Doherty Mythicism?

Commenter Dave Burke has shared some thoughts on the hurdles that would confront any attempt to quest for a historical Earl Doherty. Would it not be simpler to conclude that he is a myth? I quote three comments here, but I encourage you to click through and read them in their original context.

Doherty claims he is ‘generally considered to currently be the world’s leading Jesus mythicist’ and that ‘my books and website have had a huge impact on this controversial issue and are known around the globe’ (source: http://bit.ly/oLQQCd). This suggests he is a well know historical figure of great repute. But does the evidence confirm it?

When you start to scratch the surface, it’s amazing just how little is known about Doherty. Surely a world leader in any field would require relevant qualifications, academic recognition, and peer reviewed publications. Yet Doherty fails to meet any of these criteria.

Doherty is not mentioned by any recognised professional historian, and does not appear in any historical work of the 20th Century. How do we explain this omission in light of his alleged fame and historical significance?

Where did he acquire his alleged bachelor degree? Nobody knows and Doherty refuses to say.

Has anyone met him in person? This is unclear. Neil Godrey has posted an alleged ‘interview’ with Doherty (the so-called Testimonium Godfrianum) but there is no evidence it was a face to face meeting, and in the absence of independent witnesses Godfrey remains the only source. Since he supports Doherty’s viewpoint, his account cannot be trusted.

Has the TG been interpolated? Undoubtedly. But since none of it can be independently verified, how could we tell where the truth ends and the interpolation begins? It seems more likely the entire document is a pious fraud!

The content of the TG is also highly problematic. It is not what we would expect from someone who knows Doherty or has actually met him.

Godfrey tells us nothing about Doherty’s birth or early life; he sheds no light on Doherty’s education or nationality; there are no details to Doherty’s work, hobbies, family, or friends. Godfrey doesn’t even know where Doherty lives, and has no idea of his age.

Random dates are sprinkled in to give a semblance of reality (1982, 1984, 1996, 2000-2001 and a passing nod to ‘the 1960s’ & ‘the 1980s’) but Godfrey offers nothing to suggest familiarity with the events of these years, and even the words he puts in Doherty’s mouth are devoid of any contemporary references.

Is Godfrey suggesting his ‘interview’ with Doherty took place outside the mundane world; perhaps in the ‘sub-lunar realm’? It’s a compelling interpretation and corresponds neatly with the details provided.

Towards the end of the TG, Godfrey blurts out a frank admission:

>>
I don’t think anyone in “internet land” has any idea of what you look like, your educational background, what you do or have done for a living. Why is this?
>>

(Testimonium Godfrianum, XVI, i).

In reply, Doherty is made to say that he has ‘kept a relatively low personal profile perhaps partly out of caution but also because I don’t want to intrude my personality or background into the debate’ (Testimonium Godfrianum, XVI, ii). It’s an obvious interpolation, clumsily aping gMark’s ‘Messianic secret’ motif. The suggestion is that Doherty – like Jesus – conceals his identity from the faithless, only revealing it to fellow Mythicist believers.

But astute readers will notice this vague response does not answer the question posed. Historical Doherty scholars therefore conclude the entire section is the work of a later editor (‘NG2’) attempting to resolve the contradiction between Doherty’s alleged historical fame and the fact that his existence is not admitted by any contemporary historian (the so-called ‘Dohertian secret’).

Doherty’s disciples have argued the passage is genuine, citing the criterion of embarrassment. ‘Why would an interpolator invent an exchange that undermines Doherty’s historicity and why insert it awkwardly between XV and XVII, requiring two passages to be renumbered?’, they ask.

But Historical Doherty scholars point out that the TG ends more naturally if we read straight from XV to XVII, skipping XVI altogether. Since the original manuscript was not numbered, the ‘problem’ of renumbering does not arise. XVI was fabricated for the sole purpose of raising a question which should have been presented at the beginning of the ‘interview’, boldly confronting the elephant in the room.

So why drop it into the second-last paragraph? Precisely because we would expect to find such an interpolation at the start. By squeezing it awkwardly between XVI and XVII, NG2 has tried to give the impression that this was a last-minute, spur-of-the-moment question. A daring ploy, but just a little too clever to sneak under the radar!

The biggest problem is that we simply don’t have any writings from Doherty himself. All we have is a constant stream of forgeries in his name, every single one of which is either posted on the internet, or conveniently ‘self-published.’ It’s difficult to separate fact from fiction because Mythicists are notorious for historical inaccuracy, literary embellishment, opportunistic interpolation, and downright lying. Gandy & Freke typify this behaviour (source: http://bit.ly/3gERuk) but it is endemic throughout Mythicist literature.

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  • Anonymous

    Embellishing the facts is no different than using a text allegorically, is it? Manipulation of symbol is par for the course, as scriptures ARE literature in that sense. And we are not part of “their world”, so how can we fully understand how they understood what truly happened and how they wrote about it? Is there “universal human characteristics” that make for some understanding of how myth is used? And the reasons why they would use it?

     The historicist tries to uncover the “facts”, but for what reason? The proof of Jesus’ life doesn’t really matter, does it, as Jesus Life was a means for theology to promote the Church. Now, it seems that Jesus life is useful to promote a humanist agenda.

  • angievandemerwe

    Embellishing the facts is no different than using a text allegorically, is it? Manipulation of symbol is par for the course, as scriptures ARE literature in that sense. And we are not part of “their world”, so how can we fully understand how they understood what truly happened and how they wrote about it? Is there “universal human characteristics” that make for some understanding of how myth is used? And the reasons why they would use it?

     The historicist tries to uncover the “facts”, but for what reason? The proof of Jesus’ life doesn’t really matter, does it, as Jesus Life was a means for theology to promote the Church. Now, it seems that Jesus life is useful to promote a humanist agenda.

  • Dave Burke

    Does Earl Doherty match the hero archetype? Let’s see how he compares to Campbell’s ‘monomyth.’ The results may surprise you!

    In the interests of objectivity I have used only the words attributed to Doherty in the Testimonium Godfrianum, uncritically accepted by all Mythicists as a genuine historical record:

    * The Call to Adventure:
    ‘In 1982 I read a couple of books by G. A. Wells, and I was quite taken aback. While I had vaguely heard of the ‘no historical Jesus’ idea during the 1970s, I tended to regard it as unlikely. Not, however, based on any particular knowledge of the subject. But that has enabled me to understand the automatic dismissal which the Christ myth theory usually receives from those who really know very little about it.’

    * The Road of Trials:
    ‘I am periodically criticized by my dissenters on Internet discussion boards for not making a more determined effort to do that, though it’s clear that their motives are anything but prompted by a desire to have the case for Jesus Mythicism properly evaluated.’

    * The Vision Quest:
    ‘I became an atheist at the age of 19. (I regret that it didn’t happen earlier.) It was largely an intellectual conversion, as too many things about the Catholic faith I grew up in were no longer acceptable. Once one sets aside the indoctrination of belief in a God, one sees the world through entirely different eyes.’

    * The Meeting with the Goddess:
    ‘In 1984, after finishing a novel I had been working on for some time, I began to read more widely, and soon decided I would undertake my own research of the question, perhaps with a view to writing my own book.’

    * The Boon:
    ‘For about a year in the late 1980s, I took a break from my Jesus research and undertook a too-ambitious project of combining reviews of historical novels with a capsule history of the world! I read Fisher’s Testament as part of that project, and my reviews on the series were expanded for American Atheist magazine in 2000-2001. The scope of Fisher’s vision has no equal in the field in my estimation, and they were inspiring.’

    * The Magic Flight:
    ‘While I have a high respect for Prof. Wells, I felt that the subject could use a different approach. Fortunately, I had studied ancient Greek in university during the 1960s, as part of a degree in ancient history and classical languages. I could build on that earlier education and supplement it with my own private study. Before long, I guess you could say it became an obsession.’

    * The Return Threshold:
    ‘[Jesus Puzzle website first appeared] in 1996. The year before, I had written a series of four articles on the Jesus Myth theory for Humanist in Canada, the magazine of Canadian Humanist Publications. Those articles were then posted on a web page owned and operated by a close friend, as I was Internet-illiterate at the time. Much to my surprise, having spent over a decade toiling in obscurity, I saw them gain very wide attention rather quickly, and I became somewhat notorious in biblical circles.’

    * The Master of Two Worlds:
    ‘Though it has come as an unexpected surprise to me, I know that my books and website have had a significant impact and that I am probably regarded as today’s leading mythicism proponent.’

    The parallels are uncanny!

  • Dave Burke

    Does Earl Doherty match the hero archetype? Let’s see how he compares to Campbell’s ‘monomyth.’ The results may surprise you!

    In the interests of objectivity I have used only the words attributed to Doherty in the Testimonium Godfrianum, uncritically accepted by all Mythicists as a genuine historical record:

    * The Call to Adventure:
    ‘In 1982 I read a couple of books by G. A. Wells, and I was quite taken aback. While I had vaguely heard of the ‘no historical Jesus’ idea during the 1970s, I tended to regard it as unlikely. Not, however, based on any particular knowledge of the subject. But that has enabled me to understand the automatic dismissal which the Christ myth theory usually receives from those who really know very little about it.’

    * The Road of Trials:
    ‘I am periodically criticized by my dissenters on Internet discussion boards for not making a more determined effort to do that, though it’s clear that their motives are anything but prompted by a desire to have the case for Jesus Mythicism properly evaluated.’

    * The Vision Quest:
    ‘I became an atheist at the age of 19. (I regret that it didn’t happen earlier.) It was largely an intellectual conversion, as too many things about the Catholic faith I grew up in were no longer acceptable. Once one sets aside the indoctrination of belief in a God, one sees the world through entirely different eyes.’

    * The Meeting with the Goddess:
    ‘In 1984, after finishing a novel I had been working on for some time, I began to read more widely, and soon decided I would undertake my own research of the question, perhaps with a view to writing my own book.’

    * The Boon:
    ‘For about a year in the late 1980s, I took a break from my Jesus research and undertook a too-ambitious project of combining reviews of historical novels with a capsule history of the world! I read Fisher’s Testament as part of that project, and my reviews on the series were expanded for American Atheist magazine in 2000-2001. The scope of Fisher’s vision has no equal in the field in my estimation, and they were inspiring.’

    * The Magic Flight:
    ‘While I have a high respect for Prof. Wells, I felt that the subject could use a different approach. Fortunately, I had studied ancient Greek in university during the 1960s, as part of a degree in ancient history and classical languages. I could build on that earlier education and supplement it with my own private study. Before long, I guess you could say it became an obsession.’

    * The Return Threshold:
    ‘[Jesus Puzzle website first appeared] in 1996. The year before, I had written a series of four articles on the Jesus Myth theory for Humanist in Canada, the magazine of Canadian Humanist Publications. Those articles were then posted on a web page owned and operated by a close friend, as I was Internet-illiterate at the time. Much to my surprise, having spent over a decade toiling in obscurity, I saw them gain very wide attention rather quickly, and I became somewhat notorious in biblical circles.’

    * The Master of Two Worlds:
    ‘Though it has come as an unexpected surprise to me, I know that my books and website have had a significant impact and that I am probably regarded as today’s leading mythicism proponent.’

    The parallels are uncanny!

  • Anonymous

    The good news is we have living people who know Earl Doherty personally. Earl has written many things that individuals who have met and spoken with him with have discussed with him. 

    This argument assumes we have similar actual live people who wrote about their actual encounters with Jesus. This is the evidence we are all waiting for, so if it is present, don’t waste time,  let us know where it is.

    • randall.morrison90

      Can you tell me who these people who have met Doherty are?  How can I get in touch with them?

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        To randall.morrison90
        From FRDB
        http://www.freeratio.org/thearchives/showthread.php?t=92838&highlight=doherty
        Doherty showed himself in Los Angeles: “Doherty will be the featured speaker at the Atheists United Awards Banquet, Sept 11 [2004].
        At Les Freres Taix French Restaurant (which is actually Basque), 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
        No host bar open at 6 pm, dinner at 7Members and guests $25 in advance (received by Sept 7) or $30 at the doorNonmembers $30 in advance or $35 at the doorMail checks to Atheists United, 4773 Hollywood Bouldvard, LA 90027 with choice of entree: Roast Chicken, Trout Almondine, or Pasta Monaigasque (vegetarian)”
        At least two persons active on FRDB forums claimed they saw him at the restaurants. They go under the web names of Toto and Ipetrich, both sympathetic to Doherty.
        Toto is still very much active on the FRDB forum.

        • OzRob

          This is excellent work. So it appears we have at least one mass hallucination and several independent visions of Doherty. It would appear the redactors and proponents of Dohertyism don’t even have the originality to avoid obvious comparisons with early Christian writers.

        • Roo Bookaroo

          I did search for a picture of Doherty on the Web, and couldn’t find any. I did write to him directly to ask him if there was one somewhere to be found, and he replied that there’s no public picture of him, and he doesn’t want any. I was disappointed as I was eager to put a face behind his interesting and puzzling books.

    • OzRob

      A worthy tactic when establishing a myth. Even Luke and Paul used this beauty of appealing to eyewitnesses who were still alive to question.

  • beallen0417

    The good news is we have living people who know Earl Doherty personally. Earl has written many things that individuals who have met and spoken with him with have discussed with him. 

    This argument assumes we have similar actual live people who wrote about their actual encounters with Jesus. This is the evidence we are all waiting for, so if it is present, don’t waste time,  let us know where it is.

    • randall.morrison90

      Can you tell me who these people who have met Doherty are?  How can I get in touch with them?

      • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

        To randall.morrison90
        From FRDB Archive
        http://www.freeratio.org/thearchives/showthread.php?t=92838&highlight=doherty
        Doherty showed himself in Los Angeles:
        “Doherty will be the featured speaker at the Atheists United Awards Banquet, Sept 11 [2004].
        At Les Freres Taix French Restaurant (which is actually Basque), 1911 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.
        No host bar open at 6 pm, dinner at 7
        Members and guests $25 in advance (received by Sept 7) or $30 at the door
        Nonmembers $30 in advance or $35 at the door
        Mail checks to Atheists United, 4773 Hollywood Bouldvard, LA 90027 with choice of entree: Roast Chicken, Trout Almondine, or Pasta Monaigasque (vegetarian)”

        At least two persons active on FRDB forum claimed they saw him at the restaurant. They go under the web names of Toto and Ipetrich, both sympathetic to Doherty.
        Toto and Ipetrich are still very much active on the FRDB forum and could be contacted through it (but you have to be a member first).
        I wonder: does a picture of Doherty show in his latest book? There is none in his initial book “The Jesus Puzzle”.
        I follow the FRDB forum on “Biblical Criticism & History” and that’s the only time a Doherty’s appearance was announced here, as I can remember.

        • OzRob

          This is excellent work. So it appears we have at least one mass hallucination and several independent visions of Doherty. It would appear the redactors and proponents of Dohertyism don’t even have the originality to avoid obvious comparisons with early Christian writers.

        • Roo Bookaroo

          I did search for a picture of Doherty on the Web, and couldn’t find any. I did write to him directly to ask him if there was one somewhere to be found, and he replied that there’s no public picture of him, and he doesn’t want any. I was disappointed as I was eager to put a face behind his interesting and puzzling books.

    • OzRob

      A worthy tactic when establishing a myth. Even Luke and Paul used this beauty of appealing to eyewitnesses who were still alive to question.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    This is tagged as “parody”. Does either Jason Burke or James McGrath really think it is parody or does either of them actually believe there is an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?

    • Fortigurn

      Neil Gumpelberry, would you like to address the topic?

    • randall.morrison90

       Neil, one question.  Where did Doherty get his college degree?

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    This is tagged as “parody”. Does either Jason Burke or James McGrath really think it is parody or does either of them actually believe there is an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?

    • Fortigurn

      Neil Gumpelberry, would you like to address the topic?

    • randall.morrison90

       Neil, one question.  Where did Doherty get his college degree?

  • Dave Burke

    beallen0417,

    >>
    The good news is we have living people who know Earl Doherty personally.
    >>

    Do we? Name six. How do you explain the silence of contemporary historians?

    >>
    Earl has written many things that individuals who have met and spoken with him with have discussed with him.
    >>

    Has he? I see no evidence of this.

    • Anonymous

      Hey Dave,
      Kirk Cameron is wondering when you’ll be through using his brain?
      Oh, and I hear that Ray Comfort might be up for loaning his out to you.

      • Dave Burke

        Hi Contra,

        I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I guess that’s OK because mindless polemic doesn’t need to make sense. Feel free to address the topic under discussion. :)

  • Dave Burke

    beallen0417,

    >>
    The good news is we have living people who know Earl Doherty personally.
    >>

    Do we? Name six. How do you explain the silence of contemporary historians?

    >>
    Earl has written many things that individuals who have met and spoken with him with have discussed with him.
    >>

    Has he? I see no evidence of this.

    • L.W. Dicker

      Hey Dave,
      Kirk Cameron is wondering when you’ll be through using his brain?
      Oh, and I hear that Ray Comfort might be up for loaning his out to you.

      • Dave Burke

        Hi Contra,

        I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I guess that’s OK because mindless polemic doesn’t need to make sense. Feel free to address the topic under discussion. :)

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    This is tagged as “parody”.
    >>

    Well spotted, Neil! Always the sharp one. Now that I’ve got you here, perhaps you can talk us through the Testimonium Godfrianum.

    When and where was this alleged interview conducted? Was it a face to face meeting? (I suspect not). Who else was present? Do you have any eyewitness testimony from non-Mythicists to confirm the details?

    Many Historical Doherty scholars now believe it took place in the sub-lunar realm, perhaps under the influence of spiritual beings (or ‘rulers of this world’, as Doherty calls them). Would you like to comment on this aspect of the narrative?

    >>
    Does either Jason Burke or James McGrath
    really think it is parody or does either of them actually believe there
    is an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?
    >>

    Firstly, I don’t know who Jason Burke is. Secondly, if this is mere parody, does it need to have an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?

    Having said that…

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    This is tagged as “parody”.
    >>

    Well spotted, Neil! Always the sharp one. Now that I’ve got you here, perhaps you can talk us through the Testimonium Godfrianum.

    When and where was this alleged interview conducted? Was it a face to face meeting? (I suspect not). Who else was present? Do you have any eyewitness testimony from non-Mythicists to confirm the details?

    Many Historical Doherty scholars now believe it took place in the sub-lunar realm, perhaps under the influence of spiritual beings (or ‘rulers of this world’, as Doherty calls them). Would you like to comment on this aspect of the narrative?

    >>
    Does either Jason Burke or James McGrath
    really think it is parody or does either of them actually believe there
    is an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?
    >>

    Firstly, I don’t know who Jason Burke is. Secondly, if this is mere parody, does it need to have an edifying, serious and valid analogy with Doherty’s arguments?

    Having said that…

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    No, not interested in discussing a parody. But James’ introduction of Dave’s remarks and Dave’s response indicate that their curious obsesssion with mythicism and Doherty in particular has generated and blinded them to their own logical and comprehension deficits in relation to this question.

    • randall.morrison90

      Then why are you here dicussing it?

      WHERE DID DOHERTY GET HIS COLLEGE DEGREE?

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    No, not interested in discussing a parody. But James’ introduction of Dave’s remarks and Dave’s response indicate that their curious obsesssion with mythicism and Doherty in particular has generated and blinded them to their own logical and comprehension deficits in relation to this question.

    • randall.morrison90

      Then why are you here dicussing it?

      WHERE DID DOHERTY GET HIS COLLEGE DEGREE?

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    No, not interested in discussing a parody.
    >>

    Parody it may be, but the defensiveness of your response betrays a recognition of some wheat among the chaff. If I was serious about this, I could probably make a good case for the mythical Doherty. It wouldn’t be difficult; all the building blocks are there, and Mythicist methodology is well suited to the task.

    At any rate, I didn’t ask you to discuss a parody. I asked you some serious questions about the alleged interview. If you don’t feel comfortable answering, that’s fine. Your refusal to provide verifiable details serves me equally well.

    >>
    But James’ introduction of Dave’s remarks and Dave’s response indicate that their curious obsesssion with mythicism and Doherty in particular has generated and blinded them to their own logical and comprehension deficits in relation to this question.
    >>

    The irony is strong with this one. (I make a few comments every two or three months and that’s an obsession? I’m not the one with an entire blog devoted to Mythicism and Doherty’s work!) At any rate, since Doherty’s work is a parody of scholarship I’m in good company. Or bad company, depending on one’s perspective.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    No, not interested in discussing a parody.
    >>

    Parody it may be, but the defensiveness of your response betrays a recognition of some wheat among the chaff. If I was serious about this, I could probably make a good case for the mythical Doherty. It wouldn’t be difficult; all the building blocks are there, and Mythicist methodology is well suited to the task.

    At any rate, I didn’t ask you to discuss a parody. I asked you some serious questions about the alleged interview. If you don’t feel comfortable answering, that’s fine. Your refusal to provide verifiable details serves me equally well.

    >>
    But James’ introduction of Dave’s remarks and Dave’s response indicate that their curious obsesssion with mythicism and Doherty in particular has generated and blinded them to their own logical and comprehension deficits in relation to this question.
    >>

    The irony is strong with this one. (I make a few comments every two or three months and that’s an obsession? I’m not the one with an entire blog devoted to Mythicism and Doherty’s work!) At any rate, since Doherty’s work is a parody of scholarship I’m in good company. Or bad company, depending on one’s perspective.

  • Fortigurn

    Neville Godfrey, why do you always resort to personal attacks?

  • Fortigurn

    Neville Godfrey, why do you always resort to personal attacks?

  • http://www.facebook.com/pstenberg Pär Stenberg

    Excellent scholarship! It is great to see free-thinkers like Burke who is not forced by his traditions to confirm ancient dogmas. After reading the article, it becomes quite obvious to any rational person that the classical portrait of a human Doherty does not fit the data that we currently possess.

  • https://nomoschristou.wordpress.com Pär Stenberg

    Excellent scholarship! It is great to see free-thinkers like Burke who is not forced by his traditions to confirm ancient dogmas. After reading the article, it becomes quite obvious to any rational person that the classical portrait of a human Doherty does not fit the data that we currently possess.

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

    All we have are stories about Earl Doherty, none of which come from reliable sources. it seems as though, were he interested in being consistent, Evan might rather point out that we have stories about Superman meeting even well-documented historical individuals, such as American president John F. Kennedy, and yet that doesn’t make Superman historical.

    I am always impressed by the rapidity with which all the supposed principles that mythicists claim to adhere to are discarded when it suits them.

    • Anonymous

      Mythists have the authority to dismiss anything they desire, because they are the composers of the myth itself, as we all create our “myths” through our biases!

       Humans are prone to cognitive biases, so I suppose what we should be looking at is how cognitive biases develop, or are these biases innate in certain brains?

       Prejuidice has been identified not just as a cultural bias but a personality type in some cases! Authoritarianism is another type that describes certain personalities.

    • Anonymous

      One gets the idea reading this that this is a serious argument for the OP. Is it meant to be a serious argument, and if so why is it labeled parody?

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

    All we have are stories about Earl Doherty, none of which come from reliable sources. it seems as though, were he interested in being consistent, Evan might rather point out that we have stories about Superman meeting even well-documented historical individuals, such as American president John F. Kennedy, and yet that doesn’t make Superman historical.

    I am always impressed by the rapidity with which all the supposed principles that mythicists claim to adhere to are discarded when it suits them.

    • angievandemerwe

      Mythists have the authority to dismiss anything they desire, because they are the composers of the myth itself, as we all create our “myths” through our biases!

       Humans are prone to cognitive biases, so I suppose what we should be looking at is how cognitive biases develop, or are these biases innate in certain brains?

       Prejuidice has been identified not just as a cultural bias but a personality type in some cases! Authoritarianism is another type that describes certain personalities.

    • beallen0417

      One gets the idea reading this that this is a serious argument for the OP. Is it meant to be a serious argument, and if so why is it labeled parody?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    After the shortcomings of your last post bearing the label “mythicism,” do you really think that ridicule was the best direction to take on this one?  Your historicist fans may also find this parody “delightful,” but speaking as someone on the fence, I would have liked to see something more substantive.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    After the shortcomings of your last post bearing the label “mythicism,” do you really think that ridicule was the best direction to take on this one?  Your historicist fans may also find this parody “delightful,” but speaking as someone on the fence, I would have liked to see something more substantive.

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

    The shortcomings of my last post on mythicism were almost entirely related to (1) in attentive reading and writing on my part, and thus giving the impression that something had not been mentioned when in fact it had been, (2) my running together two Targums which are distinct but which are both attributed to the same source, and (3) a focus on the relationship of what Richard Carrier had written to mythicism, when he was trying to set that topic aside. I daily acknowledge all of that. I don’t think that any of those issues changes the fact that, as relates to mythicism, Carrier (1) was citing a text that resulted from the actual killing of a historical anointed one, (2) cited a Targum which associates Isaiah 53 with the Messiah but in the process distanced that figure from suffering, and (3) presented a background for early Christianity which fits a historicist scenario rather than a mythicist one.

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

    The shortcomings of my last post on mythicism were almost entirely related to (1) in attentive reading and writing on my part, and thus giving the impression that something had not been mentioned when in fact it had been, (2) my running together two Targums which are distinct but which are both attributed to the same source, and (3) a focus on the relationship of what Richard Carrier had written to mythicism, when he was trying to set that topic aside. I daily acknowledge all of that. I don’t think that any of those issues changes the fact that, as relates to mythicism, Carrier (1) was citing a text that resulted from the actual killing of a historical anointed one, (2) cited a Targum which associates Isaiah 53 with the Messiah but in the process distanced that figure from suffering, and (3) presented a background for early Christianity which fits a historicist scenario rather than a mythicist one.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    The reason I am agnostic about a historical Jesus is because I don’t find the historicists’ arguments nearly as convincing as they do.  I think that some scholars with mythicist sympathies have done a good job of pointing out the shortcomings of the historicist case although I believe that any positive case for mythicism is likely to be hampered as badly by the problems with the source material as the positive case for historicism is.

    I think that what Dr. Carrier did was critique a particular argument that is often used by historicists, i.e.,, first century Jews would not have expected a messiah who died.  I agree that showing that some Jews might have expected this does not increase the probability of mythicism (and Carrier did not claim that it did).  However, it does provide further justification for agnosticism.

    I generally find the ridicule directed towards mythicism rather tiresome both because I don’t find much of it particularly clever and because it does nothing to address what seem to me to be valid criticisms of the historicists’ arguments.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    The reason I am agnostic about a historical Jesus is because I don’t find the historicists’ arguments nearly as convincing as they do.  I think that some scholars with mythicist sympathies have done a good job of pointing out the shortcomings of the historicist case although I believe that any positive case for mythicism is likely to be hampered as badly by the problems with the source material as the positive case for historicism is.

    I think that what Dr. Carrier did was critique a particular argument that is often used by historicists, i.e.,, first century Jews would not have expected a messiah who died.  I agree that showing that some Jews might have expected this does not increase the probability of mythicism (and Carrier did not claim that it did).  However, it does provide further justification for agnosticism.

    I generally find the ridicule directed towards mythicism rather tiresome both because I don’t find much of it particularly clever and because it does nothing to address what seem to me to be valid criticisms of the historicists’ arguments.

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

    Vince, unless you identify agnosticism with Jesus mythicism, then I don’t see why we don’t see eye to eye on this matter. In your last comment, you acknowledge that the various points discussed do nothing to make the case for Jesus mythicism, and that those whose arguments you find useful are at best scholars with “mythicist sympathies.” Why not just come right out and acknowledge that mythicism of the sort that Earl Doherty (or whatever his real name is) peddles is bunk, and carefully distinguish that “we can know Jesus was a myth” nonsense from your position which takes a stance of principled agnosticism because of the nature of the evidence? I don’t think that considering mythicism an ally does your own position any favors, or helps facilitate serious discussion of your own stance.

    • Anonymous

      Dr. McGrath,

      I don’t think I would be agnostic about a historical Jesus if I didn’t think that mythicism had some positive explanatory power.   I think some form of mythicist hypothesis probably makes better sense of the early epistles’ silence as to a recently deceased teacher and healer.  On the other hand, I think some form of historicist hypothesis probably makes better sense of the
      Jesus of the gospels who progresses from more human to more supernatural as the stories are retold and rerecorded.  I am agnostic because I can see some evidence that points in one direction and some that points in the other and a whole lot of evidence that fits either hypothesis. 

      To my mind, early Christian history is like a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle for which we only have about 73 pieces. 
      We can make reasonable guesses like sky for the blue pieces and foliage for the green pieces, but they are still just guesses because they could be any number of other things as well and we don’t have enough pieces of either color to be sure.  Some of the pieces, like the synoptic gospels and the Pauline epistles seem to fit into discernible clusters but I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to say with certainty what the spaces between those clusters look like or how large they are. 

      I think Doherty expresses an unwarranted degree of certainty about his conclusions, but it is hard for me to see it as any more nonsensical than the degree of certainty I see expressed by Richard Bauckham or Maurice Casey or Craig Evans or any other number of scholars who seem to be respectable members of the mainstream of historical Jesus studies.  If I had a nickel for every historicist who claimed certainty on matters
      that seem to me to be little more than interesting possibilities, I would have a tidy little pile of nickels.  I don’t know enough about most of Doherty’s arguments to say whether or not they are bunk. 

      As far as identifying agnosticism with mythicism goes,
      it seems to me that you did exactly that with Dr. Carrier’s post.   I think there is a continuum from historicism to agnosticism to mythicism with many grey areas along the way.  I think that recognizing the overlap  has to go hand in hand with isolating the bunk.

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

    Vince, unless you identify agnosticism with Jesus mythicism, then I don’t see why we don’t see eye to eye on this matter. In your last comment, you acknowledge that the various points discussed do nothing to make the case for Jesus mythicism, and that those whose arguments you find useful are at best scholars with “mythicist sympathies.” Why not just come right out and acknowledge that mythicism of the sort that Earl Doherty (or whatever his real name is) peddles is bunk, and carefully distinguish that “we can know Jesus was a myth” nonsense from your position which takes a stance of principled agnosticism because of the nature of the evidence? I don’t think that considering mythicism an ally does your own position any favors, or helps facilitate serious discussion of your own stance.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

      Dr. McGrath,

      I don’t think I would be agnostic about a historical Jesus if I didn’t think that mythicism had some positive explanatory power.   I think some form of mythicist hypothesis probably makes better sense of the early epistles’ silence as to a recently deceased teacher and healer.  On the other hand, I think some form of historicist hypothesis probably makes better sense of the Jesus of the gospels who progresses from more human to more supernatural as the stories are retold and rerecorded.  I am agnostic because I can see some evidence that points in one direction and some that points in the other and a whole lot of evidence that fits either hypothesis. 

      To my mind, early Christian history is like a 5000 piece jigsaw puzzle for which we only have about 73 pieces.  We can make reasonable guesses like sky for the blue pieces and foliage for the green pieces, but they are still just guesses because they could be any number of other things as well and we don’t have enough pieces of either color to be sure.  Some of the pieces, like the synoptic gospels and the Pauline epistles seem to fit into discernible clusters but I think it is very difficult, if not impossible, to say with certainty what the spaces between those clusters look like or how large they are. 

      I think Doherty expresses an unwarranted degree of certainty about his conclusions, but it is hard for me to see it as any more nonsensical than the degree of certainty I see expressed by Richard Bauckham or Maurice Casey or Craig Evans or any other number of scholars who seem to be respectable members of the mainstream of historical Jesus studies.  If I had a nickel for every historicist who claimed certainty on matters that seem to me to be little more than interesting possibilities, I would have a tidy little pile of nickels.  I don’t know enough about most of Doherty’s arguments to say whether or not they are bunk. 

      As far as identifying agnosticism with mythicism goes, it seems to me that you did exactly that with Dr. Carrier’s post.   I think there is a continuum from historicism to agnosticism to mythicism with many grey areas along the way.  I think that recognizing the overlap  has to go hand in hand with isolating the bunk.

  • Toto

    Yes, I have met Doherty, and heard him play the piano. He has no mythic characteristics, and fits the profile of a Canadian Humanist with a classical education who thinks he can solve historical puzzles. He has produced a large body of writings and spoken at a few conferences. If we had such writings from Jesus, or reports of his speeches from contemporaries, that would change the state of the evidence for Jesus. This seems to be more Mythicist Derangement Syndrome at work.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Toto,
      Can you tell which few conferences Doherty spoke?

      • Toto

        Most recently here:
        http://www.montreal2010.org/pub/announcement_en.html

        ATHEIST ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL — HUMANIST CANADA
        Joint Convention Montréal, Québec, October 1 – 3, 2010

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Thanks for the link Toto,
          But no photo of Doherty! I never saw his face in picture. Can you provide one?

  • Toto

    Yes, I have met Doherty, and heard him play the piano. He has no mythic characteristics, and fits the profile of a Canadian Humanist with a classical education who thinks he can solve historical puzzles. He has produced a large body of writings and spoken at a few conferences. If we had such writings from Jesus, or reports of his speeches from contemporaries, that would change the state of the evidence for Jesus. This seems to be more Mythicist Derangement Syndrome at work.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      To Toto,
      Can you tell which few conferences Doherty spoke?

      • Toto

        Most recently here:
        http://www.montreal2010.org/pub/announcement_en.html

        ATHEIST ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL — HUMANIST CANADA
        Joint Convention Montréal, Québec, October 1 – 3, 2010

        • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

          Thanks for the link Toto,
          But no photo of Doherty! I never saw his face in picture. Can you provide one?

  • Just Sayin’

    Very clever piece of writing!

  • Just Sayin’

    Very clever piece of writing!

  • observer

    Toto’s comments at first could be considered as evidence  for the existence of Doherty but we still have the possibility this was simply someone impersonating the mythical Doherty or that Toto is lying to protect his deep need for a historical Doherty by making up evidence. I still see no strong evidence for the existence of Doherty.

    • Toto

      No – you see evidence that you choose to dismiss. What is the comparable direct evidence for Jesus that a skeptic even needs to discount?

  • observer

    Toto’s comments at first could be considered as evidence  for the existence of Doherty but we still have the possibility this was simply someone impersonating the mythical Doherty or that Toto is lying to protect his deep need for a historical Doherty by making up evidence. I still see no strong evidence for the existence of Doherty.

    • Toto

      No – you see evidence that you choose to dismiss. What is the comparable direct evidence for Jesus that a skeptic even needs to discount?

  • observer

    We still do not know if this is Doherty or someone impersonating.

  • observer

    We still do not know if this is Doherty or someone impersonating.

  • observer

    Josephus

    Tacticus

    References to an Earthly Jesus in the writings of Paul.

    Synoptics

    John .

    All of these are best explained by a historical Jesus.

    A Jesus Myther is not a skeptic any more then a holocaust denier is a skeptic.  Both sides presuppose their conclusions and torture the evidence to fit it. One side loathes Jews, one side loathes Christians.

    Doherty mythicism bothers the mythers here cause we used their methodology to demonstrate the existence of Doherty can be questioned. 

  • observer

    Josephus

    Tacticus

    References to an Earthly Jesus in the writings of Paul.

    Synoptics

    John .

    All of these are best explained by a historical Jesus.

    A Jesus Myther is not a skeptic any more then a holocaust denier is a skeptic.  Both sides presuppose their conclusions and torture the evidence to fit it. One side loathes Jews, one side loathes Christians.

    Doherty mythicism bothers the mythers here cause we used their methodology to demonstrate the existence of Doherty can be questioned. 

  • observer

    Possibly someone has a photo of an earthly Doherty but we know how easy pictures can be forged. I fear the more and more one analyzes this the existence of Doherty becomes more and more questionable.

  • observer

    Possibly someone has a photo of an earthly Doherty but we know how easy pictures can be forged. I fear the more and more one analyzes this the existence of Doherty becomes more and more questionable.

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

    Did Doherty actually attend the conference? I thought mythicists didn’t even accept texts the traditional authorship of which was uncertain, never mind ones that are blatantly pseudonymous. How can the Dohertyspel according to Toto be offered as evidence without a hint of irony? :-)

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

    Did Doherty actually attend the conference? I thought mythicists didn’t even accept texts the traditional authorship of which was uncertain, never mind ones that are blatantly pseudonymous. How can the Dohertyspel according to Toto be offered as evidence without a hint of irony? :-)

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    The illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread definitely justify its label as parody.

    Some people appear to genuinely fail to notice (or are they all tongue in cheek?) that they are addressing the implications of internet technology and that without this modern medium the eyewitness evidence supplied would be more than equivalent to what many historicists claim they have for the historical Jesus.

    As for the thrust of the initial parody, it was actually Albert Schweitzer himself who remarked that the evidence for the historical Jesus — questionable sources etc — that did not enable it to the historicity of Jesus to at least theoretically be raised to positive probability. And he was not the only biblical scholar to have realized the nature of the evidence that has eluded people like Tim and McGrath etc today.

    And of course we have the boring usual issue of McGrath, as ever, making sweeping assertions about what Doherty argues without ever referencing their claims to support their their assertions. That is one important reason we have the regular focus of the “at the man” attacks as we also see here in abundance — maintaining diversion from anything Doherty actually argues is most important.

    There seems to be a pathological obsession with mythicism here that breeds — or maybe it’s a prerequisite — subpar reasoning ability and reading comprehension.

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    The illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread definitely justify its label as parody.

    Some people appear to genuinely fail to notice (or are they all tongue in cheek?) that they are addressing the implications of internet technology and that without this modern medium the eyewitness evidence supplied would be more than equivalent to what many historicists claim they have for the historical Jesus.

    As for the thrust of the initial parody, it was actually Albert Schweitzer himself who remarked that the evidence for the historical Jesus — questionable sources etc — that did not enable it to the historicity of Jesus to at least theoretically be raised to positive probability. And he was not the only biblical scholar to have realized the nature of the evidence that has eluded people like Tim and McGrath etc today.

    And of course we have the boring usual issue of McGrath, as ever, making sweeping assertions about what Doherty argues without ever referencing their claims to support their their assertions. That is one important reason we have the regular focus of the “at the man” attacks as we also see here in abundance — maintaining diversion from anything Doherty actually argues is most important.

    There seems to be a pathological obsession with mythicism here that breeds — or maybe it’s a prerequisite — subpar reasoning ability and reading comprehension.

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

    I thought it was your view that the very different interpretations of Jesus advanced by historians discredits the whole enterprise. If so, then why do different understandings of Doherty not equally undermine one’s confidence in his historicity?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I thought it was your view that the very different interpretations of
      Jesus advanced by historians discredits the whole enterprise. If so,
      then why do different understandings of Doherty not equally undermine
      one’s confidence in his historicity?

      You are kidding, aren’t you. If this thread were not a parody I would seriously urge you to read what I have in fact written. But that would spoil the joke, wouldn’t it.

      To continue in the parody vein, looking back I can now see that all those years I spent as a history student studing and debating different interpretations of Jefferson, Hitler,  Tiberius, Innocent III, Alexander, Constantine, Alcibiades, Baldwin etc etc etc meant they were all an illusion.

      If I quote here what I have argued about Jesus by contrast that would spoil the fun. Maybe you can dig out what I said, quote it, and post it as a new thread that is worth a serious discussion.

      • observer

        Did you ever advance the myther stance for those figures?

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

    I thought it was your view that the very different interpretations of Jesus advanced by historians discredits the whole enterprise. If so, then why do different understandings of Doherty not equally undermine one’s confidence in his historicity?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I thought it was your view that the very different interpretations of
      Jesus advanced by historians discredits the whole enterprise. If so,
      then why do different understandings of Doherty not equally undermine
      one’s confidence in his historicity?

      You are kidding, aren’t you. If this thread were not a parody I would seriously urge you to read what I have in fact written. But that would spoil the joke, wouldn’t it.

      To continue in the parody vein, looking back I can now see that all those years I spent as a history student studing and debating different interpretations of Jefferson, Hitler,  Tiberius, Innocent III, Alexander, Constantine, Alcibiades, Baldwin etc etc etc meant they were all an illusion.

      If I quote here what I have argued about Jesus by contrast that would spoil the fun. Maybe you can dig out what I said, quote it, and post it as a new thread that is worth a serious discussion.

      • observer

        Did you ever advance the myther stance for those figures?

  • Just Sayin’

    We’ve now established beyond all doubt that, as well as double standards, Jesus mythicists are devoid of the tiniest shred of humour when it comes to their beloved mytho-beliefs.

  • Just Sayin’

    We’ve now established beyond all doubt that, as well as double standards, Jesus mythicists are devoid of the tiniest shred of humour when it comes to their beloved mytho-beliefs.

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

    Vinny, I think the puzzle is a good analogy, although I remain convinced that while historicism does good justice to the few pieces we have in the Gospels, mythicism does poor justice to what the epistles actually say in places, and largely works at filling silences in the epistles that historicism can fill every bit as well – or which, at the very least, are no less puzzling for the one scenario than the other.

    I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with what Doherty actually claims. If you do, I fully expect that you will want to distance yourself from him and anyone who claims that he is offering something that can be taken seriously, never mind something persuasive.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I don’t look at mythicism as needing to fill any silences in
      the epistles.  I think it takes what it
      finds in the epistles as reflecting their authors’ understanding.  From the mythicist perspective there are no
      silences in the epistles because the epistles tell us as much as we can know
      with certainty about what their authors and their readers understood.   The silences
      are only there to plague historicists.

       

      The problem is that we don’t know how many pieces are missing from the puzzle between the gospels and the epistles.  The historicist assumes that there are only a
      few and that the transition is smooth. 
      The mythicist claims that there are many and that the picture is
      radically transformed.  The agnostic says
      “Beats me.  Can’t tell.”

      A few more votes in Loftus’ contest and I would have felt obligated to familiarize myself with Doherty’s theories.  Happily, you beat me and saved me the
      trouble.  I can stick with the guys with
      the right letters after their names who don’t claim certainty about mythicism.

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

    Vinny, I think the puzzle is a good analogy, although I remain convinced that while historicism does good justice to the few pieces we have in the Gospels, mythicism does poor justice to what the epistles actually say in places, and largely works at filling silences in the epistles that historicism can fill every bit as well – or which, at the very least, are no less puzzling for the one scenario than the other.

    I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with what Doherty actually claims. If you do, I fully expect that you will want to distance yourself from him and anyone who claims that he is offering something that can be taken seriously, never mind something persuasive.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I don’t look at mythicism as needing to fill any silences in the epistles.  I think it takes what it finds in the epistles as reflecting their authors’ understanding.  From the mythicist perspective there are no silences in the epistles because the epistles tell us as much as we can know with certainty about what their authors and their readers understood.  The silences are only there to plague historicists.

      The problem is that we don’t know how many pieces are missing from the puzzle between the gospels and the epistles.  The historicist assumes that there are only a few and that the transition is smooth.  The mythicist claims that there are many and that the picture is radically transformed.  The agnostic says “Beats me.  Can’t tell.”

      A few more votes in Loftus’ contest and I would have felt obligated to familiarize myself with Doherty’s theories.  Happily, you beat me and saved me the trouble.  I can stick with the guys with the right letters after their names who don’t claim certainty about mythicism.

  • OzRob

    At the urging of my colleague I’ve been persuaded to come forward with some initial comments regarding source material underlying the Testimonium Godfrianum.

    Clearly source criticism will reveal much of the
    underlying material that was woven together to create the more complete
    (but still awkward) work that has come to be known as TG.

    For example, vs.1:1a reads: “In
    1982 I read a couple of books by G. A. Wells, and I was quite taken
    aback. While I had vaguely heard of the ‘no historical Jesus’ idea
    during the 1970s, I tended to regard it as unlikely. Not, however, based
    on any particular knowledge of the subject. But that has enabled me to
    understand the automatic dismissal which the Christ myth theory usually
    receives from those who really know very little about it.”

    At
    first blush, one not well apprised of the background literature might
    find this believable. But it was obvious to me that these words had been
    placed on Doherty’s lips by a redactor to conform it with other
    mythicist figures. The passage bears an uncanny resemblance to an
    earlier classical piece by the priestess and oracle, Acharya S, who wrote:

    “Despite
    all of this literature continuously being cranked out and the
    significance of the issue, in the public at large there remains a
    serious lack of formal and broad education regarding religion and
    mythology, and most individuals are highly uninformed in this area.”

    Several themes are immediately apparent.

    The
    enigmatic Doherty allegedy refers to a professor, G.A.Wells. This seems
    to be an apologetic insertion to make Doherty seem more informed and
    though part of Acharya’s crowd who lack “formal and broad education”,
    still not completely ignorant. The redactor tries to make Doherty seem
    more of a sympathetic character by having him aware of the literature
    but skeptical due to insufficient exposure. This does fulfill the
    criterion of embarassment – surely Doherty wouldn’t be portrayed as
    being skeptical of the mythicist position that he later subscribes to,
    if in fact he wasn’t.

    Our TG redactor uses a doubling literary
    device to underline an important, pehaps epiphanious moment in Doherty’s
    call to mission.
    1) “not…based on any particular knowledge of the subject”
    2) “those who know very little about it”

    So
    Doherty (1) is identified with the uninformed population (2) but also
    individualised. On that point alone, we must seriously question his
    historicity. Doubtless, we are being led to imagine that he is an
    idealised figure who stands for the crowd. In a sense, Doherty is
    the crowd, but incarnated and personified in a singular way to help the
    reader better relate to the ideals and concepts as embodied in Doherty,
    rather than be confronted with the more impersonal crowd.

    Again,
    we sense the embarrassment of the redactor dealing with the source
    material. There is much “literature…being cranked out” but yet there
    remains a “serious lack of…education regarding religion and
    mythology”. In TG, this is incorporated by having Doherty “understand”
    those who ignorantly dismiss the myth because they “really know very
    little about it”.

    It is at this juncture that I suspected more
    than one source underlies this material. The oracles of Acharya are
    being absorbed but where she appears frustrated, Doherty is portrayed as
    sympathetic and understanding. But if we remove the obvious repeated
    material we can find accretion that doesn’t comfortably fit the purposes
    of our sympathetic redactor (SR).

    The first awkward accretion is
    the attribution of dates to Doherty’s movements. Earlier scholars
    initially thought it was done by SR to localise and further personify
    Doherty. But recent cross-disciplinary research revealed numerological
    considerations with the dates. There is a certain date of 1982 and a
    range of “1970s”. 1982 is one year. “1970s” is 10 years. The prefix 19
    includes the numerals 1 and 9. Adding 1 and 9 yields 10. And adding 8
    and 2 also yields 10. That gives us three instances of 10. The 10 years
    of the 1970s, the 10 from adding 1 and 9 from the prefix 19 and the 10
    from adding 8 and 2 from the one year 1982. Ryrebach et al,
    proposed a trinity of decalogues and argued that TG could be grouped
    into trinities of 10 words. This was the consensus until the
    aforementioned cross-discipline study in numerology revealed that a clue
    was encoded in the text. 10 is composed of the numerals 1 and 0. 1 x 0 =
    0. The 3 or trinity is a symbol of absoluteness. The symbology
    therefore reveals the meaning of “absolute zero”, which has been shown
    to mean a perfect nothingness or having no properties.

    SR clearly
    believes in the message he has drawn from Acharya and placed on the
    lips of Doherty so we are forced to conclude that another later redactor
    with his own agenda wanted to leave the message that Doherty in fact is
    a perfect nothingness or non-existence.

    I have only had the time
    to tease out a few details here, but there is definitely a rich,
    textured wash of layered source material and I look forward to studying
    it more thoroughly and hope to read the insights of my colleagues.

  • OzRob

    At the urging of my colleague I’ve been persuaded to come forward with some initial comments regarding source material underlying the Testimonium Godfrianum.

    Clearly source criticism will reveal much of the
    underlying material that was woven together to create the more complete
    (but still awkward) work that has come to be known as TG.

    For example, vs.1:1a reads: “In
    1982 I read a couple of books by G. A. Wells, and I was quite taken
    aback. While I had vaguely heard of the ‘no historical Jesus’ idea
    during the 1970s, I tended to regard it as unlikely. Not, however, based
    on any particular knowledge of the subject. But that has enabled me to
    understand the automatic dismissal which the Christ myth theory usually
    receives from those who really know very little about it.”

    At
    first blush, one not well apprised of the background literature might
    find this believable. But it was obvious to me that these words had been
    placed on Doherty’s lips by a redactor to conform it with other
    mythicist figures. The passage bears an uncanny resemblance to an
    earlier classical piece by the priestess and oracle, Acharya S, who wrote:

    “Despite
    all of this literature continuously being cranked out and the
    significance of the issue, in the public at large there remains a
    serious lack of formal and broad education regarding religion and
    mythology, and most individuals are highly uninformed in this area.”

    Several themes are immediately apparent.

    The
    enigmatic Doherty allegedy refers to a professor, G.A.Wells. This seems
    to be an apologetic insertion to make Doherty seem more informed and
    though part of Acharya’s crowd who lack “formal and broad education”,
    still not completely ignorant. The redactor tries to make Doherty seem
    more of a sympathetic character by having him aware of the literature
    but skeptical due to insufficient exposure. This does fulfill the
    criterion of embarassment – surely Doherty wouldn’t be portrayed as
    being skeptical of the mythicist position that he later subscribes to,
    if in fact he wasn’t.

    Our TG redactor uses a doubling literary
    device to underline an important, pehaps epiphanious moment in Doherty’s
    call to mission.
    1) “not…based on any particular knowledge of the subject”
    2) “those who know very little about it”

    So
    Doherty (1) is identified with the uninformed population (2) but also
    individualised. On that point alone, we must seriously question his
    historicity. Doubtless, we are being led to imagine that he is an
    idealised figure who stands for the crowd. In a sense, Doherty is
    the crowd, but incarnated and personified in a singular way to help the
    reader better relate to the ideals and concepts as embodied in Doherty,
    rather than be confronted with the more impersonal crowd.

    Again,
    we sense the embarrassment of the redactor dealing with the source
    material. There is much “literature…being cranked out” but yet there
    remains a “serious lack of…education regarding religion and
    mythology”. In TG, this is incorporated by having Doherty “understand”
    those who ignorantly dismiss the myth because they “really know very
    little about it”.

    It is at this juncture that I suspected more
    than one source underlies this material. The oracles of Acharya are
    being absorbed but where she appears frustrated, Doherty is portrayed as
    sympathetic and understanding. But if we remove the obvious repeated
    material we can find accretion that doesn’t comfortably fit the purposes
    of our sympathetic redactor (SR).

    The first awkward accretion is
    the attribution of dates to Doherty’s movements. Earlier scholars
    initially thought it was done by SR to localise and further personify
    Doherty. But recent cross-disciplinary research revealed numerological
    considerations with the dates. There is a certain date of 1982 and a
    range of “1970s”. 1982 is one year. “1970s” is 10 years. The prefix 19
    includes the numerals 1 and 9. Adding 1 and 9 yields 10. And adding 8
    and 2 also yields 10. That gives us three instances of 10. The 10 years
    of the 1970s, the 10 from adding 1 and 9 from the prefix 19 and the 10
    from adding 8 and 2 from the one year 1982. Ryrebach et al,
    proposed a trinity of decalogues and argued that TG could be grouped
    into trinities of 10 words. This was the consensus until the
    aforementioned cross-discipline study in numerology revealed that a clue
    was encoded in the text. 10 is composed of the numerals 1 and 0. 1 x 0 =
    0. The 3 or trinity is a symbol of absoluteness. The symbology
    therefore reveals the meaning of “absolute zero”, which has been shown
    to mean a perfect nothingness or having no properties.

    SR clearly
    believes in the message he has drawn from Acharya and placed on the
    lips of Doherty so we are forced to conclude that another later redactor
    with his own agenda wanted to leave the message that Doherty in fact is
    a perfect nothingness or non-existence.

    I have only had the time
    to tease out a few details here, but there is definitely a rich,
    textured wash of layered source material and I look forward to studying
    it more thoroughly and hope to read the insights of my colleagues.

  • JoeWallack

    Well James, you are just using the wrong criteria to prove HD (Historical Doherty). According to you, no serious Bible scholar takes Doherty seriously, so he only embarrasses himself by what he writes.  Since what he writes is embarrassing, per the Criterion of Embarrassment he must be historical.

    Seriously, satire is based on similarity between what you write and what your target sounds like. Since what you wrote doesn’t sound like Mythicists, it isn’t funny. There are criteria available to determine HD. You have just never utilized them because they would not work with Jesus. That’s your problem.

    More importantly, we can start one of those hilarious 1001 proofs that Earl Doherty exists because they will sound just like you:

    1) Everything Earl Doherty writes is not taken seriously by serious Bible scholars.

    2) Writing that is not taken seriously is embarrassing.

    3) The Criterion of Embarrassment proves historicity.

    4) Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

    Joseph

  • JoeWallack

    Well James, you are just using the wrong criteria to prove HD (Historical Doherty). According to you, no serious Bible scholar takes Doherty seriously, so he only embarrasses himself by what he writes.  Since what he writes is embarrassing, per the Criterion of Embarrassment he must be historical.

    Seriously, satire is based on similarity between what you write and what your target sounds like. Since what you wrote doesn’t sound like Mythicists, it isn’t funny. There are criteria available to determine HD. You have just never utilized them because they would not work with Jesus. That’s your problem.

    More importantly, we can start one of those hilarious 1001 proofs that Earl Doherty exists because they will sound just like you:

    1) Everything Earl Doherty writes is not taken seriously by serious Bible scholars.

    2) Writing that is not taken seriously is embarrassing.

    3) The Criterion of Embarrassment proves historicity.

    4) Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

    Joseph

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

    Since you do not consider this to actually sound like mythicists tend to, that suggests that mythicists would not be and are not embarrassed by the sorts of things Doherty says. And that would seem to prevent you appealing to that criterion in support of historical Dohertyism.

    There is obviously a potential advantage when dealing with a figure in our own time, but pseudonymity and other factors associated with Doherty and with mythicism more generally actually remove some of those, making the situation not analogous, but at least similar enough to make the conversation interesting – and for those who see mythicism from the perspective of outsiders, funny.

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

    Since you do not consider this to actually sound like mythicists tend to, that suggests that mythicists would not be and are not embarrassed by the sorts of things Doherty says. And that would seem to prevent you appealing to that criterion in support of historical Dohertyism.

    There is obviously a potential advantage when dealing with a figure in our own time, but pseudonymity and other factors associated with Doherty and with mythicism more generally actually remove some of those, making the situation not analogous, but at least similar enough to make the conversation interesting – and for those who see mythicism from the perspective of outsiders, funny.

  • Dave Burke

    Toto’s claim that Doherty appeared at the AAI-HC Joint Convention (attended by 300 people; source: http://bit.ly/peAhVZ) is interesting, but nothing less than we’d expect from a faithful believer and perfectly explicable by naturalistic means.

    Checking the convention’s website (http://bit.ly/ovRNRj) I find another curious fact: Doherty is one of only two speakers listed without a photograph. How strange… and yet, how convenient! The alleged ‘world’s leading Jesus mythicist’ is reduced to a mere footnote at the bottom of the guest list, without a single photo to confirm his identity or, indeed, his literal existence.

    Was a real flesh and blood human actually there? If so, he could easily have been an imposter. A more likely conclusion is that people at the conference merely *believed* they had seen Doherty. The heightened sense of expectation combined with earnest faith resulted in a form of mass hysteria or delusion.

    Of course, that Doherty appeared to groups of people is the least well-attested fact in the tradition, and is a likely thing to invent for its rhetorical power–these two facts combined make the accounts suspect.

    Even Toto’s tacit claim that 300 unnamed people saw Doherty at one time is curious–are we to suppose he interviewed 300 people? Indeed, is it even feasible that everyone in a gathering of 300 would be able to confirm that some person they saw was actually Doherty?

    It has long been known that hypnosis can in fact induce hallucinations by suggestion. The power of suggestion, and the influence of a similarity in socialization and cultural expectation and background, can also contribute to groups sharing, or believing they are sharing, the same experience.

    Dick Carrier (no jokes, please) whose words I’ve been paraphrasing, has correctly observed, ‘In other words, it is not even necessary for people who claim to have seen something to have actually seen it–it only matters that they believe it, or have any other reason to assert it’ (source: http://bit.ly/fbpltX).

    Well said. Dick.

    • OzRob

      My Dear Dave, I welcome your clarifications and explanatory suggestions in relation to the appearances of Doherty. Your proffered opinion is insightful and certainly worthy of further reflection.

      I wonder, though, if the entire notion of attempting to explain the appearances is wrong-headed? What evidence do we have apart from certain clearly biased claims that these appearances supposedly occurred in the mundane terrestrial realm? Is it not at least equally likely that what we are dealing with here is a spiritual experience or something else that is extra-mundane? In such a case we ought not to think that when one claims to have ‘met’ Doherty, that the lexicographical data vis-a-vis ‘met’ exhausts the ways in which we understand ‘met’. Indeed, the scholarly academia of language have a bias towards excluding understandings of ‘met’ from the lexicons that do not fit their preconceptions of ‘met’.

      If we look to 8th century Peruvian cultic literature we find an instance of ‘met’ meaning ‘dreamed’. Now, if the claim that academia is privileging lexical explanations that omit the  definition of ‘met’ as ‘dreamed’, then the evidence should show that nowhere in the lexicons do we find ‘dreamed’ as a viable translation of ‘met’. Curiously, this is precisely what we find.

      So when a Dohertist claims to have ‘met’ Doherty, it is all the more likely that they are in fact claiming to have ‘dreamed’ about Doherty or been the recipient of some other extra-mundane of experiencing Doherty.

      I do wish I had more time to devote to this fascinating field of inquiry yet my mundane pursuits call.

      I remain, as ever, your humble colleague in this quest.

  • Dave Burke

    Toto’s claim that Doherty appeared at the AAI-HC Joint Convention (attended by 300 people; source: http://bit.ly/peAhVZ) is interesting, but nothing less than we’d expect from a faithful believer and perfectly explicable by naturalistic means.

    Checking the convention’s website (http://bit.ly/ovRNRj) I find another curious fact: Doherty is one of only two speakers listed without a photograph. How strange… and yet, how convenient! The alleged ‘world’s leading Jesus mythicist’ is reduced to a mere footnote at the bottom of the guest list, without a single photo to confirm his identity or, indeed, his literal existence.

    Was a real flesh and blood human actually there? If so, he could easily have been an imposter. A more likely conclusion is that people at the conference merely *believed* they had seen Doherty. The heightened sense of expectation combined with earnest faith resulted in a form of mass hysteria or delusion.

    Of course, that Doherty appeared to groups of people is the least well-attested fact in the tradition, and is a likely thing to invent for its rhetorical power–these two facts combined make the accounts suspect.

    Even Toto’s tacit claim that 300 unnamed people saw Doherty at one time is curious–are we to suppose he interviewed 300 people? Indeed, is it even feasible that everyone in a gathering of 300 would be able to confirm that some person they saw was actually Doherty?

    It has long been known that hypnosis can in fact induce hallucinations by suggestion. The power of suggestion, and the influence of a similarity in socialization and cultural expectation and background, can also contribute to groups sharing, or believing they are sharing, the same experience.

    Dick Carrier (no jokes, please) whose words I’ve been paraphrasing, has correctly observed, ‘In other words, it is not even necessary for people who claim to have seen something to have actually seen it–it only matters that they believe it, or have any other reason to assert it’ (source: http://bit.ly/fbpltX).

    Well said. Dick.

    • OzRob

      My Dear Dave, I welcome your clarifications and explanatory suggestions in relation to the appearances of Doherty. Your proffered opinion is insightful and certainly worthy of further reflection.

      I wonder, though, if the entire notion of attempting to explain the appearances is wrong-headed? What evidence do we have apart from certain clearly biased claims that these appearances supposedly occurred in the mundane terrestrial realm? Is it not at least equally likely that what we are dealing with here is a spiritual experience or something else that is extra-mundane? In such a case we ought not to think that when one claims to have ‘met’ Doherty, that the lexicographical data vis-a-vis ‘met’ exhausts the ways in which we understand ‘met’. Indeed, the scholarly academia of language have a bias towards excluding understandings of ‘met’ from the lexicons that do not fit their preconceptions of ‘met’.

      If we look to 8th century Peruvian cultic literature we find an instance of ‘met’ meaning ‘dreamed’. Now, if the claim that academia is privileging lexical explanations that omit the  definition of ‘met’ as ‘dreamed’, then the evidence should show that nowhere in the lexicons do we find ‘dreamed’ as a viable translation of ‘met’. Curiously, this is precisely what we find.

      So when a Dohertist claims to have ‘met’ Doherty, it is all the more likely that they are in fact claiming to have ‘dreamed’ about Doherty or been the recipient of some other extra-mundane of experiencing Doherty.

      I do wish I had more time to devote to this fascinating field of inquiry yet my mundane pursuits call.

      I remain, as ever, your humble colleague in this quest.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    I possess secret Earl Doherty letters that no one has ever seen but me. They claim to be from Earl Doherty himself and provide personal information otherwise not known. I’m willing to release them for scholarly examination to aid in the quest for HD for a mere $100,000. Please make check out to:

    The Historical Doherty Foundation
    1857 Kessler Boulevard West Dr
    Indianapolis, IN 46208

    • OzRob

      Dear Howard,

      We are attempting to establish a seminar committed to studying the historicity of Doherty in which we will inevitably discover he is a mythic construct.

      Due to our pre-establishment phase there are no funds available to meet your request, which otherwise sounds fascinating and could be the breakthrough of the century.

      Perhaps you would be so kind as to share partial transcripts by which we could ascertain prima facie probability of the documents being genuine?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Dear OzRob,

        Sure, I can provide a small sample. In one of the letters he relates:

        “One day in 1966 while I was walking home from my piano lesson, a strange man approached me, he said his name was Martin Moroni. The man told me to meet him on a nearby hill in Wayne County, New York, which I would later find out that he would provide me with a golden pen that would reveal the truth about Jesus and Christianity. The truth was in the golden pen, and no matter what I tried to write, the pen would write the truth in golden ink. . .”

        That is all I can provide for now, but if you inform me of when and where this seminar will be held, I will bring the letters with me. So what do you make of what I have shared? Does it sound credible so far?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    I possess secret Earl Doherty letters that no one has ever seen but me. They claim to be from Earl Doherty himself and provide personal information otherwise not known. I’m willing to release them for scholarly examination to aid in the quest for HD for a mere $100,000. Please make check out to:

    The Historical Doherty Foundation
    1857 Kessler Boulevard West Dr
    Indianapolis, IN 46208

    • OzRob

      Dear Howard,

      We are attempting to establish a seminar committed to studying the historicity of Doherty in which we will inevitably discover he is a mythic construct.

      Due to our pre-establishment phase there are no funds available to meet your request, which otherwise sounds fascinating and could be the breakthrough of the century.

      Perhaps you would be so kind as to share partial transcripts by which we could ascertain prima facie probability of the documents being genuine?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Dear OzRob,

        Sure, I can provide a small sample. In one of the letters he relates:

        “One day in 1966 while I was walking home from my piano lesson, a strange man approached me, he said his name was Martin Moroni. The man told me to meet him on a nearby hill in Wayne County, New York, which I would later find out that he would provide me with a golden pen that would reveal the truth about Jesus and Christianity. The truth was in the golden pen, and no matter what I tried to write, the pen would write the truth in golden ink. . .”

        That is all I can provide for now, but if you inform me of when and where this seminar will be held, I will bring the letters with me. So what do you make of what I have shared? Does it sound credible so far?

  • Dave Burke

    Considering that Doherty Historicists have had literally decades to prove his existence, how do we explain why they’ve waited so long to take an interest in the problem?

    Even more suspicious is the spontaneous production of alleged evidence to answer recent challenges to his historicity (e.g. Toto’s claim about the Montreal convention). Such behaviour has the strong odour of pious fraud. So-called ‘proof’ is being fabricated in an attempt to retrospectively morph Doherty from a mythic hero into a historical figure.

    I suspect these developments have arisen as a consequence of the tension between Doherty Historicists’ traditional fideism and the implications of having their belief shattered. For years they have uncritically accepted his historicity as an article of faith, and the idea of trying to prove it was scoffed at. This fundamentalist view is evident in the posts of Neil Godfrey.

    But now other Mythicists are claiming Doherty’s historicity can be proved objectively. The change of doctrine is intriguing. Could this be a classic case of heresy driving orthodoxy? Will the current heresy *become* the new orthodoxy? It’s a thrilling time for observers of the Doherty cult!

  • Dave Burke

    Considering that Doherty Historicists have had literally decades to prove his existence, how do we explain why they’ve waited so long to take an interest in the problem?

    Even more suspicious is the spontaneous production of alleged evidence to answer recent challenges to his historicity (e.g. Toto’s claim about the Montreal convention). Such behaviour has the strong odour of pious fraud. So-called ‘proof’ is being fabricated in an attempt to retrospectively morph Doherty from a mythic hero into a historical figure.

    I suspect these developments have arisen as a consequence of the tension between Doherty Historicists’ traditional fideism and the implications of having their belief shattered. For years they have uncritically accepted his historicity as an article of faith, and the idea of trying to prove it was scoffed at. This fundamentalist view is evident in the posts of Neil Godfrey.

    But now other Mythicists are claiming Doherty’s historicity can be proved objectively. The change of doctrine is intriguing. Could this be a classic case of heresy driving orthodoxy? Will the current heresy *become* the new orthodoxy? It’s a thrilling time for observers of the Doherty cult!

  • Dave Burke

    Howard,

    >>
    So what do you make of what I have shared? Does it sound credible so far?
    >>

    It is as credible as anything else I’ve seen from ‘the world’s leading Jesus mythicist.’

  • Dave Burke

    Howard,

    >>
    So what do you make of what I have shared? Does it sound credible so far?
    >>

    It is as credible as anything else I’ve seen from ‘the world’s leading Jesus mythicist.’

  • OzRob

    My dear Howard,

    Though interesting, this appears to have all the hallmarks of pagan borrowing, which while we expect to see when dealing with mystery religions, is not in and of itself evidence of substance. We should need to evaluate the material more exhaustively, but at this juncture I must confess to some skepticism.

    I am grateful though for your offer to allow us the chance to peruse these documents before committing to their purchase. Collegial numbers for the seminar are still only in collection phase hence no dates have been set at this time.

    But I will be sure to send you an all-access pass when details are finalised.

    By the way I am a world-leading expert in the DH hypothesis with respect to the various layers of source material in the Testimonium Godfrianum, so I do hope you will be able to attend my lectures prior to the seminar fellows voting on individual sayings.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Dear OzRob,

      I am a bit perplexed by some of your remarks. Aren’t all religions mysterious, and don’t they all have pagan influence of one degree or another. In all fairness, if a historian is to approach his task in a completely objective way, what exactly constitutes a pagan religion? According to the accepted definition, a true objective observer, would in fact be the pagan. Therefore, your remarks do not readily clarify your initial objections to the subject matter. On the other hand, can a structured refutation of the central figure of an organized religion, namely Christianity, be considered a religion of its own, which can borrow concepts from another Christ opposing religious structure? In the seminar, we will have to address the issue of when and how an inquiry of past events can transform from simply evaluating the available evidence to constructing a past that relies on unsubstantiated claims and supernatural events. And the supernatural events I have in mind include the fact that billions of thinking reasoning people accepted that Jesus was truly God’s son and he died and was resurrected. Is it natural for billions of people to be deceived by the same 2,000 year old story?

  • OzRob

    My dear Howard,

    Though interesting, this appears to have all the hallmarks of pagan borrowing, which while we expect to see when dealing with mystery religions, is not in and of itself evidence of substance. We should need to evaluate the material more exhaustively, but at this juncture I must confess to some skepticism.

    I am grateful though for your offer to allow us the chance to peruse these documents before committing to their purchase. Collegial numbers for the seminar are still only in collection phase hence no dates have been set at this time.

    But I will be sure to send you an all-access pass when details are finalised.

    By the way I am a world-leading expert in the DH hypothesis with respect to the various layers of source material in the Testimonium Godfrianum, so I do hope you will be able to attend my lectures prior to the seminar fellows voting on individual sayings.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Dear OzRob,

      I am a bit perplexed by some of your remarks. Aren’t all religions mysterious, and don’t they all have pagan influence of one degree or another. In all fairness, if a historian is to approach his task in a completely objective way, what exactly constitutes a pagan religion? According to the accepted definition, a true objective observer, would in fact be the pagan. Therefore, your remarks do not readily clarify your initial objections to the subject matter. On the other hand, can a structured refutation of the central figure of an organized religion, namely Christianity, be considered a religion of its own, which can borrow concepts from another Christ opposing religious structure? In the seminar, we will have to address the issue of when and how an inquiry of past events can transform from simply evaluating the available evidence to constructing a past that relies on unsubstantiated claims and supernatural events. And the supernatural events I have in mind include the fact that billions of thinking reasoning people accepted that Jesus was truly God’s son and he died and was resurrected. Is it natural for billions of people to be deceived by the same 2,000 year old story?

  • Fortigurn

    JoeWallack, you have successfully demonstrated that you do not understand the criterion of embarrassment. It is not defined as you have described it. Furthermore the criterion of embarrassment is not of itself used to determine historicity. It is used to identify which parts of a textual record are most likely to be authentic. As a result it can be used to contribute to an argument for historicity, but it does not establish historicity. Like most Mytherists, you don’t actually understand how professional historians work.

  • Fortigurn

    JoeWallack, you have successfully demonstrated that you do not understand the criterion of embarrassment. It is not defined as you have described it. Furthermore the criterion of embarrassment is not of itself used to determine historicity. It is used to identify which parts of a textual record are most likely to be authentic. As a result it can be used to contribute to an argument for historicity, but it does not establish historicity. Like most Mytherists, you don’t actually understand how professional historians work.

  • OzRob

    Dear Howard,

    I am using standard popular nomenclature so as to avoid confusion. Certainly you raise some salient points and we will call for papers to address these foundational issues.

    On the other hand, if at some future point I decide I don’t like your line of questions I will be forced to claim you are beyond reason. Clearly, it is only possible to consider you reasonable insofar as you confirm assent to what I propose as true.

    I remain, as ever, your servant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      DearOzRob,

      Ahhh, it is just as I suspected, the underlying momentum of the HD research is merely a facade for the purpose of a popularity contest. How could I have been so blind, your seminar is not a search for truth, but a synod to garner adherents and propagate the mythical Doherty doctrine that has already been established in the dark by a secret council of historians bent on world domination. Their aim is to discredit all relevant data concerning the truth of Doherty’s existence and to vilify all sympathizers. That is precisely why you are so eager for me to bring my secret letters to the seminar, you wish to confiscate them before I can show the truth to others and start a counter movement that would threaten the secret council of historians.

      I don’t understand, what questions? I have no questions for you as I already know the truth. And yes, this truth has set me free to fight this diabolical attempt to take over the world. This secret council of historians are behind Mitt Romney’s attempt to take over the USA, the first step in their plans to get traditional Christians out of the White House.

      P.S. please still inform me of the seminar information as I will still attend but I will be in disguise. I will be the one dressed as chewbacca, with a purple hat sporting a long turkey feather in it.

      • http://twitter.com/BobOHara Bob O’Hara

        Oh shit, now what am I going to wear?

  • OzRob

    Dear Howard,

    I am using standard popular nomenclature so as to avoid confusion. Certainly you raise some salient points and we will call for papers to address these foundational issues.

    On the other hand, if at some future point I decide I don’t like your line of questions I will be forced to claim you are beyond reason. Clearly, it is only possible to consider you reasonable insofar as you confirm assent to what I propose as true.

    I remain, as ever, your servant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      DearOzRob,

      Ahhh, it is just as I suspected, the underlying momentum of the HD research is merely a facade for the purpose of a popularity contest. How could I have been so blind, your seminar is not a search for truth, but a synod to garner adherents and propagate the mythical Doherty doctrine that has already been established in the dark by a secret council of historians bent on world domination. Their aim is to discredit all relevant data concerning the truth of Doherty’s existence and to vilify all sympathizers. That is precisely why you are so eager for me to bring my secret letters to the seminar, you wish to confiscate them before I can show the truth to others and start a counter movement that would threaten the secret council of historians.

      I don’t understand, what questions? I have no questions for you as I already know the truth. And yes, this truth has set me free to fight this diabolical attempt to take over the world. This secret council of historians are behind Mitt Romney’s attempt to take over the USA, the first step in their plans to get traditional Christians out of the White House.

      P.S. please still inform me of the seminar information as I will still attend but I will be in disguise. I will be the one dressed as chewbacca, with a purple hat sporting a long turkey feather in it.

      • Bob O’Hara

        Oh shit, now what am I going to wear?

  • Fortigurn

    I have been investigating this conference at which Doherty was allegedly seen. Predictably, the story breaks down immediately. This particular link is damning for its silence on Doherty.

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/humanistcanada/forum/topics/aaihc-conference-montreal-oct?commentId=2182797:Comment:999834&groupId=2182797:Group:779419

    Note that a link is provided to ‘the speaker line-up’, but the link is dead; how convenient that the original record of the speaker lineup (on which Doherty should have appeared), has now been lost and cannot be used to demonstrate he was actually scheduled to ‘appear’.

    Even more significant is the complete silence concerning Doherty’s presence; he is not mentioned at all on that page. Most weighty of all is the eyewitness testimony of an attendee, who mentions several significant speakers who were there, but not Doherty.

    * ‘Dan Dennett and PZ Myers didn’t fail to captivate their audience as did Mr. Deity and Chris diCarlo’

    Three high profile atheist speakers are mentioned, as well as the far less well known ‘Agtheist’ (self-described), Chris diCarlo. Doherty is not mentioned at all. This significant silence means that this conference is not evidence that Doherty exists; it is evidence that he doesn’t.

  • Fortigurn

    I have been investigating this conference at which Doherty was allegedly seen. Predictably, the story breaks down immediately. This particular link is damning for its silence on Doherty.

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/humanistcanada/forum/topics/aaihc-conference-montreal-oct?commentId=2182797:Comment:999834&groupId=2182797:Group:779419

    Note that a link is provided to ‘the speaker line-up’, but the link is dead; how convenient that the original record of the speaker lineup (on which Doherty should have appeared), has now been lost and cannot be used to demonstrate he was actually scheduled to ‘appear’.

    Even more significant is the complete silence concerning Doherty’s presence; he is not mentioned at all on that page. Most weighty of all is the eyewitness testimony of an attendee, who mentions several significant speakers who were there, but not Doherty.

    * ‘Dan Dennett and PZ Myers didn’t fail to captivate their audience as did Mr. Deity and Chris diCarlo’

    Three high profile atheist speakers are mentioned, as well as the far less well known ‘Agtheist’ (self-described), Chris diCarlo. Doherty is not mentioned at all. This significant silence means that this conference is not evidence that Doherty exists; it is evidence that he doesn’t.

  • Fortigurn

    I have been investigating this conference at which Doherty was allegedly seen. Predictably, the story breaks down immediately. This particular link is damning for its silence on Doherty.

    http://www.atheistnexus.org/group/humanistcanada/forum/topics/aaihc-conference-montreal-oct?commentId=2182797:Comment:999834&groupId=2182797:Group:779419

    Note that a link is provided to ‘the speaker line-up’, but the link is dead; how convenient that the original record of the speaker lineup (on which Doherty should have appeared), has now been lost and cannot be used to demonstrate he was actually scheduled to ‘appear’.

    Even more significant is the complete silence concerning Doherty’s presence; he is not mentioned at all on that page. Most weighty of all is the eyewitness testimony of an attendee, who mentions several significant speakers who were there, but not Doherty.

    * ‘Dan Dennett and PZ Myers didn’t fail to captivate their audience as did Mr. Deity and Chris diCarlo’

    Three high profile atheist speakers are mentioned, as well as the far less well known ‘Agtheist’ (self-described), Chris diCarlo. Doherty is not mentioned at all. This significant silence means that this conference is not evidence that Doherty exists; it is evidence that he doesn’t.

  • Fortigurn

    Bernard, when Toto claims that he has ‘met’ Doherty, we must not draw the literalist conclusion that he intends us to understand that Doherty was physically present and that Toto met him as we would understand the word ‘met’.

    What Toto really means is that he experienced Doherty spiritually through prayer, fasting, and meditation, which enabled his consciousness to enter the sub-lunar realm and communicate mystically with a demi-divine Doherty.

    This is the only sense of the word ‘met’ which actually makes sense in the context of Toto’s text, and although it is completely unattested in all available lexical sources, we cannot rule out the possibility that Toto has applied a new definition to the word ‘met’, which must then be read through our own definition of the beliefs which we attribute to Toto.

  • Fortigurn

    Bernard, when Toto claims that he has ‘met’ Doherty, we must not draw the literalist conclusion that he intends us to understand that Doherty was physically present and that Toto met him as we would understand the word ‘met’.

    What Toto really means is that he experienced Doherty spiritually through prayer, fasting, and meditation, which enabled his consciousness to enter the sub-lunar realm and communicate mystically with a demi-divine Doherty.

    This is the only sense of the word ‘met’ which actually makes sense in the context of Toto’s text, and although it is completely unattested in all available lexical sources, we cannot rule out the possibility that Toto has applied a new definition to the word ‘met’, which must then be read through our own definition of the beliefs which we attribute to Toto.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    The illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread definitely justify its label as parody.
    >>

    A predictable response from someone with a vested interest in maintaining the Doherty myth. Please provide details of the ‘illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread’ so we can correct them and improve our research into the Historical Doherty, who remains notable by his continued absence. Thanks.

    In the meantime, I repeat my original questions. When and where was this alleged interview conducted? Was it a face to face meeting? Who else was present? Do you have any eyewitness testimony from non-Mythicists to confirm the details?

    • Anonymous

      This is ‘Neil’, playing with y’all.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    The illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread definitely justify its label as parody.
    >>

    A predictable response from someone with a vested interest in maintaining the Doherty myth. Please provide details of the ‘illogic and errors of fact and incomprehension in this thread’ so we can correct them and improve our research into the Historical Doherty, who remains notable by his continued absence. Thanks.

    In the meantime, I repeat my original questions. When and where was this alleged interview conducted? Was it a face to face meeting? Who else was present? Do you have any eyewitness testimony from non-Mythicists to confirm the details?

    • GeoffHudson

      This is ‘Neil’, playing with y’all.

  • observer

    I must say the rude behavior of Neil is very troubling as he is the only person who allegedly has met this mythical Doherty. I suspect he is hiding something.

  • observer

    I must say the rude behavior of Neil is very troubling as he is the only person who allegedly has met this mythical Doherty. I suspect he is hiding something.

  • JoeWallack

    Argument From Parallel Argument =

    1. No 20th century historian mentions that Jesus exists.

    2. James McGrath has never met Jesus.

    3. Jame McGrath claims to have conversations with Jesus but they are unpublished.

    4. Jesus has not had any publications peer reviewed.

    5. James McGrath, serious Bible scholar, says Jesus exists.

    6. Earl Doherty has the exact same qualifications as Jesus above.

    7. Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

  • JoeWallack

    Argument From Parallel Argument =

    1. No 20th century historian mentions that Jesus exists.

    2. James McGrath has never met Jesus.

    3. Jame McGrath claims to have conversations with Jesus but they are unpublished.

    4. Jesus has not had any publications peer reviewed.

    5. James McGrath, serious Bible scholar, says Jesus exists.

    6. Earl Doherty has the exact same qualifications as Jesus above.

    7. Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

  • Dave Burke

    observer,

    >>
    I must say the rude behavior of Neil is very troubling as he is the only person who allegedly has met this mythical Doherty. I suspect he is hiding something.
    >>

    You need to cut him some slack. People are always at their most defensive when their faith is challenged.

  • Dave Burke

    observer,

    >>
    I must say the rude behavior of Neil is very troubling as he is the only person who allegedly has met this mythical Doherty. I suspect he is hiding something.
    >>

    You need to cut him some slack. People are always at their most defensive when their faith is challenged.

  • observer

    I do understand Neil’s frustration. The evidence for the existence of this so called Doherty is  very weak at best.

  • observer

    I do understand Neil’s frustration. The evidence for the existence of this so called Doherty is  very weak at best.

  • Fortigurn

    Given the reasonable doubt that ‘Neil’ is an individual, I prefer use of the terms ‘The Neilist’ or ‘The Neiline Community’ as references to writings under this name.

  • Fortigurn

    Given the reasonable doubt that ‘Neil’ is an individual, I prefer use of the terms ‘The Neilist’ or ‘The Neiline Community’ as references to writings under this name.

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

    @Joe, what argument is that supposed to be parallel to? Your comment doesn’t make any sense to me, so perhaps you could clarify?

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

    @Joe, what argument is that supposed to be parallel to? Your comment doesn’t make any sense to me, so perhaps you could clarify?

  • JoeWallack

    @Joe, what argument is that supposed to be parallel to? Your comment
    doesn’t make any sense to me, so perhaps you could clarify?”

    Hmmm, you don’t believe that Jesus exists. You are more liberal Christian than I thought.

  • JoeWallack

    “@Joe, what argument is that supposed to be parallel to? Your comment
    doesn’t make any sense to me, so perhaps you could clarify?”

    Hmmm, you don’t believe that Jesus exists. You are more liberal Christian than I thought.

  • observer

    Has one noticed something, not only does this alleged Doherty exist  as an actual person he is supposed to be still alive. Isn’t it odd indeed if the above is true that he has not posted here to defend his existence. Truly puzzling from the perspective of a historical Earl Doherty.

  • observer

    Has one noticed something, not only does this alleged Doherty exist  as an actual person he is supposed to be still alive. Isn’t it odd indeed if the above is true that he has not posted here to defend his existence. Truly puzzling from the perspective of a historical Earl Doherty.

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

    Vinny, if the absence of substantial details about a historical Jesus is puzzling in the Gospels on the mainstream historical scenario, so too is the absence of details about the myth of Jesus on the mythicist scenario. But in favor of the former are the few details Paul provides – birth of a woman, birth under the Law, descent from David, etc. – and even the fact that this individual has a mundane human name and not one of the distinctive sort usually given to celestial figures.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I was giving some more thought to your comment.  Are you suggesting that we should expect Paul to have known stories about the activities and adventures of a mythical Jesus just the same as we would have expected him to know stories about a historical Jesus, and that Paul’s silence as to both kinds of stories poses the same problem for mythicists and historicists respectively?

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

    Vinny, if the absence of substantial details about a historical Jesus is puzzling in the Gospels on the mainstream historical scenario, so too is the absence of details about the myth of Jesus on the mythicist scenario. But in favor of the former are the few details Paul provides – birth of a woman, birth under the Law, descent from David, etc. – and even the fact that this individual has a mundane human name and not one of the distinctive sort usually given to celestial figures.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I was giving some more thought to your comment.  Are you suggesting that we should expect Paul to have known stories about the activities and adventures of a mythical Jesus just the same as we would have expected him to know stories about a historical Jesus, and that Paul’s silence as to both kinds of stories poses the same problem for mythicists and historicists respectively?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    I think the early epistles discuss a supernatural Christ at great length.  If I didn’t have anything else to go on, I doubt that it would occur to me that anyone thought that Jesus Christ was anything other than a heavenly being.  I would never guess from those few details that Paul’s concept was anything like the Jesus of the gospels.  Because the Jesus of the early epistles seems to be so clearly a supernatural being who operates in a spiritual realm, I think I would assume that those few details were intended to express some theological truths about the heavenly Christ rather than historical facts about some first century man named Jesus.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Dr. McGrath,

    I think the early epistles discuss a supernatural Christ at great length.  If I didn’t have anything else to go on, I doubt that it would occur to me that anyone thought that Jesus Christ was anything other than a heavenly being.  I would never guess from those few details that Paul’s concept was anything like the Jesus of the gospels.  Because the Jesus of the early epistles seems to be so clearly a supernatural being who operates in a spiritual realm, I think I would assume that those few details were intended to express some theological truths about the heavenly Christ rather than historical facts about some first century man named Jesus.

  • observer

    I am suspecting more and more the view that Doherty is a mythical figure is correct. After all mythical figures cannot peer review :)

  • observer

    I am suspecting more and more the view that Doherty is a mythical figure is correct. After all mythical figures cannot peer review :)

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    I think the early epistles discuss a supernatural Christ at great length.  If I didn’t have anything else to go on, I doubt that it would occur to me that anyone thought that Jesus Christ was anything other than a heavenly being.  I would never guess from those few details that Paul’s concept was anything like the Jesus of the gospels.  Because the Jesus of the early epistles seems to be so clearly a supernatural being who operates in a spiritual realm
    >>

    Could you please provide a bullet point list to show how you arrive at this conclusion?

    I must confess some sympathy with your view, because I feel the same way about Doherty’s depiction in the Testimonium Godfranium. It is impossible for me to read Godfrey’s ‘interview’ without arriving at the conclusion that Doherty is a supernatural being who operates in the spiritual realm.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      No thanks Dave.  That game doesn’t interest me.

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    I think the early epistles discuss a supernatural Christ at great length.  If I didn’t have anything else to go on, I doubt that it would occur to me that anyone thought that Jesus Christ was anything other than a heavenly being.  I would never guess from those few details that Paul’s concept was anything like the Jesus of the gospels.  Because the Jesus of the early epistles seems to be so clearly a supernatural being who operates in a spiritual realm
    >>

    Could you please provide a bullet point list to show how you arrive at this conclusion?

    I must confess some sympathy with your view, because I feel the same way about Doherty’s depiction in the Testimonium Godfranium. It is impossible for me to read Godfrey’s ‘interview’ without arriving at the conclusion that Doherty is a supernatural being who operates in the spiritual realm.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      No thanks Dave.  That game doesn’t interest me.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    I expected even a liberal Christian would draw the line at calling Carrier a Dick
    >>

    Who has done this? I called him ‘Dick Carrier’ and ‘Dick’, but I didn’t call him ‘a dick.’ Last time I checked, ‘Dick’ was the accepted abbreviation for ‘Richard.’ Has this changed?

    I showed how effective Dick’s argument is, commended his logic, and even added, ‘No jokes please’ to preclude the very sort of humour you’re attributing to me. Yet here you are, bringing the tone down with references to double entendres. I don’t think that’s appropriate.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    I expected even a liberal Christian would draw the line at calling Carrier a Dick
    >>

    Who has done this? I called him ‘Dick Carrier’ and ‘Dick’, but I didn’t call him ‘a dick.’ Last time I checked, ‘Dick’ was the accepted abbreviation for ‘Richard.’ Has this changed?

    I showed how effective Dick’s argument is, commended his logic, and even added, ‘No jokes please’ to preclude the very sort of humour you’re attributing to me. Yet here you are, bringing the tone down with references to double entendres. I don’t think that’s appropriate.

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

    I frown upon making fun of people’s names, and am happy to hear that you have come around to that point of view too, Neil!

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Dick Carrier (no jokes, please) . . . .

      Well said. Dick.

      This is Tim’s comment. The last line is not calling Richard Dick but insulting him. There is a full stop there, not a comma.

      So Tim’s disingenuousness is something you tolerate, McGrath?

      I see.

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

    I frown upon making fun of people’s names, and am happy to hear that you have come around to that point of view too, Neil!

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Dick Carrier (no jokes, please) . . . .

      Well said. Dick.

      This is Tim’s comment. The last line is not calling Richard Dick but insulting him. There is a full stop there, not a comma.

      So Tim’s disingenuousness is something you tolerate, McGrath?

      I see.

  • Fortigurn

    Vince it’s not a game. It’s a matter of whether or not you can explain the process of reasoning by which you reached your conclusion. It’s symptomatic of Mytherists that they make all kinds of claims, and then become enraged when asked for evidence, for even just asked to explain how they arrived at their conclusions.

  • Fortigurn

    Vince it’s not a game. It’s a matter of whether or not you can explain the process of reasoning by which you reached your conclusion. It’s symptomatic of Mytherists that they make all kinds of claims, and then become enraged when asked for evidence, for even just asked to explain how they arrived at their conclusions.

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    No thanks Dave.  That game doesn’t interest me.
    >>

    It was a simple question, not a game. You gave your opinion and I asked how you arrived at it. Now you say, ‘that game doesn’t interest me.’

    But there’s no game involved, Vince. You’ve merely been asked to explain your rationale. Any particular reason why that’s too much to ask? You’re not going all presuppositionalist on us, are you?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dave,

      I don’t believe that someone who demands a list of “bullet points” is interested in a good faith discussion of the issues.  I believe that person is looking for something to parody and ridicule in the same way that he parodies and ridicules other arguments.  I do not wish to be your straight man.

      • Dave Burke

        Vince,

        >>
        I don’t believe that someone who demands a list of “bullet points” is interested in a good faith discussion of the issues.
        >>

        Wrong on two levels.

        (1) It’s not a demand, it’s a polite request (hell, I even said ‘please’!)

        (2) It’s an honest request made in good faith. You’ve assumed bad faith without good reason. Why?

        Is there something inherently wrong with bullet points? Why does this suggest bad faith to you? You’ve been perfectly happy to make bold assertions throughout this discussion, so I assumed you’d be equally happy to explain how you arrived at your conclusions. Apparently not!

        I shouldn’t have to push this hard for an evidence-based discussion. It’s quite puzzling.

        • Anonymous

          There is nothing wrong with bullet points if one is composing a PowerPoint presentation, however, they do not normally form part of my reasoning process.  Your assumption that I would be happy to prepare a list in order to satisfy your curiosity was erroneous.   

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    No thanks Dave.  That game doesn’t interest me.
    >>

    It was a simple question, not a game. You gave your opinion and I asked how you arrived at it. Now you say, ‘that game doesn’t interest me.’

    But there’s no game involved, Vince. You’ve merely been asked to explain your rationale. Any particular reason why that’s too much to ask? You’re not going all presuppositionalist on us, are you?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dave,

      I don’t believe that someone who demands a list of “bullet points” is interested in a good faith discussion of the issues.  I believe that person is looking for something to parody and ridicule in the same way that he parodies and ridicules other arguments.  I do not wish to be your straight man.

      • Dave Burke

        Vince,

        >>
        I don’t believe that someone who demands a list of “bullet points” is interested in a good faith discussion of the issues.
        >>

        Wrong on two levels.

        (1) It’s not a demand, it’s a polite request (hell, I even said ‘please’!)

        (2) It’s an honest request made in good faith. You’ve assumed bad faith without good reason. Why?

        Is there something inherently wrong with bullet points? Why does this suggest bad faith to you? You’ve been perfectly happy to make bold assertions throughout this discussion, so I assumed you’d be equally happy to explain how you arrived at your conclusions. Apparently not!

        I shouldn’t have to push this hard for an evidence-based discussion. It’s quite puzzling.

        • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

          There is nothing wrong with bullet points if one is composing a PowerPoint presentation, however, they do not normally form part of my reasoning process.  Your assumption that I would be happy to prepare a list in order to satisfy your curiosity was erroneous.   

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

    I find it ironic that you would complain about my lowering my standard about such matters, when had I not done so I would have had to simply forswear interacting with you, Neil.

    I do not approve of engaging in personal insults, no matter what the viewpoint of the person doing so or the person who is on the receiving end. I have given up trying to convince all other users of the internet to follow suit, other than by example.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      But once I used a bit of sarcasm and you jumped all over me. You ignore the insults of others — and they have been crude and many — but will not tolerate any perceived slip on my part.

      I see.

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

    I find it ironic that you would complain about my lowering my standard about such matters, when had I not done so I would have had to simply forswear interacting with you, Neil.

    I do not approve of engaging in personal insults, no matter what the viewpoint of the person doing so or the person who is on the receiving end. I have given up trying to convince all other users of the internet to follow suit, other than by example.

    On a related note, I suspect that participants in this thread will also find the review to which I just linked to be of interest.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      But once I used a bit of sarcasm and you jumped all over me. You ignore the insults of others — and they have been crude and many — but will not tolerate any perceived slip on my part.

      I see.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    This is Tim’s comment. The last line is not calling Richard Dick but insulting him. There is a full stop there, not a comma.

    So Tim’s disingenuousness is something you tolerate, McGrath?

    I see.
    >>

    An intriguing Freudian slip! My name is Dave, not Tim. Perhaps you’re thinking of our mutual friend Mr O’Neill?

    I’m sorry if my use of a full stop instead of the more appropriate comma has upset you. I’m a touch typist with an excellent accuracy rate, but ‘errare humanum est’ as Augustine once said.

    While you’re on the subject of rudeness, perhaps you’d care to review Doherty’s history on this blog and consider if he meets the high standards you’re demanding here. The results may surprise you!

    Isn’t it interesting that atheists are always at their most prudish when criticising Christians? At all other times they’ll defend moral relativism to the death, but the moment they’ve got a Christian in the scope they become fire-and-brimstone Puritans, insisting on Old Testament values. It’s a curious phenomenon.

    Still no answer to my questions about the Doherty interview, I see.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    >>
    This is Tim’s comment. The last line is not calling Richard Dick but insulting him. There is a full stop there, not a comma.

    So Tim’s disingenuousness is something you tolerate, McGrath?

    I see.
    >>

    An intriguing Freudian slip! My name is Dave, not Tim. Perhaps you’re thinking of our mutual friend Mr O’Neill?

    I’m sorry if my use of a full stop instead of the more appropriate comma has upset you. I’m a touch typist with an excellent accuracy rate, but ‘errare humanum est’ as Augustine once said.

    While you’re on the subject of rudeness, perhaps you’d care to review Doherty’s history on this blog and consider if he meets the high standards you’re demanding here. The results may surprise you!

    Isn’t it interesting that atheists are always at their most prudish when criticising Christians? At all other times they’ll defend moral relativism to the death, but the moment they’ve got a Christian in the scope they become fire-and-brimstone Puritans, insisting on Old Testament values. It’s a curious phenomenon.

    Still no answer to my questions about the Doherty interview, I see.

  • Fortigurn

    //This is Tim’s comment.//

    That is not Tim’s comment. That is the comment of Dave Burke, whose name you consistently get wrong. You have called him James Burke, and now you call him Tim O’Neill, despite the fact that every post of his displays his name very clearly as ‘Dave Burke’. Why do you mock his name in this way?

  • Fortigurn

    //This is Tim’s comment.//

    That is not Tim’s comment. That is the comment of Dave Burke, whose name you consistently get wrong. You have called him James Burke, and now you call him Tim O’Neill, despite the fact that every post of his displays his name very clearly as ‘Dave Burke’. Why do you mock his name in this way?

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

    When I asked you about the insults I was receiving on your blog from your regular commentators, you suggested ignoring the shouts from the gallery. Are you now saying that you should have adopted a different stance?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I do not let my regular commenters insult anyone — including you — and I remove or edit their comments if they do. This has been my practice for some time now since I was embarrassed by what was happening some time ago.

      I thought you believed in leading by example but here you seem to be saying you are justified in doing back to me what you perceive me to be doing to you. I thought you once made strong proclamations you intended to lift your game to a respectable civil standard.

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

    When I asked you about the insults I was receiving on your blog from your regular commentators, you suggested ignoring the shouts from the gallery. Are you now saying that you should have adopted a different stance?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I do not let my regular commenters insult anyone — including you — and I remove or edit their comments if they do. This has been my practice for some time now since I was embarrassed by what was happening some time ago.

      I thought you believed in leading by example but here you seem to be saying you are justified in doing back to me what you perceive me to be doing to you. I thought you once made strong proclamations you intended to lift your game to a respectable civil standard.

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

    Neil, I have not done anything to you other than to point out that you are being hypocritical in blaming me for not chastising commenters for inappropriate insults on my blog, when you encouraged me to ignore insulting comments on your blog, rather than taking that opportunity to tell those commenters to cease.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      But I have removed insults against you from my commenters and I have told them I have done this and do not accept it. You are ignoring the facts. You do not find the slime standard among commenters on my blog that you accept on yours.

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

    Neil, I have not done anything to you other than to point out that you are being hypocritical in blaming me for not chastising commenters for inappropriate insults on my blog, when you encouraged me to ignore insulting comments on your blog, rather than taking that opportunity to tell those commenters to cease.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      But I have removed insults against you from my commenters and I have told them I have done this and do not accept it. You are ignoring the facts. You do not find the slime standard among commenters on my blog that you accept on yours.

  • Fortigurn

    Well said James.

  • Fortigurn

    Well said James.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    I have not complained about insults directed at me personally — not even the gross obscenities from Mike Wilson that I expect to find here — but I do have this weakness for saying something when I see others being insulted and no-one making a wimper of protest, as I did here with the crudity directed at Richard Carrier.

    It is not me I am objecting to – I fully expect you to make an exception for me and find any and every pretext to ridicule or insult and to support others who do, too (that’s just you being you and it rebounds to my favour and against you in the eyes of readers I care about) – but I do say something, as here, when I see you preferring to quietly sit back and lead by example in the case of one like Richard Carrier.

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    I have not complained about insults directed at me personally — not even the gross obscenities from Mike Wilson that I expect to find here — but I do have this weakness for saying something when I see others being insulted and no-one making a wimper of protest, as I did here with the crudity directed at Richard Carrier.

    It is not me I am objecting to – I fully expect you to make an exception for me and find any and every pretext to ridicule or insult and to support others who do, too (that’s just you being you and it rebounds to my favour and against you in the eyes of readers I care about) – but I do say something, as here, when I see you preferring to quietly sit back and lead by example in the case of one like Richard Carrier.

  • Fortigurn

    //You do not find the slime standard among commenters on my blog that you accept on yours.//

    Frankly I find the comments here far more respectful in tone than on your blog. Michael Wilson aside, which ‘slime comments’ are you referring to? I note of course that you are tone trolling in order to avoid the original point under discussion, and have consistently refused to apologize to Dave Burke for TWICE getting his name wrong (which appears completely deliberate).

  • Fortigurn

    //You do not find the slime standard among commenters on my blog that you accept on yours.//

    Frankly I find the comments here far more respectful in tone than on your blog. Michael Wilson aside, which ‘slime comments’ are you referring to? I note of course that you are tone trolling in order to avoid the original point under discussion, and have consistently refused to apologize to Dave Burke for TWICE getting his name wrong (which appears completely deliberate).

  • Dave Burke

    Meanwhile, my direct reply to Neil (here: http://bit.ly/oG6apQ) remains unanswered. This suggests he is more interested in manufacturing outrage than addressing a genuine issue.

  • Dave Burke

    Meanwhile, my direct reply to Neil (here: http://bit.ly/oG6apQ) remains unanswered. This suggests he is more interested in manufacturing outrage than addressing a genuine issue.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Would “tone trolling” be a gross obscenitie? 

    I may in fact be the whole slime department. But at issue here is, must everyone be taken seriously? 

  • Michael Wilson

    Would “tone trolling” be a gross obscenitie? 

    I may in fact be the whole slime department. But at issue here is, must everyone be taken seriously? 

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

    Yes, that is pretty much what I am saying. The stories of mythical figures were every bit as important to their worshipers as were stories about teachers and political leaders to their followers – if not indeed more so. And so if it is reasonable to expect Paul to provide detailed stories, then it is reasonable to do so for mythicists and not just historicists. And if it is plausible to explain away the lack of such details on a mythicist scenario, such as through Paul assuming Christians already knew such things, then there is no legitimate reason to disallow the same solution to the same problem in the context of historicism.

    Time and again, Earl Doherty writes as though Paul should be informing his readers of the Gospel and elementary teachings of Christianity as though hearing about them for the first time. This seems to me to reflect a failure to consistently take the genre and nature of Paul’s correspondence into account.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      That is an interesting point that I will need to ponder.

      Off the top of my head, I guess the difference that I see is that we know what the activities and teachings of the historical Jesus were believed to be and we can see how those stories would have been relevant to issues that are dealt with in the epistles.   For example, in 1 Clement, the author cites the mythical story of the phoenix in order to communicate the resurrection rather than citing any of the gospel stories about the resurrection.  That strikes me as very strange if he in fact knew the gospel stories and accepted them as authoritative.  On the other hand, we don’t know what stories, if any, might have been told about a Jesus who was only known through myth.  Paul could be making very clear allusions to such stories, we might be unable to tell.

      Another thought I have is that it is not enough to propose an explanation for why Paul is silent about activities of the historical Jesus (or the mythical one for that matter I guess).

      I have read a decent amount of Civil War history, and there are many instances in which stories which cast a different light on battles and campaigns first appeared many years after the end of the war.  In assessing their veracity, historian want to know why the story didn’t come out in the earliest reports.  However, I think they want positive reasons to think that the story is true as well.  For example, the story should fit well with what we think we know from the earliest reports and it perhaps should make sense of some puzzle or anomaly that we were previously unable to explain. If we cannot both explain why the story went untold and provide positive reasons for thinking the story is true, that might be reason to think that the story was invented later to serve some personal or political agenda.  

      When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding.  Even though the gospel stories may not directly conflict with what Paul wrote, I don’t think that a historical Jesus does much to explain or make sense of his letters. 

      Even if I can think of reasons why Paul wasn’t interested in the historical Jesus, that doesn’t seem to me to be a positive reason to thing that he knew about him or believed in him.

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

    Yes, that is pretty much what I am saying. The stories of mythical figures were every bit as important to their worshipers as were stories about teachers and political leaders to their followers – if not indeed more so. And so if it is reasonable to expect Paul to provide detailed stories, then it is reasonable to do so for mythicists and not just historicists. And if it is plausible to explain away the lack of such details on a mythicist scenario, such as through Paul assuming Christians already knew such things, then there is no legitimate reason to disallow the same solution to the same problem in the context of historicism.

    Time and again, Earl Doherty writes as though Paul should be informing his readers of the Gospel and elementary teachings of Christianity as though hearing about them for the first time. This seems to me to reflect a failure to consistently take the genre and nature of Paul’s correspondence into account.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      That is an interesting point that I will need to ponder.

      Off the top of my head, I guess the difference that I see is that we know what the activities and teachings of the historical Jesus were believed to be and we can see how those stories would have been relevant to issues that are dealt with in the epistles.   For example, in 1 Clement, the author cites the mythical story of the phoenix in order to communicate the resurrection rather than citing any of the gospel stories about the resurrection.  That strikes me as very strange if he in fact knew the gospel stories and accepted them as authoritative.  On the other hand, we don’t know what stories, if any, might have been told about a Jesus who was only known through myth.  Paul could be making very clear allusions to such stories, we might be unable to tell.

      Another thought I have is that it is not enough to propose an explanation for why Paul is silent about activities of the historical Jesus (or the mythical one for that matter I guess).

      I have read a decent amount of Civil War history, and there are many instances in which stories which cast a different light on battles and campaigns first appeared many years after the end of the war.  In assessing their veracity, historian want to know why the story didn’t come out in the earliest reports.  However, I think they want positive reasons to think that the story is true as well.  For example, the story should fit well with what we think we know from the earliest reports and it perhaps should make sense of some puzzle or anomaly that we were previously unable to explain. If we cannot both explain why the story went untold and provide positive reasons for thinking the story is true, that might be reason to think that the story was invented later to serve some personal or political agenda.  

      When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding.  Even though the gospel stories may not directly conflict with what Paul wrote, I don’t think that a historical Jesus does much to explain or make sense of his letters. 

      Even if I can think of reasons why Paul wasn’t interested in the historical Jesus, that doesn’t seem to me to be a positive reason to thing that he knew about him or believed in him.

  • observer

    I must say I fail to see why Neil is upset, he has made some less then kind comments about Tim after all. He had a blog post about him called From Sublime to Slime for heavens sake. Neil seems less then polite to me.

  • observer

    I must say I fail to see why Neil is upset, he has made some less then kind comments about Tim after all. He had a blog post about him called From Sublime to Slime for heavens sake. Neil seems less then polite to me.

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding.
    >>

    Paul’s soteriology is contingent upon the Jesus of the Gospels:

    –I Corinthians 11:23-25
    For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread,
    and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
    In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    –I Corinthians 15:12-18
    Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
    But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
    And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.
    Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised.
    For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.
    And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.
    Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.

    Pretty difficult to ignore the connection there.

    >>
    Even though the gospel stories may not directly conflict with what Paul wrote, I don’t think that a historical Jesus does much to explain or make sense of his letters.
    >>

    Why not?

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding.
    >>

    Paul’s soteriology is contingent upon the Jesus of the Gospels:

    –I Corinthians 11:23-25
    For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread,
    and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
    In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

    –I Corinthians 15:12-18
    Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead?
    But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
    And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.
    Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised.
    For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.
    And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.
    Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.

    Pretty difficult to ignore the connection there.

    >>
    Even though the gospel stories may not directly conflict with what Paul wrote, I don’t think that a historical Jesus does much to explain or make sense of his letters.
    >>

    Why not?

  • Fortigurn

    //Another thought I have is that it is not enough to propose an
    explanation for why Paul is silent about activities of the historical
    Jesus (or the mythical one for that matter I guess).//

    You are assuming that he is silent about the activities of the historical Jesus. He isn’t. Mytherists try to get around what Paul clearly says about the historical Jesus by such strategies as the following.

    * Claiming a verse is a much later interpolation, even if there is no textual evidence for this, and even if the consensus of textual scholarship is that the text is original

    * Inventing word meanings which are unattested in any lexical source, and claiming these are the meanings in the passages under review (Doherty freely acknowledges doing this, and sees nothing wrong with making up his own meanings for Greek words)

    * Claiming that the meaning of a passage is ‘very obscure’ and no one can really understand it, so it can’t be used as evidence for the historical Jesus

    * Simply omitting to mention certain passages at all

    This is not the approach of intellectually honest investigation.

  • Fortigurn

    //Another thought I have is that it is not enough to propose an
    explanation for why Paul is silent about activities of the historical
    Jesus (or the mythical one for that matter I guess).//

    You are assuming that he is silent about the activities of the historical Jesus. He isn’t. Mytherists try to get around what Paul clearly says about the historical Jesus by such strategies as the following.

    * Claiming a verse is a much later interpolation, even if there is no textual evidence for this, and even if the consensus of textual scholarship is that the text is original

    * Inventing word meanings which are unattested in any lexical source, and claiming these are the meanings in the passages under review (Doherty freely acknowledges doing this, and sees nothing wrong with making up his own meanings for Greek words)

    * Claiming that the meaning of a passage is ‘very obscure’ and no one can really understand it, so it can’t be used as evidence for the historical Jesus

    * Simply omitting to mention certain passages at all

    This is not the approach of intellectually honest investigation.

  • Fortigurn

    //When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it
    hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was
    part of Paul’s understanding.//

    The fact that he refers to Jesus’ brother, the fact that he refers to Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his betrayal, his crucifixion, and resurrection, his post-resurrection appearances to eyewitnesses (all of which information is in the gospels), aren’t positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Fortigurn,

      In The Historical Figure of Jesus E.P. Sanders gives a list of eleven facts about Jesus’ public career which he says are “almost beyond dispute.”  Of these eleven, Paul only partially corroborates two.  Paul never indicates that Jesus was a teacher or a healer.  He doesn’t say anything about Jesus interacting with John the Baptist, Pilate, or the Pharisees.  He doesn’t indicate that Jesus had disciples.  He doesn’t indicate when or where Jesus lived or died.  Paul doesn’t mention anything Jesus said or did prior to the night before his crucifixion and the one thing Paul claims to know about Jesus that occurred prior to his death, Paul claims to know by revelation.  I don’t see anything in Paul that we would lead me to believe that he thought that the source of his message was a recently deceased itinerant preacher who bore any resemblance to the person described in the gospels.  He might have thought so, but I sure don’t get it from his letters.

  • Fortigurn

    //When I read Paul (as well as the other 1st century epistles), I find it
    hard to see positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was
    part of Paul’s understanding.//

    The fact that he refers to Jesus’ brother, the fact that he refers to Jesus’ last supper with his disciples, his betrayal, his crucifixion, and resurrection, his post-resurrection appearances to eyewitnesses (all of which information is in the gospels), aren’t positive reasons to think that the Jesus of the gospels was part of Paul’s understanding?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Fortigurn,

      In The Historical Figure of Jesus E.P. Sanders gives a list of eleven facts about Jesus’ public career which he says are “almost beyond dispute.”  Of these eleven, Paul only partially corroborates two.  Paul never indicates that Jesus was a teacher or a healer.  He doesn’t say anything about Jesus interacting with John the Baptist, Pilate, or the Pharisees.  He doesn’t indicate that Jesus had disciples.  He doesn’t indicate when or where Jesus lived or died.  Paul doesn’t mention anything Jesus said or did prior to the night before his crucifixion and the one thing Paul claims to know about Jesus that occurred prior to his death, Paul claims to know by revelation.  I don’t see anything in Paul that we would lead me to believe that he thought that the source of his message was a recently deceased itinerant preacher who bore any resemblance to the person described in the gospels.  He might have thought so, but I sure don’t get it from his letters.

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

    Vince, if you would agree that the Gospel authors understood themselves to be speaking of the same Jesus as Paul was (that is presumably uncontroversial, since not only the name and the crucifixion agree but also some very specific things, such as the Lord’s Supper, are found in both), then how would you account for the fact that the earliest Gospel authors show no signs of interest in or need to polemicize against a viewpoint that considers Jesus a purely heavenly figure?

    Isn’t the silence of the early Gospels on this more of a problem for mythicism than the silence of Paul is for historicism?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

       

      I don’t know whether I see that as so uncontroversial.  Let me ask a different question that I hope
      illustrates my problem:  to what extent
      did the author of John understand himself to be speaking of the same Jesus as
      the authors of the synoptics?  Did John
      think that he was just adding a few details that Matthew, Mark, and Luke had
      forgotten to mention, or did he see himself as presenting an entirely new Christology?  Would he have expected his
      gospel to be read in conjunction with the synoptics or might he have thought that
      his version would be accepted as the sole authoritative revelation?  Should we have expected him to polemicize
      against a viewpoint that didn’t show Jesus expressly claiming equality with God
      the Father?  None of the gospel writers
      seemed to feel the need to explain why anyone else’s view on any particular
      issue was wrong.

       

      This is where I think we are hampered by how few pieces of
      the puzzle we possess. I can imagine that Mark understood his revelation to be
      very different from the one that Paul had or that Mark’s gospel developed
      independently from a common source such that Paul had little direct influence
      on the tradition behind the synoptics.   I think your objection is much stronger if we
      are only missing a few of the puzzle pieces between the gospels and the
      epistles, but I’m not sure we can be confident that’s the case.  I don’t think we have clear evidence of the
      gospels and the epistles being recognized as elements of the same whole until
      well into the 2nd century. 
      There is much that we don’t know about how they got there.

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

    Vince, if you would agree that the Gospel authors understood themselves to be speaking of the same Jesus as Paul was (that is presumably uncontroversial, since not only the name and the crucifixion agree but also some very specific things, such as the Lord’s Supper, are found in both), then how would you account for the fact that the earliest Gospel authors show no signs of interest in or need to polemicize against a viewpoint that considers Jesus a purely heavenly figure?

    Isn’t the silence of the early Gospels on this more of a problem for mythicism than the silence of Paul is for historicism?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I don’t know whether I see that as so uncontroversial.  Let me ask a different question that I hope illustrates my problem:  to what extent did the author of John understand himself to be speaking of the same Jesus as the authors of the synoptics?  Did John think that he was just adding a few details that Matthew, Mark, and Luke had forgotten to mention, or did he see himself as presenting an entirely new Christology?  Would he have expected his gospel to be read in conjunction with the synoptics or might he have thought that his version would be accepted as the sole authoritative revelation?  Should we have expected him to polemicize against a viewpoint that didn’t show Jesus expressly claiming equality with God the Father?  None of the gospel writers seemed to feel the need to explain why anyone else’s view on any particular issue was wrong.

      This is where I think we are hampered by how few pieces of the puzzle we possess. I can imagine that Mark understood his revelation to be very different from the one that Paul had or that Mark’s gospel developed independently from a common source such that Paul had little direct influence on the tradition behind the synoptics. I think your objection is much stronger if we are only missing a few of the puzzle pieces between the gospels and the epistles, but I’m not sure we can be confident that’s the case.  I don’t think we have clear evidence of the gospels and the epistles being recognized as elements of the same whole until well into the 2nd century. There is much that we don’t know about how they got there.

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

    @0afc84882ce2bf8bdbede723f1020d0f:disqus , I probably ought to have written “relatively silent” or some other expression – Paul’s relative lack of explicit quotations attributed to Jesus and stories about him was what I was addressing. I agree that he is not completely silent about a historical Jesus.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I understood that you were not conceding absolute silence on Paul’s part. 

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

    @0afc84882ce2bf8bdbede723f1020d0f:disqus , I probably ought to have written “relatively silent” or some other expression – Paul’s relative lack of explicit quotations attributed to Jesus and stories about him was what I was addressing. I agree that he is not completely silent about a historical Jesus.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I understood that you were not conceding absolute silence on Paul’s part. 

  • Fortigurn

    James, understood. I thought you were being quite generous to Vince. There is no such silence as he imagines; such a silence can only be manufactured artificially, which is why Mytherists are compelled to use the tactics I described, instead of addressing the evidence.

  • Fortigurn

    James, understood. I thought you were being quite generous to Vince. There is no such silence as he imagines; such a silence can only be manufactured artificially, which is why Mytherists are compelled to use the tactics I described, instead of addressing the evidence.

  • JoeWallack

    Argument From JP Holding =

    1. Earl Doherty is from Canada

    2. Earl Doherty is the leading proponent of MJ

    3. Canada’s only exports are hockey and cold weather and it has a very small percent of the World population

    4. It is improbable that the leading proponent of MJ would be from Canada.

    5. Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

  • JoeWallack

    Argument From JP Holding =

    1. Earl Doherty is from Canada

    2. Earl Doherty is the leading proponent of MJ

    3. Canada’s only exports are hockey and cold weather and it has a very small percent of the World population

    4. It is improbable that the leading proponent of MJ would be from Canada.

    5. Therefore, Earl Doherty exists.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    The stories of mythical figures were every bit as important to their worshipers as were stories about teachers and political leaders to their followers – if not indeed more so.

    I think this begs the question. Myths develop over time and reflect the circumstances of the communities that value them. The earlier stories are typically closely tied in etiological fashion with the ritual practices engaged in by the community to express a sacred connection with the figure of worship. Specificity and narrative coherence may be absent. Later stories “fill in the blanks” and may be more varied in genre and intent; some may be edifying, some may be more for simple entertainment, some arise from evolving practice and integrate the updates to the ritual practices made by the larger or more mature or more diverse community, to relate the old rituals and stories to new circumstances. (Plutarch on Isis and Osiris may be instructive in this regard.) 

    This is one way to interpret the development of the early Christian proclamation into the theology of the later church. To the degree that Paul relates stories at all, they have almost entirely soteriological import. They lack setting and narrative detail. You seem to be implying that if Jesus developed as a figure of myth that this development should have from its inception been focussed on a character in a developed narrative. The opposite is the case, and the early Christian literature is consistent with what we would expect if the risen Christ is a myth for Paul.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    The stories of mythical figures were every bit as important to their worshipers as were stories about teachers and political leaders to their followers – if not indeed more so.

    I think this begs the question. Myths develop over time and reflect the circumstances of the communities that value them. The earlier stories are typically closely tied in etiological fashion with the ritual practices engaged in by the community to express a sacred connection with the figure of worship. Specificity and narrative coherence may be absent. Later stories “fill in the blanks” and may be more varied in genre and intent; some may be edifying, some may be more for simple entertainment, some arise from evolving practice and integrate the updates to the ritual practices made by the larger or more mature or more diverse community, to relate the old rituals and stories to new circumstances. (Plutarch on Isis and Osiris may be instructive in this regard.) 

    This is one way to interpret the development of the early Christian proclamation into the theology of the later church. To the degree that Paul relates stories at all, they have almost entirely soteriological import. They lack setting and narrative detail. You seem to be implying that if Jesus developed as a figure of myth that this development should have from its inception been focussed on a character in a developed narrative. The opposite is the case, and the early Christian literature is consistent with what we would expect if the risen Christ is a myth for Paul.

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

    @yahoo-MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ:disqus , we can safely set aside the “risen Christ” as not within a historian’s purview. As for the earlier Jesus, the one who is said to be born, to have been crucified, to have bled, to have been buried and so on, I don’t see that figure as described as naturally or unambiguously mythical in character. As for your other point, we have no evidence for the myth that would eventually come to be referred to as “Christian” prior to the first century, and so unless you want to posit a long history for this movement which leaves no trace in the historical record, then it would seem appropriate to discuss this movement as one originating not long before the first textual evidence for it was produced. 

    Do you have any examples that would support your contention that the lack of specifics about the mythical stories of the mythical Jesus is what one would expect from a movement centered on a recently-invented, purely mythical figure?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      we can safely set aside the “risen Christ” as not within a historian’s
      purview. As for the earlier Jesus, the one who is said to be born, to
      have been crucified, to have bled, to have been buried and so on, I
      don’t see that figure as described as naturally or unambiguously
      mythical in character.

      I agree.  If we eliminate everything about him rising from the dead, being exalted to heaven, and making post-mortem appearances, Paul’s Jesus he looks much less mythical.  I’m not sure how safe it is to do that though.

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

    @yahoo-MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ:disqus , we can safely set aside the “risen Christ” as not within a historian’s purview. As for the earlier Jesus, the one who is said to be born, to have been crucified, to have bled, to have been buried and so on, I don’t see that figure as described as naturally or unambiguously mythical in character. As for your other point, we have no evidence for the myth that would eventually come to be referred to as “Christian” prior to the first century, and so unless you want to posit a long history for this movement which leaves no trace in the historical record, then it would seem appropriate to discuss this movement as one originating not long before the first textual evidence for it was produced. 

    Do you have any examples that would support your contention that the lack of specifics about the mythical stories of the mythical Jesus is what one would expect from a movement centered on a recently-invented, purely mythical figure?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      we can safely set aside the “risen Christ” as not within a historian’s
      purview. As for the earlier Jesus, the one who is said to be born, to
      have been crucified, to have bled, to have been buried and so on, I
      don’t see that figure as described as naturally or unambiguously
      mythical in character.

      I agree.  If we eliminate everything about him rising from the dead, being exalted to heaven, and making post-mortem appearances, Paul’s Jesus he looks much less mythical.  I’m not sure how safe it is to do that though.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    It’s not just the lack of specifics, but also the pattern that such specifics as there are serve as etiologies or exegeses of the associated rites. Roman Mithraism might be adduced as evidence, but we lack narrative texts or any obviously earlier layers of a textual tradition a la the Pauline epistles. From the sculptures and inscriptions we do have, though, it seems that there was one ineluctible element in the myth, that of the slaying of the the bull. A ritual feast with Mithras and Helios or Sol Invictus is the next “narrative” element frequently represented, and the more elaborate the mithraeum, the more likely that other events less central to the mysteries would also be depicted, like his birth from a rock, or striking the earth with a staff to bring forth water. None of this has any clear setting, such details as there are are standardized (the Phrygian cap, for instance), and there’s scant reason to believe anyone thought it necessary to have a coherent narrative stringing together the mythical episodes.

    Serapis might be considered also in the context of discussing “a movement centered on a recently-invented, purely mythical figure” but I have no time now. Perhaps this evening.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    It’s not just the lack of specifics, but also the pattern that such specifics as there are serve as etiologies or exegeses of the associated rites. Roman Mithraism might be adduced as evidence, but we lack narrative texts or any obviously earlier layers of a textual tradition a la the Pauline epistles. From the sculptures and inscriptions we do have, though, it seems that there was one ineluctible element in the myth, that of the slaying of the the bull. A ritual feast with Mithras and Helios or Sol Invictus is the next “narrative” element frequently represented, and the more elaborate the mithraeum, the more likely that other events less central to the mysteries would also be depicted, like his birth from a rock, or striking the earth with a staff to bring forth water. None of this has any clear setting, such details as there are are standardized (the Phrygian cap, for instance), and there’s scant reason to believe anyone thought it necessary to have a coherent narrative stringing together the mythical episodes.

    Serapis might be considered also in the context of discussing “a movement centered on a recently-invented, purely mythical figure” but I have no time now. Perhaps this evening.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    If I might say something about Paul and his letters being relatively silent about the historical Jesus. The problem is that was not the intent of the letters. It seems like some are trying to associate modern church practice to what was going on in first century Christianity. For example, today, people who know next to nothing about Jesus go to church to learn about him and the preacher gives sermons relating stories about Jesus and other biblical figures to teach the flock about God and Jesus. People assume Paul was doing something similar and it is odd that Paul never related gospel stories about Jesus. Well that’s not what Paul was doing at all. Things were different in the first century. For example, people in Corinth who knew next to nothing about Jesus, didn’t join the Corinthian church to learn about Jesus, that was done prior to them joining the Corinthian church. The average person learned about Jesus through the preaching that is described numerous times in Acts and in other epistles. This was done at the person’s home, or at the market. They didn’t visit the Corinthian church until they were well acquainted with the subject matter. So the Corinthian church was made up of people who were well acquainted with the basic teachings about the Christ. But all that is not really even the point, if you pay close attention, you will see that these letters were really directed towards those who were in charge at the church, and they were to disseminate the information to the rest. If we look at some highlights from 1 Corinthians, you can see this.

    Paul exposes sectarianism, exhorts unity (1:1–4:21)

    On keeping the church morally clean (5:1–6:20)

    Counsel on singleness and marriage (7:1-40)

    Doing all things for the sake of the gospel (8:1–9:27)

    Warning against injurious things (10:1–33)

    Headship; the Lord’s Evening Meal (11:1-34)

    Spiritual gifts; love and its pursuit (12:1–14:40)

    The certainty of the resurrection hope (15:1–16:24)

    These are not the basic teachings about the Christ, these are how the church should operate and how its members should conduct themselves in and out of the church. So on many occasions, Paul is not preaching Christ to an individual, he is overseeing the operation of his churches and instructing whole communities. The one on one preaching was done in the field by individual members of the church. And that is where you would see the earthly Jesus being talked about, unfortunately we don’t have much in that area outside of the gospels and Acts. So it comes as no surprise that talking about Jesus healing a leper has nothing to do with instructing a church as a whole.

    • Anonymous

      How do you know what the basic teachings about the Christ were at the time Paul wrote other than by looking at what Paul wrote?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        VinnyJH,

        You are making a division where no division exists. The basic teachings about the Christ as found in the gospels existed since Jesus’ time, whether orally or in writing. Since Jesus predates Paul, these basic teachings predate Paul. We have these basic teachings today in the written gospels. Who preserved these teachings from the beginning? Why Christians of course. So how did we end up today with these basic teachings in the gospels if all the Christians in Paul’s day knew nothing about them?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

          Howard,

          I think I might just as well ask “How did we get the Book of Mormon if it wasn’t from the Golden Plates that the Angel Moroni gave to Joseph Smith?”

          I don’t think we have enough evidence to determine the origins of the gospel stories with any certainty.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

            Vince, I didn’t realize that you were questioning the usual dating of the gospels. And it is true that our earliest manuscripts for both the gospels and the epistles are dated to sometime after the middle of the second century. And most if not all of the collaborating evidence, such as the patristic writings are even later than that. So you are correct that there is no hard physical evidence that the gospels were written before 70 C.E. Now it’s not simply a matter of when the gospels were written down for the first time, because that is beside the point. If the events really happened before 70 C.E. there would still be oral traditions. So for your objection to have merit, you have to be claiming the events did not take place at all or they did not take place before 70 C.E. If either one of these is the case, why would gospel authors of the second century place the events 70 years in the past by using known political figures and other contemporary names and places of the mid first century? Would there have been a reason for doing this?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    If I might say something about Paul and his letters being relatively silent about the historical Jesus. The problem is that was not the intent of the letters. It seems like some are trying to associate modern church practice to what was going on in first century Christianity. For example, today, people who know next to nothing about Jesus go to church to learn about him and the preacher gives sermons relating stories about Jesus and other biblical figures to teach the flock about God and Jesus. People assume Paul was doing something similar and it is odd that Paul never related gospel stories about Jesus. Well that’s not what Paul was doing at all. Things were different in the first century. For example, people in Corinth who knew next to nothing about Jesus, didn’t join the Corinthian church to learn about Jesus, that was done prior to them joining the Corinthian church. The average person learned about Jesus through the preaching that is described numerous times in Acts and in other epistles. This was done at the person’s home, or at the market. They didn’t visit the Corinthian church until they were well acquainted with the subject matter. So the Corinthian church was made up of people who were well acquainted with the basic teachings about the Christ. But all that is not really even the point, if you pay close attention, you will see that these letters were really directed towards those who were in charge at the church, and they were to disseminate the information to the rest. If we look at some highlights from 1 Corinthians, you can see this.

    Paul exposes sectarianism, exhorts unity (1:1–4:21)

    On keeping the church morally clean (5:1–6:20)

    Counsel on singleness and marriage (7:1-40)

    Doing all things for the sake of the gospel (8:1–9:27)

    Warning against injurious things (10:1–33)

    Headship; the Lord’s Evening Meal (11:1-34)

    Spiritual gifts; love and its pursuit (12:1–14:40)

    The certainty of the resurrection hope (15:1–16:24)

    These are not the basic teachings about the Christ, these are how the church should operate and how its members should conduct themselves in and out of the church. So on many occasions, Paul is not preaching Christ to an individual, he is overseeing the operation of his churches and instructing whole communities. The one on one preaching was done in the field by individual members of the church. And that is where you would see the earthly Jesus being talked about, unfortunately we don’t have much in that area outside of the gospels and Acts. So it comes as no surprise that talking about Jesus healing a leper has nothing to do with instructing a church as a whole.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

      How do you know what the basic teachings about the Christ were at the time Paul wrote other than by looking at what Paul wrote?

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        VinnyJH,

        You are making a division where no division exists. The basic teachings about the Christ as found in the gospels existed since Jesus’ time, whether orally or in writing. Since Jesus predates Paul, these basic teachings predate Paul. We have these basic teachings today in the written gospels. Who preserved these teachings from the beginning? Why Christians of course. So how did we end up today with these basic teachings in the gospels if all the Christians in Paul’s day knew nothing about them?

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

          Howard,

          I think I might just as well ask “How did we get the Book of Mormon if it wasn’t from the Golden Plates that the Angel Moroni gave to Joseph Smith?”

          I don’t think we have enough evidence to determine the origins of the gospel stories with any certainty.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

            Vince, I didn’t realize that you were questioning the usual dating of the gospels. And it is true that our earliest manuscripts for both the gospels and the epistles are dated to sometime after the middle of the second century. And most if not all of the collaborating evidence, such as the patristic writings are even later than that. So you are correct that there is no hard physical evidence that the gospels were written before 70 C.E. Now it’s not simply a matter of when the gospels were written down for the first time, because that is beside the point. If the events really happened before 70 C.E. there would still be oral traditions. So for your objection to have merit, you have to be claiming the events did not take place at all or they did not take place before 70 C.E. If either one of these is the case, why would gospel authors of the second century place the events 70 years in the past by using known political figures and other contemporary names and places of the mid first century? Would there have been a reason for doing this?

  • Dave Burke

    Well said Howard. I’ve never seen any logic behind the ‘Paul-doesn’t- offer-a-biography-of-Jesus-therefore-he-knows-nothing-about-him-and-doesn’t-believe-he-was-a-literal-historical-person’ argument. Paul is a latecomer to Christianity addressing established Christian communities; people who knew about Jesus and believed in him long before Paul was converted. His letters address pastoral concerns and doctrinal issues. It seems nonsensical to insist that he must start by telling them who Jesus was and what he did, as if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of him.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Biographical facts about Jesus are regularly taught in churches every week in this country and many others.
      And these “facts” have been around for two thousand years.
      Yet they’re still discussed.

      • Dave Burke

        TruthOverfaith,

        What’s your point?

  • Dave Burke

    Well said Howard. I’ve never seen any logic behind the ‘Paul-doesn’t- offer-a-biography-of-Jesus-therefore-he-knows-nothing-about-him-and-doesn’t-believe-he-was-a-literal-historical-person’ argument. Paul is a latecomer to Christianity addressing established Christian communities; people who knew about Jesus and believed in him long before Paul was converted. His letters address pastoral concerns and doctrinal issues. It seems nonsensical to insist that he must start by telling them who Jesus was and what he did, as if this is the first time they’ve ever heard of him.

    • TruthOverfaith

      Biographical facts about Jesus are regularly taught in churches every week in this country and many others.
      And these “facts” have been around for two thousand years.
      Yet they’re still discussed.

      • Dave Burke

        TruthOverfaith,

        What’s your point?

  • Anonymous

    Our earliest Christian source claimed to have learned nothing from the Christians who came before him.  He claimed to know what he knew by divine revelation.  He didn’t tell us why he persecuted the Christians who preceded him.  Most of the communities he addressed were communities that he founded.   The only evidence we have for what those communities knew and understood about Jesus is what we find it Paul’s letters.  It is not unreasonable suppose that they knew other things but any declarations concerning what those things actually were are little more than conjecture and speculation. How much of his message came from those who preceded him and how much was the product of his own  imagination and creativity is also a matter of conjecture and speculation.  Those are pieces of the puzzle that we don’t possess.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Our earliest Christian source claimed to have learned nothing from the Christians who came before him.  He claimed to know what he knew by divine revelation.  He didn’t tell us why he persecuted the Christians who preceded him.  Most of the communities he addressed were communities that he founded.   The only evidence we have for what those communities knew and understood about Jesus is what we find in Paul’s letters.  It is not unreasonable suppose that they knew other things but any declarations concerning what those things actually were are little more than conjecture and speculation. How much of his message came from those who preceded him and how much was the product of his own  imagination and creativity is also a matter of conjecture and speculation.  Those are pieces of the puzzle that we don’t possess.

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

    Vinny, abandoning skepticism of Paul at this one point when it is in mythicism’s interest to do so, and at a point at which Paul is making a claim that is supernatural in nature and which is explicable in terms of his self-interest, does not make mythicism seem at all persuasive.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I am absolutely skeptical of Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from the Christians who came before him and of his claim that he learned everything that he knew by divine revelation.  However, his refusal to credit his predecessors for any part of his message and the lack of any independent evidence of what they believed leaves me without any basis other than speculation and conjecture to determine how much of Paul’s preaching and what parts of it conformed to what came before him and what part of it was the added to the mix by Paul’s own theological creativity. 

      If I can invoke my favorite Mormon analogies, I am completely skeptical of Joseph Smiths’s claims that he translated the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates that he got from the Angel Moroni.  Nevertheless, the fact that neither he nor his compatriots admitted that he had any other sources nor identified any sources makes it hard to be sure what those sources were.  Without persuasive evidence to the contrary, I  would have to allow for the possibility that substantial portions really are the product of Smith’s imagination.

      We can speculate about the context in which Paul’s letters were written, but the only evidence we really have is the letters themselves.  I just don’t see sufficient evidence upon which to base claims about what Christian communities were like or what they believed prior to Paul’s conversion, not because I believe Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from his predecessors, but because Paul declines to say what he learned from his predecessors.

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

    Vinny, abandoning skepticism of Paul at this one point when it is in mythicism’s interest to do so, and at a point at which Paul is making a claim that is supernatural in nature and which is explicable in terms of his self-interest, does not make mythicism seem at all persuasive.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

      Dr. McGrath,

      I am absolutely skeptical of Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from the Christians who came before him and of his claim that he learned everything that he knew by divine revelation.  However, his refusal to credit his predecessors for any part of his message and the lack of any independent evidence of what they believed leaves me without any basis other than speculation and conjecture to determine how much of Paul’s preaching and what parts of it conformed to what came before him and what part of it was added to the mix by Paul’s own theological creativity. 

      If I can invoke my favorite Mormon analogies, I am completely skeptical of Joseph Smiths’s claims that he translated the Book of Mormon from Golden Plates that he got from the Angel Moroni.  Nevertheless, the fact that neither he nor his compatriots admitted that he had any other sources nor identified any sources makes it hard to be sure what those sources were.  Without persuasive evidence to the contrary, I  would have to allow for the possibility that substantial portions really are the product of Smith’s imagination.

      We can speculate about the context in which Paul’s letters were written, but the only evidence we really have is the letters themselves.  I just don’t see sufficient evidence upon which to base claims about what Christian communities were like or what they believed prior to Paul’s conversion, not because I believe Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from his predecessors, but because Paul declines to say what he learned from his predecessors.

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    Most of the communities he addressed were communities that he founded.
    >>

    It is debatable if any of these communities were actually founded by Paul. How many of them does he actually claim to have founded? Can you provide details?

    In any case, Paul was not a lone missionary. He travelled and preached with various companions, including Barnabas, John Mark, and Silas. So any communities founded by Paul would also receive the benefit of his companions’ knowledge.

    >>
    The only evidence we have for what those communities knew and understood about Jesus is what we find it Paul’s letters.
    >>

    Correction: we also have Acts, where Paul gives details of Jesus’ life.

    For example, Acts 13:15-39 shows that Paul knew of Jesus’ foreshadowing in Messianic prophecy, his baptism by John, his ministry in Jerusalem and the local area, the opposition he faced from religious rulers, their collaboration in his arrest and crucifixion (including the role of Piate), his death, his resurrection from the dead, and his appearance to hundreds of believers from Galilee to Jerusalem.

    >>
    I am absolutely skeptical of Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from
    the Christians who came before him
    >>

    Paul makes no such claim.

    >>
    and of his claim that he learned
    everything that he knew by divine revelation.
    >>

    Paul makes no such claim.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      I totally agree, when Paul says things like his teaching is not from man, it most likely means that man was not the source of the teaching, but a man could have very well been the messenger.

  • Dave Burke

    Vince,

    >>
    Most of the communities he addressed were communities that he founded.
    >>

    It is debatable if any of these communities were actually founded by Paul. How many of them does he actually claim to have founded? Can you provide details?

    In any case, Paul was not a lone missionary. He travelled and preached with various companions, including Barnabas, John Mark, and Silas. So any communities founded by Paul would also receive the benefit of his companions’ knowledge.

    >>
    The only evidence we have for what those communities knew and understood about Jesus is what we find it Paul’s letters.
    >>

    Correction: we also have Acts, where Paul gives details of Jesus’ life.

    For example, Acts 13:15-39 shows that Paul knew of Jesus’ foreshadowing in Messianic prophecy, his baptism by John, his ministry in Jerusalem and the local area, the opposition he faced from religious rulers, their collaboration in his arrest and crucifixion (including the role of Piate), his death, his resurrection from the dead, and his appearance to hundreds of believers from Galilee to Jerusalem.

    >>
    I am absolutely skeptical of Paul’s claim that he learned nothing from
    the Christians who came before him
    >>

    Paul makes no such claim.

    >>
    and of his claim that he learned
    everything that he knew by divine revelation.
    >>

    Paul makes no such claim.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      I totally agree, when Paul says things like his teaching is not from man, it most likely means that man was not the source of the teaching, but a man could have very well been the messenger.

  • Dave Burke

    Vinny,

    >>
    How do you know what the basic teachings about the Christ were at the time Paul wrote other than by looking at what Paul wrote?
    >>

    By looking at Acts, which is contemporary with Paul’s missionary career.

    Acts contains a total of nine preaching lectures (Acts 2:22-42, 3:12-26, 7:2-56, 8:30-39, 10:34-48, 13:15-39, 17:22-31, 24:14-21, 26:2-27) throughout which the following core doctrines are presented repeatedly:

    * The Bible: the word of God, divinely inspired
    * One God: the Father and Creator; the Holy Spirit, His power
    * Jesus: the Son of God
    * Jesus: a mortal man
    * Jesus: his perfect life, sacrifice
    * Jesus: his resurrection, glorification, and ascension
    * Christ as mediator
    * The second coming
    * Resurrection and judgement
    * Promises to Abraham: inheritance of the land
    * Promises to David: his kingdom restored
    * Forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism
    * One body: fellowship and breaking of bread

  • Dave Burke

    Vinny,

    >>
    How do you know what the basic teachings about the Christ were at the time Paul wrote other than by looking at what Paul wrote?
    >>

    By looking at Acts, which is contemporary with Paul’s missionary career.

    Acts contains a total of nine preaching lectures (Acts 2:22-42, 3:12-26, 7:2-56, 8:30-39, 10:34-48, 13:15-39, 17:22-31, 24:14-21, 26:2-27) throughout which the following core doctrines are presented repeatedly:

    * The Bible: the word of God, divinely inspired
    * One God: the Father and Creator; the Holy Spirit, His power
    * Jesus: the Son of God
    * Jesus: a mortal man
    * Jesus: his perfect life, sacrifice
    * Jesus: his resurrection, glorification, and ascension
    * Christ as mediator
    * The second coming
    * Resurrection and judgement
    * Promises to Abraham: inheritance of the land
    * Promises to David: his kingdom restored
    * Forgiveness of sins through faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism
    * One body: fellowship and breaking of bread

  • Dave Burke

    ^^ That’s an excellent point. At any rate, Paul only says his *gospel* is not from man. He doesn’t claim that *everything* he knows is derived from divine inspiration, nor does he claim to have learned nothing from the Christians who came before him.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Right on Dave!
      Paul’s gospel, about resurrection following crucifixion, plus extrapolations and interpretations from that (such as Son of God, sacrifice for atonement of sins, pre-existence, Savior of Christians) was largely from Paul’s mind (aka revelations!). According to my studies, I think Jesus never imagined to be crucified, even less resurrected (he probably did not believe in resurrection. Certainly his followers (such as Peter) did not). So Paul’s gospel could not come from him. But if Paul’s gospel did not come from Jesus (or the “Nazarenes”), that did not prevent Paul to know about the human Jesus. And he gave in his letters some evidence for it (Jew, a descendant israelites, poor, brother James, dealing with Jews (but not Gentiles), delivered at night, having suppers, being from Zion or/and crucified in Zion). But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who was likely illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life in some area of rural Galilee.
      It is like a bit like Earl Doherty, who may want to be the great Mythicist, the Master of the no-Jesus theory, but let very little to be known about him.

  • Dave Burke

    ^^ That’s an excellent point. At any rate, Paul only says his *gospel* is not from man. He doesn’t claim that *everything* he knows is derived from divine inspiration, nor does he claim to have learned nothing from the Christians who came before him.

    • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

      Right on Dave!
      Paul’s gospel, about (alleged) resurrection following crucifixion, plus extrapolations and interpretations from that (such as Son of God, sacrifice for atonement of sins, pre-existence, Savior of Christians) was largely from Paul’s mind (aka revelations!). According to my studies, I think Jesus never imagined to be crucified, even less resurrected (he probably did not believe in resurrection; certainly his followers (such as Peter) did not). So Paul’s gospel could not come from him (or the “Nazarenes”), but that did not prevent Paul to know second hand about the human Jesus. And he gave in his letters some evidence for it (Jew, a descendant of Israelites, poor, brother James, dealing with Jews (but not Gentiles), delivered at night, having suppers, being from Zion or/and crucified in Zion). But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who was probably illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life in some area of rural Galilee.
      It is like a bit like Earl Doherty, who may want to be seen as the great Mythicist and the Master of the no-Jesus theory, but let very little be known about himself (because that’s probably not in his favor!).

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    James:
    ‘abandoning skepticism of Paul at this one point when it is in
    mythicism’s interest to do so, and at a point at which Paul is making a
    claim that is supernatural in nature and which is explicable in terms of
    his self-interest, does not make mythicism seem at all persuasive.”

    I hope you have a macro that generates these formulaic responses, or at least a text file from which you cut and paste pat answers to skeptics, and you’re not actually typing this tedious bilge. I’m so annoyed by it in part because it smacks of intellectual dishonesty to me, a feigned incuriosity for rhetorical effect. I can’t see how you are not yourself intrigued by what Paul means exactly when he speaks of revelation, the tantalizing and variously interpreted insight into an unusually unguarded ancient’s orientation to “things unseen” and Wisdom from on high. I don’t expect you to just acquiesce to the possibly spurious “mythicist” appeal to Paul’s revelatory claims on this account. I expect engagement: a willingness to acknowledge that many of the puzzles that thoughtful HJ skeptics bring up are relevant to genuine points of contention in the academic discussion about what we know and how about ancient thought.

    Dave:
    ‘I’ve never seen any logic behind the ‘Paul-doesn’t-
    offer-a-biography-of-Jesus-therefore-he-knows-nothing-about-him-and-doesn’t-believe-he-was-a-literal-historical-person’
    argument.”

    A strawman made of hyphens. You actually misconstrue the point on two counts. Nobody expects Paul to have “offered-a-biography” of Jesus. It is the absence of any narrative detail from the gospels that couldn’t also be derived strightforwardly from the scriptures such as setting, situation, discourse, miracle, exorcism or healing and the specific silences in which Paul appears to be addressing a controversy that could be argued by appeal to some core element of the synoptic tradition. Second to that, Paul may have “known-nothing-about-him” yet still “believed-he-was-a-literal-historical-person” in the sense that God’s saving plan called for the secret embodiment “according to the flesh” of Wisdom/Logos, variously construed, to be offered in a sacrifice of cosmic import. Maybe Paul believed in an otherwise unremarked upon event right here on Earth (contra Doherty). It doesn’t mean it happened.

    The standard dodge to the argument from Paul’s silence is Bernard’s:

    “But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who
    was probably illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life
    in some area of rural Galilee.”

    But the trouble with this supposed clear view through the fog of theological embellishment is evoked earlier in the very same comment: the evidence for Paul’s knowledge “second hand about the human Jesus” including “brother James”.
    Generally, by what means were the authors of the synoptics reliably informed about this “short public life” of an illiterate rustic from some area of rural Galilee? Specifically, was James also an illiterate rustic? If not, why not? and, if so, then we have the puzzle of Paul’s disinterest in the illiterate rustic whose career culminated in an event of cosmic implications in light of his portrayal of another illiterate rustic as a leader of a sectarian community in the ideologically charged Jerusalem of the period, operating at or above Paul’s level

    Finally, Dave:
    “…Acts, which is contemporary with Paul’s missionary career”

    You state this as if it’s a settled fact. You will get very few scholars of the NT to agree with you on that. I very much doubt our erstwhile host agrees with that. Which only amounts to an appeal to their authority, but for myself, I have to say that only by reading Acts with a complete suspension of critical insight could one come to that belief. There is not a single reason on internal evidence alone to regard Acts as either contemporary with the events it describes or as even an attempt at a reliable history of Christian origins. The discrepancies with Paul’s account when the same episodes are treated makes the assertion even more dubious.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MUIGGGWVZRPI7DRSO4ENSPPHCQ ConnorO

    James:
    ‘abandoning skepticism of Paul at this one point when it is in
    mythicism’s interest to do so, and at a point at which Paul is making a
    claim that is supernatural in nature and which is explicable in terms of
    his self-interest, does not make mythicism seem at all persuasive.”

    I hope you have a macro that generates these formulaic responses, or at least a text file from which you cut and paste pat answers to skeptics, and you’re not actually typing this tedious bilge. I’m so annoyed by it in part because it smacks of intellectual dishonesty to me, a feigned incuriosity for rhetorical effect. I can’t see how you are not yourself intrigued by what Paul means exactly when he speaks of revelation, the tantalizing and variously interpreted insight into an unusually unguarded ancient’s orientation to “things unseen” and Wisdom from on high. I don’t expect you to just acquiesce to the possibly spurious “mythicist” appeal to Paul’s revelatory claims on this account. I expect engagement: a willingness to acknowledge that many of the puzzles that thoughtful HJ skeptics bring up are relevant to genuine points of contention in the academic discussion about what we know and how about ancient thought.

    Dave:
    ‘I’ve never seen any logic behind the ‘Paul-doesn’t-
    offer-a-biography-of-Jesus-therefore-he-knows-nothing-about-him-and-doesn’t-believe-he-was-a-literal-historical-person’
    argument.”

    A strawman made of hyphens. You actually misconstrue the point on two counts. Nobody expects Paul to have “offered-a-biography” of Jesus. It is the absence of any narrative detail from the gospels that couldn’t also be derived strightforwardly from the scriptures such as setting, situation, discourse, miracle, exorcism or healing; and the specific silences in which Paul appears to be addressing a controversy that could be argued by appeal to some core element of the synoptic tradition. Second to that, Paul may have “known-nothing-about-him” yet still “believed-he-was-a-literal-historical-person” in the sense that God’s saving plan called for the secret embodiment “according to the flesh” of Wisdom/Logos, variously construed, to be offered in a sacrifice of cosmic import. Maybe Paul believed in an otherwise unremarked upon event right here on Earth (contra Doherty). It doesn’t mean it happened.

    The standard dodge to the argument from Paul’s silence is Bernard’s:

    “But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who
    was probably illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life
    in some area of rural Galilee.”

    But the trouble with this supposed clear view through the fog of theological embellishment is evoked earlier in the very same comment: the evidence for Paul’s knowledge “second hand about the human Jesus” including “brother James”.
    Generally, by what means were the authors of the synoptics reliably informed about this “short public life” of an illiterate rustic from some area of rural Galilee? Specifically, was James also an illiterate rustic? If not, why not? and, if so, then we have the puzzle of Paul’s disinterest in the illiterate rustic whose career culminated in an event of cosmic implications in light of his portrayal of another illiterate rustic as a leader of a sectarian community in the ideologically charged Jerusalem of the period, operating at or above Paul’s level

    Finally, Dave:
    “…Acts, which is contemporary with Paul’s missionary career”

    You state this as if it’s a settled fact. You will get very few scholars of the NT to agree with you on that. I very much doubt our erstwhile host agrees with that. Which only amounts to an appeal to their authority, but for myself, I have to say that only by reading Acts with a complete suspension of critical insight could one come to that belief. There is not a single reason on internal evidence alone to regard Acts as either contemporary with the events it describes or as even an attempt at a reliable history of Christian origins. The discrepancies with Paul’s account when the same episodes are treated makes the assertion even more dubious.

  • Dave Burke

    ConnorO,

    >>
    A strawman made of hyphens.
    >>

    I’m afraid not. I used the term ‘biography’ facetiously, but that’s effectively what a lot of Mythicists ask for.

    >>
    It is the absence of any narrative detail from the gospels that couldn’t also be derived strightforwardly from the scriptures
    >>

    Baptism by John, ministry in Jerusalem and the local area,  opposition from religious rulers, their collaboration in his arrest and crucifixion (including the role of Pilate), details of the Last Supper, death, resurrection from the dead, appearance to hundreds of believers from Galilee to Jerusalem. All mentioned by Paul.

    You claim he could derive this level of detail ‘straightforwardly from the Scriptures’?

    >>
    and the specific silences in which Paul appears to be addressing a controversy that could be argued by appeal to some core element of the synoptic tradition
    >>

    Examples please.

    >>
    Second to that, Paul may have “known-nothing-about-him” yet still “believed-he-was-a-literal-historical-person” in the sense that God’s saving plan called for the secret embodiment “according to the flesh” of Wisdom/Logos, variously construed, to be offered in a sacrifice of cosmic import.
    >>

    Says who? Academic consensus or some random guy on the internet?

    >>
    You state this as if it’s a settled fact. You will get very few scholars of the NT to agree with you on that
    >>

    I’m talking about the events in Acts, not the actual book itself. My apologies if this was unclear.

    You can quibble about the date of composition if you like (academic consensus favours the second half of the 1st Century and there are plenty of reputable scholars who argue for a pre-AD 70 Acts; well within the timeframe of Paul’s own writings) but this is just a sideshow to the main event.

    Are you suggesting Acts itself cannot be used as a valid source of information about Paul?

  • Dave Burke

    ConnorO,

    >>
    A strawman made of hyphens.
    >>

    I’m afraid not. I used the term ‘biography’ facetiously, but that’s effectively what a lot of Mythicists ask for.

    >>
    It is the absence of any narrative detail from the gospels that couldn’t also be derived strightforwardly from the scriptures
    >>

    Baptism by John, ministry in Jerusalem and the local area,  opposition from religious rulers, their collaboration in his arrest and crucifixion (including the role of Pilate), details of the Last Supper, death, resurrection from the dead, appearance to hundreds of believers from Galilee to Jerusalem. All mentioned by Paul.

    You claim he could derive this level of detail ‘straightforwardly from the Scriptures’?

    >>
    and the specific silences in which Paul appears to be addressing a controversy that could be argued by appeal to some core element of the synoptic tradition
    >>

    Examples please.

    >>
    Second to that, Paul may have “known-nothing-about-him” yet still “believed-he-was-a-literal-historical-person” in the sense that God’s saving plan called for the secret embodiment “according to the flesh” of Wisdom/Logos, variously construed, to be offered in a sacrifice of cosmic import.
    >>

    Says who? Academic consensus or some random guy on the internet?

    >>
    You state this as if it’s a settled fact. You will get very few scholars of the NT to agree with you on that
    >>

    I’m talking about the events in Acts, not the actual book itself. My apologies if this was unclear.

    You can quibble about the date of composition if you like (academic consensus favours the second half of the 1st Century and there are plenty of reputable scholars who argue for a pre-AD 70 Acts; well within the timeframe of Paul’s own writings) but this is just a sideshow to the main event.

    Are you suggesting Acts itself cannot be used as a valid source of information about Paul?

  • Anonymous

    JW: Why blog anonymously?NTW: It gives you a degree of freedom to say what you really think, without worrying about what those who might employ you think. I ENCOURAGE EVERYBODY TO DO IT.  IN FACT, MOST BOOKS SHOULD BE PUBLISHED PSEUDONYMOUSLY, TOO.   Who doesn’t want to write a scathing refutation of what they wrote ten years ago? I think it could encourage more open writing. It might also make it easier for people to approach works without bias against the author. It wouldn’t help with The Man’s academic publishing requirements — but you know what they can do.

  • GeoffHudson

    JW: Why blog anonymously?NTW: It gives you a degree of freedom to say what you really think, without worrying about what those who might employ you think. I ENCOURAGE EVERYBODY TO DO IT.  IN FACT, MOST BOOKS SHOULD BE PUBLISHED PSEUDONYMOUSLY, TOO.   Who doesn’t want to write a scathing refutation of what they wrote ten years ago? I think it could encourage more open writing. It might also make it easier for people to approach works without bias against the author. It wouldn’t help with The Man’s academic publishing requirements — but you know what they can do.

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

    Connor, I am really surprised that, even though you simply repeated a viewpoint that is unpersuasive in the same fashion that it has been presented here (and addressed) countless times before, you accused me of being the one repeating formulaic bilge. Was this intended to be ironic?

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

    Connor, I am really surprised that, even though you simply repeated a viewpoint that is unpersuasive in the same fashion that it has been presented here (and addressed) countless times before, you accused me of being the one repeating formulaic bilge. Was this intended to be ironic?

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

    I have written a post addressing the “Paul received his message solely by revelation” claim:
    http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/18/mythicism-and-pauls-claims-to-supernatural-revelation/

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

    I have written a post addressing the “Paul received his message solely by revelation” claim:
    http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/18/mythicism-and-pauls-claims-to-supernatural-revelation/

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To ConnorO:
    BM wrote earlier: “But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who
    was probably illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life
    in some area of rural Galilee.”
    Then ConnorO wrote: “But the trouble with this supposed clear view through the fog of theological embellishment is evoked earlier in the very same comment: the evidence for Paul’s knowledge “second hand about the human Jesus” including “brother James”. Generally, by what means were the authors of the synoptics reliably informed about this “short public life” of an illiterate rustic from some area of rural Galilee?”

    BM: by mean of Peter (another rustic!) during his visit to Corinth (where he had followers –1Cor–). I think Peter was, at best, supplying an outline for Jesus’ last year plus some anecdotal material about a guy very unlike a Son of God or Christ. That gave lot of problems to Paul and that can be seen in 1Corinthians. That also gave a lot of Problem for “Mark” (a Gentile living in Corinth) and that can be seen in GMark.

    That might seem abrupt but a lot of that is explained in my website: http://historical-jesus.info/

    ConnorO wrote: “Specifically, was James also an illiterate rustic?”
    BM: Yes, very likely.

    ConnorO wrote: “then we have the puzzle of Paul’s disinterest in the illiterate rustic whose career culminated in an event of cosmic implications”
    BM: that grandiose ending was not coming from the “Nazarenes”, but the like of Paul and other apostles “in the Spirit”.

  • http://historical-jesus.info/ Bernard Muller

    To ConnorO:

    BM wrote earlier: “But in view of his gospel, Paul was not likely to dwell on somebody who
    was probably illiterate, rustic, not a teacher, with a short public life
    in some area of rural Galilee.”

    Then ConnorO wrote: “But the trouble with this supposed clear view through the fog of theological embellishment is evoked earlier in the very same comment: the evidence for Paul’s knowledge “second hand about the human Jesus” including “brother James”. Generally, by what means were the authors of the synoptics reliably informed about this “short public life” of an illiterate rustic from some area of rural Galilee?”

    BM: by mean of Peter (another rustic!) during his visit to Corinth (where he had followers –1Cor–). I think Peter was, at best, supplying an outline for Jesus’ last year plus some anecdotal material about a guy very unlike a Son of God or Christ. That gave lot of problems to Paul and that can be seen in 1Corinthians. That also gave a lot of problems for “Mark” (a Gentile living in Corinth) and that can be seen in GMark.

    ConnorO wrote: “Specifically, was James also an illiterate rustic?”

    BM: Yes, very likely.

    ConnorO wrote: “then we have the puzzle of Paul’s disinterest in the illiterate rustic whose career culminated in an event of cosmic implications”

    BM: that grandiose ending was not coming from the “Nazarenes”, but the like of Paul and other apostles “in the Spirit”.

    That might seem abrupt but a lot of that is explained in my website: http://historical-jesus.info/

  • Anonymous

    Howard,

    I have no particular problem with the usual dates that are give from the gospel.  However, even these dates are thirty to sixty years after the events the gospels purport to narrate.  I don’t think its possible to know how much of the gospels go back to actual people and actual events.  I also don’t think we have enough evidence to determine what part of Paul’s teachings predate him.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Vinny, you are absolutely right, there is not enough biblical manuscript evidence or secular evidence to establish with certainty the authenticity of these texts as to the events and people it describes, and it probably never will. That is one of the main reasons why many people over the years have rejected these writings as authentic history and even more so as the authentic word of God. And that is where the division between people occurs. On the one hand, we have people who study the Bible to analyze it as to its origin, its historical accuracy and so on. On the other hand we have people who believe the divine claims, and attempt to live their lives based on these ideas. To me the first group seems like they are doing something like this; lets say you come across what seems like a really great idea, but you are not willing to investigate it farther until you can verify the source of the idea. Then you find that you spent your whole life trying to verify the idea and you never ended up using this great idea to better your life. It just seems really odd to me and I’ve said it a dozen times on here. If the Bible is not really what it claims to be, the divine word of God with a promise of salvation, why do people spend so much time and energy arguing over something that is nothing more than a historical curiosity? I see no point in it. The only reason I bring this up is that your comment is a plain declaration of doubt as to the gospels authenticity, origin and purpose. So all I am saying is that you do not have a lot of places to go from here. You can either continue to doubt because the current evidence is not complete or clear, or you can accept what it says by evaluating more then just historical data.

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Howard,

    I have no particular problem with the usual dates that are give from the gospel.  However, even these dates are thirty to sixty years after the events the gospels purport to narrate.  I don’t think its possible to know how much of the gospels go back to actual people and actual events.  I also don’t think we have enough evidence to determine what part of Paul’s teachings predate him.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Vinny, you are absolutely right, there is not enough biblical manuscript evidence or secular evidence to establish with certainty the authenticity of these texts as to the events and people it describes, and it probably never will. That is one of the main reasons why many people over the years have rejected these writings as authentic history and even more so as the authentic word of God. And that is where the division between people occurs. On the one hand, we have people who study the Bible to analyze it as to its origin, its historical accuracy and so on. On the other hand we have people who believe the divine claims, and attempt to live their lives based on these ideas. To me the first group seems like they are doing something like this; lets say you come across what seems like a really great idea, but you are not willing to investigate it farther until you can verify the source of the idea. Then you find that you spent your whole life trying to verify the idea and you never ended up using this great idea to better your life. It just seems really odd to me and I’ve said it a dozen times on here. If the Bible is not really what it claims to be, the divine word of God with a promise of salvation, why do people spend so much time and energy arguing over something that is nothing more than a historical curiosity? I see no point in it. The only reason I bring this up is that your comment is a plain declaration of doubt as to the gospels authenticity, origin and purpose. So all I am saying is that you do not have a lot of places to go from here. You can either continue to doubt because the current evidence is not complete or clear, or you can accept what it says by evaluating more then just historical data.

  • Anonymous

    Howard,

    Once upon a time I became a believer because it seemed like a great idea to me.  It was only after coming to faith that I started to look at what I had been told was compelling evidence for the New Testament accounts.  I was disappointed with what I found, but I stuck with it because it still seemed like a great idea.  After a couple of years, however, I couldn’t help admitting that I was no more at peace and  no happier than before I believed.  My life was still filled with doubts and confusion.  Eventually, I decided that honest doubt was preferable to trying to convince myself that I believed something that no longer made sense to me. 

    I think that many people so badly want to be certain that their lives have some some transcendent meaning that they are willing to believe that the Bible is somehow a magical book despite the lack of empirical evidence to verify the claim.  I think the main reason there are so many arguments about it is that many of these people see it as their obligation to convince others that their beliefs are objectively reasonable.  

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Howard,

    Once upon a time I became a believer because it seemed like a great idea to me.  It was only after coming to faith that I started to look at what I had been told was compelling evidence for the New Testament accounts.  I was disappointed with what I found, but I stuck with it because it still seemed like a great idea.  After a couple of years, however, I couldn’t help admitting that I was no more at peace and  no happier than before I believed.  My life was still filled with doubts and confusion.  Eventually, I decided that honest doubt was preferable to trying to convince myself that I believed something that no longer made sense to me. 

    I think that many people so badly want to be certain that their lives have some some transcendent meaning that they are willing to believe that the Bible is somehow a magical book despite the lack of empirical evidence to verify the claim.  I think the main reason there are so many arguments about it is that many of these people see it as their obligation to convince others that their beliefs are objectively reasonable.  

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    Vinny,

    I know this is getting off topic, but I want to comment on some of what you said. Your explanation is typical of those who once believed in the Bible, but after taking a closer look at it, they started to see inconsistencies and other problems. Now I don’t know what specific problems you were encountering, but I have seen a number of people become discouraged because of theological problems. What happens is that people usually start out being taught a certain theology and the teacher cherry picks certain scriptures to back up what they are teaching. Later when this person starts reading more of the Bible and in its proper contexts and learning the history of the period and more, problems start to arise. In a lot of cases, the person starts doubting what the Bible says because it is not making sense any more. But the problem is more than likely the theology that they learned, and not what the Bible says. So yes, I am advocating the idea of false or apostate Christian theology. And it’s not new, it is my belief that apostasy was taking over the Christian community early in the second century. Just as Jesus explained in the parable of the wheat and weeds. The true teachings and theology would be so badly mixed with false ones that it can not be easily separated until the harvest.

    You said: “I think that many people so badly want to be certain that their lives have some transcendent meaning that they are willing to believe that the Bible is somehow a magical book despite the lack of empirical evidence to verify the claim.”

    You are absolutely right, but not in the way you think. It’s not because of the “empirical evidence” part, because if the Bible is truly from God, he probably made sure that the claims could not be proven empirically. He wants people to believe in him by means of faith, not because you have to believe because his existence has been established beyond doubt. The problem however, is when you say, “people so badly want to be certain that their lives. . .” These people become Christians because of “their lives.” But the main concern of a true Christian is not their own life, but their devotion to God and their willingness to give up that life in the process of doing God’s will. That’s what Jesus did, and we are to follow his steps. So if someone’s theology and beliefs do not fit the facts of the Bible, I would suggest they try a new theology and beliefs until they find one that fits, because there are many, but only one is right. :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    Vinny,

    I know this is getting off topic, but I want to comment on some of what you said. Your explanation is typical of those who once believed in the Bible, but after taking a closer look at it, they started to see inconsistencies and other problems. Now I don’t know what specific problems you were encountering, but I have seen a number of people become discouraged because of theological problems. What happens is that people usually start out being taught a certain theology and the teacher cherry picks certain scriptures to back up what they are teaching. Later when this person starts reading more of the Bible and in its proper contexts and learning the history of the period and more, problems start to arise. In a lot of cases, the person starts doubting what the Bible says because it is not making sense any more. But the problem is more than likely the theology that they learned, and not what the Bible says. So yes, I am advocating the idea of false or apostate Christian theology. And it’s not new, it is my belief that apostasy was taking over the Christian community early in the second century. Just as Jesus explained in the parable of the wheat and weeds. The true teachings and theology would be so badly mixed with false ones that it can not be easily separated until the harvest.

    You said: “I think that many people so badly want to be certain that their lives have some transcendent meaning that they are willing to believe that the Bible is somehow a magical book despite the lack of empirical evidence to verify the claim.”

    You are absolutely right, but not in the way you think. It’s not because of the “empirical evidence” part, because if the Bible is truly from God, he probably made sure that the claims could not be proven empirically. He wants people to believe in him by means of faith, not because you have to believe because his existence has been established beyond doubt. The problem however, is when you say, “people so badly want to be certain that their lives. . .” These people become Christians because of “their lives.” But the main concern of a true Christian is not their own life, but their devotion to God and their willingness to give up that life in the process of doing God’s will. That’s what Jesus did, and we are to follow his steps. So if someone’s theology and beliefs do not fit the facts of the Bible, I would suggest they try a new theology and beliefs until they find one that fits, because there are many, but only one is right. :)

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Howard,
    We are getting a bit off topic, but I am happy to discuss it.

    After I left the faith, it was suggested to me that the people who had first shared the gospel with me had given me unreasonable expectations about the degree of certainty that I could expect to have about my beliefs.  I acknowledged that this might be true, however, the potential for certainty was one of the things that made it seem like such a great idea in the first place so knowing that I might have been mistaken about that didn’t make the idea of returning any more appealing.

    I have to say that I find the idea of trying to find beliefs that somehow fit to be a profoundly depressing prospect.   How would I ever know that I had hit upon the set of beliefs in which God wanted me to have faith?  I think that God (if there is one) gave me the ability to reason about the world in which I live.  I don’t think that I would be doing justice to that gift by spending my life trying to find something to believe on faith.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Vinny,

      I agree, but I don’t recall too many of James’ posts that stay on topic. :)

      “I have to say that I find the idea of trying to find beliefs that somehow fit to be a profoundly depressing prospect.”

      I guess I was a bit too subtle, that was my round about way of getting you to ask me what was the right set of beliefs. And the answer would have been, mine of course!

      Actually, I do believe that, but I don’t expect you to simply take my word for it. I don’t have much time right now, but I would like to ask if you could explain more precisely what it is that you are having trouble with. For example, are your issues theological in nature, or historical, or the authenticity of the texts?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Howard,
    We are getting a bit off topic, but I am happy to discuss it.

    After I left the faith, it was suggested to me that the people who had first shared the gospel with me had given me unreasonable expectations about the degree of certainty that I could expect to have about my beliefs.  I acknowledged that this might be true, however, the potential for certainty was one of the things that made it seem like such a great idea in the first place so knowing that I might have been mistaken about that didn’t make the idea of returning any more appealing.

    I have to say that I find the idea of trying to find beliefs that somehow fit to be a profoundly depressing prospect.   How would I ever know that I had hit upon the set of beliefs in which God wanted me to have faith?  I think that God (if there is one) gave me the ability to reason about the world in which I live.  I don’t think that I would be doing justice to that gift by spending my life trying to find something to believe on faith.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Vinny,

      I agree, but I don’t recall too many of James’ posts that stay on topic. :)

      “I have to say that I find the idea of trying to find beliefs that somehow fit to be a profoundly depressing prospect.”

      I guess I was a bit too subtle, that was my round about way of getting you to ask me what was the right set of beliefs. And the answer would have been, mine of course!

      Actually, I do believe that, but I don’t expect you to simply take my word for it. I don’t have much time right now, but I would like to ask if you could explain more precisely what it is that you are having trouble with. For example, are your issues theological in nature, or historical, or the authenticity of the texts?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Howard,

    It was thirty-five years ago that I was a Bible-believing Christian in my late teens.  I am happily agnostic these days and I don’t think that I am having trouble with anything in relation to the beliefs i once held. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_BKNHTDAA6WTSRXXCL2T4UQL6YM Vince Hart

    Howard,

    It was thirty-five years ago that I was a Bible-believing Christian in my late teens.  I am happily agnostic these days and I don’t think that I am having trouble with anything in relation to the beliefs i once held. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Tulip/561446523 Alex Tulip

    How about some of you gutless fundies actually invite Earl to one of your universities to speak?  Have you ever tried that or is he just untermensch for you holy rollers?  Your suppression, mockery and censorship of accurate analysis of Christian origins is entirely evil, just like how the early church burnt everything that showed their evil tracks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Tulip/561446523 Alex Tulip

    How about some of you gutless fundies actually invite Earl to one of your universities to speak?  Have you ever tried that or is he just untermensch for you holy rollers?  Your suppression, mockery and censorship of accurate analysis of Christian origins is entirely evil, just like how the early church burnt everything that showed their evil tracks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Tulip/1266985469 Robert Tulip

    Apologies, last comment was from me, not from Alex Tulip

    Robert Tulip

  • Robert Tulip

    Apologies, last comment was from me, not from Alex Tulip

    Robert Tulip

  • Dave Burke

    Robert, two points:

    * Nobody involved in this discussion is a fundy (AFAIK)
    * Universities tend to prefer well known speakers with verifiable credentials and academic credibility (alas, Earl fails all three criteria)

    >>
    Your suppression, mockery and censorship of accurate analysis of Christian origins is entirely evil, just like how the early church burnt everything that showed their evil tracks.
    >>

    This is wrong on a number of levels, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of history will tell you. Additionally, there has been no suppression, mockery and censorship here.

  • Dave Burke

    Robert, two points:

    * Nobody involved in this discussion is a fundy (AFAIK)
    * Universities tend to prefer well known speakers with verifiable credentials and academic credibility (alas, Earl fails all three criteria)

    >>
    Your suppression, mockery and censorship of accurate analysis of Christian origins is entirely evil, just like how the early church burnt everything that showed their evil tracks.
    >>

    This is wrong on a number of levels, as anyone with even a passing knowledge of history will tell you. Additionally, there has been no suppression, mockery and censorship here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Tulip/1266985469 Robert Tulip

    Dave,

    On the basis of the information presented in Earl Doherty’s superb scholarly work Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man, I consider your comment here to be entirely wrong.  Belief in a historical Jesus Christ is pure fundamentalism, in that it has no historical evidence to support it and is solely grounded in faith.  This entire thread is devoted to mockery of Earl Doherty for his failure to be engaged by the dominant fundamentalist ‘Jesus true believer’ strain of Biblical scholarship.  It is all about saying ‘nya nya we can ignore you’. You are like a pack of children.  Your condescending comment “even a passing knowledge of history” is patronising bunk.  Jesus Christ did not exist.  The overwhelming silence about any biographical details for generations after his supposed life makes the mythicist argument far superior to literal historicism as a scientific hypothesis of the truth of Christian origins.  My review of Doherty’s book is at http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2DXLQ0H6DOFJG/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_2?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R3LMCOZNP5NMRRobert

    • Dave Burke

      Robert,

      >>
      On the basis of the information presented in Earl Doherty’s superb scholarly work Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man, I consider your comment here to be entirely wrong.
      >>

      OK, good for you. If Earl’s work is ever subjected to the usual process of peer review and subsequently endorsed by professionals in the relevant field, I’ll start taking it seriously. Until then it’s just interesting speculation.

      >>
      Belief in a historical Jesus Christ is pure fundamentalism, in that it has no historical evidence to support it and is solely grounded in faith.
      >>

      If a historical Jesus is purely a matter of fundamentalism, please explain to me why the overwhelming majority of professional academics accept Jesus’ historicity – including atheists and agnostics.

      >>
      This entire thread is devoted to mockery of Earl Doherty for his failure to be engaged by the dominant fundamentalist ‘Jesus true believer’ strain of Biblical scholarship.
      >>

      No it’s not. It’s a parody of Mythicist methodology. I used Earl because he provides a good analog for the mythical Jesus. If you can find anyone more suitable, I’d be happy to use them instead.

      >>
      Your condescending comment “even a passing knowledge of history” is patronising bunk.
      >>

      Thank you for that excellently constructed argument.

  • Robert Tulip

    Dave,

    On the basis of the information presented in Earl Doherty’s superb scholarly work Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man, I consider your comment here to be entirely wrong.  Belief in a historical Jesus Christ is pure fundamentalism, in that it has no historical evidence to support it and is solely grounded in faith.  This entire thread is devoted to mockery of Earl Doherty for his failure to be engaged by the dominant fundamentalist ‘Jesus true believer’ strain of Biblical scholarship.  It is all about saying ‘nya nya we can ignore you’. You are like a pack of children.  Your condescending comment “even a passing knowledge of history” is patronising bunk.  Jesus Christ did not exist.  The overwhelming silence about any biographical details for generations after his supposed life makes the mythicist argument far superior to literal historicism as a scientific hypothesis of the truth of Christian origins.  My review of Doherty’s book is at http://www.amazon.com/gp/cdp/member-reviews/A2DXLQ0H6DOFJG/ref=cm_pdp_rev_title_2?ie=UTF8&sort_by=MostRecentReview#R3LMCOZNP5NMRRobert

    • Dave Burke

      Robert,

      >>
      On the basis of the information presented in Earl Doherty’s superb scholarly work Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man, I consider your comment here to be entirely wrong.
      >>

      OK, good for you. If Earl’s work is ever subjected to the usual process of peer review and subsequently endorsed by professionals in the relevant field, I’ll start taking it seriously. Until then it’s just interesting speculation.

      >>
      Belief in a historical Jesus Christ is pure fundamentalism, in that it has no historical evidence to support it and is solely grounded in faith.
      >>

      If a historical Jesus is purely a matter of fundamentalism, please explain to me why the overwhelming majority of professional academics accept Jesus’ historicity – including atheists and agnostics.

      >>
      This entire thread is devoted to mockery of Earl Doherty for his failure to be engaged by the dominant fundamentalist ‘Jesus true believer’ strain of Biblical scholarship.
      >>

      No it’s not. It’s a parody of Mythicist methodology. I used Earl because he provides a good analog for the mythical Jesus. If you can find anyone more suitable, I’d be happy to use them instead.

      >>
      Your condescending comment “even a passing knowledge of history” is patronising bunk.
      >>

      Thank you for that excellently constructed argument.

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

    Robert Tulip, if you can define Doherty’s book as “superb” and “scholarly” I really feel I must ask how you are defining those words, and what you are comparing his work to. I find Doherty to be thoroughly unpersuasive, disappointing, selective in his treatment of evidence, and at best “poor scholarship” if one wished to be generous and use the term “scholarly” at all.

    I suspect that scholarship is like money. The key to spotting counterfeits is being well acquainted with lots of examples of the real thing.

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

    Robert Tulip, if you can define Doherty’s book as “superb” and “scholarly” I really feel I must ask how you are defining those words, and what you are comparing his work to. I find Doherty to be thoroughly unpersuasive, disappointing, selective in his treatment of evidence, and at best “poor scholarship” if one wished to be generous and use the term “scholarly” at all.

    I suspect that scholarship is like money. The key to spotting counterfeits is being well acquainted with lots of examples of the real thing.

  • observer

    Robert you will find many non mythers  on this forum are either liberal Christians, skeptics or atheists and none of us have any time for the idea that Jesus was a mythical figure.  I have a degree in history and I am agnostic. If I felt Jesus mythicism could be defended I would at least admit it is a valid historical view. I have read Earl’s arguments and those of other mythers and have concluded they are simply too implausible. Might I suggest you do not have a strong background in ancient history and you should learn more about this period before defending Earl.

    While not in response to Earl might I recommend you read Tim O’Neill’s review of the absurd book Nailed, which also tries to defend the Jesus Myth.  http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    Tim is an atheist for your information

  • observer

    Robert you will find many non mythers  on this forum are either liberal Christians, skeptics or atheists and none of us have any time for the idea that Jesus was a mythical figure.  I have a degree in history and I am agnostic. If I felt Jesus mythicism could be defended I would at least admit it is a valid historical view. I have read Earl’s arguments and those of other mythers and have concluded they are simply too implausible. Might I suggest you do not have a strong background in ancient history and you should learn more about this period before defending Earl.

    While not in response to Earl might I recommend you read Tim O’Neill’s review of the absurd book Nailed, which also tries to defend the Jesus Myth.  http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    Tim is an atheist for your information

  • observer

    I do find it odd that Neil does not like the fact I simply use the name Observer but he is okay with Doherty being absolutely secret about his academic background. More of Neil’s selective outrage I suppose.

    I have looked at Doherty’s arguments they are not convincing.

    Myther’s do not peer review and they have utterly failed to convince that collective body of classical historians and New Testament scholars that their arguments have any merit what so ever. The fact that one or two historians ( outside of academia I will add) think that it is possible does not suddenly mean it is a serious view on classical history. If that was true then creationism is viable.

    The overwhelming majority of people with any formal degree  in history will find mytherism  to be immediately unlikely and upon further investigation they will realize just how weak the arguments for it are.

    Neil you can waste your time on mytherism all you want but to put it kindly it doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell.

    Read Tim’s review, then read the sniveling and sneering of mythers in response to it and ask yourself if you want to associate with such people.

    You might also be interested to know myther Humphrey’s used a holocaust denial publishing company to publish his book on mytherism. Do you really want to support this?

    Mytherism is rapidly becoming atheism’s equivalent of creationism.

  • observer

    I do find it odd that Neil does not like the fact I simply use the name Observer but he is okay with Doherty being absolutely secret about his academic background. More of Neil’s selective outrage I suppose.

    I have looked at Doherty’s arguments they are not convincing.

    Myther’s do not peer review and they have utterly failed to convince that collective body of classical historians and New Testament scholars that their arguments have any merit what so ever. The fact that one or two historians ( outside of academia I will add) think that it is possible does not suddenly mean it is a serious view on classical history. If that was true then creationism is viable.

    The overwhelming majority of people with any formal degree  in history will find mytherism  to be immediately unlikely and upon further investigation they will realize just how weak the arguments for it are.

    Neil you can waste your time on mytherism all you want but to put it kindly it doesn’t have a snowballs chance in hell.

    Read Tim’s review, then read the sniveling and sneering of mythers in response to it and ask yourself if you want to associate with such people.

    You might also be interested to know myther Humphrey’s used a holocaust denial publishing company to publish his book on mytherism. Do you really want to support this?

    Mytherism is rapidly becoming atheism’s equivalent of creationism.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    Perhaps I was feeling a bit too angry when I posted my first comment above, but I still wish to defend the substance of it, that Christ literalism has direct continuity with fundamentalist belief, akin to true belief in Bertrand Russell’s teapot.  

    It would be very easy for any of you to confirm the existence of Earl Doherty by emailing him and inviting him to speak at a public event.  Have any of you ever tried that?  Why not?  I submit that it is because your emotional commitment to faith in Jesus overrides your rational faculties, due to the extent of brainwashing you have experienced about your Lord and Savior during inculcation of faith.  It is pure prejudice.  Saying that he is beneath your contempt hardly gives the impression that you are objective or fair.

    George Orwell has an excellent term for this syndrome in 1984 – ‘crimestop’ – the ability to suppress thought about an unacceptable idea.  The awful truth is that there is no evidence whatsoever for the historical Jesus, and plenty of coherent logical evidence for his fabrication.  The idea that Jesus Christ was invented is highly traumatic and unacceptable to Christians, as it undermines their institutional and personal identity, so is subject to routine mockery and suppression.  

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking – claiming to bear witness to truth while refusing public debate with critics.  But the Church Fathers were the pioneers and perfecters of this method of faith in their dealings with heretics.I have read a lot of ancient history, and it is clear that the gospels are in a fiction tradition in the line of Josiah’s invention of Deuteronomy and the later invention of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  A strong enough desire that an anointed savior fulfilled the prophecies, combined with modification of other mythic savior figures, was entirely sufficient to create the mass delusion that such a person had actually existed, based on the fictional accounts of the Gospels, which were written ‘that you may believe’ (eg John 20:31), not to provide accurate history.

    I stand by my comment that Earl Doherty’s Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man is superb scholarship.  What is happening now is that the final bastion of supernatural faith – the myth of the historical Jesus – is being demolished by science just as Galileo demolished the cosmology and Darwin demolished the teleology.

    Robert Tulip

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    Perhaps I was feeling a bit too angry when I posted my first comment above, but I still wish to defend the substance of it, that Christ literalism has direct continuity with fundamentalist belief, akin to true belief in Bertrand Russell’s teapot.  

    It would be very easy for any of you to confirm the existence of Earl Doherty by emailing him and inviting him to speak at a public event.  Have any of you ever tried that?  Why not?  I submit that it is because your emotional commitment to faith in Jesus overrides your rational faculties, due to the extent of brainwashing you have experienced about your Lord and Savior during inculcation of faith.  It is pure prejudice.  Saying that he is beneath your contempt hardly gives the impression that you are objective or fair.

    George Orwell has an excellent term for this syndrome in 1984 – ‘crimestop’ – the ability to suppress thought about an unacceptable idea.  The awful truth is that there is no evidence whatsoever for the historical Jesus, and plenty of coherent logical evidence for his fabrication.  The idea that Jesus Christ was invented is highly traumatic and unacceptable to Christians, as it undermines their institutional and personal identity, so is subject to routine mockery and suppression.  

    The hypocrisy is breathtaking – claiming to bear witness to truth while refusing public debate with critics.  But the Church Fathers were the pioneers and perfecters of this method of faith in their dealings with heretics. I have read a lot of ancient history, and it is clear that the gospels are in a fiction tradition in the line of Josiah’s invention of Deuteronomy and the later invention of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.  A strong enough desire that an anointed savior fulfilled the prophecies, combined with modification of other mythic savior figures, was entirely sufficient to create the mass delusion that such a person had actually existed, based on the fictional accounts of the Gospels, which were written ‘that you may believe’ (eg John 20:31), not to provide accurate history.

    I stand by my comment that Earl Doherty’s Jesus Christ Neither God Nor Man is superb scholarship.  What is happening now is that the final bastion of supernatural faith – the myth of the historical Jesus – is being demolished by science just as Galileo demolished the cosmology and Darwin demolished the teleology.

    Robert Tulip

  • observer

    Robert

    Fundamentalism is a modern phenomena having it’s origins in the 1920s. You are trying to use a very much modern movement in Christianity in to lump all Christians.

    You miss the point of the challenge of Robert. Yes we could do all that stuff and accept it as evidence for the existence of Earl and I certainly would. But if we acted like mythers we could quibble how do we know if it is the real Earl and not simply an impersonator.  Yes he could speak at a conference but how do we know that is not someone simply impersonating Earl based on what people think he looks like. I mean we have Elvis impersonators and Lincoln impersonators, why not Doherty impersonators. If you go to any well stocked insane asylum you will find people who think they are Jesus or Napoleon. How do we know this alleged Earl is simply not an escaped mental patient. If you are determined not to accept facts then you can always find a way not to. Witness holocaust denial.

    I do have to point out your argument from John is weak, just because something is written so that you might believe it does not make it false. Many, many accounts of the holocaust were written so people would believe it happened, do you know doubt these accounts? See the problem with your basic line of reasoning.

    I have no faith in Jesus period. Neither do many posters on this forum. However like many many people familiar with classical history I will defend it from assaults on it by mythers. Seriously study this subject some and you will see just how out there Earl really is.

    Robert, you have fallen for a lot of historical bunk and if I was you I would go through and read some good books on history. One you do this you will be truly angry for lying to you.

    About mytherism I strongly recommend you contact Tim O’Neill-http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    About the history of science and it’s it relation modern and past to Christianity I would recognize you contact Dr James Hannam.- http://www.bede.org.uk/

    You have a lot to learn on this subject. You have been greatly deceived. The existence of Jesus is a historical fact accepted by the overwhelming amount of historians regardless of belief.

  • observer

    Robert

    Fundamentalism is a modern phenomena having it’s origins in the 1920s. You are trying to use a very much modern movement in Christianity in to lump all Christians.

    You miss the point of the challenge of Robert. Yes we could do all that stuff and accept it as evidence for the existence of Earl and I certainly would. But if we acted like mythers we could quibble how do we know if it is the real Earl and not simply an impersonator.  Yes he could speak at a conference but how do we know that is not someone simply impersonating Earl based on what people think he looks like. I mean we have Elvis impersonators and Lincoln impersonators, why not Doherty impersonators. If you go to any well stocked insane asylum you will find people who think they are Jesus or Napoleon. How do we know this alleged Earl is simply not an escaped mental patient. If you are determined not to accept facts then you can always find a way not to. Witness holocaust denial.

    I do have to point out your argument from John is weak, just because something is written so that you might believe it does not make it false. Many, many accounts of the holocaust were written so people would believe it happened, do you know doubt these accounts? See the problem with your basic line of reasoning.

    I have no faith in Jesus period. Neither do many posters on this forum. However like many many people familiar with classical history I will defend it from assaults on it by mythers. Seriously study this subject some and you will see just how out there Earl really is.

    Robert, you have fallen for a lot of historical bunk and if I was you I would go through and read some good books on history. One you do this you will be truly angry for lying to you.

    About mytherism I strongly recommend you contact Tim O’Neill-http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/

    About the history of science and it’s it relation modern and past to Christianity I would recognize you contact Dr James Hannam.- http://www.bede.org.uk/

    You have a lot to learn on this subject. You have been greatly deceived. The existence of Jesus is a historical fact accepted by the overwhelming amount of historians regardless of belief.

  • observer

    I also want to point out no one is suppressing Earl Doherty, he is free to publish and write all he wants. However, academia has no obligation to teach every odd idea as valid, it is the job of academia to teach the best views. Hence why creationism is not taught in academia.

    Now should Earl be allowed to speak at universities, yes if an organization wants to sponsor him. If universities are willing to allow ” Dr” Hovind to speak why not him? However they are simply allowing him to speak that does mean they endorse his views. My senior year at college we had a ghost researcher come to campus and the campus allowed him to speak. I went mainly cause it was Halloween . Does this mean academia supports ghost? Can you see how this works?

    If Doherty wants his views to receive academic acceptance he needs to remove the numerous errors documented by Dr McGrath and numerous other critics and then submit them to peer review in legitimate academic journals. Then he needs to accept the outcome like a man.

  • observer

    I also want to point out no one is suppressing Earl Doherty, he is free to publish and write all he wants. However, academia has no obligation to teach every odd idea as valid, it is the job of academia to teach the best views. Hence why creationism is not taught in academia.

    Now should Earl be allowed to speak at universities, yes if an organization wants to sponsor him. If universities are willing to allow ” Dr” Hovind to speak why not him? However they are simply allowing him to speak that does mean they endorse his views. My senior year at college we had a ghost researcher come to campus and the campus allowed him to speak. I went mainly cause it was Halloween . Does this mean academia supports ghost? Can you see how this works?

    If Doherty wants his views to receive academic acceptance he needs to remove the numerous errors documented by Dr McGrath and numerous other critics and then submit them to peer review in legitimate academic journals. Then he needs to accept the outcome like a man.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    Observer: “The existence of Jesus is a historical fact accepted by the overwhelming amount of historians regardless of belief.”  “numerous errors documented by Dr McGrath”
    Is that why only 12 of 110 readers at Amazon found Dr McGrath’s review of Doherty’s book helpful? (Oct 31)  Admittedly, Amazon lets in the great unwashed, and those looking at this review would be more likely to support Earl’s views, but 11% is still somewhat underwhelming.  

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R2M5I4R8L19JKB/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg2?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx13JY8H77Z4CLT&cdPage=2&asin=0968925928&store=books&cdThread=Tx1GTLHOIVNAL12#wasThisHelpful

    I would be genuinely interested to see proof of these ‘genuine errors’ you claim to have been detected.   I have not seen any criticisms that rise to accepted real world standards and move outside the parallel universe of religion. 

    You say Jesus is historical.  Perhaps you think that repeating a statement that is bereft of evidence enough times will make it true?  This is rather like the Tinkerbell Effect – if you wish hard enough it will come true.

    Historians accept the existence of Christ because they cannot imagine the church had the impudence to promote such a Big Lie.  When we look for evidence there is none.  Historians are intimidated by the sheer dominance and emotional force of Christ belief, especially within New Testament studies.

    A comment earlier in this thread claimed that Paul spoke of the baptism of Christ by John and of Christ’s ministry in Jerusalem.  These statements are from Acts, not the Epistles.  Doherty provides a compelling argument that the contradictions between Acts and the Epistles, among other defects, make Acts utterly unreliable as history.  Paul himself says nothing that definitely ties Jesus to any actual place and time.  Extraordinary way to treat the founder of his religion, unless of course Jesus did not exist.

    Best Wishes

    Robert Tulip

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    Observer: “The existence of Jesus is a historical fact accepted by the overwhelming amount of historians regardless of belief.”  “numerous errors documented by Dr McGrath”
    Is that why only 12 of 110 readers at Amazon found Dr McGrath’s review of Doherty’s book helpful? (Oct 31)  Admittedly, Amazon lets in the great unwashed, and those looking at this review would be more likely to support Earl’s views, but 11% is still somewhat underwhelming.  

    http://www.amazon.com/review/R2M5I4R8L19JKB/ref=cm_cd_pg_pg2?ie=UTF8&cdForum=Fx13JY8H77Z4CLT&cdPage=2&asin=0968925928&store=books&cdThread=Tx1GTLHOIVNAL12#wasThisHelpful

    I would be genuinely interested to see proof of these ‘genuine errors’ you claim to have been detected.   I have not seen any criticisms that rise to accepted real world standards and move outside the parallel universe of religion. 

    You say Jesus is historical.  Perhaps you think that repeating a statement that is bereft of evidence enough times will make it true?  This is rather like the Tinkerbell Effect – if you wish hard enough it will come true.

    Historians accept the existence of Christ because they cannot imagine the church had the impudence to promote such a Big Lie.  When we look for evidence there is none.  Historians are intimidated by the sheer dominance and emotional force of Christ belief, especially within New Testament studies.

    A comment earlier in this thread claimed that Paul spoke of the baptism of Christ by John and of Christ’s ministry in Jerusalem.  These statements are from Acts, not the Epistles.  Doherty provides a compelling argument that the contradictions between Acts and the Epistles, among other defects, make Acts utterly unreliable as history.  Paul himself says nothing that definitely ties Jesus to any actual place and time.  Extraordinary way to treat the founder of his religion, unless of course Jesus did not exist.

    Best Wishes

    Robert Tulip

  • observer

    Robert

    You nailed the problem with your amazon argument, those comments are from the ” unwashed” masses. The fact that people with no background in classical history find Earl’s arguments to be compelling simply shows that they people with no or little background in classical or being spoon feed views they pretty much wanted to believe.

    Many books on Amazon have negative reviews put on them that are factually correct but disliked simply cause they disagree with various peoples prejudices. Look up negative reviews on books about creationism and you will see many people did not find them to be useful. Does this now mean creationism is viable  now?

    As for errors simply read McGrath’s review. He documents them chapter after chapter.

    Again I cannot stress this enough, mytherism is utterly rejected by academia period. The closest thing you have to an academic myther is Robert Price, but the school he is teaching at might not be accredited. If his school is not accredited then you literally have zero academic mythers among classical and new testament scholars on the planet. If mytherism was plausible then why does it have no academic support. 

    Every year books are published that are critical of traditional Christian views. Non believing scholars such as Bart Ehrman are well respected. So if academia is willing to challenge traditional views then why are none of them willing to use mytherism. The simplest answer is that mytherism is too full of holes. So no historians are not one bit intimidated by the ” big lie”. I got my degree in history, I am not a believer if I thought mythicism was viable I would have no problem saying so. Explain why people like me or Tim O’Neill don’t do that.

    When I say Jesus is a figure from antiquity I am simply stating a fact.  The fact you do not believe it doesn’t change anything.

    People can make erroneous comments on here, did McGrath make the comment? If no what is the big deal, this is an open forum.

    I have to say Earl’s argument against Acts is weak. Often times one has a difficulty lining up chronological events, that does not mean one of the documents is error ridden or not historical.  Might I recommend you read Colin Hemer’s book on Acts. That would help cure Doherty’s nonsense.

    Why should Paul say such things? He is writing to the already converted.  However Paul does make off the cuff remarks such as Jesus had a brother, he taught about divorce, the end times, had a final supper and was betrayed and crucified. Do those sound likely spiritual things or physical things?

    Again I strongly recommend you at least use those two websites and I recommend you study classical history. Do that and you will see Doherty is full of crap.

    Have a good day

     

  • observer

    Robert

    You nailed the problem with your amazon argument, those comments are from the ” unwashed” masses. The fact that people with no background in classical history find Earl’s arguments to be compelling simply shows that they people with no or little background in classical or being spoon feed views they pretty much wanted to believe.

    Many books on Amazon have negative reviews put on them that are factually correct but disliked simply cause they disagree with various peoples prejudices. Look up negative reviews on books about creationism and you will see many people did not find them to be useful. Does this now mean creationism is viable  now?

    As for errors simply read McGrath’s review. He documents them chapter after chapter.

    Again I cannot stress this enough, mytherism is utterly rejected by academia period. The closest thing you have to an academic myther is Robert Price, but the school he is teaching at might not be accredited. If his school is not accredited then you literally have zero academic mythers among classical and new testament scholars on the planet. If mytherism was plausible then why does it have no academic support. 

    Every year books are published that are critical of traditional Christian views. Non believing scholars such as Bart Ehrman are well respected. So if academia is willing to challenge traditional views then why are none of them willing to use mytherism. The simplest answer is that mytherism is too full of holes. So no historians are not one bit intimidated by the ” big lie”. I got my degree in history, I am not a believer if I thought mythicism was viable I would have no problem saying so. Explain why people like me or Tim O’Neill don’t do that.

    When I say Jesus is a figure from antiquity I am simply stating a fact.  The fact you do not believe it doesn’t change anything.

    People can make erroneous comments on here, did McGrath make the comment? If no what is the big deal, this is an open forum.

    I have to say Earl’s argument against Acts is weak. Often times one has a difficulty lining up chronological events, that does not mean one of the documents is error ridden or not historical.  Might I recommend you read Colin Hemer’s book on Acts. That would help cure Doherty’s nonsense.

    Why should Paul say such things? He is writing to the already converted.  However Paul does make off the cuff remarks such as Jesus had a brother, he taught about divorce, the end times, had a final supper and was betrayed and crucified. Do those sound likely spiritual things or physical things?

    Again I strongly recommend you at least use those two websites and I recommend you study classical history. Do that and you will see Doherty is full of crap.

    Have a good day

     

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

    I don’t think that the Amazon review topic has anything to do with whether people are washed. There are only a slim number of people who a familiar with Doherty’s work, a group of fans who find his approach appealing for whatever reason.

    If Doherty wants to be taken seriously as a writer of scholarship, he needs to stop self-publishing for this select group of fans and publish in a scholarly venue. A peer-reviewed journal of history or university press, for instance.

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

    I don’t think that the Amazon review topic has anything to do with whether people are washed. There are only a slim number of people who a familiar with Doherty’s work, a group of fans who find his approach appealing for whatever reason.

    If Doherty wants to be taken seriously as a writer of scholarship, he needs to stop self-publishing for this select group of fans and publish in a scholarly venue. A peer-reviewed journal of history or university press, for instance.

  • Earldoherty

    As (according to the TG) the world’s most prominent Jesus mythicist, I do indeed have a sense of humor and found this entire thread quite amusing and entertaining, with a lot of clever contributions. (Too bad such writers’ responses to mythicist argumentation usually isn’t as clever.)

    Perhaps that’s because the air up here under the moon is a lot clearer—

    Oops!

    OK, well, as for the business of not providing such information as the University at which I obtained my degree, I once explained my reasoning to the board at IIDB. I told them of Richard Carrier’s experience at the hands of Jeffrey Gibson. Carrier had made the mistake of supporting me in regard to my analysis of the Greek phrase “kata sarka” and Gibson, who typically rarely if ever undertook an actual, let alone effective, counter-argument of his own (I doubt he was capable of it, just as so few here are) against those of the mythicist case, decided to contact one of Carrier’s former professors at Columbia, and tried to weasel out of him some negative evaluation of Carrier’s proficiency at Greek during his studies there. Failing to acquire such a direct comment, Gibson finally presented to the board a silence from the professor in response to Gibson’s final e-mail query as though the professor had actually made a negative comment. (We only found out later that it was based on the prof’s refusal to answer.)

    This, of course, was only one (though the most egregious) of the reprehensible and dishonorable tactics Gibson was in the habit of employing against mythicists, and demonstrated to me and others the manic degree to which anti-mythicist hostility could descend. I have also been on the receiving end of other expressions of extreme hostility starting with the original Crosstalk in 1997, where the volume of insult and personal attack far outweighed scholarly historicist defense of an HJ.

    Let’s just say that my reluctance to reveal too much of a personal nature or background is perhaps understandable. As they say, even if you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they ain’t out to get you. (Tongue only partially in cheek there.)

  • Earldoherty

    As (according to the TG) the world’s most prominent Jesus mythicist, I do indeed have a sense of humor and found this entire thread quite amusing and entertaining, with a lot of clever contributions. (Too bad such writers’ responses to mythicist argumentation usually isn’t as clever.)

    Perhaps that’s because the air up here under the moon is a lot clearer—

    Oops!

    OK, well, as for the business of not providing such information as the University at which I obtained my degree, I once explained my reasoning to the board at IIDB. I told them of Richard Carrier’s experience at the hands of Jeffrey Gibson. Carrier had made the mistake of supporting me in regard to my analysis of the Greek phrase “kata sarka” and Gibson, who typically rarely if ever undertook an actual, let alone effective, counter-argument of his own (I doubt he was capable of it, just as so few here are) against those of the mythicist case, decided to contact one of Carrier’s former professors at Columbia, and tried to weasel out of him some negative evaluation of Carrier’s proficiency at Greek during his studies there. Failing to acquire such a direct comment, Gibson finally presented to the board a silence from the professor in response to Gibson’s final e-mail query as though the professor had actually made a negative comment. (We only found out later that it was based on the prof’s refusal to answer.)

    This, of course, was only one (though the most egregious) of the reprehensible and dishonorable tactics Gibson was in the habit of employing against mythicists, and demonstrated to me and others the manic degree to which anti-mythicist hostility could descend. I have also been on the receiving end of other expressions of extreme hostility starting with the original Crosstalk in 1997, where the volume of insult and personal attack far outweighed scholarly historicist defense of an HJ.

    Let’s just say that my reluctance to reveal too much of a personal nature or background is perhaps understandable. As they say, even if you are paranoid, it doesn’t mean they ain’t out to get you. (Tongue only partially in cheek there.)

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

    I can understand that concern, although I think it also has to be pointed out that were mythicists engaging in accepted forms of scholarship, working in academia, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and in books published with academic publiishers, then on the one hand it would involve having credentials and affiliations publicly known, while on the other hand it would make attempts at digging into one’s educational backstory irrelevant and an uneffective way of trying to undermine that person’s credibility. Once one has shown oneself to be capable of doing serious scholarship and participating fully in academic interaction, it would be laughable for someone to object “But back when he was a freshman undergraduate he did poorly on a Greek exam!” :-)

    • Earldoherty

      But James, you are presenting a classic Catch-22 here. Your own position demonstrates that genuinely honest peer review and publication in reputable journals is simply not possible for mythicists. The animosity and a priori rejection is simply too strong and entrenched. And then you use that Catch-22 in a circular fashion. Because we could never get published and properly peer reviewed by the establishment, this demonstrates that our work is crap. And our work is crap because the establishment won’t give us the time of day.

      Surely even you can recognize the fallacy in all this.

      Something similar goes for Fortigurn’s “It’s a matter of whether or not you can explain the process
      of reasoning by which you reached your conclusion. It’s symptomatic of
      Mytherists that they make all kinds of claims, and then become enraged when
      asked for evidence, for even just asked to explain how they arrived at their
      conclusions.”

      I and other mythicists have supplied reams of explanation and reasoning by which we reach our conclusions. We don’t get enraged by being asked to supply evidence, but by having that evidence and argumentation so often completely ignored and dismissed up front without even an attempt at countering it. It’s clear F isn’t even familiar with it. Nor, I’m sorry, does a bare “I wasn’t convinced by Doherty’s arguments” constitute a counter-argument. 

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

    I can understand that concern, although I think it also has to be pointed out that were mythicists engaging in accepted forms of scholarship, working in academia, publishing in peer-reviewed journals and in books published with academic publiishers, then on the one hand it would involve having credentials and affiliations publicly known, while on the other hand it would make attempts at digging into one’s educational backstory irrelevant and an uneffective way of trying to undermine that person’s credibility. Once one has shown oneself to be capable of doing serious scholarship and participating fully in academic interaction, it would be laughable for someone to object “But back when he was a freshman undergraduate he did poorly on a Greek exam!” :-)

    • Earldoherty

      But James, you are presenting a classic Catch-22 here. Your own position demonstrates that genuinely honest peer review and publication in reputable journals is simply not possible for mythicists. The animosity and a priori rejection is simply too strong and entrenched. And then you use that Catch-22 in a circular fashion. Because we could never get published and properly peer reviewed by the establishment, this demonstrates that our work is crap. And our work is crap because the establishment won’t give us the time of day.

      Surely even you can recognize the fallacy in all this.

      Something similar goes for Fortigurn’s “It’s a matter of whether or not you can explain the process
      of reasoning by which you reached your conclusion. It’s symptomatic of
      Mytherists that they make all kinds of claims, and then become enraged when
      asked for evidence, for even just asked to explain how they arrived at their
      conclusions.”

      I and other mythicists have supplied reams of explanation and reasoning by which we reach our conclusions. We don’t get enraged by being asked to supply evidence, but by having that evidence and argumentation so often completely ignored and dismissed up front without even an attempt at countering it. It’s clear F isn’t even familiar with it. Nor, I’m sorry, does a bare “I wasn’t convinced by Doherty’s arguments” constitute a counter-argument. 

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

    Earl, why would the establishment of secular historians not be willing to publish your work, other than because it is utter bunk pseudoscholarship? What other motive could they possibly have? Have you even tried, and received feedback? Or do you prefer to complain about the prejudice of an establishment to which you have never actually submitted anything?

    • Earldoherty

      James, the answer to your opening question has been answered many times in discussion between mythicists and historicists, not only on the Matrix. You don’t need me to repeat them. The prejudice and blind rejection in evidence on this blog alone, with a notable lack of substantive countering of the mythicist case, is clear enough.

      With all due respect, people here keep appealing to all the points you’ve allegedly scored against me in your review of my book, but almost without exception those ‘scores’ have been lamentably lame and occasionally even fallacious, and every one of them has been so demonstrated by myself and others in our responses to them. “Paul didn’t need to mention any details of Jesus’ life because everyone already knew them” and “brother of the Lord can only mean one thing, period,” and “Earl didn’t take into account all the possible arguments and cram them into the first chapter” are only a few of the most memorable. Your review thus far has been an embarrassment. By the way, why did you stop, if proving that my case is unadulterated bunk was so easy?

      If it doesn’t contravene your rules, I will take the liberty of stripping in below a brief (but the point was adequately made) response I made today to one mindlessly-hostile historicist who frequents the Freethought-Rationalist DB and who thinks he knows it all. It speaks for itself in terms of the utter superficiality of the anti-mythicist position, one echoed in so much of what is claimed here on the Matrix as ‘proving’ mythicism to be bunk. You guys are simply going to have to do better than this sort of thing.

      ——–

      [quote=Abe]To use my own words, they [modern NT scholars]
      think Jesus was a doomsday cult leader.

      They use criteria to justify this model. They find multiple signs of
      doomsdayism in all of the earliest sources, and they find apologetics for
      failed doomsday deadlines in later sources. They find attestations in the texts
      dissimilar to known early Christian interests, and these attestations seem to
      fit the doomsdayist model. And this model is a highly plausible explanation,
      elegantly fitting the known historical context.[/quote]

       

      Strangely enough, Abe, outside the Gospels, in all those
      “earliest sources” we find everything about this subject and its “historical
      context” EXCEPT the fact that such doomsdayism was preached and presumably
      inspired by an earthly, recent human god-man identifiable with the Gospel Jesus
      of Nazareth. (Even Q, with its supposed focus on Jesus’ sayings, fails to
      include a founder Jesus as such a preacher alongside its reference for such to
      John the Baptist.) It is glaring problems like this which scholars like Bart
      Ehrman conveniently and stubbornly ignore, even when it is called to their
      attention (just as you do). It is only by ignoring such considerations of this
      type that one is able, like yourself, to claim that there is a clear and straightforward
      interpretation for given phrases and statements which ought to be automatically
      adopted. As in several of your itemized list:

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus was born from a woman as the
      Son of God in a Jewish society – Galatians 4:4-5.[/quote]

       

      Then why, alone among every other reference to normal human
      birth in the epistles, as well as to Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, does Gal. 4:4
      use a less direct verb (ginomai) to describe this ‘birth’? We also have reason
      to think, based on certain witness to Marcion’s version of Galatians, and
      common later tinkering with this passage by orthodox scribes, that the phrase
      “born of woman, born under the Law” was not in the original. Not so clear and
      straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus “was descended from
      David according to the flesh” – Romans 1:3.[/quote]

       

      The original Greek is not “descended from” (a biased
      translation), but “of the seed of David,” and Paul elsewhere can use the phrase
      “of the seed of” to describe a mythical relationship and not a human-descent
      one. Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus taught that “those who
      proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” – 1 Corinthians
      9:14, see also Luke 10:7.[/quote]

       

      And

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus commanded that a wife should not
      separate from her husband and a husband should not divorce his wife – 1
      Corinthians 7:10-11, see also Mark 10:11-12.[/quote]

       

      And the language of such remarks indicates that Paul
      received such ‘teachings’ directly from Christ in heaven through spiritual
      channels, an interpretation common in mainstream scholarship. Not so clear and
      straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus, on the night he was
      betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, said, “This is my body that
      is for you. Do this in remembrance of me,” took the cup, said, “This
      cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in
      remembrance of me” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, see also Luke 22:17-20.[/quote]

       

      And Paul introduces this ‘belief’ by telling us he got it
      directly from the Lord through revelation, a rather silly claim to make if
      indeed this was an historical event being passed around through oral tradition.
      Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus was crucified by rulers of
      this age who did not understand that Christians speak God’s wisdom – 1
      Corinthians 2:7-8.[/quote]

       

      With “rulers of this age” being a common phrase for the
      demon spirits, something many mainstream scholars have acknowledged. Not so
      clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus died for our sins, was
      buried, was raised on the third day, appeared to Cephas, to the twelve
      disciples, to five hundred Christians (some of whom have since died), to James,
      to all of the apostles, and much later to Paul himself – 1 Corinthians
      15:3-4.[/quote]

       

      Considering that Paul’s appearance was courtesy of a
      visionary experience, we can reasonably conclude that all the others were, too,
      something quite applicable to a spiritual deity, just as God himself (who was
      never on earth) was capable of appearing to people through visions. And no
      historicist has ever demonstrated that gods were not capable of dying, being
      buried and resurrecting in the heavenly sphere, something I provide
      proof-of-concept for in writings of the time. Not so clear and straightforward
      after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus had a brother named James –
      Galatians 1:19, see also Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55.[/quote]

       

      Only by begging the question that Paul means a sibling of
      Jesus and not a ‘brethren’ within a sect. And it’s “brother of the Lord” not
      “brother of Jesus”. Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      Your other two items have no evidentiary value whatsoever as
      pointing to a human or once-human figure, and don’t see your reason for
      including them.

       

      I go through your same tired old list once again, not
      because it has not been done umpteen times by mythicists, but to demonstrate how
      historicists like yourself are utterly impervious to mythicist argumentation,
      which you consistently ignore and simply parrot the same old claims. That’s not
      scholarly debate.

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

    Earl, why would the establishment of secular historians not be willing to publish your work, other than because it is utter bunk pseudoscholarship? What other motive could they possibly have? Have you even tried, and received feedback? Or do you prefer to complain about the prejudice of an establishment to which you have never actually submitted anything?

    • Earldoherty

      James, the answer to your opening question has been answered many times in discussion between mythicists and historicists, not only on the Matrix. You don’t need me to repeat them. The prejudice and blind rejection in evidence on this blog alone, with a notable lack of substantive countering of the mythicist case, is clear enough.

      With all due respect, people here keep appealing to all the points you’ve allegedly scored against me in your review of my book, but almost without exception those ‘scores’ have been lamentably lame and occasionally even fallacious, and every one of them has been so demonstrated by myself and others in our responses to them. “Paul didn’t need to mention any details of Jesus’ life because everyone already knew them” and “brother of the Lord can only mean one thing, period,” and “Earl didn’t take into account all the possible arguments and cram them into the first chapter” are only a few of the most memorable. Your review thus far has been an embarrassment. By the way, why did you stop, if proving that my case is unadulterated bunk was so easy?

      If it doesn’t contravene your rules, I will take the liberty of stripping in below a brief (but the point was adequately made) response I made today to one mindlessly-hostile historicist who frequents the Freethought-Rationalist DB and who thinks he knows it all. It speaks for itself in terms of the utter superficiality of the anti-mythicist position, one echoed in so much of what is claimed here on the Matrix as ‘proving’ mythicism to be bunk. You guys are simply going to have to do better than this sort of thing.

      ——–

      [quote=Abe]To use my own words, they [modern NT scholars]
      think Jesus was a doomsday cult leader.

      They use criteria to justify this model. They find multiple signs of
      doomsdayism in all of the earliest sources, and they find apologetics for
      failed doomsday deadlines in later sources. They find attestations in the texts
      dissimilar to known early Christian interests, and these attestations seem to
      fit the doomsdayist model. And this model is a highly plausible explanation,
      elegantly fitting the known historical context.[/quote]

       

      Strangely enough, Abe, outside the Gospels, in all those
      “earliest sources” we find everything about this subject and its “historical
      context” EXCEPT the fact that such doomsdayism was preached and presumably
      inspired by an earthly, recent human god-man identifiable with the Gospel Jesus
      of Nazareth. (Even Q, with its supposed focus on Jesus’ sayings, fails to
      include a founder Jesus as such a preacher alongside its reference for such to
      John the Baptist.) It is glaring problems like this which scholars like Bart
      Ehrman conveniently and stubbornly ignore, even when it is called to their
      attention (just as you do). It is only by ignoring such considerations of this
      type that one is able, like yourself, to claim that there is a clear and straightforward
      interpretation for given phrases and statements which ought to be automatically
      adopted. As in several of your itemized list:

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus was born from a woman as the
      Son of God in a Jewish society – Galatians 4:4-5.[/quote]

       

      Then why, alone among every other reference to normal human
      birth in the epistles, as well as to Jesus’ birth in the Gospels, does Gal. 4:4
      use a less direct verb (ginomai) to describe this ‘birth’? We also have reason
      to think, based on certain witness to Marcion’s version of Galatians, and
      common later tinkering with this passage by orthodox scribes, that the phrase
      “born of woman, born under the Law” was not in the original. Not so clear and
      straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus “was descended from
      David according to the flesh” – Romans 1:3.[/quote]

       

      The original Greek is not “descended from” (a biased
      translation), but “of the seed of David,” and Paul elsewhere can use the phrase
      “of the seed of” to describe a mythical relationship and not a human-descent
      one. Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus taught that “those who
      proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel” – 1 Corinthians
      9:14, see also Luke 10:7.[/quote]

       

      And

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus commanded that a wife should not
      separate from her husband and a husband should not divorce his wife – 1
      Corinthians 7:10-11, see also Mark 10:11-12.[/quote]

       

      And the language of such remarks indicates that Paul
      received such ‘teachings’ directly from Christ in heaven through spiritual
      channels, an interpretation common in mainstream scholarship. Not so clear and
      straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus, on the night he was
      betrayed, took bread, gave thanks, broke it, said, “This is my body that
      is for you. Do this in remembrance of me,” took the cup, said, “This
      cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in
      remembrance of me” – 1 Corinthians 11:23-25, see also Luke 22:17-20.[/quote]

       

      And Paul introduces this ‘belief’ by telling us he got it
      directly from the Lord through revelation, a rather silly claim to make if
      indeed this was an historical event being passed around through oral tradition.
      Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus was crucified by rulers of
      this age who did not understand that Christians speak God’s wisdom – 1
      Corinthians 2:7-8.[/quote]

       

      With “rulers of this age” being a common phrase for the
      demon spirits, something many mainstream scholars have acknowledged. Not so
      clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus died for our sins, was
      buried, was raised on the third day, appeared to Cephas, to the twelve
      disciples, to five hundred Christians (some of whom have since died), to James,
      to all of the apostles, and much later to Paul himself – 1 Corinthians
      15:3-4.[/quote]

       

      Considering that Paul’s appearance was courtesy of a
      visionary experience, we can reasonably conclude that all the others were, too,
      something quite applicable to a spiritual deity, just as God himself (who was
      never on earth) was capable of appearing to people through visions. And no
      historicist has ever demonstrated that gods were not capable of dying, being
      buried and resurrecting in the heavenly sphere, something I provide
      proof-of-concept for in writings of the time. Not so clear and straightforward
      after all, is it?

       

      [quote]Paul believed that Jesus had a brother named James –
      Galatians 1:19, see also Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55.[/quote]

       

      Only by begging the question that Paul means a sibling of
      Jesus and not a ‘brethren’ within a sect. And it’s “brother of the Lord” not
      “brother of Jesus”. Not so clear and straightforward after all, is it?

       

      Your other two items have no evidentiary value whatsoever as
      pointing to a human or once-human figure, and don’t see your reason for
      including them.

       

      I go through your same tired old list once again, not
      because it has not been done umpteen times by mythicists, but to demonstrate how
      historicists like yourself are utterly impervious to mythicist argumentation,
      which you consistently ignore and simply parrot the same old claims. That’s not
      scholarly debate.

  • Earldoherty

    Sorry for forgetting about the formatting problem above. But it should be easy enough to follow.

  • Earldoherty

    Sorry for forgetting about the formatting problem above. But it should be easy enough to follow.

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

    I know that you keep claiming that your own arguments are brilliant and that all objections to them are fallacious. But that does not make it so.

    The question remains why it is objectionable to suggest that Paul didn’t need to retell basic information about Jesus when writing to Christians, when apparently on the scenario you propose he also didn’t need to spell out basic information such as being explicit about the celestial location where the events he alludes to transpired? Given that apparently everyone except you and a small handful of others have misunderstood Paul, mythicism is suggessting that Paul omitted much more than historicists do.

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

    I know that you keep claiming that your own arguments are brilliant and that all objections to them are fallacious. But that does not make it so.

    The question remains why it is objectionable to suggest that Paul didn’t need to retell basic information about Jesus when writing to Christians, when apparently on the scenario you propose he also didn’t need to spell out basic information such as being explicit about the celestial location where the events he alludes to transpired? Given that apparently everyone except you and a small handful of others have misunderstood Paul, mythicism is suggessting that Paul omitted much more than historicists do.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PJ6PZMYZVJL4CGQBUYBVMQSDPQ james Harrison

    If you put aside as perhaps unresolvable on the existing evidence the question of whether there was a real guy named Jesus who was actually crucified and had something to do with theological statements like the Sermon on the Mount, the debate between the Mythicists and liberal Protestants like Dr. McGrath becomes a modern example of the ancient conflict between two tendencies of thought, a struggle that was already being played out in the first century of the common era. The mythicists fit in with the tendency, obvious in Marcion the gnostic but, or so I’d argue, also fundamental to the emergence of rabbinic Judaism of spiritualizing everything in sight—obviously the rabbis didn’t reject the Law ala Marcion but they did manage to insert Hellenistic notions like the resurrection of the dead into whatever you want to call the pre-rabbinical religion of Judea. The opposite tendency, which emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, seems to lie beneath the wish to turn every myth into a realistic novel written in sermo humilis style. For liberal Protestants, it is hardly a problem to deny the supernatural aspects of Christ. Indeed, asserting that the man Jesus died and stayed dead is simply kenosis squared. What we have here is something like a choice of styles, though it is obviously a lot more than that too. I’m reminded of the difference between the florid mythologizing and indulgence in literary special effects one encounters in Mahayana Buddhism and the extreme sobriety of certain forms of Theravada, especially it’s 19th Century American and European renditions

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_PJ6PZMYZVJL4CGQBUYBVMQSDPQ james Harrison

    If you put aside as perhaps unresolvable on the existing evidence the question of whether there was a real guy named Jesus who was actually crucified and had something to do with theological statements like the Sermon on the Mount, the debate between the Mythicists and liberal Protestants like Dr. McGrath becomes a modern example of the ancient conflict between two tendencies of thought, a struggle that was already being played out in the first century of the common era. The mythicists fit in with the tendency, obvious in Marcion the gnostic but, or so I’d argue, also fundamental to the emergence of rabbinic Judaism of spiritualizing everything in sight—obviously the rabbis didn’t reject the Law ala Marcion but they did manage to insert Hellenistic notions like the resurrection of the dead into whatever you want to call the pre-rabbinical religion of Judea. The opposite tendency, which emphasizes the humanity of Jesus, seems to lie beneath the wish to turn every myth into a realistic novel written in sermo humilis style. For liberal Protestants, it is hardly a problem to deny the supernatural aspects of Christ. Indeed, asserting that the man Jesus died and stayed dead is simply kenosis squared. What we have here is something like a choice of styles, though it is obviously a lot more than that too. I’m reminded of the difference between the florid mythologizing and indulgence in literary special effects one encounters in Mahayana Buddhism and the extreme sobriety of certain forms of Theravada, especially it’s 19th Century American and European renditions

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

    I guess the question I would ask is why we should set that matter aside as unresolvable. It may not be resolvable to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither is evolution, nor the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Absolute certainty is clearly not available, but does that mean the matter is not resolvable with a high degree of probability to the satisfaction of pretty much all professional historians who have investigated the matter?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      It may not be resolvable to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither is evolution

      James has said something like this a number of times now. No matter how often one might point out that there is a difference between evolution being a certainty (which it is) and the uncertainty of the particular mechanism by which evolution may have occurred, past performance indicates that he will continue to repeat this logical confusion again and again and again.

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

    I guess the question I would ask is why we should set that matter aside as unresolvable. It may not be resolvable to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither is evolution, nor the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays. Absolute certainty is clearly not available, but does that mean the matter is not resolvable with a high degree of probability to the satisfaction of pretty much all professional historians who have investigated the matter?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      It may not be resolvable to everyone’s satisfaction, but neither is evolution

      James has said something like this a number of times now. No matter how often one might point out that there is a difference between evolution being a certainty (which it is) and the uncertainty of the particular mechanism by which evolution may have occurred, past performance indicates that he will continue to repeat this logical confusion again and again and again.

  • Earldoherty

    James: I know that you keep claiming that your own arguments are brilliant and that all objections to them are fallacious. But that does not make it so.

    I don’t ever remember referring to my arguments as brilliant, nor saying that all historicist objections are fallacious. When they ARE fallacious, and that is not infrequently, I have demonstrated such, and that DOES make it so, unless someone can clearly point out how my demonstration is erroneous.

    James: The question remains why it is objectionable to suggest that Paul didn’t need to retell basic information about Jesus when writing to Christians, when apparently on the scenario you propose he also didn’t need to spell out basic information such as being explicit about the celestial location where the events he alludes to transpired? Given that apparently everyone except you and a small handful of others have misunderstood Paul, mythicism is suggessting that Paul omitted much more than historicists do.

    James’ objection here has often been phrased as ‘Paul needing to tell Jesus’ biography.’ I have never claimed that Paul ought to have given us every detail of Jesus’ life, or that we should expect that he should have included that in his intentions. What I have said is that there are countless places in his letters (along with all the other epistles not written by Paul) where a mention of some biographical element of Jesus’ alleged life is not only invited, we should strongly have expected such an element to be inserted, to be appealed to, at least some of the time. I have also said and demonstrated that there are times when Paul presents a picture of his faith and its genesis/development which leaves no room for a biographical element, indeed excludes the possibility of any such thing.

    The Gospels present us with a vast amount of alleged biographical elements—events, characters, times and places, sayings by Jesus and others around him—which often would have admirably served the writers’ purposes and arguments and urgings of actions, etc., and yet nowhere do any of these writers supply them. In the rare exception often claimed (such as the two words of the Lord in 1 Corinthians, or Paul’s Lord’s Supper words, or the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ remark in 1 Thessalonians), all of these are severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life, rather than products of revelation or in the latter case a generally recognized interpolation.

    Now take Paul’s failure to appeal to elements of a spiritual-realm scene of crucifixion by Satan and the demon spirits. Aside from failing to identify the specific spiritual location as the sublunar firmament, which would have required no repetition once understood by the community (if the Pauline Christ cult in fact made such a localized specification rather than just the mythological heavenly world), what exactly would one expect him to draw upon and mention? Was there a trial, with various evil angels serving as jurors or witnesses to Christ’s alleged transgressions? Did he perhaps trash Satan’s money-changing tables in the firmament’s satanic temple? Was he accompanied in his sacrificial excursion by a few angelic apostles, one of whom betrayed him in the firmament’s Garden with a kiss? Did he appoint those apostles personally before leaving heaven? Did Satan question him as to his personal claims of divinity and get a blasphemous answer deserving of death? Did Christ, during his descent to the sublunar realm, stop at some of the layers of the higher heavens and teach to its various angels, and some tradition, written or oral, existed of those teachings? Would some of them have served Paul’s purposes in the arguments he was making? Did he declare all heavenly foods to be clean? Perhaps he underwent a heavenly rite equivalent to baptism, administered by a notable angelic baptizer?…Well, you get the picture.

    I suppose theoretically the heavenly Christ could have done any of these things in the heavenly world, or something of a ‘biographical’ nature like them. But we have no reason to think so, and no reason to think that the Christ cult possessed any traditions that he had done so. Scripture simply told them that he had been crucified and God raised him from the dead, something they say was now revealed by God through the Spirit after long ages of being hidden. Other than being crucified by “the rulers of this age” (with that also interpreted by many as a reference to the demon spirits), reading more out of scripture to come up with specific elements related to that crucifixion and resurrection, as Mark and the other evangelists were to do in an earthly setting (though probably with the original intention of creating an allegory only), did not yet occur to them. And why not? Because no such setting existed in their minds. No such figure had yet been created, allegorical or historical.

    In the historicist scenario, on the other hand, a record does exist of all sorts of words and deeds for the Jesus figure. They don’t all have to be regarded as authentic, indeed mainstream scholarship has properly rejected much of that record, but one can hardly deny that traditions of one sort or another must have existed within the early Christian community of which Paul and the other epistle writers were a part, and I have often made the point that where certain authentic traditions would not have existed, the needs and biases of the various communities (and Paul certainly had his needs!) would lead to their invention and attribution to Jesus, as the Gospels demonstrate.

    So any parallel between Paul’s silence on ‘biographical’ details in a mythicist scenario is hardly the equivalent of his silence on biographical details in the historicist scenario. The very suggestion is ludicrous, and is simply a mark of the desperation which leads not only James but others here to make similarly dubious suggestions to try to counter the mythicist case.

  • Earldoherty

    James: I know that you keep claiming that your own arguments are brilliant and that all objections to them are fallacious. But that does not make it so.

    I don’t ever remember referring to my arguments as brilliant, nor saying that all historicist objections are fallacious. When they ARE fallacious, and that is not infrequently, I have demonstrated such, and that DOES make it so, unless someone can clearly point out how my demonstration is erroneous.

    James: The question remains why it is objectionable to suggest that Paul didn’t need to retell basic information about Jesus when writing to Christians, when apparently on the scenario you propose he also didn’t need to spell out basic information such as being explicit about the celestial location where the events he alludes to transpired? Given that apparently everyone except you and a small handful of others have misunderstood Paul, mythicism is suggessting that Paul omitted much more than historicists do.

    James’ objection here has often been phrased as ‘Paul needing to tell Jesus’ biography.’ I have never claimed that Paul ought to have given us every detail of Jesus’ life, or that we should expect that he should have included that in his intentions. What I have said is that there are countless places in his letters (along with all the other epistles not written by Paul) where a mention of some biographical element of Jesus’ alleged life is not only invited, we should strongly have expected such an element to be inserted, to be appealed to, at least some of the time. I have also said and demonstrated that there are times when Paul presents a picture of his faith and its genesis/development which leaves no room for a biographical element, indeed excludes the possibility of any such thing.

    The Gospels present us with a vast amount of alleged biographical elements—events, characters, times and places, sayings by Jesus and others around him—which often would have admirably served the writers’ purposes and arguments and urgings of actions, etc., and yet nowhere do any of these writers supply them. In the rare exception often claimed (such as the two words of the Lord in 1 Corinthians, or Paul’s Lord’s Supper words, or the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ remark in 1 Thessalonians), all of these are severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life, rather than products of revelation or in the latter case a generally recognized interpolation.

    Now take Paul’s failure to appeal to elements of a spiritual-realm scene of crucifixion by Satan and the demon spirits. Aside from failing to identify the specific spiritual location as the sublunar firmament, which would have required no repetition once understood by the community (if the Pauline Christ cult in fact made such a localized specification rather than just the mythological heavenly world), what exactly would one expect him to draw upon and mention? Was there a trial, with various evil angels serving as jurors or witnesses to Christ’s alleged transgressions? Did he perhaps trash Satan’s money-changing tables in the firmament’s satanic temple? Was he accompanied in his sacrificial excursion by a few angelic apostles, one of whom betrayed him in the firmament’s Garden with a kiss? Did he appoint those apostles personally before leaving heaven? Did Satan question him as to his personal claims of divinity and get a blasphemous answer deserving of death? Did Christ, during his descent to the sublunar realm, stop at some of the layers of the higher heavens and teach to its various angels, and some tradition, written or oral, existed of those teachings? Would some of them have served Paul’s purposes in the arguments he was making? Did he declare all heavenly foods to be clean? Perhaps he underwent a heavenly rite equivalent to baptism, administered by a notable angelic baptizer?…Well, you get the picture.

    I suppose theoretically the heavenly Christ could have done any of these things in the heavenly world, or something of a ‘biographical’ nature like them. But we have no reason to think so, and no reason to think that the Christ cult possessed any traditions that he had done so. Scripture simply told them that he had been crucified and God raised him from the dead, something they say was now revealed by God through the Spirit after long ages of being hidden. Other than being crucified by “the rulers of this age” (with that also interpreted by many as a reference to the demon spirits), reading more out of scripture to come up with specific elements related to that crucifixion and resurrection, as Mark and the other evangelists were to do in an earthly setting (though probably with the original intention of creating an allegory only), did not yet occur to them. And why not? Because no such setting existed in their minds. No such figure had yet been created, allegorical or historical.

    In the historicist scenario, on the other hand, a record does exist of all sorts of words and deeds for the Jesus figure. They don’t all have to be regarded as authentic, indeed mainstream scholarship has properly rejected much of that record, but one can hardly deny that traditions of one sort or another must have existed within the early Christian community of which Paul and the other epistle writers were a part, and I have often made the point that where certain authentic traditions would not have existed, the needs and biases of the various communities (and Paul certainly had his needs!) would lead to their invention and attribution to Jesus, as the Gospels demonstrate.

    So any parallel between Paul’s silence on ‘biographical’ details in a mythicist scenario is hardly the equivalent of his silence on biographical details in the historicist scenario. The very suggestion is ludicrous, and is simply a mark of the desperation which leads not only James but others here to make similarly dubious suggestions to try to counter the mythicist case.

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

    “would have required no repetition once understood by the committee”

    A statement that doesn’t seem to apply only to mythicism’s stance.

    You claim that there could have been a mythical religion centered on a celestial Jesus with no detailed stories. What is the evidence for such detail-free religions in antiquity? All the instances you offer in your book are not ones in which details are not provided in at least some literature connected with this tradition. Yet the original Christianity you posit not only never does so, but it vanishes as soon as it appears. Who stamped it out? Where did it go? How did not noy proto-orthodox Christianity but also Gnostic and other versions never manage to give the slightest hint of a Christianity having ever existed in which Jesus never appeared on earth?

    Which is more likely? That the original Pauline Christianity left no trace anywhere, or that your interpretation of Paul is wrong?

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

    “would have required no repetition once understood by the committee”

    A statement that doesn’t seem to apply only to mythicism’s stance.

    You claim that there could have been a mythical religion centered on a celestial Jesus with no detailed stories. What is the evidence for such detail-free religions in antiquity? All the instances you offer in your book are not ones in which details are not provided in at least some literature connected with this tradition. Yet the original Christianity you posit not only never does so, but it vanishes as soon as it appears. Who stamped it out? Where did it go? How did not noy proto-orthodox Christianity but also Gnostic and other versions never manage to give the slightest hint of a Christianity having ever existed in which Jesus never appeared on earth?

    Which is more likely? That the original Pauline Christianity left no trace anywhere, or that your interpretation of Paul is wrong?

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    I think we need to be reminded of the parody theme here. This is all so repetitive. James raises an objection. His objection is answered. So he raises another objection. That objection is answered. So he finds another one.

    Now I predict that he will at the end of the day say how he has demolished Doherty and mythicism soundly with objection after objection — lots and lots of them — and none of Doherty’s responses was ‘persuasive’.

    That will be the extent of his rebuttal at the end of the day. He will probably even at some point link back to these comments in the proud confidence that he has addressed and said all that needs to be said to demolish mythicism.

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    I think we need to be reminded of the parody theme here. This is all so repetitive. James raises an objection. His objection is answered. So he raises another objection. That objection is answered. So he finds another one.

    Now I predict that he will at the end of the day say how he has demolished Doherty and mythicism soundly with objection after objection — lots and lots of them — and none of Doherty’s responses was ‘persuasive’.

    That will be the extent of his rebuttal at the end of the day. He will probably even at some point link back to these comments in the proud confidence that he has addressed and said all that needs to be said to demolish mythicism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Tulip/1266985469 Robert Tulip

    The question here is one of burden of proof regarding the claim that Christ founded Christianity.  If Paul built on the work of Christ, the least we could expect would be that his mentions of the great founder would contain at least one unambiguous statement that shows Christ actually existed.  Surely respecting the founder would demand no less? 
     
    And yet, as Earl Doherty explains above, all the mentions of Christ by Paul are ambiguous as to historical circumstance, and can readily be interpreted as imaginary. It is like Paul sees ‘anointed savior’ – the actual meaning of Christ Jesus – purely as a title rather than a name. Very fishy. 

    Christians read the scanty references in Paul through rosary colored glasses to justify a predetermined faith in Jesus.  Christianity is extremely far from satisfying any normal burden of proof on the existence of Christ, and a hermeneutic of suspicion is fully justified.
     
    By comparison, Earl Doherty is participating on this blog, perhaps remaining a bit shy, but already demonstrating more evidence for his existence than we have for Jesus.
     
    Robert Tulip

  • Robert Tulip

    The question here is one of burden of proof regarding the claim that Christ founded Christianity.  If Paul built on the work of Christ, the least we could expect would be that his mentions of the great founder would contain at least one unambiguous statement that shows Christ actually existed.  Surely respecting the founder would demand no less? 
     
    And yet, as Earl Doherty explains above, all the mentions of Christ by Paul are ambiguous as to historical circumstance, and can readily be interpreted as imaginary. It is like Paul sees ‘anointed savior’ – the actual meaning of Christ Jesus – purely as a title rather than a name. Very fishy. 

    Christians read the scanty references in Paul through rosary colored glasses to justify a predetermined faith in Jesus.  Christianity is extremely far from satisfying any normal burden of proof on the existence of Christ, and a hermeneutic of suspicion is fully justified.
     
    By comparison, Earl Doherty is participating on this blog, perhaps remaining a bit shy, but already demonstrating more evidence for his existence than we have for Jesus.
     
    Robert Tulip

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

    Evolution can only be “proven” in the sense that it is the natural conclusion if one is willing to use deductive reasoning and follow the evidence where it leads. If one posits an “author” of the natural world who is incompetent enough to design organisms with the shortcomings that they have yet skilled enough to make the cosmos with the deceptive appearance of having evolved, then all bets are off.

    In a comparable manner, if one is willing to treat the early Christians as infinitely skilled at conspiracy and yet at the same time infinitely stupid and gullible, and to treat any text they produced as infinitely ambiguous and infinitely metaphorical, then all bets are off, and no historian will be able to demonstrate any mainstream conclusion to a mythicist’s satisfaction.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Oh come now. You know that evolutionists – Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, whoever —  say that evolution is as good as a fact. It is as “theoretical” as gravity. That is, it is a fact.

      The probability of it being otherwise is a goo-zillion to one. You know of no evolutionist, I dare say, who says otherwise.

      You also know that even the likes of Dale C. Allison admit that there are only degrees of probability behind the historical Jesus hypothesis — and uncertainty and the need for finding a point to enter a circular argument is all there is. The only thing in favour of the historicist argument is consensus in relation to very little and often quite ambiguous evidence — and nothing like the overwhelming substantial evidence there is for evolution — from micro-biology to palaeontology.

      And no-one says that these odds in favour of a historical Jesus are based on evidence that is as comparably or qualitatively abundant and replete and tangible as is the evidence for evolution. Nor is there any circularity at the basis of the argument for evolution.

      Oh — sorry, I forgot. This thread is a parody, isn’t it. That’s why you try to draw such a fatuous comparison, yes?

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

    Evolution can only be “proven” in the sense that it is the natural conclusion if one is willing to use deductive reasoning and follow the evidence where it leads. If one posits an “author” of the natural world who is incompetent enough to design organisms with the shortcomings that they have yet skilled enough to make the cosmos with the deceptive appearance of having evolved, then all bets are off.

    In a comparable manner, if one is willing to treat the early Christians as infinitely skilled at conspiracy and yet at the same time infinitely stupid and gullible, and to treat any text they produced as infinitely ambiguous and infinitely metaphorical, then all bets are off, and no historian will be able to demonstrate any mainstream conclusion to a mythicist’s satisfaction.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Oh come now. You know that evolutionists – Jerry Coyne, Richard Dawkins, whoever —  say that evolution is as good as a fact. It is as “theoretical” as gravity. That is, it is a fact.

      The probability of it being otherwise is a goo-zillion to one. You know of no evolutionist, I dare say, who says otherwise.

      You also know that even the likes of Dale C. Allison admit that there are only degrees of probability behind the historical Jesus hypothesis — and uncertainty and the need for finding a point to enter a circular argument is all there is. The only thing in favour of the historicist argument is consensus in relation to very little and often quite ambiguous evidence — and nothing like the overwhelming substantial evidence there is for evolution — from micro-biology to palaeontology.

      And no-one says that these odds in favour of a historical Jesus are based on evidence that is as comparably or qualitatively abundant and replete and tangible as is the evidence for evolution. Nor is there any circularity at the basis of the argument for evolution.

      Oh — sorry, I forgot. This thread is a parody, isn’t it. That’s why you try to draw such a fatuous comparison, yes?

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

    The point of the comparison, as I keep saying, is not that history and biology offer comparable levels of certainty, but that mythicists and creationists reject the conclusions of mainstream scholars about the degree of certainty possible in the cases of the historical Jesus and the evolution of life on earth respectively. 

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      That’s what you alternate in saying. But it’s not what you said at all in the previous two posts. You were speaking of proving evolution in the abstract, not about scholarly consensus, which is what you slip back to asserting whenever and every time you are reminded your black and white statement is fallacious.

      But you are wrong in your claim here about the comparison that it is all about rejecting scholarly authority. Not at all. Evolution is not accepted because of scholarly authority but because people have been persuaded by the evidence — the tangible and observable evidence — that the scientists have shown us.

      But historical Jesus scholars have no “facts” except those arrived at by overlooking or living with the circularity of their position — unlike the evidence for evolution — and that are divined by means of “criteria” and assumption of tradition.

      Evolution’s facts are not deduced by criteria. They are observable and in your face. But you know the criteria used to establish the facts about Jesus are fallacious and self-contradictory and self-serving. You also ought to know that those same criteria are used to interpret facts to create historical meaning in other historical endeavours. Only in biblical studies, as far as I am aware (can you tell me differently?) are they used to find facts to begin with.

      You also must assume the narrative in the gospels is based on tradition going back to historical events portrayed in that gospel, but that is not what historians of other texts are forced to merely assume. Biblical studies IS unique — and circular — in this respect.

      We are an enlightened and literate society now. People do not reject or accept arguments because of the authority of the consensus, whether it is evolution or otherwise. The only exceptions are probably theories of physics that get into the mind-boggling and mathematical constructs that few can master. But the basics of evolution and most all of biblical studies are not in that league.

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

    The point of the comparison, as I keep saying, is not that history and biology offer comparable levels of certainty, but that mythicists and creationists reject the conclusions of mainstream scholars about the degree of certainty possible in the cases of the historical Jesus and the evolution of life on earth respectively. 

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      That’s what you alternate in saying. But it’s not what you said at all in the previous two posts. You were speaking of proving evolution in the abstract, not about scholarly consensus, which is what you slip back to asserting whenever and every time you are reminded your black and white statement is fallacious.

      But you are wrong in your claim here about the comparison that it is all about rejecting scholarly authority. Not at all. Evolution is not accepted because of scholarly authority but because people have been persuaded by the evidence — the tangible and observable evidence — that the scientists have shown us.

      But historical Jesus scholars have no “facts” except those arrived at by overlooking or living with the circularity of their position — unlike the evidence for evolution — and that are divined by means of “criteria” and assumption of tradition.

      Evolution’s facts are not deduced by criteria. They are observable and in your face. But you know the criteria used to establish the facts about Jesus are fallacious and self-contradictory and self-serving. You also ought to know that those same criteria are used to interpret facts to create historical meaning in other historical endeavours. Only in biblical studies, as far as I am aware (can you tell me differently?) are they used to find facts to begin with.

      You also must assume the narrative in the gospels is based on tradition going back to historical events portrayed in that gospel, but that is not what historians of other texts are forced to merely assume. Biblical studies IS unique — and circular — in this respect.

      We are an enlightened and literate society now. People do not reject or accept arguments because of the authority of the consensus, whether it is evolution or otherwise. The only exceptions are probably theories of physics that get into the mind-boggling and mathematical constructs that few can master. But the basics of evolution and most all of biblical studies are not in that league.

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

    In both fields, the data can be accounted for in more than one way, and one particular conclusion only seems self-evident if one is dedicated to using reason, inference and deduction, to following the evidence to where it most naturally leads, and introducing as few ad-hoc suppositions as possible.

    Perhaps the greatest similarity between creationism and mythicism is that both stand at the sidelines, criticize mainstream scholarship’s conclusions and methods, and yet offer neither a better set of tools nor a more persuasive set of conclusions as an alternative.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Well as someone else said recently, just your saying that another argument is “not/less persuasive” is not in itself an argument. It is a lazy cop-out. It is the sort of rejoinder I see biblical scholars make of their own peers. But I don’t see the same lazy dismissal of creationism by evolutionists. You should try to argue and demonstrate why a mythicist alternative is not valid or is erroneous.

      Your ability to conflate the huge differences between evolution and biblical studies and the scholarly standards of evidence and argument into some singular abstraction is clever but it merely avoids the point I was making about the differences.

      You seem to so very very often avoid addressing arguments head on by escaping to another question, another level of abstraction. Whenever do you stop to actually argue a point being made? You argue like a flat-earther or creationist when you do this.

      But again, even at your new attempt to abstract the question to find a way to unite biblical studies with evolution you are wrong. Only at a meaningless level can it be said that it is possible to interpret the evidence for evolution in the way the creationists do. If you are wanting to argue at that level of meaningless abstraction then we can say that about anything — not just evolution. The creationist can say it about his evidence. I can say it about my proposition that the moon is made of cheese. You spend too much time in your sci fi world and have lost touch with reality.

      But let’s get real. In the real world the evidence for evolution can no more be explained by creationism than gravity can be explained by angels making the planets move the way they do.

      But when it comes to the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus then we can interpret that quite validly as a mythical or midrashic tale — as many of your own peers do — or we can interpret it as a historical memory told with Elijah-like trappings. The alternatives are both valid initial propositions.

      It is not a valid proposition by the rules of reason to interpret gravity by resorting to angelic forces or evolution being pulled along by the finger of God.

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

    In both fields, the data can be accounted for in more than one way, and one particular conclusion only seems self-evident if one is dedicated to using reason, inference and deduction, to following the evidence to where it most naturally leads, and introducing as few ad-hoc suppositions as possible.

    Perhaps the greatest similarity between creationism and mythicism is that both stand at the sidelines, criticize mainstream scholarship’s conclusions and methods, and yet offer neither a better set of tools nor a more persuasive set of conclusions as an alternative.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Well as someone else said recently, just your saying that another argument is “not/less persuasive” is not in itself an argument. It is a lazy cop-out. It is the sort of rejoinder I see biblical scholars make of their own peers. But I don’t see the same lazy dismissal of creationism by evolutionists. You should try to argue and demonstrate why a mythicist alternative is not valid or is erroneous.

      Your ability to conflate the huge differences between evolution and biblical studies and the scholarly standards of evidence and argument into some singular abstraction is clever but it merely avoids the point I was making about the differences.

      You seem to so very very often avoid addressing arguments head on by escaping to another question, another level of abstraction. Whenever do you stop to actually argue a point being made? You argue like a flat-earther or creationist when you do this.

      But again, even at your new attempt to abstract the question to find a way to unite biblical studies with evolution you are wrong. Only at a meaningless level can it be said that it is possible to interpret the evidence for evolution in the way the creationists do. If you are wanting to argue at that level of meaningless abstraction then we can say that about anything — not just evolution. The creationist can say it about his evidence. I can say it about my proposition that the moon is made of cheese. You spend too much time in your sci fi world and have lost touch with reality.

      But let’s get real. In the real world the evidence for evolution can no more be explained by creationism than gravity can be explained by angels making the planets move the way they do.

      But when it comes to the story of Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus then we can interpret that quite validly as a mythical or midrashic tale — as many of your own peers do — or we can interpret it as a historical memory told with Elijah-like trappings. The alternatives are both valid initial propositions.

      It is not a valid proposition by the rules of reason to interpret gravity by resorting to angelic forces or evolution being pulled along by the finger of God.

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

    Ignoring the misuse of the term Midrash, the problem is not with the suggestion that some stories may have been invented – any more than the Piltdown Man hoax is a problem for evolution. The problem is with the suggestion that the whole story and every story was invented from scratch or on the basis of earlier stories, however little those stories on at least some occasions provide a plausible basis for the story about Jesus supposedly inspired by it. 

    What mythicists propose happened is only slightly less miraculous than what creationists propose happened.  :)

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Ignoring your difficulty with my use of the term midrash in the same way as your peers and Jewish midrash scholars use it as I have clearly demonstrated in the past, and ignoring your failure to address that demonstration, your comparison with the Piltdown man hoax is totally off the planet as far as any logically consistent argument is concerned.

      Piltdown man was a hoax. Midrashic stories (Dale C Allison Jr’s and a dozen other scholars’ term) are not hoaxes at all. They are recognized and established facts and deserve historical and literary study for what they contribute to our understanding of Christian origins. The only difference of opinion among your peers is the extent to which they are found in the Gospels. Piltdown man has no value at all for the study of evolution.

      A logical comparison with Piltdown Man would be the Secret Gospel of Mark if that was forged by Morton Smith.

      So your attempt to draw a parallel here is completely muddled and indicates you are scraping at anything you think you can throw at a mythicist argument without thinking it through. Your arguments are not consistent or logical but ad hoc and rarely survive logical scrutiny.

      You keep sidestepping my responses and trying to find a new way to ask the same question each time you get a response instead of addressing the responses themselves.

      Your statement of what you see as the problem has been answered a dozen times. No-one is saying that someone sat down one day and suddenly out of nowhere made up a whole new story and invented a Jesus who had no precedent or precursor etc. The closest to that scenario might be your own peer Burton Mack but even he says he used lots of information available to him.

      What you keep sidestepping is the fact that whereas evolution persuades people because of the black and white tangible observable evidence, biblical scholars — at least the more astute of them — frankly (and “with humility”) admit the circularity of their methods and the assumptions that are their starting points.

      When I read books by evolutionists I have noted the times they point out that, contrary to creationist arguments, their theory and their dating methods etc are NOT circular — and they demonstrate why.

      Biblical scholars say their methods ARE circular.

      Biblical scholars have NOT studied and researched whether Christianity started at some level with a Jesus figure. This has always been a given. This is NOT the same as evolutionists who have studied whether life evolved from a single ancestral thing. There is no comparison.

      Biblical scholars cannot agree on a single fact about Jesus apart, perhaps, from the fact that he died. And there are respectable and mainstream scholars who do not belong to the Christian tradition who even deny that. So the historical Jesus is very much bound up with the assumptions of our cultural traditions. It is not something that has been researched and objectively arrived at in the same way evolution has been objectively arrived at as a theory cum fact.

      It is perfectly reasonable for an educated and reasonable person to question the assumptions of biblical scholarship. Your only objection to this is an argument from authority. What biblical scholars present for evidence is by their own admission based on circularity and fallacious criteria.

      And there are among your peers, perhaps more than you want to admit or know about, who do at least express respect for the mythicist position even if they do not agree with it or prefer to suspend judgement. So when you try to compare mythicists with being loonies you risk insulting some of your own peers. And at least one of your (non-mythicist) peers has blogged to say that academic quiet on the question has more to do with fear of losing academic tenure than the logic of the arguments.

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

    Ignoring the misuse of the term Midrash, the problem is not with the suggestion that some stories may have been invented – any more than the Piltdown Man hoax is a problem for evolution. The problem is with the suggestion that the whole story and every story was invented from scratch or on the basis of earlier stories, however little those stories on at least some occasions provide a plausible basis for the story about Jesus supposedly inspired by it. 

    What mythicists propose happened is only slightly less miraculous than what creationists propose happened.  :)

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Ignoring your difficulty with my use of the term midrash in the same way as your peers and Jewish midrash scholars use it as I have clearly demonstrated in the past, and ignoring your failure to address that demonstration, your comparison with the Piltdown man hoax is totally off the planet as far as any logically consistent argument is concerned.

      Piltdown man was a hoax. Midrashic stories (Dale C Allison Jr’s and a dozen other scholars’ term) are not hoaxes at all. They are recognized and established facts and deserve historical and literary study for what they contribute to our understanding of Christian origins. The only difference of opinion among your peers is the extent to which they are found in the Gospels. Piltdown man has no value at all for the study of evolution.

      A logical comparison with Piltdown Man would be the Secret Gospel of Mark if that was forged by Morton Smith.

      So your attempt to draw a parallel here is completely muddled and indicates you are scraping at anything you think you can throw at a mythicist argument without thinking it through. Your arguments are not consistent or logical but ad hoc and rarely survive logical scrutiny.

      You keep sidestepping my responses and trying to find a new way to ask the same question each time you get a response instead of addressing the responses themselves.

      Your statement of what you see as the problem has been answered a dozen times. No-one is saying that someone sat down one day and suddenly out of nowhere made up a whole new story and invented a Jesus who had no precedent or precursor etc. The closest to that scenario might be your own peer Burton Mack but even he says he used lots of information available to him.

      What you keep sidestepping is the fact that whereas evolution persuades people because of the black and white tangible observable evidence, biblical scholars — at least the more astute of them — frankly (and “with humility”) admit the circularity of their methods and the assumptions that are their starting points.

      When I read books by evolutionists I have noted the times they point out that, contrary to creationist arguments, their theory and their dating methods etc are NOT circular — and they demonstrate why.

      Biblical scholars say their methods ARE circular.

      Biblical scholars have NOT studied and researched whether Christianity started at some level with a Jesus figure. This has always been a given. This is NOT the same as evolutionists who have studied whether life evolved from a single ancestral thing. There is no comparison.

      Biblical scholars cannot agree on a single fact about Jesus apart, perhaps, from the fact that he died. And there are respectable and mainstream scholars who do not belong to the Christian tradition who even deny that. So the historical Jesus is very much bound up with the assumptions of our cultural traditions. It is not something that has been researched and objectively arrived at in the same way evolution has been objectively arrived at as a theory cum fact.

      It is perfectly reasonable for an educated and reasonable person to question the assumptions of biblical scholarship. Your only objection to this is an argument from authority. What biblical scholars present for evidence is by their own admission based on circularity and fallacious criteria.

      And there are among your peers, perhaps more than you want to admit or know about, who do at least express respect for the mythicist position even if they do not agree with it or prefer to suspend judgement. So when you try to compare mythicists with being loonies you risk insulting some of your own peers. And at least one of your (non-mythicist) peers has blogged to say that academic quiet on the question has more to do with fear of losing academic tenure than the logic of the arguments.

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

    You keep missing the point of the analogy, or are eager to avoid tackling its point. There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare. And those who detract from mainstream scholarly methods in any of these cases, and even in the natural sciences, say that mainstream methods are fundamentally flawed (although usually only when they aree used to draw conclusions that the detractors don’t like) and fail to offer a better alternative. This selective quotation of scholars who aree seeking to improve our methods and our conclusions as thought they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically – or scientifically – is something that unites denialists in both domains. And so I will say it one more time: the point of the analogy is not now and has never been that history and biology offer the same degrees of certainty, but that the degree of certainty offered by each is denied by detractors who use many of the same tactics.

    But I expect that you’ll ignore this clarification just as you have every other time it has been made.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You keep missing the point of the analogy, or are eager to avoid tackling its point.

      I addressed the analogy head on and in detail showed it was completely false – was not analogous at all. I do so again below. You fail every time to respond to my answer except with a fallback appeal to authority.

      There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

      Wrong. Dead wrong. I have shown you a dozen times the objective basis for a historical Socrates. See again http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/another-way-to-study-christian-origins/ , for example.

      We have the sort of evidence for Socrates that Albert Schweitzer was lamenting did not exist for Jesus.

      John the Baptist? Who investigates the historical John the Baptist? Who cares? What’s the point? 

      Shakespeare? Oh do be serious. Even parody has its limits. No-one denies the historical existence of Shakespeare. No-one.

      And those who detract from mainstream scholarly methods in any of these cases, and even in the natural sciences, say that mainstream methods are fundamentally flawed (although usually only when they agree used to draw conclusions that the detractors don’t like) and fail to offer a better alternative.

      Who detracts from mainstream scholarly methods in any of those cases or in the natural sciences? I have no idea who or what you are talking about. Are you still addressing anything I or Earl Doherty have ever argued?

      All I have ever argued is that mainstream methods be consistently applied to biblical historiography.

      This selective quotation of scholars who agree seeking to improve our methods and our conclusions as though they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically – or scientifically – is something that unites denialists in both domains.

      Again, what on earth are you talking about? What’s this mind-reading “as if they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically?” What a load of bollocks. I suggest no such thing. That is entirely your misdirected mind-reading.

      So let me be clear: I applaud the intellectual honesty of many of your peers who acknowledge the weaknesses of their methodology. I fully acknowledge that they by no means believe that the very attempt to reason ‘historically’ is misguided. I respect that this is exactly what they are seeking to do with full intellectual integrity. I applaud that.

      But I also happen to argue that there is another method that is used by their peers in other areas of history, even biblical history, that would open up a whole new set of questions that are currently not on the table. By arguing this I am by no means disrespecting or denying the integrity of biblical scholars with whom I disagree. I am not “in denial” against anything. I grapple with the methods discussed, argue their merits or otherwise, and argue for an alternative.

      That is not denial. That is respectful and reasonable engagement.

      As for ‘selective quotation’ – am I to be faulted for engaging with the literature? What quotations or sources would you recommend do give balance if you think balance is missing?

      And so I will say it one more time: the point of the analogy is not now and has never been that history and biology offer the same degrees of certainty, but that the degree of certainty offered by each is denied by detractors who use many of the same tactics.

      Oh my goodness. I have just shown you that “THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY offered by” biblical scholars and evolutionists is by NO MEANS COMPARABLE!

      One is circular, the other is not; one relies on fallacious criteria, the other does not; one is evidence based, the other is criteriology based, and those criteria are acknowledged as having serious limitations; one is a universal science, the other is a study of a cultural tradition.
       
      The ONLY way you can draw any comparability between the two is to appeal to authority!

      But I expect that you’ll ignore this clarification just as you have every other time it has been made.

      No, I just addressed your clarification as I have so many times before. In what way did I miss your point?

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

    You keep missing the point of the analogy, or are eager to avoid tackling its point. There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare. And those who detract from mainstream scholarly methods in any of these cases, and even in the natural sciences, say that mainstream methods are fundamentally flawed (although usually only when they aree used to draw conclusions that the detractors don’t like) and fail to offer a better alternative. This selective quotation of scholars who aree seeking to improve our methods and our conclusions as thought they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically – or scientifically – is something that unites denialists in both domains. And so I will say it one more time: the point of the analogy is not now and has never been that history and biology offer the same degrees of certainty, but that the degree of certainty offered by each is denied by detractors who use many of the same tactics.

    But I expect that you’ll ignore this clarification just as you have every other time it has been made.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      You keep missing the point of the analogy, or are eager to avoid tackling its point.

      I addressed the analogy head on and in detail showed it was completely false – was not analogous at all. I do so again below. You fail every time to respond to my answer except with a fallback appeal to authority.

      There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

      Wrong. Dead wrong. I have shown you a dozen times the objective basis for a historical Socrates. See again http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/another-way-to-study-christian-origins/ , for example.

      We have the sort of evidence for Socrates that Albert Schweitzer was lamenting did not exist for Jesus.

      John the Baptist? Who investigates the historical John the Baptist? Who cares? What’s the point? 

      Shakespeare? Oh do be serious. Even parody has its limits. No-one denies the historical existence of Shakespeare. No-one.

      And those who detract from mainstream scholarly methods in any of these cases, and even in the natural sciences, say that mainstream methods are fundamentally flawed (although usually only when they agree used to draw conclusions that the detractors don’t like) and fail to offer a better alternative.

      Who detracts from mainstream scholarly methods in any of those cases or in the natural sciences? I have no idea who or what you are talking about. Are you still addressing anything I or Earl Doherty have ever argued?

      All I have ever argued is that mainstream methods be consistently applied to biblical historiography.

      This selective quotation of scholars who agree seeking to improve our methods and our conclusions as though they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically – or scientifically – is something that unites denialists in both domains.

      Again, what on earth are you talking about? What’s this mind-reading “as if they are suggesting that something is fundamentally misguided about the very attempt to reason historically?” What a load of bollocks. I suggest no such thing. That is entirely your misdirected mind-reading.

      So let me be clear: I applaud the intellectual honesty of many of your peers who acknowledge the weaknesses of their methodology. I fully acknowledge that they by no means believe that the very attempt to reason ‘historically’ is misguided. I respect that this is exactly what they are seeking to do with full intellectual integrity. I applaud that.

      But I also happen to argue that there is another method that is used by their peers in other areas of history, even biblical history, that would open up a whole new set of questions that are currently not on the table. By arguing this I am by no means disrespecting or denying the integrity of biblical scholars with whom I disagree. I am not “in denial” against anything. I grapple with the methods discussed, argue their merits or otherwise, and argue for an alternative.

      That is not denial. That is respectful and reasonable engagement.

      As for ‘selective quotation’ – am I to be faulted for engaging with the literature? What quotations or sources would you recommend do give balance if you think balance is missing?

      And so I will say it one more time: the point of the analogy is not now and has never been that history and biology offer the same degrees of certainty, but that the degree of certainty offered by each is denied by detractors who use many of the same tactics.

      Oh my goodness. I have just shown you that “THE DEGREE OF CERTAINTY offered by” biblical scholars and evolutionists is by NO MEANS COMPARABLE!

      One is circular, the other is not; one relies on fallacious criteria, the other does not; one is evidence based, the other is criteriology based, and those criteria are acknowledged as having serious limitations; one is a universal science, the other is a study of a cultural tradition.
       
      The ONLY way you can draw any comparability between the two is to appeal to authority!

      But I expect that you’ll ignore this clarification just as you have every other time it has been made.

      No, I just addressed your clarification as I have so many times before. In what way did I miss your point?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    James, I fail to understand Neil’s tizzy about you not answering Earl’s answer to the one question mythicism can’t answer. What does Earl really say?
    — I have also said and demonstrated that there are times when Paul presents a picture of his faith and its genesis/development which leaves no room for a biographical element, indeed excludes the possibility of any such thing.–
    when did he ever demonstrate this? We discussed it at length and his evidence was crap, and if Neil doubts it was, he can go look it up.
    — In the rare exception often claimed (such as the two words of the Lord in 1 Corinthians, or Paul’s Lord’s Supper words, or the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ remark in 1 Thessalonians), all of these are severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life, rather than products of revelation or in the latter case a generally recognized interpolation.–
    who says they are all “severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life”? We have had this argument before, for the life of me I don’t know why Neil feels the need to answer an evidence free assertion with a complete argument, not everyone has as much time to waste as he.
    –Now take Paul’s failure to appeal to elements of a spiritual-realm scene of crucifixion by Satan and the demon spirits. Aside from failing to identify the specific spiritual location as the sublunar firmament, which would have required no repetition once understood by the community (if the Pauline Christ cult in fact made such a localized specification rather than just the mythological heavenly world), what exactly would one expect him to draw upon and mention? Was there a trial…–
    You’re correct James that he undercuts his own argument here. Paul isn’t teaching why he thinks Jesus is Christ, as we have told Earl, he doesn’t need to rehash this. Most Supreme Court arguments don’t start with a retelling of war for independence. The rest of this seems to rely on the fact that we don’t know what Jesus myth is so we should just assume that what wasn’t mentioned would have served no purpose to Paul. Earl claims that they are countless places Paul should have mentioned some tradition of Jesus, but are there? List as many as you can Earl and we will see if we can count them. I have to point out again, that many later Christian authors that we know believe in a historic Jesus don’t use more references to the deeds of Jesus than Paul. And, again, the more works we drop into the mythic Christianity file (where Earl is fond of placing early Christian text that don’t mention historical Jesus material), the more incredible that it disappeared without mention from orthodox Christians.
    –I suppose theoretically the heavenly Christ could have done any of these things in the heavenly world, or something of a ‘biographical’ nature like them. But we have no reason to think so, and no reason to think that the Christ cult possessed any traditions that he had done so.–
    Neil is plainly incorrect that you didn’t answer Earl, this is the heart of his answer and you give the obvious response. We absolutely have reason to think so because all mythic savior cults did. Earl thinks Christianity is so like these other mythic faiths, but not in this, now it is different because that’s what it needs to be to make his theory work.
    — Scripture simply told them that he had been crucified and God raised him from the dead, something they say was now revealed by God through the Spirit after long ages of being hidden–
    Well that makes sense. Paul: “Worship Jesus Christ, it has been revealed by the spirit after long ages God raised him from the dead!” Audience: “who the f is Jesus Christ, how did die, and why was he raised?” Paul: “I don’t know, the spirit didn’t tell me anymore” Audience: “sounds great we will do whatever you tell us now”
    –Other than being crucified by “the rulers of this age” (with that also interpreted by many as a reference to the demon spirits), —
    Earl is being dishonest here, but his arguments do need a lot of dishonesty to work, he must have learned that from Von Ranke I suppose. How many scholars think Jesus was literally crucified by demons Earl?
    –reading more out of scripture to come up with specific elements related to that crucifixion and resurrection, as Mark and the other evangelists were to do in an earthly setting (though probably with the original intention of creating an allegory only), —
    How do you know this? You probably believe it, but that doesn’t make it probably so
    –did not yet occur to them. And why not? Because no such setting existed in their minds. No such figure had yet been created, allegorical or historical.–
    Evidence to support you claims, any at all? What is there to respond too? Earl’s baseless speculation on what existed in people’s minds? Is this what Neil thinks is good historical method?

  • Michael Wilson

    James, I fail to understand Neil’s tizzy about you not answering Earl’s answer to the one question mythicism can’t answer. What does Earl really say?
    — I have also said and demonstrated that there are times when Paul presents a picture of his faith and its genesis/development which leaves no room for a biographical element, indeed excludes the possibility of any such thing.–
    when did he ever demonstrate this? We discussed it at length and his evidence was crap, and if Neil doubts it was, he can go look it up.
    — In the rare exception often claimed (such as the two words of the Lord in 1 Corinthians, or Paul’s Lord’s Supper words, or the ‘Jews killed Jesus’ remark in 1 Thessalonians), all of these are severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life, rather than products of revelation or in the latter case a generally recognized interpolation.–
    who says they are all “severely compromised as identifiably being references to an earthly life”? We have had this argument before, for the life of me I don’t know why Neil feels the need to answer an evidence free assertion with a complete argument, not everyone has as much time to waste as he.
    –Now take Paul’s failure to appeal to elements of a spiritual-realm scene of crucifixion by Satan and the demon spirits. Aside from failing to identify the specific spiritual location as the sublunar firmament, which would have required no repetition once understood by the community (if the Pauline Christ cult in fact made such a localized specification rather than just the mythological heavenly world), what exactly would one expect him to draw upon and mention? Was there a trial…–
    You’re correct James that he undercuts his own argument here. Paul isn’t teaching why he thinks Jesus is Christ, as we have told Earl, he doesn’t need to rehash this. Most Supreme Court arguments don’t start with a retelling of war for independence. The rest of this seems to rely on the fact that we don’t know what Jesus myth is so we should just assume that what wasn’t mentioned would have served no purpose to Paul. Earl claims that they are countless places Paul should have mentioned some tradition of Jesus, but are there? List as many as you can Earl and we will see if we can count them. I have to point out again, that many later Christian authors that we know believe in a historic Jesus don’t use more references to the deeds of Jesus than Paul. And, again, the more works we drop into the mythic Christianity file (where Earl is fond of placing early Christian text that don’t mention historical Jesus material), the more incredible that it disappeared without mention from orthodox Christians.
    –I suppose theoretically the heavenly Christ could have done any of these things in the heavenly world, or something of a ‘biographical’ nature like them. But we have no reason to think so, and no reason to think that the Christ cult possessed any traditions that he had done so.–
    Neil is plainly incorrect that you didn’t answer Earl, this is the heart of his answer and you give the obvious response. We absolutely have reason to think so because all mythic savior cults did. Earl thinks Christianity is so like these other mythic faiths, but not in this, now it is different because that’s what it needs to be to make his theory work.
    — Scripture simply told them that he had been crucified and God raised him from the dead, something they say was now revealed by God through the Spirit after long ages of being hidden–
    Well that makes sense. Paul: “Worship Jesus Christ, it has been revealed by the spirit after long ages God raised him from the dead!” Audience: “who the f is Jesus Christ, how did die, and why was he raised?” Paul: “I don’t know, the spirit didn’t tell me anymore” Audience: “sounds great we will do whatever you tell us now”
    –Other than being crucified by “the rulers of this age” (with that also interpreted by many as a reference to the demon spirits), —
    Earl is being dishonest here, but his arguments do need a lot of dishonesty to work, he must have learned that from Von Ranke I suppose. How many scholars think Jesus was literally crucified by demons Earl?
    –reading more out of scripture to come up with specific elements related to that crucifixion and resurrection, as Mark and the other evangelists were to do in an earthly setting (though probably with the original intention of creating an allegory only), —
    How do you know this? You probably believe it, but that doesn’t make it probably so
    –did not yet occur to them. And why not? Because no such setting existed in their minds. No such figure had yet been created, allegorical or historical.–
    Evidence to support you claims, any at all? What is there to respond too? Earl’s baseless speculation on what existed in people’s minds? Is this what Neil thinks is good historical method?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    “Biblical scholars have NOT studied and researched whether Christianity started at some level with a Jesus figure. This has always been a given.”
     
    Absolutely untrue, the Jesus myth has been around for a long time and has been addressed (and caps lock does not make assertions more credible). How has Neil missed this? And if more scholars bothered to read Neil’s post (of those I asked, they don’t feel that people who work exclusively on the internet to be worthy of much attention, good advice), I think they would agree that mythicist are loony’s.

  • Michael Wilson

    “Biblical scholars have NOT studied and researched whether Christianity started at some level with a Jesus figure. This has always been a given.”
     
    Absolutely untrue, the Jesus myth has been around for a long time and has been addressed (and caps lock does not make assertions more credible). How has Neil missed this? And if more scholars bothered to read Neil’s post (of those I asked, they don’t feel that people who work exclusively on the internet to be worthy of much attention, good advice), I think they would agree that mythicist are loony’s.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    I do not agree with either James’s  or Neil’s conclusions, but I think I can see where Neil is coming from.

    I agree that James and other historians, but not all, are being circular when they attempt to study the origins of Christianity, because the approach they use is to go straight to the supposed source. Since Jesus Christ is traditionally suppose to be the source of Christianity, they feel that by providing convincing evidence that Jesus really existed it will give credence to the origin of Christianity and what came later. That is circular in the sense that you all ready know the answer to what you are seeking.

    On the other hand, Neil is saying that his quest for the origin of Christianity is by ignoring any supposed traditional source, so as not to overly influence the outcome of the search. And there is merit to this approach, for example, if someone wanted to examine the origin of the Hebrew language, it would probably be better if they did not assume it started with the Hebrew people before they began their examination. That could influence the evidence to a biased Hebrew origin, where a strictly objective view might not.

    If for some reason Jesus was not the source of Christianity, Neil’s approach would not be hampered by that fact. And if you think about it logically, the historians quest for the historical Jesus is a bit of a catch 22. If the evidence pointed to the fact that it was unlikely that a Jesus figure did exist, that would provide a large degree of probability to mythicism, the idea that historians hate. So the whole point to the original quest for the historical Jesus sounds like a desperate attempt to squash anything to the contrary.

    • Dave Burke

      Howard,

      >>
      And if you think about it logically, the historians quest for the historical Jesus is a bit of a catch 22. If the evidence pointed to the fact that it was unlikely that a Jesus figure did exist, that would provide a large degree of probability to mythicism, the idea that historians hate. So the whole point to the original quest for the historical Jesus sounds like a desperate attempt to squash anything to the contrary.
      >>

      I don’t see the logic here. The original quest for the historical Jesus was instigated by an anti-supernaturalist Deist (Reimarus) who would have had no qualms about discovering a mythical Jesus if that’s what the evidence had supported.

      Reimarus’ fellow questers included Jefferson (another anti-supernaturalist Deist), Strauss (an anti-supernaturalist theologian who denied the divinity of Jesus), Renan (an anti-supernaturalist philosopher who also denied the divinity of Jesus) and Wrede (a skeptical theologian responsible for the ‘Messianic Secret’ hypothesis).

      Your observation that mythicism is an ‘idea that historians hate’ neglects to address the reasons why historians hate it. The primary reason, of course, is that it is not an evidence-based theory but a purely speculative one. Historical study requires the objective analysis of verifiable data. Mythicism merely requires a highly active imagination. Viva la difference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Dave,

        I understand that the original quest was done by people who might not have had an agenda, I guess I was referring to the idea of someone who already accepts Jesus and then decides to investigate his historicity. This might be viewed merely as someone looking for evidence that will support their current belief, and not an objective search.

        I am not condoning any particular mythic interpretation of the evidence, I am merely saying that their approach has merit. Christianity is real, it exists today, so it means it came from somewhere. And if historians can take large sections of scripture and whole books themselves and consider them forged or embellishments, I think it can equally be claimed that all books might be forged or embellishments. Under the modern humanistic view of the Bible today, I feel this has at least as much merit as the historical view. Neither of which I agree with by the way. But the big disagreement between historians and mythisists that you are referring to has to do with their attempts to explain the reason why all the books are not authentic history. That is why I stick with the all or nothing approach. If all the Bible is not from God, it will never be humanly possible to explain what is or what isn’t from God. And the same applies to those who think none of it was from God. There would simply be no humanly way to accurately explain why it exists with out a time machine.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Howard and others, just to clarify my position:

      My position is not an argument for mythicism. My argument is about the nature of evidence in historical inquiry.

      I challenge McGrath’s arguments against mythicism because they are ad hoc and rely on straw men spawned by gratuitous ‘mind-reading’, and for the other reasons I have stated in the previous comments.

      If I pick up a text and have no idea who wrote it and only a vague idea of when (give or take 50 years either way) or for whom or why, and it was riddled with events of the supernatural, and if it was not quite like any genre known in that broad general period, I would be naive in the extreme if I approached it by assuming that the central character and event in its narrative were derived from real historical events.

      I would want some external evidence to offer me some assurance before I took that assumption on board.

      When it comes to the figures of Socrates or Cicero’s slave or an otherwise unattested philosopher Seneca writes about (note I am trying to find figures comparable to a relatively “obscure Jesus” here) I have a range of assurances that many such persons are indeed very probably genuinely historical. I have discussed these evidences and controls many, many times in my posts and in other venues.

      When it comes to Jesus, however, we have no similar controls or external supports to assure us that the narrative originated in historical memory. On the contrary, the literary internal evidence of those gospels, when compared with other literary evidence (both Jewish and non-Jewish) of that era, and for which we have strong reasons to believe were known to the world of the Gospel authors, — that literary evidence strongly and very simply (not simplistically) explains the origins of the Gospel narratives as creative literature.

      Further, we also have broad cultural contexts to strongly point to very plausible cultural motivations for the creation of such theological narratives as we find in the Gospels.

      This has been my argument. I have spelled out the details to support the above summaries many, many times.

      My argument is an argument that we should approach historical sources for early Christianity in the same manner as historians approach, or should approach, any documentary evidence.

      If there is a historical Jesus anywhere to be found then he needs to be found by the same methodologies as historians find Socrates, Cicero’s slave, etc. It is not valid to claim some special status for the historical Jesus and continually expend energies arguing why we have no comparable evidence for a person we must still believe existed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Neil,

        I believe I understand your position, and I agree. If someone claims he is a critical historian, he must be critical on all matters of history. For example, when Paul says “brother of the Lord” To use this as support for the historical Jesus, don’t we first have to prove Paul was a historical person? So I don’t get the selective evidence approach either.

        • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

          Exactly! That “brother of the Lord” issue is an attempt to balance an elephant on a mouse’s tail. Only cultural heritage enables it to keep making its routine appearance in the discussion.

          Quite apart from the question of identity of the author of Galatians and the letter’s provenance we also have the very real ancient evidence for the plausibility of interpolation and also the linguistic question that historicists so often seem quite incapable of grasping. In the recent exchange between Doherty and McGrath on this McGrath concluded by suggesting that Doherty’s use of logical argument was an attempt to cloud and mislead men of good sense: http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/05/29/in-mythicism-but-not-of-mythicism/#comment-214221964

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

            Neil, James makes no such suggestion, as he did no concede Doherty’s argument was logical, which it was not. Like you, Doherty uses illogical arguments in the hopes of confusing people. I mean it is only bad if you think dishonesty has no place in historical discussion, I’ll leave that for you to decide for yourself.
            Neil, you are far too uncritical of evidence for interpolation when it suits you. Good historians don’t just cherry pick solutions they like, the scrutinize them. Read some books on historical method, it should make you more aware of biases.
            And elephant on a mouse’s tail, really? Is it such a huge claim that Paul’s Jesus is a man who is the brother of James, the apostle he knows? Why would you think otherwise? Stop if we have all heard this before; I mean if you have something new to add. As it stands in reality, Doherty requires much more complicated interpretations of the evidence than theories that simply say Jesus existed, and so his ideas fail the Ockham razor test. With no simpler alternative, and this being an un-extraordinary claim, I don’t know why someone would spend a lot of time researching Christian origins from the perspective of a mythic founder and that is confirmed by the lack of academic scholars who do. It assures me of the competence of that community that at least they aren’t promoting this.

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

          What would “prove” Paul is historical? what is the criteria? How many sources agreeing prove something? Can a thousand be proof? 100? 50? 10? And shouldn’t we apply the same standered to prove mythicism? 

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

            Michael,

            I will admit that I am not aware of any scholarly attempt to prove Paul’s historical existence. That said, I would assume it would be done in the same manner as any other historical figure. Is Paul mentioned in Roman records? Is Paul mentioned by historians or in Jewish writings? But if in reality, Paul was merely a run of the mill man in the first century who merited no attention from these sources, then all we have about him is what is contained in the Bible. Now if someone was questioning the historicity of Paul’s letters, how could we prove to them that Paul was historical apart from his writings? In other words, it would be extremely helpful in giving credence to Paul’s writings if Paul can be shown to be a real historical figure. And that can not be done by using Paul’s writings to prove his existence, that would be circular.

            Now if scholars have done this with Paul, I am not aware of it. But thankfully, I don’t need to be aware of it either, as I do believe in the historical existence of Paul and Jesus and I do believe that “brother of the Lord” refers to Jesus’ biological brother. All I was saying is if you are going to be a critical historian, you should have determined Paul’s historicity in the same manner that you have determined any other historical figure. Another interesting thing is that apparently most historians, reject the book of Daniel, because of what the books says and not on whether Daniel was historical or not. I guess you just can’t win.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

      Well put Howard, you raise good points. We come from nieve people who did not question the source of tradtional stories. a lot of skepticism has paid off. we have shed a number of fantasys about dragons and suposed ancient kings so it provokes the question, so who else? I think however that the existance of Jesus has been questioned for a long time. While never a popular stance, it has always maintained adherents, but it has simply failed to convert more scholars to its conclusion. It has been examined, that is not to say it should not be examined again, but you can’t say people have just assumed this.

      James how many of your peers would you say have never examined the evidence for Jesus existance? Do you think it would be helpful for every one in a field to do this?It seems if you challanged every thing you knew, you wouldn’t make many new discoveries, you would be too busy reinventing every thing

      –If for some reason Jesus was not the source of Christianity, Neil’s approach would not be hampered by that fact.–

      Yes but it would be hampered if Jesus were also a person. If he says to just not investigate there, the evidence is too subjective; then there is little for him say about the period. But he does seem to like Doherty’s work, who uses the same sources. If he thinks that the sources can be reliable evidence of Christianity being founded on a mythical Jesus, then his ideas on how Christians first developed their ideas are flawed.

       I think their is a bit of gut reaction against mythers and birthers and such. But as has been shown by  people who think Shakespear a fraud and those wanting to claim Obama is an userper, there are good reason to feel a twang of disgust. It makes one less likey to really ask that question again. How many scholars of American History will really try to confirn Obama’s birth certificate? Still, historians have burst a lot of bubbles, I don’t think their is a lot of basis to the argument that there too afraid to concider mythicism. There have been a number of odd theories held by people who have been well respected. Morton Smith, T. Thompson, I think maybe some of the earlier Jesus myth proponets, but I may be wrong. Any how, I just don’t think professors are that shy, but they are aware all the Jesus myth ideas have been examined before.   

       

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

    I do not agree with either James’s  or Neil’s conclusions, but I think I can see where Neil is coming from.

    I agree that James and other historians, but not all, are being circular when they attempt to study the origins of Christianity, because the approach they use is to go straight to the supposed source. Since Jesus Christ is traditionally suppose to be the source of Christianity, they feel that by providing convincing evidence that Jesus really existed it will give credence to the origin of Christianity and what came later. That is circular in the sense that you all ready know the answer to what you are seeking.

    On the other hand, Neil is saying that his quest for the origin of Christianity is by ignoring any supposed traditional source, so as not to overly influence the outcome of the search. And there is merit to this approach, for example, if someone wanted to examine the origin of the Hebrew language, it would probably be better if they did not assume it started with the Hebrew people before they began their examination. That could influence the evidence to a biased Hebrew origin, where a strictly objective view might not.

    If for some reason Jesus was not the source of Christianity, Neil’s approach would not be hampered by that fact. And if you think about it logically, the historians quest for the historical Jesus is a bit of a catch 22. If the evidence pointed to the fact that it was unlikely that a Jesus figure did exist, that would provide a large degree of probability to mythicism, the idea that historians hate. So the whole point to the original quest for the historical Jesus sounds like a desperate attempt to squash anything to the contrary.

    • Dave Burke

      Howard,

      >>
      And if you think about it logically, the historians quest for the historical Jesus is a bit of a catch 22. If the evidence pointed to the fact that it was unlikely that a Jesus figure did exist, that would provide a large degree of probability to mythicism, the idea that historians hate. So the whole point to the original quest for the historical Jesus sounds like a desperate attempt to squash anything to the contrary.
      >>

      I don’t see the logic here. The original quest for the historical Jesus was instigated by an anti-supernaturalist Deist (Reimarus) who would have had no qualms about discovering a mythical Jesus if that’s what the evidence had supported.

      Reimarus’ fellow questers included Jefferson (another anti-supernaturalist Deist), Strauss (an anti-supernaturalist theologian who denied the divinity of Jesus), Renan (an anti-supernaturalist philosopher who also denied the divinity of Jesus) and Wrede (a skeptical theologian responsible for the ‘Messianic Secret’ hypothesis).

      Your observation that mythicism is an ‘idea that historians hate’ neglects to address the reasons why historians hate it. The primary reason, of course, is that it is not an evidence-based theory but a purely speculative one. Historical study requires the objective analysis of verifiable data. Mythicism merely requires a highly active imagination. Viva la difference.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Dave,

        I understand that the original quest was done by people who might not have had an agenda, I guess I was referring to the idea of someone who already accepts Jesus and then decides to investigate his historicity. This might be viewed merely as someone looking for evidence that will support their current belief, and not an objective search.

        I am not condoning any particular mythic interpretation of the evidence, I am merely saying that their approach has merit. Christianity is real, it exists today, so it means it came from somewhere. And if historians can take large sections of scripture and whole books themselves and consider them forged or embellishments, I think it can equally be claimed that all books might be forged or embellishments. Under the modern humanistic view of the Bible today, I feel this has at least as much merit as the historical view. Neither of which I agree with by the way. But the big disagreement between historians and mythisists that you are referring to has to do with their attempts to explain the reason why all the books are not authentic history. That is why I stick with the all or nothing approach. If all the Bible is not from God, it will never be humanly possible to explain what is or what isn’t from God. And the same applies to those who think none of it was from God. There would simply be no humanly way to accurately explain why it exists with out a time machine.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Howard and others, just to clarify my position:

      My position is not an argument for mythicism. My argument is about the nature of evidence in historical inquiry.

      I challenge McGrath’s arguments against mythicism because they are ad hoc and rely on straw men spawned by gratuitous ‘mind-reading’, and for the other reasons I have stated in the previous comments.

      If I pick up a text and have no idea who wrote it and only a vague idea of when (give or take 50 years either way) or for whom or why, and it was riddled with events of the supernatural, and if it was not quite like any genre known in that broad general period, I would be naive in the extreme if I approached it by assuming that the central character and event in its narrative were derived from real historical events.

      I would want some external evidence to offer me some assurance before I took that assumption on board.

      When it comes to the figures of Socrates or Cicero’s slave or an otherwise unattested philosopher Seneca writes about (note I am trying to find figures comparable to a relatively “obscure Jesus” here) I have a range of assurances that many such persons are indeed very probably genuinely historical. I have discussed these evidences and controls many, many times in my posts and in other venues.

      When it comes to Jesus, however, we have no similar controls or external supports to assure us that the narrative originated in historical memory. On the contrary, the literary internal evidence of those gospels, when compared with other literary evidence (both Jewish and non-Jewish) of that era, and for which we have strong reasons to believe were known to the world of the Gospel authors, — that literary evidence strongly and very simply (not simplistically) explains the origins of the Gospel narratives as creative literature.

      Further, we also have broad cultural contexts to strongly point to very plausible cultural motivations for the creation of such theological narratives as we find in the Gospels.

      This has been my argument. I have spelled out the details to support the above summaries many, many times.

      My argument is an argument that we should approach historical sources for early Christianity in the same manner as historians approach, or should approach, any documentary evidence.

      If there is a historical Jesus anywhere to be found then he needs to be found by the same methodologies as historians find Socrates, Cicero’s slave, etc. It is not valid to claim some special status for the historical Jesus and continually expend energies arguing why we have no comparable evidence for a person we must still believe existed.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

        Neil,

        I believe I understand your position, and I agree. If someone claims he is a critical historian, he must be critical on all matters of history. For example, when Paul says “brother of the Lord” To use this as support for the historical Jesus, don’t we first have to prove Paul was a historical person? So I don’t get the selective evidence approach either.

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          Exactly! That “brother of the Lord” issue is an attempt to balance an elephant on a mouse’s tail. Only cultural heritage enables it to keep making its routine appearance in the discussion.

          Quite apart from the question of identity of the author of Galatians and the letter’s provenance we also have the very real ancient evidence for the plausibility of interpolation and also the linguistic question that historicists so often seem quite incapable of grasping. In the recent exchange between Doherty and McGrath on this McGrath concluded by suggesting that Doherty’s use of logical argument was an attempt to cloud and mislead men of good sense: http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/05/29/in-mythicism-but-not-of-mythicism/#comment-214221964

          • Michael Wilson

            Neil, James makes no such suggestion, as he did no concede Doherty’s argument was logical, which it was not. Like you, Doherty uses illogical arguments in the hopes of confusing people. I mean it is only bad if you think dishonesty has no place in historical discussion, I’ll leave that for you to decide for yourself.
            Neil, you are far too uncritical of evidence for interpolation when it suits you. Good historians don’t just cherry pick solutions they like, the scrutinize them. Read some books on historical method, it should make you more aware of biases.
            And elephant on a mouse’s tail, really? Is it such a huge claim that Paul’s Jesus is a man who is the brother of James, the apostle he knows? Why would you think otherwise? Stop if we have all heard this before; I mean if you have something new to add. As it stands in reality, Doherty requires much more complicated interpretations of the evidence than theories that simply say Jesus existed, and so his ideas fail the Ockham razor test. With no simpler alternative, and this being an un-extraordinary claim, I don’t know why someone would spend a lot of time researching Christian origins from the perspective of a mythic founder and that is confirmed by the lack of academic scholars who do. It assures me of the competence of that community that at least they aren’t promoting this.

        • Michael Wilson

          What would “prove” Paul is historical? what is the criteria? How many sources agreeing prove something? Can a thousand be proof? 100? 50? 10? And shouldn’t we apply the same standered to prove mythicism? 

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

            Michael,

            I will admit that I am not aware of any scholarly attempt to prove Paul’s historical existence. That said, I would assume it would be done in the same manner as any other historical figure. Is Paul mentioned in Roman records? Is Paul mentioned by historians or in Jewish writings? But if in reality, Paul was merely a run of the mill man in the first century who merited no attention from these sources, then all we have about him is what is contained in the Bible. Now if someone was questioning the historicity of Paul’s letters, how could we prove to them that Paul was historical apart from his writings? In other words, it would be extremely helpful in giving credence to Paul’s writings if Paul can be shown to be a real historical figure. And that can not be done by using Paul’s writings to prove his existence, that would be circular.

            Now if scholars have done this with Paul, I am not aware of it. But thankfully, I don’t need to be aware of it either, as I do believe in the historical existence of Paul and Jesus and I do believe that “brother of the Lord” refers to Jesus’ biological brother. All I was saying is if you are going to be a critical historian, you should have determined Paul’s historicity in the same manner that you have determined any other historical figure. Another interesting thing is that apparently most historians, reject the book of Daniel, because of what the books says and not on whether Daniel was historical or not. I guess you just can’t win.

    • Michael Wilson

      Well put Howard, you raise good points. We come from nieve people who did not question the source of tradtional stories. a lot of skepticism has paid off. we have shed a number of fantasys about dragons and suposed ancient kings so it provokes the question, so who else? I think however that the existance of Jesus has been questioned for a long time. While never a popular stance, it has always maintained adherents, but it has simply failed to convert more scholars to its conclusion. It has been examined, that is not to say it should not be examined again, but you can’t say people have just assumed this.

      James how many of your peers would you say have never examined the evidence for Jesus existance? Do you think it would be helpful for every one in a field to do this?It seems if you challanged every thing you knew, you wouldn’t make many new discoveries, you would be too busy reinventing every thing

      –If for some reason Jesus was not the source of Christianity, Neil’s approach would not be hampered by that fact.–

      Yes but it would be hampered if Jesus were also a person. If he says to just not investigate there, the evidence is too subjective; then there is little for him say about the period. But he does seem to like Doherty’s work, who uses the same sources. If he thinks that the sources can be reliable evidence of Christianity being founded on a mythical Jesus, then his ideas on how Christians first developed their ideas are flawed.

       I think their is a bit of gut reaction against mythers and birthers and such. But as has been shown by  people who think Shakespear a fraud and those wanting to claim Obama is an userper, there are good reason to feel a twang of disgust. It makes one less likey to really ask that question again. How many scholars of American History will really try to confirn Obama’s birth certificate? Still, historians have burst a lot of bubbles, I don’t think their is a lot of basis to the argument that there too afraid to concider mythicism. There have been a number of odd theories held by people who have been well respected. Morton Smith, T. Thompson, I think maybe some of the earlier Jesus myth proponets, but I may be wrong. Any how, I just don’t think professors are that shy, but they are aware all the Jesus myth ideas have been examined before.   

       

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

    Neil, I believe what I suggessted is that Doherty’s use of illogical argument was an attempt to cloud the issue for people or poor judgment.

    Michael, I think that everyone who has looked into the subject of the historical Jesus has looked into the question of his existence, because contra what some mythicists say, existence is not something we evaluate in relation to historical figures independently of evidence for their having said or done something. It is only the various denialists who say things like “First show me the evidence for a historical Shakespeare independently of these plays you say he wrote, and then we can discuss whether he wrote those plays.” Historical individuals’ traces in the historical record usually come in the form of mentions of their words or deeds, and when we have only a name, as in Paul’s greetings to some people at the ends of his letters, we feel that we really know nothing of consequence at all.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Neil, I believe what I suggessted is that Doherty’s use of illogical argument was an attempt to cloud the issue for people or poor judgment.

      Another instance where irony totally escapes you, James. Of course that’s what you suggested. That was what was so funny to any neutral or non-believing outsider reading the exchange. It was you utter inability to even imagine the possibility that there could be a different interpretation to what you believe the passage to say that blinded you completely to the logic of the alternative argument. No matter how clearly and simply it was spelled out in step by step detail you simply shut your mind at every step as if to say: “No, it means X”, “No, it means X”, “No, it means X”. It would translate into a good cartoon.

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

    Neil, I believe what I suggessted is that Doherty’s use of illogical argument was an attempt to cloud the issue for people or poor judgment.

    Michael, I think that everyone who has looked into the subject of the historical Jesus has looked into the question of his existence, because contra what some mythicists say, existence is not something we evaluate in relation to historical figures independently of evidence for their having said or done something. It is only the various denialists who say things like “First show me the evidence for a historical Shakespeare independently of these plays you say he wrote, and then we can discuss whether he wrote those plays.” Historical individuals’ traces in the historical record usually come in the form of mentions of their words or deeds, and when we have only a name, as in Paul’s greetings to some people at the ends of his letters, we feel that we really know nothing of consequence at all.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Neil, I believe what I suggessted is that Doherty’s use of illogical argument was an attempt to cloud the issue for people or poor judgment.

      Another instance where irony totally escapes you, James. Of course that’s what you suggested. That was what was so funny to any neutral or non-believing outsider reading the exchange. It was your utter inability to even imagine the possibility that there could be a different interpretation to what you believe the passage to say that blinded you completely to the logic of the alternative argument. No matter how clearly and simply it was spelled out in step by step detail you simply shut your mind at every step as if to say: “No, it means X”, “No, it means X”, “No, it means X”. It would translate into a good cartoon.

      But I do commend you for your courage and honesty for going on public record that following or constructing an argument according to rules of formal logic does escape you.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    “Observer” said: “Robert  – You nailed the problem with your amazon argument, those comments are from the ” unwashed” masses. The fact that people with no background in classical history find Earl’s arguments to be compelling simply shows that they people with no or little background in classical or being spoon feed views they pretty much wanted to believe.”

    Lets pick this apart.  “Nailing a problem” is generally seen as providing a definitive point.  But Observer’s assertion – that Amazon readers are generally stupid idiots for saying ten to one that McGrath’s review is not helpful – hardly nails anything.  Rather it is just empty Christian rhetoric, more from the ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’ evidence-free zone of evangelical bluster.  

    Who is being “spoon fed” here?  It is Christians who see a historical Lord and Savior as central to their institutional and personal identity, who have been fed this myth with their mother’s milk, and who get immediately prickly when anyone asks for evidence for their belief.  

    Jesus traditionally was believed to have done numerous things that are impossible and therefore clearly are invented lies (virgin birth, rose from dead, walked on water, etc).  He also was believed to have been famed far and wide, even though there is no mention of his personal circumstances anywhere until nearly a century after he died, in a place and time that is one of the best recorded in the ancient world.  

    So we have a fantasy figure performing miracles, whose supposed life is recorded only by late hearsay and invention.  And yet, this obscure carpenter from a backwater province, even more miraculously is meant to have suddenly become the personal object of divine worship for all the churches whom Paul wrote to, by mechanisms so obvious and well known (although completely unattested) that Paul, or anyone else in his day and age, had no need to mention any of them.  Oh, that’s it, all these early churches resulted from the Great Commission, where Jesus sent out the disciples after he came back from the dead.  Yeah right.

    You have to “want to believe” all this Christian invention pretty hard not to see it as a crock.  Doherty presents a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, the invention of the historical Jesus.  Christians should engage in serious dialogue about this problem, not stick their tongues out and pretend it will all go away like a bad dream.

    Robert Tulip

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_64NEHWHSAJMVRF3BXHUQUWBPCY Robert

    “Observer” said: “Robert  – You nailed the problem with your amazon argument, those comments are from the ” unwashed” masses. The fact that people with no background in classical history find Earl’s arguments to be compelling simply shows that they people with no or little background in classical or being spoon feed views they pretty much wanted to believe.”

    Lets pick this apart.  “Nailing a problem” is generally seen as providing a definitive point.  But Observer’s assertion – that Amazon readers are generally stupid idiots for saying ten to one that McGrath’s review is not helpful – hardly nails anything.  Rather it is just empty Christian rhetoric, more from the ‘washed in the blood of the lamb’ evidence-free zone of evangelical bluster.  

    Who is being “spoon fed” here?  It is Christians who see a historical Lord and Savior as central to their institutional and personal identity, who have been fed this myth with their mother’s milk, and who get immediately prickly when anyone asks for evidence for their belief.  

    Jesus traditionally was believed to have done numerous things that are impossible and therefore clearly are invented lies (virgin birth, rose from dead, walked on water, etc).  He also was believed to have been famed far and wide, even though there is no mention of his personal circumstances anywhere until nearly a century after he died, in a place and time that is one of the best recorded in the ancient world.  

    So we have a fantasy figure performing miracles, whose supposed life is recorded only by late hearsay and invention.  And yet, this obscure carpenter from a backwater province, even more miraculously is meant to have suddenly become the personal object of divine worship for all the churches whom Paul wrote to, by mechanisms so obvious and well known (although completely unattested) that Paul, or anyone else in his day and age, had no need to mention any of them.  Oh, that’s it, all these early churches resulted from the Great Commission, where Jesus sent out the disciples after he came back from the dead.  Yeah right.

    You have to “want to believe” all this Christian invention pretty hard not to see it as a crock.  Doherty presents a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, the invention of the historical Jesus.  Christians should engage in serious dialogue about this problem, not stick their tongues out and pretend it will all go away like a bad dream.

    Robert Tulip

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

    And somehow all the atheists, agnostics, Jews and others in the realm of academic historical study are happy to go along with what you claim is simply an expression of faith? What makes that seem plausible to you?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      And somehow all the atheists, agnostics, Jews and others in the realm of
      academic historical study are happy to go along with what you claim is
      simply an expression of faith? What makes that seem plausible to you?

      That’s easy. It was once a matter of faith — Church doctrine —  that the earth did not move and so was the centre of the moving universe. I can quite imagine many closet atheists and agnostics and Jews other others among the learned of that day happly to go along with that faith claim.

      That’s why I myself have always seen Jesus as a cultural icon — he has a place in western society that extends beyond the churched.

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

    And somehow all the atheists, agnostics, Jews and others in the realm of academic historical study are happy to go along with what you claim is simply an expression of faith? What makes that seem plausible to you?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      And somehow all the atheists, agnostics, Jews and others in the realm of
      academic historical study are happy to go along with what you claim is
      simply an expression of faith? What makes that seem plausible to you?

      That’s easy. It was once a matter of faith — Church doctrine —  that the earth did not move and so was the centre of the moving universe. I can quite imagine many closet atheists and agnostics and Jews other others among the learned of that day happly to go along with that faith claim.

      That’s why I myself have always seen Jesus as a cultural icon — he has a place in western society that extends beyond the churched.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, the invention of the historical Jesus.

    sounds familliar…

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, 9/11.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, Jesus had no heir.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, capitalism.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, Zionism.

    Conspiricy types love the feeling that their revolutionizing the world from their basements. Their egos desperately need to be convinced they aren’t like everybody else.

  • Michael Wilson

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, the invention of the historical Jesus.

    sounds familliar…

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, 9/11.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, Jesus had no heir.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, capitalism.

    a remorseless and rigorous demolition of the Big Lie at the center of western civilization, Zionism.

    Conspiricy types love the feeling that their revolutionizing the world from their basements. Their egos desperately need to be convinced they aren’t like everybody else.

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

    And yet somehow they are willing to challenge every other element of traditional Christian dogma except his existence? How very peculiar.

    What would it take to persuade you that the historians and scholars who are persuaded that Jesus existed actually consider that conclusion to be one based on a critical examination of the evidence, and not blind acceptance of a traditional component of Christian faith?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      What is the peculiarity? Do you seriously suggest that non-Christians or Christians of various stripes or simply different personalities are not interested in refashioning a cultural icon more in liking with their own image or ideals? That is the most natural thing in the world when it comes to cultural icons.

      As for you second question, you are once again (yawn!) setting up a false dichotomy. No-one has said — in fact my post was inferring the exact opposite to your claim — that non-Christian historians are “blindly accepting a traditional component of Christian faith”. Jesus is a cultural figure — non-religious people in our culture learn about him too, and he has a place in the world that shapes their identity, too.

      Have you ever heard of any belief being assumed by society and its intellectuals long before it is seriously challenged?

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

    And yet somehow they are willing to challenge every other element of traditional Christian dogma except his existence? How very peculiar.

    What would it take to persuade you that the historians and scholars who are persuaded that Jesus existed actually consider that conclusion to be one based on a critical examination of the evidence, and not blind acceptance of a traditional component of Christian faith?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      What is the peculiarity? Do you seriously suggest that non-Christians or Christians of various stripes or simply different personalities are not interested in refashioning a cultural icon more in liking with their own image or ideals? That is the most natural thing in the world when it comes to cultural icons.

      As for you second question, you are once again (yawn!) setting up a false dichotomy. No-one has said — in fact my post was inferring the exact opposite to your claim — that non-Christian historians are “blindly accepting a traditional component of Christian faith”. Jesus is a cultural figure — non-religious people in our culture learn about him too, and he has a place in the world that shapes their identity, too.

      Have you ever heard of any belief being assumed by society and its intellectuals long before it is seriously challenged?

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

    Actually, I showed that Doherty’s attempt to treat “brother in” and “brother of” as though they were interchangeable is based neither on evidence of use nor considerations of grammar, and in fact is at odds with both. But of course, mythicists, like creationists, always claim that they were the “winners” of debates and discussions, regardless where logic or evidence actually point.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Assertion of the contrary is not engaging in argument.

      I would like to see you try to return there and actually pull Doherty’s argument apart — not merely say it is “unpersuasive” or “clouding” the issue.

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

    Actually, I showed that Doherty’s attempt to treat “brother in” and “brother of” as though they were interchangeable is based neither on evidence of use nor considerations of grammar, and in fact is at odds with both. But of course, mythicists, like creationists, always claim that they were the “winners” of debates and discussions, regardless where logic or evidence actually point.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Assertion of the contrary is not engaging in argument.

      I would like to see you try to return there and actually pull Doherty’s argument apart — not merely say it is “unpersuasive” or “clouding” the issue.

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

    Indeed! 

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So are you going to show me where I have failed to address your arguments here or failed to rebut them or are you just going to ignore my responses and later claim that “mythicists had no answer” for you and you said all that needs to be said here?

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

    Indeed! 

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So are you going to show me where I have failed to address your arguments here or failed to rebut them or are you just going to ignore my responses and later claim that “mythicists had no answer” for you and you said all that needs to be said here?

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

    You could begin by showing that you’ve grasped the force of my arguments about Doherty’s dubious claims about “brothers in” and “brothers of” being interchangeable, perhaps…

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I see, so you have no response to any of MY arguments or responses here.

      As for the fiasco of your humorous exchange with Doherty on the other topic I am preparing a little cartoon type dialogue to illustrate the point and will post it on my blog when complete.

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

    You could begin by showing that you’ve grasped the force of my arguments about Doherty’s dubious claims about “brothers in” and “brothers of” being interchangeable, perhaps…

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I see, so you have no response to any of MY arguments or responses here.

      As for the fiasco of your humorous exchange with Doherty on the other topic I am preparing a little cartoon type dialogue to illustrate the point and will post it on my blog when complete.

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

    I think you are confusing your assertions about my arguments for having offered arguments of your own.

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

    I think you are confusing your assertions about my arguments for having offered arguments of your own.

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

    You discussed point by point things that you either misunderstood me to be saying or things you wished to depict me as having said. But that is not the same thing as actually understanding what I am saying and interacting with it.

    This is my blog, and so I don’t know where you imagine I would “walk away” to…

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You discussed point by point things that you either misunderstood me to
      be saying or things you wished to depict me as having said. But that is
      not the same thing as actually understanding what I am saying and
      interacting with it.

      Can you give me a specific example?

      I had no intention of misrepresenting you in any way. I believed I did understand your argument and disagreed with it and gave my reasons why I found your point flawed. If I am wrong then please give me at least one example where I am wrong.

      Also, do you find any fault in my position in my other post that I also pointed to where I outlined by central argument?

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

    You discussed point by point things that you either misunderstood me to be saying or things you wished to depict me as having said. But that is not the same thing as actually understanding what I am saying and interacting with it.

    This is my blog, and so I don’t know where you imagine I would “walk away” to…

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      You discussed point by point things that you either misunderstood me to
      be saying or things you wished to depict me as having said. But that is
      not the same thing as actually understanding what I am saying and
      interacting with it.

      Can you give me a specific example?

      I had no intention of misrepresenting you in any way. I believed I did understand your argument and disagreed with it and gave my reasons why I found your point flawed. If I am wrong then please give me at least one example where I am wrong.

      Also, do you find any fault in my position in my other post that I also pointed to where I outlined by central argument?

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

    What’s wrong with the clarification I already offered?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I have not seen any reply to the comment in which I responded point by point to you. Can you link to the “clarification” you mean?

      Why can’t you point to a specific example where I misunderstood or failed to offer a reasoned engagement with your argument?

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

    What’s wrong with the clarification I already offered?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I have not seen any reply to the comment in which I responded point by point to you. Can you link to the “clarification” you mean?

      Why can’t you point to a specific example where I misunderstood or failed to offer a reasoned engagement with your argument?

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

    Because no matter how many times I do so, you come back later asserting things such as that I objected to Doherty’s use of logical argument. Because no matter how many times I clarify things, offer links to those clarifications, or address a topic in detail, I am still accused by you of rejecting mythicism because my mind is not open enough.

    If this is to be a conversation, then you need to actually read and comprehend what people write, and not merely ask how you can use what they wrote to serve your agenda.

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

    Because no matter how many times I do so, you come back later asserting things such as that I objected to Doherty’s use of logical argument. Because no matter how many times I clarify things, offer links to those clarifications, or address a topic in detail, I am still accused by you of rejecting mythicism because my mind is not open enough.

    If this is to be a conversation, then you need to actually read and comprehend what people write, and not merely ask how you can use what they wrote to serve your agenda.

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

    I may perhaps be permitted to add that I found your comment about Shakespeare amusing. You may need to do a better job of keeping up with the latest movies…

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So is that it? Is that your pointing out one example where I failed to grasp or engage with your point?

      We are engaging in a debate about historicity of individuals and there is ample concrete evidence for the existence of Shakespeare so I discarded this one example of yours as irrelevant to the discussion about historicity.

      I pointed out that your Shakespeare example is not analagous to a discussion about historicity of persons.

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

    I may perhaps be permitted to add that I found your comment about Shakespeare amusing. You may need to do a better job of keeping up with the latest movies…

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So is that it? Is that your pointing out one example where I failed to grasp or engage with your point?

      We are engaging in a debate about historicity of individuals and there is ample concrete evidence for the existence of Shakespeare so I discarded this one example of yours as irrelevant to the discussion about historicity.

      I pointed out that your Shakespeare example is not analagous to a discussion about historicity of persons.

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

    I would never claim that your summary of your own point of view is flawed.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Ah, you got me on that one! 😉  But you will no doubt point out to me where my point of view itself (even in summary form) is flawed, yes?

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

    I would never claim that your summary of your own point of view is flawed.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Ah, you got me on that one! 😉  But you will no doubt point out to me where my point of view itself (even in summary form) is flawed, yes?

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

    Obviously that wasn’t a topic I brought up in the comment which responded to the earlier one that you linked to. I brought it up now because it is so timely. How is Shakespeare-mythicism different than Jesus-mythicism other than that you are interested in one of them but not the other, and so have the good sense to see through the crazy of one but not the other?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Are you serious? There is no such thing as Shakespeare mythicism as far as I know. If we had the sorts of evidence for the existence of Jesus as we have for Shakespeare we would have no Christ myth discussion at all.

      You mentioned 3 names in that particular point and I responded to each one. If you want to have a clear-headed discussion with analogies then you need to put up analogies that are, well, analogous. Socrates is, but Shakeseare isn’t — except to show the sorts of evidence that convince us of the historicity of someone.

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        Your attempt to muddy the waters with a false analogy is not restricted to your Shakespeare effort. You made the same gaffe with the Piltdown Man hoax. As I pointed out to you, a hoax is comparable to Morton Smith’s (presumed) forgery of the Secret Gospel of Mark — not with fiction in the Gospels.

        If you are going to use analogies then do try to make them applicable to the discussion.

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

    Obviously that wasn’t a topic I brought up in the comment which responded to the earlier one that you linked to. I brought it up now because it is so timely. How is Shakespeare-mythicism different than Jesus-mythicism other than that you are interested in one of them but not the other, and so have the good sense to see through the crazy of one but not the other?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Are you serious? There is no such thing as Shakespeare mythicism as far as I know. If we had the sorts of evidence for the existence of Jesus as we have for Shakespeare we would have no Christ myth discussion at all.

      You mentioned 3 names in that particular point and I responded to each one. If you want to have a clear-headed discussion with analogies then you need to put up analogies that are, well, analogous. Socrates is, but Shakeseare isn’t — except to show the sorts of evidence that convince us of the historicity of someone.

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        Your attempt to muddy the waters with a false analogy is not restricted to your Shakespeare effort. You made the same gaffe with the Piltdown Man hoax. As I pointed out to you, a hoax is comparable to Morton Smith’s (presumed) forgery of the Secret Gospel of Mark — not with fiction in the Gospels.

        If you are going to use analogies then do try to make them applicable to the discussion.

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

    Seriously, there’s no need to actually watch the movies, but keep up with the news about them, at least.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      James, I know very well you are referring to the authorship dispute and I knew about that dispute long before any movies were made about it. (It sounds like it is news to you.) You are missing my point. I am trying to point out to you that an authorship dispute among people of known and demonstrable historicity is not in the slightest comparable to a question about the historicity of persons!

      Can’t you see that?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So you raise a true analogy (Socrates) and a false analogy (authorial dispute over plays).

      You ignore my response to the true and relevant analogy.

      I show you that your false analogy is irrelevant and you respond with remarks about what you assume to be my ignorance about modern movies.

      Who is the one who is addressing the issues here?

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

    Seriously, there’s no need to actually watch the movies, but keep up with the news about them, at least.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, I know very well you are referring to the authorship dispute and I knew about that dispute long before any movies were made about it. (It sounds like it is news to you.) You are missing my point. I am trying to point out to you that an authorship dispute among people of known and demonstrable historicity is not in the slightest comparable to a question about the historicity of persons!

      Can’t you see that?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So you raise a true analogy (Socrates) and a false analogy (authorial dispute over plays).

      You ignore my response to the true and relevant analogy.

      I show you that your false analogy is irrelevant and you respond with remarks about what you assume to be my ignorance about modern movies.

      Who is the one who is addressing the issues here?

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    So for the fifth time, can you please just give me one example where I
    failed to comprehend what you wrote and where I failed to engage
    with your point with a reasoned argument @ http://www.patheos.com/communi… ?

    Can you also show me where my point of view is flawed : http://www.patheos.com/communi… ?

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    So for the fifth time, can you please just give me one example where I
    failed to comprehend what you wrote and where I failed to engage
    with your point with a reasoned argument @ http://www.patheos.com/communi… ?

    Can you also show me where my point of view is flawed : http://www.patheos.com/communi… ?

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

    I believe that you were the one who brought these examples up. And you seem still not to grasp just how similar the cases of Socrates and Jesus are. And you seem not to have noticed that some self-styled mythicists who flit back and forth between your blog and here would say that a Jesus who didn’t do the things attributed to him in the Gospels is no different than the case of a purely mythical Jesus, and so I don’t see how a Shakespeare who didn’t write any plays is an irrelevant comparison.

    Why is it so hard for you to find my comment that followed immediately after yours? I cannot creat a link to it on this device, but I don’t even understand why you feel it would be necessary for me to so so.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Did you read my comment? I was quoting your comment — in full, paragraph by paragraph — and responding to your points. YOU brought up the 3 analogies — Socrates, John the Baptist and Shakespeare — and I was responding to your point.

      Now you are saying I was not responding to you but introducing something new myself? Yet you complain I don’t respond to you? You are confusing me!

      But let’s try to get somewhere on the Socrates question. You say I “seem still not to grasp just how similar the cases of Socrates and Jesus are”. Can you address what I actually said? In what sense have I failed to grasp the similarity? I linked to my fuller discussions on Socrates from the past. You have never responded to those arguments except once — and that was to say I was arguing that we should believe playwrights more than philosophers. But that is not what my argument was at all, was it.

      Can you respond to my actual argument? You sometimes say you have responded to or addressed my arguments when I can never find where you have done that.

      You then take me to task for something I was supposed to notice blog readers doing. Sorry, not interested. What has this to do with your addressing my argument? What has this to do with the fact that I have addressed yours and your failure to respond in kind?

      And now you chastise me for my failure to find a comment of yours? Can we please address the arguments instead of this silly business?

      The comment I have been linking to so often and speaking of is http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/14/doherty-mythicism/#comment-352468358 and I can see no comment of yours immediately following this. Can you have the courtesy to repeat this clarification?

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

    I believe that you were the one who brought these examples up. And you seem still not to grasp just how similar the cases of Socrates and Jesus are. And you seem not to have noticed that some self-styled mythicists who flit back and forth between your blog and here would say that a Jesus who didn’t do the things attributed to him in the Gospels is no different than the case of a purely mythical Jesus, and so I don’t see how a Shakespeare who didn’t write any plays is an irrelevant comparison.

    Why is it so hard for you to find my comment that followed immediately after yours? I cannot creat a link to it on this device, but I don’t even understand why you feel it would be necessary for me to so so.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Did you read my comment? I was quoting your comment — in full, paragraph by paragraph — and responding to your points. YOU brought up the 3 analogies — Socrates, John the Baptist and Shakespeare — and I was responding to your point.

      Now you are saying I was not responding to you but introducing something new myself? Yet you complain I don’t respond to you? You are confusing me!

      But let’s try to get somewhere on the Socrates question. You say I “seem still not to grasp just how similar the cases of Socrates and Jesus are”. Can you address what I actually said? In what sense have I failed to grasp the similarity? I linked to my fuller discussions on Socrates from the past. You have never responded to those arguments except once — and that was to say I was arguing that we should believe playwrights more than philosophers. But that is not what my argument was at all, was it.

      Can you respond to my actual argument? You sometimes say you have responded to or addressed my arguments when I can never find where you have done that.

      You then take me to task for something I was supposed to notice blog readers doing. Sorry, not interested. What has this to do with your addressing my argument? What has this to do with the fact that I have addressed yours and your failure to respond in kind?

      And now you chastise me for my failure to find a comment of yours? Can we please address the arguments instead of this silly business?

      The comment I have been linking to so often and speaking of is http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/14/doherty-mythicism/#comment-352468358 and I can see no comment of yours immediately following this. Can you have the courtesy to repeat this clarification?

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

    OK, it is useful to know that if in the future someone else comments after you before I get to respond, it will not be worth responding at all, since you will be incapable of finding my response.

    As for what you have written previously about Socrates, you seem to still be under the illusion that the mere fact that you have posted something about the subjects means that you have adequately addressed the issue. I could reread with bemusement once again your claim that the mere fact that two different genres mention Socrates – one of them being a play – that somehow vouchsafes his historicity more effectively than the combined evidence of Paul, the Gospels, and Josephus, and the fact that no one in antiquity seems to have at any point doubted Jesus’ historicity. But of course, suddenly you will raise objections to these sources, never acknowledging that you could do the same with those that mention Socrates, and draw the very same conclusions.

    Are you really so deluded that you cannot see this?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I still don’t know what your “clarification” to my comment was. I read all your comments subsequent to mine but recognized nothing by way of clarification in relation to my comment.

      Okay, thanks for responding to the Socrates point. Can I just point out that I fail to appreciate your opening ad hominem. Why do you begin with a mind-reading statement? Does this really advance your argument or undermine mine?

      Secondly, you speak of my “claim that the mere fact that two different genres mention Socrates — one of them being a play”. I have never based my argument on different genres. You just made that up. You didn’t get it from anything I wrote.

      So can you please address my argument?

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

    OK, it is useful to know that if in the future someone else comments after you before I get to respond, it will not be worth responding at all, since you will be incapable of finding my response.

    As for what you have written previously about Socrates, you seem to still be under the illusion that the mere fact that you have posted something about the subjects means that you have adequately addressed the issue. I could reread with bemusement once again your claim that the mere fact that two different genres mention Socrates – one of them being a play – that somehow vouchsafes his historicity more effectively than the combined evidence of Paul, the Gospels, and Josephus, and the fact that no one in antiquity seems to have at any point doubted Jesus’ historicity. But of course, suddenly you will raise objections to these sources, never acknowledging that you could do the same with those that mention Socrates, and draw the very same conclusions.

    Are you really so deluded that you cannot see this?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I still don’t know what your “clarification” to my comment was. I read all your comments subsequent to mine but recognized nothing by way of clarification in relation to my comment.

      Okay, thanks for responding to the Socrates point. Can I just point out that I fail to appreciate your opening ad hominem. Why do you begin with a mind-reading statement? Does this really advance your argument or undermine mine?

      Secondly, you speak of my “claim that the mere fact that two different genres mention Socrates — one of them being a play”. I have never based my argument on different genres. You just made that up. You didn’t get it from anything I wrote.

      So can you please address my argument?

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

    Perhaps when you say “address your argument” you mean offer lame discussion of the topics you consider important, and easy to respond to, rather than the ones that actual scholars and historians judge to be substantive? Otherwise, I can’t fathom why you keep saying that over and over in the midst of the attempts of others to interact with you.

    I apologize if I misunderstood genre to be more significant to your point in this post than it was: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/was-socrates-a-man-or-a-myth-applying-historical-jesus-criteria-to-socrates/

    But that post illustrates my point well – if you asked even half of the skeptical questions about Socrates that mythicsts typically do about Jesus, you would not be content to conclude that he more likely existed than not.

    And that is the crux of the matter. Mythicsts care so much about having Jesus not exist, that they are not content to draw the natural conclusion that historians agree upon – Jesus’ historicity is not certain but is probable – and press on into absurd twistings of language and forced attempts to make unlikely meanings of texts seem not only possible but probable, all in the attempt to make Jesus and Socrates, or Jesus and John the Baptist, or whoever else one might choose to compare, seem more different cases than they are.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      James, so you continue to think that ad hominem insult is necessary when I persist in trying to get you to respond to my arguments?

      Can I remind you that YOU were the one who introduced Socrates in this thread to support your point, and I responded to YOUR point about Socrates.

      Now you are saying that I am bringing up my own points and avoiding yours!!!!????

      Also, you continue to suggest I was arguing about genre even just a bit when I was not at all. Why can’t you accept that you simply stuffed up 100%.

      You never bothered to read or understand my argument before responding. That is the very thing of which you accuse me. Yet when I ask you for examples of my failure to read or understand you, you do not give me any.

      But still after all of this you have STILL NOT addressed my point about Socrates.

      You were the one who brought up Socrates. I responded, and now you are saying my response is “lame” because it is “easy to respond to” and not one raised by actual scholars?

      Well pray then bring up an argument by an actual scholar.Or deal with my responses to those.

      You then write:

      But that post illustrates my point well – if you asked even half of
      the skeptical questions about Socrates that mythicsts typically do about
      Jesus, you would not be content to conclude that he more likely existed
      than not.

      So again you avoid addressing my argument. You are now changing the subject with some vague meaningless or irrelevant generalization. If it is not a vague or meaningless statement then explain what its relevance is to the specific arguments that you and I acknowledge are significant for assessing historicity.

      You then conclude with another swipe at mythicists in general and avoid addressing the argument.

      Will you now say I have failed to address your point about Socrates and that it still stands?

      I am glad you put the parody tag on this thread.

      James, this is how I think every discussion between us has concluded. You walk away every time with a series of ad hominems and vague generalizations and swipes at how impossible it is to argue with mythicists.

      You have failed even till now to address my answer to your point about Socrates — (you are a scholar, aren’t you, so forgive me if I thought it was a point made by scholars.)

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

    Perhaps when you say “address your argument” you mean offer lame discussion of the topics you consider important, and easy to respond to, rather than the ones that actual scholars and historians judge to be substantive? Otherwise, I can’t fathom why you keep saying that over and over in the midst of the attempts of others to interact with you.

    I apologize if I misunderstood genre to be more significant to your point in this post than it was: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/was-socrates-a-man-or-a-myth-applying-historical-jesus-criteria-to-socrates/

    But that post illustrates my point well – if you asked even half of the skeptical questions about Socrates that mythicsts typically do about Jesus, you would not be content to conclude that he more likely existed than not.

    And that is the crux of the matter. Mythicsts care so much about having Jesus not exist, that they are not content to draw the natural conclusion that historians agree upon – Jesus’ historicity is not certain but is probable – and press on into absurd twistings of language and forced attempts to make unlikely meanings of texts seem not only possible but probable, all in the attempt to make Jesus and Socrates, or Jesus and John the Baptist, or whoever else one might choose to compare, seem more different cases than they are.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, so you continue to think that ad hominem insult is necessary when I persist in trying to get you to respond to my arguments?

      Can I remind you that YOU were the one who introduced Socrates in this thread to support your point, and I responded to YOUR point about Socrates.

      Now you are saying that I am bringing up my own points and avoiding yours!!!!????

      Also, you continue to suggest I was arguing about genre even just a bit when I was not at all. Why can’t you accept that you simply stuffed up 100%.

      You never bothered to read or understand my argument before responding. That is the very thing of which you accuse me. Yet when I ask you for examples of my failure to read or understand you, you do not give me any.

      But still after all of this you have STILL NOT addressed my point about Socrates.

      You were the one who brought up Socrates. I responded, and now you are saying my response is “lame” because it is “easy to respond to” and not one raised by actual scholars?

      Well pray then bring up an argument by an actual scholar.Or deal with my responses to those.

      You then write:

      But that post illustrates my point well – if you asked even half of
      the skeptical questions about Socrates that mythicsts typically do about
      Jesus, you would not be content to conclude that he more likely existed
      than not.

      So again you avoid addressing my argument. You are now changing the subject with some vague meaningless or irrelevant generalization. If it is not a vague or meaningless statement then explain what its relevance is to the specific arguments that you and I acknowledge are significant for assessing historicity.

      You then conclude with another swipe at mythicists in general and avoid addressing the argument.

      Will you now say I have failed to address your point about Socrates and that it still stands?

      I am glad you put the parody tag on this thread.

      James, this is how I think every discussion between us has concluded. You walk away every time with a series of ad hominems and vague generalizations and swipes at how impossible it is to argue with mythicists.

      You have failed even till now to address my answer to your point about Socrates — (you are a scholar, aren’t you, so forgive me if I thought it was a point made by scholars.)

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey
  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey
  • http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/ James F. McGrath

    Neil, the manner in which all our interactions end is indeed being seen once again. But I don’t think you are describing its key features accurately. What happens, time and again, is that you call irrelevant anything that doesn’t allow you to score points for mythicism, no matter how many times key points are addressed you complain that they haven’t been, and even when links are provided you claim that the post or comment to which links were provided do not address your points. You then wait for someone to say something or word something in such a way that it is possible to find an interpretation that allows you to go off on a tangent and criticize them for what you think they meant that you meant, or what you have read in their mind or between the lines, or in some cases what they actually typed in error or had changed by autocorreect, and then you make that the focus in order to distract from the substantive issues.

    I don’t see that such an interaction is worth pursuing. If you ever wish to engage in conversation, it will have to involve you actually reading what people say, paying careful attention, and treating them in the way that you yourself would want to be treated.

    As I said before, this is my blog, and so I am not going anywhere. But I think at this point I will take a break from commenting, not only because it is late, but because you seem to be determined to persuade me that it is pointless and unlikely to turn this into a conversation in which you participate in genuine human-to-human communication, never mind rigorous scholarly treatment of the issues. So perhaps others will choose to chime in. I hope they have more success than I have had thus far.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      I don’t understand why you cannot respond to my simple argument against your point about Socrates.

      You first of all didn’t bother to even read it properly so you failed to even know what it was about (and you accuse me of not reading or understanding your comments!) and when I pointed that out to you you respond with all of this broad sweeping generalized attacks for which you offer no supporting evidence.

      Can I ask a 6th time. Can you respond to my rejoinder to your point about Socrates?

      Why can’t you do that?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So James once again walks away rather than address my point.

      I see, however, that he hopes others will choose to chime in in the hopes that they will have more success than he. I hope so, too.

      What McGrath has failed to do is respond to my rebuttal of his assertion that:

      There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

      I contend that this is false. There is no circularity in the investigation of the historicity of Socrates or Shakespeare. We have multiple independent witnesses to both of these. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we have no independent witnesses and this is admitted by biblical scholars as far back as Albert Schweitzer:

      In
      reality, however, these writers are faced with the enormous problem
      that strictly speaking absolutely nothing can be proved by evidence from
      the past, but can only be shown to be more or less probable. Moreover,
      in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater
      because all the reports about him go back to the one source of
      tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in
      Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls.

      And modern scholars such as Stevan Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr acknowledge the circularity at the heart of historical Jesus studies and I have cited their words at various places including here: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/it-all-depends-where-one-enters-the-circle/

      In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes. As Schweitzer lamented in the above passage, we lack any such independent witnesses for Jesus.

      But not even all scholars are absolutely convinced of the historicity of Socrates. Even a few have voiced at least the possibility that Socrates may not have been historical. But the question is of little interest to them nothing would change if it turned out he was not historical. So we must acknowledge that the evidence for Socrates, while attesting to strong probability, does not give us iron-clad certainty. But the evidence for Jesus is even less.

      Josephus was discounted as a witness by Schweitzer because of the doubts raised over the mentions of Jesus in his works. One also should discount his mentions of Jesus because they are not contemporary but could have derived from what Christians believed at a later time. Schweitzer (nor I) are saying here that Josephus is no evidence at all — but only that his status as a witness is not secure enough to offer certainty or even very strong probability.

      Now why can James McGrath not respond to this argument?

      Why the need for insults or attempts to claim I was talking about genres or something?

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

    Neil, the manner in which all our interactions end is indeed being seen once again. But I don’t think you are describing its key features accurately. What happens, time and again, is that you call irrelevant anything that doesn’t allow you to score points for mythicism, no matter how many times key points are addressed you complain that they haven’t been, and even when links are provided you claim that the post or comment to which links were provided do not address your points. You then wait for someone to say something or word something in such a way that it is possible to find an interpretation that allows you to go off on a tangent and criticize them for what you think they meant that you meant, or what you have read in their mind or between the lines, or in some cases what they actually typed in error or had changed by autocorreect, and then you make that the focus in order to distract from the substantive issues.

    I don’t see that such an interaction is worth pursuing. If you ever wish to engage in conversation, it will have to involve you actually reading what people say, paying careful attention, and treating them in the way that you yourself would want to be treated.

    As I said before, this is my blog, and so I am not going anywhere. But I think at this point I will take a break from commenting, not only because it is late, but because you seem to be determined to persuade me that it is pointless and unlikely to turn this into a conversation in which you participate in genuine human-to-human communication, never mind rigorous scholarly treatment of the issues. So perhaps others will choose to chime in. I hope they have more success than I have had thus far.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I don’t understand why you cannot respond to my simple argument against your point about Socrates.

      You first of all didn’t bother to even read it properly so you failed to even know what it was about (and you accuse me of not reading or understanding your comments!) and when I pointed that out to you you respond with all of this broad sweeping generalized attacks for which you offer no supporting evidence.

      Can I ask a 6th time. Can you respond to my rejoinder to your point about Socrates?

      Why can’t you do that?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So James once again walks away rather than address my point.

      I see, however, that he hopes others will choose to chime in in the hopes that they will have more success than he. I hope so, too.

      What McGrath has failed to do is respond to my rebuttal of his assertion that:

      There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

      I contend that this is false. There is no circularity in the investigation of the historicity of Socrates or Shakespeare. We have multiple independent witnesses to both of these. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we have no independent witnesses and this is admitted by biblical scholars as far back as Albert Schweitzer:

      In
      reality, however, these writers are faced with the enormous problem
      that strictly speaking absolutely nothing can be proved by evidence from
      the past, but can only be shown to be more or less probable. Moreover,
      in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater
      because all the reports about him go back to the one source of
      tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in
      Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls.

      And modern scholars such as Stevan Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr acknowledge the circularity at the heart of historical Jesus studies and I have cited their words at various places including here: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/it-all-depends-where-one-enters-the-circle/

      In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes. As Schweitzer lamented in the above passage, we lack any such independent witnesses for Jesus.

      But not even all scholars are absolutely convinced of the historicity of Socrates. Even a few have voiced at least the possibility that Socrates may not have been historical. But the question is of little interest to them nothing would change if it turned out he was not historical. So we must acknowledge that the evidence for Socrates, while attesting to strong probability, does not give us iron-clad certainty. But the evidence for Jesus is even less.

      Josephus was discounted as a witness by Schweitzer because of the doubts raised over the mentions of Jesus in his works. One also should discount his mentions of Jesus because they are not contemporary but could have derived from what Christians believed at a later time. Schweitzer (nor I) are saying here that Josephus is no evidence at all — but only that his status as a witness is not secure enough to offer certainty or even very strong probability.

      Why the need for insults or attempts to claim I was talking about genres?

      James said that we have no more circularity in the case of Socrates than we do for Jesus.

      I demonstrate that his assertion is false.

      Now why can James McGrath not respond to this argument? Why must he respond with insult?

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    James, I have to apologize to you. I was only reading your responses to me and skipped anything you were saying to others. I just learned that you made this comment in response to Michael:

    It
    is only the various denialists who say things like “First show me the
    evidence for a historical Shakespeare independently of these plays you
    say he wrote, and then we can discuss whether he wrote those plays.”

    Is THAT what you were smoking when you were objecting to my argument about Shakespeare?

    I had no idea, and so I do deeply apologize for assuming that you knew the first thing about the historical Shakespeare or anything at all about the debate of the authorship of his plays.

    I took it for granted that everyone with a reasonable education or knowledge of Shakespeare knew about the material, physical evidence for his historical existence. Historians, literary critics, do NOT rely solely on the plays as evidence for his existence as you say.

    With all due respect, Professor, you don’t know what you are talking about!

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    James, I have to apologize to you. I was only reading your responses to me and skipped anything you were saying to others. I just learned that you made this comment in response to Michael:

    It
    is only the various denialists who say things like “First show me the
    evidence for a historical Shakespeare independently of these plays you
    say he wrote, and then we can discuss whether he wrote those plays.”

    Is THAT what you were smoking when you were objecting to my argument about Shakespeare?

    I had no idea, and so I do deeply apologize for assuming that you knew the first thing about the historical Shakespeare or anything at all about the debate of the authorship of his plays.

    I took it for granted that everyone with a reasonable education or knowledge of Shakespeare knew about the material, physical evidence for his historical existence. Historians, literary critics, do NOT rely solely on the plays as evidence for his existence as you say.

    With all due respect, Professor, you don’t know what you are talking about!

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    James, I have to apologize to you. I was only reading your responses to me and skipped anything you were saying to others. I just learned that you made this comment in response to Michael:

    It
    is only the various denialists who say things like “First show me the
    evidence for a historical Shakespeare independently of these plays you
    say he wrote, and then we can discuss whether he wrote those plays.”

    Is THAT what you were smoking when you were objecting to my argument about Shakespeare?

    I had no idea, and so I do deeply apologize for assuming that you knew the first thing about the historical Shakespeare or anything at all about the debate of the authorship of his plays.

    I took it for granted that everyone with a reasonable education or knowledge of Shakespeare knew about the material, physical evidence for his historical existence. Historians, literary critics, do NOT rely solely on the plays as evidence for his existence as you say.

    With all due respect, Professor, you don’t know what you are talking about!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Neil should keep in touch with more media. The buzz over the film about the Shakespeare is a hoax theory led to a few articles being published which are instructive to this argument, in general ways. I read one that said it was the field of Biblical criticism and Homeric criticism that inspired it. They both use the same sort of ad hoc explanations for difficulties plus reliance on false premises and unfounded assertions. Neil can quibble with the Shakespeare birthers about whether their claim is less founded than he. I would be a hoot to see two people engage in a thoroughly illogical attack on each other’s opinions. If we find that Jesus mythers are more believable than Socrates mythers am not sure if that is a big victory for Neil, and as we’ve said before, if you are willing to conjecture wildly about the nature of the testimonies, there is little reason to believe any of the consensus positions, so by using Neil’s methods, I’m not sure there is more evidence for Socrates than Jesus.
     
    “Josephus was discounted as a witness by Schweitzer because of the doubts raised over the mentions of Jesus in his works. One also should discount his mentions of Jesus because they are not contemporary but could have derived from what Christians believed at a later time. Schweitzer (nor I) are saying here that Josephus is no evidence at all — but only that his status as a witness is not secure enough to offer certainty or even very strong probability”
    James what do you make of Switzer? He is a rather old name in this, is he still held in as high a regard he once was? I don’t recall him being a Christ myth proponent, if Neil’s quote is correct, did Sweitzer explain how concluding Jesus existed is compatible with the statement?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      You and James may get your education from movies but I was familiar with the debate over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays from my studies of Shakespeare at university. I assumed a basic level of literacy about this topic beyond a modern popular movie.

      My apologies to you all.

      As for Sweitzer (sic) — if you took a blink of notice you would know I have pointed out he is not a mythicist at all. The very opposite. Now why on earth would I be quoting him? You will just have to go off and wonder how I could be such an idiot, won’t you.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Mike and James tell me I should keep up with the latest news about the movies. James also speaks about “rigorous scholarly treatment of the issues”.

      I wonder if the esteemed Clarence Goodwin Chair knows the difference.

  • Michael Wilson

    Neil should keep in touch with more media. The buzz over the film about the Shakespeare is a hoax theory led to a few articles being published which are instructive to this argument, in general ways. I read one that said it was the field of Biblical criticism and Homeric criticism that inspired it. They both use the same sort of ad hoc explanations for difficulties plus reliance on false premises and unfounded assertions. Neil can quibble with the Shakespeare birthers about whether their claim is less founded than he. I would be a hoot to see two people engage in a thoroughly illogical attack on each other’s opinions. If we find that Jesus mythers are more believable than Socrates mythers am not sure if that is a big victory for Neil, and as we’ve said before, if you are willing to conjecture wildly about the nature of the testimonies, there is little reason to believe any of the consensus positions, so by using Neil’s methods, I’m not sure there is more evidence for Socrates than Jesus.
     
    “Josephus was discounted as a witness by Schweitzer because of the doubts raised over the mentions of Jesus in his works. One also should discount his mentions of Jesus because they are not contemporary but could have derived from what Christians believed at a later time. Schweitzer (nor I) are saying here that Josephus is no evidence at all — but only that his status as a witness is not secure enough to offer certainty or even very strong probability”
    James what do you make of Switzer? He is a rather old name in this, is he still held in as high a regard he once was? I don’t recall him being a Christ myth proponent, if Neil’s quote is correct, did Sweitzer explain how concluding Jesus existed is compatible with the statement?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      You and James may get your education from movies but I was familiar with the debate over the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays from my studies of Shakespeare at university. I assumed a basic level of literacy about this topic beyond a modern popular movie.

      My apologies to you all.

      As for Switzer (sic) — if you took a blink of notice you would know I have pointed out he is not a mythicist at all. The very opposite. Now why on earth would I be quoting him? You will just have to go off and wonder how I could be such an idiot, won’t you.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Mike and James tell me I should keep up with the latest news about the movies. James also speaks about “rigorous scholarly treatment of the issues”.

      I wonder if the esteemed Clarence Goodwin Chair knows the difference.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    Well I am still gobsmacked over the realization that I was talking to a professor who was trying to compare the Christ myth arguments to something he called “Shakespeare mythicism”. Since he appeals to the need for rigorous scholarly standards in discussions I assumed he knew what he was talking about. I am deeply embarrassed for my gaffe in a public forum for making such an assumption and do again offer my most respectful apologies to the Professor.

    As a little token to try to make amends I offer here a link to a Shakespeare site where one can see the tangible, abundant, black and white evidence for the historical existence of Shakespeare: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/

    Just click on any aspect of biography you would like to know about and you will be taken to a page explaining the tangible historical evidence for our knowledge of Shakespeare.

    I hope with this small contribution I can help offer a means for those with an interest in rigorous scholarly standards of discussion to expand their knowledge beyond what they learn in some sci fi or other movie.

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    Well I am still gobsmacked over the realization that I was talking to a professor who was trying to compare the Christ myth arguments to something he called “Shakespeare mythicism”. Since he appeals to the need for rigorous scholarly standards in discussions I assumed he knew what he was talking about. I am deeply embarrassed for my gaffe in a public forum for making such an assumption and do again offer my most respectful apologies to the Professor.

    As a little token to try to make amends I offer here a link to a Shakespeare site where one can see the tangible, abundant, black and white evidence for the historical existence of Shakespeare: http://www.shakespeare-online.com/biography/

    Just click on any aspect of biography you would like to know about and you will be taken to a page explaining the tangible historical evidence for our knowledge of Shakespeare.

    I hope with this small contribution I can help offer a means for those with an interest in rigorous scholarly standards of discussion to expand their knowledge beyond what they learn in some sci fi or other movie.

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

    Neil, you seem not to grasp that the big differences between Shakespeare mythicism and Jesus mythicism is that they have featured in different movies, and you like one but consider the other nonsense. But clearly there are other people out there who hold the reverse stance. I appreciate very much your willingness to illustrate that you don’t understand that neither viewpoint is taken seriously by scholars, and that mythicists do not grasp what their views look like to those familiar with the fields across which they ride roughshod.

    The point of mentioning it, as everyone but you seems to have grasped, was precisely that both are equally ridiculous, not to suggest that mythicism is something “just as good” – although one obviously could say that as a sort of backhanded “compliment.”

    I also appreciate your willingness to descend once again into the sorts of insults that illustrate not only your incomprehension of the discussion and points being made, but also the way you treat other people. It doesn’t make mythicism look any more appealing.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      James, do you have any idea what you are talking about?

      What, exactly, do I fail to comprehend. Tell me.

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

    Neil, you seem not to grasp that the big differences between Shakespeare mythicism and Jesus mythicism is that they have featured in different movies, and you like one but consider the other nonsense. But clearly there are other people out there who hold the reverse stance. I appreciate very much your willingness to illustrate that you don’t understand that neither viewpoint is taken seriously by scholars, and that mythicists do not grasp what their views look like to those familiar with the fields across which they ride roughshod.

    The point of mentioning it, as everyone but you seems to have grasped, was precisely that both are equally ridiculous, not to suggest that mythicism is something “just as good” – although one obviously could say that as a sort of backhanded “compliment.”

    I also appreciate your willingness to descend once again into the sorts of insults that illustrate not only your incomprehension of the discussion and points being made, but also the way you treat other people. It doesn’t make mythicism look any more appealing.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, do you have any idea what you are talking about?

      What, exactly, do I fail to comprehend. Tell me.

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

    Since Neil Godfrey seems to wish to dissociate himself from those mythicists whose views are comparable to “Shakespeare Mythicism” – those who regularly say that there could have been several people combined into the Jesus of early Christianity, or that if Jesus didn’t do or cannot be confirmed to have done the majority of things that he is said to have done in early sources, then he is no different than a mythical Jesus – much like a Shakespeare who was not the author of plays, perhaps those with such views would care to join in this conversation?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      What on earth are you talking about? What on earth do you mean by “Shakespeare Mythicism”? Are you really saying that the only evidence for Shakespeare is comparable to the evidence for Jesus Christ? Seriously?

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

    Since Neil Godfrey seems to wish to dissociate himself from those mythicists whose views are comparable to “Shakespeare Mythicism” – those who regularly say that there could have been several people combined into the Jesus of early Christianity, or that if Jesus didn’t do or cannot be confirmed to have done the majority of things that he is said to have done in early sources, then he is no different than a mythical Jesus – much like a Shakespeare who was not the author of plays, perhaps those with such views would care to join in this conversation?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      What on earth are you talking about? What on earth do you mean by “Shakespeare Mythicism”? Are you really saying that the only evidence for Shakespeare is comparable to the evidence for Jesus Christ? Seriously?

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

    What do you mean by “Jesus mythicism”?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No? (I really feel embarrassed to ask such a question even of you! I know this is supposed to be parody, but. . . )

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        You do realize, you do, don’t you . . . . Please tell me this is all a silly dream — You do realize, don’t you, that the debate about Shakespearean authorship has nothing whatever to do with any sort of “mythicism” of any kind?

        Did you just make up the term “Shakespeare mythicism” yourself? Where can I find this term outside your own blog?

        Did you get a notice about the film from Mike Wilson and jump on board from the mere possibility of “mythicism” in there somewhere without having a clue about the long history of the debate over the authorship of the plays or even any idea of the concrete evidence cited to many high school students about the historical Shakespeare?

        Where is your rigorous scholarly standard in any of this? Where is your basic Shakespeare literacy? Where are your logical faculties?

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

    What do you mean by “Jesus mythicism”?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No? (I really feel embarrassed to ask such a question even of you! I know this is supposed to be parody, but. . . )

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        You do realize, you do, don’t you . . . . Please tell me this is all a silly dream — You do realize, don’t you, that the debate about Shakespearean authorship has nothing whatever to do with any sort of “mythicism” of any kind?

        Did you just make up the term “Shakespeare mythicism” yourself? Where can I find this term outside your own blog?

        Did you get a notice about the film from Mike Wilson and jump on board from the mere possibility of “mythicism” in there somewhere without having a clue about the long history of the debate over the authorship of the plays or even any idea of the concrete evidence cited to many high school students about the historical Shakespeare?

        Where is your rigorous scholarly standard in any of this? Where is your basic Shakespeare literacy? Where are your logical faculties?

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

    OK, Neil, let’s start with the basics. When I compare mythicism to creationism or to “Shakespeare mythicism” it is an analogy. I am not accusing you of saying that Jesus didn’t write plays or of arguing that Jesus is not the explanation for the present form that life on this planet takes.

    Now that that is clear (I hope), let’s try a more direct approach.

    Do you understand that mythicism is not currently participating in mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it is a fringe phenomenon limited mostly to a few blogs and discussion boards on the internet and the occasional self-published book?

    Do you understand that in every field, from physics to biology to the study of Shakespeare, there are also people outside the academy with fringe views, web sites, and self-published works?

    Do you understand and acknowledge that if a historian happens across your blog they will not be impressed with what they find there, and will not find your approach and your claims representative of what they do as historians?

    Can you show that you understand and acknowledge these points, stated prosaically, since you seem not to be willing or able to grasp them when made by means of analogy?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      James James James. Why do you so scarcely ever give me straight answers to any of my questions?

      Please help me understand you.

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No?

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

      Finally, what on earth do you mean by “Shakespearean mythicism”? Is that a term you just made up?

      Have you taken your entire knowledge of the history of the authorship question re the Bard from a couple of movie reviews? Did the tone of those reviews appeal to your unhealthy obsession with mythicism and is that what triggered your absolutely bizarre attempt to concoct some notion of “Shakespearean mythicism”?

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

    OK, Neil, let’s start with the basics. When I compare mythicism to creationism or to “Shakespeare mythicism” it is an analogy. I am not accusing you of saying that Jesus didn’t write plays or of arguing that Jesus is not the explanation for the present form that life on this planet takes.

    Now that that is clear (I hope), let’s try a more direct approach.

    Do you understand that mythicism is not currently participating in mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it is a fringe phenomenon limited mostly to a few blogs and discussion boards on the internet and the occasional self-published book?

    Do you understand that in every field, from physics to biology to the study of Shakespeare, there are also people outside the academy with fringe views, web sites, and self-published works?

    Do you understand and acknowledge that if a historian happens across your blog they will not be impressed with what they find there, and will not find your approach and your claims representative of what they do as historians?

    Can you show that you understand and acknowledge these points, stated prosaically, since you seem not to be willing or able to grasp them when made by means of analogy?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James James James. Why do you so scarcely ever give me straight answers to any of my questions?

      Please help me understand you.

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No?

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

      Finally, what on earth do you mean by “Shakespearean mythicism”? Is that a term you just made up?

      Have you taken your entire knowledge of the history of the authorship question re the Bard from a couple of movie reviews? Did the tone of those reviews appeal to your unhealthy obsession with mythicism and is that what triggered your absolutely bizarre attempt to concoct some notion of “Shakespearean mythicism”?

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

    Can you please answer my questions before we move on? I think that my first paragraph is clear in explaining that I was making an analogy. 

    Your response to my questions, however, is not. Please answer them, and then we can move on to other subjects.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      No James it wasn’t. I have asked my questions repeatedly now and all of a sudden you ask me to answer yours first?

      I do not understand your analogy re Shakespearean mythicism because I have no idea what that is. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I never heard of it before till you coined the expression. It sounds like a symptom of something Carrier said about an unhealty obsession.

      These are the questions I have been asking:

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No?

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

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

    Can you please answer my questions before we move on? I think that my first paragraph is clear in explaining that I was making an analogy. 

    Your response to my questions, however, is not. Please answer them, and then we can move on to other subjects.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      No James it wasn’t. I have asked my questions repeatedly now and all of a sudden you ask me to answer yours first?

      I do not understand your analogy re Shakespearean mythicism because I have no idea what that is. It makes absolutely no sense to me. I never heard of it before till you coined the expression. It sounds like a symptom of something Carrier said about an unhealty obsession.

      These are the questions I have been asking:

      Are you seriously saying that a debate about Shakespearean authorship is comparable to discussions about how we determine the historicity of persons? Yes or No?

      Or are you seriously saying (as you wrote to Michael) there is no evidence for Shakespeare apart from his plays?

      Please give me a straight answer. Yes or No. To both questions.

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

    Your questions are an attempt to distract from the point of the analogy by discussing the analogue itself. I’ve restated the point of the analogy in the form of questions, and so we can set aside Shakespeare (who I never intended to be a precise analogue to Jesus and more than I intended evolution to be) and keep the focus on mythicism where it belongs.

    Do you understand the point of my analogy now that I have restated it prosaically in the form of questions? And if so, what is your answer to those questions?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      No analogy is ever precise in all its details I suspect, but if we are going to have a logical and coherent discussion then if you bring in an analogy it needs at least to be analogous at some level.

      I don’t understand your point of the analogy in the form of questions. So can you explain to me, yes or know, if you believe that the authorship question re Shakespeare’s plays is comparable in ANY way to a question about how we determine the historicity of a person? Is it comparable in ANY way? Yes or no.

      Secondly, do you believe that the question of Shakespeare’s existence depends entirely upon the evidence of his plays as you indicated to Michael? Yes or no.

      Or if you do not wish to answer these questions and want to move on then will you withdraw your “Shakespeare mythicism” fabrication as a bad mistake?

      Can we return to a genuinely comparable person, Socrates?

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        My questions are based on arguments you have made so you have considered them germane to the question. Yet when I challenge them you suddenly tell me I am trying to distract from the question?

        Where is the consistency in this?

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

    Your questions are an attempt to distract from the point of the analogy by discussing the analogue itself. I’ve restated the point of the analogy in the form of questions, and so we can set aside Shakespeare (who I never intended to be a precise analogue to Jesus and more than I intended evolution to be) and keep the focus on mythicism where it belongs.

    Do you understand the point of my analogy now that I have restated it prosaically in the form of questions? And if so, what is your answer to those questions?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      No analogy is ever precise in all its details I suspect, but if we are going to have a logical and coherent discussion then if you bring in an analogy it needs at least to be analogous at some level.

      I don’t understand your point of the analogy in the form of questions. So can you explain to me, yes or know, if you believe that the authorship question re Shakespeare’s plays is comparable in ANY way to a question about how we determine the historicity of a person? Is it comparable in ANY way? Yes or no.

      Secondly, do you believe that the question of Shakespeare’s existence depends entirely upon the evidence of his plays as you indicated to Michael? Yes or no.

      Or if you do not wish to answer these questions and want to move on then will you withdraw your “Shakespeare mythicism” fabrication as a bad mistake?

      Can we return to a genuinely comparable person, Socrates?

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        My questions are based on arguments you have made so you have considered them germane to the question. Yet when I challenge them you suddenly tell me I am trying to distract from the question?

        Where is the consistency in this?

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

    I will happily withdraw “Shakespeare mythicism” – by which I mean any of the numerous variations on the view that the true author of the plays attributed to him was someone else – as perhaps a poor analogy to Jesus mythicism, if you will then answer the questions I asked.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Do you understand that mythicism is not currently participating in mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it is a fringe phenomenon limited mostly to a few blogs and discussion boards on the internet and the occasional self-published book?

      I understand that mythicism is not currently participating openly and publicly in the mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it has a long history since the Enlightenment including some prominent intellectuals and the mainstream hostility to it has been on the whole shallow and poorly argued, defensive and acrimonious. Today the internet has enabled a widespread publication of the concept of mythicism at various levels of scholarly value, as is the case with most ideas spread through the internet. This democratization of information is seen by SOME biblical scholars as a threat to mainstream scholarship that has till now been able to exercise control over ideas filtered to the public from their professional publications unavailable to most readers — not just with respect to mythicism but to other biblical studies concepts as well.

      Do you understand that in every field, from physics to biology to the study of Shakespeare, there are also people outside the academy with fringe views, web sites, and self-published works?

      Yes. So? There are ALSO a lot of people outside the academy with strong personal interests in various topics who also offer stimulating and informed ideas.

      Do you understand and acknowledge that if a historian happens across your blog they will not be impressed with what they find there, and will not find your approach and your claims representative of what they do as historians?

      Well, no. I say that because a number of professional scholars have contacted me and expressed the very opposite. I have sometimes discussed their own books on my blog — that’s when they sometimes contact me. Some are nonhistorians. Some are historians. Most are not even mythicists but some have expressed sympathy or interest in the mythicist concept.

      Further, what I have said about historical methods is nothing bizarre or unusual at all. It  is copied straight from what historians themselves have written, and from some biblical scholars, too.

      Sure there will be some who disagree and I have had debates on my blog and in some cases I have realized in the past I may have overstated some aspects but I have over time worked more closely to a more balanced explanation as a result of those discussions.

      I also concede — and have written about this too — that some who write history don’t even think about some of these things because they are so embedded in the culture and taken for granted. Sometimes bringing them out into the open forces a re-think and can be a bit confronting at first.

      I only arrived at my own point of view after a lot of thinking: How DO we know about the past? And that led me to think over all the history I had studied, the various schools of thought, and to compare this with the nonsense ideas that are out there. Few others have really stopped to think these things through systematically.

      Can you show that you understand and acknowledge these points, stated prosaically, since you seem not to be willing or able to grasp them when made by means of analogy?

      So now I have told you what I understand, do you feel I satisfactorily understand my place as some sort of “fringe looney” in your view? Is that what you want? Is that your argument? Does this excuse you now from having to address directly and unequivocally any of my responses to your arguments or assertions?

      But your withdrawal of Shakespeare mythicism was qualified and to the extent that it was qualified I will refer to it in a future post of mine. But of course I do hope you will clarify your position even less ambiguously with respect to the questions I have asked you about it before then.

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

    I will happily withdraw “Shakespeare mythicism” – by which I mean any of the numerous variations on the view that the true author of the plays attributed to him was someone else – as perhaps a poor analogy to Jesus mythicism, if you will then answer the questions I asked.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Do you understand that mythicism is not currently participating in mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it is a fringe phenomenon limited mostly to a few blogs and discussion boards on the internet and the occasional self-published book?

      I understand that mythicism is not currently participating openly and publicly in the mainstream scholarly discussion, and that it has a long history since the Enlightenment including some prominent intellectuals and the mainstream hostility to it has been on the whole shallow and poorly argued, defensive and acrimonious. Today the internet has enabled a widespread publication of the concept of mythicism at various levels of scholarly value, as is the case with most ideas spread through the internet. This democratization of information is seen by SOME biblical scholars as a threat to mainstream scholarship that has till now been able to exercise control over ideas filtered to the public from their professional publications unavailable to most readers — not just with respect to mythicism but to other biblical studies concepts as well.

      Do you understand that in every field, from physics to biology to the study of Shakespeare, there are also people outside the academy with fringe views, web sites, and self-published works?

      Yes. So? There are ALSO a lot of people outside the academy with strong personal interests in various topics who also offer stimulating and informed ideas.

      Do you understand and acknowledge that if a historian happens across your blog they will not be impressed with what they find there, and will not find your approach and your claims representative of what they do as historians?

      Well, no. I say that because a number of professional scholars have contacted me and expressed the very opposite. I have sometimes discussed their own books on my blog — that’s when they sometimes contact me. Some are nonhistorians. Some are historians. Most are not even mythicists but some have expressed sympathy or interest in the mythicist concept.

      Further, what I have said about historical methods is nothing bizarre or unusual at all. It  is copied straight from what historians themselves have written, and from some biblical scholars, too.

      Sure there will be some who disagree and I have had debates on my blog and in some cases I have realized in the past I may have overstated some aspects but I have over time worked more closely to a more balanced explanation as a result of those discussions.

      I also concede — and have written about this too — that some who write history don’t even think about some of these things because they are so embedded in the culture and taken for granted. Sometimes bringing them out into the open forces a re-think and can be a bit confronting at first.

      I only arrived at my own point of view after a lot of thinking: How DO we know about the past? And that led me to think over all the history I had studied, the various schools of thought, and to compare this with the nonsense ideas that are out there. Few others have really stopped to think these things through systematically.

      Can you show that you understand and acknowledge these points, stated prosaically, since you seem not to be willing or able to grasp them when made by means of analogy?

      So now I have told you what I understand, do you feel I satisfactorily understand my place as some sort of “fringe looney” in your view? Is that what you want? Is that your argument? Does this excuse you now from having to address directly and unequivocally any of my responses to your arguments or assertions?

      But your withdrawal of Shakespeare mythicism was qualified and to the extent that it was qualified I will refer to it in a future post of mine. But of course I do hope you will clarify your position even less ambiguously with respect to the questions I have asked you about it before then.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Wilson/1355591760 Michael Wilson

    Neil, I don’t think your ignorance of American pop-culture = wisdom, though I don’t hold it against anyone who didn’t stumble across this, modern media trades in a vast amount of information these days. I do think you should engage in more relaxing activities than cooking up hair brained theories for nit wits on the internet. It is an intellectually unworthy use of time that could be better spent watching Desperate Housewives. On another note, I find pointing out spelling errors in informal conversations a low-brow debate tactic. I don’t bring up yours because I think doing so is an admission of how little weight one’s own argument has. Look up spelling nazi. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spelling%20nazi
    James, I noticed the discrepancy that Neil has been parading around (well now you don’t need to send him a Christmas gift!) but didn’t think much of it. While Neil thinks this should be taught to everyone in collage (did they spend a lot of time on this? I have wondered about the quality of Neil’s education, but I assume the fault lies with Neil, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink), I think it’s silly and need not be discussed. I learned of ti(sic) from my brief time in theater. If you were unfamiliar with the topic, you are probably in good company. I myself have not thoroughly researched, as again, it seems on the surface to be silly, and the majority of experts agree, so it doesn’t strike me as a fruitful use of time to check their work.
     
    Regarding Shakespeare, I used Shakespeare mythicism. Others use Anti-Stratfordians. It is relevant even though both cases do not involve whether such and such person is a myth. It is the methods that count, and the same historical methods can be used to investigate different types of historical questions. The relevant bits of the article are below:
    “I’ve called the theory Anonymous shills for—that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by the Earl of Oxford—“Shakespearean creationism,” but that’s not fair to the creationists. I said that before the rise of birtherism, which it’s far closer to, since it’s also about supposedly falsified origins. And some have gone further.
     
    Harvard Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt once compared Oxfordianism to Holocaust denial. This is probably taking it—the Oxfordian theory, not the Holocaust—too seriously. But here’s a portion of Greenblatt’s lament he published in a letter to the Times several years ago:
     
    The idea that William Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays and poems is a matter of conjecture and the idea that the “authorship controversy” be taught in the classroom are the exact equivalent of current arguments that “intelligent design” be taught alongside evolution. In both cases an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on a serious assessment of hard evidence, is challenged by passionately held fantasies whose adherents demand equal time. The demand seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?
     
    And if Oxfordianism is not exactly the literary equivalent of Holocaust denial, it’s not entirely harmless, either. Inevitably, a few credulous people will end up denying themselves the pleasures and rewards of reading and rereading Shakespeare’s works for the thrilling iambic pentameter and instead opt to read for “clues” pointing to the mind-rotting conspiracy theory.”(Mike sez: Of course some would be Jesus historians read far too much into the text to glean facts about Jesus, but far more damage is done to understanding the text by people looking for clues to Christ myth. Saying Mark is an allegory is to completely miss what Mark is as literature just as much as saying the Bible is code)
    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_spectator/2011/10/anonymous_a_witless_movie_from_the_stupid_shakespearean_birther_.single.html
    I thought it interesting because what some experts say of Anti-Stratfordians is what some experts say of Jesus Mythers. I doubt that Anti-Stratfordians feel they are in the same league as Holocaust deniers and Jesus mythers just as Jesus mythers don’t think they are in the same league as birthers and Anti-Stratfordians. And from the lesser source:
    “The rise of historical criticism, which challenged the authorial unity of Homer’s epics and the historicity of the Bible, also fuelled emerging puzzlement over Shakespeare’s authorship, which in one critic’s view was “an accident waiting to happen”.[129] David Strauss’s investigation of the biography of Jesus, which shocked the public with its scepticism of the historical accuracy of the Gospels, influenced the secular debate about Shakespeare.[130] In 1848, Samuel Mosheim Schmucker endeavoured to rebut Strauss’s doubts about the historicity of Christ by applying the same techniques satirically to the records of Shakespeare’s life in his Historic Doubts Respecting Shakespeare, Illustrating Infidel Objections Against the Bible. Schmucker, who never doubted that Shakespeare was Shakespeare, unwittingly anticipated and rehearsed many of the later arguments for alternative authorship candidates.[131]”
    (129)Dobson, Michael (2001). “Authorship controversy”. In Dobson, Michael; Wells, Stanley. Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford Companions to Literature. Oxford University Press. P 31. . ISBN 978-0-19-811735-3.
    (130)Shapiro, James (2010). Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?. UK edition: Faber and Faber p. 83-9. ISBN 978-0-571-23576-6 (US edition: Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-1-4165-4162-2). http://books.google.com/books?id=W8KtHtT3jNYC. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
    (131)Gross, John (March 2010). “Denying Shakespeare” (subscription required). Commentary (Commentary) 129 (3): p. 40 . ISSN 0010-2601. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/denying-shakespeare/. Retrieved 2 March 2011
     
    I bring this up to show the link between Biblical criticism and Anti-Stratfordians. Of course David Strauss’s work is not controversial 150 years later, but that does not mean that Anti-Stratfordians are correct, and debunking them and Jesus mythers is not an attack on historical criticism of the Bible or Homer’s epics. This should be a cautionary statement about assuming that the historical criticism will eventually lead to all supposed truths being myths.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      Michael Wilson. Do tell me. Are YOU the source for Dr James McGrath’s discovery that there is something out there that can be described as “Shakespeare mythicism”? yes or no?

  • Michael Wilson

    Neil, I don’t think your ignorance of American pop-culture = wisdom, though I don’t hold it against anyone who didn’t stumble across this, modern media trades in a vast amount of information these days. I do think you should engage in more relaxing activities than cooking up hair brained theories for nit wits on the internet. It is an intellectually unworthy use of time that could be better spent watching Desperate Housewives. On another note, I find pointing out spelling errors in informal conversations a low-brow debate tactic. I don’t bring up yours because I think doing so is an admission of how little weight one’s own argument has. Look up spelling nazi. http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=spelling%20nazi
    James, I noticed the discrepancy that Neil has been parading around (well now you don’t need to send him a Christmas gift!) but didn’t think much of it. While Neil thinks this should be taught to everyone in collage (did they spend a lot of time on this? I have wondered about the quality of Neil’s education, but I assume the fault lies with Neil, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink), I think it’s silly and need not be discussed. I learned of ti(sic) from my brief time in theater. If you were unfamiliar with the topic, you are probably in good company. I myself have not thoroughly researched, as again, it seems on the surface to be silly, and the majority of experts agree, so it doesn’t strike me as a fruitful use of time to check their work.
     
    Regarding Shakespeare, I used Shakespeare mythicism. Others use Anti-Stratfordians. It is relevant even though both cases do not involve whether such and such person is a myth. It is the methods that count, and the same historical methods can be used to investigate different types of historical questions. The relevant bits of the article are below:
    “I’ve called the theory Anonymous shills for—that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by the Earl of Oxford—“Shakespearean creationism,” but that’s not fair to the creationists. I said that before the rise of birtherism, which it’s far closer to, since it’s also about supposedly falsified origins. And some have gone further.
     
    Harvard Shakespeare scholar Stephen Greenblatt once compared Oxfordianism to Holocaust denial. This is probably taking it—the Oxfordian theory, not the Holocaust—too seriously. But here’s a portion of Greenblatt’s lament he published in a letter to the Times several years ago:
     
    The idea that William Shakespeare’s authorship of his plays and poems is a matter of conjecture and the idea that the “authorship controversy” be taught in the classroom are the exact equivalent of current arguments that “intelligent design” be taught alongside evolution. In both cases an overwhelming scholarly consensus, based on a serious assessment of hard evidence, is challenged by passionately held fantasies whose adherents demand equal time. The demand seems harmless enough until one reflects on its implications. Should claims that the Holocaust did not occur also be made part of the standard curriculum?
     
    And if Oxfordianism is not exactly the literary equivalent of Holocaust denial, it’s not entirely harmless, either. Inevitably, a few credulous people will end up denying themselves the pleasures and rewards of reading and rereading Shakespeare’s works for the thrilling iambic pentameter and instead opt to read for “clues” pointing to the mind-rotting conspiracy theory.”(Mike sez: Of course some would be Jesus historians read far too much into the text to glean facts about Jesus, but far more damage is done to understanding the text by people looking for clues to Christ myth. Saying Mark is an allegory is to completely miss what Mark is as literature just as much as saying the Bible is code)
    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/the_spectator/2011/10/anonymous_a_witless_movie_from_the_stupid_shakespearean_birther_.single.html
    I thought it interesting because what some experts say of Anti-Stratfordians is what some experts say of Jesus Mythers. I doubt that Anti-Stratfordians feel they are in the same league as Holocaust deniers and Jesus mythers just as Jesus mythers don’t think they are in the same league as birthers and Anti-Stratfordians. And from the lesser source:
    “The rise of historical criticism, which challenged the authorial unity of Homer’s epics and the historicity of the Bible, also fuelled emerging puzzlement over Shakespeare’s authorship, which in one critic’s view was “an accident waiting to happen”.[129] David Strauss’s investigation of the biography of Jesus, which shocked the public with its scepticism of the historical accuracy of the Gospels, influenced the secular debate about Shakespeare.[130] In 1848, Samuel Mosheim Schmucker endeavoured to rebut Strauss’s doubts about the historicity of Christ by applying the same techniques satirically to the records of Shakespeare’s life in his Historic Doubts Respecting Shakespeare, Illustrating Infidel Objections Against the Bible. Schmucker, who never doubted that Shakespeare was Shakespeare, unwittingly anticipated and rehearsed many of the later arguments for alternative authorship candidates.[131]”
    (129)Dobson, Michael (2001). “Authorship controversy”. In Dobson, Michael; Wells, Stanley. Oxford Companion to Shakespeare. Oxford Companions to Literature. Oxford University Press. P 31. . ISBN 978-0-19-811735-3.
    (130)Shapiro, James (2010). Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?. UK edition: Faber and Faber p. 83-9. ISBN 978-0-571-23576-6 (US edition: Simon & Schuster ISBN 978-1-4165-4162-2). http://books.google.com/books?id=W8KtHtT3jNYC. Retrieved 14 January 2011.
    (131)Gross, John (March 2010). “Denying Shakespeare” (subscription required). Commentary (Commentary) 129 (3): p. 40 . ISSN 0010-2601. http://www.commentarymagazine.com/article/denying-shakespeare/. Retrieved 2 March 2011
     
    I bring this up to show the link between Biblical criticism and Anti-Stratfordians. Of course David Strauss’s work is not controversial 150 years later, but that does not mean that Anti-Stratfordians are correct, and debunking them and Jesus mythers is not an attack on historical criticism of the Bible or Homer’s epics. This should be a cautionary statement about assuming that the historical criticism will eventually lead to all supposed truths being myths.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Michael Wilson. Do tell me. Are YOU the source for Dr James McGrath’s discovery that there is something out there that can be described as “Shakespeare mythicism”? yes or no?

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

    Thank you. I appreciate your responses.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So what was the point of that little exercise? Did you really expect me to say anything different?

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

    Thank you. I appreciate your responses.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So what was the point of that little exercise? Did you really expect me to say anything different?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Tulip/1266985469 Robert Tulip

    Observer said: “Fundamentalism is a modern phenomena having it’s origins in the 1920s. You are trying to use a very much modern movement in Christianity in to lump all Christians.”

    Just on this point, fundamentalist has broad and narrow meanings.  Yes the term has a specific genesis in the movement of Biblical inerrancy, but it also has a broader meaning, of people who take things on faith that are unsupported by evidence.

    Against this broader meaning, anyone who believes in the historical Jesus is a fundamentalist.  The only “evidence” for this belief is the authority of tradition.  Argument from authority is entirely fallacious. 

  • Robert Tulip

    Observer said: “Fundamentalism is a modern phenomena having it’s origins in the 1920s. You are trying to use a very much modern movement in Christianity in to lump all Christians.”

    Just on this point, fundamentalist has broad and narrow meanings.  Yes the term has a specific genesis in the movement of Biblical inerrancy, but it also has a broader meaning, of people who take things on faith that are unsupported by evidence.

    Against this broader meaning, anyone who believes in the historical Jesus is a fundamentalist.  The only “evidence” for this belief is the authority of tradition.  Argument from authority is entirely fallacious. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Robert-Tulip/1266985469 Robert Tulip

    Michael Wilson wrote “invention of the historical Jesus …9/11…capitalism….Zionism. Conspiricy types… ”
    Michael, are you seriously asserting that Christianity involved no conspiracy? That would be like saying the Bolsheviks did not conspire to bring about revolution in Russia. 

    The church systematically destroyed documents and temples that provided evidence of its origins and of alternative ways of understanding.  Have you not heard of the imperial edicts to this effect?  See for example http://www.mountainman.com.au/essenes/article_060.htm

    By placing the Gospels in front of the Epistles in the New Testament, the church fraudulently pretended that Paul was aware of the fictional Gospel accounts of a historical Jesus.  If you were capable of taking off your rosary colored glasses to read the work of Earl Doherty, you would see he provides a compelling explanation for the early evolution of the Christ myth, in which a historical Jesus founder plays no part.

    Pointing out that some claims of conspiracy are false (eg that NASA faked the moon landing) is the purest straw man regarding discussion on Christian origins, and an entirely unethical form of debate. There is no evidence for a historical Jesus, and all your bluster and slur cannot change the facts.  Or maybe you believe in Tinkerbell too – just wish hard enough…

  • Robert Tulip

    Michael Wilson wrote “invention of the historical Jesus …9/11…capitalism….Zionism. Conspiricy types… ”
    Michael, are you seriously asserting that Christianity involved no conspiracy? That would be like saying the Bolsheviks did not conspire to bring about revolution in Russia. 

    The church systematically destroyed documents and temples that provided evidence of its origins and of alternative ways of understanding.  Have you not heard of the imperial edicts to this effect?  See for example http://www.mountainman.com.au/essenes/article_060.htm

    By placing the Gospels in front of the Epistles in the New Testament, the church fraudulently pretended that Paul was aware of the fictional Gospel accounts of a historical Jesus.  If you were capable of taking off your rosary colored glasses to read the work of Earl Doherty, you would see he provides a compelling explanation for the early evolution of the Christ myth, in which a historical Jesus founder plays no part.

    Pointing out that some claims of conspiracy are false (eg that NASA faked the moon landing) is the purest straw man regarding discussion on Christian origins, and an entirely unethical form of debate. There is no evidence for a historical Jesus, and all your bluster and slur cannot change the facts.  Or maybe you believe in Tinkerbell too – just wish hard enough…

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

    Neil, I was simply trying to get you to grasp the force of the analogies I had made by foregoing the analogies. Whether that will avoid similar misunderstandings in the future remains to be seen.

    Robert Tulip, how did the conspiracy work in the time before Christianity had imperial power behind it, in your opinion?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So, Dr McGrath. First you appear to indicate you are withdrawing your Shakespeare analogy in order to strike a bargain for me to answer your questions.

      But after I answer them you turn around and tell me you analogy was a “force” that nonetheless underlies them?

      I would seriously advise you to withdraw your comment, Dr McGrath.

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So, Dr McGrath. Am I correct in understanding the whole point of your set of questions was to elicit responses from me that, in your eyes, exposed me to an admission of some sort of loony or crackpot or humiliating position?

      Do respond without your usual equivocation. Is that correct?

      Now that you have done this, and insisted that your bizarre and ignorant attempt to bracket me with some sort of “Shakespeare mythicism” is in some sense valid (i.e. “has force”) — will you now respond to MY questions and rebuttals of your arguments?

      Or will you respond again by simply saying that when you make an argument or an analogy it is relevant, but that when I rebut that argument or analogy I am simply trying to avoid the central issue?

    • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

      So, Dr McGrath. Am I correct in understanding the whole point of your set of questions was to elicit responses from me that, in your eyes, exposed me to an admission of some sort of loony or crackpot or humiliating position?

      Do respond without your usual equivocation. Is that correct?

      Now that you have done this, and insisted that your bizarre and ignorant attempt to bracket me with some sort of “Shakespeare mythicism” is in some sense valid (i.e. “has force”) — will you now respond to MY questions and rebuttals of your arguments?

      Or will you respond again by simply saying that when you make an argument or an analogy it is relevant, but that when I rebut that argument or analogy I am simply trying to avoid the central issue?

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

    Neil, I was simply trying to get you to grasp the force of the analogies I had made by foregoing the analogies. Whether that will avoid similar misunderstandings in the future remains to be seen.

    Robert Tulip, how did the conspiracy work in the time before Christianity had imperial power behind it, in your opinion?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So, Dr McGrath. First you appear to indicate you are withdrawing your Shakespeare analogy in order to strike a bargain for me to answer your questions.

      But after I answer them you turn around and tell me you analogy was a “force” that nonetheless underlies them?

      I would seriously advise you to withdraw your comment, Dr McGrath.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So, Dr McGrath. Am I correct in understanding the whole point of your set of questions was to elicit responses from me that, in your eyes, exposed me to an admission of some sort of loony or crackpot or humiliating position?

      Do respond without your usual equivocation. Is that correct?

      Now that you have done this, and insisted that your bizarre and ignorant attempt to bracket me with some sort of “Shakespeare mythicism” is in some sense valid (i.e. “has force”) — will you now respond to MY questions and rebuttals of your arguments? (e.g. at http://www.patheos.com/community/exploringourmatrix/2011/10/14/doherty-mythicism/#comment-353369644 )

      Or will you respond again by simply saying that when you make an argument or an analogy it is relevant, but that when I rebut that argument or analogy I am not being relevant but trying to avoid the central issue?

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

    I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

    You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

    • Guest

      I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

      So tell me, what do you think I should do? Worry about my image among certain people so that I change my mind? Is that what guides you in your intellectual pursuits? Image? Respectability in front of those you wish to acknowledge as your peers? Is that what it’s all about for you?

      You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about
      your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog
      posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter
      is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

      What don’t you understand? I was addressing my posts about historical method. Historical method is not about mythicism per se. What is your problem? Where is my untruthfulness or irrelevance here?

      • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

        I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

        So tell me, what do you think I should do? Worry about my image among certain people so that I change my mind? Is that what guides you in your intellectual pursuits? Image? Respectability in front of those you wish to acknowledge as your peers? Is that what it’s all about for you?

        You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

        What don’t you understand? I was addressing my posts about historical method. Historical method is not about mythicism per se. What is your problem? Where is my untruthfulness or irrelevance here?

        But if you ask, then yes, some scholars (even biblical ones) have indeed told me they are sympathetic to mythicism but of course it is not in their career interests to advertise that fact. This should not surprise you since there are even a number of biblical scholars who have indeed expressed public sympathy with the notion at least.

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

    I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

    You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

    • Guest

      I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

      So tell me, what do you think I should do? Worry about my image among certain people so that I change my mind? Is that what guides you in your intellectual pursuits? Image? Respectability in front of those you wish to acknowledge as your peers? Is that what it’s all about for you?

      You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about
      your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog
      posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter
      is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

      What don’t you understand? I was addressing my posts about historical method. Historical method is not about mythicism per se. What is your problem? Where is my untruthfulness or irrelevance here?

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        I wanted to know whether you truly understand what mythicism looks like to an outsider, and why.

        So tell me, what do you think I should do? Worry about my image among certain people so that I change my mind? Is that what guides you in your intellectual pursuits? Image? Respectability in front of those you wish to acknowledge as your peers? Is that what it’s all about for you?

        You responded by suggesting that anonymous scholars spoke highly about your blogging in the past. But you also said that most of your blog posts are not “about mythicism.” And so it seems that either the latter is not quite true, or the former is not quite relevant.

        What don’t you understand? I was addressing my posts about historical method. Historical method is not about mythicism per se. What is your problem? Where is my untruthfulness or irrelevance here?

        But if you ask, then yes, some scholars (even biblical ones) have indeed told me they are sympathetic to mythicism but of course it is not in their career interests to advertise that fact. This should not surprise you since there are even a number of biblical scholars who have indeed expressed public sympathy with the notion at least.

  • http://vridar.wordpress.com Neil Godfrey

    So will you now respond to my response to your argument:

    There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

    I contend that this is false. There is no circularity in the
    investigation of the historicity of Socrates or Shakespeare. We have multiple independent witnesses to both of these. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we have no independent witnesses:

    In reality, however, these writers are faced with the enormous problem that strictly speaking absolutely nothing can be proved by evidence from the past, but can only be shown to be more or less probable. Moreover, in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater because all the reports about him go back to the one source of tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls. (Schweitzer)

    And modern scholars such as Stevan Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr acknowledge the circularity at the heart of historical Jesus studies and I have cited their words at various places including here: http://vridar.wordpress.com/20

    In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes. As Schweitzer lamented in the above passage, we lack any such independent witnesses for Jesus.

    James said that we have no more circularity in the case of Socrates than we do for Jesus.

    I demonstrate that his assertion is false.

    Now why can James McGrath not respond to this argument? Why must he respond with insult?

  • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

    So will you now respond to my response to your argument:

    There is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

    I contend that this is false. There is no circularity in the
    investigation of the historicity of Socrates or Shakespeare. We have multiple independent witnesses to both of these. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we have no independent witnesses:

    In reality, however, these writers are faced with the enormous problem that strictly speaking absolutely nothing can be proved by evidence from the past, but can only be shown to be more or less probable. Moreover, in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater because all the reports about him go back to the one source of tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls. (Schweitzer)

    And modern scholars such as Stevan Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr acknowledge the circularity at the heart of historical Jesus studies and I have cited their words at various places including here: http://vridar.wordpress.com/20

    In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes. As Schweitzer lamented in the above passage, we lack any such independent witnesses for Jesus.

    James said that we have no more circularity in the case of Socrates than we do for Jesus.

    I demonstrate that his assertion is false.

    Now why can James McGrath not respond to this argument? Why must he respond with insult?

  • Robert Tulip

    James McGrath wrote: “Robert Tulip, how did the conspiracy work in the time before Christianity had imperial power behind it, in your opinion?”

    James, my opinion is that the production of the Gospels was workshopped within faith communities.  The documents produced were designed to synthesise the swirling currents of messianic belief within the new context of the Roman Empire into a single story that could unite believers under a common purpose.  Factors included the need to syncretise different traditions, especially Judaism, Greek, Syrian and Egyptian, the desire for an historical story that could put deeper spiritual wisdom into a popularly accessible parable form, and the desire for a ‘one for all’ redeemer who could represent Jewish trauma following the destruction of Jerusalem, as a unifying symbol of all the prophetic martyrs.

    With all these motives, we can readily use Voltaire’s line about God to say that if Jesus did not exist, it would have been necessary to invent Him. 

    The Gospel of Mark seems to me a decisive moment, where the spiritual tradition seen in Paul was set into an historical framework, introducing the settings in Galilee and Jerusalem.  Matthew and Luke then added the detail of Bethlehem, with flourishes from John such as the wedding at Cana and the raising of Lazarus at Bethany.  The strong likelihood that none of these details are actually historical means that the writers had to consult within their community to develop a believable story, giving new life to archetypal themes from older myth and legend and prophecy. 
    Robert

  • Michael Wilson

    So Neil you would like to be granted some sort of acknowledgment of refuting James assertion on the regarding circularity of Socrates and Jesus based on their being a friendly contemporary source (do you not find Xenophon relevant? It would add another pro Socrates source) and one hostile one for Socrates. We can then say at least Socrates had one hostile source that acknowledges his existence and Jesus none, if we are willing to go against the majority of scholars who argue that Josephus attest to the existence of Jesus. This is without considering the arguments of those who have held Socrates did not exist, who no doubt feel their evidence on their issue is as good as the evidence you claim for yours. If that is all so, then yes, Socrates is better attested than Jesus.
     
    Out of curiosity, do you think this sort of attestation constitutes proof of Socrates existence? If it were not so attested, say we only had sources from supporters of Socrates, would you think that we should then assume Socrates is a fiction and Plato’s suggestions otherwise to be fiction as well?  
     
    Now beyond the issue of basic existence, would you say that Plato and Xenophon’s accounts of Socrates are only relevant to the extent that they can be supported by sources neutral or hostile to Socrates in reconstructing what is likely the person of Socrates?  Further, should we assume information Plato gives regarding Socrates should be considered false unless attested by a neutral or hostile source?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Classic. You and James are certainly matching intellects. It’s not about hostile or friendly sources at all. It’s about independent sources. It’s about controls. You haven’t followed a thing.

  • Robert Tulip

    Michael Wilson wrote: “majority of scholars who argue that Josephus attest to the existence of Jesus”

    Michael, tell me, how do you explain that, according to Earl Doherty, many Christian authors in the second and third centuries, and some even later, refer to the works of Josephus, but none refer to his supposed mention of Christ, although that is something you would expect them to leap on with alacrity if they saw it?  Why did texts without the notorious forged addition circulated for hundreds of years? Do you see a similarity to the majority of scholars who once argued the sun went around the earth?  Are these so-called majority engaged in confirmation bias, seeing only what they want to see?

    • Mikew1584

      More capable hands than I have discussed Josephus, it is popular on the internet, shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to find all sorts of opinions on that.

       “Do you see a similarity to the majority of scholars who once argued the
      sun went around the earth?  Are these so-called majority engaged in

      confirmation bias, seeing only what they want to see?”

      They aren’t the “so called”, they are the majority. Yes their is a similarity, again, they are the majority of scholars, do you disagree with the majority of scholars who say the Earth moves around the sun? It seems rational to me, but irrational people never see there own bias. Still, can you rationally explain why they have this bias? if not, perhaps it is not there, and any how, it is worth asking from time to time “could most of the people be right?” I mean you don’t believe all minority opinion are true, do you?

      • Mikew1584

        If you miss it, “it seems rational to me is in relation to the question on confirmation bias, not the earth moving about the sun.

  • Mikew1584

    Neil, could you explain what you think constitutes an
    independent source? If it is not about “sources neutral or hostile”
    what makes the source independent? You seem to imply here

     “We have the
    writings of Aristophanes, another apparent contemporary. Now far from writing
    as an admiring follower of Socrates, Aristophanes wrote plays in which he
    lampooned Socrates. Socrates appears in his works as a wastrel, dirty, leading
    people astray though deceitful, self-serving cleverness. But even if
    Aristophanes had been kinder to his portrayal of Socrates, he would still have
    been writing as one relatively independent of those claiming to be personal
    followers.”,http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/was-socrates-a-man-or-a-myth-applying-historical-jesus-criteria-to-socrates/#more-20567

     that independent
    sources are in fact hostile or at least disinterested. Perhaps you have
    mis-read my post, you seem to leave out the neutral part in your response, and
    I don’t know if that was intentional or not?

    In fact I would say relatively disinterested would be best,
    as a hostile witness is no more reliable than a friendly one.  Thus the value of Aristophanes isn’t so much
    that he is independent, in fact he has an axe to grind with Socrates, and thus
    we shouldn’t rely too much on his testimony. The value is in the multiple attestation,
    that both he and Plato and Xenophon agree Socrates exist, and dissimilarity (
    or embarrassment), since it would be odd for Aristophanes to indulge in a
    fantasy of the existence of a philosopher that he dislikes (though not
    impossible). Further, I would say that despite the fact that none of these
    early witnesses are truly independent, they are not irrelevant in discussing
    Socrates, despite being unreliable. In fact I think someone wanting to
    investigate Socrates would be irresponsible to not consult these works.

    On a related point, and this back to Doherty’s work, if the
    early Christian material cannot be used as evidence regarding a “historic”
    Jesus, how are they useful for as sources for a mythic Jesus? He seems to argue
    that the Christian text themselves, Paul, the epistles, and the “allegorical”
    Mark are speaking of a mythic Christ and not a historical one and he uses them
    as evidence for that theory, but while you support this you seem to say that if
    the text had said, “Jesus was defiantly a real person in history and this is definitely
    not an allegory”, that we must dismiss this as too unreliable because we have
    no independent control. If the text can’t be used to support a historic Jesus,
    they also cannot support a mythic one.

     

    Finally, I have a question regarding your use of the term
    circularity. The definitions I see regard it as using the question to be proven
    as the premise, but above you write

    “In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough
    evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates
    — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made
    fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes.”

    How is deriving information from partisan sources circular
    logic?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Tulip/561446523 Alex Tulip

    Hi Mikew, I notice you ignore my question of why the Josephus mention of Jesus was apparently invisible to church readers for centuries, and instead indulge in wild insinuations, typical of the low critical standards of believers. 

    The Josephus mention of Jesus is an obvious interpolation.  Christians are desperate to hang on to this fraud as their only straw to indicate there was any independent notice of their Lord and Savior, even though ‘gospel truth’ says he was supposedly “famed far and wide”.  This thread, with its mockery of a fine scholar, is aimed at defending obsolete supernatural errors.  I hope you don’t mind me pointing out the error of your ways in the hope you may repent.  For a start, I don’t believe there is a majority in support of the claim that the Josephus Jesus fraud was genuine.  Did you mean a majority at one seminary in Texas?  In any case, it is rather like the situation with Einstein, who is supposed to have said in response to the mob of 100 critical scientists that if he were wrong one  would have been enough.

    Robert Tulip

    • Michael Wilson

      I didn’t ignore you Robert, I simply directed you to look into the issue else where as it is easy to do I and I don’t want to spend the time having a debate on Jocephus, I’m a busy man. If you don’t agree with the scholarly opinions for it, then I doubt my restating them will convince you. if time permits I’ll send you some links to save your time.

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

    Robert/Alex, the early Christians don’t really fit your description of synthesizing messianic beliefs. The belief that the anointed son of David would be crucified by the enemies of God’s people, and/or was raised from the dead prior to the resurrection of all humankind, are not there to be synthesized in earlier Jewish sources.

    What is your evidence that any of the non-Jews you mentioned expected an anointed one, or had the practice of anointing that gives Christ and Christianity their designations?

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

    Neil, if you think that concern for what scholars say, or in the case of someone working in academia what other scholars say, is a matter of image, then you have badly misunderstood what the academy is like and how it works, at least in places like the US and Western Europe and Australia and New Zealand.

    I am expected to add to the conversation in my field. If I were to simply say what everyone else says, I would be showing myself to have stagnated with respect to research.

    I could be a mythicist at Butler. No one would have any objection, assuming I were to continue publishing in appropriate venues. The academy thrives on new ideas, and if you have been in touch with people who claim to be closet mythicists because they cannot do so openly, they are either at religiously-affiliated universities or were not being honest, but either way a change of job could eliminate that hindrance.

    But the question of whether they could continue to do research and have it published, that is a different matter. To get published you don’t have to show you are right, but merely show that you have an idea that is worth serious consideration. If any mythicist were to do that, they could get published in academic publications. If they do not publish there, it is either due to a lack of trying or a failure to meet the rigors of academic standards.

    The onus is on the academic to make the case that what they say is worthy of being taken seriously. It would simply expose my inadequacies were I to try to pretend that it is everyone else’s fault but my own, their lack of imagination or open-mindedness.

    It is not about image. If the academic community doesn’t find your claims even worth disagreeing with in scholarly venues, that indicates as clearly as anything could that they do not find your ideas to have merit. If they did, they would at least consider them worth disagreeing with in academic publications of their own, and not on blogs or other forums where one would address popular misunderstandings related to one’s academic field.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So James, when are you going to stop addressing your judgments upon me and intent to distort what I say and defend your own image etc etc etc? Had you spoken to me “human to human” as you wished from me you would not have needed to have gone into your red herring comment. But that’s what you wanted to address wasn’t it, your red herring.

      When are you going to get on to answering my arguments?

      I address your arguments and you say I am trying to get off the issue. All you are interested in doing, evidently, is to seek to attack the concept of mythicism by association and to denigrate me personally, and anyone else who says a word half way sympathetic to mythicism or in its favour.

      You are persistenly — clearly deliberately — refusing to address any of my questions and have led me into a trap where you can focus on the person.

      You clearly have no interest in engaging with the arguments I have presented.

  • observer

    A few comments as I am not busy today.

    Robert you should not misrepresent people’s arguments. You did not quote  my refutation of your view on Amazon being a meaningful measure of the merit of someones arguments.  If you had quoted my full argument you will have noted where I showed cases of negative reviews of blatant nonsense were not rated as useful.

    I will certainly say now that I have no doubt whatsoever that the average American is clueless about history period. I am a history teacher so yes I know just how little the average person leaves the public system knowing. I am also in the National Guard and from conversations with my fellow soldiers I know just how weak their skills in history are. So yes the fact that anyone supports Earl’s arguments shows to me they are historically illiterate. The blunt fact is that Earl has no support whatsoever in academia, unless you count Robert Price, but that is a maybe at best. Earl also refuses to peer review which means he knows his arguments are worthless.

    Earl does not have a doctorate, he does not peer review nor does he teach at any university so he is certainly not a scholar.

    Your definition of fundamentalist is interesting but when one discusses fundamentalism one should use the definition used by practically everyone else. That is a person with a rigid narrow view of the world that holds onto dogmatic stances. No one except for the mythers on this board remotely meet that criteria.

    You are utterly mistaken on Josephus

    I am going to borrow a bit from a response Tim O’Neill gave to someone asking about Josephus and arguing the entire passage is fake.

    “Then you need to read the surveys of the literature, because that’s precisely what they show. Louis H. Feldman’s Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1984) surveys scholarship on the question from 1937 to 1980 and finds of 52 scholars on the subject, 39 considered the TF to be partially authentic. 

    Peter Kirby has done a survey of the literature since and found that this trend has increased in recent years. He concludes “In my own reading of thirteen books since 1980 that touch upon the passage, ten out of thirteen argue the Testimonium to be partly genuine, while the other three maintain it to be entirely spurious. Coincidentally, the same three books also argue that Jesus did not exist.” That speaks volumes.”

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

      Observer,

      If 39 out of 52 scholars consider the TF to be partially authentic, that would mean that 25% of scholars believe it to be entirely spurious.  That seems substantial.  Moreover, the part that may be authentic could still be reliant upon Christian tradition, couldn’t it?  That would mean that it isn’t really independent.  

      It is hard for me to see Josephus as being terribly strong confirmation of historicity. 

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

    From where I stand, it seems as though you are the one who provides nothing by way of a satisfactory response (merely writing something after someone else has raised an issue is not enough in and of itself to make that a satisfactory response). I have no interest in focusing on you as a person. It is the ideas that matter, and I suspect that it is because I have cogent criticisms of mythicist claims that you try to pretend that my criticism are personal. But I don’t think that anyone who does not already buy into the mythicist conspiracy theory (which  claims that mythicism is an ingenious bit of scholarship rejected by closed-minded academics) would fail to see what is really going on.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      So will you now address my response to your statement:

      There
      is no more circularity (and no less) in investigating a historical
      Jesus than a historical Socrates or John the Baptist or Shakespeare.

      I contend that this is false.

      There is no circularity in the investigation of the historicity of Socrates or Shakespeare. We have multiple independent witnesses to both of these. Yet when it comes to Jesus, we have no independent witnesses:

      In reality, however, these writers are faced with the enormous problem that strictly speaking absolutely nothing can be proved by evidence from the past, but can only be shown to be more or less probable. Moreover, in the case of Jesus, the theoretical reservations are even greater because all the reports about him go back to the one source of tradition, early Christianity itself, and there are no data available in Jewish or Gentile secular history which could be used as controls. (Schweitzer)

      And modern scholars such as Stevan Davies and Dale C. Allison Jr acknowledge the circularity at the heart of historical Jesus studies and I have cited their words at various places including here: http://vridar.wordpress.com/20

      In the case of Socrates we have, on the contrary, enough evidence to avoid circularity. We have truly independent witnesses to Socrates — both the writings of his student, Plato, and the testimony of one who made fun of him in the public theatre, Aristophanes. As Schweitzer lamented in the above passage, we lack any such independent witnesses for Jesus. James said that we have no more circularity in the case of Socrates than we do for Jesus. I demonstrate that his assertion is false.

      Now why can you not respond to this argument?

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

    It is not an argument. It is a claim. One could say the same thing about Paul, the Gospels, and Josephus, but of course, that raises issues of authenticity and date. If one raises the typical mythicist objections about the date of our earliest manuscripts, or the possibility that the figure in the text is not a historical one, then what happens in the case of Socrates?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      No, what is YOUR response to the logical fact that the evidence for the historicity of Socrates is not circular by virtue of the control of independent testimonies? Do YOU accept this or not. No need for your “if one raises typical mythicist objections”. This is not a mythicist argument. It is a historical methodological argument.

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

    No, what is YOUR response to the logical fact that the evidence for the historicity of Jesus is not circular by virtue of the control of independent testimonies? Do YOU accept this or not. This is not a historicist argument. It is a historical methodological argument. 

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      All the evidence for Jesus comes from one source, the one narrative tradition, that that is found in Christianity itself. It is circular and this is conceded by your scholarly peers going back as far as 1905. Historical Jesus studies are circular and this is fully acknowledged by your peers. The only way to break the circularity is to have an external control. This does not exist in the case of Jesus though it does exist in the case of Socrates.

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

    That is only true if one (a) views the mentions in Josephus as both interpolations without any authentic Josephan version underlying them, and (b) accepts the dubious claims of people like Doherty about the meaning of Paul’s letters. I do neither, nor do most scholars and historians.

    But if one were inclined to play fast and loose with words and evidence as Doherty does, then neutralizing some of the alleged evidence for Socrates would be fairly easy. You should try it sometime.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Good grief. Can you get over your obsession with mythicism and Doherty for a while and address the historical methodological and logical argument.

      It has nothing to do with Doherty — for heaven’s sake! It matters not one whit how one interprets Paul. Althought in fact, the argument is much stronger if Paul is understood as speaking of an ultimately human Jesus. Contra Doherty. Good grief. You are exposing your obsession as surely as if you are doing a Rorschach test, even misreading evidence that supports your side for another hint of mythicism.

      And no, your Josephus references are no more controls than is the evidence of Pliny or Tacitus. A witness that appears at the end of the first century — 20 years after the first gospel — is not controlling evidence. Even Garraghan the historian you alerted us all to when you advised everyone to read the sources behind the Historical Method article on Wikipedia — even he demonstrates with examples why a mere 20 years after the event is not reliable testimony at all in the absence of other linking evidence. At that date there are so many variables that can enter it cannot be considered bedrock controlling evidence in its own right. Josephus is for so many reasons open to so many variables that rob it of any use as a firm “control”. That is not a mythicist argument.

      You know that the Jesus story comes from the one tradition — that of woshipers of Jesus who have a vested interest in propagating the faith. This is wny your own peers — at least some with sufficient humility — accept the circularity of the HJ enterprise.

      You don’t have to be a mythicist to accept the circularity of the method. You really are allowed to still be a historicist and even a believer and talk to Jesus daily if you like. We are not talking about belief or mythicism — simply the circularity of method. A circularity that does not exist in a comparable figure like Socrates.

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

    Good grief, Neil, can you get over your obsession with mythicism and discuss the relevant methodological considerations? How is it that a historian or two from close to the time are not controls, but a playwright depicting what may be a fictional character is? 

    Can you please treat the sources consistently?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Dr McGrath. I was attempting to be serious but all you can do is retort with some childishly flippant “you too”. Just like Joel Watts. Why not have the humility you admire in Dale C. Allison Jr and admit you have no argument at all, that your claim was wrong and my position is correct. You can still believe in your historical Jesus.

      Your retort that we should think in this context of Socrates being a fictional character in a play is completely circular and ignoring the argument altogether. We have the contemporary control to give us some confidence Socrates was not such a figment of imagination.

      You are just being silly here and not even trying to follow a logical argument.

      The evidence for Socrates comes from people who pupport to have known Socrates first hand and who are clearly independent from each other. Not even you can put Josephus in that category of evidence for Jesus!

      You also know (or should, if you are a historian) that controls must be bedrock and not be matters of interpretation that change with the scholarly winds of time, or that are from any quarter arguable as inauthentic, or a passing on of a tradition from the singular source under discussion itself. It was for such reasons that Mark Goodacre explained he no longer uses these later Jewish and gentile sources as evidence for Jesus in his podcast. Much the same reason that Schweitzer himself conceded they cannot be used as controls.

      20 years is a very long time, and 60 years is much much longer. Remember Garraghan’s examples from the historical reports that circulated about Martin Luther a mere 20 years after his death. History is full of examples of complete fabrications about events arising within such time spans. That is why we speak of primary (meaning contemporary) as opposed to secondary (later) evidence — the two are necessarily treated differently in historiography — at least outside HJ studies.

      The evidence for Jesus as a historical character does not reach the level of evidence we have for Socrates as a historical person.

      Schweitzer was right.

      You only have flippant retorts and gratuitous assertions that I argue this or that way “like a mythicist” and no reasoned argument at all.

      I am consistent in my treatment of the evidence, in my argument, and you can retort with nothing stronger than sarcasm and ridicule.

  • Robert Tulip

    James McGrath said: “Robert/Alex, the early Christians don’t really fit your description of synthesizing messianic beliefs. The belief that the anointed son of David would be crucified by the enemies of God’s people, and/or was raised from the dead prior to the resurrection of all humankind, are not there to be synthesized in earlier Jewish sources.  What is your evidence that any of the non-Jews you mentioned expected an anointed one, or had the practice of anointing that gives Christ and Christianity their designations?”

    James, first, my son Alex shares my computer, and I thought the software would give me a chance to log in while posting, but it picked up his facebook login.  The comment from ‘Alex’ was from me. Sorry about that.

    In Egypt, the term for the anointed mummy was ‘KRST’.  This is discussed at length by DM Murdock, citing Gerald Massey, in her book Christ in Egypt The Jesus-Horus Connection.

    As explained at http://www.booktalk.org/post96651.html#p96651 

    “… Christ the anointed is none other than the Osiris-karast, and that the karast mummy risen to its feet as Osiris-sahu was the prototypal Christ. Unhappily these demonstrations cannot be made without a wearisome mass of detail…. Dr. Budge, in his book on the mummy, tells his readers that the Egyptian word for mummy is ges, which signifies to wrap up in bandages…. [The word] ges or kes, to embalm the corpse or make the mummy, is a reduced or abraded form of an earlier word, karas (whence krst for the mummy). The original word written in hieroglyphics is —- krst, whence kas, to embalm, to bandage, to knot, to make the mummy or karast (Birch,Dictionary of the Hieroglyphics, pp. 415-416; Champollion, Gram. Egyptienne, 86). The word krs denotes the embalmment of the mummy, and the krst, as the mummy, was made in the process of preparation by purifying, anointing, and embalming. To karas the dead body was to embalm it, to bandage it, to make the mummy. The mummy was the Osirian Corpus Christi, prepared for burial as the laid-out dead, the karast by name. When raised to its feet, it was the risen mummy, or sahu. The place of embalmment was likewise the krs. Thus the process of making the mummy was to karas, the place in which it was laid is the karas, and the product was the krst, whose image is the upright mummy=the risen Christ. Hence, the name of the Christ, Christos in Greek, Chrestus in Latin, for the anointed, was derived…from the Egyptian word krst….”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Robert,

      I know you have probably heard it all before, but could you further explain this connection between KRST and Christ? Because I do not see where the connection is being made.

      It is true that the Israelites lived in Egypt for hundreds of years before the exodus. Is this when they picked up on the word KRST? It doesn’t appear to be the case. Subsequent to leaving Egypt they used the word mashach, which means anointing with oil, and the word mashiach which designates the Messiah or the Anointed one. The word mashach was not a title, it was a ceremony which provided the definition for the word. When a person was anointed with oil, the oil was put on his head and allowed to run down on his beard and onto the collar of his garments. (Ps 133:2) During the times of Biblical history, both the Hebrews and some of the non-Hebrews ceremonially anointed rulers. This constituted the confirmation of their official appointment to office. (Jg 9:8, 15; 1Sa 9:16; 2Sa 19:10)

      This was the usual word employed by the Israelites until around 300 B.C.E. when some Israelites were back in Alexandria Egypt producing the Septuagint. This was more than 30 years after Alexander the Great founded the city, and Alexandria was a center of Hellenism. Would the language of these Hellenized Jews be some Egyptian language or would it be Koine Greek? The answer is easy, the Septuagint was produced in Koine Greek. Therefore, can you show that in the midst of the Koine Greek of the Septuagint, these translators incorporated an Egyptian term that was equivalent to the Hebrew term mashach, which means to anoint with oil? Because the clear connection of the use of christos in the New Testament is the result of its use in the Septuagint, which was the holy Scriptures for both Hellenized Jews and early Christians. And proof of this is established through numerous quotations of the Septuagint in the New Testament documents, including places where the words anoint and christos were used. And there is clear manuscript evidence that a Septuagint predates the first century C.E. So when was this acquisition of the Egyptian term suppose to have taken place? It would have to be before the 3rd century B.C.E.

      Ron Leprohan, Professor of Egyptology at the University of Toronto, pointed out that “KRST is the word for “burial” (“coffin” is written “KRSW”), but there is no evidence whatsoever to link this with the Greek title “Christos” or Hebrew “Mashiah”.

      Again, can it be shown that the Egyptian word KRST, which originally meant “burial” was transformed over time to take on the meaning of mashach or anoint?

      Also, in your quote of Massey, “Christ the anointed is none other than the Osiris-karast”, he disfigures the English language to make his point. Christ means “Anointed one” so the above quote is actually saying “Anointed one the anointed is none other than Osiris-karast.” It’s true that Christ is used as a title sometimes, but it is redundant and meaningless to say “Christ the anointed.”

  • observer

    Robert

    You are aware that Acharya is a complete garbage source right? You are seriously using a women who believes in Atlantis and a primordial race of pygmies to support your views.

  • Robert Tulip

    Observer wrote: “Louis H. Feldman’s Josephus and Modern Scholarship (1984) surveys scholarship on the question from 1937 to 1980 and finds of 52 scholars on the subject, 39 considered the TF to be partially authentic. ”

    This discussion of Josephus illustrates how this thread is little more than a baseless attack on Earl Doherty. The early silence regarding the Testimonium Flavianum from Antiquities 18 is deafening, even if we have that fraudulent text to thank for the later survival of the work of Josephus.   In Jesus Neither God Nor Man, Earl states (p538):

    “Origen alone spent a quarter of a million words contending against Celsus.  He draws on all manner of proofs, and witnesses to the arguments he makes, including citing Josephus (11 times in several different works).  … An appeal here to the declaration by Josephus, a respected Jewish historian, that Jesus had been a “wise man” who performed “wonderful works” would have served to place Jesus and his miracles in the favorable light in which Origen is trying to cast them.  We know that Origen had read the Antiquities of the Jews … In Contra Celsum he summarizes … from Antiquities 18″

    Origen is blissfully unaware of the TF because it had not yet been interpolated into the text he had.  The only way to dismiss this evidence of the inexplicable absence of this reference from early commentators is to approach this whole question from the a priori certainty that Jesus was real.

  • observer

    Actually this conversation is between people who are literate in classical history who know what a con artist Earl is. The fact you do not like our views( views supported by historians across the planet) changes nothing what so ever. 

  • observer

    Are you amazingly this clueless about Josephian scholarship. The passage once you remove the Christian gloss would not support Christian claims whatsoever. You have very strong views on a subject you are ignorant of.

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

    Robert,

    Claiming a particular meaning based on similarity of sound to a word in another language is the worst sort of linguistic pseudoscholarship. It is hardly feasible either that everyone who used the Greek word for “greased” had mummies in mind, or that early Christians used that word and expected everyone to realize that they meant something in old Egyptian rather than Greek. It does not appear (from glancing at Crum) that it is even a root that was in current use in Coptic. So what you and Murdoch propose is rather ludicrous – to put it kindly.

  • Robert Tulip

    Observer: “Acharya is a complete garbage source right? You are seriously using a women who believes in Atlantis and a primordial race of pygmies to support your views.”

    Ha ha, what did I expect but visceral ad hominem bigotry?  The fact is that Murdock/Acharya proves traditional Christianity is baseless, and you don’t like it, so you resort to such vicious slander.  No, she does not believe in Atlantis.  Her work on pygmies is actually sound, but then you may well hold to the racist view that pygmies are not human beings and that their beliefs should be ignored out of hand.In the post above, the sources are Budge and Champollion.  If you want to say that the idea of an anointed savior (a Christ Jesus) sprang forth with Jesus like Athena from the brow of Zeus, then engage with Massey’s reference to sources, not cheap ad homs.

  • Robert Tulip

    Observer said “people who are literate in classical history who know what a con artist Earl is”

    So tell me Observer, why do you think Origen discussed AJ Chapter 18 in detail but did not mention the TF?

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

    Robert, where does Origen discuss Antiquities 18 in detail? That seems like an exaggeration.

    Origen’s reference to Josephus not being a Christian seems to me to make perfect sense as a reference to an original reference to Jesus that did not have the Christian elements. With no reference at all, it is hard to understand what Origen would have been basing his statement on.

    I notice you have not followed up on the linguistic point I made. If mythicism is to be taken seriously, it must respond to criticism and not merely change the subject when its reliance on bunk pseudoscholarship is pointed out.

    • Robert Tulip

      James McGrath said: “Robert, where does Origen discuss Antiquities 18 in detail? That seems like an exaggeration.  Origen’s reference to Josephus not being a Christian seems to me to make perfect sense as a reference to an original reference to Jesus that did not have the Christian elements. With no reference at all, it is hard to understand what Origen would have been basing his statement on.”

      Origin’s discussion of the detail of AJ18 is at Contra Celsus Chapter 47
      http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/origen161.html

      Origen writes: “I would like to say to Celsus, who represents the Jew as accepting somehow
      John as a Baptist, who baptized Jesus, that the existence of John the Baptist,
      baptizing for the remission of sins, is related by one who lived no great length
      of time after John and Jesus. For in the 18th book of his Antiquities of the
      Jews, Josephus bears witness to John as having been a Baptist, and as promising
      purification to those who underwent the rite. Now this writer, although not
      believing in Jesus as the Christ, in seeking after the cause of the fall of
      Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple, whereas he ought to have said that
      the conspiracy against Jesus was the cause of these calamities befalling the
      people, since they put to death Christ, who was a prophet, says
      nevertheless–being, although against his will, not far from the truth–that
      these disasters happened to the Jews as a punishment for the death of James the
      Just, who was a brother of Jesus (called Christ),–the Jews having put him to
      death, although he was a man most distinguished for his justice. Paul, a genuine
      disciple of Jesus, says that he regarded this James as a brother of the Lord,
      not so much on account of their relationship by blood, or of their being brought
      up together, as because of his virtue and doctrine. If, then, he says that it
      was on account of James that the desolation of Jerusalem was made to overtake
      the Jews, how should it not be more in accordance with reason to say that it
      happened on account (of the death) of Jesus Christ, of whose divinity so many
      Churches are witnesses, composed of those who have been convened from a flood of
      sins, and who have joined themselves to the Creator, and who refer all their
      actions to His good pleasure.”

      Analysing this passage, we see that Origen discusses the 18th chapter of AJ in detail to explain how Josephus “bears witness to John”.  It is hardly credible that Origen, whose apologetic purpose in this book was to critique pagan attacks on Christianity, would have failed to mention, in text laden with devotion, that Josephus also bears witness to Christ, if Josephus had in fact done so within this very same Chapter of AJ.  Instead, Origen emphasises that Josephus says the calamity of the Jews was due to the death of James the Just.  Origen then goes on to explain that Paul calls James a brother of the Lord, but Paul did not regard this James as a physical brother of Jesus Christ, cutting out another major pillar of Christ literalism.  The “evidence” for Jesus evaporates before your eyes.

      DM Murdock told me that she had never mentioned Atlantis in her books.  Apparently she had forgotten about the footnote in Christ Conspiracy.  It hardly speaks to someone for whom Atlantis is central to their views that they would entirely forget about mention of it in one footnote.  As well, this footnote is about Kersey Graves, who Murdock used in early work but who she has since criticised.  I will ask Murdock if “we concur” is what she really meant, or if this is a typo, since she does not follow it up anywhere else in her work.

      My earlier comment about Atlantis, lost in the froth here, was that sea level actually did rise by 120 meters after the last glacial maximum.  There actually are extremely large areas of our planet that were along the coast for thousands of years and are now submerged. This is just scientific knowledge.  We actually do not know how (or perhaps even when) the great pyramids were built.   It is nothing but a vacuous distraction to imply that anyone with an interest in such topics, and who refuses to simply tow the fundamentalist line, is a believer in magical idiocy.  Atlantis was only raised in this discussion because you Christ fundies think that it discredits mythicism.  It would be better to leave such straw man arguments aside.

      And I really don’t get the fuss over the fact that Egyptians used Krst as their term for anointing a mummy. Dr McGrath asked if there were earlier uses of anointing that may have given rise to the Christian designation. I pointed out this is just one tiny part of a jigsaw of the immense Egyptian influence on Christianity. But fundies think Jesus was the only begotten son of God, so all Egyptian influence is apparently to be ignored as heretical.

      • GakuseiDon

        @facebook-1266985469:disqus DM Murdock told me that she had never mentioned Atlantis in her books.  Apparently she had forgotten about the footnote in Christ Conspiracy.  It hardly speaks to someone for whom Atlantis is central to their views that they would entirely forget about mention of it in one footnote.

        Robert, your initial comments were these:

        “… you resort to such vicious slander.  No, she does not believe in Atlantis.”

        “And by the way, DM Murdock has never mentioned Atlantis in any of her books.  Observer’s slur is just misogynist bigotry. ”

        I think you should, at least, retract “misogynist bigotry”.

        @facebook-1266985469:disqus I will ask Murdock if “we concur” is what she really meant, or if this is a typo, since she does not follow it up anywhere else in her work.

        That would be great. I’ve probably read more Acharya S than yourself, and I recalling her raising the idea of an island/continent between the “Old World” and the “New World” to explain the cultural and linguistic similarities between the two continents in a few times in articles. For example, on Page 396 of The Christ Conspiracy, she notes the following similarities:

        >>”A more complex etymological similarity can been found in the Mexican name Mexitli or Mesitli, meaning “the Anointed One,” obviously related to the Egyptian Messu and the Hebrew Messiah.”<>”In Maya, “balaam” is a priest, while in Hebrew it is the name of a prophet. There are in fact numerous correlations between the ancient Mexican language and that of the Middle East, including the Sumerian. Indeed, the Mexican culture has close parallels in art, religion and language to Sumer as well.”<>”Moreover, the Mayan creator god was called “Hurakan,” and the Caribbean storm god was “Hurukan,” both of which are nearly identical to the Tibetan wrathful deity, “Heruka,” which in turn is related to Herakles or Hercules. It is from this stormy god that we get the word “Hurricane.” Walker hypothesizes that “Horus” was “Heruka” of the East and notes that the Pygmies revered Heru, an archaic name for Horus.”<<

        Robert, what is your explanation for these coincidences in terms like "Anointed One Mexitli/Messiah" and "Hurakan/Hercules" on both sides of the Atlantic?

        Anyway, if you can clarify with Acharya S on whether she is still in concurrence with a centralized civilization (perhaps in the Atlantic, between the Old and the New Worlds?) that would be great. If she is no longer in concurrence with that idea, ask her what changed her mind. If she states she no longer thinks it is reasonable to believe in a centralized advanced civilization that spread common motifs and language throughout the world, and she states this clearly, I'll never raise the topic again.

  • observer

    Already answered that very easy one but if you remove the obvious Christian gloss from the passage the passage becomes a lot more skeptical in nature and would not support Origen. Try reading Geza Vermes :)

  • observer

    Amazing two people who have studied classical historical can instantly give you the same answer.

  • Robert Tulip

    James McGrath said “similarity of sound to a word in another language .. is ludicrous”.

    James, your question was about evidence that non-Jews had the practice of anointing that gives Christ and Christianity their designations.  In Egypt, the anointed mummy, known as the Osiris, is also called the KRST in the hieroglyphs.  

    There is abundant continuity between Ancient Egypt and the Gospels.  The Gospels were written in Alexandria  by Therapeuts in order to update the Greco-Egyptian Serapis cult by incorporating Israeli prophetic traditions after the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome.  So, Isis became Mary, Osiris became Lazarus, and Horus fed into the newly manufactured savior figure of Jesus.  The fact that the Egyptians called the anointed mummy a KRST fits entirely with this linguistic evolution, answering your question of non-Jewish practice of anointing.  

    Similarity of sound between words is actually used to map linguistic families, hence the designation of the Indo-European language family.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indo-European_languages

    Looking at this linguistic heritage, we see the Latin Deus Pater evolved from Jupiter, Zeus Patera, and back to the Hindu Sky God Dyaus Pita.  The evolution of the term Christ, meaning anointed, out of Egypt, fits entirely with this model, and with the view of a broader linguistic connection between Christ and Krishna.

    Anointing was a widespread ancient practice and concept relating to divine kingship. For example the sacred Hindu text the Bhagavad Gita speaks of Krishna as the anointed. Chapter 11, The Cosmic Vision, says “Krishna, the Almighty Prince of Wisdom, showed to Arjuna the Supreme Form of the Great God…. anointed with divine unctions.”  

    Ancient religions are far more connected and continuous than is accepted in Christian tradition, which has come to believe its own lies about separation and superiority.

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

    Neil, you seem oblivious to the irony that the silly way I am treating the evidence for Socrates is exactly what your silly treatment of the evidence for Jesus looks like.

    Robert, all languages have false friends, so similarity is not proof of connection. But more than that, even in the Egyptian language of the time of the rise of Christianity, that particular term does not seem to have been pronounced in the same way any longer. Are you really going to try to claim that when Christians used an ordinary Greek word, the meaning they ascribed to it was one that depended on a knowledge of how ancient Egyptian was pronounced long before their time?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, I am treating the evidence for Jesus in exactly the same way as did Albert Schweitzer and coming to the same conclusion.

      So you are accusing Schweitzer of being “silly” in his treatment of the evidence.

      So you think Hobsbawm’s treatment of evidence for bandits is “silly”. So you think to treat multiple, independent and contemporary evidence differently from evidence that appears 60 years later in controversial circumstances is “silly”?

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        James, take a deep breath and understand that this methodological argument does not prove Jesus was a myth or non-historical. No need to panic.

        It’s all a matter of logic and justifiable treatments of the different kinds of evidence and sources. It’s not about mythicism versus historicism. It’s about something much more important.

  • GakuseiDon

    Just to lighten the mood a little:

    @observer: The blunt fact is that Earl has no support whatsoever in academia, unless you count Robert Price, but that is a maybe at best.

    Actually Robert Price has written a lot more in praise of Acharya S’s work than of Doherty’s, for what it’s worth. A LOT more. Even Doherty gives Acharya S’s “The Christ Conspiracy” five stars out of five on Amazon. He writes: http://www.amazon.com/review/R2QE1LGGUKNCZ6

    “… Acharya S has done a superb job in bringing together this rich panoply of ancient world mythology and culture, and presenting it in a comprehensive and compelling fashion.”

    @observer: You are aware that Acharya is a complete garbage source right? You are seriously using a women who believes in Atlantis and a primordial race of pygmies to support your views.

    Acharya S suggests in her “The Christ Conspiracy” book that those Pygmies had an ancient advanced global civilization. Yes, global, with advanced technology! This is the scoop of the century! But apparently she didn’t think it worth spending a lot of time of this in her book.

    More recently she has put two articles on her website. I’ve given the links below, with snippets following:

    Article 1: Pygmies in ‘The Christ Conspiracy’: http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=18880

    “Jackson summarizes [in his book]:

    “The Pygmies believed in a Father-God who was murdered, and a Virgin Mother, who gave birth to a Saviour-God Son, who in turn avenged the death of his father. These later on became the Osiris, Isis and Horus of Egypt. The Pygmy Christ was born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, arose from the dead, and finally ascended to heaven. Certainly this looks Christianity before Christ.”

    … The facts recited by Jackson here alone should suffice in demonstrating that the gospel tale is a fictional rehash of an old mythical theme that can be found even in the most primitive cultures, evidently dating back thousands of years.”

    Article 2: Garden of Eden originally a Pygmy myth?: http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/562-garden-of-eden-originally-a-pygmy-myth.html

    “There is no reason to suspect that the Pygmy “Garden of Eden” story is anything but original, and there is much reason to suggest it may well be the oldest account we possess–and the first. What this development suggests, of course, is that the biblical account did not originate in the Middle East and was not originally handed down to Semitic “chosen people.” The same can be said for other biblical myths, such as the Exodus and Christ stories, both of which appear to have emanated from the same Pygmy source as well.”

  • Robert Tulip

    GakuseiDon said: “Acharya S suggests in her “The Christ Conspiracy” book that those Pygmies had an ancient advanced global civilization.   Yes, global, with advanced technology! ”

    Since this thread is devoted to baseless mockery and anonymous defamation of those who question obsolete ideas, such as “Observer”‘s description of Earl Doherty as “a con artist”, why not throw in Murdock, too?

    In fact, GakuseiDon’s assertion about Murdock/Acharya S’s writing on the Pygmies is nothing but a distorted slander.  Murdock states (p391) “the pygmies… claim to have been a global culture many thousands of years ago.”  She does not endorse this claim.  Her discussion of advanced technology refers to the pyramids, which Murdock points out are astoundingly precise, and involve unknown methods to move stones weighing up to 200 tons.  

    We see here how myths get going where there is motive to distort.  Just because Murdock studies pygmies, and recounts their beliefs without endorsement, suddenly we find the unethical anonymous apologist here lying about what she said, seemingly in order to protect his own baseless supernatural mythology.

    As Murdock states at http://freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?p=18880 “Rather than mocking or ridiculing these ideas, a scientific person may wish to do some actual research on these fascinating subjects.”

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Robert, the tone of ad hominem and ridicule and outright avoidance of addressing the arguments themselves is set by the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair himself. This discussion turns into the sort of ignorant retorts one finds from fundamentalists and creationists on discussion forums like those of J P Holding.

      You present arguments and the hostile closed minded apologists retort with ad hominem by association — anything to deflect from the actual arguments.

      It took me several days and many exchanges just to get McGrath to respond to my rebuttal of his assertion about evidence and when he finally did all he could bring himself to do was mock, scoff and deliver puerile retorts. He does not even know what my arguments are — he just assumes I am arguing a certain point and addresses his assumption. He does the same with his reviews of Doherty and Price and even of Carrier’s post recently. He takes his cues from intellectual lights like Mike Wilson as we learned in the Shakespeare Mythicism fiasco.

      He cannot even bring himself to admit — maybe he doesn’t even care — that he was flat wrong in suggesting that the evidence for Shakespeare is anything remotely comparable to that for Paul or Jesus. Maybe he moves in circles where such ignorance is accepted so he feels no embarrassment.

      He is all bluff and bluster and ignorance. He even reacts with outrage against arguments of his mainstream peers if I or Doherty or anyone who does not support historicity uses those same arguments or terminologies.

      He has no ability to sustain a simple logical argument. His reasoning is circular and he does not even recognize this when it is pointed out to him in the simplest and plainest terms.

      He is an embarrassment to academia. The only thing he has going for him is his blog and a promotion of science fiction.

      Even his blog posts about social conditions are anti-intellectual. When trying to understand why creationists etc think the way they do he turns to the Bible and delivers a blog sermon on “pride” — as if he is totally ignorant of the sociological and psychological studies of mainstream academia about such phenomena.

      In short, he is one of those academics who is the epitome of all that is despised and ridiculed by academia beyond the shores of America — and even shunned with some embarrassment by the better institutions within the U.S.

  • Michael Wilson

    Neil, Robert, thank you for your contributions. Your post speak for themselves, what else could anyone add?

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

    I love it! To mythicists, like creationists, pointing out that pseudolinguistic arguments based on similar-sounding words in different languages in different periods rather than the actual meaning of words in a given time and language is an “ad hominem” argument.

    Such attempts at misrepresentation and false accusation don’t deserve a response, other than to offer gratitude to those mythicists who continue to provide evidence here on this blog of the utter worthlessness of mythicism and its character as pseudoscholarship.

    I am still at a loss to figure out why it is that someone like me, who apparently is incompetent and illogical if Neil Doherty is to be believed, continues to manage to have papers accepted for conferences, articles and books accepted for publication with academic publishers, and grant proposals approved, while mythicists don’t seem to do any of that.

    But someone who does is derided as “anti-intellectual.”

    But of course, the basis for that insult is the fact that I find mythicism to have only unpersuasive claims and bogus pseudoscholarship to offer.

    I’ll leave it to others to make up their own minds.

    • Dave Burke

      James,

      >>
      I am still at a loss to figure out why it is that someone like me, who apparently is incompetent and illogical if Neil Doherty is to be believed, continues to manage to have papers accepted for conferences, articles and books accepted for publication with academic publishers, and grant proposals approved, while mythicists don’t seem to do any of that.
      >>

      It’s all part of a historicist conspiracy to marginalise mythicism. The ‘powers that be’ have colluded to exclude mythicist scholarship from mainstream publications!

      Apparently.

  • Michael Wilson

    James, is there a reasoned mythacist arguement out there? It seems a lot of time is spent on Doherty, but i can’t help but think that Price or Carrier may have made better cases, I mean they have advanced degrees. Have they presented thoeries for a mythical Christ or do they just explore the issue? Don made a suggestion at Neil’s page for a sort of Jesus Myth Seminar to put foward the best case, though others sadly feel that the best case is already there and only the Forces of Darkness are keeping it from accepted, beyond what ever advanced (pygmi?) civilizations beyond the America’s shores Neil was refering to. Does Doherty teach at a university there?

  • Robert Tulip

    James McGrath wrote: “I love it! To mythicists, like creationists, pointing out that pseudolinguistic arguments based on similar-sounding words in different languages in different periods rather than the actual meaning of words in a given time and language is an “ad hominem” argument.”

    James – let’s backtrack.  You asked “What is your evidence that any of the non-Jews you mentioned … had the practice of anointing that gives Christ and Christianity their designations?”

    I pointed out that the Egyptians used the term KRST to mean anointed.  This is well attested in the hieroglyphs.

    To which “Observer” said “Acharya is a complete garbage source right?”

    I pointed out that Observer’s opinion of Acharya is pure ad hominem.  If I can give you the definition here, argumentum ad hominem, is an attempt to negate the truth of a claim by pointing out a negative characteristic or belief of the person supporting it.  In this context, “complete garbage source” is a purely personal comment, unrelated to the matter at hand.

    Observer and GakuseiDon added fallacious claims about Atlantis and Pygmies, apparently to bolster the ad hominem assertion that the Krst Egyptian anointing translation is unreliable, and perhaps also, though this has not been said, to imply that the Christian anointing tradition was original and was not based on widespread older practices.

    So, yes, selective cherry picking of arguments that you dislike in order to cast aspersions on completely separate arguments, when these separate arguments have clear provenance and accuracy, is committing the fallacy of ad hominem argument.

    Whether the Egyptian Krst, meaning anointed mummy, has anything to do with the Biblical Christ, meaning anointed savior, is a complex argument.  You have to first be willing to explore the context, which it appears some here are less than willing to do.

    To illustrate the Egyptian provenance of Gospel texts, a good example is Lazarus, who is based entirely on Osiris.  This is proven not only by the etymological identity, through El-Azar, but also by the close similarities between the story in John and the story of the Pyramid Text in which Osiris is accompanied by two women known as Merta, who correspond to Mary and Martha, and by Egyptian images of Horus resurrecting Osiris.  Tom Harpur also discussed this point at some length, but found that Christians face the barrier of fundamentalist belief in historicity of the Gospels, which prevents them from seeing reason or evidence.

    For this obvious example of Egyptian provenance of Gospel ideas, I urge you to look at the direct comparisons between specific biblical and pyramid texts available at http://freethoughtnation.com/contributing-writers/63-acharya-s/455-is-lazarus-a-remake-of-osiris.html

    Oh, and Michael Wilson, I am glad you think my comments speak for themselves.  I assume this means you admit you were wrong about Josephus and are incapable of refuting me?

  • observer

    Should I even ask for academic support for ole Acharya and her um sources :)

    So it is racism to laugh at her absurd pygmy thesis now :)

    Ah yes she does support the existence of Atlantis. http://www.truthbeknown.com/links.htm

    I am agnostic so what do I care if Christianity is refuted.

    This is becoming a very entertaining myther thread indeed :)

  • Michael Wilson

    I don’t know, I would love to have an intelligent debat with you fellows, James, Observer, Burke. What do you think? what’s something we disagree on?

    • Dave Burke

      Well I’m a Christian, so I imagine that offers plenty of scope. 😀

  • GakuseiDon

    Robert Tulip: In fact, GakuseiDon’s assertion about Murdock/Acharya S’s writing on the Pygmies is nothing but a distorted slander.  Murdock states (p391) “the pygmies… claim to have been a global culture many thousands of years ago.”  She does not endorse this claim.  Her discussion of advanced technology refers to the pyramids

    Robert, I think you may need to consider the implications if you think that I am slandering Acharya S by QUOTING her. Reread what I wrote. I didn’t write she endorses the idea, but that she suggests it. She thinks it worthy of future study, based on the credibility of Dr Hallet’s Pygmy friends and that fact that Pygmy remains and culture can be found around the world (see below).

    On the advanced Pygmy technology: In “The Christ Conspiracy” (Page 388), Acharya S quotes Jackson:

    >>”Hallet’s Pygmy friends told him that in the distant past they developed a highly technical and advanced type of material culture and that they built boats and traveled widely around the world, but that this technical excellence brought them nothing but bad luck, so, preferring happiness to misery, they finally gave up this high material civilization. There may be a lot of truth in these traditions, for Pygmy fossils have been found in all parts of the world.”<>”Thus, Pygmy remains and culture are found around the globe, including from Egypt to India…”<>”Over and over again, we hear about the great character of these little people, and, again, it would seem to be calumny of the highest order to suggest that they were lying about their religious and mythical traditions, as it would be likewise in making the same pronouncement of “deceit” or “naivete” concerning Dr. Hallet.”<<

    So am I right that Acharya S is suggesting that Pygmies had an ancient advanced global civilization? That Pygmy remains and culture is found around the world? That they originated the belief in a Pygmy Christ born of a Pygmy Virgin? And more importantly, do YOU think the evidence suggests this as well?

  • observer

    I am either busy or do nothing, that is the nature of the military so no promises with a debate.

    However here is an idea.

    Is the traditional view of the empty tomb historical or a later embellishment.

  • Robert Tulip

    GakuseiDon wrote: “Reread what I wrote. I didn’t write she endorses the idea, but that she suggests it. She thinks it worthy of future study, based on the credibility of Dr Hallet’s Pygmy friends and that fact that Pygmy remains and culture can be found around the world.” 
    Gakusei, if Murdock does not endorse the claim she quotes about Pygmies having high technology, it is twisting her words for you to say she suggests it.  The context here is that Murdock welcomes discussion of many eclectic views that challenge dominant opinion, without endorsing them.  She points out in that chapter you quote that “the further we delve back in time, naturally, the more difficult it is to discover solid ground and the more speculative is the discussion.” (CC p391).  Information about the past is fragmentary, so speculation requires caution and strong research.  Yet you ignore these caveats, just because I quoted her about Osiris and Christ, and trot out a twisted distortion of her comments seemingly designed solely to trash her reputation out of some feeling of religious hurt. 

    The same applies for Atlantis.  It is a fact that at the last glacial maximum sea level was 120 meters below its present height, and there are vast areas of the earth that have since been inundated.  See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Post-Glacial_Sea_Level.png Just because Murdock provides a link to a magazine that explores such themes does not make her like Von Däniken or Velikovsky.

    I would agree the pygmy idea is worth study, from a skeptical perspective, noting the warnings associated with poor anthropological research such as that of Margaret Mead in Samoa and Robert Temple in Mali.  That does not mean rejecting it out of hand as you and “Observer” propose in your ad hominem attacks on her research about Christianity.  

    Further to the context, the book The Christ Conspiracy, like Doherty’s Jesus Neither God Nor Man, provides an exhaustive analysis of the systematic deceit practiced by the Christian church in its construction of the mythology of Jesus Christ, and explores how Christian archetypes are much older than the orthodox picture.  This means that prevailing opinions are often baseless.  In looking at the question of ancient civilizations, there are many real mysteries.  Scoffing at anyone who investigates them seriously is not a mark of good scholarship.

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

    Robert, how would knowledge about this old Egyptian word have been mediated to Paul? How would those who heard or read him using the common Greek work christos have understood the link with old Egyptian? Do you have good reason for not giving priority to the Jewish term mashiach and the Jewish context of use of that term, rather than something from a very different time and culture than Paul’s?

  • observer

    It seems the less qualified an author is the more they are a scholar in Robert’s eyes. Now this has been a fun myther thread indeed :)

    Neil is too clueless to realize he is being parodied and Robert now is defending the idea of a race of super pygmies and the existence of Atlantis.

    Gotta love mytherism.

  • Robert Tulip

    Observer, even though you are anonymous, you should not lie, as it makes you look unethical.  Saying that something cannot be rejected out of hand by banal scoffing is not the same as defending it.  For example, accepting the claim that there may be life elsewhere in the galaxy as a reasonable hypothesis is logically quite different from defending a theory that there actually is life elsewhere.  

    The question of the connection between Egypt and Israel is massive, complex, under-researched and bedeviled by prejudice.  Murdock’s Christ in Egypt presents excellent analysis and sources on this topic, as long as readers approach it without their mind made up in advance to defend Christian prejudice.  The role of the Therapeuts of Alexandria in adding the Biblical prophetic tradition to the Serapis cult to create Christianity involved use of much hidden material that is now lost, including much that was deliberately destroyed by fanatics.

    The origin of this anointing discussion was a question from Dr McGrath whether there are older traditions giving rise to the designation of Christ as the anointed one.

    There are abundant connections between Israel and Egypt, making the hypothesis of hidden Egyptian influence on the Gospels very plausible.  Within this hypothesis, the observation that Egyptians referred to their anointed mummy, the vehicle whereby an individual was saved for the afterlife, as a KRST, is prima facie a highly likely candidate for such an older anointing tradition linked to the name of Christ.  It is part of a bigger puzzle whose pieces are fragmentary.  However, it is possible for a scientific archaeological approach to be applied to the evolution of theology, so the available fragments can be placed within a coherent causal picture.  It is likely that considered alone, the KRST anointing piece is just one small fragment.  However, when seen together with the other abundant evidence of hidden Egyptian influence on Christianity, it should not simply be dismissed as implausible.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Robert,

      “There are abundant connections between Israel and Egypt, making the hypothesis of hidden Egyptian influence on the Gospels very plausible.”

      That may very well be, but just as you said, it is only a hypothesis until you can verify the connections. For example, for you to make the KRST / Christ connection, you need to show that christos and the other Greek forms of anoint were derived etymologically from Egyptian KRST before the production of the Septuagint prior to the 3rd century B.C.E. Even if you could do that, there is still another problem. Even if KRST made its way into Koine Greek, you would then have to show that the Jews used it in an Egyptian sense of embalming the dead as apposed to the Hebrew mashach, which was used in the sense of anoint with oil for confirmation of official appointment to office. So in reference to your quote shown below, the office of Christ had nothing to do with salvation or the afterlife, it was the confirmation of his appointment as king of God’s kingdom.

      “Within this hypothesis, the observation that Egyptians referred to their anointed mummy, the vehicle whereby an individual was saved for the afterlife, as a KRST, is prima facie a highly likely candidate for such an older anointing tradition linked to the name of Christ.”

      Actually, I found the book you quoted from, and Massey says, “krst, whence kas, to embalm, to bandage, to knot, to make the mummy or karast (Birch, Dictionary of the Hieroglyphics, pp. 415-416; Champollion, Grant. Egyptienne, 86). The word krs denotes the embalmment of the mummy, and the krst, as the mummy, was made in the process of preparation by purifying, anointing, and embalming.”

      I tried to find this dictionary on Google, but I had no luck. The only results brought me to web pages with Massey’s quotation. However, I did find a 1920 dictionary that was dedicated to Birch’s first dictionary, “An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary”, but it contained none of the words listed by Massey, I did not find krst, krs, or karast. I did find kas, but it meant sanctuary or vessel. However, it did contain a number of words that mean embalm or anoint, none of which started with the letter K. In fact, the closest word I could find was Kar, Kara and it also means sanctuary or shrine. So I am at a loss here with locating any verifiable information.

      Here is an interesting quote from, “The Dead Sea scrolls in their historical context.”

      “Anointing with oil had various connotations in ancient Israel. Oil was used to strengthen, to cleanse or purify, or simply for pleasure. The anointing of kings has been explained as strengthening or empowering. The practice is usually thought to have been taken over from the Canaanites, although clear documentation is lacking. Kings were not anointed in Mesopotamia or in Egypt, but they were anointed among the Hittites. There is also evidence for the anointing of non-royal officials in Egypt and of Egyptian vassals in Syria. In Israel, anointing is associated with monarchy from the beginning.”

      Lim, T. H., Hurtado, L. W., Auld, A. G., & Jack, A. M. (2004). The Dead Sea scrolls in their historical context. (200). London;  New York: T&T Clark..

  • observer

    What is the lie Robert? Just because you disagree with something does not make it a lie.

    You don’t  get it, your claims are not credible because your source is garbage. Period. Sources plural .

    None of your sources are peer  reviewed period. They have as much academic credibility as a Jack Chick track. When Earl and Acharya act like scholars I will treat them like scholars. As of now they are an intellectual circus act.

    when you can give me some peer reviewed sources which back up your claims I will take them seriously.

    It is odd though, Robert rejects the existence of a first Century Jewish Preacher but gets upset if you laugh at such ” evidenced” ideas as Atlantis or a race of super pygmies. Gotta love mythers.

    I will let McGrath sort through your latest garbage but I will give you two hints, first century Hebrew is not related to Egyptian and words separated by 1000 years from two different languages just cause they kinda sound alike proves nothing. 

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

    I don’t see the need to add anything to that! :-)

  • GakuseiDon

    Acharya S believes it is reasonable to conclude that the cultural and linguistic similarities between countries around the world points to our current global civilization not being the first. From her “The Christ Conspiracy”:

    >>”The linguistical/etymological evidence that connects the world is startling and has been demonstrated throughout this book… A more complex etymological similarity can been found in the Mexican name Mexitli or Mesitli, meaning “the Anointed One,” obviously related to the Egyptian Messu and the Hebrew Messiah. In Maya, “balaam” is a priest, while in Hebrew it is the name of a prophet. There are in fact numerous correlations between the ancient Mexican language and that of the Middle East, including the Sumerian. Indeed, the Mexican culture has close parallels in art, religion and language to Sumer as well.

    Moreover, the Mayan creator god was called “Hurakan”, and the Caribbean storm god was “Hurukan,” both of which are nearly identical to the Tibetan wrathful diety, “Heruka,” which in turn is related to Herakcles or Hercules. It is from this stormy god that we get the word “Hurricane.” Walker hypothesizes that “Horus” was “Heruka” of the East and notes that the Pygmies revered Heru, an archaic name for Horus. (Page 396)

    The global civilization and its mythos are reflected in the amazing physical remains around the world, which have never been fully explained or addressed by mainstream authorities. (Page 397)”<<

    Darn those mainstream authorities! When are they going to get their act together???

  • Robert Tulip

    I earlier gave a link to a post where Murdock provides these references to sources for the Egyptian KRST meaning embalmment.

    Here they are again, from http://www.booktalk.org/post96651.html#p96651 .

    Champollion: http://truthbeknown.com/images/krstchampollion80.jpg – Hieroglyph, signifying KRST or Mummy (Champollion, Grammaire Egyptienne, 80)

    Birch: http://truthbeknown.com/images/krstbirch416.jpg – (Birch, Dictionary of Hieroglyphics, 316)

    Observer, you said I am “defending the idea of a race of super pygmies and the existence of Atlantis.”  I have simply said that distorted scoffing about such topics  is worthless.  That does not equate to me defending these ideas, which is nothing but a typical piece of evangelical deceit from you.  Need I point out that you and your partners in dissembling introduced these ideas as straw men?

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Howard-Mazzaferro/1297383749 Howard Mazzaferro

      Robert,

      Thanks for the links, with that information I was able to locate the term in the dictionary I mentioned. In the more modern dictionary, the word is transliterated as qrst and the dictionary uses qeres-t for the full spelling. And it defines the word as, “funeral, burial, sepulture.” Murdock agrees with this definition on page 317 in “Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection”,  By D. M. Murdock, Acharya S

      However, the problem begins when he infers that the funeral process includes anointing the body with oil. Then he goes on to conclude that because Jesus body was prepared for burial in a similar manner and supposedly Jesus would acquired the title of Christos because of the pre-burial anointing and subsequent resurrection. He mentions Mr 16:1 to support this idea, but the Greek doesn’t actually use the term in question, but a common expression (aleipho) to grease the body with oil. But the real problem that I have been trying to get you to recognize is that if Murdock is suggesting that Jesus’ acquired the title Christos because of the anointing at his funeral, that is clearly a wrong application. The Jewish application of the term Christos referred to an important position in Jewish culture, a different term was applied to anointing a dead body with oil or perfume. (Hebrew sukh and the Greek aleipho). Before Jesus was even born, the awaited Jewish Messiah was clearly referred to as Christos in the Septuagint in verses such as Psalm 2:2, hundreds of years before his burial anointing. So even if KRST would have anything to do with the word Christos, it certainly has nothing to do with his burial.

      Then we have the issue of whether this Egyptian word even sounded like Christos. Depending on the time frame, the hieroglyphics for this word can be variously transliterated. Not to mention, do we know which vowels belong in the proper pronunciation?

      K – q or k
      R – r or l
      S – z or s
      T – t

  • observer

    Robert you are one of  the dumbest  fools I have ever come across. Pull you head out of you ass, and read what people say on here. I am agnostic you waste of oxygen. I have said that many times and I have said that to you. So calling me evangelical is pretty stupid, but hey you are pretty stupid so that is typical behavior for you.

    Maybe you didn’t notice but using “Atlantis Pygmy  Woman” as a source is not going to impress anyone around here. So read a book written by a peer reviewed press and come back and discuss it . Or maybe admit you had no idea ” Atlantis Lady” was such  a crack pot.

    Till then you have shown you only accept fringe ideas that have zero evidence, but mainstream ideas with multiple lines of evidence will never be accepted by you. And you say Christians are cultist? Oh the irony.

  • Dave Burke

    Simon of Peraea: proclaimed king, burned down a palace at Jericho, led a violent revolt, and died in a battle against Herod’s infantry commander. Historians who mention him: ONE (Josephus).

    Athronges: a shepherd famous for his large stature and prodigious strength; proclaimed himself messiah, led a long and violent revolt against Herod Archelaus, and died with his four brothers in a series of battles. Two thousand people were crucified in the aftermath. Historians who mention him: ONE (Josephus).

    Simon the Caesarean: near identical description to Simon Magus. Historians who mention him: ONE (Josephus).

    Anonymous Egyptian prophet: declared himself a prophet, gained a following of thousands (Josephus claims 30,000) and marched to the Mount of Olives, but was repelled by an army sent by Marcus Antonius Felix and fled while hundreds of his disciples were massacred. Historians who mention him: ONE (Josephus).

    Menahem ben Judah: declared himself messiah, leader of the Sicarii, led a violent revolt, captured the Antonia Fortress, pushed out the Roman garrison; tortured and killed by Eleazar the Temple Captain. Historians who mention him: ONE (Josephus).

    Mythicists and other skeptics accept the historicity of these men solely on the basis of Josephus’ unsubstantiated testimony. Apparently a single mention by Josephus is enough to confirm the historicity of anyone, provided they’re not Jesus of Nazareth.

    Complicating the matter is the fact that contemporary Roman historians show no knowledge of the destruction of a palace at Jericho, the revolt against Herod Archelaus and subsequent crucifixion of 2,000 people, the 30,000 cultists repelled by Marcus Antonius Felix, or the capture of the Antonia Fortress and subsequent loss of its garrison.

    Explanations, please?

  • observer

    Vinny

    My main issue is Robert’s complete ineptness on this subject.
    Yes I acknowledge the minority view but I do not find it to be convincing. The shorter passage referring to Jesus does not make any sense without the longer passage.

    Even if it was based on christian tradition this hardly means Josephus could not investigate it anyways so that is hardly an objection. However this is questionable cause of the reference to a Greek following in the passage.

    I think the passage is enough to verify the existence of Jesus but tells us little we did not know.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

      Observer,

      Of course Josephus could have investigated it anyways, but do we have any reason to think it more likely than that he relied on Christian tradition? If it is an open question (and I don’t claim to know whether it is), then I think it is an open question whether on not Josephus corroborates historicity.

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

    Vinny, let me just point out that those numbers are from a survey of works published from the 1930s until 1980. Shlomo Pines’ book on the Arabic evidence for an undoctored version of the TF was published in 1971, and it has taken some time for that work’s impact to be felt. And so my hunch (and I acknowledge that it is not more than that) is that the consensus at present, were it to be surveyed, would reflect an even more significant amount of agreement about this point. Just for everyone’s information…

  • observer

    Vinny

    It seems unlikely that he used Christian tradition cause he mentioned Jesus also had a Greek following during his lifetime, which is not recorded in the Gospels. Even if he just used Christian tradition it still does not mean that he did not investigate was there any basic truth to it, which being a good historian he would have done.

    Yes I think it is reasonable to say Josephus along with other lines of evidence, despite the squealing of mythers shows that Jesus existed.

    • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

      Observer,

      Isn’t the mention of his Greek following one of the things that many scholars believe to be interpolation?

  • http://youcallthisculture.blogspot.com/ VinnyJH

    Dr.  McGrath,

    Do you have any guess as to how the average scholar might assess the probability that the TF is totally spurious?  For example, suppose that every scholar surveyed agreed that it was more likely than not that the TF was partially authentic but they also all agreed that the probability that it was totally spurious was 25%.  The fact that 100% of scholars agreed upon partial authenticity might be somewhat misleading.  

  • observer

    Dr McGrath

    What are the arguments for and against the Pines discovery with Josephus. I am still debating that one with myself.

  • observer

    Hey Vinny

    Not likely. That is simply an error no Christian scribe would have made. That is much more likely from the hand of Josephus.

    I do wish I could time travel with this and flog a certain Christian scribe. He has caused a huge headache to say the least.

  • Robert Tulip

    My good evangelical friend observer has still failed to respond to my challenge.

    How about it evo?

    Why does Origen discuss AJ18 but not mention the TF?

    Logic: it had not been written yet

    Observer’s Evangelism: Reject and Despise logic and evidence, introduce spurious lies about pygmies, make ad hominem slurs about Atlantis, anything but the matter at hand.

    And please no more hissy fits, even though they are impressive.  I am sorry to have to taunt you a second time, but the very slender thread of the only first century independent mention of your beloved Lord and Savior, who the Bible tells us was famed far and wide, is a fraud.  Earl Doherty proves this comprehensively, if you can lift your head out of the sand to read him without burning the book.

    For discussion and non-references from Origen, and for that matter from Justin, Jerome and Augustine, see Josephus, the Bible, and history By Louis H. Feldman, Gōhei Hata p431
    http://books.google.com/books?id=lV70mR-E0DQC&pg=PA459&source=gbs_toc_r&cad=4#v=onepage&q=origen&f=false

  • observer

    I am ignoring Robert from now on as it is obvious he does not read people’s responses to him. I and Dr McGrath answered his question about Josephus two days ago and I have told him again and again I am agnostic.

    Last response Robert. Thanks for being a typical myther.

    I am still involved in serious discussion.

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

    Observer, the gist of the argument for there having been an authentic TF based on Agapius’ citation of it is that he leaves out most of the details that have been suspected of being Christian additions, and since he himself was a Christian, he is unlikely to have done so either intentionally or inadvertently.

    The opposing view emphasizes that he is paraphrasing/quoting from memory, and so that could in their view explain the differences from the Greek version we all know.

    Personally, I find the former more persuasive.

    I believe that there are places where Agapius’ version is reproduced online, and so it is worth taking a look at. At some point I need to track down the Arabic original and give it a closer look.

  • observer

    Thanks Dr McGrath

    I must say I find the former to be more persuasive too.

  • Robert Tulip

    I’m pleased to hear that Observer has decided to ignore me
    as I will be safe from his abusive fundamentalist ignorance.

    Why do I call Observer a fundamentalist?  He asserts he is certain that Jesus Christ
    existed as a historical individual, despite the fact that there is zero
    objective evidence for this belief, and compelling evidence for His invention. 
    Taking something on faith when you have no evidence for it is the
    definition of fundamentalism.  In this
    case it is evangelical because it promotes the Gospel line that we should believe
    in Jesus Christ.

    A stock in trade of liars for the Lord is the assertion that
    a point under dispute has previously been addressed so can be ignored.  Observer uses this lame tactic regarding
    Josephus and the Testimonium Flavianum.  To
    quote from Jesus Neither God Nor Man by Earl Doherty (p538), which provides a
    comprehensive scientific demolition of the apologist arguments: “the startling
    fact is that during the first two centuries when [the TF] is claimed to have
    existed in all manuscripts of the Antiquities of the Jews, not a single
    Christian commentator refers to it in any surviving work.  This includes Justin, Irenaeus, Theophilus,
    Tertullian, Clement, Origen, Hippolytus, Cyprian, Lactantius and Arnobius.  All these apologists are intimately concerned
    with defending Christianity against pagan hostility, yet not one of them draws
    on what may have been the sole example of a non-negative comment on
    Christianity by an outsider before Constantine’s conversion.”

    They did not use it because it did not exist.  The claim of authenticity of the TF is
    utterly absurd, a vacuous piece of fundamentalism.  It is grossly implausible that early
    Christians read and ignored this passage. 
    It is an obvious fraud, which apologist fundamentalists cling to as some
    desperate reed to prove a historical Jesus.

    As to Agapius, writing from a third hand translation nearly
    a thousand years after Josephus, he was simply embarrassed by the absurdity of
    the TF and edited it to something mildly closer to Josephus’s actual views.  No joy there either.  Doherty’s analysis of this material is
    superb, and cannot be dismissed by ignorant hand-waving and evasion.

    Robert Tulip

  • observer

    Dr McGrath

    Is it just me or is Robert becoming another Evan? If I do recall we thoroughly answered his argument about Josephus days ago. Yet another myther ignoring responses that he cannot refute, how typical .

    I do have to admit his Agapius comment is priceless though. Clearly Agapius foresaw the needs to ” doctor up Josephus” to rebut  an internet conspiracy theory lead by a Canadian fraud, a woman who believes in super Pygmies and an assistant librarian  many  hundreds of years after his death. That is priceless. 

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Dr McGrath

      Is it just me or is tim or observer or whoever becoming another James? If I do recall you adamantly insisted that one such as me who you label a mythicist must refrain from the slightest demeaning remark or insult or sarcasm against historicists. How is it, then, that historicists are free to be merely led by your shining, silent example of self-proclaimed absolute shunning of the same?

      But observer, do pinpoint for me the posts where you and Dr McGrath “thoroughly answered the argument about Josephus”. This is a regular line by anti-mythicists — “we thoroughly answered that ages ago: — but I always have a difficult time finding where that definitive moment occurred. So kindly link to the comments that are indeed the definitive answer that no mythicist can reasonably refute.

      Thankyou.

  • Michael Wilson

    Is it abuse to say Robert shares Evan’s style of argumentation? Is it abuse to say that Evan or Roberts arguments are witless? No they have been demonstrated to be such. It is an insult to the intelligence of the people posting here to share this non-sense, and it should be treated with disdain. Neil and Evan’s treatment takes the place of reasoned argument and is unsupported by evidence. Why be nice to someone with no respect for polite honest intellectual conversation? They cannot convince stable minded people to share their position, and as it has been shown, there is no point in dialogue, which they see as a theater for manipulating the intellectually lazy, their base of support. I have absolute confidence however that scholarly opinion will not bow to the demands of a loud, uneducated, internet mob. Does Neil really think that universities are going to read something he or a supporter has wrote and conclude that New Testament scholarship is horribly flawed and drivel like the Jesus Puzzle or Nailed should be taught instead? It must be, what a waste of a hobby.

  • observer

    Neil on this thread as of the time of this posting Dr McGrath and I answered Robert’s question on Josephus five days ago. It was immediately after his question too. So he certainly got the response, but he is pretending it does not exist. He might not like the answer but the answer is there.

    Explain to me why I am obligated to waste any time on Robert when answers to have questions have been posted by more then one person and he refuses to acknowledge they even exist.

    I have a lot of SERIOUS historical areas I want to study. Mytherism is demonstrated nonsense with zero academic credibility so I will not spend much time on it because it is not profitable to me as someone who wants to further my historical background. I certainly will not waste time on any myther who wants to pretend he did not receive an answer to his question even if he does not like it.

    I see you are still engaged in your childishness when you call me Tim. I do want you to explain why it is okay for Earl Doherty to be very private with his background and he is a much more public figure then I am.

    If for some reason you think I am Tim O’Neill I can certainly say I am not.

  • Robert Tulip

    Michael Wilson, your comments are pure psychological projection, and well describe your own behaviour here.  You say my statements are “unsupported by evidence”.  This looks very much like bigotry on your part, refusing to engage with the evidence I presented of how none of the early Christian apologists used the supposed sole piece of early pagan support of Christianity.  You attack me in this ad hominem fashion because you are incapable of reasoned argument, because you believe things that are false.  But faith means never having to say you are sorry or admit you are wrong.

    To again repeat the point repeated by Neil, the liars here claim the material on Josephus has been refuted, but they won’t say where because they are lying and hope they can hide behind empty rhetoric.  It worked in the days of the Inquisition, but it does not work any more.

    • Michael Wilson

      Robert if you can’t find any material on why scholars accept that parts of the Josephus passages on Jesus are genuine, you are incompetent.

  • observer

    Neil also engages in another mytherism tactic when he confuses his ability to offer an implausible ”  how it could have been scenario” as being a true rebuttal. Mythers fail to realize that arguments that only convince their  little cult and no one else period ( including academia who they should try to be convincing) are not rebuttals period. That is another thing  mythers have in common with creationist and holocaust deniers. 

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Oh come on anonymous observer, stop playing silly beggers and just link for me the definitive arguments you and James laid out about Josephus a few days ago and that you indicated no mythicist could answer.

      If I have such a lame “mytherism tactic” with which to respond to them then you should be able to double your laughs if you give me a chance to repond to them again. So where are they?

  • Robert Tulip

    And by the way, DM Murdock has never mentioned Atlantis in any of her books.  Observer’s slur is just misogynist bigotry.

  • observer

    Oh this thread is rich now. I posted AGAIN where James and I responded to Robert and he is still pretending we didn’t :)

    My hobbies are restoring phonographs, collecting civil war guns and scuba diving. Whoever reading mythers is always fun.

    • observer

      Err However not whoever, silly typo :)

  • observer

    And yes she mentions it and endorses it on her website though  :)

    So I am a misogynist now. 

    Oh the joys of interacting  with mytherism

    So far we have learned from Robert.

    Peer Reviewed scholarship – Bad

    A women who believes in a race of super pygmies and supports the existence of atlantis. – Good source of knowledge :)

  • Robert Tulip

    As I mentioned before, the fact that Murdock has a page of links does not constitute an endorsement of the content of those links, especially when in her own writings she never mentions the topic.  If a Christian blog linked to a creationist blog, by Observer’s logic the link is an endorsement of YEC, and we can start calling the writer YEC names.  

    Again, where oh where is the AGAIN link on Josephus?  I saw a statement that it had already been done, but not the actual response, except for some lame tangential comments about a tenth century re-working.  In fact, this writer was so embarrassed about how Eusebius had put farcical words in Josephus’ mouth that he retracted half of them.  If someone in the tenth century had read a butchered version of the TF, that still does not explain why none of the apologists mention it for two hundred years after it was written.  Especially since apologists today see it as the best proof there is that Jesus was real!  Origen talks about the very chapter in which the TF sits, as part of his effort to rebut paganism, but miraculously fails to see the TF, even though it is tailor-made to support his argument.  This literal historical story has no actual evidence.  All the real evidence points clearly to invention of Jesus as an imaginary fiction.

  • observer

    Ah you want to field this one Dr McGrath :)

    Yes a 10th century bishop was embarrassed  by an interpolated passage of Josephus because he foresaw the ” devastating”  refutations of Atlantis woman, an assistant librarian and please do not ask me about my degree Earl.

    This thread is always fun, but adding an Acharya S drone just makes this comedy gold.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I asked you, “anonymous”, for the links to those definitive arguments you said you and James make some days ago. You refuse to do so just as James refused to respond to a query of mine for days — and only finally resorted to sarcasm when he was finally pushed. Please be a gentleman and respond to this third or fourth request for the links to your definitive argument(s) that you indicate no mythicist has any reasonable argument by way of contradiction. Or will this be yet one more in the historicist annals of clear rebuttals to mythicism that were made long ago but that no-one can find any longer?

  • observer

    Neil

    I do not know  how to link to a SPECIFIC comment, that is why I said go to the COMMENTS by me and Dr McGrath from five days ago ( obviously the ones about Josephus) . Now you can acknowledge I did this and tried to be reasonable or you can continue in the default mode of assholery which is common among mythers. Your choice.

    Now you can be useful and give me some instructions on how to do this ( or at least direct me to them) or you can simply read what I said earlier and look for the comments from five days ago. Again your choice.

  • Dave Burke

    observer, each post has a permanent link embedded in the bottom left corner. You will see a tag there which tells you when the post was made. E.g., ‘3 weeks ago in reply to James F. McGrath.’ Right-click on the first part (‘3 weeks ago’) to get a direct link to the post, or on the second half (‘in reply to James F. McGrath’) for a link to the post it’s replying to.

    Hope this helps. :)

  • observer

    Neil would you please show where I indicated anything about links in my comments about Robert’s question about Josephus. I indicated Dr McGrath and I answered his question on this forum. You are being annoyed at me for a comment I never made.

    Now that I have answered my question would you politely answer my question from earlier.

    I do want you to explain why it is okay for Earl Doherty to be very private with his background and he is a much more public figure then I am. 

    Please explain this.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Observer , no, your pseudonym is not aptly chosen. You fail (and this seems typical) to observe my question. I asked you for links TO your responses. Not links “in” your comments. I am merely asking you to point out comments where you and James provided the answers re Josephus that you indicated no mythicist could or has reasonably answered.

  • observer

    Robert’s question- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/10/doherty-mythicism.html#comment-355973560

    Dr McGrath’s answer- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/10/doherty-mythicism.html#comment-355977241

    My answer- http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/10/doherty-mythicism.html#comment-355977294

    That should be enough to show Robert is not remotely interested in dealing with answers to his question.

    I will be curious to see his response about Acharya S clear endorsement of Atlantis. I suspect he will continue to defend her.

  • observer

    It is also funny that Robert calls Josephus Pagan. He was Jewish. Yet more evidence that he is utterly clueless about this subject. That would explain why he takes Doherty and Pygmy woman seriously.

    • Robert Tulip

      “observer” said: It is also funny that Robert calls Josephus Pagan. He was Jewish. Yet more evidence that he is utterly clueless about this subject. That would explain why he takes Doherty and Pygmy woman seriously.”

      Observer, please let me clarify, with apologies to readers for allowing this irrelevant red herring.  Contrary to your false assertion, I did not call Josephus pagan.  I said “This looks very much like bigotry on your part, refusing to engage with the evidence I presented of how none of the early Christian apologists used the supposed sole piece of early pagan support of Christianity.”

      The Antiquities of the Jews was written in Greek for Josephus’ pagan patrons.  As such, it was a work within a pagan imperial milieu, published by pagans.  Its political influence was partly in its use of Greco-Roman traditions of objective historiography, outside the Judeo-Christian tradition of Biblical writing.  Were the TF authentic, it would have indeed constituted the sole piece of early pagan support for Christianity, although I concede this formulation is unclear.  But the fact is that the TF did not exist for hundreds of years after Josephus wrote, and that is the substantive point I was making, which Observer ignores.

      The standards of apologetic on this forum are very bad.  This example, together with Observer’s abusive ad hominem references to Atlantis and the pygmies, indicate a complete lack of interest in scholarly objectivity.  May I remind readers that there is nothing on Murdock’s website that defends the Atlantis theory.  Her early references were discussing speculation by other authors in a way for which she clearly states the weak evidentiary status.  It would be more productive to have a civil collegial conversation than to indulge in pathetic bullying and intimidation while avoiding all substantive content.  For Observer to call me “utterly clueless” based on my legitimate placement of the Antiquities of the Jews within its correct pagan context is not a serious contribution.

      Rather than “engage with evidence”, which was the substance of my comment, Observer prefers firstly to leap on an irrelevant side issue rather than simply ask me for clarification, and secondly, to continue a racially tinged ad hominem method of ridicule of scholarly work on African mythology. 

      This partly started because I had the temerity to cite DM Murdock’s work on the Egyptian term KRST meaning anointed.  Such claims are highly controversial, because they question the dominant prevailing views of Greek and Christian identity.  Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization, by Martin Bernal, Professor Emeritus of Government and Near Eastern Studies at Cornell University, provides a good explanation of the prejudices that constrain academic debate on such matters and lead to new approaches being ignored and suppressed.  The level of vitriol in the responses here shows the emotional charge of this material.

      • Michael Wilson

        Such claims are highly controversial because the evidence is pure coincidence with no plausible connections and other readilly availble explanations. Academics are suppressing arguments with no evidence or logic to support them.

      • Geoff Hudson

        You wrote: “The Antiquities of the Jews was written in Greek for Josephus’ pagan patrons.”  

        That is one version.  Josephus probably did not exist.  And were the pagans as pagan as you think?  Surely you would think some Romans at least would have had an interest which was not pagan.  And how do we know that the first production was not in Latin?  And why would Vespasian of all people have wanted to hear about the history of the Jews?  He had, or rather his son had, just destroyed the Jewish temple.  He would have wanted to bury the past.  Just a few reasons why I think original Antiquities was written before 62 CE, by someone else other than the fictitious Josephus. 

        • Michael Wilson

          Geoff, thats a lot of assertion I think the rest of us are unfamiliar with. What is the source for all of this, We need to be brought up to speed before having the conversation on the non existant Josephus.

          • Geoff Hudson

            Here is an example.  

            War 3.7 – Vespasian supposedly took Jotapata supposedly in Galilee.  

            Jotapata in Josephus is an accurate description of Qumran. Nero took Qumran from the priests and destroyed it. The battle must have originally been in Nero’s war records. No mention of Qumran as such in Josephus.  The description of Yodfat in Galilee (a recent suggestion for Jotapata) is nothing like the description in Josephus.  In fact Qumran, a fortress, was taken by Placidus. (War 3.6.1). 

            At Jotapata, Josephus was supposedly captured.  The ridiculous story is unbelievable, a Roman fabrication. 

            In parallel with Placidus’s attack on Qumran, Trajan was sent by Nero against Masada, which in the extant Josephus is Japha.  At Masada there were priests who had tricked their way in.  Japha in Josephus is an accurate description of Masada. (War 3.7.31).  The Romans caught many of the priests outside the fortress walls.   

            Then in extanct Josephus, one place left in Galilee, was Gamala.  Gamala in Josephus is an accurate description of Machaerus in Judea. 

            There are no identifiable places for Jotapata, Japha and Gamala in Galilee.  There is no archaeological evidence that Vespasian ever went to Galilee.

            The priests knew that the Romans were coming.  They had killed James and king Agrippa. Many priests fled to the fortresses they had taken from Agrippa’s forces.  They dumped their scrolls and tefillin near to Qumran and all around the Judean desert.               

          • Michael Wilson

            a book you might suggest? every thing you have said is news to me so I would have to see the arguments for my self in full.

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

    Observer, sorry for not chiming in sooner, but it doesn’t look like I was needed to field anything! :-)

    It is interesting to me that while Robert was offering an ad hoc suggestion that the Christian Agapius unlike all other Christians who quoted Josephus before him thought that the Testimonium was “too Christian” and/or “ridiculous,” on another thread, there were young-earth creationists offering ad hoc responses to evidence for the age of the earth.

    We all instinctively defend our own ideas and beliefs, but at some point the offering of off the cuff, spur of the moment responses may, perhaps should, begin to seem inadequate and one may be faced with a choice between finally seeing why experts treat one’s views with scorn and opening oneself to rethinking, or becoming an entrenched fundamentalist willing to defend their views no matter whether the line of argument is reasonable.

    I also noticed that on both threads, there was an attempt by detractors from mainstream scholarly/scientific views to get summaries of what experts say, rather than going away to read the scholarly works themselves, presumably because it is much easier to dismiss a summary of a convincing piece of research than the actual published version of the research itself.

  • observer

    Are we taking bets on if Robert sticks around or not. He might want to wipe the egg of his computer screen from his absurd claim that Acharya does not support the existence of Atlantis.

  • GakuseiDon

    A little more on Acharya S and Atlantis. In the link I gave above, I noted that Acharya S states:

    >>”… we are in concurrence with the “ancient advanced civilization” theory (“Atlantis”) that would allow for one or more centralized civilizations to have spread throughout the world during a very remote period in protohistory…<>”… although Egypt is often given the honor of being the originator of much human culture, the Egyptians themselves recorded that they were the inheritors of a great civilization that came from elsewhere. Indeed, the Egyptian culture seemingly appeared out of nowhere at a high level of development, as did the Sumero-Mesopotamian and South American. This fact is explainable if the civilizers were advanced groups coming from elsewhere, from lands that had been destroyed by climatic change, war or other cataclysm.”<<

    The first references for "Atlantis" came from Plato, whose information came from Egyptian priests. So it seems to me she is referring to Atlantis here. Acharya S also writes of the "ancient advanced civilization" being "centralized", that highly developed cultures in Egypt and **South America** appeared suddenly, and that "this fact is explainable" if the civilizers were advanced groups coming from lands destroyed by war or cataclysm.

    Robert, are you in concurrence with the "ancient advanced civilization" theory ("Atlantis")? Do you think the Egyptian, Sumero-Mesopotamian and South American cultures seemingly appearing out of nowhere at a high level of development is explainable if the civilizers were advanced groups coming from lands destroyed by war or cataclysm? If you do, where would that land be located, such that groups would spread to both Egypt and **South America**?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Noam Chomsky is on record as having serious problems with evolution as an explanation for human language. No scholar would for this reason dismiss Chomsky as not worth reading in any study of linguistics. So what’s all this about someone’s thoughts on pygmies? Should I reject any scholar about Jesus who in his private life thinks he talks to Jesus?

      • Dave Burke

        ‘Have straw, will grasp’!

        The reason people don’t dismiss Chomsky is because he has a well established track record as an authority in linguistics and his theories are perfectly reasonable. His position re. evolution & language simply states that natural selection alone cannot account for the evolution of language. There’s nothing controversial about this.

        By contrast, Murdock has no track record as an authority on anything, and her ideas are so ridiculous that describing them as ‘controversial’ is like calling the tooth fairy a controversial hypothesis about the origin of money under pillows. It implies a level of legitimacy (or possible legitimacy) that simply does not exist.

        Unlike Chomsky, who arrives at his theories using a legitimate methodology, Murdock’s ideas reflect a flawed and idiosyncratic methodology driven by an equally flawed ideology. She finds the answers she wants to find by using a method that will produce the results she needs.

        For example, Murdock thinks ‘KRST’ looks like ‘Christ’, and this is evidence that the ‘Christ myth’ began in Egypt. Murdock believes her reasoning is perfectly valid, yet I’m sure we all understand why it’s bogus.

        I tried to explain this to her during one of our exchanges many years ago, but she seems incapable of comprehending even the simplest logical concepts. Like a young earth creationist, she simply ignores or distorts any evidence that doesn’t fit her uniquely warped perception of the universe. Comparing her to Chomsky is ludicrous (not to mention deeply insulting to Chomsky).

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          Oh Dave Burke, you are too predictable. It crossed my mind at the time I made that comment that the name Chomsky might lead someone to completely miss the logic of the anology and focus only on the name of Chomsky itself just as you have done. Just in the event someone might make this mistake I decided to toss in my second analogy by way of invitation for any such person to consider what they had in common and so pick up the point of the analogy. But no, that didn’t work either.

          So how about dealing with the issue instead of trying to muddy the waters with other nonsense. Some historical Jesus scholars actually believe in miracles and angels and that Jesus is even alive today. Should I reject their scholarship because they entertain such sillinenss even though it is related at some level to their interest in the historical Jesus?

          • Dave Burke

            Neil, I’ve understood the logic perfectly. My point was, your example doesn’t actually work.

            >>
            Some historical Jesus scholars actually believe in miracles and angels and that Jesus is even alive today. Should I reject their scholarship because they entertain such sillinenss even though it is related at some level to their interest in the historical Jesus?
            >>

            If you can show that their acceptance of a historical Jesus is based solely on the same methodology that leads them to believe in miracles and angels, you have every right to reject their scholarship.

            The problem with Acharya is that the methodology by which she arrives at mythicism is the same methodology by which she arrives at every other piece of nonsense that bounces around in her head – and it is a demonstrably flawed methodology, resulting in untenable conclusions.

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            Well commenters would do well then to argue methodology, wouldn’t they. I don’t see evidence that anyone here has any idea what methodology really means and implies let alone has the ability to discuss it.

          • Dave Burke

            Neil,

            >>
            Well commenters would do well then to argue methodology, wouldn’t they
            >>

            Absolutely. What makes someone wrong is not a belief in miracles or genius pygmies per se, but the conclusions they draw and the methods involved in reaching them.

            >>
            I don’t see evidence that anyone here has any idea what methodology really means and implies let alone has the ability to discuss it.
            >>

            I’ll take that for what it’s worth. Which is… well it’s not really worth anything, is it Neil?

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            David, you no doubt can link to all the comments here addressing discussions of Murdoch’s or others methodologies just as easily as observer can point me to the definitive presentations of the Josephus arguments he indicated no mythicist could answer. Not even James has demonstrated any capacity to address methodology in historiography.

          • Burke Davej

            Neil,

            >>
            David, you no doubt can link to all the comments here addressing discussions of Murdoch’s or others methodologies
            >>

            Assuming there have been actual discussions of methodology, they’d take a long time to find in a thread with 390 comments. Surely that would be your job, if you’re so keen to see them?

            >>
            Not even James has demonstrated any capacity to address methodology in historiography.
            >>

            Presumably you’ll be in a position to substantiate this claim after you’ve found all the comments addressing discussions of Murdoch’s or others methodologies and comprehensively scrutinised James’ contribution to them. Let me know how that works out for you.

            Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Mythicist claims are particularly extraordinary, but where is the extraordinary evidence required to vindicate them? Nobody seems to know. Young Earth Creationists have their ‘God of the gaps’; Mythicism has its ‘hypothesis of the gaps.’ They make good bedfellows!

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            Dave, I have just scrutinized the 390 comments and can confirm that not a single one addresses methodology. So by your own rules my claim that McGrath nor anyone else on this thread (and I have read every other comment by McGrath in which the question of methodology is raised) has demonstrated the slightest understanding of methodology or preparedness to address it stands.

  • Michael Wilson

    Robert, read the argument being made Origin. He is not arguing for the existence of John. He says that Celsus presents Jews as accepting John the Baptist. He then says that this John’s existence was related by Josephus, that is, Josephus told Johns history. He wants to tell Celsus this not because Celsus does not think John existed; it appears here he does, but to introduce the opinion of Josephus that the temple was destroyed because of the murder of James, brother of Jesus. How Origin comes to that conclusion is not explained here, but the point is Origin is using the Jews admiration of John to establish Josephus’s validity, he accurately describes the Baptist, and then his neutrality, he says Josephus did not think Jesus was Christ.

     Now why would Origin need to specify the material in the TF? His object is this mention of James, brother of Jesus, called Christ. What is the point of bringing in the other phrase?  The Jews didn’t accept Christ so using Josephus description of Jesus wouldn’t help to establish Josephus as a trusted source to Jews. And again, he isn’t try to convince Celsus Jesus exist and is attested too, Celsus himself Jesus was a real person in history born to a soldier named Pantera. He is arguing that it is natural that it was Jesus not James’ death that was the cause of the fall of Jerusalem. The Jews accept John, Josephus agrees with their view of John, and despite not being a Christian, says the temple was destroyed on account of the death of James (again irrelevant that Origin is mistaken in his analysis), but if God would destroy the city on the account of James, isn’t it more likely that he destroyed it on account of James master, Jesus? See simple Robert. That is why people don’t think this passage supports the TF as a complete interpolation. If Origin had mentioned it, it would have disrupted his argument for no reason. It is not evidence of any thing that Origin doesn’t say what we logicaly don’t expect him to say. Seriously, where would you put the TF into this passage?

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

    Robert, we clearly have different ideas of what it means to discuss something “in detail” but for the present purpose that is beside the point.

    If there was no version of the TF in Josephus, one without Christian tampering, them what precisely do you consider to have been the basis for Origen’s confident assertion that Josephus was not a Christian? It sounds like he is not merely working from the absence of reference, but from what Josephus actually says.

    Of course, in considering this subject one must also keep in mind that Origen is sketchy in his recollection of exactly what Josephus wrote about James. But there too he indicates what all of our manuscripts of Josephus do, namely that Josephus referred to James the brother of Jesus called Christ.

    Origen does not seem to help the mythicist case in any obvious way, but he does seem to have the potential to undermine it.

  • Dave Burke

    Neil,

    Your original claim was:

    >>
    I don’t see evidence that anyone here has any idea what methodology really means and implies let alone has the ability to discuss it.
    >>

    Leaving aside the implicit accusation that James (a professional academic) has no idea what methodology really means and implies let alone has the ability to discuss it, I still consider this claim unsubstantiated.

    You now say:

    >>
    I have just scrutinized the 390 comments and can confirm that not a single one addresses methodology.
    >>

    Oh really? This raises questions about your criteria. I recall that we shared some exchanges about the respective methodologies of Earl and Acharya, one of which included my reference to her conflation of ‘KRST’ with ‘Christ.’ Did these not count?

    Your original claim was overblown. Your more recent version isn’t much better. If you want a discussion on methodology, perhaps you should start one and show us where you believe the problems lie.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      And my original claim stands. I still don’t see any such evidence. Least of all from “a certain professional academic”.

  • Fortigurn

    //In The Historical Figure of Jesus E.P. Sanders gives a list of
    eleven facts about Jesus’ public career which he says are “almost beyond
    dispute.”  Of these eleven, Paul only partially corroborates two.//

    So what? You have yet to address the list of passages in Paul’s writings which indicated Paul believed Jesus was a historical figure. Whether or not these can all be corroborated as historical is irrelevant; they still indicate Paul believed Jesus was a historical figure, which is the point under discussion.

    //I don’t see anything in Paul that we would lead me to believe that he
    thought that the source of his message was a recently deceased itinerant
    preacher who bore any resemblance to the person described in the
    gospels.  He might have thought so, but I sure don’t get it from his letters.//

    This suggests strongly that you don’t want to see it.

  • Michael Wilson

    I would love Neil to discuss what he thinks proper methodolgy is, without that I really don’t know what to make of his assertion that no one is doing it right.

  • Fortigurn

    This is a point on which Neil Geoffrey prefers to remain mysterious. He is convinced that all historians are ‘doing it wrong’, but he doesn’t ever quite explain how to ‘do it right’. Nor does he ever actually approach the historians he criticizes, with his explanation for how they should ‘do it right’.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      This is a point on which Neil Geoffrey prefers to remain mysterious. He
      is convinced that all historians are ‘doing it wrong’,

      This is a strange statement. I am always acknowledging my debt to historians and other scholars for my understanding of the methodology they themselves explain and that I myself discuss.

      but he doesn’t
      ever quite explain how to ‘do it right’.

      This is very strange given that I have discussed methodology on my blog more than any other single topic, and my discussions are exactly about how historians do it right.

      Nor does he ever actually
      approach the historians he criticizes, with his explanation for how they
      should ‘do it right’.

      This is even more bizarre. I have posted several reviews of historical works by biblical scholars and have had exchanges with some of these.

  • Fortigurn

    Neil, if the pygmies didn’t have gills, then how did they build Atlantis? And if they didn’t have wings, then how did they build the pyramids? The questions just keep adding up!

  • Michael Wilson

    I share Fortigurn’s confusion. I don’t think Neil has explained what he considers to be good methodology.  Neil has a lot of post under methodology, but I don’t see any post explaining his. It is a lot to sort through to solve the puzzle of Neil’s methods of history, and the thread takes a while to scroll though. So unless Neil takes the time to explain his method, a summary of it, I can’t say it would be worth my time to try and piece this together. Since he disagrees with virtually every researcher that has dealt with Jesus or John the Baptist as a historical figure, not only biblical scholars but historians of antiquity, it seems he can find few historians that agree with his position, and must enlist amateur historians.
    It makes you question his assertion that bible scholars do history wrong when it also requires the ad-hoc argument that non biblical historians that touch on the subject just aren’t thinking when it comes to Jesus. But again, this just tells us that most historians don’t come to the conclusion Neil thinks they should using the methods that they developed, not Neil. So why should we believe Neil when he says that scholars aren’t using the proper methods, shouldn’t he explain what he thinks the proper methods are?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Oh Boobs, if you knew the difference between a free text search and an index search you would not be so confused. If you even read the simplest and briefest of summaries of what is involved with assessing the historicity of Socrates as just one simple example – a summary not even our professional academic McGrath has once made the slightest effort to address: every response has been sarcasm or ridicule and not once has he addressed the argument, not once. As soon as I mention methodology with anyone here, everyone, McGrath included, goes bananas with ridicule and insult. Now that suggests to me that no-one here has the first clue about the fundamentals of source assessment and evaluations of historicity.

      Professional biblical historians themselves claim that the historicity of Jesus is an assumption and that their methodology is circular. Historians in other fields know how to avoid starting with an assumption only and how to avoid circularity. All I have argued is that the same methods that build on something substantial and avoid circularity be applied to Christian origins. But that suggestion of mine sends everyone here into mindless responses of buffoonery and insult.

      • Geoff Hudson

        He says: “Now that suggests to me that no-one here has the first clue about the fundamentals of source assessment and evaluations of historicity.” 
        And then he says on his blog  “The myth of Masada has long been accepted as ‘historical fact’ ”  He appears not to have a clue how to evaluate the Roman Camps at Masada?  (I wrote to his blog on this matter, and as usual he refused to publish it).

        • Geoff Hudson

          Perhaps he thinks that some early Christians created the Roman camps so that they could write the finale to War.

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          Geoff, your mails go into spam on my blog. I write for an audience with a general knowledge that encompasses awareness that the Josephan account of the mass suicide etc at Masada is entirely mythical. Archaeology has recently come to the support of the older literary arguments for this.

          • Geoff Hudson

            You didn’t say that.  You refer to the “myth of Masada”, as though its all myth.  But I want to pin you down about something which is not mythical, as you fully realise.  It is about the Roman camps around Masada, and dare I say the ‘camps’ on top.  What explanation has our master historian got for these?   

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            No, I didn’t spell that out. I sometimes forget or don’t bother to dumb-down my posts for the less well-informed.

            But as for being pinned down, ouch, you got me. I confess that though I think the Homeric tales a myth there really was a Troy and it faced a number of wars, sometimes against the Greeks.

          • Geoff Hudson

            So we have a well-informed, Greek speaking, historian, who can’t write simple blogs, concisely, for the less well-informed.  He can fill a page or two in a jiffy with flowery, smooth language. And we know he is well informed because he constantly fills his blog with the writings of other scholars who on the one hand he strangely loves to denigrate, and on the other hangs on their skirts for dear life, as though he really wants to be their friend.   

            Yet for all his suggestion of brilliance, he can’t tell us why there are the remains of a number of Roman camps around Masada that would have held about 8000 troops.     

          • Geoff Hudson

            He wrote on his blog: “The myth of Masada has long been accepted as “historical fact” largely because it forms a literary and ideologically aesthetic conclusion to the demonstrably historical report of the siege and fall of Jerusalem.”  

            Some big smooth words here!  Literary. Ideologically. Aesthetic. Demonstrably. 

            So what report of the seige and fall of Jerusalem was he referring to? Surely he doesn’t mean the report in Josephus’s War books 5 and 6.  This what’s-its-name, I’ve forgotten, had just spent a large part of his blog of bashing Josephus. http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/11/14/sifting-fact-from-fiction-in-josephus-john-the-baptist-as-a-case-study/

            So not only can’t he explain the reason for the large Roman presence at Masada, he relies upon an imagined report in the writings attributed to Josephus for a siege and the fall of Jereusalem. I mean the myth of Masada and the seige and fall of Jerusalem couldn’t have been invented by Vespasian’s historicists (sorry I’ve used a big word), could they?        

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            It  ought to be obvious but I know that even an academic chair learns his wisdom from some barely literate bloggers (the only criteria for wisdom in his eyes appears to be that they abuse Doherty and me) so let me state that yes, I do believe the world is round but that it is a myth that Atlas carries it on his shoulders; and yes I do believe there was an ancient Troy involved with wars with Greek states but that Homer’s story of Achilles is a myth; and yes, I do believe that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans but that it is a myth that a cow gave birth to a lamb as a sign of this; and yes, I do believe there was a siege at Masada, but that the tale Josephus dramatizes of all that happened on the top of Masada is a myth.

          • Geoff Hudson

            He wrote on his blog: “The myth of Masada has long been accepted as ‘historical fact’ largely because it forms a literary and ideologically aesthetic conclusion to the demonstrably historical report of the siege and fall of Jerusalem.” 
            What an idiot of a smooth historian this man is!  He can’t even see that these two ideas were linked by Roman literary editors to form an ideological whole.  The SAME writers wrote both accounts.  There was no siege of Jerusalem, just as there was no siege of Masada.  The two topics go hand-in-hand in the text of War.  Both were invented. The siege of Masada is a myth.  The siege and destruction of Jerusalem is a myth.  Both perpetuated by Vespasian, who had fabricated such a victory for Claudius.  The historians have got it all wrong.  There are no Roman remains of any circumvallation (excuse the big word) wall around Jerusalem, and no Roman remains of a siege, or siege weapons.  There were no coins of any ‘revolt’ – the signs on the coins were of peace and joy.  And Vespasian didn’t start his campaign in Gallilee where there is also no archaeological evidence.  At Masada, there was no circumvallation wall to keep Jews in, and again no Roman remains of any siege weapons.   The wall at Masada was built by Herod as a part of the defensive system.  

            The temple was ransacked for its wealth.  It was destroyed from within after being stripped of its gold.  This funded Vespasian’s rise to power.  He had played a waiting game.         

          • Geoff Hudson

            “I write for an audience with a general knowledge that encompasses awareness that the Josephan account of the mass suicide etc at Masada is entirely mythical.”
            Oh, do you!  Never mind that that includes me.  And what is the “etc” for?  The remains of roman camps?     

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

    As I pointed out once recently, Neil Godfrey offered a lengthy restatement of Dale Allison’s treatment of a particular topic, and then dismissed it at the end because he said he was already persuaded to think otherwise.

    I think that he and other mythicists think that if you have mentioned a subject, you have treated it adequately – and conversely, that if you don’t reach mythicist conclusions, then your treatment lacks a clearly-defined method.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James F. McGrath continues to avoid discussing methodology and here uses a counter attack on some other issue in which he repeats a blatant falsehood. As I said, not once has anyone here attempted to address methodology or my arguments about methodology, not one of you. The response is always attack, scoff, ridicule or ignore. Always.

      McGrath knows that I directly quoted Dale Allison’s argument in full. There was no “restatement” or summary of it at all — it was a direct quotation in full and McGrath knows that because I told him by way of reminder after he had read it for himself.

      I pointed out that not a single one of Dale Allison’s points addressed the counter-argument to his position even though that counter-argument is posed not by mythicists but by mainstream scholars who accept the historicity of Jesus.

      That was a simple matter of fact. It is an outright falsehood that I rejected Allison’s argument for the sole reason that my mind was made up otherwise from the beginning.

      Rather, my post was entirely critical of the METHOD of Dale Allison’s argument and his FAILURE to address the opposing view.

      I rejected Dale Allison’s argument because of his METHOD of argument and his FAILURE to address counter-arguments.

      As the good Doctor himself has said many times, just repeating the case for your own position is not good enough. You have to show why your argument is better than another one.

      Dale Allison merely presents a grab-bag of reasons for one argument and simply fails to address the opposing argument.

      I submit my post as exhibit A: http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/rulers-of-this-age-dale-allisons-shotgun-argument-for-human-rulers/

  • Pf

    So Neil, the next logical sentence in that sequence would be … Yes, there was a Jesus but his followers dramatized and exaggerated his exploits.

    Crap, that wasn’t so hard, was it? Now can we all go home and talk about something less silly?

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I like your intellectual tone, pf. Unfortunately your proposition is vacuous and fails to grasp the logic underpinning my pairs. If you actually think beneath the surface you will notice that the things that I acknowledge are facts are determined to be facts by objective, tangible, measurable, observable, externally controlling evidence.

      I am merely agreeing with mainstream biblical scholars who have said in the past and continue to say now that the evidence for the historical Jesus based on circular methodology. They may not like the comparison, but to be blunt it is the same methodology as supports some people’s belief in Atlantis.

      Yet people here respond with scoffing and insult whenever I mention there is a methodology that is used by historians generally, even other biblical historians, that avoids this circularity. This indicates to me a latent fear and inability to admit that a belief so widely accepted could be all built on sand.

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

    Which sounds exactly like what another group (who shall remain nameless) says about another field (which shall remain nameless)…

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      McGrath, would you like to discuss methodology with me? I mean discuss it, not scoff and insult. Creationists use insult and fail to engage with the real and serious arguments of scientists. They walk away or mis-state them. Scientists are not afraid to engage the creationists and demonstrate where their arguments are flawed.

      How about having a little humility and a little courage and actually addressing methodology seriously with me?

  • Fortigurn

    //I am always acknowledging my debt to historians and other scholars for
    my understanding of the methodology they themselves explain and that I
    myself discuss.//

    Since when do you actually address their methodology, rather than your caricature of it? For example, you claimed that the criterion of embarrassment isn’t used in any other historical field except Jesus research, and I showed you it is. You then fell silent.

    //This is very strange given that I have discussed methodology on my
    blog more than any other single topic, and my discussions are exactly
    about how historians do it right.//

    No they aren’t, because you describe as ‘wrong’, what the consensus of professional historians describe as ‘right’.

    //I have posted several reviews of historical works by biblical scholars and have had exchanges with some of these.//

    Spot the change of subject; I said ‘approach the HISTORIANS he criticize’, and you wrote ‘several reviews of historical works BY BIBLICAL SCHOLARS’ (whom you refuse to acknowledge as professional historians).

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I have not said criteria are not used in other historical disciplines but that they are used to “interpret” facts or data — not “create” or “manufacture” facts where none hitherto exist. That is the difference. HJ studies is, as far as I am aware, unique in the way it uses and relies upon criteriology to find basic facts to work with in the first place.

      You can contradict what I say all you like, but I do know what I post about and what I am arguing. I am arguing that most historians and historiography use logically valid methods for their assessment of source material, finding of facts, etc. Carry on and say I don’t say this but that will just show you have not bothered to read what I have posted about this and, like others, just like to make up any old stuff about me.

      And please try to be civil and give a little benefit of the doubt, if you can. I am not trying to change the subject but to be as honest to the facts as I can be. I have never said “biblical scholars” should not be acknowledged as professional historians. Some of them indeed are. You just make up all this stuff about what I say. Why not read what I say instead?

    • Dave Burke

      The criterion of embarrassment enjoys strong empirical support from the example of Akhenaten, an Egyptian Pharaoh who replaced traditional worship with monotheism.

      Following his death the Egyptians did everything they could to eradicate every trace of Akhenaten’s existence. His temples were destroyed and any Pharaoh who had endorsed his religion was omitted from the royal chronologies. So successful were their efforts that Akhenaten remained unknown to archaeologists until the late 19th Century.

      Ancient cultures were not kindly disposed to embarrassing historical details, and the fact that the Jesus story contains many such details is positive evidence for its historicity.

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        Embarrassment is hardly the preserve of ancient cultures.

        Greek myths also contained many embarrassing features.

        Even mainstream HJ scholars are aware of the logical deficiencies of this criterion. Have you ever read about the problems with this as a criterion?

        But I like your Akhenaten example. It shows the importance of primary evidence to establish historicity. It also demonstrates the natural tendency to suppress embarrassing details, not publish them as the evangelists supposedly did (because they were too embarrassed not to publish what was so embarrassing to them).

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        One might also add that what your Akhenaten case study demonstrates is the way embarrassment as a criterion can be used to interpret the evidence. It explains why the attempt to conceal the fact of Akhenaten’s reign.

        But embarrassment here does not of itself establish the fact of Akhenaten’s reign.

        Contrast the place of this criterion in HJ studies. There embarrassment is used as the sole means of establishing the “fact” of Jesus’ baptism, for example. This is completely unlike the function of embarrassment in interpreting the evidence of the otherwise established fact of Akhenaten’s attempted reforms.

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          I would be interested in Doctor McGrath’s serious response to this — not his usual ridicule or insult. I do not believe Dr McGrath has once addressed this question. Never. Not once. Except by way of ridicule.

          His latest tactic is to say he has addressed it ages ago millions of times and no-one bothered to reply sensibly then. But of course he cannot point to a single instance of one of those many times he has addressed the specific arguments seriously — because he never did and, I suggest, cannot do so now.

          All he has to do to prove me wrong and prove I am “like a creationist” is point to a single post or comment where he did address a single argument of mine seriously. In his latest attempt to address my argument about the Socrates analogy he demonstrated he had no idea what my argument even was! And when I explained it to him he responded with ridicule and then explained that my argument deserved nothing but ridicule by way of response.

          I guess when you have no argument and cannot argue a case all you have left is either ridicule or insult or character assassination.

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

    I’ve tried, Neil, but to pariphrase something someone recently said…

    Mythicists use insults and fail to engage the real and serious arguments of historians. They walk away or misstate them. Historians and those using mainstream historical tools are not afraid to engage the mythicists and demonstrate where their arguments are flawed.

    But that doesn’t mean that mythicists are open to being corrected, or acknowledging this state of affairs, any more than creationists are. Both claim that they are doing “real science/history” and thus a whole area of fervent scholarly activity is being undertaken by people who are allegedly deluded or misguided. And yet somehow universities with tight budgets decide to keep funding this supposedly worthless field of inquiry – presumably because they too are in on the conspiracy.

    As long as you cannot see just how much mythicism looks like historical study’s version of creationism, it doesn’t seem like you are going to be open to any of the criticisms of your approach that would inevitably be part of an attempt to discuss this with you. Certainly past attempts on my part have not met with a positive reception.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Oh James, stop playing funny games. I have tried and tried and tried to get you to discuss methodology over and over and over and you know very well that you avoided my challenges repeatedly, only to finally come around to claiming that my argument was about genre when it was not, and finally finally responding with insult and parody.

      You have NEVER tried to discuss it seriously with me, James, and you know it. If you have I ask you to point me to a single comment of yours that shows how wrong I am.

  • Michael Wilson

    Neil: “I mean discuss it, not scoff and insult. Creationists use insult and fail to engage with the real and serious arguments of scientists”
     
     
     
    Neil: “I like your intellectual tone, pf. Unfortunately your proposition is vacuous…” “I know that even an academic chair learns his wisdom from some barely literate bloggers”
     
      Neil seems a bit desperate for attention these days. He should get out more, make a friend or something or buy an X Box. As for his challenge, I notice whenever one tries to have a dialogue with him, he retreats to insults, evasion and dis-honesty. If any one doubts this, please look at any thread involving Neil and a dialogue. If he can find a historian who will take up his cause, then have the discussion, but otherwise, Neil’s a boring waste of time in my opinion.

  • Michael Wilson

    had to pass this along, it’s a hoot.

    John Loftus is on record as saying quite explicitly that he believes mythicism is counter-productive to his personal goal of debunking Christianity. It is not a good tactic. Christians tune out immediately if you hit them with mythicism. John does not want that. So the lack of interest in mythicism on the part of John Loftus is explained.
    The irony is that the Biblioblogging community expelled Vridar from their ranks because it was seen as promoting mythicism, while John Loftus’s blog with the intent to debunk Christianity was embraced. The enemy they know is welcome. They are used to handling atheist crusaders against the faith.
    They can argue with atheists and debunkers of the faith. But the can’t argue with mythicism, so it seems. I hesitate to refer to the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair at Butler University a serious intellectual, but he has made many, many noises about mythicists not engaging with mainstream scholarship or being open to having their views analysed by academics, but I have tried several times (too many times, really) to engage him with my views and those of others such as Doherty and he simply point blank refuses to ever go beyond outright ridicule or insult — with rare exceptions when he thinks he has nailed a mythicist point, but he has proved himself incapable of ever following up a mythicist response to his arguments.
    If he is the only one on the mainstream side who is taking up the anti-mythicist cause today then it is little wonder interest in mythicism appears to be expanding. Such an “academic” is actually doing much to demonstrate that historicists have no arguments.”

    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/11/04/bart-ehrmans-failed-attempt-to-address-mythicism/#more-22326

    again, if anyone feels I’m being too hard on Neil, just read his some of his blogs.

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

    And if anyone feels that I have not adequately addressed methods and mythicism, please read what I’ve written on the subject in the past, as it is now all conveniently located here in this new location. Or better yet, read what mainstream historians have written about their methods and about Jesus, and see if you can figure out what is going on when Neil Godfrey claims to use the same methods as them, and yet cannot seem to figure out why they don’t reach the same conclusion that mythicists do about Jesus.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, can you link to one comment or post where you have discussed (as opposed to ridiculed) my points about methodology? I do not believe you can. Can you prove me wrong? If, as you seem to suggest, you have seriously addressed my argument many times then pointing to just one post or comment should not be difficult.

      I have posted many times on what mainstream historians have said about their methods and about Jesus. Why have you consistently refused point-blank to respond with a serious argument to demonstrate where my argument or claim is actually flawed? Why has every one of your responses been mere ridicule or insult?

      If you really have responded seriously then simply point me to a single comment or post where you have done this. I don’t think you can. But I would love to be proved wrong.

      Can you actually set out in summary form what you believe my argument to be and where it both coheres with and contrasts with what HJ historians do?

  • Fortigurn

    //Or better yet, read what mainstream historians have written about their
    methods and about Jesus, and see if you can figure out what is going on
    when Neil Godfrey claims to use the same methods as them, and yet cannot
    seem to figure out why they don’t reach the same conclusion that
    mythicists do about Jesus.//

    Excellent point. Let’s look at an example. This is from Godfrey himself.

    * ‘We do not know who wrote the gospels, when or where or for whom. Yet
    “biblical historians” treat their narratives as sources of historical
    data. I know of no other historical studies that would ever contemplate
    using such “unsourced” documents as evidence in this way.’

    Note the claim again.

    * ‘I know of no other historical studies that would ever contemplate
    using such “unsourced” documents as evidence in this way.’

    Yet secular professional historians outside Biblical studies DO use the narratives gospels and Acts as sources of historical data. Not only that, but they also use the narratives in documents which are equally or even more ‘unsourced’, as evidence. What Neil is saying here is simply wrong, and just demonstrates that he doesn’t know what happens in ‘other historical studies.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      Oh dear, you caught me out, outrageous fraud that I am. Yes, there are mainstream historians who have followed the field of New Testament scholars when discussing Jesus or Christian origins.

      I usually state my point by explicitly making clear I am contrasting other historical topics against HJ studies.

      But now I guess I have to confess I am an outright fraud, won’t I . . . :-(

      Unless, that is, one does take note of what I was quoted as saying — I was speaking about “Historical Studies” — not individual historians . . . .

      • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

        I find this so incredibly amusing — all I have been asking from the start is a serious discussion on methodology and all that anyone has ever replied with is excuses not to discuss it.

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

    We have been through this before. Creationists and mythicists always say that their claims have not been addressed, at least not adequately. The question is how to communicate mainstream scholarship to someone who is a detractor from it and for whom no explanation or argument is deemed adequate. If I find the answer to that question, you can expect me to try getting through to you again. Until then, sharing links or even copying and pasting from old posts is unlikely to be any more successful this time around than it has been in the past.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I don’t know if Creationists always say their claims have not been addressed or not, but I am sure anyone can point to where they have been answered directly. Yes?

      All I am asking you — and I have asked this many times over probably more than a year now, James — is for you to cite one post or comment where you have responded with serious argument (as opposed to ridicule) to my point about methodology.

      I am asking you to cite me one place where you have done this. Just one place. That’s all.

      Why can’t you do that? Why do you always seem to come up with a reason not to do this?

      You have been saying all along you will not bother to discuss something with me, and you have been saying  all along you are right to ridicule me, and then you turn around and say you have discussed seriously and without ridicule my point many times????

      All I am asking is for one place where you have addressed any one of my particular points about methodology without mockery?

      If I am like a creationist then prove it by showing me the answer I am supposedly ignoring.

  • Pf

    Neil, you can call me a lot of things, but vacuous? Hahaha

    And you can say a lot of things about your own writing, but logical and objective? Hahaha

    I gotta go wipe the spittle off my face.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      No one called you vacuous, pf. Well I certainly didn’t. You seem to have problems with reading comprehension.

  • Michael Wilson

     zzzzzzzz….. and if it is pointed out, you simply repeat the same thing all over again, your just like your idiot “friends” Evan and Steve. We have already proven your just like a creationist and your garbage has been dealt with all the seriousness that clownish drivel deserves. I don’t know why you insist on lying to us, and can only imaging your mentally defective or this is a stupid ploy to appeal to those aren’t familiar with your brand of pseudo-argument. All I have to say is look up Neil Godfrey here and you will see all the jive this turkey stands for. And no one knows what your argument is because you can’t communicate worth a shit because you are always trying to misrepresent yourself and others. And you are ridiculed because your are A. ridiculous and B. a douche with a severe ego problem and venom for every one with the utter gall to disagree with your illogical non-sense. How many times do you want people to explain how your wrong and have no clue as to how historians study history? Go peddle your conspiratorial pseudo-scholarship on the street corner or at least on your blog where you can delete the comments of those who don’t pay you undeserved respect. No one thinks you’re brilliant; no one is worried about your ideas. They have concluded they are too unlikely for serious consideration. You can continue in your delusion and suspect you will till you find your next delusion. Do yourself  a favor, relax, read some intelligent books, see a shrink.
     

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

    Merely searching for keywords such as “mythicism” and “methodology” or “historical” and “method” produced a range of posts. Here are some of the more relevant ones. 

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/08/historians-on-jesus.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/06/the-last-best-hope-for-mythicism.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/04/explaining-mythicist-sleight-of-hand.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/05/jan-vansina-on-oral-tradition.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/07/mythicist-qumi.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/04/review-of-anthony-le-donne-historical-jesus-what-can-we-know-and-how-can-we-know-it.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/07/minimalism-mythicism-and-modernism.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/01/eric-hobsbawm-vs-the-mythicists.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2010/06/review-of-the-historical-jesus-five-views-jesus-at-the-vanishing-point-by-robert-m-price.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/01/david-fitzgerald-on-the-existence-of-jesus.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/01/richard-carrier-on-bayes-theorem-historical-probability-and-the-existence-of-jesus.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/07/a-challenge-to-mythicists.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/06/chapter-7-of-earl-dohertys-jesus-neither-god-nor-man.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/05/chapter-4-of-earl-dohertys-jesus-neither-god-nor-man.htmlhttp://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/04/james-the-brother-of-the-lord-and-mythicism.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/08/mythicism-the-heart-of-the-matter.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/04/a-menu-of-answers-to-mythicists.html

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2010/02/more-mythicist-creationist-parallels-messiahs-wisdom-and-jesus.html

    I now await the sort of response that Michael Behe gave in Dover, when presented with a stack of examples of research that he said did not exist, having claimed that “molecular evolution has never addressed the question of how complex structures came to be.” He simply said they were “not relevant” to what he was interested in or something to that effect.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, Can you stop hand-waving and pointing to “all those posts with the word
      methodology etc in them” and actually give me one that specifically (and
      seriously) addresses one of my actual points about methodology?

      Your first link leads to a 404.

      Your second link leads to a post in which you attempt to justify NOT answering my points.

      Your third link leads to a spoof of non-answers you regularly give. It contains only one paragraph addressing methodology and you present no argument about my point of methodology at all there. You only say historians agree with HJ scholars. That’s not an argument about methodology.

      Your fourth link leads to a post that does not discuss methodology at all.

      I have asked for a single post or comment (give more if you like) in
      which you have addressed seriously a single argument of mine about
      methodology. You simply cannot do so because none exists. You have never bothered to take up the challenge. The posts you link to demonstrate the most you have ever done: ridicule and avoidance.

      Just posting a list of everything you have written with the
      keyword methodology in it is a copout. It reminds me of your criticism
      that you have attempted to level at me: Just because you have written a
      lot of words doesn’t mean you have addressed the question.

      • Fortigurn

        Neil you just did exactly what James predicted you would do.

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          Fortigurn, perhaps you would like to help James out here. He appears to have no idea what my point about methodology is, and cannot point to a single post of his where he has addressed it.

          Do please have pity on him and help him out. Either explain to him my argument or point to him a single post where you really  think he actually addressed a single point I have made.

          Just one point will do. Just one.

          I am still waiting.

  • Pf

    The Myther School of Language:

    Neil: “your proposition is vacuous….”

    Me: “you can call me a lot of things, but not vacuous.”

    Neil: “I didn’t call you vacuous.”

    About sums it up.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      I see, pf. So you are telling us that you are your proposition. Your ideas are you, they are your ego, your identity. They are not exploratory ventures but ego identities. If someone says your idea is mistaken you will believe they are saying you yourself are by definition a mistake and that they are abusing you.

      That about sums up the reason for your inability to engage rationally with ideas you find threatening — and why you find them threatening in the first place.

      If someone tells me my idea is vacuous or mistaken I would want to find out why and what I missed and what my error was. My ego wants me to correct errors and learn. If I can’t find errors then and I learn the person is not prepared to explain my error or shallowness then I can dismiss the charge without any ego impairment.

      But this is not the way it is with you, according to your comment.

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

    Sorry, Neil, that first link got garbled – I wouldn’t want you to miss that one!  http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/08/historians-on-jesus.html

    I didn’t share posts that merely have the keyword “methodology” in them. I used a keyword search to show how easy it would have been for you to find posts that mention or discuss methodology, and then chose from them the ones that actually discuss some points about method at length or in a manner relevant to mythicism – again, just to show how easily such posts can be found, if you actually are interested in finding them.

    But perhaps I should simply address your “method” here, since a comment is all that is needed to address the “method” illustrated in one of your recent posts, as well as many older ones:

    Simply imagining a fantasy world in which anything could be invented, in which there are no constraints of historical setting, cultural context, or religious tradition on authors, is not a method.

    OK, I have addressed your “method” directly. Yet somehow I don’t think that this will settle things, primarily because you genuinely seem to believe that you have a method, and that it is the same one that historians use.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, can you please copy and paste here the words in your linked post that actually discuss (1) methodology and (2) my specific argument about methodology?

      I am sorry, but I did not see anything in that post that discussed (1) methodology or (2) my specific argument about methodology.

      But you confuse me even more with your claim to address my method directly with this:

      Simply imagining a fantasy world in which anything could be invented,
      in which there are no constraints of historical setting, cultural
      context, or religious tradition on authors, is not a method.

      Do forgive me, but my argument involves no imagination of other worlds, fantasy or otherwise, and certainly does not involve something without historical constraints. I am completely at a loss to know what you are thinking. Do you have any idea what my methodology argument is? Did you once bother to read that one link to that one post in which I outlined it and that I posted to you at least half a dozen times?

      Your supposed response or address does not in the least have any relation whatever to anything I have argued.

      Do you have any idea what I have argued or would you like me to repeat it here in summary form once more?

      Or is it your tactic to say anything that comes into your head and say that “There, I have answered mythicists but they never engage with my response.”?

      That’s like me saying the “Daisy the cow gave us half a bucket of milk today” and you saying, “No,  Cows don’t give milk, they jump over the moon”, and then turning around and saying I never responded to your rebuttal!

      Please either respond to my actual point about methodology or show me where you have responded or else have the honesty to admit you have forgotten and ask me for my point again.

    • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

      James, you came closest to addressing my point about methodology when you raised the question of the evidence for Socrates.

      Are you able to sum up succinctly what the methodological question actually is? If not I will be very happy to spell it out again for you and other readers.

      Can you point me to a single post or comment where you have seriously (that is without ridicule or abuse) addressed my methodological question?

      This is a simple question. Can you give a straightforward answer?

      • Geoff Hudson

        We’ve seen what your methodology is like.  Illogical. 

        • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

          Geoff says my methodological is “like illogical”. Can Geoff or anyone actually sum up what they believe is so illogical — does anyone have any idea of the argument I have advanced a zillion times over so many years now and that everyone says is “illogical” or worse?

          Does anyone want me to repeat it? If so, will they promise in advance to respond seriously — that is, without insult or ridicule, but with reasoned, logical and evidence-based argument?

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            I do acknowledge that James McGrath came close when he demanded that a source 60 years after an event should be treated as good as an eyewitness testimony. Does anyone else support this proposition? Can anyone name me a historian of any area of study who supports this proposition?

          • Burke Davej

            Neil,

            >>
            I do acknowledge that James McGrath came close when he demanded that a source 60 years after an event should be treated as good as an eyewitness testimony.
            >>

            Did he? Where? In what context?

            Modern historians accept accounts from ancient historians who lived literally centuries after the events they describe, many of whom are known to be biased and selective.

            Yet for some reason Mythicists believe it’s reasonable to argue the Gospels can’t be historical because they describe events 60 years earlier than their date of composition.

            Confirmation bias is a funny old thing.

            We have no contemporary biographies of Socrates, and know him only through the traditions of men who claimed to be his disciples (contradicted by Plato, who says Socrates denied having disciples).

            The famous historian Thucydides was completely unaware of Socrates’ existence, which is remarkable given that they were supposed to have lived in the same era and Socrates was supposed to be a famous public figure.

            Xenophon claimed to have spoken with Socrates, but even he shows no knowledge of any details concerning Socrates’ life. Perhaps he merely met someone claiming to be Socrates. Perhaps the alleged encounter should be understood as a mystic experience in the sub-lunar realm. Perhaps Socrates is a metaphor for personal introspection.

            Was Socrates really tried and condemned to death by the Athenians? We have no evidence of this outside the Socratic tradition. It’s just a convenient myth to explain his absence from contemporary records (criterion of embarrassment, anyone?)

            It’s just like all those messianic claimants with thousands of followers who fought raging battles with local Roman militia, destroying at least one palace and garrison.

            There is no objective evidence that any of this took place. No archaeological evidence, no oral tradition, no contemporary accounts, no writings by any of the participants. Our only source is Josephus (who was contemporary with some of these alleged events, but not an eyewitness) and in most cases he merely gives us two or three sentences. Yet historians accept his account as perfectly valid.

          • Geoff Hudson

            “Our only source is Josephus (who was contemporary with some of these alleged events, but not an eyewitness) and in most cases he merely gives us two or three sentences. Yet historians accept his account as perfectly valid.”
            The very existence of such a single uncorroborated source is cause for suspicion, especially when it refers to “those messianic claimants who fought raging battles with local Roman militia”.   Come on man, wake up!  This was breakfast for Roman editors.  

          • http://vridar.org Neil Godfrey

            Burke, James McGrath is here and you can ask him for yourself.

            As for what you say about the evidence for Socrates you are simply wrong. We do indeed have more evidence than that of his supposed disciples.

            But you are clearly unaware of what my point is about Socrates and methodology or you would not have wasted time with your comment. I have posted links to my point below.

            My point is explained many times and McGrath has not been able once to address it seriously. The closest he came was to say that just because Josephus was “a few years” later than the eyewitnesses I was being silly for not counting him as a source as good as an eyewitness. Yet in another post, without realizing it, he referred readers to a historian who makes it clear that testimony a mere 20 years after an event is fraught with serious difficulties in the absence of other controls.

            http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/05/01/comparing-the-evidence-for-jesus-with-other-ancient-historical-persons/

            http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/10/14/history-as-science-not-only-art-history-for-dummies-2/

            http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/was-socrates-a-man-or-a-myth-applying-historical-jesus-criteria-to-socrates/

            http://vridar.wordpress.com/2011/08/14/another-way-to-study-christian-origins/