve as convincing evidence for mythicism. There are too many different ways to fill them.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, you are making much out of silence in your comment to Mike. we can only speculate about why someone does not say what we expect them to. The key issue is what the positive evidence suggests, and when the positive evidence points to a historical Jesus (and it does), the silences may be puzzling, but they simply cannot serve as convincing evidence for mythicism. There are too many different ways to fill them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Bernard, I had noticed alot of translations didn’t use Doherty’s perfered one, but lacked the background in Greek to wonder why.

    Earl, the problems of your expectations are;

     

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Bernard, I had noticed a lot of translations didn’t use Doherty’s preferred one, but lacked the background in Greek to wonder why.

    Earl, the problems of your expectations are the following premises;

    1: Paul never addressed anything to do with Jesus’ life, teachings, prophecies, anything before the bare fact of crucifixion: Paul does address some of those concerns, while you believe they do not, the arguments are dubious, as has been discussed, regarding Jesus having a brother, Jesus’ command on divorce, what he said the night he was handed over, his family lineage. In all cases the most natural meaning implies theses are facts reported about a real person.

    2:everyone, in every community Paul and every other epistle writer ever wrote to, already knew everything there was to know about Jesus and none of those writers felt any need or urge to say anything of what they supposed everyone already knew?: Do we have every epistle or letter from Paul? would we expect to know the questions of every member of those churches? Below a certain threshold of importance Paul is not going to spend much time addressing an issue in person, much less by letter. The less he writes about an issue the less are the chances we will have a copy of his thoughts on it. If I wanted to know now, “who is Jesus’ mother” or more specifically, did Jesus mother bottle feed him, do you think I could get an exchange with a bishop on that easily? You have this preposterous belief that Paul must have fielded more trivia question, or that his congregations had no clear idea on what Jesus did for them to believe he is messiah.

    3:no one ever had any doubt or question to ask Paul about what Jesus had done or taught, or Paul never had any occasion to back up what he says by mentioning features of Jesus’ life?: Again, why do you think we know what everyone thought? I think the doubts would have had to been sever for Paul to write about it frequently enough to ensure it would survive. And as we have said before, these questions a never particularly important in early Christianity, HJ or MJ.

  • Earl Doherty

    I’ve already dealt with a few of the points raised by Jim about my Chapter 6 of JNGNM.  I’ll catch up on this instalment of his review by sweeping a few others up for comment, just so nothing of import is left by the wayside. (“Brother of the Lord” has developed its own chain of debate, which I will return to presently.) Jim addresses the following:

    First, the lack of any appeal, on either side of the issue about circumcision, to the presumed fact that Jesus himself had been circumcised. Jim dismisses this silence by pointing out that Jesus was a Jew, automatically circumcised after birth, whereas the debate for Paul centered on whether gentiles also needed to be circumcised in order to join what was essentially a Jewish sect (even if it incorporated Hellenistic soteriological principles). Therefore, one had nothing to do with the other. Does this make sense? Hardly. Those urging circumcision for gentiles, whether they were Jews or not, though most likely they were, would have had every reason to appeal to Jesus’ own circumcision, arguing along these lines: “You want to join us Jews, subscribing to our God, our scripture, our way of life? You need to be circumcised, just as the very Messiah you want to worship and seek salvation from was himself circumcised. Now, even if Paul himself had wanted to avoid having to address such a consideration, his opponents would hardly have let him. He would have had to counter this sort of argument.

    ‘The gentiles were gentiles and the Jews were Jews’ hardly solves Jim’s conundrum. If a foreign national wishes to immigrate into another country, he can hardly refuse to conform to its laws and primary practices. (No, I won’t pay your income taxes, because we didn’t have such a thing where I come from! No, I won’t get a license to drive a car because we didn’t need a license in my country!) Right. And those pressing for adherence to those laws would have used any argument at their disposal, including that the man they were accepting as their new divinity had been circumcised. (What, you will refuse to emulate him?!) Paul himself, even in his own thinking, would have had to face that elephant in the room. As usual, Jim’s counter doesn’t work. And him appealing to the fact that Paul was not advocating that the Jews reverse their own circumcision, as though this has any relevance, is particularly ludicrous. He accuses me of various lacks of understanding, but his is abysmal if he does not recognize that Paul is trying to exempt a class of audience (an important target for him) because they would be much more amenable to conversion given that exemption, not because he thinks there is anything inherently wrong with circumcision, and Jews should ‘undo’ it.

  • Earl Doherty

    I’ve already dealt with a few of the points raised by Jim about my Chapter 6 of JNGNM.  I’ll catch up on this instalment of his review by sweeping a few others up for comment, just so nothing of import is left by the wayside. (“Brother of the Lord” has developed its own chain of debate, which I will return to presently.) Jim addresses the following:

    First, the lack of any appeal, on either side of the issue about circumcision, to the presumed fact that Jesus himself had been circumcised. Jim dismisses this silence by pointing out that Jesus was a Jew, automatically circumcised after birth, whereas the debate for Paul centered on whether gentiles also needed to be circumcised in order to join what was essentially a Jewish sect (even if it incorporated Hellenistic soteriological principles). Therefore, one had nothing to do with the other. Does this make sense? Hardly. Those urging circumcision for gentiles, whether they were Jews or not, though most likely they were, would have had every reason to appeal to Jesus’ own circumcision, arguing along these lines: “You want to join us Jews, subscribing to our God, our scripture, our way of life? You need to be circumcised, just as the very Messiah you want to worship and seek salvation from was himself circumcised. Now, even if Paul himself had wanted to avoid having to address such a consideration, his opponents would hardly have let him. He would have had to counter this sort of argument.

    ‘The gentiles were gentiles and the Jews were Jews’ hardly solves Jim’s conundrum. If a foreign national wishes to immigrate into another country, he can hardly refuse to conform to its laws and primary practices. (No, I won’t pay your income taxes, because we didn’t have such a thing where I come from! No, I won’t get a license to drive a car because we didn’t need a license in my country!) Right. And those pressing for adherence to those laws would have used any argument at their disposal, including that the man they were accepting as their new divinity had been circumcised. (What, you will refuse to emulate him?!) Paul himself, even in his own thinking, would have had to face that elephant in the room. As usual, Jim’s counter doesn’t work. And him appealing to the fact that Paul was not advocating that the Jews reverse their own circumcision, as though this has any relevance, is particularly ludicrous. He accuses me of various lacks of understanding, but his is abysmal if he does not recognize that Paul is trying to exempt a class of audience (an important target for him) because they would be much more amenable to conversion given that exemption, not because he thinks there is anything inherently wrong with circumcision, and Jews should ‘undo’ it.

  • Earl Doherty

    Second, Jim ridicules my pointing out that the epistles contain absolutely nothing about any personal life or characteristics of Jesus. He points out that the Gospels likewise contain none of these facets of Jesus. But he overlooks or ignores the fact that I myself point out the latter (page 63: “Even in the Gospels such things are scarcely to be found. There, Jesus of Nazareth as an individual and personality cannot be distinguished.”) I haven’t ignored the Gospels in this regard—they are part of the perplexing picture. This sort of counter is characteristic of GakuseiDon, who would have put it this way: We know that the Gospel writers believed in an HJ, yet they are silent on any personal data about Jesus; therefore, if Paul is equally silent, this cannot be an argument against him believing in an HJ.

    As usual, however, Don’s argument is as shallow as Jim’s. First of all, it is by no means sure that Mark believed in an HJ or was merely treating his Jesus figure as a symbolic one: something I address later in the book. If he did believe such a figure existed, the mythicist case entails the idea that Mark would have known nothing personal about this figure who in fact did not exist, a situation the other evangelists would have found themselves in as well, which is why no personal material about what is a very two-dimensional Jesus is included in the Gospels. So such silence in the Gospels and the silence in the epistles are actually mutually supportive of the no-Jesus theory. Of course, the subtleties of such a situation would be lost on both Jim and Don, who are capable of thinking only from a firmly entrenched position inside the box.

    Jim says that ancient literature had a lack of interest in their characters’ psychology. Is he referring to fictional characters, as in novels? That might be so, given the limitations of the ancients’ knowledge and understanding of human psychology. And that is part of my point about the lack of any in-depth portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels. He was a fictional character. And even if they envisioned their character as rooted in an actual historical man, they knew nothing about that man. They make no attempt to portray such a man’s experiences but concoct everything out of scripture.

    On the other hand, if the evangelists, and the epistle writers, were portraying and speaking of a man who lived on in the Christian mind through oral traditions (the usual claim), then something about that man and his features, his practices in life, would have been known and of interest, since he was supposedly a real man whom missionaries like Paul are making claims about, and trying to persuade potential converts to believe in as the Son of God. I’m not asking for deep psychological analysis here. But is Jim trying to tell us that not a single ‘history’ of Alexander the Great, or Hannibal, or Julius Caesar, ever tells us anything personal about him, his physical features, his motivations, never tries in the slightest to get inside his mind to understand him? Has he never read Thucydides?

    He claims to have read Pilgrim’s Progress. Where is the characterization of Pilgrim in that work? There is none, because Bunyan was not talking about, let alone trying to portray, a real individual. Pilgrim was a two-dimensional symbol and the reader knew it. That same lack of characterization in the Gospels spells the same thing. And the lack of it in Paul and the rest of the epistles, who speak only of their Christ as being “revealed” through scripture, similarly spells the lack of any human incarnation for their object of worship.

  • Earl Doherty

    Second, Jim ridicules my pointing out that the epistles contain absolutely nothing about any personal life or characteristics of Jesus. He points out that the Gospels likewise contain none of these facets of Jesus. But he overlooks or ignores the fact that I myself point out the latter (page 63: “Even in the Gospels such things are scarcely to be found. There, Jesus of Nazareth as an individual and personality cannot be distinguished.”) I haven’t ignored the Gospels in this regard—they are part of the perplexing picture. This sort of counter is characteristic of GakuseiDon, who would have put it this way: We know that the Gospel writers believed in an HJ, yet they are silent on any personal data about Jesus; therefore, if Paul is equally silent, this cannot be an argument against him believing in an HJ.

    As usual, however, Don’s argument is as shallow as Jim’s. First of all, it is by no means sure that Mark believed in an HJ or was merely treating his Jesus figure as a symbolic one: something I address later in the book. If he did believe such a figure existed, the mythicist case entails the idea that Mark would have known nothing personal about this figure who in fact did not exist, a situation the other evangelists would have found themselves in as well, which is why no personal material about what is a very two-dimensional Jesus is included in the Gospels. So such silence in the Gospels and the silence in the epistles are actually mutually supportive of the no-Jesus theory. Of course, the subtleties of such a situation would be lost on both Jim and Don, who are capable of thinking only from a firmly entrenched position inside the box.

    Jim says that ancient literature had a lack of interest in their characters’ psychology. Is he referring to fictional characters, as in novels? That might be so, given the limitations of the ancients’ knowledge and understanding of human psychology. And that is part of my point about the lack of any in-depth portrayal of Jesus in the Gospels. He was a fictional character. And even if they envisioned their character as rooted in an actual historical man, they knew nothing about that man. They make no attempt to portray such a man’s experiences but concoct everything out of scripture.

    On the other hand, if the evangelists, and the epistle writers, were portraying and speaking of a man who lived on in the Christian mind through oral traditions (the usual claim), then something about that man and his features, his practices in life, would have been known and of interest, since he was supposedly a real man whom missionaries like Paul are making claims about, and trying to persuade potential converts to believe in as the Son of God. I’m not asking for deep psychological analysis here. But is Jim trying to tell us that not a single ‘history’ of Alexander the Great, or Hannibal, or Julius Caesar, ever tells us anything personal about him, his physical features, his motivations, never tries in the slightest to get inside his mind to understand him? Has he never read Thucydides?

    He claims to have read Pilgrim’s Progress. Where is the characterization of Pilgrim in that work? There is none, because Bunyan was not talking about, let alone trying to portray, a real individual. Pilgrim was a two-dimensional symbol and the reader knew it. That same lack of characterization in the Gospels spells the same thing. And the lack of it in Paul and the rest of the epistles, who speak only of their Christ as being “revealed” through scripture, similarly spells the lack of any human incarnation for their object of worship.

  • Earl Doherty

    Third, Jim is similarly ineffectual in countering my observation that there is no mention anywhere in the epistles about Jesus having performed miracles. The best he can do is query why the heavenly Christ was not described as having performed miracles from heaven. Well, he was. Paul does not itemize particulars, but he refers more than once to “signs and wonders” he has performed as “Christ’s instrument” (Rom. 15:18, cf. 2 Cor. 12:12). And what about Hebrews 2:2-4? Traditional scholarship twists this account of a revelatory experience at the sect’s beginning into the preaching of Jesus, something that is demonstrably wrong, which he will find out in my Hebrews chapter. But if it were the preaching of Jesus, why are the accompanying miracles in verse 4 said to be by God, and not by Jesus?

    Jim suggests there were no legends of miracles by Jesus as early as Paul’s letter-writing days. But Q supposedly preserves such traditions, indicating that Paul ought to have at least encountered the idea, even if it were a post-Jesus development. Besides, how could a preacher of the Kingdom not have been claimed virtually from the start to be a worker of miracles, especially of healing, since that was an indispensable sign of his legitimacy and the coming of the Kingdom? And I have pointed out before that the fixation on the activities of the demons and the need to overcome them (as in Eph. 6:12) should have required of Jesus that he could exercise control over them through exorcist healings, as the Gospels were later to do. The Pauline corpus, along with all the rest of the early non-Gospel documents, are silent on any such thing. We might note that Jim simply accusing me of “not logically evaluating evidence” does not constitute a counter-argument or explanation.

    Finally, in his closing paragraph before his final round of insult and accusations of charlatanry, Jim refers to Hebrews 13’s “outside the gate” and the Didache’s eucharistic meal. But I can’t answer mere allusions to non-existent arguments that are not actually given.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Doherty wrote:”Now, even if Paul himself had wanted to avoid having to address such a consideration, his opponents would hardly have let him. He would have had to counter this sort of argument.”
      BM: I see here two suppositions stacked on each other. And I already addressed that: A circumcised Jesus would certainly not have help Paul to answer the Jewish Christians if they were trying to circumcise Gentiles. Paul simply could not have said: “Gentiles, do not get circumsised because Jesus was”. Totally absurd. Maybe those Jewish Christians said : “get circumcised because Jesus was”. And if it was true, certainly we see Paul in length explaining why those Gentiles did not need to be circumcised.

      “the epistles contain absolutely nothing about any personal life or characteristics of Jesus.”
      BM: Actually it does on one point:
      2Cor8:9 “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
      The argument is dubious and illogical but it states that Jesus was poor, in poverty. Now is it possible to be poor in the lower heavens?

      “But Q supposedly preserves such traditions, indicating that Paul ought to have at least encountered the idea, even if it were a post-Jesus development.”
      BM: according to my studies, most of Q was written after Mark’s gospel (therefore after Paul’s times), with knowledge of the later.

      As for Jesus the healer, Paul likely did not report that because healing was widely practiced, even by some of his Christians in Corinth, therefore somewhat mundane. And Paul did not have too much appreciation for that, and placed that “gift” towards the bottom:
      1Cor12:28  “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

  • Earl Doherty

    Third, Jim is similarly ineffectual in countering my observation that there is no mention anywhere in the epistles about Jesus having performed miracles. The best he can do is query why the heavenly Christ was not described as having performed miracles from heaven. Well, he was. Paul does not itemize particulars, but he refers more than once to “signs and wonders” he has performed as “Christ’s instrument” (Rom. 15:18, cf. 2 Cor. 12:12). And what about Hebrews 2:2-4? Traditional scholarship twists this account of a revelatory experience at the sect’s beginning into the preaching of Jesus, something that is demonstrably wrong, which he will find out in my Hebrews chapter. But if it were the preaching of Jesus, why are the accompanying miracles in verse 4 said to be by God, and not by Jesus?

    Jim suggests there were no legends of miracles by Jesus as early as Paul’s letter-writing days. But Q supposedly preserves such traditions, indicating that Paul ought to have at least encountered the idea, even if it were a post-Jesus development. Besides, how could a preacher of the Kingdom not have been claimed virtually from the start to be a worker of miracles, especially of healing, since that was an indispensable sign of his legitimacy and the coming of the Kingdom? And I have pointed out before that the fixation on the activities of the demons and the need to overcome them (as in Eph. 6:12) should have required of Jesus that he could exercise control over them through exorcist healings, as the Gospels were later to do. The Pauline corpus, along with all the rest of the early non-Gospel documents, are silent on any such thing. We might note that Jim simply accusing me of “not logically evaluating evidence” does not constitute a counter-argument or explanation.

    Finally, in his closing paragraph before his final round of insult and accusations of charlatanry, Jim refers to Hebrews 13’s “outside the gate” and the Didache’s eucharistic meal. But I can’t answer mere allusions to non-existent arguments that are not actually given.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Doherty wrote:”Now, even if Paul himself had wanted to avoid having to address such a consideration, his opponents would hardly have let him. He would have had to counter this sort of argument.”
      BM: I see here two suppositions stacked on each other. And I already addressed that: A circumcised Jesus would certainly not have help Paul to answer the Jewish Christians if they were trying to circumcise Gentiles. Paul simply could not have said: “Gentiles, do not get circumsised because Jesus was”. Totally absurd. Maybe those Jewish Christians said : “get circumcised because Jesus was”. And if it was true, certainly we see Paul at length explaining why those Gentiles did not need to be circumcised.

      “the epistles contain absolutely nothing about any personal life or characteristics of Jesus.”
      BM: Actually it does on one point:
      2Cor8:9 “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”
      The argument is dubious and illogical but it states that Jesus was poor, in poverty. Now is it possible to be poor in the lower heavens?

      “But Q supposedly preserves such traditions, indicating that Paul ought to have at least encountered the idea, even if it were a post-Jesus development.”
      BM: according to my studies, most of Q was written after Mark’s gospel (therefore after Paul’s times), with knowledge of the later.

      As for Jesus the healer, Paul likely did not report that because healing was widely practiced, even by some of his Christians in Corinth, therefore somewhat mundane. And Paul did not have too much appreciation for that, and placed that “gift” towards the bottom:
      1Cor12:28  “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.”

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, why would Paul have brought up the circumcision of Jesus in order to make his point that Gentiles can enter Christianity as Gentiles? He does the best he can to make his difficult case, appealing to Abraham being predicted to become “the father of many Gentiles/nations.” It was clearly an uphill battle.

    As for the flatness of real-life characters in ancient literature, I’d recommend reading Malina, Neyrey, and others who have done not only comparative literary but also social-scientific work on this subject.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, why would Paul have brought up the circumcision of Jesus in order to make his point that Gentiles can enter Christianity as Gentiles? He does the best he can to make his difficult case, appealing to Abraham being predicted to become “the father of many Gentiles/nations.” It was clearly an uphill battle.

    As for the flatness of real-life characters in ancient literature, I’d recommend reading Malina, Neyrey, and others who have done not only comparative literary but also social-scientific work on this subject.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, on your third point, it isn’t at all surprising that a genuine historical Jesus would not have done miracles. What should seem surprising to you is that your alleged celestial savior didn’t perform any. You might at some point wish to actually address that, since it seems that either your claim that Paul should have mentioned miracles must be wrong, or your claim that Jesus was a purely celestial sort of figure of the kind that ancient people expected to perform miracles for them is wrong. It isn’t clear to me that there is any way for you to salvage your argument from boomeranging around and hitting yourself from one side or the other in this way.

    • Neil Godfrey

      McGrath, it might help if you explain exactly why you think Doherty’s celestial savior should have performed miracles. Are you thinking that this heavenly savior should have performed miracles in heaven? What is your criticism, exactly?

       

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim, I’ve already answered this. Paul refers to miracles he has performed with the aid of the heavenly Christ, even if he doesn’t give particulars.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, on your third point, it isn’t at all surprising that a genuine historical Jesus would not have done miracles. What should seem surprising to you is that your alleged celestial savior didn’t perform any. You might at some point wish to actually address that, since it seems that either your claim that Paul should have mentioned miracles must be wrong, or your claim that Jesus was a purely celestial sort of figure of the kind that ancient people expected to perform miracles for them is wrong. It isn’t clear to me that there is any way for you to salvage your argument from boomeranging around and hitting yourself from one side or the other in this way.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      McGrath, it might help if you explain exactly why you think Doherty’s celestial savior should have performed miracles. Are you thinking that this heavenly savior should have performed miracles in heaven? What is your criticism, exactly?

       

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim, I’ve already answered this. Paul refers to miracles he has performed with the aid of the heavenly Christ, even if he doesn’t give particulars.

  • Earl Doherty

    In the matter of Philippians 1:14…

    This is a good example of debaters here relying on what others say, while being incapable of analyzing a claim for themselves, particularly where the Greek text is concerned.

    I have the utmost respect for Richard Carrier, but here, as Bernard has quoted him, I have to say that if Carrier is maintaining that his alternate translation is the only one possible, I cannot agree. And I’m not the only one. The majority of translations (despite what Mike Wilson claims) do NOT agree with him, and those translators, I daresay, are at least as competent in Greek as Carrier is. At best, the passage might be ambiguous. Here are the more common translations:

    KJV: “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold…”

    NIV: “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord, have been encouraged…”

    NAB: “most of my brothers in Christ, taking courage from my chains, have been further emboldened…”

    NEB: “(my imprisonment)…has given confidence to most of our fellow-Christians to speak the word of God…”

    The Translator’s New Testament: “Most of my Christian brothers have gained confidence through my imprisonment and are daring more…”

    Carrier has translated (according to Bernard): “most of the brethren having confidence in the lord because of my bonds more abundantly dare to speak the word of the Lord without fear.” But, as you can see, the above translations take the “having confidence” idea as linked to the idea of Paul being in chains, the latter words following on the former. They do not see it as governing the phrase that comes previously, “in the Lord” (en kuriō).

    The other problem is that if “being confident” (pepoithotas) is to be taken with the preceding “in the Lord”, this makes the following phrase about Paul in chains (tois desmois mou), which must in whatever case be dependent on the “being confident”, creating something of a contradiction, or perhaps better called a redundancy. Because then the “confidence” has turned its eyes in two different directions. Paul’s “brothers” are “confident” both in the Lord, and by virtue of Paul’s chains. This would be an awkward juxtaposition of thoughts. If they are confident because they have confidence in the Lord, is Paul also going to say that they are confident because of his own chains? The two thoughts are less than comfortably compatible.

    Why, according to Carrier above, would “the brethren have confidence in the lord because of my bonds”? Why would Paul being thrown in prison give them confidence in the lord? This strikes me as unnatural, even garbled. Whereas, simply “taking courage from my chains” (as in the NAB) is a natural thought, in the sense of being “inspired” by Paul’s chains. In fact, if we look back at the preceding sentence, the thought is focused entirely on those who recognize that Paul is in prison in the cause of Christ (as the NASB puts it). It follows that it is this situation, Paul in chains, which has given his fellow “brethren in the Lord” confidence to declare their message even more strongly; that it would give them confidence “in the Lord” (while not an impossible idea per se) simply doesn’t follow within the context.

    The NASB and the RSV also awkward-ize the verse, but they are in the minority. (Of course, there are other translations I have not surveyed, but others may do so.)

    However, one that is NOT in the minority is Bauer’s Lexicon, perhaps the most respected Lexicon of NT Greek for the last near-century. Bauer, under “peithō, def. 2.a (“put one’s confidence in with dative of the person or thing”), links the pepoithotas with the following dative “tois desmois mou Phil. 1:14.”

    So I’m sorry, but I do not agree with Carrier here, and certainly do not accept his reading as reliably demonstrating that ‘brothers in the Lord’ is not to be found in Phil. 1:14. I would suggest that Bernard and others avoid pontificating in the absence of any expertise whatever on their own part.

  • Earl Doherty

    In the matter of Philippians 1:14…

    This is a good example of debaters here relying on what others say, while being incapable of analyzing a claim for themselves, particularly where the Greek text is concerned.

    I have the utmost respect for Richard Carrier, but here, as Bernard has quoted him, I have to say that if Carrier is maintaining that his alternate translation is the only one possible, I cannot agree. And I’m not the only one. The majority of translations (despite what Mike Wilson claims) do NOT agree with him, and those translators, I daresay, are at least as competent in Greek as Carrier is. At best, the passage might be ambiguous. Here are the more common translations:

    KJV: “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold…”

    NIV: “Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord, have been encouraged…”

    NAB: “most of my brothers in Christ, taking courage from my chains, have been further emboldened…”

    NEB: “(my imprisonment)…has given confidence to most of our fellow-Christians to speak the word of God…”

    The Translator’s New Testament: “Most of my Christian brothers have gained confidence through my imprisonment and are daring more…”

    Carrier has translated (according to Bernard): “most of the brethren having confidence in the lord because of my bonds more abundantly dare to speak the word of the Lord without fear.” But, as you can see, the above translations take the “having confidence” idea as linked to the idea of Paul being in chains, the latter words following on the former. They do not see it as governing the phrase that comes previously, “in the Lord” (en kuriō).

    The other problem is that if “being confident” (pepoithotas) is to be taken with the preceding “in the Lord”, this makes the following phrase about Paul in chains (tois desmois mou), which must in whatever case be dependent on the “being confident”, creating something of a contradiction, or perhaps better called a redundancy. Because then the “confidence” has turned its eyes in two different directions. Paul’s “brothers” are “confident” both in the Lord, and by virtue of Paul’s chains. This would be an awkward juxtaposition of thoughts. If they are confident because they have confidence in the Lord, is Paul also going to say that they are confident because of his own chains? The two thoughts are less than comfortably compatible.

    Why, according to Carrier above, would “the brethren have confidence in the lord because of my bonds”? Why would Paul being thrown in prison give them confidence in the lord? This strikes me as unnatural, even garbled. Whereas, simply “taking courage from my chains” (as in the NAB) is a natural thought, in the sense of being “inspired” by Paul’s chains. In fact, if we look back at the preceding sentence, the thought is focused entirely on those who recognize that Paul is in prison in the cause of Christ (as the NASB puts it). It follows that it is this situation, Paul in chains, which has given his fellow “brethren in the Lord” confidence to declare their message even more strongly; that it would give them confidence “in the Lord” (while not an impossible idea per se) simply doesn’t follow within the context.

    The NASB and the RSV also awkward-ize the verse, but they are in the minority. (Of course, there are other translations I have not surveyed, but others may do so.)

    However, one that is NOT in the minority is Bauer’s Lexicon, perhaps the most respected Lexicon of NT Greek for the last near-century. Bauer, under “peithō, def. 2.a (“put one’s confidence in with dative of the person or thing”), links the pepoithotas with the following dative “tois desmois mou Phil. 1:14.”

    So I’m sorry, but I do not agree with Carrier here, and certainly do not accept his reading as reliably demonstrating that ‘brothers in the Lord’ is not to be found in Phil. 1:14. I would suggest that Bernard and others avoid pontificating in the absence of any expertise whatever on their own part.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    The comments on this post must be some kind of record. How many chapters are in this book? You have signed up to the tortures of the damned James, its like agreeing to review every episode “Wings”. I bet you $50 you won’t finish. We have a bet James?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      @Michael Wilson, I’ve blogged through a lot of TV shows. Even if I were a gambling man, are you sure you’d want me to take that bet? :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    The comments on this post must be some kind of record. How many chapters are in this book? You have signed up to the tortures of the damned James, its like agreeing to review every episode “Wings”. I bet you $50 you won’t finish. We have a bet James?

    • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

      @Michael Wilson, I’ve blogged through a lot of TV shows. Even if I were a gambling man, are you sure you’d want me to take that bet? :-)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl Doherty,

    I don’t see that it matters whether Philippians 1:14 has the expression “brothers in the Lord” or not since it is an expression whose meaning is clearly distinct from “brother(s) in the Lord.”

    • Earl Doherty

      I assume that you meant “brothers(s) OF the Lord” in that last phrase. (See, even you can’t tell the difference!)

      Earlier, I demonstrated several sample phrases interchanging the prepositions, where there is clearly no difference whatever in the meaning regardless of the preposition used. I think I recall (couldn’t locate the posting today) you claiming that none of this matters (huh??), that we would need an actual comparison using the word “sibling”. But then that would not be an analogy.

      Do you understand the meaning and purpose of an analogy? An analogy is never exactly the same as the thing on which you want to provide insight, which is the very thing that makes it useful. The thing itself (our comparison of “brother in” and “brother of”) resists understanding–or that understanding is resisted–and we try to get around that by offering a similar situation with other referents which may be more easily understood, or may get around the resistance.

      Unfortunately, you did not even try to understand the significance of my analogies in order to better see the point I was making in regard to “brothers of” and “brothers in”. I suggest you go back to those examples and try to actually demonstrate how they do not cast light on our situation.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        To Doherty:
        If “brother(s) of the Lord” means the same that “brother(s) in the Lord” (which may not have even been understood as such in Php1:14), then how do you explain “brother in the Lord” was not written in Galatians?
        And when Paul never used “of the Lord” for his fellow Christians.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl Doherty,

    I don’t see that it matters whether Philippians 1:14 has the expression “brothers in the Lord” or not since it is an expression whose meaning is clearly distinct from “brother(s) in the Lord.”

    • Earl Doherty

      I assume that you meant “brothers(s) OF the Lord” in that last phrase. (See, even you can’t tell the difference!)

      Earlier, I demonstrated several sample phrases interchanging the prepositions, where there is clearly no difference whatever in the meaning regardless of the preposition used. I think I recall (couldn’t locate the posting today) you claiming that none of this matters (huh??), that we would need an actual comparison using the word “sibling”. But then that would not be an analogy.

      Do you understand the meaning and purpose of an analogy? An analogy is never exactly the same as the thing on which you want to provide insight, which is the very thing that makes it useful. The thing itself (our comparison of “brother in” and “brother of”) resists understanding–or that understanding is resisted–and we try to get around that by offering a similar situation with other referents which may be more easily understood, or may get around the resistance.

      Unfortunately, you did not even try to understand the significance of my analogies in order to better see the point I was making in regard to “brothers of” and “brothers in”. I suggest you go back to those examples and try to actually demonstrate how they do not cast light on our situation.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        To Doherty:
        If “brother(s) of the Lord” means the same that “brother(s) in the Lord” (which may not have even been understood as such in Php1:14), then how do you explain “brother in the Lord” was not written in Galatians?
        And when Paul never used “of the Lord” for his fellow Christians.
         

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil Godfrey, would you not agree that if there is one thing that ancient human worshippers of savior deities and other celestial powers expected from them, it was assistance in time of need, primarily in the form of miracles? It does not seem to me at all surprising that an early source about a historical Jesus might not have much yet in the way of legends about earthly miracles he performed. But if it is, then how much more surprising is it that Paul doesn’t mention such miracles, if the figure in question was a heavenly savior figure.

    The Greek term for salvation regularly denotes healing. Miracle was one of the major types of “salvation” ancient people expected from their gods. Robin Lane Fox’s book on Christians and Pagans in the Roman world, as I recall, documents how religions competed for allegiance precisely by claiming that their god or gods came through with miracles more often and more effectively than others did.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      McGrath, I take it you are suggesting that for Doherty to be consistent he should expect Paul to speak of miracles performed from heaven. I take it you mean that he should be expected to be like a caring deity such as Isis and raise the sick on earth, etc. Is that a correct understanding of your criticism?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil Godfrey, would you not agree that if there is one thing that ancient human worshippers of savior deities and other celestial powers expected from them, it was assistance in time of need, primarily in the form of miracles? It does not seem to me at all surprising that an early source about a historical Jesus might not have much yet in the way of legends about earthly miracles he performed. But if it is, then how much more surprising is it that Paul doesn’t mention such miracles, if the figure in question was a heavenly savior figure.

    The Greek term for salvation regularly denotes healing. Miracle was one of the major types of “salvation” ancient people expected from their gods. Robin Lane Fox’s book on Christians and Pagans in the Roman world, as I recall, documents how religions competed for allegiance precisely by claiming that their god or gods came through with miracles more often and more effectively than others did.

    • Neil Godfrey

      McGrath, I take it you are suggesting that for Doherty to be consistent he should expect Paul to speak of miracles performed from heaven. I take it you mean that he should be expected to be like a caring deity such as Isis and raise the sick on earth, etc. Is that a correct understanding of your criticism?

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I would like to have the opinion by expert(s) in koine Greek about Carrier statements for Php1:14. Was Carrier right or wrong?

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I would like to have the opinion by expert(s) in koine Greek about Carrier statements for Php1:14. Was Carrier right or wrong?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Here is some info on Phil 1:14

    The exact relation of the phrase in the Lord to the context is debated. In Greek it lies between “the brothers” and “having confidence,” and it is therefore grammatically possible to connect it with either. KJV and ASV connect it with “the brothers.” NEB favors this construction by rendering “fellow Christians” (Gpd “Christian brothers”; NAB “brothers in Christ”). But this exegesis is questionable. In 2.24 Paul uses the same verb with “in the Lord.” Besides, whenever he speaks of “brethren” he always means “Christians,” and so to add “in the Lord” is really redundant. Consequently, to connect in the Lord with confidence, as TEV does, makes better sense (cf. Mft; Phps “taking fresh heart in the Lord”). The Lord is the basis of confidence and hope. That being the case, in a number of languages this relation must be expressed as one of cause, for example, “are more confident because of the Lord,” or even of agency, “the Lord has caused them to be more confident.” (Loh, I., & Nida, E. A. (1995], c1977). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.)

    1:14. τοὺς πλείονας τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐν κυρίῳ πεποιθότας (most of the brothers, trusting in the Lord): In favor of this translation is the fact that to construe τῶν ἀδελφῶν with ἐν κυρίῳ (the brothers in the Lord) results in an expression that occurs nowhere else and that some commentators regard as redundant (cf. Vincent, Hawthorne, and esp. Schenk 1984: 135); this objection is not decisive, however, because one could also speak of ἅγιοι ἐν Χριστῷ (v. 1) as redundant. Those who prefer to translate “the brothers in the Lord” point out that πεποιθώς normally occurs first in its clause; however, Lightfoot argues plausibly that in 1:14 ἐν κυρίῳ stands first for emphasis (but see Lohmeyer). It appears then that these various arguments and objections cancel out each other. As pointed out in the comments above, Paul’s apparent preference for using the verb πέποιθα with the preposition ἐν argues for construing ἐν κυρίῳ with πεποιθότας here, as the NASB translates. (Silva, M. (2005). Philippians (2nd ed.). Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (66). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Thanks Howard for the reply.
      I have the impression that Paul’s syntax in his epistles is rather poor, full of ambiguities, cutting off words, etc.
      A bit like broken Greek.
      Has it been observed that way by scholars?

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        @Bernard, I have looked through many of my sources, and they mostly agree that it was worded this way for emphasis. No one seems to think it is bad grammar as far as I can tell.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          @ Howard,
          If we take the wording according to the KJV (which follows the Greek closely), then we only have to add up parentheses (which did not exist, as also punctuation, in Paul’s times) to indicate what Paul probably meant:
          Php1:14 “And many of the brethren (in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds) are much more bold to speak the word without fear”
          OR, with commas,
          Php1:14 “And many of the brethren, in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear”
          With “ìn the Lord” in front for emphasis

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Here is some info on Phil 1:14

    The exact relation of the phrase in the Lord to the context is debated. In Greek it lies between “the brothers” and “having confidence,” and it is therefore grammatically possible to connect it with either. KJV and ASV connect it with “the brothers.” NEB favors this construction by rendering “fellow Christians” (Gpd “Christian brothers”; NAB “brothers in Christ”). But this exegesis is questionable. In 2.24 Paul uses the same verb with “in the Lord.” Besides, whenever he speaks of “brethren” he always means “Christians,” and so to add “in the Lord” is really redundant. Consequently, to connect in the Lord with confidence, as TEV does, makes better sense (cf. Mft; Phps “taking fresh heart in the Lord”). The Lord is the basis of confidence and hope. That being the case, in a number of languages this relation must be expressed as one of cause, for example, “are more confident because of the Lord,” or even of agency, “the Lord has caused them to be more confident.” (Loh, I., & Nida, E. A. (1995], c1977). A handbook on Paul’s letter to the Philippians.)

    1:14. τοὺς πλείονας τῶν ἀδελφῶν ἐν κυρίῳ πεποιθότας (most of the brothers, trusting in the Lord): In favor of this translation is the fact that to construe τῶν ἀδελφῶν with ἐν κυρίῳ (the brothers in the Lord) results in an expression that occurs nowhere else and that some commentators regard as redundant (cf. Vincent, Hawthorne, and esp. Schenk 1984: 135); this objection is not decisive, however, because one could also speak of ἅγιοι ἐν Χριστῷ (v. 1) as redundant. Those who prefer to translate “the brothers in the Lord” point out that πεποιθώς normally occurs first in its clause; however, Lightfoot argues plausibly that in 1:14 ἐν κυρίῳ stands first for emphasis (but see Lohmeyer). It appears then that these various arguments and objections cancel out each other. As pointed out in the comments above, Paul’s apparent preference for using the verb πέποιθα with the preposition ἐν argues for construing ἐν κυρίῳ with πεποιθότας here, as the NASB translates. (Silva, M. (2005). Philippians (2nd ed.). Baker exegetical commentary on the New Testament (66). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.)

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Thanks Howard for the reply.
      I have the impression that Paul’s syntax in his epistles is rather poor, full of ambiguities, cutting off words, etc.
      A bit like broken Greek.
      Has it been observed that way by scholars?

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        @Bernard, I have looked through many of my sources, and they mostly agree that it was worded this way for emphasis. No one seems to think it is bad grammar as far as I can tell.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          @ Howard,
          If we take the wording according to the KJV (which follows the Greek closely), then we only have to add up parentheses (which did not exist, as also punctuation, in Paul’s times) to indicate what Paul probably meant:
          Php1:14 “And many of the brethren (in the Lord waxing confident by my bonds) are much more bold to speak the word without fear”

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , as for tou kuriou taken as “in the Lord” I did a brief statistical analysis of the Phrase. And tou kuriou occures 150 times in the NT and it appears to be translated as “in the Lord” one time at 1 Thes 1:3. Is this enough to go on? Here are the 150 verses with tou kuriou.

    Matt 1:22; 2:15; 9:38; 25:18, 21, 23; Mark 16:20; Luke 1:6, 9, 15, 43; 10:2; 12:47; 16:5; 22:61; 24:3; John 6:23; 13:16; 15:20; Acts 3:19; 4:26, 33; 8:16, 25; 9:1, 29, 31; 10:48; 13:11f, 48f; 15:26, 35f; 16:32; 18:25; 19:5, 10, 13, 17, 20; 20:24, 35; 21:13f; 22:16; 28:31; Rom 1:4; 5:1, 11, 21; 7:25; 14:8; 15:6, 30; 16:20, 24; 1 Cor 1:2, 7ff; 5:4f; 6:11; 7:32, 34; 9:5; 11:23, 26f, 29; 14:37; 15:57f; 16:23; 2 Cor 1:3, 14; 4:10; 5:6, 11; 8:9, 19; 11:31; 13:14; Gal 1:19; 6:14, 17f; Eph 1:3, 17; 3:14; 5:17, 20; 6:8; Phil 3:8; 4:23; Col 1:3, 10; 1 Thess 1:3, 6, 8; 2:19; 3:13; 4:2, 15, 17; 5:9, 23, 28; 2 Thess 1:7ff, 12; 2:1, 14; 3:1, 6, 12, 18; 1 Tim 1:2, 14; 6:3, 14; 2 Tim 1:2, 8; 2:14; 4:1; Phlm 1:25; Heb 2:3; Jas 1:7; 2:1; 4:10; 5:7f, 14; 1 Pet 1:3; 2 Pet 1:2, 8, 11, 16; 2:20; 3:2, 15, 18; Jude 1:17, 21; Rev 11:15; 22:21

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , as for tou kuriou taken as “in the Lord” I did a brief statistical analysis of the Phrase. And tou kuriou occures 150 times in the NT and it appears to be translated as “in the Lord” one time at 1 Thes 1:3. Is this enough to go on? Here are the 150 verses with tou kuriou.

    Matt 1:22; 2:15; 9:38; 25:18, 21, 23; Mark 16:20; Luke 1:6, 9, 15, 43; 10:2; 12:47; 16:5; 22:61; 24:3; John 6:23; 13:16; 15:20; Acts 3:19; 4:26, 33; 8:16, 25; 9:1, 29, 31; 10:48; 13:11f, 48f; 15:26, 35f; 16:32; 18:25; 19:5, 10, 13, 17, 20; 20:24, 35; 21:13f; 22:16; 28:31; Rom 1:4; 5:1, 11, 21; 7:25; 14:8; 15:6, 30; 16:20, 24; 1 Cor 1:2, 7ff; 5:4f; 6:11; 7:32, 34; 9:5; 11:23, 26f, 29; 14:37; 15:57f; 16:23; 2 Cor 1:3, 14; 4:10; 5:6, 11; 8:9, 19; 11:31; 13:14; Gal 1:19; 6:14, 17f; Eph 1:3, 17; 3:14; 5:17, 20; 6:8; Phil 3:8; 4:23; Col 1:3, 10; 1 Thess 1:3, 6, 8; 2:19; 3:13; 4:2, 15, 17; 5:9, 23, 28; 2 Thess 1:7ff, 12; 2:1, 14; 3:1, 6, 12, 18; 1 Tim 1:2, 14; 6:3, 14; 2 Tim 1:2, 8; 2:14; 4:1; Phlm 1:25; Heb 2:3; Jas 1:7; 2:1; 4:10; 5:7f, 14; 1 Pet 1:3; 2 Pet 1:2, 8, 11, 16; 2:20; 3:2, 15, 18; Jude 1:17, 21; Rev 11:15; 22:21

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I notice the NIV has made a switch in Philippians 1:14

    FROM NIV 1984 edition

    13 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

    TO NIV 2011 edition

    13 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

    In the preceding verse, (13 “I am in chains for Christ”, as a martyr for a good cause). And brethen getting confident in the Lord would explain they dared all the more to proclaim the gospel.

    It is not the only time that a “martyr” would precipitate others in the same cause to go to action. Just like that Tunisian man who got arrested not too long ago, or that Iranian woman killed during protest against alleged fraudulent election results, or Rosa Parks in Alabama, whose arrest began a boycott, itself starting the Civil Rights Movement.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    I notice the NIV has made a switch in Philippians 1:14

    FROM NIV 1984 edition

    13 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.”

    TO NIV 2011 edition

    13 “As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

    In the preceding verse, (13 “I am in chains for Christ)”, as a martyr). And brethen getting confident in the Lord would explain they dared all the more to proclaim the gospel.

    It won’t be the first time that a “martyr” would precipitate others in the same cause to go to action. Just like that Tunisian man who got arrested not too long ago, or that Iranian woman killed during protest against alleged fraudulent election results.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil, that captures the gist of my point well.

    @Earl, what passage do you have in mind, when you say that Paul says he has performed miracles with the aid of the heavenly Christ?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil, that captures the gist of my point well.

    @Earl, what passage do you have in mind, when you say that Paul says he has performed miracles with the aid of the heavenly Christ?

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    It may be interesting that the phrase “ton adelphon tou” or even just the phrase “adelphon tou” occurs only twice in the NT, and none in the LXX. One being Gal 1:19 and the other being Mark 3:17, again with a blood relative in view.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    It may be interesting that the phrase “ton adelphon tou” or even just the phrase “adelphon tou” occurs only twice in the NT, and none in the LXX. One being Gal 1:19 and the other being Mark 3:17, again with a blood relative in view.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I trust that you can distinguish between a typo and genuine confusion. If you cannot find linguistic evidence that the genitive and the preposition en were interchangeable in reference to family relationships, then something analogous would be the next best thing, if you want your claim to have any credibility. What you have offered thus far are merely examples of instances in English where one may use either. But surely you admit that there are even more instances where they are not interchangeable. Can you provide something where the relationship is comparable enough to provide a genuine analogy?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I trust that you can distinguish between a typo and genuine confusion. If you cannot find linguistic evidence that the genitive and the preposition en were interchangeable in reference to family relationships, then something analogous would be the next best thing, if you want your claim to have any credibility. What you have offered thus far are merely examples of instances in English where one may use either. But surely you admit that there are even more instances where they are not interchangeable. Can you provide something where the relationship is comparable enough to provide a genuine analogy?

  • Earl Doherty

    Howard, I have never suggested that tou
    kuriou
    should be taken as “in the Lord”. Where did you get this idea? It should be taken as “of
    the Lord.”

     

    What I have said is that there is no identifiable difference
    in meaning between the two prepositions, in the context of “brethren (…) the
    Lord” and I illustrated that (or tried to, though Jim refused to consider it)
    by analogy with those sample phrases I listed a couple of days ago, such as:

     

    “We are seekers in the truth.”

    “We are seekers of the truth.”

     

    Actually, your pointer toward 1 Thes. 1:3 helps make that
    very case, though again by analogy, since the term “brother” is not involved:
    “(We remember)…your endurance inspired by hope IN our Lord Jesus Christ,” in
    which the IN is actually a genitive phrase, not an “en” plus the dative. While
    most translations employ “in”, the NEB
    acknowledges the genitive by translating it: “your hope of our Lord Jesus
    Christ,” illustrating that the two prepositions are indeed interchangeable
    without altering the meaning.

     

    In regard to your earlier, longer post on Phil. 1:14, you
    rightly point out (as I did) the grammatical ambiguity, in that “having
    confidence” can be connected with either the preceding “in the Lord” or the
    following “my chains” (you didn’t phrase it properly, but I got your meaning).

     

    But your claim that linking “having confidence” with “in the
    Lord” makes better sense might be better accompanied by you actually addressing my
    discussion of how it does NOT make better sense and rebutting the elements of
    that discussion. Especially in regard to the double dependency that would be
    created, linking the participle to a phrase in both directions with questionable compatibility.

     

    As to whether “brothers in the Lord” should be regarded as
    redundant (supposedly because within Paul’s circles “brethren” referred to a sectarian
    membership which already assumed the object of their sectarian orientation),
    such commentators overlook two points. Within the mythicist option, the phrase
    can be seen as an identifying one for the group, which it would have adopted at
    its formation. At that point, an enlargement on the term ‘brethren’ would be
    needed to create a self-referent phrase for the group.

     

    Also, while the actual “brothers in the Lord” may not appear
    anywhere else, the phrase “in Christ” and “in the Lord” are rampant Pauline
    fingerprints. The expression that someone (including Paul himself) is “in
    Christ” appears over a hundred times in the corpus. As for someone being “in
    the Lord” (en kuriō), let’s look at a few examples:

     

    Romans 16:8 – Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.

    Romans 16:11 –
    the family of Narcissus, being in the Lord. (Cf. 16:12,13,22)

     

    If so many individuals and even family groups can be spoken
    of as “in the Lord” (indeed, it seems to be a stock phrase), are we going to
    declare that “brothers in the Lord” would be unusual or unlikely?

     

    1 Cor. 4:17 –
    Timothy, a beloved child and faithful in the Lord. (Who is a “brother” but one
    who is faithful to the sect’s object of worship? Cf. 9:2, [Paul’s] apostleship
    in the Lord.)

     

    Eph. 2:21 – (the
    readers of the epistle are joined together) to become a holy shrine in the
    Lord. (Cf. Eph. 5:8, 6:1, 6:10, 6:21)

     

    In many cases are not these “in the Lord” phrases redundant,
    in that the thought ought to contain the assumption that such things are
    automatically related to “the Lord”? Yet Paul, and those writing in his name,
    constantly throw this phrase in like an echo, even where it is not needed.

     

    Colossians 4:7 – a fellow servant in the Lord. (Here we could
    note that “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.)

     

    There are scores of such usages of “in the Lord” in the
    Pauline corpus, and that’s not even counting the phrase when used in regard to
    an action, such as “stand fast in the Lord.” The pervasiveness of this phrase
    in Paul ought to sway that ambiguity in Phil. 1:14 in a decided direction, and
    it is not Carrier’s or the RSV’s.

     

    As for “Paul’s apparent preference for using the verb
    πέποιθα with the preposition ἐν,” this is not actually the case, even if we were to restrict
    ourselves to that one tense (2 perfect) of the verb peithō,
    which would in any case not be a legitimate exercise. In the 18 usages of
    peithō in the genuine Paulines, only three govern an “en”
    (Gal. 5:10, Phil. 2:24, and 3:3/4.) All three use πέποιθα. (We
    can’t include 1:14 because it is
    ambiguous and is the point under debate.) But six other usages of πέποιθα do
    not govern an “en”, and in fact, two govern the preposition
    epi” (2 Cor. 1:9 and 2:3), indicating that Paul’s ‘preference’
    is fluid, even in regard to the 2 perfect. For peithō in
    general, such a preference is non-existent. Two occurrences actually govern the
    dative (Romans 2:8 and Gal. 5:7) which is one of the possibilities in Phil.
    1:14.

    I never claimed Carrier was “wrong.” Just that he has chosen
    (for unknown reasons) one grammatical option which I am arguing is not the
    stronger and not to be preferred.

  • Earl Doherty

    Howard, I have never suggested that tou kuriou should be taken as “in the Lord”. It should be taken as “of the Lord.” Where did you get this idea?

    What I have said is that there is no identifiable difference in meaning between the two prepositions, in the context of “brethren (…) the Lord” and I illustrated that (or tried to, though Jim refused to consider it) by analogy with those sample phrases I listed a couple of days ago, such as:

    “We are seekers in the truth.”
    “We are seekers of the truth.”

    Actually, your pointer toward 1 Thes. 1:3 helps make that very case, though again by analogy, since the term “brother” is not involved: “(We remember)…your endurance inspired by hope IN our Lord Jesus Christ,” in which the IN is actually a genitive phrase, not an “en” plus the dative. While most translations employ “in”, the NEB acknowledges the genitive by translating it: “your hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,” illustrating that the two prepositions are indeed interchangeable without altering the meaning.

    In regard to your earlier, longer post on Phil. 1:14, you rightly point out (as I did) the grammatical ambiguity, in that “having confidence” can be connected with either the preceding “in the Lord” or the following “my chains” (you didn’t phrase it properly, but I got your meaning).

    But your claim that linking “having confidence” with “in the Lord” makes better sense might be more convincing if you actually addressed my discussion of how it does NOT make better sense and rebutted the elements of that discussion. Especially in regard to the double dependency that would be created, linking the participle to a phrase in both directions.

    As to whether “brothers in the Lord” should be regarded as redundant (supposedly because within Paul’s circles “brethren” referred to a sectarian membership which already assumes the object of their sectarian orientation), such commentators overlook two points. Within the mythicist option, the phrase can be seen as an identifying one for the group, which it would have adopted at its formation. At that point, an enlargement on the term ‘brethren’ would be needed to create a self-referent phrase for the group.

    Also, while the actual “brothers in the Lord” may not appear anywhere else, the phrase “in Christ” and “in the Lord” are rampant Pauline fingerprints. The expression that someone (including Paul himself) is “in Christ” appears over a hundred times in the corpus. As for someone being “in the Lord” (en kuriō), let’s look at a few examples:

    Romans 16:8 – Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
    Romans 16:11 – the family of Narcissus, being in the Lord. (Cf. 16:12,13,22)

    If so many individuals and even family groups can be spoken of as “in the Lord” (indeed, it seems to be a stock phrase), are we going to declare that “brothers in the Lord” would be unusual or unlikely?

    1 Cor. 4:17 – Timothy, a beloved child and faithful in the Lord. (Who is a “brother” but one who is faithful to the sect’s object of worship? Cf. 9:2, [Paul’s] apostleship in the Lord.)

    Eph. 2:21 – (the readers of the epistle are joined together) to become a holy shrine in the Lord. (Cf. Eph. 5:8, 6:1, 6:10, 6:21)

    In many cases are not these “in the Lord” phrases redundant, in that the thought ought to contain the assumption that such things are automatically related to “the Lord”? Yet Paul, and those writing in his name, constantly throw this phrase in like an echo, even where it is not needed.

    Colossians 4:7 – a fellowservant in the Lord. (Here we could note that “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.)

    There are scores of such usages of “in the Lord” in the Pauline corpus, and that’s not even counting the phrase when used in regard to an action, such as “stand fast in the Lord.” The pervasiveness of this phrase in Paul ought to sway that ambiguity in Phil. 1:14 in a decided direction, and it is not Carrier’s or the RSV’s.

    As for “Paul’s apparent preference for using the verb πέποιθα with the preposition ἐν,”
    this is not actually the case, even if we were to restrict ourselves to that one tense (2 perfect) of the verb peithō, which would in any case not be a legitimate exercise. In the 18 usages of “peithō in the genuine Paulines, only three govern an “en” (Gal. 5:10, Phil. 2:24, and 3:3/4.) All three use πέποιθα. (We can’t include 1:14 because it is ambiguous and is the point under debate.) But six other usages of πέποιθα do not govern an “en”, and in fact, two govern the preposition “epi” (2 Cor. 1:9 and 2:3), indicating that Paul’s ‘preference’ is fluid, even in regard to the 2 perfect. For peithō in general, such a preference is non-existent. Two occurrences actually govern the dative (Romans 2:8 and Gal. 5:7) which is one of the possibilities in Phil. 1:14.

    I never claimed Carrier was “wrong.” Just that he has chosen (for unknown reasons) one grammatical option which I am arguing is not the stronger and not to be preferred.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Doherty wrote:

      “Within the mythicist option, the phrase can be seen as an identifying one for the group, which it would have adopted at its formation. At that point, an enlargement on the term ‘brethren’ would be needed to create a self-referent phrase for the group.”

      BM: Can you supply evidence for a group based in Jerusalem called `Brothers of the Lord`? If you cannot, then here is one more case showing the mythicist option is based on NOTHING. But if you hold on this “option”, are you going to let Historicists also create their unevidenced options, just to be fair?

      “Also, while the actual “brothers in the Lord” may not appear anywhere else, the phrase “in Christ” and “in the Lord” are rampant Pauline fingerprints.”

      BM: And so what? There is no denial for that. But then if it is so rampant, why Paul, in two instances, did not use “brother(s) in the Lord”, but instead “brother(s) of the Lord”?
      Why did Paul break his pattern in these two cases?

      • Earl Doherty

        “BM: And so what? There is no denial for that. But then if it is so
        rampant, why Paul, in two instances, did not use “brother(s) in the
        Lord”, but instead “brother(s) of the Lord”?
        Why did Paul break his pattern in these two cases?”

        Partly because the pattern was interchangeable, so there was no “breaking” of it. You might as well ask why does Paul sometimes say “in Christ” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus our Lord”? While it was a stock kind of phrase, the exact wording was loose.

        But I have another suggestion. All those examples of “so-and-so in the Lord” are applied very broadly to believing and proselytizing Christians in all sorts of places. Whereas “brothers OF the Lord” is used in circumstances where Paul seems to be referring to a particular core group of apostles, centered in Jerusalem. If this was a self-referential phrase they had adopted for themselves, involving an “of” rather than “in”, then Paul would use that version for them.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Doherty wrote:

          “Partly because the pattern was interchangeable, so there was no “breaking” of it. You might as well ask why does Paul sometimes say “in Christ” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus our Lord”? While it was a stock kind of phrase, the exact wording was loose.”

          BM: This interchangeable pattern is a product of your imagination. You have no evidence for that. As for the “in Christ …” expressions, I do not see you mentioning “of Christ …” expressions used by Paul as interchangeable with “in Christ …”. And why would Paul replace “in” by “of” if he was confortable with the former? And suggest that James was a true brother of Jesus if Paul knew he was not?

          And for “that particular core group of apostles, centered in Jerusalem” calling themselves “brothers of the Lord”, also you do not have a shred of evidence to back it up. You are just imagining fiction on both counts. Do not pretend your work is about history.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      Earl,

      I really don’t see how I could take this idea any differently. You said, “What I have said is that there is no identifiable difference in meaning between the two prepositions, in the context of ‘brethren (…) the Lord.’” First, since there is only one occurrences of “brothers in the Lord” and one occurrence of “brothers of the Lord” and one occurrence of “brother of the Lord”  and two of these are what we are trying to determine, how can you make a statement like the above with so little data? Therefore, if your hypothesis is correct and there is very little difference, there should be a number of times that tou kuriou could have easily been translated as in the Lord. So I checked, and it was not the case. I understand that this was not an exhaustive examination of “tou”, that is why I said it was a brief analysis.

      As for your sample phrases, they do not necessarily have the same meaning.

      “We are seekers in the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who already has the truth, and you are seeking something else.

      “We are seekers of the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who does not have the truth but you are seeking it.

      I never said I had an opinion on which reading was correct in Phil 1:14. I merely posted the information from the commentaries. But I do think your view is a bit of a stretch for Gal 1:19. Here are the reasons I believe it is referring to a blood relative.

      1. Mark 6:3 list James as a brother of Jesus along with his mother.

      2. “ton adelphon tou” occurs only one other time with a blood relative in view.

      3. Since there were three people in the NT with the name James, it makes perfect sense that he would identify this James, who was not an apostle, by the fact that he was the brother of the Lord and not the brother in the Lord, as that would not have excluded him from being an apostle for which he just said he saw no other apostles.

  • Earl Doherty

    Howard, I have never suggested that tou kuriou should be taken as “in the Lord”. It should be taken as “of the Lord.” Where did you get this idea?

    What I have said is that there is no identifiable difference in meaning between the two prepositions, in the context of “brethren (…) the Lord” and I illustrated that (or tried to, though Jim refused to consider it) by analogy with those sample phrases I listed a couple of days ago, such as:

    “We are seekers in the truth.”
    “We are seekers of the truth.”

    Actually, your pointer toward 1 Thes. 1:3 helps make that very case, though again by analogy, since the term “brother” is not involved: “(We remember)…your endurance inspired by hope IN our Lord Jesus Christ,” in which the IN is actually a genitive phrase, not an “en” plus the dative. While most translations employ “in”, the NEB acknowledges the genitive by translating it: “your hope of our Lord Jesus Christ,” illustrating that the two prepositions are indeed interchangeable without altering the meaning.

    In regard to your earlier, longer post on Phil. 1:14, you rightly point out (as I did) the grammatical ambiguity, in that “having confidence” can be connected with either the preceding “in the Lord” or the following “my chains” (you didn’t phrase it properly, but I got your meaning).

    But your claim that linking “having confidence” with “in the Lord” makes better sense might be more convincing if you actually addressed my discussion of how it does NOT make better sense and rebutted the elements of that discussion. Especially in regard to the double dependency that would be created, linking the participle to a phrase in both directions.

    As to whether “brothers in the Lord” should be regarded as redundant (supposedly because within Paul’s circles “brethren” referred to a sectarian membership which already assumes the object of their sectarian orientation), such commentators overlook two points. Within the mythicist option, the phrase can be seen as an identifying one for the group, which it would have adopted at its formation. At that point, an enlargement on the term ‘brethren’ would be needed to create a self-referent phrase for the group.

    Also, while the actual “brothers in the Lord” may not appear anywhere else, the phrase “in Christ” and “in the Lord” are rampant Pauline fingerprints. The expression that someone (including Paul himself) is “in Christ” appears over a hundred times in the corpus. As for someone being “in the Lord” (en kuriō), let’s look at a few examples:

    Romans 16:8 – Greet Ampliatus, my beloved in the Lord.
    Romans 16:11 – the family of Narcissus, being in the Lord. (Cf. 16:12,13,22)

    If so many individuals and even family groups can be spoken of as “in the Lord” (indeed, it seems to be a stock phrase), are we going to declare that “brothers in the Lord” would be unusual or unlikely?

    1 Cor. 4:17 – Timothy, a beloved child and faithful in the Lord. (Who is a “brother” but one who is faithful to the sect’s object of worship? Cf. 9:2, [Paul’s] apostleship in the Lord.)

    Eph. 2:21 – (the readers of the epistle are joined together) to become a holy shrine in the Lord. (Cf. Eph. 5:8, 6:1, 6:10, 6:21)

    In many cases are not these “in the Lord” phrases redundant, in that the thought ought to contain the assumption that such things are automatically related to “the Lord”? Yet Paul, and those writing in his name, constantly throw this phrase in like an echo, even where it is not needed.

    Colossians 4:7 – a fellowservant in the Lord. (Here we could note that “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.)

    There are scores of such usages of “in the Lord” in the Pauline corpus, and that’s not even counting the phrase when used in regard to an action, such as “stand fast in the Lord.” The pervasiveness of this phrase in Paul ought to sway that ambiguity in Phil. 1:14 in a decided direction, and it is not Carrier’s or the RSV’s.

    As for “Paul’s apparent preference for using the verb πέποιθα with the preposition ἐν,”
    this is not actually the case, even if we were to restrict ourselves to that one tense (2 perfect) of the verb peithō, which would in any case not be a legitimate exercise. In the 18 usages of “peithō in the genuine Paulines, only three govern an “en” (Gal. 5:10, Phil. 2:24, and 3:3/4.) All three use πέποιθα. (We can’t include 1:14 because it is ambiguous and is the point under debate.) But six other usages of πέποιθα do not govern an “en”, and in fact, two govern the preposition “epi” (2 Cor. 1:9 and 2:3), indicating that Paul’s ‘preference’ is fluid, even in regard to the 2 perfect. For peithō in general, such a preference is non-existent. Two occurrences actually govern the dative (Romans 2:8 and Gal. 5:7) which is one of the possibilities in Phil. 1:14.

    I never claimed Carrier was “wrong.” Just that he has chosen (for unknown reasons) one grammatical option which I am arguing is not the stronger and not to be preferred.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Doherty wrote:

      “Within the mythicist option, the phrase can be seen as an identifying one for the group, which it would have adopted at its formation. At that point, an enlargement on the term ‘brethren’ would be needed to create a self-referent phrase for the group.”

      BM: Can you supply evidence for a group based in Jerusalem called `Brothers of the Lord`. If you cannot, then here is one more case showing the mythicist option is based on NOTHING. But if you hold on this “option”, are you going to let Historicists also create their unevidenced options, just to be fair?

      “Also, while the actual “brothers in the Lord” may not appear anywhere else, the phrase “in Christ” and “in the Lord” are rampant Pauline fingerprints.”

      BM: And so what? There is no denial for that. But then if it is so rampant, why Paul, in two instances, did not use “brother(s) in the Lord”, but instead “brother(s) of the Lord?

      • Earl Doherty

        “BM: And so what? There is no denial for that. But then if it is so
        rampant, why Paul, in two instances, did not use “brother(s) in the
        Lord”, but instead “brother(s) of the Lord”?
        Why did Paul break his pattern in these two cases?”

        Partly because the pattern was interchangeable, so there was no “breaking” of it. You might as well ask why does Paul sometimes say “in Christ” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus our Lord”? While it was a stock kind of phrase, the exact wording was loose.

        But I have another suggestion. All those examples of “so-and-so in the Lord” are applied very broadly to believing and proselytizing Christians in all sorts of places. Whereas “brothers OF the Lord” is used in circumstances where Paul seems to be referring to a particular core group of apostles, centered in Jerusalem. If this was a self-referential phrase they had adopted for themselves, involving an “of” rather than “in”, then Paul would use that version for them.

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Doherty wrote:

          “Partly because the pattern was interchangeable, so there was no “breaking” of it. You might as well ask why does Paul sometimes say “in Christ” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus” and sometimes “in Christ Jesus our Lord”? While it was a stock kind of phrase, the exact wording was loose.”

          BM: This interchangeable pattern is a product of your imagination. You have no evidence for that. As for the “in Christ …” expressions, I do not see you mentioning “of Christ …” expressions used by Paul as interchangeable with “in Christ …”. And why would Paul replace “in” by “of” if he was confortable with the former? And suggest that James was a true brother of Jesus if Paul knew he was not?

          And for “that particular core group of apostles, centered in Jerusalem” calling themselves “brothers of the Lord”, also you do not have a shred of evidence to back it up. You are just imagining fiction on both counts. Do not pretend your work is about history.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      Earl,

      I really don’t see how I could take this idea any differently. You said, “What I have said is that there is no identifiable difference in meaning between the two prepositions, in the context of ‘brethren (…) the Lord.’” First, since there is only one occurrences of “brothers in the Lord” and one occurrence of “brothers of the Lord” and one occurrence of “brother of the Lord”  and two of these are what we are trying to determine, how can you make a statement like the above with so little data? Therefore, if your hypothesis is correct and there is very little difference, there should be a number of times that tou kuriou could have easily been translated as in the Lord. So I checked, and it was not the case. I understand that this was not an exhaustive examination of “tou”, that is why I said it was a brief analysis.

      As for your sample phrases, they do not necessarily have the same meaning.

      “We are seekers in the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who already has the truth, and you are seeking something else.

      “We are seekers of the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who does not have the truth but you are seeking it.

      I never said I had an opinion on which reading was correct in Phil 1:14. I merely posted the information from the commentaries. But I do think your view is a bit of a stretch for Gal 1:19. Here are the reasons I believe it is referring to a blood relative.

      1. Mark 6:3 list James as a brother of Jesus along with his mother.

      2. “ton adelphon tou” occurs only one other time with a blood relative in view.

      3. Since there were three people in the NT with the name James, it makes perfect sense that he would identify this James, who was not an apostle, by the fact that he was the brother of the Lord and not the brother in the Lord, as that would not have excluded him from being an apostle for which he just said he saw no other apostles.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, I do not believe I have ever heard or read anyone use the expression “we are seekers in the truth.” Could you at least submit a recognized idiom or expression so that we can discuss whether it is comparable to the language Paul uses?

    Just out of curiosity, if there is no distinction between “brothers in the Lord” and “brothers of the Lord” in your opinion, then if Paul had wanted to indicate an actual sibling relationship, have you left him any language with which he could have done so?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      James, surely you can see you are setting up false dichotomies. Do you need more sleep? Surely you know that context clarifies the meaning of otherwise ambiguous wordings in any language. And surely you can see the question in Galatians is open because of the lack of detail to give us an ironclad certainty about one exclusive meaning.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “I do not believe I have ever heard or read anyone use the
      expression ‘we are seekers in the truth.’ Could you at least submit a
      recognized idiom or expression so that we can discuss whether it is
      comparable to the language Paul uses?”

      I gave you one, right from Paul himself:

      Colossians 4:7 – a fellow servant in the Lord. (Here we could note that
      “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.)

      Are you saying that the “of” and “in” are NOT interchangeable here? In fact (and I should have pointed this out before–ATTENTION ALL!!!), Col. 4:7 actually reads:

      “…Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.”

      This passage actually constitutes another example of the phrase “brother in the Lord,” supporting the non-Carrier reading of Phil. 1:14, since the “in” is attached to all three designations of Tychicus. (Though perhaps Bernard, with his unique and superior handling of grammar, will choose to deny this.)

      Jim: “Just out of curiosity, if
      there is no distinction between “brothers in the Lord” and “brothers of
      the Lord” in your opinion, then if Paul had wanted to indicate an actual sibling relationship, have you left him any language with which he could have done so”

      The meaning of “ambiguity” is that a word or phrase can be used and theoretically entail more than one meaning. On the other hand, if Paul had wanted to say a sibling of Jesus, I think he would have said “the brother of Jesus.” And if he had meant the sibling of Jesus, I think he would have spoken of James in that epistle with a little more respect and acknowledgement that he did indeed occupy a special and enviable place, instead of heaping scorn on him in 2:6 and criticizing his stance on the dining question.

      And what of 2:7-8? Here Paul goes to the gentiles and Peter (along with the rest of the Jerusalem apostles we can assume) goes to the Jews, under the authority of GOD, who works within them both. Is there the slightest hint that James is the sibling of Jesus and that he and Peter and the rest of the pillars, as earthly followers of Jesus, should have been thought of as being “entrusted” by Jesus himself with their proselytizing work?

      Do my endless string of passages and indicators like this have absolutely no effect on you, Jim? All this evidence for Jesus mythicism and anti-evidence for historicism simply carries no weight with you (and others)? Your constant scramble for ad hoc explanations for all the points I bring up in my book and here, that doesn’t trouble you? Yours is the proper “historical criticism” methodology, yet all the anomalies and silences and exclusions of an HJ and the consistency of exegesis in a way compatible with mythicism which can be winnowed from the texts at every turn, this is mythicist charlatanry?

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Earl, Sorry, its me again and I am going to have to disagree with you on Col 4:7. I know that the Greek has (en), but if you were going to translate it as “of”, I think it would be a mistranslation. You want to use it in the sense of “fellow servant of the Lord.” The problem is that these kinds of constructions can be written as “The mother of John” or “John’s mother.” So then would it be correct to say “The Lord’s fellow servant” calling Jesus a servant equal to Tychicus? I think this might be why none of the translations I checked used fellow servant of the Lord.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        Doherty quoted:

        “Colossians 4:7 – a fellow servant in the Lord. (Here we could note that “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.) … Col. 4:7 actually reads:
        “…Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.””

        BM: what’s the point?
        First: Colossians was not written by Paul. You cannot pretend Paul would have written that way.
        Second: I still do not see “of”. I see “in”. Certainly the author did not interchange “in” for “of”. Furthermore is is very clear here that Tychitus is presented as brother = Christian. And who is “in the Lord” is a combination of brother, faithful minister and fellow servant, not only brother as it looks for some in Phil1:14, except for Carrier, NIV 2011, RSV, NASB, Darby and some other scholars. You have no case here from that verse.

        Doherty wrote:
        “if Paul had wanted to say a sibling of Jesus, I think he would have said “the brother of Jesus.””

        BM: If Paul would have say that, mythicists would have rejoiced because that would be only here, in the whole of Galatians, that the word “Jesus” appears without “Christ” or/and “Lord”. They would immediately call for an interpolation. However “Lord” (meaning Jesus”) on its own occurs several times in the epistle and certainly “Lord” is interchangeable with “Jesus”.

        Doherty wrote:
        “And what of 2:7-8? Here Paul goes to the gentiles and Peter (along with the rest of the Jerusalem apostles we can assume) goes to the Jews, under the authority of GOD, who works within them both. Is there the slightest hint that James is the sibling of Jesus and that he and Peter and the rest of the pillars, as earthly followers of Jesus, should have been thought of as being “entrusted” by Jesus himself with their proselytizing work?”

        BM: Most of Gal2:7-8 is an interpolation because only here Peter is called “Peter” and not “Cephas” as in the rest of the epistle and 1 Corinthians. See http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/barnikol.htm for more details.
        Why do you assume Jesus entrusted James and Peter to preach his message? Who said James was a follower of earthly Jesus? Certainly “Mark” did not think so. Of course Paul did not reiterate James as a brother of Jesus in Gal2:9 because he already said it in Gal1:19.

        I can see here a lot of imagination & assumption turning into red herrings which of course are designed to be self-serving.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, I do not believe I have ever heard or read anyone use the expression “we are seekers in the truth.” Could you at least submit a recognized idiom or expression so that we can discuss whether it is comparable to the language Paul uses?

    Just out of curiosity, if there is no distinction between “brothers in the Lord” and “brothers of the Lord” in your opinion, then if Paul had wanted to indicate an actual sibling relationship, have you left him any language with which he could have done so?

    • Neil Godfrey

      James, surely you can see you are setting up false dichotomies. Do you need more sleep? Surely you know that context clarifies the meaning of otherwise ambiguous wordings in any language. And surely you can see the question in Galatians is open because of the lack of detail to give us an ironclad certainty about one exclusive meaning.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “I do not believe I have ever heard or read anyone use the
      expression ‘we are seekers in the truth.’ Could you at least submit a
      recognized idiom or expression so that we can discuss whether it is
      comparable to the language Paul uses?”

      I gave you one, right from Paul himself:

      Colossians 4:7 – a fellow servant in the Lord. (Here we could note that
      “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.)

      Are you saying that the “of” and “in” are NOT interchangeable here? In fact (and I should have pointed this out before–ATTENTION ALL!!!), Col. 4:7 actually reads:

      “…Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.”

      This passage actually constitutes another example of the phrase “brother in the Lord,” supporting the non-Carrier reading of Phil. 1:14, since the “in” is attached to all three designations of Tychicus. (Though perhaps Bernard, with his unique and superior handling of grammar, will choose to deny this.)

      Jim: “Just out of curiosity, if
      there is no distinction between “brothers in the Lord” and “brothers of
      the Lord” in your opinion, then if Paul had wanted to indicate an actual sibling relationship, have you left him any language with which he could have done so”

      The meaning of “ambiguity” is that a word or phrase can be used and theoretically entail more than one meaning. On the other hand, if Paul had wanted to say a sibling of Jesus, I think he would have said “the brother of Jesus.” And if he had meant the sibling of Jesus, I think he would have spoken of James in that epistle with a little more respect and acknowledgement that he did indeed occupy a special and enviable place, instead of heaping scorn on him in 2:6 and criticizing his stance on the dining question.

      And what of 2:7-8? Here Paul goes to the gentiles and Peter (along with the rest of the Jerusalem apostles we can assume) goes to the Jews, under the authority of GOD, who works within them both. Is there the slightest hint that James is the sibling of Jesus and that he and Peter and the rest of the pillars, as earthly followers of Jesus, should have been thought of as being “entrusted” by Jesus himself with their proselytizing work?

      Do my endless string of passages and indicators like this have absolutely no effect on you, Jim? All this evidence for Jesus mythicism and anti-evidence for historicism simply carries no weight with you (and others)? Your constant scramble for ad hoc explanations for all the points I bring up in my book and here, that doesn’t trouble you? Yours is the proper “historical criticism” methodology, yet all the anomalies and silences and exclusions of an HJ and the consistency of exegesis in a way compatible with mythicism which can be winnowed from the texts at every turn, this is mythicist charlatanry?

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Earl, Sorry, its me again and I am going to have to disagree with you on Col 4:7. I know that the Greek has (en), but if you were going to translate it as “of”, I think it would be a mistranslation. You want to use it in the sense of “fellow servant of the Lord.” The problem is that these kinds of constructions can be written as “The mother of John” or “John’s mother.” So then would it be correct to say “The Lord’s fellow servant” calling Jesus a servant equal to Tychicus? I think this might be why none of the translations I checked used fellow servant of the Lord.

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        Doherty quoted:

        “Colossians 4:7 – a fellow servant in the Lord. (Here we could note that “in” would be interchangeable with “of” with no change of meaning.) … Col. 4:7 actually reads:
        “…Tychicus the beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.””

        BM: what’s the point?
        First: Colossians was not written by Paul. You cannot pretend Paul would have written that way.
        Second: I still do not see “of”. I see “in”. Certainly the author did not interchange “in” for “of”. Furthermore is is very clear here that Tychitus is presented as brother = Christian. And who is “in the Lord” is a combination of brother, faithful minister and fellow servant, not only brother as it looks for some in Phil1:14, except for Carrier, NIV 2011, RSV, NASB, Darby and some other scholars. You have no case here from that verse.

        Doherty wrote:
        “if Paul had wanted to say a sibling of Jesus, I think he would have said “the brother of Jesus.””

        BM: If Paul would have say that, mythicists would have rejoiced because that would be only here, in the whole of Galatians, that the word “Jesus” appears without “Christ” or/and “Lord”. They would immediately called for an interpolation. However “Lord” (meaning Jesus”) on its own occurs several times in the epistle and certainly “Lord” is interchangeable with “Jesus”.

        Doherty wrote:
        “And what of 2:7-8? Here Paul goes to the gentiles and Peter (along with the rest of the Jerusalem apostles we can assume) goes to the Jews, under the authority of GOD, who works within them both. Is there the slightest hint that James is the sibling of Jesus and that he and Peter and the rest of the pillars, as earthly followers of Jesus, should have been thought of as being “entrusted” by Jesus himself with their proselytizing work?”

        BM: Most of Gal2:7-8 is an interpolation because only here Peter is called “Peter” and not “Cephas” as in the rest of the epistle and 1 Corinthians. See http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/barnikol.htm for more details.
        Why do you assume Jesus entrusted James and Peter to preach his message? Who said James was a follower of earthly Jesus? Certainly “Mark” did not think so. Of course Paul did not reiterate James as a brother of Jesus in Gal2:9 because he already said it in Gal1:19.

        I can see here a lot of imagination & assumption turning into red herrings which of course are designed to be self-serving.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil Godfrey, there are indeed ambiguous phrases in all languages. “Brothers of the Lord” does not appear to be one of them, however, and that is the problem I have with Earl’s stance on this. He is attempting to treat as ambiguous a phrase that is not so, and treat as synonymous and interchangeable two phrases that are clearly distinct.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You seem incapable of recognizing the fallacy in your reasoning. It is only unambiguous to you because of your own presuppositions. You are simply brushing aside any alternative argument. I personally suspect (but cannot be certain) your interpretation is correct, but I can also (unlike you) see the reasonableness of the alternative argument, and am quite open to it being the true answer. (But my suspicions that the traditional interpretation is correct are undermined by other arguments that the idea of James being a sibling of Jesus was a late, post-Pauline, concoction.)

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Neil Godfrey, there are indeed ambiguous phrases in all languages. “Brothers of the Lord” does not appear to be one of them, however, and that is the problem I have with Earl’s stance on this. He is attempting to treat as ambiguous a phrase that is not so, and treat as synonymous and interchangeable two phrases that are clearly distinct.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You seem incapable of recognizing the fallacy in your reasoning. It is only unambiguous to you because of your own presuppositions. You are simply brushing aside any alternative argument. I personally suspect (but cannot be certain) your interpretation is correct, but I can also (unlike you) see the reasonableness of the alternative argument, and am quite open to it being the true answer. (But my suspicions that the traditional interpretation is correct are undermined by other arguments that the idea of James being a sibling of Jesus was a late, post-Pauline, concoction.)

  • Earl Doherty

    James, leaving the specific context of Galatians aside, are you telling me that the term “brother of the Lord” could in your view NEVER, in any theoretical circumstance, be used or understood as a “devotee of the Lord” in the context of a religious cult?

  • Earl Doherty

    James, leaving the specific context of Galatians aside, are you telling me that the term “brother of the Lord” could in your view NEVER, in any theoretical circumstance, be used or understood as a “devotee of the Lord” in the context of a religious cult?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, are you admitting that mythicists are wiiling to leave context aside?

    Are you suggesting that we should interpret phrases as meaning what they could just possibly, on a scenario for which we have no evidence, rather than what they appear to based on the evidence we have?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, are you admitting that mythicists are wiiling to leave context aside?

    Are you suggesting that we should interpret phrases as meaning what they could just possibly, on a scenario for which we have no evidence, rather than what they appear to based on the evidence we have?

  • Earl Doherty

    Howard: As for your sample phrases, they do not necessarily have the same meaning.
    “We are seekers in the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who already has the truth, and you are seeking something else.
    “We are seekers of the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who does not have the truth but you are seeking it.”

    I think your first ‘interpretation’ is really strained. I hardly think anyone would say such a thing, particularly this way. No, my feeling for it is in the sense of “we are seekers in the service of the truth.”

    However, let me assure you that I am not making concrete claims for any of these understandings. I am offering them as suggestions for how I would understand and suggesting that others would too. If you disagree, that’s your prerogative. I can’t twist your mind’s arm. However, in some cases here, I can question whether predisposition may lead someone to close their minds to suggestions and alternative interpretations.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @Earl, I really have no issue with you, you are free to believe as you like. I myself have a number of ideas that go contrary to mainstream scholars. But I just can not believe you actually said to me that “I hardly think anyone would say such a thing.” The reason no one would say such a thing is because no one would say the thing I was interpreting. But anyway, here is why I disagree on the “of” and “in” thing.

      First I feel the translation of “in the Lord,” although a literal translation, it is not a meaningful translation. This becomes obvious when we replace the word lord with other nouns.

      The brother of the King
      The brother in the King

      Or

      The brother of the CEO
      The brother in the CEO

      The “in the” phrases just do not work and do not make any sense. I think “in the Lord” has remained in the Bible because many take it as some mystical notion. I however, feel that in these cases it should be translated as “in association with” as it makes much more sense.

      The brother of the King
      The brother in association with the King

      Or

      The brother of the CEO
      The brother in association with the CEO

      And

      The brother of the Lord
      The brother in association with the Lord

      So there are two distinct meanings at work here when the Greek uses “in” or “of” in Scripture. Just as you had to add the word “service,” a word not too dissimilar to association, to your sample for it to make sense, “we are seekers in the service of the truth.” But in reality, if you look close, you combined your two samples into one sentence by using both “in” and “of” for it to be meaningful.

      • Earl Doherty

        Good grief, Howard. Of course, brother of/in the king doesn’t work. I never said that every phrase involving the word “brother” would work equally well with either preposition. Why do you people not grasp even the simplest of ideas?

        I just gave Jim his requested example of how a case, right in Paul, Col. 4:7, worked equally well with “in” of “of” when a term equivalent to “brother” was employed with “the Lord” whether we would use “in” or “of”. (Of course, he ignored it and gave me more ridicule.) It was right alongside the actual usage of “brother” itself in the same connection.

        So in this case, it is NOT the case that when Greek uses “in” or “of” there have to be two distinct meanings at work. And some of those other sample analogies of comparisons do not convey two distinct meanings, whether you chose to acknowledge it or not.

        • Howard Mazzaferro

          Earl, I was not even referring to you or your view with my examples. I was attempting to show my disagreement for the translation of “in the Lord” and offered my thought on what it might mean. I did this by replacing Lord with King and CEO, to show that the phrase “in the Lord” is sort of nonsensical just as the examples of King and CEO were. If you do not think brother of/in the King is an exact parallel to brother of/in the Lord, then I have no idea how you define the phrase “in the Lord” Because brother in the king should have the exact same meaning as brother in the Lord. Is not Jesus described as both Lord and King?

  • Earl Doherty

    Howard: As for your sample phrases, they do not necessarily have the same meaning.
    “We are seekers in the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who already has the truth, and you are seeking something else.
    “We are seekers of the truth.” – This can be interpreted as you are someone who does not have the truth but you are seeking it.”

    I think your first ‘interpretation’ is really strained. I hardly think anyone would say such a thing, particularly this way. No, my feeling for it is in the sense of “we are seekers in the service of the truth.”

    However, let me assure you that I am not making concrete claims for any of these understandings. I am offering them as suggestions for how I would understand and suggesting that others would too. If you disagree, that’s your prerogative. I can’t twist your mind’s arm. However, in some cases here, I can question whether predisposition may lead someone to close their minds to suggestions and alternative interpretations.

    • Howard Mazzaferro

      @Earl, I really have no issue with you, you are free to believe as you like. I myself have a number of ideas that go contrary to mainstream scholars. But I just can not believe you actually said to me that “I hardly think anyone would say such a thing.” The reason no one would say such a thing is because no one would say the thing I was interpreting. But anyway, here is why I disagree on the “of” and “in” thing.

      First I feel the translation of “in the Lord,” although a literal translation, it is not a meaningful translation. This becomes obvious when we replace the word lord with other nouns.

      The brother of the King
      The brother in the King

      Or

      The brother of the CEO
      The brother in the CEO

      The “in the” phrases just do not work and do not make any sense. I think “in the Lord” has remained in the Bible because many take it as some mystical notion. I however, feel that in these cases it should be translated as “in association with” as it makes much more sense.

      The brother of the King
      The brother in association with the King

      Or

      The brother of the CEO
      The brother in association with the CEO

      And

      The brother of the Lord
      The brother in association with the Lord

      So there are two distinct meanings at work here when the Greek uses “in” or “of” in Scripture. Just as you had to add the word “service,” a word not too dissimilar to association, to your sample for it to make sense, “we are seekers in the service of the truth.” But in reality, if you look close, you combined your two samples into one sentence by using both “in” and “of” for it to be meaningful.

      • Earl Doherty

        Good grief, Howard. Of course, brother of/in the king doesn’t work. I never said that every phrase involving the word “brother” would work equally well with either preposition. Why do you people not grasp even the simplest of ideas?

        I just gave Jim his requested example of how a case, right in Paul, Col. 4:7, worked equally well with “in” of “of” when a term equivalent to “brother” was employed with “the Lord” whether we would use “in” or “of”. (Of course, he ignored it and gave me more ridicule.) It was right alongside the actual usage of “brother” itself in the same connection.

        So in this case, it is NOT the case that when Greek uses “in” or “of” there have to be two distinct meanings at work. And some of those other sample analogies of comparisons do not convey two distinct meanings, whether you chose to acknowledge it or not.

        • Howard Mazzaferro

          Earl, I was not even referring to you or your view with my examples. I was attempting to show my disagreement for the translation of “in the Lord” and offered my thought on what it might mean. I did this by replacing Lord with King and CEO, to show that the phrase “in the Lord” is sort of nonsensical just as the examples of King and CEO were. If you do not think brother of/in the King is an exact parallel to brother of/in the Lord, then I have no idea how you define the phrase “in the Lord” Because brother in the king should have the exact same meaning as brother in the Lord. Is not Jesus described as both Lord and King?

  • Earl Doherty

    As promised, I’m repeating my “brother of the Lord” latest posting here:

    A prosecuting attorney is preparing his case for trial. The accused has been charged with murder. The prosecution has three witnesses who will testify that they saw the accused outside the scene around the time of the murder. The accused’s fingerprints have been found at the scene and the murder weapon in a dumpster close to his home. The accused recently attended a shooting course at a local gun school. The victim is a relative of the accused who had just made out a will to leave all his money to the accused.

    On the other hand, the defense attorney has a witness who says he saw the accused in a bar on the other side of town at exactly the time of the murder.

    What is the prosecuting attorney going to do with that piece of apparently contrary evidence? Will he throw up his hands and admit defeat? Will he cave in to the defense claims that their witness’s testimony can only mean one thing: the accused was at the bar and thus could not have committed the murder. After all, isn’t that the simplest most natural way to take their witness’s testimony? Wouldn’t some other explanation be a case of contravening Occam’s Razor? Isn’t the prosecutor’s attempt to find some other explanation a case of sheer idiocy and incompetence on his part, and shouldn’t he be disbarred for suggesting any alternative explanation?

    Of course, we all know that the prosecuting attorney will quite legitimately attempt to find some other explanation. The witness’ recognition was faulty. Perhaps he was drunk at the time. He was wrong about the hour. The prosecutor may check the bar’s clock and find that it hadn’t been changed when Daylight Saving Time arrived. It might even be that the witness was lying.

    And what would we think of the defense attorney heaping scorn on the prosecutor for not seeing the only natural interpretation of the witness’ testimony, for conducting such investigations to find an alternative understanding? What would we think of him ignoring all the evidence for the accused’s guilt as though it didn’t exist and had no bearing on how that (alleged) contrary piece of evidence should be approached?

    And what would we think of that defense attorney if he continued his scorn and his stubborn adherence to his “only interpretation” claim, if the prosecutor did indeed find that the witness had had a dozen drinks, that some people remembered that the clock was indeed off, that the witness actually was a friend of the accused?

    Of course, these are rhetorical questions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

      Ha, Earl, this is the heart of the problem. Your case is nowhere near as persuasive as you think! You think, in your own mind, that you have developed this slam dunk case that Paul couldn’t have had a historical Jesus in mind, and you have a chorus of unqualified people desperately looking for some Christ Myth theory that has enough appearance of scholarship behind it to justify their paranoia at the the rest of scholarly community, rooting for you. But isn’t as though this one phrase is all that stands between your theory and its acceptance on logical grounds. All sorts of things are wrong with it. This is just one part of the problem. You have presented no evidence for your case, so in light of that an alibi is good enough. lets look at the next suspect.

      • Earl Doherty

        Dear Mike: When someone can say something as ridiculous as “you have presented no evidence for your case,” then we know that something is wrong with the disposition of the speaker. Why don’t you get a copy of JNGNM and rebut all of the evidence I present for mythicism? I wish you luck in doing a better job of it than Jim has so far, and he hasn’t even reached the tough parts of the book!

        I’d sure hate for you to be on the jury if I were accused of anything.

  • Earl Doherty

    As promised, I’m repeating my “brother of the Lord” latest posting here:

    A prosecuting attorney is preparing his case for trial. The accused has been charged with murder. The prosecution has three witnesses who will testify that they saw the accused outside the scene around the time of the murder. The accused’s fingerprints have been found at the scene and the murder weapon in a dumpster close to his home. The accused recently attended a shooting course at a local gun school. The victim is a relative of the accused who had just made out a will to leave all his money to the accused.

    On the other hand, the defense attorney has a witness who says he saw the accused in a bar on the other side of town at exactly the time of the murder.

    What is the prosecuting attorney going to do with that piece of apparently contrary evidence? Will he throw up his hands and admit defeat? Will he cave in to the defense claims that their witness’s testimony can only mean one thing: the accused was at the bar and thus could not have committed the murder. After all, isn’t that the simplest most natural way to take their witness’s testimony? Wouldn’t some other explanation be a case of contravening Occam’s Razor? Isn’t the prosecutor’s attempt to find some other explanation a case of sheer idiocy and incompetence on his part, and shouldn’t he be disbarred for suggesting any alternative explanation?

    Of course, we all know that the prosecuting attorney will quite legitimately attempt to find some other explanation. The witness’ recognition was faulty. Perhaps he was drunk at the time. He was wrong about the hour. The prosecutor may check the bar’s clock and find that it hadn’t been changed when Daylight Saving Time arrived. It might even be that the witness was lying.

    And what would we think of the defense attorney heaping scorn on the prosecutor for not seeing the only natural interpretation of the witness’ testimony, for conducting such investigations to find an alternative understanding? What would we think of him ignoring all the evidence for the accused’s guilt as though it didn’t exist and had no bearing on how that (alleged) contrary piece of evidence should be approached?

    And what would we think of that defense attorney if he continued his scorn and his stubborn adherence to his “only interpretation” claim, if the prosecutor did indeed find that the witness had had a dozen drinks, that some people remembered that the clock was indeed off, that the witness actually was a friend of the accused?

    Of course, these are rhetorical questions.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

      Ha, Earl, this is the heart of the problem. Your case is nowhere near as persuasive as you think! You think, in your own mind, that you have developed this slam dunk case that Paul couldn’t have had a histroical Jesus in mind, and you have a chorus of unqualified people

      • Earl Doherty

        Dear Mike: When someone can say something as ridiculous as “you have presented no evidence for your case,” then we know that something is wrong with the disposition of the speaker. Why don’t you get a copy of JNGNM and rebut all of the evidence I present for mythicism? I wish you luck in doing a better job of it than Jim has so far, and he hasn’t even reached the tough parts of the book!

        I’d sure hate for you to be on the jury if I were accused of anything.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I appreciate your taking the role of prosecuting attorney. However, scholars not only make the best case they can for a particular view in that sort of role, but also as a group serve as a jury and try to reach a verdict. As in a court of law, sometimes one piece of evidence is enough to acquit someone, in spite of other circumstantial evidence which, if that one decisive piece had been missing, might have led to a different verdict.

    Historians, like detectives, lawyers and juries, are dependent on what evidence happens to be available. It will always be the case that, if other evidence had survived, a different conclusion might have been called for. But can you understand why, given the state of the evidence, and in spite of your making the best case you were able to, the scholarly jury still finds Jesus “not guilty” of being a myth?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I appreciate your taking the role of prosecuting attorney. However, scholars not only make the best case they can for a particular view in that sort of role, but also as a group serve as a jury and try to reach a verdict. As in a court of law, sometimes one piece of evidence is enough to acquit someone, in spite of other circumstantial evidence which, if that one decisive piece had been missing, might have led to a different verdict.

    Historians, like detectives, lawyers and juries, are dependent on what evidence happens to be available. It will always be the case that, if other evidence had survived, a different conclusion might have been called for. But can you understand why, given the state of the evidence, and in spite of your making the best case you were able to, the scholarly jury still finds Jesus “not guilty” of being a myth?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, illustrating that there is more than one way to say the same thing is not what is needed. What you need to do is show why a phrase that is most naturally is understood to mean something different ought to be understood to mean the same thing. Language is not infinitely flexible.

    How do you know that there was a group of apostles that used this phrase in reference to themselves? Is this a claim which, if it were made by a mainstream scholar arguing for a view you disagree with, you would accept and consider persuasive?

    • Earl Doherty

      Are you claiming that nothing is ever proposed in the discipline of historical research to account for an anomaly in the evidence? Even if there isn’t a clear-cut surviving reference of it? You can’t hamstring historical research like that. Scholars make deductive proposals all the time from incomplete historical evidence, not the least NT scholars! And if their arguments and surrounding evidence were strong, I would not simply dismiss it per se. What I would do, if I did not agree, was try to come up with evidence and/or analysis which would undermine that proposal. (Just as I have in regard to Carrier’s reading of Phil. 1:14.)

      Which is something that by and large you do not do. Your idea of a counter-argument is to ask, is that the most natural way to take it, and if not (so you claim) doesn’t that discredit the possibility entirely? Is that the way the majority of scholars have always taken it? I don’t know if you can recognize that these are not logical and scientific forms of argument, let alone sufficient rebuttal.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, illustrating that there is more than one way to say the same thing is not what is needed. What you need to do is show why a phrase that is most naturally is understood to mean something different ought to be understood to mean the same thing. Language is not infinitely flexible.

    How do you know that there was a group of apostles that used this phrase in reference to themselves? Is this a claim which, if it were made by a mainstream scholar arguing for a view you disagree with, you would accept and consider persuasive?

    • Earl Doherty

      Are you claiming that nothing is ever proposed in the discipline of historical research to account for an anomaly in the evidence? Even if there isn’t a clear-cut surviving reference of it? You can’t hamstring historical research like that. Scholars make deductive proposals all the time from incomplete historical evidence, not the least NT scholars! And if their arguments and surrounding evidence were strong, I would not simply dismiss it per se. What I would do, if I did not agree, was try to come up with evidence and/or analysis which would undermine that proposal. (Just as I have in regard to Carrier’s reading of Phil. 1:14.)

      Which is something that by and large you do not do. Your idea of a counter-argument is to ask, is that the most natural way to take it, and if not (so you claim) doesn’t that discredit the possibility entirely? Is that the way the majority of scholars have always taken it? I don’t know if you can recognize that these are not logical and scientific forms of argument, let alone sufficient rebuttal.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, illustrating that there is more than one way to say the same thing is not what is needed. What you need to do is show why a phrase that is most naturally is understood to mean something different ought to be understood to mean the same thing. Language is not infinitely flexible.

    How do you know that there was a group of apostles that used this phrase in reference to themselves? Is this a claim which, if it were made by a mainstream scholar arguing for a view you disagree with, you would accept and consider persuasive?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, wow, you really believe that you a offering impressive arguments and persuasive evidence, don’t you.

    Why would he have said “brother of Jesus” when his normal practice, although not without exceptions, was to refer to Jesus as “the Lord” or “the Lord Jesus” or “Christ Jesus”? When you have reached a conclusion that Paul would have to break his habits of expression in order to convince you of his meaning, do you not see a problem?

    No, of course you don’t.

    • Earl Doherty

      No, I certainly don’t. You asked me if there was any language left for Paul to make it clear that he was referring to a sibling of Jesus. I gave it to you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, wow, you really believe that you a offering impressive arguments and persuasive evidence, don’t you.

    Why would he have said “brother of Jesus” when his normal practice, although not without exceptions, was to refer to Jesus as “the Lord” or “the Lord Jesus” or “Christ Jesus”? When you have reached a conclusion that Paul would have to break his habits of expression in order to convince you of his meaning, do you not see a problem?

    No, of course you don’t.

    • Earl Doherty

      No, I certainly don’t. You asked me if there was any language left for Paul to make it clear that he was referring to a sibling of Jesus. I gave it to you.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    So “Jesus’ brother” you would accept as a reference to a literal brother. What about “the Lord Jesus’ brother”? What about “Christ Jesus’ brother”? What about “Christ’s brother”? And finally, why not “the Lord’s brother” if Paul uses “Lord” in reference to Jesus often enough for it to be clear that for him, “the Lord” = “Jesus”?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    So “Jesus’ brother” you would accept as a reference to a literal brother. What about “the Lord Jesus’ brother”? What about “Christ Jesus’ brother”? What about “Christ’s brother”? And finally, why not “the Lord’s brother” if Paul uses “Lord” in reference to Jesus often enough for it to be clear that for him, “the Lord” = “Jesus”?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Why would anyone buy your book based on your defense of ti here? Nothing you have said is persuasive, I must presume the book is little better. Are you afraid to give good arguments for free? This is like a movie trailer that shows the most boring part of the movie but promises entertainment if you pay to see it. If you have a good argument to defend your book you should present it here.

    If your argument and surrounding evidence for Paul only knowing a mythical Jesus were strong, I would consider an unusual reading of this and other passages. But they aren’t. It is only if the offending verses are remodeled that it is even plausible, but with no evidence to suggest that Paul only knows of a mythical Jesus we must hold that any alternate reading of these verses is unlikely, though not impossible. If you had some good evidence that Jesus was conceived of by Paul as a purely mythical being, then we would need to entertain alternatives for these passages; interpolation, or or unusual word use, what have you. But if all we have is speculation that Paul thinks this, we can say, “well if all these passages are interpolations or should be understood in an unusual way then maybe Paul thinks Jesus is a mythical being.”, but based on that, the odds are very very small.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Why would anyone buy your book based on your defense of ti here? Nothing you have said is persuasive, I must presume the book is little better. Are you afraid to give good arguments for free? This is like a movie trailer that shows the most boring part of the movie but promises entertainment if you pay to see it. If you have a good argument to defend your book you should present it here.

    If your argument and surrounding evidence for Paul only knowing a mythical Jesus were strong, I would consider an unusual reading of this and other passages. But they aren’t. It is only if the offending verses are remodeled that it is even plausible, but with no evidence to suggest that Paul only knows of a mythical Jesus we must hold that any alternate reading of these verses is unlikely, though not impossible. If you had some good evidence that Jesus was conceived of by Paul as a purely mythical being, then we would need to entertain alternatives for these passages; interpolation, or or unusual word use, what have you. But if all we have is speculation that Paul thinks this, we can say, “well if all these passages are interpolations or should be understood in an unusual way then maybe Paul thinks Jesus is a mythical being.”, but based on that, the odds are very very small.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, it seems to me that you accept that “brother in” and “brother of” do not mean the same thing, except for instances where they have to be equivalent for mythicism to be true. Is that a fair assessment? If not, why not? In what other instance do you regard them as having the same meaning?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    @Earl, it seems to me that you accept that “brother in” and “brother of” do not mean the same thing, except for instances where they have to be equivalent for mythicism to be true. Is that a fair assessment? If not, why not? In what other instance do you regard them as having the same meaning?

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    What are my own presuppositions in this case? That a well-formulated grammatically-correct sentence, all other things being equal, probably means what it seems to? I don’t think I’m being any more demanding of Earl Doherty with respect to the meaning of this phrase than you have been of me on occasion!  :-)

    I’ll have to get to chapter 7 soon. In the mean time, if anyone is looking for a fresh mythicism-related discussion elsewhere, I linked recently to a discussion of a chapter by Robert Price on Ari’s Blog of Awesome which some may find interesting.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    What are my own presuppositions in this case? That a well-formulated grammatically-correct sentence, all other things being equal, probably means what it seems to? I don’t think I’m being any more demanding of Earl Doherty with respect to the meaning of this phrase than you have been of me on occasion!  :-)

    I’ll have to get to chapter 7 soon. In the mean time, if anyone is looking for a fresh mythicism-related discussion elsewhere, I linked recently to a discussion of a chapter by Robert Price on Ari’s Blog of Awesome which some may find interesting.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I just posted the next installment, on chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s book, for those who may be interested. Sorry it took me so long to get to it, but working on serious academic endeavors obviously has to take priority.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    I just posted the next installment, on chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s book, for those who may be interested. Sorry it took me so long to get to it, but working on serious academic endeavors obviously has to take priority.


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