Was the Historical Jesus on Facebook?

A piece of news has been getting attention today, about a study of classic myths, some of which we know from archaeological evidence were based on real people or events. The study suggests that the degree to which the relationships in the story mirror real ones – including those one can observe today in social media like Facebook and Twitter – corresponds to the degree of real evidence for the myths being based on historical people.

Should this be applied to the New Testament? It certainly would be interesting to see whether the relationships described there likewise mirror real ones. Presumably there is a lot more testing to be done on this method before anyone should try using it to “prove” anything. And even if it were so applied, it presumably wouldn’t convince the mythicists, who are determined to be denialists, while for mainstream scholars it might simply confirm what the evidence already points to.

For those who wish to read the actual study by Pádraig Mac Carron and Ralph Kenna, the title is “Universal properties of mythological networks” and it is published in EPL (Europhysics Letters). It is available online as a pdf (registration required).

  • http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/ Andrew G.

    Would it convince the historicists?

  • Gary

    “The study suggests that the degree to which the relationships in the story mirror real ones….corresponds to the degree of real evidence for the myths being based on historical people”. Or how good the author was at writing myth (or science fiction) to mirror reality. Should try to include some science fiction stories, of characters born after star date 2112. We’ve got the mirror, all we need is the smoke.

  • C.J. O’Brien

    What makes you think that the gospels don’t more closely resemble the known fictions on this method? What characters form networks the center of which is not Jesus? Who are the connectors between nodes? The only relationships I can think of that don’t depend on Jesus are the two sets of brothers among the disciples, but that relationship can’t be derived from the action of the narrative as the method does for the epics; it’s just a stated background fact that certain pairs of characters are related. If this method really demonstrated anything (and I don’t believe it does), your drawing attention to it would be an own goal.


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