A commenter on a video of mine on YouTube is insisting that the evidence for Jesus be presented in YouTube comments, which limit you to a maximum of 400 characters. Having interacted with not only mythicists but also creationists and other detractors from mainstream scholarship on so many occasions, I know that the very reason why people with such viewpoints gravitate to YouTube for discussion is that the space constraints are bound to turn even the most well-documented scholarly theories into sound bites that are much easier to dismiss. And not surprisingly, when evidence has been explicitly mentioned there, the commenter has not addressed it.
But even if I don’t recommend using YouTube comments (much less Twitter!) as a forum for assessing the value of mainstream scholarship (or even fringe scholarly ideas or pseudoscholarly bunk, for that matter), it seemed as though this might be an interesting exercise to try out here (and if you are so inclined, feel free to also post your contributions on YouTube as well). How would you present the evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus in less than 400 characters? Or would you consider the attempt to do so a bad idea? The sound bite is one of the banes of scholarship, since scholarship at its best is about nuance and precision, which often resists one-sentence restatements. But trying to be clear and succinct is always a good thing. What would you write?Feel free to offer examples from other areas too: climate change, evolution, etc. It will be interesting to compare how effectively the consensus in different fields – and the reasons for that consensus – can be expressed in the same small space.