Chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s Jesus: Neither God Nor Man

Chapter 7 of Earl Doherty’s book Jesus: Neither God Nor Man turns attention to other characters in the Gospels and events that are not mentioned about them in the epistles: Judas’ betrayal and Peter’s denial, for starters.

Presumably the first thing to note it that the latter completely undermines Doherty’s argument. Paul refers to encounters with Peter – a real historical individual – and thus if he can be a real individual without stories from the later Gospels appearing in the epistles, then clearly so can Jesus.

Beyond that, it seems as though Doherty thinks that recent events should have had the same status for members of this Jewish sect as their Scriptures did. Otherwise, it isn’t clear why recent events should have been chosen to illustrate points when Scripture carried more weight.

As for why Paul doesn’t accuse Peter of denying Jesus three times (a question Doherty raises), presumably Peter could have responded with “and how many times did you persecute Christians?” If they were inclined to have that conversation, it is entirely possible that they had got it out of their system before Galatians was written, and that Paul thought better about starting it up again.

Doherty mentions Q and the Gospel of Thomas as sources that show no awareness of Jesus’ death, and seems to think that this too is evidence for mythicism. We may leave Thomas to one side given the ongoing debates about it’s date and interpretation, but as for Q, unless one is adopting the Christian view that the risen Jesus taught the apostles after Easter, then precisely what sort of discussion of his death should we expect in a source that preserves Jesus’ teaching?

If, in his book, Doherty were trying merely to show that the Jesus of today’s popular Christianity is not the historical Jesus, some of his points might carry some weight – and would agree with mainstream scholarship. But time and again he seems unaware of one essential point: You cannot disprove or even intelligently discuss the existence of the historical Jesus unless you adopt historical methods. Let me give a few examples of the kinds of things Doherty addresses in a manner that ignores relevant scholarly or historical considerations:

He mentions the absence from the epistles of Jesus’ words from the cross, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do,” apparently unaware or unconcerned that that saying is judged on text-critical grounds to be unlikely to be an original part of Luke, to say nothing of whether any disciple could have heard anything Jesus said on the cross. The words attributed to Jesus on the cross may have been felt by the Gospel authors to be appropriate to the person and the occasion, but a historian will have serious doubts about their authenticity. Doherty discusses in much the same fashion the trial of Jesus, Pilate’s hand-washing, the earthquake, darkened heavens and the torn veil (pp.74-75). Even some relatively conservative historians have recognized that there are reasons to question the historicity of such details. If Doherty is not going to apply the insights and methods of historical criticism, or at least engage the arguments of historians that these are likely to be legendary and symbolic details, how can he possibly expect anyone to take his arguments seriously as history?

On a more substantial underlying point, I have the strong impression that Doherty has given little thought to what is involved in turning a tradition into a narrative. We may start with a more recent example. If someone had information about the assassination of John F. Kennedy only by the means available in New Testament times – word of mouth – or even via newspapers, and they wanted to turn what they knew from such reports into a story – let’s say a movie – then imagine just how much dialogue, how many supporting characters, how many undocumented events the person would have to concoct in order to accomplish that. In the same way, imagine two authors who received a tradition like that in 1 Corinthians 15, and the different ways they might try to turn it into a story – for instance, we might find one setting an event in Jerusalem, the other setting the same event in Galilee, since the location wasn’t specified. That is in fact what we find in the Gospel Easter stories, and such huge discrepancies at such a major juncture can seem genuinely puzzling – until we realize that in passing on information, we do not always provide enough detail so as to enable the listener to later reproduce it as a narrative. This is one of the reasons why accounts of historical events need to be subjected to historical critical analysis, and why the discovery that many details may be authorial flourishes doesn’t mean that there may not at the same time be important kernels of historical information wrapped in them.

Now for a major point of agreement between Doherty and myself. I think he is right that the author of the Letter to the Hebrews does not leave any room in his system of thought for a physical bodily resurrection of the sort that other New Testament writings envisage. The author of Hebrews has Jesus offer his sacrifice and take it into the celestial Holy of Holies to purify the sanctuary, so as to allow a holy God and impure humans to dwell together, as the Aaronic priest was commanded to do on the Day of Atonement. Envisaging Jesus offering his life as a sacrifice, waiting, picking up his body a couple of days later, and then heading to heaven to present his sacrificial death after he had ceased to be dead turns Hebrews’ already cumbersome system into one that is grotesque. The author’s Platonic outlook would fit well with a view of heaven that does not require or allow for an earthly or physical body to be brought there. Nevertheless, since the whole outlook of Hebrews is distinctive among the New Testament writings, I am inclined to view this as one Platonically-influenced author’s idiosyncratic take on Jesus, rather than an indication of the original worldview of Christians, from which the rest of the New Testament authors managed to drop the key distinctive elements.

Having finally found some pages with some legitimate and helpful insights, one might hope that the book is turning in a better direction. If you do so at this juncture, you will be disappointed, as I was. The next section discusses the references to Jesus “appearing” or “being seen,” and the likelihood that these refines are to visions rather than physical experiences. Doherty interacts with Eddy and Boyd, who point out that resurrection in Judaism meant something bodily. Doherty writes in response, “While the latter claim may be correct, such expectation lay within the context of resurrection for humans, not of a god – and of humans on earth, not of a god in a supernatural location” (p.77).

A reader familiar with Jewish beliefs from this period – and with the act of reading – will most likely simply shake their head at this attempt to avoid the significance of contextual evidence rather than make sense of Paul in light of it. What god is Doherty referring to? What resurrection of non-humans from the dead? Where are these ideas found in Judaism? What is the evidence that such language would have been understood by Paul’s hearers in the way Doherty imagines? There is none, outside of Doherty’s own admittedly creative imagination.

What Doherty does here is to completely reverse the appropriate direction of reasoning. When we interpret an individual text, we look at its context and other texts from the same milieu in order to have a basis for determining the meaning of the individual text under discussion. Instead, Doherty determines what he wants Paul to mean, and then dismisses the counter-evidence by coming up with other possible meanings and references, no matter how contextually implausible, and using them to avoid the likely meaning of Paul’s words in his time and place.

If we are allowed to just make stuff up, then Doherty is free to do so, but so are others, and there is no basis for him to criticize any other meanings that some might attribute to these texts. If, on the other hand, we take the accepted understanding of language, culture and communication, and think it is possible to determine what texts mean against the background of a particular linguistic, cultural and historical context, then Paul meant what the words he used meant in that time and place, unless he indicates otherwise, in which case Doherty is simply wrong and unwilling to admit it. But because Doherty has not committed himself to the norms of scholarly (or even typical human) textual analysis, Paul ends up meaning things that his contemporaries would not have understood, and evidence that the words Paul uses meant something other than what Doherty wishes them to will be met with seemingly infinite creativity.

The remainder of the chapter includes arguments that for Paul, the resurrection of Jesus was “a matter of faith, not of historical record as evidenced by eyewitness to a physical, risen Jesus at Easter” (p.79). Since Doherty has already accepted the argument of the Jesus Seminar and other scholars that the earliest “Easter experiences” were of a visionary sort, it is unclear why he thinks it would be persuasive to argue a point in relation to a more physical understanding of resurrection. The visionary nature of the experiences that persuaded those early Christians that Jesus had been raised from the dead is compatible with (and a result of some) mainstream scholarship, and so trying to pretend the point is not merely compatible with mythicism but somehow serves as an argument in it’s favor is disingenuous.

Doherty’s repeated assertions that Paul did not depend on apostolic tradition perhaps shows how persuasive Paul’s apologetic for his own authority in Galatians is, but does nothing to make Doherty’s interpretation persuasive. Derivative tradition still works as a historical explanation, in a way that supernatural visions or divinely-guided revelations from Scripture, which supposedly led Paul and other apostles to the same Gospel, do not.

The chapter closes with some lame attempts at psychologizing, which may resonate with some Christians more than with others. Wouldn’t Paul have wanted to stand before the empty tomb? And having done so, wouldn’t he want to write about it to churches? Wouldn’t he want to carry around a crucifixion nail, boast of having it, and perhaps rub it on his epistles and then mention in the letter that he had done so? OK, I’m parodying what Doherty wrote in that last one, but you get the idea. Doherty should at least entertain the notion that the earliest Christians may not have held the same cultural norms and interests as those in the Middle Ages. But even if Doherty is right in his psychologizing, that doesn’t provide a reason for preferring mythicism to other possibilities. Let’s say Paul had a fragment of the true cross that he always carried with him. Why would he wait until some later time when he wrote to a group of Christians to boast about it? Why wouldn’t he mention it and even show it off to them on his first encounter with them? Even if Doherty has psychoanalyzed Paul and the other early Christians correctly with respect to the importance of pilgrimage sites and relics, there are plenty of non-mythicist scenarios which are no more speculative and no less plausible than the one he suggests. The possibility that belief that the end of history was drawing near might make pilgrimages and acquisition of relics seem less important is just one factor among many that ought to be considered.

Since I have already made the point that it is reckless to expect ancient people to think and behave like modern ones, and to psychologize about them without at the very least studying anthropological and sociological studies relevant to possible differences between us and them, I won’t say more about that here.

In this chapter,as elsewhere, Doherty keeps going on about the lack of tales of the historical Jesus in the epistles. He has yet to explain the absence of mythical tales. If we should expect stories in letters, we should expect them on both mythicist and historicists scenarios. If that is not a fair expectation, then their absence doesn’t tell against either one.

This brings us to the end of Part Two of Doherty’s book, and so it may be time for another recap soon. Thus far, we have seen that there are some places where mythicism could work as an interpretative option, and others where it simply does not. In the latter instances, Doherty offers unconvincing, speculative, ad hoc arguments for why readers of his book should not follow the evidence where it more naturally leads. I hope that readers will see those for what they are, and choose to follow the evidence rather than Doherty’s imagination.

  • Kris

    Brilliant of Doherty to psychoanalyze people from a 2000 year old culture. You know cause people always think alike regardless of culture and time.

  • Kris

    Brilliant of Doherty to psychoanalyze people from a 2000 year old culture. You know cause people always think alike regardless of culture and time.

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

    I especially like the part about the authority of Jewish scripture over events of twenty years past. Doherty thinks that the remembered events of Jesus’ life would be treated as scripture like the gospels a hundred years later. If you look at the kind of arguments Paul makes, and then imagine him trying to do this with things he heard about concerning Jesus, am not sure it would have the same impact. “hey I once heard Jesus said it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean not what goes in, so maybe he was talking about all food being clean?” “Just because James is Jesus’ brother, it doesn’t mean he has more authority than me, didn’t James say Jesus once turn James away? Did everybody hear that story?” or “I would like to make a complicated allegory out of a story Peter told me about Jesus buying bread that will explain why the law of Moses is no more” Jewish scripture was held to be divinely authoritative, Paul was getting by on charisma, so I don’t think appeals to his own recollection would have been as convincing. Maybe Peter of James, but not a second hand informant like Paul.

    I have noticed in general, that arguments based on the acts of Jesus are rare in church literature, even in later periods (when the gospels are possibly known), what do you think that is James?

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

    I especially like the part about the authority of Jewish scripture over events of twenty years past. Doherty thinks that the remembered events of Jesus’ life would be treated as scripture like the gospels a hundred years later. If you look at the kind of arguments Paul makes, and then imagine him trying to do this with things he heard about concerning Jesus, am not sure it would have the same impact. “hey I once heard Jesus said it is what comes out of you that makes you unclean not what goes in, so maybe he was talking about all food being clean?” “Just because James is Jesus’ brother, it doesn’t mean he has more authority than me, didn’t James say Jesus once turn James away? Did everybody hear that story?” or “I would like to make a complicated allegory out of a story Peter told me about Jesus buying bread that will explain why the law of Moses is no more” Jewish scripture was held to be divinely authoritative, Paul was getting by on charisma, so I don’t think appeals to his own recollection would have been as convincing. Maybe Peter of James, but not a second hand informant like Paul.

    I have noticed in general, that arguments based on the acts of Jesus are rare in church literature, even in later periods (when the gospels are possibly known), what do you think that is James?

  • Guest

    The ascription “dilettante” comes to mind . . .

  • Guest

    The ascription “dilettante” comes to mind . . .

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

    @Michael Wilson, I think that the relative lack of arguments from what Jesus had done may be for a number of reasons. As time goes on, it is at least partly because of an increasing sense that Jesus was unique and thus inimitable. But I think there are many other reasons. What should one imitate? Speaking only in parables? Ditching one’s parents on a trip? Talking to demons? Even those who adopt the principle WWJD? usually are not focusing on such details.

    Having said that, the lack of imitation was not uniform, and it may be that some were aware that imitating the Jesus depicted in the Gospels could get one into trouble. Even outside of a Christian context this was the case, e.g. in the example of Al-Hallaj, the Sufi mystic who is supposed to have said “I am the Truth” (ana al Haqq) and been crucified for it, seemingly in imitation of the Johannine Jesus.

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

    @Michael Wilson, I think that the relative lack of arguments from what Jesus had done may be for a number of reasons. As time goes on, it is at least partly because of an increasing sense that Jesus was unique and thus inimitable. But I think there are many other reasons. What should one imitate? Speaking only in parables? Ditching one’s parents on a trip? Talking to demons? Even those who adopt the principle WWJD? usually are not focusing on such details.

    Having said that, the lack of imitation was not uniform, and it may be that some were aware that imitating the Jesus depicted in the Gospels could get one into trouble. Even outside of a Christian context this was the case, e.g. in the example of Al-Hallaj, the Sufi mystic who is supposed to have said “I am the Truth” (ana al Haqq) and been crucified for it, seemingly in imitation of the Johannine Jesus.

  • sean peter ingham

    James McGrath, you made the following statement here:

    “Paul refers to encounters with Peter – a real historical individual – and thus if he can be a real individual without stories from the later Gospels appearing in the epistles, then clearly so can Jesus.”

    I don’t understand why you are talking about Peter, when the literary evidence makes the call questionable. Paul in 1 Corinthians does talk about Cephas and in Galatians mostly we find mention of Cephas in the best manuscripts. Suddenly we find for the normatizing statements in Gal 2:7-8 which mention of Peter. It is only natural that Peter in post hoc scribal understanding is Cephas, but here it is a textual disturbance.

    And one statement, that attributes the tutelage of the circumcised to Peter, subtely contradicts the next statement on the subject in which all three of the pillars had tutelage over the circumcised.

    Now one will be quick to note that Peter and Cephas mean the same thing, working on the assumptions that the underlying Semitic name was K)P), but then it could be a realization of QYP), a name we know as Caiaphas. Some church fathers had no problem seeing that Cephas and Peter were not the same person for polemical purposes, ie they couldn’t see the pope of Rome being rebuked by Paul, so there is no necessary link between the names. Besides, in the Epistle of the Apostles (§2), the two names appear in the same list as separate people, so there is no necessary equation of Cephas to Peter.

    It is lacking in historical methodology to make assumptions–based on the gospels and later literature–about Paul and those he wrote about. The gospels are unprovenanced, undated and anonymous works and so have no probative value in analysing Paul’s works, works written (at least) 30 years earlier in a very different context. We cannot know the relationship of the works of Paul to the gospels within the evolving Christian tradition. To say then “Paul refers to encounters with Peter – a real historical individual” is obfuscation. Arguments based on this sort of reasoning invalidate themselves.

    Worse still is “if he can be a real individual without stories from the later Gospels appearing in the epistles, then clearly so can Jesus.” I may as well say that as Lucian of Samosata cites a dialogue between Diogenes and Heracles and thus if Diogenes can be a real person, then clearly Heracles can. I guess this is literally correct, but of no value whatsoever, except at the level of rhetoric.

  • sean peter ingham

    James McGrath, you made the following statement here:

    “Paul refers to encounters with Peter – a real historical individual – and thus if he can be a real individual without stories from the later Gospels appearing in the epistles, then clearly so can Jesus.”

    I don’t understand why you are talking about Peter, when the literary evidence makes the call questionable. Paul in 1 Corinthians does talk about Cephas and in Galatians mostly we find mention of Cephas in the best manuscripts. Suddenly we find for the normatizing statements in Gal 2:7-8 which mention of Peter. It is only natural that Peter in post hoc scribal understanding is Cephas, but here it is a textual disturbance.

    And one statement, that attributes the tutelage of the circumcised to Peter, subtely contradicts the next statement on the subject in which all three of the pillars had tutelage over the circumcised.

    Now one will be quick to note that Peter and Cephas mean the same thing, working on the assumptions that the underlying Semitic name was K)P), but then it could be a realization of QYP), a name we know as Caiaphas. Some church fathers had no problem seeing that Cephas and Peter were not the same person for polemical purposes, ie they couldn’t see the pope of Rome being rebuked by Paul, so there is no necessary link between the names. Besides, in the Epistle of the Apostles (§2), the two names appear in the same list as separate people, so there is no necessary equation of Cephas to Peter.

    It is lacking in historical methodology to make assumptions–based on the gospels and later literature–about Paul and those he wrote about. The gospels are unprovenanced, undated and anonymous works and so have no probative value in analysing Paul’s works, works written (at least) 30 years earlier in a very different context. We cannot know the relationship of the works of Paul to the gospels within the evolving Christian tradition. To say then “Paul refers to encounters with Peter – a real historical individual” is obfuscation. Arguments based on this sort of reasoning invalidate themselves.

    Worse still is “if he can be a real individual without stories from the later Gospels appearing in the epistles, then clearly so can Jesus.” I may as well say that as Lucian of Samosata cites a dialogue between Diogenes and Heracles and thus if Diogenes can be a real person, then clearly Heracles can. I guess this is literally correct, but of no value whatsoever, except at the level of rhetoric.

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

    James, thanks for your impute. I think it could be an important avenue of discussion. We don’t think about it much, and I think as a protestant, it does seem odd that homilies based on Jesus life don’t make up a bigger part of Anti-Nicene Christian writing since it seems to get used a lot now, (but even now, Jesus has nothing to say about abortion, gays, or creationism). It does seem to me that many of the arguments are of the counting angels on heads of pins verity, and the sayings of Jesus seem far removed from that sort of thing. I have no doubt other reasons will be likely as well. Doherty’s contention that this is a feature of material from the time of the epistles or of only Mythicist works is quite incorrect and can be seen as such by any one willing to read all the early test(or at least a good sample). Another point the makes is Paul doesn’t mention the prophecies of Jesus, though it seems from the material attributed to Jesus that he (Jesus) got his ideas from Daniel, and Paul never explains why he thinks the world is coming to an end, he just talks about worries that his followers have concerning it, things that may not have crossed peter’s mind to relate to Paul a quote from Jesus concerning, even if Jesus had ever explained this to his followers.

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

    James, thanks for your impute. I think it could be an important avenue of discussion. We don’t think about it much, and I think as a protestant, it does seem odd that homilies based on Jesus life don’t make up a bigger part of Anti-Nicene Christian writing since it seems to get used a lot now, (but even now, Jesus has nothing to say about abortion, gays, or creationism). It does seem to me that many of the arguments are of the counting angels on heads of pins verity, and the sayings of Jesus seem far removed from that sort of thing.

    I have no doubt other reasons will be likely as well. Doherty’s contention that this is a feature of material from the time of the epistles or of only Mythicist works is quite incorrect and can be seen as such by any one willing to read all the early test(or at least a good sample). Another point the makes is Paul doesn’t mention the prophecies of Jesus, though it seems from the material attributed to Jesus that he (Jesus) got his ideas from Daniel, and Paul never explains why he thinks the world is coming to an end, he just talks about worries that his followers have concerning it, things that may not have crossed peter’s mind to relate to Paul a quote from Jesus concerning, even if Jesus had ever explained this to his followers.

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

    @Sean, I used “Peter” because I was writing in English. If you feel that there is sufficient doubt about the identity of Petros and Cephas then perhaps I should make the same point using other examples, perhaps Barnabas or even Paul himself, figures about whom we have stories in a later source from the period in which the Gospels were composed, and yet whose existence as a historical figure seems to be confirmed by Paul’s letters, even if one were to regard all the actual stories in the later source as of dubious authenticity at best.

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

    @Sean, I used “Peter” because I was writing in English. If you feel that there is sufficient doubt about the identity of Petros and Cephas then perhaps I should make the same point using other examples, perhaps Barnabas or even Paul himself, figures about whom we have stories in a later source from the period in which the Gospels were composed, and yet whose existence as a historical figure seems to be confirmed by Paul’s letters, even if one were to regard all the actual stories in the later source as of dubious authenticity at best.

  • Kris

    Bernard

    No one on this planet considers 1 Cor 15:3-11 to be an interpolation except Robert Price and he was only doing that to try to score a few cheap points against William Lane Craig.

    There is no textual evidence for this passage not being in all of the oldest known copies of the NT and the passages does not make sense with out it. To say Price is barking mad on this issue is an understatement.

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

      To Kris,
      I concluded & explained 1Cor15:3-11 was an interpolation well before Price came up with that. Actually, the whole passage looks very much like an insertion, totally foreign with what precede and what follow. And Paul, in a few instances, said believing in the resurrection is a matter of faith.
      I found many other reasons for 1Cor15:3-11 to be an interpolation, if you would care to click on the webpage I posted.
      Please note I did not use Dr. Price on the posting you replied too. Anyway Dr. Price also published his own reasons and it is here, on the web: http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_apocapp.htm
      Yes it shows in all ancient manuscripts, but 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 also does.
      Why 1Cor15:3-11 is not rejected by most?
      For conservative Christians, well it is obvious: they accept the NT as sacred.
      For liberal Christians, that constitutes not only the first but also the most likely to be true reappearances of Jesus, as reported when the witnesses were still alive. And those Christians would greatly prefer that would be the only ones reported because the ones in the gospels are rather messy, conflicting which each other, therefore ambarrassing.
      Then Mythers like Carrier & Doherty found some way to exploit them to their advantage. Carrier, for example, see the reappearances of 1Cor15 as mass hallucinations which started Christianity. 

      • Kris

        Textual evidence for this extraordinary claim? Have you peer reviewed these arguments?

        I reject this cause the passage makes little sense without the parts you say are interpolations.

        It seems the people who support 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 being an interpolation tend to be Jesus Mythers. I wonder why.

        Zero textual evidence , they fit well with the rest of the documents in question is  no reason to believe they are interpolations.

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

          To Kris,
          You will find 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 is rejected by many liberal Christian scholars also. 

  • Kris

    Bernard

    No one on this planet considers 1 Cor 15:3-11 to be an interpolation except Robert Price and he was only doing that to try to score a few cheap points against William Lane Craig.

    There is no textual evidence for this passage not being in all of the oldest known copies of the NT and the passages does not make sense with out it. To say Price is barking mad on this issue is an understatement.

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

      To Kris,
      I concluded & explained 1Cor15:3-11 was an interpolation well before Price came up with that. Actually, the whole passage looks very much like an insertion, totally foreign with what precede and what follow. And Paul, in a few instances, said believing in the resurrection is a matter of faith.
      I found many other reasons for 1Cor15:3-11 to be an interpolation, if you would care to click on the webpage I posted.
      Please note I did not use Dr. Price on the posting you replied to. Anyway Dr. Price also published his own reasons and it is here, on the web: http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_apocapp.htm
      Yes it shows in all ancient manuscripts, but 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 also does.
      Why 1Cor15:3-11 is not rejected by most?
      For conservative Christians, well it is obvious: they accept the NT as sacred.
      For liberal Christians, they are not only the first but also the most likely to be true reappearances of Jesus, as “reported” when the witnesses were still alive. And those Christians would greatly prefer these reappearances were the only ones written about because those in the gospels are rather messy, conflicting which each other, therefore embarrassing.
      Then Mythers like Carrier & Doherty found some way to exploit them to their advantage. Carrier, for example, see the reappearances of 1Cor15 as mass hallucinations which started Christianity.

      • Kris

        Textual evidence for this extraordinary claim? Have you peer reviewed these arguments?

        I reject this cause the passage makes little sense without the parts you say are interpolations.

        It seems the people who support 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 being an interpolation tend to be Jesus Mythers. I wonder why.

        Zero textual evidence , they fit well with the rest of the documents in question is  no reason to believe they are interpolations.

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

          To Kris,
          You will find 1Thessalonians 2:14-16 is rejected by many liberal Christian scholars also. 

  • Kris

    Oh quite using Robert Price , Bernard. He is a known Jesus Myther. Find me a mainstream NT Scholar who supports that either of those verses are interpolations. Using Robert Price as a credible source is like using David Irving as a credible source about the Holocaust. The fact you would use such trash sources speaks volumes about you.

  • Kris

    Oh quite using Robert Price , Bernard. He is a known Jesus Myther. Find me a mainstream NT Scholar who supports that either of those verses are interpolations. Using Robert Price as a credible source is like using David Irving as a credible source about the Holocaust. The fact you would use such trash sources speaks volumes about you.

  • Kris

    Robert Prices created that journal cause he knew the only way his loony arguments could be published is through self publishing. Needless to say that journal is not peer reviewed. Complete and utter garbage source, it is no different then the Institute for Historical Review.

  • Kris

    Robert Prices created that journal cause he knew the only way his loony arguments could be published is through self publishing. Needless to say that journal is not peer reviewed. Complete and utter garbage source, it is no different then the Institute for Historical Review.

  • http://RichGriese.NET Rich Griese

    I know many that take Earl Doherty’s theory very seriously. Apparently Jim is unaware of this, since he says;

    how can he possibly expect anyone to take his arguments seriously

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

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

      I know they are people who take Doherty seriously. There was once a man who answered an online add to be eaten by a cannibal. There was a guy who had a tv show that revolved around him stapling his balls. But it still shocks me. In the same way, why it is hard to understand your”reasoning”, I must accept that you take it seriously.

      • TruthOverfaith

        There are probably people who are even looney enough to  take Michael Wilson seriously!
        But that’s just a guess.

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

          T.O.F., you don’t get out much. Look up Steve-O and German cannibals.

    • Kris

      There are many that take creationism seriously, your point being? How many RATIONAL people take Doherty seriously? None. His only followers are the uneducated and the bigoted.

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

    I know many that take Earl Doherty’s theory very seriously. Apparently Jim is unaware of this, since he says;

    how can he possibly expect anyone to take his arguments seriously

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

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

      I know they are people who take Doherty seriously. There was once a man who answered an online add to be eaten by a cannibal. There was a guy who had a tv show that revolved around him stapling his balls. But it still shocks me. In the same way, why it is hard to understand your”reasoning”, I must accept that you take it seriously.

      • TruthOverfaith

        There are probably people who are even looney enough to  take Michael Wilson seriously!
        But that’s just a guess.

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

          T.O.F., you don’t get out much. Look up Steve-O and German cannibals.

    • Kris

      There are many that take creationism seriously, your point being? How many RATIONAL people take Doherty seriously? None. His only followers are the uneducated and the bigoted.

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

    McGrath wrote: “In the latter instances, Doherty offers unconvincing, speculative, ad
    hoc arguments for why readers of his book should not follow the
    evidence where it more naturally leads. I hope that readers will see
    those for what they are, and choose to follow the evidence rather than
    Doherty’s imagination.”

    It appears McGrath is expecting readers to read Doherty’s book to get any idea what those arguments actually are. McGrath has only given his own perspective on them.

    The reviews I enjoy reading and find valuable are those that present the arguments of the book reviewed and then offer their opinion or critique. McGrath does not do that — presumably fearfully not trusting his readers to see things his way if he does.

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

    McGrath wrote: “In the latter instances, Doherty offers unconvincing, speculative, ad
    hoc arguments for why readers of his book should not follow the
    evidence where it more naturally leads. I hope that readers will see
    those for what they are, and choose to follow the evidence rather than
    Doherty’s imagination.”

    It appears McGrath is expecting readers to read Doherty’s book to get any idea what those arguments actually are. McGrath has only given his own perspective on them.

    The reviews I enjoy reading and find valuable are those that present the arguments of the book reviewed and then offer their opinion or critique. McGrath does not do that — presumably fearfully not trusting his readers to see things his way if he does.

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

    @Rich, I know via the Internet plenty of people who take Earl Doherty’s views seriously. But if you are referring to scholars or historians, then I would love to know who you have in mind, especially if they are more than the roughly 3 names that always get mentioned under these circumstances.

    @Neil, the best sorts of pseudoscience and pseudoscholarship mix in a fair amount of actual good science or history precisely to give what they say an air of credibility. There are apparently plenty of people who are already reading Doherty and finding him persuasive, and my aim here is to explain why I don’t, and why I think that Doherty’s work, however much it may try to give the appearance of offering logic and sound reasoning, in fact does not at the most crucial points. Doherty offers a chain, the only solid links in which can be found in mainstream scholarship, and make more sense in that context. When he tries to connect them to mythicism, the result is the sort of stuff I describe here and throughout this blog series.

    I think any reader of my blog series will get an accurate sense of what Doherty is claiming. Hopefully they will also get a clear sense of why they shouldn’t fall for it.

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

    @Rich, I know via the Internet plenty of people who take Earl Doherty’s views seriously. But if you are referring to scholars or historians, then I would love to know who you have in mind, especially if they are more than the roughly 3 names that always get mentioned under these circumstances.

    @Neil, the best sorts of pseudoscience and pseudoscholarship mix in a fair amount of actual good science or history precisely to give what they say an air of credibility. There are apparently plenty of people who are already reading Doherty and finding him persuasive, and my aim here is to explain why I don’t, and why I think that Doherty’s work, however much it may try to give the appearance of offering logic and sound reasoning, in fact does not at the most crucial points. Doherty offers a chain, the only solid links in which can be found in mainstream scholarship, and make more sense in that context. When he tries to connect them to mythicism, the result is the sort of stuff I describe here and throughout this blog series.

    I think any reader of my blog series will get an accurate sense of what Doherty is claiming. Hopefully they will also get a clear sense of why they shouldn’t fall for it.

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

    I think I should also add that what I have written here is a negative review. Excellent scholars get them. Third rate novelists get them. They are one of the risks one takes in publishing.

    There is no way to guarantee that one’s work will not get negative reviews. But there is a way to minimize the number of poor reviews one is likely to get. In the realm of scholarly publishing, the best one can do is to make sure that one’s reasoning is sound and that one has evidence for one’s claims. If Doherty were to make the next edition of his book conform to those principles, I am sure that I and others would view the result rather more favorably.

    Unfortunately for Doherty and his fans, the present state of the evidence forces one to choose between mythicism on the one hand and feasible arguments on the other. I am sure that many mythicists find this demand for evidence and persuasive reasoning simply a means for scholars and historians to put them at an unfair disadvantage. There is a sense in which this is true. Historical scholarship has cultivated methods that privilege the plausible over the implausible, and the well-documented and evidence-supported over the imaginary. If that field’s rules or the rigors of the game are too strenuous, it isn’t the only game in town. The Internet has plenty of room for the whole spectrum of views, from the completely crackpot through the cleverly deceptive to the minority and majority views in mainstream scholarship.

    But for future reference, in the realm of scholarship, it is perfectly OK to respond to a negative review. A negative review is an opportunity for conversation. To simply complain that the review is negative and doesn’t say positive things you think it should have, especially when the review is online in a forum that allows comments and responses, is just going to add to the impression that the review is on target.

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

    I think I should also add that what I have written here is a negative review. Excellent scholars get them. Third rate novelists get them. They are one of the risks one takes in publishing.

    There is no way to guarantee that one’s work will not get negative reviews. But there is a way to minimize the number of poor reviews one is likely to get. In the realm of scholarly publishing, the best one can do is to make sure that one’s reasoning is sound and that one has evidence for one’s claims. If Doherty were to make the next edition of his book conform to those principles, I am sure that I and others would view the result rather more favorably.

    Unfortunately for Doherty and his fans, the present state of the evidence forces one to choose between mythicism on the one hand and feasible arguments on the other. I am sure that many mythicists find this demand for evidence and persuasive reasoning simply a means for scholars and historians to put them at an unfair disadvantage. There is a sense in which this is true. Historical scholarship has cultivated methods that privilege the plausible over the implausible, and the well-documented and evidence-supported over the imaginary. If that field’s rules or the rigors of the game are too strenuous, it isn’t the only game in town. The Internet has plenty of room for the whole spectrum of views, from the completely crackpot through the cleverly deceptive to the minority and majority views in mainstream scholarship.

    But for future reference, in the realm of scholarship, it is perfectly OK to respond to a negative review. A negative review is an opportunity for conversation. To simply complain that the review is negative and doesn’t say positive things you think it should have, especially when the review is online in a forum that allows comments and responses, is just going to add to the impression that the review is on target.

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

    Bernard, I have to say that your case for the 1 Cor 15 interpolations is unconvincing. It isn’t hard to believe that some early information concerning these events was lost to later generations.

    On 1Thessalonians 2:14-16, while there are a lot who argue for interpolation here, I do find those arguments also unpersuasive.

    • Anonymous

      Mike, when do you think 1 Thess was written? If you think it was written before 70 (which I assume you do), what do you think the author is talking about when he says that “for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

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

        Evan, I don’t know what he is talking about. the reference is vauge. It is natural for later readers to see the AD 70 war here, it isn’t clear. It is possible Paul sees some other event as the sign of God’s wrath,allowing  as Falwell saw
         9/11 as God’s wrath on America for abortion and homosexuality

    • TruthOverfaith

      Saying you find something unpersuasive is pretty easy stuff. 

      Giving actual arguments in support of your beliefs–not so easy, apparently.

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

        I did, way up top, on Thessalonians. Putting in cheap 2 cents on a conversation you haven’t full read is pretty easy stuff.

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

    Bernard, I have to say that your case for the 1 Cor 15 interpolations is unconvincing. It isn’t hard to believe that some early information concerning these events was lost to later generations.

    On 1Thessalonians 2:14-16, while there are a lot who argue for interpolation here, I do find those arguments also unpersuasive.

    • beallen0417

      Mike, when do you think 1 Thess was written? If you think it was written before 70 (which I assume you do), what do you think the author is talking about when he says that “for the wrath is come upon them to the uttermost.”

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

        Evan, I don’t know what he is talking about. the reference is vague. It is natural for later readers to see the AD 70 war here, it isn’t clear. It is possible Paul sees some other event as the sign of God’s wrath,allowing  as Falwell saw 9/11 as God’s wrath on America for abortion and homosexuality or how every disaster in California is preached as some sort of holy vengeance for the sins of that state. Religious fanatics use a lot of hyperbole and see everything as a part of some grandiose higher plan. See how Koresh reacted to a search warrant. Presumably, if Paul thinks the events of Daniel are about to be fulfilled in his lifetime and cannot be reversed, he might talk about the wrath of God coming on them completely.

        Some feel that Paul would never be so harsh on Judeans, but again given his apocalyptic outlook, He may envision some wrath coming on Israel before they accept Jesus as Christ. Other Jews in Christianity were capable of saying pretty harsh things about their fellows who rejected the “Way”.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Saying you find something unpersuasive is pretty easy stuff. 

      Giving actual arguments in support of your beliefs–not so easy, apparently.

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

        I did, way up top, on Thessalonians. Putting in cheap 2 cents on a conversation you haven’t full read is pretty easy stuff.

  • Kris

    textual evidence please?

    • Vinnyjh

      What is the date of the earliest manuscript?  Do you have any evidence to establish the integrity of the transmission process prior to that point?   It is hard for me to see textual evidence or its absence as the ultimate trump card.  It seems to me that it would be irrational to think that there aren’t many interpolations and omissions that left no trace in the manuscripts.

  • Kris

    textual evidence please?

    • Vinnyjh

      What is the date of the earliest manuscript?  Do you have any evidence to establish the integrity of the transmission process prior to that point?   It is hard for me to see textual evidence or its absence as the ultimate trump card.  It seems to me that it would be irrational to think that there aren’t many interpolations and omissions that left no trace in the manuscripts.

  • Earl Doherty

    As Jim progresses in his ‘review’, it is notable that the field seems to be increasingly left to Jim himself and his peanut gallery (Mike and Kris mostly). I wonder if this is because rational commenters can only say so much against all the pap that passes for intelligent comment here and have largely given up bothering. Bernard, I note with some satisfaction, is getting a taste of his own medicine, buried in scorn for daring to suggest interpolation in Paul and appealing to my fellow-charlatans like Robert Price (by those who dismiss even the remote possibility that 1 Thes. 2:15-16 could be an interpolation, despite support for that opinion by a definite majority of critical scholars. Gee, Kris, I wonder if they got that opinion “peer-reviewed”?)

    Jim’s counters to my chapters are getting further and further into cloud cuckoo land, and even I am getting tired of having to point things out. Maybe later. (Have had some computer trouble cropping up lately, and earlier today when it failed to respond, I actually said the atheist equivalent of “Thank God” to myself, since it would have relieved me of any further burden to take all of this seriously. But drats, it later decided to come back, so I guess I can’t avoid my duty.)

    • Kris

      Name a single rational person on the planet who supports the Jesus myth? I am not aware of any.

      Source for your claims about 1 Thes. 2:15-16. Cough Cough textual evidence….

      So when so you plan to submit articles to mainstream Biblical  Journals and when you plan to publish your books with mainstream publishing companies?

      • Earl Doherty

        Kris: “Name a single rational person on the planet who supports the Jesus myth? I am not aware of any.”

        I’m not surprised, Kris, since you don’t seem to hang out with any rational people.

        • Kris

          I have asked mythers this on a few occasions now but which version of the Jesus Myth are we supposed to consider as the ” great challenge to the orthodoxy”

          Jesus was a copy of a pagan deity

          Jesus was Julius Caesar

          Jesus was Titus

          Jesus was a mushroom hallucination

          Jesus is a mythical being crucified  in a mythical realm but for some  reason  everyone in ancient times for some reason thought  existed.

          etc

          So which one again is the well informed one as opposed to it’s absurd cousins.

          I have also asked Jesus mythers to tell us what other mainstream historical views they oppose. We know some of you are holocaust deniers, but do any of you also stomp for trutherism, bitherism and the moon hoax? For some reason that makes Jesus mythers a bit sheepish to be reminded those historical fringe groups exist.

          You wouldn’t know rationality if it bit you in the face Earl.

          • Earl Doherty

            Well, I guess it just goes to show that one can find variety of interpretations among mythicists just as much as one finds it in mainstream NT scholarship.

            Who was the ‘real’ Jesus?

            A wisdom sage

            An apocalyptic prophet

            A miracle worker and healer who used his miracles to herald the coming of the Kingdom and the Son of Man as judge

            A gnostic guru who believed that the kingdom had already arrived and could be found within you.

            Which of the above alternatives is the “well-informed one” with the rest “absurd”? And are the latter championed by faux-scholars who are to be equated with Holocaust deniers and those who regard the moon-landing (and probably the killing of Kennedy and Osama bin Laden) as government hoaxes?

            Actually, Kris, I’ve decided not to ignore you after all. It’s too much fun shooting fish in a barrel, and don’t we need some humorous diversion in the midst of all this highly sophisticated and carefully unbiased scholarly discussion?

  • Earl Doherty

    As Jim progresses in his ‘review’, it is notable that the field seems to be increasingly left to Jim himself and his peanut gallery (Mike and Kris mostly). I wonder if this is because rational commenters can only say so much against all the pap that passes for intelligent comment here and have largely given up bothering. Bernard, I note with some satisfaction, is getting a taste of his own medicine, buried in scorn for daring to suggest interpolation in Paul and appealing to my fellow-charlatans like Robert Price (by those who dismiss even the remote possibility that 1 Thes. 2:15-16 could be an interpolation, despite support for that opinion by a definite majority of critical scholars. Gee, Kris, I wonder if they got that opinion “peer-reviewed”?)

    Jim’s counters to my chapters are getting further and further into cloud cuckoo land, and even I am getting tired of having to point things out. Maybe later. (Have had some computer trouble cropping up lately, and earlier today when it failed to respond, I actually said the atheist equivalent of “Thank God” to myself, since it would have relieved me of any further burden to take all of this seriously. But drats, it later decided to come back, so I guess I can’t avoid my duty.)

    • Kris

      Name a single rational person on the planet who supports the Jesus myth? I am not aware of any.

      Source for your claims about 1 Thes. 2:15-16. Cough Cough textual evidence….

      So when so you plan to submit articles to mainstream Biblical  Journals and when you plan to publish your books with mainstream publishing companies?

      • Earl Doherty

        Kris: “Name a single rational person on the planet who supports the Jesus myth? I am not aware of any.”

        I’m not surprised, Kris, since you don’t seem to hang out with any rational people.

        • Kris

          I have asked mythers this on a few occasions now but which version of the Jesus Myth are we supposed to consider as the ” great challenge to the orthodoxy”

          Jesus was a copy of a pagan deity

          Jesus was Julius Caesar

          Jesus was Titus

          Jesus was a mushroom hallucination

          Jesus is a mythical being crucified  in a mythical realm but for some  reason  everyone in ancient times for some reason thought  existed.

          etc

          So which one again is the well informed one as opposed to it’s absurd cousins.

          I have also asked Jesus mythers to tell us what other mainstream historical views they oppose. We know some of you are holocaust deniers, but do any of you also stomp for trutherism, bitherism and the moon hoax? For some reason that makes Jesus mythers a bit sheepish to be reminded those historical fringe groups exist.

          You wouldn’t know rationality if it bit you in the face Earl.

          • Earl Doherty

            Well, I guess it just goes to show that one can find variety of interpretations among mythicists just as much as one finds it in mainstream NT scholarship.

            Who was the ‘real’ Jesus?

            A wisdom sage

            An apocalyptic prophet

            A miracle worker and healer who used his miracles to herald the coming of the Kingdom and the Son of Man as judge

            A gnostic guru who believed that the kingdom had already arrived and could be found within you.

            Which of the above alternatives is the “well-informed one” with the rest “absurd”? And are the latter championed by faux-scholars who are to be equated with Holocaust deniers and those who regard the moon-landing (and probably the killing of Kennedy and Osama bin Laden) as government hoaxes?

            Actually, Kris, I’ve decided not to ignore you after all. It’s too much fun shooting fish in a barrel, and don’t we need some humorous diversion in the midst of all this highly sophisticated and carefully unbiased scholarly discussion?

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

    @Earl, Feel free to actually explain how my criticisms of your book are in “cloud cuckoo land.” Otherwise, that comment seems to be either an instance of projection, or a mere attempt at denigrating your critic in the hope that that will substitute for a substantive reply.

    I think that conversation is tending to dwindle because people are realizing that, if the book is this bad in the early pages, it will be incredibly painful to persist in plowing through it, given its size.

    • sean peter ingham

      To both James and Earl,

      The rhetoric with only end any chance of dialogue. There is an opportunity here to clarify positions if you both will talk to each other rather than at each other.

      • sean peter ingham

        That should have been “will” not “with”. Typos can’t be fixed. )-:

      • Earl Doherty

        Sorry, Sean, but Jim has demonstrated, both before and after he opened my book, that he is incapable of dialogue. His commitment to a rabid anti-mythicist position is clear. Since he has very little in the way of rational argument to oppose it, the rhetoric, much of it insult, is his only recourse.

        I may often respond in kind, caught up in the wonder of it all, but I at least offer rationally argued and evidence-based rejoinders. I very early gave up on establishing an honest dialogue here (who can have a ‘dialogue’ with the likes of Kris, for example, who equates mythers with Holocaust deniers–with Jim not too far behind?), a situation I have faced with very many anti-mythers on various internet boards and blogs. Their visceral hostility is not only perplexing, it is impenetrable. 

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

    @Earl, Feel free to actually explain how my criticisms of your book are in “cloud cuckoo land.” Otherwise, that comment seems to be either an instance of projection, or a mere attempt at denigrating your critic in the hope that that will substitute for a substantive reply.

    I think that conversation is tending to dwindle because people are realizing that, if the book is this bad in the early pages, it will be incredibly painful to persist in plowing through it, given its size.

    • sean peter ingham

      To both James and Earl,

      The rhetoric with only end any chance of dialogue. There is an opportunity here to clarify positions if you both will talk to each other rather than at each other.

      • sean peter ingham

        That should have been “will” not “with”. Typos can’t be fixed. )-:

      • Earl Doherty

        Sorry, Sean, but Jim has demonstrated, both before and after he opened my book, that he is incapable of dialogue. His commitment to a rabid anti-mythicist position is clear. Since he has very little in the way of rational argument to oppose it, the rhetoric, much of it insult, is his only recourse.

        I may often respond in kind, caught up in the wonder of it all, but I at least offer rationally argued and evidence-based rejoinders. I very early gave up on establishing an honest dialogue here (who can have a ‘dialogue’ with the likes of Kris, for example, who equates mythers with Holocaust deniers–with Jim not too far behind?), a situation I have faced with very many anti-mythers on various internet boards and blogs. Their visceral hostility is not only perplexing, it is impenetrable. 

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

    Earl, surely you are not so foolish as to think that the folks at Vridar are the future of New Testament studies. While you have made a few bucks of this book, I’m sure you recognize how little impact it has had on the field, and that it will be soon forgotten as one of the more mediocre attempts at Jesus myth. Better than Freke and Grundy but worse than Wells and Drews. Personally, I don’t think you have managed to present a worthwhile defense of your work, and the “rational” folks who champion you are even worse, and only bring noise to a discussion.

    • Earl Doherty

      And of course, Mike, you know it’s “mediocre” because you’ve read it yourself and effectively rebutted it yourself. Or (as I have asked you many times) you rely on others to do your thinking for you?

    • TruthOverfaith

      Mike, have you even read Doherty’s book?

      You would do yourself a favor if you could cite specific arguments against specific passages of Doherty.

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

        Doherty has defended his book here and has given no indication that he is itellectua long determened to be meritless, the Bibles infallibillity, creationismlly competent. lots of books are made for positions that I have, ancient astronausts

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

        Doherty has defended his book here and has given no indication that he is intellectually competent. lots of books are made for positions that I have, long determined to be merit less, the Bibles infallibility, creationism ancient astronauts and so on. I don’t feel one more book on the subject will convince me, and if someone describing their book uses bad arguments, I feel no need to look further. If Doherty has good arguments in his book, it is his fault for not presenting those and rather using the poor arguments on his web site and his defenses of his work here.

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

    Earl, surely you are not so foolish as to think that the folks at Vridar are the future of New Testament studies. While you have made a few bucks of this book, I’m sure you recognize how little impact it has had on the field, and that it will be soon forgotten as one of the more mediocre attempts at Jesus myth. Better than Freke and “Zeitgeist” but worse than Wells and Drews. Personally, I don’t think you have managed to present a worthwhile defense of your work, and the “rational” folks who champion you are even worse, and only bring noise to a discussion.

    • Earl Doherty

      And of course, Mike, you know it’s “mediocre” because you’ve read it yourself and effectively rebutted it yourself. Or (as I have asked you many times) you rely on others to do your thinking for you?

    • TruthOverfaith

      Mike, have you even read Doherty’s book?

      You would do yourself a favor if you could cite specific arguments against specific passages of Doherty.

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

        Doherty has defended his book here and has given no indication that he is itellectua long determened to be meritless, the Bibles infallibillity, creationismlly competent. lots of books are made for positions that I have, ancient astronausts

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

        Doherty has defended his book here and has given no indication that he is intellectually competent. lots of books are made for positions that I have, long determined to be merit less, the Bibles infallibility, creationism ancient astronauts and so on. I don’t feel one more book on the subject will convince me, and if someone describing their book uses bad arguments, I feel no need to look further. If Doherty has good arguments in his book, it is his fault for not presenting those and rather using the poor arguments on his web site and his defenses of his work here.

  • sean peter ingham

    James, the whole process of reading back from later literature into earlier is a highly dubious one, especially when dealing with evolving traditions. It’s unfortunate that there are no known relevant contemporary works with Paul. One learns about the state of an evolving tradition at any one time using synchronic sources, and then with some trepidation because there may always be regional variations. Retrojecting later sources gives you no meaningful conclusions when you cannot know if a later meme indicated the same thing as an earlier one, or even if it existed at all.

    The way Peter and Cephas have been yoked together is quite easy for us to live with, having done so all our lives. We have no way of knowing if it existed at the time of Paul. Using it in an argument has no weight.

    Paul specifically tells us in Gal. 1:11-12, 15-16 that he got his knowledge of Jesus directly from God through a revelation and not from human report. Later reports regarding Jesus are irrelevant to Paul’s reference to him for Paul’s is not a historical reference to Jesus in any sense.

    And attempts at history by association with known people from later tradition doesn’t augur success, be it Peter or Barnabas or anyone else. You might accept the known figures in Ben Hur as historical, but that historical nature doesn’t rub off on Ben Hur himself. Guilt by association doesn’t function here, when the association is from another time. It’s just anachronism waiting to happen.

  • sean peter ingham

    James, the whole process of reading back from later literature into earlier is a highly dubious one, especially when dealing with evolving traditions. It’s unfortunate that there are no known relevant contemporary works with Paul. One learns about the state of an evolving tradition at any one time using synchronic sources, and then with some trepidation because there may always be regional variations. Retrojecting later sources gives you no meaningful conclusions when you cannot know if a later meme indicated the same thing as an earlier one, or even if it existed at all.

    The way Peter and Cephas have been yoked together is quite easy for us to live with, having done so all our lives. We have no way of knowing if it existed at the time of Paul. Using it in an argument has no weight.

    Paul specifically tells us in Gal. 1:11-12, 15-16 that he got his knowledge of Jesus directly from God through a revelation and not from human report. Later reports regarding Jesus are irrelevant to Paul’s reference to him for Paul’s is not a historical reference to Jesus in any sense.

    And attempts at history by association with known people from later tradition doesn’t augur success, be it Peter or Barnabas or anyone else. You might accept the known figures in Ben Hur as historical, but that historical nature doesn’t rub off on Ben Hur himself. Guilt by association doesn’t function here, when the association is from another time. It’s just anachronism waiting to happen.

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

    @98d0a0326e3472cef3d8a1d21d8bb4af:disqus  , thanks for your comments. As I said in one of my earlier posts about Doherty’s book, mainstream scholarship emphasizes not retrojecting later views and dogma into earlier sources, although in practice it still happens. But Doherty doesn’t seem to adopt that principle, so much as to make it an axiom that one should not find anything that agrees with the Gospels in the epistles, even when it is natural to do so. Instead of avoiding anachronism so that we get an accurate sense of the evolution of the Christian movement, Doherty forces an artificial wedge between them, so that he has no choice but to regard later Christianity as the confluence of several different and originally independent religious movements. But just as there are points at which the Gospels and earlier epistles are at odds with one another, there are points at which they intersect, and given that they are part of the same broad religious stream, that is only natural and to be expected.

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

    @98d0a0326e3472cef3d8a1d21d8bb4af:disqus  , thanks for your comments. As I said in one of my earlier posts about Doherty’s book, mainstream scholarship emphasizes not retrojecting later views and dogma into earlier sources, although in practice it still happens. But Doherty doesn’t seem to adopt that principle, so much as to make it an axiom that one should not find anything that agrees with the Gospels in the epistles, even when it is natural to do so. Instead of avoiding anachronism so that we get an accurate sense of the evolution of the Christian movement, Doherty forces an artificial wedge between them, so that he has no choice but to regard later Christianity as the confluence of several different and originally independent religious movements. But just as there are points at which the Gospels and earlier epistles are at odds with one another, there are points at which they intersect, and given that they are part of the same broad religious stream, that is only natural and to be expected.

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

    Doherty wrote:
    “Bernard, I note with some satisfaction, is getting a taste of his own medicine, buried in scorn …”

    You are keen at noticing this kind of things. But you are ignoring me when I hit (often) the mark against your creative mind.
    I was not appealing to Robert Price in that particular post that Kris replied to. And I said I came to the conclusion about 1Cor15:3-11 unauthenticity well before Price did. I was not riding on his coat tails.
    Actually, if I think someone I know is right on something, I make a point to mention or quote that person, regardless of his/her stand on other things I may disapprove. I even quoted you on my website for something you wrote and I agree with! It is not quite like “love yout enemies”, but I respect them and even acknowledge any good from them. Dare to do the same!

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

    Doherty wrote:
    “Bernard, I note with some satisfaction, is getting a taste of his own medicine, buried in scorn …”

    You are keen at noticing this kind of things. But you are ignoring me when I hit (often) the mark against your creative mind.
    I was not appealing to Robert Price in that particular posting that Kris replied to. And I said I came to the conclusion about 1Cor15:3-11 unauthenticity well before Price did. I was not riding on his coat tails.
    Actually, if I think someone I know is right on something, I make a point to mention or quote that person, regardless of his/her stand on other things I may disapprove. I even quoted you on my website for something you wrote and I agree with! It is not quite like “love your enemies”, but I respect them and even acknowledge any good from them. Dare to do the same!

  • Earl Doherty

    Here is one example of Jim’s professional criticism based on his proper historical methods:

    Jim: “The next section discusses the references to Jesus “appearing” or “being seen,” and the likelihood that these refines [?] are to visions rather than physical experiences. Doherty interacts with Eddy and Boyd, who point out that resurrection in Judaism meant something bodily. Doherty writes in response, “While the latter claim may be correct, such expectation lay within the context of resurrection for humans, not of a god – and of humans on earth, not of a god in a supernatural location” (p.77).

    A reader familiar with Jewish beliefs from this period – and with the act of reading – will most likely simply shake their head at this attempt to avoid the significance of contextual evidence rather than make sense of Paul in light of it. What god is Doherty referring to? What resurrection of non-humans from the dead? Where are these ideas found in Judaism? What is the evidence that such language would have been understood by Paul’s hearers in the way Doherty imagines? There is none, outside of Doherty’s own admittedly creative imagination.”

    There are straw men within straw men here. Eddy and Boyd made a claim about certain mindsets in Judaism. I agreed with them. I then clarified the different mindset that would have been involved in the Christ cult, with a heavenly Son of God (not a human) dying and being resurrected within a heavenly setting. That Son is the “god” I was referring to, and his non-human resurrection from the dead. This removed it from the context of that expectation in Judaism. Jim seems to have trouble following this. And who is saying that these ideas were found in Judaism? Of course they weren’t, just as the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism. Why doesn’t Jim deny that Christianity possessed the idea of a crucified Messiah? Doesn’t what passes for reasoning with him require that if Judaism didn’t accept it, then Paul could not have believed and preached it?

    Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth. There were no gods besides Yahweh, and no separate emanations of God, and it would have been utter blasphemy to identify a human being as part of God, so basic Pauline Christianity, even given an historicist interpretation, would have contravened fundamental Jewish tenets. Should it not be rejected on those grounds?

    Moreover, there is no sign of bodily resurrection for Christ anywhere in the epistles. Mainstream scholars have long acknowledged that for early writers like Paul, Jesus seemed to be envisioned as rising and proceeding directly to a spiritual state and heavenly location. So how, then, could any Jew accept the epistle writers’ alleged preaching about a man who had risen non-bodily, since this would (according to Eddy and Boyd) have contradicted their standard expectations and made it impossible for them to even conceive of such a thing.

    Of course, mainstream Judaism (to the extent that there was one at the time) rejected Pauline Christianity and persecuted it. But were Jews Paul’s main audience? Of course not. Another McGrath straw man. They were largely gentiles (the males of whom were generally not all that keen on being bobbed, so Paul gave them a Get Out of the Law Free card). And those gentiles were certainly familiar with the concept of a god dying and rising. And as I have yet to argue a few chapters later in the book, they would have been quite capable—especially within the interpretation of the savior god myths in the mystery cults—of envisioning a rising by a god or demigod that was not in an ordinary human body. So Eddy and Boyd’s contention is utterly irrelevant (Jim’s “contextual evidence” has been, as usual, thoroughly garbled), and his ridicule of me for pointing that out is an indication of how poorly he understands my arguments (which can admittedly be somewhat difficult when you are so firmly bound and gagged inside the box), and how abysmally he thinks through his attempted counter-arguments against them.

    But it will continue, I have no doubt about it. No matter how many times Jim has his shortcomings handed to him on a platter, it’s like the proverbial water off a duck’s back. And those of his acolytes who waddle and quack alongside him.

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

      Doherty wrote: “So how, then, could any Jew accept the epistle writers’ alleged preaching about a man who had risen non-bodily, since this would (according to Eddy and Boyd) have contradicted their standard expectations and made it impossible for them to even conceive of such a thing.”

      Philo of Alexandria & Josephus (about Essenes) thought differently:
      The sacrifices of Abel and Cain’, II “… Abraham also, leaving mortal things, “is added to the people of God,” having received immortality, and having become equal to the angels; for the angels are the host of God, being incorporeal and happy souls.”

      III “There is another proof that the mind is immortal … the migration of a perfect soul to the living God”
      ‘On the Giants’, III “These, then, are the souls of those who have been taught some kind of sublime philosophy, meditating, from beginning to end, on dying as to the life of the body, in order to obtain an inheritance of the incorporeal and imperishable life, which is to be enjoyed in the presence of the uncreate and everlasting God.”

      Josephus in Wars, II, VIII, 11: “For their doctrine [of the urban Essenes] is this: That bodies are corruptible, and that the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that the souls are immortal, and continue for ever; and that they come out of the most subtile air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement; but that when they are set free from the bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward.”

  • Earl Doherty

    Here is one example of Jim’s professional criticism based on his proper historical methods:

    Jim: “The next section discusses the references to Jesus “appearing” or “being seen,” and the likelihood that these refines [?] are to visions rather than physical experiences. Doherty interacts with Eddy and Boyd, who point out that resurrection in Judaism meant something bodily. Doherty writes in response, “While the latter claim may be correct, such expectation lay within the context of resurrection for humans, not of a god – and of humans on earth, not of a god in a supernatural location” (p.77).

    A reader familiar with Jewish beliefs from this period – and with the act of reading – will most likely simply shake their head at this attempt to avoid the significance of contextual evidence rather than make sense of Paul in light of it. What god is Doherty referring to? What resurrection of non-humans from the dead? Where are these ideas found in Judaism? What is the evidence that such language would have been understood by Paul’s hearers in the way Doherty imagines? There is none, outside of Doherty’s own admittedly creative imagination.”

    There are straw men within straw men here. Eddy and Boyd made a claim about certain mindsets in Judaism. I agreed with them. I then clarified the different mindset that would have been involved in the Christ cult, with a heavenly Son of God (not a human) dying and being resurrected within a heavenly setting. That Son is the “god” I was referring to, and his non-human resurrection from the dead. This removed it from the context of that expectation in Judaism. Jim seems to have trouble following this. And who is saying that these ideas were found in Judaism? Of course they weren’t, just as the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism. Why doesn’t Jim deny that Christianity possessed the idea of a crucified Messiah? Doesn’t what passes for reasoning with him require that if Judaism didn’t accept it, then Paul could not have believed and preached it?

    Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth. There were no gods besides Yahweh, and no separate emanations of God, and it would have been utter blasphemy to identify a human being as part of God, so basic Pauline Christianity, even given an historicist interpretation, would have contravened fundamental Jewish tenets. Should it not be rejected on those grounds?

    Moreover, there is no sign of bodily resurrection for Christ anywhere in the epistles. Mainstream scholars have long acknowledged that for early writers like Paul, Jesus seemed to be envisioned as rising and proceeding directly to a spiritual state and heavenly location. So how, then, could any Jew accept the epistle writers’ alleged preaching about a man who had risen non-bodily, since this would (according to Eddy and Boyd) have contradicted their standard expectations and made it impossible for them to even conceive of such a thing.

    Of course, mainstream Judaism (to the extent that there was one at the time) rejected Pauline Christianity and persecuted it. But were Jews Paul’s main audience? Of course not. Another McGrath straw man. They were largely gentiles (the males of whom were generally not all that keen on being bobbed, so Paul gave them a Get Out of the Law Free card). And those gentiles were certainly familiar with the concept of a god dying and rising. And as I have yet to argue a few chapters later in the book, they would have been quite capable—especially within the interpretation of the savior god myths in the mystery cults—of envisioning a rising by a god or demigod that was not in an ordinary human body. So Eddy and Boyd’s contention is utterly irrelevant (Jim’s “contextual evidence” has been, as usual, thoroughly garbled), and his ridicule of me for pointing that out is an indication of how poorly he understands my arguments (which can admittedly be somewhat difficult when you are so firmly bound and gagged inside the box), and how abysmally he thinks through his attempted counter-arguments against them.

    But it will continue, I have no doubt about it. No matter how many times Jim has his shortcomings handed to him on a platter, it’s like the proverbial water off a duck’s back. And those of his acolytes who waddle and quack alongside him.

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

      To Doherty,
      Doherty wrote: “So how, then, could any Jew accept the epistle writers’ alleged preaching about a man who had risen non-bodily, since this would (according to Eddy and Boyd) have contradicted their standard expectations and made it impossible for them to even conceive of such a thing.”

      Philo of Alexandria & Josephus (about Essenes) thought differently:
      The sacrifices of Abel and Cain’, II “… Abraham also, leaving mortal things, “is added to the people of God,” having received immortality, and having become equal to the angels; for the angels are the host of God, being incorporeal and happy souls.”

      III, “the migration of the perfect soul [Moses'] to the living God” and “raised the perfect man [Moses] from the things of the earth up to himself [God] …”.

      ‘On the life of Moses II’, LI (291),
      “[Moses, right before his death] was standing at the very starting-place [mount Nebo], as it were, that he might fly away and complete his journey to heaven …”

      ‘On the Giants’, III “These, then, are the souls of those who have been taught some kind of sublime philosophy, meditating, from beginning to end, on dying as to the life of the body, in order to obtain an inheritance of the incorporeal and imperishable life, which is to be enjoyed in the presence of the uncreate and everlasting God.”

      Josephus in Wars, II, VIII, 11: “For their doctrine [of the urban Essenes] is this: That bodies are corruptible, and that the matter they are made of is not permanent; but that the souls are immortal, and continue for ever; and that they come out of the most subtile air, and are united to their bodies as to prisons, into which they are drawn by a certain natural enticement; but that when they are set free from the bonds of the flesh, they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward.”

  • Kris

    Earl

    Peer review in legitimate academic journals and publish with mainstream presses. Ever going to do it :)

  • Kris

    Earl

    Peer review in legitimate academic journals and publish with mainstream presses. Ever going to do it :)

  • Kris

    Yes those who are opposed to the myther stance are biased  in the same way those who are opposed to 2+2=3 are biased.

    Peer review Earl, when will we expect this be it a journal or a press?

    • Earl Doherty

      I have been published in a journal, The Journal of Higher Criticism out of Drew University. Oh wait, that of course doesn’t count because it was all a hoax perpetrated by that looney Robert Price. I have a feeling I can’t win, Kris. If I got published, such a journal would thereby automatically prove itself to be a disreputable fraud, whereas those journals that would turn me down would be accorded legitimacy, staffed, of course, by those much vaunted “peers” you are constantly appealing to.

      If Jim is any indication, we know what short-shrift any submission by me or any other mythicist would get from your “peers”. But that’s how your system works, isn’t it? Self-serving and circular.

      This is a waste of time. It may be like shooting fish in a barrel, nevertheless I will hereafter ignore you, Kris.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Hey Kris, aren’t you ashamed to be depriving Kirk Cameron of your intellectual company?

  • Kris

    Yes those who are opposed to the myther stance are biased  in the same way those who are opposed to 2+2=3 are biased.

    Peer review Earl, when will we expect this be it a journal or a press?

    • Earl Doherty

      I have been published in a journal, The Journal of Higher Criticism out of Drew University. Oh wait, that of course doesn’t count because it was all a hoax perpetrated by that looney Robert Price. I have a feeling I can’t win, Kris. If I got published, such a journal would thereby automatically prove itself to be a disreputable fraud, whereas those journals that would turn me down would be accorded legitimacy, staffed, of course, by those much vaunted “peers” you are constantly appealing to.

      If Jim is any indication, we know what short-shrift any submission by me or any other mythicist would get from your “peers”. But that’s how your system works, isn’t it? Self-serving and circular.

      This is a waste of time. It may be like shooting fish in a barrel, nevertheless I will hereafter ignore you, Kris.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Hey Kris, aren’t you ashamed to be depriving Kirk Cameron of your intellectual company?

  • Kris

    No it does not count for the same reason it does not count when creationist publish in creationist journals. Publishing there was simply engaging in myther pseudo scholar incest. Use mainstream academic journals Earl if you want people to treat you like anything else then a pseudo scholar.

    You tend to ignore a lot of people after awhile Earl.

    Gee I wonder why.

  • Kris

    No it does not count for the same reason it does not count when creationist publish in creationist journals. Publishing there was simply engaging in myther pseudo scholar incest. Use mainstream academic journals Earl if you want people to treat you like anything else then a pseudo scholar.

    You tend to ignore a lot of people after awhile Earl.

    Gee I wonder why.

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

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I’m not sure if it is because you do not know what terms meant in the Judaism of New Testament times, or because you don’t care. You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.

    As for the resurrection of the body, including Christ’s, here are a few relevant passages:

    1 Corinthians 15:42-44
    Οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκρῶν. σπείρεται ἐν φθορᾷ, ἐγείρεται ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀτιμίᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δόξῃ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δυνάμει· σπείρεται σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἐγείρεται σῶμα πνευματικόν. Εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν.

    2 Corinthians 4:10-12
    πάντοτε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι περιφέροντες, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν φανερωθῇ· ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα διὰ Ἰησοῦν, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ φανερωθῇ ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν. ὥστε ὁ θάνατος ἐν ἡμῖν ἐνεργεῖται, ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν.

    Philippians 3:21
    ὃς μετασχηματίσει τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑποτάξαι αὑτῷ τὰ πάντα.

    I presume you view 1 Corinthians 15 as an interpolation. Are the others as well? Or will you engage in the same dismissal you did with the reference to “James, the brother of the Lord” and say that we should not make so much of a mere couple of references. How many times does Paul have to refer to something before you’ll consider the possibility that he meant it?

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim, I would suggest that you don’t need to quote passages in Greek, because you don’t understand them any better in Greek than you do in English. You may be trying show off your own knowledge of the language (and I don’t doubt that you have some proficiency) or trying to challenge my own, but you are forcing others here to run to their English NTs, probably with some degree of irritation.

      1 Cor. 15:42-44, in either English or Greek, refers solely to the death and rising of human beings, which is the topic being discussed in this passage beginning with 15:35. Verse 35 makes that clear; there is no inclusion of Jesus himself here. (Some translations, like the NIV, even render v.42a in the future tense, since Paul is talking about what will happen in the future resurrection.)

      In fact, what is missing in this passage as a whole is any appeal to the example of an earthly Jesus having died and risen, going from physical to spiritual, from “perishable” to “imperishable,” which would have been the ideal argument Paul could have employed to convince the Corinthians of their own resurrection, the perfect example of the process he is promising they will undergo (which in itself would eliminate any conception by Paul of Christ rising in flesh). Why do you think he does not use that example? Oh wait, I forgot that proper historical method has already determined that in fact Paul “implies” that very thing, even though there is no hint of it in the text itself and it would screw up the entire picture he is carefully presenting here between Adam and Christ.

      Such ‘proper historical methods’ also ignore the fact that in succeeding verses, Paul maintains a strict division between the first Adam with his physical body made out of earthly stuff (see v.47), and the second Adam with his spiritual body, made out of heavenly stuff (see v.47), and never states or takes into account in his argument that Jesus once had a physical body like the first Adam, or specifies that it is his spiritual body after his resurrection that is the prototype for humans’ own resurrected bodies. As far as Paul is concerned, Christ never had a physical body.

      Do I dismiss any part of 1 Cor. 15 as an interpolation? By no means. In fact, the latter portion is a staple of my case. However, I am going to suggest, since there is a lot to argue about in this passage and since I have no doubt you will fall into the trap lurking in verse 45, that we wait to deal with this passage more fully until you get to Chapter 14, with its 12-page dissection of 1 Cor. 15:35-49.

      As for 2 Cor. 4:10-12, why does that indicate a dying of Jesus in a human body? The references to “in the body” refer to the body of Paul and his readers, not to Jesus’. The “life” and “dying” of Jesus can as equally fit a heavenly Christ as a human one. In fact the whole idea of this passage is just another version of the Pauline concept of “Christ in you,” and “the body of Christ” which constitutes a combination of believers as the limbs and Christ as the head, which can hardly refer to Christ the human. It’s all a mystical concept involving the spiritual Christ and the sect, with no role given to any earthly incarnation.

      As for Phil. 3:21, where is the reference there to any human body of Christ? In fact, it’s quite similar to 1 Cor. 15:44f: the “body of humiliation” possessed by humans will be made to conform with Christ’s “body of glory.” There is no reference to any human body of humiliation Christ had, or any transformation by Christ from one to the other such as Paul is claiming will be the fate of his readers, despite the fact that once again such a comparison would have been compellingly apt.

      You ask how many times Paul has to refer to something before I accept it, but the problem is, these texts do not make any such reference. Your preconceptions and desire to find it in the text leads you to read it into the text. But I guess that’s the proper historical method. It has been certainly been employed by traditional scholarship for long enough.

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

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus , I’m not sure if it is because you do not know what terms meant in the Judaism of New Testament times, or because you don’t care. You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.

    As for the resurrection of the body, including Christ’s, here are a few relevant passages:

    1 Corinthians 15:42-44
    Οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκρῶν. σπείρεται ἐν φθορᾷ, ἐγείρεται ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀτιμίᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δόξῃ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δυνάμει· σπείρεται σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἐγείρεται σῶμα πνευματικόν. Εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν.

    2 Corinthians 4:10-12
    πάντοτε τὴν νέκρωσιν τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι περιφέροντες, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῷ σώματι ἡμῶν φανερωθῇ· ἀεὶ γὰρ ἡμεῖς οἱ ζῶντες εἰς θάνατον παραδιδόμεθα διὰ Ἰησοῦν, ἵνα καὶ ἡ ζωὴ τοῦ Ἰησοῦ φανερωθῇ ἐν τῇ θνητῇ σαρκὶ ἡμῶν. ὥστε ὁ θάνατος ἐν ἡμῖν ἐνεργεῖται, ἡ δὲ ζωὴ ἐν ὑμῖν.

    Philippians 3:21
    ὃς μετασχηματίσει τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως ἡμῶν σύμμορφον τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης αὐτοῦ κατὰ τὴν ἐνέργειαν τοῦ δύνασθαι αὐτὸν καὶ ὑποτάξαι αὑτῷ τὰ πάντα.

    I presume you view 1 Corinthians 15 as an interpolation. Are the others as well? Or will you engage in the same dismissal you did with the reference to “James, the brother of the Lord” and say that we should not make so much of a mere couple of references. How many times does Paul have to refer to something before you’ll consider the possibility that he meant it?

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim, I would suggest that you don’t need to quote passages in Greek, because you don’t understand them any better in Greek than you do in English. You may be trying show off your own knowledge of the language (and I don’t doubt that you have some proficiency) or trying to challenge my own, but you are forcing others here to run to their English NTs, probably with some degree of irritation.

      1 Cor. 15:42-44, in either English or Greek, refers solely to the death and rising of human beings, which is the topic being discussed in this passage beginning with 15:35. Verse 35 makes that clear; there is no inclusion of Jesus himself here. (Some translations, like the NIV, even render v.42a in the future tense, since Paul is talking about what will happen in the future resurrection.)

      In fact, what is missing in this passage as a whole is any appeal to the example of an earthly Jesus having died and risen, going from physical to spiritual, from “perishable” to “imperishable,” which would have been the ideal argument Paul could have employed to convince the Corinthians of their own resurrection, the perfect example of the process he is promising they will undergo (which in itself would eliminate any conception by Paul of Christ rising in flesh). Why do you think he does not use that example? Oh wait, I forgot that proper historical method has already determined that in fact Paul “implies” that very thing, even though there is no hint of it in the text itself and it would screw up the entire picture he is carefully presenting here between Adam and Christ.

      Such ‘proper historical methods’ also ignore the fact that in succeeding verses, Paul maintains a strict division between the first Adam with his physical body made out of earthly stuff (see v.47), and the second Adam with his spiritual body, made out of heavenly stuff (see v.47), and never states or takes into account in his argument that Jesus once had a physical body like the first Adam, or specifies that it is his spiritual body after his resurrection that is the prototype for humans’ own resurrected bodies. As far as Paul is concerned, Christ never had a physical body.

      Do I dismiss any part of 1 Cor. 15 as an interpolation? By no means. In fact, the latter portion is a staple of my case. However, I am going to suggest, since there is a lot to argue about in this passage and since I have no doubt you will fall into the trap lurking in verse 45, that we wait to deal with this passage more fully until you get to Chapter 14, with its 12-page dissection of 1 Cor. 15:35-49.

      As for 2 Cor. 4:10-12, why does that indicate a dying of Jesus in a human body? The references to “in the body” refer to the body of Paul and his readers, not to Jesus’. The “life” and “dying” of Jesus can as equally fit a heavenly Christ as a human one. In fact the whole idea of this passage is just another version of the Pauline concept of “Christ in you,” and “the body of Christ” which constitutes a combination of believers as the limbs and Christ as the head, which can hardly refer to Christ the human. It’s all a mystical concept involving the spiritual Christ and the sect, with no role given to any earthly incarnation.

      As for Phil. 3:21, where is the reference there to any human body of Christ? In fact, it’s quite similar to 1 Cor. 15:44f: the “body of humiliation” possessed by humans will be made to conform with Christ’s “body of glory.” There is no reference to any human body of humiliation Christ had, or any transformation by Christ from one to the other such as Paul is claiming will be the fate of his readers, despite the fact that once again such a comparison would have been compellingly apt.

      You ask how many times Paul has to refer to something before I accept it, but the problem is, these texts do not make any such reference. Your preconceptions and desire to find it in the text leads you to read it into the text. But I guess that’s the proper historical method. It has been certainly been employed by traditional scholarship for long enough.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Hey, you want to do my book next? :)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus Hey, you want to do my book next? :)

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

    Is that The Lord and the Tetragrammaton? I have some other books that are already lined up to be next, but as long as you don’t mind waiting, I don’t see why I couldn’t blog about it!

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

    Is that The Lord and the Tetragrammaton? I have some other books that are already lined up to be next, but as long as you don’t mind waiting, I don’t see why I couldn’t blog about it!

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

    @Earl, you also seem to either have forgotten or not to care that Paul’s own letters give indication that, prior to his proclamation of the “good news” to Gentiles, the movement in question was a Jewish sect, one that in Paul’s time doesn’t seem to have settled on a single distinguishing name yet, much less a distinct identity. And we are talking about what Paul, the self-proclaimed monotheist, wrote, not what his converts might have had in mind.

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

    @Earl, you also seem to either have forgotten or not to care that Paul’s own letters give indication that, prior to his proclamation of the “good news” to Gentiles, the movement in question was a Jewish sect, one that in Paul’s time doesn’t seem to have settled on a single distinguishing name yet, much less a distinct identity. And we are talking about what Paul, the self-proclaimed monotheist, wrote, not what his converts might have had in mind.

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

    Doherty wrote: “Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth”

    Except of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human mother and father and deified after he was believed to have resurrected.

    Doherty wrote: “the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.”

    You are right here; that’s why Paul wrote: 1Cr 1:23 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;”

    Then, you cannot say that crucified Messiah came out of the OT. So this Messiah was really crucified and Paul & others had to work with that! And a decapited Messiah would be more fitting because that how animals were killed for sacrifice (Jewish and Pagan).

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

    to Doherty,
    Doherty wrote: “Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth”

    Except of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human mother and father and, after being believed by Jews to be resurrected (as a soul/spirit), deified (pre-existence, Son of God) later for Gentile consumption.

    Doherty wrote: “the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.”

    You are right: that’s why Paul wrote: 1Cr 1:23 “But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;”

    Then, you cannot say that crucified Messiah came out of the OT, or was an invented product of Judaism. So this Messiah, because he was Jewish (descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, the tribe of Judah (Heb) & Israelites) was really crucified and Paul & others had to work with that, like it or not, with Jews & Gentiles! And a decapited Messiah would be more fitting because that how animals were killed for sacrifice (Jewish and Pagan).

    BTW, I think the earliest beliefs about Jesus’ resurrection started as his soul/spirit going to God’s heaven and being saved here (as in ‘Hebrews’).
    Then Paul introduced the spiritual body (probably to please his audience thinking that, without a body of some sort, eternal life in heaven could not be enjoyed).
    Then “Mark” suggested a bodily resurrection.
    Then “Luke” staged a true bodily reappearance, but Jesus’ body seems to be different of his old one.
    Then “John”, at his second try, “testified” Jesus reappeared to Thomas & others in his own former body.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Yes, that’s the book, and I think you might find it interesting, unlike most of our discussions so far, it is not a theological work, but historical. A good portion of it relies on presenting the manuscript evidence accurately. And of course my speculations on areas that lack evidence. I would be interested to see what you think.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @James, Yes, that’s the book, and I think you might find it interesting, unlike most of our discussions so far, it is not a theological work, but historical. A good portion of it relies on presenting the manuscript evidence accurately. And of course my speculations on areas that lack evidence. I would be interested to see what you think.

  • Earl Doherty

    Both I and Neil Godfrey have several times in the course of Jim McGrath’s ‘review’ pointed out how Jim’s attempted counter-arguments often work against him. Perhaps the most egregious example of this so far concerns the following in his review of Chapter 7:

    Jim: “On a more substantial underlying point, I have the strong impression that Doherty has given little thought to what is involved in turning a tradition into a narrative…. In the same way, imagine two authors who received a tradition like that in 1 Corinthians 15, and the different ways they might try to turn it into a story – for instance, we might find one setting an event in Jerusalem, the other setting the same event in Galilee, since the location wasn’t specified. That is in fact what we find in the Gospel Easter stories, and such huge discrepancies at such a major juncture can seem genuinely puzzling – until we realize that in passing on information, we do not always provide enough detail so as to enable the listener to later reproduce it as a narrative.”

    It is not clear to me what the above is meant to counter. Chapter 7 did not make any claims about variety of traditions concerning such and such an event, but the lack of any Jesus traditions (in the epistles) relating to settings on earth. Nor has Jim suggested why, given his variety of traditions-turned-narrative, no author would end up mentioning the tradition/narrative which his community would have formulated or inherited (probably from one of many inventive prophets, though there is no sign of such creative figures in any epistle). A couple of decades after Jesus’ death, did all those communities hold a conference (attended by Paul) in which, faced with the variety of tradition about the Jesus narrative they were preaching, took a vote to resolve the contradictions by henceforth never mentioning any narrative elements or oral traditions at all, but simply the bare fact of dying and rising?

    But Jim’s scenario is contradicted entirely by the situation we find in the Gospels. If oral tradition existed at all about the circumstances of Jesus’ life and death, especially the key passion event (and how could it not within Jim’s picture of historicism, whether authentic or not?), should we not expect a multiplicity of different narratives to be found in different Christian communities? That would certainly be in line with what Jim is advocating. Why then, is every passion narrative in all the Gospels (including John’s) essentially exactly the same: location, characters, trial process, features of the crucifixion scene, all of them modelled on the first one written, Mark’s?

    Did Matthew’s community, Luke’s community, John’s community off in northern Syria, not possess its own evolved narrative of Jesus’ trial and death, elements of which all the respective evangelists would surely not have jettisoned in favor of Mark’s version? Why does it look as though the later evangelists possessed no story at all about Jesus until they encountered a copy of Mark? Minor, ground-level changes by this or that evangelist, such as John changing the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, or Luke adding a ‘trial’ before Herod, or Matthew having Pilate wash his hands, don’t count since they don’t alter the story outline, and especially since such changes can be entirely seen as motivated by each individual evangelist’s own agendas. Moreover, if critical scholarship, which Jim at times seems to defend, has already eliminated such things as the historical existence of Judas, or the freeing of Barabbas, or even Gethsemane, doesn’t that spell a fundamental literary dependency on Mark’s own invention? Such things can hardly be variances on existing traditions.  

    Matthew and Luke incorporated into their reworkings of Mark the sayings of a Kingdom-preaching movement all three were associated with, but even in that reconstructed Q document there is no narrative at all and no biography of its founder figure, and not even a reference to the ‘events’ of death and resurrection.

    (to be continued)

  • Earl Doherty

    Both I and Neil Godfrey have several times in the course of Jim McGrath’s ‘review’ pointed out how Jim’s attempted counter-arguments often work against him. Perhaps the most egregious example of this so far concerns the following in his review of Chapter 7:

    Jim: “On a more substantial underlying point, I have the strong impression that Doherty has given little thought to what is involved in turning a tradition into a narrative…. In the same way, imagine two authors who received a tradition like that in 1 Corinthians 15, and the different ways they might try to turn it into a story – for instance, we might find one setting an event in Jerusalem, the other setting the same event in Galilee, since the location wasn’t specified. That is in fact what we find in the Gospel Easter stories, and such huge discrepancies at such a major juncture can seem genuinely puzzling – until we realize that in passing on information, we do not always provide enough detail so as to enable the listener to later reproduce it as a narrative.”

    It is not clear to me what the above is meant to counter. Chapter 7 did not make any claims about variety of traditions concerning such and such an event, but the lack of any Jesus traditions (in the epistles) relating to settings on earth. Nor has Jim suggested why, given his variety of traditions-turned-narrative, no author would end up mentioning the tradition/narrative which his community would have formulated or inherited (probably from one of many inventive prophets, though there is no sign of such creative figures in any epistle). A couple of decades after Jesus’ death, did all those communities hold a conference (attended by Paul) in which, faced with the variety of tradition about the Jesus narrative they were preaching, took a vote to resolve the contradictions by henceforth never mentioning any narrative elements or oral traditions at all, but simply the bare fact of dying and rising?

    But Jim’s scenario is contradicted entirely by the situation we find in the Gospels. If oral tradition existed at all about the circumstances of Jesus’ life and death, especially the key passion event (and how could it not within Jim’s picture of historicism, whether authentic or not?), should we not expect a multiplicity of different narratives to be found in different Christian communities? That would certainly be in line with what Jim is advocating. Why then, is every passion narrative in all the Gospels (including John’s) essentially exactly the same: location, characters, trial process, features of the crucifixion scene, all of them modelled on the first one written, Mark’s?

    Did Matthew’s community, Luke’s community, John’s community off in northern Syria, not possess its own evolved narrative of Jesus’ trial and death, elements of which all the respective evangelists would surely not have jettisoned in favor of Mark’s version? Why does it look as though the later evangelists possessed no story at all about Jesus until they encountered a copy of Mark? Minor, ground-level changes by this or that evangelist, such as John changing the day of Jesus’ crucifixion, or Luke adding a ‘trial’ before Herod, or Matthew having Pilate wash his hands, don’t count since they don’t alter the story outline, and especially since such changes can be entirely seen as motivated by each individual evangelist’s own agendas. Moreover, if critical scholarship, which Jim at times seems to defend, has already eliminated such things as the historical existence of Judas, or the freeing of Barabbas, or even Gethsemane, doesn’t that spell a fundamental literary dependency on Mark’s own invention? Such things can hardly be variances on existing traditions.  

    Matthew and Luke incorporated into their reworkings of Mark the sayings of a Kingdom-preaching movement all three were associated with, but even in that reconstructed Q document there is no narrative at all and no biography of its founder figure, and not even a reference to the ‘events’ of death and resurrection.

    (to be continued)

  • Earl Doherty

    So where is the evidence for any “narrative” about Jesus
    existing before Mark put one together, by plumbing scripture, on his own
    writing desk? Mark was far more imaginative than any modern mythicist!

     

    So can we get some logical consistency here, Jim? What do we
    have: a multiplicity of narratives, even though only one shows up in the
    Gospels—which proves exactly what about the pervasive
    silence in the epistles and other early non-canonical documents? Or do we have
    a total ignorance by anyone in the early Christian movement on elements of
    Jesus’ life and death, and yet the movement was able to spread across half the
    empire within a handful of years and be accepted by Jews and gentiles alike even in the context of that total
    ignorance? (“What can you tell us, Paul,” asks a member of his audience, “about
    this man whom you say was the Son of God and Redeemer of the world, and walked
    out of his tomb? Why should we accept such things about a crucified rebel?”
    Answers Paul: “Sorry, buddy, we know nothing about him.”

     

    As for Jim’s example of the diversity of resurrection
    appearances (“Easter stories”), is he seriously suggesting that these are based
    on a variety of actual traditions, rather than being inventions by the respective
    evangelists? If that were the case, why didn’t Mark reflect some version of
    such traditions? Why is Mark silent on any version of appearances to Jesus if
    he knew of any? And if the others knew such a variety themselves, where had
    Mark been—living under a rock? Doesn’t this situation spell a lack of any
    traditions until the later evangelists, struck by the absence in Mark, decided
    to create their own for their own literary purposes? Wouldn’t that be the proper
    method of historical criticism which Jim is always championing?

     

    Oh wait, I forgot that the prime rule in proper historical
    methods is that such methods must always point to an historical Jesus, and anything
    which might point toward the mythicist theory is a crock perpetrated by
    charlatans and ignoramuses. My apologies.

     

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

      To Doherty,
      Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.”

      Again, I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro9:31-33 Darby:
      “But Israel, pursuing after a law of righteousness, has not attained to [that] law. Wherefore? Because [it was] not on the principle of faith, but as of works. They have stumbled at the stumblingstone, according as it is written, Behold, I [God] place in Zion a stone of stumbling and rock of offence ['skandalon']: and he that believes [has faith] on him [Jesus, see 10:11 where Paul used the same quote] shall not be ashamed.”

      a) What “is written” is parts of Isa8:14 & Isa28:16, with significant rewriting by Paul in order to fit his purpose:
      - Isa8:14 NKJV “He [the Lord God] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense [NOT translated as 'skandalon' in the LXX!] to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
      - Isa28:16 NKJV “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion [Jerusalem] a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.””
      For Paul, the “stone of stumbling” and the “rock of offence” for the Jews is Christ (“For Christ is [the] end of law for righteousness to every one that believes.” Ro10:4 Darby)
      by his sacrifice on the cross (“… for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal 2:21 NKJV)
      whom the Jews are still refusing (“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted to the righteousness of God [brought about by Christ!].” Ro10:3 Darby).

      b) This is confirmed by:
      - 1Co1:23 YLT “… Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a stumbling-block ['skandalon', also translated as "offenc(s)e" or "scandal"] …”
      - Gal5:11 NKJV “… the offense ['skandalon'] of the cross …”
      - Generally Ro10-11 (about Jews not acknowledging Christ), as in the next quote:
      Ro11:9-10 NASB “And David says: “Let their table [Israel's] become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block ['skandalon'] and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, …”” (quoted from Ps69:22:23)
      Finally, about the Law (with the associated righteousness) being replaced by one of faith in Christ & God:
      - Php3:9 NKJV “… not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;”

      c) And despite all the deletions and changes, Paul kept “in Zion” as the location of the ‘skandalon’/crucifixion.

      d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

  • Earl Doherty

    So where is the evidence for any “narrative” about Jesus
    existing before Mark put one together, by plumbing scripture, on his own
    writing desk? Mark was far more imaginative than any modern mythicist!

     

    So can we get some logical consistency here, Jim? What do we
    have: a multiplicity of narratives, even though only one shows up in the
    Gospels—which proves exactly what about the pervasive
    silence in the epistles and other early non-canonical documents? Or do we have
    a total ignorance by anyone in the early Christian movement on elements of
    Jesus’ life and death, and yet the movement was able to spread across half the
    empire within a handful of years and be accepted by Jews and gentiles alike even in the context of that total
    ignorance? (“What can you tell us, Paul,” asks a member of his audience, “about
    this man whom you say was the Son of God and Redeemer of the world, and walked
    out of his tomb? Why should we accept such things about a crucified rebel?”
    Answers Paul: “Sorry, buddy, we know nothing about him.”

     

    As for Jim’s example of the diversity of resurrection
    appearances (“Easter stories”), is he seriously suggesting that these are based
    on a variety of actual traditions, rather than being inventions by the respective
    evangelists? If that were the case, why didn’t Mark reflect some version of
    such traditions? Why is Mark silent on any version of appearances to Jesus if
    he knew of any? And if the others knew such a variety themselves, where had
    Mark been—living under a rock? Doesn’t this situation spell a lack of any
    traditions until the later evangelists, struck by the absence in Mark, decided
    to create their own for their own literary purposes? Wouldn’t that be the proper
    method of historical criticism which Jim is always championing?

     

    Oh wait, I forgot that the prime rule in proper historical
    methods is that such methods must always point to an historical Jesus, and anything
    which might point toward the mythicist theory is a crock perpetrated by
    charlatans and ignoramuses. My apologies.

     

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

      To Doherty,
      Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.”

      Again, I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro9:31-33 Darby:
      “But Israel, pursuing after a law of righteousness, has not attained to [that] law. Wherefore? Because [it was] not on the principle of faith, but as of works. They have stumbled at the stumblingstone, according as it is written, Behold, I [God] place in Zion a stone of stumbling and rock of offence ['skandalon']: and he that believes [has faith] on him [Jesus, see 10:11 where Paul used the same quote] shall not be ashamed.”

      a) What “is written” is parts of Isa8:14 & Isa28:16, with significant rewriting by Paul in order to fit his purpose:
      - Isa8:14 NKJV “He [the Lord God] will be as a sanctuary, but a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense [NOT translated as 'skandalon' in the LXX!] to both the houses of Israel, as a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.”
      - Isa28:16 NKJV “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I lay in Zion [Jerusalem] a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.””
      For Paul, the “stone of stumbling” and the “rock of offence” for the Jews is Christ (“For Christ is [the] end of law for righteousness to every one that believes.” Ro10:4 Darby)
      by his sacrifice on the cross (“… for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” Gal 2:21 NKJV)
      whom the Jews are still refusing (“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, have not submitted to the righteousness of God [brought about by Christ!].” Ro10:3 Darby).

      b) This is confirmed by:
      - 1Co1:23 YLT “… Christ crucified, to Jews, indeed, a stumbling-block ['skandalon', also translated as "offenc(s)e" or "scandal"] …”
      - Gal5:11 NKJV “… the offense ['skandalon'] of the cross …”
      - Generally Ro10-11 (about Jews not acknowledging Christ), as in the next quote:
      Ro11:9-10 NASB “And David says: “Let their table [Israel's] become a snare and a trap, and a stumbling block ['skandalon'] and a retribution to them. Let their eyes be darkened to see not, …”” (quoted from Ps69:22:23)
      Finally, about the Law (with the associated righteousness) being replaced by one of faith in Christ & God:
      - Php3:9 NKJV “… not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;”

      c) And despite all the deletions and changes, Paul kept “in Zion” as the location of the ‘skandalon’/crucifixion.

      d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

  • Earl Doherty

    Damn…

    So where is the evidence for any “narrative” about Jesus existing before Mark put one together, by plumbing scripture, on his own writing desk? Mark was far more imaginative than any modern mythicist!

    So can we get some logical consistency here, Jim? What do we have: a multiplicity of narratives, even though only one shows up in the Gospels—which proves exactly what about the pervasive silence in the epistles and other early non-canonical documents? Or do we have a total ignorance by anyone in the early Christian movement on elements of Jesus’ life and death, and yet the movement was able to spread across half the empire and be accepted by Jews and gentiles alike even in the context of that total ignorance? (“What can you tell us, Paul,” asks a member of his audience, “about this man whom you say was the Son of God and Redeemer of the world, and walked out of his tomb? Why should we accept such things about a crucified rebel?” Answers Paul: “Sorry, buddy, we know nothing about him.”

    As for Jim’s example of the diversity of resurrection appearances (“Easter stories”), is he seriously suggesting that these are based on a variety of actual traditions, rather than being inventions by the respective evangelists? If that were the case, why didn’t Mark reflect some version of such traditions? Why is Mark silent on any version of appearances to Jesus if he knew of any? And if the others knew such a variety themselves, where had Mark been—living under a rock? Doesn’t this situation spell a lack of any traditions until the later evangelists, struck by the absence in Mark, decided to create their own for their own literary purposes? Wouldn’t that be the proper method of historical criticism which Jim is always championing?

    Oh wait, I forgot that the prime rule in proper historical methods is that such methods must always point to an historical Jesus, and anything which might point toward the mythicist theory is a crock perpetrated by charlatans and ignoramuses. My apologies.

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

      To Doherty:
      Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.”
      I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro11:26-27 Darby
      “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “the Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel (Ge32:28)]; for this is My covenant with them [Jews], when I take away their sins.””

      a) What “is written” is a combination of parts from two OT passages, with alterations by Paul in order to fit his agenda (the Jews will convert, even if they didn’t so far!):
      - Isa59:20-21a NKJV “”The Redeemer [here, it is God himself!] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD.”As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: …””
      - Isa27:9a NKJV “Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: …”

      b) For Paul, the “Deliverer” (Saviour) of the Jews is undoubtedly Christ, by his death for atonement of sins. This is corroborated by:
      - Ro3:9 NKJV “… we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin …”
      - Gal4:4-5a YLT “God sent forth His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that those under law [that would include Jews!] he may redeem, …”
      - Gal1:3b-4a NKJV “… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us …”
      - Ro5:8b Darby “… we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.”

      c) And, again, Paul kept “Zion” despite his rewriting. But why did he substitute “to” by “out of”?
      Likely in order to take in account:
      - Jesus becomes the “Deliverer” when performing his redeeming act “out of” Jerusalem/Judea.

      or/and, if Paul understood “Zion” meant the whole of Israel,

      - The “Deliverer” (Jesus) is “out of” (from) Zion.

      d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

  • Earl Doherty

    Damn…

    So where is the evidence for any “narrative” about Jesus existing before Mark put one together, by plumbing scripture, on his own writing desk? Mark was far more imaginative than any modern mythicist!

    So can we get some logical consistency here, Jim? What do we have: a multiplicity of narratives, even though only one shows up in the Gospels—which proves exactly what about the pervasive silence in the epistles and other early non-canonical documents? Or do we have a total ignorance by anyone in the early Christian movement on elements of Jesus’ life and death, and yet the movement was able to spread across half the empire and be accepted by Jews and gentiles alike even in the context of that total ignorance? (“What can you tell us, Paul,” asks a member of his audience, “about this man whom you say was the Son of God and Redeemer of the world, and walked out of his tomb? Why should we accept such things about a crucified rebel?” Answers Paul: “Sorry, buddy, we know nothing about him.”

    As for Jim’s example of the diversity of resurrection appearances (“Easter stories”), is he seriously suggesting that these are based on a variety of actual traditions, rather than being inventions by the respective evangelists? If that were the case, why didn’t Mark reflect some version of such traditions? Why is Mark silent on any version of appearances to Jesus if he knew of any? And if the others knew such a variety themselves, where had Mark been—living under a rock? Doesn’t this situation spell a lack of any traditions until the later evangelists, struck by the absence in Mark, decided to create their own for their own literary purposes? Wouldn’t that be the proper method of historical criticism which Jim is always championing?

    Oh wait, I forgot that the prime rule in proper historical methods is that such methods must always point to an historical Jesus, and anything which might point toward the mythicist theory is a crock perpetrated by charlatans and ignoramuses. My apologies.

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

      To Doherty:
      Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.”
      I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro11:26-27 Darby
      “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “the Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel (Ge32:28)]; for this is My covenant with them [Jews], when I take away their sins.””

      a) What “is written” is a combination of parts from two OT passages, with alterations by Paul in order to fit his agenda (the Jews will convert, even if they didn’t so far!):
      - Isa59:20-21a NKJV “”The Redeemer [here, it is God himself!] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD.”As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: …””
      - Isa27:9a NKJV “Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: …”

      b) For Paul, the “Deliverer” (Saviour) of the Jews is undoubtedly Christ, by his death for atonement of sins. This is corroborated by:
      - Ro3:9 NKJV “… we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin …”
      - Gal4:4-5a YLT “God sent forth His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that those under law [that would include Jews!] he may redeem, …”
      - Gal1:3b-4a NKJV “… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us …”
      - Ro5:8b Darby “… we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.”

      c) And Paul kept “Zion” despite his rewriting. But why did he substitute “to” by “out of”?
      Likely in order to take in account:
      - Jesus becomes the “Deliverer” when performing his redeeming act “out of” Jerusalem/Judea.

      or/and, if Paul understood “Zion” meant the whole of Israel,

      - The “Deliverer” (Jesus) is “out of” (from) Zion.

      d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

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

    @Earl, Let me start with your last point first. If there were to be future historians of religion who could not agree about whether L. Ron Hubbard was a Sci-fi author, a religious prophet, a charlatan or a money-making genius, would that be evidence that he didn’t exist?

    Now, to your earlier comment. You pointed to lack of some details in the epistles that are later to be found in the Gospels. I pointed to one example where we have a tradition that existed in Paul’s time, without geographic details, and something related to it set in different geographic locations in later Gospels. Yet you have no response but incredulity.

    The least credible mythicists are those who talk about the creativity of the Gospel authors as though it were creativity in a vacuum. The figure of Jesus and a religion focused on him existed before the Gospel authors wrote – unless you’d like to reverse your strategy and date the earliest Gospel before Paul’s letters. But that hardly improves the situation for mythicism.

    At any rate, I have been offering specific criticisms, pointing out major problems, and asking questions about your claims and the evidence for them. If you can do no better by way of response than the argument from personal incredulity, you will have illustrated yet another similarity between creationism and mythicism.

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

    @Earl, Let me start with your last point first. If there were to be future historians of religion who could not agree about whether L. Ron Hubbard was a Sci-fi author, a religious prophet, a charlatan or a money-making genius, would that be evidence that he didn’t exist?

    Now, to your earlier comment. You pointed to lack of some details in the epistles that are later to be found in the Gospels. I pointed to one example where we have a tradition that existed in Paul’s time, without geographic details, and something related to it set in different geographic locations in later Gospels. Yet you have no response but incredulity.

    The least credible mythicists are those who talk about the creativity of the Gospel authors as though it were creativity in a vacuum. The figure of Jesus and a religion focused on him existed before the Gospel authors wrote – unless you’d like to reverse your strategy and date the earliest Gospel before Paul’s letters. But that hardly improves the situation for mythicism.

    At any rate, I have been offering specific criticisms, pointing out major problems, and asking questions about your claims and the evidence for them. If you can do no better by way of response than the argument from personal incredulity, you will have illustrated yet another similarity between creationism and mythicism.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus If you make mistakes or forget to paste/copy from notepad first, use the edit link on the bottom right of your posted comment and you can edit your comment again.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus If you make mistakes or forget to paste/copy from notepad first, use the edit link on the bottom right of your posted comment and you can edit your comment again.

  • Kris

    the earliest texts range from the 2nd -3rd century. Your second argument is basically it is possible, therefore it happened. You can BELIEVE what you want, the question is what can you PROVE.

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      No.  That is not my argument.  

      I don’t know what happened to the texts as they were copied and recopied during those first two centuries because I don’t have the evidence that would tell me.  I agree that textual evidence would be very helpful and much more convincing than any other type of argument.  However, just as the lack of manuscript evidence for the earliest period of transmission hinders me in identifying interpolations, it hinders me in identifying which passages are indisputably original.  I think it would be very foolish not to allow for the possibility that many interpolations and omissions occurred without leaving a variant in the manuscripts.

      I happen to think that both sides should produce evidence to support their positions.  

  • Kris

    the earliest texts range from the 2nd -3rd century. Your second argument is basically it is possible, therefore it happened. You can BELIEVE what you want, the question is what can you PROVE.

    • VinnyJH

      Kris,

      No.  That is not my argument.  

      I don’t know what happened to the texts as they were copied and recopied during those first two centuries because I don’t have the evidence that would tell me.  I agree that textual evidence would be very helpful and much more convincing than any other type of argument.  However, just as the lack of manuscript evidence for the earliest period of transmission hinders me in identifying interpolations, it hinders me in identifying which passages are indisputably original.  I think it would be very foolish not to allow for the possibility that many interpolations and omissions occurred without leaving a variant in the manuscripts.

      I happen to think that both sides should produce evidence to support their positions.  

  • Kris

    I keep saying textual evidence cause that is hard evidence and is not remotely subjective.

  • Kris

    I keep saying textual evidence cause that is hard evidence and is not remotely subjective.

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

    In my review of McGrath’s review of Doherty’s chapter 7 (http://wp.me/p2lgb-5bJ) I copied the entirety of
    McGrath’s arguments so readers can make up their own minds about the
    validity of my criticisms.

    It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted to
    resort to insult and ridicule when their own words are copied and read
    back to them, along with observations pointing out either logical or factual
    errors in their statements. This is something that has happened a
    number of times, in relation to at least four biblical scholars, on my blog.

    By contrast, when some of those same biblical scholars write
    criticisms of mythicist arguments, they habitually tendentiously
    re-word, tell half-truths by selectively quoting, suppress and flatly
    contradict the arguments they claim to be criticizing.
     

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

    In my review of McGrath’s review of Doherty’s chapter 7 (http://wp.me/p2lgb-5bJ) I copied the entirety of
    McGrath’s arguments so readers can make up their own minds about the
    validity of my criticisms.

    It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted to
    resort to insult and ridicule when their own words are copied and read
    back to them, along with observations pointing out either logical or factual
    errors in their statements. This is something that has happened a
    number of times, in relation to at least four biblical scholars, on my blog.

    By contrast, when some of those same biblical scholars write
    criticisms of mythicist arguments, they habitually tendentiously
    re-word, tell half-truths by selectively quoting, suppress and flatly
    contradict the arguments they claim to be criticizing.
     

  • Anonymous

    James, I’m rather confused why you think Christian pilgrims in the early days would have been odd.  Are you really claiming that going to holy sites was a medieval notion rather than an ancient one?  I hope not since the most cursory search shows that to not be the case.

    There were the holy sites of Delphi and Dodona that folks migrated to for various religious reasons, and similarly for the shrines to Aesculapius which were vary popular.  And if you think this was some Greco-Roman thing, should we not forget that Jews went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage.  And that would have to include Jesus and the Disciples since the trip to Jerusalem was a pilgrimage for the Passover.  They also went up to the Mount of Olives, another holy site.  Moreover, we are lead to think that going to important locations was early in Christianity since, according to the Gospels, a few days after Jesus’ death women had gone to see the tomb and body.  I think Day 3 of Christianity is plenty early in religious history.

    As for your argument that the belief in the inevitable coming of Jesus in the first century suppressing Christians from wanting to make such trips, that cuts both ways.  If you thought the world was going to end soon, wouldn’t you want to go and see the things important to you even more so since your opportunity is flying by?  Perhaps even more so since there is the biblical commandment to appear before the Lord (Ex 23:17)–if I had just become a convert in Paul’s day, I’d be following every commandment and get circumcised twice just to be safe.  Besides, even medieval pilgrims believed in the nearness of the End Times, yet they went on such trips all the time.  Your objection has no weight.

    So I think denying the desire to make pilgrimages to holy places is obtuse since the practice is ancient and wide-spread, including in Judaism, so Doherty’s point still retains some strength.  It’s hardly a game-changing issue, but I find the denial hard to justify.

  • Gilgamesh42

    James, I’m rather confused why you think Christian pilgrims in the early days would have been odd.  Are you really claiming that going to holy sites was a medieval notion rather than an ancient one?  I hope not since the most cursory search shows that to not be the case.

    There were the holy sites of Delphi and Dodona that folks migrated to for various religious reasons, and similarly for the shrines to Aesculapius which were vary popular.  And if you think this was some Greco-Roman thing, should we not forget that Jews went to Jerusalem on pilgrimage.  And that would have to include Jesus and the Disciples since the trip to Jerusalem was a pilgrimage for the Passover.  They also went up to the Mount of Olives, another holy site.  Moreover, we are lead to think that going to important locations was early in Christianity since, according to the Gospels, a few days after Jesus’ death women had gone to see the tomb and body.  I think Day 3 of Christianity is plenty early in religious history.

    As for your argument that the belief in the inevitable coming of Jesus in the first century suppressing Christians from wanting to make such trips, that cuts both ways.  If you thought the world was going to end soon, wouldn’t you want to go and see the things important to you even more so since your opportunity is flying by?  Perhaps even more so since there is the biblical commandment to appear before the Lord (Ex 23:17)–if I had just become a convert in Paul’s day, I’d be following every commandment and get circumcised twice just to be safe.  Besides, even medieval pilgrims believed in the nearness of the End Times, yet they went on such trips all the time.  Your objection has no weight.

    So I think denying the desire to make pilgrimages to holy places is obtuse since the practice is ancient and wide-spread, including in Judaism, so Doherty’s point still retains some strength.  It’s hardly a game-changing issue, but I find the denial hard to justify.

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

    @Earl Doherty, in order to eliminate the evidence that Paul sees a connection between the human death and resurrection of Jesus and that of others, you have to eliminate both the religio-historical context of Paul and also the other things Paul says on this subject, in these passages and others. Paul speaks of Jesus as the firstfruits of those who sleep, the first but not the only one who would be resurrected. Resurrection was what was expected to happen to humans at the end of the age. It is only by pretending that the meaning of words is constrained only by the limits of the interpreter’s imagination, and not by the meaning of words in Paul’s time and the evidence from Paul’s own letters that provide important clues to his meaning, that you manage to persuade yourself that Paul is not talking about what any of his Jewish contemporaries would have understood him to mean, and what it seems some of his non-Jewish contemporaries found puzzling and difficult.

    Since you briefly mention Paul’s language that treats Christ’s resurrection as the beginning of this anticipated general resurrection of human beings, found in 1 Corinthians 15:23, at some later point in your book, and deal unpersuasively there with the reference to God bringing about the resurrection of the dead through a human being (1 Cor. 5:21) and deny that Paul’s thinking about the resurrection from the dead has anything to do with the Jewish eschatological expectation that, contrary to your assertions otherwise, is the only framework against which it makes sense, perhaps we should just leave discussion of that until we get to those pages.

    • Earl Doherty

      Like I said, Jim, let’s wait to address these passages until you get to the part of my book that discusses them in detail. And you seem to agree.

      And please note that 1 Cor. 15:21 makes no mention of “a human being.” The term used is “man” (anthropos) which, as you know (you do, don’t you?), was used widely in non-human contexts in ancient world mythology about figures in heaven.

      But we’ll get to that.

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

        Doherty wrote: “And please note that 1 Cor. 15:21 makes no mention of “a human being.” The term used is “man” (anthropos) which, as you know (you do, don’t you?), was used widely in non-human contexts in ancient world mythology about figures in heaven.”

        In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 83 times for real earthly human man/men. Are you saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (1Cor15:21,15:47 & Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as non-human figure of heaven?

        • Earl Doherty

          Bernard: “In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 86
          times, everytime for earthly human man/men and Jesus (3 times). Are you
          saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (1Cor15:21,15:47 &
          Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as a
          figure in heaven”

          In Romans 5:15, 1 Cor. 15:21 and 47, yes I am saying that here Paul is referring to a “heavenly man,” a concept quite common in the ancient world, whether you know it or not. But it’s not “sudden”; these passages are quite unlike any others that simply refer to male human beings as “men”. They involve spiritual and mystical concepts on a grand scale, salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles, and so on. In the last passage, Paul actually defines that “man” as entirely heavenly and spiritual, different and distinct from the first Adam, who was earthly and made of earthly stuff. But I guess you missed that.

          Anyway, it’s good to know that you admit, Bernard, that you always choose to ignore the actual nature and context of a given passage itself and think no more deeply than, oh, what the heck, let’s give any word the same common meaning as in most other appearances of it. Let’s not complicate that simplistic understanding by trying to take other contexts and factors and wider ranges of meaning into account. That’s far too subtle and perceptive, and might even uncover ideas that have been missed before. Of course, you’re not the only one who settles for that. “I will accept only the commonest meaning of a word!” is a refrain heard frequently around here.

          By the way, I don’t include Phil. 2:8. That refers to the human form which descending divinities could be conceived of adopting a “likeness” to (never actual state of) throughout the literature. It’s a common motif for Christ that I guess has never piqued your curiosity.

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

            To Doherty,
            Again your biased interpretation. Why did Paul not choose a different word to make the distinction, or added up “heavenly”. What’s funny about that, is earlier your said all “brothers in” and brother(s) of” in Paul’s epistles meant fellow Christians. Now you say all the “man” (‘anthropos’) in the Pauline Corpus do not mean the same. Go figure.
            Differentiation in the meaning of words is motivated by your agenda. That is Jesus could not have been a regular man, so Paul had a different meaning in mind when he qualified Jesus as being a man (4 times!).

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

    @Earl Doherty, in order to eliminate the evidence that Paul sees a connection between the human death and resurrection of Jesus and that of others, you have to eliminate both the religio-historical context of Paul and also the other things Paul says on this subject, in these passages and others. Paul speaks of Jesus as the firstfruits of those who sleep, the first but not the only one who would be resurrected. Resurrection was what was expected to happen to humans at the end of the age. It is only by pretending that the meaning of words is constrained only by the limits of the interpreter’s imagination, and not by the meaning of words in Paul’s time and the evidence from Paul’s own letters that provide important clues to his meaning, that you manage to persuade yourself that Paul is not talking about what any of his Jewish contemporaries would have understood him to mean, and what it seems some of his non-Jewish contemporaries found puzzling and difficult.

    Since you briefly mention Paul’s language that treats Christ’s resurrection as the beginning of this anticipated general resurrection of human beings, found in 1 Corinthians 15:23, at some later point in your book, and deal unpersuasively there with the reference to God bringing about the resurrection of the dead through a human being (1 Cor. 5:21) and deny that Paul’s thinking about the resurrection from the dead has anything to do with the Jewish eschatological expectation that, contrary to your assertions otherwise, is the only framework against which it makes sense, perhaps we should just leave discussion of that until we get to those pages.

    • Earl Doherty

      Like I said, Jim, let’s wait to address these passages until you get to the part of my book that discusses them in detail. And you seem to agree.

      And please note that 1 Cor. 15:21 makes no mention of “a human being.” The term used is “man” (anthropos) which, as you know (you do, don’t you?), was used widely in non-human contexts in ancient world mythology about figures in heaven.

      But we’ll get to that.

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

        Doherty wrote: “And please note that 1 Cor. 15:21 makes no mention of “a human being.” The term used is “man” (anthropos) which, as you know (you do, don’t you?), was used widely in non-human contexts in ancient world mythology about figures in heaven.”

        In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 87 times, everytime for earthly human man/men and Jesus (4 times). Are you saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (Rom5:15, 1Cor15:21,15:47 & Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as a figure in heaven?

        • Earl Doherty

          Bernard: “In the seven deemed authentic epistles, Paul used ‘anthropos’ about 86
          times, everytime for earthly human man/men and Jesus (3 times). Are you
          saying when Paul wrote ‘anthropos’ for Jesus (1Cor15:21,15:47 &
          Php2:8), this same word would suddenly take another meaning, such as a
          figure in heaven”

          In Romans 5:15, 1 Cor. 15:21 and 47, yes I am saying that here Paul is referring to a “heavenly man,” a concept quite common in the ancient world, whether you know it or not. But it’s not “sudden”; these passages are quite unlike any others that simply refer to male human beings as “men”. They involve spiritual and mystical concepts on a grand scale, salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles, and so on. In the last passage, Paul actually defines that “man” as entirely heavenly and spiritual, different and distinct from the first Adam, who was earthly and made of earthly stuff. But I guess you missed that.

          Anyway, it’s good to know that you admit, Bernard, that you always choose to ignore the actual nature and context of a given passage itself and think no more deeply than, oh, what the heck, let’s give any word the same common meaning as in most other appearances of it. Let’s not complicate that simplistic understanding by trying to take other contexts and factors and wider ranges of meaning into account. That’s far too subtle and perceptive, and might even uncover ideas that have been missed before. Of course, you’re not the only one who settles for that. “I will accept only the commonest meaning of a word!” is a refrain heard frequently around here.

          By the way, I don’t include Phil. 2:8. That refers to the human form which descending divinities could be conceived of adopting a “likeness” to (never actual state of) throughout the literature. It’s a common motif for Christ that I guess has never piqued your curiosity.

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

            To Doherty,
            Again your biased interpretation. Why did Paul not choose a different word for “man” to make the distinction, or added up “heavenly”. What’s funny about that, is earlier your said all “brothers in the Lord” and brother(s) of the Lord” in Paul’s epistles meant fellow Christians. Now you say not all the “man” (‘anthropos’) in the Pauline Corpus mean the same thing. Go figure.
            Differentiation in the meaning of words is motivated by your agenda. That is Jesus could not have been a regular man, so Paul had a different meaning in mind when he qualified Jesus as being a man (4 times)!

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

    @Gilgamesh, thanks for your comment. I certainly don’t think it would be surprising were there some pilgrimage in early Christianity. Jewish Christians who went up to Jerusalem might well have visited sites related to the events in the life of Jesus. But on the whole, we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other than to the Temple in Jerusalem. Visiting Mt. Sinai, or the Jordan, or the Red Sea/Sea of Reeds, or the birthplace of David – we may speculate about whether anyone did such things, but we do not have people writing about doing such things, and so either way I think that my point retains at least some validity. Either Jews didn’t do it much, or they didn’t write about it much.

    As for how the end of the world might relate to this, I suppose it depends on what the early Christians believed. If they thought they would be whisked off to heaven, then one last look at important places might have made sense, although those who expect an afterlife in heaven sometimes put little value on earthly places and things. But if they expected the kingdom to dawn on earth, then there was presumably no need for a last look at places, since they would be there, transformed, in the eschaton, as we get for instance in the Book of Revelation to a certain extent.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Of course we might expect that there would be more interest in the sites relating to the savior of humankind and the “name that is above every name”  than there would be to the likes of David or others from the Israelite past.

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

    @Gilgamesh, thanks for your comment. I certainly don’t think it would be surprising were there some pilgrimage in early Christianity. Jewish Christians who went up to Jerusalem might well have visited sites related to the events in the life of Jesus. But on the whole, we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other than to the Temple in Jerusalem. Visiting Mt. Sinai, or the Jordan, or the Red Sea/Sea of Reeds, or the birthplace of David – we may speculate about whether anyone did such things, but we do not have people writing about doing such things, and so either way I think that my point retains at least some validity. Either Jews didn’t do it much, or they didn’t write about it much.

    As for how the end of the world might relate to this, I suppose it depends on what the early Christians believed. If they thought they would be whisked off to heaven, then one last look at important places might have made sense, although those who expect an afterlife in heaven sometimes put little value on earthly places and things. But if they expected the kingdom to dawn on earth, then there was presumably no need for a last look at places, since they would be there, transformed, in the eschaton, as we get for instance in the Book of Revelation to a certain extent.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Of course we might expect that there would be more interest in the sites relating to the savior of humankind and the “name that is above every name”  than there would be to the likes of David or others from the Israelite past.

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

    @Neil, I am confident that if you can persuade any other New Testament scholar to wade through even the first few chapters of Doherty’s book, they will consider it every bit as worthy of ridicule as I do. I understand that you say you are trying to take the “fair and balanced reporting” approach, but it is not always the case that both sides in a debate are equally serious, equally well-documented and equally evidenced, and so the media sometimes actually gives a misleading impression in its “balanced” reporting, precisely by suggesting that the two sides interviewed or highlighted are evenly balanced and equally deserving of viewers’ time and consideration.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I can think of two New Testament scholars that don’t think so negatively about Doherty’s work: Robert M. Price and Hector Avalos.  You already know about Price and his position on the historical Jesus, and Avalos in “The End of Christianity”, p. 197 says Doherty “outlines a plausible theory for a completely mythical Jesus.”  I am sure most New Testament scholars don’t consider the mythicism claims to be worth while, but it isn’t none.

      As for the pilgrimage topic, you seem to agree that we have no evidence of early Christians pilgrimages to the holy sites of the Jesus story.  But again your reason why this is the case doesn’t hold because I can still point to medieval pilgrims that also had eschatological beliefs but thought it worth while to visit sacred sites.  Even if the Kingdom of God was to be on Earth, the place was going to get ruffed up–Revelation shows the end time was no picnic which 2 Peter 3:10-13 confirms–so it would be odd to think that rock tombs and the like would have remained.

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

    @Neil, I am confident that if you can persuade any other New Testament scholar to wade through even the first few chapters of Doherty’s book, they will consider it every bit as worthy of ridicule as I do. I understand that you say you are trying to take the “fair and balanced reporting” approach, but it is not always the case that both sides in a debate are equally serious, equally well-documented and equally evidenced, and so the media sometimes actually gives a misleading impression in its “balanced” reporting, precisely by suggesting that the two sides interviewed or highlighted are evenly balanced and equally deserving of viewers’ time and consideration.

    • Gilgamesh42

      Actually, I can think of two New Testament scholars that don’t think so negatively about Doherty’s work: Robert M. Price and Hector Avalos.  You already know about Price and his position on the historical Jesus, and Avalos in “The End of Christianity”, p. 197 says Doherty “outlines a plausible theory for a completely mythical Jesus.”  I am sure most New Testament scholars don’t consider the mythicism claims to be worth while, but it isn’t none.

      As for the pilgrimage topic, you seem to agree that we have no evidence of early Christians pilgrimages to the holy sites of the Jesus story.  But again your reason why this is the case doesn’t hold because I can still point to medieval pilgrims that also had eschatological beliefs but thought it worth while to visit sacred sites.  Even if the Kingdom of God was to be on Earth, the place was going to get ruffed up–Revelation shows the end time was no picnic which 2 Peter 3:10-13 confirms–so it would be odd to think that rock tombs and the like would have remained.

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

    @Gilgamesh, Although we do not have evidence for pilgrimage to Christian sites in the text, I think there is some circumstantial evidence for it’s antiquity, in the form of what we know about the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Hadrian, if I’m not mistaken, had the temple of Aphrodite built there before the middle of the 2nd century. Given that the site was identified by local Christians as the place where Jesus had been crucified and buried, and when they moved the temple in Constantine’s time they found tombs beneath it, it seems that the site was considered to be the place of Jesus’s death and resurrection at least by the early second century.

    If there were Christian pilgrimage already in Paul’s time, do you think it is the sort of thing we ought to expect Paul to mention in his letters? He doesn’t mention rituals and practices remotely like this sort, except when there seem to have been issues in churches related to them.

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

    @Gilgamesh, Although we do not have evidence for pilgrimage to Christian sites in the text, I think there is some circumstantial evidence for it’s antiquity, in the form of what we know about the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Hadrian, if I’m not mistaken, had the temple of Aphrodite built there before the middle of the 2nd century. Given that the site was identified by local Christians as the place where Jesus had been crucified and buried, and when they moved the temple in Constantine’s time they found tombs beneath it, it seems that the site was considered to be the place of Jesus’s death and resurrection at least by the early second century.

    If there were Christian pilgrimage already in Paul’s time, do you think it is the sort of thing we ought to expect Paul to mention in his letters? He doesn’t mention rituals and practices remotely like this sort, except when there seem to have been issues in churches related to them.

  • Anonymous

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus You seem to be saying something completely different now.  Before you were doubting that Christians had the norms of medieval pilgrims, and now you are saying there is some evidence of for ancient pilgrimages?  Your point before was that Doherty was being anachronistic, but now you have gone against that.  I either need some clarification or you are contradicting yourself.  Nonetheless, this is an interesting bit of evidence I was not familiar with and would like to know more about it.

    As for Paul mentioning his own visits to the tomb and boasting about it, he was one to claim to be a stigmatic.  Moreover, it would have been beneficial to him to have this claim as it could indicate his intimacy with the beliefs of the church.  He could have mentioned this in Gal 1:18-24 when he made his first trip to Jerusalem of see Peter (and James).  If it was worth telling the Galatians that he got to know Peter, wouldn’t it also be worth while mentioning he got to know the holy sites?  Couldn’t he have at least made mention to the tomb?  Again, this is a weak argument from silence, so even if valid it hardly should make anyone a mythicist, but this is data that seems to fit that paradigm a bit better.

  • Gilgamesh42

    @jamesfmcgrath:disqus You seem to be saying something completely different now.  Before you were doubting that Christians had the norms of medieval pilgrims, and now you are saying there is some evidence of for ancient pilgrimages?  Your point before was that Doherty was being anachronistic, but now you have gone against that.  I either need some clarification or you are contradicting yourself.  Nonetheless, this is an interesting bit of evidence I was not familiar with and would like to know more about it.

    As for Paul mentioning his own visits to the tomb and boasting about it, he was one to claim to be a stigmatic.  Moreover, it would have been beneficial to him to have this claim as it could indicate his intimacy with the beliefs of the church.  He could have mentioned this in Gal 1:18-24 when he made his first trip to Jerusalem of see Peter (and James).  If it was worth telling the Galatians that he got to know Peter, wouldn’t it also be worth while mentioning he got to know the holy sites?  Couldn’t he have at least made mention to the tomb?  Again, this is a weak argument from silence, so even if valid it hardly should make anyone a mythicist, but this is data that seems to fit that paradigm a bit better.

  • Mike Wilson

    Has any one noticed that while Neil looks like Khan from StarTrek 2, he at least 3X as pompus? truely there is nothing like reading overwought, maudlen whining like,
     “It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted tor@jamesfmcgrath:disqus 

  • Mike Wilson

    Has any one noticed that while Neil looks like Khan from StarTrek 2, he at least 3X as pompus? truely there is nothing like reading overwought, maudlen whining like,
     “It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted tor@jamesfmcgrath:disqus 

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

    Has any one noticed that while Neil looks like Khan from Star Trek 2, he is at least 3X as pompous? Truly there is nothing like reading overwrought, maudlin whining like,
    “It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted to
    resort to insult and ridicule when their own words are copied and read
    back to them, along with observations pointing out either logical or factual
    errors in their statements. This is something that has happened a
    number of times, in relation to at least four biblical scholars, on my blog.

    By contrast, when some of those same biblical scholars write
    criticisms of mythicist arguments, they habitually tendentiously
    re-word, tell half-truths by selectively quoting, suppress and flatly
    contradict the arguments they claim to be criticizing.”

    But then look at this argument from Neil,“And what does one say in response to McGrath’s attempt to overturn Doherty’s argument by saying that the NT letters lack “mythical stories” too! Hebrews certainly doesn’t, nor does Revelation.”

    So Neil thinks that these works are establishing Doherty’s Jesus myth? While Neil has read all arguments pertaining to these works, he only seems to remember the shoddy ones. We then have to assume that Jew’s thought the Roman empire (and the Seleucid, Babylonians, and Persians) was a mythical entity, along perhaps with the whole Jewish race. This sounds like one of Evan’s half baked Born of Woman arguments. And it’s funny that Neil can think Mark is an allegory but he is sure that Hebrews is not. At any rate, is it a new discovery by Doherty that Christians thought Jesus was in heaven? But of course I’ve only habitually, tendentiously, re-worded, told half-truths by selectively quoting, suppressed and flatly contradicted the arguments I claim to be criticizing.

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

    Has any one noticed that while Neil looks like Khan from Star Trek 2, he is at least 3X as pompous? Truly there is nothing like reading overwrought, maudlin whining like,
    “It is a curious fact that some biblical scholars have opted to
    resort to insult and ridicule when their own words are copied and read
    back to them, along with observations pointing out either logical or factual
    errors in their statements. This is something that has happened a
    number of times, in relation to at least four biblical scholars, on my blog.

    By contrast, when some of those same biblical scholars write
    criticisms of mythicist arguments, they habitually tendentiously
    re-word, tell half-truths by selectively quoting, suppress and flatly
    contradict the arguments they claim to be criticizing.”

    But then look at this argument from Neil,“And what does one say in response to McGrath’s attempt to overturn Doherty’s argument by saying that the NT letters lack “mythical stories” too! Hebrews certainly doesn’t, nor does Revelation.”

    So Neil thinks that these works are establishing Doherty’s Jesus myth? While Neil has read all arguments pertaining to these works, he only seems to remember the shoddy ones. We then have to assume that Jew’s thought the Roman empire (and the Seleucid, Babylonians, and Persians) was a mythical entity, along perhaps with the whole Jewish race. This sounds like one of Evan’s half baked Born of Woman arguments. And it’s funny that Neil can think Mark is an allegory but he is sure that Hebrews is not. At any rate, is it a new discovery by Doherty that Christians thought Jesus was in heaven? But of course I’ve only habitually, tendentiously, re-worded, told half-truths by selectively quoting, suppressed and flatly contradicted the arguments I claim to be criticizing.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks James for your insights. I didn’t know if you saw this:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-paul-conceive-of-resurrected-body.html

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

      @John, thanks for sharing the link. I appreciated Richard Carrier’s points on that topic, and it is the fact that he was starting to do some really interesting mainstream scholarship on the New Testament that makes me particularly dismayed that he has chosen to relegate himself to the mythicist fringe. I’m hopeful that at some point he’ll return. :-)

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    Thanks James for your insights. I didn’t know if you saw this:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/05/did-paul-conceive-of-resurrected-body.html

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

      @John, thanks for sharing the link. I appreciated Richard Carrier’s points on that topic, and it is the fact that he was starting to do some really interesting mainstream scholarship on the New Testament that makes me particularly dismayed that he has chosen to relegate himself to the mythicist fringe. I’m hopeful that at some point he’ll return. :-)

  • Anonymous

    Dr. McGrath, are you aware of any exceptions to your statement that “we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other
    than to the Temple in Jerusalem. Visiting Mt. Sinai, or the Jordan …“?

    Josephus in Antiquities XX states:

    NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a
    certain magician, whose name was Theudas,
    persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and
    follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and
    that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an
    easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words.

  • Anonymous

    In addition, where was it that John the Baptist was alleged to have baptized? Was that not in the Jordan, did not people come to hear him?

  • beallen0417

    Dr. McGrath, are you aware of any exceptions to your statement that “we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other
    than to the Temple in Jerusalem. Visiting Mt. Sinai, or the Jordan …“?

    Josephus in Antiquities XX states:

    NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a
    certain magician, whose name was Theudas,
    persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and
    follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and
    that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an
    easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words.

  • beallen0417

    In addition, where was it that John the Baptist was alleged to have baptized? Was that not in the Jordan, did not people come to hear him?

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

    What do I think?

    Dr. McGrath was wrong about Paul suggesting a bodily resurrection for Jesus. And his quotes (in Greek!) did not help. And 1Cor15:5-7 cannot be considered a model for Jesus’ reappearances as described in the gospels.

    Kris and Mike seem to be NT inerrantists: they believe 1Th2:14-16 is not an interpolation!

    Doherty is still hammering Paul, in his epistles, should have written about the fantasy or fantastic parts of gospel Jesus (but I noted Paul used Jesus was poor, in poverty, in order to make a point and described him as being humble).

    And I am still waiting for any feedback about my last four postings where I shot down some of the main arguments of Doherty in Chapter 7.

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

    What do I think?

    Dr. McGrath was wrong about Paul suggesting a bodily resurrection for Jesus. And his quotes (in Greek!) did not help. And 1Cor15:5-7 cannot be considered a model for Jesus’ reappearances as described in the gospels.

    Kris and Mike seem to be NT inerrantists: they believe 1Th2:14-16 is not an interpolation!

    Doherty is still hammering Paul, in his epistles, should have written about the gospel Jesus (but I noted Paul used Jesus was poor, in poverty, in order to make a point and described him as being humble).

    And I am still waiting for any feedback about my last four postings where I shot down some of the main arguments of Doherty in Chapter 7.

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

    Evan, If I go see a preacher somewhere, it isn’t a pilgrimage. Also, the Jordan is a major river in Israel, so if people went there to wash clothes or fish, that also isn’t a pilgrimage, nor is it one if someone went to Jerusalem for the rapture. The fact that you think this describes a pilgrimage,
    NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a
    certain magician, whose name was Theudas,
    persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and
    follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and
    that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an
    easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words.,
    is evidence that mythicist are morons, and for that I thank you.

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

    Evan, If I go see a preacher somewhere, it isn’t a pilgrimage. Also, the Jordan is a major river in Israel, so if people went there to wash clothes or fish, that also isn’t a pilgrimage, nor is it one if someone went to Jerusalem for the rapture. The fact that you think this describes a pilgrimage,
    NOW it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a
    certain magician, whose name was Theudas,
    persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and
    follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and
    that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an
    easy passage over it; and many were deluded by his words.,
    is evidence that mythicist are morons, and for that I thank you.

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

    Bernard, I am no inerrantist, and I am offended by the implication that I might. I think a person can doubt that those particular verses are interpolations without having supernatural beliefs about the Bible. I appreciate the doubt surrounding the passage, and don’t use it when arguing against mythicist, but I am not confident in the conclusion it is an interpolation.

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

    Bernard, I am no inerrantist, and I am offended by the implication that I might. I think a person can doubt that those particular verses are interpolations without having supernatural beliefs about the Bible. I appreciate the doubt surrounding the passage, and don’t use it when arguing against mythicist, but I am not confident in the conclusion it is an interpolation.

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

    And finally, While I missed out on James Greek excursion, I don’t need to sit in while two Greek experts have a side conversation, though I suspect Doherty was furiously looking up words. In fact can we have a live online Greek battle? Each side will attempt to answer questions that are given in Greek.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “though I suspect Doherty was furiously looking up words.”

      Mike, after reading some of your postings, looking up a few words-with spell check and punctuation check- might not be a bad idea for you.

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

    And finally, While I missed out on James Greek excursion, I don’t need to sit in while two Greek experts have a side conversation, though I suspect Doherty was furiously looking up words. In fact can we have a live online Greek battle? Each side will attempt to answer questions that are given in Greek.

    • TruthOverfaith

      “though I suspect Doherty was furiously looking up words.”

      Mike, after reading some of your postings, looking up a few words-with spell check and punctuation check- might not be a bad idea for you.

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

    @Evan, both of those are instances of things that are more akin to what we read of in the Gospels, than what. Usually refer to as “pilgrimage.” In both the cases you mentioned, people went to where a specific religious figure was, or followed him where he was going, rather than visiting a site because of the inherent sacredness of the site on it’s own.

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

    @Evan, both of those are instances of things that are more akin to what we read of in the Gospels, than what. Usually refer to as “pilgrimage.” In both the cases you mentioned, people went to where a specific religious figure was, or followed him where he was going, rather than visiting a site because of the inherent sacredness of the site on it’s own.

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

    @Gilgamesh, as you probably gathered from my comments, the evidence for early Christian pilgrimage is piecemeal and far from clear. My main point was simply to address Doherty’s claim that we should expect to read about pilgrimages in the earliest epistles. It is unclear whether it happened very little in the first couple of centuries, or it happened but was written about very little. I don’t want to hang my case on archaeological evidence that is less than clear cut, but it seems that whether one interprets the archaeological evidence as providing evidence for pilgrimage or not, we still have relative silence about it in our extant texts. And so I think there is reason to think that at the very least the extent of and focus on pilgrimage in earliest Christianity was far, far less than in say the Middle Ages. And that was my main point, that it is a bad idea to make a case, as Doherty does, based on the presumption that the earliest Christians would have practiced and written about pilgrimages in the way and to the extent we find in much later times.

    • Anonymous

      @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I don’t think your comment has clarified things for me; rather the opposite.  Again, in your blog post you claimed Doherty was being anachronistic in having ancient pilgrimages; then you gave some piecemeal evidence that the practice existed in the second century for Christians.  The practice cannot be anachronistic if it may have existed at that time, and Greeks and Jews did go on pilgrimages in antiquity.  But now you seem to be saying because there is no mention of it in early Christian texts that Doherty’s point is invalid. The logic seems derailed here.  Doherty’s whole point that the lack of pilgrimages run contrary to expectations since such practices were common in the Hellenistic world.
      If there were no earthly landmarks, then it makes sense that there were no pilgrimages to holy sites.  If there were places of importance to the Christian story, then their lack of importance to people like Paul requires explanation.  As a matter of probability, the lack of pilgrimages early on fits mythicism 100%, but for historicism it is less than 100%–it cannot be 100% because the historist case is compatible with early pilgrimages as well, while mythicism is not.  That is why the silence adds some evidence in favor of the mythicist case.  I don’t think it adds much, but it isn’t zero.

      As for your comment to Evan concerning people journeying to the Jordan only because some holy man was there, your criticism begs the question: why was that person there in the first place?  Because it was a holy site.  We expect people to go to holy places to make their message stick.  Consider John the Baptist and Theudas at the Jordan, or the unnamed Egyptian at the Mount of Olives–moving to a sacred location.  And again, Jesus did the same (going to the Mount of Olives, pilgrimage to Jerusalem).  That we don’t see this at Jesus-related places in early Christianity sticks out.  You would think James in Jerusalem would have ‘set up shop’ about the empty tomb or the like.  There were Christians in the town just as there were holy men at the Jordan, so why not the pilgrimages?

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

    @Gilgamesh, as you probably gathered from my comments, the evidence for early Christian pilgrimage is piecemeal and far from clear. My main point was simply to address Doherty’s claim that we should expect to read about pilgrimages in the earliest epistles. It is unclear whether it happened very little in the first couple of centuries, or it happened but was written about very little. I don’t want to hang my case on archaeological evidence that is less than clear cut, but it seems that whether one interprets the archaeological evidence as providing evidence for pilgrimage or not, we still have relative silence about it in our extant texts. And so I think there is reason to think that at the very least the extent of and focus on pilgrimage in earliest Christianity was far, far less than in say the Middle Ages. And that was my main point, that it is a bad idea to make a case, as Doherty does, based on the presumption that the earliest Christians would have practiced and written about pilgrimages in the way and to the extent we find in much later times.

    • Gilgamesh42

      @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I don’t think your comment has clarified things for me; rather the opposite.  Again, in your blog post you claimed Doherty was being anachronistic in having ancient pilgrimages; then you gave some piecemeal evidence that the practice existed in the second century for Christians.  The practice cannot be anachronistic if it may have existed at that time, and Greeks and Jews did go on pilgrimages in antiquity.  But now you seem to be saying because there is no mention of it in early Christian texts that Doherty’s point is invalid. The logic seems derailed here.  Doherty’s whole point that the lack of pilgrimages run contrary to expectations since such practices were common in the Hellenistic world.
      If there were no earthly landmarks, then it makes sense that there were no pilgrimages to holy sites.  If there were places of importance to the Christian story, then their lack of importance to people like Paul requires explanation.  As a matter of probability, the lack of pilgrimages early on fits mythicism 100%, but for historicism it is less than 100%–it cannot be 100% because the historist case is compatible with early pilgrimages as well, while mythicism is not.  That is why the silence adds some evidence in favor of the mythicist case.  I don’t think it adds much, but it isn’t zero.

      As for your comment to Evan concerning people journeying to the Jordan only because some holy man was there, your criticism begs the question: why was that person there in the first place?  Because it was a holy site.  We expect people to go to holy places to make their message stick.  Consider John the Baptist and Theudas at the Jordan, or the unnamed Egyptian at the Mount of Olives–moving to a sacred location.  And again, Jesus did the same (going to the Mount of Olives, pilgrimage to Jerusalem).  That we don’t see this at Jesus-related places in early Christianity sticks out.  You would think James in Jerusalem would have ‘set up shop’ about the empty tomb or the like.  There were Christians in the town just as there were holy men at the Jordan, so why not the pilgrimages?

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

    @Gilgamesh, I think two or three issues are being confused: (1) Is there any evidence for pilgrimage in Judaism? (2) Was it as widespread, diverse, and/or significant as in other times/places/religions? (3) Is it reasonable to expect, given our answers to questions 1 and 2, that Paul should have mentioned pilgrimages in his letters.

    My answer to 3 is no, because my answer to 2 is no, and in answer to 1 I think the evidence is at best sparse and open to more than one interpretation. Were there sacred sites of religious importance to Jews? Of course. But apart from the Temple in Jerusalem, we really don’t have evidence for what we would normally think of as pilgrimage to other sites, such as Mt. Sinai or the Jordan. And so I think the key thing to note is that, whether the evidence is sparse because it was not a common practice, or because it wasn’t commonly written about even though the practice was more common than surviving literature suggests, either way the point is that Doherty is wrong to claim that the absence of references to pilgrimage in Paul’s letters in any way provides evidence for mythicism.

    Does that make things clearer? Whether it does or not, do you think I’m incorrect?

    • Anonymous

      @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I think your break-down clarified things for me.  Thank you.

      I’ll only consider point 1 as I think it is one worth learning more about.  Best I can tell, pilgrimages are a near-universal phenomenon in religions, so that if it was lacking Judaism other than trips to Jerusalem it would be strange.  However, I think it may be more common amongst early Jews that thought.  I was perusing the book “Pilgrimage and the Jews” by David Martin Gitlitz by Linda Kay Davidson, and they talk about early Diaspora pilgrims.  Unfortunately Amazon cut me off an the interesting point, for at the bottom of p. 41 it starts to talk about a first-century CE Jewish guide for pilgrims not going to Jerusalem, but I can’t say about what because I can’t view p. 42.  There is also mention of other tombs of biblical figures and rabbis, but I don’t have any good data to say how old the veneration of these sites are.  I need more data if I want to make an argument worth while.

    • TruthOverfaith

      And wouldn’t interest in the cites/articles of the savior to humankind possibly be greater than to other figures in the Jews history?
      I know that this requires a certain amount of speculation.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    If I might add my two cents, the reason that we do not see evidence for pilgrimages by early Christians, is that they were true Christians who didn’t need visible objects or geographical locations to worship God. That came later along with the apostasy.

    “. . .Jesus said to her: “Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. 22 you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. 23 Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”” (John 4:21-24)

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

    @Gilgamesh, I think two or three issues are being confused: (1) Is there any evidence for pilgrimage in Judaism? (2) Was it as widespread, diverse, and/or significant as in other times/places/religions? (3) Is it reasonable to expect, given our answers to questions 1 and 2, that Paul should have mentioned pilgrimages in his letters.

    My answer to 3 is no, because my answer to 2 is no, and in answer to 1 I think the evidence is at best sparse and open to more than one interpretation. Were there sacred sites of religious importance to Jews? Of course. But apart from the Temple in Jerusalem, we really don’t have evidence for what we would normally think of as pilgrimage to other sites, such as Mt. Sinai or the Jordan. And so I think the key thing to note is that, whether the evidence is sparse because it was not a common practice, or because it wasn’t commonly written about even though the practice was more common than surviving literature suggests, either way the point is that Doherty is wrong to claim that the absence of references to pilgrimage in Paul’s letters in any way provides evidence for mythicism.

    Does that make things clearer? Whether it does or not, do you think I’m incorrect?

    • Gilgamesh42

      @jamesfmcgrath:disqus I think your break-down clarified things for me.  Thank you.

      I’ll only consider point 1 as I think it is one worth learning more about.  Best I can tell, pilgrimages are a near-universal phenomenon in religions, so that if it was lacking Judaism other than trips to Jerusalem it would be strange.  However, I think it may be more common amongst early Jews that thought.  I was perusing the book “Pilgrimage and the Jews” by David Martin Gitlitz by Linda Kay Davidson, and they talk about early Diaspora pilgrims.  Unfortunately Amazon cut me off an the interesting point, for at the bottom of p. 41 it starts to talk about a first-century CE Jewish guide for pilgrims not going to Jerusalem, but I can’t say about what because I can’t view p. 42.  There is also mention of other tombs of biblical figures and rabbis, but I don’t have any good data to say how old the veneration of these sites are.  I need more data if I want to make an argument worth while.

    • TruthOverfaith

      And wouldn’t interest in the cites/articles of the savior to humankind possibly be greater than to other figures in the Jews history?
      I know that this requires a certain amount of speculation.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    If I might add my two cents, the reason that we do not see evidence for pilgrimages by early Christians, is that they were true Christians who didn’t need visible objects or geographical locations to worship God. That came later along with the apostasy.

    “. . .Jesus said to her: “Believe me, woman, The hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you people worship the Father. 22 you worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, because salvation originates with the Jews. 23 Nevertheless, the hour is coming, and it is now, when the true worshipers will worship the Father with spirit and truth, for, indeed, the Father is looking for suchlike ones to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit, and those worshiping him must worship with spirit and truth.”” (John 4:21-24)

  • Anonymous

    Dr. McGrath, do you believe it to be accurate that Herod the Great refurbished the Cave of the Patriarchs? If so, why did he do so?

  • beallen0417

    Dr. McGrath, do you believe it to be accurate that Herod the Great refurbished the Cave of the Patriarchs? If so, why did he do so?

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , more to the point in relation to the present discussion (since guessing Herod’s motives or building what he did on that site will probably be at best speculative), did any Jews from close to Paul’s time write about making a pilgrimage there? Surely that is the relevant question in relation to Doherty’s assertions?

    • Anonymous

      … did any Jews from close to Paul’s time write about making a pilgrimage there? Surely that is the relevant question in relation to Doherty’s assertions

      I have to wonder if you did any research on this issue, or if you simply disagree with the facts as they are reported in multiple sources.

      From the first reference:

      “The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The structure was built during the Second Temple Period (about two thousand years ago) by Herod, King of Judea, providing a place for gatherings and Jewish prayers at the graves of the Patriarchs.”

      From the second reference:

      “It is not known when this site was first revered as the burial place of Abraham, but recent excavations of the double cave revealed artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The great wall that still surrounds the Cave of Machpelah was built by Herod the Great (31-4 BC).”

      From the third reference, titled “Jewish Pilgrimage and Jewish Identity in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt”:

      “Issues addressed include pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem; pilgrimage traditions at Elephantine; pilgrimage to Jewish temples and synagogues in Egypt; the cult of the dead; pilgrimage to the tombs of Jewish martyrs, heroes, and ancestors;

      Dr. McGrath, it appears you have been caught a la O’Neill saying whatever you want to without checking in an attempt to make a book you are reviewing look worse than it actually is.

      You may want to revise your statement: “we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other than to the Temple in Jerusalem.”

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , more to the point in relation to the present discussion (since guessing Herod’s motives or building what he did on that site will probably be at best speculative), did any Jews from close to Paul’s time write about making a pilgrimage there? Surely that is the relevant question in relation to Doherty’s assertions?

    • beallen0417

      … did any Jews from close to Paul’s time write about making a pilgrimage there? Surely that is the relevant question in relation to Doherty’s assertions

      I have to wonder if you did any research on this issue, or if you simply disagree with the facts as they are reported in multiple sources.

      From the first reference:

      “The double cave, a mystery of thousands of years, was uncovered several years ago beneath the massive building, revealing artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The structure was built during the Second Temple Period (about two thousand years ago) by Herod, King of Judea, providing a place for gatherings and Jewish prayers at the graves of the Patriarchs.”

      From the second reference:

      “It is not known when this site was first revered as the burial place of Abraham, but recent excavations of the double cave revealed artifacts from the Early Israelite Period (some 30 centuries ago). The great wall that still surrounds the Cave of Machpelah was built by Herod the Great (31-4 BC).”

      From the third reference, titled “Jewish Pilgrimage and Jewish Identity in Hellenistic and Early Roman Egypt”:

      “Issues addressed include pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem; pilgrimage traditions at Elephantine; pilgrimage to Jewish temples and synagogues in Egypt; the cult of the dead; pilgrimage to the tombs of Jewish martyrs, heroes, and ancestors;

      Dr. McGrath, it appears you have been caught a la O’Neill saying whatever you want to without checking in an attempt to make a book you are reviewing look worse than it actually is.

      You may want to revise your statement: “we do not have a lot of strong evidence for pilgrimage of Jews other than to the Temple in Jerusalem.”

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “I’m not sure if it is because you do not know what terms meant in the Judaism of New Testament times, or because you don’t care. You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.”

    I missed responding to this earlier, but I think it is a key point. Are you telling me, Jim, that there is never anything new under the sun? That no group, or sect, or individual has ever turned one thing into another, that they have never introduced an innovation, never interpreted current ideas in a different way from their contemporaries and predecessors?

    That’s nothing short of crazy, Jim. If that were true, we’d all be still living in the Stone Age, believing the earth was flat and at the center of the universe, still practising human sacrifice, or still sacrificing animals to the skygod of the Israelites.

    You yourself, I am sure, would accord some innovations to the new Christian movement of the first century CE. Why do you close your mind to the possibility of them turning an expected Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure (who also, by the way, had to have a mystical relationship to David because scripture said so, and that’s where Paul says he derived it from)? Because it would contravene the established principles of your own faith, and thus falls outside the allowable limit?

    —————–

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

      Doherty wrote: “Why do you close your mind to the possibility of them turning an expected Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure (who also, by the way, had to have a mystical relationship to David because scripture said so, and that’s where Paul says he derived it from)?”

      That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the scriptures. You got that from your imagination in interpreting your way the beginning of ‘Romans’ and adding “gospel” in the third verse. We went through that already. And why would Paul write Jesus as descendent of David if he thought Jesus was not human? If angel Gabriel is thought to be a spiritual entity, you do not make him a descendant of David (or Abraham, or Jesse or Israelites)!

      • Earl Doherty

        Bernard: “That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the
        scriptures. In your first book, you got that from your imaginative
        interpretation of the beginning of ‘Romans’ through inaccurate &
        misleading translations, and with “gospel” added in the third verse. We
        went through that already.”

        We did? Certainly not here. Why don’t you give us a brief summary of how I drew on inaccurate and misleading translations, or added “gospel” in verse 3 to a formal translation?

        Here, let’s try the NIV, which seems to be popular among conservatives. (I’ll only add “announced” as an alternative to “promised” as the NEB does, quite justified since the root of the verb is the same as that used for angels and other messengers.)

        “(Paul)…set apart for the gospel of God, [2]the gospel he promised/announced beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, [3]who as to his human nature [a very biased translation of a much vaguer 'kata sarka'] was a descendant of David…”

        Doesn’t that say that Paul’s gospel, which included the Son having a connection to David, was derived from scripture? Has the NIV falsified things? Is there no linkage between verses 2 and 3, no implication whatever that the info in v.3 is being stated or implied as deriving from the gospel of God in the prophets spoken of in v.2?

        And notice this, too, Bernard. If Jesus as seed of David was known historically of an historical man, then it would be a characteristic of that known historical man, with scripture supposedly a prophecy of him in that regard. Right? Why then, would Paul or anyone else say that God’s gospel of the Son as found in the prophets “pre-announced/promised” the gospel of Paul? Wouldn’t that preannouncing in scripture have instead preannounced the human man himself and not a “gospel” about him (whether earthly or heavenly) such as is preached by Paul? Where is the intervening human figure, between the gospel preannounced by God, and the gospel of the Christ preached by Paul?

        Are you capable of understanding the difference, Bernard? Can you understand the subtlety here? Are you aware that there are other passages in the epistles (such as Titus 1:3) that do precisely the same, leaving no room for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history?

        Apparently not.

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

          To Doherty:

          Doherty wrote:
          “Bernard: “That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the scriptures. In your first book, you got that from your imaginative interpretation of the beginning of ‘Romans’ through inaccurate & misleading translations, and with “gospel” added in the third verse. We went through that already.”
          We did? Certainly not here.”

          BM: Read again my posting; I said “in your first book”.

          “Why don’t you give us a brief summary of how I drew on inaccurate and misleading translations, or added “gospel” in verse 3 to a formal translation?”

          BM: I explained everything on my critique of the Jesus Puzzle Part 2, right at the top:
          http://historical-jesus.info/djp2.html

          The word “gospel” does not exist in the underlying Greek in Ro1:3 (or 1:2). You are prone to choose inaccurate translation when it is to your benefit.

          “Doesn’t that say that Paul’s gospel, which included the Son having a connection to David, was derived from scripture?”

          BM: No it does not say that. First it it not Paul’s gospel in verse 1, but God’s gospel (God’s glad tidings or good news).

          “Has the NIV falsified things? Is there no linkage between verses 2 and 3, no implication whatever that the info in v.3 is being stated or implied as deriving from the gospel of God in the prophets spoken of in v.2?”

          BM: In this case, the NIV is misleading: it goes against KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, RSV, YLT & Darby, which put some punctuation (, or –) between v.2 and v.3 (the NIV does not). And the linkage is between “God’s good news” (in v.1) and its addendum, v.2 (because of “which”). And, most likely, Ro1:3-7 is simply an independant multiverse clause: Paul used ‘peri’ (“concerning”/”regarding”) at the head of many independant passages (1Cor7:1,25, 8:1,4, 12:1, 16:1,12; 2Cor 9:1; 1Th4:9, 5:1).

          Here is the NASB translation:
          Rom1:1 1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, 3 concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh,

          To be continued …

          • Earl Doherty

            Bernard, you’re hopeless. Who cares whether an English translation puts a comma between verse 2 and 3? Do you think that alters the meaning? And if the RSV chooses to repeat “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3, so what? That in itself shows that the translators were keen to spell out the link between verse 2 and 3, so that even people like you who are ignorant of Greek will get the meaning of this passage. Do you think your powers of translation and interpretation are superior? Give us a break!

            The word “gospel” (in Greek) appears at the end of verse 1, and verse 2 follows upon it by means of the word “which” (ho): “…the gospel of God WHICH he announced beforehand…”, and you claim there is no connection? And then you appeal to a bunch of other passages where sentences, actually paragraphs, begin with “peri to introduce new topics, as though this parallels in any way the opening of Romans??? Verse 3 with its “peri” does not begin a new sentence, let alone a new paragraph. The Greek has no punctuation whatever to separate it from verse 2, and anyway verses 3 and 4 could not possibly stand alone, since they would be an incomplete sentence. The only way to make them complete is as part of the sentence going through verses 1 and 2, which is the way every single translation understands and presents them. But you know differently? Give it up, Bernard. You are only making a fool of yourself.

            And it is indeed the case that the two things Paul itemizes “concerning” that gospel of God can be found in scripture. (Verses 5 and 6 are irrelevant; of course they don’t reflect scripture, since Paul is speaking about the commissioning of himself to preach the gospel about the Son.) The traditional Messiah was prophesied as one who would be of the seed of David. And being declared Son of God ‘with power’ is directly derived from Psalm 2:7-8: “He said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you, And ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession.” The early cultic Christ-ers applied those passages to their heavenly Son of God, entirely based on scripture. There is no historical tradition in evidence in this passage.

            And how could you judge whether something has a complicated syntax, Bernard, when you don’t have a clue in Greek?

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

              to Doherty,

              Doherty wrote: “Who cares whether an English translation puts a comma between verse 2 and 3?”

              BM: Obviously you do, because you chose to work on a translation which does not have a comma, when most of the other ones do have one between verse 2 and 3.
              “And if the RSV chooses to repeat “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3, so what?”
              BM: the RSV is very misleading because “the gospel” does not show in the Greek in verse 3. And I know about “so what”, because in ‘the Jesus Puzzle’, you based your argumentation on the RSV and its “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3.
              “That in itself shows that the translators were keen to spell out the link between verse 2 and 3, so that even people like you who are ignorant of Greek will get the meaning of this passage.”
              BM: But the translators for the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, YLT & Darby were keen not to show a link between verse 2 & 3.
              “The word “gospel” (in Greek) appears at the end of verse 1, and verse 2 follows upon it by means of the word “which” (ho): “…the gospel of God WHICH he announced beforehand…”, and you claim there is no connection?”
              BM: Read what I wrote: “And the linkage is between “God’s good news” (in v.1) and its addendum, v.2 (because of “which”).” Obviously you should improve your reading skill. That’s not the first time you misread me.
              “The Greek has no punctuation whatever to separate it from verse 2,”
              BM: I got news for you. The whole of ‘Romans’ has no punctuation in the Greek, as any other Greek texts written in that period. How could you say such a thing? You are the one making a fool of yourself.
              “verses 3 and 4 could not possibly stand alone, since they would be an incomplete sentence.”
              But we have an incomplete sentence in Ro1:1: “Paul, bondman of Jesus Christ, called apostle, separated to God’s glad tidings” and NOT “I, Paul, is a bondman of Jesus Christ, called apostle, and separated to God’s glad tidings”
              And the “concerning” starting the clause at verse 3 is very similar to “remembering” and “knowing” in 1Th1:3&4, which also start clauses not linked to what precedes, in these cases, “our prayers” and “our God and Father”
              “2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you at our prayers,
              3 remembering unceasingly your work of faith, and labour of love, and enduring constancy of hope, of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
              4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, your election.”
              Doherty wrote: “every single translation understands and presents them”
              BM: No hint of that in KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, YLT & Darby
              “(Verses 5 and 6 are irrelevant; of course they don’t reflect scripture, since Paul is speaking about the commissioning of himself to preach the gospel about the Son.)”
              BM: I am glad you see that, but you made a big point that verse 1 & 2 are linked by WHICH. Now let’s look at verses 3-6:
              “concerning his Son (come of David’s seed according to flesh,
              4 marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead) Jesus Christ our Lord;
              5 by whom we have received grace and apostleship in behalf of his name, for obedience of faith among all the nations,
              6 among whom are *ye* also [the] called of Jesus Christ:”
              If you say WHICH is a link, then BY WHOM is also one. And that proves that Verse 3-6 is a clause on its own, not always reflecting scriptures (as you admit it), therefore not linked to verses 1 & 2.
              “The traditional Messiah was prophesied as one who would be of the seed of David.”
              BM: And this prophesied Messiah, from the seed of David, was a human earthly man, doesn’t it? Even if that kind of Messiah was predicted, that does not prevent Paul to declare, independantly of the scriptures, that Jesus was of the seed of David, more so if HJ was known to be a Jew who lived on earth since birth (and then died).

              • Earl Doherty

                Bernard: “I got news for you. The whole of ‘Romans’ has no punctuation in the
                Greek, as any other Greek texts written in that period. How could you
                say such a thing? You are the one making a fool of yourself.”

                Oh, and you’re using an original Greek text with no spacings and no punctuation? If so, you really are unique, Bernard. Naturally, I’m talking about a modern Greek text which is what everyone refers to when they deal with the Greek. It does have spacing and punctuation, even if it’s not original. To whatever extent you crack open such a Greek text and use it to make arguments, you’re using the same thing.

                Is this really the best you can do?

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

                  to Doherty,
                  And who put that punctuation in this modern Greek texts? Certainly not Paul, but some modern interpreters. Are you admitting your reference of Greek texts is from some modern ones and not the primary manuscripts?
                  For your information, the Greek texts I refer to have spaces but no punctuation. Frankly, I do not remember seeing ancient Greek texts “modernized” with punctuation. Can anyone enlightened me on that issue?

                  • Earl Doherty

                    Bernard: “And who put that punctuation in these modern Greek texts? Certainly not
                    Paul, but some modern interpreters. Are you admitting your reference of
                    Greek texts is from some modern ones and not the primary manuscripts?”

                    Isn’t that what I said?

                    Do you think I have primary manuscripts of Paul’s epistles??? Do you???

                    I don’t know what Greek text you use, but mine says:

                    “The Greek text used in this book is that of the 21st edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, based on the study and critical research of generations of scholars…” It is full of commas and other punctuation marks. Whether they derive from the late medieval or renaissance mss used in creating the standard Greek text of modern times from which various translations have been made, or whether they are insertions by those “generations of scholars,” I am not enough of a text expert to know offhand, and I’m sure you aren’t either.

                    Anyway, you keep insisting that somehow the presence of a comma or not between certain verses in Romans 1:1-4 is critical to its understanding and swings the interpretation of it in your dubious direction, and I have pointed out that this is nonsense. The presence or absence of a comma, or whether the RSV (also my edition of the NAB, by the way) repeats “gospel” in verse 3 for clarity’s sake, has no bearing on the meaning of the passage. This is you trying to throw up a meaningless smokescreen, and I’m not letting you get away with it. Address those aspects of my argument, not who, Greek or Englishman, has a partiality to commas.

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

                      Doherty wrote:

                      “The Greek text used in this book is that of the 21st edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, based on the study and critical research of generations of scholars…” It is full of commas and other punctuation marks. Whether they derive from the late medieval or renaissance mss used in creating the standard Greek text of modern times from which various translations have been made, or whether they are insertions by those “generations of scholars,” I am not enough of a text expert to know offhand, and I’m sure you aren’t either.”

                      BM: These ancient scholars were devoted Christians who naturally wanted the Son to be pre-announced in the prophetic writings and part of God’s good news (which is not obvious from the OT! The only son of God in it appears to be David (2Sa7:14, Ps2:7) or that demi-god in Da3:92).

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

          Continuation, to Doherty,

          Doherty wrote: “And notice this, too, Bernard. If Jesus as seed of David was known historically of an historical man, then it would be a characteristic of that known historical man, with scripture supposedly a prophecy of him in that regard. Right? Why then, would Paul or anyone else say that God’s gospel of the Son as found in the prophets “pre-announced/promised” the gospel of Paul?”

          BM: I took care of that. Your deduction are based on your biased reading and interpretation of Rom1:1-3, based on the peculiar traduction of the NIV. God’s promised good news were pre-announced in the prophetic scriptures; that’s it.

          “Wouldn’t that preannouncing in scripture have instead preannounced the human man himself and not a “gospel” about him (whether earthly or heavenly) such as is preached by Paul? Where is the intervening human figure, between the gospel preannounced by God, and the gospel of the Christ preached by Paul?
          Are you capable of understanding the difference, Bernard? Can you understand the subtlety here?”

          BM: You are right about subtlety. I agree the Mythicist case hangs by the finger nails on subtleties.

          “Are you aware that there are other passages in the epistles (such as Titus 1:3) that do precisely the same, leaving no room for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history?”

          BM: ‘Titus’ was not written by Paul, but at least 2 generations after Paul’s times. And Titus 1:3 simply does not say Jesus never existed on earth. I suppose that’s one more opportunity for you to make an argument from silence.

          • Earl Doherty

            Titus 1:2-3 — “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but (now) at the proper time, he has revealed his word [NEB: openly declared himself] through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.”

            Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)…

            Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul. (The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)

            God’s promise…then the revelation of that promise in Paul’s gospel.

            Where is Jesus in this pattern, Bernard? Where is Step One and a Half? God’s promise wasn’t fulfilled in Jesus? Jesus himself didn’t preach the fulfillment of God’s promise? The “proper time” is identified with Paul’s time and preaching with not the slightest glance at Jesus himself, his life and preaching? The same void exists in other (genuine) Pauline passages, such as 2 Cor. 3:5-6, 3:7-11 and 5:5, Romans 3:21-25, 1 Cor. 10:11. I’m not twisting these passages to eliminate some obvious HJ. He simply isn’t there, and all your sputtering and forced doctoring of them, especially in ignorance of the original Greek texts, won’t put him there. (Some translations do their best to supplement various Greek passages in order to insert him. The NEB is particularly guilty in that regard.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “I’m not sure if it is because you do not know what terms meant in the Judaism of New Testament times, or because you don’t care. You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.”

    I missed responding to this earlier, but I think it is a key point. Are you telling me, Jim, that there is never anything new under the sun? That no group, or sect, or individual has ever turned one thing into another, that they have never introduced an innovation, never interpreted current ideas in a different way from their contemporaries and predecessors?

    That’s nothing short of crazy, Jim. If that were true, we’d all be still living in the Stone Age, believing the earth was flat and at the center of the universe, still practising human sacrifice, or still sacrificing animals to the skygod of the Israelites.

    You yourself, I am sure, would accord some innovations to the new Christian movement of the first century CE. Why do you close your mind to the possibility of them turning an expected Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure (who also, by the way, had to have a mystical relationship to David because scripture said so, and that’s where Paul says he derived it from)? Because it would contravene the established principles of your own faith, and thus falls outside the allowable limit?

    —————–

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

      Doherty wrote: “Why do you close your mind to the possibility of them turning an expected Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure (who also, by the way, had to have a mystical relationship to David because scripture said so, and that’s where Paul says he derived it from)?”

      That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the scriptures. In your first book, you got that from your imaginative interpretation of the beginning of ‘Romans’ through inaccurate & misleading translations, and with “gospel” added in the third verse. We went through that already. And why would Paul write Jesus as descendent of David if he thought Jesus was not human? If archangel Michael is thought to be a spiritual entity, he cannot be a descendent of David (or Abraham, or Jesse or Israelites)!

      • Earl Doherty

        Bernard: “That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the
        scriptures. In your first book, you got that from your imaginative
        interpretation of the beginning of ‘Romans’ through inaccurate &
        misleading translations, and with “gospel” added in the third verse. We
        went through that already.”

        We did? Certainly not here. Why don’t you give us a brief summary of how I drew on inaccurate and misleading translations, or added “gospel” in verse 3 to a formal translation?

        Here, let’s try the NIV, which seems to be popular among conservatives. (I’ll only add “announced” as an alternative to “promised” as the NEB does, quite justified since the root of the verb is the same as that used for angels and other messengers.)

        “(Paul)…set apart for the gospel of God, [2]the gospel he promised/announced beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, [3]who as to his human nature [a very biased translation of a much vaguer 'kata sarka'] was a descendant of David…”

        Doesn’t that say that Paul’s gospel, which included the Son having a connection to David, was derived from scripture? Has the NIV falsified things? Is there no linkage between verses 2 and 3, no implication whatever that the info in v.3 is being stated or implied as deriving from the gospel of God in the prophets spoken of in v.2?

        And notice this, too, Bernard. If Jesus as seed of David was known historically of an historical man, then it would be a characteristic of that known historical man, with scripture supposedly a prophecy of him in that regard. Right? Why then, would Paul or anyone else say that God’s gospel of the Son as found in the prophets “pre-announced/promised” the gospel of Paul? Wouldn’t that preannouncing in scripture have instead preannounced the human man himself and not a “gospel” about him (whether earthly or heavenly) such as is preached by Paul? Where is the intervening human figure, between the gospel preannounced by God, and the gospel of the Christ preached by Paul?

        Are you capable of understanding the difference, Bernard? Can you understand the subtlety here? Are you aware that there are other passages in the epistles (such as Titus 1:3) that do precisely the same, leaving no room for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history?

        Apparently not.

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

          To Doherty:

          Doherty wrote:
          “Bernard: “That’s most outrageous. And Paul did not say that’s derived from the scriptures. In your first book, you got that from your imaginative interpretation of the beginning of ‘Romans’ through inaccurate & misleading translations, and with “gospel” added in the third verse. We went through that already.”
          We did? Certainly not here.”

          BM: Read again my posting; I said “in your first book”. And I was referring to my critique on the Jesus Puzzle and your so-called rebuttal.

          “Why don’t you give us a brief summary of how I drew on inaccurate and misleading translations, or added “gospel” in verse 3 to a formal translation?”

          BM: I explained everything on my critique of the Jesus Puzzle Part 2, right at the top:
          http://historical-jesus.info/djp2.html

          The word “gospel” does not exist in the underlying Greek in Ro1:3 (or 1:2). You are prone to choose inaccurate translation when it is to your benefit. For the Jesus Puzzle, you used the RSV because it has “gospel” in verse 3. Now, apparently, you switched to the NIV, because there is no punctuation between verse 2 & 3.

          “Doesn’t that say that Paul’s gospel, which included the Son having a connection to David, was derived from scripture?”

          BM: No, it does not say that. First it is not Paul’s gospel in verse 1, but God’s gospel (God’s glad tidings or good news).

          “Has the NIV falsified things? Is there no linkage between verses 2 and 3, no implication whatever that the info in v.3 is being stated or implied as deriving from the gospel of God in the prophets spoken of in v.2?”

          BM: In this case, the NIV goes against the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, RSV, YLT & Darby, which put some punctuation between v.2 and v.3 (the NIV does not). And the linkage is between “God’s good news” (in v.1) and its addendum, v.2 (because of “which”). And, most likely, Ro1:3-7 is simply an independant multiverse clause: Paul used ‘peri’ (“concerning”/”regarding”) as the first word introducing many passages not dependant on what precedes (1Cor7:1,25, 8:1,4, 12:1, 16:1,12; 2Cor 9:1; 1Th4:9, 5:1). Furthermore, most of the statements in Ro1:3-6 were not pre-announced in the scriptures. And the foremost God’s glad tidings according to the OT, the advent of the Kingdom of God, is not in Ro1:3-6.
          That would prove Ro1:3-7 is in no way connected to God’s good news as known through prophetic scriptures.

          Here is the Darby translation, which follows closely the Greek:
          Rom1:1 Paul, bondman of Jesus Christ, [a] called apostle, separated to God’s glad tidings,
          2 (which he had before promised by his prophets in holy writings,)
          3 concerning his Son (come of David’s seed according to flesh,
          4 marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead) Jesus Christ our Lord;
          5 by whom we have received grace and apostleship in behalf of his name, for obedience of faith among all the nations,
          6 among whom are *ye* also [the] called of Jesus Christ:

          To be continued …

          • Earl Doherty

            Bernard, you’re hopeless. Who cares whether an English translation puts a comma between verse 2 and 3? Do you think that alters the meaning? And if the RSV chooses to repeat “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3, so what? That in itself shows that the translators were keen to spell out the link between verse 2 and 3, so that even people like you who are ignorant of Greek will get the meaning of this passage. Do you think your powers of translation and interpretation are superior? Give us a break!

            The word “gospel” (in Greek) appears at the end of verse 1, and verse 2 follows upon it by means of the word “which” (ho): “…the gospel of God WHICH he announced beforehand…”, and you claim there is no connection? And then you appeal to a bunch of other passages where sentences, actually paragraphs, begin with “peri to introduce new topics, as though this parallels in any way the opening of Romans??? Verse 3 with its “peri” does not begin a new sentence, let alone a new paragraph. The Greek has no punctuation whatever to separate it from verse 2, and anyway verses 3 and 4 could not possibly stand alone, since they would be an incomplete sentence. The only way to make them complete is as part of the sentence going through verses 1 and 2, which is the way every single translation understands and presents them. But you know differently? Give it up, Bernard. You are only making a fool of yourself.

            And it is indeed the case that the two things Paul itemizes “concerning” that gospel of God can be found in scripture. (Verses 5 and 6 are irrelevant; of course they don’t reflect scripture, since Paul is speaking about the commissioning of himself to preach the gospel about the Son.) The traditional Messiah was prophesied as one who would be of the seed of David. And being declared Son of God ‘with power’ is directly derived from Psalm 2:7-8: “He said to me, ‘You are my son, today I have begotten you, And ask of me, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, and the ends of the earth as your possession.” The early cultic Christ-ers applied those passages to their heavenly Son of God, entirely based on scripture. There is no historical tradition in evidence in this passage.

            And how could you judge whether something has a complicated syntax, Bernard, when you don’t have a clue in Greek?

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

              to Doherty,

              Doherty wrote: “Who cares whether an English translation puts a comma between verse 2 and 3?”

              BM: Obviously you do, because you chose to work on a translation which does not have a comma, when most of the other ones do have one between verse 2 and 3.

              “And if the RSV chooses to repeat “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3, so what?”

              BM: the RSV is very misleading because “the gospel” does not show in the Greek in verse 3. And I know about “so what”, because in ‘the Jesus Puzzle’, you based your argumentation on the RSV and its “the gospel” at the beginning of verse 3.

              “That in itself shows that the translators were keen to spell out the link between verse 2 and 3, so that even people like you who are ignorant of Greek will get the meaning of this passage.”

              BM: But the translators for the KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, YLT & Darby were keen not to show a link between verse 2 & 3.

              “The word “gospel” (in Greek) appears at the end of verse 1, and verse 2 follows upon it by means of the word “which” (ho): “…the gospel of God WHICH he announced beforehand…”, and you claim there is no connection?”

              BM: Read what I wrote: “And the linkage is between “God’s good news” (in v.1) and its addendum, v.2 (because of “which”).” Obviously you should improve your reading skill. That’s not the first time you misread me.

              “The Greek has no punctuation whatever to separate it from verse 2,”

              BM: I got news for you. The whole of ‘Romans’ has no punctuation in the Greek, as any other Greek texts written in that period. How could you say such a thing? You are the one making a fool of yourself.

              “verses 3 and 4 could not possibly stand alone, since they would be an incomplete sentence.”

              But we have an incomplete sentence in Ro1:1: “Paul, bondman of Jesus Christ, called apostle, separated to God’s glad tidings” and NOT “I, Paul, is a bondman of Jesus Christ, called apostle, and separated to God’s glad tidings”
              And the “concerning” starting the clause at verse 3 is very similar to “remembering” and “knowing” in 1Th1:3&4, which also start clauses not linked to what precedes, in these cases, “our prayers” and “our God and Father”
              “2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you at our prayers,
              3 remembering unceasingly your work of faith, and labour of love, and enduring constancy of hope, of our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;
              4 knowing, brethren beloved by God, your election.”

              Doherty wrote: “every single translation understands and presents them”

              BM: No hint of that in KJV, NKJV, NASB, ASB, YLT & Darby

              “(Verses 5 and 6 are irrelevant; of course they don’t reflect scripture, since Paul is speaking about the commissioning of himself to preach the gospel about the Son.)”

              BM: I am glad you see that, but you made a big point that verse 1 & 2 are linked by WHICH. Now let’s look at verses 3-6:
              “concerning his Son (come of David’s seed according to flesh,
              4 marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead) Jesus Christ our Lord;
              5 by whom we have received grace and apostleship in behalf of his name, for obedience of faith among all the nations,
              6 among whom are *ye* also [the] called of Jesus Christ:”
              If you say WHICH is a link, then BY WHOM is also one. And that proves that Verse 3-6 is a clause on its own, not always reflecting scriptures (as you admit it), therefore not linked to verses 1 & 2.

              “The traditional Messiah was prophesied as one who would be of the seed of David.”

              BM: And this prophesied Messiah, from the seed of David, was a human earthly man, doesn’t it? Even if that kind of Messiah was predicted, that would not prevent Paul to declare, independantly of the scriptures, that Jesus was of the seed of David, more so if HJ was known to be a Jew who lived on earth since birth (and then died).

              • Earl Doherty

                Bernard: “I got news for you. The whole of ‘Romans’ has no punctuation in the
                Greek, as any other Greek texts written in that period. How could you
                say such a thing? You are the one making a fool of yourself.”

                Oh, and you’re using an original Greek text with no spacings and no punctuation? If so, you really are unique, Bernard. Naturally, I’m talking about a modern Greek text which is what everyone refers to when they deal with the Greek. It does have spacing and punctuation, even if it’s not original. To whatever extent you crack open such a Greek text and use it to make arguments, you’re using the same thing.

                Is this really the best you can do?

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

                  to Doherty,
                  And who put that punctuation in these modern Greek texts? Certainly not Paul, but some modern interpreters. Are you admitting your reference of Greek texts is from some modern ones and not the primary manuscripts?
                  For your information, the Greek texts I refer to have spaces but no punctuation. Frankly, I do not remember seeing ancient Greek texts “modernized” with punctuation. Can anyone enlightened me on that issue?

                  • Earl Doherty

                    Bernard: “And who put that punctuation in these modern Greek texts? Certainly not
                    Paul, but some modern interpreters. Are you admitting your reference of
                    Greek texts is from some modern ones and not the primary manuscripts?”

                    Isn’t that what I said?

                    Do you think I have primary manuscripts of Paul’s epistles??? Do you???

                    I don’t know what Greek text you use, but mine says:

                    “The Greek text used in this book is that of the 21st edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, based on the study and critical research of generations of scholars…” It is full of commas and other punctuation marks. Whether they derive from the late medieval or renaissance mss used in creating the standard Greek text of modern times from which various translations have been made, or whether they are insertions by those “generations of scholars,” I am not enough of a text expert to know offhand, and I’m sure you aren’t either.

                    Anyway, you keep insisting that somehow the presence of a comma or not between certain verses in Romans 1:1-4 is critical to its understanding and swings the interpretation of it in your dubious direction, and I have pointed out that this is nonsense. The presence or absence of a comma, or whether the RSV (also my edition of the NAB, by the way) repeats “gospel” in verse 3 for clarity’s sake, has no bearing on the meaning of the passage. This is you trying to throw up a meaningless smokescreen, and I’m not letting you get away with it. Address those aspects of my argument, not who, Greek or Englishman, has a partiality to commas.

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

                      Doherty wrote:

                      “The Greek text used in this book is that of the 21st edition of Eberhard Nestle’s Novum Testamentum Graece, based on the study and critical research of generations of scholars…” It is full of commas and other punctuation marks. Whether they derive from the late medieval or renaissance mss used in creating the standard Greek text of modern times from which various translations have been made, or whether they are insertions by those “generations of scholars,” I am not enough of a text expert to know offhand”

                      BM: These ancient scholars were devoted Christians who naturally wanted the Son to be pre-announced in the prophetic writings and part of God’s good news (which is not obvious from the OT! The only son of God in it appears to be David (2Sa7:14, Ps2:7)).

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

          Continuation, to Doherty,

          Doherty wrote:
          “And notice this, too, Bernard. If Jesus as seed of David was known historically of an historical man, then it would be a characteristic of that known historical man, with scripture supposedly a prophecy of him in that regard. Right? Why then, would Paul or anyone else say that God’s gospel of the Son as found in the prophets “pre-announced/promised” the gospel of Paul?”

          BM: I took care of that. I want to add, as you reconstruct it, we would have verse 2 as an addendum to “God’s glad tidings” (I agree on that), then 3a, 4b-6 as an addendum on verse 2, with 3b-4a being an addendum on 3a “his Son”. Do you think Paul’s audience would understand it that way? And why would he put such a complicated syntax in the introduction?
          My construct: 1b <= 2 then 3a(<= 3b-4a),4b-6
          Yours: 1b <= 2 <= 3a(<= 3b-4a),4b-6
          Legend: "<=" is addendum of what precedes
          Your deduction are based on your "Mythicist" reading of Rom1:1-3 from the peculiar traduction of the NIV. God's good news were pre-announced in the prophetic scriptures; that's it.

          "Wouldn't that preannouncing in scripture have instead preannounced the human man himself and not a "gospel" about him (whether earthly or heavenly) such as is preached by Paul? Where is the intervening human figure, between the gospel preannounced by God, and the gospel of the Christ preached by Paul?
          Are you capable of understanding the difference, Bernard? Can you understand the subtlety here?"

          BM: You are right about subtlety. I think the Mythicist case often hangs by the finger nails on subtleties (based on inaccurate or peculiar translation, ambiguities, biased interpretations, etc.)

          "Are you aware that there are other passages in the epistles (such as Titus 1:3) that do precisely the same, leaving no room for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history?"

          BM: 'Titus' was not written by Paul, but at least 2 generations after Paul's times. And Titus 1:3 simply does not say Jesus never existed on earth. I suppose that's one more opportunity for you to make an argument from silence.

          On this Blog post, I wrote two postings about Paul saying Jesus' crucifixion was in Zion (or Jesus being from Zion), with Zion being understood as the heartland of the Jews, in these days. Any comments on these postings?

          • Earl Doherty

            Titus 1:2-3 — “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but (now) at the proper time, he has revealed his word [NEB: openly declared himself] through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.”

            Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)…

            Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul. (The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)

            God’s promise…then the revelation of that promise in Paul’s gospel.

            Where is Jesus in this pattern, Bernard? Where is Step One and a Half? God’s promise wasn’t fulfilled in Jesus? Jesus himself didn’t preach the fulfillment of God’s promise? The “proper time” is identified with Paul’s time and preaching with not the slightest glance at Jesus himself, his life and preaching? The same void exists in other (genuine) Pauline passages, such as 2 Cor. 3:5-6, 3:7-11 and 5:5, Romans 3:21-25, 1 Cor. 10:11. I’m not twisting these passages to eliminate some obvious HJ. He simply isn’t there, and all your sputtering and forced doctoring of them, especially in ignorance of the original Greek texts, won’t put him there. (Some translations do their best to supplement various Greek passages in order to insert him. The NEB is particularly guilty in that regard.)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Some info on Christian pilgrimages

    “Some converts from paganism brought with them pre–Christian ideas so that in the church the martyrs began to take on the role that the gods had earlier played in the old religions. Relics of the martyrs were superstitiously cherished, their graves became sites of pilgrimages and prayer, and they were believed to work miracles and guarantee special blessings to believers. Although not all church leaders approved of such things, the veneration of martyrs and other saints took a greater and greater place in popular religion.

    Greater leisure meant that Christian festivals tended to multiply. Constantine’s mother Helena made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (326–27) which made a great impression. Pilgrimages to Bible lands now became quite common. A short pamphlet appeared in 333 giving a route from Bordeaux to Jerusalem. Great efforts were devoted to finding the various biblical sites, erecting churches on them (such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and celebrating there the events connected with them. The church at Jerusalem took the lead in this, and was rapidly followed by others. In this way the idea of the Christian year as a re–enactment of the life of Jesus became more and more central.”

    (Dowley, T., Briggs, J. H. Y., Linder, R. D., & Wright, D. F. (2002). Introduction to the History of Christianity. Originally published: 1995.; Includes indexes. (93). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Some info on Christian pilgrimages

    “Some converts from paganism brought with them pre–Christian ideas so that in the church the martyrs began to take on the role that the gods had earlier played in the old religions. Relics of the martyrs were superstitiously cherished, their graves became sites of pilgrimages and prayer, and they were believed to work miracles and guarantee special blessings to believers. Although not all church leaders approved of such things, the veneration of martyrs and other saints took a greater and greater place in popular religion.

    Greater leisure meant that Christian festivals tended to multiply. Constantine’s mother Helena made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (326–27) which made a great impression. Pilgrimages to Bible lands now became quite common. A short pamphlet appeared in 333 giving a route from Bordeaux to Jerusalem. Great efforts were devoted to finding the various biblical sites, erecting churches on them (such as the Church of the Holy Sepulchre) and celebrating there the events connected with them. The church at Jerusalem took the lead in this, and was rapidly followed by others. In this way the idea of the Christian year as a re–enactment of the life of Jesus became more and more central.”

    (Dowley, T., Briggs, J. H. Y., Linder, R. D., & Wright, D. F. (2002). Introduction to the History of Christianity. Originally published: 1995.; Includes indexes. (93). Minneapolis: Fortress Press.)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    And…

    “Another was the fashion of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in which Constantine’s mother, Helena, set an example which was soon followed by thousands, who not only fancied that the sight of the places hallowed by the great events of Scripture would kindle or heighten their devotion, but that prayers would be especially pleasing to God if they were offered up in such places. And thus great numbers flocked to Palestine from all quarters, and even from Britain, among other countries, and on their return they carried back with them water from the Jordan, earth from the Redeemer’s sepulchre, or what they believed to be chips of the true cross, which was supposed to have been found during Helena’s visit to Jerusalem. The mischiefs of this fashion soon showed themselves. St. Basil’s brother, Gregory of Nyssa, wrote a little book expressly for the purpose of persuading people not to go on pilgrimage. He said that he himself had been neither better nor worse for a visit which he had paid to the Holy Land; but that such a pilgrimage might even be dangerous for others because the inhabitants of the country were so vicious that there was more likelihood of getting harm from them than good from the sight of the holy places. “We should rather try,” he said, “to go out of the body than to drag it about from place to place.” Another very learned man of the same time, St. Jerome, although he had taken up his own abode at Bethlehem, saw so much of the evils which arose from pilgrimages that he gave very earnest warnings against them. “It is no praise,” he says, “to have been at Jerusalem but to have lived religiously at Jerusalem. The sight of the places where our Lord died and rose again are profitable to those who bear their own cross and daily rise again with Him. But for those who say, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,’ ( Jerem. vii. 4 ), let them hear the Apostle’s words, ‘Ye are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you,’ ( 1 Cor. iii. 16 ) The court of heaven is open to approach from Jerusalem and from Britain alike; ‘for the kingdom of God is within you’” ( St. Luke xvii. 21 ).”

    (J. C. Robertson. Sketches of Church History (52). Joseph Kreifels.)

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    And…

    “Another was the fashion of going on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, in which Constantine’s mother, Helena, set an example which was soon followed by thousands, who not only fancied that the sight of the places hallowed by the great events of Scripture would kindle or heighten their devotion, but that prayers would be especially pleasing to God if they were offered up in such places. And thus great numbers flocked to Palestine from all quarters, and even from Britain, among other countries, and on their return they carried back with them water from the Jordan, earth from the Redeemer’s sepulchre, or what they believed to be chips of the true cross, which was supposed to have been found during Helena’s visit to Jerusalem. The mischiefs of this fashion soon showed themselves. St. Basil’s brother, Gregory of Nyssa, wrote a little book expressly for the purpose of persuading people not to go on pilgrimage. He said that he himself had been neither better nor worse for a visit which he had paid to the Holy Land; but that such a pilgrimage might even be dangerous for others because the inhabitants of the country were so vicious that there was more likelihood of getting harm from them than good from the sight of the holy places. “We should rather try,” he said, “to go out of the body than to drag it about from place to place.” Another very learned man of the same time, St. Jerome, although he had taken up his own abode at Bethlehem, saw so much of the evils which arose from pilgrimages that he gave very earnest warnings against them. “It is no praise,” he says, “to have been at Jerusalem but to have lived religiously at Jerusalem. The sight of the places where our Lord died and rose again are profitable to those who bear their own cross and daily rise again with Him. But for those who say, ‘The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord,’ ( Jerem. vii. 4 ), let them hear the Apostle’s words, ‘Ye are the temple of God and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you,’ ( 1 Cor. iii. 16 ) The court of heaven is open to approach from Jerusalem and from Britain alike; ‘for the kingdom of God is within you’” ( St. Luke xvii. 21 ).”

    (J. C. Robertson. Sketches of Church History (52). Joseph Kreifels.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard: “Philo of Alexandria & Josephus (about Essenes) thought differently:
    The sacrifices of Abel and Cain’, II “… Abraham also, leaving mortal things, “is added to the people of God,” having received immortality, and having become equal to the angels; for the angels are the host of God, being incorporeal and happy souls….” And so on.

    Subtlety of understanding is not your strong point, is it Bernard? Just when did Jews begin to think of Moses and Abraham and other allegedly historical persons of the distant past as being resurrected to heaven, whether bodily or non-bodily? Within a few years of when they had lived? Did apostles of an unknown Moses go about immediately after his death and convert Jews and gentiles who had never met him to believe he had risen from an ignominious death and enjoyed the special favor of God? Or was this a centuries-later belief about legendary figures who—irony of ironies—are now thought of as probably never existing, let alone rising from death? I guess you are another one who cannot tell the difference between apples and parsnips. (Gee, I guess I’m never going to get to accept dinner invites from anybody at this rate!)

    But you have totally misunderstood and misapplied the whole point to this discussion about what Eddy and Boyd were claiming. Essentially, they were trying to counter the view (not just by mythicists but NT critical scholars) that Paul and his fellow apostles of the Christ could have been preaching a spiritual resurrection for Christ, by saying that Jews could only understand the concept of rising in a body, and therefore if Jews were converted by Paul, he must have been preaching a rising for Christ in flesh.

    So my pointing out, if we were to accept this argument by Eddy & Boyd, that Jews could not have accepted non-bodily resurrection preaching by Paul and others, is an answer to their claim. I certainly wasn’t advocating that position and agreeing that non-bodily resurrection of a human man would have been inconceivable to Jews. So don’t provide me with ‘proof’ that they are wrong, Bernard. Send it to Eddy and Boyd. And why would I agree with them if I, as a mythicist, have been advocating that Paul was in fact preaching non-bodily resurrection for Jesus (though in conjunction with a non-earthly death and not of a human man, of course)?

    This is a good example of how you garble so much, Bernard, whether your understanding of what I or other mythicists say, or how you present counter-arguments. It’s been like this since the day I first came in contact with you, and my rebuttal to your criticism of my writings is full of illustrations of it. But you are impervious. You, like so many others here, will continue to go on your merry way, garbling and impervious to our arguments and presenting nothing which will discredit the mythicist position, even though you persist in the illusion that it does. It is why I have so often resolved to just ignore you, though there are times when it becomes impossible to adhere to that resolve.

    Bernard: “Doherty wrote: ‘Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth.’
    Except of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human mother and father and, after being believed by Jews to be resurrected (as a soul/spirit), deified (pre-existence, Son of God) later for Gentile consumption.”

    So Jews first adopted the belief that a known human, born of humans, was resurrected and deified, and only then they would be willing to believe he could die and rise because he was a god? Whaaat??? First they were willing to believe a crucified man was a god, and then they could believe a god could rise? But why would they have believed in the first place that a human man was a god and was resurrected, even spiritually? Didn’t that contravene other Jewish principles, that ‘God was One’ and no human was to be associated with God, let alone given all his divine titles? Judaism would accept this with greater sanguinity than they would accept that a god (gods who beside their own God simply for them didn’t exist) could die and rise? And if such beliefs were tailored “for Gentile consumption” aren’t you acknowledging that they were by definition hardly to be acceptable to Jews? There are fallacies within fallacies here, Bernard, but you are oblivious to them, aren’t you?

    Bernard: “Doherty wrote: ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’
    You are right: that’s why Paul wrote: 1Cr 1:23 ‘But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;’
    Then, you cannot say that crucified Messiah came out of the OT, or was an invented product of Judaism.”

    You are impossible, Bernard. Just because mainstream Judaism itself, or the vast majority of Jews who devoted themselves to messianically interpreting passages from their Hebrew Bible, did not extract a crucified Messiah from it, does not mean that no one else, no small minority of Jews or a sect that included gentiles who attached themselves to the Jewish heritage, as many gentiles at this time chose to do, were not capable of making that extraction, of so interpreting passages from the Jewish bible for themselves.

    Do you understand that concept, Bernard, are you able to make that distinction? Apparently not, as you are incapable of understanding so much else.  

    And I’ve wasted enough time on you for this round.

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

      To
      Doherty:

      On
      your first point, from Dr. McGrath’s critique of chapter 7 (emphasis
      mine):

      “Doherty
      interacts with Eddy and Boyd, who point out that resurrection in
      Judaism meant something bodily.
      Doherty writes in response, “While the latter claim may be
      correct
      , such expectation lay within the context of
      resurrection for humans,
      not of a god – and of humans on earth, not of a god in a
      supernatural location” (p.77).”

      I proved that Jews
      like Philo of Alexandria & Essenes believed that resurrection of
      “humans on earth” is NOT necessarily bodily. Consequently
      Jesus did not have to be “a god in a supernatural location”.
      Is it clear enough? And what god in Judaism was believed to have
      resurrected in spirit anyway?

      Furthermore, you
      write to me: “I certainly wasn’t advocating that position and
      agreeing that non-bodily resurrection of a human man would have been
      inconceivable to Jews.”

      You are reversing
      your position:

      - According to
      James’ critique, you postulated that, in Judaism, only “a god
      in a supernatural location” (NOT a human) would be believed to
      resurrect spiritually.

      - Now you say, in
      Judaism, humans could be believed to resurrect spiritually.

      On
      your second point, you write to me: “So Jews first adopted the
      belief that a known human, born of humans, was resurrected and
      deified, and only then
      they would be willing to believe he could die and rise because he was
      a god?”

      You missed the
      important detail. I did not say Jews first adopted a deified Jesus,
      but Jesus was deified for the Gentiles. Read my words: “Except
      of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human
      mother and father and, after being believed by Jews to be resurrected
      (as a soul/spirit), deified (pre-existence, Son of God)
      later for Gentile consumption
      .” And we settled the fact
      that Jews initially could believed Jesus rose as a human (such as
      Abraham & Moses). See the first point.

      You write “And
      if such beliefs were tailored “for Gentile consumption” aren’t
      you acknowledging that they were by definition hardly to be
      acceptable to Jews? There are fallacies within fallacies here,
      Bernard, but you are oblivious to them, aren’t you?”

      Read again my words.
      The belief in question is deification (pre-existence + Son of God).
      Yes that would not be acceptable to Jews. For example, the very
      Jewish gMatthew has Son of God, but no pre-existence.

      What fallacies? You
      are the one who are twisting what I wrote into straw men or red
      herrings.

      On
      the third point, I reacted on what “Doherty
      wrote: ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’”

      Now you are
      saying “does not mean … a small minority of Jews or a sect
      that included gentiles who attached themselves to the Jewish
      heritage, as many gentiles at this time chose to do, were not capable
      of making that extraction, of so interpreting passages from the
      Jewish bible for themselves.”

      So essentially,
      you think that some Jews & God fearers did manage to find that
      crucified Messiah in the scriptures, that is in Judaism, even if ‘the
      idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’.

      You are walking
      on a very fine rope here.

      • Earl Doherty

        “So essentially, you think that some Jews & God fearers did manage to
        find that crucified Messiah in the scriptures, that is in Judaism, even
        if ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’
        You are walking on a very thin rope here.”

        You are doing it again, Bernard. “Some Jews and God fearers” does not equal “Judaism.” What is the matter with your language skills? If we talk about what is common “in Judaism” this is speaking about Jewish culture and religion in general, in a mainstream insofar as there was one. This doesn’t mean that no allowance can be made for specific groups of Jews to hold to something different, or come up with an idea which is different or even incompatible with that general state of affairs “in Judaism.”

        This is why you are so frustrating, Bernard. I should have asked what is the matter with your reasoning skills.

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

          To Doherty,
          If these Jews and god fearers found a crucified Messiah in the Jewish scriptures, well it is still in Judaism for me. Maybe not mainline Judaism, but fringe Judaism. And I did not say your position was wrong, just precarious, considering your statement ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard: “Philo of Alexandria & Josephus (about Essenes) thought differently:
    The sacrifices of Abel and Cain’, II “… Abraham also, leaving mortal things, “is added to the people of God,” having received immortality, and having become equal to the angels; for the angels are the host of God, being incorporeal and happy souls….” And so on.

    Subtlety of understanding is not your strong point, is it Bernard? Just when did Jews begin to think of Moses and Abraham and other allegedly historical persons of the distant past as being resurrected to heaven, whether bodily or non-bodily? Within a few years of when they had lived? Did apostles of an unknown Moses go about immediately after his death and convert Jews and gentiles who had never met him to believe he had risen from an ignominious death and enjoyed the special favor of God? Or was this a centuries-later belief about legendary figures who—irony of ironies—are now thought of as probably never existing, let alone rising from death? I guess you are another one who cannot tell the difference between apples and parsnips. (Gee, I guess I’m never going to get to accept dinner invites from anybody at this rate!)

    But you have totally misunderstood and misapplied the whole point to this discussion about what Eddy and Boyd were claiming. Essentially, they were trying to counter the view (not just by mythicists but NT critical scholars) that Paul and his fellow apostles of the Christ could have been preaching a spiritual resurrection for Christ, by saying that Jews could only understand the concept of rising in a body, and therefore if Jews were converted by Paul, he must have been preaching a rising for Christ in flesh.

    So my pointing out, if we were to accept this argument by Eddy & Boyd, that Jews could not have accepted non-bodily resurrection preaching by Paul and others, is an answer to their claim. I certainly wasn’t advocating that position and agreeing that non-bodily resurrection of a human man would have been inconceivable to Jews. So don’t provide me with ‘proof’ that they are wrong, Bernard. Send it to Eddy and Boyd. And why would I agree with them if I, as a mythicist, have been advocating that Paul was in fact preaching non-bodily resurrection for Jesus (though in conjunction with a non-earthly death and not of a human man, of course)?

    This is a good example of how you garble so much, Bernard, whether your understanding of what I or other mythicists say, or how you present counter-arguments. It’s been like this since the day I first came in contact with you, and my rebuttal to your criticism of my writings is full of illustrations of it. But you are impervious. You, like so many others here, will continue to go on your merry way, garbling and impervious to our arguments and presenting nothing which will discredit the mythicist position, even though you persist in the illusion that it does. It is why I have so often resolved to just ignore you, though there are times when it becomes impossible to adhere to that resolve.

    Bernard: “Doherty wrote: ‘Judaism would never have accepted even the basic idea that a god could die and rise, even an incarnated one on earth.’
    Except of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human mother and father and, after being believed by Jews to be resurrected (as a soul/spirit), deified (pre-existence, Son of God) later for Gentile consumption.”

    So Jews first adopted the belief that a known human, born of humans, was resurrected and deified, and only then they would be willing to believe he could die and rise because he was a god? Whaaat??? First they were willing to believe a crucified man was a god, and then they could believe a god could rise? But why would they have believed in the first place that a human man was a god and was resurrected, even spiritually? Didn’t that contravene other Jewish principles, that ‘God was One’ and no human was to be associated with God, let alone given all his divine titles? Judaism would accept this with greater sanguinity than they would accept that a god (gods who beside their own God simply for them didn’t exist) could die and rise? And if such beliefs were tailored “for Gentile consumption” aren’t you acknowledging that they were by definition hardly to be acceptable to Jews? There are fallacies within fallacies here, Bernard, but you are oblivious to them, aren’t you?

    Bernard: “Doherty wrote: ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’
    You are right: that’s why Paul wrote: 1Cr 1:23 ‘But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;’
    Then, you cannot say that crucified Messiah came out of the OT, or was an invented product of Judaism.”

    You are impossible, Bernard. Just because mainstream Judaism itself, or the vast majority of Jews who devoted themselves to messianically interpreting passages from their Hebrew Bible, did not extract a crucified Messiah from it, does not mean that no one else, no small minority of Jews or a sect that included gentiles who attached themselves to the Jewish heritage, as many gentiles at this time chose to do, were not capable of making that extraction, of so interpreting passages from the Jewish bible for themselves.

    Do you understand that concept, Bernard, are you able to make that distinction? Apparently not, as you are incapable of understanding so much else.  

    And I’ve wasted enough time on you for this round.

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

      To Doherty:

      On your first point, from Dr. McGrath’s critique of chapter 7 (emphasis mine):
      “Doherty interacts with Eddy and Boyd, who point out that resurrection in Judaism meant something bodily.
      Doherty writes in response, “While the latter claim may be correct, such expectation lay within the context of resurrection for humans, not of a god – and of humans on earth, not of a god in a supernatural location” (p.77).”

      I proved that Jews like Philo of Alexandria & Essenes believed that resurrection of “humans on earth” is NOT necessarily bodily. Consequently Jesus did not have to be “a god in a supernatural location”.
      Is it clear enough? And what god in Judaism was believed to have resurrected in spirit anyway?

      Furthermore, you write to me: “I certainly wasn’t advocating that position and agreeing that non-bodily resurrection of a human man would have been inconceivable to Jews.”

      You are reversing your position:
      - According to James’ critique, you postulated that, in Judaism, only “a god in a supernatural location” (NOT a human) would be believed to resurrect spiritually.
      - Now you say, in Judaism, humans could be believed to resurrect spiritually.

      On your second point, you write to me: “So Jews first adopted the belief that a known human, born of humans, was resurrected and deified, and only then they would be willing to believe he could die and rise because he was a god?”

      You missed an important detail. I did not say Jews first adopted a deified Jesus, but Jesus was deified later for the Gentiles. Read my words: “Except of course if Jesus was known to be a true human, born from a human mother and father and, after being believed by Jews to be resurrected (as a soul/spirit), deified (pre-existence, Son of God) later for Gentile consumption.”
      And we settled the fact that Jews initially could believe Jesus rose as a human (such as Abraham & Moses). See the first point.

      You write “And if such beliefs were tailored “for Gentile consumption” aren’t you acknowledging that they were by definition hardly to be acceptable to Jews? There are fallacies within fallacies here, Bernard, but you are oblivious to them, aren’t you?”

      Read again my words.
      The belief in question is deification (pre-existence + Son of God). Yes that would not be acceptable to Jews.

      What fallacies? You are the one who are twisting what I wrote into straw men or red herrings.

      On the third point, I reacted on what “Doherty
      wrote: ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’”

      Now you are saying “does not mean … a small minority of Jews or a sect that included gentiles who attached themselves to the Jewish heritage, as many gentiles at this time chose to do, were not capable of making that extraction, of so interpreting passages from the Jewish bible for themselves.”

      So essentially, you think that some Jews & God fearers did manage to find that crucified Messiah in the scriptures, that is in Judaism, even if ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’
      You are walking on a very thin rope here.

      • Earl Doherty

        “So essentially, you think that some Jews & God fearers did manage to
        find that crucified Messiah in the scriptures, that is in Judaism, even
        if ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’
        You are walking on a very thin rope here.”

        You are doing it again, Bernard. “Some Jews and God fearers” does not equal “Judaism.” What is the matter with your language skills? If we talk about what is common “in Judaism” this is speaking about Jewish culture and religion in general, in a mainstream insofar as there was one. This doesn’t mean that no allowance can be made for specific groups of Jews to hold to something different, or come up with an idea which is different or even incompatible with that general state of affairs “in Judaism.”

        This is why you are so frustrating, Bernard. I should have asked what is the matter with your reasoning skills.

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

          To Doherty,
          If these Jews and god fearers found a crucified Messiah in the Jewish scriptures (where is another issue!), well it is still in Judaism for me. Maybe not mainline Judaism, but fringe Judaism. And I did not say your position was wrong, just precarious, considering your statement ‘the idea of a crucified Messiah was not found in Judaism.’

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

    @Earl, I do not mean at all that there is nothing new under the sun. Obviously Christianity had new concepts and ideas. But what your approach neglects is (1) the need for historians to go with not only what is possible but unlikely, but what the evidence points towards, and (2) the fact that people normally mean what others who speak the same language in the same part of the world will understand them to mean, unless they explain otherwise.

    If you disagree with that last point, then I will treat your words in the same manner and will assume from now on that when you say “Jesus is a myth” what you really mean is “Homer Simpson is a myth,” and that by “myth” you mean “hilarious cartoon character.” Because unless words, in context, have meaning, then we are not having a conversation about mythicism, never mind the fact that making progress on the subject will be impossible under such circumstances.

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

    @Earl, I do not mean at all that there is nothing new under the sun. Obviously Christianity had new concepts and ideas. But what your approach neglects is (1) the need for historians to go with not only what is possible but unlikely, but what the evidence points towards, and (2) the fact that people normally mean what others who speak the same language in the same part of the world will understand them to mean, unless they explain otherwise.

    If you disagree with that last point, then I will treat your words in the same manner and will assume from now on that when you say “Jesus is a myth” what you really mean is “Homer Simpson is a myth,” and that by “myth” you mean “hilarious cartoon character.” Because unless words, in context, have meaning, then we are not having a conversation about mythicism, never mind the fact that making progress on the subject will be impossible under such circumstances.

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “Earl, Let me start with your last point first. If there were to be future historians of religion who could not agree about whether L. Ron Hubbard was a Sci-fi author, a religious prophet, a charlatan or a money-making genius, would that be evidence that he didn’t exist?”

    We don’t know that future historians would be unable to agree. In fact, it is likely that they would not, since our present knowledge that Hubbard was all these things is historically documented in sources far more reliable than the Gospels and not likely to be lost. There would also be no separate body of writing about Hubbard surviving for those future historians to contemplate which would cast strong doubt on his existence and contradict so much about what might be found in official biographies of Hubbard that have been written in our own time by his followers.

    But the simple answer to your question per se would be, no, it might not be strong evidence by itself that Hubbard did not exist. But taken in conjunction with other evidence of non-existence, it could be yet another indicator to those future historians that so little agreement existed about Hubbard’s nature and activities that non-existence would become an even stronger option. But don’t let the fact that we today know Hubbard existed, and thus such evidence ought to be rejected as such an indicator of non-existence, cloud the fact that we know no such thing in regard to Jesus, and to make that argument would be a blatant case of begging the question.

    Jim: “You pointed to lack of some details in the epistles that are later to be found in the Gospels. I pointed to one example where we have a tradition that existed in Paul’s time, without geographic details, and something related to it set in different geographic locations in later Gospels. Yet you have no response but incredulity.”

    I have a helluva lot more than ‘personal incredulity.’ For one thing, I can recognize a fallacy when I see one. You claim: Paul mentions a death for Jesus, but with no location stated, not even one on earth. The Gospels later mention a death for Jesus, but with a specific geographical location on earth. Ergo, the later location envisioned by the Gospels is to be accorded to Paul as existing in his mind, even if he nowhere states it or even implies it. (And in the face of other implications that he envisions quite the opposite, as in 1 Cor. 2:8, or Romans 12:3f, or that other writers also do, as in the Ascension of Isaiah. In fact, the entire pre- and non-Gospel record, including outside the NT, associates Jesus’ work and contacts with the spiritual world and spiritual figures, not with earthly ones. You’ll see this as you go along in my book.)

    Is this your idea of a valid and logical argument? Can you not recognize that in the context of a debate in which one is trying to establish whether the epistles occupy the same thought-world in regard to Jesus as the Gospels do, this sort of argument is nothing less than begging the question? Am I appealing to simple ‘personal incredulity’ by being incredulous of the validity of such an argument? Not accepting another’s arguments because they are found lacking or involving fallacy is not a case of what is normally referred to as “personal incredulity.”

    As for the Gospel authors being ‘creative in a vacuum’, it would seem that the only non-vacuum source for them is scripture, for a vacuum for what they have created does indeed exist in all the sources prior to their writings, with the exception of Q which contains its own vacuum on the figure of Jesus, especially in regard to a death and resurrection. (But Q we can leave until you get to those chapters of the book.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “Earl, Let me start with your last point first. If there were to be future historians of religion who could not agree about whether L. Ron Hubbard was a Sci-fi author, a religious prophet, a charlatan or a money-making genius, would that be evidence that he didn’t exist?”

    We don’t know that future historians would be unable to agree. In fact, it is likely that they would not, since our present knowledge that Hubbard was all these things is historically documented in sources far more reliable than the Gospels and not likely to be lost. There would also be no separate body of writing about Hubbard surviving for those future historians to contemplate which would cast strong doubt on his existence and contradict so much about what might be found in official biographies of Hubbard that have been written in our own time by his followers.

    But the simple answer to your question per se would be, no, it might not be strong evidence by itself that Hubbard did not exist. But taken in conjunction with other evidence of non-existence, it could be yet another indicator to those future historians that so little agreement existed about Hubbard’s nature and activities that non-existence would become an even stronger option. But don’t let the fact that we today know Hubbard existed, and thus such evidence ought to be rejected as such an indicator of non-existence, cloud the fact that we know no such thing in regard to Jesus, and to make that argument would be a blatant case of begging the question.

    Jim: “You pointed to lack of some details in the epistles that are later to be found in the Gospels. I pointed to one example where we have a tradition that existed in Paul’s time, without geographic details, and something related to it set in different geographic locations in later Gospels. Yet you have no response but incredulity.”

    I have a helluva lot more than ‘personal incredulity.’ For one thing, I can recognize a fallacy when I see one. You claim: Paul mentions a death for Jesus, but with no location stated, not even one on earth. The Gospels later mention a death for Jesus, but with a specific geographical location on earth. Ergo, the later location envisioned by the Gospels is to be accorded to Paul as existing in his mind, even if he nowhere states it or even implies it. (And in the face of other implications that he envisions quite the opposite, as in 1 Cor. 2:8, or Romans 12:3f, or that other writers also do, as in the Ascension of Isaiah. In fact, the entire pre- and non-Gospel record, including outside the NT, associates Jesus’ work and contacts with the spiritual world and spiritual figures, not with earthly ones. You’ll see this as you go along in my book.)

    Is this your idea of a valid and logical argument? Can you not recognize that in the context of a debate in which one is trying to establish whether the epistles occupy the same thought-world in regard to Jesus as the Gospels do, this sort of argument is nothing less than begging the question? Am I appealing to simple ‘personal incredulity’ by being incredulous of the validity of such an argument? Not accepting another’s arguments because they are found lacking or involving fallacy is not a case of what is normally referred to as “personal incredulity.”

    As for the Gospel authors being ‘creative in a vacuum’, it would seem that the only non-vacuum source for them is scripture, for a vacuum for what they have created does indeed exist in all the sources prior to their writings, with the exception of Q which contains its own vacuum on the figure of Jesus, especially in regard to a death and resurrection. (But Q we can leave until you get to those chapters of the book.)

  • Earl Doherty

    Kris: “I keep saying textual evidence cause that is hard evidence and is not remotely subjective.”

    Nonsense. Of course it’s subjective. Your so-called “hard evidence” comes from a time and manuscripts which are a good two centuries after the autograph. The blatantly subjective part comes in you and others trusting that they haven’t undergone changes to insert the things you appeal to for your own beliefs, or amendments which now obscure what the original writers believed.

    If you are going to argue the question of interpolation solely on the basis of textual evidence when you have a gap like that in which all textual evidence is lacking, and in the face of a Christian documentary record we do have which NT scholars know and acknowledge is riddled with forgery, amendments and diverse readings, I highly question your judgment about the validity of such an ‘historical method’ or its lack of subjectivity.

    Do you really think that in an atmosphere of rivalry, diversity, and the evolution of ideas which we know existed in Christianity from the get-go, that documents that were not yet anywhere near canonical status remained pristine and immune to amendment right up to the beginning of the third century? If you do, then your naivete is staggering.  

    You really need to start thinking a little more deeply, Kris, before opening your mouth.

  • Earl Doherty

    Kris: “I keep saying textual evidence cause that is hard evidence and is not remotely subjective.”

    Nonsense. Of course it’s subjective. Your so-called “hard evidence” comes from a time and manuscripts which are a good two centuries after the autograph. The blatantly subjective part comes in you and others trusting that they haven’t undergone changes to insert the things you appeal to for your own beliefs, or amendments which now obscure what the original writers believed.

    If you are going to argue the question of interpolation solely on the basis of textual evidence when you have a gap like that in which all textual evidence is lacking, and in the face of a Christian documentary record we do have which NT scholars know and acknowledge is riddled with forgery, amendments and diverse readings, I highly question your judgment about the validity of such an ‘historical method’ or its lack of subjectivity.

    Do you really think that in an atmosphere of rivalry, diversity, and the evolution of ideas which we know existed in Christianity from the get-go, that documents that were not yet anywhere near canonical status remained pristine and immune to amendment right up to the beginning of the third century? If you do, then your naivete is staggering.  

    You really need to start thinking a little more deeply, Kris, before opening your mouth.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Earl, I am trying to understand your point of view. Would the following be correct?

    Do you believe Paul was a historical person, and he wrote about a heavenly Christ/Jesus in the first century. Then at a later date, the gospels were written based on Paul’s writings and the gospel writers used Paul’s ideas and created an earthly Christ/Jesus out of them?

    If the above is accurate, I have a couple of additional questions to go with that.

    1. Did Paul really have a supernatural experience with the heavenly Christ, and did he receive the knowledge that he wrote about from him?

    2. If number 1 is not true, are Paul’s writings merely a creative interpretation from the Hebrew Scriptures?

    3. Shouldn’t we find various statements of Paul re-worded and attributed to Jesus in the Gospels?

    • Earl Doherty

      Howard: “Do you believe Paul was a historical person, and he wrote about a
      heavenly Christ/Jesus in the first century. Then at a later date, the
      gospels were written based on Paul’s writings and the gospel writers
      used Paul’s ideas and created an earthly Christ/Jesus out of them”

      First sentence, correct, though there is a lot of leeway in establishing exactly how much of Paul, including within the generally accepted ‘authentic’ epistles, is actually original.

      Second sentence, only partly. I do not believe that the Gospel writers wrote by drawing specifically on writings of Paul. They may not have known of him specifically. Mark combined two preceding ‘sources’ to create his Gospel: the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, centered in Galilee which we can see in the Q document (a movement which had nothing to do with a cultic heavenly or sacrificial Christ), and some form of contact or involvement with a cultic Christ movement, whether through Paul or other apostles of that heavenly figure, from Jerusalem or elsewhere since this was a widespread movement and philosophy. Mark (or possibly his community) syncretized the two, apparently for the first time, since we see no earlier witness to a combination of those separate expressions on the 1st century scene. Note that Mark would not have possessed the actual Q document himself, but he was still a party to Q-type traditions since he came out of that milieu.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Earl, I have to admit, I am still a little confused. But I do really wish to understand were you are coming from. So I broke down your comment and I will question you a little further, if you do not mind.

        “Mark combined two preceding ‘sources’ to create his Gospel:”

        Are the two sources “the Kingdom preaching movement” and “some of Paul’s writings or writings similar to Paul’s”?

        “the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, centered in Galilee which we can see in the Q document (a movement which had nothing to do with a cultic heavenly or sacrificial Christ)”

        I’m not sure I would have worded that this way, like I can go and actually look at this Q document, but that’s another issue. Where do you think this kingdom preaching movement originated from? Was the name Jesus originally associated with this movement?

        “and some form of contact or involvement with a cultic Christ movement, whether through Paul or other apostles of that heavenly figure, from Jerusalem or elsewhere since this was a widespread movement and philosophy.”

        I’m having a little trouble grasping the concept here, could you provide an example or two of something Mark says that appears to be taken from the writings of a heavenly Christ? Again, was the name Jesus used in these writings before they were combined together. I ask this because the name Jesus is a common thread between the two sets of writings, and I want to know if one set of writings borrowed the name from the other, or if they have a common origin. And speaking of it, where do you think the heavenly Christ viewpoint originated from?

        • Earl Doherty

          I said that one source for Mark was the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, and which we see in Q, assuming, of course (which not everyone does), that the extraction of a lost document now called Q from Matthew and Luke is a valid exercise. I believe it is, and it reflects a sectarian movement which all the synoptic communities seem to have belonged to.

          But did I say anything about Mark deriving anything from “the writings of the heavenly Christ”? Or did you mean writings “about” the heavenly Christ, as in the NT epistles?

          To answer your broad questions about the Kingdom preaching movement and Q itself would require space and work far beyond the limits of this blog and my available time. It’s all in the new book which James is so excited about, so perhaps you might want to acquire a copy for yourself. In both books I raise the question of whether the name “Jesus” actually appeared in finished Q, since “Jesus” entails the meaning of “Savior” and yet Q has no soteriological role for its founder figure). Or did Matthew and Luke change whatever name they found in it to “Jesus Christ,” which they would have derived from Mark? Mark himself would have derived that name from the cultic Christ side of things, as in Paul and other apostles of the Christ.

          • Howard Mazzaferro

            Earl, yes, I meant writings “about” the heavenly Christ. So can you point to a Scripture in Mark that appears to coincide with something about a heavenly Christ? As far as each writings origin, I simply wanted to know if you thought they were basically derived from the Hebrew Scriptures since both sets of writings quote from it frequently. (To be more accurate it is the LXX that they usually quote from.) Finally, as far as the name Jesus, do you see any connection with the name Joshua from the Hebrew Scriptures? Most notably, because of the fact that Joshua’s name in the LXX is treated as a nomina sacrum. And speaking of it, how do the nomina sacra fit into your view? What is their significance?

            • Earl Doherty

              Although that is not how I would put it, what “coincides” in Mark with
              the myth of the heavenly Christ is the Passion story. Mark has
              allegorized the concept of the heavenly crucifixion of the Son at the
              hands of the demons by turning it into a story of a death and rising
              taking place on earth at the hands of the Jews and Romans.

              Mark’s passion story (from Gethsemane on) certainly isn’t anything
              reflecting history, because not a single element in it can be identified
              as ‘history remembered.’ Rather, it is put together out of bits and
              pieces of scripture. It is all literary invention. But we’ll get to
              that, I’m sure, when Jim reaches that point later in my book–if he
              perseveres that far.

              This is all I’ve got time for until later this evening.

              • Earl Doherty

                Bernard: “And we did not even go through ‘kata Sarka’ (“according to flesh”), which you will interpret as “between earth and moon” in Ro1:3.”

                This is why banging one’s head against the wall accomplishes nothing with you, Bernard. For years I have been trying to make you (and some others) understand that “kata sarka” in Romans 1:3 is not literally “between earth and moon,” as though I were saying that Christ became ‘of the seed of David’ when he entered the sublunar sphere. Even the woolly translation of ‘kata sarka’ we often see, “according to the flesh,” even when translators see the phrase as relating to humanity, which it often does, are not literally saying ‘on the surface of the earth.’

                I have offered a translation of “in relation to the (sphere of) the flesh” or “in relation to humanity” for certain appearances of ‘kata sarka’, including Romans 1:3, where Paul, taking his cue from scripture (God’s gospel of the Son in verse 2), sees the Son as having a relationship to David “according to the flesh.” (There is no necessary connection here with the time and place of his sacrifice.) The Pauline corpus is full of mystical relationships between divine and human (the church as part of the body of Christ, for example), or the children of the promise (now including gentiles) being “one person in Christ Jesus,” belonging to Christ, as in Gal. 3:28-9. In Romans 1:3, Christ (because scripture as now interpreted by the Christ cult required it) has a mystical linkage with David; thus the Son, “in his relation to the flesh” is “of David’s seed”. I can’t tell you how Paul envisioned that; maybe he couldn’t have told you himself, just as no doubt he couldn’t draw you a picture of how Christ was the head and believers the limbs, joined together in the ‘body of Christ’. You and other historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.

                In The Jesus Puzzle I was still struggling with the best ways to express these sorts of things because to some extent I was breaking new ground, and unfortunately I was not always as successful as I would have liked. In Jesus: Neither God Nor Man the discussion of the mythical and mystical elements is much fuller, including an entire chapter devoted to the language of “sarx” and related ideas. But we’ll get to that (hopefully).

                Bernard: “And there is evidence in Paul’s epistles the crucifixion/sacrifice happened in “Zion”.”

                You’ve referred to this before, but I still don’t know what you are talking about.

                Bernard: “(Earl:) “No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether.”
                BM: But that’s the way it looks in Titus1:3 (about inflating Paul). And Jesus is far from being forgotten: he is mentioned in the next verse “Christ Jesus our Saviour” and 2 verses earlier “Paul, bondman of God, and apostle of Jesus Christ”.”

                Sometimes your comments go beyond the ridiculous, and I don’t know why I bother. You can only say “that’s the way it looks” by begging the question. If I say that it is inconceivable that a writer would choose to inflate Paul’s importance if that involved cutting Jesus out of the picture entirely, you can’t just ignore the argument that such a thing could not be done by any Christian writer and simply state that he has done it, on the basis of your assumption that an HJ was known to the writer. That’s the very thing we are trying to establish, hopefully based on the text. Do you not understand the concept of begging the question?

                And then you counter my observation that Jesus has been cut out of the historical sequence in verses 2 and 3 by pointing to the quotation of his name in other verses that don’t have anything to do with the issue in 2-3. If I complain that Bill wasn’t invited to Jack’s party last week, does it have any effect on my complaint for someone to point out that Bill was at the library yesterday? I despair of your logical faculties, Bernard. I am close to putting you back on ignore.

                I will deal with your comments on 2 Peter separately, perhaps later this evening if I find the time.

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

                  Doherty wrote: “kata sarka” in Romans 1:3 is not literally “between earth and moon,”BM: I did not say it was “literally”. I said that’s the way you interpret it.”when translators see the phrase as relating to humanity, which it often does, are not literally saying ‘on the surface of the earth.’”BM: So where was humanity living in these days?”I have offered a translation of “in relation to the (sphere of) the flesh” or “in relation to humanity” for certain appearances of ‘kata sarka’, including Romans 1:3,”BM: “sphere” does not exist in the Greek. You are not proposing a translation, but instead an interpretation.”Paul, taking his cue from scripture (God’s gospel of the Son in verse 2),”BM: The “Son” is not in v.2, but in another clause starting by “concerning”.So you see Paul, in his last letter, stating he found from the scripture the seed of David thing. That’s rather strange it took him so long to find that. Furthermore, according to the Pauline letters, there were many other apostles/preachers (1Co1:12,9:2-5; 2Co11:5,13,23a,12:11; Php1:14-17; Gal1:6-7), some “in Christ” before Paul (Gal1:17; Ro16:7), some preaching different ‘Jesus’ (2Co11:4), and all of them Jew (2Co11:22-23a): in this context, what are the odds on Paul “discovering” the Christ/Son_of_David relationship from the OT?
                  And, earlier on, Paul had already Christ as a ‘man’ (1Co15:21,47; Php2:8), a descendant of Abraham (an ancestor of David) (Gal3:16) and made/came_into_being from a woman (Gal4:4).”In Romans 1:3, Christ (because scripture as now interpreted by the Christ cult required it) has a mystical linkage with David; thus the Son, “in his relation to the flesh” is “of David’s seed”.”BM: Now we have a mystical relationship! And no wonder you admit next “I can’t tell you how Paul envisioned that; maybe he couldn’t have told you himself”. But, strangely enough, you can, or, at least, you are trying!”historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.”BM: But you can claim many things in the epistles do conform with your Mythicist mindset, even if it takes many pages trying to explain it: “[Doherty wrote] an entire chapter devoted to the language of “sarx” and related ideas”As for ‘Titus’, I want to add, and possibly correct myself, that the true HJ (who was not a teacher) could not have been known by the author of Titus some 90 years later, except through the bits in the Pauline epistles (& ‘Hebrews’) and the gospels, full of myths. And the forger had the motivation for “inflating” the importance of Paul, because he used him as an authority. Your argument on verse 3 is one from silence, imagining expectation when & where not positively fulfilled. I can do that, over and over again, for your fully mythical Christ.True, the author of ‘Titus’ did not put much weight on Jesus, just mentioned four times (3 times as “saviour”, but a lot more on God, also a saviour). The forger is not Paul, but two generation later, had a different view of Christianity, different thinking, different issues to be addressed, etc.”kata sarka” in Romans 1:3 is not literally “between earth and moon,”BM: I did not say it was “literally”. I said that’s the way you interpret it.”when translators see the phrase as relating to humanity, which it often does, are not literally saying ‘on the surface of the earth.’”BM: So where was humanity living in these days?”I have offered a translation of “in relation to the (sphere of) the flesh” or “in relation to humanity” for certain appearances of ‘kata sarka’, including Romans 1:3,”BM: “sphere” does not exist in the Greek. You are not proposing a translation, but instead an interpretation.”Paul, taking his cue from scripture (God’s gospel of the Son in verse 2),”BM: The “Son” is not in v.2, but in another clause starting by “concerning”.So you see Paul, in his last letter, stating he found from the scripture the seed of David thing. That’s rather strange it took him so long to find that. Furthermore, according to the Pauline letters, there were many other apostles/preachers (1Co1:12,9:2-5; 2Co11:5,13,23a,12:11; Php1:14-17; Gal1:6-7), some “in Christ” before Paul (Gal1:17; Ro16:7), some preaching different ‘Jesus’ (2Co11:4), and all of them Jew (2Co11:22-23a): in this context, what are the odds on Paul “discovering” the Christ/Son_of_David relationship from the OT?
                  And, earlier on, Paul had already Christ as a ‘man’ (1Co15:21,47; Php2:8), a descendant of Abraham (an ancestor of David) (Gal3:16) and made/came_into_being from a woman (Gal4:4).”In Romans 1:3, Christ (because scripture as now interpreted by the Christ cult required it) has a mystical linkage with David; thus the Son, “in his relation to the flesh” is “of David’s seed”.”BM: Now we have a mystical relationship! And no wonder you admit next “I can’t tell you how Paul envisioned that; maybe he couldn’t have told you himself”. But, strangely enough, you can, or, at least, you are trying!”historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.”BM: But you can claim many things in the epistles do conform with your Mythicist mindset, even if it takes many pages trying to explain it: “[Doherty wrote] an entire chapter devoted to the language of “sarx” and related ideas”As for ‘Titus’, I want to add, and possibly correct myself, that the true HJ (who was not a teacher) could not have been known by the author of Titus some 90 years later, except through the bits in the Pauline epistles (& ‘Hebrews’) and the gospels, full of myths. And the forger had the motivation for “inflating” the importance of Paul, because he used him as an authority. Your argument on verse 3 is one from silence, imagining expectation when & where not positively fulfilled. I can do that, over and over again, for your fully mythical Christ.True, the author of ‘Titus’ did not put much weight on Jesus, just mentioned four times (3 times as “saviour”, but a lot more on God, also a saviour). The forger is not Paul, but two generation later, had a different view of Christianity, different thinking, different issues to be addressed, etc.

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    Earl, I am trying to understand your point of view. Would the following be correct?

    Do you believe Paul was a historical person, and he wrote about a heavenly Christ/Jesus in the first century. Then at a later date, the gospels were written based on Paul’s writings and the gospel writers used Paul’s ideas and created an earthly Christ/Jesus out of them?

    If the above is accurate, I have a couple of additional questions to go with that.

    1. Did Paul really have a supernatural experience with the heavenly Christ, and did he receive the knowledge that he wrote about from him?

    2. If number 1 is not true, are Paul’s writings merely a creative interpretation from the Hebrew Scriptures?

    3. Shouldn’t we find various statements of Paul re-worded and attributed to Jesus in the Gospels?

    • Earl Doherty

      Howard: “Do you believe Paul was a historical person, and he wrote about a
      heavenly Christ/Jesus in the first century. Then at a later date, the
      gospels were written based on Paul’s writings and the gospel writers
      used Paul’s ideas and created an earthly Christ/Jesus out of them”

      First sentence, correct, though there is a lot of leeway in establishing exactly how much of Paul, including within the generally accepted ‘authentic’ epistles, is actually original.

      Second sentence, only partly. I do not believe that the Gospel writers wrote by drawing specifically on writings of Paul. They may not have known of him specifically. Mark combined two preceding ‘sources’ to create his Gospel: the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, centered in Galilee which we can see in the Q document (a movement which had nothing to do with a cultic heavenly or sacrificial Christ), and some form of contact or involvement with a cultic Christ movement, whether through Paul or other apostles of that heavenly figure, from Jerusalem or elsewhere since this was a widespread movement and philosophy. Mark (or possibly his community) syncretized the two, apparently for the first time, since we see no earlier witness to a combination of those separate expressions on the 1st century scene. Note that Mark would not have possessed the actual Q document himself, but he was still a party to Q-type traditions since he came out of that milieu.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        Earl, I have to admit, I am still a little confused. But I do really wish to understand were you are coming from. So I broke down your comment and I will question you a little further, if you do not mind.

        “Mark combined two preceding ‘sources’ to create his Gospel:”

        Are the two sources “the Kingdom preaching movement” and “some of Paul’s writings or writings similar to Paul’s”?

        “the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, centered in Galilee which we can see in the Q document (a movement which had nothing to do with a cultic heavenly or sacrificial Christ)”

        I’m not sure I would have worded that this way, like I can go and actually look at this Q document, but that’s another issue. Where do you think this kingdom preaching movement originated from? Was the name Jesus originally associated with this movement?

        “and some form of contact or involvement with a cultic Christ movement, whether through Paul or other apostles of that heavenly figure, from Jerusalem or elsewhere since this was a widespread movement and philosophy.”

        I’m having a little trouble grasping the concept here, could you provide an example or two of something Mark says that appears to be taken from the writings of a heavenly Christ? Again, was the name Jesus used in these writings before they were combined together. I ask this because the name Jesus is a common thread between the two sets of writings, and I want to know if one set of writings borrowed the name from the other, or if they have a common origin. And speaking of it, where do you think the heavenly Christ viewpoint originated from?

        • Earl Doherty

          I said that one source for Mark was the Kingdom preaching movement he was a part of, and which we see in Q, assuming, of course (which not everyone does), that the extraction of a lost document now called Q from Matthew and Luke is a valid exercise. I believe it is, and it reflects a sectarian movement which all the synoptic communities seem to have belonged to.

          But did I say anything about Mark deriving anything from “the writings of the heavenly Christ”? Or did you mean writings “about” the heavenly Christ, as in the NT epistles?

          To answer your broad questions about the Kingdom preaching movement and Q itself would require space and work far beyond the limits of this blog and my available time. It’s all in the new book which James is so excited about, so perhaps you might want to acquire a copy for yourself. In both books I raise the question of whether the name “Jesus” actually appeared in finished Q, since “Jesus” entails the meaning of “Savior” and yet Q has no soteriological role for its founder figure). Or did Matthew and Luke change whatever name they found in it to “Jesus Christ,” which they would have derived from Mark? Mark himself would have derived that name from the cultic Christ side of things, as in Paul and other apostles of the Christ.

          • Howard Mazzaferro

            Earl, yes, I meant writings “about” the heavenly Christ. So can you point to a Scripture in Mark that appears to coincide with something about a heavenly Christ? As far as each writings origin, I simply wanted to know if you thought they were basically derived from the Hebrew Scriptures since both sets of writings quote from it frequently. (To be more accurate it is the LXX that they usually quote from.) Finally, as far as the name Jesus, do you see any connection with the name Joshua from the Hebrew Scriptures? Most notably, because of the fact that Joshua’s name in the LXX is treated as a nomina sacrum. And speaking of it, how do the nomina sacra fit into your view? What is their significance?

            • Earl Doherty

              Although that is not how I would put it, what “coincides” in Mark with
              the myth of the heavenly Christ is the Passion story. Mark has
              allegorized the concept of the heavenly crucifixion of the Son at the
              hands of the demons by turning it into a story of a death and rising
              taking place on earth at the hands of the Jews and Romans.

              Mark’s passion story (from Gethsemane on) certainly isn’t anything
              reflecting history, because not a single element in it can be identified
              as ‘history remembered.’ Rather, it is put together out of bits and
              pieces of scripture. It is all literary invention. But we’ll get to
              that, I’m sure, when Jim reaches that point later in my book–if he
              perseveres that far.

              This is all I’ve got time for until later this evening.

              • Earl Doherty

                Bernard: “And we did not even go through ‘kata Sarka’ (“according to flesh”), which you will interpret as “between earth and moon” in Ro1:3.”

                This is why banging one’s head against the wall accomplishes nothing with you, Bernard. For years I have been trying to make you (and some others) understand that “kata sarka” in Romans 1:3 is not literally “between earth and moon,” as though I were saying that Christ became ‘of the seed of David’ when he entered the sublunar sphere. Even the woolly translation of ‘kata sarka’ we often see, “according to the flesh,” even when translators see the phrase as relating to humanity, which it often does, are not literally saying ‘on the surface of the earth.’

                I have offered a translation of “in relation to the (sphere of) the flesh” or “in relation to humanity” for certain appearances of ‘kata sarka’, including Romans 1:3, where Paul, taking his cue from scripture (God’s gospel of the Son in verse 2), sees the Son as having a relationship to David “according to the flesh.” (There is no necessary connection here with the time and place of his sacrifice.) The Pauline corpus is full of mystical relationships between divine and human (the church as part of the body of Christ, for example), or the children of the promise (now including gentiles) being “one person in Christ Jesus,” belonging to Christ, as in Gal. 3:28-9. In Romans 1:3, Christ (because scripture as now interpreted by the Christ cult required it) has a mystical linkage with David; thus the Son, “in his relation to the flesh” is “of David’s seed”. I can’t tell you how Paul envisioned that; maybe he couldn’t have told you himself, just as no doubt he couldn’t draw you a picture of how Christ was the head and believers the limbs, joined together in the ‘body of Christ’. You and other historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.

                In The Jesus Puzzle I was still struggling with the best ways to express these sorts of things because to some extent I was breaking new ground, and unfortunately I was not always as successful as I would have liked. In Jesus: Neither God Nor Man the discussion of the mythical and mystical elements is much fuller, including an entire chapter devoted to the language of “sarx” and related ideas. But we’ll get to that (hopefully).

                Bernard: “And there is evidence in Paul’s epistles the crucifixion/sacrifice happened in “Zion”.”

                You’ve referred to this before, but I still don’t know what you are talking about.

                Bernard: “(Earl:) “No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether.”
                BM: But that’s the way it looks in Titus1:3 (about inflating Paul). And Jesus is far from being forgotten: he is mentioned in the next verse “Christ Jesus our Saviour” and 2 verses earlier “Paul, bondman of God, and apostle of Jesus Christ”.”

                Sometimes your comments go beyond the ridiculous, and I don’t know why I bother. You can only say “that’s the way it looks” by begging the question. If I say that it is inconceivable that a writer would choose to inflate Paul’s importance if that involved cutting Jesus out of the picture entirely, you can’t just ignore the argument that such a thing could not be done by any Christian writer and simply state that he has done it, on the basis of your assumption that an HJ was known to the writer. That’s the very thing we are trying to establish, hopefully based on the text. Do you not understand the concept of begging the question?

                And then you counter my observation that Jesus has been cut out of the historical sequence in verses 2 and 3 by pointing to the quotation of his name in other verses that don’t have anything to do with the issue in 2-3. If I complain that Bill wasn’t invited to Jack’s party last week, does it have any effect on my complaint for someone to point out that Bill was at the library yesterday? I despair of your logical faculties, Bernard. I am close to putting you back on ignore.

                I will deal with your comments on 2 Peter separately, perhaps later this evening if I find the time.

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

                  To Doherty,
                  Doherty wrote: “kata sarka” in Romans 1:3 is not literally “between earth and moon,”

                  BM: I did not say it was “literally”. I said that’s the way you interpret it.

                  “when translators see the phrase as relating to humanity, which it often does, are not literally saying ‘on the surface of the earth.’”

                  BM: So where was humanity living in these days?”

                  “I have offered a translation of “in relation to the (sphere of) the flesh” or “in relation to humanity” for certain appearances of ‘kata sarka’, including Romans 1:3,”

                  BM: “sphere” does not exist in the Greek. You are not proposing a translation, but instead an interpretation.

                  “Paul, taking his cue from scripture (God’s gospel of the Son in verse 2),”

                  BM: The “Son” is not in v.2, but in another clause starting by “concerning”. So you see Paul, in his last letter, stating he found from the scripture the seed of David thing. That’s rather strange it took him so long to find that. Furthermore, according to the Pauline letters, there were many other apostles/preachers (1Co1:12,9:2-5; 2Co11:5,13,23a,12:11; Php1:14-17; Gal1:6-7), some “in Christ” before Paul (Gal1:17; Ro16:7), some preaching different ‘Jesus’ (2Co11:4), and all of them Jew (2Co11:22-23a): in this context, what are the odds on Paul “discovering” the Christ/Son_of_David relationship from the OT?
                  And, earlier on, Paul had already Christ as a ‘man’ (1Co15:21,47; Php2:8), a descendant of Abraham (an ancestor of David) (Gal3:16) and made/came_into_being from a woman (Gal4:4).

                  “In Romans 1:3, Christ (because scripture as now interpreted by the Christ cult required it) has a mystical linkage with David; thus the Son, “in his relation to the flesh” is “of David’s seed”.”

                  BM: Now we have a mystical relationship! And no wonder you admit next “I can’t tell you how Paul envisioned that; maybe he couldn’t have told you himself”. But, strangely enough, you can, or, at least, you are trying!

                  “historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.”

                  BM: But you can claim many things in the epistles do conform with your Mythicist mindset, even if it takes many pages trying to explain it: “[Doherty wrote] an entire chapter devoted to the language of “sarx” and related ideas”
                  And I do not think “kata sarka” normal interpretation is from a modern scientific mindset. Actually Josephus himself used it, with our “modern” interpretation: Wars, II, VIII, “but that when they [Essenes] are set free [after death] from the bonds of the flesh ['kata sarka'], they then, as released from a long bondage, rejoice and mount upward.”

                  As for ‘Titus’, I want to add, and possibly correct myself, that the true HJ (who was not a teacher) could not have been known by the author of Titus some 90 years later, except through the bits in the Pauline epistles (& ‘Hebrews’) and the gospels, full of myths. And the forger had the motivation for “inflating” the importance of Paul, because he used him as an authority. Your argument on verse 3 is one from silence, imagining expectation when & where not positively fulfilled, which is self-serving. I can do that, over and over again, against your fully mythical Christ. True, the author of ‘Titus’ did not put much weight on Jesus, just mentioned four times (3 times as “saviour”, but a lot more on God, also a saviour).
                  The forger is not Paul, but two generations later, had a different view of Christianity, different thinking, different issues to be addressed, etc.

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

    @TruthOverFaith, I think your point is fair on both accounts – we would expect interest in sites related to Jesus to develop (and eventually it doess) and it involves a measure of speculation to try to “think ourselves” into the mindset of Paul and other early Christians. And I don’t mind engaging in a bit of healthy speculation about things we would love to know but do not have sufficient evidence to answer clearly one way or the other. But I still find Dohery’s attempt to use his speculation about what Paul ought to have thought and done, and then beyond that supposedly ought to have mentioned in his letters, unpersuasive. When the speculation is piled on top of speculation, it doesn’t allow one to make a stack that outweighs the actual evidence, even when the latter is more fragmentary or piecemeal or less explicit in ctain points than we might like.

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

    @TruthOverFaith, I think your point is fair on both accounts – we would expect interest in sites related to Jesus to develop (and eventually it doess) and it involves a measure of speculation to try to “think ourselves” into the mindset of Paul and other early Christians. And I don’t mind engaging in a bit of healthy speculation about things we would love to know but do not have sufficient evidence to answer clearly one way or the other. But I still find Dohery’s attempt to use his speculation about what Paul ought to have thought and done, and then beyond that supposedly ought to have mentioned in his letters, unpersuasive. When the speculation is piled on top of speculation, it doesn’t allow one to make a stack that outweighs the actual evidence, even when the latter is more fragmentary or piecemeal or less explicit in ctain points than we might like.

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

    @Gilgamesh, it is an intesting topic, and one that I have only picked up information on in the process of researching other things, rather than it being a subject that I’ve ever worked on in and of itself.

    I wonder to what extent the impurity which Jews believed to be t tans otter by burial places impacted the practice (or relative lack thereof) of pilgrimage to tombs of famous individuals.

    If you come up with interesting things on this subject, please do share them. And if they turn out to be interesting in ways that aren’t relevant to the discussion of Doherty’s book, let me know and I will create a post just for that topic.

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

    @Gilgamesh, it is an intesting topic, and one that I have only picked up information on in the process of researching other things, rather than it being a subject that I’ve ever worked on in and of itself.

    I wonder to what extent the impurity which Jews believed to be t tans otter by burial places impacted the practice (or relative lack thereof) of pilgrimage to tombs of famous individuals.

    If you come up with interesting things on this subject, please do share them. And if they turn out to be interesting in ways that aren’t relevant to the discussion of Doherty’s book, let me know and I will create a post just for that topic.

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

    @Evan, I think you’ll find (1) that I just mentioned before you commented that this is not a subject that I have researched for it’s own sake, (2) that I correctly pointed out that we have some archaeological evidence which might suggest pilgrimage took place, and little in the way of stories told by or about people who undertook such pilgrimage, except for to Jerusalem.

    You will also find that (3) as a result of point #2 I emphasized that while there was an interest in sacred sites, what pilgrimage there may have been must have been a lower-key affair than we find in the Christianity of the Middle Ages.

    But at any rate, if I misjudged the nature or character of Jewish pilgrimage in this era, I apologize. It still seems clear to me, however, that my initial point stands, which is that however much pilgrimage took place, we don’t generally find people writing about it, and so Doherty’s claim that the lack of mention of pilgrimage in the epistles supports mythicism remains unpersuasive.

    • Anonymous

      It still seems clear to me, however, that my initial point stands, which
      is that however much pilgrimage took place, we don’t generally find
      people writing about it, and so Doherty’s claim that the lack of mention
      of pilgrimage in the epistles supports mythicism remains unpersuasive.

      Dr. McGrath, it seems that you are suggesting that textual evidence is more important than archeological evidence. Is that your belief?

      It strikes me that if we have archeological evidence of a phenomenon, that is more secure data than if we have textual evidence. Thus, if we had archeological evidence for pilgrimage to caves associated with Abraham that date to the 1st century CE, then we would expect that someone believed to have guided the Jews through the Sinai peninsula during the exodus would also have pilgrimages to the birthplace of that person, the childhood home, the site of his execution, his tomb etc.

      Yet we have no such archeological evidence. Is there any archeological evidence you can point to that is consistent with the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth was more certainly historical than King Arthur or Robin Hood?

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

        Evan wrote:
        “we had archeological evidence for pilgrimage to caves associated with Abraham that date to the 1st century CE”

        We are talking about a 2000 years period between the alleged life of Abraham and that pilgrimage site. I think pilgrimage to alleged Jesus sites happened well before 2000 years!

        Possibly the earliest archeological proof of Christian/Ebionite pilgrimage is in Capernaum, on a particular house and space. Unfortunatly no acccurate dating can be ascertained on when that house and space got to become a shrine. But it could have been 2nd cent. at the latest, possibly earlier. From Wikipedia:
        “Beginning in the latter half of the 1st century AD, this house displayed markedly different characteristics than the other excavated houses. The rough walls were reworked with care and were covered with inscriptions; the floor was covered with a fine layer of plaster. Furthermore, almost no domestic ceramics are recovered, but lamps abound. One explanation suggested for this treatment is that the room was venerated as a religious gathering place, a domus-ecclesia or house church, for the Christian community. (Loffreda, 1984) This suggestion has been critiqued by several scholars, however. In particular, where excavators had claimed to find graffiti including the name of Peter, others have found very little legible writing (Strange and Shanks, 1982). Others have questioned whether the space is actually a room; the paved floor, the large space without supports, and the presence of a cooking space have prompted some to note that these are more consistent with yet another courtyard (Freyne, 2001).”
        Of course, this is from Wikipedia, not the most trusted source of information, and everything about that space or room is debatable. And any pilgrimage there could have started from the gospels, and not from earlier oral tradition.
        Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum   

        • Anonymous

          Bernard, I don’t think you’ve created any credible case there for a 1st century pilgrimage, but if you think so, great.

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

        Another website about Capernaum. Notice that lamps allegedly dated to late 1st century have been found in the room/space of the house:
        http://198.62.75.1/www1/ofm/sites/TScphous.html

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

    @Evan, I think you’ll find (1) that I just mentioned before you commented that this is not a subject that I have researched for it’s own sake, (2) that I correctly pointed out that we have some archaeological evidence which might suggest pilgrimage took place, and little in the way of stories told by or about people who undertook such pilgrimage, except for to Jerusalem.

    You will also find that (3) as a result of point #2 I emphasized that while there was an interest in sacred sites, what pilgrimage there may have been must have been a lower-key affair than we find in the Christianity of the Middle Ages.

    But at any rate, if I misjudged the nature or character of Jewish pilgrimage in this era, I apologize. It still seems clear to me, however, that my initial point stands, which is that however much pilgrimage took place, we don’t generally find people writing about it, and so Doherty’s claim that the lack of mention of pilgrimage in the epistles supports mythicism remains unpersuasive.

    • beallen0417

      It still seems clear to me, however, that my initial point stands, which
      is that however much pilgrimage took place, we don’t generally find
      people writing about it, and so Doherty’s claim that the lack of mention
      of pilgrimage in the epistles supports mythicism remains unpersuasive.

      Dr. McGrath, it seems that you are suggesting that textual evidence is more important than archeological evidence. Is that your belief?

      It strikes me that if we have archeological evidence of a phenomenon, that is more secure data than if we have textual evidence. Thus, if we had archeological evidence for pilgrimage to caves associated with Abraham that date to the 1st century CE, then we would expect that someone believed to have guided the Jews through the Sinai peninsula during the exodus would also have pilgrimages to the birthplace of that person, the childhood home, the site of his execution, his tomb etc.

      Yet we have no such archeological evidence. Is there any archeological evidence you can point to that is consistent with the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth was more certainly historical than King Arthur or Robin Hood?

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

        Evan wrote:
        “we had archeological evidence for pilgrimage to caves associated with Abraham that date to the 1st century CE”

        We are talking about a 2000 years period between the alleged life of Abraham and that pilgrimage site. I think pilgrimage to alleged Jesus sites happened well before 2000 years!

        Possibly the earliest archeological proof of Christian/Ebionite pilgrimage is in Capernaum, on a particular house and space. Unfortunatly no acccurate dating can be ascertained on when that house and space got to become a shrine. But it could have been 2nd cent. at the latest, possibly earlier.

        From Wikipedia:
        “Beginning in the latter half of the 1st century AD, this house displayed markedly different characteristics than the other excavated houses. The rough walls were reworked with care and were covered with inscriptions; the floor was covered with a fine layer of plaster. Furthermore, almost no domestic ceramics are recovered, but lamps abound. One explanation suggested for this treatment is that the room was venerated as a religious gathering place, a domus-ecclesia or house church, for the Christian community. (Loffreda, 1984) This suggestion has been critiqued by several scholars, however. In particular, where excavators had claimed to find graffiti including the name of Peter, others have found very little legible writing (Strange and Shanks, 1982). Others have questioned whether the space is actually a room; the paved floor, the large space without supports, and the presence of a cooking space have prompted some to note that these are more consistent with yet another courtyard (Freyne, 2001).”

        Of course, this is from Wikipedia, not the most trusted source of information, and everything about that space or room is debatable. And any pilgrimage there could have started from the gospels, and not from earlier oral tradition.

        Ref: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capernaum

        • beallen0417

          Bernard, I don’t think you’ve created any credible case there for a 1st century pilgrimage, but if you think so, great.

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

        Another website about Capernaum. Notice that fragment of lamps allegedly dated to late 1st century have been found in the plaster of room/space of the house:
        http://198.62.75.1/www1/ofm/sites/TScphous.html

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

    @Evan, you seem to be confusing what kind of evidence is the most secure in historical reconstruction, and what kind of evidence is most relevant to Doherty’s dubious claim. If there is archaeological evidence for pilgrimage, but not textual, how would that support his claim that Paul should have written about pilgrimage? Does it not rather count against it?

    • Anonymous

      Please let me know about any first century archeological evidence you have for Christian pilgrimages. I’d love to see it.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        beallen, I have an article from a 1977 BAR magazine that describes the earliest archeological evidence for a Christian pilgrimage. It was during the early 4th century. I could not find anything older. Do you want me to post the article?

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

    @Evan, you seem to be confusing what kind of evidence is the most secure in historical reconstruction, and what kind of evidence is most relevant to Doherty’s dubious claim. If there is archaeological evidence for pilgrimage, but not textual, how would that support his claim that Paul should have written about pilgrimage? Does it not rather count against it?

    • beallen0417

      Please let me know about any first century archeological evidence you have for Christian pilgrimages. I’d love to see it.

      • Howard Mazzaferro

        beallen, I have an article from a 1977 BAR magazine that describes the earliest archeological evidence for a Christian pilgrimage. It was during the early 4th century. I could not find anything older. Do you want me to post the article?

  • Geoff Hudson

    James wrote: “You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.”

    Well what did Jews think at that time?  They surely believed in the Spirit of God which/who was present at the creation, which/who inhabited everything that moved, which/who led the Israelites out of Egypt, which/who Moses wished filled everyone, which/who was promised would fill everyone including Gentiles. The later christians
    of the pauline era changed all that.

    2 Cor.4.10 is not all interpolation, according to Doherty. There is a simple solution to it.  “We always carry around in our body the [death of Jesus] {Spirit} so that the [life] {Spirit} of [Jesus] {God} may [also] be revealed in our body.”

    • Geoff Hudson

      Or if you think that the original writer thought of the Spirit as God (not just an influence) then a better version of 2 Cor.4.10 would be: “We always carry around in our body the [death of Jesus] {Spirit} so that the [life of Jesus] {God} may [also] be revealed in our body.”

      I believe there was debate between priests and prophets over the nature of the Spirit.  

  • Geoff Hudson

    James wrote: “You seem quite happy to turn the Anointed One descended from David into a purely heavenly figure irrespective of what Jews thought in that time.”

    Well what did Jews think at that time?  They surely believed in the Spirit of God which/who was present at the creation, which/who inhabited everything that moved, which/who led the Israelites out of Egypt, which/who Moses wished filled everyone, which/who was promised would fill everyone including Gentiles. The later christians
    of the pauline era changed all that.

    2 Cor.4.10 is not all interpolation, according to Doherty. There is a simple solution to it.  “We always carry around in our body the [death of Jesus] {Spirit} so that the [life] {Spirit} of [Jesus] {God} may [also] be revealed in our body.”

    • Geoff Hudson

      Or if you think that the original writer thought of the Spirit as God (not just an influence) then a better version of 2 Cor.4.10 would be: “We always carry around in our body the [death of Jesus] {Spirit} so that the [life of Jesus] {God} may [also] be revealed in our body.”

      I believe there was debate between priests and prophets over the nature of the Spirit.  

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

    @Evan, can I take it that you grant my point, then?

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

    @Evan, can I take it that you grant my point, then?

  • Kris

    I am going to leave it at this. I am in no way at all believe in biblical inerrancy, heck I am not even a believer. I simply am very skeptical of claims of interpolations without textual evidence, especially when they are done by mythers. 

  • Kris

    I am going to leave it at this. I am in no way at all believe in biblical inerrancy, heck I am not even a believer. I simply am very skeptical of claims of interpolations without textual evidence, especially when they are done by mythers. 

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    For anyone wishing to learn more about pilgrimages, this site seems pretty good.

    http://www.york.ac.uk/projects/pilgrimage/content/index.html

    Here is a paragraph from the site about Christian pilgrimages.

    “Unlike Judaism from which it emerged, and the Greek and Roman religions with which it co-existed within the Roman Empire, Christianity did not at first see pilgrimage to sacred places as either necessary or desirable. Judaism emphasised the centrality of the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, and had a well-established pattern of pilgrimage festivals. The writers of the New Testament and the early Fathers of the Church chose instead to emphasise the concept of life itself as a pilgrimage, a journey towards the heavenly city of Jerusalem described in the Book of Revelation.”

  • Howard Mazzaferro

    For anyone wishing to learn more about pilgrimages, this site seems pretty good.

    http://www.york.ac.uk/projects/pilgrimage/content/index.html

    Here is a paragraph from the site about Christian pilgrimages.

    “Unlike Judaism from which it emerged, and the Greek and Roman religions with which it co-existed within the Roman Empire, Christianity did not at first see pilgrimage to sacred places as either necessary or desirable. Judaism emphasised the centrality of the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem and the Temple, and had a well-established pattern of pilgrimage festivals. The writers of the New Testament and the early Fathers of the Church chose instead to emphasise the concept of life itself as a pilgrimage, a journey towards the heavenly city of Jerusalem described in the Book of Revelation.”

  • Trey

    James, I am surprised to see that you have bothered to review Earl Doherty’s Jesus Puzzle. Given all the good books out there it seems a bit of a waste of time to venture into the “lala land” which this book represents. Paul in Galations in an off the cuff the way mentions  going up to Jerusalem and meeting with James the Lord’s brother. That is enough for me that a person named Jesus existed though it does not speak to what he did, taught and believed.

    How about a review of David Trobisch’s excellent but often overlooked book “The First Edition Of The New Testament” which argues that the New Testament canon as we know it now was published as early as the second century.

    • Earl Doherty

      First of all, Trey, you’ve got the wrong book. James is reviewing my recent “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man,” not “The Jesus Puzzle.” You’ve really been following along, haven’t you?

      And if Gal. 1:19 is enough to convince you that a Jesus really lived, you must breeze through life pretty easily, unencumbered by complexity, challenges, even a third dimension. What’s your secret? An early lobotomy?

  • Trey

    James, I am surprised to see that you have bothered to review Earl Doherty’s Jesus Puzzle. Given all the good books out there it seems a bit of a waste of time to venture into the “lala land” which this book represents. Paul in Galations in an off the cuff the way mentions  going up to Jerusalem and meeting with James the Lord’s brother. That is enough for me that a person named Jesus existed though it does not speak to what he did, taught and believed.

    How about a review of David Trobisch’s excellent but often overlooked book “The First Edition Of The New Testament” which argues that the New Testament canon as we know it now was published as early as the second century.

    • Earl Doherty

      First of all, Trey, you’ve got the wrong book. James is reviewing my recent “Jesus: Neither God Nor Man,” not “The Jesus Puzzle.” You’ve really been following along, haven’t you?

      And if Gal. 1:19 is enough to convince you that a Jesus really lived, you must breeze through life pretty easily, unencumbered by complexity, challenges, even a third dimension. What’s your secret? An early lobotomy?

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

    @Trey, you do indeed have the wrong edition – Earl Doherty took his unpersuasive Jesus Puzzle and expanded it but, as far as I can tell, in no way improved it.

    @Earl, you are remarkably gullible when it comes to Christian apologists’ claims that Jesus was prefigured in the Jewish Scriptures. have you ever actually compared the passages Matthew says in his first two chapters were “fulfilled” in Jesus, with what those passages say in their original contexts? Either Matthew was thinking in terms of typology, or he was trying to pull a fast one, but suggesting that the story of Jesus was created only from those texts implies a genuine similarity between the passages in the Jewish Scriptures and the Gospels that just isn’t there.

    This is not to say that there are not indeed passages that are based on earlier stories – the infancy stories being a good example, in fact, but the similarities are with the story of Moses in the case of Matthew, and infancy stories from the Former Prophets in the case of Luke, not the alleged “predictions.” But for some reason you seem to believe that if we can see the reworking of earlier texts in certain (usually highly mythologized) passages, then that explanation has to work for the entirety of the Gospels. But it doesn’t, because the alleged prototypes bear such a tangential or superficial resemblance to the story supposedly inspired from them.

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

    @Trey, you do indeed have the wrong edition – Earl Doherty took his unpersuasive Jesus Puzzle and expanded it but, as far as I can tell, in no way improved it.

    @Earl, you are remarkably gullible when it comes to Christian apologists’ claims that Jesus was prefigured in the Jewish Scriptures. have you ever actually compared the passages Matthew says in his first two chapters were “fulfilled” in Jesus, with what those passages say in their original contexts? Either Matthew was thinking in terms of typology, or he was trying to pull a fast one, but suggesting that the story of Jesus was created only from those texts implies a genuine similarity between the passages in the Jewish Scriptures and the Gospels that just isn’t there.

    This is not to say that there are not indeed passages that are based on earlier stories – the infancy stories being a good example, in fact, but the similarities are with the story of Moses in the case of Matthew, and infancy stories from the Former Prophets in the case of Luke, not the alleged “predictions.” But for some reason you seem to believe that if we can see the reworking of earlier texts in certain (usually highly mythologized) passages, then that explanation has to work for the entirety of the Gospels. But it doesn’t, because the alleged prototypes bear such a tangential or superficial resemblance to the story supposedly inspired from them.

  • Anonymous

    Dr. McGrath, Bernard thinks Jesus in 90% mythical. What percentage of the gospels would you regard as “highly mythologized”?

  • beallen0417

    Dr. McGrath, Bernard thinks Jesus in 90% mythical. What percentage of the gospels would you regard as “highly mythologized”?

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

    It is hard to say, Evan, and it depends what you mean by “mythologized.” Matthew’s “zombie” scene is presumably pure fiction. But the whole of the crucifixion scene has elements of the mythical without ceasing to have historical information. And in accounts of exorcisms, the who’d notion of demon possession reflects a mythological worldview, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t form exorcisms, as others in his time also did. It just means that we do not accept ancient authors’ interpretation of what was going on. And so it really depends what you mean by mythological. If you mean “reflecting a pre-scientific worldview” then the answer might be “all of it,” given when it was written. And the same could be said about all literature from the same time period. If you mean by “mythological” things that we can be confident were completely invented without any basis in history, then I would say that, in the Synoptic Gospels, that might be relatively little – not because we can definitively show that much of it is not fabricated in that way, but precisely because there are substantial amounts of material about which we simply have no way of deciding for certain one way or the other.

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

    It is hard to say, Evan, and it depends what you mean by “mythologized.” Matthew’s “zombie” scene is presumably pure fiction. But the whole of the crucifixion scene has elements of the mythical without ceasing to have historical information. And in accounts of exorcisms, the who’d notion of demon possession reflects a mythological worldview, but that doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t form exorcisms, as others in his time also did. It just means that we do not accept ancient authors’ interpretation of what was going on. And so it really depends what you mean by mythological. If you mean “reflecting a pre-scientific worldview” then the answer might be “all of it,” given when it was written. And the same could be said about all literature from the same time period. If you mean by “mythological” things that we can be confident were completely invented without any basis in history, then I would say that, in the Synoptic Gospels, that might be relatively little – not because we can definitively show that much of it is not fabricated in that way, but precisely because there are substantial amounts of material about which we simply have no way of deciding for certain one way or the other.

  • Anonymous

    The synoptics contain: the virgin birth, walking on water, demons going into pigs, people raising from the dead, Jesus arguing with Satan … and those all have a historical core I guess.

    So you would count Caesar’s The Gallic Wars as mythological?

  • beallen0417

    The synoptics contain: the virgin birth, walking on water, demons going into pigs, people raising from the dead, Jesus arguing with Satan … and those all have a historical core I guess.

    So you would count Caesar’s The Gallic Wars as mythological?

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , I don’t have any way to know whether Jesus spent time on his own in the desert and hallucinated. It has happened to plenty of historical figures. The fact that someone talks to Satan doesn’t immediately make them non-historical. I can gladly point you to YouTube videos of people today doing the same thing, because they share something of the same mythological worldview. 

    Why do you insist on focusing on things that mainstream historians regard as mythical, legendary, and/or symbolic? Why do you never seem to discuss the more mundane things that Jesus is said to have done? Faith healing (not always successfully), becoming a disciple of John the Baptist and being baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, praying, teaching, arguing the interpretation of Torah, and so on? 

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath — ok I see you now have a nice list. What percentage of the synoptics involve Jesus becoming a disciple, praying, teaching and arguing the Torah?

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , I don’t have any way to know whether Jesus spent time on his own in the desert and hallucinated. It has happened to plenty of historical figures. The fact that someone talks to Satan doesn’t immediately make them non-historical. I can gladly point you to YouTube videos of people today doing the same thing, because they share something of the same mythological worldview. 

    Why do you insist on focusing on things that mainstream historians regard as mythical, legendary, and/or symbolic? Why do you never seem to discuss the more mundane things that Jesus is said to have done? Faith healing (not always successfully), becoming a disciple of John the Baptist and being baptized for the forgiveness of his sins, praying, teaching, arguing the interpretation of Torah, and so on? 

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath — ok I see you now have a nice list. What percentage of the synoptics involve Jesus becoming a disciple, praying, teaching and arguing the Torah?

      Also, please point out the Youtube video that documents where someone is actually magicked from miles away to the top of a tall building. I’d love to see that.

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , since I am trying to finish a conference paper, and it seems to matter to you, why don’t you calculate the percentages, and then let me know why you think they are significant?

    • Anonymous

      We’ll look at Mark using the definitions provided above, assuming Markan priority for the synoptics:

      Jesus becoming a disciple – 0%

      Jesus Praying 1.3 or 2.6% depending on whether the assumptions include that the prayer in Gethsemane is historical.

      Jesus Teaching – Depending on what is defined as a historical teaching, about 25% of Mark seems to have some sort of teaching in it. This works only if the assumption is that all of it is authentic.

      Jesus arguing Torah – 5.2% — all of which would also be included in the teaching section.

      So being very generous regarding Mark, this gospel contains 28% material about topics that go back to the historical Jesus, using these assumptions. This is true if and only if every single statement regarding his teachings is truly historical, which is not the conclusion of modern historical scholarship.

      So under this set of assumptions, we would have to assume that books that contained 70% fictional material were a type of history.

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

    @beallen0417:disqus , since I am trying to finish a conference paper, and it seems to matter to you, why don’t you calculate the percentages, and then let me know why you think they are significant?

    • beallen0417

      We’ll look at Mark using the definitions provided above, assuming Markan priority for the synoptics:

      Jesus becoming a disciple – 0%

      Jesus Praying 1.3 or 2.6% depending on whether the assumptions include that the prayer in Gethsemane is historical.

      Jesus Teaching – Depending on what is defined as a historical teaching, about 25% of Mark seems to have some sort of teaching in it. This works only if the assumption is that all of it is authentic.

      Jesus arguing Torah – 5.2% — all of which would also be included in the teaching section.

      So being very generous regarding Mark, this gospel contains 28% material about topics that go back to the historical Jesus, using these assumptions. This is true if and only if every single statement regarding his teachings is truly historical, which is not the conclusion of modern historical scholarship.

      So under this set of assumptions, we would have to assume that books that contained 70% fictional material were a type of history.

  • Trey

    @James, I am sorry I got the title wrong and I am aware that this is an expanded edition of the original Jesus Puzzle book. I found the arguments presented through the accompanying website wholly unconvincing.

  • Trey

    @James, I am sorry I got the title wrong and I am aware that this is an expanded edition of the original Jesus Puzzle book. I found the arguments presented through the accompanying website wholly unconvincing.

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

    @367722126e01308bfd34c8a45e466cda:disqus , if you read the new edition, I think you would still have the exact same impression you have now.  :-)

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

    @367722126e01308bfd34c8a45e466cda:disqus , if you read the new edition, I think you would still have the exact same impression you have now.  :-)

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

    @Earl, the name “Earl” has connotations of royalty, so should we stop paying attention to your comments until you make a claim to your own nobility?

    Can you please stop treating names in the Bible the way Christian fundamentalists do, and instead actually treat them as names?

    • Earl Doherty

      I don’t know what you’re getting it. Perhaps I missed something along the way.

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

    @Earl, the name “Earl” has connotations of royalty, so should we stop paying attention to your comments until you make a claim to your own nobility?

    Can you please stop treating names in the Bible the way Christian fundamentalists do, and instead actually treat them as names?

    • Earl Doherty

      I don’t know what you’re getting it. Perhaps I missed something along the way.

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

    I’m not sure how you conclude there is “no room here for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history”. We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence. I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators. It reads perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus. That pseudo-Paul did not specify “the promised fulfilled by God gouging out Jesus’ eyes” or whatever they believed, is outside or knowledge. I’m not sure why he doesn’t explain how rebirth and the holy spirit are being poured out though Jesus, but I have to presume the author has an idea of how. While not mentioning the historical deeds or sayings of Jesus, it is not incompatible with such as you believe and little different in its lack of Historical Jesus material as many works by known Historical Jesus authors.  

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

    I’m not sure how you conclude there is “no room here for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history”. We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence. I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators. It reads perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus. That pseudo-Paul did not specify “the promised fulfilled by God gouging out Jesus’ eyes” or whatever they believed, is outside or knowledge. I’m not sure why he doesn’t explain how rebirth and the holy spirit are being poured out though Jesus, but I have to presume the author has an idea of how. While not mentioning the historical deeds or sayings of Jesus, it is not incompatible with such as you believe and little different in its lack of Historical Jesus material as many works by known Historical Jesus authors.  

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

    I would not be so uncritical in accepting that all the teaching material can be confidently said to go back to Jesus. But I also note that you eliminated exorcisms and healing practices such as applying salves. The fact that we don’t believe in demons, or assume that any positive effects of either were psychosomatic, doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t do such things, just as others in antiquity are said to have.

    We do not need to equate the genre of the Gospels with “history” as a type of literature. But we do need to accept, given the evidence, that the Gospels are not entirely devoid of historical information.

    • Anonymous

      It is true that Gospels are not entirely devoid of historical information. The question is what is the type of information we can reliably use the Gospels for.

      “The Watchmen” does contain some reliable historical information. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “Cleitophon and Leucippe” also contain some reliable historical information.

      The argument above suggests that Doherty is unhinged for believing that the Gospels are literary fiction. Yet we know of many characters in literary fiction that are based on historical people who we rightly do not believe existed.

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

    I would not be so uncritical in accepting that all the teaching material can be confidently said to go back to Jesus. But I also note that you eliminated exorcisms and healing practices such as applying salves. The fact that we don’t believe in demons, or assume that any positive effects of either were psychosomatic, doesn’t mean that Jesus didn’t do such things, just as others in antiquity are said to have.

    We do not need to equate the genre of the Gospels with “history” as a type of literature. But we do need to accept, given the evidence, that the Gospels are not entirely devoid of historical information.

    • beallen0417

      It is true that Gospels are not entirely devoid of historical information. The question is what is the type of information we can reliably use the Gospels for.

      “The Watchmen” does contain some reliable historical information. “The Hound of the Baskervilles” and “Cleitophon and Leucippe” also contain some reliable historical information.

      The argument above suggests that Doherty is unhinged for believing that the Gospels are literary fiction. Yet we know of many characters in literary fiction that are based on historical people who we rightly do not believe existed.

  • Earl Doherty

    Further to Bernard’s and my discussion over Romans 1:

    Let’s try this analogy, Bernard:

    “I, John, the father of a student in university, am writing this in response to a message from him, sent in several letters concerning the need for money required for textbooks in his science class, and for sporting equipment due to his having been successful in trying out for the football team.”

    Now, what is so difficult to understand about the above sentence, which is an almost precise analogy to the first four verses of Romans 1? Is anyone going to cut things off after “several letters,” insert a period, and start a new thought at “concerning”? There is no such punctuation or new sentence there in the Greek equivalent. The request for money is the content of the several letters and the nature of what that money is needed for is clearly derived from the letters themselves. I have not gotten such information from some other source outside of the letters I have received.

    Suppose we put in that period and capitalize “concerning”. Now that stripped off sentence reads: “Concerning the need for money required for textbooks in his science class, and for sporting equipment due to his having been successful in trying out for the football team.” Does that make sense? Is this a complete sentence or thought if divorced from what has been said before?

    By the way, this is something which the analogy cannot reflect, but supposing the second piece of information about the need for money—having tried out successfully for the football team—were something which we knew for a fact could only have been found out through the letters to me, just as the scene in heaven in Rom. 1:4 could only have been derived from scripture. Then we would know for sure that the reference to the football team HAD to be connected to the set-up thought about the “several letters” and could not be independent of it. So right there, Bernard, your interpretation of the Romans passage, making “peri” start an independent thought from some other source than the prophets referred to in verse 2, is logically disproven, since verse 4 can only be understood in the context of verses 1-2, the gospel of God found in the prophets.

    And if verse 4 is inextricably linked with verse 2, what are the odds that verse 3 is also, and that Paul is saying that he derived the thought of the Son being “of the seed of David” (whatever he might mean or understand by that) from scripture? I’d say pretty certain. (Otherwise, we’d really have a convoluted passage, with twists and turns of unconnected thoughts!) And if he is, then Paul’s statement would be very telling, would it not? If an HJ had lived and had since been regarded in two decades of Christian tradition as a descendant of David, by which his Messiahship was validated, why would Paul say that such a ‘gospel’ was derived from scripture? It would have been first and foremost derived from historical tradition about the historical man.

    Perhaps one of the other experts here (Kris, maybe?) would like to tackle my above analysis. At the same time, he could explain why Paul would say that the gospel of God “promised/announced beforehand” his gospel and not Jesus himself.

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

      To Doherty,

      I can see that Romans1:1-4 is capital for your case. You certainly put a good fight for your complicated interpretation. But your so-called analogy is flawed and misleading, not reproducing the structure of Ro1:1-6. For one thing, Paul never said he sent letters concerning the Son being a seed of David. A more accurate parallel would be:

      “John, a US citizen, aware of our constitution, concerning my son (born in Germany), by whom I am blessed … (letter written to have John’s son become a US citizen and assuming the constitution supports US citizenship for this case)”

      • Earl Doherty

        Bernard: “Paul never said he sent letters concerning the Son being a seed of David.”

        Good grief, you can’t even understand the simplest analogy. It is not Paul who sent letters, just as in my analogy it is not I, the father, who sent letters to my student son. Would that have made sense? It is the father who has received letters from the student, asking for money, just as Paul has ‘received’ information about God’s Son (verses 3 and 4) from the prophets. The letters from the student in my analogy are equivalent to the scriptures read by Paul.

        You’re hopeless, Bernard.

  • Earl Doherty

    Further to Bernard’s and my discussion over Romans 1:

    Let’s try this analogy, Bernard:

    “I, John, the father of a student in university, am writing this in response to a message from him, sent in several letters concerning the need for money required for textbooks in his science class, and for sporting equipment due to his having been successful in trying out for the football team.”

    Now, what is so difficult to understand about the above sentence, which is an almost precise analogy to the first four verses of Romans 1? Is anyone going to cut things off after “several letters,” insert a period, and start a new thought at “concerning”? There is no such punctuation or new sentence there in the Greek equivalent. The request for money is the content of the several letters and the nature of what that money is needed for is clearly derived from the letters themselves. I have not gotten such information from some other source outside of the letters I have received.

    Suppose we put in that period and capitalize “concerning”. Now that stripped off sentence reads: “Concerning the need for money required for textbooks in his science class, and for sporting equipment due to his having been successful in trying out for the football team.” Does that make sense? Is this a complete sentence or thought if divorced from what has been said before?

    By the way, this is something which the analogy cannot reflect, but supposing the second piece of information about the need for money—having tried out successfully for the football team—were something which we knew for a fact could only have been found out through the letters to me, just as the scene in heaven in Rom. 1:4 could only have been derived from scripture. Then we would know for sure that the reference to the football team HAD to be connected to the set-up thought about the “several letters” and could not be independent of it. So right there, Bernard, your interpretation of the Romans passage, making “peri” start an independent thought from some other source than the prophets referred to in verse 2, is logically disproven, since verse 4 can only be understood in the context of verses 1-2, the gospel of God found in the prophets.

    And if verse 4 is inextricably linked with verse 2, what are the odds that verse 3 is also, and that Paul is saying that he derived the thought of the Son being “of the seed of David” (whatever he might mean or understand by that) from scripture? I’d say pretty certain. (Otherwise, we’d really have a convoluted passage, with twists and turns of unconnected thoughts!) And if he is, then Paul’s statement would be very telling, would it not? If an HJ had lived and had since been regarded in two decades of Christian tradition as a descendant of David, by which his Messiahship was validated, why would Paul say that such a ‘gospel’ was derived from scripture? It would have been first and foremost derived from historical tradition about the historical man.

    Perhaps one of the other experts here (Kris, maybe?) would like to tackle my above analysis. At the same time, he could explain why Paul would say that the gospel of God “promised/announced beforehand” his gospel and not Jesus himself.

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

      To Doherty,

      I can see that Romans1:1-4 is capital for your case. You certainly put a good fight for your complicated interpretation. But your so-called analogy is flawed and misleading, not reproducing the structure of Ro1:1-6. For one thing, Paul never said he sent letters concerning the Son being a seed of David. A more accurate parallel would be:

      “John, a US citizen, aware of our constitution, concerning my son (born in Germany), by whom I am blessed … (letter written to have John’s son become a US citizen and assuming the constitution supports US citizenship for this case)”

      • Earl Doherty

        Bernard: “Paul never said he sent letters concerning the Son being a seed of David.”

        Good grief, you can’t even understand the simplest analogy. It is not Paul who sent letters, just as in my analogy it is not I, the father, who sent letters to my student son. Would that have made sense? It is the father who has received letters from the student, asking for money, just as Paul has ‘received’ information about God’s Son (verses 3 and 4) from the prophets. The letters from the student in my analogy are equivalent to the scriptures read by Paul.

        You’re hopeless, Bernard.

  • Earl Doherty

    Mike: “I’m not sure how you conclude there is “no room here for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history”. We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence. I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators. It reads perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus….”

    Beautiful! Thank-you, Mike. You have in one paragraph demonstrated what has always been wrong with historicist scholarship, the colossal fallacy which is continually brought to the study of NT texts, and the utter closed-mindedness of the belief in an historical Jesus.

    Three times in your post you based your argument on a word like “presume” and “suppose.” I happened to be reading a novel recently (nothing to do with religion) in which a character made this statement: “You can prove anything if you never have to validate your starting assumptions.”

    We could paraphrase that: one can prove anything if one has complete freedom to claim any presumption/supposition which serves to beg the question and insert what the opponent has pointed out is missing or is contradicted. NT scholars have always taken that freedom. You’re in good company, Mike. And the worst part of it is, you haven’t a clue that this is completely fallacious, impermissible, and renders your arguments a joke.

    As I said:

    Titus 1:2-3 — “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but (now) at the proper time, he has revealed his word [NEB: openly declared himself] through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.”
    God’s promise…then the revelation of that promise in Paul’s gospel.

    How can Jesus be inserted between these two elements?

    You say: “We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence.” I agree that this is precisely what we should have expected the writer to say, so why doesn’t he say it? Why “presume” it and expect his readers to presume it? In any case, it would be incompatible with how he phrases the rest of his thought. God has now revealed his word through the preaching of Paul. I know its taxing, Mike, but can’t you see that if Jesus lived and preached in the intervening past since the time of God’s promise, then the ‘revealing’ of his word and promise would have taken place in Jesus himself and his preaching, not in that of Paul? Can’t you see that if the writer is using a phrase like “at the proper time” and applies it to the time of Paul, this leaves Jesus out in the cold? Who would NOT think of Jesus’ time and life’s work as “the proper time” at which God chose to reveal the fulfillment of his word and promise? You? The rest of traditional NT scholarship? Apparently so.

    No, Mike, it does NOT read “perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus.” To paraphrase an analogy in my book: If a writer notes that it had been predicted in the year 1900 that Britain and Germany would one day be at war, and the writer says that this prediction had finally come true in 1939 when Hitler and Churchill led their countries to war, where does that leave the First World War in 1914, which any sane person would regard as the fulfillment of the 1900 prophecy? Does simply inserting it by means of “presumption” render the statement sensible? I’d hate to see you let loose in a logic class, Mike.

    By no consideration of common sense or how language is used in the human brain can you legitimately claim that we can blithely insert a human Jesus into the non-existent gap between the two elements of this statement in Titus. But it is a tribute to the ability of the otherwise intelligent human mind to be able to perform and accept this kind of fallacious feat when the demands of preconception and personal needs or religious belief override logic.

    You say: “I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators.” No, I don’t think it has, because they have always been as adept as you are at closing their minds to the clear implications of what a text actually says and doesn’t say, preferring to read the Gospels into the epistles no matter what disruption that involves.

    Is this the sort of methodology Jim means when he refers to his much-vaunted “historical criticism/method”? Is the rejection of such fallacious and self-serving methods the sort of thing he means when he calls mythicists charlatans and nut-cases?

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

      “No, Mike, it does NOT read “perfectly well” I assumed that would be your position, but the opinion of you and the uneducated fanatics that believe your books does not constitute truth. Again your only recourse is to accuse every one else of closing their minds.

      I would say you did not understand the meaning of my post when you say that my use of assumption demonstrated whats wrong with HJ theorist, but I think you understand and you are only making a ham handed attempt to to reconstruct my argument for the benefit of dopes who might still buy your book. I won’t restate it as it is clear to anyone with the good sense to read my original statement for its self.

      I won’t answer your WWI analogy because it makes no sense, and in no way mirrors the situation we are discussing.

       “I know its taxing, Mike, but can’t you see that if Jesus lived and preached in the intervening past since the time of God’s promise, then the ‘revealing’ of his word and promise would have taken place in Jesus himself and his preaching, not in that of Paul? ”

      At this point I don’t know if stupidity or dishonesty has gotten the better of you. Since the hope of eternal life that was promised is based on an interpretation of the death of Jesus, I don’t know how Jesus would have taught that. It doesn’t even seem to be a focus of his teaching in the gospels. There is no indication that people who followed Jesus during his life had any clue of the salvation scheme that Pauline Christianity is pushing, and logically we would not expect there to be. If it had not been for the “visions” that Paul and the others claimed or if having had them they just hide inside a cave to wait for the end, people who had heard Jesus speak would have never had any concept of the hope of eternal life that Titus is referring to.

      .

      • Earl Doherty

        Mike: “”No, Mike, it does NOT read perfectly well” I assumed that would be your position, but the opinion of you and the uneducated fanatics that believe your books does not constitute truth. Again your only recourse is to accuse every one else of closing their minds.”

        My recourse is to demonstrate mind-closing through logical analysis of the text and the fallacies you indulge in. What you are capable of doing is ‘answering’ that demonstration not by counter-argument but by juvenile insult. (Kris and others here follow the same procedure.) I hope you can tell the difference, but I doubt it.

        Mike: “I would say you did not understand the meaning of my post when you say that my use of assumption demonstrated whats wrong with HJ theorist, but I think you understand and you are only making a ham handed attempt to to reconstruct my argument for the benefit of dopes who might still buy your book. I won’t restate it as it is clear to anyone with the good sense to read my original statement for its self.”

        Translation: I can’t answer anything you say, but I’ll add more insult and not attempt any counter-rebuttal in the hope that no one will realize it.

        Mike: ”I won’t answer your WWI analogy because it makes no sense, and in no way mirrors the situation we are discussing.”

        That analogy was crystal clear and a perfect mirror to my point about Titus 1, Mike, and if it makes no sense to you, it is no wonder that we can’t communicate.

        Mike: “Since the hope of eternal life that was promised is based on an interpretation of the death of Jesus, I don’t know how Jesus would have taught that.”

        The point was not whether Jesus taught a specific thing, but the general concept that Jesus himself, his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, would themselves have constituted in the mind of any Christian writing in later decades the “proper time” at which God’s word and promise was revealed. It would not have been passed over in complete silence and exclusion by saying that God’s word and promise was revealed in the time of Paul. Again, it is not the specific content of the preaching of Paul or of Jesus, it is a matter of how the life and deeds of Jesus as a whole would be seen by later Christians. He and his life would have constituted the revelation of God’s promises and their fulfillment, not Paul consistently making himself the center of the universe with unbelievable chutzpah.

        And the question of Paul preaching the significance of Jesus’ death is another red herring. As we can tell from the teaching content of the Gospels, any later generation, were we to assume Jesus’ historicity, would have read their own developed understanding of Jesus as having been conveyed by Jesus himself (just as Mark does in presenting Jesus as teaching the significance of the death of the Son of Man, something modern scholars reject as later invention by Mark). Christians of the time of Paul and beyond would hardly from that later vantage point have been willing to regard Jesus the way modern critical scholars have taken refuge in: oh, Jesus was a nobody, didn’t teach us anything, didn’t perform miracles, didn’t prophecy the end of the world! That’s all later understanding by me, Paul, courtesy of the personal revelations I’ve been given! Talk about chutzpah all right!

        You guys really don’t think beyond about two millimeters of depth, do you?

  • Earl Doherty

    Mike: “I’m not sure how you conclude there is “no room here for a human Jesus between God and Paul in the course of salvation history”. We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence. I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators. It reads perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus….”

    Beautiful! Thank-you, Mike. You have in one paragraph demonstrated what has always been wrong with historicist scholarship, the colossal fallacy which is continually brought to the study of NT texts, and the utter closed-mindedness of the belief in an historical Jesus.

    Three times in your post you based your argument on a word like “presume” and “suppose.” I happened to be reading a novel recently (nothing to do with religion) in which a character made this statement: “You can prove anything if you never have to validate your starting assumptions.”

    We could paraphrase that: one can prove anything if one has complete freedom to claim any presumption/supposition which serves to beg the question and insert what the opponent has pointed out is missing or is contradicted. NT scholars have always taken that freedom. You’re in good company, Mike. And the worst part of it is, you haven’t a clue that this is completely fallacious, impermissible, and renders your arguments a joke.

    As I said:

    Titus 1:2-3 — “…in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but (now) at the proper time, he has revealed his word [NEB: openly declared himself] through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Savior.”
    God’s promise…then the revelation of that promise in Paul’s gospel.

    How can Jesus be inserted between these two elements?

    You say: “We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence.” I agree that this is precisely what we should have expected the writer to say, so why doesn’t he say it? Why “presume” it and expect his readers to presume it? In any case, it would be incompatible with how he phrases the rest of his thought. God has now revealed his word through the preaching of Paul. I know its taxing, Mike, but can’t you see that if Jesus lived and preached in the intervening past since the time of God’s promise, then the ‘revealing’ of his word and promise would have taken place in Jesus himself and his preaching, not in that of Paul? Can’t you see that if the writer is using a phrase like “at the proper time” and applies it to the time of Paul, this leaves Jesus out in the cold? Who would NOT think of Jesus’ time and life’s work as “the proper time” at which God chose to reveal the fulfillment of his word and promise? You? The rest of traditional NT scholarship? Apparently so.

    No, Mike, it does NOT read “perfectly well if one supposes the hope of eternal life was accomplished by some action in time on the part of Jesus.” To paraphrase an analogy in my book: If a writer notes that it had been predicted in the year 1900 that Britain and Germany would one day be at war, and the writer says that this prediction had finally come true in 1939 when Hitler and Churchill led their countries to war, where does that leave the First World War in 1914, which any sane person would regard as the fulfillment of the 1900 prophecy? Does simply inserting it by means of “presumption” render the statement sensible? I’d hate to see you let loose in a logic class, Mike.

    By no consideration of common sense or how language is used in the human brain can you legitimately claim that we can blithely insert a human Jesus into the non-existent gap between the two elements of this statement in Titus. But it is a tribute to the ability of the otherwise intelligent human mind to be able to perform and accept this kind of fallacious feat when the demands of preconception and personal needs or religious belief override logic.

    You say: “I don’t think this line has been a source of any particular trouble for commentators.” No, I don’t think it has, because they have always been as adept as you are at closing their minds to the clear implications of what a text actually says and doesn’t say, preferring to read the Gospels into the epistles no matter what disruption that involves.

    Is this the sort of methodology Jim means when he refers to his much-vaunted “historical criticism/method”? Is the rejection of such fallacious and self-serving methods the sort of thing he means when he calls mythicists charlatans and nut-cases?

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

      “No, Mike, it does NOT read “perfectly well” I assumed that would be your position, but the opinion of you and the uneducated fanatics that believe your books does not constitute truth. Again your only recourse is to accuse every one else of closing their minds.

      I would say you did not understand the meaning of my post when you say that my use of assumption demonstrated whats wrong with HJ theorist, but I think you understand and you are only making a ham handed attempt to to reconstruct my argument for the benefit of dopes who might still buy your book. I won’t restate it as it is clear to anyone with the good sense to read my original statement for its self.

      I won’t answer your WWI analogy because it makes no sense, and in no way mirrors the situation we are discussing.

       “I know its taxing, Mike, but can’t you see that if Jesus lived and preached in the intervening past since the time of God’s promise, then the ‘revealing’ of his word and promise would have taken place in Jesus himself and his preaching, not in that of Paul? ”

      At this point I don’t know if stupidity or dishonesty has gotten the better of you. Since the hope of eternal life that was promised is based on an interpretation of the death of Jesus, I don’t know how Jesus would have taught that. It doesn’t even seem to be a focus of his teaching in the gospels. There is no indication that people who followed Jesus during his life had any clue of the salvation scheme that Pauline Christianity is pushing, and logically we would not expect there to be. If it had not been for the “visions” that Paul and the others claimed or if having had them they just hide inside a cave to wait for the end, people who had heard Jesus speak would have never had any concept of the hope of eternal life that Titus is referring to.

      .

      • Earl Doherty

        Mike: “”No, Mike, it does NOT read perfectly well” I assumed that would be your position, but the opinion of you and the uneducated fanatics that believe your books does not constitute truth. Again your only recourse is to accuse every one else of closing their minds.”

        My recourse is to demonstrate mind-closing through logical analysis of the text and the fallacies you indulge in. What you are capable of doing is ‘answering’ that demonstration not by counter-argument but by juvenile insult. (Kris and others here follow the same procedure.) I hope you can tell the difference, but I doubt it.

        Mike: “I would say you did not understand the meaning of my post when you say that my use of assumption demonstrated whats wrong with HJ theorist, but I think you understand and you are only making a ham handed attempt to to reconstruct my argument for the benefit of dopes who might still buy your book. I won’t restate it as it is clear to anyone with the good sense to read my original statement for its self.”

        Translation: I can’t answer anything you say, but I’ll add more insult and not attempt any counter-rebuttal in the hope that no one will realize it.

        Mike: ”I won’t answer your WWI analogy because it makes no sense, and in no way mirrors the situation we are discussing.”

        That analogy was crystal clear and a perfect mirror to my point about Titus 1, Mike, and if it makes no sense to you, it is no wonder that we can’t communicate.

        Mike: “Since the hope of eternal life that was promised is based on an interpretation of the death of Jesus, I don’t know how Jesus would have taught that.”

        The point was not whether Jesus taught a specific thing, but the general concept that Jesus himself, his life, his teachings, his death and resurrection, would themselves have constituted in the mind of any Christian writing in later decades the “proper time” at which God’s word and promise was revealed. It would not have been passed over in complete silence and exclusion by saying that God’s word and promise was revealed in the time of Paul. Again, it is not the specific content of the preaching of Paul or of Jesus, it is a matter of how the life and deeds of Jesus as a whole would be seen by later Christians. He and his life would have constituted the revelation of God’s promises and their fulfillment, not Paul consistently making himself the center of the universe with unbelievable chutzpah.

        And the question of Paul preaching the significance of Jesus’ death is another red herring. As we can tell from the teaching content of the Gospels, any later generation, were we to assume Jesus’ historicity, would have read their own developed understanding of Jesus as having been conveyed by Jesus himself (just as Mark does in presenting Jesus as teaching the significance of the death of the Son of Man, something modern scholars reject as later invention by Mark). Christians of the time of Paul and beyond would hardly from that later vantage point have been willing to regard Jesus the way modern critical scholars have taken refuge in: oh, Jesus was a nobody, didn’t teach us anything, didn’t perform miracles, didn’t prophecy the end of the world! That’s all later understanding by me, Paul, courtesy of the personal revelations I’ve been given! Talk about chutzpah all right!

        You guys really don’t think beyond about two millimeters of depth, do you?

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

    That’s why it is so frustrating when mythicists ignore what we know about the chronology of early Christianity. The Gospels were written at a time when Christianity already existed and was calling people to believe that Jesus was the long-awaited Davidic Messiah. If the Gospels seemed to have been published as fictional stories for general entertainment purposes, we would obviously understand them differently. Context matters.

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

    That’s why it is so frustrating when mythicists ignore what we know about the chronology of early Christianity. The Gospels were written at a time when Christianity already existed and was calling people to believe that Jesus was the long-awaited Davidic Messiah. If the Gospels seemed to have been published as fictional stories for general entertainment purposes, we would obviously understand them differently. Context matters.

  • Anonymous

    TG Baker made an argument I think you’ll like James:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/06/making-jesus-christ.html

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

      Thanks John! I wish more of the Debunking Christianity crowd who are interested in this topic would join in the discussion here!

      • Anonymous

        James, I personally do not have the patience for this. It’s an endless treadmill. I appreciate the discussion though. If I send you more traffic you won’t like the result though. ;-)

  • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

    TG Baker made an argument I think you’ll like James:

    http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2011/06/making-jesus-christ.html

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

      Thanks John! I wish more of the Debunking Christianity crowd who are interested in this topic would join in the discussion here!

      • http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/ John W. Loftus

        James, I personally do not have the patience for this. It’s an endless treadmill. I appreciate the discussion though. If I send you more traffic you won’t like the result. ;-)

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

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus  wrote, “one can prove anything if one has complete freedom to claim any presumption/supposition which serves to beg the question and insert what the opponent has pointed out is missing or is contradicted.”

    If that doesn’t describe mythicism as well as anything else, I don’t know what does.

    Obviously everyone trying to figure out anything has presuppositions, assumptions, and uses their creativity. The biggest difference between mythicism and mainstream scholarship is that the latter is a group of experts trying to critically and rigorously analyse the presuppositions that are at work, the criteria of evidence, and every other part of the process. Mythicists, on the other hand, refuse to participate in that sort of rigorous critical conversation, choosing instead to reject all critical analysis of their claims as reflecting the bias of the one offering the criticism, rather than actual problems with their reasoning and argumentation.

    • Earl Doherty

      Well, Jim, would you like to weigh in on Mike’s and my discussion of Titus 1:2-3 and illustrate how I am the one who reads something into the text that isn’t there, as opposed to him doing so? Or how Mike’s “presume” and “suppose” (which I think just about any mainstream scholar would also have recourse to to explain the difficulty in that passage, as they do in so many passages I have pointed out in my book) represents “critical and rigorous analysis”. Is it your position that I am a fraud because I “choose to reject” such blatant ‘reading into’ a passage something that isn’t there?

      Please be specific on this topic of Titus 1, and what I have said about it, rather than simply spout your very biased and simplistic evaluations of historicists vs. mythicists. (In fact, you’ve been quite ‘unspecific’ in most of your recent posts, avoiding my requests about your specific views on several passages, such as the authenticity of 1 Thess. 2:15-16.)

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

        Doherty: “(In fact, you’ve been quite ‘unspecific’ in most of your recent posts,
        avoiding my requests about your specific views on several passages,
        such as the authenticity of 1 Thess. 2:15-16.)”

        James is always vague and unspecific whenever it comes to his “rebuttals” of mythicism, what “mythicists say”, even sometimes what I say. For him to restate a mythicist argument (as distinct from rephrasing it into a nonsense statement) in order to rebut it imply he is taking mythicism seriously, and James has said repeatedly that he does not think mythicism should be taken seriously, and that he feels obligated not to give the least impression he takes it seriously.

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

    @1339a2323379bb5d87a8b2a609ca574d:disqus  wrote, “one can prove anything if one has complete freedom to claim any presumption/supposition which serves to beg the question and insert what the opponent has pointed out is missing or is contradicted.”

    If that doesn’t describe mythicism as well as anything else, I don’t know what does.

    Obviously everyone trying to figure out anything has presuppositions, assumptions, and uses their creativity. The biggest difference between mythicism and mainstream scholarship is that the latter is a group of experts trying to critically and rigorously analyse the presuppositions that are at work, the criteria of evidence, and every other part of the process. Mythicists, on the other hand, refuse to participate in that sort of rigorous critical conversation, choosing instead to reject all critical analysis of their claims as reflecting the bias of the one offering the criticism, rather than actual problems with their reasoning and argumentation.

    • Earl Doherty

      Well, Jim, would you like to weigh in on Mike’s and my discussion of Titus 1:2-3 and illustrate how I am the one who reads something into the text that isn’t there, as opposed to him doing so? Or how Mike’s “presume” and “suppose” (which I think just about any mainstream scholar would also have recourse to to explain the difficulty in that passage, as they do in so many passages I have pointed out in my book) represents “critical and rigorous analysis”. Is it your position that I am a fraud because I “choose to reject” such blatant ‘reading into’ a passage something that isn’t there?

      Please be specific on this topic of Titus 1, and what I have said about it, rather than simply spout your very biased and simplistic evaluations of historicists vs. mythicists. (In fact, you’ve been quite ‘unspecific’ in most of your recent posts, avoiding my requests about your specific views on several passages, such as the authenticity of 1 Thess. 2:15-16.)

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

        Doherty: “(In fact, you’ve been quite ‘unspecific’ in most of your recent posts,
        avoiding my requests about your specific views on several passages,
        such as the authenticity of 1 Thess. 2:15-16.)”

        James is always vague and unspecific whenever it comes to his “rebuttals” of mythicism, what “mythicists say”, even sometimes what I say. For him to restate a mythicist argument (as distinct from rephrasing it into a nonsense statement) in order to rebut it imply he is taking mythicism seriously, and James has said repeatedly that he does not think mythicism should be taken seriously, and that he feels obligated not to give the least impression he takes it seriously.

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

    @johnwloftus:disqus , Sure I will! :-)

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

    @johnwloftus:disqus , Sure I will! :-)

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

    @Earl Doherty, are you suggesting that you don’t read anything into anything? That old false but impressive-sounding claim of the fundamentalist: “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it.”

    I have not chimed in on your discussion of a late pseudo-Pauline epistle because I have been busy with other things and didn’t consider that subject particularly relevant to evaluating mythicism. But since I think that even you would say that Paul’s message which he proclaimed had to do with Jesus’ accomplishing salvation, whether in the heavenly sphere as you maintain or in the earthly as almost everyone else thinks, I feel that you are creating a false antithesis, which distracts from the key issues.

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

    @Earl Doherty, are you suggesting that you don’t read anything into anything? That old false but impressive-sounding claim of the fundamentalist: “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it.”

    I have not chimed in on your discussion of a late pseudo-Pauline epistle because I have been busy with other things and didn’t consider that subject particularly relevant to evaluating mythicism. But since I think that even you would say that Paul’s message which he proclaimed had to do with Jesus’ accomplishing salvation, whether in the heavenly sphere as you maintain or in the earthly as almost everyone else thinks, I feel that you are creating a false antithesis, which distracts from the key issues.

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

      Earl asked Jim: “Jim, would you like to weigh in on Mike’s and my discussion of
      Titus 1:2-3 and illustrate how I am the one who reads something into
      the text that isn’t there, as opposed to him doing so?”

      Jim clearly cannot do so, so he resorts to insult: “That old false but impressive-sounding claim of the
      fundamentalist: “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it.””

      He then follows up with a non sequitur, clearly failing to grasp the logic of the argument and the plain simple meaning of the passage in Titus 1:2-3. Paul’s message could be about the way magic mushrooms give us salvation, but that changes nothing about Paul saying that that God’s time to reveal his way of salvation has now come through his revelation to Paul and co.

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

    @Earl Doherty, are you suggesting that you don’t read anything into anything? That old false but impressive-sounding claim of the fundamentalist: “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it.”

    I have not chimed in on your discussion of a late pseudo-Pauline epistle because I have been busy with other things and didn’t consider that subject particularly relevant to evaluating mythicism. But since I think that even you would say that Paul’s message which he proclaimed had to do with Jesus’ accomplishing salvation, whether in the heavenly sphere as you maintain or in the earthly as almost everyone else thinks, I feel that you are creating a false antithesis, which distracts from the key issues.

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

      Earl asked Jim: “Jim, would you like to weigh in on Mike’s and my discussion of
      Titus 1:2-3 and illustrate how I am the one who reads something into
      the text that isn’t there, as opposed to him doing so?”

      Jim clearly cannot do so, so he resorts to insult: “That old false but impressive-sounding claim of the
      fundamentalist: “I don’t interpret the Bible, I just read it.””

      He then follows up with a non sequitur, clearly failing to grasp the logic of the argument and the plain simple meaning of the passage in Titus 1:2-3. Paul’s message could be about the way magic mushrooms give us salvation, but that changes nothing about Paul saying that that God’s time to reveal his way of salvation has now come through his revelation to Paul and co.

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

    Neil, are you saying that you think Paul wrote Titus?

    • Earl Doherty

      Omigod, James! What a disreputably lame attempt to evade addressing the actual issue! It has been clear from the discussion that has taken place here between myself and others that no one regards Titus as written by Paul. It wasn’t necessary for Neil to specify that in his comments. (I do the same thing myself on occasion, though I usually like to put quotation marks around “Paul” when referring to the writer of a pseudo-Pauline forgery.)

      No matter who wrote it, I repeat: please address the discussion between Mike and myself, and demonstrate how it is me who is the mythicist nutcase for rejecting Mike’s blatant insertion of a priori, Gospel-derived, “premises” into Titus where there is clearly no sign of them, and Mike who is the laudatory example of your “critical and rigorous” scholarship for simply reading into a text what it would like to be there.

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

        To Doherty,

        Doherty wrote: “The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)

        BM: And from where these forgers would know about the Pauline tradition, if not from the genuine Paul’s letters? And those epistles have stuff like Jesus as a man (4 times), from Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites, a woman, under the law, poor, humble, had a brother James and died by crucifixion in Zion. All of that part of Paul’s gospel. Can we assume these forgers (early 2nd cent.) did not know about that? Some did about gospels (Ti6:13, 2Pet1:16-18). But there is no way these forgers were in the mind of Paul (or Peter) and time had changed, some 70 years later. So they were not some duplicate of Paul (or Peter), mind and soul.

        “I’m not twisting these passages to eliminate some obvious HJ”

        BM: No you are not, I agree. But you are trying to twist the mind of others into thinking Paul had to bring HJ in these passages. You draw conclusion HJ did not exist when that Jesus, in some passages of your own choice, does not show up. But when Paul has a HJ in his epistles (as mentioned above), you throw everything at it to make him either disappear or strictly a figure of heaven.
        Why are you assuming I would try to put a HJ in 2Cor3:5-6,3:7-11,5:5, Rom3:21-25, 1Cor10:11 or Tts1:2-3? BTW, Ro3:21-25 has “Jesus Christ” in it (twice), with mention of his blood.

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

    Neil, are you saying that you think Paul wrote Titus?

    • Earl Doherty

      Omigod, James! What a disreputably lame attempt to evade addressing the actual issue! It has been clear from the discussion that has taken place here between myself and others that no one regards Titus as written by Paul. It wasn’t necessary for Neil to specify that in his comments. (I do the same thing myself on occasion, though I usually like to put quotation marks around “Paul” when referring to the writer of a pseudo-Pauline forgery.)

      No matter who wrote it, I repeat: please address the discussion between Mike and myself, and demonstrate how it is me who is the mythicist nutcase for rejecting Mike’s blatant insertion of a priori, Gospel-derived, “premises” into Titus where there is clearly no sign of them, and Mike who is the laudatory example of your “critical and rigorous” scholarship for simply reading into a text what it would like to be there.

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

        To Doherty,

        Doherty wrote: “The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)”

        BM: And from where these forgers would know about the Pauline tradition, if not from the genuine Paul’s letters? And those epistles have stuff like Jesus as a man (4 times), from Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites, a woman, under the law, poor, humble, had a brother James and died by crucifixion in Zion. And he is described as resurrected and a saviour because of his sacrifice for atonement of sins. All of that part of Paul’s gospel, as preached by him (Ti1:3).
        Can we assume these forgers (early 2nd cent.) did not know about that?
        Some did know about gospels (1Ti1:4, 6:13, 2Pet1:16-18). But there is no way these forgers were in the mind of Paul (or Peter) and time had changed, some 70 years later. So they were not some duplicate of Paul (or Peter), mind and soul. And the author of Titus was intent to inflate the importance of Paul in 1:3. That would explain what he wrote here.

        “I’m not twisting these passages to eliminate some obvious HJ”

        BM: No you are not, I agree. But you are trying to twist the mind of others into thinking Paul had to bring HJ in these passages. You draw conclusion HJ did not exist when that Jesus, in some passages of your own choice, does not show up. But when Paul has a HJ in his epistles (as mentioned above), you throw everything at it to make him either disappear or strictly a figure of heaven.
        Why are you assuming I would try to put a HJ in 2Cor3:5-6,3:7-11,5:5, Rom3:21-25, 1Cor10:11 or Tts1:2-3? BTW, Ro3:21-25 has “Jesus Christ” in it (twice), with mention of his blood.

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

    @Earl Doherty, only an apologist could think that whether a work is by our earliest Christian author or a much later imitator doesn’t matter for our reconstruction of the origins and history of Christianity. If the author turned out to be a Docetist or even a mythicist, and wrote in the early second century, then that would not help make the case that such a viewpoint was the original form of Christianity ass opposed to a later reinterpretation of it.

    But leaving that to one side, I pointed out that the letter to Titus talks about that which God announced beforehand being made known through Paul’s preaching. Unless one wishes to claim that Jesus has no role in that, whether in the heavens or on the earth, then one has to say that the author is here leaving some things unsaid and focusing on the aspect of proclaiming what he believes are salvific acts, their being announced to those who had not yet heard of them. That is not in and of itself incompatible with mythicism, but neither does it require it. Both either have to say that the author has a very different view of the Gospel and salvation than the authentic Paul, or that things which are thought to be important a being left unsaid.

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

    @Earl Doherty, only an apologist could think that whether a work is by our earliest Christian author or a much later imitator doesn’t matter for our reconstruction of the origins and history of Christianity. If the author turned out to be a Docetist or even a mythicist, and wrote in the early second century, then that would not help make the case that such a viewpoint was the original form of Christianity ass opposed to a later reinterpretation of it.

    But leaving that to one side, I pointed out that the letter to Titus talks about that which God announced beforehand being made known through Paul’s preaching. Unless one wishes to claim that Jesus has no role in that, whether in the heavens or on the earth, then one has to say that the author is here leaving some things unsaid and focusing on the aspect of proclaiming what he believes are salvific acts, their being announced to those who had not yet heard of them. That is not in and of itself incompatible with mythicism, but neither does it require it. Both either have to say that the author has a very different view of the Gospel and salvation than the authentic Paul, or that things which are thought to be important a being left unsaid.

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “…only an apologist could think that whether a work is by our earliest Christian author or a much later imitator doesn’t matter for our reconstruction of the origins and history of Christianity. If the author turned out to be a Docetist or even a mythicist, and wrote in the early second century, then that would not help make the case that such a viewpoint was the original form of Christianity as opposed to a later reinterpretation of it.”

    The Pastorals and their general content is in the Pauline tradition, which any mainstream scholar would agree with. The reason why authenticity is rejected is because various elements which the forger(s) is focusing on spell a later period, a more advanced situation in the church of the day, one reasonably identifiable with the early 2nd century. There is nothing in the Pastorals (excepting 1 Tim. 6:13’s reference to Pilate) which is basically different in theology or soteriology from the “original form” we can see in the authentic Paul.

    And are you admitting that it is possible to perceive “mythicist” elements in the Pastorals? In fact, 1 Tim. 2:3-7 is blatantly mythicist, and very similar to the thought and language which saturates the genuine Paulines. (Which is one of several reasons to regard the 6:13 reference to Pilate as incompatible with the rest of the text and identify it as an interpolation.) In fact, you may notice that once again, as in Titus 1, the “testimony” about “the mediator between God and men, the anthrōpos Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom on behalf of all,” has been given “in its own time” (kairois idiois, the exact same phrase as used in Titus 1:3, where it refers to the manifestation of God’s long-promised word in the time of Paul, not Jesus. The same thing is said in 1 Tim. 2:6-7, that the testimony about the Son is placed not in the life and time of Jesus but in Paul’s: “(the testimony) for which I was appointed a herald and an apostle.” Another void on the role and figure of Jesus in the recent past.

    And if you were to think that the Pastorals are possibly mythicist, you could hardly claim that the earlier Paul (the “original Christianity”) could still have been historicist. The progression is not from historicism to mythicism.

    Jim: “I pointed out that the letter to Titus talks about that which God announced beforehand being made known through Paul’s preaching. Unless one wishes to claim that Jesus has no role in that, whether in the heavens or on the earth, then one has to say that the author is here leaving some things unsaid and focusing on the aspect of proclaiming what he believes are salvific acts, their being announced to those who had not yet heard of them.”

    But that’s the beauty of the mythicist case for a heavenly Christ. Nothing needs be seen as left unsaid. If the sacrifice of Christ took place in the heavenly world at an unknown time, or even at no “time” such as the concept applies on earth, then it could not be inserted into the progression under any circumstances, and would not be seen as missing or having to be “presumed”. That sacrifice performed in the heavenly world at a non- or unknown time was only discovered in the time of Paul. And so salvation history, as Titus is referring to it, would indeed constitute only two steps: the first being God’s promises as residing in scripture, followed by the time of revelation (Paul’s) in which those promises were recognized and interpreted in terms of a belief in a newly-revealed Son and his heavenly acts which are now enabling God (who has chosen to do so ‘in his own good and proper time’) to grant salvation. This is the picture which the epistles present at every turn, whether traditional scholarship can bring itself to realize it or not.

    It is why Romans 1 says that the gospel of God about the Son found in the prophets has preannounced/promised the gospel that Paul preaches, not the Son himself. Those same two steps: the promise in scripture, and the fulfilment of it in the gospel revealed to Paul and others through the Spirit (cf. Gal. 1:11-12, 2 Cor. 11:4, 1 John 4:1-4, etc.)

    It is why Romans 16:25-6 says that Paul brought “the proclamation of [i.e., about] Jesus Christ according to the revelation of that divine secret [i.e., the existence of the Son and his acts in the heavenly world] kept in silence for long ages but now disclosed through prophetic writings at the command of God…”

    It is why the epistles regularly speak of “the secret of Christ” (Col. 2:2).

    It is why the epistle writers never speak of Christ “incarnated to earth” or “living a life” but of Christ being “revealed/manifested” in the present time of the writers (not in the recent past), using several different revelation verbs and nouns.

    It is why Paul can speak of the long agony of the world, the awaiting of the promise for a day of deliverance, and having that fulfilment identified as coming only in the imminent future, with not the slightest concept of any past fulfillment in Jesus himself.

    It is why whenever any epistle writer (including 1 Clement) wants to present a ‘picture’ of some aspect of Jesus, often in regard to his behavior surrounding his death, such a picture is created not by offering any historical tradition but by quoting scripture.

    Jim, the list is endless. They all convey the same thing, and they are staring you right in the face. But you and others have blinded yourselves to seeing what is there in the texts—despite all your “critical and rigorous” analysis.

  • Earl Doherty

    Jim: “…only an apologist could think that whether a work is by our earliest Christian author or a much later imitator doesn’t matter for our reconstruction of the origins and history of Christianity. If the author turned out to be a Docetist or even a mythicist, and wrote in the early second century, then that would not help make the case that such a viewpoint was the original form of Christianity as opposed to a later reinterpretation of it.”

    The Pastorals and their general content is in the Pauline tradition, which any mainstream scholar would agree with. The reason why authenticity is rejected is because various elements which the forger(s) is focusing on spell a later period, a more advanced situation in the church of the day, one reasonably identifiable with the early 2nd century. There is nothing in the Pastorals (excepting 1 Tim. 6:13’s reference to Pilate) which is basically different in theology or soteriology from the “original form” we can see in the authentic Paul.

    And are you admitting that it is possible to perceive “mythicist” elements in the Pastorals? In fact, 1 Tim. 2:3-7 is blatantly mythicist, and very similar to the thought and language which saturates the genuine Paulines. (Which is one of several reasons to regard the 6:13 reference to Pilate as incompatible with the rest of the text and identify it as an interpolation.) In fact, you may notice that once again, as in Titus 1, the “testimony” about “the mediator between God and men, the anthrōpos Christ Jesus, who gave himself a ransom on behalf of all,” has been given “in its own time” (kairois idiois, the exact same phrase as used in Titus 1:3, where it refers to the manifestation of God’s long-promised word in the time of Paul, not Jesus. The same thing is said in 1 Tim. 2:6-7, that the testimony about the Son is placed not in the life and time of Jesus but in Paul’s: “(the testimony) for which I was appointed a herald and an apostle.” Another void on the role and figure of Jesus in the recent past.

    And if you were to think that the Pastorals are possibly mythicist, you could hardly claim that the earlier Paul (the “original Christianity”) could still have been historicist. The progression is not from historicism to mythicism.

    Jim: “I pointed out that the letter to Titus talks about that which God announced beforehand being made known through Paul’s preaching. Unless one wishes to claim that Jesus has no role in that, whether in the heavens or on the earth, then one has to say that the author is here leaving some things unsaid and focusing on the aspect of proclaiming what he believes are salvific acts, their being announced to those who had not yet heard of them.”

    But that’s the beauty of the mythicist case for a heavenly Christ. Nothing needs be seen as left unsaid. If the sacrifice of Christ took place in the heavenly world at an unknown time, or even at no “time” such as the concept applies on earth, then it could not be inserted into the progression under any circumstances, and would not be seen as missing or having to be “presumed”. That sacrifice performed in the heavenly world at a non- or unknown time was only discovered in the time of Paul. And so salvation history, as Titus is referring to it, would indeed constitute only two steps: the first being God’s promises as residing in scripture, followed by the time of revelation (Paul’s) in which those promises were recognized and interpreted in terms of a belief in a newly-revealed Son and his heavenly acts which are now enabling God (who has chosen to do so ‘in his own good and proper time’) to grant salvation. This is the picture which the epistles present at every turn, whether traditional scholarship can bring itself to realize it or not.

    It is why Romans 1 says that the gospel of God about the Son found in the prophets has preannounced/promised the gospel that Paul preaches, not the Son himself. Those same two steps: the promise in scripture, and the fulfilment of it in the gospel revealed to Paul and others through the Spirit (cf. Gal. 1:11-12, 2 Cor. 11:4, 1 John 4:1-4, etc.)

    It is why Romans 16:25-6 says that Paul brought “the proclamation of [i.e., about] Jesus Christ according to the revelation of that divine secret [i.e., the existence of the Son and his acts in the heavenly world] kept in silence for long ages but now disclosed through prophetic writings at the command of God…”

    It is why the epistles regularly speak of “the secret of Christ” (Col. 2:2).

    It is why the epistle writers never speak of Christ “incarnated to earth” or “living a life” but of Christ being “revealed/manifested” in the present time of the writers (not in the recent past), using several different revelation verbs and nouns.

    It is why Paul can speak of the long agony of the world, the awaiting of the promise for a day of deliverance, and having that fulfilment identified as coming only in the imminent future, with not the slightest concept of any past fulfillment in Jesus himself.

    It is why whenever any epistle writer (including 1 Clement) wants to present a ‘picture’ of some aspect of Jesus, often in regard to his behavior surrounding his death, such a picture is created not by offering any historical tradition but by quoting scripture.

    Jim, the list is endless. They all convey the same thing, and they are staring you right in the face. But you and others have blinded yourselves to seeing what is there in the texts—despite all your “critical and rigorous” analysis.

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard: “And from where these forgers would know about the Pauline tradition, if not from the genuine Paul’s letters? And those epistles have stuff like Jesus as a man (4 times), from Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites, a woman, under the law, poor, humble, had a brother James and died by crucifixion in Zion. And he is described as resurrected and a saviour because of his sacrifice for atonement of sins.”

    We’ve been through most of this stuff, Bernard, and/or will be (again) when Jim gets to later chapters of the book. But typical of people like yourself, counter-arguments are simply ignored and traditional claims and pointings to certain passages are merely repeated. I mean, if you cannot even acknowledge that Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection could at least theoretically, within the mythicist theory, apply to heavenly acts, then why are we bothering?

    Bernard: “Can we assume these forgers (early 2nd cent.) did not know about that? Some did know about gospels (1Ti1:4, 6:13, 2Pet1:16-18). But there is no way these forgers were in the mind of Paul (or Peter) and time had changed, some 70 years later. So they were not some duplicate of Paul (or Peter), mind and soul. And the author of Titus was intent to inflate the importance of Paul in 1:3. That would explain what he wrote here.”

    1 Tim. 4:6 and 2 Pet. 1:16-18, are not references to gospels. (The latter is thoroughly discussed in my website Supplementary Article No. 7, and summarized in JNGNM, note 82.) I don’t understand what you’re trying to say in the next two sentences. But your final thought is hardly a valid explanation. No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether. That would be going too far, and no one would accept that. Would you accept it if some publicity VP of General Electric Corp. said that Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with lightning/electricity in the 18th century promised the eventual invention of artificial lighting, and this promise was fulfilled in the General Electric Corporation’s development of the light bulb? What about the famous actual inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison in the 1870s on which GE’s development was based? If that GE Vice-President left him out altogether and declared that the light bulb was invented by GE, would he get away with it? Would he even think to “inflate the importance” of GE by burying Edison entirely and essentially falsifying history?

    That’s what all the writers of the NT epistles have done, repeatedly. They have ignored and buried the historical Jesus, removed any such figure from earthly salvation history and placed Paul and his time at center stage, identified scripture as the source of their knowledge about him, used what would have been completely misleading language, and made God himself complicit in the deception.

    And you’re OK with that? No problems, no nagging doubts at all?

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

      Doherty wrote:”I mean, if you cannot even acknowledge that Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection could at least theoretically, within the mythicist theory, apply to heavenly acts, then why are we bothering?”BM: Theorically, within the mythicist theory?For your mythicist theory, we have already: a) brother of the Lord is the same than brother in the Lord.b) ‘anthropos’ means earthly man/men (83 times in Paul epistles) except when that ‘anthropos’ is Jesus (4 times), where it means a figure of heaven.c) “his Son … marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead” is in the prophetic scriptures.And we did not even go through ‘kata Sarka’ (“according to flesh”), which you will interpret as “between earth and moon” in Ro1:3. And a lot more to come of that kind of things!Your theory is constantly fighting the “historicist” evidence and, lacking “mythicist” evidence for your case, constantly creating arguments from silence. And there is evidence in Paul’s epistles the crucifixion/sacrifice happened in “Zion”.”No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether.”But that’s the way it looks in Titus1:3 (about inflating Paul). And Jesus is far from being forgotten: he is mentioned in the next verse “Christ Jesus our Saviour” and 2 verses earlier “Paul, bondman of God, and apostle of Jesus Christ”.I looked at your comment on 2Peter1:16-18. You are saying the forger did not know about the gospels because he did not describe the high mountain event in all its details (“no mention is made of the presence of Moses and Elijah, or of Peter’s suggestion that three tabernacles be set up, or that the voice came out of the clouds, features found in all three Synoptic versions …”).Why would he do that? His goal was to have Peter know directly from God that Jesus is God’s beloved Son (rather than from “cleverly imagined fables”, which the gospels are full of, including in the high mountain episode). You keep making convenient assumptions that you then “demolish” for good effect. Any author have the right to abbreviate a story, or extract an element from it in order to make a point. Then you go through more assumptions (“would seem”, “the ambiguity tends not to support such an idea”) to finally “suspect that the “tradition about a visionary appearance by the spiritual Christ to Peter has been ‘elucidated’ with the help of biblical references [Ps2:6-7]“By the way, Ps2:7 reads: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”But in Mt17:5b “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
      as in 2Pet1:17 “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”My question: did the author of 2Peter copied from GMatthew or the Psalms? (accepting, as for most critical scholars and myself, gMatthew was written before 2Peter).

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard: “And from where these forgers would know about the Pauline tradition, if not from the genuine Paul’s letters? And those epistles have stuff like Jesus as a man (4 times), from Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites, a woman, under the law, poor, humble, had a brother James and died by crucifixion in Zion. And he is described as resurrected and a saviour because of his sacrifice for atonement of sins.”

    We’ve been through most of this stuff, Bernard, and/or will be (again) when Jim gets to later chapters of the book. But typical of people like yourself, counter-arguments are simply ignored and traditional claims and pointings to certain passages are merely repeated. I mean, if you cannot even acknowledge that Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection could at least theoretically, within the mythicist theory, apply to heavenly acts, then why are we bothering?

    Bernard: “Can we assume these forgers (early 2nd cent.) did not know about that? Some did know about gospels (1Ti1:4, 6:13, 2Pet1:16-18). But there is no way these forgers were in the mind of Paul (or Peter) and time had changed, some 70 years later. So they were not some duplicate of Paul (or Peter), mind and soul. And the author of Titus was intent to inflate the importance of Paul in 1:3. That would explain what he wrote here.”

    1 Tim. 4:6 and 2 Pet. 1:16-18, are not references to gospels. (The latter is thoroughly discussed in my website Supplementary Article No. 7, and summarized in JNGNM, note 82.) I don’t understand what you’re trying to say in the next two sentences. But your final thought is hardly a valid explanation. No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether. That would be going too far, and no one would accept that. Would you accept it if some publicity VP of General Electric Corp. said that Benjamin Franklin’s experiments with lightning/electricity in the 18th century promised the eventual invention of artificial lighting, and this promise was fulfilled in the General Electric Corporation’s development of the light bulb? What about the famous actual inventor of the light bulb, Thomas Edison in the 1870s on which GE’s development was based? If that GE Vice-President left him out altogether and declared that the light bulb was invented by GE, would he get away with it? Would he even think to “inflate the importance” of GE by burying Edison entirely and essentially falsifying history?

    That’s what all the writers of the NT epistles have done, repeatedly. They have ignored and buried the historical Jesus, removed any such figure from earthly salvation history and placed Paul and his time at center stage, identified scripture as the source of their knowledge about him, used what would have been completely misleading language, and made God himself complicit in the deception.

    And you’re OK with that? No problems, no nagging doubts at all?

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

      To Doherty,
      Doherty wrote:
      “I mean, if you cannot even acknowledge that Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection could at least theoretically, within the mythicist theory, apply to heavenly acts, then why are we bothering?”

      BM: Theorically, within the mythicist theory? For your mythicist theory, we have already:
      a) “brother of the Lord” is the same than “brother in the Lord”
      b) ‘anthropos’ means earthly man/men (83 times in Paul epistles) except when that ‘anthropos’ is Jesus (4 times), where it means a figure of heaven.
      c) “his Son … marked out Son of God in power, according to [the] Spirit of holiness, by resurrection of [the] dead” is in the prophetic scriptures.

      And we did not even go through ‘kata Sarka’ (“according to flesh”), which you will interpret as “between earth and moon” in Ro1:3. And a lot more to come for that kind of things! Your theory is constantly fighting the “historicist” evidence and, lacking “mythicist” evidence for your case, constantly creating arguments from silence. And there is evidence in Paul’s epistles the crucifixion/sacrifice happened in “Zion”.

      “No writer is going to inflate the importance of Paul by excising Jesus altogether.”

      BM: But that’s the way it looks in Titus1:3 (about inflating Paul). And Jesus is far from being forgotten: he is mentioned in the next verse “Christ Jesus our Saviour” and 2 verses earlier “Paul, bondman of God, and apostle of Jesus Christ”.

      I looked at your comment on 2Peter1:16-18. You are saying the forger did not know about the gospels because he did not describe the high mountain event with details (“no mention is made of the presence of Moses and Elijah, or of Peter’s suggestion that three tabernacles be set up, or that the voice came out of the clouds, features found in all three Synoptic versions …”).
      Why would he do that? His goal was to have Peter know directly from God that Jesus is God’s beloved Son (rather than from “cleverly imagined fables”, which the gospels are full of, including in the high mountain episode). You keep making convenient assumptions which you then exploit for good effect. Authors have the right to abbreviate a story, or extract an element from it in order to make a point. Then you go through more assumptions & speculations (“would seem”, “the ambiguity tends not to support such an idea”) to finally “suspect that the tradition about a visionary appearance by the spiritual Christ to Peter has been ‘elucidated’ with the help of biblical references [Ps2:6-7]”

      BTW, Ps2:7 says: “You are my Son; today I have become your Father.”
      But in Mt17:5b RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”
      And in 2Pet1:17 RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”

      My question: did the author of 2Peter get his inspiration from GMatthew or the Psalms? (accepting, as for most critical scholars and myself, gMatthew was written before 2Peter).

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

    @Earl, as long as you are willing to posit that any counter-evidence to your view is likely to be an interpolation, we aren’t going to get very far.

    Perhaps I should simply adopt the opposite view and say that anything that seems to support mythicism is either an interpolation, or has had a reference to a historical Jesus removed by second-century Docetists.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “Earl, as long as you are willing to posit that any counter-evidence to
      your view is likely to be an interpolation, we aren’t going to get very
      far.”

      I have not declared 1 Tim. 6:13 to be an interpolation, only possibly, based partly on mainstream scholarship’s own presentation of the problems involved in seeing it as a good fit within its context, although none of them have had the guts to suggest it might be interpolated. My case is not based on this passage being of necessity an interpolation. I discuss these things in the Appendix One of both my books, which you should already have read, since it is tied to chapters 1 and 6.

      If we regard the passage as authentic, it hardly destroys any mythicist case, since a date of around 120 would allow for certain Gospel-based data to have become familiar to the forger (just as it has to Ignatius or his forger around the same time). And just as in the Ignatian letters, 1 Timothy–if 6:13 is authentic–shows a mix of expression belonging to both pure mythicism of the Pauline variety, plus elements which are derived from the newly-developing historicism based on the Gospels or influences from them (since reference or appeal to any written source is absent in both). This is the sort of thing we could expect from documents which arise at the point of transition from a heavenly Christ to an earthly Jesus.

      Where Ignatius is concerned, I go into some detailed discussion of this cross-over evidence in Chapter 21, “Ignatius on the Threshold”.

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

        To Doherty,
        I have been reading your explanations for 1Tim6:13 in the ‘Jesus Puzzle’. You make an argument based on 1Tim6:16 “no man has ever seen or ever can see him,” (“a sweeping statement”), where you take “him” as being Jesus, and therefore become a point in favor of interpolation in 6:13.

        YLT “6: 14 … the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which in His own times He shall shew — the blessed and only potentate, the King of the kings and Lord of the lords, 16 who only is having immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor is able to see, to whom [is] honour and might age-during! Amen.”

        It makes sense it is God who shall show Jesus Christ, in God’s own chosen time (ref: Mk13:32, Mt24:36, Ac1:7). And who is the King? The answer is in 1:17 “the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God
        Not only that weakens your argument for interpolation of 6:13, but that would show our forger knew of gMark or/and gMatthew or/and ‘Acts’. And he must also have known of Revelation, which has “King of kings and Lord of lords”. There, it is about Jesus, but Paul had never Jesus as king, and so the author of 1Timothy, who probably wanted to set the record straight.

        Maybe we do not have clear-cut external evidence that John’s gospel was published before 120CE, but that does not prove a later date for his publication. Actually Papias, Aristides. Basilides and gThomas (all around 115-130) gave signs they knew about gJohn.
        Irenaeus put the death of John, “the beloved disciple”, the alleged gospel’s author, during Trajan’s reign (but Irenaeus never declared that John was the ex-fisherman from Galilee).
        So the author of 1Timothy may also have known of gJohn (as for Jesus’ confession to Pilate) as he knew about other Christian texts.

        • Earl Doherty

          Sorry, Bernard, but I find this posting incomprehensible.

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

            To Doherty,
            Doherty wrote: “Sorry, Bernard, but I find this posting incomprehensible.”

            BM: what posting are you talking about?

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

        to Doherty,
        After long studies, I concluded the seven deemed authentic Ignatian letters are actually forgeries written in the 125-145 period (except for ‘to Polycarp’, written later) by different authors, with different beliefs and concerns.
        Therefore some of their content (such as “who is of the race of David, who was born of Mary, who was truly born, ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died” ‘to the Trallians, ch.9) were addressed against Gnostics/Docetists.
        That would throw out your speculations about “Ignatius on the Threshold”.
        See my webpage, http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
        I do not think you studied the dating and authenticity of the Ignatian letters, except that you allow them to be possible forgeries (but no later than written around 120, which is conveniently before the Gnostic/Docetist era!). If you think they could be forgeries, what evidence do you have for not accepting a dating later than 120?

        • Earl Doherty

          If you have The Jesus Puzzle, you will have read Appendix 3 which addresses who and what are the opponents in the Ignatian letters. Even some mainstream scholars think it is too simplistic to label them all “docetists.” My chapter 21 in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man addresses this question, too.

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

    @Earl, as long as you are willing to posit that any counter-evidence to your view is likely to be an interpolation, we aren’t going to get very far.

    Perhaps I should simply adopt the opposite view and say that anything that seems to support mythicism is either an interpolation, or has had a reference to a historical Jesus removed by second-century Docetists.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “Earl, as long as you are willing to posit that any counter-evidence to
      your view is likely to be an interpolation, we aren’t going to get very
      far.”

      I have not declared 1 Tim. 6:13 to be an interpolation, only possibly, based partly on mainstream scholarship’s own presentation of the problems involved in seeing it as a good fit within its context, although none of them have had the guts to suggest it might be interpolated. My case is not based on this passage being of necessity an interpolation. I discuss these things in the Appendix One of both my books, which you should already have read, since it is tied to chapters 1 and 6.

      If we regard the passage as authentic, it hardly destroys any mythicist case, since a date of around 120 would allow for certain Gospel-based data to have become familiar to the forger (just as it has to Ignatius or his forger around the same time). And just as in the Ignatian letters, 1 Timothy–if 6:13 is authentic–shows a mix of expression belonging to both pure mythicism of the Pauline variety, plus elements which are derived from the newly-developing historicism based on the Gospels or influences from them (since reference or appeal to any written source is absent in both). This is the sort of thing we could expect from documents which arise at the point of transition from a heavenly Christ to an earthly Jesus.

      Where Ignatius is concerned, I go into some detailed discussion of this cross-over evidence in Chapter 21, “Ignatius on the Threshold”.

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

        To Doherty,
        I have been reading your explanations for 1Tim6:13 in the ‘Jesus Puzzle’. You make an argument based on 1Tim6:16 “no man has ever seen or ever can see him,” (“a sweeping statement”), where you take “him” as being Jesus, and therefore become a point in favor of interpolation in 6:13.

        YLT “6: 14 … the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 which in His own times He shall shew — the blessed and only potentate, the King of the kings and Lord of the lords, 16 who only is having immortality, dwelling in light unapproachable, whom no one of men did see, nor is able to see, to whom [is] honour and might age-during! Amen.”

        God shall show Jesus Christ, in God’s own chosen time (ref: Mk13:32, Mt24:36, Ac1:7). But who is the King? The answer is in 1:17 “the King of the ages, the incorruptible, invisible, only wise God
        Not only that weakens your argument for interpolation of 6:13, but that would show our forger knew of gMark or/and gMatthew or/and ‘Acts’. And he must also have known of Revelation, which has “King of kings and Lord of lords”. There, it is about Jesus, but Paul had never Jesus as king, and so the author of 1Timothy, who probably wanted to set the record straight.

        Maybe we do not have clear-cut external evidence that John’s gospel was published before 120CE, but that does not prove a later date for his publication. Actually Papias, Aristides, Basilides and gThomas (all around 115-130) gave signs they knew about gJohn.
        Irenaeus put the death of long-lived “John”, “the beloved disciple”, the alleged gospel’s author (as mentioned in gJohn epilogue), during Trajan’s reign (but Irenaeus never declared that John was the ex-fisherman from Galilee).
        So the author of 1Timothy may also have known of gJohn (as for Jesus’ confession to Pilate) as he knew about other Christian texts (including those with “myths and endless genealogies” 1:4, i.e gMatthew & gLuke).

        • Earl Doherty

          Sorry, Bernard, but I find this posting incomprehensible.

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

            To Doherty,
            Doherty wrote: “Sorry, Bernard, but I find this posting incomprehensible.”

            BM: what posting are you talking about?

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

        to Doherty,
        After long studies, I concluded the seven deemed authentic Ignatian letters are actually forgeries written in the 125-145 period (except for ‘to Polycarp’, written later) by different authors, with different beliefs and concerns.
        Therefore some of their content (such as “who is of the race of David, who was born of Mary, who was truly born, ate and drank, was truly persecuted under Pontius Pilate, was truly crucified and died” ‘to the Trallians’, ch.9) were addressed against Gnostics/Docetists.
        That would throw out your speculations about “Ignatius on the Threshold”.
        See my webpage, http://historical-jesus.info/ignatius.html
        I do not think you studied the dating and authenticity of the Ignatian letters, except that you allow them to be possible forgeries (but no later than written around 120, which is conveniently before the Gnostic/Docetist era!). If you think they could be forgeries, what evidence do you have for not accepting a dating later than 120?

        • Earl Doherty

          If you have The Jesus Puzzle, you will have read Appendix 3 which addresses who and what are the opponents in the Ignatian letters. Even some mainstream scholars think it is too simplistic to label them all “docetists.” My chapter 21 in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man addresses this question, too.

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

    Posted earlier at Vridar
    Dear frauds, fools, and fanatics, I’m always happy to be the focus of a posting here, and in return for the favor I’ll explain what is wrong with Earl’s thinking here. I had not thought it worth my while because no intelligent person would conclude that Earl is making sense, but I love flattery, and being confused with Jesus scholarship is high praise. Some of you may have already noted this but won’t admit it because, “s#@t, that doesn’t work to wipe Christianity from history”, but if you’re not paying attention to details in your rabid quest to find justification for your faith, I’ll point it out.
     
    Earl argues the passage precludes a human Jesus, not that it doesn’t mention one. He seems to construe my argument as simply that we can tack in the human acts of Jesus, and it comports to the HJ position, his old standby that scholars simply assume that the author has a HJ in mind. But that is not my argument at all. My argument is that the sentence does not preclude there being an action between, Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)… and Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul. (The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)  Earl assumes, without justification,  that  the hope of eternal life that is being discussed here is an event that took place in the timeless world of heaven, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by demons and came into human possession though the scriptures (but hidden), but only now has been revealed by Paul and friends.  But that is not the only possible scenario that could be supported by this sentence.  For instance, if Jesus were crucified in time by demons in the firmament, it would also work, because it would only be revealed by Paul’s teaching, otherwise who would be aware of it? And if Paul’s preaching revealed that eternal life came by the death of Jesus by Pilate and his subsequent resurrection; that also works.  It also works if Paul thinks the hope of eternal life came by the means of Cookie Monster eating Grover at the feet of Nero Caesar as prophesied in Leviticus (it in there).   That is why nobody ever stopped and said, “Man, I need to explain how this doesn’t invalidate the gospels or my theology”.  I might think differently if you could create an analogy that actually represented the situation and not your artificial conception of it.
    Earl presents my argument as this,
    ” You say: “We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence.” I agree that this is precisely what we should have expected the writer to say, so why doesn’t he say it? Why “presume” it and expect his readers to presume it?”,
    because that is the only argument he can win, his lie, (and Neil’s) that everyone is simply presuming a historical Jesus without critical thought.  Why doesn’t Pseudo Paul just say what you (Earl) believe this passage to speak of and not just expect his reader to presume it? Earl does this while at the same time castigating me for presuming that the author has an explanation in mind for “how rebirth and the holy spirit are being poured out though Jesus” as though his speculative theory ask for no assumptions at all to be made of the text, while he tries to explain what the text are talking about

    • Earl Doherty

      Here Mike Wilson makes another attempt to be clear and rational about how one can reject Titus 1:2-3 as excluding an historical Jesus between the two steps in salvation history which the author presents: God’s promises in the age-old past, as contained in scripture, and the revelation and fulfillment of those promises in the preaching of Paul. Let’s see if he is any more successful.

      Mike: “My argument is that the sentence does not preclude there being an action between, Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)… and Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul….

      Earl assumes, without justification, that the hope of eternal life that is being discussed here is an event that took place in the timeless world of heaven, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by demons and came into human possession though the scriptures (but hidden), but only now has been revealed by Paul and friends….”

      This is a garbling of my position on what Titus is saying. I am not equating the word “hope” with an event; Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture (see 1 Cor. 15:15 which we’ve discussed before), but the “hope” itself was just that: hope for life eternal, something which at the turn of the era was a fixation of the Hellenistic world, in other words, for “salvation.” Different sects, Jewish and pagan would have seen it as founded in their own soteriological theories and beliefs. The early Christ cult saw it as founded in a sacrificial death by the Son at the hands of the demons.

      For Paul and his contemporaries and successors before an HJ entered the picture, the promise of eternal life was revealed in scripture, but it was a promise which they envisioned God making even before scripture was written, indeed “at the beginning of time.” God had his intentions even before creation. He then recorded his word, his promise, in scripture when the prophets came along. And that promise of eternal life, by the way, was a recent interpretation, for no Jews contemporary with the prophets or for centuries afterward understood that God had promised eternal life, since this was not a belief that is found in Jewish culture until almost the intertestamental period. So the “promise of eternal life” was a reading of scripture only later.

      Titus 1:3 then goes on to say: “…and at his proper time, (God) manifested/revealed his word [i.e., the promise he was perceived to have recorded in scripture] in a proclamation [kerygma/'gospel'] which was entrusted to me [i.e., the writer pretending to be Paul] at the command of God our Savior.”

      So there is still no room to insert an historical Jesus here. The promise, God’s word, was perceived as recorded in scripture. That interpretation justified humanity’s hope for eternal life, since part of that interpretation was the ‘revelation’ that the means by which God could grant eternal life was the redeeming death and rising of his Son. But this cannot be inserted as taking place in history between God’s promise and Paul’s preaching, because then the acts of Jesus would become the first action on that promise, the first manifesting of his ancient word (NIV: he brought his word to light). The preaching of Paul’s gospel could never be styled the first manifestation by God, the first fulfillment of his promise, if Jesus had lived and performed his redeeming acts prior to that. No writer would express himself that way and ignore Jesus’ life and acts in the middle.

      If Mike cannot or refuses to see that, it’s not my fault. It’s a tribute to his ability to close his mind and abdicate his powers of understanding simple language in deference to his preconceived beliefs, whatever the reasons he may have for adamantly clinging to them no matter what the texts say.

      So no, Mike, this does NOT work:

      Mike: “For instance, if Jesus were crucified in time by demons in the firmament, it would also work, because it would only be revealed by Paul’s teaching, otherwise who would be aware of it? And if Paul’s preaching revealed that eternal life came by the death of Jesus by Pilate and his subsequent resurrection; that also works.”

      I’ve pointed out that yes, crucifixion by demons in the heavenly world is part of the early Christ cult’s perceived revelation (this may not be entirely Paul’s own invention, we don’t know precisely how the pre-Pauline cult viewed things). But this element (the acts of Jesus, the means by which salvation is made possible) was not in itself a “manifestation” of God’s promise, because it was not manifested except as part of Paul’s gospel. It’s part of Step Two, not some independent step of its own. But even if it were so regarded, it would work only because it was a heavenly event, only in the context of the mythicist case (which of course Mike rejects). It would cease to work if the event was earthly and historical, because then it would itself, as I’ve said, have constituted the first manifestation of God’s promise, not the later preaching of Paul’s gospel.

      And then when Mike quotes me quoting him as saying that “we can presume that Jesus’ act was part of the hope of eternal life” (by which he may have meant—lucidity is not his strong point—that Jesus’ act generated hope for eternal life in those who witnessed it: which does not get around the contradiction in Titus saying God’s first revelation of his word was in Paul’s kerygma), he now garbles this into some kind of accusation by me that everyone here is presuming an HJ without critical thought and calls it a “lie,” an utter non-sequitur. What can you do with someone whose arguments and presentation make so little sense, riddled with head-scratching illogicalities? But I do my best.

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

    Posted earlier at Vridar
    Dear frauds, fools, and fanatics, I’m always happy to be the focus of a posting here, and in return for the favor I’ll explain what is wrong with Earl’s thinking here. I had not thought it worth my while because no intelligent person would conclude that Earl is making sense, but I love flattery, and being confused with Jesus scholarship is high praise. Some of you may have already noted this but won’t admit it because, “s#@t, that doesn’t work to wipe Christianity from history”, but if you’re not paying attention to details in your rabid quest to find justification for your faith, I’ll point it out.
     
    Earl argues the passage precludes a human Jesus, not that it doesn’t mention one. He seems to construe my argument as simply that we can tack in the human acts of Jesus, and it comports to the HJ position, his old standby that scholars simply assume that the author has a HJ in mind. But that is not my argument at all. My argument is that the sentence does not preclude there being an action between, Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)… and Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul. (The writer represents himself as Paul, reflecting the Pauline tradition, as all of the pseudo-Pauline forgeries do.)  Earl assumes, without justification,  that  the hope of eternal life that is being discussed here is an event that took place in the timeless world of heaven, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by demons and came into human possession though the scriptures (but hidden), but only now has been revealed by Paul and friends.  But that is not the only possible scenario that could be supported by this sentence.  For instance, if Jesus were crucified in time by demons in the firmament, it would also work, because it would only be revealed by Paul’s teaching, otherwise who would be aware of it? And if Paul’s preaching revealed that eternal life came by the death of Jesus by Pilate and his subsequent resurrection; that also works.  It also works if Paul thinks the hope of eternal life came by the means of Cookie Monster eating Grover at the feet of Nero Caesar as prophesied in Leviticus (it in there).   That is why nobody ever stopped and said, “Man, I need to explain how this doesn’t invalidate the gospels or my theology”.  I might think differently if you could create an analogy that actually represented the situation and not your artificial conception of it.
    Earl presents my argument as this,
    ” You say: “We can presume Jesus’ actions are part of the promised hope of eternal life without disrupting the meaning of the sentence.” I agree that this is precisely what we should have expected the writer to say, so why doesn’t he say it? Why “presume” it and expect his readers to presume it?”,
    because that is the only argument he can win, his lie, (and Neil’s) that everyone is simply presuming a historical Jesus without critical thought.  Why doesn’t Pseudo Paul just say what you (Earl) believe this passage to speak of and not just expect his reader to presume it? Earl does this while at the same time castigating me for presuming that the author has an explanation in mind for “how rebirth and the holy spirit are being poured out though Jesus” as though his speculative theory ask for no assumptions at all to be made of the text, while he tries to explain what the text are talking about

    • Earl Doherty

      Here Mike Wilson makes another attempt to be clear and rational about how one can reject Titus 1:2-3 as excluding an historical Jesus between the two steps in salvation history which the author presents: God’s promises in the age-old past, as contained in scripture, and the revelation and fulfillment of those promises in the preaching of Paul. Let’s see if he is any more successful.

      Mike: “My argument is that the sentence does not preclude there being an action between, Step One: God promised eternal life long ages ago (lit., before the beginning of time)… and Step Two: God has now revealed that word and fulfilled his age-old promise, through the gospel being preached by Paul….

      Earl assumes, without justification, that the hope of eternal life that is being discussed here is an event that took place in the timeless world of heaven, the crucifixion of Jesus Christ by demons and came into human possession though the scriptures (but hidden), but only now has been revealed by Paul and friends….”

      This is a garbling of my position on what Titus is saying. I am not equating the word “hope” with an event; Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture (see 1 Cor. 15:15 which we’ve discussed before), but the “hope” itself was just that: hope for life eternal, something which at the turn of the era was a fixation of the Hellenistic world, in other words, for “salvation.” Different sects, Jewish and pagan would have seen it as founded in their own soteriological theories and beliefs. The early Christ cult saw it as founded in a sacrificial death by the Son at the hands of the demons.

      For Paul and his contemporaries and successors before an HJ entered the picture, the promise of eternal life was revealed in scripture, but it was a promise which they envisioned God making even before scripture was written, indeed “at the beginning of time.” God had his intentions even before creation. He then recorded his word, his promise, in scripture when the prophets came along. And that promise of eternal life, by the way, was a recent interpretation, for no Jews contemporary with the prophets or for centuries afterward understood that God had promised eternal life, since this was not a belief that is found in Jewish culture until almost the intertestamental period. So the “promise of eternal life” was a reading of scripture only later.

      Titus 1:3 then goes on to say: “…and at his proper time, (God) manifested/revealed his word [i.e., the promise he was perceived to have recorded in scripture] in a proclamation [kerygma/'gospel'] which was entrusted to me [i.e., the writer pretending to be Paul] at the command of God our Savior.”

      So there is still no room to insert an historical Jesus here. The promise, God’s word, was perceived as recorded in scripture. That interpretation justified humanity’s hope for eternal life, since part of that interpretation was the ‘revelation’ that the means by which God could grant eternal life was the redeeming death and rising of his Son. But this cannot be inserted as taking place in history between God’s promise and Paul’s preaching, because then the acts of Jesus would become the first action on that promise, the first manifesting of his ancient word (NIV: he brought his word to light). The preaching of Paul’s gospel could never be styled the first manifestation by God, the first fulfillment of his promise, if Jesus had lived and performed his redeeming acts prior to that. No writer would express himself that way and ignore Jesus’ life and acts in the middle.

      If Mike cannot or refuses to see that, it’s not my fault. It’s a tribute to his ability to close his mind and abdicate his powers of understanding simple language in deference to his preconceived beliefs, whatever the reasons he may have for adamantly clinging to them no matter what the texts say.

      So no, Mike, this does NOT work:

      Mike: “For instance, if Jesus were crucified in time by demons in the firmament, it would also work, because it would only be revealed by Paul’s teaching, otherwise who would be aware of it? And if Paul’s preaching revealed that eternal life came by the death of Jesus by Pilate and his subsequent resurrection; that also works.”

      I’ve pointed out that yes, crucifixion by demons in the heavenly world is part of the early Christ cult’s perceived revelation (this may not be entirely Paul’s own invention, we don’t know precisely how the pre-Pauline cult viewed things). But this element (the acts of Jesus, the means by which salvation is made possible) was not in itself a “manifestation” of God’s promise, because it was not manifested except as part of Paul’s gospel. It’s part of Step Two, not some independent step of its own. But even if it were so regarded, it would work only because it was a heavenly event, only in the context of the mythicist case (which of course Mike rejects). It would cease to work if the event was earthly and historical, because then it would itself, as I’ve said, have constituted the first manifestation of God’s promise, not the later preaching of Paul’s gospel.

      And then when Mike quotes me quoting him as saying that “we can presume that Jesus’ act was part of the hope of eternal life” (by which he may have meant—lucidity is not his strong point—that Jesus’ act generated hope for eternal life in those who witnessed it: which does not get around the contradiction in Titus saying God’s first revelation of his word was in Paul’s kerygma), he now garbles this into some kind of accusation by me that everyone here is presuming an HJ without critical thought and calls it a “lie,” an utter non-sequitur. What can you do with someone whose arguments and presentation make so little sense, riddled with head-scratching illogicalities? But I do my best.

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

    @Earl, I am starting to get the distinct impression that mythicism is not even false, that it is unfalsifiable. How do you determine what it is appropriate to expect at a point of transition from a mythical to a historical Jesus? How are the characteristics you so identify distinguishable from the language used by Christians to express the belief that Jesus was a historical figure but at the same time the incarnation of a pre-existent personal entity? Could there even in theory ever be any evidence that you could not give a mythicist interpretation to?

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath, I would argue that mythicism is easily falsifiable. All it would take is a contemporary attestation by a named person of his meeting Jesus of Nazareth that (a) existed and (b) was not a forgery. We have lots of one or the other, but none that meet both criteria. If we had one, this would be the equivalent of rabbits in the precambrian to evolutionary theory.

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

        If any such document emerged I’m sure you and earl would immediately dismiss it as a forgery irregardless of the evidence, so I don’t know why you claim that mythicism is easily falsifiable.

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

    @Earl, I am starting to get the distinct impression that mythicism is not even false, that it is unfalsifiable. How do you determine what it is appropriate to expect at a point of transition from a mythical to a historical Jesus? How are the characteristics you so identify distinguishable from the language used by Christians to express the belief that Jesus was a historical figure but at the same time the incarnation of a pre-existent personal entity? Could there even in theory ever be any evidence that you could not give a mythicist interpretation to?

    • beallen0417

      Dr. McGrath, I would argue that mythicism is easily falsifiable. All it would take is a contemporary attestation by a named person of his meeting Jesus of Nazareth that (a) existed and (b) was not a forgery. We have lots of one or the other, but none that meet both criteria. If we had one, this would be the equivalent of rabbits in the precambrian to evolutionary theory.

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

        If any such document emerged I’m sure you and earl would immediately dismiss it as a forgery irregardless of the evidence, so I don’t know why you claim that mythicism is easily falsifiable.

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

    @Earl, I still don’t get why a later pseudepigraphal work is your focus. Claiming that the author’s view is faithful to Paul’s is something you have to demonstrate, not assume, especially as you are willing to posit radical changes to the Christian faith in the intervening decades.

    Be that as it may, if God is making known his word, and you understand that word to be a promise in Scripture, then why exactly are you closed to the possibility that the promise in question was the promise that other Jews found in Scripture, namely that God would restore the dynasty of David?

    • Earl Doherty

      I don’t see the relevance of either of your objections. It doesn’t matter if Titus is a later pseudepigraphical work. No matter when it was written, it makes a statement which excludes an historical Jesus in its presentation of the picture of salvation history: God’s promise…followed by the first action on that promise in the preaching of Paul. Period.

      Unlike a possible historicist indicator in 1 Timothy (6:13), there is no such thing in Titus. (Robert Price has an effective analysis of the Pastorals, in which he sees 1 Tim. as written later by a different author, drawing on the other two but also, perhaps, reflecting a new awareness of an historical Jesus and crucifixion, giving that epistle a foot in both camps.

      As to “why exactly are you closed to the possibility that the promise in
      question was the promise that other Jews found in Scripture, namely that
      God would restore the dynasty of David,” I am closed to it because that’s not what the text says. Verse 2 clearly says that the promise was of “eternal life.” Did you miss that?

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

    @Earl, I still don’t get why a later pseudepigraphal work is your focus. Claiming that the author’s view is faithful to Paul’s is something you have to demonstrate, not assume, especially as you are willing to posit radical changes to the Christian faith in the intervening decades.

    Be that as it may, if God is making known his word, and you understand that word to be a promise in Scripture, then why exactly are you closed to the possibility that the promise in question was the promise that other Jews found in Scripture, namely that God would restore the dynasty of David?

    • Earl Doherty

      I don’t see the relevance of either of your objections. It doesn’t matter if Titus is a later pseudepigraphical work. No matter when it was written, it makes a statement which excludes an historical Jesus in its presentation of the picture of salvation history: God’s promise…followed by the first action on that promise in the preaching of Paul. Period.

      Unlike a possible historicist indicator in 1 Timothy (6:13), there is no such thing in Titus. (Robert Price has an effective analysis of the Pastorals, in which he sees 1 Tim. as written later by a different author, drawing on the other two but also, perhaps, reflecting a new awareness of an historical Jesus and crucifixion, giving that epistle a foot in both camps.

      As to “why exactly are you closed to the possibility that the promise in
      question was the promise that other Jews found in Scripture, namely that
      God would restore the dynasty of David,” I am closed to it because that’s not what the text says. Verse 2 clearly says that the promise was of “eternal life.” Did you miss that?

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

    @Earl, are you suggesting that this author made no connection between eternal life and the Jesus whom he identified as Christ?

    When Titus was written matters because it helps determine whether, even if one finds a non-human, purely supernatural Jesus in this text as one certainly does in others, this reflects as original form of Christian belief or a later development.

    Facts matter. Details matter. Context matters. And they should matter for mythicists, just as they do for historians and scholars.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “Earl, are you suggesting that this author made no connection between eternal life and the Jesus whom he identified as Christ?”

      I have outlined what I consider the “connection” to be, as well as what it is not. What Titus 1:2-3 clearly shows is that there was no historical Jesus preaching eternal life and performing the redeeming acts which made that eternal life possible between God’s perceived promises about eternal life supposedly recorded in scripture by the prophets, and the revelation about that eternal life in the preaching of apostles like Paul. I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand that. Actually, the difficulty arises when one tries to insert something between the two steps of the salvation pattern which is not there and does not belong there, namely the life and career of an historical Jesus.

      The “connection” is spelled out throughout the epistles. At some unknown time in a heavenly setting, the Son underwent a sacrificial death, and the merits of that sacrifice have now been revealed by God to apostles like Paul, made available by God to confer salvation on those who have faith.

      The rest of your posting is just obfuscation.

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

    @Earl, are you suggesting that this author made no connection between eternal life and the Jesus whom he identified as Christ?

    When Titus was written matters because it helps determine whether, even if one finds a non-human, purely supernatural Jesus in this text as one certainly does in others, this reflects as original form of Christian belief or a later development.

    Facts matter. Details matter. Context matters. And they should matter for mythicists, just as they do for historians and scholars.

    • Earl Doherty

      Jim: “Earl, are you suggesting that this author made no connection between eternal life and the Jesus whom he identified as Christ?”

      I have outlined what I consider the “connection” to be, as well as what it is not. What Titus 1:2-3 clearly shows is that there was no historical Jesus preaching eternal life and performing the redeeming acts which made that eternal life possible between God’s perceived promises about eternal life supposedly recorded in scripture by the prophets, and the revelation about that eternal life in the preaching of apostles like Paul. I don’t know why it is so difficult to understand that. Actually, the difficulty arises when one tries to insert something between the two steps of the salvation pattern which is not there and does not belong there, namely the life and career of an historical Jesus.

      The “connection” is spelled out throughout the epistles. At some unknown time in a heavenly setting, the Son underwent a sacrificial death, and the merits of that sacrifice have now been revealed by God to apostles like Paul, made available by God to confer salvation on those who have faith.

      The rest of your posting is just obfuscation.

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard, what is the principal way by which scholars determine that a given passage has been derived from some other passage or document? What else than by looking at their common elements? If we had a story about some youngster going down a tunnel into the ground and undergoing some crazy experiences, and yet it did not contain any White Rabbit, any magic cakes, any flood of tears, any Mad Hatter or March Hare, any Cheshire Cat, any Queen yelling “Off with their heads!” would any scholar be likely to declare that it was derived from Alice in Wonderland? Would any scholar go so far as to say that the new story was actually a conscious representation of Alice in Wonderland? With all those key missing elements? Or might they propose instead that both were expressions of a common basic idea, with Alice a more developed version of the earlier type of story?

    You admit that the 2 Peter 1:16-18 scene fails to contain so many of the elements of the Synoptic Transfiguration Scene. But do you draw a natural conclusion from that? No, you simply claim that the writer of 2 Peter had no interest in including such details. Wow! What a crack explanation! But you wouldn’t believe how often NT scholars have used the “no interest” pseudo-argument to account for missing elements in texts where they ought to be found. Scholarship is riddled with such ‘explanations.’ Your lame “authors have a right to abbreviate a story” is accompanied by no argument as to why the author of 1 Peter would have chosen to abbreviate out so many key features of the Gospel story he was allegedly giving an account of.

    Let’s take a look at some of those features. From Matthew (which you claim 2 Peter used):

    1. Peter, James and John went with Jesus up onto a high mountain.
    2. Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.
    3. Elijah and Moses joined them.
    4. Peter suggested the setting of three tabernacles.
    5. A cloud appeared overhead, and the voice of God came from it.

    In 2 Peter’s rendition, no names but Peter’s are mentioned. It is a “holy mountain” rather than a “high mountain.” There is no ‘transfiguration’ of Jesus, no taking on a change of face or of brightness to clothing; a previous state of him is not mentioned, let alone any setting in an historical ministry of which this event was a part. It is simply “we saw him in majesty,” which best describes an isolated vision, especially as the word (epoptai) can be used of those who experience a theophany. And how could the writer pass up the dramatic appearance of Moses and Elijah, lending to the event that much more of the “power” which he is anxious to impress on his readers? No mention of the proposed tabernacles. No cloud to impart the voice from heaven.

    So on what basis will “critical and rigorous analysis” (such as Jim and his fellows practice) determine that 2 Peter is derived from the Gospels? On the basis of not including almost everything from the Gospel account? (Another example of New Testament math!) Rather, would not such an analysis conclude that 2 Peter is a less developed rendition of some source-tradition, while the Gospel scene (which can hardly be dependent on 2 Peter) is a different and more elaborate rendition of probably the same basic source-tradition? Which would make the 2 Peter version the more primitive—and thus the more accurate reflection of what actually would have happened, and in line with the mythicist theory.

    Genuine “critical and rigorous” considerations would also rule out dependence on a Gospel. The author of 2 Peter is using this anecdote to convince his readers of the power of Jesus and the promise of the Parousia. But why not use the resurrection? Surely that would have been a much greater illustration of Christ’s power, the Easter rising from the grave. (Scholars have noted this.) In the Synoptics, the Transfiguration is indeed appealed to as looking ahead to the mightier event of the resurrection, but not in 2 Peter. But if the latter knew no earthly rising from death, an appeal to this tradition of a visionary experience by Peter and others of the heavenly Christ due to arrive at the Parousia would be natural.

    Moreover, verse 19 is telling. This visionary experience is said to make the prophetic word of the prophets “more certain” that the promise of a new day will indeed come (the readers have expressed skepticism at the delay of the Parousia)? Scripture is “the lamp shining in the darkness”? Not the life and acts of Jesus himself, which are only secondary to scripture as giving hope to believers? Scholars have noted this oddity as well.

    It’s pretty clear to the unbiased observer (precious few of those around here, I realize) that 2 Peter is recounting a tradition, from well over half a century earlier, about a visionary experience of the Christ by the legendary figure of Peter—probably in much the same vein as the sort of “seeings” which Paul itemizes in 1 Cor. 15:5-8, his own included. That tradition had a little earlier reached Mark as well, who added elements to it to create a “transfiguration” scene in his story of Jesus of Nazareth, and the other two synoptic evangelists took it from him, making their own little changes.

    I’ll address the question of the words of God from heaven in another installment.

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

      The idea you expressed about the 2 Peter tradition is a good one. I don’t think it necessarily derives from a tradition much simpler than the gospel accounts. It could easily be a paraphrase of a fuller account. But it does have the feel of something like a Marian apparition. This may represent the tradition of Paul’s 500 or be the inspiration for Matthews mountain top vision (which has been suggested for the original end for Mark). Or it may be a wholly fictional account.

      On the other hand, it may be an account of the disciples having a vision with Christ on the mountain during his life. The gospels claim Jesus had a vision of God early in his career, and so he may have induced a vision in his disciples, in essence baptizing them. This tale may be a portrayal of that incident. A mystical experience can have a powerful effect on the seeker. I have read of powerful feelings of devotion for a spirit guide and great importance placed on the mystical experience. It may have had some importance for some Christian traditions, Rather than focus on the resurrection as salvation, they could view salvation as union with God. Note how John doesn’t include the last supper.

      In all, we can’t be sure 2 Peter is dependent on the canonical gospels. Thus 2 peter is not good evidence for the existence of that gospel in its time, but likewise is not strong evidence against either. Also it shows the need for caution regarding other passages one may suspect of dependence. a shared word or phrase need not mean dependence.

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

        To Mike,
        I can see you did not read my page on gospels dating: in it I explained that gMatthew has external evidence from texts dated from 90 to 100: Didache (before Christian additions), Barnabas’ epistle and Revelation. There is also some clue in the Didache & Revelation about gMatthew as being the origin rather than the opposite.
        But the main reason for 85-95 dating is: Matthew’s gospel was written when Pharisees (and teachers of the law) were turning into (righteous/virtuous/popular/respected) rabbis (teachers) and the Jewish religious leaders of the post-temple era, after the time of distress (following the destruction of Jerusalem): Mt5:20a,23:2-3a,6-7, corroborated by Josephus’ Antiquities,XXIII, I, published 93CE.Later in gMatthew, these Pharisees will be attacked, because they were viewed as competitors of Jewish Christianity: Mt23:13So it makes sense that the author of 2Peter knew of gMatthew, one generation after. Certainly that would explain:Mt17:5b RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”
        2Pet1:17 RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”BTW, if the reappearances in Corinthians 15:3-11 were known during Paul’s time, don’t you think they would reappear in the gospels, including gMark (written only 15 years after Paul’s times), in the same order?Matthew’s gospel was written when Pharisees (and teachers of the law) were turning into (righteous/virtuous/popular/respected) rabbis (teachers) and the Jewish religious leaders of the post-temple era, after the time of distress (following the destruction of Jerusalem): Mt5:20a,23:2-3a,6-7, corroborated by Josephus’ Antiquities,XXIII, I, published 93CE.Later in gMatthew, these Pharisees will be attacked, because they were viewed as competitors of Jewish Christianity: Mt23:13So it makes sense that the author of 2Peter knew of gMatthew, one generation after. Certainly that would explain:Mt17:5b RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”
        2Pet1:17 RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”BTW, if the reappearances in Corinthians 15:3-11 were known during Paul’s time, don’t you think they would reappear in the gospels, including gMark (written only 15 years after Paul’s times), in the same order?

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

      To Doherty,
      BM: About 2Peter, why are you still insisting that the forger, in the name of Peter, should have provided all kind of details for that ‘Holy Mountain’ passage. In Paul’s epistles, did Paul give many details about the Exodus (1Cor10:1-5)? No, only the ones necessary to make his point. Same thing for Abraham’s two sons and their respective mother (Gal4:21-23). And the author of Hebrews did the same regarding a lot of OT figures (Heb11), some with no details at all (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel & Prophets). An author will extract from a long story only what he/she needs in order to make a particular point.
      “The author of 2 Peter is using this anecdote to convince his readers of the power of Jesus and the promise of the Parousia. But why not use the resurrection?”
      BM: The “coming” in 2Pet1:16 relates to the first coming because it is associated with past witnessing. Therefore 1:17-18 is not about the Parousia, but about showing that Jesus is the Beloved Son, consequently having power. And nowhere in the epistle Jesus is said to be in heaven (contrary to 1Peter), nor there is any mention of future resurrections. The least that can be said is the author was not too keen about the Resurrection (and resurrections).
      “It’s pretty clear to the unbiased observer (precious few of those around here, I realize) that 2 Peter is recounting a tradition, from well over half a century earlier, about a visionary experience of the Christ by the legendary figure of Peter—probably in much the same vein as the sort of “seeings” which Paul itemizes in 1 Cor. 15:5-8, his own included. That tradition had a little earlier reached Mark as well, who added elements to it to create a “transfiguration” scene in his story of Jesus of Nazareth, and the other two synoptic evangelists took it from him, making their own little changes.”
      BM: I can see a lot of imagination here, more so if 1Cor15:3-11 is an interpolation, as I think it is (and so Robert Price). Furthermore “being with him on the holy mountain” (1:19) (instead of “seeing him …”) does not describe a mystical encounter. And why gMark did not say “holy mountain”?

  • Earl Doherty

    Bernard, what is the principal way by which scholars determine that a given passage has been derived from some other passage or document? What else than by looking at their common elements? If we had a story about some youngster going down a tunnel into the ground and undergoing some crazy experiences, and yet it did not contain any White Rabbit, any magic cakes, any flood of tears, any Mad Hatter or March Hare, any Cheshire Cat, any Queen yelling “Off with their heads!” would any scholar be likely to declare that it was derived from Alice in Wonderland? Would any scholar go so far as to say that the new story was actually a conscious representation of Alice in Wonderland? With all those key missing elements? Or might they propose instead that both were expressions of a common basic idea, with Alice a more developed version of the earlier type of story?

    You admit that the 2 Peter 1:16-18 scene fails to contain so many of the elements of the Synoptic Transfiguration Scene. But do you draw a natural conclusion from that? No, you simply claim that the writer of 2 Peter had no interest in including such details. Wow! What a crack explanation! But you wouldn’t believe how often NT scholars have used the “no interest” pseudo-argument to account for missing elements in texts where they ought to be found. Scholarship is riddled with such ‘explanations.’ Your lame “authors have a right to abbreviate a story” is accompanied by no argument as to why the author of 1 Peter would have chosen to abbreviate out so many key features of the Gospel story he was allegedly giving an account of.

    Let’s take a look at some of those features. From Matthew (which you claim 2 Peter used):

    1. Peter, James and John went with Jesus up onto a high mountain.
    2. Jesus’ face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white.
    3. Elijah and Moses joined them.
    4. Peter suggested the setting of three tabernacles.
    5. A cloud appeared overhead, and the voice of God came from it.

    In 2 Peter’s rendition, no names but Peter’s are mentioned. It is a “holy mountain” rather than a “high mountain.” There is no ‘transfiguration’ of Jesus, no taking on a change of face or of brightness to clothing; a previous state of him is not mentioned, let alone any setting in an historical ministry of which this event was a part. It is simply “we saw him in majesty,” which best describes an isolated vision, especially as the word (epoptai) can be used of those who experience a theophany. And how could the writer pass up the dramatic appearance of Moses and Elijah, lending to the event that much more of the “power” which he is anxious to impress on his readers? No mention of the proposed tabernacles. No cloud to impart the voice from heaven.

    So on what basis will “critical and rigorous analysis” (such as Jim and his fellows practice) determine that 2 Peter is derived from the Gospels? On the basis of not including almost everything from the Gospel account? (Another example of New Testament math!) Rather, would not such an analysis conclude that 2 Peter is a less developed rendition of some source-tradition, while the Gospel scene (which can hardly be dependent on 2 Peter) is a different and more elaborate rendition of probably the same basic source-tradition? Which would make the 2 Peter version the more primitive—and thus the more accurate reflection of what actually would have happened, and in line with the mythicist theory.

    Genuine “critical and rigorous” considerations would also rule out dependence on a Gospel. The author of 2 Peter is using this anecdote to convince his readers of the power of Jesus and the promise of the Parousia. But why not use the resurrection? Surely that would have been a much greater illustration of Christ’s power, the Easter rising from the grave. (Scholars have noted this.) In the Synoptics, the Transfiguration is indeed appealed to as looking ahead to the mightier event of the resurrection, but not in 2 Peter. But if the latter knew no earthly rising from death, an appeal to this tradition of a visionary experience by Peter and others of the heavenly Christ due to arrive at the Parousia would be natural.

    Moreover, verse 19 is telling. This visionary experience is said to make the prophetic word of the prophets “more certain” that the promise of a new day will indeed come (the readers have expressed skepticism at the delay of the Parousia)? Scripture is “the lamp shining in the darkness”? Not the life and acts of Jesus himself, which are only secondary to scripture as giving hope to believers? Scholars have noted this oddity as well.

    It’s pretty clear to the unbiased observer (precious few of those around here, I realize) that 2 Peter is recounting a tradition, from well over half a century earlier, about a visionary experience of the Christ by the legendary figure of Peter—probably in much the same vein as the sort of “seeings” which Paul itemizes in 1 Cor. 15:5-8, his own included. That tradition had a little earlier reached Mark as well, who added elements to it to create a “transfiguration” scene in his story of Jesus of Nazareth, and the other two synoptic evangelists took it from him, making their own little changes.

    I’ll address the question of the words of God from heaven in another installment.

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

      The idea you expressed about the 2 Peter tradition is a good one. I don’t think it necessarily derives from a tradition much simpler than the gospel accounts. It could easily be a paraphrase of a fuller account. But it does have the feel of something like a Marian apparition. This may represent the tradition of Paul’s 500 or be the inspiration for Matthews mountain top vision (which has been suggested for the original end for Mark). Or it may be a wholly fictional account.

      On the other hand, it may be an account of the disciples having a vision with Christ on the mountain during his life. The gospels claim Jesus had a vision of God early in his career, and so he may have induced a vision in his disciples, in essence baptizing them. This tale may be a portrayal of that incident. A mystical experience can have a powerful effect on the seeker. I have read of powerful feelings of devotion for a spirit guide and great importance placed on the mystical experience. It may have had some importance for some Christian traditions, Rather than focus on the resurrection as salvation, they could view salvation as union with God. Note how John doesn’t include the last supper.

      In all, we can’t be sure 2 Peter is dependent on the canonical gospels. Thus 2 peter is not good evidence for the existence of that gospel in its time, but likewise is not strong evidence against either. Also it shows the need for caution regarding other passages one may suspect of dependence. a shared word or phrase need not mean dependence.

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

        To Mike,
        I can see you did not read my page on gospels dating: in it I explained that gMatthew has external evidence from texts dated from 90 to 100: Didache (before Christian additions), Barnabas’ epistle and Revelation. There is also some clue in the Didache & Revelation about gMatthew as being the origin rather than the opposite.

        But the main reason for 85-95 dating is: Matthew’s gospel was written when Pharisees (and teachers of the law) were turning into (righteous/virtuous/popular/respected) rabbis (teachers) and the Jewish religious leaders of the post-temple era, after the time of distress (following the destruction of Jerusalem): Mt5:20a,23:2-3a,6-7, corroborated by Josephus’ Antiquities,XXIII, I, published 93CE. Later in gMatthew, these Pharisees will be attacked, because they were viewed as competitors of Jewish Christianity: Mt23:13
        So it makes sense that the author of 2Peter knew of gMatthew, one generation after. Certainly that would explain:
        Mt17:5b RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”
        2Pet1:17 RSV “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased”

        BTW, if the reappearances in Corinthians 15:3-11 were known during Paul’s time, don’t you think they would reappear in the gospels, including gMark (written only 15 years after Paul’s times), in the same order?

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

      To Doherty,
      BM: About 2Peter, why are you still insisting that the forger, in the name of Peter, should have provided all kind of details for that ‘Holy Mountain’ passage. In Paul’s epistles, did Paul give many details about the Exodus (1Cor10:1-5)? No, only the ones necessary to make his point. Same thing for Abraham’s two sons and their respective mother (Gal4:21-23). And the author of Hebrews did the same regarding a lot of OT figures (Heb11), some with no details at all (Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel & Prophets). An author will extract from a long story only what he/she needs in order to make a particular point.

      Doherty wrote: “The author of 2 Peter is using this anecdote to convince his readers of the power of Jesus and the promise of the Parousia. But why not use the resurrection?”

      BM: The “coming” in 2Pet1:16 relates to the first coming because it is associated with past witnessing. Therefore 1:17-18 is not about the Parousia, but about showing that Jesus is the Beloved Son, consequently having power. And nowhere in the epistle Jesus is said to be in heaven (contrary to 1Peter), nor there is any mention of future resurrections. The least that can be said is the author was not too keen about the Resurrection (and resurrections).

      “It’s pretty clear to the unbiased observer (precious few of those around here, I realize) that 2 Peter is recounting a tradition, from well over half a century earlier, about a visionary experience of the Christ by the legendary figure of Peter—probably in much the same vein as the sort of “seeings” which Paul itemizes in 1 Cor. 15:5-8, his own included. That tradition had a little earlier reached Mark as well, who added elements to it to create a “transfiguration” scene in his story of Jesus of Nazareth, and the other two synoptic evangelists took it from him, making their own little changes.”

      BM: I can see a lot of imagination here, more so if 1Cor15:3-11 is an interpolation, as I think it is (and so Robert Price). Furthermore “being with him on the holy mountain” (1:19) (instead of “seeing him …”) does not describe a mystical encounter. And why gMark did not say “holy mountain”?

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

    Earl, I find it ironic that you find my arguments so insensible and demand such a limited reading of the text given your above defense of your mumbo jumbo on kata sarka. We have a perfectly reasonable and uncontroversial understanding of it, but you instead make an appeal to a yet to be determined mystical something another.  Why do we need it? If we can all speculate on possible mystical understanding what else can we come up with in the text? Paul and co. has been kind enough to use the term enough that we have a good understanding of its use.  Against that, baseless speculation doesn’t carry much weight.
    “You and other historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.” Again, historicists simply do not do this. You know they don’t, they just don’t see any need to assume your perspectives because there is not enough evidence to support it.  You are making up positions to pin on your opponents so you can avoid the real argument.
    Back to my argument. First, I don’t know what “More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” Has to do with “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture”
    Next, I say that I agree that “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture” and the hope was for eternal life.  I also agree that Paul and Pseudo- Paul believe the hope was promised at the beginning of time. I will add that the event/s the hope was based on was also promised from the beginning of time and revealed in scripture. The events in question are, as you say, the death and rising of Jesus, the Son of God.
     This is found in the other instances of the Titus formula such as 2 Tim 1:9-11, Eph 3;5-11, Col 1:19-29 (which stresses the involvement of Jesus flesh, whatever that might mean), 1 Tim 3:16 and 1 tim 2:4-7(a clearly an HJ work not only in its mention Pilate, but also 2:4-7 links the events that the hope is based on to Jesus being human), and the closely related form found in the genuine Pauline letters, 2 Cor 2:6-8 and Gal 4:1-7. Unlike Titus, all of these present the events that precipitated the hope of eternal life.  There is no hint that they are not fulfilled until Paul preaches them. In fact, since Paul is not among the first Christians, we must conclude that the events, even if they are only fulfilled in the proclaiming of scriptural interpretation, were fulfilled before Paul preached them.

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

    Earl, I find it ironic that you find my arguments so insensible and demand such a limited reading of the text given your above defense of your mumbo jumbo on kata sarka. We have a perfectly reasonable and uncontroversial understanding of it, but you instead make an appeal to a yet to be determined mystical something another.  Why do we need it? If we can all speculate on possible mystical understanding what else can we come up with in the text? Paul and co. has been kind enough to use the term enough that we have a good understanding of its use.  Against that, baseless speculation doesn’t carry much weight.

    “You and other historicists have to stop thinking and claiming literality for so many things in the epistles which simply do not conform to our modern scientific mindset.” Again, historicists simply do not do this. You know they don’t, they just don’t see any need to assume your perspectives because there is not enough evidence to support it.  You are making up positions to pin on your opponents so you can avoid the real argument.

    Back to my argument. First, I don’t know what “More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” Has to do with “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture”

    Next, I say that I agree that “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture” and the hope was for eternal life.  I also agree that Paul and Pseudo- Paul believe the hope was promised at the beginning of time. I will add that the event/s the hope was based on was also promised from the beginning of time and revealed in scripture. The events in question are, as you say, the death and rising of Jesus, the Son of God.

     This is found in the other instances of the Titus formula such as 2 Tim 1:9-11, Eph 3;5-11, Col 1:19-29 (which stresses the involvement of Jesus flesh, whatever that might mean), 1 Tim 3:16 and 1 tim 2:4-7(a clearly an HJ work not only in its mention Pilate, but also 2:4-7 links the events that the hope is based on to Jesus being human), and the closely related form found in the genuine Pauline letters, 2 Cor 2:6-8 and Gal 4:1-7. Unlike Titus, all of these present the events that precipitated the hope of eternal life.  There is no hint that they are not fulfilled until Paul preaches them. In fact, since Paul is not among the first Christians, we must conclude that the events, even if they are only fulfilled in the proclaiming of scriptural interpretation, were fulfilled before Paul preached them.

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

    Now Earl, if you are still with me and not creating another version of this argument to answer instead, as you did here,
    “Or how Mike’s “presume” and “suppose” (which I think just about any mainstream scholar would also have recourse to explain the difficulty in that passage, as they do in so many passages I have pointed out in my book) represents “critical and rigorous analysis”. Is it your position that I am a fraud because I “choose to reject” such blatant ‘reading into’ a passage something that isn’t there?”
    And then you claim “he now garbles this into some kind of accusation by me that everyone here is presuming an HJ without critical thought and calls it a “lie,” an utter non-sequitur.” You did misrepresent my position, and “just about any mainstream scholar”.  You clearly are a fraud, you don’t have the integrity required for real scholarship and are happy having nitwits blow smoke up your ass about how smart you are for exposing some great cover-up with a book that is agreed to be sub-par by even one of your two scholarly supporters.
    Back to Titus. Let us compare the passage in question with a very similar passage from the definitely HJ 1 Timothy and also 2 Timothy(who’s opinion on Jesus’ historicity is also likely HJ, due to his claim of Davidic decent).

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

    Now Earl, if you are still with me and not creating another version of this argument to answer instead, as you did here,
    “Or how Mike’s “presume” and “suppose” (which I think just about any mainstream scholar would also have recourse to explain the difficulty in that passage, as they do in so many passages I have pointed out in my book) represents “critical and rigorous analysis”. Is it your position that I am a fraud because I “choose to reject” such blatant ‘reading into’ a passage something that isn’t there?”
    And then you claim “he now garbles this into some kind of accusation by me that everyone here is presuming an HJ without critical thought and calls it a “lie,” an utter non-sequitur.” You did misrepresent my position, and “just about any mainstream scholar”.  You clearly are a fraud, you don’t have the integrity required for real scholarship and are happy having nitwits blow smoke up your ass about how smart you are for exposing some great cover-up with a book that is agreed to be sub-par by even one of your two scholarly supporters.
    Back to Titus. Let us compare the passage in question with a very similar passage from the definitely HJ 1 Timothy and also 2 Timothy(who’s opinion on Jesus’ historicity is also likely HJ, due to his claim of Davidic decent).

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

    Back to Titus. Let us compare the passage in question with a very similar passage from the definitely HJ 1 Timothy and also 2 Timothy(who’s opinion on Jesus’ historicity is also likely HJ, due to his claim of Davidic decent).

    Titus
    1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

    1 Timothy
    (God our Savior, ) 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

    2 Timothy
    9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
    1 Timothy has no problem inserting an event from the life of his human Christ into the formula. Why? Because the hope of eternal life cannot be separated from the things that were done to accomplish it. It is the gospel message, Jesus, “born of a woman” when the appropriate time came ( Gal 4:1-7), crucified  ( 2 Cor 2:6-8), and by doing so breaking the power of death (2 Tim 1:9-11) That is the gospel, and it is the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life. Paul now is entrusted with this gospel, and his preaching (and other apostles) is manifesting that promise to those hear. In fact without the preachers, the death of Jesus would not be understood to be the gospel. It would still be a mystery.  We don’t need to “suppose” an unattested concept of the gospel as you do to understand what pseudo-Paul means here or in any of the other passages. Your instance that there is no room for a historical Jesus is false; your opinion that no writer would express himself that way is only your opinion.

    10 “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”, is a clear parallel of “but has in due time manifested His word through preaching” and “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” and should be understood the same way.  There is no need to understand Paul’s preaching as manifesting or fulfilling the “word” for the first time (or last time, as Titus equates the parousia with the fulfillment of the hope, 2:3), the wording does not say that, and only says that in the due time was revealed by preaching.

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

    Back to Titus. Let us compare the passage in question with a very similar passage from the definitely HJ 1 Timothy and also 2 Timothy(who’s opinion on Jesus’ historicity is also likely HJ, due to his claim of Davidic decent).

    Titus
    1 Paul, a bondservant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the faith of God’s elect and the acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began, 3 but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;

    1 Timothy
    (God our Savior, ) 4 who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time, 7 for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

    2 Timothy
    9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles.
    1 Timothy has no problem inserting an event from the life of his human Christ into the formula. Why? Because the hope of eternal life cannot be separated from the things that were done to accomplish it. It is the gospel message, Jesus, “born of a woman” when the appropriate time came ( Gal 4:1-7), crucified  ( 2 Cor 2:6-8), and by doing so breaking the power of death (2 Tim 1:9-11) That is the gospel, and it is the fulfillment of the promise of eternal life. Paul now is entrusted with this gospel, and his preaching (and other apostles) is manifesting that promise to those hear. In fact without the preachers, the death of Jesus would not be understood to be the gospel. It would still be a mystery.  We don’t need to “suppose” an unattested concept of the gospel as you do to understand what pseudo-Paul means here or in any of the other passages. Your instance that there is no room for a historical Jesus is false; your opinion that no writer would express himself that way is only your opinion.

    10 “but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel”, is a clear parallel of “but has in due time manifested His word through preaching” and “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time,” and should be understood the same way.  There is no need to understand Paul’s preaching as manifesting or fulfilling the “word” for the first time (or last time, as Titus equates the parousia with the fulfillment of the hope, 2:3), the wording does not say that, and only says that in the due time was revealed by preaching.

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

    You see, Earl, that’s pcisely what makes your stance so laughably ridiculous. You are perfectly happy to say “At some unknown time…the Son underwent a sacrificial death…” and think that is perfectly self evident, but if someone adds “earthly” where you have “heavenly” you think that they are talking nonsense. But Paul doesn’t specify a heavenly setting for the crucifixion. And so you seem to be demanding some sort of proof for the mainstream historians’ stance that you are either unwilling or unable to offer yourself. And you seem completely oblivious to the fact that you are inserting things in between the lines of the epistles at least as much as those whose views you treat with such disdain.

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

      James F. McGrath wrote:
      “But Paul doesn’t specify a heavenly setting for the crucifixion”

      BM: True, but Paul did allude that sacrifice took place in Zion (or, at least, Jesus, was from Zion). This is a repeat of the posting I think is the one Doherty found “incomprehensible”. I still did not have any comments on it, despite repeated requests:

      To Doherty:Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.” I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro11:26-27 Darby”And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “the Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel (Ge32:28)]; for this is My covenant with them [Jews], when I take away their sins.””a) What “is written” is a combination of parts from two OT passages, with alterations by Paul in order to fit his agenda (the Jews will convert, even if they didn’t so far!):- Isa59:20-21a NKJV “”The Redeemer [here, it is God himself!] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD.”As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: …””- Isa27:9a NKJV “Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: …”b) For Paul, the “Deliverer” (Saviour) of the Jews is undoubtedly Christ, by his death for atonement of sins. This is corroborated by:- Ro3:9 NKJV “… we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin …”- Gal4:4-5a YLT “God sent forth His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that those under law [that would include Jews!] he may redeem, …”- Gal1:3b-4a NKJV “… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us …”- Ro5:8b Darby “… we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.”c) And Paul kept “Zion” despite his rewriting. But why did he substitute “to” by “out of”?Likely in order to take in account:- Jesus becomes the “Deliverer” when performing his redeeming act “out of” Jerusalem/Judea.or/and, if Paul understood “Zion” meant the whole of Israel,- The “Deliverer” (Jesus) is “out of” (from) Zion.d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

       

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

    You see, Earl, that’s pcisely what makes your stance so laughably ridiculous. You are perfectly happy to say “At some unknown time…the Son underwent a sacrificial death…” and think that is perfectly self evident, but if someone adds “earthly” where you have “heavenly” you think that they are talking nonsense. But Paul doesn’t specify a heavenly setting for the crucifixion. And so you seem to be demanding some sort of proof for the mainstream historians’ stance that you are either unwilling or unable to offer yourself. And you seem completely oblivious to the fact that you are inserting things in between the lines of the epistles at least as much as those whose views you treat with such disdain.

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

      James F. McGrath wrote:
      “But Paul doesn’t specify a heavenly setting for the crucifixion”

      BM: True, but Paul did allude that sacrifice took place in Zion (or, at least, Jesus was from Zion). This is a repeat of the posting I think is the one Doherty found “incomprehensible”. I still do not have any comments on it, despite repeated requests:

      To Doherty:
      Doherty wrote in his book: “Even in regard to Jesus’ death and resurrection, to which many of those documents [Christian ones outside the gospels] refer, there is no earthly setting provided for such events.”

      I beg to differ: Let’s look at Ro11:26-27 Darby
      “And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “the Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel (Ge32:28)]; for this is My covenant with them [Jews], when I take away their sins.””

      Explanations:

      a) What “is written” is a combination of parts from two OT passages, with alterations by Paul in order to fit his agenda (the Jews will convert, even if they didn’t so far!):
      - Isa59:20-21a NKJV “”The Redeemer [here, it is God himself!] will come to Zion, and to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” Says the LORD.”As for Me,” says the LORD, “this is My covenant with them: …””
      - Isa27:9a NKJV “Therefore by this the iniquity of Jacob will be covered; and this is all the fruit of taking away his sin: …”

      b) For Paul, the “Deliverer” (Saviour) of the Jews is undoubtedly Christ, by his death for atonement of sins. This is corroborated by:
      - Ro3:9 NKJV “… we have previously charged both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin …”
      - Gal4:4-5a YLT “God sent forth His Son, come of a woman, come under law, that those under law [that would include Jews!] he may redeem, …”
      - Gal1:3b-4a NKJV “… Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us …”
      - Ro5:8b Darby “… we being still sinners, Christ has died for us.”

      c) And Paul kept “Zion” despite his rewriting. But why did he substitute “to” by “out of”? Likely in order to take in account:
      - Jesus becomes the “Deliverer” when performing his redeeming act “out of” Jerusalem/Judea.
      or/and,
      if Paul understood “Zion” meant the whole of Israel,
      - The “Deliverer” (Jesus) is “out of” (from) Zion.

      d) In these days, “Zion” (not to be confused with Mount Zion) meant the heartland of the Jews. Augustine (4-5th cent.) will be the first one to relocate Zion in heaven in order to serve his agenda.

  • Earl Doherty

    You know, Mike, the biggest problem with you, as it is with so many other anti-mythicists, is that you don’t have a clue about the arguments of the mythicist case. If you don’t know or understand those arguments, much less take them into account, it’s very easy just to dump insult and ridicule on it and on mythicists themselves. And you show that ignorance at every turn.

    If you even knew of mainstream scholarship’s analysis of a phrase like ‘kata sarka’ in the various commentaries on NT texts, you wouldn’t so blithely say that there exists a single reasonable and uncontroversial understanding of it. But it’s not up to me to educate you about historicism.

    Mike: “First, I don’t know what “More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” has to do with “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture”.”

    A prime example of the ignorance I spoke of. Why don’t you ask Jim? He’s read chapter 7, in which I discuss 1 Cor. 15:12-16, saying this (p.79-80):

         JNGNM: “Such a meaning of “witness” in the 1 Corinthians passage above (verse 15) is strongly supported by what follows this verb: kata tou theou, or “against God.” Translators often seem uncertain of the exact import of this phrase (the NEB’s “we are…false witnesses of God”), but Bauer’s lexicon declares it as meaning “give testimony in contradiction to God.” The idea that Paul is trying to get across here is that if in fact God did not raise Jesus from death (which would have to be the conclusion, he says, if the human dead are not raised) then, rhetorically speaking, Paul and other apostles have been misinterpreting and contradicting God and lying when they say Jesus was resurrected.
         Paul is saying that knowledge about Jesus’ raising has come from God, and that his own preaching testimony, true or false, relates to information which has come from God—in other words, through revelation (i.e., in the scriptures). Not history, not apostolic tradition about recent events on earth. In all this discussion about the actuality of Christ’s resurrection, Paul’s standard is one of faith, faith based on God’s testimony—in the sacred writings. The latter is the fundamental source of knowledge derived from God. Historical human witness plays no part.”

    Yet another example of an epistle writer saying something clearly amenable to the mythicist case, and yet scholars refuse to open their eyes to the natural implication of the text. In addition, let’s look at some of the passages you appeal to:

    2 Timothy 1:9-11: Nothing about an earthly Jesus here. God’s grace has been brought to light by the revelation of our Savior Jesus Christ. (For such a translation, you can see my discussion of this passage on p.262, or in The Jesus Puzzle, p.117-118. “Epiphaneia is never used anywhere else to refer to an incarnated life, and it doesn’t here.) No mention of Jesus’ life or acts. In fact, in 1:10 we have another example of a Titus 1:2-3 statement: “(God) has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” Not Jesus doing it, but God; not God doing it through the life and death of Jesus in the recent past, but through the Gospel being preached by Paul, a pattern exactly as is presented in Titus 1:3.

    Same thing in Ephesians 3:5-11. The “secret of Christ” is unknown to the human race for long generations; now “it has been revealed by the Spirit to his dedicated apostles and prophets.” (Yet another Titus 1:2-3 type statement with two steps and no HJ between them.) No revelation effected through Christ himself on earth. The hidden purpose of God, hidden for long ages, is brought to light through the church (v. 9-10), not through Jesus and his acts.  In verse 11, God achieves “his age-long purpose…in Christ Jesus Our Lord,” the latter phrase referring to Christ as a spiritual agency and channel. You can get Jim to tell you about the meaning of the phrase “in Christ” and others like it (or perhaps he hasn’t yet read the next chapter), which appears throughout the Pauline corpus, and even scholars recognize that this is not some shorthand form for “Jesus during his life on earth” but often refers to a mystical interaction between believers and the spiritual Son, or to God in contact with humanity through his spiritual intermediary (as in Romans 6:11, “Regard yourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus”).

    1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning that, rather than reflecting the ‘heavenly man’ concept presented in other passages we’ve already debated.

    2 Cor. 2:6-8 must be a typo on your part. As for Gal. 4:1-7, if Jim gets that far (ch. 15), that passage can be taken apart to show that once again, it is God who is doing the action in the present time through Paul’s preaching, and that only the spirit of the Son is acting in the present.

    As for your next two postings, there is a limit to what I can argue here, and as you consistently garble things, both in what you post and what I post in response, I don’t feel any obligation to spend time on everything you might say. I really want to get on to continuing with Bernard’s business of 2 Peter, but now that may have to wait until tomorrow.

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

      To Doherty,
      “Paul is saying that knowledge about Jesus’ raising has come from God” (JNGNM).
      I agree. And that would make 1Cor15:3-8 an interpolation. Doesn’t it?

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

      Doherty wrote:
      “1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning that, rather than reflecting the ‘heavenly man’ concept presented in other passages we’ve already debated.”

      BM: That was not much debated on this post. This is how you defended that:
      “But it’s not “sudden”; these passages [Rom5:15, Php2:8, 1Cor15:21,15:47] are quite unlike any others that simply refer to male human beings as “men”. They involve spiritual and mystical concepts on a grand scale, salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles, and so on. In the last passage, Paul actually defines that “man” as entirely heavenly and spiritual, different and distinct from the first Adam, who was earthly and made of earthly stuff. But I guess you missed that.”

      BM: How can “spiritual and mystical concepts … salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles,” totally change the meaning of ‘anthropos’ for Jesus? These concepts appear all over the Pauline epistles and are not peculiar to the passages with Jesus as a man.
      Furthermore, in 1Cor15:47, there is no “heavenly man”, but “The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] from heaven.” with “from heaven” referring to the pre-existence. The first is Adam, considered a flesh & blood (always) earthy man. And the second one is as much of a man than Adam, except that Jesus pre-existed in heaven (as a spirit), his place of origin. It does not make sense to indicate the first man as a human, but the second “man” should be understood as not a man at all but strictly a figure in heaven.

      And in 1 Timothy 2:4-6: “who [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.”

      Salvation is mentioned. But I am sure you would not understand “men” as figures in heaven. However both “men” and “man” show as ‘anthropos’ in the Greek, side by side, and you want us to believe that “men” stands for humans, and “man” for a heavenly entity!

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

      To Doherty,

      Doherty wrote:
      “1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning that, rather than reflecting the ‘heavenly man’ concept presented in other passages we’ve already debated.”

      BM: That was not much debated on this post. This is how you defended that:
      “But it’s not “sudden”; these passages [Rom5:15, Php2:8, 1Cor15:21,15:47] are quite unlike any others that simply refer to male human beings as “men”. They involve spiritual and mystical concepts on a grand scale, salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles, and so on. In the last passage, Paul actually defines that “man” as entirely heavenly and spiritual, different and distinct from the first Adam, who was earthly and made of earthly stuff. But I guess you missed that.”

      BM: How can “spiritual and mystical concepts … salvation history at the beginning and end of time, resurrection principles,” totally change the meaning of ‘anthropos’ for Jesus? These concepts appear all over the Pauline epistles and are not peculiar to the passages with Jesus as a man.
      Furthermore, in 1Cor15:47, there is no “heavenly man”, but “The first man [is] of the earth, earthy: the second man [is] from heaven.”, with “from heaven” referring to the pre-existence. The first is Adam, considered a flesh & blood (always) earthly man. And the second one is as much of a man as Adam, except that Jesus pre-existed in heaven (as a spirit), his place of origin. It does not make sense to indicate the first man was a human, but the second “man” should be understood as not a man at all but strictly a figure in heaven.

      And in 1 Timothy 2:4-6: “who [God] desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, the testimony to which was borne at the proper time.”

      Salvation is mentioned. But I am sure you do not understand “men” as figures in heaven. However both “men” and “man” show as ‘anthropos’ in the Greek, side by side, and you want us to believe that “men” stands for humans, and “man” for a heavenly entity!

  • Earl Doherty

    You know, Mike, the biggest problem with you, as it is with so many other anti-mythicists, is that you don’t have a clue about the arguments of the mythicist case. If you don’t know or understand those arguments, much less take them into account, it’s very easy just to dump insult and ridicule on it and on mythicists themselves. And you show that ignorance at every turn.

    If you even knew of mainstream scholarship’s analysis of a phrase like ‘kata sarka’ in the various commentaries on NT texts, you wouldn’t so blithely say that there exists a single reasonable and uncontroversial understanding of it. But it’s not up to me to educate you about historicism.

    Mike: “First, I don’t know what “More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.” has to do with “Paul’s hope was based on an event he believed was revealed by God in scripture”.”

    A prime example of the ignorance I spoke of. Why don’t you ask Jim? He’s read chapter 7, in which I discuss 1 Cor. 15:12-16, saying this (p.79-80):

         JNGNM: “Such a meaning of “witness” in the 1 Corinthians passage above (verse 15) is strongly supported by what follows this verb: kata tou theou, or “against God.” Translators often seem uncertain of the exact import of this phrase (the NEB’s “we are…false witnesses of God”), but Bauer’s lexicon declares it as meaning “give testimony in contradiction to God.” The idea that Paul is trying to get across here is that if in fact God did not raise Jesus from death (which would have to be the conclusion, he says, if the human dead are not raised) then, rhetorically speaking, Paul and other apostles have been misinterpreting and contradicting God and lying when they say Jesus was resurrected.
         Paul is saying that knowledge about Jesus’ raising has come from God, and that his own preaching testimony, true or false, relates to information which has come from God—in other words, through revelation (i.e., in the scriptures). Not history, not apostolic tradition about recent events on earth. In all this discussion about the actuality of Christ’s resurrection, Paul’s standard is one of faith, faith based on God’s testimony—in the sacred writings. The latter is the fundamental source of knowledge derived from God. Historical human witness plays no part.”

    Yet another example of an epistle writer saying something clearly amenable to the mythicist case, and yet scholars refuse to open their eyes to the natural implication of the text. In addition, let’s look at some of the passages you appeal to:

    2 Timothy 1:9-11: Nothing about an earthly Jesus here. God’s grace has been brought to light by the revelation of our Savior Jesus Christ. (For such a translation, you can see my discussion of this passage on p.262, or in The Jesus Puzzle, p.117-118. “Epiphaneia is never used anywhere else to refer to an incarnated life, and it doesn’t here.) No mention of Jesus’ life or acts. In fact, in 1:10 we have another example of a Titus 1:2-3 statement: “(God) has broken the power of death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel.” Not Jesus doing it, but God; not God doing it through the life and death of Jesus in the recent past, but through the Gospel being preached by Paul, a pattern exactly as is presented in Titus 1:3.

    Same thing in Ephesians 3:5-11. The “secret of Christ” is unknown to the human race for long generations; now “it has been revealed by the Spirit to his dedicated apostles and prophets.” (Yet another Titus 1:2-3 type statement with two steps and no HJ between them.) No revelation effected through Christ himself on earth. The hidden purpose of God, hidden for long ages, is brought to light through the church (v. 9-10), not through Jesus and his acts.  In verse 11, God achieves “his age-long purpose…in Christ Jesus Our Lord,” the latter phrase referring to Christ as a spiritual agency and channel. You can get Jim to tell you about the meaning of the phrase “in Christ” and others like it (or perhaps he hasn’t yet read the next chapter), which appears throughout the Pauline corpus, and even scholars recognize that this is not some shorthand form for “Jesus during his life on earth” but often refers to a mystical interaction between believers and the spiritual Son, or to God in contact with humanity through his spiritual intermediary (as in Romans 6:11, “Regard yourselves as dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus”).

    1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning that, rather than reflecting the ‘heavenly man’ concept presented in other passages we’ve already debated.

    2 Cor. 2:6-8 must be a typo on your part. As for Gal. 4:1-7, if Jim gets that far (ch. 15), that passage can be taken apart to show that once again, it is God who is doing the action in the present time through Paul’s preaching, and that only the spirit of the Son is acting in the present.

    As for your next two postings, there is a limit to what I can argue here, and as you consistently garble things, both in what you post and what I post in response, I don’t feel any obligation to spend time on everything you might say. I really want to get on to continuing with Bernard’s business of 2 Peter, but now that may have to wait until tomorrow.

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

      To Doherty (emphasis mine),
      “Paul is saying that knowledge about Jesus’ raising has come from God … In all this discussion about the actuality of Christ’s resurrection, Paul’s standard is one of faith, faith based on God’s testimony—in the sacred writings. The latter is the fundamental source of knowledge derived from God. Historical human witness plays no part.” (JNGNM).

      I agree.
      But that would make 1Cor15:3-11 (with Jesus’ reappearances to many people) an interpolation!
      Doesn’t it?
      Why not?

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

    Earl you must be getting tired, this is pure crap from you. You have absolutely no idea what is being said in 1 Cor 15. He is saying that they misrepresenting God, because they say he raised Jesus from the dead. Not that they are saying God lied to them. I really don’t know how you come up with this s#%t.

    I probably won’t look up your discussion on the unusual translations you have chosen. I don’t have a lot of faith in your skill in this arena.  Your attempt at being evasive here is a bit ham handed.

    Yes, 1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning “anthropos”, rather than speculating it means something else.

    I hope this doesn’t go on for 8 more chapters to here what you have to say about Galatians. You have churned out 7 boring, poorly argued chapters. You really haven’t added much value to your book by commenting here, and in fact, have likely only put it in worse light. You should spend less time on what I say and more on whether your legacy will be a internet era version of “Chariots of the Gods”.

    • kilopapaxray

      Mike, are you really not aware of how out of your league that you seem to be in this discussion?  

      • Earl Doherty

        He certainly isn’t, and he certainly is.

        Anyway, I apologize to those aboard for dropping off the face of the Matrix a couple of weeks ago. Someone very close to me suddenly had to undergo an emergency operation and it was touch and go for a few days.

        But I see I didn’t miss much from Mike and Bernard.

        It looks to me like Jim has given up at Chapter 7. I thought perhaps he had decided to read the entire book before proceeding any further with his review. Maybe he has, and is now lying beside his desk struck down in amazement at the strength of the mythicist case!

        Or maybe not. Either way, he is disappointing a lot of people by throwing in the towel, for whatever reason.

        All the best,
        Earl Doherty

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

    Earl you must be getting tired, this is pure crap from you. You have absolutely no idea what is being said in 1 Cor 15. He is saying that they misrepresenting God, because they say he raised Jesus from the dead. Not that they are saying God lied to them. I really don’t know how you come up with this s#%t.

    I probably won’t look up your discussion on the unusual translations you have chosen. I don’t have a lot of faith in your skill in this arena.  Your attempt at being evasive here is a bit ham handed.

    Yes, 1 Timothy 2:4-7 only makes Jesus human if you simply accept “anthropos” as meaning “anthropos”, rather than speculating it means something else.

    I hope this doesn’t go on for 8 more chapters to here what you have to say about Galatians. You have churned out 7 boring, poorly argued chapters. You really haven’t added much value to your book by commenting here, and in fact, have likely only put it in worse light. You should spend less time on what I say and more on whether your legacy will be a internet era version of “Chariots of the Gods”.

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

    @Earl and Bernard, I think that to the extent that one views Paul’s talk of the heavenly man or “man from heaven” in 1 Corinthians 15 as pre-existent, it makes it more plausible to understand Paul or one of his imitators to have been talking about the idea of a heavenly Adam, as Philo and others did. But in 1 Corinthians 15, Paul says that the soulish human comes first and only then the spiritual, and that the last Adam, Jesus, became a life-giving spirit, as the first became a living soul. And so it seems to me unnecessary to read pre-existence into Paul’s thinking here.

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

      to Dr. McGrath,
      In 1 Corinthians, pre-existence is also implied in 8:6 and 10:4.

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

    @BernardMuller:disqus , I’m open to the possibility that Paul thought of Jesus as having pre-existed in some sense. But I am struck by the fact that there is so little that points in that direction. The language of agency is applied to him, but whether that meant that he was the mediator of the original creation, or the human with whom God’s Wisdom, the mediator of creation, had become united, or simply that he was the mediator of the new creation, is hard to say. But certainly the reference to Christ having been the rock is symbolic/typological, and makes no sense if one takes it literally – even by ancient standards.

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

      to Dr. McGrath,
      In the later epistles, the pre-existence is also implied in Gal4:4, Php2:6-8 & Rom8:3. According to my studies (I know, I am not a scholar!), I found Paul was not particularly enthousiastic about the pre-existence. That’s why he provided few points in that direction (six, according to my count).
      So why did he mention it? I think it had to do with the great influence of Apollos of Alexandria who, as many scholars think (and as I explained in my website), was the author of ‘Hebrews’.
      In ‘Hebrews’, the pre-existence is outrightly proclaimed. More, there is a reference of the Son involved in the creation of the universe (1:2) and in 1:10, the Son is said to be the sole Creator (by God himself!). I think Paul reacted on that later extreme and unbiblical exaggeration and tried to correct Heb1:10 by stating God as the main Creator.

      1Co8:6 “… there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things … and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things …”

      Let’s notice the similarity in wording (reflected in the Greek):

      Heb1:2-3 “the Son … heir of all things, through whom he made the worlds”

      And Paul insisted (as in most of 1Corinthians), that Christ is the Lord but not God. Why? Again because in ‘Hebrews’, the Son is declared to be God by his Father (1:8-9). Once again, Paul wanted to set the record straight, against some gross exaggeration.

      For 1Cor10:4-5, the inspiration seems to come from Heb3:16-17,4:8. But here, Jesus is mentioned because, if (hypothetically) he had been with the Israelites of the Exodus, he would have insure their salvation. Paul went one step further and had Jesus as a spiritual rock providing spiritual guidance to those Israelites (but largely in vain).
      Why would Paul do that? Probably to indicate spiritual guidance from Christ (as learned through Paul’s gospel!) is not enough if not listened to (and you may perish like many of Moses’ followers!).

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

    @Earl, first, if you cared enough and showed enough respect to those you interact with even to glance at my recent posts for only a second, it would have been obvious that I have not been blogging about your book because I have been traveling around Israel. Your tomb is literally weighty and since I announced my trip well before it happened, you could have offered an electronic copy with which I could have filled long waits in airports, had you wished me to be able to continue the series while away.

    But second, hopefully from what I have written so far about your book, it would be clear that if I did stop, it would be because you have given me no reason to think that the claims in the remainder of the book are any more serious or persuasive than what you have offered so far.

    When my travels are over, I fully intend to continue the series. No matter how bad or ridiculous the contents have been, I have persisted, because there are people on the Internet who spread the claim that this volume of yours is the best case there is for mythicism. That may be true, but they don’t add the important detail that if this is the best case there is for mythicism, it is still extremely weak, and so is not something that ought to make people feel confident about mythicism.

    So if you would like me to start blogging about your book again right away, please send me an electronic copy. Otherwise, please actually pay attention to my blog posts to see when I return and it is reasonable to expect me to resume the series. And in the mean time, you could always try to actually answer some of the criticisms I have offered thus far in a way that uses scholarly tools of historical criticism.

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

    I’ve enjoyed the break from the discussion, if a book hasn’t said anything insightful for 7 chapters, time to start a new book. Doherty responds in a true frauds style with an idiotic fantasy that the rest of the book has silenced his critic! Its funny,  I remember a conversation where James said that he didn’t like to let flakes get the last word because they then claim that the other side must have no reply to what ever crap they just said, and of course Neil and co. think this is a hoot, and James is just imagining this, and here Doherty proves James right. For kooks like earl and Neil, engaging them is recognizing the threat of their arguments and not engaging is a sign that they have no response. I’m not to worried about that approach as only someone completely unfamiliar with the subject and unfamiliar with the academic world would find it persuasive. Earl I would recommend booking at booth at one of these events,

    http://juggalogathering.com/

    but they got Busta Rymes and Ice Cube now, so maybe that scene is bit to sophisticated for you. Well at least you’ll have Neil stumping for you.  

  • Anonymous

    @James et al.

    I have now had the opportunity to look into the subject of Jewish pilgrimages in the first century, especially those not concerning the Temple.  I discuss the evidences here:
    http://gilgamesh42.blogspot.com/2011/06/going-to-promised-land.html

    Hope it provides some insight.


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