“Biblical Scholarship”

Chris Tilling shared the above image on Twitter. If you don’t get it, it relates to the claims of Joseph Atwill, which have begun circulating again even though he doesn’t seem to be saying anything that he hasn’t said before.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Atwill is in the same sphere as all of those Area 51 cover-up books. Just plain stupid.

  • Bob de Jong

    Funny!
    But don’t you think that Atvill gets an extraordinary rough ride, while Bill O’Reilly appears to sail through the Blogsphere with two fingers in the nose? What about Bill’s credentials of scholarship in Religion, History, or anything?
    Of perhaps it is not ‘scholarship’, but ‘orhodoxy’ that determines the response?

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

      Not at all, and if you haven’t seen Bill O’Reilly getting a rough ride then that reflects the blogs you read, not what has been taking place.

  • Pofarmer

    It’s quite possible that Atwill is right on the answer, but wrong on the facts.

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

      Is it quite possible that young-earth creationist is right on the answer, but wrong on the facts? If his entire case is nonsensical and his “evidence” involves reading ancient texts as though they were a coded message for what he imagines, then what other than wishful thinking would lead you to think that he might be right even though his entire case is wrong?

      • Pofarmer

        What I mean is, it’s quite possible that Jesus is entirely mythical, a composite charachter, or minimally historical based on just one aspect of the story. Given the origin of our canonical texts, as, written in Greek, and mainly based on he Greek Septuagint rather than the Hebrew torah, it’s possible he’s parrtially correct, that christianity as we know it, is completely a greek/roman invention, of sorts.

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

          When you offer three different scenarios, only one of which represents the overwhelming consensus of historians on this subject, I still have to ask why you are happy to clutch at straws and engage in shoddy thinking on this subject. Why is the conclusions of experts on this topic of so little weight for you?

          • Pofarmer

            Consensus views get overturned all the time. And I think that Robert M Price and Richard carrier both properly point out that much of the consensus, when it comes to Jesus, is conferred by folks with a conflict of interest, as many of them are also theologians.

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

              Price teaches at an unaccredited seminary, and so is hardly a good illustration of your point. Everyone who has a crackpot theory complains that the academy is biased and emphasizes how consensuses get overturned all the time. But that fact is because the academy is open to new evidence and arguments – that is why science and history and other academic disciplines work so well. That consensuses sometimes get overturned does not justify embracing fringe bunk on that basis, on the off chance that it might one day turn out to have evidence to support it.

              • Pofarmer

                I I didn’t even know there was such a thing as accreditedseminarys.

              • Pofarmer

                are you talking about atwiill particularly for the idea of mysthicismm in general

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

                  I am talking about seeking information from experts, and finding out whether those experts agree, in any domain, whether history, science, or anything else.

                  • Pofarmer

                    So, who would you consider the experts here?

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

                      Professional historians who research the relevant time and place: historians of early Christianity, first-century Judaism, and the Roman world.

                    • Pofarmer

                      Who? That certainly includes Carrier.

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

                      Carrier has chosen not to pursue a career as an academic historian, for whatever reason. And his acceptance of claims made by pseudohistorian Earl Doherty which professional historians and scholars find to be ludicrous suggests that he simply hasn’t researched the subject sufficiently.

                      If the only scientist who accepted a particular scientific viewpoint about biology or physics was someone who had decided not to teach and research in that field for a living, would you embrace their viewpoint and reject the consensus of biologists or physicists?

                    • Pofarmer

                      So who?

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

                      E. P. Sanders, Michael Grant, Maurice Casey, Dale Allison, Bart Ehrman, Geza Vermes, John Meier, Raymond Brown, Bruce Chilton, Gerd Theissen, Craig Evans, Richard Burridge, Byron McCane, John Kloppenborg, Lester Grabbe, Jacob Neusner, Ernst Bammel, Reginald Fuller, James D. G. Dunn, John A. T. Robinson, Mark Allan Powell, and others like them. But it is an odd question – it is like asking “So who?” if told to consult mainstream scientists on a question of biology. Whether you consult Richard Dawkins, who is an atheist, or Francisco Ayala, who is a Roman Catholic, you will still find the same presentation of the evidence for evolution.

                    • Pofarmer

                      It’s just an honest question. And to be fair, I think it’s non controversial to say there are disagreements in almost all academic disciplines. To expect there wouldn’t be some disagreement/discussion in a case where there is no confirmingbl arcbeological evidence and no historical evidence outside of scripture plus where the majority of proponents have been theologically motivated, is, I think, naive.

                    • Andrew Dowling

                      Erhman pretty much makes Carrier his bi^&* in this reply:

                      http://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/

  • John Hudson

    The Flavian hypothesis was actually proposed by Dr Rod Blackhirst, a lecturer in religious studies at La Trobe University (an academically credited institution). See his discussion here

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zlj5-iwKueQ

    A Roman involvement has been supported by conventional scholarship. Dungan ‘The Purpose and Provenance of the Gospel of Mark’ proposed that the Gospel of Mark was possibly composed “under the direct encouragement of certain members of the Flavian household.” Agnew ‘The Two Gospel Hypothesis and a Biographical Genre for the Gospels’ suggested that “Mark wrote it for presentation to the Imperial family.” These are conventionally trained NT scholars.

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

      But what those scholars are proposing is very different than what Atwill suggests happened.

      • John Hudson

        I think if you watch Rod’s video (I know him and have discussed his work with him) you will see it is only marginally different from Atwill’s. Atwill’s typology is excessive however, and I wish he had kept it to a few key examples such as Gadara.

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

          Wow, he does seem quite impressed with Atwill. This illustrates why just picking what one scholar says, rather than looking for what the consensus is, is a bad way of drawing conclusions about a field in which one is not an expert.

  • John Hudson

    Well he is an expert on Barnabas which is very relevant I would say http://depts.drew.edu/jhc/Blackhirst_Barnabas.html

    this is relevant to his own work with Carrington on the Flavian hypothesis for instance on Gadara http://carrington-arts.com/cliff/JOEGOS3.htm

  • Eldad Keynan

    To Pofamer; you say: “And I think that Robert M Price and Richard carrier both properly point out that much of the consensus, when it comes to Jesus, is conferred by folks with a conflict of interest, as many of them are also theologians.” Well, I’m sorry to mess up the party, but I am a historian (not a theologist by all means) and a Jew; I am convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was and is a historical figure. That is – I belong to the consensus.


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