Terrible Review of What Sounds Like a Terrible Book

The quotations in the image below, which is embedded in the review of David Fitzgerald’s latest (threevolume!) book of half-baked and poorly-argued nonsense that appeared on the blog Debunking Christianity, is supposed to boil down what is positive about his books to their essence. But in fact it illustrates his inability to recognize when he doesn’t have a valid point and/or is not making a logical, reasoned argument. Here is the image:

CCCQ No 371, Fitzgerald,Saying Jesus invented Christianity is like saying Mickey Mouse founded Disneyland

Let’s consider each of the two points above. First, Darwin did nothing to make Deism implausible or unreasonable. Fitzgerald seems to share the same mistaken view of evolution that evolution-deniers promulgate, which is that Darwin’s theory was about the question of origins, rather than the history of development of life regardless of how it originated. And indeed, plenty of people today are happy – and not unreasonable – to accept everything that science has to say about not only the history but the likely process leading to the origin of living things, and yet to think that the question of the origin of the universe – the question of why there is something rather than nothing – is of a different sort, and makes it appropriate to talk about God in the sense that Deism does.

As for the second statement, these kinds of short statements are regularly made by mythicists and young-earth creationists and various other denialists, but it doesn’t take much analysis or critical thinking to recognize that there is no substance to them whatsoever. One could easily say “Saying Jesus invented Christianity is like saying Kurt Vonnegut invented the Kurt Vonnegut Museum.” There are organizations, museums, and memorials to fictional and to historical people. Just placing Mickey Mouse and Jesus (or Batman or anyone else) side by side in a sentence doesn’t constitute a persuasive argument. Indeed, it doesn’t constitute an argument of any sort.

As you will see from the review on Debunking Christianity, these issues are typical of Fitzgerald’s latest work, just as they were of his earlier book Nailed which I reviewed here a long time back.

For an example of detailed, logical argument of the sort that one actually finds in what historians and historical scholars write about the historical Jesus, you may want to take a look at Tim O’Neill’s blog post about the Tacitus reference. As with science or any other field, the issue is not about professionals vs. amateurs but the rigorous methods and processes that make scholarly consensuses, when they exist, something that does not deserved to be dismissed or caricatured in the manner that mythicists and other denialists do.

 

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  • sbh

    The Tim O’Neill link goes to the David Madison “review” at Debunking Christianity.

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

      Thanks for catching that and for letting me know. I have fixed it, but in the meantime until the server refreshes and updates, here is a link to Tim O’Neill’s blog post for your convenience: https://historyforatheists.com/2017/09/jesus-mythicism-1-the-tacitus-reference-to-jesus/

      • sbh

        Thanks for the link. I’ve been spending this Saturday morning reading Tim O’Neill’s blog on pseudo-history (a favorite topic of mine) with considerable enjoyment, starting from the beginning.

        • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

          I’m glad you like my blog. Unfortunately I get a lot of feedback along the lines of “Oh, yeah? Well, you’re a big poopyhead and a fake atheist and Richard Carrier has a PhD so there!” So it’s nice to get some positive feedback from an actual grown up. Thanks also to James for his support.

          • Outspider

            Well, Richard Carrier does have a PhD, and most people on earth are theists meaning any given person is more likely to be a theist than an atheist. Therefore, Bayesian probability gives us a 73.2% chance that you are, in fact, a big ol’ poopyhead.

            This comment has been peer reviewed by a variety of undisclosed reviewers, which may or may not include my dog, my grandmother (deceased) and myself (reviewing in the third person to preserve scholarly independence).

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            How can I argue with such impeccable logic? Richard Carrier’s magical PhD trumps all counter-arguments immediately and invoking Bayes makes any opposition invalid because numbers. And your comment has been peer reviewed, because you say so. It seems the consensus that I am not a big poopyhead has been overturned.

          • Outspider

            Now that I’ve produced the definitive review of Tim O’Neill, what field should I revolutionize next? Quantum physics? The origin of life? Reinventing the wheel? Earthquake prevention?

            My next paper will be “Transgressing the PhDs: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutic of Why Everybody Else is a Lying, Incompetent, Crazy Idiot.” I just need to figure out which field I’m going to tackle first.

          • http://timebottle.weebly.com/ Beau Quilter

            I think there is a false dichotomy at play in Outspiders deduction that Carrier’s mythicism is correct and thus you are a poopyhead.

            It is entirely possible that your excellent blogging on the weight of academic opinion exposing the failures of mythicism is entirely correct …

            … but that you are still a poopyhead.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            This is, indeed, “possible”.

          • John MacDonald

            I just read an interesting quote on Carrier’s blog regarding the state of historical Jesus studies and wanted to share it:

            “They all disagree with each other on nearly everything to do with historicity. Was Jesus a pacifist or a whitewashed zealot? Was he a miracle worker or only a preacher? Did he ever really perform exorcisms, or was that projected onto him because his later Christian followers did that? Did he think he was the messiah or in any sense divine, or was that idea pushed onto his memory after his death? Was he a Rabbi or a commoner? Was he actually a Hillelite Pharisee (as his teachings, as represented in the Gospels, match theirs pretty closely), or an Essene, or a disciple of John the Baptist, or all of the above, or something else entirely? How many of the stories in the Gospels reflect things that really happened? Was Jesus baptized by John the Baptist? Was he betrayed by one of his own crew? Did the Gospels construct their stories of him as a reaction to Homeric heroes? Did Q exist or not? Does the Gospel of Thomas date to the early first century or a hundred years later? Did Jesus get himself killed on purpose to trigger the apocalypse? Or was his execution a surprise even to him? Why was he killed at all? Did he establish the religion that continued after him (complete with Eucharist theology and ritual and an expectation of replacing temple Judaism with a new system of salvation), or did he have no idea of that even being a thing, and it was invented by his highest ranking students after he died? You will find professional historicists disagreeing on all these things. And a hundred other things besides.”

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            Gosh, academics in the humanities with many differing interpretations of ambiguous evidence? What a shock. Or is, somehow, disagreement between academics generally a surprise to Carrier? Get five specialists in Shakespeare into a room and ask them who he was and what his plays mean and watch what happens. It won’t be agreement. Substitute five specialists in any subject you care to mention and do the same thing and you’ll get the same result.

            It’s also a bit rich that this argument comes from Carrier, given that he spends almost as much time denouncing variants on the Mythicist thesis which are the “wrong” ones (i.e. not his) as he does mainstream views. Because Mythicist and other such fringe ideas come in a similarly rich variety. Was Jesus a celestial being? An amalgam of earlier myths? An allegorical figure? An idealisation of Messianic expectations? An invention of the Romans? An invention of Constantine and Eusebius? “Actually” Julius Caesar? “Actually” Judas the Galilean? “Actually” Herod Philip? Some combination of the above? Ask a Mythicist or any number of “independent scholars” and you’ll get a smorgasbord of responses.

            So Carrier’s point would be … ?

          • John MacDonald

            If you’re right, and the evidence for the historical Jesus is that ambiguous, what is the point of academics like Dr. McGrath publishing if what is being produced is simply a mirror of the commentator?

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            The evidence for a vast number of things in ancient history is similarly ambiguous. Does this mean the study of ancient history should be abandoned? And while there are many scholars in the field of NT studies who present a historical Jesus who is merely a reflection of their own beliefs, I wouldn’t consider McGrath to be prominent among them.

          • Paul E.

            Clearly, you haven’t read his book, you are incompetent and you are insane. QED. :)

  • Paul E.

    Those meme quotes are astounding. How is it that this is not recognized as anti-theist apologetics/propaganda? If you want to do anti-theist apologetics, go for it. There’s apparently a decent internet audience for it. Categorizing it as “history,” however, is just plain dishonest. And seriously, does this guy Fitzgerald even know what the term “deism” means? It doesn’t appear so.

    • John MacDonald

      I sometimes think I’m a Deist – other times an agnostic.

      The deist in me is persuaded that if we go back in time to the big bang, we are led to the further question of how the materials that made up the big bang got there in the first place, and then to what that presupposes, and so on and so on in an infinite regress. It would seem that to stop the regress we need to propose an uncaused cause, although this wouldn’t necessarily imply a God of a particular type like a Christian or a Hindu God. Also, when I see the precision and beauty in something like Geometry, it seems improbable that such a thing could be the result of accident.

      The agnostic in me, on the other hand, makes me pause before placing God into a place before the Big Bang, because this would just be invoking a God in a Gap in scientific knowledge. I’m not so sure about what to do with the precision and beauty of something like Geometry. To be sure, what in the past was called Sacred Geometry inspired the theological tendencies in many. All I can say to that, as an agnostic (and this may not be a very good answer), being inspired by geometry in this way may be akin to a tourist being inspired by Niagara Falls, whereby someone actually living near the Falls may find the “wonder” quite mundane.

  • John MacDonald

    “I’ll be the first to say if good evidence turns up (in favor of historicity) … that there was a guy named Jesus. And it wouldn’t make me any less happy of an atheist. It’s not like Christianity is going to start making sense if it turned out that Jesus was a failed apocalyptic prophet.” – David Fitzgerald

    • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

      What the self-published amateur Fitzgerald either can’t or won’t see is that there is already sufficient evidence to conclude that Jesus most likely did exist and was a failed apocalyptic prophet. Yet he still pursues the wild goose that is Jesus Mythicism.

      • John MacDonald

        Carrier makes the interesting point that 2 Peter 1:16 says “We did not follow cleverly devised myths … We were eyewitnesses of his Majesty.” – Then it immediately forges an eyewitness account of meeting Jesus on earth. The point here, Carrier suggests, is to answer otherwise unknown Christians who were claiming such a Jesus was “a cleverly devised myth” (2 Peter 2:1).

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

          It doesn’t forge an account of meeting Jesus on earth. It forges an account of glimpsing an otherworldly glory connected with Jesus. And so the more natural way of interpreting the implications of that text is that it was the otherworldly element – and not the historical figure – that was in fact concocted. But Carrier isn’t interested in logic and evidence. He is determined to make a case for what he wishes were true, regardless of the evidence.

          Or to put it another way, he claims not to follow cleverly devised mythicisms, but the opposite is the case…

      • John MacDonald

        Hume was also self-published.

        • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

          A rather silly comment considering when Hume lived and the context in which he worked.

          • John MacDonald

            You’re really against self-publishing, aren’t you lol. Wasn’t Dr. McGrath’s book self-published?

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            On the contrary, I think the rise of online self-publishing services is great and allows far more people to get their work into print and available to a wider audience. But real scholars don’t use print-on-demand and self-publishing services, because they produce peer reviewed works, which have to go through the rigorous processes of mainstream scholarly presses. Which means they can’t produce specious junk, incoherent theses, tendentious ad hoc arguments or works riddled with errors of fact and interpretation without someone somewhere along the line picking this up. This process isn’t totally foolproof, but it generally works. Self-published amateurs, on the other hand, only have to convince one person: themselves. This is why some self-published nobody is immediately less credible than a proper scholarly monograph.

            As for “Dr. McGrath’s book”, which one? The Only True God: Early Christian Monotheism in Its Jewish Context is published by University of Illinois Press. John’s Apologetic Christology: Legitimation and Development in Johannine Christology is published by Cambridge University Press. Touching the Face of the Cosmos: On the Intersection of Space Travel and Religion is published by Fordham University Press. These are all peer reviewed scholarly imprints.

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

            He is referring to my little book for a popular audience on the burial of Jesus, which I self-published before it was picked up and rereleased as an ebook by Patheos press.

          • John MacDonald

            I was thinking of Dr. McGrath’s book “The Burial of Jesus: What does History Have To Do With Faith”, published by Patheos Press. Carrier’s OHJ passed peer review and was published by a recognized academic press.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “Carrier’s OHJ passed peer review and was published by a recognized academic press.”

            Well, he tells us that it was peer-reviewed, but the details are rather hazy. It seems he selected the reviewers himself and sent the manuscript to them. Then a couple of them responded. This is all very strange. It’s not unusual for the author to suggest who might be suitable reviewers, but it is usually the publisher who selects them and handles the review process, not the author. And Carrier has been oddly shy about sharing who he sent the text to, who didn’t bother with it and who responded with reviews. Finally, e-mails to the small two man band press that published his work about all this got snooty but highly evasive replies. So the whole business is rather dubious.

            But all that aside, what’s that got to do with Fitzgerald’s amateurish, self-published books? Carrier’s book is not self-published and much more professional than Fitzgerald’s (not that this would be difficult). But no-one claimed otherwise. And peer review is not an imprimatur of truth, just (usually) an indiction that the argument is coherent, contains no obviously egregious errors and conforms to academic standards of presentation. I can cite you multiple errors of fact and interpretation in Carrier’s book without breaking a sweat.

          • John MacDonald

            That’s an interesting conspiracy theory you’ve invented around the publishing of Carrier’s “OHJ” lol. Carrier likes Fitzgerald’s “Mything in Action” volumes.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “Conspiracy theory”? I’ve simply stated what happened, according to Carrier’s own account. You think he’s lying? And Carrier likes the books by his friend, the one who calls him “my best friend, mentor and hero” ? What a shock.

          • John MacDonald

            Sure, let’s never let friends write a blurb on the back of our book.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            The gushing “best friend, mentor and hero” comment was actually in the dedication preface of his book Nailed . And Fitzgerald can say whatever he likes about his hero, naturally. But my point stands. The fact that Carrier endorses his dizzy fanboy’s little books counts for nothing much. Fitzgerald essentially just parrots Carrier’s crap anyway, so of course Carrier gives his own arguments his <i<imprimatur. Big deal.

          • John MacDonald

            Speaking of “Conspiracy Theories,” I was wondering what you thought of the “Noble Lie Theory of Christian Origins?” Usually the secular take on things like the Pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed is that the disciples were hallucinating the resurrected Jesus. The other secular thesis is that they weren’t hallucinating Jesus, just lying that they were seeing him resurrected (for whatever reason, like they thought continuing the cause of the master was important and lying that they saw him resurrected would help that). Anyway, I wrote a blog post about the theory. If you get a second could you check it out along with the Reader Comments and let me know what you think? It’s here: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/ I wrote it a while ago, before Dr. Dennis MacDonald came out with his new book on the mimesis relationship between the Gospel of John and Euripides.’ The key passage from the Bacchae, which is related to Plato’s Noble Lie, seems to be when Cadmus says “Even though he (Dionysus) be no God, still say he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, because this will make it seem she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on our race.”

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            Sorry, but I got to the quote from the New Age crackpots Freke and Gandy and stopped reading.

          • John MacDonald

            Hey Tim!

            Freke and Gandy are, as you point out, generally unreliable, but they got the stuff on Euripides relationship with The New Testament basically right. Dr. Dennis R. MacDonald has made these suggestions for years and has just (2017) published an entire book on the literary mimesis dependence of John’s Gospel and other parts of the New Testament on Euripides’ “Bacchae.” See here: https://www.amazon.com/Dionysian-Gospel-Fourth-Euripides/dp/1506423450/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1506822355&sr=8-4&keywords=dennis+macdonald

            What interests me is the possible relation between the Noble Lie advocated for in “The Bacchae,” and Plato’s Noble Lie, and the possibility that the author of the Gospel of John thought the disciples were lying about Jesus’ resurrection appearances.

            When considering the “Bacchae” and what is essential in it to the ancient ear, we must always turn to the provocative speech by Cadmus where he says, regarding Dionysus, that: “Even though he (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem that she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race.” This is reminiscent of the argument to put forth a Noble Lie in Plato’s “Republic” to help encourage people to care more for each other and the Polis. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy characterizes it in the following way:

            “For Plato we should live according to what reason is able to deduce from what we regard as reliable evidence. This is what real philosophers, like Socrates, do. But the non-philosophers are reluctant to ground their lives on logic and arguments. They have to be persuaded. One means of persuasion is myth. Myth inculcates beliefs. It is efficient in making the less philosophically inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble things. In the Republic the Noble Lie is supposed to make the citizens of Callipolis care more for their city. For instance, Schofield (2009) argues that the guards, having to do philosophy from their youth, may eventually find philosophizing “more attractive than doing their patriotic duty” (115). Philosophy, claims Schofield, provides the guards with knowledge, not with love and devotion for their city. The Noble Lie is supposed to engender in them devotion for their city and instill in them the belief that they should “invest their best energies into promoting what they judge to be the city’s best interests” (113). The preambles to a number of laws in the Laws that are meant to be taken as exhortations to the laws in question and that contain elements of traditional mythology (see 790c3, 812a2, 841c6) may also be taken as “noble lies”.”

            Lying about Jesus’ resurrection appearances/miracle stories might have been a cause the original Christians may have been willing to die for (if you believe the martyr stories, which most critical scholars don’t- As Carrier says, all they needed to believe was that what they were doing would create a better world, and that creating a better world was something worth dying for: see Carrier’s blog here https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12263 ).

            In any case, maybe the author of the Fourth Gospel wanted us to eventually see through the miracle stories once enough time had passed and we had been baptized in Jesus’ ethical philosophy of loving your enemy and neighbor, and the world had become a better place. Maybe what the author of the Fourth Gospel wanted was for us as a society to grow up, and subsequently leave Jesus behind when we realize he had been modelled around the Noble Lie about Dionysus as a means of making us more loving to each other.

            However Tim, and I hope you take this seriously, if you are a Christian, I would suggest staying away from doing what Dr. Dennis MacDonald did in comparing John’s Gospel with Euripides “Bacchae” to find if there is mimesis going on there. As Yoda said: “If you go there, only pain will you find.” lol

            John MacDonald, AKA Darth Pausanias, Dark Lord Of The Sith, lol 😉

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “However Tim, and I hope you take this seriously, if you are a Christian”

            I’m an atheist. If you want to discuss that stuff with a Christian, I suggest you go find one.

          • John MacDonald

            As an atheist, how do you account for the pre-Pauline Corinthian Creed? Were the original Christians hallucinating the risen Jesus, or were they lying that he appeared to them? I’m agnostic, so I allow for the other option that the original Christians did indeed experience the miracle of the risen Jesus.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            People experience what they interpret as encounters with dead loved ones all the time, especially if the death has been sudden, unexpected and traumatic. You’d need to talk to a psychologist about whether, technically, these should be called “hallucinations”. I’ve also read that the word Paul uses for “appeared” in 1Cor 15 was also used for appearances of people in dreams, though I haven’t seen the analysis of relevant Greek usages to support this. The idea that they were simply lying doesn’t make much sense, but people who dismiss the idea that they genuinely experienced something need to think a bit more about people’s capacity for believing silly things, especially if it means they can preserve other, earlier beliefs in which they are already strongly invested.

          • John MacDonald

            Tim O’Neil said: ” The idea that they were simply lying doesn’t make much sense”

            – Why? Please take a second to read the following:

            The Dionysian Gospel (2017) is another superb job by Dr. Dennis MacDonald, who this time turns his critical eye to the relationship between The Fourth Gospel and Euripides’ “Bacchae.” There can no longer be any doubt about the mimesis relationship between The Fourth Gospel and the “Bacchae.”

            Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s analysis also leaves open plenty of room to ask why the Fourth Gospel may have been imitating the “Bacchae,” beyond the point that the author of The Fourth Gospel was trying to present Jesus as greater than Dionysus. If the goal of the first Christians was to replace the corrupt, Roman loving temple cult with faith in Jesus, perhaps in imitating the “Bacchae” The Fourth Gospel was poking fun at a literal understanding of Jesus’ miracles and resurrection.

            When considering the “Bacchae” and what is essential in it to the ancient ear, we must always turn to the provocative speech by Cadmus where he says, regarding Dionysus, that: “Even though he (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem that she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race.” This is reminiscent of the argument to put forth a Noble Lie in Plato’s “Republic” to help encourage people to care more for each other and the Polis. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy characterizes it in the following way:

            “For Plato we should live according to what reason is able to deduce from what we regard as reliable evidence. This is what real philosophers, like Socrates, do. But the non-philosophers are reluctant to ground their lives on logic and arguments. They have to be persuaded. One means of persuasion is myth. Myth inculcates beliefs. It is efficient in making the less philosophically inclined, as well as children (cf. Republic 377a ff.), believe noble things. In the Republic the Noble Lie is supposed to make the citizens of Callipolis care more for their city. For instance, Schofield (2009) argues that the guards, having to do philosophy from their youth, may eventually find philosophizing “more attractive than doing their patriotic duty” (115). Philosophy, claims Schofield, provides the guards with knowledge, not with love and devotion for their city. The Noble Lie is supposed to engender in them devotion for their city and instill in them the belief that they should “invest their best energies into promoting what they judge to be the city’s best interests” (113). The preambles to a number of laws in the Laws that are meant to be taken as exhortations to the laws in question and that contain elements of traditional mythology (see 790c3, 812a2, 841c6) may also be taken as “noble lies”.”

            Lying about Jesus’ resurrection appearances/miracle stories might have been a cause the original Christians may have been willing to die for (if you believe the martyr stories, which most critical scholars don’t). In any case, maybe the author of the Fourth Gospel wanted us as a society to eventually see through the miracle/resurrection stories once enough time had passed and we had been baptized in Jesus’ ethical philosophy of loving your enemy and neighbor, and the world had become a better place. Maybe what the author of the Fourth Gospel wanted was for us as a society to grow up, and subsequently leave Jesus behind when we realize he had been modelled around the Noble Lie about Dionysus – fictions told to encourage loving behavior..

            Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s fine book on The Fourth Gospel should be read along with John Shelby Spong’s recent book “The Fourth Gospel: Tales Of A Jewish Mystic,” the latter of which argues against the historicity of much of the material that is presented in The Fourth Gospel.

            Consider the noble lie and the comparison of Cadmus’ remark in Euripides’ Bacchae with Plato’s deception in the Republic. Can that be what the Gospel writer had in mind -that behind the surface story there is a deeper wisdom to discover, somewhat like the layered interpretations of the Koran that the mystical Arabic philosophers perceived? Perhaps so: even so austere a sect as the Stoics endorsed lying when it was beneficial to the community.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            I got it the first two times you posted that garbled and stupid argument.

          • John MacDonald

            What’s garbled and stupid about it, lol?

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            (i) MacDonald falls into the trap of thinking that if he thinks he sees a parallel, he’s seeing a derivation.
            (ii) “perhaps in imitating the “Bacchae” The Fourth Gospel was poking fun at a literal understanding of Jesus’ miracles and resurrection” – so here we have speculation piled on speculation.
            (iii) “Can that be what the Gospel writer had in mind -that behind the surface story there is a deeper wisdom to discover …. ? Perhaps so.” You’re dangling a lot of heavy conclusion from the slender thread of that “perhaps” which in turn depend on several others.
            This is a crappy argument.

            You find it convincing? That’s nice. I don’t.

          • John MacDonald

            You obviously understand very little of the ancients, which makes sense since just in dialoguing with you this little bit you don’t come across as overly sophisticated with the subject matter. You would have to had read Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s book to see what is wrong with your point (i), for instance. Mimesis is a perfectly valid type of analysis, such as the way the Jesus infancy narrative in Matthew recapitulates the story of Moses

            I have had plenty of good feedback on my approach from experts. Today, for example, as I quoted above, regarding my position, Dr. David Konstan of New York University said in an Email that:

            “I appreciated very much your comments on the noble lie and the comparison of Cadmus’ remark in Euripides’ Bacchae with Plato’s deception in the Republic. Can that be what the Gospel writer had in mind, as you suggest – that behind the surface story there is a deeper wisdom to discover, somewhat like the layered interpretations of the Koran that the mystical Arabic philosophers perceived? Perhaps so: even so austere a sect as the Stoics endorsed lying when it was beneficial to the community.”

            And mine was Nietzsche’s position as well. For instance, Nietzsche wrote:

            (1)”Paul simply shifted the centre of gravity of that whole life to a place behind this existence in the LIE of the ‘risen’ Jesus (Nietzsche, Anti Christ, Chapter 42).”
            (2)”Have you understood me? Dionysus against the Crucified.” (Nietzsche, Ecce Homo, Why I am a Destiny)

            You seem to be another one of those amateur, internet based atheist bible enthusiasts who is heavy on bluster and weak on argument. lol

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “you don’t come across as overly sophisticated with the subject matter. ”

            I’ve been studying this stuff for over 30 years pal, so try not to have conniptions just because I don’t find the crappy argument you like so much to be more than weak speculation. All those uses of “perhaps” and “maybe” in it should be a hint to you.

            “You would have to had read Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s book”

            I have. I’m well aware of his argument about mimesis thanks and I don’t find his thesis at all convincing.

            “I have had plenty of good feedback on my approach from experts.”

            Good for you. But if we look at what Konstan said:

            “Can that be what the Gospel writer had in mind …. ? Perhaps so”

            See that word “perhaps” in there?

            “You seem to be another one of those amateur, internet based atheist bible enthusiasts who is heavy on bluster and weak on argument. ”

            And you seem to be another of those amateur, internet based nobodies with a speculative private theory who gets snippy whenever someone doesn’t take them as seriously as they take themselves. Go play with your little theory somewhere else.

          • John MacDonald

            “You would have to had read Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s book”
            “I have. I’m well aware of his argument about mimesis thanks and I don’t find his thesis at all convincing.”

            Now you’re claiming you’ve read Dennis MacDonald’s book “The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides (2017)?” Now I think you’re lying, lol. Anyway, I’ll let it go at that, since you seem to be getting upset. Take it easy.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “Now you’re claiming you’ve read Dennis MacDonald’s book ”

            I was referring to his earlier book The Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark, where he makes the case for his ideas about mimesis in the NT material very clearly. Your claim that I’m somehow unaware of the basis for his argument was simply wrong. And “getting upset”? At what? Some random guy with a silly theory based on some highly strained speculations? I don’t think so. As I’ve said several times, go and believe whatever you like. If you need to badger and insult people because they don’t find your private theory very convincing, maybe the problem lies with the theory.

          • John MacDonald

            What does “The Homeric Epics And The Gospel Of Mark” have anything to do with whether there is a mimesis relationship between The Gospel of John’s Jesus and Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae? You can’t simply make the blanket statement that there is no mimesis going on in the New Testament, since, for instance, everyone agrees that, as I said, Matthew’s Jesus infancy narrative recapitulates the story of Moses. I seriously doubt you’ve read Dr. MacDonald’s earlier book cover to cover. You probably just heard about it in Carrier’s writings or Price’s writings. Anyway, this all started off with me presenting my position in this blog post: http://palpatinesway.blogspot.ca/ Had you actually read the blog post instead of haphazardly guessing at what you think my theory is, you would have read the following in the “Reader’s Comments” section of the blog post: “These are my closing thoughts: In the end, we simply don’t know whether the first Christians were lying about seeing the risen Jesus, were hallucinating, or that they really did experience a miracle. This is the magic of unknowing!” That is my position. If you think you can argue with that, then your command of logic is even more stunted then you’ve already demonstrated. I’m tired of trying to walk you through hermeneutics 101, so I’ll leave it at that.

          • http://historyforatheists.blogspot.com Tim O’Neill

            “What does “The Homeric Epics And The Gospel Of Mark” have anything to do with whether there is a mimesis relationship between The Gospel of John’s Jesus and Dionysus in Euripides’ Bacchae? ”

            It has everything to do with your stupid and condescending assumption that I needed a little lecture on the rather elementary concept of mimesis in Greek literature and MacDonald’s contrived attempts at applying it to the NT material.

            “You can’t simply make the blanket statement that there is no mimesis going on in the New Testament,”

            Luckily for me I made no such blanket statement.

            ” I seriously doubt you’ve read Dr. MacDonald’s earlier book cover to cover.”

            Then we’ll add that to the long and growing list of things you’re wrong about.

            “Had you actually read the blog post …”

            And that.

            “I’m tired of trying to walk you through hermeneutics 101”

            I’m tired of laughing while I watch you trip repeatedly over your own feet. So if you’ve finally finished, feel free to go away. How many final “harrumphs” from you is that now – three? Will you be back for a fourth?

          • John MacDonald

            If I’ve piqued anyone’s interest about Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s new book “The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides,” Dr. Dennis MacDonald gave “The John Priest Lecture” at Florida State University on that topic in 2016. Here is the video of that lecture (the introductions last about 7 minutes before Dr. Dennis MacDonald speaks): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxHvhx6g2wI

            Here is my review of the book on amazon.ca : https://www.amazon.ca/gp/customer-reviews/R2HLD49A39589L/ref=cm_cr_dp_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1506423450

            Dr. MacDonald’s new book “The Dionysian Gospel: The Fourth Gospel and Euripides” has two blurbs from academic peer professors on the back. Here they are:

            1) “Ever since C.H. Dodd and Rudolf Bultmann, echoes of Dionysos have been posited on the intellectual horizon of the first Cana sign in the Fourth Gospel. Employing the model of rhetorical emulation or mimesis, MacDonald takes these suggestions to a new level, arguing that the author has engaged with the god of the “Bacchae” not only in John 2, but throughout, depicting Jesus as a god in human guise coming to his own. As ever, MacDonald’s work is provocative, ambitious, erudite, and deeply engaged with current scholarship on the gospels.” ——- Dr. John S. Kloppenborg, University of Toronto.

            2) “Dennis R MacDonald has been in the forefront of scholars demonstrating connections between early Christian writings, including the New Testament, and classical Greek literature. In this exciting volume, MacDonald brings his customary acumen to bear on the relationship between Euripides representation of Dionysos and the life of Jesus recounted in the Gospel of John, and the results are as exciting and impressive as ever.” ———– Dr. David Konstan, New York University.

            I asked one of the above professors, Dr. Konstan, what he thought of my “Noble Lie” hypothesis of Christian origins in relation to the Fourth gospel, and he said:

            ” I appreciated very much your comments on the noble lie and the comparison of Cadmus’ remark in Euripides’ Bacchae with Plato’s deception in the Republic. Can that be what the Gospel writer had in mind, as you suggest – that behind the surface story there is a deeper wisdom to discover, somewhat like the layered interpretations of the Koran that the mystical Arabic philosophers perceived? Perhaps so: even so austere a sect as the Stoics endorsed lying when it was beneficial to the community.”

            So, if I’ve whetted your appetite for Dr. Dennis MacDonald’s new book “The Dionysian Gospel: The Forth Gospel and Euripides (2017),” you can buy it here: https://www.amazon.com/Dionysian-Gospel-Fourth-Euripides/dp/1506423450/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1507157938&sr=8-6&keywords=dennis+macdonald

          • John MacDonald

            The possibility I am entertaining is that the Christian New Testament was meant to create a better society through faith in Jesus, but it was written in such a way that once enough time had passed and the world had become that better place, the people would be able to see it was all a noble lie and thereby grow up and leave the fictions of resurrection appearances and miracles behind, while still believing in the ethical principles we have been indoctrinated it (loving our neighbors and enemies). We must always consider the provocative speech by Cadmus in “The Bacchae” where he says, regarding Dionysus, that: “Even though he (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem that she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race.”

          • John MacDonald

            “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.”
            — 1 John 2:22 NRSV (1989)

            That would be so cool if I was the antichrist, lmao:

            “Even though he (Dionysus) be no God, as you say, still say that he is. Be guilty of a splendid fraud, declaring him to be the son of Semele, for this will make it seem that she is the mother of a God, and will confer honor on all our race.”