Missing Your Daily Dose of Mythicism?

If you are disappointed that I have not blogged about mythicism today, here’s something that may make up for it: Tim O’Neill has posted a review of David Fitzgerald’s book Nailed. And since he says that mythicists needn’t try again to debate him on the subject, if anyone wishes to comment on the review here, they are free to do so.

I should specify, lest anyone assume otherwise, that I share it not because I agree with Tim on every single point, but because on the whole it seems fair and accurate, full of important points and useful relevant information. And it is absolutely worth reading and discussing if you are interested in mythicism – which presumably you are if you read this far!

  • Hjalti

    “Several other amateurs and hobbyists, like Richard Carrier,….”

    Richard Carrier an amateur or an hobbyist? :S

    • TheGoonhongo

      Carrier is a joke…I saw him debate William Lane Craig in Maryville, Missouri last year and he began by saying that he knew he had agreed to debate a certain topic but to heck with that he was going to talk about what he had wanted to in the first place.

      The audience of about 300 plus students was visibly shocked.

      He lost the debate.

      As he sheepishly admitted later on his blog.

      Then, later that year, he gave a lecture in Overland Park, Ks which lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and in which he used the term “Bullsh*t” TWENTY TWO times.  The first time or two was funny,  but by the Fifteeneth time or so even the largely atheist crowd was wondering what was wrong with him, and people started walking out.

      No wonder he has not gotten an academic post.  All they have to do is meet the guy in person.  Sheesh!

      • Landon Hedrick

        Goonhongo,

        Do you have a blogger account under the name “Morrison”?  If so, I’ve corrected you on this issue before, yet you consistently fail to take notice.

        In a debate about the resurrection of Jesus, it is perfectly on topic to argue that the Gospels are not historically reliable.  Carrier was arguing that we cannot get any historical facts from the Gospels because they belong to the genre of myth.  Craig rests his argument on the idea that we *can* get historical facts from the Gospels.  During and after the debate, Craig complained that Carrier had gone off topic, but in my opinion he is simply wrong (and I told him so as I drove him back to his hotel after the debate).  And you are also wrong.  If the Gospels can’t be trusted to give us any historical facts that we can be confident of, as Carrier alleges, then Craig’s argument is in trouble.  He’ll have to do what Mike Licona did in his recent debate with Carrier, in which he rested his entire case solely on Paul’s epistles.

        (By the way, there were more than 1,000 in attendance at that debate.)

        Also, regarding his research and writing of the mythicist books, he did not take payment from anyone with the understanding that he would argue for mythicism regardless of what he believed after doing all of the research.  He admitted that he could change his mind, and that mythicists who helped fund his research would have no grounds for complaint, because he was not contracting to write what they wanted to hear, he was contracting to write a book giving his expert opinion.  If you want to argue that he hasn’t engaged in “objective scholarship” during the course of his research and writing, you’ll have to come up with better evidence than the mere fact that people funded his work.  (And I doubt you could do that, given that you haven’t read the forthcoming books.)

  • Hjalti

    “Several other amateurs and hobbyists, like Richard Carrier,….”

    Richard Carrier an amateur or an hobbyist? :S

    • TheGoonhongo

      Carrier is a joke…I saw him debate William Lane Craig in Maryville, Missouri last year and he began by saying that he knew he had agreed to debate a certain topic but to heck with that he was going to talk about what he had wanted to in the first place.

      The audience of about 300 plus students was visibly shocked.

      He lost the debate.

      As he sheepishly admitted later on his blog.

      Then, later that year, he gave a lecture in Overland Park, Ks which lasted about an hour and fifteen minutes and in which he used the term “Bullsh*t” TWENTY TWO times.  The first time or two was funny,  but by the Fifteeneth time or so even the largely atheist crowd was wondering what was wrong with him, and people started walking out.

      No wonder he has not gotten an academic post.  All they have to do is meet the guy in person.  Sheesh!

      • Landon Hedrick

        Goonhongo,

        Do you have a blogger account under the name “Morrison”?  If so, I’ve corrected you on this issue before, yet you consistently fail to take notice.

        In a debate about the resurrection of Jesus, it is perfectly on topic to argue that the Gospels are not historically reliable.  Carrier was arguing that we cannot get any historical facts from the Gospels because they belong to the genre of myth.  Craig rests his argument on the idea that we *can* get historical facts from the Gospels.  During and after the debate, Craig complained that Carrier had gone off topic, but in my opinion he is simply wrong (and I told him so as I drove him back to his hotel after the debate).  And you are also wrong.  If the Gospels can’t be trusted to give us any historical facts that we can be confident of, as Carrier alleges, then Craig’s argument is in trouble.  He’ll have to do what Mike Licona did in his recent debate with Carrier, in which he rested his entire case solely on Paul’s epistles.

        (By the way, there were more than 1,000 in attendance at that debate.)

        Also, regarding his research and writing of the mythicist books, he did not take payment from anyone with the understanding that he would argue for mythicism regardless of what he believed after doing all of the research.  He admitted that he could change his mind, and that mythicists who helped fund his research would have no grounds for complaint, because he was not contracting to write what they wanted to hear, he was contracting to write a book giving his expert opinion.  If you want to argue that he hasn’t engaged in “objective scholarship” during the course of his research and writing, you’ll have to come up with better evidence than the mere fact that people funded his work.  (And I doubt you could do that, given that you haven’t read the forthcoming books.)

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

    I still don’t know what to make of Richard Carrier. I was pleased to discover that his interview about arguments mythicists shouldn’t use is now back online, but the last piece by him that I read was still assuming a historical Jesus, with a disclaimer at the very ending indicating that he now found himself less certain. I would love to read an academic presentation by him articulating his current views in a scholarly way. I’d also like to see him pursue a mainstream academic career and present his views and arguments to his peers, so that they can begin to get rigorous feedback from other historians.

    Be that as it may, clearly he is not an amateur historian; whether he is a hobbyist with respect to mythicism is another matter. :-P

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

      To Dr. McGrath,
      I think Carrier is an excellent scholar on ancient history, a good proponent & defender of atheism, but on the matter of  a (or not) historical Jesus, well that’s very different. I also know he is not confortable with a fully mythical Jesus but he got donations in order to make a book for mythicists. I do not want to be in his shoes.
      When was that “last piece by him” written?
      Is it available on the web?  

      • TheGoonhongo

        Carrier admits that he writes books for hire.

        Lets not pretend that he is engaging in “Objective Scholarship” when he does that.

        • TruthOverfaith

          So is Dr. McGrath, and every other paid author, not engaging in “objective scholarship”?

          As long as Carriers’ opinions in the books and articles that he writes are his own, I don’t get your accusations. You just come across as personally disliking Carrier for some reason that you don’t specify.

          You say Carrier is a joke, but you offer no personal rebuttals to any of his work to make your case. Is that because  you’re unable to do so?

          • TheGoonhongo

            Getting paid for what you write is not the same as writing a book for hire…which is writing a specific book to service a particular agenda.  (But even in the former case, getting paid for what you write, if the money is influencing what you present then no, it is not objective scholarship.)

            And you are right, I don’t like Carrier, and I gave some examples of why; because of the things he lied about…like agreeing to debate Craig on a specific topic and then, as the debate began, changing it. (The Craig/Carrier debate is on video, and on his own blog he finally admitted he lost.  He knew he was caught lying.)

            And in the way he uses cursing as a substitute for argument. 

            I notice offer no personal rebuttals of the examples I cite.

            Is that because you are unable to do so?

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

    I still don’t know what to make of Richard Carrier. I was pleased to discover that his interview about arguments mythicists shouldn’t use is now back online, but the last piece by him that I read was still assuming a historical Jesus, with a disclaimer at the very ending indicating that he now found himself less certain. I would love to read an academic presentation by him articulating his current views in a scholarly way. I’d also like to see him pursue a mainstream academic career and present his views and arguments to his peers, so that they can begin to get rigorous feedback from other historians.

    Be that as it may, clearly he is not an amateur historian; whether he is a hobbyist with respect to mythicism is another matter. :-P

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

      To Dr. McGrath,
      I think Carrier is an excellent scholar on ancient history, a good proponent & defender of atheism, but on the matter of  a (or not) historical Jesus, well that’s very different. I also know he is not confortable with a fully mythical Jesus but he got donations in order to make a book for mythicists. I do not want to be in his shoes.
      When was that “last piece by him” written?
      Is it available on the web?  

      • TheGoonhongo

        Carrier admits that he writes books for hire.

        Lets not pretend that he is engaging in “Objective Scholarship” when he does that.

        • TruthOverfaith

          So is Dr. McGrath, and every other paid author, not engaging in “objective scholarship”?

          As long as Carriers’ opinions in the books and articles that he writes are his own, I don’t get your accusations. You just come across as personally disliking Carrier for some reason that you don’t specify.

          You say Carrier is a joke, but you offer no personal rebuttals to any of his work to make your case. Is that because  you’re unable to do so?

          • TheGoonhongo

            Getting paid for what you write is not the same as writing a book for hire…which is writing a specific book to service a particular agenda.  (But even in the former case, getting paid for what you write, if the money is influencing what you present then no, it is not objective scholarship.)

            And you are right, I don’t like Carrier, and I gave some examples of why; because of the things he lied about…like agreeing to debate Craig on a specific topic and then, as the debate began, changing it. (The Craig/Carrier debate is on video, and on his own blog he finally admitted he lost.  He knew he was caught lying.)

            And in the way he uses cursing as a substitute for argument. 

            I notice offer no personal rebuttals of the examples I cite.

            Is that because you are unable to do so?

  • Hjalti

    I think the correct term would be “expert”. ;)

    And this book seems like a waste of ink, sad to see my beloved bible geek endorsing that. Although I think the reviewer is being a little bit too optimistic regarding the TF. 

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

      I think Tim made many good points. And yes, you are right about the TF. I reject the main one whole:
      http://historical-jesus.info/appe.html

    • Tim O’Neill

      “I think the correct term would be “expert”. ;)”

      “Expert” is a big word.  The people I refer to as “experts” tend to be professional scholars.  At the very least they hold teaching or research positions at accredited universities, they give papers at academic conferences and they publish in peer reviewed journals and esteemed academic presses. 

      They aren’t (apparently) unemployed bloggers with a postgraduate degree who give jokey presentations at sceptics’ conferences, self-publish via lulu.com and beg for donations to keep themselves afloat. 

      There’s nothing wrong with being an amateur hobbyist with a postgraduate degree who writes a blog.  Hell, I’m one myself.  But let’s get some perspective here.

  • Hjalti

    I think the correct term would be “expert”. ;)

    And this book seems like a waste of ink, sad to see my beloved bible geek endorsing that. Although I think the reviewer is being a little bit too optimistic regarding the TF. 

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

      I think Tim made many good points. And yes, you are right about the TF. I reject the main one whole:
      http://historical-jesus.info/appe.html

    • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

      “I think the correct term would be “expert”. ;)”

      “Expert” is a big word.  The people I refer to as “experts” tend to be professional scholars.  At the very least they hold teaching or research positions at accredited universities, they give papers at academic conferences and they publish in peer reviewed journals and esteemed academic presses. 

      They aren’t (apparently) unemployed bloggers with a postgraduate degree who give jokey presentations at sceptics’ conferences, self-publish via lulu.com and beg for donations to keep themselves afloat. 

      There’s nothing wrong with being an amateur hobbyist with a postgraduate degree who writes a blog.  Hell, I’m one myself.  But let’s get some perspective here.

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

    I’m not your beloved Bible geek?!?!? :-)

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

      To Dr. McGrath,
      Dr. Robert Price owns “Bible geek”. He calls himself that way.

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

    I’m not your beloved Bible geek?!?!? :-)

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

      To Dr. McGrath,
      Dr. Robert Price owns “Bible geek”. He calls himself that way.

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  • Anonymous

    The point TruthOverFaith is that Carrier is commissioned to write things with a specific conclusion in mind. In the academic world this would be unacceptable. Look at this blog today. The opening line is “A good long while ago I completed a contract job to produce a thoroughly researched and argued case against the authenticity of the verses in Mark 16:9-20″ and he goes on to give it.  Tim O’Neills’ comment above on Carrier’s position is correct. That doesn’t make Carrier a joke, or someone to dismiss. I have actually pointed people towards some of his work. It does matter in a world where epithets matters, and the support of the academy is (or should) be key for an idea’s acceptance. Creationists are fairly rounded upon for not have support from those within the faculties of science (even though many of them have degrees in the subject), and I think its fair to point this out with regards to the proponents of Mythicism.

    If we take this to then ignore what they say, then yes that is wrong.  But I have had at least two conversations with people trying to convince them that their perception (gleaned from the internet) that now the scholarly consensus is that Jesus didn’t exist) is in fact not true! Something that seemed to be greatly disconcerting to them when they had been told (apparently) that ‘scholars say that Jesus didn’t exist’. One such person is that Zindler fellow who wrote the endorsement of Fitzgerald’s book. Its just wrong, its dishonest. Now Jesus may not have existed, and lets look at the arguments of the mythicism proponents and not just ridicule them. But lets face it, their proponents  should be saying (largely, though not entirely) that ‘  bloggers, atheist activists amateur historians, and some people with postgraduate degrees  who self-publish their books and who depend on donations from the atheist community argue this…’ It really doesn’t sound that compelling does it? It does help that it is largely true though…

    • TheGoonhongo

      Ironically, Zindler has no academic qualifications in Biblical Criticism or History.

      His Ph.D. thesis was about Ovarian Maturation in eels or something like that.  Sheesh!

       By they, Craig not only trounced Carrier in the debate I mentioned, as Carrier admits, he trounced Zindler about ten years or so ago in a debate in Chicago.

  • hanery

    The point TruthOverFaith is that Carrier is commissioned to write things with a specific conclusion in mind. In the academic world this would be unacceptable. Look at this blog today. The opening line is “A good long while ago I completed a contract job to produce a thoroughly researched and argued case against the authenticity of the verses in Mark 16:9-20″ and he goes on to give it.  Tim O’Neills’ comment above on Carrier’s position is correct. That doesn’t make Carrier a joke, or someone to dismiss. I have actually pointed people towards some of his work. It does matter in a world where epithets matters, and the support of the academy is (or should) be key for an idea’s acceptance. Creationists are fairly rounded upon for not have support from those within the faculties of science (even though many of them have degrees in the subject), and I think its fair to point this out with regards to the proponents of Mythicism.

    If we take this to then ignore what they say, then yes that is wrong.  But I have had at least two conversations with people trying to convince them that their perception (gleaned from the internet) that now the scholarly consensus is that Jesus didn’t exist) is in fact not true! Something that seemed to be greatly disconcerting to them when they had been told (apparently) that ‘scholars say that Jesus didn’t exist’. One such person is that Zindler fellow who wrote the endorsement of Fitzgerald’s book. Its just wrong, its dishonest. Now Jesus may not have existed, and lets look at the arguments of the mythicism proponents and not just ridicule them. But lets face it, their proponents  should be saying (largely, though not entirely) that ‘  bloggers, atheist activists amateur historians, and some people with postgraduate degrees  who self-publish their books and who depend on donations from the atheist community argue this…’ It really doesn’t sound that compelling does it? It does help that it is largely true though…

    • TheGoonhongo

      Ironically, Zindler has no academic qualifications in Biblical Criticism or History.

      His Ph.D. thesis was about Ovarian Maturation in eels or something like that.  Sheesh!

       By they, Craig not only trounced Carrier in the debate I mentioned, as Carrier admits, he trounced Zindler about ten years or so ago in a debate in Chicago.

  • Anonymous

    Tim O’Neill is not a careful researcher. I have posted this as a comment to his blog, but will post it here as well:

    Unfortunately, as we will see, this is one of several places where Fitzgerald lets his overblown rhetoric run well ahead of what he can then actually substantiate.

    This is a cogent piece of criticism and the fact that you make such confident assertions subsequent to it makes it seem all the more cogent, especially when you say,

    Yet, despite his fame then and now, we have precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal.

    So I was keen to check this statement out, since if it were verifiable it would be a profound argument in favor of your position.

    One has to wonder whether you are ignorant or dishonest, however, after a cursory investigation of this claim.

    Hannibal has multiple contemporary attestation, from both Silenus, who was a paid Greek historian who Hannibal brought with him on his journeys to write an account of what took place and by Sosylus of Lacedaemon. Sosylus actually wrote a seven volume history of Hannibal. So either you are just finding this fact out now, or you are simply dishonest. In either case you should edit this post to adjust for this fact.

    • Anonymous

      Beallen, neither Silenus or Sosylus’ writings are extant for us to see. If I wanted to employ a mythicists argument I would claim “all we have is later tradition from hundreds of years later about these supposed historians who wrote about Hannibal and supposed unsourced quotes from them, it is surprising given the huge importance of Hannibal to both Rome and Carthage that there are no surviving historians writings about his supposed existed and great deeds.”… I mean, I take it your not entirely overwhelmed by the evidence from later Patristic accounts that refer back to people who knew Jesus, why would you about Hannibal? 

      Anyway, Tim O’Neill wasn’t wrong. Welcome to the reality that we probably have less than 1% of books from antiquity- a fact that Fitzgerald just cannot tell you otherwise, as you say, it makes a profound counter to his argument from silence. You can make practically anyone in Roman history (aside from perhaps the politicians at the fall of the Republic, and members of the Imperial family) disappear by using the methods of the proponents of mysticism.

      The fact that this poor, itinerant peasant in the corner of Palestine, whose core followers seems to have number a dozen equally poor adherents makes the fact that Jesus got ANY mention in antiquity utterly remarkable. That it comes from sources such as the likes of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius etc… is astounding. Also recent evidence uncovered from the Talmud (and the help of modern technology) points to their being contemporary Jewish evidence for Jesus’ death, you can read about that in the latest/forthcoming Tyndale Bulletin from  Dr Instone-Brewer (an actual academic, who specializes in Rabbinic sources by the way).

      • Anonymous

        Hanery, I’m looking forward to “their (sic) being contemporary Jewish evidence for Jesus’ death” and I eagerly await Dr. Instone-Brewer’s findings. The mythicist hypothesis would state that he will not have found a direct reference to a person named Jesus of Nazareth from a living contemporary. If this is shown to exist, so much the better and mythicists can move on to other topics. However, if the historicist case stands on data that is currently unpublished, one can hardly fault mythicists for not taking it into account.

        However, your defense of O’Neill is simply disingenuous. Tim was wrong.

        Factually wrong.

        He stated that there were analogous silences in the contemporary record for Hannibal to the silences for Jesus by stating unequivocally that we had zero (his word not mine) contemporary witnesses to Hannibal. He didn’t qualify that by saying extant texts, which means the clear implication (absent all the coins and archeological data for the Punic wars) is that Jesus is as well-attested as Hannibal. The fact is that if we had multiple authors referring to an extant seven volume history of the Life of Jesus written by a contemporary, even if it were lost to history the mythicist case would fall apart.

        We have nothing of the sort, and Tim O’Neill and Dr. McGrath both know this, yet O’Neill was happy to make this factually false assertion and Dr. McGrath was happy to uncritically pass it along. I can be charitable and assume the Dr. McGrath doesn’t read the whole text of things that he endorses or criticizes (this is clearly his modus operandi) but O’Neill has a hole in his argument. Nobody forced him to bring up Hannibal, but he did, and he is obligated to admit his mistake and attempt to correct it, or be identified as an apologist for the historical Jesus (for reasons one can only imagine).

  • beallen0417

    Tim O’Neill is not a careful researcher. I have posted this as a comment to his blog, but will post it here as well:

    Unfortunately, as we will see, this is one of several places where Fitzgerald lets his overblown rhetoric run well ahead of what he can then actually substantiate.

    This is a cogent piece of criticism and the fact that you make such confident assertions subsequent to it makes it seem all the more cogent, especially when you say,

    Yet, despite his fame then and now, we have precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal.

    So I was keen to check this statement out, since if it were verifiable it would be a profound argument in favor of your position.

    One has to wonder whether you are ignorant or dishonest, however, after a cursory investigation of this claim.

    Hannibal has multiple contemporary attestation, from both Silenus, who was a paid Greek historian who Hannibal brought with him on his journeys to write an account of what took place and by Sosylus of Lacedaemon. Sosylus actually wrote a seven volume history of Hannibal. So either you are just finding this fact out now, or you are simply dishonest. In either case you should edit this post to adjust for this fact.

    • hanery

      Beallen, neither Silenus or Sosylus’ writings are extant for us to see. If I wanted to employ a mythicists argument I would claim “all we have is later tradition from hundreds of years later about these supposed historians who wrote about Hannibal and supposed unsourced quotes from them, it is surprising given the huge importance of Hannibal to both Rome and Carthage that there are no surviving historians writings about his supposed existed and great deeds.”… I mean, I take it your not entirely overwhelmed by the evidence from later Patristic accounts that refer back to people who knew Jesus, why would you about Hannibal? 

      Anyway, Tim O’Neill wasn’t wrong. Welcome to the reality that we probably have less than 1% of books from antiquity- a fact that Fitzgerald just cannot tell you otherwise, as you say, it makes a profound counter to his argument from silence. You can make practically anyone in Roman history (aside from perhaps the politicians at the fall of the Republic, and members of the Imperial family) disappear by using the methods of the proponents of mysticism.

      The fact that this poor, itinerant peasant in the corner of Palestine, whose core followers seems to have number a dozen equally poor adherents makes the fact that Jesus got ANY mention in antiquity utterly remarkable. That it comes from sources such as the likes of Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius etc… is astounding. Also recent evidence uncovered from the Talmud (and the help of modern technology) points to their being contemporary Jewish evidence for Jesus’ death, you can read about that in the latest/forthcoming Tyndale Bulletin from  Dr Instone-Brewer (an actual academic, who specializes in Rabbinic sources by the way).

      • beallen0417

        Hanery, I’m looking forward to “their (sic) being contemporary Jewish evidence for Jesus’ death” and I eagerly await Dr. Instone-Brewer’s findings. The mythicist hypothesis would state that he will not have found a direct reference to a person named Jesus of Nazareth from a living contemporary. If this is shown to exist, so much the better and mythicists can move on to other topics. However, if the historicist case stands on data that is currently unpublished, one can hardly fault mythicists for not taking it into account.

        However, your defense of O’Neill is simply disingenuous. Tim was wrong.

        Factually wrong.

        He stated that there were analogous silences in the contemporary record for Hannibal to the silences for Jesus by stating unequivocally that we had zero (his word not mine) contemporary witnesses to Hannibal. He didn’t qualify that by saying extant texts, which means the clear implication (absent all the coins and archeological data for the Punic wars) is that Jesus is as well-attested as Hannibal. The fact is that if we had multiple authors referring to an extant seven volume history of the Life of Jesus written by a contemporary, even if it were lost to history the mythicist case would fall apart.

        We have nothing of the sort, and Tim O’Neill and Dr. McGrath both know this, yet O’Neill was happy to make this factually false assertion and Dr. McGrath was happy to uncritically pass it along. I can be charitable and assume the Dr. McGrath doesn’t read the whole text of things that he endorses or criticizes (this is clearly his modus operandi) but O’Neill has a hole in his argument. Nobody forced him to bring up Hannibal, but he did, and he is obligated to admit his mistake and attempt to correct it, or be identified as an apologist for the historical Jesus (for reasons one can only imagine).

  • Hjalti

    TheGoonhongo, Carrier didn’t lie. Like he explained on his blog before the debate, he wanted to debate the reliability of the gospels because he thinks that Craig’s case for the resurrection depends on that. And so pointing out the unreliability of the gospels to refute Craig’s arguments for the resurrection is debating the resurrection. 
    Here are Carrier’s own words:

    To summarize my end of the debate, my tack was that Craig only has two sources of evidence: the Gospels and the Epistles. But the Gospels can’t be trusted (because they exhibit a different authorial intent than recording fact) and the Epistles don’t tell us anything sufficient to make the case (since they never mention anyone finding an empty grave, and only confirm that a group of fanatics who hallucinated regularly saw Jesus after he died, which hardly requires a miracle to explain). #

  • Hjalti

    TheGoonhongo, Carrier didn’t lie. Like he explained on his blog before the debate, he wanted to debate the reliability of the gospels because he thinks that Craig’s case for the resurrection depends on that. And so pointing out the unreliability of the gospels to refute Craig’s arguments for the resurrection is debating the resurrection. 
    Here are Carrier’s own words:

    To summarize my end of the debate, my tack was that Craig only has two sources of evidence: the Gospels and the Epistles. But the Gospels can’t be trusted (because they exhibit a different authorial intent than recording fact) and the Epistles don’t tell us anything sufficient to make the case (since they never mention anyone finding an empty grave, and only confirm that a group of fanatics who hallucinated regularly saw Jesus after he died, which hardly requires a miracle to explain). #

  • Hjalti

    I also know he is not confortable with a fully mythical Jesus but he got donations in order to make a book for mythicists.

    Are you sure about that? 

    When Carrier called for sponsors he wrote this:

    Then my book would survey what I find to be the most important facts, and apply the presented method to them to demonstrate what my view now is and why, and how it could be changed (since new facts, or legitimate corrections to the facts I use, could change my conclusion, and this may happen even in the course of my final research for the book, but in any case the result will be my honest and well-informed expert opinion). #

    I’m sure many of those who paid him expect him to argue for mythicism (since that was his position at the time), but I don’t know why you think that he got paid to reach that specific conclusion.

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

      to Hjalti,
      That was written 2 or 3 years ago. Anyway, it seems to me Carrier warned his potential sponsors he may change his views when doing his research.
      How do I know? When he was in my city about one year ago, he said it is either a mythical Jesus or a “nobody Jesus” (explaining the beginning of Christianity). And he was very unconfortable explaining his arguments in front of a small audience. And much later, a fan of mine told me he had private correspondance with Carrier and he told him that Jesus the nobody cannot be discarded.
      At first, he was planning to write one book, according to the plan and arguments he set before us at that meeting. But later he scrapped that, and decided to write two books instead, the first one mostly dedicated in explaining Bayesan theorems. That book got written but I do not think he found an adequate publisher yet. The second book would treat more about the historicity of Jesus (supposedly using these Bayesan theorems!). 

  • Hjalti

    I also know he is not confortable with a fully mythical Jesus but he got donations in order to make a book for mythicists.

    Are you sure about that? 

    When Carrier called for sponsors he wrote this:

    Then my book would survey what I find to be the most important facts, and apply the presented method to them to demonstrate what my view now is and why, and how it could be changed (since new facts, or legitimate corrections to the facts I use, could change my conclusion, and this may happen even in the course of my final research for the book, but in any case the result will be my honest and well-informed expert opinion). #

    I’m sure many of those who paid him expect him to argue for mythicism (since that was his position at the time), but I don’t know why you think that he got paid to reach that specific conclusion.

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

      to Hjalti,
      That was written 2 or 3 years ago. Anyway, it seems to me Carrier warned his potential sponsors he may change his views when doing his research.
      How do I know? When he was in my city about one year ago, he said it is either a mythical Jesus or a “nobody Jesus” (explaining the beginning of Christianity). And he was very unconfortable explaining his arguments in front of a small audience. And much later, a fan of mine told me he had private correspondance with Carrier and he told him that Jesus the nobody cannot be discarded.
      At first, he was planning to write one book, according to the plan and arguments he set before us at that meeting. But later he scrapped that, and decided to write two books instead, the first one mostly dedicated in explaining Bayesan theorems. That book got written but I do not think he found an adequate publisher yet. The second book would treat more about the historicity of Jesus (supposedly using these Bayesan theorems!). 

  • VinnyJH

    O’Neill writes

    The reference to Paul’s meeting with “James, the brother of the Lord” is one that gives the proponents of this idea that Paul only believed in a heavenly, mystical Jesus the most grief. . . .

    There is a consistent tradition that Jesus had a brother called James and that this James became a leader in the Jesus Sect community in Jerusalem.

    I agree that Paul’s reference to James as “the brother of the Lord” gives mythers grief, but I wonder whether the tradition is as consistent as O”Neill suggests.

    Paul refers to James as “the brother of the Lord.”

    Mark says that Jesus had a brother named James, but Mark indicates that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy and that Jesus did not consider his biological relatives to be his real family.  No one reading Mark would guess that this James was a late revered leader of the church at the time Mark was writing.

    Luke/Acts identifies James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alpheus, but never mentions any James being the brother of Jesus.  After the death of the son of Zebedee, Acts describes a James whose father is not named as a leader of the church.  Logically one might assume this is James the son of Alpheus who no longer needs to be identified by means of his father because there is only one James left.  If Luke is introducing a James who has not previously been mentioned, one might expect him to identify him as the brother of Jesus, but he never does so.

    While there is no direct contradiction between the New Testament writers about James, I think it is far from clear whether they all had the same idea about James’ relationship to Jesus.  

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

      VinnyJH wrote:”Luke/Acts identifies James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alpheus, but never mentions any James being the brother of Jesus.  After the death of the son of Zebedee, Acts describes a James whose father is not named as a leader of the church.  Logically one might assume this is James the son of Alpheus who no longer needs to be identified by means of his father because there is only one James left.”
      BM: So why “Luke” did not identify the “James” of Acts 12:17 as the son of Alphaeus, more so because the previous “James” was identified as the brother of John?The “James” of Ac12:17 is presented as the leader of the “brethen”, with no more identification. That suggests this James was already known by Luke community. Did Luke not know about a James being Jesus’ brother? Likely not, since “Luke” had  read Mark’s gospel. And “Luke” admitted Jesus had blood brothers without naming them. That goes to show Luke did not feel obligated to mention everything which was known.

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

      VinnyJH wrote:”Luke/Acts identifies James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alpheus, but never mentions any James being the brother of Jesus.  After the death of the son of Zebedee, Acts describes a James whose father is not named as a leader of the church.  Logically one might assume this is James the son of Alpheus who no longer needs to be identified by means of his father because there is only one James left.”
      BM: So why “Luke” did not identify the “James” of Acts 12:17 as the son of Alphaeus, more so because the previous “James” was identified as the brother of John?The “James” of Ac12:17 is presented as the leader of the “brethen”, with no more identification. That suggests this James was already known by Luke community. Did Luke not know about a James being Jesus’ brother? Likely not, since “Luke” had  read Mark’s gospel. And “Luke” admitted Jesus had blood brothers without naming them. That goes to show Luke did not feel obligated to mention everything which was known.

  • VinnyJH

    O’Neill writes

    The reference to Paul’s meeting with “James, the brother of the Lord” is one that gives the proponents of this idea that Paul only believed in a heavenly, mystical Jesus the most grief. . . .

    There is a consistent tradition that Jesus had a brother called James and that this James became a leader in the Jesus Sect community in Jerusalem.

    I agree that Paul’s reference to James as “the brother of the Lord” gives mythers grief, but I wonder whether the tradition is as consistent as O”Neill suggests.

    Paul refers to James as “the brother of the Lord.”

    Mark says that Jesus had a brother named James, but Mark indicates that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy and that Jesus did not consider his biological relatives to be his real family.  No one reading Mark would guess that this James was a late revered leader of the church at the time Mark was writing.

    Luke/Acts identifies James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alpheus, but never mentions any James being the brother of Jesus.  After the death of the son of Zebedee, Acts describes a James whose father is not named as a leader of the church.  Logically one might assume this is James the son of Alpheus who no longer needs to be identified by means of his father because there is only one James left.  If Luke is introducing a James who has not previously been mentioned, one might expect him to identify him as the brother of Jesus, but he never does so.

    While there is no direct contradiction between the New Testament writers about James, I think it is far from clear whether they all had the same idea about James’ relationship to Jesus.  

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

      VinnyJH wrote:”Luke/Acts identifies James the son of Zebedee and James the son of Alpheus, but never mentions any James being the brother of Jesus.  After the death of the son of Zebedee, Acts describes a James whose father is not named as a leader of the church.  Logically one might assume this is James the son of Alpheus who no longer needs to be identified by means of his father because there is only one James left.”
      BM: So why “Luke” did not identify the “James” of Acts 12:17 as the son of Alphaeus, more so because the previous “James” was identified as the brother of John? The “James” of Ac12:17 is presented as the leader of the “brethen”, with no more identification. That suggests this James was already known by Luke’s community. Did Luke not know about a James being Jesus’ brother? Likely not, since “Luke” had read Mark’s gospel. And “Luke” admitted Jesus had blood brothers without naming them. That goes to show Luke did not feel obligated to mention everything which was known.

  • Kris

    Vinny- simple James converted after the death of Jesus and the people reading Mark would have known that.

    Bealle- You did not read Tim close enough, he said WE do not have any contemporary accounts from the Carthaginian War.

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      O’Neill’s claim was that there was a consistent tradition, but Mark doesn’t corroborate James being a leader and Luke doesn’t corroborate James being Jesus’ brother.  Of course we can come up with explanations for why they don’t corroborate, but we have to acknowledge the fact that the evidence of the consistent tradition is somewhat inconsistent.

      BTW, as far as I know, there is no evidence of a tradition of James converting after the death of Jesus.  Those traditions that speak to the question seem to make James a follower of Jesus prior to the crucifixion.

  • Kris

    Vinny- simple James converted after the death of Jesus and the people reading Mark would have known that.

    Bealle- You did not read Tim close enough, he said WE do not have any contemporary accounts from the Carthaginian War.

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      O’Neill’s claim was that there was a consistent tradition, but Mark doesn’t corroborate James being a leader and Luke doesn’t corroborate James being Jesus’ brother.  Of course we can come up with explanations for why they don’t corroborate, but we have to acknowledge the fact that the evidence of the consistent tradition is somewhat inconsistent.

      BTW, as far as I know, there is no evidence of a tradition of James converting after the death of Jesus.  Those traditions that speak to the question seem to make James a follower of Jesus prior to the crucifixion.

  • Kris

    Now that has got my attention Hanery, can I get more on that work by Dr Instone=Brewer.

    • Anonymous

      Kris,

      I believe it comes out in the next issue of the Tyndale Bulletin (62.2). He did put the article online before its publication, but I can’t seem to place it. You can wait for this issue to come out though and get it on back order for a very reasonable £9.

  • Kris

    Now that has got my attention Hanery, can I get more on that work by Dr Instone=Brewer.

    • hanery

      Kris,

      I believe it comes out in the next issue of the Tyndale Bulletin (62.2). He did put the article online before its publication, but I can’t seem to place it. You can wait for this issue to come out though and get it on back order for a very reasonable £9.

  • Mi

    Speaking of Richard Carrier, I also like him when he debates for atheism. But he sometimes makes egregious and sloppy errors in his criticisms against other mythicists and here’s a perfect example:

    “… However, in “skimming” Brunner’s text, as he puts it, Carrier has mistakenly dealt with the substantially different Hatshepsut text (Brunner’s “IV D”), demonstrating an egregious error in garbling the cycles, when in fact we are specifically interested in the Luxor narrative (IV L) ….”

    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/luxor.html

    If you’re going to write a critical review and attempt to prove them wrong at least make sure you’re looking at the correct primary source evidence. Geeesh, that was quite egregious, sloppy and amateurish. He should apologize for that article it was so bad.

  • Mi

    Speaking of Richard Carrier, I also like him when he debates for atheism. But he sometimes makes egregious and sloppy errors in his criticisms against other mythicists and here’s a perfect example:

    “… However, in “skimming” Brunner’s text, as he puts it, Carrier has mistakenly dealt with the substantially different Hatshepsut text (Brunner’s “IV D”), demonstrating an egregious error in garbling the cycles, when in fact we are specifically interested in the Luxor narrative (IV L) ….”

    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/luxor.html

    If you’re going to write a critical review and attempt to prove them wrong at least make sure you’re looking at the correct primary source evidence. Geeesh, that was quite egregious, sloppy and amateurish. He should apologize for that article it was so bad.

  • Mi

    I’d like to see McGrath make new post discussing these but, is he too afraid?:

    The New Zeitgeist Part 1 Sourcebook (2010)
    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/zeitgeistsourcebook.pdf

    Rebuttal to Dr. Chris Forbes concerning ‘Zeitgeist, Part 1′
    http://truthbeknown.com/chrisforbeszeitgeist.html

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

      @Mi, there are so many forms of pseudoscholarship around that one cannot be expected to deal with them all. So far everything I have read by or connected with Acharya S is an exercise in parallelomania: if it resembles something else, it was invented on the basis of it. But the truth is that in philosophy, history, culture, language and music, things that are similar pop up all the time. It takes more than resemblance to demonstrate that one thing has some sort of genetic link to something else.

  • Mi

    I’d like to see McGrath make new post discussing these but, is he too afraid?:

    The New Zeitgeist Part 1 Sourcebook (2010)
    http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/zeitgeistsourcebook.pdf

    Rebuttal to Dr. Chris Forbes concerning ‘Zeitgeist, Part 1′
    http://truthbeknown.com/chrisforbeszeitgeist.html

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

      @Mi, there are so many forms of pseudoscholarship around that one cannot be expected to deal with them all. So far everything I have read by or connected with Acharya S is an exercise in parallelomania: if it resembles something else, it was invented on the basis of it. But the truth is that in philosophy, history, culture, language and music, things that are similar pop up all the time. It takes more than resemblance to demonstrate that one thing has some sort of genetic link to something else.

  • Kris

    That is too cool in my opinion. Yet another nail in the coffin of the Jesus was a myth crowd.

  • Kris

    That is too cool in my opinion. Yet another nail in the coffin of the Jesus was a myth crowd.

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

    I generally am deferiential to to people who have done the hard work to get a PhD, but if Carrier and Price were physicist who said they knew how to make cold fusion work, and i saw credentials like the ones they have, I would be very sceptical. Of course Christ Myth

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

    I generally am deferential to to people who have done the hard work to get a PhD, but if Carrier and Price were physicist who said they knew how to make cold fusion work, and i saw credentials like the ones they have, I would be very skeptical. Of course Christ Mythers live in a paranoid world of conspiracy and truly believe that people life Doherty or Price are the Gallieo’s of our day (as all pseudo-scholars believe of themselves). Maybe it’s true, but it is terrible argument. it is like saying you should pay $5,000 for the lotto ticket I bought because it might be the mega millions winner. I reposted Tim’s article to Facebook, and one of my friends thought Tim’s dismissal was harsh, but people who haven’t studied the subject don’t realize that Fitzgerald and Doherty aren’t mavericks with bold new theories, but con artist trying to fool people into accepting a position. They deserve the same respect when discussing their position as Bernie Madoff does when discussing his “investment” plans.

  • Anonymous

    Beallen,

    Instone-Brewer suggests we have an account of the legal proceedings of Jesus’ trial before crucifixion. His suggestion (and I read his article over a month ago, and as I said can’t lay my hand on it now) is interesting, but some of the lines of arguments he proposes to construct his argument will, I imagine,  be sufficient for mythicists (and others actually) the space to maintain this is not necessarily so. 
     
    As to your main point. I thought I had preemepted this by saying:

    “”all we have is later tradition from hundreds of years later about these supposed historians who wrote about Hannibal and supposed unsourced quotes from them, it is surprising given the huge importance of Hannibal to both Rome and Carthage that there are no surviving historians writings about his supposed existed and great deeds.”

    It should probably not have escape your attention that a similar case could be made for the gospels. There are only later assertions that these accounts of Hannibal existed, and that they were apparently written by his contemporaries, but we only conclude this because far later sources (who have a vested interest in such a provenance because they want their accounts to be accurate and founded on authority) claim so. But you seem to imply this is enough for you. Well, okay. But with the life of Jesus we also DO have ‘multiple authors referring to an extant seven volume history [or in this case four] of the Life of Jesus written by a contemporary”  and we, like Hannibal, have multiple accounts of their existence and their provenance and as being eyewitness material from the likes of Papius, Irenaeus, Clement, Eusebius. So for the limited question of the availability of extant historical sources, this can be made to exactly parallel Hannibal’s record.  All we have are later authors claiming their existence. Tim was right! 

    Why Hannibal, who almost destroyed Rome, and paraded around the Italian countryside for years has left no contemporary historian’s writing about him that we can see, but a (seemingly) failed peasant Jewish itinerant messiah figure who, during his lifetime, had enough close followers that we could fit them in a minibus should have induced such a record or attracted the attention of a historian to visit the villages of Galilee is beyond me. As, in fact, so it should to anyone with even the faintest awareness of classical antiquity and a modicrum of common sense. Again, the fact that we know ANYTHING about the existence of Jesus (from quite a long list of near contemporary historians) is amazing. That is the true story. Unfortunately its not one the readers of Fitzgerald’s book seem likely to hear…

    • Anonymous

      Hanery, I thought I was responding to someone who took into account modern critical scholarship. If it is your position that the gospels are eyewitnesses accounts from named historians, I will jut move along.

      Is it your opinion that the Gospels were written by contemporaries of Jesus?

      • Anonymous

        Beallen, 

        I suggest you re-read my comments. Its quite straight forward, and you should see that I never claimed the gospels were eyewitness material. My defence of Tim’s argument, in no way, rests on that. I’m not going to repeat myself. Re-read what I said.

        Also modern critical scholarship doesn’t disavow the Gospels containing eyewitness material. I can think of about 7 studies precisely devoted to this topic that have been released over the past 18 months. Such as Le Donne, Kelber, Byrskog, Dunn, Carey, Perrin, Allison. And that is not forgetting Bauckham’s book on eyewitness material and the numerous interactions scholars have recently had on its suggestions. Plus work by Hengel and Stanton has lent support the ‘traditional’ claims of the gospels’ authorship. They are all serious scholars, and this is an exciting time for answering this question. That you seem unaware of this tends to make me think your shock at suggesting (which I didn’t by the way) that the gospels had eyewitness material implies that your awareness with scholarship on early Christianity is slight. 

        But to answer your question, I believe the core (and I am open to how far you wish to define ‘core’) of the synoptic gospels are based on eyewitness material, linked together and explained by the authors’ of the gospels and their respective purposes/interpretations. It is quite a respectable position to hold.

        • Anonymous

          Hanery, good. That’s all I needed to know. You think the gospels do have eyewitness testimony in them and agree with Richard Bauckham’s arguments. From my point of view, this violates any competent set of generally accepted historical practices and essentially rules your opinion wide of the consensus of mainstream critical scholarship. I doubt whether Dr. McGrath is glad to have you on his side. I wonder if Tim O’Neill will be quite so forgiving of the gospels, but he hasn’t made clear whether he agrees with you. If he does, so much the worse for his case. However, if he does, then at least his complaint regarding Hannibal is accurate as far as he (and you) are concerned.

          • Anonymous

            Beallen. (or Evan?) Okay, again, you seem to be under the misapprehension that you have counter Tim’s point about Hannibal. You haven’t. This has point has been laboriously made to you now by three people. You seem not to want to acknowledge or interact with this. Obtuseness is not a reply.  

            As for your rather outlandish comments regarding the gospels and the scholarly consensus, it is hard not to dispose of my (hopefully) respectful tone. As it happens I do not accept Bauckham’s proposal. The position I outlined above is not ‘the Bauckham’ one- although I did attend 5 days of lecture he gave on the subject actually… Anyway, from what I have experienced, the consensus viewpoint in scholarship- although with huge variations of just how much eyewitness material there is at the core- is the one I intimated to you. For example recently I recently was at lecture hosted by a N.T. faculty (number 1 in the UK for research- and I say this to save having to recount to what I anticipate might be assertion of some redneck seminary) where Byrskog gave a talk on this.Your attempts to poison the well is not just bizarre, its insulting.You seem to be completely removed from knowing anything on this matter or on what scholars think of it (and I would like to know exactly what studies you have reached to gain such a bizarre view on the scholarly consensus- please, really I want to know!). Take a look at the number of studies and some of the names attached to them that have supported aspects of this position in the last 18 months! The fact that you then use what I consider to be the most appalling aspect of the response to mythicists- to claim they are crazy oddballs, and ignore them- really, really annoys me, perhaps more that I really cant think of a better word) your juvenile retorts that then followed it. But perhaps you just saw red, typed a load on nonsense and hit the submit button too soon?? Anyway, I look forward to a more congenial conversation.

            • Anonymous

              Hanery — other than insult I don’t really see much to respond to. Do you think the Gospels are contemporary eyewitness accounts or not? It’s a simple question. Yes or no will suffice.

              But I’m really glad to know that you think calling mythicists crazy oddballs is horrid behavior. We are allies in that against Dr. McGrath. I look forward to your sustained vehemence on that point on this blog. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to scold Dr. McGrath if you take the time to read him regularly.

              • Anonymous

                Beallen,

                As I have noted from my first post on this issue, and noted again and again after it, I side with the evidence that the synoptic gospels have at some level a kernel of eyewitness material. I find the procedures and discussions that, well, just so many, many scholars are now using to evaluate this to be interesting, compelling, and persuasive. This does not mean that I think they are verbatium history, nor do I think even if ALL the gospels were eyewitness material this means they are giving us a necessarily accurate picture (on this point see Le Donne’s work in particular). This is a nuanced picture, and if you don’t mind me saying mythicists don’t get nuance. 

                This seems to be the main problem actually. Either Jesus did these amazing miracles and historians would have flocked round him, or he mustn’t have existed. That leads you into all sorts of problems and misinterpretations. Here you took the fact that I hold-to the actually perfectly reasonable position- on gospel material and thought I claimed that therefore they must be the “equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus.” And now you ask me: “Do you think the Gospels are contemporary eyewitness accounts or not” They are neither eyewitnesses accounts, nor or they, to my mind, fictitious unprovenanced fables! Its not one of the other. I can’t answer yes or no to it, and the fact you posed the question in this manner, and gave that odd rant above in reaction to my outlining my position, tells me again, and I hope you take this without any tone of combativeness on my part, but you really haven’t start to understand the most basic aspects of scholarship on this area.

  • hanery

    Beallen,

    Instone-Brewer suggests we have an account of the legal proceedings of Jesus’ trial before crucifixion. His suggestion (and I read his article over a month ago, and as I said can’t lay my hand on it now) is interesting, but some of the lines of arguments he proposes to construct his argument will, I imagine,  be sufficient for mythicists (and others actually) the space to maintain this is not necessarily so. 
     
    As to your main point. I thought I had preemepted this by saying:

    “”all we have is later tradition from hundreds of years later about these supposed historians who wrote about Hannibal and supposed unsourced quotes from them, it is surprising given the huge importance of Hannibal to both Rome and Carthage that there are no surviving historians writings about his supposed existed and great deeds.”

    It should probably not have escape your attention that a similar case could be made for the gospels. There are only later assertions that these accounts of Hannibal existed, and that they were apparently written by his contemporaries, but we only conclude this because far later sources (who have a vested interest in such a provenance because they want their accounts to be accurate and founded on authority) claim so. But you seem to imply this is enough for you. Well, okay. But with the life of Jesus we also DO have ‘multiple authors referring to an extant seven volume history [or in this case four] of the Life of Jesus written by a contemporary”  and we, like Hannibal, have multiple accounts of their existence and their provenance and as being eyewitness material from the likes of Papius, Irenaeus, Clement, Eusebius. So for the limited question of the availability of extant historical sources, this can be made to exactly parallel Hannibal’s record.  All we have are later authors claiming their existence. Tim was right! 

    Why Hannibal, who almost destroyed Rome, and paraded around the Italian countryside for years has left no contemporary historian’s writing about him that we can see, but a (seemingly) failed peasant Jewish itinerant messiah figure who, during his lifetime, had enough close followers that we could fit them in a minibus should have induced such a record or attracted the attention of a historian to visit the villages of Galilee is beyond me. As, in fact, so it should to anyone with even the faintest awareness of classical antiquity and a modicrum of common sense. Again, the fact that we know ANYTHING about the existence of Jesus (from quite a long list of near contemporary historians) is amazing. That is the true story. Unfortunately its not one the readers of Fitzgerald’s book seem likely to hear…

    • beallen0417

      Hanery, I thought I was responding to someone who took into account modern critical scholarship. If it is your position that the gospels are eyewitnesses accounts from named historians, I will just move along.

      Is it your opinion that the Gospels were written by contemporaries of Jesus?

      • hanery

        Beallen, 

        I suggest you re-read my comments. Its quite straight forward, and you should see that I never claimed the gospels were eyewitness material. My defence of Tim’s argument, in no way, rests on that. I’m not going to repeat myself. Re-read what I said.

        Also modern critical scholarship doesn’t disavow the Gospels containing eyewitness material. I can think of about 7 studies precisely devoted to this topic that have been released over the past 18 months. Such as Le Donne, Kelber, Byrskog, Dunn, Carey, Perrin, Allison. And that is not forgetting Bauckham’s book on eyewitness material and the numerous interactions scholars have recently had on its suggestions. Plus work by Hengel and Stanton has lent support the ‘traditional’ claims of the gospels’ authorship. They are all serious scholars, and this is an exciting time for answering this question. That you seem unaware of this tends to make me think your shock at suggesting (which I didn’t by the way) that the gospels had eyewitness material implies that your awareness with scholarship on early Christianity is slight. 

        But to answer your question, I believe the core (and I am open to how far you wish to define ‘core’) of the synoptic gospels are based on eyewitness material, linked together and explained by the authors’ of the gospels and their respective purposes/interpretations. It is quite a respectable position to hold.

        • beallen0417

          Hanery, good. That’s all I needed to know. You think the gospels do have eyewitness testimony in them and agree with Richard Bauckham’s arguments. From my point of view, this violates any competent set of generally accepted historical practices and essentially rules your opinion wide of the consensus of mainstream critical scholarship. I doubt whether Dr. McGrath is glad to have you on his side. I wonder if Tim O’Neill will be quite so forgiving of the gospels, but he hasn’t made clear whether he agrees with you. If he does, so much the worse for his case. However, if he does, then at least his complaint regarding Hannibal is accurate as far as he (and you) are concerned.

          • hanery

            Beallen. (or Evan?) Okay, again, you seem to be under the misapprehension that you have counter Tim’s point about Hannibal. You haven’t. This has point has been laboriously made to you now by three people. You seem not to want to acknowledge or interact with this. Obtuseness is not a reply.  

            As for your rather outlandish comments regarding the gospels and the scholarly consensus, it is hard not to dispose of my (hopefully) respectful tone. As it happens I do not accept Bauckham’s proposal. The position I outlined above is not ‘the Bauckham’ one- although I did attend 5 days of lecture he gave on the subject actually… Anyway, from what I have experienced, the consensus viewpoint in scholarship- although with huge variations of just how much eyewitness material there is at the core- is the one I intimated to you. For example recently I recently was at lecture hosted by a N.T. faculty (number 1 in the UK for research- and I say this to save having to recount to what I anticipate might be assertion of some redneck seminary) where Byrskog gave a talk on this.Your attempts to poison the well is not just bizarre, its insulting.You seem to be completely removed from knowing anything on this matter or on what scholars think of it. Take a look at the number of studies and some of the names attached to them that have supported aspects of this position in the last 18 months! The fact that you then use what I consider to be the most appalling aspect of the response to mythicists- to claim they are crazy oddballs, and ignore them- really, really annoys me, perhaps more that I really cant think of a better word) your juvenile retorts that then followed it. But perhaps you just saw red, typed a load on nonsense and hit the submit button too soon?? Anyway, I look forward to a more congenial conversation.

            • beallen0417

              Hanery — other than insult I don’t really see much to respond to. Do you think the Gospels are contemporary eyewitness accounts or not? It’s a simple question. Yes or no will suffice.

              But I’m really glad to know that you think calling mythicists crazy oddballs is horrid behavior. We are allies in that against Dr. McGrath. I look forward to your sustained vehemence on that point on this blog. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to scold Dr. McGrath if you take the time to read him regularly.

              • hanery

                Beallen,

                As I have noted from my first post on this issue, and noted again and again after it, I side with the evidence that the synoptic gospels have at some level a kernel of eyewitness material. I find the procedures and discussions that, well, just so many, many scholars are now using to evaluate this to be interesting, compelling, and persuasive. This does not mean that I think they are verbatium history, nor do I think even if ALL the gospels were eyewitness material this means they are giving us a necessarily accurate picture (on this point see Le Donne’s work in particular). This is a nuanced picture, and if you don’t mind me saying mythicists don’t get nuance. 

                This seems to be the main problem actually. Either Jesus did these amazing miracles and historians would have flocked round him, or he mustn’t have existed. That leads you into all sorts of problems and misinterpretations. Here you took the fact that I hold-to the actually perfectly reasonable position- on gospel material and thought I claimed that therefore they must be the “equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus.” And now you ask me: “Do you think the Gospels are contemporary eyewitness accounts or not” They are neither eyewitnesses accounts, nor or they, to my mind, fictitious unprovenanced fables! Its not one of the other. I can’t answer yes or no to it, and the fact you posed the question in this manner, and gave that odd rant above in reaction to my outlining my position, tells me again, and I hope you take this without any tone of combativeness on my part, but you really haven’t start to understand the most basic aspects of scholarship on this area.

  • Kris

    Bealle

    Your problem is with the English language not Tim.

    Here is the passage you are complaining about.

     Yet, despite his fame then and now, WE HAVE precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal. If WE  have no contemporary mentions of the man who almost destroyed the Roman Republic at the height of its power, the idea that WE should expect any for an obscure peasant preacher in the backblocks of Galilee is patently absurd.

    This sentence is in the first person plural present. That clearly refers to present time, not Roman times.

    For your argument to be correct Tim’s passage would have to be in the 3rd person plural past tense and then transition to the 3rd person plural present 

    It would read like this:

     Yet, despite his fame then and now, THEY HAD  precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal. If  THEY HAD  no contemporary mentions of the man who almost destroyed the Roman Republic at the height of its power, the idea that WE ( transition to the present)   should expect any for an obscure peasant preacher in the backblocks of Galilee is patently absurd.

    You need to read things a bit more closely in the future because Tim is factual correct in his passage in question. We do not have any surviving contemporary accounts of Hannibal.

    • Anonymous

      Kris, I have clearly dealt with your supposed complaint. Again, if we had a record of a single contemporary of Jesus who put his name to a page to state that he had seen Jesus do this or that, then the mythicist case would be much the weaker. There are still historians who doubt the existence of a historical Socrates, so there may still be some people who would doubt, but if such an account existed, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was entirely a literary fiction as a scholarly enterprise would be much weakened.

      That is, of course, not to say that the Jesus of Nazareth we have in the gospels isn’t a literary fiction. Mike Wilson and other historicists such as Schweitzer, Bultmann and Dr. McGrath agree that he is.

      The only question is whether he is entirely a literary fiction, or only 90% literary fiction as Bernard Muller believes. Yet of course, historicists such as Dr. McGrath and Tim O’Neill have to heap invective and contumely upon anyone who suggests that the other 10% isn’t very solid either.

      Tim is factually wrong when he states that we have no contemporary references, unless he includes the qualifier “extant”, which he did not include, and therefore gives the profoundly misleading idea of equivalence in the record to any careful reader, much less a casual reader. However, if he included the word “extant” and discussed the fact that we lack even a single contemporary reference to Jesus of Nazareth in the historical record, his reference case of Hannibal would “collapse into a heap of ashes.”

  • Kris

    Bealle

    Your problem is with the English language not Tim.

    Here is the passage you are complaining about.

     Yet, despite his fame then and now, WE HAVE precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal. If WE  have no contemporary mentions of the man who almost destroyed the Roman Republic at the height of its power, the idea that WE should expect any for an obscure peasant preacher in the backblocks of Galilee is patently absurd.

    This sentence is in the first person plural present. That clearly refers to present time, not Roman times.

    For your argument to be correct Tim’s passage would have to be in the 3rd person plural past tense and then transition to the 3rd person plural present 

    It would read like this:

     Yet, despite his fame then and now, THEY HAD  precisely zero contemporary references to Hannibal. If  THEY HAD  no contemporary mentions of the man who almost destroyed the Roman Republic at the height of its power, the idea that WE ( transition to the present)   should expect any for an obscure peasant preacher in the backblocks of Galilee is patently absurd.

    You need to read things a bit more closely in the future because Tim is factual correct in his passage in question. We do not have any surviving contemporary accounts of Hannibal.

    • beallen0417

      Kris, I have clearly dealt with your supposed complaint. Again, if we had a record of a single contemporary of Jesus who put his name to a page to state that he had seen Jesus do this or that, then the mythicist case would be much the weaker. There are still historians who doubt the existence of a historical Socrates, so there may still be some people who would doubt, but if such an account existed, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was entirely a literary fiction as a scholarly enterprise would be much weakened.

      That is, of course, not to say that the Jesus of Nazareth we have in the gospels isn’t a literary fiction. Mike Wilson and other historicists such as Schweitzer, Bultmann and Dr. McGrath agree that he is.

      The only question is whether he is entirely a literary fiction, or only 90% literary fiction as Bernard Muller believes. Yet of course, historicists such as Dr. McGrath and Tim O’Neill have to heap invective and contumely upon anyone who suggests that the other 10% isn’t very solid either.

      Tim is factually wrong when he states that we have no contemporary references, unless he includes the qualifier “extant”, which he did not include, and therefore gives the profoundly misleading idea of equivalence in the record to any careful reader, much less a casual reader. However, if he included the word “extant” and discussed the fact that we lack even a single contemporary reference to Jesus of Nazareth in the historical record, his reference case of Hannibal would “collapse into a heap of ashes.”

  • Kris

    Bea

    Unless the rules of English grammar have changed in the past 24 hours you have not dealt with my complaint at all. Your claim of  Tim’s alleged error is based on a sloppy superficial reading of his  article. It simply does not say what you think it does.  Your problem is with English, not Tim. The only person misreading Tim here, is you. I am asking you now, sincerely, is English your native language?

    The Mythicist case is weak enough as it  is  that  anyone remotely  rational  should  reject it as absurd.

    Why must Jesus either be 100% fiction or 90% fiction? 

    If you  have some of those contemporary references to Hannibal can you please post a link to them or failing that simply show us where they are published.

    • Anonymous

      Kris, I’m not the one who came up with 90% fiction, historical Jesus scholars did they. They look at the gospels and declare all the things that couldn’t have happened, like the heavens opening, the miracles, the resurrection, the dead rising out of their graves, the walking on water … they say all that is fiction, but the 10%, the stuff with the man talking, that’s all true.

      What percentage of the gospels do you think are fiction?

      I have already listed my contemporary references to Hannibal and been more than willing to admit that they are lost to history. The point is that there are no analogous documents for Jesus of Nazareth including ones that are lost, so the analogy of Jesus to Hannibal is at the very best deliberately misleading, but from any objective point of view false.

      What’s funny is that this sort of thing normally troubles Dr. McGrath greatly! He takes Fitzgerald to task for doing precisely what O’Neill is doing here (in an oral lecture mind you).

      Here are Dr. McGrath’s wise words:

      Fitzgerald pays particular attention to Justus of Tiberias,
      the first-century Jewish historian from Galilee. Fitzgerald does not
      explicitly mention an important point
      , which is that Justus’ writings have not survived.

      I would say that it is an important point that there were several contemporary eyewitnesses of Hannibal who did write about him, and that’s something O’Neill didn’t explicitly mention. So was it wrong of Fitzgerald when he did it? If so, then it’s just as wrong for O’Neill (and probably worse, since I would imagine O’Neill might have read Dr. McGrath’s work on Nailed prior to reviewing it).

      • Tim O’Neill

        “I would say that it is an important point that there were several
        contemporary eyewitnesses of Hannibal who did write about him, and
        that’s something O’Neill didn’t explicitly mention.”

        I had no need to – it wasn’t relevant to the point I was making.  If I added a parenthetical comment or qualification to ward off every potential feeble nitpick, the review would have been far longer than it already is.  Several people have explained to you that what I said was quite clear, quite accurate and entirely analogous regarding the point in quesiton – surviving contemporary references.  Why you are making such a meal over such a minor point is a mystery.  Surely a simple “okay, I misread what you said” would suffice.

        • Anonymous

          Well, further digging has confirmed that you are either much less well-aware of the situation re: Hannibal than you claim or you are simply lying.

          You must know, if you are such a scholar, that fragments of Sosylus (book 4 of The Deeds of Hannibal) are still extant, correct?

          So we actually do have extant fragments of a work that describes the deeds of Hannibal.

          Therefore we have exactly one. Your statement as phrased on your original blog post is simply false.

      • Anonymous

        Okay. Here we go again. Beallen:

        I never claimed, nor do I think that: “that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus.” I claimed that we have other people (Papius, Irenaeus, Clement…) claiming this for the gospels- as others do for the apparent contemporary history of Hannibal.Re-read the original post. If you dont get it then its not my fault. Perhaps your problem to understand Tim’s analogy (despite three people’s laborious attempts to walk you through it) and your inability to understand my point is not our fault, but is perhaps (as others have pointed out) your inability to comprehend English.

        • Anonymous

          Please show me where 1 Clement makes such a claim I was unaware of it? As you are well aware, Papias is only known through Eusebius (who is widely suspected of altering documents) and Irenaeus is a 3rd century writer.

          If you think I don’t understand English, I guess I’ll chalk it up to not understanding that one does not equal zero, since I’ve discovered that some of Sosylus is extant (see above). Most people who understand English know how to use the contracted form of “it is” properly, by the way, but you apparently don’t.

          • Anonymous

            I did not say 1 Clement, I said Clement. That is, Clement of Alexandria. 

            I don’t know why you claim the fact that Irenaeus is a 3rd century author disallows pointing him out in comparison to the timeline separating Sosylus and claims of his contemporary authorship of events- or why you make that claim for Eusebius, like the people who quite Sosylus didn’t make things up. 

  • Kris

    Bea

    Unless the rules of English grammar have changed in the past 24 hours you have not dealt with my complaint at all. Your claim of  Tim’s alleged error is based on a sloppy superficial reading of his  article. It simply does not say what you think it does.  Your problem is with English, not Tim. The only person misreading Tim here, is you. I am asking you now, sincerely, is English your native language?

    The Mythicist case is weak enough as it  is  that  anyone remotely  rational  should  reject it as absurd.

    Why must Jesus either be 100% fiction or 90% fiction? 

    If you  have some of those contemporary references to Hannibal can you please post a link to them or failing that simply show us where they are published.

    • beallen0417

      Kris, I’m not the one who came up with 90% fiction, historical Jesus scholars did they. They look at the gospels and declare all the things that couldn’t have happened, like the heavens opening, the miracles, the resurrection, the dead rising out of their graves, the walking on water … they say all that is fiction, but the 10%, the stuff with the man talking, that’s all true.

      What percentage of the gospels do you think are fiction?

      I have already listed my contemporary references to Hannibal and been more than willing to admit that they are lost to history. The point is that there are no analogous documents for Jesus of Nazareth including ones that are lost, so the analogy of Jesus to Hannibal is at the very best deliberately misleading, but from any objective point of view false.

      What’s funny is that this sort of thing normally troubles Dr. McGrath greatly! He takes Fitzgerald to task for doing precisely what O’Neill is doing here (in an oral lecture mind you).

      Here are Dr. McGrath’s wise words:

      Fitzgerald pays particular attention to Justus of Tiberias,
      the first-century Jewish historian from Galilee. Fitzgerald does not
      explicitly mention an important point
      , which is that Justus’ writings have not survived.

      I would say that it is an important point that there were several contemporary eyewitnesses of Hannibal who did write about him, and that’s something O’Neill didn’t explicitly mention. So was it wrong of Fitzgerald when he did it? If so, then it’s just as wrong for O’Neill (and probably worse, since I would imagine O’Neill might have read Dr. McGrath’s work on Nailed prior to reviewing it).

      • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

        “I would say that it is an important point that there were several
        contemporary eyewitnesses of Hannibal who did write about him, and
        that’s something O’Neill didn’t explicitly mention.”

        I had no need to – it wasn’t relevant to the point I was making.  If I added a parenthetical comment or qualification to ward off every potential feeble nitpick, the review would have been far longer than it already is.  Several people have explained to you that what I said was quite clear, quite accurate and entirely analogous regarding the point in quesiton – surviving contemporary references.  Why you are making such a meal over such a minor point is a mystery.  Surely a simple “okay, I misread what you said” would suffice.

        • beallen0417

          Well, further digging has confirmed that you are either much less well-aware of the situation re: Hannibal than you claim or you are simply lying.

          You must know, if you are such a scholar, that fragments of Sosylus (book 4 of The Deeds of Hannibal) are still extant, correct?

          So we actually do have extant fragments of a work that describes the deeds of Hannibal.

          Therefore we have exactly one. Your statement as phrased on your original blog post is simply false.

      • hanery

        Okay. Here we go again. Beallen:

        I never claimed, nor do I think that: “that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus.” I claimed that we have other people (Papius, Irenaeus, Clement…) claiming this for the gospels- as others do for the apparent contemporary history of Hannibal.Re-read the original post. If you dont get it then its not my fault. Perhaps your problem to understand Tim’s analogy (despite three people’s laborious attempts to walk you through it) and your inability to understand my point is not our fault, but is perhaps (as others have pointed out) your inability to comprehend English.

        I have argued my point- and had to clarify a point that I didn’t actually make. Its quite tedious. So unless you wish to make a point of substance I am quite happy to leave it here.

        • beallen0417

          Please show me where 1 Clement makes such a claim I was unaware of it? As you are well aware, Papias is only known through Eusebius (who is widely suspected of altering documents) and Irenaeus is a 3rd century writer.

          If you think I don’t understand English, I guess I’ll chalk it up to not understanding that one does not equal zero, since I’ve discovered that some of Sosylus is extant (see above). Most people who understand English know how to use the contracted form of “it is” properly, by the way, but you apparently don’t.

          • hanery

            I did not say 1 Clement, I said Clement. That is, Clement of Alexandria. 

            I don’t know why you claim the fact that Irenaeus is a 3rd century author disallows pointing him out in comparison to the timeline separating Sosylus and claims of his contemporary authorship of events- or why you make that claim for Eusebius, like the people who quite Sosylus didn’t make things up. 

  • Kris

    Just saw Tim addressed your argument and pretty much corrected you the same way I did. I recommend you drop this and say you simply misread what Tim wrote. Mistakes happen, how you deal with it shows who you are.

  • Kris

    Just saw Tim addressed your argument and pretty much corrected you the same way I did. I recommend you drop this and say you simply misread what Tim wrote. Mistakes happen, how you deal with it shows who you are.

  • Tim O’Neill

    “Tim is factually wrong when he states that we have no contemporary
    references, unless he includes the qualifier “extant”, which he did not
    include”

    Several other people seem to have managed to see that is precisely what I was saying.  And I’ve responded to you in the comments on my blog, so anyone else who couldn’t see what I was saying will now be clear.  If that little quibbling bit of nitpicking was the best you can do, I’m fairly happy with my review.

    Anyone not searching desperately for nits to pick will realise that, as with all analogies, I am clearly not saying that the evidence for Jesus and the evidence for Hannibal is exact in every particular.  It isn’t.  But it is analogous in the particular I have highlighted and on which my point depends.  That’s how analogies work.

    I could also have used several other examples of prominent ancient figures for whom we have no contemporary references – Boudicca and Arminius spring to mind.  The argument that no contemporary references = “didn’t exist” is absurd and only works on people who have no grasp of the nature of ancient source material.  It’s one of many Myther arguments that only work on the ignorant – much like many Creationist arguments.

    • Anonymous

      Tim, I think you are quite adept at insulting people, and if you consider a blatantly false analogy to be nit-picking then be my guest.

      As for Boudicca and Arminius, nothing kept you from using them as your original analogies, I wonder what kept you from doing so.

      I wondered myself, so you know, me, I just check stuff out for myself and don’t rely on “experts” or “amateurs” I just read the material available.

      While we don’t have a contemporary witness for either, we do have “a chain of custody” for Boudicca. She was defeated by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, who was a contemporary of Pliny the Elder and is mentioned by him in The Natural History as a Roman Consul (and thus also is mentioned in the consul lists), as well as by Tacitus, who was also a contemporary of Paulinus and whose father-in-law was a military tribune to Paulinus (able to give firsthand testimony to Tacitus) recounts the campaign in Britain at length. In addition, with Boudicca we have the archeological evidence of exact cities being burned at exactly the time that the surviving records suggest. So … if you want to put her on your list of equivalent silences to Jesus, you are again being  misleading (and you had to know I was going to check).

      As for Arminius, again, we don’t have a contemporary witness you are correct, but we have contemporary Roman references to the battle involving him from Ovid two years later, Strabo nine years later and Marcus Valleius Paterculus within 21 years of the event. We have also discovered the battlefield where the Battle of the Teutoborg Forest took place and it fits with the textual descriptions that we have extant.

      I assume, since you knew in advance that any reference you gave would be investigated, you feel that these are equivalent to the chain of custody for the gospels. If you do … then we really don’t need to delve much further into your opinions on the matter from my point of view.

      However, I wonder if you agree with Hanery that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus. Let me know.

      • Tim O’Neill

        “Tim, I think you are quite adept at insulting people, and if you
        consider a blatantly false analogy to be nit-picking then be my guest.”

        It isn’t a false analogy.  The point that is analogous is our lack of any contemporary references to either Hannibal or Jesus.  The two figures are obviously not analogous in many other ways, but I never claimed they were.  You *imagined* I was saying that there have never been any contemporary references to Hannibal.  I’m afraid I can’t help how you misread what I said.

        “As for Boudicca and Arminius, nothing kept you from using them as your original analogies, I wonder what kept you from doing so.”

        Hannibal is better known now and was vastly more significant  than either, that’s why.  But for the purposes of the point of the analogy they would do just as well.  And yes, I’m well aware of the evidence for both (better than most, in fact).  My point stands.

        “However, I wonder if you agree with Hanery that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus. Let me know.”

        No, I don’t.  But I don’t think they are as far removed from eye-witnesses as some like to believe either.  Maurice Casey’s work on this, to my mind, very sound.

         

         

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    “Tim is factually wrong when he states that we have no contemporary
    references, unless he includes the qualifier “extant”, which he did not
    include”

    Several other people seem to have managed to see that is precisely what I was saying.  And I’ve responded to you in the comments on my blog, so anyone else who couldn’t see what I was saying will now be clear.  If that little quibbling bit of nitpicking was the best you can do, I’m fairly happy with my review.

    Anyone not searching desperately for nits to pick will realise that, as with all analogies, I am clearly not saying that the evidence for Jesus and the evidence for Hannibal is exact in every particular.  It isn’t.  But it is analogous in the particular I have highlighted and on which my point depends.  That’s how analogies work.

    I could also have used several other examples of prominent ancient figures for whom we have no contemporary references – Boudicca and Arminius spring to mind.  The argument that no contemporary references = “didn’t exist” is absurd and only works on people who have no grasp of the nature of ancient source material.  It’s one of many Myther arguments that only work on the ignorant – much like many Creationist arguments.

    • beallen0417

      Tim, I think you are quite adept at insulting people, and if you consider a blatantly false analogy to be nit-picking then be my guest.

      As for Boudicca and Arminius, nothing kept you from using them as your original analogies, I wonder what kept you from doing so.

      I wondered myself, so you know, me, I just check stuff out for myself and don’t rely on “experts” or “amateurs” I just read the material available.

      While we don’t have a contemporary witness for either, we do have “a chain of custody” for Boudicca. She was defeated by Gaius Suetonius Paulinus, who was a contemporary of Pliny the Elder and is mentioned by him in The Natural History as a Roman Consul (and thus also is mentioned in the consul lists), as well as by Tacitus, who was also a contemporary of Paulinus and whose father-in-law was a military tribune to Paulinus (able to give firsthand testimony to Tacitus) recounts the campaign in Britain at length. In addition, with Boudicca we have the archeological evidence of exact cities being burned at exactly the time that the surviving records suggest. So … if you want to put her on your list of equivalent silences to Jesus, you are again being  misleading (and you had to know I was going to check).

      As for Arminius, again, we don’t have a contemporary witness you are correct, but we have contemporary Roman references to the battle involving him from Ovid two years later, Strabo nine years later and Marcus Valleius Paterculus within 21 years of the event. We have also discovered the battlefield where the Battle of the Teutoborg Forest took place and it fits with the textual descriptions that we have extant.

      I assume, since you knew in advance that any reference you gave would be investigated, you feel that these are equivalent to the chain of custody for the gospels. If you do … then we really don’t need to delve much further into your opinions on the matter from my point of view.

      However, I wonder if you agree with Hanery that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus. Let me know.

      • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

        “Tim, I think you are quite adept at insulting people, and if you
        consider a blatantly false analogy to be nit-picking then be my guest.”

        It isn’t a false analogy.  The point that is analogous is our lack of any contemporary references to either Hannibal or Jesus.  The two figures are obviously not analogous in many other ways, but I never claimed they were.  You *imagined* I was saying that there have never been any contemporary references to Hannibal.  I’m afraid I can’t help how you misread what I said.

        “As for Boudicca and Arminius, nothing kept you from using them as your original analogies, I wonder what kept you from doing so.”

        Hannibal is better known now and was vastly more significant  than either, that’s why.  But for the purposes of the point of the analogy they would do just as well.  And yes, I’m well aware of the evidence for both (better than most, in fact).  My point stands.

        “However, I wonder if you agree with Hanery that the gospels are the equivalent of Sosylus and Silenus. Let me know.”

        No, I don’t.  But I don’t think they are as far removed from eye-witnesses as some like to believe either.  Maurice Casey’s work on this, to my mind, very sound.

         

         

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  • Kris

    Beallen you are being absurd.

    Of course the gospels have historical elements in them, what was the point in writing them if not to write the history of Jesus. Either they were written immediately after the death of the apostles or they were written within 20 years of the death of the apostles. Either way they are good secondary sources. Even Pagan critics conceded they had some basic history to them.

    Have you once even read the documents in question? There are things in them that simply no early Christian would have made up such as a crucified Messiah, Jesus being rejected by his followers ( and betrayed by one) him not being able to do miracles in his hometown or the belief that he did miracles through the power of Satan. No one would have made up these details for obvious reasons.

    Also the Gospels do not paint his brother or his apostles in exactly a positive light.

    Obviously this does not prove everything in the gospel accounts but this shows there is some basic history in them.

    You really need to take some time and read a few books on how to research history and for that matter you might want to read a book or two on how to properly understand English Grammar. 

  • Kris

    Beallen you are being absurd.

    Of course the gospels have historical elements in them, what was the point in writing them if not to write the history of Jesus. Either they were written immediately after the death of the apostles or they were written within 20 years of the death of the apostles. Either way they are good secondary sources. Even Pagan critics conceded they had some basic history to them.

    Have you once even read the documents in question? There are things in them that simply no early Christian would have made up such as a crucified Messiah, Jesus being rejected by his followers ( and betrayed by one) him not being able to do miracles in his hometown or the belief that he did miracles through the power of Satan. No one would have made up these details for obvious reasons.

    Also the Gospels do not paint his brother or his apostles in exactly a positive light.

    Obviously this does not prove everything in the gospel accounts but this shows there is some basic history in them.

    You really need to take some time and read a few books on how to research history and for that matter you might want to read a book or two on how to properly understand English Grammar. 

  • Kris

    Who are these scholars? I have really no doubt you read one scholar and simply determined it is all of NT Testament scholarships. Right now I can think of a lot of scholars, including nonbelievers who accept far more then 10 %. I suspect you are talking about the Jesus Seminar but  in case you didn’t know they are a fringe group for one thing and even they accept around 20%.

    You are still beating on about that Hannibal analogy. We have no primary sources for him or Jesus. Did the life of  Hannibal once have primary sources , yes, did Jesus’ life, almost certainly. Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources. Do  we have either now, no. Does it affect the existence  of either, not at all.

    Tim did nothing wrong. As he and I have explained your problem is with English Grammar, not his arguments.

    No I do not accept every part of the Gospels as historical. However I do accept the following

    Jesus existed
    Jesus had a ministry
    Jesus was executed by crucifixion
    He was buried in a tomb
    His closest followers accepted he rose from the dead. 

    Before you try to argue I am a Christian apologist, I am an agnostic.

    You really need to research this subject better and study proper English grammar usage.

    • Anonymous

      Kris, again, please see the above. We have one extant work that describes the deeds of Hannibal. Tim’s original statement is simply factually false.

      Again, what percentage of the text of the gospels establishes that he existed, had a ministry, was crucified and buried in a tomb? Is that more than 10% of the verbiage of the gospels?

      It gets better — Bernard Muller, one of Dr. McGrath’s frequent allies here on this board, doesn’t think Jesus ever had a ministry, so he cuts out all of that. Dr. McGrath has yet to call him names or say he is a fringe creationist conspiracy-theory type.

      I am very familiar with English Grammar. If you can find 10% of the text of the gospels that you think is historically accurate, I’ll be happy to see how much of your text agrees with modern critical scholarship and how much Tim and Dr. McGrath would feel is historical.

      Heck, I’d love to know if Tim agrees with your list even. I’m pretty sure Dr. McGrath does,  I know Bernard doesn’t.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources”

      You have no evidence to offer for the “sources” of Mark. 
      Perhaps Mark was written  from some kind of oral tradition. 
      Or maybe it simply sprang from the mind of the writer of Mark. That’s been known to happen. And you don’t know which scenario is true.

      And if you’re not a Christian apologist, you sure do one hell of an impression of one!

  • Kris

    Who are these scholars? I have really no doubt you read one scholar and simply determined it is all of NT Testament scholarships. Right now I can think of a lot of scholars, including nonbelievers who accept far more then 10 %. I suspect you are talking about the Jesus Seminar but  in case you didn’t know they are a fringe group for one thing and even they accept around 20%.

    You are still beating on about that Hannibal analogy. We have no primary sources for him or Jesus. Did the life of  Hannibal once have primary sources , yes, did Jesus’ life, almost certainly. Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources. Do  we have either now, no. Does it affect the existence  of either, not at all.

    Tim did nothing wrong. As he and I have explained your problem is with English Grammar, not his arguments.

    No I do not accept every part of the Gospels as historical. However I do accept the following

    Jesus existed
    Jesus had a ministry
    Jesus was executed by crucifixion
    He was buried in a tomb
    His closest followers accepted he rose from the dead. 

    Before you try to argue I am a Christian apologist, I am an agnostic.

    You really need to research this subject better and study proper English grammar usage.

    • beallen0417

      Kris, again, please see the above. We have one extant work that describes the deeds of Hannibal. Tim’s original statement is simply factually false.

      Again, what percentage of the text of the gospels establishes that he existed, had a ministry, was crucified and buried in a tomb? Is that more than 10% of the verbiage of the gospels?

      It gets better — Bernard Muller, one of Dr. McGrath’s frequent allies here on this board, doesn’t think Jesus ever had a ministry, so he cuts out all of that. Dr. McGrath has yet to call him names or say he is a fringe creationist conspiracy-theory type.

      I am very familiar with English Grammar. If you can find 10% of the text of the gospels that you think is historically accurate, I’ll be happy to see how much of your text agrees with modern critical scholarship and how much Tim and Dr. McGrath would feel is historical.

      Heck, I’d love to know if Tim agrees with your list even. I’m pretty sure Dr. McGrath does,  I know Bernard doesn’t.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources”

      You have no evidence to offer for the “sources” of Mark. 
      Perhaps Mark was written  from some kind of oral tradition. 
      Or maybe it simply sprang from the mind of the writer of Mark. That’s been known to happen. And you don’t know which scenario is true.

      And if you’re not a Christian apologist, you sure do one hell of an impression of one!

  • Kris

    Hanery

    I suspect we are wasting our time. We are trying to use logic and facts with a Jesus Myther. If they could use logic and facts they would not be Jesus Mythers.

    • Anonymous

      Kris, yes, logic and facts like one does not equal zero.

    • TruthOverfaith

      If people always used logic and facts there would be no religion.

  • Kris

    Hanery

    I suspect we are wasting our time. We are trying to use logic and facts with a Jesus Myther. If they could use logic and facts they would not be Jesus Mythers.

    • beallen0417

      Kris, yes, logic and facts like one does not equal zero.

    • TruthOverfaith

      If people always used logic and facts there would be no religion.

  • Anonymous

    I’d just like to add that it’s great to get some new blood in arguing on Dr. McGrath’s side. I was beginning to think that most people had given up defending him. Good to see that’s not the case.

    It’s really remarkable that hanery has such animus to those who dismiss mythicists as cranks. I hope he reads further into Dr. McGrath’s archives to find out the many places where Dr. McGrath does this.

    Yet, I would like to make another point that I hope doesn’t fall on deaf ears here.

    When the Bible was first collated and put together, the people who accepted it as scripture believed it was all history. For the next millennium and a quarter or so, anyone who lived in a Bible-believing country that didn’t believe it either kept quiet or was executed, so that winnowed down the range of acceptable opinions at the time for quite a while.

    After the enlightenment, a certain wiggle room developed, then more came in with the wars of Religion, and finally, in the 19th century, generally accepted religious freedom became relatively widespread. Yet, up until the twentieth century most scholars (much less most people) accepted that the Bible was pretty much a history book and was relatively accurate.

    Yet twentieth century research showed that it was anything but. At the beginning of the century, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, Esther, Ruth, Jonah … all these were considered to be historical figures. Yet in every one of the above cases, the majority of scholars now consider the works that mention them to be mythical or fictional without any established basis in genuine history.

    So the betting on the historicity of Biblical figures would not have been a very wise scholarly decision to make throughout the prior century. Yet here we have a case, where the position that one should be skeptical about yet another Biblical figure’s historicity is being ridiculed, mocked and insulted regularly as not worthy of consideration.

    There is one group of people who do much the same thing. They have been proven wrong about the Bible over and over in the last century and a half. They consistently retrench, retreat, re-think and put out the same ideas in new garb, but the substance of their position remains the same — the story we have in the Bible is accurate in the main, although some details may be mythical. They are creationists.

  • beallen0417

    I’d just like to add that it’s great to get some new blood in arguing on Dr. McGrath’s side. I was beginning to think that most people had given up defending him. Good to see that’s not the case.

    It’s really remarkable that hanery has such animus to those who dismiss mythicists as cranks. I hope he reads further into Dr. McGrath’s archives to find out the many places where Dr. McGrath does this.

    Yet, I would like to make another point that I hope doesn’t fall on deaf ears here.

    When the Bible was first collated and put together, the people who accepted it as scripture believed it was all history. For the next millennium and a quarter or so, anyone who lived in a Bible-believing country that didn’t believe it either kept quiet or was executed, so that winnowed down the range of acceptable opinions at the time for quite a while.

    After the enlightenment, a certain wiggle room developed, then more came in with the wars of Religion, and finally, in the 19th century, generally accepted religious freedom became relatively widespread. Yet, up until the twentieth century most scholars (much less most people) accepted that the Bible was pretty much a history book and was relatively accurate.

    Yet twentieth century research showed that it was anything but. At the beginning of the century, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, Daniel, Esther, Ruth, Jonah … all these were considered to be historical figures. Yet in every one of the above cases, the majority of scholars now consider the works that mention them to be mythical or fictional without any established basis in genuine history.

    So the betting on the historicity of Biblical figures would not have been a very wise scholarly decision to make throughout the prior century. Yet here we have a case, where the position that one should be skeptical about yet another Biblical figure’s historicity is being ridiculed, mocked and insulted regularly as not worthy of consideration.

    There is one group of people who do much the same thing. They have been proven wrong about the Bible over and over in the last century and a half. They consistently retrench, retreat, re-think and put out the same ideas in new garb, but the substance of their position remains the same — the story we have in the Bible is accurate in the main, although some details may be mythical. They are creationists.

  • Kris

    Beallen

    Until you show me that source you claimed to discover I am simply going to be skeptical about it. Nothing whatsoever convinces me you have much of a clue about history so taking your word over Tim’s without evidence is simply not going to happen.

    Okay so give us a source for your 10% claim. So far you have waived that idiocy around here unsupported.  Obviously such a claim ignore every conservative and moderate New Testament scholar on the planet which is simply absurd.

    Jesus existed- basic fact of history. We know this from Paul, Gospels, Josephus and various other Pagan historians

    Jesus had a ministry- we know that from the Gospels and Josephus

    Jesus was crucified- We know this from Paul,  the Gospels and various Pagan critics

    Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons.

    Such tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.

    Both Mark and John mention it, these are independent accounts.

    Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.

    There is no known counter tradition.

    There is no need to create such a story. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it would have been just as miraculous. 

    Please provide Eusebius altered documents.

    If you are correct about your source it simply shows Tim was mistaken in one area, however the fact is you still misread his argument completely and continue to do so.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “Jesus had a ministry-”  
      Maybe. But relying on the anonymous gospel writers who never cite a single name for any of their sources is hardly convincing.

      “Jesus was crucified”
      Probably. But you can offer no eye witness testimony to this event. Only heresy.

      “Jesus had a tomb”
      Doubtful. Probably just  a common grave. And again, you can offer no eye witnesses to an empty tomb. And to say that tombs existed as some part of your argument for the authenticity of the gospels is really quite funny!

      Mark and John are independent accounts? Maybe. But you can’t prove that John wasn’t familiar with Mark even though his gospel was written in a different style. If Mark was in circulation for several years prior to John’s writing, then it is likely that John would have been familiar with this work.

      And there’s no reason that the anonymous writers of the gospels couldn’t use women as part of their stories to fit their particular narrative or theological opinions.
      And please show me where Paul mentions these women in his description of Jesus’ appearances.

  • Kris

    Beallen

    Until you show me that source you claimed to discover I am simply going to be skeptical about it. Nothing whatsoever convinces me you have much of a clue about history so taking your word over Tim’s without evidence is simply not going to happen.

    Okay so give us a source for your 10% claim. So far you have waived that idiocy around here unsupported.  Obviously such a claim ignore every conservative and moderate New Testament scholar on the planet which is simply absurd.

    Jesus existed- basic fact of history. We know this from Paul, Gospels, Josephus and various other Pagan historians

    Jesus had a ministry- we know that from the Gospels and Josephus

    Jesus was crucified- We know this from Paul,  the Gospels and various Pagan critics

    Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons.

    Such tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.

    Both Mark and John mention it, these are independent accounts.

    Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.

    There is no known counter tradition.

    There is no need to create such a story. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it would have been just as miraculous. 

    Please provide Eusebius altered documents.

    If you are correct about your source it simply shows Tim was mistaken in one area, however the fact is you still misread his argument completely and continue to do so.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “Jesus had a ministry-”  
      Maybe. But relying on the anonymous gospel writers who never cite a single name for any of their sources is hardly convincing.

      “Jesus was crucified”
      Probably. But you can offer no eye witness testimony to this event. Only heresy.

      “Jesus had a tomb”
      Doubtful. Probably just  a common grave. And again, you can offer no eye witnesses to an empty tomb. And to say that tombs existed as some part of your argument for the authenticity of the gospels is really quite funny!

      Mark and John are independent accounts? Maybe. But you can’t prove that John wasn’t familiar with Mark even though his gospel was written in a different style. If Mark was in circulation for several years prior to John’s writing, then it is likely that John would have been familiar with this work.

      And there’s no reason that the anonymous writers of the gospels couldn’t use women as part of their stories to fit their particular narrative or theological opinions.
      And please show me where Paul mentions these women in his description of Jesus’ appearances.

  • Kris

    Beallen

    You are an absolute idiot. There is no way else to say it.

    David and Solomon never existed. Really, for real.

    Read this- http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=20&Issue=3&ArticleID=2

    This has been known since 1994

    Of course we also have the Biblical accounts about David and Solomon.

    Why is it Jesus Mythers are pig ignorant on all history?

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

      Kris wrote: You are an absolute idiot. There is no way else to say it. . . . Why is it Jesus Mythers are pig ignorant on all history?

      “Kris”, you are an absolute idiot for not following the scholarly literature on this topic about the historicity of David and Solomon and the united kingdom of Israel, and are pig ignorant of the fact that the contents in your link about the Tel Dan stele are far from the “scholarly consensus”.
       

  • Kris

    Beallen

    You are an absolute idiot. There is no way else to say it.

    David and Solomon never existed. Really, for real.

    Read this- http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=20&Issue=3&ArticleID=2

    This has been known since 1994

    Of course we also have the Biblical accounts about David and Solomon.

    Why is it Jesus Mythers are pig ignorant on all history?

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

      Kris wrote: You are an absolute idiot. There is no way else to say it. . . . Why is it Jesus Mythers are pig ignorant on all history?

      “Kris”, you are an absolute idiot for not following the scholarly literature on this topic about the historicity of David and Solomon and the united kingdom of Israel, and are pig ignorant of the fact that the contents in your link about the Tel Dan stele are far from the “scholarly consensus”.
       

  • Kris

    I simply do not see why this is so bloody difficult to understand. After the apostles started dying their close followers wrote down the stories the apostles told them for rather obvious reasons. Why is this so bloody difficult to comprehend? 

    Of course these people had heard these stories for a long time now so they probably had an accurate memory of them. In the same way I could write down an accurate account of when my father was involved with the Cuban Missile Crises. This is not exactly complex material here.

    Any 13 year old with an ounce of sense can get this, what is the problem with mythers that they can’t!

  • Kris

    I simply do not see why this is so bloody difficult to understand. After the apostles started dying their close followers wrote down the stories the apostles told them for rather obvious reasons. Why is this so bloody difficult to comprehend? 

    Of course these people had heard these stories for a long time now so they probably had an accurate memory of them. In the same way I could write down an accurate account of when my father was involved with the Cuban Missile Crises. This is not exactly complex material here.

    Any 13 year old with an ounce of sense can get this, what is the problem with mythers that they can’t!

  • Kris

    Yes but the writings of Paul do show that James was a follower of Jesus and we know that from Josephus too. 

    I cannot imagine why you think either of those sources would have to do that.

    Well it is pretty obvious that James was not a follower of Jesus when he was alive. He thought Jesus was mad in the book of Mark and tried to get him killed in the book of John. Are your seriously suggesting Christians made that up!

    Oh I found Beallen primary source. Prepare yourself folks!

    This is all that remains of Sosylus writings on Hannibal!

     they all fought outstandingly, but most of all the ships of the Massilians, who were the first to join battle and were wholly responsible for the success of the Romans. In sum, their leaders encouraged the others and made them bolder, while they themselves attacked the enemy with exceptional bravery. The Carthaginians suffered a two-fold defeat, because the Massilians knew their particular style of fighting. If the Carthaginians are facing some ships prow to prow, they advance as if they are going to attack, but instead of attacking immediately, they sail through the enemy line, turn round and ram the enemy’s ships from the side.3 The Massilians had found out about a tactic which is said to have employed at Artemisium by Heracleides of Mylasa, who was one of the cleverest men of his time. When they drew up their line, they ordered the front ships to face forwards, but to leave other ships waiting behind them at suitable intervals, which as soon as the first ships had been passed could take the opportunity to attack the enemy’s ships as they were still advancing, without moving from their original formation. This is what Heracleides did in past times, and as a result he was responsible for the victory. And now, as we said, the Massilians followed the description of this ancient event. 4 As the Carthaginians advanced in the anticipated fashion . . . they fought alongside . . . the Carthaginians turned to flight . . .From 7 books we get two paragraphs! Not exactly much of a primary source now is it?

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      It may be pretty obvious to you, but it was not apparently so obvious that anyone in the early church ever mentioned it.  According to Eusebius, James was so respected for his piety that he was appointed head of the Jerusalem church right after Matthias was selected to replace Judas as one of the twelve.  That would be rather odd for someone who hadn’t been a member of the community for awhile.  There are also a couple of apocryphal works that have James as a member of the community prior to the crucifixion. 

  • Kris

    Yes but the writings of Paul do show that James was a follower of Jesus and we know that from Josephus too. 

    I cannot imagine why you think either of those sources would have to do that.

    Well it is pretty obvious that James was not a follower of Jesus when he was alive. He thought Jesus was mad in the book of Mark and tried to get him killed in the book of John. Are your seriously suggesting Christians made that up!

    Oh I found Beallen primary source. Prepare yourself folks!

    This is all that remains of Sosylus writings on Hannibal!

     they all fought outstandingly, but most of all the ships of the Massilians, who were the first to join battle and were wholly responsible for the success of the Romans. In sum, their leaders encouraged the others and made them bolder, while they themselves attacked the enemy with exceptional bravery. The Carthaginians suffered a two-fold defeat, because the Massilians knew their particular style of fighting. If the Carthaginians are facing some ships prow to prow, they advance as if they are going to attack, but instead of attacking immediately, they sail through the enemy line, turn round and ram the enemy’s ships from the side.3 The Massilians had found out about a tactic which is said to have employed at Artemisium by Heracleides of Mylasa, who was one of the cleverest men of his time. When they drew up their line, they ordered the front ships to face forwards, but to leave other ships waiting behind them at suitable intervals, which as soon as the first ships had been passed could take the opportunity to attack the enemy’s ships as they were still advancing, without moving from their original formation. This is what Heracleides did in past times, and as a result he was responsible for the victory. And now, as we said, the Massilians followed the description of this ancient event. 4 As the Carthaginians advanced in the anticipated fashion . . . they fought alongside . . . the Carthaginians turned to flight . . .From 7 books we get two paragraphs! Not exactly much of a primary source now is it?

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      It may be pretty obvious to you, but it was not apparently so obvious that anyone in the early church ever mentioned it.  According to Eusebius, James was so respected for his piety that he was appointed head of the Jerusalem church right after Matthias was selected to replace Judas as one of the twelve.  That would be rather odd for someone who hadn’t been a member of the community for awhile.  There are also a couple of apocryphal works that have James as a member of the community prior to the crucifixion. 

  • Anonymous

    Beallen is right. There is an extant portion from 100 B.C. of his work. You can find it at FGrHist 176. So apologies to Beallen on that front. Although as a practice in an analogy Tim was right to make it, especially as the existence of a few lines from one historian (of the apparently three accompanying Carthaginian historians) and with no Roman historians recording his activities, this really doesn’t dent his point about Fitzgeralds dubious argument- which, after all was the point.  

    As I put it: 

    “Why Hannibal, who almost destroyed Rome, and paraded around the Italian countryside for years has left no [or just one fragment actually] contemporary historian’s writing about him that we can see, but a (seemingly) failed peasant Jewish itinerant messiah figure who, during his lifetime, had enough close followers that we could fit them in a minibus should have induced such a record or attracted the attention of a historian to visit the villages of Galilee is beyond me. As, in fact, so it should to anyone with even the faintest awareness of classical antiquity and a modicrum of common sense. Again, the fact that we know ANYTHING about the existence of Jesus (from quite a long list of near contemporary historians) is amazing. That is the true story.”

  • hanery

    Beallen is right. There is an extant portion from 100 B.C. of his work. You can find it at FGrHist 176. So apologies to Beallen on that front. Although as a practice in an analogy Tim was right to make it, especially as the existence of a few lines from one historian (of the apparently three accompanying Carthaginian historians) and with no Roman historians recording his activities, this really doesn’t dent his point about Fitzgeralds dubious argument- which, after all was the point.  

    As I put it: 

    “Why Hannibal, who almost destroyed Rome, and paraded around the Italian countryside for years has left no [or just one fragment actually] contemporary historian’s writing about him that we can see, but a (seemingly) failed peasant Jewish itinerant messiah figure who, during his lifetime, had enough close followers that we could fit them in a minibus should have induced such a record or attracted the attention of a historian to visit the villages of Galilee is beyond me. As, in fact, so it should to anyone with even the faintest awareness of classical antiquity and a modicrum of common sense. Again, the fact that we know ANYTHING about the existence of Jesus (from quite a long list of near contemporary historians) is amazing. That is the true story.”

  • Kris

    I repeat why does Mark and Luke have to mention this. You are trying to make an argument from silence.  So Eusebius was probably wrong, now explain why you think Mark and Luke need to mention James’ conversion.

    I was simply unaware that aporyphal works from a century after the Gospels carried as much historical weight? When did this happen?

  • Kris

    I repeat why does Mark and Luke have to mention this. You are trying to make an argument from silence.  So Eusebius was probably wrong, now explain why you think Mark and Luke need to mention James’ conversion.

    I was simply unaware that aporyphal works from a century after the Gospels carried as much historical weight? When did this happen?

  • Anonymous

    ‘Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons:Such
    tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.”

    such tombs (ie those of the rolled stone closing variety) did not exist in 30AD jerusalem, but are found about 50 years later, when the gospel, coincidentally, are being written

    “Both
    Mark and John mention it, these are independent accounts”

    both rooted in one single oral tradition….

    “Both
    accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up
    because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.”

    …which arose most likely in response by early christians to their incredulous audience hearing stories of jesus’ ascension or resurrection — like how we get pilate in mark wondering how jesus could be dead so quickly to john adding the account of the spear

    “There is no need to create such a
    story. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it
    would have been just as miraculous”

    yes, but harder to “prove”. he probably was thrown into a mass grave. and when people doubted the jesus followers’ resurrection story they added the tomb and jospeph of arimathea to lend to it more authenticity (if j of a wasn’t written in as another stretched OT fulfilled prophecy)

    the question is, surely there were jews around in 70AD who could verify the existence of a joseph or arimathea

    “Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been
    made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan
    society”

    im not sure that one actually holds water. the jesus followers, at least, dont seem to consider woman second class status (notwithstanding some speculative jealously by peter). and woman were not, as has been said by others elsewhere, bared from testifying in court. i dont think this has the dissimilarity you’re looking for.

    the woman at the tomb (who mark says told no one) could just be part of mark’s thematic outsider narrative

  • Guest

    ‘Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons:Such
    tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.”

    such tombs (ie those of the rolled stone closing variety) did not exist in 30AD jerusalem, but are found about 50 years later, when the gospel, coincidentally, are being written

    “Both
    Mark and John mention it, these are independent accounts”

    both rooted in one single oral tradition….

    “Both
    accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up
    because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.”

    …which arose most likely in response by early christians to their incredulous audience hearing stories of jesus’ ascension or resurrection — like how we get pilate in mark wondering how jesus could be dead so quickly to john adding the account of the spear

    “There is no need to create such a
    story. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it
    would have been just as miraculous”

    yes, but harder to “prove”. he probably was thrown into a mass grave. and when people doubted the jesus followers’ resurrection story they added the tomb and jospeph of arimathea to lend to it more authenticity (if j of a wasn’t written in as another stretched OT fulfilled prophecy)

    the question is, surely there were jews around in 70AD who could verify the existence of a joseph or arimathea

    “Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been
    made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan
    society”

    im not sure that one actually holds water. the jesus followers, at least, dont seem to consider woman second class status (notwithstanding some speculative jealously by peter). and woman were not, as has been said by others elsewhere, bared from testifying in court. i dont think this has the dissimilarity you’re looking for.

    the woman at the tomb (who mark says told no one) could just be part of mark’s thematic outsider narrative

  • Kris

    Right now I am going to say I am an agnostic.Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons:Such tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.”such tombs (ie those of the rolled stone closing variety) did not exist in 30AD jerusalem, but are found about 50 years later, when the gospel, coincidentally, are being written KK- I used to think this argument had merit to it, but not anymore.  Christian Apologist Glenn Miller  exposed why this argument is fatally flawed. http://www.christianthinktank.com/rocknroll.html________________________________________________________”BothMark and John mention it, these are independent accounts”both rooted in one single oral tradition….KK That is a very odd argument considering how different they are. That statement is simply not true________________________________________________________”Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.”…which arose most likely in response by early christians to their incredulous audience hearing stories of jesus’ ascension or resurrection — like how we get pilate in mark wondering how jesus could be dead so quickly to john adding the account of the spearKK One you are assuming the people listened were incredulous secondly this does nothing to disprove the fact that women witnesses are simply not the kind of witnesses one would make up. It is like making up a story using Black witnesses in the US during the 1930s.________________________________________________________________”There is no need to create such astory. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it would have been just as miraculous”yes, but harder to “prove”. he probably was thrown into a mass grave. and when people doubted the jesus followers’ resurrection story they added the tomb and jospeph of arimathea to lend to it more authenticity (if j of a wasn’t written in as another stretched OT fulfilled prophecy)KK Why would resurrecting from a ditch be harder then resurrecting from a tomb? That makes no sense period. If anything if one takes the role reversal motif  seriously one would expect people to have Jesus buried in a ditch. A miracle is a miracle be it from a ditch or a tomb. Are you seriously suggesting anyone Jew or Pagan said, well I wouldn’t  have believed the story, until you that Jesus was resurrected from a tomb. Like I said there is no need to make this account up and there is no known counter tradition. _____________________________________________________the question is, surely there were jews around in 70AD who could verify the existence of a joseph or arimathea KK Yes and?________________________________________________________”Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society”im not sure that one actually holds water. the jesus followers, at least, dont seem to consider woman second class status (notwithstanding some speculative jealously by peter). and woman were not, as has been said by others elsewhere, bared from testifying in court. i dont think this has the dissimilarity you’re looking for. KK Have you read what Pagans and Jews in the first century had to say about women. To be blunt it was not very nice. For example among the Jews women’s testimony was considered inferior to men’s. This is not considered a controversial fact in history.________________________________________________________the woman at the tomb (who mark says told no one) could just be part of mark’s thematic outsider narrativeKK No evidence provided for that argument, does not explain the use of a woman witness and does not explain the account in JohnI simply cannot reject the tomb of Jesus as being a myth. Like Bart Ehrman and Michael Grant  both agnostics I must conclude it is a fact.Ehrman and Michael Grant  both agnostics I must conclude it is a fact.

    • Anonymous

      “jesus: apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium”
      bart erhman
      pg 229-230

      no, he does not conclude that it is a fact. far from it.

      • Anonymous

        see also page 225

  • Kris

    Sorry my response is so garbled but I am sure you can figure it out

  • Kris

    Right now I am going to say I am an agnostic.Jesus had a tomb. We know that for the following reasons:Such tombs existed, so claiming one was used is not an extraordinary claim.”such tombs (ie those of the rolled stone closing variety) did not exist in 30AD jerusalem, but are found about 50 years later, when the gospel, coincidentally, are being written KK- I used to think this argument had merit to it, but not anymore.  Christian Apologist Glenn Miller  exposed why this argument is fatally flawed. http://www.christianthinktank.com/rocknroll.html________________________________________________________”BothMark and John mention it, these are independent accounts”both rooted in one single oral tradition….KK That is a very odd argument considering how different they are. That statement is simply not true________________________________________________________”Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society.”…which arose most likely in response by early christians to their incredulous audience hearing stories of jesus’ ascension or resurrection — like how we get pilate in mark wondering how jesus could be dead so quickly to john adding the account of the spearKK One you are assuming the people listened were incredulous secondly this does nothing to disprove the fact that women witnesses are simply not the kind of witnesses one would make up. It is like making up a story using Black witnesses in the US during the 1930s.________________________________________________________________”There is no need to create such astory. Jesus could have just as easily resurrected from a ditch and it would have been just as miraculous”yes, but harder to “prove”. he probably was thrown into a mass grave. and when people doubted the jesus followers’ resurrection story they added the tomb and jospeph of arimathea to lend to it more authenticity (if j of a wasn’t written in as another stretched OT fulfilled prophecy)KK Why would resurrecting from a ditch be harder then resurrecting from a tomb? That makes no sense period. If anything if one takes the role reversal motif  seriously one would expect people to have Jesus buried in a ditch. A miracle is a miracle be it from a ditch or a tomb. Are you seriously suggesting anyone Jew or Pagan said, well I wouldn’t  have believed the story, until you that Jesus was resurrected from a tomb. Like I said there is no need to make this account up and there is no known counter tradition. _____________________________________________________the question is, surely there were jews around in 70AD who could verify the existence of a joseph or arimathea KK Yes and?________________________________________________________”Both accounts use women witnesses, which are not likely to have been made up because of their second class status in both Jewish and Pagan society”im not sure that one actually holds water. the jesus followers, at least, dont seem to consider woman second class status (notwithstanding some speculative jealously by peter). and woman were not, as has been said by others elsewhere, bared from testifying in court. i dont think this has the dissimilarity you’re looking for. KK Have you read what Pagans and Jews in the first century had to say about women. To be blunt it was not very nice. For example among the Jews women’s testimony was considered inferior to men’s. This is not considered a controversial fact in history.________________________________________________________the woman at the tomb (who mark says told no one) could just be part of mark’s thematic outsider narrativeKK No evidence provided for that argument, does not explain the use of a woman witness and does not explain the account in JohnI simply cannot reject the tomb of Jesus as being a myth. Like Bart Ehrman and Michael Grant  both agnostics I must conclude it is a fact.Ehrman and Michael Grant  both agnostics I must conclude it is a fact.

    • Guest

      “jesus: apocalyptic prophet of the new millennium”
      bart erhman
      pg 229-230

      no, he does not conclude that it is a fact. far from it.

      • Guest

        see also page 225

  • Kris

    Sorry my response is so garbled but I am sure you can figure it out

  • Tim O’Neill

    My review has now been edited with a note about the fragment of Soslyus.  Thanks to Evan for bringing that to my attention.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    My review has now been edited with a note about the fragment of Soslyus.  Thanks to Evan for bringing that to my attention.

  • Tim O’Neill

    VinnJH:

    “Mark doesn’t corroborate James being a leader”

    Jeffrey Butz argues that Mark 3:21 is far from clear.  Should “hoi par auton” (literally ‘the ones with him’) be translated as “his family”, or “his friends” or “his people”? And who is the “they” who say “he is beside himself”, people in general, his family or his friends?  The idea that it should be translated as “his family” is due to the reference at 3:31 to his mother and brothers calling for him, a whole ten verses later. But as Butz notes “quite a jump is being made here” (The Brother of Jesus, p. 28).

    There’s also the question of whether it’s actually Jesus who is “beside himself”.  Butz notes the interpretation of Henry Wansbrough (“Mark 3:21 – Was Jesus Out of his Mind?”, New Testament Studies 18 (1972):233) who notes “the understood subject of ‘exeste’ [out of his mind, crazy] is not Jesus but ‘ho ochlos’ [the crowd]“.  So is it Jesus who is said to be crazy that causes the concern of these ambiguous “ones with him” or is it the crowd that’s getting out of control?

    Much later, after an encounter with scribes with Jerusalem about demon possession, the family appears and this is in an exchange that does not seem to have anything to do with either craziness or demons.  So the whole idea that “his family thought he was nuts/possessed and so tried to take him away” is an artefact of the translation of a highly ambiguous text.

    “Luke doesn’t corroborate James being Jesus’ brother”

    But Acts 1:14 does have “his brothers” and his mother with the disciples after the Ascension.  As you note, a “James” is depicted as being a leader in the later chapters of Acts and this is clearly not the son of Zebedee, whose execution is mentioned earlier at Acts 12:1-2.  You say it could be James son of Alphaeus, but if that is not made any more clear by the text than the idea that it’s the brother of Jesus then we can’t say much more about what Acts can tell us.  Which means we are left with Josephus, who depicts James the brother of Jesus as a prominent person in Jerusalem, and with the later Christians traditions,  which consistently tell us this leader was James the brother of Jesus.  Then there’s Galatians, where Paul names “James, the brother of the Lord” amongst “those esteemed as pillars” in the Jerusalem assembly (Gal. 2:9)

    “BTW, as far as I know, there is no evidence of a tradition of James
    converting after the death of Jesus.  Those traditions that speak to the
    question seem to make James a follower of Jesus prior to the
    crucifixion. ”

    The idea that he wasn’t rests purely on the interpretation of Mark 3:20-35, which as I’ve noted is not nearly as clear as some translations like to make out.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    VinnJH:

    “Mark doesn’t corroborate James being a leader”

    Jeffrey Butz argues that Mark 3:21 is far from clear.  Should “hoi par auton” (literally ‘the ones with him’) be translated as “his family”, or “his friends” or “his people”? And who is the “they” who say “he is beside himself”, people in general, his family or his friends?  The idea that it should be translated as “his family” is due to the reference at 3:31 to his mother and brothers calling for him, a whole ten verses later. But as Butz notes “quite a jump is being made here” (The Brother of Jesus, p. 28).

    There’s also the question of whether it’s actually Jesus who is “beside himself”.  Butz notes the interpretation of Henry Wansbrough (“Mark 3:21 – Was Jesus Out of his Mind?”, New Testament Studies 18 (1972):233) who notes “the understood subject of ‘exeste’ [out of his mind, crazy] is not Jesus but ‘ho ochlos’ [the crowd]“.  So is it Jesus who is said to be crazy that causes the concern of these ambiguous “ones with him” or is it the crowd that’s getting out of control?

    Much later, after an encounter with scribes with Jerusalem about demon possession, the family appears and this is in an exchange that does not seem to have anything to do with either craziness or demons.  So the whole idea that “his family thought he was nuts/possessed and so tried to take him away” is an artefact of the translation of a highly ambiguous text.

    “Luke doesn’t corroborate James being Jesus’ brother”

    But Acts 1:14 does have “his brothers” and his mother with the disciples after the Ascension.  As you note, a “James” is depicted as being a leader in the later chapters of Acts and this is clearly not the son of Zebedee, whose execution is mentioned earlier at Acts 12:1-2.  You say it could be James son of Alphaeus, but if that is not made any more clear by the text than the idea that it’s the brother of Jesus then we can’t say much more about what Acts can tell us.  Which means we are left with Josephus, who depicts James the brother of Jesus as a prominent person in Jerusalem, and with the later Christians traditions,  which consistently tell us this leader was James the brother of Jesus.  Then there’s Galatians, where Paul names “James, the brother of the Lord” amongst “those esteemed as pillars” in the Jerusalem assembly (Gal. 2:9)

    “BTW, as far as I know, there is no evidence of a tradition of James
    converting after the death of Jesus.  Those traditions that speak to the
    question seem to make James a follower of Jesus prior to the
    crucifixion. ”

    The idea that he wasn’t rests purely on the interpretation of Mark 3:20-35, which as I’ve noted is not nearly as clear as some translations like to make out.

  • Anonymous

    Those interested in such things might be interested to know that my review got some fleeting notice at Vridar.  Neil “Mr Furious” Godfrey doesn’t like me much (due to some encounters we had on the old Richard Dawkins forum) so I was wondering if he’d ignore my review or whether he wouldn’t be able to resist.  I suspected the latter, and was right.

    The next bet was about how long he would let me continue to respond to him in the comments section on his post before he resorted to his usual tactic of claiming I was adding nothing but insults and using this lie as an excuse to filter out my comments.  The answer was “about 10 hours”. 

    This was a pity, because he never did get around to detailing the “slander” and “fraud” that was supposedly in my analysis of Fitzgerald’s first chapter or to backing up Fitzgerald’s claim about “scores of writers” who mention failed Messiahs but don’t mention Jesus.  Oh well …

    Enjoy:

    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/from-the-sublime-to-the-slime

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    Those interested in such things might be interested to know that my review got some fleeting notice at Vridar.  Neil “Mr Furious” Godfrey doesn’t like me much (due to some encounters we had on the old Richard Dawkins forum) so I was wondering if he’d ignore my review or whether he wouldn’t be able to resist.  I suspected the latter, and was right.

    The next bet was about how long he would let me continue to respond to him in the comments section on his post before he resorted to his usual tactic of claiming I was adding nothing but insults and using this lie as an excuse to filter out my comments.  The answer was “about 10 hours”. 

    This was a pity, because he never did get around to detailing the “slander” and “fraud” that was supposedly in my analysis of Fitzgerald’s first chapter or to backing up Fitzgerald’s claim about “scores of writers” who mention failed Messiahs but don’t mention Jesus.  Oh well …

    Enjoy:

    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/from-the-sublime-to-the-slime

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

    What is with this beallen stuff? I miss Evan. Hell, I don’t even know who all these other people are.

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

    What is with this beallen stuff? I miss Evan. Hell, I don’t even know who all these other people are.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    For some reason Discus has taken my comments posted as Tim ONeill and changed them to an old login (“Thiudareiks”) that I haven’t used for ages.  And I can’t for the life of me work out how to format comments so I can use italics and bold, let alone turn text into links.  Discus sucks.

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

      @Tim, do the standard HTML codes with triangular brackets not work? I hadn’t realized. (I’ve tried using them to add italics in this comment, and so if there aren’t any, then they don’t work, in which case I will try to see if there is different code Disqus uses, and post that somewhere.

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

        They work!

    • Gary

       im said “For some reason Discus has taken my comments posted as Tim ONeill and changed them to an old login (“Thiudareiks”) that I haven’t used for ages”…Discus asked me a question the first time I posted under Google, if I wanted to merge names….I said OK. My google login was just my first name, which is what I prefer. After the merge, discus always published my full name, which I do not like. I don’t mind my full name under the google profile, being searched with an extra click of Gary, but I still do not like my full name being observed without added effort of an extra click. Potential of automated search phishing bothers me. Haven’t figured out how to post on discus with just my old google first name, so I am posting as anonymous now. Discus seems to want to publish your entire life story in one click.

  • VinnyJH

    Kris,

    I don’t think that Mark or Luke or anyone else needs to mention James’ conversion if they don’t want to.  However, since they don’t mention it, I don’t pretend to know when they thought it occurred.  If Mark doesn’t say anything about James being an important person within the Christian community, I don’t assume that Mark thought he was.  If Luke doesn’t say anything about James being the brother of Jesus, then I don’t assume that Luke thought he was.  

    I make no claim that apocryphal works carry as much historical weight as the gospels, however if they speak to the issue of whether James became a follower of Jesus prior to the crucifixion and the gospels don’t, then that is some evidence that there was such a tradition.  Since none of the gospels, nor any other source as far as I am aware, tells a story of James converting after the crucifixion, the earliest tradition would seem to be that he became a follower while Jesus was still alive.  

    Tim,

    I don’t know anything about Mr. Butz’s work.  Have most scholars found it persuasive?

    If we are left with Josephus, then we have to acknowledge the fact that he doesn’t tell us anything about James that would indicate that he was a leader of the Christian community.  So if neither Luke, Mark, nor Josephus corrobates it, Paul seems to be the only first century source that tells us that the James who played a leadership role in the Jerusalem church was the brother of Jesus.

    I am not all that well versed on the second and third century traditions about James.  At some point, I know that various writers challenged the notion that he was actually the biological brother of Jesus.   Eventually, some came to associate him with James the son of Alpheus making him one of the twelve, but that might have been much later.  Are you saying that prior to the time this occurred we have evidence of a stronger consensus about James then we find in the first century?

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    For some reason Discus has taken my comments posted as Tim ONeill and changed them to an old login (“Thiudareiks”) that I haven’t used for ages.  And I can’t for the life of me work out how to format comments so I can use italics and bold, let alone turn text into links.  Discus sucks.

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

      @Tim, do the standard HTML codes with triangular brackets not work? I hadn’t realized. (I’ve tried using them to add italics in this comment, and so if there aren’t any, then they don’t work, in which case I will try to see if there is different code Disqus uses, and post that somewhere.

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

        They work!

    • Gary

       im said “For some reason Discus has taken my comments posted as Tim ONeill and changed them to an old login (“Thiudareiks”) that I haven’t used for ages”…Discus asked me a question the first time I posted under Google, if I wanted to merge names….I said OK. My google login was just my first name, which is what I prefer. After the merge, discus always published my full name, which I do not like. I don’t mind my full name under the google profile, being searched with an extra click of Gary, but I still do not like my full name being observed without added effort of an extra click. Potential of automated search phishing bothers me. Haven’t figured out how to post on discus with just my old google first name, so I am posting as anonymous now. Discus seems to want to publish your entire life story in one click.

  • VinnyJH

    Kris,

    I don’t think that Mark or Luke or anyone else needs to mention James’ conversion if they don’t want to.  However, since they don’t mention it, I don’t pretend to know when they thought it occurred.  If Mark doesn’t say anything about James being an important person within the Christian community, I don’t assume that Mark thought he was.  If Luke doesn’t say anything about James being the brother of Jesus, then I don’t assume that Luke thought he was.  

    I make no claim that apocryphal works carry as much historical weight as the gospels, however if they speak to the issue of whether James became a follower of Jesus prior to the crucifixion and the gospels don’t, then that is some evidence that there was such a tradition.  Since none of the gospels, nor any other source as far as I am aware, tells a story of James converting after the crucifixion, the earliest tradition would seem to be that he became a follower while Jesus was still alive.  

    Tim,

    I don’t know anything about Mr. Butz’s work.  Have most scholars found it persuasive?

    If we are left with Josephus, then we have to acknowledge the fact that he doesn’t tell us anything about James that would indicate that he was a leader of the Christian community.  So if neither Luke, Mark, nor Josephus corrobates it, Paul seems to be the only first century source that tells us that the James who played a leadership role in the Jerusalem church was the brother of Jesus.

    I am not all that well versed on the second and third century traditions about James.  At some point, I know that various writers challenged the notion that he was actually the biological brother of Jesus.   Eventually, some came to associate him with James the son of Alpheus making him one of the twelve, but that might have been much later.  Are you saying that prior to the time this occurred we have evidence of a stronger consensus about James then we find in the first century?

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    “I don’t know anything about Mr. Butz’s work.  Have most scholars found it persuasive? ”

    As I recall it was pretty well reviewed.  And the idea that “hoi par auton” (‘the ones with him’) is not a reference to his family is not original to Butz – he cites several others who have doubted that interpretation.  As far as I can make out, the idea that these ambiguous “ones with him” are his family is largely a tradition amongst translators and interpreters and one that goes all the way back to the Vulgate.  But his point is valid – it’s a bit odd that these “ones with him” should be his family when they don’t turn up in the story until 10 verses later. 

    Looked at in the Greek, the idea that this family tried to take him away because they thought he was nuts is, at the very least, far from the obvious interpretation.  These elements in this account don’t appear in Matthew and the whole episode is missing from Luke.  Having just read Maurice Casey’s excellent book where he uses his evidence of an Aramaic sub-stratum in Mark, I’d be curious to know what he makes of this odd passage.  On the whole though, it’s a dubious thread from which to hang the idea that James was not a follower of his brother until later.  As you say, early traditions have him as a follower all along.

    “Paul seems to be the only first century source that tells us that the
    James who played a leadership role in the Jerusalem church was the
    brother of Jesus.”

    He’s the only one who says this explicitly.  But he’s also the earliest source we have and he’s an eyewitness source to this period of the Jerusalem community!  Taken with the other evidence, you have to work pretty hard to conclude that the idea James was such a leader is unlikely.

    “At some point, I know that various writers challenged the notion that he was actually the biological brother of Jesus. ”

    Yes, but we know that was motivated by much later theological developments about Jesus as God and his mother as “Ever Virgin”.  We find nothing like that in the earlier material, so to put any weight on that later, theologically-driven stuff is pretty dubious.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    “I don’t know anything about Mr. Butz’s work.  Have most scholars found it persuasive? ”

    As I recall it was pretty well reviewed.  And the idea that “hoi par auton” (‘the ones with him’) is not a reference to his family is not original to Butz – he cites several others who have doubted that interpretation.  As far as I can make out, the idea that these ambiguous “ones with him” are his family is largely a tradition amongst translators and interpreters and one that goes all the way back to the Vulgate.  But his point is valid – it’s a bit odd that these “ones with him” should be his family when they don’t turn up in the story until 10 verses later. 

    Looked at in the Greek, the idea that this family tried to take him away because they thought he was nuts is, at the very least, far from the obvious interpretation.  These elements in this account don’t appear in Matthew and the whole episode is missing from Luke.  Having just read Maurice Casey’s excellent book where he uses his evidence of an Aramaic sub-stratum in Mark, I’d be curious to know what he makes of this odd passage.  On the whole though, it’s a dubious thread from which to hang the idea that James was not a follower of his brother until later.  As you say, early traditions have him as a follower all along.

    “Paul seems to be the only first century source that tells us that the
    James who played a leadership role in the Jerusalem church was the
    brother of Jesus.”

    He’s the only one who says this explicitly.  But he’s also the earliest source we have and he’s an eyewitness source to this period of the Jerusalem community!  Taken with the other evidence, you have to work pretty hard to conclude that the idea James was such a leader is unlikely.

    “At some point, I know that various writers challenged the notion that he was actually the biological brother of Jesus. ”

    Yes, but we know that was motivated by much later theological developments about Jesus as God and his mother as “Ever Virgin”.  We find nothing like that in the earlier material, so to put any weight on that later, theologically-driven stuff is pretty dubious.

  • Kris

    Truthoverfaith

    I am debating if I should take much time to rebut your nonsense or simply point out atheist and agnostic scholars such as Ludemann, Ehrman and Grant would have no problem agreeing with my views. Whatever I eventually decide to do I can say now you would really really profit yourself by doing some basic research on how to research history. People like you are the ones who are ruining freethought with your nonsense on the web.

    Mark using primary sources.

    If we accept that the early Church had the slightest clue on their own bloody writings then we know among the sources for Mark was the memories of Peter, and that is certainly a primary source. Also it is possible that Mark had other written sources from primary sources that he used to compose his biography, that is suggested by the rough transitions between each story in his gospel.

    I still fail to see the need for Mark or Luke to mention the conversion of James. That is simply an argument from silence. How can you reconcile the behavior of James in early sources with him being a follower of Jesus in his lifetime. A follower typically does not think you mad and try to arrange your death. You are simply ignoring this. Unless you are prepared to assume both of the above are fiction, but if you do that then you are simply letting your theory trump the text. And again why would early Christians make up such a fiction about then a high ranking church leader. Give me a serious answer that does not require tin foil hats.

    If  I sound like an apologist it is simply because I prefer to do history and I refuse to engage in pseudo historical garbage that is simply anti Christian bigotry. Like Tim I would have no problem with the Jesus myth if it wasn’t absurd.  

  • Kris

    Truthoverfaith

    I am debating if I should take much time to rebut your nonsense or simply point out atheist and agnostic scholars such as Ludemann, Ehrman and Grant would have no problem agreeing with my views. Whatever I eventually decide to do I can say now you would really really profit yourself by doing some basic research on how to research history. People like you are the ones who are ruining freethought with your nonsense on the web.

    Mark using primary sources.

    If we accept that the early Church had the slightest clue on their own bloody writings then we know among the sources for Mark was the memories of Peter, and that is certainly a primary source. Also it is possible that Mark had other written sources from primary sources that he used to compose his biography, that is suggested by the rough transitions between each story in his gospel.

    I still fail to see the need for Mark or Luke to mention the conversion of James. That is simply an argument from silence. How can you reconcile the behavior of James in early sources with him being a follower of Jesus in his lifetime. A follower typically does not think you mad and try to arrange your death. You are simply ignoring this. Unless you are prepared to assume both of the above are fiction, but if you do that then you are simply letting your theory trump the text. And again why would early Christians make up such a fiction about then a high ranking church leader. Give me a serious answer that does not require tin foil hats.

    If  I sound like an apologist it is simply because I prefer to do history and I refuse to engage in pseudo historical garbage that is simply anti Christian bigotry. Like Tim I would have no problem with the Jesus myth if it wasn’t absurd.  

  • VinnyJH

    Tim,

    I would think the fact that Luke and Matthew alter the story may provide some support for reading Mark as saying that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy.  It might have been hard for Matthew and Luke to reconcile their miraculous birth narratives with a mother who thought Jesus was crazy.  On the other hand, if they thought Mark was just referring to some random townspeople, the motivation to drop the passage is not as great.  In any case, even if Mark doesn’t portray Jesus’ family as openly hostile, neither does he make them part of the community of disciples as Luke does when he puts the brothers in the upper room.

    It is possible that doubts about James biological relationship to Jesus were motivated by theological bias, but I think we have to allow for the possibility of genuine confusion about James.  Paul writes in Galatians 1:19 that he “saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother,” suggesting that James might have been one of the twelve.  When James addresses the council in Acts 15, there is no indication that the author is introducing a new character into the narrative.  I don’t think that the desire to defend the perpetual virginity of Mary is the only reason one could have for identifying this James with James the son of Alpheus who was one of the twelve.

    Historicists routinely belittle the idea that Paul might have used “the Lord’s brother” to designate anything other than a biological relationship and they cite the universal consensus of the early church is support of their position.  I don’t see the evidence of that consensus in the earliest sources as all that convincing.  Nothing directly contradicts it, but nothing directly corroborates it either.  Personally, I think that it is somewhat optimistic to speak in terms of probabilities rather than possibilities.

  • VinnyJH

    Tim,

    I would think the fact that Luke and Matthew alter the story may provide some support for reading Mark as saying that Jesus’ family thought he was crazy.  It might have been hard for Matthew and Luke to reconcile their miraculous birth narratives with a mother who thought Jesus was crazy.  On the other hand, if they thought Mark was just referring to some random townspeople, the motivation to drop the passage is not as great.  In any case, even if Mark doesn’t portray Jesus’ family as openly hostile, neither does he make them part of the community of disciples as Luke does when he puts the brothers in the upper room.

    It is possible that doubts about James biological relationship to Jesus were motivated by theological bias, but I think we have to allow for the possibility of genuine confusion about James.  Paul writes in Galatians 1:19 that he “saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother,” suggesting that James might have been one of the twelve.  When James addresses the council in Acts 15, there is no indication that the author is introducing a new character into the narrative.  I don’t think that the desire to defend the perpetual virginity of Mary is the only reason one could have for identifying this James with James the son of Alpheus who was one of the twelve.

    Historicists routinely belittle the idea that Paul might have used “the Lord’s brother” to designate anything other than a biological relationship and they cite the universal consensus of the early church is support of their position.  I don’t see the evidence of that consensus in the earliest sources as all that convincing.  Nothing directly contradicts it, but nothing directly corroborates it either.  Personally, I think that it is somewhat optimistic to speak in terms of probabilities rather than possibilities.

  • Kris

    Vinny your first paragraph took the words out of my mouth. That is why is it sensible to conclude before the alleged resurrection James was not a follower of Jesus based on the Book of Mark.

    And consider this from the Book of John, which everyone keeps forgetting. Here we have Jesus’ brothers trying to get him killed. Are we seriously going to suggest the church made up such a thing about James, a  very important figure in early Christianity. Everyone please look at verse five carefully and see what it says: “For even his own brothers did not believe in him”.  

    7:1  After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

    I simply see nothing that convinces me that James was an original follower of Jesus.

  • Kris

    Vinny your first paragraph took the words out of my mouth. That is why is it sensible to conclude before the alleged resurrection James was not a follower of Jesus based on the Book of Mark.

    And consider this from the Book of John, which everyone keeps forgetting. Here we have Jesus’ brothers trying to get him killed. Are we seriously going to suggest the church made up such a thing about James, a  very important figure in early Christianity. Everyone please look at verse five carefully and see what it says: “For even his own brothers did not believe in him”.  

    7:1  After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want[a] to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. 2 But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near, 3 Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. 4 No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

    I simply see nothing that convinces me that James was an original follower of Jesus.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    “I would think the fact that Luke and Matthew alter the story may provide
    some support for reading Mark as saying that Jesus’ family thought he
    was crazy. ”

    Actually it’s more to do with the way gMatt and gLuke use the pericope about the discussion of demon possession.  gMark’s use of it requires some framing narrative that has Jesus and his followers returning to town from the mountain they are on at 3:13 so that these scribes can then meet them.  The other two synoptics place the pericope while Jesus is teaching in an unspecified town already, so the framing narrative about returning to town and the crowd finding them is not needed in their versions.

    “In any case, even if Mark doesn’t portray Jesus’ family as openly
    hostile, neither does he make them part of the community of disciples as
    Luke does when he puts the brothers in the upper room.”

    But Luke doesn’t do that until Acts 2.  The emphasis on who was with Jesus before his death in all the synoptics is on the Twelve, yet there are clearly other people with him as well, including the women and at least one member of his family, his mother, since they appear in the passion narratives.  It doesn’t make sense to assume that the only people the synoptic writers picture there are the ones they focus on at any given time.  The author of Luke/Acts doesn’t mention the women or Mary prior to the passion story, so does this mean they had just arrived or were they all along?  His brothers aren’t mentioned until Acts 2, so does this mean they weren’t there earlier or were they there all along?

    “Paul writes in Galatians 1:19 that he “saw none of the other apostles
    except James the Lord’s brother,” suggesting that James might have been
    one of the twelve. ”

    How does that follow?  He calls himself, Barnabas and Apollos “apostles” as well, so are they part of the Twelve as well?  Clearly his use of the term is much wider.

    “When James addresses the council in Acts 15, there is no indication that
    the author is introducing a new character into the narrative.”

    But this is not a modern narrative, where such conventions are required.  The synoptics refer to people who their audience are meant to know about without explanation all the time.  Who are Alexander and Rufus mentioned at Mark 15:21?  The idealised reader (“Theophilus”) of the prologues of gLuke and Acts is already assumed to have knowledge of the things described – “I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught“.  So this is not like a modern novelist suddenly referring to a character he hasn’t introduced.  These works assume context.

    “Historicists routinely belittle the idea that Paul might have used “the
    Lord’s brother” to designate anything other than a biological
    relationship and they cite the universal consensus of the early church
    is support of their position. ”

    They do?  I cite the fact that Paul refers to a “brother of the Lord” here and some “Lord’s brothers” in 1Corinthians and in both cases they are separate from “the Twelve”.  So who are they?  Mythers are forced to hypothesise a separate but otherwise unattested group who have this title.  Not because this is supported by any evidence or anything in the texts, but because otherwise they have to conclude that these “brothers” are … his brothers.  And then their thesis collapses.

    That interpretation is the one actually backed by evidence, not by wishful thinking to keep a theory from falling apart.  And we all know what Occam’s Razor does to theories that rest on suppositions …

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    “I would think the fact that Luke and Matthew alter the story may provide
    some support for reading Mark as saying that Jesus’ family thought he
    was crazy. ”

    Actually it’s more to do with the way gMatt and gLuke use the pericope about the discussion of demon possession.  gMark’s use of it requires some framing narrative that has Jesus and his followers returning to town from the mountain they are on at 3:13 so that these scribes can then meet them.  The other two synoptics place the pericope while Jesus is teaching in an unspecified town already, so the framing narrative about returning to town and the crowd finding them is not needed in their versions.

    “In any case, even if Mark doesn’t portray Jesus’ family as openly
    hostile, neither does he make them part of the community of disciples as
    Luke does when he puts the brothers in the upper room.”

    But Luke doesn’t do that until Acts 2.  The emphasis on who was with Jesus before his death in all the synoptics is on the Twelve, yet there are clearly other people with him as well, including the women and at least one member of his family, his mother, since they appear in the passion narratives.  It doesn’t make sense to assume that the only people the synoptic writers picture there are the ones they focus on at any given time.  The author of Luke/Acts doesn’t mention the women or Mary prior to the passion story, so does this mean they had just arrived or were they all along?  His brothers aren’t mentioned until Acts 2, so does this mean they weren’t there earlier or were they there all along?

    “Paul writes in Galatians 1:19 that he “saw none of the other apostles
    except James the Lord’s brother,” suggesting that James might have been
    one of the twelve. ”

    How does that follow?  He calls himself, Barnabas and Apollos “apostles” as well, so are they part of the Twelve as well?  Clearly his use of the term is much wider.

    “When James addresses the council in Acts 15, there is no indication that
    the author is introducing a new character into the narrative.”

    But this is not a modern narrative, where such conventions are required.  The synoptics refer to people who their audience are meant to know about without explanation all the time.  Who are Alexander and Rufus mentioned at Mark 15:21?  The idealised reader (“Theophilus”) of the prologues of gLuke and Acts is already assumed to have knowledge of the things described – “I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught“.  So this is not like a modern novelist suddenly referring to a character he hasn’t introduced.  These works assume context.

    “Historicists routinely belittle the idea that Paul might have used “the
    Lord’s brother” to designate anything other than a biological
    relationship and they cite the universal consensus of the early church
    is support of their position. ”

    They do?  I cite the fact that Paul refers to a “brother of the Lord” here and some “Lord’s brothers” in 1Corinthians and in both cases they are separate from “the Twelve”.  So who are they?  Mythers are forced to hypothesise a separate but otherwise unattested group who have this title.  Not because this is supported by any evidence or anything in the texts, but because otherwise they have to conclude that these “brothers” are … his brothers.  And then their thesis collapses.

    That interpretation is the one actually backed by evidence, not by wishful thinking to keep a theory from falling apart.  And we all know what Occam’s Razor does to theories that rest on suppositions …

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

    I think Vinny may be right, without invalidating some of the points others have made. We have, on the one hand, the prominence to which James rose in the Christian community as indicated in the New Testament as well as outside, plus extra canonical traditions about James expecting to see Jesus risen. That is not to say such traditions are historical, but what they presuppose may well be historical, i.e. James being a supporter of/believer in Jesus by the time of the crucifixion.

    The New Testament reports Jesus saying that he would divide families. It wouldn’t be surprising if his own reflected that sort of situation, with at least some of his family supporting him all along, or coming to do so some time prior to the crucifixion.

    At any rate, my point is that we do not necessarily have to choose between Jesus’ family on the whole being unsupportive of his actions, and at least one brother being supportive. Both could be true simultaneously.

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

    I think Vinny may be right, without invalidating some of the points others have made. We have, on the one hand, the prominence to which James rose in the Christian community as indicated in the New Testament as well as outside, plus extra canonical traditions about James expecting to see Jesus risen. That is not to say such traditions are historical, but what they presuppose may well be historical, i.e. James being a supporter of/believer in Jesus by the time of the crucifixion.

    The New Testament reports Jesus saying that he would divide families. It wouldn’t be surprising if his own reflected that sort of situation, with at least some of his family supporting him all along, or coming to do so some time prior to the crucifixion.

    At any rate, my point is that we do not necessarily have to choose between Jesus’ family on the whole being unsupportive of his actions, and at least one brother being supportive. Both could be true simultaneously.

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

    @TruthOverFaith, the big problem with treating Mark as something that emerged wholly from the mind of it’s author is that, unless you date it as early as James Crossley does, then it was written at a time when Paul and other Christians already existed and were talking about a Jesus who had been crucified and yet was the Messiah. And so unless one posits some sort of miraculous revelation of a sort that is unacceptable in historical study, then there must be some sort of oral and/or literary connection between Mark and earlier Christian tradition. The only real question is the extent of the earlier tradition in relation to the author’s own creative inventive activity.

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

    @TruthOverFaith, the big problem with treating Mark as something that emerged wholly from the mind of it’s author is that, unless you date it as early as James Crossley does, then it was written at a time when Paul and other Christians already existed and were talking about a Jesus who had been crucified and yet was the Messiah. And so unless one posits some sort of miraculous revelation of a sort that is unacceptable in historical study, then there must be some sort of oral and/or literary connection between Mark and earlier Christian tradition. The only real question is the extent of the earlier tradition in relation to the author’s own creative inventive activity.

  • Earl Doherty

    (I will also put this up on Jim’s page regarding “brother of the Lord.”)

    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 is 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.

  • Earl Doherty

    (I will also put this up on Jim’s page regarding “brother of the Lord.”)

    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 is 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.

  • Earl Doherty

    A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus.

    I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first. I would like to have someone who so prefers to present us with the actual evidence for the second which is so much superior to the actual evidence for the first.

    I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.

    So why does everyone seem to get all warm and fuzzy for a “nobody” Jesus (at least, that’s what they convey), and foaming at the mouth against those who would postulate a mythical Jesus?

    Or is this all a smokescreen? Will James McGrath tells us openly whether he subscribes to and finds acceptable the idea of a “nobody” Jesus? Will Mike Wilson? Tim O’Neill? Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism?

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

      Doherty wrote:

      “I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.””I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.”

      BM: First, it was Carrier who coined “Jesus the nobody”, as I can remember, in a presentation of his new book_to_be “the historicity of Jesus”, in my home city, one year ago.

      I defined my “nobody Jesus” as just an uneducated rustic Jew, who, in the last year of his life, was an accidental healer and repeater of the apocalyptic message of John the Baptist, and who got crucified in Jerusalem as “king of the Jews”. Here is a brief description of his last year:
      http://historical-jesus.info/digest.html
      Here is the front page of my website:
      http://historical-jesus.info/

      That Jesus can certainly be assigned a significant number of bits & pieces as showing in gMark. I did not say he was the legitimate founder of Christianity, far from that, but he had a part into starting it, unintentionally. His role was like the one of Rosa Parks, whose incidental arrest began a boycott, itself starting the Civil Rights Movement (even if she withdrew from it early on). And the like of Paul, and the author of ‘Hebrews’ had a much bigger role than Jesus into defining and propagating Christianity. Regardless, that Jesus did exist, and according to the evidence we have, is the simplest way to explain what ignited the development of Christian beliefs. And you don’t have to fight off everything which deals with a human Jesus in the Pauline epistles and ‘Hebrews’!

  • Earl Doherty

    A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus.

    I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first. I would like to have someone who so prefers to present us with the actual evidence for the second which is so much superior to the actual evidence for the first.

    I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.

    So why does everyone seem to get all warm and fuzzy for a “nobody” Jesus (at least, that’s what they convey), and foaming at the mouth against those who would postulate a mythical Jesus?

    Or is this all a smokescreen? Will James McGrath tells us openly whether he subscribes to and finds acceptable the idea of a “nobody” Jesus? Will Mike Wilson? Tim O’Neill? Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism?

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

      Doherty wrote:

      “I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.””I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus. Obviously, such a Jesus can be assigned virtually nothing that is portrayed of him in the Gospels, not just because it is now recognized that there is no history remembered in the Gospels, but if he were assigned anything remotely like we find in the Gospels, he wouldn’t be a “nobody.” If he is a “nobody” then he does not constitute the Jesus of Christianity, and would serve no purpose for it.”

      BM: First, it was Carrier who coined “Jesus the nobody”, as I can remember, in a presentation of his new book_to_be “the historicity of Jesus”, in my home city, one year ago.

      I defined my “nobody Jesus” as just an uneducated rustic Jew, who, in the last year of his life, was an accidental healer and repeater of the apocalyptic message of John the Baptist, and who got crucified in Jerusalem as “king of the Jews”. Here is a brief description of his last year:
      http://historical-jesus.info/digest.html
      Here is the front page of my website:
      http://historical-jesus.info/

      That Jesus can certainly be assigned a significant number of bits & pieces as showing in gMark. I did not say he was the legitimate founder of Christianity, far from that, but he had a part into starting it, unintentionally. His role was like the one of Rosa Parks, whose incidental arrest began a boycott, itself starting the Civil Rights Movement (even if she withdrew from it early on). And the like of Paul, and the author of ‘Hebrews’ had a much bigger role than Jesus into defining and propagating Christianity. Regardless, that Jesus did exist, and according to the evidence we have, is the simplest way to explain what ignited the development of Christian beliefs. And you don’t have to fight off everything which deals with a human Jesus in the Pauline epistles and ‘Hebrews’!

  • Earl Doherty

    I truly do hate to address directly anything Tim O’Neill has said, since it is liable to loose the raving tiger, but this business of whether Tim included “extant” in his claim about the lack of any contemporary record of Hannibal, is something of a joke. These semantic defences over what he said strike me as red herrings.

    From what I can gather, what was Tim’s point about Hannibal, except to counter the fact that we have no contemporary record of Jesus until the Gospels came along several decades afterward, and no non-Christian record of a recognizably historical Jesus for a long time after that? The point about Jesus is that we not only have no extant record before the Gospels, we have no knowledge of anyone writing about him more or less contemporary with him or soon after, whether extant or not. Without including the latter, the whole issue becomes pointless, because that issue is whether anyone took notice of him. Beallen is right. This is not nit-picking. If Tim acknowledges (which he now has been forced to) that we do have a record that contemporary histories WERE written about Hannibal, whether they survive or not (though beallen points to a fragment), he has lost his attempted counter to the issue about Jesus, which included the key fact that NO contemporary accounts were written about him. It is absolutely “relevant to the point.” No later Christians claimed that there were such accounts but were lost. We do have claims about contemporary accounts of Hannibal.

    And if Tim or anyone else wants to equate Roman and Greek historians, even at centuries removed from their subjects, with the Gospel evangelists, in terms of reliability and faithfulness to even the ancients’ principles of historical research, they need to have their heads examined.

  • Earl Doherty

    I truly do hate to address directly anything Tim O’Neill has said, since it is liable to loose the raving tiger, but this business of whether Tim included “extant” in his claim about the lack of any contemporary record of Hannibal, is something of a joke. These semantic defences over what he said strike me as red herrings.

    From what I can gather, what was Tim’s point about Hannibal, except to counter the fact that we have no contemporary record of Jesus until the Gospels came along several decades afterward, and no non-Christian record of a recognizably historical Jesus for a long time after that? The point about Jesus is that we not only have no extant record before the Gospels, we have no knowledge of anyone writing about him more or less contemporary with him or soon after, whether extant or not. Without including the latter, the whole issue becomes pointless, because that issue is whether anyone took notice of him. Beallen is right. This is not nit-picking. If Tim acknowledges (which he now has been forced to) that we do have a record that contemporary histories WERE written about Hannibal, whether they survive or not (though beallen points to a fragment), he has lost his attempted counter to the issue about Jesus, which included the key fact that NO contemporary accounts were written about him. It is absolutely “relevant to the point.” No later Christians claimed that there were such accounts but were lost. We do have claims about contemporary accounts of Hannibal.

    And if Tim or anyone else wants to equate Roman and Greek historians, even at centuries removed from their subjects, with the Gospel evangelists, in terms of reliability and faithfulness to even the ancients’ principles of historical research, they need to have their heads examined.

  • Earl Doherty

    Kris: “Of course the gospels have historical elements in them, what was the point in writing them if not to write the history of Jesus. Either they were written immediately after the death of the apostles or they were written within 20 years of the death of the apostles. Either way they are good secondary sources. Even Pagan critics conceded they had some basic history to them.”

    Would you like to identify the historical elements in the Gospels? Is your claim solely based on your question: why write them if not to provide a history of Jesus? Is this the much-vaunted ‘scholarly methodolgy’ we hear so much about here, which mythicists are so sorely lacking? But critical scholarship now acknowledges that virtually nothing in the Gospels can be identified as history remembered, it’s all taken from scripture. (Mythicists add that its all allegorization and lesson-imparting symbolism.) So why did the evangelists write them if their purpose, as you claim, was to write a history of Jesus, when they had nothing of history whatever available, and were forced to concoct it all out of scripture? Does that constitute a “history”?

    Kris: “Have you once even read the documents in question? There are things in them that simply no early Christian would have made up such as a crucified Messiah, Jesus being rejected by his followers ( and betrayed by one) him not being able to do miracles in his hometown or the belief that he did miracles through the power of Satan. No one would have made up these details for obvious reasons.”

    This is incredibly naïve, and ignorant (in the technical sense, far be it from me to engage in insult). All the elements of a crucified Messiah can be gleaned from a handful of scriptural passages, such as Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12. (The fact that no one before the early Christ cult put them together like that is immaterial.) Paul appeals to scripture as the source of his gospel. The rejection and betrayal have scriptural pointers as well. The inability to satisfy one’s hometown neighbors is a proverb Mark is illustrating. Miracle workers who appealed to foreign or blasphemous gods for their powers were accused of using Satan. And so on.

    And if there is basic history in Mark (such as the disciples of Jesus being dunces), why did subsequent evangelists change or eliminate that “history” if they too were concerned with writing history?

    Kris claims: “Did the life of Hannibal once have primary sources, yes, did Jesus’ life, almost certainly. Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources. Do we have either now, no. Does it affect the existence of either, not at all.”

    Is this your “historical methodology”? Postulate sources for which we have absolutely no evidence? If Mark had sources (much less writings by followers of the apostles!), why didn’t he use them, rather than construct everything from scripture? Why can we find virtually nothing in the epistles which would indicate that sources or traditions were circulating that those writers were aware of? (The only thing that comes anywhere close is Paul’s Lord’s Supper, and that has been ably dealt with by mythicism, especially as it stands alone in the entire early record, and is introduced by Paul as saying he got this info from the Lord himself, meaning revelation.)

    And you offer to point beallen to sources of your own abilities to do historical research and understand English Grammar? (Groan.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Kris: “Of course the gospels have historical elements in them, what was the point in writing them if not to write the history of Jesus. Either they were written immediately after the death of the apostles or they were written within 20 years of the death of the apostles. Either way they are good secondary sources. Even Pagan critics conceded they had some basic history to them.”

    Would you like to identify the historical elements in the Gospels? Is your claim solely based on your question: why write them if not to provide a history of Jesus? Is this the much-vaunted ‘scholarly methodolgy’ we hear so much about here, which mythicists are so sorely lacking? But critical scholarship now acknowledges that virtually nothing in the Gospels can be identified as history remembered, it’s all taken from scripture. (Mythicists add that its all allegorization and lesson-imparting symbolism.) So why did the evangelists write them if their purpose, as you claim, was to write a history of Jesus, when they had nothing of history whatever available, and were forced to concoct it all out of scripture? Does that constitute a “history”?

    Kris: “Have you once even read the documents in question? There are things in them that simply no early Christian would have made up such as a crucified Messiah, Jesus being rejected by his followers ( and betrayed by one) him not being able to do miracles in his hometown or the belief that he did miracles through the power of Satan. No one would have made up these details for obvious reasons.”

    This is incredibly naïve, and ignorant (in the technical sense, far be it from me to engage in insult). All the elements of a crucified Messiah can be gleaned from a handful of scriptural passages, such as Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 12. (The fact that no one before the early Christ cult put them together like that is immaterial.) Paul appeals to scripture as the source of his gospel. The rejection and betrayal have scriptural pointers as well. The inability to satisfy one’s hometown neighbors is a proverb Mark is illustrating. Miracle workers who appealed to foreign or blasphemous gods for their powers were accused of using Satan. And so on.

    And if there is basic history in Mark (such as the disciples of Jesus being dunces), why did subsequent evangelists change or eliminate that “history” if they too were concerned with writing history?

    Kris claims: “Did the life of Hannibal once have primary sources, yes, did Jesus’ life, almost certainly. Much of Mark would have been composed from such sources. Do we have either now, no. Does it affect the existence of either, not at all.”

    Is this your “historical methodology”? Postulate sources for which we have absolutely no evidence? If Mark had sources (much less writings by followers of the apostles!), why didn’t he use them, rather than construct everything from scripture? Why can we find virtually nothing in the epistles which would indicate that sources or traditions were circulating that those writers were aware of? (The only thing that comes anywhere close is Paul’s Lord’s Supper, and that has been ably dealt with by mythicism, especially as it stands alone in the entire early record, and is introduced by Paul as saying he got this info from the Lord himself, meaning revelation.)

    And you offer to point beallen to sources of your own abilities to do historical research and understand English Grammar? (Groan.)

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

    @Earl, what do you mean by a “nobody” Jesus?

    Why, if the Gospel authors were not of the same caliber as professional historians, do you assume that they therefore couldn’t manage to do a poor job of writing history rather than assume that they must therefore have been writers of pure fiction?

    Why do you accept Christian apologists’ claims about Jesus being prefigured in Isaiah 53, rather than the arguments of critical scholars as well as Jews in general pointing out that the alleged prefigurement is not as evident as Christians claim when they read their beliefs about the atonement and about Jesus back into that text?

    • Earl Doherty

      Ask those who speak about a “nobody” Jesus (or with that implication) what they mean. I did, and am awaiting an answer. Generally speaking, though, I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead. Nor do we even know his name. (Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction and preaching of him as the very Son of God, creator and sustainer of the universe, redeemer of mankind by walking out of his grave, and the abandonment of all interest in the earthly life of such a cosmic paragon. But I’m sure there must be some explanation lurking somewhere. Maybe Kris has one.)

      So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history, you fall back on the suggestion that, oh well, they tried, but the dummies were just too poor at it??? (I’m too floored to have anything I can say about that.)

      I’m not accepting Christian apologists’ claims about anything, including Isaiah 53. But even I can read that passage and find a crucified Messiah in it, given the proper influences in the time of the earliest Christ cult and a disposition to want to come up with some kind of dying and rising salvation figure for my own circles. No one is saying that the earliest Christ-ers were justified in doing so, or that modern 21st century critical scholars would themselves to do so. Like I said, just because WE would not believe in something doesn’t mean the ancients wouldn’t.

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

        Doherty wrote:

        “Generally speaking, though, I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead.”
        BM: well that’s very close on how I would describe him. Except, we can know from gMark why he got killed.

        “Nor do we even know his name.”
        BM: what about ‘Jesus’? Is it too much far-fetched?

        “Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction and preaching of him as the very Son of God, creator and sustainer of the universe, redeemer of mankind by walking out of his grave, and the abandonment of all interest in the earthly life of such a cosmic paragon. But I’m sure there must be some explanation lurking somewhere.”

        BM: well that was not so immediate, but that’s very easy to explain, as I did on that page:
        http://historical-jesus.info/hjes3x.html

        “So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history”
        BM: how do you know that? For example, how can you be sure that Jesus did not get Peter’s mother_in_law out of bed? It looks you are making a cheap assumption here.

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

        Doherty wrote on Vridar, on 2011/05/31

        “A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus. I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first. I would like to have someone who so prefers to present us with the actual evidence for the second which is so much superior to the actual evidence for the first … Will James McGrath tells us openly whether he subscribes to and finds acceptable the idea of a “nobody” Jesus? Will Mike Wilson? Tim O’Neill? Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism?”

        One day earlier, on the post that he referred to ( http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/05/27/missing-your-daily-dose-of-mythicism/ ), I explained what this nobody Jesus would be, and gave webpages URLs for more details. And I certainly belong to “Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism”, even if my name is absent. However Doherty completely ignores that, as if I do not exist, I did not post a description of that nobody Jesus and given links to some of my webpages. If the guy gave/gives you trouble, just develop a blind spot on anything about him. That seems part of Doherty’s methodology and strategy.

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

    @Earl, what do you mean by a “nobody” Jesus?

    Why, if the Gospel authors were not of the same caliber as professional historians, do you assume that they therefore couldn’t manage to do a poor job of writing history rather than assume that they must therefore have been writers of pure fiction?

    Why do you accept Christian apologists’ claims about Jesus being prefigured in Isaiah 53, rather than the arguments of critical scholars as well as Jews in general pointing out that the alleged prefigurement is not as evident as Christians claim when they read their beliefs about the atonement and about Jesus back into that text?

    • Earl Doherty

      Ask those who speak about a “nobody” Jesus (or with that implication) what they mean. I did, and am awaiting an answer. Generally speaking, though, I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead. Nor do we even know his name. (Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction and preaching of him as the very Son of God, creator and sustainer of the universe, redeemer of mankind by walking out of his grave, and the abandonment of all interest in the earthly life of such a cosmic paragon. But I’m sure there must be some explanation lurking somewhere. Maybe Kris has one.)

      So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history, you fall back on the suggestion that, oh well, they tried, but the dummies were just too poor at it??? (I’m too floored to have anything I can say about that.)

      I’m not accepting Christian apologists’ claims about anything, including Isaiah 53. But even I can read that passage and find a crucified Messiah in it, given the proper influences in the time of the earliest Christ cult and a disposition to want to come up with some kind of dying and rising salvation figure for my own circles. No one is saying that the earliest Christ-ers were justified in doing so, or that modern 21st century critical scholars would themselves to do so. Like I said, just because WE would not believe in something doesn’t mean the ancients wouldn’t.

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

        Doherty wrote:

        “Generally speaking, though, I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead.”
        BM: well that’s very close on how I would describe him. Except, we can know from gMark why he got killed.

        “Nor do we even know his name.”
        BM: what about ‘Jesus’? Is it too much far-fetched?

        “Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction and preaching of him as the very Son of God, creator and sustainer of the universe, redeemer of mankind by walking out of his grave, and the abandonment of all interest in the earthly life of such a cosmic paragon. But I’m sure there must be some explanation lurking somewhere.”

        BM: well that was not so immediate, but that’s very easy to explain, as I did on that page:
        http://historical-jesus.info/hjes3x.html

        “So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history”
        BM: how do you know that? For example, how can you be sure that Jesus did not get Peter’s mother_in_law out of bed? It looks you are making a cheap assumption here.

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

        Doherty wrote on Vridar, on 2011/05/31

        “A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus. I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first. I would like to have someone who so prefers to present us with the actual evidence for the second which is so much superior to the actual evidence for the first … Will James McGrath tells us openly whether he subscribes to and finds acceptable the idea of a “nobody” Jesus? Will Mike Wilson? Tim O’Neill? Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism?”

        One day earlier, on the post that he referred to ( http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/05/27/missing-your-daily-dose-of-mythicism/ ), I explained what this nobody Jesus would be, and gave webpages URLs for more details. And I certainly belong to “Anyone else who regularly craps all over mythicism”, even if my name is absent. However Doherty completely ignores that, as if I do not exist, I did not post a description of that nobody Jesus and given links to some of my webpages. If the guy gave/gives you trouble, just develop a blind spot on anything about him. That seems part of Doherty’s methodology and strategy.

  • Kris

    Earl

    No

    I am not wasting time with someone I consider to be as credible as holocaust denier, a birther, a truther or someone who denies the Apollo moon landings. I put you up there with the worst of creationists as a source of misinformation in the 21st century .

    Go spread your words to the gullible in history.  I do not have time for them, I have studied myther ideas and much like Tim I have concluded they are trash. You have failed to convince anyone in academia with your absurd ideas.

    When you can get your book published by a reputable publishing firm or you can get one tenured expert in Classical History or New Testament studies to endorse your insane notions I will consider it taking it serious.

    I will happily discuss the issues with others on this forum but I feel no more obligated to discuss the basic conclusions of classical history with Earl  then I feel the need to discuss the basic facts of World War II with David Irving.

    • Earl Doherty

      In other words, Kris, you have nothing concrete, let alone rational, to back up your insults and predisposed dismissal of all things mythicist. Other, that is, than your ludicrous attempts at reasoning I’ve already called attention to.

      Just so we’re clear.

      Yes, and I also deny the existence of Atlantis, of alien construction of the pyramids, and Santa Claus. I understand that James Randi is writing a book debunking all of my crazy ideas and denials.

    • Anonymous

      Kris, people are able to refute the other ideas you mentioned without resorting to the argument from authority. Why aren’t you able to do that?

  • Kris

    Earl

    No

    I am not wasting time with someone I consider to be as credible as holocaust denier, a birther, a truther or someone who denies the Apollo moon landings. I put you up there with the worst of creationists as a source of misinformation in the 21st century .

    Go spread your words to the gullible in history.  I do not have time for them, I have studied myther ideas and much like Tim I have concluded they are trash. You have failed to convince anyone in academia with your absurd ideas.

    When you can get your book published by a reputable publishing firm or you can get one tenured expert in Classical History or New Testament studies to endorse your insane notions I will consider it taking it serious.

    I will happily discuss the issues with others on this forum but I feel no more obligated to discuss the basic conclusions of classical history with Earl  then I feel the need to discuss the basic facts of World War II with David Irving.

    • Earl Doherty

      In other words, Kris, you have nothing concrete, let alone rational, to back up your insults and predisposed dismissal of all things mythicist. Other, that is, than your ludicrous attempts at reasoning I’ve already called attention to.

      Just so we’re clear.

      Yes, and I also deny the existence of Atlantis, of alien construction of the pyramids, and Santa Claus. I understand that James Randi is writing a book debunking all of my crazy ideas and denials.

    • beallen0417

      Kris, people are able to refute the other ideas you mentioned without resorting to the argument from authority. Why aren’t you able to do that?

  • Kris

    edit- ” credible as a holocaust denier”

  • Kris

    edit- ” credible as a holocaust denier”

  • Kris

    No my position is quite clear. I have no obligation to waste time on people putting out known nonsense be them Jesus Mythers, Holocaust deniers, birthers, people who believe in Atlantis and a huge etc. Even the Jesus Seminar views your side as a bunch of  cranks.  I do not see why my position  is so difficult to get. Just because someone defending nonsense writes a book it does not make it credible.

    Your views on the Jesus Myth has as much to endorse them in classical history as does such views as Atlantis. But of course like anyone spreading nonsense you can see someone else’s nonsense but fail to see yours.  Would you be impressed with the critical thinking skills of someone with a Ph.D in biology who openly endorsed Alien kidnappings? Speaking for myself I have been less then impressed with Randi since he endorsed that nonsense about Nazareth not existing in the 1st century, you would think someone who is a woo buster could better see woo.

    If you want to impress me with your works do the following:

    1.) Publish your arguments  in a reputable academic journal.2.) If you choose to write another book get it published by a reputable publishing firm.

    After doing that.

    Get someone legitimate scholars to endorse your arguments. By legitimate I mean tenured professors of Classical History or the New Testament. 

    Peer review exists for a reason you know. 

    It is quite obvious I use the criterion of embarrassment when studying the New Testament which unlike the Jesus Myth is considered quite reputable. 

    I say again if you want to impress me do the following:

    1.) Publish your arguments  in a reputable academic journal.2.) If you choose to write another book get it published by a reputable publishing firm.After doing that.

    Get someone legitimate scholars to endorse your arguments. By legitimate I mean tenured professors of Classical History or the New Testament. 

    After all this is how REPUTABLE SCHOLARS act.

    When you act like a reputable scholar I will treat you like one.

  • Kris

    No my position is quite clear. I have no obligation to waste time on people putting out known nonsense be them Jesus Mythers, Holocaust deniers, birthers, people who believe in Atlantis and a huge etc. Even the Jesus Seminar views your side as a bunch of  cranks.  I do not see why my position  is so difficult to get. Just because someone defending nonsense writes a book it does not make it credible.

    Your views on the Jesus Myth has as much to endorse them in classical history as does such views as Atlantis. But of course like anyone spreading nonsense you can see someone else’s nonsense but fail to see yours.  Would you be impressed with the critical thinking skills of someone with a Ph.D in biology who openly endorsed Alien kidnappings? Speaking for myself I have been less then impressed with Randi since he endorsed that nonsense about Nazareth not existing in the 1st century, you would think someone who is a woo buster could better see woo.

    If you want to impress me with your works do the following:

    1.) Publish your arguments  in a reputable academic journal.2.) If you choose to write another book get it published by a reputable publishing firm.

    After doing that.

    Get someone legitimate scholars to endorse your arguments. By legitimate I mean tenured professors of Classical History or the New Testament. 

    Peer review exists for a reason you know. 

    It is quite obvious I use the criterion of embarrassment when studying the New Testament which unlike the Jesus Myth is considered quite reputable. 

    I say again if you want to impress me do the following:

    1.) Publish your arguments  in a reputable academic journal.2.) If you choose to write another book get it published by a reputable publishing firm.After doing that.

    Get someone legitimate scholars to endorse your arguments. By legitimate I mean tenured professors of Classical History or the New Testament. 

    After all this is how REPUTABLE SCHOLARS act.

    When you act like a reputable scholar I will treat you like one.

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

    @Earl Doherty, what you wrote isn’t what I said. Try again.

    Jesus clearly made enough of an impression that some of his followers were able to persuade themselves that he was the Messiah even after the Romans crucified him. That doesn’t require miracles, just a charismatic personality. There are plenty of instances of someone who is in the eyes of some a historical “nobody” making a huge impact on a small group nevertheless, and then that small group taking things further.

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

    @Earl Doherty, what you wrote isn’t what I said. Try again.

    Jesus clearly made enough of an impression that some of his followers were able to persuade themselves that he was the Messiah even after the Romans crucified him. That doesn’t require miracles, just a charismatic personality. There are plenty of instances of someone who is in the eyes of some a historical “nobody” making a huge impact on a small group nevertheless, and then that small group taking things further.

  • Kris

    okay I am going to take a 24 hour break from this blog. Frankly I got a killer headache which is making me make silly grammar errors.

  • Kris

    okay I am going to take a 24 hour break from this blog. Frankly I got a killer headache which is making me make silly grammar errors.

  • Earl Doherty

    I think we’ve exhausted all productive discussion here, and I’ll just await Jim’s words of wisdom on my chapter 7, “A Life in Eclipse: The Passion Story.” Let’s see just how many elements of the last 6 chapters of Mark Jim can find that are not directly derived from scripture. It’s virtually zero, which, of course, is something that even critical mainstream scholars have recognized (though they still try to hang on desperately to the Supper).

    I guess this is the story created about the “nobody” Jesus whose death no one preserved any data about, or can’t remember any, yet still see fit to have rise from his grave and become the Son of God and redeemer of the world. At least Mark demonstrates that all the appearance traditions concocted by the later evangelists are a crock, and that Paul was truly speaking about visions.

  • Earl Doherty

    I think we’ve exhausted all productive discussion here, and I’ll just await Jim’s words of wisdom on my chapter 7, “A Life in Eclipse: The Passion Story.” Let’s see just how many elements of the last 6 chapters of Mark Jim can find that are not directly derived from scripture. It’s virtually zero, which, of course, is something that even critical mainstream scholars have recognized (though they still try to hang on desperately to the Supper).

    I guess this is the story created about the “nobody” Jesus whose death no one preserved any data about, or can’t remember any, yet still see fit to have rise from his grave and become the Son of God and redeemer of the world. At least Mark demonstrates that all the appearance traditions concocted by the later evangelists are a crock, and that Paul was truly speaking about visions.

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

    Headache gone.

     

    Earl are you serious
    wanting rational people to believe that the author of Mark who wrote in poor
    Greek and made at least three errors about the Old Testament is now a brilliant
    Midrash creator?

     

    Here are three errors of
    the Old Testament in Mark:

     

     1 The
    beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the
    Son of God,[b] 2 as
    it is written in Isaiah the prophet:    “I will send my
    messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”

    That is in fact found in Ex
    23:20  and Mal 3:1 . The third part is found in Isaiah. 
    One cannot argue Mark simply attributed the quote to Isaiah because Isaiah was
    the most famous person being quoted, because obviously Moses would have been
    more famous.

     

    Second error

     

    Mark 2:25 He answered, “Have
    you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in
    need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest,
    he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only
    for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  27 Then
    he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So
    the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

     

    We know from  1
    Samuel 21:1 that in fact Ahimelech was the High Priest.

    Third error.

     

    Mark 10:18  “Why do
    you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You
    know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery,
    you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud,
    honor your father and mother.”

    You shall not defraud is not part of the Ten Commandments.

    Every one of these errors was corrected by the authors of
    both Matthew and Luke. Also they both polished and refined Mark’s rough Greek.

     

    I ask again are you seriously wanting rational people to
    believe that someone who wrote poor Greek and made at least three basic errors
    involving the Old Testament could now spin brilliant Midrashes and create
    elaborate stories about Jesus? To ask that question is to answer it.

    Much like with creationism, your arguments will only
    convince the ignorant.

    The author of Mark could no more do this then I could
    take a Spanish Old Testament and create brilliant fictional Midrashes from it.

     

  • Kris

    Headache gone.

     

    Earl are you serious
    wanting rational people to believe that the author of Mark who wrote in poor
    Greek and made at least three errors about the Old Testament is now a brilliant
    Midrash creator?

     

    Here are three errors of
    the Old Testament in Mark:

     

     1 The
    beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah,[a] the
    Son of God,[b] 2 as
    it is written in Isaiah the prophet:    “I will send my
    messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way”

    That is in fact found in Ex
    23:20  and Mal 3:1 . The third part is found in Isaiah. 
    One cannot argue Mark simply attributed the quote to Isaiah because Isaiah was
    the most famous person being quoted, because obviously Moses would have been
    more famous.

     

    Second error

     

    Mark 2:25 He answered, “Have
    you never read what David did when he and his companions were hungry and in
    need? 26 In the days of Abiathar the high priest,
    he entered the house of God and ate the consecrated bread, which is lawful only
    for priests to eat. And he also gave some to his companions.”  27 Then
    he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. 28 So
    the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

     

    We know from  1
    Samuel 21:1 that in fact Ahimelech was the High Priest.

    Third error.

     

    Mark 10:18  “Why do
    you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You
    know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery,
    you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud,
    honor your father and mother.”

    You shall not defraud is not part of the Ten Commandments.

    Every one of these errors was corrected by the authors of
    both Matthew and Luke. Also they both polished and refined Mark’s rough Greek.

     

    I ask again are you seriously wanting rational people to
    believe that someone who wrote poor Greek and made at least three basic errors
    involving the Old Testament could now spin brilliant Midrashes and create
    elaborate stories about Jesus? To ask that question is to answer it.

    Much like with creationism, your arguments will only
    convince the ignorant.

    The author of Mark could no more do this then I could
    take a Spanish Old Testament and create brilliant fictional Midrashes from it.

     

  • Kris

    Why does this blog not post comments the same way you typed them?

  • Kris

    Why does this blog not post comments the same way you typed them?

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

    @Kris, I didn’t notice that it didn’t. Can you be more specific? Maybe I can help!

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

    @Kris, I didn’t notice that it didn’t. Can you be more specific? Maybe I can help!

  • Kris

    Often times it puts a lot more gaps in my comments then I originally typed.

  • Kris

    Often times it puts a lot more gaps in my comments then I originally typed.

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

    Do you copy and paste from Word? That is one cause that has come up. If so, try using Notepad instead.

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

    Do you copy and paste from Word? That is one cause that has come up. If so, try using Notepad instead.

  • Kris

    That is my problem it seems, thanks :)

  • Kris

    That is my problem it seems, thanks :)

  • Kris

    Beallen

    I am sure you consider it an argument from authority when someone goes to the doctor to get treated for say high blood pressure. The dentist saying you have a cavity is an argument from authority too right? Maybe I should get the opinion on somebody on the web right, after all all views are created equal right.
    Where are these refutes? 

     I was not aware mainstream historians accepted the Jesus Myth. When did this happen?

    When did New Testament scholars reject the criterion of embarrassment ?

    Fascinating the things one learns from Jesus Mythers.

    Do you have the slightest clue on how historical research is done?

    Do you understand why I am demanding Earl publish his ideas in reputable journals or use legitimate publishing companies to publish his books? It is cause if he did that he would be laughed to death. His ideas only convince the ignorant of history.

    Get a clue Beallen and when do you plan to defend your ignorance on archaeology?

    You know Holocaust Deniers say they have refuted the holocaust. Do you consider that to be just another myth of history stubbornly defended by academia being opposed by champions of reason? It is just an opinion defended through authority right?  Do you think Obama was born in Kenya? Do you think Atlantis existed? How about 9/11, was that an inside plot?

    The problem with mythers is they cannot see they are simply one aspect of historical nonsense claims being made in the early 21st century.

  • Kris

    Beallen

    I am sure you consider it an argument from authority when someone goes to the doctor to get treated for say high blood pressure. The dentist saying you have a cavity is an argument from authority too right? Maybe I should get the opinion on somebody on the web right, after all all views are created equal right.
    Where are these refutes? 

     I was not aware mainstream historians accepted the Jesus Myth. When did this happen?

    When did New Testament scholars reject the criterion of embarrassment ?

    Fascinating the things one learns from Jesus Mythers.

    Do you have the slightest clue on how historical research is done?

    Do you understand why I am demanding Earl publish his ideas in reputable journals or use legitimate publishing companies to publish his books? It is cause if he did that he would be laughed to death. His ideas only convince the ignorant of history.

    Get a clue Beallen and when do you plan to defend your ignorance on archaeology?

    You know Holocaust Deniers say they have refuted the holocaust. Do you consider that to be just another myth of history stubbornly defended by academia being opposed by champions of reason? It is just an opinion defended through authority right?  Do you think Obama was born in Kenya? Do you think Atlantis existed? How about 9/11, was that an inside plot?

    The problem with mythers is they cannot see they are simply one aspect of historical nonsense claims being made in the early 21st century.

  • Kris

    How do you explain people like me Beallen?

    I am agnostic, I have no vested religious interests in Christianity and I will telling to tell you the Christ Myth is garbage. Oh by  the way I got my first degree in history.

    How about Tim? He has a masters in history and refuses to give the Christ Myth the time of day. What is his motive?

    What about people like Ludemann, Allision or Erhman, are they all part of some secret academic conspiracy to make people believe Jesus existed? What about Michael Grant?

    How do you explain people like us, as we have no vested reason to believe in the existence of Jesus despite being compelled by the facts.

    Now I can understand people you like you. You have absolutely no serious background in history and for you this Christ Myth is not a rational position but an emotional position based upon a desire to debunk Christianity. But how do you explain us?

    • Anonymous

      Again with more arguments from authority. I can tell you confidently that if you want your doctor to tell you why you should treat your blood pressure, and he won’t tell you, you should change doctors. If you want your dentist to explain why you should get a cavity filled, and he won’t tell you, you should change dentists. 

      The argument from authority is not an argument. It’s a scolding. Once someone questions the authority, the person arguing from authority needs to have facts to back it up or it is as a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 

      So let’s leave the emotionally charged issue of Jesus and let me ask you a simple question:

      Do you think that Samson is a historical person?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671663280 Skoal Man

        Please excuse my interjection here, but while I would definitely seek out the opinion of a doctors before a layperson’s, that doesn’t mean that a lay person doesn’t have anything valid to offer in the way of contention. What’s more, an argument from authority is a pretty weak “scolding” if you don’t have actual arguments from those authorities to make your point. You don’t just say, “I win this argument because so and so are authorities and they happen agree with me”, do you?

  • Kris

    How do you explain people like me Beallen?

    I am agnostic, I have no vested religious interests in Christianity and I will telling to tell you the Christ Myth is garbage. Oh by  the way I got my first degree in history.

    How about Tim? He has a masters in history and refuses to give the Christ Myth the time of day. What is his motive?

    What about people like Ludemann, Allision or Erhman, are they all part of some secret academic conspiracy to make people believe Jesus existed? What about Michael Grant?

    How do you explain people like us, as we have no vested reason to believe in the existence of Jesus despite being compelled by the facts.

    Now I can understand people you like you. You have absolutely no serious background in history and for you this Christ Myth is not a rational position but an emotional position based upon a desire to debunk Christianity. But how do you explain us?

    • beallen0417

      Again with more arguments from authority. I can tell you confidently that if you want your doctor to tell you why you should treat your blood pressure, and he won’t tell you, you should change doctors. If you want your dentist to explain why you should get a cavity filled, and he won’t tell you, you should change dentists. 

      The argument from authority is not an argument. It’s a scolding. Once someone questions the authority, the person arguing from authority needs to have facts to back it up or it is as a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 

      So let’s leave the emotionally charged issue of Jesus and let me ask you a simple question:

      Do you think that Samson is a historical person?

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

    @Kris, it might be worth pointing out that there have, at the very least, been some challenges to the criteria of authenticity from within the mainstream of historical-critical Jesus scholarship. Dale Allison is probably the main example, but Chris Keith is putting together a conference and accompanying volume next year that will offer criticism of the traditional criteria of authenticity.

    My own view is that these critics are right in what they affirm – the need to focus on the big picture and not start with isolated details, and the inability of criteria to get us absolute certainty – but wrong in what they deny, since unless we are using some sort of well-articulated principles to sift through evidence and evaluate what is authentic, we have ceased to do critical historical scholarship.

    At any rate, I think that most historians continue to find the principles articulated in the criteria of authenticity useful. And I’m looking forward to attending the conference I mentioned, since it will be within driving distance! :-)

    I thought I should mention this since the criterion of embarrassment came up. But your main point, that if mythicists are serious about having their views taken seriously, then they need to start submitting their work to peer-reviewed journals. To suggest that you are being unfairly denigrated as pseudoscholarship, when you are unwilling or unable to do the one thing which above all else defines scholarship, is not going to sound convincing.

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

    @Kris, it might be worth pointing out that there have, at the very least, been some challenges to the criteria of authenticity from within the mainstream of historical-critical Jesus scholarship. Dale Allison is probably the main example, but Chris Keith is putting together a conference and accompanying volume next year that will offer criticism of the traditional criteria of authenticity.

    My own view is that these critics are right in what they affirm – the need to focus on the big picture and not start with isolated details, and the inability of criteria to get us absolute certainty – but wrong in what they deny, since unless we are using some sort of well-articulated principles to sift through evidence and evaluate what is authentic, we have ceased to do critical historical scholarship.

    At any rate, I think that most historians continue to find the principles articulated in the criteria of authenticity useful. And I’m looking forward to attending the conference I mentioned, since it will be within driving distance! :-)

    I thought I should mention this since the criterion of embarrassment came up. But your main point, that if mythicists are serious about having their views taken seriously, then they need to start submitting their work to peer-reviewed journals. To suggest that you are being unfairly denigrated as pseudoscholarship, when you are unwilling or unable to do the one thing which above all else defines scholarship, is not going to sound convincing.

  • Kris

    Things are always being challenge in Jesus studies so I am not surprised some people are challenging the traditional criterion views. However it seems odd to me to believe early Christians would simply make up unflattering stories about their founder and early leaders. I suspect this logic will hold up under scrutiny.

    It should be observed if the early Christians were making up things why not make up more useful things, for example Jesus’ views on Gentile circumcision, there relationship to the law etc. That certainly would have helped the early church a lot.

    I just do not see why some people make this so tricky.  The synoptics were certainly written by people who bumped into the Apostles and almost certainly was written ( or at least directed) by people who knew the stories of the apostle’s firsthand. To suggest the church would do otherwise basically says they are morons of the first order. Once you realize that it becomes somewhat irrelevant if they were composed  early or late. 

  • Kris

    Things are always being challenge in Jesus studies so I am not surprised some people are challenging the traditional criterion views. However it seems odd to me to believe early Christians would simply make up unflattering stories about their founder and early leaders. I suspect this logic will hold up under scrutiny.

    It should be observed if the early Christians were making up things why not make up more useful things, for example Jesus’ views on Gentile circumcision, there relationship to the law etc. That certainly would have helped the early church a lot.

    I just do not see why some people make this so tricky.  The synoptics were certainly written by people who bumped into the Apostles and almost certainly was written ( or at least directed) by people who knew the stories of the apostle’s firsthand. To suggest the church would do otherwise basically says they are morons of the first order. Once you realize that it becomes somewhat irrelevant if they were composed  early or late. 

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

    @Kris, the criterion of embarrassment is one that I don’t see historians discarding anytime soon.

    @Evan, I don’t see that we are in a position to know whether there was a historical Samson behind the legend in the same way that we are in the case of Jesus, unless you have a source from within a decade of Samson’s death, in which case please share it! :-)

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath, wouldn’t knowing when Samson died presuppose that he existed?

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

    @Kris, the criterion of embarrassment is one that I don’t see historians discarding anytime soon.

    @Evan, I don’t see that we are in a position to know whether there was a historical Samson behind the legend in the same way that we are in the case of Jesus, unless you have a source from within a decade of Samson’s death, in which case please share it! :-)

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath, wouldn’t knowing when Samson died presuppose that he existed?

  • Kris

    No probably not and his existence is no more relevant to existence of Jesus then the existence of Hercules is relevant to the existence of say Hannibal.

    Yes Beallen  I am scolding you for taking an absurd idiotic position that is the intellectual equivalent of being a birther.

    This is not a debate, this is people who know how to do history trying to explain how to do history to those who clearly do not.  You have clearly demonstrated you have no clue on how to do history because you are a Jesus Myther. 

    There is nothing to debate period.

    Do you think there is a true debate about the holocaust because some historians refuse to accept it?

  • Kris

    No probably not and his existence is no more relevant to existence of Jesus then the existence of Hercules is relevant to the existence of say Hannibal.

    Yes Beallen  I am scolding you for taking an absurd idiotic position that is the intellectual equivalent of being a birther.

    This is not a debate, this is people who know how to do history trying to explain how to do history to those who clearly do not.  You have clearly demonstrated you have no clue on how to do history because you are a Jesus Myther. 

    There is nothing to debate period.

    Do you think there is a true debate about the holocaust because some historians refuse to accept it?

    • Anonymous

      Kris, what techniques do you use to determine that Samson probably didn’t exist?

      • Kris

        Actually either view is acceptable to me,  the data simply does not force itself on a person.

        Either way one looks at it the records are 100s of years removed from the events in question. The character of Samson is clearly an exaggeration to say it kindly.

        Either a myth or a legend would explain the data on hand.

        However this is nothing like Jesus cause we have data from within fifteen years of his death, and both Jewish and Pagan critics never questioned his existence.

        • Anonymous

          Kris, would you say that the story we have of Samson as it currently exists is quite similar to any other ancient stories? Or do you think it is sui generis?

          When scholars began investigating the Hebrew Scriptures they believed that the works were written shortly after the events narrated, only critical analysis showed otherwise.

          Exactly what dates would you give for Samson having lived, if you think he lived, and what dates would you give for the composition of the final document we have today of Judges?

          Also, if you think it is possible that Samson did exist but also possible that he didn’t exist, what makes someone who takes the same position with regard to another historical figure worthy of scorn?

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671663280 Skoal Man

      For the record, I’m not a myther and I do see problems with many of their arguments. I do believe they bring up many valid points though. In the end, I could really care less if a historical Jesus ever existed or not, as I really don’t believe it’s going to effect my life either way. 

      That being said, your comparrison between Jesus mythers and birthers or Holocaust deniers isn’t exactly fair, and it appears to me as if your simply just trying to imply guilt by ad hominem. Now correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t the weight of evidence in support of Obama’s citezenship, or for the existence of the Holocaust, far outweigh that in support of a historical Jesus? In other words, wouldn’t it be much easier to deny the existence of a historical Jesus than it would be to deny that the Holocaust ever happened, or that Obama isn’t a citizen? 

      Furthermore, and as I’m sure you know (or should know), a consensus of opinion does not make something a fact, as you seem to be implying by some of your remarks. It’s not like a consensus of opinion has never been wrong before too. In any case, if the consensus is that a biblical Jesus did in fact exist, one would hope that you could skip with all bad-mouthing and appeals to authority (good or not) and simply stick to pointing out all the evidence in support of your own position.

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

    @Evan and @Kris, I don’t think that referring to what scholars have published is an appeal to authority any more than referring to what biologists have published is an appeal to authority with respect to evolution. I assume, Evan, that you are not suggesting that experts’ conclusions, in order to be legitimately held by others, must be restated in full in blog comments by those who accept them?

    • Anonymous

      No Dr. McGrath, the main points of any good theory can be restated fairly briefly, with details brought in as necessary. The theory of evolution’s main points can be turned into a sentence. Certainly when points of that are challenged, it can be expanded.

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

    @Evan and @Kris, I don’t think that referring to what scholars have published is an appeal to authority any more than referring to what biologists have published is an appeal to authority with respect to evolution. I assume, Evan, that you are not suggesting that experts’ conclusions, in order to be legitimately held by others, must be restated in full in blog comments by those who accept them?

  • Kris

    No probably not and his existence is no more relevant to existence of Jesus then the existence of Hercules is relevant to the existence of say Hannibal.

    Yes Beallen  I am scolding you for taking an absurd idiotic position that is the intellectual equivalent of being a birther.

    This is not a debate, this is people who know how to do history trying to explain how to do history to those who clearly do not.  You have clearly demonstrated you have no clue on how to do history because you are a Jesus Myther. 

    There is nothing to debate period.

    Do you think there is a true debate about the holocaust because some historians refuse to accept it?

    • beallen0417

      Kris, what techniques do you use to determine that Samson probably didn’t exist?

      • Kris

        Actually either view is acceptable to me,  the data simply does not force itself on a person.

        Either way one looks at it the records are 100s of years removed from the events in question. The character of Samson is clearly an exaggeration to say it kindly.

        Either a myth or a legend would explain the data on hand.

        However this is nothing like Jesus cause we have data from within fifteen years of his death, and both Jewish and Pagan critics never questioned his existence.

        • beallen0417

          Kris, would you say that the story we have of Samson as it currently exists is quite similar to any other ancient stories? Or do you think it is sui generis?

          When scholars began investigating the Hebrew Scriptures they believed that the works were written shortly after the events narrated, only critical analysis showed otherwise.

          Exactly what dates would you give for Samson having lived, if you think he lived, and what dates would you give for the composition of the final document we have today of Judges?

          Also, if you think it is possible that Samson did exist but also possible that he didn’t exist, what makes someone who takes the same position with regard to another historical figure worthy of scorn?

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

    @Evan and @Kris, I don’t think that referring to what scholars have published is an appeal to authority any more than referring to what biologists have published is an appeal to authority with respect to evolution. I assume, Evan, that you are not suggesting that experts’ conclusions, in order to be legitimately held by others, must be restated in full in blog comments by those who accept them?

    • beallen0417

      No Dr. McGrath, the main points of any good theory can be restated fairly briefly, with details brought in as necessary. The theory of evolution’s main points can be turned into a sentence. Certainly when points of that are challenged, it can be expanded.

  • Kris

    Although I have no problem with the idea of there being so truth behind the story of Samson, again that is a reasonable view.

  • Kris

    Although I have no problem with the idea of there being so truth behind the story of Samson, again that is a reasonable view.

  • Kris

    Although I have no problem with the idea of there being so truth behind the story of Samson, again that is a reasonable view.

  • Kris

    Fascinating Neil I was not aware that the language on the Stele was controversial. You would think scholars cannot read the language. Oh wait they can. Next. Good try though.  There was some sort of Davidic monarchy. Get over it.

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

      You are adding the embarrassment of wilful ignorance to yourself, Kris. A simple Google search will lead you to the scholarly debate over the fragments of the Tel Dan stele and how they should be aligned, and whether the reference is to a town or a god or dynasty. I am sure even O’Neill and McGrath can take you aside and bring you up to speed if they wished.

  • Kris

    Fascinating Neil I was not aware that the language on the Stele was controversial. You would think scholars cannot read the language. Oh wait they can. Next. Good try though.  There was some sort of Davidic monarchy. Get over it.

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

      You are adding the embarrassment of wilful ignorance to yourself, Kris. A simple Google search will lead you to the scholarly debate over the fragments of the Tel Dan stele and how they should be aligned, and whether the reference is to a town or a god or dynasty. I am sure even O’Neill and McGrath can take you aside and bring you up to speed if they wished.

  • Kris

    Fascinating it seems you too support the mythicist stance. Tell me are you also supporting claims Obama was born in Kenya, the holocaust is simply a prank , 9/11 was actually done by the Massad. What other ” alternate” views in history do you stump for.

  • Kris

    Fascinating it seems you too support the mythicist stance. Tell me are you also supporting claims Obama was born in Kenya, the holocaust is simply a prank , 9/11 was actually done by the Massad. What other ” alternate” views in history do you stump for.

  • Kris

    Mythers always hate to be reminded that academia doesn’t just reject their nonsense, it rejects a whole lot of other ideas that mythers tend to have problems with taking too seriously. Mythers seem to enjoy the fact that academia rejects creationism, trutherism, birtherism, holocaust denial a huge etc but suddenly they protest about academic close mindedness when their views are lumped with the above. I have wondered if one occasions mythers would be willing to give equal time to the above in exchange for their views now being said to be credible.  Would they take the trade?

    Seriously when mythers publish in academic journals , get their books published in reputable presses I will take them seriously. I would also ask for them to get the theory straight. Because as mythers hate to admit, there are many many flavors of mythicism for the person who simply wants to ignore the basic facts of history. Is Jesus a copy of Pagan deity, was he Julius Caesar,  was he simply a Midrash, was he based on mushrooms….. Stay tuned  till the next myther writes a book. I am sure the academic world is eagerly awaiting it. Maybe bonus points should be offered to a myther who argues  Julius Caesar was a copy of Horus and then the early Jews for some reason decided to take this figure of a Proto Julius Caesar  and turn him into Jesus because they used hallucinogenic mushrooms . Nothing about that is any sillier then what myther have already offered rational people.

  • Kris

    Mythers always hate to be reminded that academia doesn’t just reject their nonsense, it rejects a whole lot of other ideas that mythers tend to have problems with taking too seriously. Mythers seem to enjoy the fact that academia rejects creationism, trutherism, birtherism, holocaust denial a huge etc but suddenly they protest about academic close mindedness when their views are lumped with the above. I have wondered if one occasions mythers would be willing to give equal time to the above in exchange for their views now being said to be credible.  Would they take the trade?

    Seriously when mythers publish in academic journals , get their books published in reputable presses I will take them seriously. I would also ask for them to get the theory straight. Because as mythers hate to admit, there are many many flavors of mythicism for the person who simply wants to ignore the basic facts of history. Is Jesus a copy of Pagan deity, was he Julius Caesar,  was he simply a Midrash, was he based on mushrooms….. Stay tuned  till the next myther writes a book. I am sure the academic world is eagerly awaiting it. Maybe bonus points should be offered to a myther who argues  Julius Caesar was a copy of Horus and then the early Jews for some reason decided to take this figure of a Proto Julius Caesar  and turn him into Jesus because they used hallucinogenic mushrooms . Nothing about that is any sillier then what myther have already offered rational people.

  • VinnyJH

    Tim,

    You claimed that there was “a consistent tradition that Jesus had a brother called James and that this James became a leader in the Jesus Sect community in Jerusalem.”  However, as noted, Paul is the only first century source who explicitly describes a James who is both “brother of the Lord” and a leader of the church.  Luke doesn’t describe a James who is a brother of Jesus while Mark and Josephus don’t describe Jesus’ brother as a leader of the church.  They might have thought so but I don’t think you can claim that they are consistent on the point.

    While I have no doubt that Luke left some things unstated because he assumed that Theophilus already knew them, there is a problem with determining what those things might  be.  Luke is writing his account because the early accounts were not sufficient to to give Theophilus certainty.  Thus, whenever Luke changes something or omits something that is found in an earlier account—such as James being the brother of Jesus—we have to allow for the possibility that Luke thought the earlier accounts had gotten it wrong.

    I don’t see how we can know whether Luke doesn’t identify James as Jesus’ brother because it was so obvious to everyone that it went with out saying or whether he didn’t do so because he didn’t think he was. Agnostics are always amazed at the way historicists and mythicists can be so certain about such issues.

  • VinnyJH

    Tim,

    You claimed that there was “a consistent tradition that Jesus had a brother called James and that this James became a leader in the Jesus Sect community in Jerusalem.”  However, as noted, Paul is the only first century source who explicitly describes a James who is both “brother of the Lord” and a leader of the church.  Luke doesn’t describe a James who is a brother of Jesus while Mark and Josephus don’t describe Jesus’ brother as a leader of the church.  They might have thought so but I don’t think you can claim that they are consistent on the point.

    While I have no doubt that Luke left some things unstated because he assumed that Theophilus already knew them, there is a problem with determining what those things might  be.  Luke is writing his account because the early accounts were not sufficient to to give Theophilus certainty.  Thus, whenever Luke changes something or omits something that is found in an earlier account—such as James being the brother of Jesus—we have to allow for the possibility that Luke thought the earlier accounts had gotten it wrong.

    I don’t see how we can know whether Luke doesn’t identify James as Jesus’ brother because it was so obvious to everyone that it went with out saying or whether he didn’t do so because he didn’t think he was. Agnostics are always amazed at the way historicists and mythicists can be so certain about such issues.

  • Kris

    Wow a google debate! Really! that is too awesome!!  I found a google debate on the holocaust too, are you impressed! I found a google discussion about ghosts, wow, amazing , the stuff you find online! Man all of this credible I never knew about until I found out google debates are legitimate sources of research. Why bother using peer reviewed journals when one click with google will give you all the information you need to know to defend your prejudices.

    The Stele says House of David. Get over it. 

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

      Kris or whoever you are, you need to learn about Google Scholar to locate peer reviewed stuff even on the internet, and consult online databases for scholarly journals. Take a look at the doctoral thesis of George Athas for a bibliography for starters.

  • Kris

    Wow a google debate! Really! that is too awesome!!  I found a google debate on the holocaust too, are you impressed! I found a google discussion about ghosts, wow, amazing , the stuff you find online! Man all of this credible I never knew about until I found out google debates are legitimate sources of research. Why bother using peer reviewed journals when one click with google will give you all the information you need to know to defend your prejudices.

    The Stele says House of David. Get over it. 

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

      Kris or whoever you are, you need to learn about Google Scholar to locate peer reviewed stuff even on the internet, and consult online databases for scholarly journals. Take a look at the doctoral thesis of George Athas for a bibliography for starters.

  • Kris

    Speaking as an agnostic I am always amazed at how any so called rationalist can possibly stump for something as idiotic as the Christ Myth but it seems I am quickly learning from Bellean and Neil that academic journals are worthless and if anything using experts in a subject is down right absurd if you truly want to learn about the subject in question.

    I am still waiting on Bellean and Neil to tell me what other minority positions in history they support. Come one can’t one of them also stump for holocaust denial like Christ Myther Christian Lindtner. Come on Neil and Bellean, we need someone to defend truthers and birthers, why just defend one historical piece of nonsense you two. Maybe one of them can defend the claim the Apollo Moon landing was a hoax too…..

    So Beallen and Neil, why is it you side feels academia is close minded toward your views but you almost certainly feel it is right to reject the arguments of birther, truthers and a huge etc. Oh wait, unlike those nonsense views, our have merit! See the difference. 

  • Kris

    Speaking as an agnostic I am always amazed at how any so called rationalist can possibly stump for something as idiotic as the Christ Myth but it seems I am quickly learning from Bellean and Neil that academic journals are worthless and if anything using experts in a subject is down right absurd if you truly want to learn about the subject in question.

    I am still waiting on Bellean and Neil to tell me what other minority positions in history they support. Come one can’t one of them also stump for holocaust denial like Christ Myther Christian Lindtner. Come on Neil and Bellean, we need someone to defend truthers and birthers, why just defend one historical piece of nonsense you two. Maybe one of them can defend the claim the Apollo Moon landing was a hoax too…..

    So Beallen and Neil, why is it you side feels academia is close minded toward your views but you almost certainly feel it is right to reject the arguments of birther, truthers and a huge etc. Oh wait, unlike those nonsense views, our have merit! See the difference. 

  • Kris

    Wow you know all the best academic journal post there research for free.  Of course you didn’t say that and instead  simple told me to search google.

    Again get over it, it says the House of David. That plus the biblical account is enough to convince anyone without an ax to grind that there was some basic Davidic monarchy. Again get over it your problem is with archaeology and history, not me.

    Tell me, I am curious to know, which other minority views do you think academia is suppressing? Just curious.

  • Kris

    Wow you know all the best academic journal post there research for free.  Of course you didn’t say that and instead  simple told me to search google.

    Again get over it, it says the House of David. That plus the biblical account is enough to convince anyone without an ax to grind that there was some basic Davidic monarchy. Again get over it your problem is with archaeology and history, not me.

    Tell me, I am curious to know, which other minority views do you think academia is suppressing? Just curious.

  • Kris

    Really I am curious to know, besides mytherism what other historical conspiracy theories do you stump for? I mean why just do one.

  • Kris

    Really I am curious to know, besides mytherism what other historical conspiracy theories do you stump for? I mean why just do one.

  • Kris

    Right now looking through google scholar  I so far have found one article in French defending the argument of it referring to a deity. All the other articles seem to stubbornly insist ( probably a Jewish conspiracy, or possibly Catholic, or maybe both working together) that the stele in question says House of David.

    One can simply do a google search with images to see how the stele fit together is not difficult to figure out.

    The writing on it is in Aramaic which is not exactly an unknown language. 

    So once again a myther gets his tail bit by defending pseudo history.

    Again Neil I want to know what other pseudo historical views you support.
     

  • Kris

    Right now looking through google scholar  I so far have found one article in French defending the argument of it referring to a deity. All the other articles seem to stubbornly insist ( probably a Jewish conspiracy, or possibly Catholic, or maybe both working together) that the stele in question says House of David.

    One can simply do a google search with images to see how the stele fit together is not difficult to figure out.

    The writing on it is in Aramaic which is not exactly an unknown language. 

    So once again a myther gets his tail bit by defending pseudo history.

    Again Neil I want to know what other pseudo historical views you support.
     

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

    Kris, to better understand Neil, keep in mind he is a huge fan of Thomas L. Thompson’s and the “minimalist”. While Thompson made a good impression decades ago with work showing the patriarchies to be mythical with only tenuous links to history, his current ideas, an attempt to stretch the idea further, hasn’t taken off. It is finds like the tel Dan stele that have turned the tide against him, after a run of some success. I myself am a product of that success, as a fan of Finklestein, himself often considered a minimalist. Of course the stele undercuts Thompson’s position so he has objected to the majority understanding of it, but his opinion is suspect since he has so much riding on it having another meaning. He has actually been dabbling in Jesus Myth, if that shows where his credibility is headed.

    Neil however thinks that Thompson has carried the day and is the scholarly consensus, since all the other scholars are not real scholars but Zionist trying to disposes the indigenous people with fake land claims. So if you are confused by Neil’s claims of dispute on the steles meaning or how it is now the majority opinion that David was a Myth, you know why. Ironically, he often mentions the success of the minimalist as inspiration for his favoring of a Christ myth. Of course Jesus Myth is nowhere near as popular as OT minimalism, and given the current state of Old Testament studies and archeology, it may have been premature to want to launch off of the “success” of the minimalist movement.

    • Kris

      Thanks Michael

      So basically as I suspected Neil’s views are grounded in the irrational. I didn’t really doubt why Neil was trying to question the obvious, as he is a Jesus Myther and the only reason one comes a Jesus Myther is by wanting to make a cheap argument that will only convince the uninformed and annoy the heck of Christians. Well if he is willing to believe in one pseudo historical view about the Bible, why not believe in two and double  his prejudices.

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

    Kris, to better understand Neil, keep in mind he is a huge fan of Thomas L. Thompson’s and the “minimalist”. While Thompson made a good impression decades ago with work showing the patriarchies to be mythical with only tenuous links to history, his current ideas, an attempt to stretch the idea further, hasn’t taken off. It is finds like the tel Dan stele that have turned the tide against him, after a run of some success. I myself am a product of that success, as a fan of Finklestein, himself often considered a minimalist. Of course the stele undercuts Thompson’s position so he has objected to the majority understanding of it, but his opinion is suspect since he has so much riding on it having another meaning. He has actually been dabbling in Jesus Myth, if that shows where his credibility is headed.

    Neil however thinks that Thompson has carried the day and is the scholarly consensus, since all the other scholars are not real scholars but Zionist trying to disposes the indigenous people with fake land claims. So if you are confused by Neil’s claims of dispute on the steles meaning or how it is now the majority opinion that David was a Myth, you know why. Ironically, he often mentions the success of the minimalist as inspiration for his favoring of a Christ myth. Of course Jesus Myth is nowhere near as popular as OT minimalism, and given the current state of Old Testament studies and archeology, it may have been premature to want to launch off of the “success” of the minimalist movement.

    • Kris

      Thanks Michael

      So basically as I suspected Neil’s views are grounded in the irrational. I didn’t really doubt why Neil was trying to question the obvious, as he is a Jesus Myther and the only reason one comes a Jesus Myther is by wanting to make a cheap argument that will only convince the uninformed and annoy the heck of Christians. Well if he is willing to believe in one pseudo historical view about the Bible, why not believe in two and double  his prejudices.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    Descending from the sub-lunar fleshly realm where he resides with crucified deities and slaughtered cosmic bulls, Earl Doherty spake thus:

    I truly do hate to address directly anything Tim O’Neill has said …

    You’re the second person this week to protest claim this and then address what I said anyway.  Do I win some kind of prize?

    If Tim acknowledges (which he now has been forced to) that we do have a
    record that contemporary histories WERE written about Hannibal, whether
    they survive or not (though beallen points to a fragment), he has lost
    his attempted counter to the issue about Jesus

    Garbage – the point stands.  I was already well aware of the works of Sosylus and Silenus, so of course I wasn’t saying Jesus and Hannibal were analogous regarding our knowledge of lost contemporary sources about them.  Clearly we know of such works for Hannibal and don’t for Jesus.  The point was purely about the vagaries of the survival of any ancient source.  If all we have for Hannibal is one tiny fragment that doesn’t even mention him, to expect anything at all for someone like Jesus is patently absurd.

    Many people who don’t understand the nature of ancient source material find this “there are no contemporary references to Jesus” argument compelllng.  After all, if someone claimed a person existed in the 1960s but then couldn’t produce a single contemporary reference to them, we’d rightly suspect they were wrong.  But this doesn’t work with ancient figures, partly and substantially due to the nature of our sources.

    On to this “nobody Jesus” nonsense:

    I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows
    exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no
    one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not
    attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities
    overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before
    he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead. Nor do we even know
    his name. (Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction
    and preaching of him as the very Son of God

    What a lovely strawman you’ve constructed.  That careful constructed tangle of deliberate and contrived misrepresentations contains a number of weasely unwarranted assumptions.  It doesn’t follow that someone who didn’t attract crowds as large as, say, those of Theudas or the Egyptian prophet couldn’t still get himself noticed enough to get himself killed.  Making a pest of himself in Jerusalem at Passover, for example, would probably do it quite effectively.  The small number of followers after he died or the fact he stayed dead mean very little either.  Small obscure followings can grow into vast movements.  Ever met a Mormon?  How about a Scientologist?  I’ve got this feeling that in 4011 AD there’ll be an Earl Doherty style hobbyist pouring scorn on the idea that a third rate science fiction writer or a farmer from Palmyra NY could found vast mass movements and conclude that they must be mythic figures.

    As for the bit about the conviction Jesus was “the very Son of God”, it’s weird that Mythers don’t seem to be able to shake off their former conservative Christian conceptions of what that meant and can’t grasp that “Son of God” meant something very different to an early first Century Jew compared to an early Second Century gentile.  Let alone to a bishop at Nicea in 325 AD.

    I’m not accepting Christian apologists’ claims about anything, including
    Isaiah 53. But even I can read that passage and find a crucified
    Messiah in it, given the proper influences in the time of the earliest
    Christ cult and a disposition to want to come up with some kind of dying
    and rising salvation figure for my own circles.

    Really?  The bit in verse 10 about how “he will see his offspring and prolong his days” doesn’t really fit very well with that.  Or with the Jesus stories.  That makes sense if they were trying to shoehorn a crucified Jesus into the only bits of the OT they could make to seem vaguely relevant to their unexpectedly and inconveniently dead Messiah.  If however Jesus grew out of these prophecies, why don’t we have a Jesus who died after prolonged days, having looked on his offspring?

    Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and insisted it was about their crucified guy.  But I guess you’ve covered that in the Dan Brown-style speculative fiction sections of your thesis about the ur-Christianities that allegedly  existed (entirely in your head) and then vanished without trace.

    Luckily for us you came along with your self-published books to reveal these wonders unto us.

    I think we’ve exhausted all productive discussion here,

    That kind of fatuous pronouncement is usually a sign Earl is about to do his famous vanishing act.  Bye Earl.  See you next time.

    • Anonymous

      Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever
      considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and
      insisted it was about their crucified guy.

      Well, Tim, you know my spidey-sense is going to tingle when you trot out “zero evidence,” given your track record.

      Do you have some 1st century BCE Jewish documents that interpret Isaiah 53 that I’m not aware of?

    • Stevencarrwork

      O’Neill

      Or with the Jesus stories. That makes sense if they were trying to shoehorn a crucified Jesus into the only bits of the OT they could make to seem vaguely relevant to their unexpectedly and inconveniently dead Messiah.

      CARR
      Hence the references to Jesus being born in Bethlehem, as only an idiot thinks Biblical passages were used to create episodes in the life of Jesus, rather than episodes in the life of Jesus being shoehorned into bits of the OT that seemed relevant to the known life of Jesus of Nazareth.

      • Kris

        The argument doesn’t quite work because at Tim pointed out if they were simply copying stories from the OT they could have made Jesus and his history would have been a lot more closer to the story in question ( for example Jesus would have had children if they had simply copied Jesus from Isaiah 53)

        So that leaves us with two possibilities:

        The events in question happened

        The event in question was a legendary detail the author of the books in question assumed to be historical. 

    • Stevencarrwork

      TIM
      Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and insisted it was about their crucified guy.

      CARR
      This is a masterful use of the argument from silence.

      If Jews are silent about a Christian dogma, then it could never have been used by Christians.

      • Kris

        So arguments without evidence are acceptable now? Fascinating new stance from the so called rationalists.

    • Kris

      Hey Tim

      Could you please elaborate some on how you think the phrase ” Son of God”  would have been understood by the earliest Christians.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    Descending from the sub-lunar fleshly realm where he resides with crucified deities and slaughtered cosmic bulls, Earl Doherty spake thus:

    I truly do hate to address directly anything Tim O’Neill has said …

    You’re the second person this week to protest claim this and then address what I said anyway.  Do I win some kind of prize?

    If Tim acknowledges (which he now has been forced to) that we do have a
    record that contemporary histories WERE written about Hannibal, whether
    they survive or not (though beallen points to a fragment), he has lost
    his attempted counter to the issue about Jesus

    Garbage – the point stands.  I was already well aware of the works of Sosylus and Silenus, so of course I wasn’t saying Jesus and Hannibal were analogous regarding our knowledge of lost contemporary sources about them.  Clearly we know of such works for Hannibal and don’t for Jesus.  The point was purely about the vagaries of the survival of any ancient source.  If all we have for Hannibal is one tiny fragment that doesn’t even mention him, to expect anything at all for someone like Jesus is patently absurd.

    Many people who don’t understand the nature of ancient source material find this “there are no contemporary references to Jesus” argument compelllng.  After all, if someone claimed a person existed in the 1960s but then couldn’t produce a single contemporary reference to them, we’d rightly suspect they were wrong.  But this doesn’t work with ancient figures, partly and substantially due to the nature of our sources.

    On to this “nobody Jesus” nonsense:

    I would define it as a figure who did some preaching (no one knows
    exactly what), talked about the end of the world, got himself killed (no
    one knows in what circumstances), performed no miracles, did not
    attract large crowds (therefore couldn’t have troubled the authorities
    overly much), did not have any great number of followers either before
    he died or afterwards, and certainly stayed dead. Nor do we even know
    his name. (Gee, and I wonder what led to the almost immediate conviction
    and preaching of him as the very Son of God

    What a lovely strawman you’ve constructed.  That careful constructed tangle of deliberate and contrived misrepresentations contains a number of weasely unwarranted assumptions.  It doesn’t follow that someone who didn’t attract crowds as large as, say, those of Theudas or the Egyptian prophet couldn’t still get himself noticed enough to get himself killed.  Making a pest of himself in Jerusalem at Passover, for example, would probably do it quite effectively.  The small number of followers after he died or the fact he stayed dead mean very little either.  Small obscure followings can grow into vast movements.  Ever met a Mormon?  How about a Scientologist?  I’ve got this feeling that in 4011 AD there’ll be an Earl Doherty style hobbyist pouring scorn on the idea that a third rate science fiction writer or a farmer from Palmyra NY could found vast mass movements and conclude that they must be mythic figures.

    As for the bit about the conviction Jesus was “the very Son of God”, it’s weird that Mythers don’t seem to be able to shake off their former conservative Christian conceptions of what that meant and can’t grasp that “Son of God” meant something very different to an early first Century Jew compared to an early Second Century gentile.  Let alone to a bishop at Nicea in 325 AD.

    I’m not accepting Christian apologists’ claims about anything, including
    Isaiah 53. But even I can read that passage and find a crucified
    Messiah in it, given the proper influences in the time of the earliest
    Christ cult and a disposition to want to come up with some kind of dying
    and rising salvation figure for my own circles.

    Really?  The bit in verse 10 about how “he will see his offspring and prolong his days” doesn’t really fit very well with that.  Or with the Jesus stories.  That makes sense if they were trying to shoehorn a crucified Jesus into the only bits of the OT they could make to seem vaguely relevant to their unexpectedly and inconveniently dead Messiah.  If however Jesus grew out of these prophecies, why don’t we have a Jesus who died after prolonged days, having looked on his offspring?

    Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and insisted it was about their crucified guy.  But I guess you’ve covered that in the Dan Brown-style speculative fiction sections of your thesis about the ur-Christianities that allegedly  existed (entirely in your head) and then vanished without trace.

    Luckily for us you came along with your self-published books to reveal these wonders unto us.

    I think we’ve exhausted all productive discussion here,

    That kind of fatuous pronouncement is usually a sign Earl is about to do his famous vanishing act.  Bye Earl.  See you next time.

    • beallen0417

      Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever
      considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and
      insisted it was about their crucified guy.

      Well, Tim, you know my spidey-sense is going to tingle when you trot out “zero evidence,” given your track record.

      Do you have some 1st century BCE Jewish documents that interpret Isaiah 53 that I’m not aware of?

    • Stevencarrwork

      O’Neill

      Or with the Jesus stories. That makes sense if they were trying to shoehorn a crucified Jesus into the only bits of the OT they could make to seem vaguely relevant to their unexpectedly and inconveniently dead Messiah.

      CARR
      Hence the references to Jesus being born in Bethlehem, as only an idiot thinks Biblical passages were used to create episodes in the life of Jesus, rather than episodes in the life of Jesus being shoehorned into bits of the OT that seemed relevant to the known life of Jesus of Nazareth.

      • Kris

        The argument doesn’t quite work because at Tim pointed out if they were simply copying stories from the OT they could have made Jesus and his history would have been a lot more closer to the story in question ( for example Jesus would have had children if they had simply copied Jesus from Isaiah 53)

        So that leaves us with two possibilities:

        The events in question happened

        The event in question was a legendary detail the author of the books in question assumed to be historical. 

    • Stevencarrwork

      TIM
      Then there’s the problem that there is zero evidence that this was ever considered a Messianic prophecy before Christians came along and insisted it was about their crucified guy.

      CARR
      This is a masterful use of the argument from silence.

      If Jews are silent about a Christian dogma, then it could never have been used by Christians.

      • Kris

        So arguments without evidence are acceptable now? Fascinating new stance from the so called rationalists.

    • Kris

      Hey Tim

      Could you please elaborate some on how you think the phrase ” Son of God”  would have been understood by the earliest Christians.

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

    @Evan:disqus , summarizing the key arguments has certainly been done. Should the fact that a small minority of internet detractors is persuaded that they know better be taken as an indication that something is fundamentally flawed in mainstream biology and history?

    We have texts from before and during the first century which fail to do anything with Isaiah 53, even though they wrote about a coming Anointed One. And for what it’s worth, the NT doesn’t do much with Isaiah 53, either.

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

    @Evan:disqus , summarizing the key arguments has certainly been done. Should the fact that a small minority of internet detractors is persuaded that they know better be taken as an indication that something is fundamentally flawed in mainstream biology and history?

    We have texts from before and during the first century which fail to do anything with Isaiah 53, even though they wrote about a coming Anointed One. And for what it’s worth, the NT doesn’t do much with Isaiah 53, either.

  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath
  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath
  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Kris, Yeah, mythicist are convinced that if parts of the gospels can be shown to be dependent on the Old Testament, the whole thing should be. While the old Testament doesn’t’t have any thing like the trial by Pilate or casting out demons, their criteria for dependence is very low, I think the theory is if you want to say a text was inspired by an event or person, you must prove beyond rational doubt, if you just want to say it was based on a literary work, you just have show it is conceivable, and necessarily conceivable to a bright person, just any person. One wonders how much of the world’s history sounds like a story. 9/11 sounds a lot like a Tom Clancy novel.

    • Kris

      And they really have not shown any part of it is dependent on the OT. At most they have shown parallels. This can be explained just as easily with these two explanations below.

      a.) The parallel is simply vague, you can find vague parallels anywhere. A cloud has a lot of water built up inside it and so does a watermelon, are watermelons now copies of clouds?

      b.) The authors deliberately choose to model actual events onto stories from the OT to make a deliberate parallel.

      They have never proven any story from the NT is a fiction based on the OT. At most they have some stories that are suggestive of it. 

      • Anonymous

        You ask me a lot of questions but you didn’t really answer mine. My
        question wasn’t why you think there was a historical Jesus. It was
        asking you what makes it crazy for someone to not think the historical
        Jesus is a proven historical character, but it not crazy to think
        that Samson isn’t. Samson seems very much to be a version of the Hercules myth. Hercules is a myth. Achilles is a myth. There may have been people behind them, but the original person is lost to history, they are all myths.

        Mainstream scholarship’s largest figure of the 20th century in Jesus studies was Rudolf Bultmann. He said, “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 …”

        Yet somehow you think that someone who questions the leftovers of the gospels after we remove the myths like the virgin birth, the resurrection, the magical spit, the chats with Satan and the blood sweat is as crazy as a bedbug. Why?

        The number of books on Christian Mythology is large, here are some titles: A Myth of Innocence, Kerygma and Myth, The Myth of God Incarnate, The Christian Myth. These books are all written by mainstream historical scholars. So when someone suggests that Christianity contains myth, they are simply reiterating what scholars have believed since Strauss.

        You ask me a lot of questions but you didn’t really answer mine. My
        question wasn’t why you think there was a historical Jesus. It was
        asking you what makes it crazy for someone to think the historical
        Jesus isn’t a proven historical character, but not crazy to think
        that Samson isn’t.

        You are put a lot of words into the mouths of your opponents. You should address your own positions. The questions I asked you were simple enough. You now claim there are no fictions in the NT based on the Hebrew Scriptures.

        I am sure you can harmonize the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke — many fundamentalists do it all the time — but you must not think they are histories, do you?

        Would you say that Jesus’ sojourn in Egypt after the slaughter of the innocents is a historical fact? If you think it is, good luck to you. But if you think it isn’t, what do you think it is based on?

        • Kris

           I answered your question quite nicely earlier, please now quite acting like a sack of shit and tell me why you disagree with my answer.

          Your absolute inability to read English is amazing. I simply argued that proponents of Midrash have not proven there case at all, truth be told I doubt they can ever logically do it for reasons I mentioned which are also plausible views.  As it is I suspect some of the stories are legends that arose early in Christian history for varies reasons that were simply accepted as history by the evangelist authors who used the common method of Midrash in their writings. That would far better explain why these stories are not wooden retellings of the Old Testament.

          I think it is crazy not to accept the existence of Jesus for the same reason I think it is nuts to be a birther or a truther. It completely flies against all evidence and reason.

          Bultmann on the Jesus Myth

          “By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.”

          “Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=671663280 Skoal Man

      Michael said: “Yeah, mythicist are convinced that if parts of the gospels can be shown to be dependent on the Old Testament, the whole thing should be.” 

      While I don’t doubt that many mythicist take this position, I don’t think your comment accurately describes all of their positions. I think it would be more appropriate to say that because some of the parts of the gospels can be shown to be dependent on the OT, the whole thing should be looked upon with skepticism.    

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

    Kris, Yeah, mythicist are convinced that if parts of the gospels can be shown to be dependent on the Old Testament, the whole thing should be. While the old Testament doesn’t’t have any thing like the trial by Pilate or casting out demons, their criteria for dependence is very low, I think the theory is if you want to say a text was inspired by an event or person, you must prove beyond rational doubt, if you just want to say it was based on a literary work, you just have show it is conceivable, and necessarily conceivable to a bright person, just any person. One wonders how much of the world’s history sounds like a story. 9/11 sounds a lot like a Tom Clancy novel.

    • Kris

      And they really have not shown any part of it is dependent on the OT. At most they have shown parallels. This can be explained just as easily with these two explanations below.

      a.) The parallel is simply vague, you can find vague parallels anywhere. A cloud has a lot of water built up inside it and so does a watermelon, are watermelons now copies of clouds?

      b.) The authors deliberately choose to model actual events onto stories from the OT to make a deliberate parallel.

      They have never proven any story from the NT is a fiction based on the OT. At most they have some stories that are suggestive of it. 

      • beallen0417

        You ask me a lot of questions but you didn’t really answer mine. My
        question wasn’t why you think there was a historical Jesus. It was
        asking you what makes it crazy for someone to not think the historical
        Jesus is a proven historical character, but it not crazy to think
        that Samson isn’t. Samson seems very much to be a version of the Hercules myth. Hercules is a myth. Achilles is a myth. There may have been people behind them, but the original person is lost to history, they are all myths.

        Mainstream scholarship’s largest figure of the 20th century in Jesus studies was Rudolf Bultmann. He said, “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 …”

        Yet somehow you think that someone who questions the leftovers of the gospels after we remove the myths like the virgin birth, the resurrection, the magical spit, the chats with Satan and the blood sweat is as crazy as a bedbug. Why?

        The number of books on Christian Mythology is large, here are some titles: A Myth of Innocence, Kerygma and Myth, The Myth of God Incarnate, The Christian Myth. These books are all written by mainstream historical scholars. So when someone suggests that Christianity contains myth, they are simply reiterating what scholars have believed since Strauss.

        You ask me a lot of questions but you didn’t really answer mine. My
        question wasn’t why you think there was a historical Jesus. It was
        asking you what makes it crazy for someone to think the historical
        Jesus isn’t a proven historical character, but not crazy to think
        that Samson isn’t.

        You are put a lot of words into the mouths of your opponents. You should address your own positions. The questions I asked you were simple enough. You now claim there are no fictions in the NT based on the Hebrew Scriptures.

        I am sure you can harmonize the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke — many fundamentalists do it all the time — but you must not think they are histories, do you?

        Would you say that Jesus’ sojourn in Egypt after the slaughter of the innocents is a historical fact? If you think it is, good luck to you. But if you think it isn’t, what do you think it is based on?

        • Kris

           I answered your question quite nicely earlier, please now quite acting like a sack of shit and tell me why you disagree with my answer.

          Your absolute inability to read English is amazing. I simply argued that proponents of Midrash have not proven there case at all, truth be told I doubt they can ever logically do it for reasons I mentioned which are also plausible views.  As it is I suspect some of the stories are legends that arose early in Christian history for varies reasons that were simply accepted as history by the evangelist authors who used the common method of Midrash in their writings. That would far better explain why these stories are not wooden retellings of the Old Testament.

          I think it is crazy not to accept the existence of Jesus for the same reason I think it is nuts to be a birther or a truther. It completely flies against all evidence and reason.

          Bultmann on the Jesus Myth

          “By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.”

          “Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement.”

  • Kris

     I knew you would make this argument. This is the exact kind of sloppy arguments that are so typical of mythers.
    Your argument is basically this.a.) Samson is possibly a mythb.) Samson is in the Biblec.) Therefore the Bible possibly has a myth in itd.) Jesus is in the Biblee.) The Bible has mythsf.) Therefore Jesus might be a mythThe problem with this reasoning is simple. Just because one part of the Bible might be a myth it does not follow all parts of the Bible might be a myth, each part has to be evaluated on it’s own merits. The Bible mentions Augustus, do you want to argue the Augustus myth now?Imagine someone wrote a book on great English works and he put in the book works from say 800 AD through the present time. Let’s say we discovered one of the work placed in the book from 800 AD was discovered to be fake, would you now suspect Alfred Lord Tennyson works, who were also in book are now suspect. Of course not. ( would you, you are a myther and mythers are not known for their skills in history). Basically there is no such thing as guilt through proximity alone. To argue Jesus might not have existed because of the possibility Samson did not exist is absurd. The stories in question are not related at all and they are separated by about a thousand years.  Evidence for Samson. He is recorded in the book of Judges.   As it is the book of Judges was finally finished around the 6th century BC, so were are talking about a gap of 500 years. Basically there is not much evidence and either thinking him a myth or a legend explains the data perfectly be he  is also recorded as doing things no man could rationally do in a book composed five hundred years after the fact.Now the Evidence for Jesus.He is mentioned in the writings of Paul in ways that could only refer to a living, breathing man ( sorry Earl). That was within 15 years of his death.Even if you view the Gospels as largely  legendary there are still details in them no one would have made up about Jesus and his closest followers. Those are approximately 30-50 years after his death.He is mentioned twice by the Jewish historian Josephus who would have lived at the same time as the apostles.His existence is taken for granted by Roman historians such as Tacticus and Celcus  who if they felt he was a myth they certainly would have recorded it.While the case for Jesus is all secondary sources there is nothing wrong with that. Tim has tried to explain to you why your demand for a primary source is absurd in regards to Jesus. It is especially absurd if you accept that what would have been primary sources for Jesus were spread orally, do you want us to time travel now and kidnap one of the apostles?I am asking you again, why other pseudo historical views do you support? Truthers, Birthers, Holocaust Denial? There is an awful lot of pseudo history that academia considers garbage. Do you think these other fringe views are just as valid as your fringe view? Do you think they should be given equal time in academia merely cause some people online believe them. I want an answer from you on that question and the fact you have been evading it speaks volumes about your intellectual credibility. Do you also plan to address your ignorance about the Davidic Monarchy?Historians of all worldviews overwhelmingly accept the existence of Jesus because it takes conspiracy type theories to argue that he did not exist. It is that simple.By the way what Christ Myth do you support?Do you think Jesus was a copy of a Pagan deity?Was he Julius Caesar? Was he Emperor Titus?Is he a giant Midrash?Do you have your own new flavor?When Jesus mythers can get the story straight among themselves, then publish it in reputable journals or reputable presses I will give them some respect. As it stands now the Jesus myth is an internet conspiracy theory that is as credible as believing the earth is flat.I have said once and I will say again, the Jesus myth is simply the clueless leading the inept or the bigots.

  • Kris

    once again the blog removed my spaces, sorry

  • Kris

     I knew you would make this argument. This is the exact kind of sloppy arguments that are so typical of mythers.
    Your argument is basically this.a.) Samson is possibly a mythb.) Samson is in the Biblec.) Therefore the Bible possibly has a myth in itd.) Jesus is in the Biblee.) The Bible has mythsf.) Therefore Jesus might be a mythThe problem with this reasoning is simple. Just because one part of the Bible might be a myth it does not follow all parts of the Bible might be a myth, each part has to be evaluated on it’s own merits. The Bible mentions Augustus, do you want to argue the Augustus myth now?Imagine someone wrote a book on great English works and he put in the book works from say 800 AD through the present time. Let’s say we discovered one of the work placed in the book from 800 AD was discovered to be fake, would you now suspect Alfred Lord Tennyson works, who were also in book are now suspect. Of course not. ( would you, you are a myther and mythers are not known for their skills in history). Basically there is no such thing as guilt through proximity alone. To argue Jesus might not have existed because of the possibility Samson did not exist is absurd. The stories in question are not related at all and they are separated by about a thousand years.  Evidence for Samson. He is recorded in the book of Judges.   As it is the book of Judges was finally finished around the 6th century BC, so were are talking about a gap of 500 years. Basically there is not much evidence and either thinking him a myth or a legend explains the data perfectly be he  is also recorded as doing things no man could rationally do in a book composed five hundred years after the fact.Now the Evidence for Jesus.He is mentioned in the writings of Paul in ways that could only refer to a living, breathing man ( sorry Earl). That was within 15 years of his death.Even if you view the Gospels as largely  legendary there are still details in them no one would have made up about Jesus and his closest followers. Those are approximately 30-50 years after his death.He is mentioned twice by the Jewish historian Josephus who would have lived at the same time as the apostles.His existence is taken for granted by Roman historians such as Tacticus and Celcus  who if they felt he was a myth they certainly would have recorded it.While the case for Jesus is all secondary sources there is nothing wrong with that. Tim has tried to explain to you why your demand for a primary source is absurd in regards to Jesus. It is especially absurd if you accept that what would have been primary sources for Jesus were spread orally, do you want us to time travel now and kidnap one of the apostles?I am asking you again, why other pseudo historical views do you support? Truthers, Birthers, Holocaust Denial? There is an awful lot of pseudo history that academia considers garbage. Do you think these other fringe views are just as valid as your fringe view? Do you think they should be given equal time in academia merely cause some people online believe them. I want an answer from you on that question and the fact you have been evading it speaks volumes about your intellectual credibility. Do you also plan to address your ignorance about the Davidic Monarchy?Historians of all worldviews overwhelmingly accept the existence of Jesus because it takes conspiracy type theories to argue that he did not exist. It is that simple.By the way what Christ Myth do you support?Do you think Jesus was a copy of a Pagan deity?Was he Julius Caesar? Was he Emperor Titus?Is he a giant Midrash?Do you have your own new flavor?When Jesus mythers can get the story straight among themselves, then publish it in reputable journals or reputable presses I will give them some respect. As it stands now the Jesus myth is an internet conspiracy theory that is as credible as believing the earth is flat.I have said once and I will say again, the Jesus myth is simply the clueless leading the inept or the bigots.

  • Kris

    once again the blog removed my spaces, sorry

  • Kris

    Same post from earlier, with corrected spacingI knew you would make this argument. This is the exact kind of sloppy arguments that are so typical of mythers. 
    Your argument is basically this.

    a.) Samson is possibly a myth
    b.) Samson is in the Bible
    c.) Therefore the Bible possibly has a myth in it
    d.) Jesus is in the Bible
    e.) The Bible has myths
    f.) Therefore Jesus might be a myth

    The problem with this reasoning is simple. Just because one part of the Bible might be a myth it does not follow all parts of the Bible might be a myth, each part has to be evaluated on it’s own merits. The Bible mentions Augustus, do you want to argue the Augustus myth now?

    Imagine someone wrote a book on great English works and he put in the book works from say 800 AD through the present time. Let’s say we discovered one of the work placed in the book from 800 AD was discovered to be fake, would you now suspect Alfred Lord Tennyson works, who were also in book are now suspect. Of course not. ( would you, you are a myther and mythers are not known for their skills in history). Basically there is no such thing as guilt through proximity alone. To argue Jesus might not have existed because of the possibility Samson did not exist is absurd. The stories in question are not related at all and they are separated by about a thousand years.  

    Evidence for Samson. He is recorded in the book of Judges.   As it is the book of Judges was finally finished around the 6th century BC, so were are talking about a gap of 500 years. Basically there is not much evidence and either thinking him a myth or a legend explains the data perfectly be he  is also recorded as doing things no man could rationally do in a book composed five hundred years after the fact.

    Now the Evidence for Jesus.

    He is mentioned in the writings of Paul in ways that could only refer to a living, breathing man ( sorry Earl). That was within 15 years of his death.

    Even if you view the Gospels as largely  legendary there are still details in them no one would have made up about Jesus and his closest followers. Those are approximately 30-50 years after his death.

    He is mentioned twice by the Jewish historian Josephus who would have lived at the same time as the apostles.

    His existence is taken for granted by Roman historians such as Tacticus and Celcus  who if they felt he was a myth they certainly would have recorded it.

    While the case for Jesus is all secondary sources there is nothing wrong with that. Tim has tried to explain to you why your demand for a primary source is absurd in regards to Jesus. It is especially absurd if you accept that what would have been primary sources for Jesus were spread orally, do you want us to time travel now and kidnap one of the apostles?

    I am asking you again, why other pseudo historical views do you support? Truthers, Birthers, Holocaust Denial? There is an awful lot of pseudo history that academia considers garbage. Do you think these other fringe views are just as valid as your fringe view? Do you think they should be given equal time in academia merely cause some people online believe them. I want an answer from you on that question and the fact you have been evading it speaks volumes about your intellectual credibility. Do you also plan to address your ignorance about the Davidic Monarchy?

    Historians of all worldviews overwhelmingly accept the existence of Jesus because it takes conspiracy type theories to argue that he did not exist. It is that simple.

    By the way what Christ Myth do you support?

    Do you think Jesus was a copy of a Pagan deity?

    Was he Julius Caesar? 

    Was he Emperor Titus?

    Is he a giant Midrash?

    Do you have your own new flavor?

    When Jesus mythers can get the story straight among themselves, then publish it in reputable journals or reputable presses I will give them some respect. As it stands now the Jesus myth is an internet conspiracy theory that is as credible as believing the earth is flat.

    I have said once and I will say again, the Jesus myth is simply the clueless leading the inept or the bigots.

  • Kris

    Same post from earlier, with corrected spacingI knew you would make this argument. This is the exact kind of sloppy arguments that are so typical of mythers. 
    Your argument is basically this.

    a.) Samson is possibly a myth
    b.) Samson is in the Bible
    c.) Therefore the Bible possibly has a myth in it
    d.) Jesus is in the Bible
    e.) The Bible has myths
    f.) Therefore Jesus might be a myth

    The problem with this reasoning is simple. Just because one part of the Bible might be a myth it does not follow all parts of the Bible might be a myth, each part has to be evaluated on it’s own merits. The Bible mentions Augustus, do you want to argue the Augustus myth now?

    Imagine someone wrote a book on great English works and he put in the book works from say 800 AD through the present time. Let’s say we discovered one of the work placed in the book from 800 AD was discovered to be fake, would you now suspect Alfred Lord Tennyson works, who were also in book are now suspect. Of course not. ( would you, you are a myther and mythers are not known for their skills in history). Basically there is no such thing as guilt through proximity alone. To argue Jesus might not have existed because of the possibility Samson did not exist is absurd. The stories in question are not related at all and they are separated by about a thousand years.  

    Evidence for Samson. He is recorded in the book of Judges.   As it is the book of Judges was finally finished around the 6th century BC, so were are talking about a gap of 500 years. Basically there is not much evidence and either thinking him a myth or a legend explains the data perfectly be he  is also recorded as doing things no man could rationally do in a book composed five hundred years after the fact.

    Now the Evidence for Jesus.

    He is mentioned in the writings of Paul in ways that could only refer to a living, breathing man ( sorry Earl). That was within 15 years of his death.

    Even if you view the Gospels as largely  legendary there are still details in them no one would have made up about Jesus and his closest followers. Those are approximately 30-50 years after his death.

    He is mentioned twice by the Jewish historian Josephus who would have lived at the same time as the apostles.

    His existence is taken for granted by Roman historians such as Tacticus and Celcus  who if they felt he was a myth they certainly would have recorded it.

    While the case for Jesus is all secondary sources there is nothing wrong with that. Tim has tried to explain to you why your demand for a primary source is absurd in regards to Jesus. It is especially absurd if you accept that what would have been primary sources for Jesus were spread orally, do you want us to time travel now and kidnap one of the apostles?

    I am asking you again, why other pseudo historical views do you support? Truthers, Birthers, Holocaust Denial? There is an awful lot of pseudo history that academia considers garbage. Do you think these other fringe views are just as valid as your fringe view? Do you think they should be given equal time in academia merely cause some people online believe them. I want an answer from you on that question and the fact you have been evading it speaks volumes about your intellectual credibility. Do you also plan to address your ignorance about the Davidic Monarchy?

    Historians of all worldviews overwhelmingly accept the existence of Jesus because it takes conspiracy type theories to argue that he did not exist. It is that simple.

    By the way what Christ Myth do you support?

    Do you think Jesus was a copy of a Pagan deity?

    Was he Julius Caesar? 

    Was he Emperor Titus?

    Is he a giant Midrash?

    Do you have your own new flavor?

    When Jesus mythers can get the story straight among themselves, then publish it in reputable journals or reputable presses I will give them some respect. As it stands now the Jesus myth is an internet conspiracy theory that is as credible as believing the earth is flat.

    I have said once and I will say again, the Jesus myth is simply the clueless leading the inept or the bigots.

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

    Kris, Beallen is the rodeo clown of Jesus Mythers and isn’t interested in debating this stuff seriously and doesn’t know much about the subject. My personal advice from someone who made the mistake is don’t take him seriously. A rational person reading an exchange involving him will realize his stupidity. I have come to find his gung-ho ineptitude entertaining.

    Beallen, on the notion of if your crazy to think Jesus and Samson are both myths, I say no. I was just reading a report on the % that believe in Jesus myths, and it appears to be not unusual among people without education in the subject and who are atheist. In fact if you don’t know much about the New Testament it is a reasonable position to take. It is for the same reasons that there is a bit of a surprise when learning for the first time that their was a “real” Dracula. Unfortunately in your case, while you comprehend that most experts agree that their was a Jesus, you, without any particular education in the subject have decided to champion a dark horse candidate, real dark. Your like the fool who doesn’t understand physics but sends money to an investor working on cold fusion.

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

    Kris, Beallen is the rodeo clown of Jesus Mythers and isn’t interested in debating this stuff seriously and doesn’t know much about the subject. My personal advice from someone who made the mistake is don’t take him seriously. A rational person reading an exchange involving him will realize his stupidity. I have come to find his gung-ho ineptitude entertaining.

    Beallen, on the notion of if your crazy to think Jesus and Samson are both myths, I say no. I was just reading a report on the % that believe in Jesus myths, and it appears to be not unusual among people without education in the subject and who are atheist. In fact if you don’t know much about the New Testament it is a reasonable position to take. It is for the same reasons that there is a bit of a surprise when learning for the first time that their was a “real” Dracula. Unfortunately in your case, while you comprehend that most experts agree that their was a Jesus, you, without any particular education in the subject have decided to champion a dark horse candidate, real dark. Your like the fool who doesn’t understand physics but sends money to an investor working on cold fusion.

  • Kris

    Yeah I am beginning to notice that about Beallen. Maybe he should go argue about  this on  some Christian forums where they are kinda stuck with being nice to him. Or maybe we can send him  to J.P Holding who is ruder then all of us on this forum put together lol.

    Seriously though I do not know how Christians maintain civility with people like him when as an agnostic I want to kick in the head a few times for being an idiot of the first order.

  • Kris

    Yeah I am beginning to notice that about Beallen. Maybe he should go argue about  this on  some Christian forums where they are kinda stuck with being nice to him. Or maybe we can send him  to J.P Holding who is ruder then all of us on this forum put together lol.

    Seriously though I do not know how Christians maintain civility with people like him when as an agnostic I want to kick in the head a few times for being an idiot of the first order.

  • Kris

    Hey Neil

    I found an article that will just ruin your day :)

    http://www.bib-arch.org/bar/article.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=37&Issue=03&ArticleID=06&Page=0&UserID=0&

    Turns out we have two archaeological finds that mention the House of David.

    Oh the pains of being a myther….

  • Kris

    Hey Neil

    I found an article that will just ruin your day :)

    http://www.bib-arch.org/bar/article.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=37&Issue=03&ArticleID=06&Page=0&UserID=0&

    Turns out we have two archaeological finds that mention the House of David.

    Oh the pains of being a myther….

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

    I think he enjoys the scourging. He is an odd atheist flagellant. I really can’t figure him out, if this is clowning or if he mentally unstable. He does seem to be somewhat intelligent, I don’t think he is a child or anything, he just gets nutty and illogical about this topic.

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

    I think he enjoys the scourging. He is an odd atheist flagellant. I really can’t figure him out, if this is clowning or if he mentally unstable. He does seem to be somewhat intelligent, I don’t think he is a child or anything, he just gets nutty and illogical about this topic.

  • Kris

    Which one, it seems both Neil and Beallen get scourged a lot by rational people.

  • Kris

    Which one, it seems both Neil and Beallen get scourged a lot by rational people.

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

    Earl, first and with no sarcasm (a poor cousin to humor I have heard), I would like to thank you for listing me with McGrath and O’Neill, both of whom are far above me in terms of knowledge on this subject (Bernard though is peeved you left him out even though he also craps on mythicism. I attribute this to the fact that my self McGrath and O’Neill all have Celtic names thus relegates anti-mythicism to some weird Scotch-Irish thing).
    Now regarding your questions, to the first, “A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus.I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first.”
    On preference and acceptability, as a personal note, as in why I emotionally like it, that is a mixed bag. While i suppose one would like to think there was really a person as nobler as the one described, and that is doubtless what drives people like Crosaan, and probably McGrath, i find it has a dark flip side, in that many of the people like him in history have been scoundrels. A real Jesus has a very real chance, I think, in being a scumbag who manipulated people with noble sentiments to live off them like a parasite. I think, also, I’m attracted to myths having a reality behind them, always have. Part of me likes to think that so and so from some myth was based on a real person or event, it has a romantic tinge for me. However, i am not above setting aside beloved ideas of historical veracity to find a myth underneath. For instance, I did a paper a couple of semester ago arguing that Griffins were not based on dinosaur bones but on earlier myths of bird-lions. I loved the the dinosaur theory when I first saw it, I love dinosaurs, but evidence said otherwise. You have to keep an open mind about everything.
    On the impersonal side, I try to keep blog post short, and I’m sure someone else has mentioned their evidences for Jesus before, and if not, I first direct you to http://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/thirty-theses-plausible-propositions-for-the-existence-of-a-historical-jesus/
    The “actual evidence” of course is locked in a Vatican vault with the original Ten Commandments and a box of old “Mad” magazines.
    Question two, “I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus.”Personally, I think if Jesus did everything attributed to him in the gospels, we still wouldn’t have much expectation of having a contemporary account. I know what about the dead saints wandering the streets of Jerusalem in Matthew? well, Jesus was dead, and so he can’t be blamed for that. But seriously, what did he do? Had 5,000 people listen to him on a couple of occasions? “healed” people, raise the “dead”, cast out “demons”? How many people would have seen him walk on water or knew a storm stopped on his command? Often I read something in some back woods Nigerian or Indian paper about a witch doctor or Guru doing something miraculous, and I don’t rush out to investigate, I doubt many intelligent people do. Even my grandfather, superstitious as he was, assumed faith healers were frauds. People in Jesus time were probably a bit more gullible, but I doubt that the people with the resources to publish in that age would have devoted a lot of space to all the magicians and prophets that doubtless roamed all over the empire. It might be mysterious that he went unnoticed had he destroyed Jericho or snapped Pilate’s neck during the trial, or if he healed every one in Judea and raised all the dead of Galilee, but I have nothing that would suggest that I should expect that of a historic Jesus. Personally, I am not that concerned what the church does with nobody Jesus, but if you want to pitch Jesus Myth as a theological solution to replace the churches current Jesus myth, go ahead, but I think it makes bad history.
    On warm and fuzzy, I think I answered that above. As for foaming at the mouth, generally I think the consensus is it is a dumb idea from the past, and one gets the impression that not many have really thought about it much recently. Of course internet fans have brought it back to some prominence, but since it hasn’t received any(Carrier and Price are statistical insignificant) scholarly support there has been the urge on the part of some mythacist to claim the scholarly community is corrupt as the only way to explain why something they think is obvious hasn’t been accepted. So it isn’t surprising Jesus myth isn’t as well received on the emotional level as gay Jesus, Buddhist Jesus, or any other ideas that haven’t caught on, they dont have Evans and Neils.
    In brief, “So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history” is that a given?“But even I can read that passage and find a crucified Messiah in it”, but your familiar with the Gospels, so it is easy for you to read it into other things.
    “just because WE would not believe in something doesn’t’t mean the ancients wouldn’t.” Sure, its possible that someone thought of the passion after reading Isaiah, but we don’t have any evidence outside of your theory Christianity that anyone did, and given how little it matches with the passion story, it is simpler to imagine someone applying the passion to Isaiah than to imagine someone getting the passion out of Isaiah.

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

    Earl, first and with no sarcasm (a poor cousin to humor I have heard), I would like to thank you for listing me with McGrath and O’Neill, both of whom are far above me in terms of knowledge on this subject (Bernard though is peeved you left him out even though he also craps on mythicism. I attribute this to the fact that my self McGrath and O’Neill all have Celtic names thus relegates anti-mythicism to some weird Scotch-Irish thing).
    Now regarding your questions, to the first, “A mythical Jesus, or a “nobody” Jesus.I would like to know why the second would be so much preferable and acceptable to so many here than the first.”
    On preference and acceptability, as a personal note, as in why I emotionally like it, that is a mixed bag. While i suppose one would like to think there was really a person as nobler as the one described, and that is doubtless what drives people like Crosaan, and probably McGrath, i find it has a dark flip side, in that many of the people like him in history have been scoundrels. A real Jesus has a very real chance, I think, in being a scumbag who manipulated people with noble sentiments to live off them like a parasite. I think, also, I’m attracted to myths having a reality behind them, always have. Part of me likes to think that so and so from some myth was based on a real person or event, it has a romantic tinge for me. However, i am not above setting aside beloved ideas of historical veracity to find a myth underneath. For instance, I did a paper a couple of semester ago arguing that Griffins were not based on dinosaur bones but on earlier myths of bird-lions. I loved the the dinosaur theory when I first saw it, I love dinosaurs, but evidence said otherwise. You have to keep an open mind about everything.
    On the impersonal side, I try to keep blog post short, and I’m sure someone else has mentioned their evidences for Jesus before, and if not, I first direct you to http://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2009/05/20/thirty-theses-plausible-propositions-for-the-existence-of-a-historical-jesus/
    The “actual evidence” of course is locked in a Vatican vault with the original Ten Commandments and a box of old “Mad” magazines.
    Question two, “I would like to know just how one defines a “nobody” Jesus.”Personally, I think if Jesus did everything attributed to him in the gospels, we still wouldn’t have much expectation of having a contemporary account. I know what about the dead saints wandering the streets of Jerusalem in Matthew? well, Jesus was dead, and so he can’t be blamed for that. But seriously, what did he do? Had 5,000 people listen to him on a couple of occasions? “healed” people, raise the “dead”, cast out “demons”? How many people would have seen him walk on water or knew a storm stopped on his command? Often I read something in some back woods Nigerian or Indian paper about a witch doctor or Guru doing something miraculous, and I don’t rush out to investigate, I doubt many intelligent people do. Even my grandfather, superstitious as he was, assumed faith healers were frauds. People in Jesus time were probably a bit more gullible, but I doubt that the people with the resources to publish in that age would have devoted a lot of space to all the magicians and prophets that doubtless roamed all over the empire. It might be mysterious that he went unnoticed had he destroyed Jericho or snapped Pilate’s neck during the trial, or if he healed every one in Judea and raised all the dead of Galilee, but I have nothing that would suggest that I should expect that of a historic Jesus. Personally, I am not that concerned what the church does with nobody Jesus, but if you want to pitch Jesus Myth as a theological solution to replace the churches current Jesus myth, go ahead, but I think it makes bad history.
    On warm and fuzzy, I think I answered that above. As for foaming at the mouth, generally I think the consensus is it is a dumb idea from the past, and one gets the impression that not many have really thought about it much recently. Of course internet fans have brought it back to some prominence, but since it hasn’t received any(Carrier and Price are statistical insignificant) scholarly support there has been the urge on the part of some mythacist to claim the scholarly community is corrupt as the only way to explain why something they think is obvious hasn’t been accepted. So it isn’t surprising Jesus myth isn’t as well received on the emotional level as gay Jesus, Buddhist Jesus, or any other ideas that haven’t caught on, they dont have Evans and Neils.
    In brief, “So now, given that the Gospels contain no identifiable history” is that a given?“But even I can read that passage and find a crucified Messiah in it”, but your familiar with the Gospels, so it is easy for you to read it into other things.
    “just because WE would not believe in something doesn’t’t mean the ancients wouldn’t.” Sure, its possible that someone thought of the passion after reading Isaiah, but we don’t have any evidence outside of your theory Christianity that anyone did, and given how little it matches with the passion story, it is simpler to imagine someone applying the passion to Isaiah than to imagine someone getting the passion out of Isaiah.

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

    I just posted my assessment of chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s book, for those who may be interested.

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

    I just posted my assessment of chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s book, for those who may be interested.

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    And for those interested in the odder side of Mytherism and its coy pseudo “agnostic” offshoot, ol’ Neil “Mr Furious” Godfrey and the ubiquitous sneering Steve Carr (‘he who doth call himself “CARR”‘) are engaged in what can only be described as an orgiastic frenzy of mutual masturbation over my blog post at Vridar.  If they don’t stop soon they’re both going to go blind.

    In an Olympian exercise in monumental strawman-building, they have managed to convince each other (i) that I think Jesus went from being considered no more than a peasant preacher to being part of the  Godhead “overnight” (‘Oh what a night’, indeed!), (ii) that I have claimed a seven volume history of Hannibal can’t be used as evidence of Hannibal existing (and, in fact, I was arguing that the evidence for Hannibal is equivalent to that for Jesus, apparently). Oh and (iii) a Tenth Century Christian bishop edited the already redacted and interpolated version of the TF to make it look *less* interpolated, presumably in an attempt to throw wise Mythers/pseudo “agnostics” and other librarian hobbyists in the distant future off the trail.  Does the cunning and perfidy of these interpolators know no end?

    I suppose beating up nonsense versions of what I’ve said is a lot easier than actually engaging with any real arguments.  They seem to be having fun – perhaps we should leave them to it.  I do hope they clean up after themselves though, it’s getting a bit sticking in there …

  • http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/ Tim O’Neill

    And for those interested in the odder side of Mytherism and its coy pseudo “agnostic” offshoot, ol’ Neil “Mr Furious” Godfrey and the ubiquitous sneering Steve Carr (‘he who doth call himself “CARR”‘) are engaged in what can only be described as an orgiastic frenzy of mutual masturbation over my blog post at Vridar.  If they don’t stop soon they’re both going to go blind.

    In an Olympian exercise in monumental strawman-building, they have managed to convince each other (i) that I think Jesus went from being considered no more than a peasant preacher to being part of the  Godhead “overnight” (‘Oh what a night’, indeed!), (ii) that I have claimed a seven volume history of Hannibal can’t be used as evidence of Hannibal existing (and, in fact, I was arguing that the evidence for Hannibal is equivalent to that for Jesus, apparently). Oh and (iii) a Tenth Century Christian bishop edited the already redacted and interpolated version of the TF to make it look *less* interpolated, presumably in an attempt to throw wise Mythers/pseudo “agnostics” and other librarian hobbyists in the distant future off the trail.  Does the cunning and perfidy of these interpolators know no end?

    I suppose beating up nonsense versions of what I’ve said is a lot easier than actually engaging with any real arguments.  They seem to be having fun – perhaps we should leave them to it.  I do hope they clean up after themselves though, it’s getting a bit sticky in there …

  • Kris

    What little respect I had for those two just went out the door. I will be honest Tim I simply did not believe you at first and I had to read their arguments more then a few times to confirm in fact that they truly used these absurd arguments!

  • Kris

    What little respect I had for those two just went out the door. I will be honest Tim I simply did not believe you at first and I had to read their arguments more then a few times to confirm in fact that they truly used these absurd arguments!

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

    I never respected Carr, I have a hard time separating him form Evan. I thought Neil might be an honest if misguided player, but after awhile it sunk in that Neil is only interested in truth on his terms, I wonder if his attraction to cults and pseudo-history fulfills a need to give himself a grandiose position in the world as the lone champion of truth against a corrupt world.

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

    I never respected Carr, I have a hard time separating him form Evan. I thought Neil might be an honest if misguided player, but after awhile it sunk in that Neil is only interested in truth on his terms, I wonder if his attraction to cults and pseudo-history fulfills a need to give himself a grandiose position in the world as the lone champion of truth against a corrupt world.


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