Is Richard Carrier’s Talk about Acts History?

I found this comment left on a recent posthere on my blog entertaining. It approaches Carrier’s own talk the way Carrier’s talk approaches Acts:

Carrier’s presentation of Acts is a fake history.

* Lacks key markers of being a real history (Does not reference the primary sources precisely, does not explain his methodology. He reveals his name, but so does Dan Brown so that says nothing. Does mention some qualifications on occasion.)

* Has all the markers of being a fictional novel (The lecture sounds like one of those ridiculously long, dreary monologues from poor novels and other pulp fiction. Contains lots of hyperbole reminiscent of biblical stories.)

* Lies about the historical facts / makes key mistakes (Paul gets resurrected? Not in Acts 14. Jesus flew into outer space? What moon rock fell on ya?)

* Narratives are historically implausible (“Gerazim” becoming “Galileans”, all references to Jesus in Tacitus and Josephus being completely interpolated.)

* Invents stories according to literary needs (See Paul’s resurrection or Mythicists in 2 Peter.)

* Copies other fake stories (even his own) (He copies John the Baptist, Jesus’ resurrection and the word eutheia. No evidence of copying his own stories, though the presentation is full of references to them.)

Something with this level of fancy may be called historical fiction, but it is seriously down-market stuff!



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  • MattB

    Lol…I wonder how long Carrier is going to keep telling a lie.

  • David Hillman

    This is almost funny. It would be real funny if it were true. As it is it is a paradign of failed satire. SATIRE ONlY WORKS IF IT IS TRUE OR EVEN EXPRESSES SOME TRUTH IN ITS EXAGGERATIONS. (whoops my thumb slipped ; Ididn’t mean to shout).Carrier begins by naming all his sources by title and author and describes their contents attitudes and how he will use them – i.e. he gives his sources… etc etc etc .. I won’t go on – go back to the original lecture rather than the comments to judge how much of this satire works.

  • I don’t find this funny. Acts 14:19-20 does have something resembling a resurrection and Acts 1:2 clearly mentions Jesus flying into outer space (though not in those terms; of course).

  • Pausanias

    Some people were asking about this earlier.

    Here are the reasons Neil Godfrey from Vridar is giving as to why he now believes there is a strong possibility that there may have been an historical Jesus who really existed: In Neil’s words over at Vridar,

    “Karel Hanhart’s book “The Open Tomb” has at times had me wondering if
    there may indeed have been an earlier version of Mark, one that was
    written prior to the War and that was more optimistic with anticipations
    of a return of Jesus to rule from Jerusalem as the prophets foretold. I
    have found myself slipping into imagining the real possibility that the
    original story was meant to be understood as a more literal biography
    while the version we have now was heavily re-written after 70 to
    introduce midrash haggadah elements explaining the failure of their

    It’s speculative, but Hanhart raises many interesting questions that
    for a time led me to contemplate such an original real biographical
    narrative that was restructured and supplemented beyond recognition in
    the wake of the events of 70. I began to think to myself, “Hey, I really
    am postulating here a genuine account about a real person Jesus — if
    only people could read my mind they would see for themselves that I
    really have been open to this possibility all along!”

    That’s all Neil has said so far, but it looks like Carrier may be standing alone defending the Christ Myth Theory

    • Pausanias

      I’d like to hear what others think about this.

      My thoughts are that Neil will have a hard time arguing there was an earlier version of Mark. Jesus’ triumphant return to Jerusalem in Mark is an example of Mark’s use of irony, put there to be contrasted with Jesus’ humiliating and tragic exit to the place of the cross.

      I think there was no earlier biography.

      Any thoughts?

      • The case for Mark itself being early, as argued by Crossley and Casey (interestingly, both prominent atheist New Testament scholars) focuses on the evidence that convinces a far greater number of scholars that there are earlier sources or materials embedded in Mark. Mark 13 seems to have been shaped by the Caligula crisis, for instance.