Wonka vs. Mythicists (plus the Historical Jesus, Unicorns and Atlantis)

Joel Watts – sorry, Willy Wonka – makes an apt comparison on Joel’s blog:

Joel also links to my response to Carrier, and emphasizes in the process that, while matters such as whether Jesus was the Messiah are questions that depend on faith, the question of whether there was an ancient human being around whom the movement later known as Christianity formed is not a matter of faith, but of historical evidence and deduction.

Mike Bird quotes Chris Keith in relation to the historical Jesus, unicorns, and Atlantis. It sounds like it should help the mythicists, but in fact it illustrates just how far behind the times mythicists are with respect to the discussion of history, memory, and scholarly methodologies.

Chuck Grantham pointed out that Bart Ehrman’s book, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth, is available for Kindle.

The blog Irreducible Complexity expresses well what mythicists would need in order to be taken seriously – someone who does what plenty of mainstream scholars have done, namely challenge the consensus from the inside offering persuasive scholarly arguments. While Mark Goodacre has not persuaded everyone to abandon the Q hypothesis, he is a respected member of the academy because his work is serious and scholarly, even if not found decisive by many of his peers. Challenges to scholarly consensus are constant in the academy. The problem with mythicism is not that the academy doesn’t allow challenges on this point. The problem is that mythicists are not pursuing scholarly careers, scholarly publication of their arguments, or anything that does more than try to don a thin veneer of the appearance of scholarship while lacking the substance. If mythicists want to be taken seriously, they need to get over their persecution complex and actually do scholarship.

  • Woodbridgegoodman

    It is difficult to do additional, new, thorough research on myth; primarily since we rely heavily on existing - and limited – bodies of original material.  There is only just so much classical material out there for example; there are only so many collected myths.  While elaborating myths further, from newly reading  neglected ancient – and rapidly-disappearaing – paintings and inscriptions, is very laborious work.  Involving expertise in very, very obscure languages.

    Given these present limitations?  There probably isn’t enough material yet, for an entire separate, subfield; for a “Mythicism” school. Over and above what was done say, by Max Muller, or Jung, etc..  However?  Today a general interest in myth, the idea of noting structural parallels of elements of religion with traditional myths, is built into the work, of most serious scholars of religion. 

    More than that?  Would indeed require some vary tough, original field archeology, and/or epigraphy.

    However?  No doubt, computer language-translation programs and innovations will soon enough, revolutionize and electrify this sleeping field.

    In the meantime?  There is a desperate need for recovery archeololgy:  just photographing obscure murals and texts, recording the last traces of living but disappearing languages, for future translators.  Before the original material is effaced by time.

    Though in the meantime?  Peering at the breastplate of Darth Vader, apparently we read there, that we should be ready to … put a dime into the slot?

    • Mail2u96

      HUH?

  • steven

    So there exist tendentious, agenda-driven stories of someone being born in a place he wasn’t?

    Surely the task of a mainstream Biblical scholar is to take false stories of Jesus being born in Bethlehem and try to work out roughly when Jesus was born, using false birth stories as material?

    And then compare people who doubt your wisdom in doing this to Birthers.

    Which simply shows a lack of irony meters in New Testament research departments.

  • steven

    Mark Goodacre is one of those ‘cranks’ who complains that mainstream Biblical scholars write out of history view they don’t like.

    Mainstream Scholarship

    ‘Sadly, my initial enthusiasm soon gave way to the now all-too-familiar experience of seeing the Farrer Theory ignored.’

    Goodacre is well aware that it is ‘all-too-familiar’ for mainstream scholars to ignore, rather than refute, theories they don’t like.

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

      Being part of the scholarly conversation does not guarantee that others will find your arguments persuasive. Doing scholarship does not mean you are right, it just means you are rigorous.

      • Mail2u96

        Unless you know there ain’t no such thing as PhD in truth.

      • TheWM

         You call the above rigorous? How about responding to a mythicist argument — any one. pick one — instead of just stating that you find none of them persuasive?

  • steven

    And, of course, other ‘cranks’ point out how mainstream Bible scholars write as though their theories had never been challenged.

    Michael Barber  

    ‘ But all-in-all Mark has leveled a devastating treatment of scholarly “orthodoxy” and it deserves much greater attention. Instead, professors continue to teach the Gospels as if this book never even existed.’

    So there is little real point in McGrath hailing the reception of Goodacre’s work as an example of how mainstream Biblical scholarship reacts to challenges in a paragon of excellence manner.

    When a little searching reveals that mainstream Biblical scholarship ignores challenges , by and large, to the extent that Mark himself complains about it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jdewald Joshua DeWald

    I haven’t figured out which side is more persuasive (mythicism vs not), but in terms of actual credentials Richard Carrier has a PhD in ancient history while Bart Ehrman’s (as far as I can tell) is in theology/divinity. 

    So, speaking only of academic credentials, it seems that Dr. Carrier is more “qualified” to be speaking on historical topics whereas Ehrman is the “lay” person in this particular topic.

    Are there peer-reviewed articles (genuine question) around the historicity of Jesus, one way or another?  

    • Mail2u96

      You need an Aluminum helmet. The aliens are getting into your brain.

  • Anonymous

    Joshua DeWald:

    Here is Bart Ehrman’s CV (which is a little old): http://www.bartdehrman.com/curriculum.htm

    Here is Richard Carrier’s CV: http://www.richardcarrier.info/cv.pdf

    I am not a expert in ancient Christianity, but I would say Ehrman’s is several levels above Carrier’s in that field.  Ehrman was also the student (and heir) of Bruce Metzger, considered to by many to be one of the preeminent New Testament scholars of the last 50 years.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jdewald Joshua DeWald

      @hardindr:disqus  – I don’t doubt Dr. Ehrman’s credentials as a New Testament scholar, and the CV demonstrates that. But the question of “was Jesus a real person?” is a historical question, which the CV you linked to for Dr. Carrier shows him to be much more qualified for, in terms of academic credentials. 
      The original argument being made by Dr. McGrath (in in the linked articles) is that mythicists are unqualified and aren’t within Universities. While Dr. Ehrman is a professor, it’s not in the field of history, but of theology. As far as I can tell from the CV, the only time “history” comes up is with respect to the formation of Christianity. 

      So what we really need is a book/scholarly articles published by working historians on this topic. 

      • Anonymous

        But the question of “was Jesus a real person?” is a historical question, which the CV you linked to for Dr. Carrier shows him to be much more qualified for, in terms of academic credentials.

        I’m sorry, were we looking at the same CVs?  Bart Ehrman is a historian, that is what New Testament scholars are.  Bart Ehrman is not a theologian, he teaches at a public university (UNC-Chapel Hill) in the religious studies department.  He once considered a career as a pastor, but changed his mind when he became an agnostic.

        Bart Ehrman’s new book is one such book that answers the question of Jesus historicity.  If that is not scholarly enough for you, maybe you should try one of his textbooks?  http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0199757534/

      • Mail2u96

        Silly boy. You appear to know little about either discipline. Dr. Ehrman is basically an agnostic historian with expertise in early Christain history and ancient languages. Read his books. He’s not teaching your mother Sunday School lessons on church doctrine or theology. A generic PhD historian, on the other hand, without Ehrman’s qualifications and language skills would be the equivalent of a blind man doing brain surgery. how does expert knowlege of the French Revolution, the Civil War or the  

  • Mike

    If Jesus was a historical figure then where are all the transitional forms?

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

    Leaving aside the fact that Ehrman’s training is in exactly the same processes used by ancient historians with any other focus – relevant linguistics, source analysis, comparative criticism etc – the much more relevant question here is about objectivity and biases.  Ehrman is a professional academic and scholar whose works have been published by both recognised academic presses and mainstream popular publishers.  He’s also an agnostic for whom it doesn’t matter one bit if a historical Jesus existed or not and who is a constant target of attack by conservative Christians for his supposedly “radical” views (ie ones that debunk Christianity).  Yet he accepts the existence of a historical Jesus.

    Carrier, on the other hand, is a seemingly unemployed blogger whose works have largely been published either by the sceptic imprint Prometheus or by print-on-demand self publishing services.  He’s a full-time anti-Christian zealot all of whose works are aimed at achieving an anti-theistic agenda.  Not surprisingly, he inclines towards the idea that Jesus didn’t exist – a position motivated largely by its capacity to pull the rug out from under the Christianity he hates so much.

    Ask yourself: who is the more objective analyst here?  And who has an axe to grind?

    In politics the adage is “follow the money”.  On questions like this it’s “follow the ideology”.  Carrier is a zealot and zealots always make bad historians.

  • guest

    Actually I think Ehrman has devoted his entire career to books that assumed the historical Jesus existed.  Ehrman didn’t begin his research with the question of rather Jesus existed or not..  he went on that assumption, based on the scholarly consensus, and built a body of work on that.  But that scholarly consensus also took Jesus’ existence for granted.  Ehrman therefore has more of a reputation to defend and a need to be consistent with his previous popular work.  So I actually think that he would have great difficulty in being completely neutral on this. 
    There is absolutely no evidence that Carrier is an ideological zealot.  He has even stated that it is not certain that mythicism is correct and the he is offering it as a hypothesis which needs to be engaged by the wider scholarly community before it can be accepted as factual.  In fact he assumed that mythicism was wrong until he read Earl Doherty’s first book, which then sparked off his own research into the historicity of Jesus.

    • Mail2u96

      Sorry, but you argument is nonsensical. The Prometheus label itself is a guarantee of junk scholarship. I’ve read book after book under this label and it’s the agnostic equivalent of Muslim religious propaganda or KKK Anti- Semitic trash. But there will always be true believers; even flat earthers are free to write, speak and gather followers. Good luck!
      PS. Your opening premise is wrong. Ehrman doesn’t assume anything about Jesus. Read his books. What you actually think and reality seem to be two vastly different things. Mashuganah!

      • Anonymous

        Books from Prometheus are of unequal quality, some of them are very good and some of them are junk.  They are a very small press and don’t have the resources do to peer review or fact checking.  You have to look at who the author is.  As in all things, buyer beware…

  • Antonio Jerez

    I get the impression that Carrier is just playing intellectual games for the fun of it. I don´t take him seriously on things like the history of early Chistianity. He is on much firmer footing when he writes about subjects like science in Antiquity.
     

  • Antonio Jerez

    Hardindr wrote:
     ”Bart Ehrman is a historian, that is what New Testament scholars are.”

     No, actually most NT scholars are not historians. They may pretend to be historians but they aren´t. In what other field of history are we asked to suspend our scepticism about miracles happening except in relation to a particular Jewish prophet who supposedly walked on water. Most NT scholars, who happen to be working intheological departments affiliated with universities are no more than pseudohistorians. That said, I don´t count Ehrman among the pseudohistorians.

    • Anonymous

      In what other field of history are we asked to suspend our scepticism about miracles happening except in relation to a particular Jewish prophet who supposedly walked on water. Most NT scholars, who happen to be working intheological departments affiliated with universities are no more than pseudohistorians. That said, I don´t count Ehrman among the pseudo historians.

      This simply isn’t true.  New Testament scholars won’t get their work published in academic journals and presses regarding history if they try to make miraculous claims about events in the Christian Bible.  Many New Testament scholars work at religious universities or schools of divinity and produce rigorous historical work.  Having said that, many New Testament scholars are Christians and have theological beliefs about the Christian Bible (unsurprisingly).  However, if they try to push those beliefs into their historical work, they will not get far.

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

    “Actually I think Ehrman has devoted his entire career to books that assumed the historical Jesus existed. ”

    You “think” this based on what, exactly?  I went through something like the same process as Ehrman of being bought up a relatively unquestioning believer and slowly shifting my position as I questioned it more and more rigorously until I was a complete unbeliever.  And I sure as hell questioned the historicity of Jesus and looked at the arguments against his historical existence.  It’s why I argue against Mythers today – because I found those arguments contrived and unconvincing and I still do.  I’d be very surprised if Ehrman didn’t get to a similar point in his journey and ask “Okay, so can we say a historical Jesus existed at all?”

    Mythers are constantly trying to wave away the fact that scholars who are highly sceptical about all kinds of other things to do with Christianity don’t join them in their scepticism/rejection of this one.  They *claim* that it’s because all of these scholars (except Bob Price) assume a HJ.  All of them.  Every single one.  Except Bob Price.  Out of the thousands of such scholars, many of them atheists, agnostics and Jews, *all* of them blithely assume this while not assuming and questioning everything else.  This is where Mytherism begins to veer off into tin-foil hat territory.

    “There is absolutely no evidence that Carrier is an ideological zealot. ”

    No, of course not.  It’s not like he has written five chapters in the anti-Christian former evangelist John Loftus’s books *The End of Christianity* and *The Christian Delusion*.  Or self-published a lengthy response and rebuttal to the online Christian apologist J.P. Holding called *Not the Impossible Faith*.  Or goes around the circuit of atheist and skeptical conventions giving talks on how Christianity is wrong.  Or abandoned his actual areas of study and his whole academic career to devote himself full time to preaching against Christianity.  No, that Richard Carrier is clearly a figment of my imagination.

    “He has even stated that it is not certain that mythicism is correct and
    the he is offering it as a hypothesis which needs to be engaged by the
    wider scholarly community before it can be accepted as factual.”

    Right.  It’s just that in doing so he talks, writes and argues exactly like all the other Mythers.  So he’s a bit like a non-duck that just happens to be sovered in feathers, have a bill and to waddle and quack just like a duck,  Glad we cleared that up.

    • guest

      “You “think” this based on what, exactly?”
      I think that because never in print has Ehrman engaged the issue of basic historicity until NOW.

      “I’d be very surprised if Ehrman didn’t get to a similar point in his journey and ask “Okay, so can we say a historical Jesus existed at all?”
      Well just because that surprises you doesn’t count as good evidence.  Sorry i’ll need a little bit more than that…  like maybe something from his writings.

      Also, your whole notion of his idological zeolotry is irrelevant unless you can show his positons are not based on rationality and rigour.  His taking stances on postions doesn’t make him fanatical. 

      “It’s just that in doing so he talks, writes and argues exactly like all the other Mythers.”

      there are some points of overlap, especially with Doherty’s work but you are apparently ignorant of his positions since you are clearly unaware of the unique aspects to his approach..  including his basic methodology, which as far as i can tell is unassailable. 
      yes i am glad we cleared that up too. 

  • Antonio Jerez

    Then why does major works by pseudohistorians like Witherington, NT Wright or Bauckham get published all the time? And why is NT studies one of the few branches of “historical” studies where those engaged are told that a historian can´t really make a judgement on weather Jesus REALLY walked on water or REALLY resurrected. Imagine a normal historian telling his peers that a historian can´t really make a judgement on wether Vespasian had an apotheosis to heaven on his deathbed or Muhammad REALLY flew on a holy donkey to Jerusalem. And the fact is that an overwhelming majority of NT scholars are Christians, and their theological beliefs clouds their judgement all the time. 

    • Anonymous

      NT Wright and Witherington are NT scholars, and they have published rigorous historical work (I’ve not heard of Bauckham).  Historians do not deal with the miraculous, and can’t say anything about it.  Historians only deal with what is most probable, not with what is possible.  Since miracles are by definition highly improbable, if not impossible, historians don’t deal with them.

      The argument that Christians have their judgement clouded by theology might be valid, but then it has to be applied to other fields as well, like evolutionary biology.  I think you see where I am going here…

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

    “I think that because never in print has Ehrman engaged the issue of basic historicity until NOW.”

    And he explains why – because it’s been a non-issue in academia for almost a century and is only rearing it’s head recently as a particularly whacky branch of the New Atheism movement, mainly online.

    “your whole notion of his idological zeolotry is irrelevant unless you
    can show his positons are not based on rationality and rigour.  His
    taking stances on postions doesn’t make him fanatical.” 

    Here is a guy who abandoned a promising career in Classics to become a full-time anti-Christian evangelist and whose historical analyses on ANY historical topic ALWAYS just HAPPEN to come to the conclusion that is most damaging to Christianity.  Gosh golly. Connect the dots pal.

    “you are apparently ignorant of his positions”

    Unfortunately not.

    “since you are clearly unaware of the unique aspects to his approach.. 
    including his basic methodology, which as far as i can tell is
    unassailable. ”

    What, that Bayes crap?  You mean the same “unassailable” methodology that Christian apologists use to “prove” the resurrection and theists use to “prove” God exists?  Garbage in/ garbage out, as anyone with a real grasp of Bayes Theorem will tell you.  The fact that Carrier seriously thinks he can rewrite the whole discipline of history to suit his biases shows exactly how far off into whacko La La Land the guy is wandering.

    • guest

      “And he explains why – because it’s been a non-issue in academia for almost a century and is only rearing it’s head recently as a particularly whacky branch of the New Atheism movement, mainly online.”
      Well ok..  but then my point still stands..  he hasn’t engaged it until now.  which means it was an assumption he worked from.

      “Here is a guy who abandoned a promising career in Classics to become a full-time anti-Christian evangelist and whose historical analyses on ANY historical topic ALWAYS just HAPPEN to come to the conclusion that is most damaging to Christianity. Gosh golly. Connect the dots pal.”
      Where is your evidence that he made a bad career move?  How do you know what opportunities were available to him in relation to his economic needs.  I suggest you ask HIM about that before making such assumptions.

      “What, that Bayes crap? You mean the same “unassailable” methodology that Christian apologists use to “prove” the resurrection and theists use to “prove” God exists? Garbage in/ garbage out, as anyone with a real grasp of Bayes Theorem will tell you.”
      You seem to be confusing the validity of the method itself with the correct application of the method.  All historical methods can be abused… especially the ones Ehrman and most NT scholars employ..  Carrier has defended his method and will be demonstrating AT LENGTH how it is supperior to Ehrman’s methodolgy ..or even that of McCullogh since it addresses the “threshold problem” in his “Argument to the Best Explanation”.

      “The fact that Carrier seriously thinks he can rewrite the whole discipline of history to suit his biases shows exactly how far off into whacko La La Land the guy is wandering.”
      Carrier has acknowledged others who have used Bayesian reasoning for history before.. 

      your use of terms like “whacko La La Land” is, i think, revealing of your own bias.

       

    • Antonio Jerez

       Tim,
      so true, so true. Carrier is just as tiresome as Christian apologists with their rumblings about philosophically being able to prove the miraculous. He is is just on the opposite end of the spectre. I really don´t fathom why he wastes so much time on philosophical crap when a practical approach to things and pure observation of world pays much greater dividends.

  • Antonio Jerez

    Yeh, Wright and Witherington are certainly NT scholars, which is not the same thing as being a historian. I wouldn´t call Wright´s books on Jesus “rigorous historical work”. Not from a man who can´t really rule out resurrected Christian saints roaming around Jerusalem after the resurrection of Jesus (as told in Matthews gospel). And if you haven´t read Bauckham you are in for a treat. Grab his “Jesus and the eyewitneses” as soon as possible and especially read his thoughts on the resurrection of Lazarus.
      And you are certainly wrong if you think historians don´t deal with the miraculous. Historians of antiquity deal with it all the time. It´s just that normal normal historians don´t find it necessary to state the obvious every time they find some figure in ancient texts walking on water or flying to heaven. Nor do they have to add caveats about historians not really being able to deal with miraculous all the time.

    • Anonymous

        And you are certainly wrong if you think historians don´t deal with the miraculous. Historians of antiquity deal with it all the time. It´s just that normal normal historians don´t find it necessary to state the obvious every time they find some figure in ancient texts walking on water or flying to heaven. Nor do they have to add caveats about historians not really being able to deal with miraculous all the time.

      Please find me a historian of antiquity who asserts in peer reviewed/scholarly history book or journal article a miracle occurred in the past.  I would be interested in reading it.  I can’t say such a thing hasn’t ever happened, but I kind of doubt it.

      • Antonio Jerez

         I suppose you missunderstood me. I am not arguing that no historian of antiquity has ever argued that a real miracle ever happened in some particular instance in the past. I am arguing that real historians usually discard “miracles” in the past without even bothering to argue for the obvious – that neither Vespasian or nor Jesus flew to heaven in the sight of amazed spectators. Only in biblical studies do scholars feel it necessary to put question marks on happenings like that (though I suppose even evangelicals are dead sure about what really happened to Verspasian, though out of prudence leave the question marks for Jesus…)

        • Antonio Jerez

           And Bauckham actually argues in “Jesus and the eyewitnesses” that the raising of Lazarus really happened. And still a majority of his NT collegues think he is an authority who should be treated with all due respect. Me thinks he is a fool, just like a majority of biblical scholars around the world. But that shouldn´t come as a surprise…

          • Anonymous

            The book in question was published by Eerdmans http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Eyewitnesses-Gospels-Eyewitness-Testimony/dp/0802831621 , which is a religious publisher, so that might explain it.  No way a university press or serious history journal might publish it.  Sometimes scholars can get away with stuff like that, but it can be damaging to their reputation (NT Wright has gotten into trouble with other scholars by trying to mix his theology with his historical work).

        • Anonymous

          NT Scholars in serious, historical, peer-reviews books and articles can’t assert that miracles happened in the past.  There articles/books will be rejected for publication if they try to do so.  Of course, if they are writing in a popular press or not as a historian in say a theological book, then they can assert such claims, but they give up any right to call their work in that context as “historical.”

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

    “he hasn’t engaged it until now.  which means it was an assumption he worked from.”

    It means nothing of the sort.  Logic doesn’t seem to be your strong suite.

    “Where is your evidence that he made a bad career move?”

    If he wants his “career” to be a full-time anti-Christian zealot, then his “career move” has been fine.  If, however, he ever wants to secure an actual professional job at an accredited teaching/research institution of higher learning then all this playing around in the tiny and suffocating bubble of internet atheism is a complete waste of time.  He should be writing and publishing papers for peer reviewed scholarly journals, not putting out bits of self-published New Atheism evangelism.  He only needs to keep this up for a few more years and any hope of a real academic career has been kissed goodbye forever.

    “All historical methods can be abused… especially the ones Ehrman and
    most NT scholars employ..  Carrier has defended his method and will be
    demonstrating AT LENGTH how it is supperior to Ehrman’s methodolgy”

    *Yawn* “At length” in a book published by Prometheus and “peer reviewed” by a couple of Carrier’s pals.  A book that will vanish without trace outside the aforementioned tiny bubble of New Atheist fanboys and which the discipline of history will never even notice.  RIP Richard Carrier’s career as a historian – died in infancy of shameful neglect.

    “your use of terms like “whacko La La Land” is, i think, revealing of your own bias.”

    *Chuckle* Really?  And what would that be?  Do tell.

    • Anonymous

      Carrier talks about his book Proving History here http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2012/02/interview-with-richard-carrier-about.html .  Bart Ehrman is aware of Carrier’s book and has corresponded with him about it, according to Carrier.  I am not a historian, but I am pretty skeptical that it will do what he claims it will, i.e. make a serious change to the way historiography is done.  Only time will tell, I suppose…

    • guest

      “It means nothing of the sort. Logic doesn’t seem to be your strong suite.”
      Actually, that’s EXACTLY what it means..  it seems that neither logic or reading comprehension are your strong suits.

      “He should be writing and publishing papers for peer reviewed scholarly journals, not putting out bits of self-published New Atheism evangelism.”
      He has done work woth peer review journals…  in fact he has an upcoming piece on Josphus in a peer reviewd journal this winter…  incidentally all your talk of career strategies is quite beside the point to the veracity of his scholarly work and postions.  i’m not sure what the relevance is unless you are totally ensnared in the genetic fallacy by suggesting that his work must be incorrect because his work is published by prometheus for the “tiny bubble of new athiest fanboys”.  If this is what you are intimating, then it appears YOU are the one that needs to bone up on basic logic.

      “*Chuckle* Really? And what would that be? Do tell.”
      The bias would be against anyone that would defend the validity of mythicism as a legitimate historical hypothesis, obviously.  how could you not draw that inference for yourself?

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

    For years Mythers have been invoking people like Carrier and Doherty as though they are objective and unbiased experts.  Which is totally absurd, given their clear biases (ones which, on the whole I *share*, as it happens).  To pretend they are objective is simply ridiculous.  No-one would think of invoking William Lane Craig or Josh McDowell in any discussion of the historicity of Jesus, because they are obviously biased as well.  Yet we’re supposed to treat zealots with axes to grind like Carrier and Doherty as standard bearers of sober and objective analysis?  Give me a frigging break.

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

    @”guest”
    “Actually, that’s EXACTLY what it means..  it seems that neither logic or reading comprehension are your strong suits.”

    My grasp of both are just dandy, thanks.  You, on the other hand, seem in desperate need of assistance with both.   Your claim was he hasn’t engaged 9sic) [with] it until now.  which means it was an assumption he worked from.”  That’s a total *non sequitur*.  He is dealing with Mytherism now for the reasons he’s clearly detailed – he’s only been coming across it online recently.  To jump from that to the conclusion this means he never even considered the question of the existence of Jesus before and always previously merely *assumed* the existence of Jesus is ridiculous – that does not follow at all.

    It also makes no sense.  Ehrman’s earlier writings show that he is intimately familiar with the history of his own field and has read and analysed the work of the earlier scholars in it.  Clearly he knows the work of Schweitzer extremely well, since he follows Schweitzer and others of that era in setting Jesus in the context of Jewish eschatology.  And Schweitzer was writing in a period when the Mythic Jesus hypothesis actually had some real academic traction – he addressed its main proponents in detail in one of his works.  In his new book Ehrman goes over all this and the main early proponents of the Mytherist thesis, but he clearly knew all this long before.  So are you now going to present evidence that he knew all this, studied these early scholars, went over their arguments and counter arguments and – somehow – managed to do this WITHOUT considering the arguments in question?  You know this, do you?  Let’s see you argue that one sonny.  Watch him run.

    “He has done work woth peer review journals”

    You mean the ones in *German Studies Review” (on “Hitler’s Table Talk) and in *Biology and Philosophy* (on Biogenesis)?  Not exactly close to his key areas of study.  Or to this topic either.  And neither were after he was awarded his doctorate, which is when a young academic is meant to be making their mark.  Since then he’s been indulging himself in his blog-bubble and self-publishing anti-Christian hobbyist screeds.

    “in fact he has an upcoming piece on Josphus in a peer reviewd journal this winter.”

    Four whole years after his PhD?!  What the hell has he been doing?  Oh yes, that’s right – indulging in his silly little hobby while unemployed.  Plenty of other young scholars who graduated back in 2008 have already left this self-indulgent dilettante in their dust.

    ” i’m not sure what the relevance is unless you are totally ensnared in
    the genetic fallacy by suggesting that his work must be incorrect
    because his work is published by prometheus for the “tiny bubble of new
    athiest fanboys”. ”

    Again, your grasp of English fails you totally.  No, what I was suggesting is that someone who publishes via Prometheus and panders to a gaggle of New Atheist fanboys is more interested in pushing a certain ideological agenda than a serious scholar who works within the academic sphere.  And that this indicates a clear bias.

    “The bias would be against anyone that would defend the validity of mythicism as a legitimate historical hypothesis, obviously.”

    Sorry?  “Obviously”?  Why would I have that bias?  I’m not a Christian.  I’m not even a theist.  So where is the basis for some “bias” against Mythers.  I disagree with them completely, but that’s not due to any “bias”.  You seem to be getting mighty confused again.
     

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  • jjramsey

    Carrier’s upcoming paper, “Origen, Eusebius, and the Accidental Interpolation in Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.200.” looks likes it’s going to argue that “‘him called Christ’ [in the extant text of Josephus regarding James] makes most sense as a margin note by a later scribe
    copying the text, inserted by error in a paragraph about Jesus son of
    Damneus.”  That argument is also in David Fitzgerald’s Nailed, who attributes it to Carrier.

    Trouble is, that argument implies that when Josephus referred to James son of Damneus, he decided not to refer to him unambiguously as, well, James son of Damneus, but rather as “brother of Jesus, James his name,” and hoped that readers would assume that the Jesus that he mentions here is the same as the Jesus son of Damneus that he mentions several sentences later in the text. In short, to provide the opportunity for accidental interpolation, Josephus would have had to have written unnecessarily clumsily. Judging from the title of his upcoming article, he apparently has an explanation for why Origen appears to have quoted “brother of Jesus called Christ” from Josephus before Christians would have had a chance to interpolate Josephus’ work. Somehow, I doubt that he can pull off an explanation that doesn’t come off as a horrible kludge.

  • Alex A Dalton

    Carrier is a bit of a joke. Read his explanation, based on the meanings of the names of those present, of the empty tomb narratives in _The Empty Tomb_. Have you ever been so embarrassed by a television program that you change the channel? If you don’t get a similar feeling while reading Carrier’s explanation of the empty tomb narratives, you have no idea what the word “history” means. He has also been exposed for improper use of Bayes Theorem by the McGrews. Tim McGrew shows Carrier to be way out of his depth in particular on the thread here:

    http://dangerousidea.blogspot.com/2011/01/richard-carrier-on-bayes-theorem.htmlOr see here:http://lydiaswebpage.blogspot.com/2011/01/odds-form-of-bayess-theorem.htmlCarrier actually shows up to apologize. The problem with Carrier is that he tries to do too much. He wants to be master of all trades but winds up simply being sloppy. If he would stop trying to be a cosmologist, biologist, statistician, and philosopher, he might one day actually earn the label of historian.

  • DriveBy

    Some years ago, I spent a fair amount of time studying and discussing these issues with Earl Doherty.  I ultimately concluded that he (and his legion of sycophants) was not worth my time because his position was founded in his own rabid atheism rather than any actual “objective” pursuit of historical truth.  What was especially telling to me was that he had not, at that time, 10 years after the publication of “The New Testament and the People of God”, read *anything* by N.T. Wright.  Not, for that matter had he read anything by J.D.G. Dunn, nor E.P. Sanders, or Raymond Brown.  In fact, so far as I could tell, all his reading was confined to the extremely skeptical fringe of New Testament studies.  He said to me in so many words that he was extremely unlikely to read anything by an Evangelical.

    And THIS is supposed to be a “scholar”?  Part of being a scholar is to seriously interact with opposing views.  So far, all of the mythers fail in that regard.


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