Methodological Atheism and Agnosticism in the Study of Religion

Academic study focuses on the world of cause and effect, on evidence and probability. And so there has been much discussion of methodological naturalism in the sciences, at least among those who are disgruntled by the fact that the sciences don’t make room for God or provide evidence for God. The same discussion can be [Read More…]

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Late Texts, Early Traditions?

One of the methodological questions that intersects with my upcoming conference paper on the Mandaean Book of John and the New Testament is the question of how, if at all, we can discern whether one text which is later than another is not drawing on that earlier text alone, but also incorporates independent tradition. This question [Read More…]

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Bias and Bayes’ Theorem in History

Regular commenter Ian has posted two more entries on his blog which relate to the use of Bayes’ Theorem in assessing historical probability, in response to Richard Carrier’s advocacy of the use of Bayesian reasoning. One is entitled “Error in Bayes’ Theorem” and the other “Say What I Want To Hear!“ [Read more…]

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Review of Richard C. Carrier, Proving History

I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to review Richard Carrier’s latest book, Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. I am grateful to Prometheus Books for sending me a free review copy. Carrier emphasizes from the outset that this is the first of two books, the second of [Read More…]

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Richard Carrier Illustrates Historical Jesus Methodology

While one might or might not see fit to dispute Richard Carrier’s specific conclusions in his recent post, “The Dying Messiah Redux,” I think that the most important thing to note is the approach to history that it illustrates. Carrier argues that, because certain views expressed in Jewish literature from several centuries after the rise [Read More…]

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More Mythicist Misrepresentation

I sometimes wonder if mythicists realize when they are making fools of themselves. If they do, then they are presumably akin to clowns and comedians who provide a useful service in providing us with entertainment. If they are unintentionally funny, then their clowning around in some instances may include misrepresentation of others which, however ridiculous, [Read More…]

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Jesus, Criteria and the Demise of Authenticity

Several bloggers have mentioned the upcoming conference and accompanying book, with the title Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity. It might seem that the title could more naturally have been “Jesus and the Demise of Criteria of Authenticity.” But I suspect that the wording is intentional – what has changed is not so much [Read More…]

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Discussion Continues about New Testament Study, Languages and Methods

Here are some posts that are part of or relate to the ongoing discussion of the essential languages and tools for New Testament Study. Daniel Streett posted about the difference between reading a language fluently and being able to translate it word for word. Anyone who has learned to speak a modern language fluently will [Read More…]

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Mythicists and Creationists: Which are More Entertaining?

For some, the similarities between mythicists and creationists outweigh the differences, while for others the reverse seems to be true. The latter tend to get very upset when the comparison is made. And so perhaps it is only fair that I emphasize from time to time one of the differences between mythicists and creationists. Having [Read More…]

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What Makes Something Historical?

As a result of recent discussions of mythicism, I thought it might be interesting and useful to post a question about the very nature of history. What makes a person or event “historical”? At the moment, I am inclined to think that it is, when it comes down to it, really nothing other than the [Read More…]

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Rafael Rodriguez is (probably) Wrong about his own Wrongness

Rafael kindly responded to my reply to his post, including (in a comment here) the following video, which presumably was meant to indicate that he would be tap dancing around some of the issues.   Rafael mentions a number of topics – such as whether Mark Goodacre is correct about the matter of Q – [Read More…]

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