Discussing the Ehrman-Price Debate

Here’s the recording of the conversation that James Crossley, Daniel Gullotta, David Fitzgerald and myself had with Arick Mittler and Matt Kovacs about the debate between Bart Ehrman and Robert Price over the historicity of Jesus, in case you missed it:

Listen to “Panel Discussion” on Spreaker.

Listen to “Panel Discussion Part 2” on Spreaker.

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  • Dan

    Am I doing something wrong? I’ve been trying to listen to both but it keeps making error messages. I’ve been trying for the past eight hours or so.

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

      Did you ever get it to work?

      • Dan

        Sadly no. It keeps saying “This episode is not available. Please try again in a few minutes”. But it has been over a day now. Do I need to sign up to Spreaker to listen to it? Or is there some geo-restriction to listening since I’m in Asia?

  • redhatGizmo

    They took much time in covering the basics and esp poor performance by Price who looks to me was not much involved or prepared for this debate, he answered some questions very carelessly and he didn’t even quiz Ehrman in Cross-questioning round and wasted too much time in giving pop culture references.

    And Ehrman too sometime run a string of misleading statements like, he said that we don’t have any narratives on life of Josephus, forgetting he had written a autobiography(Life of Flavius Josephus or Life) and then he said that we don’t have extra-biblical information about Pilate in first century and don’t know why he even quite foolishly compared Pauline epistles to Letters from his own mother.

    Overall a disappointing debate. But anyways the arguments put forward by Ehrman does straighten my Mythicism viewpoint. I mean his main argument was that the two events in HJ’s life are Historical and we have more then enough evidence for it. I mean what Extra-biblical evidence we have that the HJ was baptized by JtB, no source make such a connection. Josephus mentioned him but he make no connection of JtB with Jesus or Christianity nor does any sparse alleged references of Jesus we find in Talmud give impression that Jesus was a ‘student/follower’ of JtB.

    And Ehrman believes in that ‘Apocalyptic Preacher’ archetype then how such a stoic ascetic inerrant preacher with no apocalyptic doctrine become a mentor of Jesus? heck Paul not even once mentioned the Baptist’s name, he’s not mentioned in that alleged ‘Q’ document. And last there’s a high chance that JtB was slain after the Crucifixion of Historical Jesus(If he existed), if we go by Josephus’ Chronology.

  • Kristyn Whitaker Hood

    That “Ken Ham Vs Billy Nye” comment was unbelievably rude and disrespectful. Dr. Price has two PhDs. Dr. McGrath owes him an apology.

    • mclarksn9

      I think McGrath vs Carrier would be a great debate. Make him defend the historical Jesus. McGrath really is so disingenuous

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

        Given how Carrier has behaved online (including towards me personally), and is not a professional academic, why would I want to debate him? What possible good could come of doing so?

        • mclarksn9

          I have never seen him demean a debate opponent. Time for you to put up or shut up

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

            I guess you have never read his blog then. There is a supercut version here: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/12/bringing-a-gun-to-a-review-fight.html

            I have said everything that I think is necessary about Carrier’s views not only here on this blog, but in my several articles on the subject in The Bible and Interpretation.

          • Peter Riad

            Seems like both you and Ehrman are using the same crybaby excuse “he was such a meanie to me online and hurt my delicate feelings”, just to avoid debating him. Are you that scared of losing to him?

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

            No, it is a combination of the fact that Carrier seems not to understand what it means to engage in meaningful respectful discussion of substantive issues, and the fact that he and his disciples declare him the winner no matter how things actually go.

          • Peter Riad

            “No, it is a combination of the fact that Carrier seems not to understand
            what it means to engage in meaningful respectful discussion of
            substantive issues”

            Ironic you say that in a comment thread about an audio record in which you insulted Fitzgerald directly to his face for his reasonable attempt to discern the difference between “disciple” and “apostle”.

          • Mark

            You must be talking about a different Richard Carrier.

      • XLSIOR1


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

      Are you suggesting that there are no young-earth creationists with PhDs, or that Bill Nye has one? The point I made had nothing to do with qualifications.

      • Kristyn Whitaker Hood

        No. I am saying that Dr. Price has two PhDs in relevant fields to the topic. He and Ehrman were having a debate among qualified non-believers on how to interpret the limited evidence that is available. To equate the debate to fundamentalist Christian vs. science advocate is derogatory to Dr. Price. Your audience would be better served if you would consider and evaluate both sides of the argument, rather than resort to this type of behavior.

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

          I presume that you are aware that I have been considering and evaluating both sides of the argument publicly here since 2010? http://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/07/round-up-of-mythicist-blogging.html

          Robert Price is at no fault for exploring any subject he chooses as an academic. The issue is the people who try to engage in an appeal to authority in support of rejecting the scholarly consensus in favor of a fringe view.

          But the question in the debate, as I recall, was not “what are these debaters like?” but whether it would change any minds. My answer, which you seem to have misunderstood and yet are illustrating for me, was “no,” and I used the Ham-on-Nye debate as an example because it is an instance of a debate which I think had one case stronger by far than the other, and yet supporters of both debaters were convinced that their favorite won it.

          • Kristyn Whitaker Hood

            I have read your considerations, and I appreciate them. However, I think using the Ham/Nye illustration sets up a certain polemical tone which need not be engaged. The point of the debate was to bring two points of view together for civil discussion. My point was that your choice of analogy may not have been the best choice, in light of that spirit of civility.

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

            There are people on the internet who appeal to Price’s work as a basis for not merely dismissing the conclusions of historians and other scholars, but denigrating our entire profession. As a result, it can be hard for academics to discuss the phenomenon of mythicism civilly. I apologize if my frustration was given freer reign than it ought to have been.

          • Kristyn Whitaker Hood

            Regardless of whether Jesus of Nazareth existed, Western Culture is so infused with Christianity that no one should be using Price’s work to denigrate or dismiss the value of Biblical studies. I dare say that would be the last thing he would want. It is my hope that there will be more civil dialog between believers, Jesus historicists, minimalists, agnostics and mythicists which will contribute to a more clear picture of Christian sources, in the future. Cheers.

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

            Thanks for this comment! As someone said in our discussion afterwards, the kind of conversation that Ehrman and Price had is typical in the academy. Not universal, to be sure, but very common. I suspect that it is those who don’t actually know the relevant material well but nonetheless want clear and easy answers who tend to ruin things with their combination of arrogance and ignorance. Such people are found all across the spectrum and adhere to every possible viewpoint, and so it isn’t an issue just for mythicists or historicists, just for atheists or religious people. It has been a delight talking to you, and I appreciate your hope for the future of conversation on this topic!

          • Peter Riad

            Which “historians” are you talking about? There is only one bona fide historian in the recent era that actually investigated the historicity of Jesus, and that is Richard Carrier.

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

            It obviously depends on how one is defining “bona fide historian” and “recent era.” He is not at all the only historian to have investigated the historical figure of Jesus. And if a historian means someone with specific expertise in the matter of early Christianity and/or its Jewish matrix in their doctoral training, and working in academia, then presumably even Carrier does not count.

          • Peter Riad

            To me a historian is an expert in history educated in a proper history curriculum and graduating from a legitimate history school. Having expertise in a fairy tale work of fiction doesn’t make someone a historian. As far as I know, the only recent books making the case for historicity were by Ehrman and Casey, neither of which is an actual historian (no matter how hard Bart pretends to be one).

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

            I take it you are unaware, then, of the extensive historical-critical work that Ehrman and Casey were summarizing and building on in their broad overviews of the field?

            Why do you exclude as a relevant qualification being someone who teaches Jewish or Greco-Roman history at an accredited secular university?

          • Peter Riad

            I’m aware of Ehrman’s complete lack of knowledge about many of the historical issues he talks about e.g. people in antiquity not having last names, the statue of the savior cock not existing, no one in antiquity ever wrote documents, etc.And Casey is the one who imagines an Aramaic source for everything in the gospels. Not exactly very convincing arguments.

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

            I can tell just from that comment what sort of sources you listen to, and whether or not you are familiar with the relevant scholarship in this area. And that was the point which caused you such offense in the discussion after the debate – if you aren’t intimately acquainted with the relevant primary and secondary sources, you are going to get basic details wrong, and things will seem persuasive to you that shouldn’t, and things will seem unpersuasive to you that should.

          • Peter Riad

            I can’t even tell what you’re talking about. Are you talking about the whole disciple vs apostle thing? Well then why don’t you tell us why you think disciple = apostle?

          • Mark

            Carrier studied Roman history. My impression from reading his book was that he didn’t bother to learn even the ABCs of Hebrew and Aramaic. The level of ignorance of the phenomena of 2nd temple Judaism is pretty astounding really. Moreover the form of the argument has nothing to do with actual historical procedure. Carrier’s training was thus quite irrelevant to whatever it is he thinks he’s doing now.

          • Peter Riad

            Why would he need to know Hebrew and Aramaic? The NT is completely written in Greek. All relevant historical documents from the era e.g. Josephus are in Greek. Even the OT quoted in the gospels is from the Greek Septuagint version.

            What do you think he got wrong about 2nd Temple Judaism?

            Which argument you are talking about that has nothing to do with historical procedure? Are you talking about Bayes Theorem?

          • Mark

            Yes, the sources are in Greek, but the origin is in Jerusalem and the Galil – and the ‘mythicism’ question is about the origin. /Minimal/ historical competence on the question requires knowledge of both sides. This is obvious. It’s very clear from the text that Carrier is very comfortable retailing pagan stories and thinking ‘maybe the Jesus stuff is like this pagan stuff’ but has no conception at all of the radical constraints placed on hypotheses about specifically Jewish phenomena. With a writer like Paul, who can only be understood if you work from both sides, Carrier is completely out of his depth.

          • Peter Riad

            It’s a question begging fallacy to assume the origin of the gospel stories is in Palestine. But even if we grant that, most NT scholars do not know Hebrew or Aramaic either. So what’s your point?

          • Mark

            No, it’s not question begging at all. Even Carrier assumes that ground zero of the Jesus myth is in ‘groups of Jewish prophets’ in the 2nd Temple period. It is obvious that rational historical ideas about what what groups of Jewish enthusiasts in the early first century could plausibly be supposed to think depends on knowledge of 2nd T Judaism. In fact Carrier thinks ‘groups of Jewish prophets’ are as susceptible of adopting tropes from, say, Osiris or Inanna as the next guy. This is because his ignorance of 2nd T phenomena is basically anti-semitic in its dimensions. All of his calculations presuppose that there are no differences between the general atmosphere of the Greek world, and the mind set of people in Judea and Galilee. This is because in fact he knows nothing and has no training in the matter.

            That is, like everyone, Carrier reduces the main question to facts about the views of an early 1st c Jewish sect, and then makes projections about their opinions based on the Rank-Raglan scale, of all things. He is forced to this by complete ignorance, even on a linguistic level, of the historical milieu that he is forced to admit is his real topic

          • Peter Riad

            The Jesus story began in Palestine, but we have no preserved writings at all from the original Jesus followers in any language. The gospel stories on the other hand were written by Greek speakers who didn’t even live in palestine. So yes, it is question begging to assume they got their stories from Palestinian jews in Galilee or Jerusalem.

            Jews are as adept at syncretism as anyone else. Their entire theology was copied from Zoroastrianism.

            Antisemitism? Seriously, what are you smoking?

          • Mark

            > Their entire theology was copied from Zoroastrianism.

            > Antisemitism? Seriously, what are you smoking?

            Like I said…

          • Mark

            The gospel stories are not really relevant to the question of the historicity of Jesus. Paul is in any case not a Greek peasant, but one of the few 1st c Jewish writers trained in Jerusalem from whom we have directly religious expressions. It is not at all clear that Mark, for example, or ur-Mark, was not a Jew and hadn’t lived in Palestine.

          • Peter Riad

            I disagree. The bulk of the case for historicity centers on the gospels. If we never had the gospels, I suspect very few would think Jesus was a historical person. Paul was a Palestinian Jew, but none of his letters contain any strong evidence for historicity. In fact, he seems to think Jesus was a preexistent divine angelic figure.

            Mark is ignorant of many Jewish laws and customs, and makes pretty big mistakes about geography and culture in 1st century Palestine. His gospel is also an advocate of the Torah-free gentile-friendly version of Christianity started by Paul. All these facts indicate he was more probably not jewish nor a resident of Palestine.

          • Mark

            Neither of them is preaching a ‘Torah free version of Christianity.’ They are just not preaching Torah to gentiles and believe, as Jews, that that would be wrong. Their views on this matter are the same those later adopted by the rabbis.

          • Peter Riad

            You obviously haven’t read the Pauline epistles. Paul practically curses the jewish laws and declares them obsolete.

          • Mark

            No, this is the Lutheran anti-semitic reading.

          • Mark

            There is really very little reason not to picture Paul as drifting into Corinth with dangling tzitzit, but who knows, he thinks he’s in a moment of cosmic collapse, so maybe he thinks such things are now irrelevant. His animadversions against gentiles coquetting with Torah niceties are the same as those propounded much later by the rabbis. They take a dim view of it too, though they do have a place for proselytes (who cease to be ‘gentiles’). This is one of the ways we know that Paul was a pharisee or some kind of proto-rabbi. This conception of the gentile problem is otherwise unattested in 1st c documents. Note that Paul insists that any one of his followers who gets circumcised MUST follow the whole of Torah/nomos. He has a particular reason for opposing his gentiles becoming non-gentiles – he wants the ‘nations’ to be subject to the Jewish anointed – but assumes that Jews must follow nomos. What he thinks that status of Torah will be for Jews after the messianic rule is in place is a little opaque, but this is disputed in other fractions of the Jewish tradition.

          • jekylldoc

            Peter –
            I used to view the matter the way you do, but was led to a more careful reading. In fact he sees both sides of a theological complexity. He sees a “spiritual” dimension to being saved outside of works of the law, and in that sense probably believes a grace-based view is better for everyone. On the other hand, his mission to the Gentiles is his driving passion, and his strongest adversarial pronouncements are about trespassing across the boundary that had been set up, with Gentile Christians allowed to convert outside of the requirements of Mosaic law.

            When the matter comes up in the form of offended consciences, he is pretty consistent about saying, “Go ahead and defer to rules” (like not eating meat offered to idols, and asking women to cover their heads in the traditional fashion) that are based outside of legal requirement per se, to avoid giving other people offense.

          • arcseconds

            Do you not think saying that biblical scholars are not historians and not doing history is also perhaps a bit of a ‘douchey’ remark?

          • Peter Riad

            No, it’s a fact. They are not trained historians, never studied in history schools, and their work is not historical studies. It’s a totally different field.

          • arcseconds

            I suppose from the position of the usual University org chart, it’s true that biblical studies isn’t history.

            It’s also true that classics isn’t history, and archaeology and sociology aren’t sciences, as they are normally not grouped under the science faculty.

            However, saying that a classicist working on, say, the cult of
            Cybele isn’t a historian and isn’t doing history on this basis seems like a pointless bit of cleverism at best.

  • helenmarplehorvat

    Really enjoyed these James. Thank you very much!

  • arcseconds

    I thought Fitzgerald was out of line with his “why are you even here?” / “shitting on mythicism” comment.

    I’m not expecting the conversation to always be genteel and respectful, and I understand frustrations are running high on both sides (both of you were talking over each other, although I think Fitzgerald was worse, and I think the moderators could have done a better job at managing it — they basically didn’t step up to the mark with that one).

    But he knows what your position is, and knows that you and more or less every other academic doesn’t really want to give mythicism the time of day. Presumably you were invited there to present your position (that presumably is a big part of why you were there) and your position isn’t sympathetic to mythicism. What does he expect? The programme creators to only invite people sympathetic to mythicism? You to be nice to his position? One could as well ask why he’s there, as it’s not like he’s changed his position or is any more sympathetic to historicism.

    The other rather bizarre thing he said was being disappointed to not having got past Galatians 1:19. That’s perhaps the most striking piece of evidence for historicity, certainly in the form of a single verse, and requires the least explanation to someone who doesn’t know anything about this. Mythicists haven’t presented a compelling argument to reject this evidence, so it’s still on the table. Maybe in some long-running conversation with a mythicist one could see that you’d have to leave it aside as you both know what each other would say about it, but the debate isn’t “a window on a long-running discussion between Ehrman and Price”. They are both presenting essentially to the general public, so why would they not present the best evidence?

    Fitzgerald seems to expect Ehrman to leave out things that mythicists think they’ve replied to, but he doesn’t at all apply this rule around the other way to himself.

    What was the joke about the piñata? I played it about three times and I can’t make it out.

    • Peter Riad

      Fitzgerald was responding to the rather douchey remark of McGrath. He was explaining that Paul actually does not mention anything about Jesus having disciples (which would imply they were students of his earthly ministry), but that Paul only mentions there being twelve apostles, and that being an apostle in that sense does not automatically imply being a student of an earthly preacher (cf Mohammed being an apostle of Gabriel, Joseph Smith being an apostle of Moroni, etc). McGrath retorts by a snarky insult that mythicists are just dumb ignoramuses who dont understand what they are reading. That’s what made Fitzgerald lose his cool

      • arcseconds

        But that is actually what McGrath thinks, and most (if not all) of the professional academics have a similar opinion. One of the things that contributes to an amateur like Fitzgerald’s fringe position is that an amateur normally lacks relevant training (in Greek and word usage in the relevant sources in this case). Unconstrained by knowledge, the amateur is free to make up some entirely different background.

        Alternatively, Fitzgerald may have the correct background but has decided that the word means something different to what everyone else thinks it means because its convenient to him.

        What you seem to be wanting here is for experts to be endlessly polite to the point of actually hiding their opinion of fringe positions.

        Fitzgerald and Price, of course, are of the opinion that academic biblical studies basically operates as a source of indoctrination and as a gatekeeper, so mythicism is a non-starter for essentially social reasons. This is at least as insulting an opinion as thinking amateurs are ignorant: should they also not voice this opinion because it might cause offense and be seen to be ‘douchey’?

        • Peter Riad

          Carrier knows Greek like the back of his hand and he agrees with Fitzgerald. Paul himself plainly states that he is an apostle BECAUSE he saw the resurrected Jesus and equates himself to the Jerusalem pillars in this regard. Fitzgerald is hardly doing anything more than connecting the dots in this regard. Paul never mentions anything about disciples being tutored by an earthly Jesus ministry. He calls them apostles and states clearly people’s claim to apostleship is by having visions of the resurrected Jesus.

          You don’t need to be an expert in fairytales like McGrath or Ehrman, to notice the obvious.

          For sure, there are ad hoc explanations, like the claim that Paul is trying to conceal the embarassment of being inferior to the other apostles by virtue of him not being a disciple, etc. But that just proves the point, which is that Paul’s writings are unexpected on historicity and require ad hoc explanations to make them fit.

          • Mark

            The lack of baby Jesus stories in the epistles of Paul is only ‘unexpected’ if you are brought up in a Christian household on stories about baby Jesus. For anyone else, the gospels are what needs to be explained.

          • Peter Riad

            Who said anything about baby Jesus stories??

          • Mark

            You said that something about Paul’s statements about his messianic leader is unexpected. What you expect was gospel stories.

          • Peter Riad

            No. I said it would be expected of him to reference the disciples, and Jesus ministry to them.

          • Mark

            There is no reason why Paul should say anything in particular about the period before his messiah became messiah. The crucial fact he does mention is the crucifixion, which is somehow crucial in Jesus’ /becoming/ messiah, for him, and to comprehending Jesus’ present (still invisible!) role. Similarly the Secretary of State does not talk to foreigners about Obama’s childhood or his period in the Illinois state house. It is generally degrading for an ‘apostle’ – this is basically a diplomatic term – to go on about such things; one might however mention the fact that he was elected president, which is a fact that precedes his becoming president. The gospel form is a later invention and has a completely different role.

          • arcseconds

            Your constant reference to ‘experts in fairytales’ shows that you are not at all interested in respectful discourse, which means it’s completely hypocritical of you to be concerned with ‘douchey remarks’.

          • Peter Riad

            You think that stuff is historical?

          • arcseconds

            Even if it’s not, ‘fairytale’ is not the appropriate term, is it?

            Carrier and Fitzgerald don’t call themselves ‘fairytaleists’.

            Also, it clearly isn’t true that Ehrman, etc. are uninformed about history, as you try to imply with your made-up term for them.

            If you’re here to have a serious discussion, you can refer to professionals with a term they use to describe themselves. Anything else is just playground antics.

          • Peter Riad

            Ehrman is uninformed about history. He makes several statements that are plainly false historically. That’s just a fact.

            Neither Carrier nor Fitzgerald are biblical scholars. One is a historian of the Roman empire, and the other is an amateur with a personal interest in the subject.

            As for those professionals, maybe they should stop putting down mythicists based on credentialism, and stop touting their credentials as if they are solving quantum mechanics or curing cancer. Whether they like it or not, their area of expertise is no more than a fairy tale. So they should be less condescending when talking to mythicists.

          • arcseconds

            It hardly follows from the fact that someone makes even several false statements about history that they are uninformed about history (and it’s pretty clear that Ehrman is anything but uninformed), or not a historian.

            Having a Ph.D. in history and working in a history department does not make one infallible about history — and I’m sure basically every historian has made some false statements about history at some point in their careers.

            Biblical scholars concern themselves with the origin of the Biblical texts and related texts, amongst other things. The origin of these texts is a historical question, surely, and they approach the question in much the same way as scholars looking at similar texts. You obviously don’t like the conclusion that they’ve come to, but that’s irrelevant as to whether or not they’re historians. Being a historian does not make one omniscient about history, so one cannot conclude someone isn’t a historian just because one does not agree with their conclusions.

            If you think that Ehrman is using methods that differ substantially from those used by, say, a classics scholar looking at Roman texts, then please demonstrate this. You don’t demonstrate anything at all by referring to the field by a disparaging term you’ve invented, except of course the low standard of discussion you’re committed to.

            You’ve just asked Scott if he was dropped on his head, a level of discourse I’d be disappointed to find in a middle-school class. More proof that you’re either not actually interested in respectful discourse or not capable of it.

            Either you’re so thin-skinned about mythicism that you can’t cope with legitimate criticism, and in your upset state you’re just lashing out, perhaps not realising that your behaviour is far worse than anything McGrath has said about mythicism — or your statements here are both hypocritical and disingenuous, and you’re deliberately setting up a situation where you can say anything you damn well please, but everyone has to be super-polite to you and your favourite fringe theory.

          • Peter Riad

            You obviously cant mount a logical argument. Actually if someone makes several wrong statements about history that does make them uninformed about history. That’s what the definition of uninformed means. And yes Ehrman made several very basic mistakes about history that show how little he knows about anything beyond his specific field.

            Not only is Ehrman not a bona fide historian, he doesn’t use historical methods either. No genuine historian fabricates evidence for his argument. Ehrman does that. This alone discredits him as an honest and reliable historian. He also lies about what his opponents claim, and has admittedly never read the books of the people he criticizes. All this makes him an apologist for historicity and not a legitimate historian. And contrary to your nonsensical claims, I don’t care either way about what the historicity debate determines. It doesn’t make a difference to me either way. Unlike McGrath or Ehrman, my paycheck doesn’t depend on the historical existence of a 2000 year old guy.

            Also it’s funny how historicity apologists like to dismiss mythicism as a fringe theory when in fact outside of the US it is anything but fringe. A recent BBC poll actually found 40% of Brits didn’t think Jesus was a real historical person. Whether true or not, mythicism is a lot more popular than the insular community of Jesusology scholars think.

          • arcseconds

            I’m sorry, perhaps I didn’t make myself clear. I was asking you to demonstrate your claims, not continue to assert it without proof.

            ‘Several’ normally means something like ‘over five’. If someone has made five false statements about history that shows nothing about their level of knowledge of history. If they have only ever made five statements about history and all of them are false, then it’s fair to say they are uniformed. Ehrman has made probably thousands of claims about history, and if only five of them are false, he has made several false claims but nevertheless that’s an amazing track record of accuracy, and it would be wrong to say on that basis he is uninformed.

            To show that he is uninformed one would have to show that his error rate is high on well-known matters, not just that he got things wrong on a few isolated occasions.

            If my understanding of the US tenure system is correct, neither Ehrman nor McGrath would be fired if they started arguing for mythicism. You’ll note that Price is still employed as an academic. However, Carrier and Fitzgerald would certainly lose their market if they recanted their mythicism.

            I was trying to give you an out for your poor behaviour and hypocritical standards on the basis of emotional involvement. If you actually don’t care either way and have had an entirely cool head throughout this interchange, I can only presume that your hypocrisy, your insulting tactics, your hyperbole, and your false dichotomies etc. are deliberately employed to vex and annoy us, which means you’re a juvenile troll with more interest in riling people than serious discussion. And if mythicism isn’t your favourite position, then I suppose your arguments are also completely disingenuous and you’re arguing for something you don’t actually believe.

            Up to you which you’d prefer me to believe. I was already leaning towards the ‘troll’ explanation anyway.

            It is a matter to be regretted that the public is ill-informed, but it’s irrelevant to whether a view has any merit. I would have thought this would be so obvious it went without saying. Do the number of people who believe in young-earth creationism in the US sway you in any way whatsoever?

            Have you read McGrath’s books?

          • Peter Riad

            several means over five? since when? show evidence for it. I’ve already listed a few of ehrman’s basic mistakes about history. It’s not my problem you have reading comprehension issues.

            Ehrman and McGrath won’t be fired. But they wont have anyone to buy their books if the whole thing turns out to be a fabricated myth. Carrier had a sizeable following back when he was a historicist before writing about mythicism.

            The point of the poll is to show that mythicism isn’t fringe, not to prove it true. But not surprisingly you failed to grasp it.

            Serious discussions can only be engaged with rational people who value evidence and logic and who understand mathematical probabilities, none of which is the forte of jesusologists like you and mcgrath

          • arcseconds

            This business about fringe is a pointless semantic argument. You don’t believe the opinion of the general public counts for anything, so why even bother having this discussion? It’s a complete digression serving no useful purpose.

            It’s a fringe view among those with relevant expertise, which is surely all that matters. Creationism is also not a fringe view by your definition, but why would anyone care about this?

            As for several:


            “more than two but not very many”


            Oxford Dictionary:

            “more than two but not many”


            “some; an amount that is not exact but is fewer than many:”


            Nothing hinges on the exact definition of ‘several’ Ehrman can have made several (“more than two, but not many”) mistakes but actually have an overall high level of accuracy. You have not even attempted to show that his statements are generally inaccurate.

            If you are referring to this passage of yours:

            people in antiquity not having last names, the statue of the savior cock not existing, no one in antiquity ever wrote documents

            I’ll note this proves nothing: you have not established that Ehrman has even made the claim you attribute to him, nor have you demonstrated the reverse.

            But even if you manage to prove that he got three things wrong this doesn’t demonstrate his general incompetence. I would be very surprised to find any academic who has made less than three mistakes.

            (And of course he believes people in antiquity wrote documents. That’s a bald-faced misrepresentation if ever I saw one. )

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

            If I had known that all I had to do to justify ignoring mythicism was to count how many inaccurate/false statements they have made about history, I could have stopped discussing this long ago.

          • Peter Riad

            you obviously haven’t read his book. all those mistakes that i mention are stated in his book.

          • arcseconds

            Quote the relevant passages, give page-number references, and show that they are false, preferably by citing peer-reviewed studies that demonstrate that, or, even better, review articles, textbooks, or specialist reference works.

            Otherwise this is just another of your unsubstantiated claims.

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

      Wasn’t the piñata “joke” about the depiction of Judas by Papias as inflated and maggot-filled?

      • arcseconds

        it was definitely about Papias, but I couldn’t hear enough of it to be able to tell. Judas certainly makes sense of it!