More from Hurtado on the Flaws in the Mythical Jesus Argument

More from Hurtado on the Flaws in the Mythical Jesus Argument December 14, 2017


“Mythical Jesus”: The Fatal Flaws
by larryhurtado

My lengthy posting in which I explained why the “mythical Jesus” claim has no traction among scholars (here) dre1)w (predictably) an attempt to refute it from the “Vridar” blogsite. I don’t think it succeeds, but readers will have to judge for themselves. I’ll content myself with underscoring a few things that remain established from my posting.

I focused on three claims that Richard Carrier posits as corroborating his hypothesis that “Jesus” was originally a “celestial being” or “archangel,” not a historical figure, and that this archangel got transformed into a fictional human figure across several decades of the first century CE. I showed that the three claims are all false, which means that his hypothesis has no corroboration.

There is no evidence of “a Jewish archangel Jesus”. All known figures bearing the name are portrayed as human and historical figures. Furthermore, contra Carrier, Paul never treats Jesus as an archangel, but instead emphasizes his mortal death and resurrection, and mentions his birth, Davidic descent, and Jewishness, cites teachings of Jesus, and refers to his personal acquaintance with Jesus’ siblings.
There is no example among “all the savior cults” of the Roman period of a deity being transformed into a mortal being of a given time and place (such as he asserts happened in the case of Jesus). Carrier claims a pattern, but there is none.

From earliest extant Christian texts (Paul) to the NT Gospels, “Jesus” is a genuine human figure. To be sure, Paul and other early Jesus-followers believed also that Jesus had been raised from death and exalted to heavenly glory. They also then ascribed to him a back-story or “pre-existence” (e.g., drawing on Jewish apocalyptic and Wisdom traditions). But for Paul “Jesus” wasn’t simply a “celestial being”. And for the Gospel writers, he wasn’t simply a bloke.
My posting was intended simply to illustrate, especially for “general” readers outside the relevant fields, why the “mythical Jesus” view is regarded as bizarre among scholars in the relevant fields, scholars of all persuasions on religious matters, and over some 250 years of critical study. It is a sad and desperate move for “Vridar” to dismiss this fact by impugning this huge body of scholarship as either gullible or prejudiced, when the only “crime” is a refusal to endorse the “mythicist” notion. The scholarship that I point to has been shaped by the critical impulses from the Renaissance and “Enlightenment,” all texts, whether biblical or Christian or whatever, subjected to the same critical tests and procedures. In what other subject would a solid body of scholarly judgement be treated to such foolish disdain?

So, ignoring the various red-herrings and distortions of the “mythicist” advocates, the claims proffered as “corroborating” their view have been shown to be erroneous. And this is why the view has no traction among scholars. There’s no conspiracy. It’s not because scholars are gullible or lazy. The view just doesn’t stand up to critical scrutiny.

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