Jury Duty and the Historical Jesus

The first two days of this week, I was selected for jury service. This was my first time selected. I wished I could have recorded some of the ways that the lawyers explained the criteria of evidence during the voir dire, explaining that “beyond reasonable doubt” doesn't mean “beyond all doubt” and other things that [Read More…]

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Take Up Your Yoke and Follow

Historians should not entertain the possibility that Jesus predicted in advance exactly how he was going to die, foreseeing that it would be by crucifixion. And so too historians cannot view Jesus as having called his followers to take up their crosses behind him. But there is a third option between accepting the Gospels’ depiction, [Read More…]

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Philippians 2 and the Historical Jesus

It has been interesting to revisit the death of Jesus in my historical Jesus class this year. I’ve passed through phases of naive credulity and extreme skepticism with respect to the Gospels and other early Christian sources, and am now trying to find a place of balance between the two. On the one hand, there [Read More…]

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Holy Week History

I spent quite a while simply believing the Gospels. And I have spent quite a while being as skeptical of them as I think is reasonable. Now I am at the point where I recognize the pitfalls at either extreme, and seek to be open to what the evidence suggests – and what the evidence [Read More…]

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Jesus, Sherlock Holmes, and Hercules

Internet apologists for mythicism are always ready to point to Sherlock Holmes and Batman and say “look, here we have stories, so these prove the existence of fictional detectives and comic book heroes, don’t they?” Can they not see that this is absolute silliness, that one could respond with the same trite comeback about anyone [Read More…]

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The Gist of Jesus

It has been interesting teaching my course on the historical Jesus again. Even in the few years that have passed since the last time I taught it, the strong shift in the academy away from an older approach to the subject has been very noticeable. Much of this is due to the impact of the work [Read More…]

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Epiphany and History

Having attempted to do away with contradictions between Matthew and Luke for Christmas, Ian Paul has now offered a blog post claiming that Matthew’s story of the arrival of the magi can be treated as historical. I am not persuaded. Infancy stories featuring miracles are a common feature in ancient literature, and are consistently devoid [Read More…]

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Atheist Dogmatism about Jesus

After having a discussion here at Exploring Our Matrix in which an atheist insisted that there cannot be atheist fundamentalists because atheists reject all dogmas, it was interesting to see Harry McCall dogmatically insist what atheists “must assert” when it comes to the historicity of Jesus. Indeed, he goes further and insists that he (despite offering [Read More…]

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Further History-Denialism from Jerry Coyne

It boggles my mind and frustrates me when anyone engages in denialism, whether in science, history, or any other area. But when someone who has worked hard to combat denialism does it, it can seem downright baffling. But Jerry Coyne has done precisely that in the past, and continues to do so. In a recent blog post [Read More…]

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What Would It Take To Get You To Read Richard Carrier’s Book?

A commenter on this blog mentioned how useful it would be if scholars in Classics, ancient Jewish history, or Roman history were to read and give their impressions of Richard Carrier’s book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. The truth is that, just as I am perhaps going to [Read More…]

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Daniel Gullotta on the Obscure but Historical Jesus

Daniel Gullotta has been busy online defending the historicity of Jesus against internet pseudoskeptics who don’t understand how historical studies works, and so draw problematic conclusions. In a recent blog post he explained why it is unsurprising that Jesus doesn’t get mentioned by his contemporaries. And then he engaged David Fitzgerald in a debate on the [Read More…]

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