First place in this post has to go to the recent post on this topic on the blog Unreasonable Faith. Here’s a lengthy quote that is insightful and will surely lead those interested in this topic to click through and read more:
At one point in the interview, Price suggests that one letter mentioning Jesus would be enough to destroy the Christ myth theory. I like Price, but this seems to betray a lack of self-awareness. He is on record as disagreeing with the consensus dating and authorship of nearly every piece of text within the New Testament. What exactly could an archaeologist find that Price could not argue is misinterpreted, interpolated or an outright forgery?
Of course, these arguments would be quite plausible. It’s like the Birthers who suggested that if Obama would just produce his long form birth certificate they’d all just go away. When such a thing was produced they proclaimed it an obvious forgery. Such forgeries do occur, but did anyone really believe that the Birthers would give any certificate a chance?
IIRC, the philosopher Brian Keeley once suggested that some theories – conspiracy theories mainly – may remain unwarranted even if they are historically accurate. They are unwarranted because they require so much skepticism towards the evidence that they essentially destroy the process of history. Belief in them can never be warranted under the standard rules of history, and we’re not ready to give up on history just yet.
I’m wondering if the Christ Myth theory hasn’t reached that point, with its tendency to say that every story about Jesus is really derived from some other story and that every apparent claim is really a cipher for some other claim. Is there any ancient historical evidence that cannot be explained in this fashion?
That’s not all that has been of interest in the blogosphere related to mythicism in recent days. Ben Witherington has been interviewing Bart Ehrman on his blog about his recent book, Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth Here are links to PART ONE, PART TWO, and PART THREE.
Finally, Joseph Hoffmann has a post “celebrating” a hundred years of mythicism. It draws attention to works which show why one of Bart Ehrman’s recent claims needs to be qualified. It may be true that no scholar has written a book recently directly and specifically on the topic of whether Jesus existed. But there have been books on that topic written in the past. The Case (pun intended) in point is what Hoffmann offers in his post: a quote from The historicity of Jesus: a criticism of the contention that Jesus never lived, a statement of the evidence for his existence, an estimate of his relation to Christianity, a 1912 book by Shirley Jackson Case. The points Case makes are every bit as relevant to mythicism today, since mythicism does not really have any new arguments. But the case for Jesus’ historicity is improved both by the more rigorous character of contemporary scholarship in this area, by the greater scholarly avoidance of parallelomania in our day and age, and by the textual and archaeological finds that have come to light in the mean time.