A Popular Blunder: Bringing Something Into Existence with an “If”

A Popular Blunder: Bringing Something Into Existence with an “If” March 11, 2019

The word “laconic” means concise. The word comes from Laconia, the region of Greece of which Sparta was the capital. There’s a famous story that illustrates the Spartans’ reputation for using few words.

Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, was in the process of conquering Greece in the fourth century BCE, and he sent a message to Sparta asking if he should come as friend or enemy.

They replied, Neither.

Philip then sent the message, “If once I enter into your territories, I will destroy you all, never to rise again.”

The laconic reply: If.

Christian use of “If”

Christians can also make daring use of this word, but it’s a different kind of daring. Here are some examples where they conjure up the supernatural with an If.

If God exists, it makes not only a tremendous difference for mankind in general, but it could make a life-changing difference for you as well. —William Lane Craig

If Jesus was literally God incarnate, and if it is by his death alone that men can be saved, and by their response to him alone that they can appropriate that salvation, then the only doorway to eternal life is Christian faith. —John Hick

If Jesus rose from the grave, that’s the most important event in history. It proves Jesus is who He said He was, that Christianity is true, that you will be resurrected and brought before God to account for your crimes against Him. —Alan Shlemon

If God had the power necessary to create everything from nothing [that is, create the universe], he could probably pull off the miracles described in the New Testament. —J. Warner Wallace

(Sometimes the if is assumed. For example, the atheist raises the Problem of Evil, and the apologist replies, “[If we first assume God,] Who are you to question God?”)

Perhaps you can see the problem. Yes, if that amazing and unevidenced claim about God or Jesus is true, then your conclusion holds, but why would you think it would? It’s like saying, “If Santa exists, I’ll get lots of presents” or “If friendly aliens are among us, they’ll give us lots of cool technology” or “If I can speak to the dead, I will gain great wisdom.” The conclusion might logically follow, but why accept the ridiculous if premise? No reason is given.

In Christians’ Alice-in-Wonderland logic, the premise is the conclusion. The four quoted examples above simplify to “If God exists, then God exists.” The Christian apologist could cut to the chase, declare that God or Jesus exists, claim victory over the atheist, and be done with it, but then of course they admit the sleight of hand. The second half of the “If God exists . . .” statement is window dressing compared to the fundamental claim that God exists. The conclusion was buried in the premise all along.

This is the Hypothetical God Fallacy. It’s a fallacy because no one interested in the truth starts with a conclusion (God exists) and then arranges the facts to support that conclusion. That’s backwards; it’s circular reasoning. Rather, the truth seeker starts with the facts and then follows them to their conclusion. Christians don’t get an exemption, and they must do it the hard way, like any scientist or historian, showing the evidence that leads unavoidably to the conclusion.

Conclusion

The Spartans could make “If” say volumes, and neither Philip nor his successor Alexander attempted to capture Sparta. Their gutsy reply was backed up with a deservedly formidable reputation.

By contrast, Christians’ “If” is, at best, an attempt to change the conversation. “Let’s consider Jesus World—wouldn’t you like this imaginary world to exist?” Maybe I would, but that’s not the point. And at worst, Christians are claiming to have actually made an argument for the God claim, but of course “If God exists” does nothing of the kind.

When I read, “If God exists,” it might as well say, “If magic exists” or “If unicorns exist.” Magic and unicorns don’t exist—at least, you’ve given us no reason to believe they do—so what follows must be hypothetical. And gods don’t exist—certainly not as far as you’ve convinced us—so what follows can only be speculation about a world that isn’t ours and is therefore irrelevant and uninteresting.

Who would’ve thought that one word could be so dangerous?

Related posts:

If god is real, evidence points to
an incompetent megalomaniac just trying to make it to Friday.
He delegates responsibility to the weakest members of his team,
his ideas are shit, his execution is poorly planned,
and his purpose is to have something to turn in
so he doesn’t get fired.
He is the George Costanza of deities.
— commenter Kodie

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Image from Gabriel Matula, CC license
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  • Not to mention that an if, to a real Christian™, is almost tantamount to blasphemy in itself…

    • HuggyBear

      There is a reason for that:
      Certainty is an attribute of the subconscious while Doubt emanates from the reasoning faculty of the conscious mind.
      The Hermeticists were well aquainted with the knowing positive certainty and the power of the subconscious mind.Taken up laterly by the Positive Thinking Brigade –
      Plotinus a 3rd century Greek philosopher categorised the sensation of “knowing” into 3 degrees – Opinion, science and most important, Illumination.
      Mark 11 verse 24
      ” Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

      • MR

        Plotinus a 3rd century Greek philosopher categorised the sensation of “knowing” into 3 degrees – Opinion, science and most important, Illumination

        Demonstrate that “Illumination” is a form of knowing and not just your imagination. Saying it is doesn’t make it true.

        Mark 11 verse 24
        ” Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

        Demonstrate this is true. Pray for something that we can all verify.

        Could you be wrong?

        • HuggyBear

          The proper answer is – Why don’t you try it? – then you could see if it works for you. I don’t need to prove anything to anybody – it works for me. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/397fe998994ee516d1385e8ca6bec538a628d45518e8b59b18ae7980a17d3a0e.jpg

        • MR

          Except what you’re espousing is not the truth and it doesn’t really work. You know that, otherwise you’d simply demonstrate it. “The truth” doesn’t care about your nonsense either.

        • HuggyBear

          No you are transporting thinking from Science Universe to Theology and Metaphysics. You cannot use one to judge the other .

          FYI – in recent time we have moved back from Aristotle to a more Platonic understanding.

          ” That which is seen is merely an expression of the invisible”

        • MR

          Bullshit. Saying so doesn’t make it so. You spew hooey that not even Christians would believe, and you can’t back up what you say. You deceive people.

          You quoted Mark 11.24. That’s pretty straightforward. If you truly believe this, demonstrate it. Ask for something that we can all verify.

        • HuggyBear

          The only demonstration that matters is YOU.
          Others could walk on water and you still would not believe.

          Ahhhh the power of Belief (Claude Bristol) so many miss it! -Start with Norman Vincent Peale and try him for a few weeks.

          You know in your heart – just like Anthony Flew – the Truth lies here.

        • MR

          You know you’re lying. You run from your own quote.

          ” Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

          Demonstrate this or admit it’s a lie.

        • Greg G.

          the Truth lies

          That is often true when people think “truth” must be capitalized. It is the mark of imagination.

        • HuggyBear

          Ahh I see you conflate “imagination” with delusion. ( implied) – then you have not understood how the universe works.

        • Greg G.

          One can imagine things that are real and one can imagine things that are not real. You have been touting claims that show no distinction between those functions of imagination.

        • HuggyBear

          is the Oak Tree real when contained in the seed?
          All around you is merely crystallized thought – the world of ideas is very real to me.

        • Greg G.

          No, the tree is not in the seed. Its growth is contingent upon the environment where is grows.

          All around you is merely crystallized thought – the world of ideas is very real to me.

          Woo. You should add in “quantum” to sound like Chopra.

        • epeeist

          You should add in “quantum” to sound like Chopra.

          I don’t know what the phrase is where you are, but here in the UK calling him a “Poundland Chopra” would cover it.

        • Greg G.

          No you are transporting thinking from Science Universe to Theology and Metaphysics. You cannot use one to judge the other .

          You are accusing MR of using reality to judge imaginary claims as if that is wrong to do. By your method, we can believe that it is possible for Santa Claus to visit every home in the world at midnight.

        • HuggyBear

          Please define Reality – so that I can answer.

        • Greg G.

          {five seconds of Google}

          re·al·i·ty
          /rēˈalədē/
          noun
          1. the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

        • HuggyBear

          state of things as they actually

          Observer – Observed – connection.

        • Greg G.

          You omit the act of observing. There is a big difference between casually observing and carefully observing. Then there is observing through a contrived lens.

        • HuggyBear

          Kindly explain what your Truth is then? – wait – ah yes – The great Cartesian perhaps?

        • MR

          You’re the one making the claim. Demonstrate it. If you can’t demonstrate it, we need not believe your claims.

        • HuggyBear

          Not asking you to believe anything. I did ask you to try it for yourself though. Park that conscious mind and “enter the silence”

        • MR

          Yeah, I quit taking you seriously.

        • HuggyBear

          We read in the book of Hebrews: “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).

        • MR

          Are you still on?

        • HuggyBear

          You guys make me laugh – you all prefer talking to the Monkey and not the Organ Grinder.
          Keep beating that Monkey and you’ll go blind ( well possibly not Susan).

        • MR

          In other words, you can’t support any of the bullshit you’ve said.

        • Sample1

          and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him” (11:6).

          Diligently: a way that shows care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.

          Rules out every Christian I’ve known irl. Ergo, no rewards which sounds about right.

          Mike, excommunicated

        • Susan

          Not asking you to believe anything.

          You are making claims you can’t support as though they are true.

          When people do that, it’s a simple thing to explain to them that there is no reason to believe those claims.

          I did ask you to try it for yourself though.

          Many, many people here are ex-theists. They tried it for themselves and discovered it was snake oil.

          Park that conscious mind

          What do you mean specifically?

          and “enter the silence”

          And unsubstantiated goo will all make sense?

          That’s cult thinking.

          Not good thinking.

        • epeeist

          I did ask you to try it for yourself though.

          Many, many people here are ex-theists. They tried it for themselves and discovered it was snake oil.

          His tactics, such as they are, remind of pyramid marketing.

          Or perhaps even closer, the drug dealer, “The first hit is free”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And pitching it to those that have got themselves clean ta boot.

        • HuggyBear

          If you tell me you can ride a bike Susan – I don’t need to see you ride it – I will believe you.
          Please explain why?

          PS Please read Helen Rhodes Wallace’s book if you want to explore your questions

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ridiculous analogy.

          Nothing extraordinary about riding a bike…we see lots of folk doing it every day.

          If she told you she has a transporter room and could teleport from one side of the world to the other in seconds, would you believe that?

        • MR

          Still clutching at straws unable to support your own bullshit?

        • epeeist

          Kindly explain what your Truth is then

          Truth? That’s easy:

          'S' iff p

        • HuggyBear

          I don’t pretend to be an academic philosopher and the ins and outs of Euler would bore me so I am not going there.
          What I do know is that post Kierkegaard there arose a dichotomy between reason and non reason. Dianism which was extended from his teaching teaches that that which gives meaning is always seperated from Reason.
          Those that followed him -Satre, Camus, Heidegger and Jaspers all pushed different versions of the same system BUT were unable to live their systems and had miserable lives.

          Rationality only leads to something absurd in every area including KNOWLEDGE

          You need to escape from Reason Epee – it will destroy you.

        • epeeist

          I don’t pretend to be an academic philosopher and the ins and outs of Euler would bore me so I am not going there.

          It isn’t anything to do with academic philosophy or the mathematics of Euler, merely a simple logical statement.

          You need to escape from Reason Epee – it will destroy you.

          You are merely reprising Luther, “Reason is a whore, the greatest enemy that faith has; it never comes to the aid of spiritual things, but more frequently than not struggles against the divine Word, treating with contempt all that emanates from God.”

          One can understand the religious antipathy to reason, it constantly undercuts the claims of religion and exposes its lack of content to the world.

        • HuggyBear

          Polanyi’s Paradox springs to mind!

        • epeeist

          Polanyi’s Paradox springs to mind!

          To your mind possibly since point to squirrels seems to be all you have.

        • MR

          The proper answer is to admit that you can’t demonstrate your claims. You give us no reason to believe you. Your own gullibility is on display here.

        • Greg G.

          The proper answer is – Why don’t you try it? – then you could see if it works for you.

          Did you steal that from the Buddhists? I have seen that suggestion in Buddhist material. It’s just a free sample of confirmation bias. One should avoid getting hooked on that.

        • MR

          it works for me.

          That doesn’t make it true.

        • HuggyBear

          What is truth ?( small letters this time Greg G ).

        • MR

          You’re the one making the claim. Demonstrate it. Don’t be shy. You’re the one who put forth the claim. Show us.

        • HuggyBear

          As I said earlier I make no claims – I express my opinion . You can express yours – if you do I will consider it. I am not here to defend but to learn further and better particulars!

        • MR

          Lunatics have opinions, too. You give us no reason to believe anything you say.

          I am not here to defend but to learn further and better particulars

          No. You appear to be here to spew a bunch of hooey that you can’t defend. You are either incredibly gullible or think that we are.

          You quoted the following:

          ” Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.”

          Demonstrate that this is true or admit that it is not. Why do you run from your own comments?

          People lie and spread lies all the time on the Internet. How do we protect ourselves from the lies that people like you spread if we do not demand that you back up the things you say? You run and try to shift the burden because you know you can’t defend what you say. What does that tell you? We all know what that tells us! Why continue to cling to something that clearly cannot be defended? Could you be wrong, and how do you protect yourself from being deceived?

        • epeeist

          Lunatics have opinions, too.

          As do anti-Semites. One has to wonder what colour shirts HuggyBear wears.

        • MR

          So he’s here to spew hate, too.

        • epeeist

          So he’s here to spew hate, too.

          Yes, try this post and this post.

        • MR

          This one’s a real whackaloon.

        • HuggyBear

          Now you’re all talking about me behind my back. Naughty boys!

          Hate not in my worldview Epee, got the stripes to prove that as I have not had my arse glued to LHC most of my life.

          Do however virulently reject the Talmudic Worldview that spews forth hate in our Geopolitics and not afraid to say it either .

        • epeeist

          Now you’re all talking about me behind my back. Naughty boys!

          You may not have noticed but this is a public forum. As such what is posted is very much down to the latitude of the blog’s owner and moderator. “Heat” and “Kitchens” are words that come to mind.

        • HuggyBear

          Hair shirts Bro equipped with makram and celice!

        • HuggyBear

          PS Prayed for Donald Trump to be elected – does that count?

        • MR

          I don’t understand why Bob’s blog attracts all the nut jobs and Russian trolls.

      • Greg G.

        Sure, you have a million dollars as long as you believe it and don’t try to spend it. You’ll always have eternal life until you die.

        • HuggyBear

          I have several million but care nothing for the mocking grandeur of fortune GG.
          The present moment is eternal

        • Greg G.

          The moment when you finished your lunch 137 days ago was just as eternal. What did you eat?

        • MR

          The moment he shat that lunch out was also just as eternal, but the shit he’s shitting now seems eternalier.

        • Greg G.

          “The present moment is eternal” sounds so profound until you consider that it could be said about wiping your butt with the same piece of toilet paper being an eternal moment. It is an eternal moment for the toilet paper, too.

  • Ficino

    If A is identical to A, then Catholicism is true.
    A is identical to A.
    Therefore, Catholicism is true.

    The syllogism is valid. Checkmate, atheist. /s

    Good article, Bob.

  • Doubting Thomas

    If god exists, then we wouldn’t need hypotheticals to demonstrate it.

    • If God wanted us to believe in him, he would exist.

      • MR

        Awesome.

      • Raging Bee

        I guess he should have thought of that before he decided he didn’t want us to believe in him…oh wait…

        I’ll come in again…

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Oh damn… Now I have to look up that whole Hitchhikers Guide about god…
          Found it:

          Now, it is such a bizarrely improbable coincidence that anything so mind-bogglingly useful could have evolved purely by chance that some have chosen to see it as the final proof of the NON-existence of God.

          The argument goes something like this:

          “I refuse to prove that I exist,” says God, “for proof denies faith, and without faith I am nothing.”

          “But,” says Man, “the Babel fish is a dead giveaway, isn’t it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves that You exist, and so therefore, by Your own arguments, You don’t. QED.”

          “Oh dear,” says God, “I hadn’t thought of that,” and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

          “Oh, that was easy,” says Man, and for an encore goes on to prove that black is white and gets himself killed on the next zebra crossing.

        • MR

          I’ve just realized that I would have completely misunderstood that when I first read it so many years ago. I probably imagined some herd migration or something.

      • al kimeea

        If doG wanted me to believe in him, the Buybull wouldn’t be such a steaming pile…

  • WCB

    A sneaky aspect to If is that such arguments offer no evidence, no proof. But subtly shifts the burden of proof to the atheist to disprove their if.

    Christian theology is based on a series of propositions. That there is a supernatural realm, that God is truly simple and that there are no metaphysical principles needed to account for God’s existence, that God is truly omniscient, omnipotent and omnibenevolent. By casting all of these as a Russellian Teapot argument, mere assertions, ifs, Christian theology admits there is no evidence or proof for God or any of these foundational propositions. And to seal the deal, “God is incomprehensibele, inscutable”.

    This turns theology into a game.

    • Ficino

      Dennis Bonnette has been promoting the thesis, which he seems to think is original with him, that if there is anything new, it can’t have come from not-being. So it must have come from being. But that means a potency was actualized by something that is pure act, i.e. God.

      Even if there is no force pushing a projectile moving forward at a constant speed from point A to B in relation to some other point, the actualization of the projectile’s existence at B is something new. Potential existence at B has been reduced to Actual existence at B. Therefore God.

      I sense that this argument relies on long-exploded quasi-Aristotelian logic under which existence is a predicate/perfection. But I don’t know enough to prove that “it comes from being and not from not-being” is meaningless or false.

      • Pofarmer

        I’m going with meaningless, and stupid. How would you use that to predict, literally, anything. It’s nonsense.

      • WCB

        Parmenides: “Nothing can come from nothing”. That is nothing has no potential for something to come from nothing. So something has always existed. Now we are arguing about what the nothing that has always existed is. Naturalism or some sort of God. Hesiod and others, all came from primal chaos. Thus, Leucippus and Democritus, atoms and the void. Or some primal sea as per any number of early mythological cosmologies. And now from modern cosmology and physics, the Multiuniverse. No Gods needed. Genesis, God presides over an eternal primordial sea. No different from Plato’s demiurge, ordering a primordial chaos. (Timaeus).

        God is a hypothesis. From The One of Plotinus that emanates God (Enneades 9th tractate) to the simple God of Augustine. Tracing the ideas about existence and the super-omnipotent God of Descartes or Aquinas and Duns Scotus we get that ever more rarified God of the Thomists.

        I find the super-omnipotent God of Descartes (letters to Mezsenne) a simple and final progression from the doctrine of the simplicity of God that in the end, soon collapses under it’s own weight when we consider the problem of evil. It is an extension of Anselm’s perfect being theology, which became the proof of degrees for existence of God of Aquinas. I have yet to find any book that traces all of this out in any sort of fashion.

        God as a concept is sort of like a snowball rolling down a hill, collecting hypotheses about the nature of God as the snowball rolls down the hill of theological history.

        • Ficino

          yes, throw the PoE into the mix and the rarified Ground of Being goes underground. Just today I was sounding off on another board about a philosophy prof from a community college who has been defending the Ontological Argument on the American Philosophical Association comment boad. This chap today introduced a thread on the question, Where Was God at Auschwitz? He has metaphysical answers, very deep and heartfelt. Ya want ketchup wid dat?

          And now from modern cosmology and physics, the Multiuniverse. No Gods needed. Genesis, God presides over an eternal primordial sea. No different from Plato’s demiurge, ordering a primordial chaos

          Yours above, though, doesn’t seem likely to faze a Thomist. He’ll just say that you fail to understand Act-Potency, won’t he?

        • WCB

          Meanwhile back at Strand Notions, a new thread.

          “How Aquinas’s First Mover is Also Universal Governor”
          Why doesn’t the Universal Governor govern moral evil?
          ….

          “But, metaphysical science proves that God not only creates the cosmos
          at its beginning, but also continuously sustains its existence lest it
          fall back into nothingness.

          Why not let moral evil people fall back into nothingness? After they have exercised ther free will to do evil. If they have free will.

        • Ficino

          Hey WCB, I am guessing that you know the answers that Thomists will bring to the two questions you ask here.

          At this point in my thinking, it appears that the Thomistic principles of a hierarchical causal series ordered per se, and of denial of Existential Inertia, are not self-evidently true. And without them, the system can’t stand.

        • WCB

          This Thomist nonsense is simply immanence, entailing occasionalism and providence. God causes everything in all the Universes particulars. God is then responsible for all evil, natural and moral. It is sobering to think that if Dr. Bonnette was back in the middle ages, he would be called to Rome to recant these obvious errors. Which open the doors to obvious and damnable heresies.

      • Sample1

        Bonnette rejects all the same presuppositions that we do, we just go one presupposition further.

        We all presuppose the logical absolutes. Naturalists stop. Philosophers like Bonnette add one more, a “grounding” or “foundation” their god.

        They should know better.

        Mike

  • Mark in Ohio

    If, from the wisdom of Disney:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nqerQZObl58

  • ThaneOfDrones

    The Spartans could make “If” say volumes, and neither Philip nor his successor Alexander attempted to capture Sparta. Their gutsy reply was backed up with a deservedly formidable reputation.

    The Myth of Sparta — Were Ancient Greece’s Greatest Warriors Overrated?

    https://i0.wp.com/militaryhistorynow.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Pelopidas_leading_the_Thebans_at_the_battle_of_Leuctra.jpg?resize=560%2C782&ssl=1

    • Ficino

      Just a quibble: this “Sparta’s eventual triumph in the Peloponnesian War certainly made them the undisputed masters of Greece, but they could only cling to power for a mere year before Athenian exiles trounced them at the battles of Phyle and Munichia.” Only this morning I was rereading this very part of Xenophon’s Hellenica (: The principle foes of the Athenian exiles in those battles were Athenian oligarchical troops. The Athenian exiles were not facing a full force of Spartan hoplites.

    • eric

      Greatest warriors or not, it’s worth remembering that the reason why every male Spartan citizen was trained in war was because they mass-enslaved entire towns and people. Yes all the Greek city-states allowed slavery, but none of them did it to anywhere near the extent of the Spartans, and none of them tried to enslave their neighboring greek towns. The ratio of free greeks to slaves in other cities would be something like 3-5:1. In Spartan-controlled lands, it was more like 1:10.

      IOW, to keep all those slaves in line, it was vitally important that every male Spartan be a warrior.

      Soooooo….I don’t know about greatest, but maybe most brutal.

  • Raging Bee

    The subtext of all those “if” statements is: “If I’m right, then everyone who doubts my word is up shit creek, so y’all better shut up and get right with [my] God now, ‘cuz if you wait for more proof it’ll be too late!”

    Short answer: it’s all a bluff.

  • Ficino

    “Indeed, the Socratic Problem resembles the Lernean Hydra: one believes that one has cut its head off once and for all, then dozens of other ones grow back in its place immediately afterward. For my part, I remain skeptical …”
    Louis-Andre Dorion, “Comparative Exegesis and the Socratic Problem,” in Plato and Xenophon, Danzig et al., ed. (2018) 67.

    Rather like proofs of God.

  • Polytropos

    When someone’s response to “I’m not convinced of x” is “well let’s just assume x anyway”, they’re not engaging honestly. Probably because they know they don’t have good arguments to support x.

    • Kodie

      If you “let’s just assume x” anyway, what follows isn’t proof or evidence, it’s outcome. If god is real, then we’re all going to hell, for example. If god is real, then heaven is a big ice cream parlor with puppies that never poop, and never shed fur into the ice cream. You can make anything true, if we suppose the if. I could also say something scientific – if climate change is real, then the oceans will rise and flood coastal areas by year ____. That doesn’t tell you that climate change is real, or any of the evidence behind the claim. We can only assume if climate change is real, then the glaciers will melt and raise the oceans, which has a necessary outcome of flooding coastal regions, but maybe we don’t even know what the term “climate change” means. You have to define it, and substantiate it with evidence. Anything you want to say as the “then” to the “if” can be correct or incorrect. When I’m talking to someone, to say “if blah blah is true, then…”, it’s common for both of us to already have the “blah blah” defined, and for the sake of argument, we can also agree to assume it, even if one person is not convinced, just to get to the next part of the conversation. People can have a conversation like that, but mostly it’s religious people who do not define god, assume god exists, assume every property or condition of god that they believe, which is not even necessarily consistent among Christians or theists, and then dismiss any “hold on there, you didn’t define your terms”, and “what about your evidence?” because they just want to sermonize. They never want to know what atheists think or know, or how we’ve arrived at our decisions and conclusions, or what we’re like. “If god is real, wouldn’t you want to make sure you get into the magic puppy ice cream parlor when you die?” Well, yeah, but let’s slow down and tell me what you know about god actually existing.

      Or you could counter, “and if god doesn’t exist, you don’t have to worry about hell.” What would they say if you start an argument like that? I mean, it’s true, insofar as, IF god doesn’t exist, THEN you don’t have to worry about hell. Can they argue with that statement?

      • Polytropos

        They’ll try very hard to argue with it, usually with some form of Pascal’s wager. All it shows is that they have a powerful fear of hell.

        • Kodie

          Right, but IF god doesn’t exist, THEN you don’t have to worry about hell. Saying so doesn’t make it true or not true, or provide any substance, so to use it as an example why their statements are meaningless.

        • Polytropos

          It’s true, and they really don’t like it.

        • Pofarmer

          And once you break that fear, the religion really has no power any more.

  • Kuno

    This reminds me of those History Channel-style “documentaries” about conspiracy theories. They make one statement “It is possible that event X really was caused by Y” and then treat this claim as an absolute fact and the foundation for a whole chain of “arguments”, causing me to scream angrily at the screen more often than not.

    • Raging Bee

      IIRC the Discovery Channel did much the same thing with a show detailing what “scientists agree” we’d all have to do in the event of a zombie apocalypse.

    • The ghost hunters use that logic. You don’t think … ?

      • Kuno

        I don’t watch anything like that, it’s better for my blood pressure. But I am quite interested in medieval history, especially the crusades and the Knights Templar. And with every documentary about the Templars I find it is a toss-up if it is a real one or just another “The Templars totally found the Holy Grail which is totally a real thing” schlock…

        • I don’t have time for such shows. I’m too busy watching the ones where they’ve found the real Ark of the Covenant. (And also the real Noah’s Ark.)

        • Kuno

          I have seen at least one doc where they said the Templars had found the Ark of the Covenant instead of the Grail…

          I guess they tried to be original.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          I LOVED “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” sooo much fun.

        • I consider the Indiana Jones corpus to be documentaries.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Well except for the face meltings… and the snakes that lived in a crypt without any food or water… and the somehow getting into a submarine that was all closed up… and.. and.. and.. Yeah, totes for reelz. (:

        • al kimeea

          ya mean they don’t line fridges with lead that creates some kind of Stasis Field allowing Indy to emerge unscathed from cartwheeling across the landscape after a nuclear blast?

        • Cozmo the Magician

          But you forget, Indiana drank from the chalice so that makes him immortal (:

        • al kimeea

          I guess he forgot too

        • WCB

          Be careful now. Melting Nazis might trigger the lil alt-right neo-Nazis.

      • al kimeea

        Ancient alien theorists say “yes”

    • Cozmo the Magician

      On a cold dark night in 1994 a young man in upstate New York heard an odd sound outside his window. Could he have heard BIGFOOT! (insert 20 mins of BS) Bigfoot Must Be Real!

  • MR

    I remember my frustration with Lee Strobel’s book, A Case for Christ, which basically boiled down to, “If the Bible is true, then everything it says about Jesus, (which I’m going to now spend the entire rest of this book elaborating on without actually showing that the Bible is, in fact, true) is true.

    Once you see that inherent dishonesty in Christian claims, you can’t unsee it.

    • Reminds me of Andy Bannister’s The Atheist Who Didn’t Exist (2015). I spent about a dozen posts slapping this book silly. I don’t think he once gave an argument in support of Christianity–it was all flabby arguments against atheism (so therefore Christianity is true, or something).

      I emailed the author and gave him a link. He cheerfully told me that he’d moved on to other projects.

      • Susan

        all flabby arguments against atheism (so therefore Christianity is true, or something).

        That’s all they do.

        All of them.

        It’s all creationism dressed up in different outfits.

        =====

        Edit to remove the unnecessary and possibly snarky “Um…”

      • Damian Byrne

        Here, you might enjoy this forum thread. The OP (an atheist, just so you know) starts by giving the win to creationism. Says there’s no need to attack evolution. Asks the creationists to give their data, their evidence, their theories of how the world should look. Three guesses as to what the creationists spend their time doing, and there’s no prize for such an easy guess.
        https://debatingchristianity.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=30532

        • Nice! The Creationist playbook has nothing but attack moves. All they can do is point out the deficiencies of evolution, never play by the scientific rules and show us where Creationism does a better job at explaining or predicting.

        • MR

          That’s why debating the science seems like a whole lot of mental masturbation to me. How do you teach someone something they don’t want to be taught?

          Throwing shade at evolution tells us nothing about God. If evolution were somehow wrong, ultimately we’d shrug it off and it would end up being an interesting historical curiosity. I have no particular skin in the game as to whether evolution is true or not. Why waste your effort in disproving that and not showing instead that God exists?

          Now, if God exists, that would indeed be something! Focus on proving that.

          Instead they waste their time (and ours) trying to debunk something that the vast majority of them don’t even understand.

        • And most Christians are cool with evolution anyway. I don’t even see why their panties are in a bunch over evolution. Most Creationists are of the old-earth sort, so they have already come to terms with the fact that God didn’t really create the world in 6 days, despite what the Good Book says.

        • WCB

          I’m down here in Texas. we are up to our necks in fundies who hate evolution. The good yokels of Texas have managed to cram a lot of creationists on our State Board of Education. We sensible Texans have to fight them tooth and nail to prevent them from cramming creationism, faux history and now climate denial down the throats of the children of Texas. They have managed to all but gut science education when it comes to evolution, if not teaching creationism in our schools full bore. “Debating science” in this atmosphere is not an option. We have to deal with these morons daily, with a great deal of extreme prejuidce. Many important Texas politicians holding high political office have no more knowledge of science than a 12 year old, semi-literate Afghanstani goat herd boy, sad to say.

          And it’s not just Texas.

        • MR

          Good point. What I see on the blog, though, is apologists using so-called “scientific debate” to keep the atheist’s on the defensive. It’s a very Trumpian tactic. I’d like to see the tables turned more often and have them defend their nonsense. That’s when it all falls to pieces for them. But, you’re right, we need to have discussions about the science, too. I suppose there needs to be a balance.

        • Kodie

          That’s why they all hate Susan.

        • MR

          Fascinating isn’t that? They’ll debate you all day long on something they don’t understand, but ask them what they believe and how they support it and watch the indignation come out.

        • WCB

          https://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/education/school-zone/os-florida-senate-evolution-science-standards-baxley-20171120-story.html

          Here we go again.

          Baxley’s bill (SB 966)
          also would mandate that in science classes, “controversial theories and
          concepts must be taught in a factual, objective and balanced manner.”
          Such language has long been used by those opposed to the teaching of
          evolution.
          —-

          The old “teach the controversy” gambit. Of course the real thoughts of eminent scientists will not be included.

          We need a book that carefully dissects Genesis and the Bible to explain to the lil tykes why science does not take the Bible and creationism seriously. Many years ago in a Historic Geology at University of Houston, the professor teaching the course debunked Genesis and the Bible creationism nonsense, just so that question was laid to rest for the rest of that course. This book should be freely downloadable for all. Simple, blunt andeasy to read so even a 10 year old can understand why religion and creationism isn’t science.

        • “controversial theories and concepts must be taught in a factual, objective and balanced manner.”

          There’s the weak link. No controversial theories are taught in science class–at least not controversial to the people who understand the data.

        • skl

          The Creationist playbook has nothing but
          attack moves. All they can do is point out the deficiencies of evolution…

          Bob S.,
          Instead of yet another piece on the deficiencies of Christianity,
          it might be a nice change of pace to see a piece on what you call the
          deficiencies of evolution.

        • Thanks for the suggestion, but that’s not really my area of expertise. I know of lots of Creationist dust flung into the air, but they have an agenda. I don’t know of any deficiencies in evolution. Open questions, if anything.

          Why ask about evolution? Why did you pick that scientific theory over all the others (which might themselves have deficiencies)?

        • al kimeea

          Like gravity

        • Ignorant Amos

          That’s just dishonest skl showing a bit of his slip.

        • skl

          Why ask about evolution?
          Why did you pick that scientific theory over all the others (which might
          themselves have deficiencies)?

          Because that was the only scientific theory you brought up here.

        • I’ve mentioned many scientific theories at this blog.

        • skl

          It was the only scientific theory you
          brought up here in your comments in this thread.

          But perhaps that was a mistake, as it’s not your area of expertise.

        • You want to whine about evolution? Go ahead.

        • WCB

          If it is a discussion of why there are no real deficiencies of evoltion, might I suggest P.Z. Meyers at Pharyngula, or Jerry Coyne’s Why Evolution Is True blogs. They can explain to you why creationism is bullshit.

        • epeeist

          And once again you make the, “Oh look,over there, squirrels” move. Or in your case, “Oh look,over there, weasels” is more apposite.

      • HuggyBear

        Only a biblical worldview can really account for the existence of science—the study of the natural world. Science depends on the fact that the universe obeys orderly laws which do not arbitrarily change. But why should that be so? If the universe were merely an accident, why should it obey logical, orderly laws—or any laws at all for that matter? And why should these laws not be constantly changing, since so many other things change?

        • If the universe were merely an accident, why should it obey logical, orderly laws—or any laws at all for that matter? And why should these laws not be constantly changing, since so many other things change?

          You tell me. You think that the universe would look like something else if we didn’t have a god? Show me.

          You don’t seem to appreciate how remarkable your claim is. You claim to understand how a God-universe and a not-God-universe would appear. The burden of proof is yours. Go.

        • HuggyBear

          Tell you what Uncle Bob – you tell all and sundry why you spammed out this post first:
          https://www.mustardseedministries7.com/uploads/4/2/9/2/42923535/refutingevolution.pdf

        • Huh? You are apparently using definitions of words that I’m not familiar with.

        • Rudy R

          What theists don’t get, is that even if evolution is later refuted, the default is not god. And with exemplar’s like Ken Ham held up as an exemplar for disputing evolution, there is no future in evolution being refuted.

        • epeeist
        • Ignorant Amos

          Ffs will ya ever wise ta fuck up ya knuckle dragging Dime Bar?

        • Don’t read the PDF at the link!! If you do, your evolutionary worldview will crumble like the house of cards that it is!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Too late…ave already been mooned……….fortunately a was a soldier…so am good.

        • Phil

          Damn, I saw that as a challenge! I got through 30 pages of horseshit and had to stop. I could feel the brain cells popping, and I still need them.

        • HuggyBear

          The redolent stench of the Talmud and its putrid observations .

        • MR

          More unsubstantiated bullshit

        • epeeist

          Only a biblical worldview can really account for the existence of science

          As the early scientists Aristotle, Archimedes, Aristarchus and Eratosthenes demonstrate, all well known Christians.

          Oh, and not forgetting Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn-Sina and Ibn-Rushd, also well known Christians.

        • Rudy R

          But why should that be so?

          Classic argument from ignorance. You’re essentially saying, I don’t know how or why the universe is orderly, so it’s god magic.

        • Phil

          “Science depends on the fact that the universe obeys orderly laws which do not arbitrarily change”

          No it doesn’t!!! That is just what is observed. We don’t observe constantly changing constants! If stuff was constantly changing then science would reflect that, duh.

          “why should it obey logical, orderly laws”
          Why shouldn’t it?

        • HuggyBear

          Sorry to disabuse you.

          The “fundamental constants” do change even empirically. There have been variations in the Speed of Light and Gravity observed and the other 9 fundamental constants of our universe are also “movable feasts” – infinitesimally agreed but in some experiments that is significant.

          What we can say is that within the framework of the particular empirical investigation spread we are observing the “constants” work pretty well from an explanation and prediction perspective BUT cannot be extrapolated to the very large or very small ( plank levels)

          Unless and until we come up with the fabled TOE then we have only approximations .

          Logical orderly laws? – you need to get up to speed Matey – look up Polanyis Paradox and see what he has to say about empirical materialist and logical positivism.

          (sigh – these dumb armchair philosophers!) – duh!

        • Nature obeys orderly laws … except when it doesn’t. Newton’s law of gravity works except where it doesn’t (high gravitation environments need relativistic corrections), the Ideal Gas Law doesn’t account for chaos, and so on.

        • Kodie

          How could the universe exist if it were not orderly? If you could be a panda on Alpha Centauri tomorrow, would you just stop believing in god? This religious argument screams we need more science education, because whatever you learned left you amazed at things how they are, and concluding god must exist.

        • HuggyBear

          Which is exactly why Science has flourished in Christendom and technology has advanced contrast this with the Muslim Worldview or the writings of the Rabbis down the centuries.
          When you tire of seeking the TOE from a scientific perspective take that leap across the chasm and just accept there is a Creator God.
          Right now we have RCC Catholic telescopes focussed on Alpha Centauri and other cosmological phenomena for example. Science and Religion are NOT mutually exclusive as you maintain.

    • NS Alito

      But…but…you have to have faith. Open your heart to God and you will believe!

      • MR

        Well, that was the problem. At the time I was still a believer. It kind of helped shatter the illusion.

        • Susan

          At the time I was still a believer.

          But your faith wasn’t pure.

          You weren’t a true christian.

        • MR

          It doesn’t change the dishonesty in their argument.

        • Susan

          It doesn’t change the dishonesty in their argument.

          Of course not. But that’s how they avoid dealing with the dishonesty in their argument.

        • MR

          And maybe trips up someone who doesn’t see through that.

        • Susan

          And maybe trips up someone who doesn’t see through that

          That’s all they have if you make the effort to follow through on their claims.

          Barbed wire at the edge of the compound.

          Apologetics.

        • MR

          Yes, but what of the person who gets tripped up?

        • Susan

          what of the person who gets tripped up?

          I hope they notice the stupidly vicious circle that faith enforces.

          Even just by reading your comments and the discussion that follows.

          If not, then the cultists win.

          But a lot of the time, when people get to the edge of the compound, they make it out.

          That we can safely and reasonably discuss it doesn’t bode well for the cultists.

        • MR

        • NS Alito

          Matt Dillahunty mentioned something about his history that resonated with me: When you are a true believer, you aren’t afraid to ask questions or investigate further, because you’re confident nothing you learn will undermine what you know to be true.

          And that, children, is how the devout march into atheism.

        • Susan

          And that, children, is how the devout march into atheism.

          That’s what happened to me.

          They made a god based on truth.

          They had me convinced that there was an agent who wanted me to check that the things I believed were true.

          But if one sincerely pursues that, there’s no reason to believe there’s a superanatural agent of any sort.

          Nor that anyting we can call “I” persists after death.

          They’ve got nothing.

          Yay, “Truth”.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Grats on escaping. I only spent a very short time in the christoverse. Kinda went in on a parabolic trajectory so escaped unscathed.

        • Pofarmer

          Parabolic Trajectory, Lol. I kind of wonder about some of the extremely religious kids that are in my kids school. If they are going to continue that way or flame out when the World hits them in the ass.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          BTW, the Dragon Crew capsule made it to space and back safe and sound. YAY!!! Americans will be back into space soon without having to hitch a ride on commie pinko space ships.

        • Pofarmer

          Boeing is supposed to launch their new crew capsule sometime this spring, as well. It’s too bad, though, that we gave up the capability to do the maintnenance missions on things like Hubble and Kepler. They run out of fuel they’re done. The Space Shuttle did have some unique capabilities.

        • Cozmo the Magician

          Well, the Musk’s BFR (or whatever he calling it this week) will have much much more uses.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I think the technology needs to be an order of magnitude safer, though.

    • Pofarmer

      And that shoots through pretty much all biblical scholarship. Ask James McGrath on Patheos to demonstrate how it is that the Gospels aren’t simply fiction. Good luck. That’s the question that got me banned. It’s as if they’ve never even considered it.

      • No one has has ever been banned on my blog because they asked questions. But everyone knows that people who get banned because of their behavior regularly say that all they did was as ask questions. If you can behave with decency and respect both for academic study and for other commenters, you will be welcomed back any time.

        I also invite anyone interested to visit my blog to see how many times I have addressed the very question that you here claim led to you being banned…

        • Pofarmer

          Tell ya what Jim. Explain to me the difference between the evidence for Jesus and the evidence for Rhett Butler. I’ll wait.

        • Again? Really?

          I confess I have no real expertise on Gone With The Wind. Any particular reason for choosing that example?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, a couple actually. It purports to be a biography of sorts, and it’s around 60 years after the events in the story. The Hunt For Red October could probably work, as well. And it has the advantage if the supernatural “caterpillar drive. “

        • HairyEyedWordBombThrower

          Of course, *again*.

          YOU DIDN’T ANSWER THE FIRST TIME.

        • Pofarmer

          Please note, he ain’t answered yet, either.

        • al kimeea

          please provide but one clear, concise example…

        • Here is the one I would choose if it has to be just one: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/02/jesus-sherlock-holmes-and-hercules.html

          This one is more concise but less substantive, if that seems preferable to you:

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/12/fictions-and-facts-about-jesus.html

          Keyword search or tags on the blog will lead you to a lot more on a range of details, if you are interested.

        • al kimeea

          well, the first link avoids the question, as does the second

          an ordinary, average guy Jesus does nothing for the veracity of The Abrahamic Prick of the holey books…

          if he existed outside that book

        • Pofarmer

          Kinda underwhelming, wasn’t it?

        • al kimeea

          heh heh, kinda

          if that’s the best, not gonna bother looking around the rest of the joint

          I expected long, convoluted tracts, so these were at least surprising in that way

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve yet to see an apologist, and he is acting as an apologist in this instance, honestly deal with that question. Maybe I’ll be surprised here.

        • al kimeea

          I prophesy crickets

        • Pofarmer

          Lol.

        • Pofarmer

          Keep in mind also, McGrath is a Christian, so he’s also committed to the supernatural stuff in the book, whether he will admit it or not. There’s another question I asked that never got a response either, but I’ll leave it go, for now.

        • al kimeea

          I figured as much, seeing as he has a real sunk cost involved.

        • No, I do not believe, much less am I committed to, supernatural stuff, and it is dishonesty of this sort that does get people banned from blogs.

          The veracity or otherwise of the Gospels is not what mythicist claims are about. It is mainstream secular historical investigation that has led solidly to the conclusion that there probably was a historical Jesus who has been mythologized in early Christian sources and thought, just as we see happen with countless historical figures in the ancient world. Mythicism is the insistence that this conclusion of secular historical inquiry is wrong and that it makes more sense to insist that there was no historical figure whatsoever behind the later legends, myths, embellished storytelling, and so on.

          I’m an academic interested in the historical figure of Jesus, not apologetics, except inasmuch as I care deeply about this subject and so am interested in countering claims, whether made by Christians, atheists, or anyone else, that are bunk as far as the historical evidence and secular historical reasoning are concerned.

        • epeeist

          has led solidly to the conclusion that there probably was a historical Jesus

          What is the probability estimate and what methodology was used in its estimation?

        • Are you looking for a Bayesian calculation, even though historians as a rule don’t approach history that way?

          The conclusion itself is based on the usual methods of historical investigation, looking at ancient sources, assessing likelihood that authors were in a position to know the information that interests us, looking at whether information is provided that runs counter to an author’s beliefs and emphases and so was unlikely to have been invented by them, and so on.

        • epeeist

          Are you looking for a Bayesian calculation

          The question was simple, how do estimate the probabilities I made no reference to any particular method.

          assessing likelihood

          The same question applies, how do you estimate the likelihood?

        • Using the methods in the field of the historical study of the ancient world. It is not unlike the way a jury is asked to weigh the evidence for claims about the past in a courtroom, if that analogy helps.

        • Pofarmer

          We’re all familiar with Lee Strobel.

        • epeeist

          Using the methods in the field of the historical study of the ancient world.

          A reference or two would be useful.

          It is not unlike the way a jury is asked to weigh the evidence for claims about the past in a courtroom, if that analogy helps.

          I am not aware that juries follow any particular methodology or make probability or likelihood estimates.

        • Juries are asked to draw conclusions about what is most probable given evidence and arguments presented to them.

          I didn’t realize a reference to a matter treated in introductory textbooks was needed, sorry. These may be useful as a starting place:

          http://libguides.usc.edu/humanitiesresearch/historical
          http://www.katapi.org.uk/HistNTIntro/Ch5.htm
          https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/nt-interpretation/nti_7_historical-criticism_marshall.pdf

          Let me know if those were not the sort of thing you were looking for. Obviously consulting a recent mainstream textbook would be preferable, but I wasn’t sure whether your level of interest was such that you would visit a library.

        • al kimeea

          There being Jesus
          still we must ponder
          if there is a God…

        • And now the Master is speaking in haiku …

        • al kimeea

          Is this person of your interest the son of a deity?

          What reliable info do you have that this person exists outside the that book? Both those links are claims to that effect – “100% of historians agree” – without citation.

          If he did, so what. Nothing about that tale is new or original.

        • What do you think the study of history would look like if we paid no attention to individuals who resemble others and were not especially original?

          And how many historical figures would we have to ignore if we made it a rule that someone coming along later and saying they had a divine parent rendered them an inappropriate subject of historical investigation?

        • al kimeea

          so, no God then and no citations outside that book

        • The historical Jesus is not about God or a god, it is about a human figure in history.

          What book are you referring to? Historians are interested in sources such as the letters of Paul, our earliest relevant materials. Are you suggesting that because they were later collected as part of something called a “Bible” that that too has some sort of retroactive impact on whether historians can use them?

        • al kimeea

          Removing the supernatural aspects renders the whole thing rather mundane, hardly worth the sordid history that followed.

          I can accept a real person behind the fiction in the Bible. IIRC, the newer bits all date from some time after this apocalyptic preacher among many breathed his last.

          Those who wrote of Christians during the lifetime of Jesus really didn’t mention him, but spoke more of their gullibility and habit of preying on children to spread the good word.

          Regardless of the historical accuracy of the Bible, it’s meant to explain why your butt is in that pew every sabbath and it’s to worship a deity. This fact remains with or without a real person behind the mythology.

        • hrurahaalm

          >Historians are interested in sources such as the letters of Paul

          Oh, so you’ve addressed the most crucial point in Carrier’s argument? You’ve shown that Paul would not, in fact, have learned to shorten a phrase like “brothers and sisters of the Lord,” if he were using it constantly, and only occasionally use the longer phrase for emphasis? By all means, tell us where someone has shown this. Because otherwise, you don’t have any clear evidence from Paul.

        • I’ve certainly addressed why the phrase can’t mean what he wants it to in Galatians and 1 Corinthians: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/03/mythicism-and-james-the-brother-of-the-lord-a-reply-to-richard-carrier.html

        • hrurahaalm

          That looks like one of the worst arguments I’ve ever seen. Plainly, If James were a leader of the Church, Paul could pointedly describe him as a co-heir with Christ or “brother of the Lord” just like Paul. (Alternatively, this could just be an occasion where Paul happened to use the longer phrase, and the later tradition about James grew from this chance usage.)

        • Then you’re not understanding the point. How can Paul be distinguishing James as “brother of the Lord” over against Peter if that is what the phrase means? How can he be distinguishing the brothers of the Lord from himself and other apostles in 1 Corinthians if that is what the phrase means?

        • hrurahaalm

          It is difficult for a layman to decipher your argument. Why do you conclude 1 Corinthians is using the phrase to distinguish people from Cephas, instead of distinguishing generic co-heirs/brothers of the Lord from the apostles?

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno, I think that it is distinguishing Cephas as the leader of the group and James as one of the “Brothers”.the main problem is it isn’t explicit.

        • Kendall Fields

          You know Mr. McGrath your words need some work.

        • Pofarmer

          So then, given all that, it should be fairly straight forward. How is the evidence for Jesus substantively different than the evidence for Rhett Butler? Or Marco Ramius, if you prefer.

        • In all the ways that I explained to you previously on my blog…

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, I don’t remember you “explaining” anything, just ducking it like the blog posts you linked to. Also, also, also, I hope my tone hear isn’t coming across as extremely confrontational, as it’s meant to be more congenial. But, with that said, yeah, I’ve never seen you explain it, though you may think you have.

        • On the one hand, trying to pretend your tone has been anything other than confrontational in the past, and pretending that I not only failed to answer your questions repeatedly, but also had not prior to that been blogging about the same issues for years even before you asked, will not persuade anyone who visits my blog and looks at the evidence. That said, if you’d like to apologize and start fresh, I’m always open to that. People who deny the legitimacy of any field of secular academic inquiry frustrate me, and I’m sure I regularly come across as more confrontational than I intend.

          Here are some places for those interested in getting caught up on this topic and the conversation thus far might find it useful to begin:

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/05/blogging-about-jesus-mythicism-the-story-so-far.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2017/12/happens-review-richard-carrier.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2018/04/james-brother-of-jesus-bother-of-mythicists.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2016/09/the-myth-of-mythicism-and-undebunkable-skepticism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2010/09/mythicism-and-mainstream-historical-method.html

        • Pofarmer

          Jim, none of that answers the question I asked. It’s a Gish Gallop of unrelated blog posts.

        • Offering links for the benefit of those who want background to the broader topic, as I explicitly said, is not in any sense a Gish Gallop. You claim to not want to come across as confrontational, and yet you persistently make dishonest claims about the person you are talking to.

        • Pofarmer

          I have a broad background of the topic. I asked a specific question. That’s all.

        • Which is why I didn’t offer those links to you in response to your question, but to anyone interested in getting caught up on the broader topic that you and I, as said in this comment thread already several times, have discussed previously on my blog, but which some here would not be familiar with.

        • I do not believe, much less am I committed to, supernatural stuff

          But you’re a Christian. Doesn’t that mean that you believe in the supernatural? Perhaps we’re using different definitions.

        • No. You might want to look into the history of Liberal Protestantism. If you’ve only encountered conservative Christianity thus far, you’re in for a few surprises…

        • Max Doubt

          “If you’ve only encountered conservative Christianity thus far, you’re in for a few surprises…”

          Do you believe a being or beings exist that have magical powers they use in some way to manipulate the workings of the universe?

        • No.

        • Max Doubt

          “No.”

          Sounds like you’re an atheist, but since you are prone to weaseling, waffling, and generally avoiding straight honest answers, how about you describe how you feel about the claims that a god or gods exist, beings that interact with the workings of the universe exist. Do you reject those claims?

        • Sure. Listen, liberal Christians got to many of these conclusions long before modern atheists did. I know some modern atheists like to say that people like me, other kinds of panentheists, pantheists, mystics, Deists, and assorted others are simply atheists, but the range of views is actually much more diverse. It seems better to make common cause with allies with whom one has substantial agreement, than to spark arguments by insisting that everyone simply belongs in your own preferred category.

        • You can’t just give me your definition of “supernatural”?

        • LastManOnEarth

          Not when he is so busy tap-dancing.

        • Max Doubt

          “No, I do not believe, much less am I committed to, supernatural stuff…”

          Do you believe a god or gods exist?

        • If you mean entities like Q in Star Trek, I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded otherwise by evidence in the future.

        • Max Doubt

          “If you mean entities like Q in Star Trek, I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded otherwise by evidence in the future.”

          Your non-answer is noted. Do you accept as true claims that a god or gods exist?

        • Max Doubt

          “If you mean entities like Q in Star Trek, I’m skeptical but willing to be persuaded otherwise by evidence in the future.”

          It appears you choose ignorance rather than to engage in an honest discussion. But in case it just looks like you’re being ignorant, how ’bout we try this again? Do you believe there is a god or gods that exert some influence over the workings of the universe?

        • Again, at the risk of repeating myself, unless you are referring to speculation about advanced entities as yet to be encountered somewhere in the universe in humanity’s future, then no.

        • Max Doubt

          “Again, at the risk of repeating myself, unless you are referring to speculation about advanced entities as yet to be encountered somewhere in the universe in humanity’s future, then no.”

          Okay, so you’re an atheist. There was some confusion on the part of others here who took what you’ve said to mean you’re a Christian. Just wanted to clear that up.

        • Pofarmer

          He says he’s a Progressive Christian, whatever that means.

        • ildi

          Never mind my question above. I do have trouble wrapping my mind around how a non-supernatural version of Christianity can still count as being Christian but then I was raised Catholic.

        • al kimeea

          So the Jesus you speak of is in no way the actual offspring of the Christian God and we’re here because we are here, not as the result of a deity of any kind.

          I have no problem with that. We’re in complete agreement.

          It does nothing to remove Xianity from the subset “bollocks” or legitimize the horrific edifice of VatiCorp with its history of oppressive conquest via violent fear mongering. All while waving a flag representing a real person.

          Jesus, or no, is an interesting academic exercise that has no bearing on the spoiled fruits of the resulting mythology.

          The links you provided as rebuttals to the Rhett Butler Conundrum focused on popular memes about the Bible being analogous to fiction and dismissed them because nobody believes Spidey is real. The Bible is really the story of God, not just Jesus. Your focus on the historicity of a common preacher ignores the real issue those memes represent which is that book.

          In that context, Spidey is God, PARKER!!! is Jesus and a special appearance by Stan Lee as The Holy Ghost.

          Besides, The Spidey Retort really isn’t evidence of a real Jesus but another way of saying “there actually was this guy…”

          You mentioned Paul, there is that. Scant as it is. Even so…

        • Pofarmer

          The links you provided as rebuttals to the Rhett Butler Conundrum focused on popular memes

          It seems to me it would take much less time to actually respond to that than all the dipping and diving around.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The veracity or otherwise of the Gospels is not what mythicist claims are about.

          Well, it is up to a point.

          It is mainstream secular historical investigation that has led solidly to the conclusion that there probably was a historical Jesus who has been mythologized in early Christian sources and thought, just as we see happen with countless historical figures in the ancient world.

          Glad that you are a “probably” man.

          Now what about those ancient mythical figures that were historicized?

          Mythicism is the insistence that this conclusion of secular historical inquiry is wrong and that it makes more sense to insist that there was no historical figure whatsoever behind the later legends, myths, embellished storytelling, and so on.

          See, this dishonesty is what is wrong with the debate. It is completely disingenuous and you know it. Carrier et al insist nothing of the sort. It is the historical Jesus side that assert certainty and insist they can’t be wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Psst, even the term “secular historical investigation” is disingenuous.

        • WCB

          “Now what about those ancient mythical figures that were historicized?”

          Then we have the ancient philosopher Euhemerus.

          From Wikipedia:

          The philosophy attributed to and named for Euhemerus, euhemerism,
          holds that many mythological tales can be attributed to historical
          persons and events, the accounts of which have become altered and
          exaggerated over time.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed, that’s Carrier’s bag.

        • al kimeea

          OK, but it matters not given what followed

        • Pofarmer

          He does have a well honed apologetic. Has he answered my question yet?

        • al kimeea

          He mentioned the Pauline Letters, meh. Ignoring the mythology still leaves the history which resulted from the text.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, there’s lot’s of problems with the Pauline letters as “evidence”. They’re theological tracts written 2000 years ago by, well, religious nut jobs, to be frank. We don’t even know who Paul was. So much so, that there are scholars who think that Paul may have been an invention of whoever collated these letters. And those “letters” have been Interpolated, imitated, and jammed together to support somebodies theological leanings. Those letters only talk about Christ “coming” never “coming again.” There are, quite literally, two passages in those letters that support an historical Jesus. “James, the brother of Jesus” which is ambiguous to the point that the Catholics don’t accept it, and none of the early Church fathers, to my knowledge, mention this familial link in the church, and you have “Born of a woman, Born under the Law”. Which I’m told can also be translated, probably more accurately as “Come of a woman, Come under the law.” This passage also perfectly fits the astrological visions that are given in Revelations. We have to remember that these guys didn’t think like us. They thought things on earth were mirrored in Heaven. I mean, I don’t think you can look at these ambiguous passages with your theological lense on and say “A ha” there it is. It’s a little whacked out, honestly.

        • al kimeea

          Ya, that’s why I was looking for information outside the Bible. I thought maybe there was something more definitive on the subject, but no. It’s from reading comments like yours that I’ve learned my bewilderment at finishing that book was not unearned.

        • Pofarmer

          Nah, there’s nothing. Nothing outside the Bible, and no primary sources, archaeology, etc. Nuthin. There’s really not even anything on the 12 disciples. There are church’s named after them, sure. But there’s really no record, no familial ties, nothing. Nothing actually connecting any Peter the Disciple as the first Bishop of Rome. Etc, etc, etc. There are some later stories, sure, but that’s all they are. And Church propaganda. That’s why I ask, honestly, “How does the evidence for Jesus differ from the evidence for Rhett Butler.” Because, honestly, I can’t see how it does. I was hoping a scholar could enlighten me, but, alas, it appears that all there is is, well, bupkis.

        • So “because Papias said so” isn’t good enough for you? Wow–you’re skeptical.

        • al kimeea

          When I finished The Holey BuyBull, it wasn’t whether or not Jesus existed in some form that caused me to reject xianity, although that was part of it, of course, as he was a character central to the story.

          The whole contents is really bad historical fantasy presented to me as a reason to accept some version of xianity I can’t remember. I was young and never gave it much thought other than, ‘jeeze, this is A LOT like any other mythology and their gods’. And moved on with Sundays free.

          Ya, I too was expecting enlightenment. It would have been quite interesting to read of the newest archaeological finds. However it seems Mr. M has a reason to want there to be a Jesus in his version of xianity, and so beats the dead horse you’ve just described.

          A xianity without a deity? Mr. M would have paid dearly for heresy like that, historically.

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t know if you’re familiar with Tom Harpur. He was an Anglican? Teacher who became convinved that Jesus was mythological based on many similarities to other ancient religions and saviors and etc in the same time and the same place. Reading ancient Egyptian texts is confirming this. Fr. Thomas Brodie came to the same conclusion for slightly different reasons related to his scholarship. Mr. Harpur has passed away and Fr. Brodie was silenced by the Church. To them, though, it didn’t matter. Now we could celebrate the holy, saving, celestial Jesus, without worrying about the earthly one. Jim here has a different problem. He says he’s a progressive Christian who doesn’t beleive in the “supernatural stuff”. So, presumably, they focus on the “teachings” of the human Jesus. This puts him in a far tighter spot. If Jim loses the walking around Jesus, the entire foundation of beleif vanishes, and he has to admit he’s worshipping stuff written 2000 years ago by middle eastern goat herders and fishermen. I don’t envy Jim nor the cognitive blocks that won’t allow him to answer a simple question,

        • al kimeea

          Harpur used to have a regular column in a dead tree daily as I vaguely remember reading upon occasion. Mythicist eh?

          IIRC the human Jesus was OK with slavery along with most other humans at the time, so not a real moral exemplar is he while also preaching the end of the world – or is this last bit the supernatural stuff to be ignored.

        • On the topic of what words meant, here’s a tangent: what did “Gentile” mean? It might mean “anyone in the entire world who’s not a Jew,” or it might mean “Romans, Greeks, Egyptians, Persians, and other people in our part of the world,” which would leave a lot of people as neither Gentile nor Jew.

          Christians celebrate that Jesus brought the Word to the entire world, but did that include sub-Saharan Africans? Chinese? Australian natives? I get the sense that Gentile means “those civilized people who aren’t Jews,” which would exclude those groups, but I haven’t found anything on this.

          Can anyone provide input?

        • Pofarmer

          Well, in the context here, I’ve always taken it to mean people surrounding Israel who weren’t jews?

        • Right, but does that include unknown people like Americans or sub-Saharan Africans or Chinese?

          The Bible is already embarrassing because God has a Chosen People. This reveals its polytheistic origins. Not too big a problem for Jews, but Christians like to crow that Jesus loves everyone. Maybe not so if “Jews and Gentiles” still leaves some people out.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, yeah. Do you wanna get into the big debate over whether those in the antipodes will be able to see the coming of Jesus?

        • On a related note, I’ve heard apologists denying the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere, I guess because Jesus wouldn’t have died for the lives of aliens or something.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, Jesus could go there and die too couldn’t he?

        • al kimeea

          LOL or the Inuit…

        • Greg G.

          Paul didn’t know anything about Jesus but what he didn’t read in the Old Testament.

          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12* > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10*
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26*, Habakkuk 2:4*, Leviticus 18:5*

          The asterisks indicate where he was quoting the verses directly. Isaiah, Psalms, and Deuteronomy were his favorite books to quote.

        • WCB

          We seem here to be speaking of “mythicists” as a group who all have the same ideas about Jesus. I am not sure that is a fruitful idea. We had people like Thomas Jefferson, a deist, whose Bible removed all the supernatural claims of the gospels. To hard core mythicists who claim there was no Jesus at all, and that the Jesus tale was cobbled together based on other legendary figures such as the Essene “Teacher of Righteousness” who was executed and whose followers expected, a century later, his imminent resurrection. and dozens of theories besides. (Jesus was an alien!) We have true believers who believe every word of the gospels are literally true (King James version only!) to some who believe every word of the gospels are lies.

          So everybody ends up talking past each other.

        • And nobody here seems interested in talking about the one thing that interests me, the Jesusthat historians investigate…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which one? Isn’t there a number of them, depending on what scholar you read?

        • WCB

          Which historians? We have for example the Jesus seminar folks. Copan states his opinion that Jesus would have been not allowed to be taken down of the cross, and later tossed into a mass grave to be eaten by wild animals. Choose your historians carefully. Josephus and the NT mention other unfortunate messiahs would-be’s that ended up dead along with their followers. That Jesus was just more of the same is likely. But we know little about him, except he was reputed to come from Galilee and was executed for some reason. All else is surmise. The bulk of the Gospels are obvious nonsense. The only real authorities that knew what happened, James, brother of Jesus and the early Christians that he led in Jerusalem wrote nothing that has come down to us. That would have been the last of anybody who observed anything and the trail of evidence ends there. We don’t even know what they believed.

        • Pofarmer

          And think about this, as well. Paul goes to Jerusalem to see Cephas and James, right? Does he go to see the site of the crucifixion? Does he go to see the grave? Does he ask to see Jesus Mother while he’s in town? Nope. What does he do? He goes to the Temple……..??????? Really? What do they talk about? Obscure theological stuff. Just too much stuff that doesn’t add up.

        • al kimeea

          What compelling information about Jesus or his ministry do you have share?

        • ildi

          No, I do not believe, much less am I committed to, supernatural stuff,…

          Are you saying Christian beliefs aren’t supernatural?

          I’m an academic interested in the historical figure of Jesus, not apologetics, except inasmuch as I care deeply about this subject…

          If you’re a Christian, it’s a tad bit more than just “care deeply,” don’t you think?

          I have to question the objectivity of any secular historian who is attempting to demonstrate the existence of Jesus while at the same time being deeply emotionally vested in their religious beliefs involving Jesus. I think anyone who is publishing as a secular historian and not as a theologian should be required to identify this up front as a potential conflict of interest.

          [edited fixed borked quotes]

        • Ignorant Amos

          …, and it is dishonesty of this sort that does get people banned from blogs.

          Spoiiingty, spoiiing, spoiiiing, spoing, spoing, spoiiiiiing!

        • Greg G.

          No, I do not believe, much less am I committed to, supernatural stuff

          Do you believe that the Feeding of the 5000 is an exaggeration of events or a fabrication based on Elisha’s Feeding of the 100 in 2 Kings 4:42-44? Why the Feeding of the 4000? It appears that Mark was creating the stories by adding OT allusions to the feasts attended by Telemauchus in the Odyssey.

          What about Legion? Isn’t that quite similar to Polyphemus, the sheep herding Cyclops in the Odyssey combined with the sailors turned into pigs by Circe and seasoned with OT allusions to Isaiah 65:4 and Psalm 107:10. (Psalm 107:28-29 appears to be an allusion at the end of Mark 4.)

          We can discount the miracle claims because that is what historians do. We can also discount them because those accounts appear to be based on stories that are not even about Jesus.

          In The Parable of the Evil Tenants, Mark 12:1-9 has similarities to Isaiah 5:1-2, 5-7 and 2 Chronicles 36:15-16 but it follows the plot of the Odyssey where the owner goes to another country and suitors move in, who plot to kill the son. Mark 12:10-11 quotes Psalm 118:22-23.

          The teaching of a parable is more plausible than a miracle story, but it also seems to be fiction created from other writings that have nothing to do with Jesus. So we should maintain our skepticism even when the accounts of the gospels are plausible.

          When the miracle stories are eliminated, we are left with the Minimal Jesus, a preacher/teacher from Galilee who got crucified. But this Gospel Jesus does not correspond to Epistle Jesus who is not described as a preacher/teacher from Galilee. Epistle Jesus seems to be constructed by OT references, as the early epistles only say things about him that can be found in the OT.

          Before you bring up Dennis MacDonald and him taking the order of the events in the Odyssey as forward or reverse as needed as I have seen you argue, consider that other scholars note that Mark is written in a chiastic structure, which naturally has similar events in reverse parallels, so it should not be surprising if Mark has elements in reverse order. It actually provides confirmation.

          It is not like the Gospel of Mark would be unique if it borrowed from Homer. Virgil’s Aeneid was written a century before Mark and the movie O Brother, Where Art Thou? was produced over 19 centuries after Mark.

        • Which is reason enough for a Christian. I’m curious how they defend Jesus historicism. We know Alexander the Great was a real guy because (for starters) we have cities named “Alexandria” that were founded at the right time. Wouldn’t the Son of God leave a trail at least as substantial?

        • Pofarmer

          Do you really wanna go down this rabbit hole Bob? If you can read through my conversation with McGrath, note how he never even bit around the periphery of the question I asked.

        • I didn’t respond again to someone who had been banned from my blog for dishonesty and other frustrating behaviors. Bob comments on my blog from time to time and we’ve spoken about this topic repeatedly.

          Naming cities after a mythical figure is entirely within the realm of possibility, FWIW. And Alexander was given divine parentage as well…

        • Pofarmer

          Uhm, Jim. If there’s one thing I try not to be, it’s dishonest. I certainly see how my behavior could be frustrating to you, though.

          If you’ve spoken about this repeatedly, it should be simple enough to put to bed, right?

        • One town in the US was named after a game show. One was named after an athlete. I believe one was named after an online company. There’s got to be a Paul Bunyan or John Henry out there somewhere.

        • That’s a concern. Re the rabbit hole, I’m wary of spending much time on this, but maybe he can fill in some blanks for me.

          It’s a fundamental question that I’ve never read a good answer for: you’re sure that Jesus was a historical figure? Great, show me the evidence.

          (But thanks for the warning.)

        • “Sure” is relative. I’m as confident as one can be for a figure in the ancient world who did not mint coins or erect edifices on which he placed inscriptions about himself.

          The shortest argument (which, like a short argument for anything, may not seem persuasive unless it is expanded on) is this:

          – the anointed one descended from David referred to the king and the restoration of that line to the throne
          – being executed by the Romans before establishing one’s throne disqualified one’s claim to be the one to restore the Davidic dynasty to the throne
          Therefore
          – It is less likely that early Christians invented from scratch a crucified anointed one and went around trying to persuade their fellow Jews to accept him, than that there was a figure that they believed to be this messiah who was then executed, and they managed to maintain that belief despite the cognitive dissonance resulting from this counterevidence.

        • Succinct is good.

          I’m as confident as one can be for a figure in the ancient world who did not mint coins or erect edifices on which he placed inscriptions about himself.

          But that’s a huge admission. “Well, it’s not like we can show he existed like we can show that Julius Caesar or Alexander the Great existed.”

          I’m just stating the obvious, but “C’mon—that was a long time ago; you’re just going to have to settle for what we have” is not a compelling argument. If you were to go down that road, you’d be back on the null hypothesis being that this religion was founded by a real man. Again, I’ll accept that, but my question remains.

          – It is less likely that early Christians invented from scratch a crucified anointed one . . .

          “Invented” is a claim I never make—I go with “legend.”

          . . . and went around trying to persuade their fellow Jews to accept him, than that there was a figure that they believed to be this messiah who was then executed, and they managed to maintain that belief despite the cognitive dissonance resulting from this counterevidence.

          Cognitive dissonance seems to not be a problem. The Micah 5:2 reference mentions Bethlehem and is pointed to as a prophecy. Problem is, the next verses make clear that this guy is going to be a general: “Your hand will be lifted up in triumph over your enemies, and all your foes will be destroyed” (Micah 5:9). Doesn’t sound like any event in the life of Jesus to me.

          Isaiah 7:14 also is clearly not about Jesus, but it’s still a “prophecy” in Matthew. And so on. No, I don’t think that cognitive dissonance caused much discomfort.

        • Thank you, then, for not being a mythicist, and being inclined instead to conclude what mainstream secular historians do!

        • Pofarmer

          I dunno. Would anyone make up a magic hat and seer stones and golden plates delivered by an Angel in a language that had to be translated through said hat and stones? I mean, who would buy that?

          Oh, and their fellow Jews DIDN’T accept it, by and large. Christianity grew mainly in the Pagan areas. But you should know this.

        • Yeah, cognitive dissonance or any other mismatch of beliefs with facts has never been much of an obstacle to a determined believer.

        • Otto

          The problem I have is that the stories that seem to connect Jesus to history appear to be made up; the census, Herod killing the first born, Jesus arriving to throngs of fans in Jerusalem only to be killed a week later by Pilate (who does not seem to resemble the character in other historical accounts) at the behest of those same people, the execution story and burial. They clearly don’t match (and sometimes completely contradict) what we know. So ok, let’s say there was some guy that these made up stories were written around…but for the most part the stories themselves are bunk. I just don’t consider that historical any more than a movie that says “this story based on real events” is historical. Often those movies are barely connected to what actually happened by the thinnest of threads…and we know that because the actual history is recorded elsewhere. In this case we only have the made for TV movie (the Gospels) with nothing else to connect the main character to any known historical event.

        • Pofarmer

          It goes deeper than that. nearly everything in the Jesus story is either connected to OT stories or Homeric tales, as told by Randal Helms and Dennis MacDonald. There’s really nothing left for the Jesus dude to have done.

        • Otto

          Yep…but let’s say some wacky religious leader named Jesus did live and was killed…so there is an actual person they used as the main character for these contrived stories, I just don’t understand how that can be said to be historical.

          What they seem to do is assume the person is real and then whittle away all the parts that don’t pass muster, and then claim the other parts must be therefore true which mostly consist of sayings or teachings. It would be like taking one of these made for TV movies and throwing out the individual scenes and action sequences but then claiming the dialog was accurate.

        • Ignorant Amos

          A lot of the characters in Harry Potter are based on real people, in fact Harry himself is based on a real person. So it all must be true then.

          https://www.solosophie.com/harry-potter-characters-based-on-real-life/

        • al kimeea

          Eoster approacheth. History!? Channel has programs on the life of Jesus smh. Yet an acadenic of history, when asked, has no compelling info on this, oh so huge, life that isn’t contained in the BuyBull. Pofarmer is one, among many, who have pointed out the paucity of information – the dreaded referenced evidence – for a fleshy Jesus whose myth remains…

          This TV show will be filling in details with conjecture like which hand
          Jesus used to wipe his arse. IOW things we can’t really know, but might have happened to anyone back in the day.

          It would be interesting to learn there was a real, historical Jesus. That doesn’t make what he may have preached unique or worthy of worship or joining a popular cult.

          At its best, xianity is secular humanism when all superfluous or questionable baggage is stripped.

          McGrath wants a Jesus, while I wait to learn if there was one.

        • MR

          The problem I have is that the stories that seem to connect Jesus to history appear to be made up; the census….

          That’s an interesting perspective I hadn’t considered, Otto.

        • Pofarmer

          You should take a look at Randal Helms “The Gospel Fictions” and Dennis R MacDonalds work on the Gospel of Mark and the Homeric Epics. Literally everything Jesus supposedly did came from other literary works of the time.

        • But we know from early Christian evidence that a crucified Jesus was only one of the Jesuses being proclaimed by the early Christians, don’t we. Example: Didache, Revelation, and Paul’s complaints about rivals with another Christ have all been cited as such evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          Well, here’s my take on it. It’s been a while back @Ignorantamos was in on the exchange as well on McGrath’s blog. We were pretty deep into the thicket, I was being my usual charming self, and I asked “So, what did you do to first determine the Gospels weren’t fiction before you started analysing them.” And you know what McGrath reply was, to the best of my recollection? “Isn’t that putting the cart before the horse?” He reacted like the question were foreign. And I thought, “Hell no, what would happen if you analyzed “Gone with the Wind” as if it were an historical story and Rhett Butler were real?” What could you determine about the historical Rhett Butler if you analyzed “Gone with the Wind” and any later Fan Fiction like Biblical scholars analyze the New Testament? So, IMHO, what you’ve got is an enterprise that is entirely circular. Could I be wrong? Of course I could. But what you have is a bunch of textual “evidence” that’s largely indistinquishable from fiction using historical charchters. You have stories written anywhere from 30-100 years after the events they are writing about. You have ZERO primary evidence for ANY of the figures in the story, save Herod and Pontius Pilate, and those characters don’t match the historical figures that are told about elsewhere. Pretty sure Jim knows this. Also pretty sure his “God Virus” won’t let him admit it.

          Oh, that other question I once asked him? He was saying that mythicists were irrational deniers. So asked him ,” What’s more irrational to believe, that the Jesus figure in the bible might be a fictional carrier, or that God had himself born by a virgin to make himself a sacrifice to himself?” No answer to that one, either.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I was trying to find the OP over at Jim’s place that the interaction took place…a gave up, but while I was scoping, I seen a comment by O’Neill that lauded Ehrman’s “DJE?” as a good refutation of the mythicist arguments , and McGrath punting to Casey’s clusterfuck as another. Sheeeesh!

          Both comment’s were two year old and on the same thread they both state that the TF in Josephus has some original grounding…ffs….really?

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, O’neill is a puzzle. He doesn’t sort the apologists from the scholars, which is an immense issue. The only ones who think the TF is in any eay authentic are hard core apologists, IMHO. In my mind it’s just obvious. Gullible, I dunno.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Not gullible at all. You’ve read enough recent stuff to see what is blatantly obvious. Christians are bending over backwards in order to try and rescue some sliver of NT Jesus in Josephus.

          O’Neill waxes lyrical about how he employs the principle of parsimony, but insisting that, just keeps making him look like an amateur dickhead. He fails to see the problems inherent by using such a principle in addressing matters of history, especially stuff like ancient texts for which no original mss is extant and in an area where it is well understood that there has been unscrupulous jiggery-pokery applied by liars, deceivers and pious frauds for Jesus. The most parsimonious explanation for the TF is that it is a much later Christian interpolation, something we know Christians were prone to do.

          Given that just about all scholars acknowledge that the TF has, at the very least, been bastardized by later Christians, parsimony is already out the windy. But it’s worse than that, O’Neill and his like are not keeping up with the current scholarship on things such as the TF, probably because he has made his bed, shit in it, and now has little choice but to wallow in it…especially when in giving ground, he’d have to concede that ground to Carrier, and that just wouldn’t do at all.

          Btw, finished “The God Virus” last night…brilliant. So much of it I could relate to, not just my own experiences, but of those I’ve read about from my online pals…including yerself, due to your openness about the issues ya have to tolerate. Thanks for the referral, I’ll definitely be picking it up again.

        • Could I be wrong? Of course I could.

          And that’s where you present your concerns and ask for a response. Which it looks like you did.

          Also pretty sure his “God Virus” won’t let him admit it.

          And yet he emphasized that his viewpoint is liberal/progressive Christianity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And yet he emphasized that his viewpoint is liberal/progressive Christianity.

          Aye, but there are different strains of God virus using a variety of tactics to keep the host infected.

        • Pofarmer

          And yet he says he doesn’t take into account the supernatural.

          Who’s the dishonest one here?

          As I read “The God Virus” I’m sure he’s actually quite blind to it.

        • Mark

          Historically, individual Jewish would-be messiahs are always existing people, and they always fail.

          The least doubt about the historical existence of Jesus is a purely religious phenomenon.

        • Pofarmer

          If that’s the case, then how do you get individuals like Fr. Thomas Brodie or Tom Harpur who independently come up with the idea?

        • Mark

          In the case of Brodie, it is basically a religious posture. This is generally true of ‘mythicism’. No one would believe something so utterly irrational without a religious motive. Don’t know Harpur.

        • Pofarmer

          How is it a religious posture in the case of Brodie? He remained a Catholic priest, after all.

          What kind of irrational belief are you talking about?

        • Greg G.

          Historically, individual Jewish would-be messiahs are always existing people, and they always fail.

          Baloney. The Jews were expecting a Messiah from their readings of their scriptures. They provoked the war with the Romans based on that and some signs they were seeing like Halley’s comet and a cow giving birth to a lamb at the temple. Josephus saved his own skin when he was captured by Vespasian by telling him that he just realized the leader of the inhabited world rising from Judea was about Vespasian rather than someone born there. (Vespasian did become the emperor of Rome for ten years.)

          Josephus says the those who defended Jerusalem to the end were inspired by promises that God would deliver them.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s kind of amazing to watch these individuals with the “The Jews would never come up with that.” Line. Why not? It’s not like the Jews existed in isolation. A huge scandal around the Time was Herod building, for example, Temples to the Emperor. Jewish thought at the time simply couldn’t help but be influenced by these outside sources. Religion seems like it always changes by innovation.

        • Mark

          There are texts that were read as messianic prophecies, and there is the posture of awaiting a messiah.

          But every single case where we find people saying “X is the messiah”, X exists.

        • Pofarmer

          Uh, actually, no, not at all. In Egyptian religion, for instance, Osiris was considered the Messiah.

          https://www.richardcassaro.com/osiris-the-first-messiah-was-jesus-the-second-coming-of-egypts-christ/

          Also please note what Paul is saying. Paul is saying the messiah will come to Earth. He doesn’t say “return” or “come again.” Ever. He says that Christ will come, implying he, ya know, hadn’t been here yet.

        • Ignorant Amos

          That doesn’t contradict Carrier.

          The mythicist hypothesis being asserted by Carrier, is that Paul did believe the messiah did exist in a body, when he was crucified, and did resurrect in the distant past…but this happened in the up above, where some Jews believed there was a copy of everything on Earth. A supernatural realm. Where corruption and decay was rife and demons ruled. That Jesus was a celestial deity that came down from the upper heavens, took a body so the demons could attack and kill him, in order that he be reborn the savior of everything and defeat the bad and rise back up to the top Heaven to wait for the day he will come down to Earth and kick ass on the day of judgement. A dying and rising savior god in keeping with the dying and rising savior gods popular in surrounding cultures at the time.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve gotta wonder. Paul says he is preaching Christ Crucified. He never specifies where, or when, or by whom, correct? Could he have believed that the Christ was crucifed for sins at some long ago, or even nearby time, and just nobody knew it, so now he was going to come to Earth to save us? I guess I need to read OHJ. I have been wanting to read the genuine Pauline epistles but haven’t been able to make myself do it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve gotta wonder. Paul says he is preaching Christ Crucified. He never specifies where, or when, or by whom, correct?

          Only ambiguously.

          Archons of this Age has been translated as Rulers of this Age and then the historical Jesus lot applied it to inferring the Romans. The Gnostics translated it as demons though. Here is an interesting take on it…

          https://deusdiapente.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/paul-and-the-demonsrulers-of-this-age/

          Could he have believed that the Christ was crucifed for sins at some long ago, or even nearby time, and just nobody knew it, so now he was going to come to Earth to save us?

          If only Paul had been less vague…unless he was doing it intentionally.

          I guess I need to read OHJ.

          Haven’t ya already?

          Carrier’s C.H.R.E.S.T.U.S app is a very handy reference tool also. I thinks it cost me about £7 IIRC.

          https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.realityrevolutions.chrestus&hl=en_GB

          I have been wanting to read the genuine Pauline epistles but haven’t been able to make myself do it.

          It’s been a long while since I read them fully too, but Carrier does a decent job of doing the donkey work and parsing them down for ya.

        • Greg G.

          Paul says he is preaching Christ Crucified.

          Which raises the question of who wasn’t preaching Christ crucified. He answer that it was the Jews and the Greeks. In Galatians 3, someone appears to have denied the crucifixion. He demonstrates a lot differences with the circumcision faction. In Gal 5:11-12 and Gal 6:14, he says the circumcisers wish to avoid the persecution of the cross. The letter to the Galatians shows that the Galatians know James and Cephas. Why doesn’t Paul say, “Just ask James and Cephas about the crucifixion of Jesus”? It is apparent that one or both told them that there is no reason to think Jesus was crucified.

        • Pofarmer

          Good point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unless he was a complete nobody. In which case, the guy in the stories owes nothing to those stories except a name. A name which I’ve read was 6th popular around the time and place in which the stories are set.

        • Mark

          Easy, he wasn’t the son of God. He was a Galilean preacher/faith-healer/exorcist who came to an unfortunate end at the hands of the authorities on a visit to Jerusalem.

          The only reason not to accept this obvious fact is religious fear.

        • Pofarmer

          Religious fear of what? Now you’re just being an ass.

        • Mark

          It’s omnipresent in all mythicism, it’s like reading ex-alcoholics on the danger of drink.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, there is no “fear” of a walking around Jesus. Just like there is no “fear” of a walking around Joseph Smith or a walking around L. Ron Hubbard, or even a walking around Sathya Sai Baba. I don’t believe any of their supernatural claims, either. Fear has nothing to do with it. Now, quit projecting.

        • Greg G.

          Whether Jesus existed in the first century or not makes no difference to me. I have examined the evidence and it appears that Jesus was invented with different invented histories by different sects but none as a first century person until the Gospel of Mark.

        • Greg G.

          He was a Galilean preacher/faith-healer/exorcist who came to an unfortunate end at the hands of the authorities on a visit to Jerusalem.

          That’s the story of the Gospel of Mark. The earlier Christian sources about Jesus support none of that. The only speak of him in terms of Old Testament writings.

        • Mark

          The other source is Paul, who says nothing about Galilee. Mark is busily managing his ignorance, but the idea that he could be wrong in thinking his messiah is from Galilee (= Nowhere, Oklahoma) is pretty absurd.

        • Greg G.

          Paul says nothing about Jesus that isn’t found in the OT scriptures.

          Mark seems to have modeled his Jesus character on Paul and Odysseus, both of whom sailed the Mediterranean. He scaled Jesus down to the Sea of Galilee.

          Did we know that Superman was real because the creators of Superman knew he was from Kansas?

          If Cephas and Paul talked about an imaginary character they thought actually existed hundreds of years earlier without saying where, Mark was free to pick anyplace as his home.

        • I’ve read little from the Jesus mythicists, but they seem to happily accept the burden of proof. That is, they accept that a real guy being at Christianity’s ground zero is likelier than no one at ground zero. Whether they prove their case isn’t that interesting to me.

          But I do wonder if the Jesus historicists like you do more than simply point to the null hypothesis. Sure, you arguably can do that, but are there good reasons that argue for Jesus being a real man 2000 years ago? Point me to your post(s) if you’ve covered that.

        • No, that isn’t what the term mythicism refers to.

          I’ve been blogging and writing elsewhere about this for many years. Here are a few samples in case they are helpful.
          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/03/mcg388024.shtml
          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2015/08/mcg398026.shtml
          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/10/mcg388028.shtml
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/03/mythicism-and-james-the-brother-of-the-lord-a-reply-to-richard-carrier.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2013/01/joseph-hoffmann-on-mythicism-skepticism-and-historical-reasoning.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/10/mythicism-and-pauls-claims-to-supernatural-revelation.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/12/five-reasons-why-mythicism-is-disappointing.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/02/brief-review-of-maurice-caseys-new-book-on-mythicism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/03/skepticism-of-mythicism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/12/mythicism-isnt-skepticism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/09/does-christianity-disprove-mythicism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/03/richard-carriers-decisive-argument-against-mythicism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/03/how-you-can-tell-maurice-caseys-book-about-mythicism-is-good.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/10/mythicisms-methodological-mess.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/07/minimalism-mythicism-and-modernism.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/09/mythicisms-missing-middle.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/11/mythicism-and-the-teacher-of-righteousness.html

        • That’s a lot of material. Let me give a brief reaction after skimming it.

          scholars are under no obligation to waste their valuable time on such matters any more than on the countless other topics which web sites and self-published books address, and which a quick perusal shows to be bunk.

          Scholars are indeed under an obligation to, at least once, somewhere, provide a compelling and thorough case that their guy actually existed as claimed. No need to reinvent the wheel, do it more than once, or respond to trivia. This ain’t trivia. If someone else has a 2000-word post that is a thorough and compelling introduction, point to that.

          This is because “they made this up” is compatible with everything that any text says

          That’s pretty damning. “They made this up” (even though I’ve never heard anyone but Christians offer this one) is pretty plausible compared to a supernatural explanation.

          the hard-earned and intensely-researched consensus of historians and scholars, namely that there was a historical Jesus of Nazareth.

          I’ll grant that you can retreat to “it’s the consensus of New Testament historians!” I can quibble with that response, but that’s not the big issue. I’m still looking for that summary that makes a compelling argument that Jesus was a real person.

          Does Christianity Disprove Mythicism?

          This post copied a thorough and civil algorithm from Ben Goren. As I read, I was thinking that, finally, you had an un-ignorable challenge. But no, you end with, “What do you think of Goren’s challenge? Would it be worth my time to undertake it . . . ?”

          Huh?? I mean, if you’re super busy, maybe you’ve got higher-priority tasks, but half the work is done for you and you’re still dancing around the issue??

          Just write a longish post and shut up the damn mythicists for good! Or, if they’re too obstinate to be worth the trouble, do it for the far larger number on the sidelines like me. Or, if it’s already been written, point me to it (as far as I could tell, the long list of articles above isn’t it).

        • Writing longish posts has made evolution-denial go away? The anti-vaccination movement? Surely you’re kidding?

        • Writing longish posts makes fence sitters respect your position. As it is, I have no idea what I’d say if asked to write such a post myself. You appreciate, I hope, that I don’t much care either way. Christianity can be nonsense regardless of whether Jesus was an ordinary man who really was there at the beginning or if he was 100% fiction/legend.

          You haven’t pointed me to the historicist summary post, you haven’t said that it’s on your to-do list, and you haven’t even said that it’s a good idea but that you don’t feel like doing it.

          What you also haven’t said is that you haven’t written such a post because it wouldn’t be convincing, but I’m beginning to wonder if this is the issue. There actually is an argument for the historicist position, isn’t there, or is it just excuses?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bart Ehrman has made the claim that as far as he was aware, his attempt was the first to support his position. It was a scholarly disgrace. Maurice Casey also wrote another book around the same time. It was even worse.

          Both these guys are an agnostic and the later was an atheist, since has died. Both books were taken apart and did nothing to further the historical Jesus position.

        • I respect the consensus view in science immensely. I have moderate respect for the consensus view of NT scholars. I’ll at least grant that it’s something. But, c’mon–don’t those scholars want to share the wisdom? How about a few thousand words to give the lay historicists some ammunition?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I respect the consensus view in science immensely. I have moderate respect for the consensus view of NT scholars. I’ll at least grant that it’s something.

          A consensus of science experts is a different animal. There is no ambiguous arguments for starters. The data can be reviewed by the relevant scholars and the conclusion comes out the same.

          The consensus in this area seems to be just word play. It can’t be pointed to, it just gets repeated like it is a given.

          Even then, the consensus breaks down on the Jesus question. An ahistorical mythical Jesus is just a small part. There doesn’t seem to be much of a consensus when talking about who is the historical Jesus. Certainly, historians can’t support the supernatural. So the miracle god-man is off the table. Then there is still a list of various diverse Jesus’s posited by scholars.

          How to argue Jesus historicity…

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/13352

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5553

          But, c’mon–don’t those scholars want to share the wisdom? How about a few thousand words to give the lay historicists some ammunition?

          When Ehrman’s book was announced, I pre-ordered it. I couldn’t wait to get into it. Now, with my limited laypersons knowledge back then, it smelt rank. Stuff just didn’t dd up…even with Ehrman’s own previous work I’d read and found educational. Then the reviews started to pop up and I wasn’t wrong. So many schoolboy error for a scholar of his esteem it was suggested that he farmed the research work out to his students and didn’t bother to check it before publishing.

          A lot of the book is what creationists do, try to kick holes in the mythicists, not their arguments by the way, the folk themselves, then bingo, Jesus must have existed.

          It seems only eejits like Tim O’Neill and James McGrath are interested in trotting out the same tired arguments that just don’t cut it in defending their case. If McGrath had the killer argument against mythicism, his book would be published, and a best seller it would be too. To say it would be a waste of time is his cop-out…he already spends an abundance of time, or did, on what he believes kook fringe, to have written a library of books on the topic.

        • That’s a shame about Ehrman. Perhaps he was feeling swamped with his workload–he’s published a couple of dozen books already–and took the easy route.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Indeed it is, because I’ve bought quite a few of his books directed at the lay reader and it calls into question those other works too. Fortunately those who have criticised this particular book have warned against throwing the baby out with the bathwater. But I haven’t been tempted to buy anything subsequent because of this example.

          It appears that when it comes to the anti-mythicism agenda, scholars throw decent scholarship out the windy.

        • Pofarmer

          One of the first books on religion I bought was Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”. It’s probably because of him I started taking an even harder look at my beliefs and what we really “Knew” as Christians. I think in a little different situation, Ehrman could pretty easily be a mythicist, but, he has the residual Virus, plus an awful lot of Christian influence surrounding him and his work yet.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I agree…Ehrman is a mythicist in everything but name if his other work is anything to go by. For that other work, he is castigated by the holy rollers, for “DJE?” he is lauded by the same.

          Go figure

        • No, you’ve misunderstood him. Ehrman holds the view that all mainstream secular historians in the field do, namely that Jesus was a historical figure about whom we have distorted, mythologized, legendary accounts in the relevant sources. Scholarship is all about nuance, and has consistently concluded that the two extremes – the Gospels are pure fiction written for entertainment or completely truthful – do not make as good sense of the evidence.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, you’ve misunderstood him.

          Nope, I didn’t. You don’t do sarcasm, that’s all.

          Ehrman holds the view that all mainstream secular historians in the field do, namely that Jesus was a historical figure about whom we have distorted, mythologized, legendary accounts in the relevant sources.

          How do you know what all mainstream secular historians in the field believe?

          What do you mean by “mainstream”, “historians” and “field”?

          Scholarship is all about nuance, and has consistently concluded that the two extremes – the Gospels are pure fiction written for entertainment or completely truthful – do not make as good sense of the evidence.

          Again with the generalisation…clearly not all scholarship has concluded what you assert.

          The evidence is ambiguous, untrustworthy, and the methods being used to assess it are critically flawed and/or being abused.

          “Donald Akenson, Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen’s University has argued that, with very few exceptions, the historians of Yeshua have not followed sound historical practices. He has stated that there is an unhealthy reliance on consensus, for propositions which should otherwise be based on primary sources, or rigorous interpretation. He also holds that some of the criteria being used are faulty. He says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because of this, he maintains that, more than any other group in present day academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize their historical work and that it is only through considerable individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.”

        • I love this thread so much! On the one hand you get “Your degree says New Testament, not history” (as though historical methods were not used in a variety of fields, including also Classics). On the other hand, you get “here’s what someone in the field of Irish studies has to say”…

        • Pofarmer

          Donald Harman Akenson (born May 22, 1941, Minneapolis, Minnesota)
          is a historian and author. He is widely acknowledged as the world’s
          foremost expert in the history of worldwide Irish migration.[1]
          Notably prolific, he has written at least 23 book-length, scholarly
          monographs, 3 jointly-authored scholarly books, 6 works of fiction and
          historical fiction, and 55 scholarly articles.[2] He is a Fellow of both the Royal Society of Canada and the Royal Historical Society (UK)</i

          Akenson received his B.A. from Yale University and his doctorate from Harvard University. He is Douglas Professor of History at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and was simultaneously Beamish Research Professor at the Institute of Irish Studies, University of Liverpool (2006–10), and Senior Editor of the McGill-Queen’s University Press (1982-2012).
          Religious History

          While mostly noted as a scholar of Irish
          migration, Akenson is also an award-winning scholar of religious
          history. His book God’s Peoples: Covenant and Land in South Africa,
          Israel, and Ulster was named the winner of the 1992 Grawemeyer Award
          for “ideas improving world order.” At the time, the Grawemeyer Award
          was the richest non-fiction book prize in the world. Other notable
          winners include Mikhail Gorbachev and Aaron T. Beck
          (considered the father of cognitive therapy). Library Journal named
          God’s Peoples one of the best 30 books published in the US in all genres
          in 1992.[2] His other works on religious history have also
          been highly praised. Some Family: The Mormons and How Humanity Keeps
          Track of Itself (2007) was a finalist for the British Columbia
          Achievement Prize for Best Canadian Non-fiction Book; Saint Saul: A
          Skeleton Key to the Historical Jesus (2000) was short-listed for the
          Canadian Writers’ Trust Prize; and Surpassing Wonder: The Invention of
          the Bible and the Talmuds (1998) was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Awards
          for Non-fiction. A Senior Editor at McGill-Queen’s University Press for
          thirty years, Akenson remains the editor of McGill-Queen’s Studies in
          the History of Religion, series two, which includes more than seventy
          books by eminent scholars such as Jacob Neusner.[11]

          I mean, yeah, the Dude’s hardly qualified to comment.

          SMH.

        • Not at all – but neither are the academics you dismiss and insult. And Akenson’s work doesn’t support mythicism any more than the scientists quote-mined by creationists supports their claims. The selective appeal to and disparagement of experts in the relevant field is a common thread across both kinds of denialism.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m just putting out there that the gentleman you so summarily dismissed is an imminently qualified historian. I’m not dismissing and insulting anyone. I’m merely pointing out the people you point out are NOT historians. How many of them teach outside of theology or divinity or some version of biblical history or study?

        • There are plenty like me who are at a secular university, in a Religious Studies program and not one that is theological in character.

        • Pofarmer

          That doesn’t negate my point. It rather reinforces it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I love this thread so much!

          Glad you’re having a ball.

          On the one hand you get “Your degree says New Testament, not history” (as though historical methods were not used in a variety of fields, including also Classics).

          See, we are that used to folk popping along here and asserting the need for hyper-specific credentials in order to have an opinion, but am glad that’s not you, in which case you’ve opened up the number of scholarly mythicists that qualify as credentialed in the field right up.

          The methods being used in the field of New Testament are flawed as quite a number of scholars, inside and out of the academy recognize. I’d have thought you’d have been aware of that issue.

          On the other hand, you get “here’s what someone in the field of Irish studies has to say”…

          For a scholar, your reading comprehension and ability to do basic research is severely lacking.

          Here, let me help…

          “Donald Akenson, Professor of Irish Studies in the department of history at Queen’s University…

        • Please stop misrepresenting the point. The point is that history is a highly specialized discipline and there are people who work in it with either a job label or credentials that may reflect that narrow focus. They also work at the intersection with other methodologies. And so there are academics who work on the letters of Paul, for instance, using historical methods and using others. Just as happens in Classics with ancient Greek and Roman sources. And as happens among Akenson and others working in Irish studies using a range of disciplinary approaches. The question is who is trained in historical methods and doing historical work that is recognized as such. Scholars working on New Testament, Jewish studies, Classics, Roman history, and a number of other areas regularly draw on each others’ work and collaborate on projects and publications. The point was the irony of saying that someone working in early Christianity cannot be doing history regardless of their training and publications that say otherwise, but someone whose job says Irish history can be quoted with no sense that this might challenge the claim made about labels earlier.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Please stop misrepresenting the point.

          Show me where I misrepresented the point, whatever your point was?

          The point is that history is a highly specialized discipline and there are people who work in it with either a job label or credentials that may reflect that narrow focus. They also work at the intersection with other methodologies. And so there are academics who work on the letters of Paul, for instance, using historical methods and using others. Just as happens in Classics with ancient Greek and Roman sources.

          A lot of waffle to build a straw man against a position I’ve not taken, as evidenced by my citation above.

          I cited a highly qualified historian that has criticised the methods and practices of his peers in the field of historical Jesus studies. It was YOU that tried to hand wave off the expert by inferring that his point is of less worth because his special historical field of expertise is in Irish Studies.

          And as happens among Akenson and others working in Irish studies using a range of disciplinary approaches. The question is who is trained in historical methods and doing historical work that is recognized as such.

          Indeed…so is Akenson’s point valid or not?

          Scholars working on New Testament, Jewish studies, Classics, Roman history, and a number of other areas regularly draw on each others’ work and collaborate on projects and publications.

          I’m sure you think all this is in some way relevant to the point I was making about what some of those same scholars have said about the state of New Testament scholarship, methods and practices is in, but I can’t see it yet.

          The point was the irony of saying that someone working in early Christianity cannot be doing history regardless of their training and publications that say otherwise,…

          I said someone working in early Christianity cannot be doing history regardless of their training and publications? Where did I say this?

          …but someone whose job says Irish history can be quoted with no sense that this might challenge the claim made about labels earlier.

          Well since I don’t believe I did what you have accused me of regarding labels, there is no irony involved in my commenting on that score. But even if I did, and there was, that would still be irrelevant.

          And I see you are doubling down here again. Akenson’s field of expertise, Irish Studies, is a red herring, it is his credentials as an esteemed historian that qualifies him as an authority to comment on the failures of other historians and the methods being used. Incidentally, he is also an award wining scholar of religious history too.

          The source for Akenson’s assertion…

          https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=40E8am9SlwgC&pg=538&dq=%22appeals+to+consensus%22&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=%22appeals%20to%20consensus%22&f=false

          Perhaps you are just not aware of the criticisms, even from fellow scholars within the field of New Testament studies…

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quest_for_the_historical_Jesus#Criticism

        • How do you factor in the objectivity of the scholar? For example, if 100% of a set of Muslim scholars agree on some supernatural claim within Islam, do you just accept that as true, do you take it as an interesting data point but reserve the right to disagree, do you dismiss it as irrelevant since they can’t be objective, or what?

        • Miracles are by definition improbable and not something historians can ever declare probable.

          But on the more general question: If you ever hear that 100% of Muslims or Christians agree about something you should be skeptical of that claim, but if it were true, the next question would be whether they agree because 100% of human beings agree. In the case of the historical Jesus, the fact that most Christians, atheists, agnostics, and Jews working in this area agree, and that most Christian historians acknowledge that the historical Jesus is a disconcerting one for their faith, should tell you something.

          I am baffled by mythicists who seem to imagine Christian historians thinking “Jesus was a messianic claimant who predictedthe world would end in his lifetime and was mistaken, but I take comfort because at least he was a real historical figure…”

        • In the case of the historical Jesus, the fact that most Christians, atheists, agnostics, and Jews working in this area agree, and that most Christian historians acknowledge that the historical Jesus is a disconcerting one for their faith, should tell you something.

          You’re using the criterion of embarrassment?

          What disconcerting aspects of Jesus are you referring to? You mention below Jesus being wrong about the end of the world in his lifetime—this is a problem for your view of religion? Another possible example: I’ve read WLC saying that the Jewish idea of a saving Messiah was quite different from how Jesus turned out. And if it’s embarrassing, it’s likelier true.

          I am baffled by mythicists who seem to imagine Christian historians thinking “Jesus was a messianic claimant who predictedthe world would end in his lifetime and was mistaken, but I take comfort because at least he was a real historical figure…”

          The baffling thing for me is Christians seeing anomalies in the Jesus story and trundling along, burdened now with even more doubts, and yet rationalizing it all away somehow. Eventually, some conclude that it’s mythology and legend just like the other religions, I suppose, but others just double down.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’ve read WLC saying that the Jewish idea of a saving Messiah was quite different from how Jesus turned out.

          And in the same breath he’ll tell you how Jesus fulfilled all the OT prophecies. It’s amazing how Jesus could be both different than expected and exactly as foretold.

        • It’s a miracle!

        • MR

          If only he were alive today to explain.

        • Doubting Thomas

          He is. Craig just has a sickly pale look that resembles death and…..oh, you meant Jesus.

        • epeeist

          You’re using the criterion of embarrassment?

          You only have to read the Norse myths to see how many times Thor gets outdone by the frost giants. I mean, hiding in the mitten of one of them and not realising that the horn he was drinking out of was connected to the ocean, it’s just embarrassing.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Miracles are by definition improbable and not something historians can ever declare probable.

          A bit of a generalization there James. And yet they do. Or at least a number do anyway. While others believe they should.

          Mike Licona for example.

          http://www.risenjesus.com/wp-content/uploads/JSHJ_012_01-02_Licona.pdf

          Professor Craig Keener is one such historian that takes his Christian bias to an extreme…presumably he holds no such truck with the miracle claims of competing belief systems.

          Keener isn’t isolated on this issue either.

          https://www.is-there-a-god.info/blog/belief/four-things-the-historians-tell-us-about-jesus-miracles/

        • Why are you even looking at people who teach at conservative seminaries and schools with a sectarian identity and affiliation, which often require faculty to sign a statement of faith, a move that precludes genuine research from taking place? I thought we were talking about those who play by the rules of secular historical scholarship, which secular universities and even mainline/liberal seminaries typically do.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It’s an observation James. Equating the fact that a scholar is a credentialed historian is no verification that they can’t, don’t or won’t hold biased views that are contrary to rational thinking or runs contrary to their skill set.

          Where they work is also irrelevant. When it comes to Jesus mythicism, even secular scholars get the twitchy eye and assert all sorts of stuff that mainstream historians have a “wtf?” moment with. Ehrman’s “DJE?” is a prime example…unless you believe it is a sound piece of reasoning?

        • Greg G.

          Why are you even looking at people who teach at conservative seminaries and schools with a sectarian identity and affiliation, which often require faculty to sign a statement of faith, a move that precludes genuine research from taking place? I thought we were talking about those who play by the rules of secular historical scholarship, which secular universities and even mainline/liberal seminaries typically do.

          But are they really so different when it comes to whether Jesus was a real first century person? Even the conservatives point to the consensus of scholars on that question, same as the secular scholars. None of them know of a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived that doesn’t rely on hypothetical evidence. Nobody has scholarly reasons for believing Jesus was real besides the consensus. How many of them came to that conclusion before they were scholars and failed to consider otherwise?

        • What you claim – that no one has scholarly reasons for believing there was a historical Jesus – is simply not true, as anyone who has read any academic monograph on a historical matter related to Jesus could attest.

        • Greg G.

          Why aren’t these cited as evidence for Jesus? I have seen some of these. I remember starting to read one that was touted as evidence but the paper listed the assumptions it was based on and one of the first was that Jesus was from Galilee.

          Do you have any in mind that do not assume the existence of Jesus and then start working to that preconception?

        • You sound like the people who say that evidence of evolution in biology study after biology study doesn’t prove “macroevolution.” We don’t have evidence that anyone in the ancient world existed – from the highly certain like Julius Caesar through figures like Jesus to the genuinely uncertain – apart from things that they said and did and evidence of those things. Can you imagine if someone accused a historian who mentioned a coin with a particular emperor’s name on it as proof of their historicity, “you’re assuming their existence.” We find that they minted a coin, and deduce that they existed. We read an account that they crossed the Tiber or reached the Indus, and we deduce that they existed. Existence is what emerged from evidence that ancient people did things. You don’t prove existence in the abstract first and only then find evidence they spoke, reigned, taught, fought, died, or whatever else.

          Now, if you’d like a recommendation of a study that provides a strong case regarding some specific conclusion – for instance, that Jesus was crucified by the Romans – I can provide that. Or if you’d like something that summarizes and builds on such studies to present the overall case for a general readership, there are books like those. But it sounds as though you bought into a common denialist tactic that is used against a macro-Holocaust, macro-climate change, macroevolution, and what I think perhaps it would be fun as well as appropriate to call Jesus’ “macroexistence” (not only to make the point through analogy, but because it sounds cool).

        • Scholars working on New Testament, Jewish studies, Classics, Roman
          history, and a number of other areas regularly draw on each others’ work
          and collaborate on projects and publications.

          James, are you saying that scholars working in Roman history and calssics and other areas regularly draw upon the methods of New Testament scholars to establish historicity of events and persons? If so, can you give an example of one historian or classicist who has done this? Has that historian used the criteria of authenticity or form critical studies to answer the same sorts of questions those methods are used for by NT scholars, such as establishing historicity of persons, events or sayings? Seriously? Examples, please.

          Just as happens in Classics with ancient Greek and Roman sources.

          McGrath, are you saying that there are different methods for Greek and Roman sources and a historian working on one source will sometimes draw upon the method used in the study of the other? What are these two different methods, one for Roman and one for Greek sources?

        • Pofarmer

          mainstream secular historians

          I’m sure you noticed this. Anyone who doesn’t believe similarly is immediately labelled a crank.

        • Greg G.

          I noticed.

        • Greg G.

          I think that was my first book on the subject, too.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s a really good book. One of my next ones was “Not the Impossible faith” by Richard Carrier, which I think is a GREAT book.

        • Pofarmer

          The problem with the consensus opinion of NT scholars is that, #1 in many cases such an animal doesn’t actually exist, and #2 the vast, vast majority of scholars in the field have always been, and continue to be, Christians. Do Christian scholars accept the consensus view of Mormon scholars on the book of Mormon? Fucking of course not. Not any more than they accept the consensus view of Hindu Scholars or Muslim Scholars. They have a big ole blind spot.

        • As you note, “the consensus of NT scholars” is rather like “the consensus of Christian scholars,” which is cheating. Better: “the consensus of religious scholars,” but then of course you’re lucky if you can get a consensus on the # of gods.

          Thought experiment: take a bunch of Muslim imams and take them through a masters in Christian theology program. Now that they have the facts, are they Christian? Of course not. The Christian will say that that’s because they have a religious bias. OK … but then what does that say about Christian scholars?

        • I can’t believe anyone could claim that I haven’t written such a post. Here is a round-up of what I considered the best posts written prior to the end of January 2011! https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/01/round-up-my-blogging-on-mythicism-thus-far.html

          By all means, say that my blog posts do not persuade you. The case for historical and scientific conclusions is made in books and articles, not blog posts. But no one should pretend that I haven’t tried writing posts of every conceivable length, trying repeatedly to persuade people to accept mainstream secular scholarship. To have spent so many years doing precisely this, only to be asked “why haven’t you written a blog post?” is imcredibly frustrating…

        • I can’t believe anyone could claim that I haven’t written such a post.

          You can’t believe it? Then I come to you, head bowed, to admit that I don’t know your blog as well as you do.

          As for the “claim that I haven’t written such a post,” I make no such claim. I’m just asking (and losing interest in the conversation).

          Here is a round-up of what I considered the best posts written prior to the end of January 2011!

          That’s a long list. Do any address my question? The one titled, “Jesus Probably Existed: The Argument From Mythicism” looked like a good candidate, but it has no evidence that Jesus was a person. If there’s one that’s on target, please point it out.

          By all means, say that my blog posts do not persuade you.

          I’d love to. Give me a chance: show me one post of yours that begins, “Jesus probably existed as an actual man and started the Christian faith because . . .” (or equivalent).

          But no one should pretend that I haven’t tried writing posts of every conceivable length, trying repeatedly to persuade people to accept mainstream secular scholarship.

          Uh, we’re already on the same page that mainstream secular scholarship says that Jesus was a real man; the question is still, Why?

          To have spent so many years doing precisely this, only to be asked “why haven’t you written a blog post?” is imcredibly frustrating…

          I’m having a similar experience. To have asked you several times, just today, for something that gives evidence for why Jesus was a real man, and getting just bluster in response, is incredibly frustrating.

          Can it be that you don’t get what I’m asking for? For example, point to a book or letter he’s written, like Caesar’s Gallic Wars. Show me a contemporary historian who gave a decent recounting of the feeding of the 5000 or Jesus as a rabble rouser or the triumphant entry into Jerusalem or any other validation of the gospels. Or a bust or inscription. Obviously, I don’t want evidence that Christians existed, since that’s off topic.

          Yes, I realize you don’t have that, but what do you have?

          Let me get you started: you’ve got that “Chrestus” reference in Suetonius. It’s not contemporary, but it’s something. It seems to refer to a person. We can kick that around, look at alternative interpretations, and see how well it argues that Jesus actually existed.

          Nothing else comes to mind at the moment, but I’m not the expert.

        • I feel like every time we have a conversation, I reach this point of feeling. You have already said that you find it more likely that there was a historical Jesus who was overlaid with legend. What persuades you? What else are you looking for?

        • You have already said that you find it more likely that there was a historical Jesus who was overlaid with legend.

          I said that I’m on the fence.

          What persuades you?

          Very little! That Christian scholars like you have a consensus is something . . . but how do I know that religious bias isn’t clouding your judgment? A consensus of religious scholars is very different from a consensus of scientists.

          What else are you looking for?

          I’ve already told you: point me to the facts that argue that Jesus was a historical person. I don’t need Jesus to not exist as a person to conclude that Christianity is false, so you needn’t worry that I’m closed minded because my atheism is under siege. I’m happy with either Jesus as a real person or Jesus as totally legend/myth.

          At the bottom of this comment, I try to get you started. Or, follow the Ben Goren algorithm.
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4377437179

          To be clear, I’m not assigning homework. I hate it when someone pretends to assign some to me. If this doesn’t interest you, that’s great. But a guy who’s written 30 posts dancing around the issue should be interested in doing one more, a frontal assault that, within the limitations of 2000 words, shows once and for all that Jesus was a real person.

        • Which of the things that Ben Goren asked for have I not already done?! My question at the end of that post was about whether it was worth compiling those details into a single place to try to persuade Coyne and others like him. I also interacted with Goren directly on Coyne’s blog in response to this, which persuaded me that trying to persuade people on the internet who aren’t willing to read what has already been written by historians is a futile endeavor. I mean, be honest, if Maurice Casey’s enormous book doesn’t persuade you, even though he’s an atheist, what chance does me repeating myself in yet another blog post have?

        • I’m not going to read “Maurice Casey’s enormous book.” I’m a fence-sitter, remember? I don’t have enough interest to spend a month reading it. That’s why I’m asking you for the short version.

          Again, if this isn’t your thing, don’t bother. If you know of another author’s post that gives a good summary, point me to that. Or don’t.

          What baffles me is that this subject is a passion for you at your blog and yet you’ve yet to address the elephant in the room: a simple enumeration of the evidence that points to Jesus being historical. Sure, if closed-minded people won’t be convinced by it, don’t write it. But then I wonder why you wrote your other 30 posts about mythicism.

        • What exactly are you looking for in the post you envisage that isn’t in the others? Maybe I’m simply not understanding what you’re after. I’ve said already more than once that everything that Goren asks for is already available, or if not, it is because I’ve already explained why (for instance, when he is looking for a supernatural figure that would be noticed by Romans in other parts of the Empire, which shows that he isn’t actually talking about the historical Jesus, or hasn’t understood what those words refer to).

          You do realize that self-proclaimed “fence sitters” about evolution respond just as you do, saying they don’t have time or interest to read a detailed book, but if you can persuade them in a blog post then great. Does that typically work?

        • We’re not making much progress here. Further replies would just repeat what I’ve already said.

          Thanks for your time and patience.

        • Greg G.

          You do realize that self-proclaimed “fence sitters” about evolution respond just as you do, saying they don’t have time or interest to read a detailed book, but if you can persuade them in a blog post then great. Does that typically work?

          I have become curious enough to read books based on mere comments on Disqus or Usenet.

          I saw several of Casey’s arguments online years ago. They tended to make me not want to read a book from him, small or large. Perhaps I just didn’t see any of his good ones. Perhaps if you presented a few of his better arguments, I might be persuaded to read more.

        • Pofarmer

          to read what has already been written by historians

          This ^^^^^^^^^ Is dishonest.

        • Pofarmer

          trying repeatedly to persuade people to accept mainstream secular scholarship

          This ^^^^^^^^ is dishonest.

        • ildi

          Comparing mythicists to creationists and anti-vaxxers seems pretty extreme; a summary of why you do so would be nice rather than trying to dig through a bunch of posts.

        • Pofarmer

          Because we unreasonably don’t agree that a religious literary figure absolutely, positively, must have been a real boy.

        • ildi

          It lessens his credibility, TBH. I’m not a biologist, but I can spot the creationist or anti-vax loon fairly quickly, and scientists do have responses to standard creationist and anti-vax tropes. McGrath just keeps repeating fact-free “no credibility” and “secular historian consensus” and OMG I’ve WRITTEN SO MUCH ALREADY!

          Like Bob, I personally don’t have a dog in this fight, but the commenters here who argue the mythicist position seem to know their bible and languages fairly well. I’ve been reading reviews of Casey’s book and the criticisms seem reasonable (early dating of Mark, arguing that having Aramaic roots means it’s non-fiction). The argument that mythicists are all just BLOGGERS whereas historicists are secular historians doesn’t seem to be accurate, either.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve been on Sean Carroll’s blog and asked him physics questions, and he can point out where you’re wrong politely and go through step by step on these ridiculously complicated physics things so that a lay person can understand them. I’ve never been talked down to there, although I’ve not been there a lot. That’s not what happens on religious topics, especially Jesus mythicism, it seems. It takes half a second to just get shouted down.

          The argument that mythicists are all just BLOGGERS whereas historicists
          are secular historians doesn’t seem to be accurate, either.

          IMHO that’s completely dishonest. Right now the leading mythicists is a credentialed historian. You’ve got a published priest who started a school dedicated to studying Jesus. among many others. You’ve also got the tired ole “This was all debunked 50 years ago.” Yeah, no, it really wasn’t or it wouldn’t come back up. It was just ignored till it went away 50 years ago. And just the statement that historicists are all secular historians is patently ridiculous. Some 60% of biblical scholars work in institutions with Faith Statements. The rest of them pretty much work in religious departments at other universities. You know where historians work? History departments.

        • If creationism were debunked 50 years ago, if wouldn’t come back up.
          The leading proponent of ID is a credentialed biologist.

          If someone approaches Sean Carroll on his blog speaking with the same disdain for not just his expertise and integrity, but his entire field, as you show for those who study early Christiianity, what do you imagine would happen then? And if someone showed up there as unwilling to accept the premises, arguments, and conclusions of Carrol’s scientific field as you are when it comes to the study of ancient history, do you honestly want to pretend that they would come away as convinced as you did?

          “Religious departments.” LOL. But apart from that, which historians in history departments have you consulted to see what they have to say about this matter and your views on it?

        • Pofarmer

          Jim, you’re a hoot. What exactly do you think it is that is confounding Michael Behe’s thinking?

        • If creationism were debunked 50 years ago, if wouldn’t come back up.

          No, if Creationism were debunked and Creationists followed the evidence, it wouldn’t come back up. Big difference.

          The leading proponent of ID is a credentialed biologist.

          I’ll see your credentialed biologist and raise you pretty much the entire field of biology.

          What is your view on Creationism or ID?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sarcasm was it?

          Then you link to your own blog where the opening paragraph is…

          In a recent comment I was asked about my familiarity with evolution, given my frequent comparison of mythicism to creationism as far as their approach to mainstream academic disciplines is concerned.

          Then I do a search of your blog with the words “mythicism + creationism” and get all these articles…

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof?s=mythicism+creationism

          Sarcasm, my arse!

          It’s your go-to trope.

          You demonstrate rank dishonesty at every hands turn. There are articles replete with your faux pas on Vridar alone…so when it comes to scholarship in this field, credentials are not all that, which of course, you’ve demonstrated in your “sarcastic” example of the credentialed ID biologist. Arguments that are supported are more important than credentials. There are plenty of credentialed scholars on the historicists side that you also don’t agree with…so yer hoist by yer own petard.

          https://vridar.org/tag/james-mcgrath/

        • I am not sure what you are responding to here. I pointed out that I was not saying this about ID to support ID, but to show that the same thing that mythicists say, ID supporters also say.

          The “Dissent from Darwin” list is longer than the “Dissent from Jesus’ Historicity” list. Neither list proves anything, except for demonstrating that some people do not understand how academic fields work sufficiently well so as to understand why such lists do not prove anything…

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am not sure what you are responding to here.

          Colour me unsurprised.

          I pointed out that I was not saying this about ID to support ID,….

          I know.

          …but to show that the same thing that mythicists say, ID supporters also say.

          You, yet again, compared mythicism to creationism. Bob pointed out why it’s a false equivalence. You tried to make out your remark was a tongue in cheek attempt at sarcasm…you thought that was clear, even without the tag. I’m saying that it is not an attempt at sarcasm, it is your go-to analogy. It doesn’t matter if creationists and mythicists say similar stuff, it’s the argument that underlie the stuff the say.

          The “Dissent from Darwin” list is longer than the “Dissent from Jesus’ Historicity” list.

          With good reason.

          Neither list proves anything.

          You think not? I agree. So your point in comparison is?

          In other news, ufology is a thing…

          https://www.ranker.com/list/list-of-famous-ufologists/reference

          Nothing to do with creationism or mythicism, but some well credentialed scholars on the list.

          Experts can be just as wrong as non-experts. You think your argument from consensus trumps all other arguments…it doesn’t, especially in a field so corrupt.

        • The “Dissent from Darwin” list is longer than the “Dissent from Jesus’ Historicity” list.

          That’s only because no one’s tried. Since there are no particular requirements to be on the Dissent from Darwin list (in particular, you don’t need a biology degree of any sort), it’s not like there aren’t candidates a-plenty for the Dissent from Historicity list.

        • Well, feel free to try. The Dissent from Darwin list was padded as well with people whose expertise was not in anything relevant to biology. If you can come up with a comparably-sized list, I will humbly grant that mythicism is pseudoscholarship on a par with Intelligent Design, because you will have proved it beyond reasonable doubt!

        • Which takes us back to what your point was in the first place. I’m assuming you’re drawing a parallel between Creationism (minimal scientific support) vs. evolution and mythicism (minimal NT scholar support) vs. historicism?

          If I’ve finally figured out what you’re trying to say, then I’d simply note that science is a very different domain than religion. Moses was considered historical by scholars. Now, not so much.

        • Susan

          The leading proponent of ID is a credentialed biologist.

          But it’s been demonstrated that he doesn’t do biology to make his case, and the case he made was torn apart by biologists. By addressing the evidence and his theory.

          I really don’t care if there was a historical Jesus or not. The supernatural claims are absurd, either way. Maybe there was a Paul Bunyan. I haven’t bothered to investigate the subject enough to form an opinion.

          Something that’s become more and more disturbing is that when I see people ask for support for a historical Jesus, for the step-by-step process that leads to one, none is provided.

          Just defensiveness and accusations that to question it is equivalent to creationist thinking.

          But creationists lie about geology, physics, biology and countless other subjects to fit their bible into the facts. This is demonstrated over and over.

          As a lurker, I was interested in what you had to provide to support the historical Jesus. But you haven’t provided anything, yet. Why not?

          If someone approaches Sean Carroll on his blog speaking with the same disdain for not just his expertise and integrity, but his entire field, as you show for those who study early Christiianity, what do you imagine would happen then?

          If someone asked Sean Carroll to show the support for the position he held, he wouldn’t regard the question as disdainful. He would understand that people who are interested in his support but who had no expertise in the subject needed to be shown why his position is reasonable.

          I’ve seen people ask you to do the same thing and you haven’t provided support. And you’ve regarded the question as disdainful.

          The distinction is obvious. Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean I’m railing against a historical Jesus. I just can’t help but notice that you can’t order the straightforward questions (about model, process, evidence, methodology, etc.) that people ask.

          Religious departments. Lol.

          Well, forgive me if I don’t necessarily trust “religious” departments. If they have a commitment to confirming their religious position, that’s not reliable.

          They could be committed to that and separately provide the reasons for a historical Jesus. That is, they could provide justification for their historical claim separately from their faith position.

          What justification is that? Why can’t you answer a straightforward, if naive, question? It’s what any honest student would ask.

          which historians in history departments have you consulted to see what they have to say about this matter

          You say there is historical justification. That anyone who questions the historicity is equal to a creationist.

          But you haven’t provided anything.

          Please. I’m interested in what you have to say about the methodology.

          But you haven’t provided anything.

          Why are you making this so hard?

          Asking for justification is not disdainful. It’s basic. And it shoud be easy if you have some.

        • Pofarmer

          “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it’s based on a deep-seated need to believe.” -Carl Sagan

        • I am not making anything hard intentionally, but I am sure it is difficult to follow this comment thread that has grown so long.

          Relligious studies as a secular discipline is not theology, teaching things that comfirm someone’s religious commitments. Religious students regularly perceive us as hostile to them for this very reason.

          I get the feeling very often that the mythicists and fence sitters who claim to be interested and open-minded have not even informed themselves about the broad fields in question, never mind the specific details… ☹️

        • Susan

          never mind the specific details

          For instance?

        • Susan

          I am sure it is difficult to follow this comment thread that has grown so long.

          On the contrary. I’ve followed along just fine. I read for quite a while before I commented. Nice to see you here, by the way. Thank you for commenting.

          Relligious studies as a secular discipline is not theology, teaching things that comfirm someone’s religious commitments

          I agree it’s not necessarily theology. It depends what you’re doing when you do religious studies.

          I get the feeling very often that the mythicists and fence sitters who claim to be interested and open-minded have not even informed themselves about the broad fields in question

          One could say the same about people asking about time travel to a physicist.

          I’m not informed. You are claiming that you are sufficiently informed to claim anyone who makes a case for a mythical Jesus is akin to a creationist apologist.

          Which is accusing them of intentionally attacking strawmen, misrepresenting the discipline they are challenging and/or being completely ignorant about the subject.

          That’s a big deal. You haven’t supported it.

          I wish you would just lay out the historical case that seems best supported to you and why.

          Accusing people who disagree of creationism is not how biology is done.

        • Keep in mind, that doesn’t mean I’m railing against a historical Jesus.

          That’s my situation, too. But McGrath dancing around the issue with a touch of annoyance is pushing me in the wrong (from McGrath’s position) direction.

        • Please, please, tell me clearly what you need that I have not already provided. I have no intention of dancing around anything, and if I seem to be doing so, it is probably because I think something is obvious that I simply don’t realize anyone could still be unaware of. If so, I apologize. What do you need? What are you looking for?

        • Please, please, tell me clearly what you need that I have not already provided. I have no intention of dancing around anything, and if I seem to be doing so, it is probably because I think something is obvious that I simply don’t realize anyone could still be unaware of.

          I applaud your open attitude, but I’ve told you several times already, and what you’ve responded with is not it. Somehow what seems obvious to me isn’t to you.

          First, I’m not assigning homework. If what I want doesn’t interest you, that’s fine. If it’s been done to death, point me to it.

          Since you apparently are immersed in the mythicist/historicist debate, that my question isn’t answerable with a single link (or multiple links, each covering the same ground) is startling. I don’t know what to make of your confusion at the straightforward request, “OK, you’re a historicist? Great—prove your point. Show me.”

          I want, not a book, but a single post. Make it a long post if you want (I just posted a 4000-word post, so I’m OK with longish). Sure, it’ll be incomplete, but I want something to make me think that those historicists might actually have something after all. This post would explain to a fence sitter like me why the historicist position is superior. Give me the evidence. Again, that you, an enthusiastic historicist, has written dozens of posts but not this one is startling.

          Here’s one approach: explain why we know that Julius Caesar was a real man. Next, Alexander and Caesar Augustus. Next, explain why King Arthur, William Tell, and Ned Ludd were likely legend. (Or pick better examples.) Having prepared the landscape, tick off the reasons that Jesus was a real person–like the first category and unlike the second. You don’t like that approach? No problem—do whatever you want to make me sit up and take notice of your position, because as it is, I’ve learned nothing from our chat.

          I’ve explained this before, and it’s clear to me that, for whatever reason, we’re just not communicating. I’m not optimistic, but if this somehow triggers new insight, I’d like to hear your reaction.

        • I am happy to try to offer what you are looking for, and would like to at least begin conversationally, if that is OK with you, to address the question of which figures are appropriate comparisons.

          First, can we agree that figure such as Roman empersors and Alexander the Great are inherently likely to leave behind more evidence, and of a different sort, than an itinerant rabbi, exorcist, and/or messianic claimant?

          If so, would you agree that, even if we do not have the same sort of evidence for figures like Hillel or Akiba (two famous Jewish rabbis of the period), though that will make their historicity less certain than the minters of coins and inscribers of monuments, that does not make it inherently unlikely that they existed in and of itself? In other words, that the evidence will inevitably vary and our certainty should span a spectrum, with room for high degrees of certainty towards the ends but also varying shared throughout im between?

          Could we then perhaps also agree that figures like King Arthur and Ned Ludd (and Robin Hood and John Frum and Prester John and many others) are often simply of uncertain hiistorical basis? No historian would deny that the Arthurian legends are legends, fictions plain and simple. But do we know with a high degree of confidence that they are not fictions that used a name that people recalled as that if an actual person? In other words, that the question of whether all, most, some, or little of our information about a person is even attempting to be accurate and factual, never mind succeeding, may not tell us whether or not there is a historical figure faintly visible, or obscured in all but name, from a historian’s view?

          You may be detecting a pattern in this. This is all about aiming at nuance that tends to get lost not just in discussions of mythicism, but any kind of apologetics. It may seem to score points in internet debates if someone gets someone else to admit that they are not completely certain about something. But uncertainty is par for the course in historical study, and tackling this seems a necessary step before proceeding further.

        • Susan

          First, can we agree that figure such as Roman empersors and Alexander the Great are inherently likely to leave behind more evidence, and of a different sort, than an itinerant rabbi, exorcist, and/or messianic claimant?

          Yes.

          If so, would you agree that, even if we do not have the same sort of evidence for figures like Hillel or Akiba (two famous Jewish rabbis of the period), though that will make their historicity less certain than the minters of coins and inscribers of monuments, that does not make it inherently unlikely that they existed in and of itself?

          Of course. Their existence can be taken more seriously than not, with reasonable support, without them being major figures of state.

          But what is the support?

          Could we then perhaps also agree that figures like King Arthur and Ned Ludd (and Robin Hood and John Frum and Prester John and many others) are often simply of uncertain hiistorical basis?

          Possibly. What separates these figures?

          Where does Jesus lie in this process?

          You haven’t even acknowledged that many “mythicists” just suggest that it’s less likely that “Jesus” existed than that he didn’t.

          All I’m asking you to is to show how the <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_method&quot;Historical Method> is used to differentiate between Jesus and King Arthur.

          I am not claiming that King Arthur is better supported than Jesus. Nor that Jesus is equal to King Arthur.

          I am asking you, as someone who thinks the comparison is ridiculous, to show us the distinction.

          =====

          Edit: 9 minutes later for Disqus functions I haven’t had to use in a long time.

        • Rudy R

          First, can we agree that figure such as Roman empersors and Alexander the Great are inherently likely to leave behind more evidence, and of a different sort, than an itinerant rabbi, exorcist, and/or messianic claimant?

          I can agree, but a claim that an itinerant rabbi, exorcist, and/or messianic character existed requires the equally applied historical methodology. If the evidence for Jesus is weaker than the more historically proven Alexander the Great, then the probability that Jesus existed is lower then Alexander the Great. The current mythicism movement, if you will, is that Jesus is less probable to have existed and not that he did NOT exist.

        • Mythicism is the claim that Jesus is unlikely to have existed, and not merely that his historicity is by definition less certain than it sould have been if either he had been a different sort of individual, or if different evidence had happened to make it down to us. The latter is simply a facet of mainstream historical study, not a tenet of mythicism.

        • Rudy R

          ..and not merely that his historicity is by definition less certain than it sould have been if either he had been a different sort of individual

          This is a response to those who claim Jesus has a lower bar to prove his historicity, based on his low profile. That’s a facet of mainstream ancient history scholars, not mythicists. Historians all too much don’t adhere to a strict historical methodology, especially with religious figures, and when they do, lack the rationale to incorporate a structured probability theory, like Bayes’ Theorem.

        • First, can we agree that figure such as Roman empersors and Alexander the Great are inherently likely to leave behind more evidence, and of a different sort, than an itinerant rabbi, exorcist, and/or messianic claimant?

          Jesus as the Son of God would, one would assume, cut a broad swath through human history. But it sounds like you’re defining “Jesus” as the minimum that an atheist might grant you—little more than a charismatic teacher.

          even if we do not have the same sort of evidence for figures like Hillel or Akiba (two famous Jewish rabbis of the period), though that will make their historicity less certain than the minters of coins and inscribers of monuments, that does not make it inherently unlikely that they existed in and of itself?

          I’m not following. I agree—this very minimal “Jesus” you’re focusing on won’t have coins or statues with his likeness, and we shouldn’t expect them. But where does the “inherently unlikely” thing come in? If you’re simply saying that no inscription of Pilate’s bootblack Frank doesn’t prove that Frank didn’t exist, I agree. But the route to declare that Alexander existed is well-paved with evidence, unlike that for Jesus or Frank. That is, it’s much easier to say that Alexander existed than Jesus; or, you can say “Alexander existed” with far more confidence than saying that for Jesus.

          No historian would deny that the Arthurian legends are legends, fictions plain and simple.

          Every bit of them? Sure, Merlin as a shapeshifter is rejected by historians. But Arthur as a king—how confidently can we reject that? This seems quite similar to my position with Jesus: Jesus as a miracle worker won’t convince an objective historian, but Jesus as a teacher . . . ? England had kings, and Palestine had teachers—Arthur and Jesus have legendary accretions, but when you scrape those away, what confidence can you have that what’s left is historical?

          I didn’t follow all of your points. Maybe you can try again on points that are essential to your argument.

        • Look, are you interested in talking about the historical figure of Jesus or not? If your interest is only in a Jesus who works miracles and does other things that historians have neither time for nor interest in, then this isn’t a conversation worth having. We’re simply interested in different things.

        • I have no idea what your objection is to. This is the best I can do. Yes, I want to talk about the historical Jesus.

          As I mentioned, I didn’t follow much of what you were getting at. It seem to be throat clearing or tap dancing. If it’s essential for your argument, OK, I’m happy to continue slogging through. In that case, please try to restate the parts I ignored or got wrong.

        • It isn’t throat-clearing or tap dancing as long as I’m trying to ensure we are on the same page and talking about the same subject, and agree on basic assumptions of what a historical approach entails, and you suddenly talk about Jesus as “son of God” and a performer of miracles. Or did you mean “son of God” in the sense of the Davidic king?

          You talk about what an “atheist” might grant me. That’s not the issue at hand. I’m talking about the Jesus that historians can talk about and do talk about, whether they are atheists, agnostics, or religious people of some sort. There are people who claim to be doing history, to be sure, but then try to smuggle in miracles and even the resurrection. But they are criticized by mainstream historians for doing so.

          And so I will keep asking until your answer is clear: are you interested in the historical Jesus or not, and are you going to stick to that subject and use that term as referring to the figure that secular historical study investigates? If your interest is in apologetics, that’s not my interest in the slightest, other than trying to get both religious and anti-religious apologists to stop spreading misinformation and integrate our best historical knowledge into their thinking and discussions.

        • And so I will keep asking until your answer is clear: are you interested in the historical Jesus or not, and are you going to stick to that subject and use that term as referring to the figure that secular historical study investigates?

          I thought I had, but apparently it didn’t come across that way. As a result, it sounds like I can’t give you the assurance you demand. I’ll likely continue to bumble along, not quite understanding what you’re saying or why you’re saying it and asking the wrong questions. If that ineptness is acceptable to you, let’s continue.

        • winmeer

          I am amazed at your patience of responding to J F McGrath. In his blog posts he will probably refuse to have you, like he did with me, question his Catholic beliefs. He writes as though he has the authority or imprimatur of the defender of the faith from the Vatican. He is dismissive.

        • I’m happy to give him a chance to make his argument, but I’m not optimistic.

        • Why not? I’m an academic trying to patiently explain my field to you, even though you keep misrepresenting it, denigrating it, and suggesting that you’re not really interested in it. Why should you be the pessimistic one in this exchange?

        • Why am I not optimistic? Because we’ve exchanged a dozen+ comments on one of your interest areas, I’ve expressed my interest, and yet I’ve learned nothing. I guess we’re now talking about ground rules and etiquette. I do sometimes descend to deliberate insults; the bizarre thing is that here I’ve been insulting without intending to.

          I’m getting my hand slapped a little more than expected. I expected you to simply respond to my request for an argument, but instead it’s a call and response, giving me loads of chances to misunderstand and insert foot in mouth, apparently.

          This is surprisingly complicated when I’m just trying to get your argument.

        • Grimlock

          I’m pretty sure that you’re conflating McGrath with someone else. Perhaps someone who blogs at Patheos Catholic?

        • Grimlock

          I wonder if you ain’t talking past each other a bit.

          Bottom line, I think McGrath has made it clear that he has consistently been talking about a purely natural, non-divine, human Jesus. No miracles, no supernatural sheebang. What I think he’s getting at is something like the following:
          1) If you’re influential, you leave behind a larger mark on the world. If statues were made about you, coins were minted, books were written, etc., we can say more stuff about you. This seems perfectly reasonable.
          2) Lots of people from way back when didn’t leave much of a mark. That doesn’t mean they didn’t exist, but we can’t really say much of anything about them. No disagreement from anyone here.
          3) In some cases, we got legends, like those about Arthur. The legends themselves are obvious made up. But since kings and local chiefs existed, that doesn’t mean we can exclude that the legends at some point have some vaguely recognizable core. Once again, I believe we can all agree about this.

          I suspect that his next step is to argue for why Jesus fits somewhere in the middle here; the stories are clearly embellished and altered, but not all. Some parts of the stories, I believe he will argue, is not plausibly made up, but resembles some of what we have of other actual historical figures from that same time period.

          If so, we have what secular scholarship (regardless of whether it’s done by Christians or otherwise) think of as the historical Jesus; A shadowy figure, cloaked in uncertainty.

          This doesn’t leave much room for the Jesus of apologists. But McGrath seems perfectly dismissive of apologetics that misuse historical research.

        • Thank you! It is so refreshing to be understood! I would go further and say that legitimate historical study is a better and more effective response to religious apologetics than anti-religious counterapologetic that can be criticized in comparable ways by mainstream scholars and historians!

        • Grimlock

          I’m not sure if it’s always a more effective response – thorough debunking of nonsense can be time-consuming, and is not always accessible. Though it’s certainly better to correct something with accurate information rather than a different set of misconceptions.

          Matthew Ferguson comes to mind as someone who has written extensively on the subject in an easily accessible manner. However, he is an atheist, and already there, many Christians I encounter will dismiss his writings out of hand. The (mutual) partisanship is occasionally frustrating. This is one of the reasons I habitually link to one of your posts when I need a source for ancient Israelite cosmology that won’t be rejected out of hand.

          On the subject of apologetics and such, there is a particular apologetics argument I’d be curious to hear your take on. Its main proponents are probably Lydia and Tim McGrew, and it’s referred to as undesigned or unintended consequences. I haven’t found any thorough response to it, and while I do have some general objections, I’m not even close to having enough knowledge to properly evaluate it.

          The gist of the argument is, to quote the description of the book on the subject from Amazon,

          An undesigned coincidence is an apparently casual, yet puzzle-like “fit” between two or more texts, and its best explanation is that the authors knew the truth about the events they describe or allude to. Connections of this kind among passages in the Gospels, as well as between Acts and the Pauline epistles, give us reason to believe that these documents came from honest eyewitness sources, people “in the know” about the events they relate.

          A couple of examples are mentioned by Lydia McGrew in an interview with Sean McDowell,

          MCGREW: Sure, I’m just going to sneak in two here: In John 13 we’re told that Jesus got up after eating the Last Supper and washed the disciples’ feet. It just sort of happens out of the blue. Reading only John, you might think that Jesus thought of this idea for no special reason, and it does raise the question, “Why did he do that just then?” If you go over to Luke 22, though, there is an explanation: It says that the disciples had been bickering at that very meal about who would be greatest in the kingdom. So the foot-washing in John is explained. Jesus was giving them an example of humility and service when they had just been competing and fighting. Luke never mentions the foot-washing, and John never mentions the argument. Those same two passages have a coincidence in the other direction. In Luke, Jesus scolds the disciples for bickering and says, of himself, that though he is their master, “I am among you as the one who serves.” This is a slightly weird expression in Luke, because he hasn’t done anything especially servant-like. But if you read about the foot-washing in John, you see that he has just dressed himself like a servant and washed their feet. He has literally been among them as one who serves. So the two passages fit together extremely tightly because of what each one contains and each one leaves out. Luke explains John, and John explains Luke.

          Any chance you could share some thoughts on this?

        • Sorry for the delay in replying. I’m inclined to agree with the principle, that two sources converging when they appear to be independent does provide a sort of corroboration at least of the likelihood that they are both drawing on an earlier tradition. That’s one of the ways scholars try to triangulate between texts and attempt source critical reconstructions behind them. I’m sympathetic to the argument, and I think that there aren’t simply two hermetically-sealed categories – apologist and scholar – but a spectrum.
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/02/scholars-and-apologists.html
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/02/scholar-or-apologist-why-not-both.html
          When J. L. Mackie critiqued religious responses to the problem of evil, was he biased by his atheism? Hard to imagine that he wasn’t. Was he wrong as a result? Not necessarily. That’s why I think the key question is not “who is a believer or atheist of some description?” but “who is making their argument following the rules of historical scholarship?”

          Returning to your specific example, if McGrew doesn’t also address one complicating factor, namely the not-infrequent convergences between Luke and John on details specific to them both, then she is at best using an academic argument in a selective and thus problematic manner. I certainly do think that this is probably another such convergence between Luke and John. But the question at least has to be addressed of whether John knew Luke or vice versa.

          I’d be interested to know what you think of my argument about the temple saying in places like these:
          https://amzn.to/2W2WHJM
          https://amzn.to/2OdSJLD

          The first one at least should provide a substantial preview. Does that seem to you fundamentally similar to, or different from, what you understand McGrew to be doing, from your perspective? My own impression is that I’m seeking to do what historians aim to, namely get behind the texts, which also involves recognizing that each text is sometimes a help and sometimes a hindrance to accomplishing that; while McGrew seems to be trying to use her argument to uphold the texts themselves, which I find much more problematic.

        • Pofarmer

          and I think that there aren’t simply two hermetically-sealed categories – apologist and scholar – but a spectrum.

          It seems to me that you’re going to have to be awfully, awfully careful about confirmation bias in that case.

        • I don’t see the attraction of this argument.

          To me, this is the same as, “Will you look at that! They got the names of ancient kings, rivers, cities, and so on correct! That’s gotta increase the reliability of the supernatural claims.”

          Getting place names accurate is the least we’d expect of a book that claimed to be historically accurate. This isn’t remarkable; it just gets you to the starting line.

          Similarly, if there are answers in book A to questions raised in book B, that’s just what you’d expect if there really was a community of people whose story was incompletely documented through a number of books.

        • Grimlock

          If I were to speculate, I’d say that the appeal might be that it’s a slightly obscure argument, and not something that’s been debunked oh so many times.

        • epeeist

          But it is still not sufficient to decide between a Jesus who actually does this and a fiction to make a doctrinal point.

          My knowledge of the details is sketchy so I tend not to get involved in debates about the nitty-gritty of Jesus historicism. The one thing that does seem apparent to me though is that none of the “evidence” seems sufficient to eliminate alternate hypotheses.

        • Is that one of the things the OP was about? There will always be alternative possibilities that are at least remotely possible. But that doesn’t make them probable…

        • Grimlock

          It’s not so much an argument for historicism as it is an argument for the general reliability of the Gospels, and the eyewitness status of the accounts. At least that’s my impression. Of course, implicit in this is historicism, but that’s not the main aim.

          At least, that’s my understanding.

        • Good point. Novelty is nice for a change.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Getting place names correct is the easy bit, getting them geographically accurate when ya haven’t been there, or even know someone that has, is another thing entirely.

          Jesus’ travel agent must have been offering a super-bargain or Mark had little real knowledge of the geography of the area, or . . . . and there IS a very simple explanation, I think.

          And that explanation is, suggests R. Steven Notley in an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature (128, no. 1, 2009: 183-188), that the author of this gospel was simply following a passage in the Book of Isaiah that early Christians interpreted as a prophecy of where the Messiah was to appear and perform his saving works.

          Isaiah 9:1

          . . . in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.

          This passage is better known from the Gospel of Matthew (4:12-16). But Notley finds good reasons to suggest Mark knew it — and used it — in his gospel, and has suffered the reputation of being a geographic illiterate ever since!

          That’s not the only error.

          https://vridar.org/2010/08/06/mark-failed-geography-but-great-bible-student/

          As well as the NT’s authors ineptitude with all the geographical faux pas, topography wasn’t a strong point either.

          https://www.sbl-site.org/assets/pdfs/presidentialaddresses/JBL60_1McCowan1940.pdf

          What I find amusing is that the god-man Jesus that is capable of anything, including effecting the weather, has his itinerary hampered by said weather, and an inability to shake off the ensuing crowds.

        • I wonder if you ain’t talking past each other a bit.

          I’m certain you’re right.

          Bottom line, I think McGrath has made it clear that he has consistently been talking about a purely natural, non-divine, human Jesus. No miracles, no supernatural sheebang.

          And I thought that I indicated that I was on board.

          What I think he’s getting at is something like the following:

          Yes, your 3 points all look good.

          I suspect that his next step is to argue for why Jesus fits somewhere in the middle here; the stories are clearly embellished and altered, but not all. Some parts of the stories, I believe he will argue, is not plausibly made up, but resembles some of what we have of other actual historical figures from that same time period.

          I sensed that he was lowering expectations.

          If so, we have what secular scholarship (regardless of whether it’s done by Christians or otherwise) think of as the historical Jesus; A shadowy figure, cloaked in uncertainty.

          We’re approaching with frustratingly ponderous steps, but yes, perhaps that’s the goal. I’ll be interested to hear how confident we can be in this historical Jesus.

        • You said you were on board, and in the same comment referred to Jesus having been a figure and done things that historians do not accept or find persuasive. Hence the need for clarification.

          Next, I think I’ll ask if there is any figure akin to the historical Jesus that you think is likely to have existed. Paul the letter-writer? Simon Peter? John the Baptist? Theudas? The Teacher of Righteousness from Qumran? Hillel? Shammai? I’d like to know how you view comparable figures, and what if anything persuades you that they more likely existed than did not, so that I know where to focus my attention next.

          Thanks for continuing this conversation. I apologize that the slow pace seems frustrating to you, but it is what you yourself have written previously that makes this seem necessary!!!

        • Doubting Thomas

          While I don’t know all of those figures you mentioned, I don’t think Jesus fits in the group with them. The Jesus story presents an almost fully mythologized figure unlike that of Paul or Simon Peter. And because of this, Jesus should be considered mythical until sufficient evidence of his historicity is presented.

        • He is certainly mythologized in the sense that he is said to have been exalted to the highest position in heaven alongside God. But the one about whom Paul writes that is someone that he believed to be the anointed one who was descended from David, i.e. the one destined to restore that dynasty to the throne. Someone born of a woman as all human beings are, and born under the Law as all Jews are. And whose brother he had met. And surely the way figures like Paul and Peter are mythologized not much later than this in the apocryphal Acts shows the same basic trajectory?

        • Doubting Thomas

          Things like “descended from a king” and “born of a virgin” are generally signs of mythology, not historicity. And one of the other things you mention (having a brother) is debatable.

          But having some regular guy characteristics isn’t necessarily non-mythical. When I dismiss Spiderman as myth I don’t still cling to Peter Parker as real just because of his typical teenage backstory.

          Edited

        • If you have some evidence that Jesus’ story first circulated as narratives for entertainment, then the comparison might seem worth exploring. Paul was trying to persuade his contemporaries that a crucified man was nonetheless the restorer of the Davidic kingship.

          Claims to royal ancestry abound among historical figures. I’m not suggesting that Jesus’ DNA tests would have proved such a claim. Often such claims are fabricated. I’m just pointing out that it seems that Paul believed himself to be talking about a figure whose brother he had met. Since he was arguing against people associated with James, he is hardly likely to have simply accepted his status as Jesus’ brother if it were something that could easily be challenged.

        • Doubting Thomas

          My understanding is that the “brother” passage is by far the best evidence for historicity and at the same time crappy evidence due to the ambiguous usage of Christians of the idea of being someone’s brother. We can’t be sure if they were talking about a member of the church brotherhood or actual family.

        • That might be the case if Paul had simply called James “brother” or something like that, rather than using it in a way that distinguishes him from other Christians mentioned along with him. If I may copy in some excerpts from things I’ve written previously:

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/03/mythicism-and-james-the-brother-of-the-lord-a-reply-to-richard-carrier.html

          Here’s the crux of it: If Paul knew that all Christians were Jesus’ brothers, then isn’t the most likely meaning, when Paul singles out someone as “the brother of the Lord,” that that person was “the brother of Jesus” in a biological sense, since that would be the only obvious meaning that could single out someone as “brother of the Lord” from among all the Christians who were “brothers of the Lord”?

          and also

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2018/04/james-brother-of-jesus-bother-of-mythicists.html

          Richard Carrier (who has a PhD) begrudgingly decides that this piece of evidence is 2:1 in favor of the historicity of Jesus. What the rest of his Bayesian enterprise seeks to obscure is that that ought to settle the matter. If you know my sibling and they mentioned me, but you have also heard a number of improbable things about me (whether that my parents won the lottery just in time to pay the medical bills after I was born, that I have been interviewed by MTV News and E! Online, or that I have a tenure track position at a university), the latter details should not be evaluated as reasons to doubt my historicity. This sort of probability calculation may be appropriate to figuring out the likelihood that some individual in theory would happen to have my unique combination of characteristics. But once my existence is established, even ludicrous claims that turn out to be false do not make my existence less likely. In essence, Carrier’s approach commits the same blunder that undergraduate students sometimes do before coming to grips with how historians work. Each piece of evidence needs to be evaluated on its own merits. And the fact that some evidence does not confirm something should never be treated as undermining what the positive evidence shows. If surveillance video footage and fingerprints place you at a crime scene, the fact that your fingerprints were not found on the exterior door handle of the building in which the crime occurred, or one particular camera failed to record you, is irrelevant – or should be.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Doesn’t Paul consider anyone baptized into Christianity to be a son of god and would therefore be a “brother of the lord?”

          Richard Carrier (who has a PhD) begrudgingly decides that this piece of
          evidence is 2:1 in favor of the historicity of Jesus. What the rest of
          his Bayesian enterprise seeks to obscure is that that ought to settle
          the matter.

          This is false because of the different ways the phrase could have been used. This is why he assigns a probability instead of considering it as a settled matter.

          Do you at least agree that Christians often considered themselves “brothers” regardless of familial relations?

        • In answer to your first question, the answer is simply no, he doesn’t call Christians in general a “brother of the Lord,” and in fact the opposite, he uses the term to single out some individuals among the Christians.

          The term “brother” is widely used in a broader sense, and as I said, if Paul had simply called James “brother” it would be a fairly clear example of that. The whole point is that the way he refers to James and the other brothers of the Lord is different from that and contrasts them with Christians in general, who were all “brothers in the Lord.” That’s the whole point.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Apparently Carrier thinks Romans 8:29 disagrees with you:

          For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

          But again, the point is that we can’t be sure of what Paul meant when he referred to someone as brother of the lord. This is why it doesn’t end the question, but only adds evidence to one side. The problem is that the other side seems to have the higher pile. Jesus looks mythical, and this one passage doesn’t change that.

        • Doubting Thomas

          Carrier’s take on the passage:

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11516

        • Paul doesn’t call them brothers and sisters of the Lord, although one could argue that such as status is implicit there. But even if there were a general usage of that sort in reference to all Christians, that would be all the more of an indication in Galatians that James is the brother of the Lord in a different sense, since he is distinguished from Peter by this term, and Peter was a Christian. I know Carrier tries to argue otherwise, but it doesn’t seem persuasive.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It doesn’t necessarily have to be persuasive. You just have to acknowledge that you can’t be certain about the meaning of the passage. Therefore it’s not an end to the debate, but simply one piece of evidence that we must take into account.

        • It has to seem at least plausible to me. Obviously nothing in this is “certain” in any kind of absolute sense. But it wouldn’t make sense to be radically agnostic about all of ancient history simply because of how many things are less than absolutely certain!

        • Doubting Thomas

          Myself, nor anyone here, seems to be anything close to “radically agnostic about all of ancient history.”

          It’s just that there’s a lot more evidence for Jesus being mythological than historical and so some of us lean towards mythicism. Additionally, the main problems arise when we question historicity. Instead of evidence, we usually get a dismissive run around which, to me, looks like historicists knowing there’s nothing behind the curtain but not wanting to admit such.

        • I wonder whether your “historicists” are Christians who assume there was a historical Jesus, rather than historians. Your experience is radically different from my own!

        • Doubting Thomas

          Granted most of my experience comes from blogs and their comment sections, but all the interactions have an overarching trend. The person claiming historicity goes on and on about consensus and experts and how everything is settled all the while ignoring the mythicist and agnostic’s plea for evidence until push comes to shove and we finally get some ambiguous Bible passage (or even worse, Josephus) thrown out as though it’s conclusive. You might recognize the pattern.

        • If you were to hang out among the experts whose consensus these blog commenters are appealing to, you’ll find that the conversation sounds nothing like that! To be sure, we’re not spending much if any of our time debating whether there was a historical Jesus, because there is no more of a meaningful distinction between macro-existence and micro-existence of Jesus, and the similar terminology used by evolution-deniers. We discuss individual details, examining them closely. As long as there are some details that seem much more likely to be historical than to have been fabricated from whole cloth – such as the crucifixion of the one that they claimed was the Davidic anointed one – then we have a Jesus who was crucified that some people thought was the messiah. That proves absolutely nothing beyond his mere existence and the other details mentioned. That’s how historical study works. Each detail has to be assessed on its own merits. But as long as there is anything that seems much more likely to be historical than not, then even if everything else is uncertain or disproved, then that would just mean that the Gospels and other sources are pure historical fiction, having taken a real name and crucifixion and concocted the rest. Minimalism of that sort has long been well-represented in scholarship. It is only the mythicist attempt to take the few things that seem extremely unlikely to have been invented, and insist that it is far more probable that they were through dubious arguments and sleight of hand, that has led to that view being almost unrepresented in academic circles. And, to be clear, it isn’t the conclusion that is the problem. If I could make the case that Jesus never existed in a plausible way, I’d do so tomorrow and rake in the book royalties and interview fees. So would plenty of others. Our jobs in the secular academy don’t depend on toeing a party line – on the contrary, they depend on us finding new ideas to publish. If something seems even remotely plausible, we’ll try it out. And of course, academics have tried out mythicism, many times over the past century or so. If a new case is made that seems genuinely plausible, it will find some champions, if only among grad students desperately trying to figure out what they could possible write that is new in such a well-worn field.

        • Doubting Thomas

          To be sure, we’re not spending much if any of our time debating whether
          there was a historical Jesus, because there is no more of a meaningful
          distinction between macro-existence and micro-existence of Jesus, and
          the similar terminology used by evolution-deniers.

          The problem comes when someone does want to debate it. It seems you’re holding a losing hand, but trying your best to bluff.

          I do understand that the debate is centered around trying to parse the historical Jesus from the made up bits, but that seems to be putting the cart before the horse when the whole enterprise looks fictitious. I do appreciate you taking the time to post here and understand how overwhelming it can be when you’re the one vs. the many in a debate.

        • It sounds to me as though you are expecting historians to somehow first demonstrate that Jesus (or Socrates, or John the Baptist, or Hillel) existed, and only then should we turn to the sources. For ancient figures like these, the sources are what either provides evidence or doesn’t for a figure likely being historical, in the absence of inscriptions or other literally hard evidence.

          People want to debate all kinds of things about Jesus. We are open to all suggestions that follow the rules of secular historical study, and present a case that seems to deserve consideration. We really are.

        • Doubting Thomas

          It sounds to me as though you are expecting historians to somehow first
          demonstrate that Jesus (or Socrates, or John the Baptist, or Hillel)
          existed, and only then should we turn to the sources.

          Not at all. I’m saying that the sources we do have lead me to believe that Jesus was probably mythical. I don’t believe that despite the sources. I believe it because of the sources.

        • Mythical in the sense of complete fabrications from start to finish, rather than mythologized accounts anout a historical individual? I’d be interested to know what leads you to that conclusion.

        • Doubting Thomas

          The very high level of mythical qualities of Jesus and the gospels lead me to start with the stories as myth. The attempts to parse out a Jesus of history seem based more on desire and presupposition than any verified historic methodology.

          On what basis did you conclude that the gospels were anything other than fiction?

        • They seem to me to closely resemble the kind of mythologized storytelling we get in ancient sources about what seem to be real people.

          The fact that Jesus is a poor match to current messianic expectations makes them seem like religious polemic about a real person about whom they needed to offer reinterpetation, explanation, and damage control, rather than one they invented.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m just dumping a comment so I can find this particular thread again later.

        • In Mark 3, just 8 verses before the “James, brother of the Lord” verse is a reference to “brothers and sisters” which clearly means “fellow Christians.”

        • Right. Who disputes that “brothers” (without “of the Lord” tagged onto it) was used by those whom we anachronistically call “Christians”? And what does it mean then if “brother(s) of the Lord” is used in contrast with other Christians?

        • Ignorant Amos

          You are still failing to refute the mythicist argument on the “brother of the Lord” issue.

          If you can’t, and what you have in your mind, you believe is as equally valid, just say so. We can take it from there.

          The grammar being used by Paul has been addressed, but you either know noting about the argument as framed, or are just happy to ignore it, neither position is at all satisfactory.

        • You seem to be proceeding in precisely the way the OP addresses: if I haven’t shown that alternatives are impossible, I supposedly lose the argument, no matter how much more probable the conclusions of mainstream historical study are.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You seem to be proceeding in precisely the way the OP addresses:…

          Is your counter position not based on the same precept?

          … if I haven’t shown that alternatives are impossible, I supposedly lose the argument, no matter how much more probable the conclusions of mainstream historical study are.

          Ehy do you insist on building straw men?

          You seem to conflate the terms “impossible” with “most probable”. If either reading are equally probable, then the situation is one of ambiguity. Ergo, “James the brother of the Lord” does not do the damage to the mythicist position you’d like it to.

          I’m all for you, or anyone else for that matter, demonstrating your position is the more probable conclusion. Have at it. Stop punting to the “mainstream historical study” without supporting the “mainstream historical study” has refuted the alternative hypothesis as less probable, it’s just a weaseling way to claim the “consensus” again, without showing your work. I don’t much care for it, especially in a field like history where the “mainstream” has been so wrong in the past. And where a lot of the data is read differently based on opinion.

          You are running with the traditional interpretation. Which isn’t even all that traditional.

          In “Jesus not a myth” by Arthur Denner Howell Smith, a treatise against mythicism, the author offers interpolation as a plausible hypothesis …

          Unless the allusion is interpolated, Paul had an interview with a brother of Jesus, who was one of the three “pillars” of the Church of Jerusalem (Gal. i, 19). There is a critical case of some slight cogency against the authenticity of Gal. i, 18, 19, which was absent from Marcion’s Apostolicon; the word “again” in Gal. ii, 1, which presupposes the earlier passage, seems to have been interpolated as it is absent from Irenaeus’s full and accurate citation of this section of the Epistle to the Galatians in his treatise against Heretics. Robertson maintains that the “Brothers of the Lord” were originally a religious group. Perhaps there was such a group, the members of which claimed to belong to the Davidic clan and so could regard themselves as kinsmen (“brothers” in the loose Oriental sense) of the coming Messianic king of David’s line. But Robertson admits, as one would expect all persons of common sense to do, that the designation “brother of the Lord,” as applied to James in Gal. i, 19, cannot be a group name. Drews, however, finds no difficulty in supposing this, and even equates the name with Christians generally. On the strength of 1 Co. ix, 5, where Paul insists on his right to “a wife that is a believer, even as the rest of the Apostles, and the Brethren of the Lord, and Cephas,” Drews concludes: “There it is evident that the expression by no means necessarily refers to bodily relationship, but that ‘Brother’ serves only to designate the followers of the religion of Jesus.

          Why, then, does Paul distinguish the “Brothers of the Lord” from “the other Apostles” and Cephas? Were the latter not “followers of the religion of Jesus”? Drews offers an additional explanation of James’s fraternal relation to Jesus. James, it appears, “was specially so called, because the Lord at his death had confided to him the sons of his mother.” These words are cited from Jerome, who was determined to explain away everything in the New Testament that conflicted with his theory of the perpetual celibacy of Joseph, the putative father of Jesus. “The sons of his mother” Drews expounds as meaning “the members of the community at Jerusalem.”

          Who was the James who is called in Gal. i, 19 “the brother of the Lord”? Eisler has given a number of reasons, not without weight, for identifying this “pillar” with James the Son of Zebedee. If, as has been surmised, Gal. i, 18, 19 is an interpolation, the principal object of which is to stress the pre-eminence of Peter, there is no other passage in this Epistle to throw light on his origin. . . . . .

          . . . . . . It is certainly strange that three favourite disciples of Jesus (Peter, James, and John) should play so prominent a part in the beginnings of the Church of Jerusalem, and that, when James has been executed, another man of the same name should at once mysteriously take his place. If Drews, instead of building on Jerome’s quibbles, had delved more carefully into the New Testament and other data on the three traditional early Christian leaders of the name of James, he might have opened a fruitful line of research. . . . .

          https://vridar.org/2014/06/08/it-is-absurd-to-suggest-a-rare-bird-among-the-anti-mythicists/

          But am guessing you know this already.

          Carrier takes the time and goes to great lengths to explain why he thinks Ehrman is in error, Ehrman can’t even title his article without a kind of poisoning the well.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11516

          What I, and many here, would like to see, is you, or a.n. other “mainstream scholar” do, is to look Carrier’s or et al others argument on issues such as this point, and convincingly take it asunder using your expertise and evidence. Can you do that?

          http://3stes.blogspot.com/2016/01/who-is-james-brother-of-lord.html

          When all you do is claim what “mainstream scholars” say is the most plausible reading, because it is the “mainstream scholarly” opinion, you must understand why lay people and classical scholars, lose confidence in the “mainstream scholarship” when it comes to Jesus studies.

        • You’re doing exactly what all denialists do, looking around until you find some expert who agrees with you, no matter how long ago and no matter how persuasive they were found then or now, who agrees with you. This is precisely why consensus is important. Things that looked plausible for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, or before further work was done on Marcion, often no longer does.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You’re doing exactly what all denialists do, looking around until you find some expert who agrees with you, no matter how long ago and no matter how persuasive they were found then or now, who agrees with you.

          Is that what you got from that comment? Sheeeesh!

          This is precisely why consensus is important.

          So you keep saying, but there is no evidence of it from you for it…so far anyway.

          Not all consensuses should be treated equally. Even when it’s a claimed expert consensus.

          But a consensus has zero argumentative value when the individual scholars comprising that consensus have neither (a) examined the strongest case against that consensus nor (b) examined enough of it to be able to identify and articulate significant errors of fact or logic in it. So it is fallacious (indeed, a conspicuously unreliable practice) to just cite the consensus on anything, without first ascertaining whose opinions within that consensus actually count. The most reliable population to heed is that which consists of all qualified experts (those who have requisite expertise in the subject being appealed to, e.g. climate science, evolutionary biology, economics, the historicity of Jesus) who have met either condition (a) or (b), and therefore exclude from consideration all such experts who meet neither condition.

          Notably, when questioning the historicity of Jesus, this means excluding from consideration nearly all historians of Jesus. Because almost none have met either condition (a) or (b). And this is even apart from other reasons we should discount them, which I enumerate in chapters 1 and 5 of Proving History, where I show that historians of Jesus have all been generating their conclusions from demonstrably invalid methods, and worse, have accordingly generated countless contradictory conclusions from the same body of evidence. As I state there, unless differences are admitted to be a matter of opinion rather than fact (index, “disagreement,” p. 335), “When everyone picks up the same method, applies it to the same facts, and gets a different result, we can be certain that that method is invalid and should be abandoned” (p. 14). And yet this is exactly what we observe has happened in Jesus studies. Therefore the “expert consensus” on the historicity of Jesus cannot be appealed to, because it is useless. Unlike the consensus of historians on almost any other subject. (Although please heed my past remarks on this; as well as my discussion of what this means regarding the burden of evidence in Proving History, “Axiom 6,” pp. 29-30.)

          This is where laypeople in the historicity debate can start to get a handle on why they should no longer trust the consensus of experts in Jesus studies. You can thus see why, so far, Bart Ehrman’s opinion is to be discounted, likewise Maurice Casey’s, Akin & Horn’s, Crossan & MacDonald’s, even, astonishingly, that of Goodacre and Bermejo-Rubio. There is something else driving their opinions, something other than a careful and objective examination of the facts. In some cases, I think it’s just institutional error (they are repeating things other experts told them, that they did not know were false) or institutional inertia (it’s just easier to not think about challenging the past consensus), in others, something more (Ehrman I suspect is too arrogant to admit his mistakes and thus has fallen victim to the escalation of commitment bias; Casey I suspect is simply insane). Even Bermejo-Rubio, whose mistakes are all subtle errors of logic (because an expertise in logic is unfortunately lacking from the training of most historians), I think is ultimately really a victim of both institutional inertia and commitment bias.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5553

          Things that looked plausible for the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls, or before further work was done on Marcion, often no longer does.

          Indeed. Which is why the consensus in this area is to be treated as suspect. There is agreement of opinion. The opinion is fluid. Very fluid in some areas.

        • Susan

          You seem to be proceeding in precisely the way the OP addresses: if I haven’t shown that alternatives are impossible, I supposedly lose the argument

          This seems to be exactly what you are doing.

          I supposedly lose the argument, no matter how much more probable the conclusions of mainstream historical study are.

          All anyone has asked you to do is state those conclusions.

          And to show why they are much more probable.

          I’m going to assume for now, that you are just a terrible representative of mainstream historical Jesus.

          And ask people here to provide someone who actually engages in historical argument and shows their work.

          You haven’t. You would rather accuse people who ask you to do so as being akin to creationists. Without showing the connection.

          Thanks for participating. But you haven’t provided a single convincing, fact that supports a historical Jesus yet.

          Again, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good arguments out there.

          It just means you don’t have one nor have you provided one.

          That you haven’t done either doesn’t seem to bother you. Despite the fact that you keep claiming that it’s the only reasonable position and that anyone who even question it is ignorant and disdainful.

          This is not what biologists do when confronted with creationism.

          That’s disturbing.

        • ildi

          It is very bizarre.

          This is not what biologists do when confronted with creationism.

          In fact, quite the opposite. Biologists make a point of debunking creationist arguments, no matter how tedious it may become, in order to demonstrate to the fence-sitters the flaws in the arguments. That’s what educators DO!

        • Susan

          That’s what educators DO!

          And people who can’t support their position don’t do.

          .

        • Ignorant Amos

          And what does it mean then if “brother(s) of the Lord” is used in contrast with other Christians?

          In the Pauline context? A hierarchical position.

        • Pofarmer

          The stupid thing is it’s used in this way in churches even today.

        • So it means all Christians, and a hierarchical subset of all Christians, at the same time?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…and this answer demonstrates that you are as unaware of the argument Carrier makes as Ehrman. And that means your credibility as an interested scholar has just taken a massive knock. You have the bare-faced cheek to compare mythicist scholars to creationists. No James, like creationists, you are the one who refuse to engage in honest dialogue with your opponents. We see it here all the time. Creotards arguing for YEC who haven’t even a basic 101 understanding of the other sides actual position, not the one you imagine.

          Bible translations are written with Christian dogmatic assumptions, so how this gets translated varies widely, in some cases more clearly trying to make this James an Apostle, other times more honestly making that ambiguous, as Paul’s actual vocabulary entails. You can see a broad comparison at Bible Hub, ranging from the more honest “I saw none of the other apostles–only James, the Lord’s brother” (NIV) to the more distorted “The only other apostle I met at that time was James, the Lord’s brother” (NLT). The latter is definitely not what the Greek says. It’s an interpretation of what the translator thinks the Greek text means; but it’s not what the text says. The former is closer to what the text actually says.

          As I wrote in OHJ (pp. 588-90):

          “Whether Paul is actually lying about any of this is not relevant to what Paul wants the Galatians to think and thus what Paul means to say here. And what he means to say is that no one in Judea ever met him. He swears to this most emphatically (Gal. 1.20). He admits there were only two exceptions, Peter and James, and only for a brief time (and that years after he saw the Lord personally). But in saying so, why didn’t Paul just say ‘of them that were apostles before me [1.17] I met none except Peter and James [1.18-19]’? Why does he construct the convoluted sentence ‘I consulted with Peter, but another of the apostles I did not see, except James’? As L. Paul Trudinger puts it, ‘this would certainly be an odd way for Paul to say that he saw only two apostles, Peter and James’.[n. 98] To say that, a far simpler sentence would do. So why the complex sentence instead? Paul could perhaps mean that he consulted with Peter (historeô) but only saw James (eidô)—that is, he didn’t discuss anything with James. But if that were his point, he would make sure to emphasize it, since that would be essential to his argument. Yet he doesn’t. In fact, if he is saying that he saw none of the other apostles, that would entail he was claiming he did not consult with any, either.

          So it’s just as likely, if not more so, that Paul means he met only the apostle Peter and only one other Judean Christian, a certain ‘brother James’. By calling him a brother of the Lord instead of an apostle, Paul is thus distinguishing this James from any apostles of the same name—just as we saw he used ‘brothers of the Lord’ to distinguish regular Christians from apostles in 1 Cor. 9.5. Indeed, this would explain his rare use of the complete phrase in only those two places: he otherwise uses the truncated ‘brother’ of his fellow Christians; yet every time he specifically distinguishes apostles from non-apostolic Christians he uses the full title for a member of the Christian congregation, ‘brother of the Lord’. This would be especially necessary to distinguish in such contexts ‘brothers of the apostles’ (which would include kin who were not believers) from ‘brothers of the Lord’, which also explains why he doesn’t truncate the phrase in precisely those two places.”

          I [Carrier] here cite Trudinger’s peer reviewed article demonstrating that the grammatical construction Paul uses in Gal. 1:19 is comparative. In other words, “Other than the apostles I saw no one, except James the Lord’s brother.” Thus, the construction Paul is using says James is not an Apostle. And both Trudinger and Hans Dieter Betz (who wrote the Fortress Press commentary on Galatians) cite a number of peer reviewed experts who concur (OHJ, p. 590, n. 100). There were of course Jameses who were Apostles. So Paul chose this construction to make clear he didn’t mean one of them (or a biological brother of Cephas, for that matter). He meant a regular “Brother of the Lord,” an ordinary non-apostolic Christian. But a Christian all the same—which was important for Paul to mention, since he had to list every Christian he met on that visit, lest he be accused of concealing his contacts with anyone who knew the gospel at that time.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11516

          So, let’s use an analogy to the military…

          Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Captain Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other officers—only another soldier, James.

          Cephas is a captain and a soldier, there was other officers who are also soldiers, but Paul saw none. But he did see another soldier called James. All officers are soldiers, but not all soldiers are officers.

          All apostles are brothers of the Lord, but not all brothers of the Lord are apostles. Is the passage meant to demarcate the difference between apostles and a cult foot-soldier with no rank who was present…a description used numerous times elsewhere as a generalization to describe members of the cult…the brethren of the Lord.

          Tell me why this interpretation is untenable?

        • Pofarmer

          And keep in mind, you’re arguing a mondaine grammatical point in a text that no one even has the original of And that we know has been added to collated and changed over time. And this is the best.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Exactly.

        • Greg G.

          In Mark 3

          Galatians 1? Galatians 1:19 has “James, the Lord’s brother” and Galatians 1:11 does address “brothers” collectively. Modern translations add “and sisters” as an afterthought to the Greek.

        • Whoops again. Thanks–I did mean Galatians 1.

        • Some of the apostles are said to have done miracles, but I believe Paul’s epistles had no such claims about himself. The gospels have lots of miracle claims for Jesus.

        • I have no opinion on those figures. I have done little study on the historicity of them or of Jesus, which is why we’re having this conversation. I’m the fence sitter, remember?

        • Right, but if you are simply agnostic about all figures like Jesus, and have no interest in acquainting yourself with any of them, then you’re admittedly not going to have much in the way of reference points, other than perhaps saying “more likely to have been a historical figure than King Arthur, less certain than Alexander the Great,” which I presume you’ll admit would be a disappointing end result of our conversation, in all likelihood leaving you feeling that you simply confirmed what you already assumed.

          And so is there a figure akin to Jesus, where we have someone who wrote letters mentioning him that refer to him as a historical figure, and where the author had met the person in question’s brother, where you could say that you either are or are not convinced of their historicity?

          Can you understand why I’m trying to figure out what reference points you already have that can be used for comparative purposes?

        • Right, but if you are simply agnostic about all figures like Jesus, and have no interest in acquainting yourself with any of them, then you’re admittedly not going to have much in the way of reference points

          I’m guessing you’re building the credibility of historical Jesus on historical Paul, James, and others? Go ahead—make your argument.

          saying “more likely to have been a historical figure than King Arthur, less certain than Alexander the Great,” which I presume you’ll admit would be a disappointing end result of our conversation

          Right.

          And so is there a figure akin to Jesus, where we have someone who wrote letters mentioning him that refer to him as a historical figure, and where the author had met the person in question’s brother, where you could say that you either are or are not convinced of their historicity?

          No one comes to mind.

          Is this a Socratic thing where you’re trying to nudge me to the correct answer? If so, please don’t.

          Can you understand why I’m trying to figure out what reference points you already have that can be used for comparative purposes?

          We obviously don’t do well with back and forth. Your argument either builds on fairly widely understood facts, claims, people, and so on, or it doesn’t. If the former, please just make your argument. The areas where you will have lost me, where I need to check up on things, and so on, will be minimal, and we can cross those t’s at the end.

          Is the latter the case—that your argument is so obtuse that I need to do a lot of research to verify your claims or agree with your assumptions?

        • No one accepts arguments in any field of study without either trusting authorities or learning something about it, do they? Can a young-earth creationist, for instance, be disabused of the falsehoods they’ve accepted unless they either come to trust that mainstream scientists know what they are talking about, or inform themselves about the methods and data in the natural sciences from reliable sources (or are willing to listen at length to someone who explains all that to them)?

        • Wow–we’re really spinning our wheels, aren’t we?

          You’re saying that sometimes you have to put a little effort in. Yes, I understand. Can we dispense with the formalities and get on with it?

          If I can make a suggestion: minimize question marks going forward. They demand a response from me, and most of those piss you off.

          I pray that you’re leading up to an argument for the historicity of Jesus. You’ve gotten us all eager and waiting; now lay it on us.

        • Do you just want to dive into one of the pieces of evidence? If so, we certainly can. But it obviously requires assuming familiarity with the relevant sources.

          Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, mentions a James that he refers to as “the brother of the Lord.” He obviously doesn’t mean “the brother of God!” Paul’s most frequent use of “Lord” is in reference to Jesus. And he cannot simply mean “James the Christian,” because even if one were to adopt the view that, like “brothers,” “brothers of the Lord” could denote Christians in general, it still would not make sense in that context, since in both places (also in the Corinthian correspondence) where Paul mentions brothers of the Lord, it is in distinction from other Christians. Is there a more likely meaning, then, than that he meant the literal siblings of Jesus in these instances? And if there were individuals in the early Jesus movement (not yet even called “Christianity” at this stage) who were known as the brothers of Jesus, and this claim was accepted even by people like Paul who disagreed with them, is it not more probable than not that these were in fact siblings of Jesus? Is the alternative not to pose some kind of conspiracy of a family to concoct a fictitious sibling?

          Even if one were inclined to do that, then we’d have the character of the claims made about this Jesus. The Davidic anointed one was the awaited king that it was hoped would restore his dynasty to the throne and usher in a golden age of one sort or another. Being crucified pretty much disqualified you from being the person in question. Is it probable that a group that was concocting a message about the long-awaited king, which they planned to proclaim to others in order to persuade them to believe, would also invent that this individual was executed and thus at least apparently a failure and a thoroughly implausible candidate for the role?

          All of these pieces and others fit together, just as the evidence for evolution does. I’m sure you know, if you’ve ever debated with an antievolutionist of some sort, that although there are individual pieces of evidence that are extremely compelling, it is really the overall picture that emerged from the evidence considered in totality that makes the conclusion so solid.

          I will also add that I am in no sense making this comparison so as to suggest that conclusions about biological processes that we can observe today and which have left lots of evidence are comparable in probability to conclusions historians draw about ancient people. On the contrary! Indeed, it is that very point that I sometimes find lies at the core of some people’s adherence to mythicism. They simply don’t realize that, whether we’re dealing with Socrates or Jesus, our evidence is texts, and in both cases texts that contain stories that we judge largely fictional. They can still provide a reason for judging these figures’ historicity to be more probable than not.

        • Paul, in his letter to the Galatians, mentions a James that he refers to as “the brother of the Lord.” . . . he cannot simply mean “James the Christian,” because even if one were to adopt the view that, like “brothers,” “brothers of the Lord” could denote Christians in general, it still would not make sense in that context, since in both places (also in the Corinthian correspondence) where Paul mentions brothers of the Lord, it is in distinction from other Christians. Is there a more likely meaning, then, than that he meant the literal siblings of Jesus in these instances?

          Eight verses earlier, Paul says “brothers and sisters” which obviously means “fellow Christians.”

          The strongest argument I can see for your point here is that he referred to Cephas in the previous verse, so why single out James as “the Lord’s brother”? However, if he now meant “biological brother,” he did a poor job showing that he was using “brother” in a very different sense.

          And if James was Jesus’ brother, then I wonder at John 19:26–7, where Jesus on the cross takes care of his mother’s welfare by saying to Mary, “Here is your son” (referring to the beloved disciple) and to that disciple, “Here is your mother.” Yes, very thoughtful, but what sense does this make if Mary already has another son—James?

          And if there were individuals in the early Jesus movement (not yet even called “Christianity” at this stage) who were known as the brothers of Jesus, and this claim was accepted even by people like Paul who disagreed with them, is it not more probable than not that these were in fact siblings of Jesus?

          Is the alternative not to pose some kind of conspiracy of a family to concoct a fictitious sibling?

          The gospels were all written c. 70 or later, do we agree? At that point, there’s no new story being made; the gospels and Acts are simply trying to record the events before that point. Mark tells us that Jesus had a mother and brothers (Mark 3) but that they thought he was crazy. There’s no reconciliation, so that’s Mark’s message. John tells us he had no brothers at the time of his crucifixion. The epistle of James is said to have been written by James the brother of Jesus, who was the head of the Jerusalem church (inconsistent with gMark), but I confess I don’t know how much of this is tradition and how much is in the epistle. So I’m seeing Mark, John, and James all over the map in terms of Jesus’s family.

          The Davidic anointed one was the awaited king that it was hoped would restore his dynasty to the throne and usher in a golden age of one sort or another. Being crucified pretty much disqualified you from being the person in question.

          How does this support Jesus as a real person?

        • The question of whether the Gospel of John reflects the view that Jesus’ siblings were half brothers, with Joseph having been previously married and widowed, or is simply slighting Jesus’ siblings by having Jesus entrust their mother to the care of a disciple (presumably because they are untrustworthy), is an interesting one, but how would that text, written decades later, and which explicitly mentions Jesus’ siblings, have a bearing on what Paul meant in his letters? To say that John implies that the siblings of Jesus mentioned earlier in the Gospel were all dead by the time of the crucifixion seems a stretch.

          The Synoptic Gospels depict Jesus as saying that families would be divided on his account. But you seem to want to assume that his family was united against him. Why? But even then, one ,ight have to posit a radical change of heart, akin to what Paul experienced, on the part of James. Presumably the same was also true of his mother anyway and so that isn’t implausible? Why does bending over backwards to interpret texts as though they do no mention or allow for Jesus having siblings seem to you a preferable approach?

          In response to your last question, if you are inventing a business that you will then ask people to invest in, do you invent that it has a history of bankruptcy and financial instability?

        • Hmm. This comment is a little redundant.

          how would that text, written decades later, and which explicitly mentions Jesus’ siblings, have a bearing on what Paul meant in his letters?

          Maybe John 19 got it right (Jesus had no brothers) and Paul got it wrong.

          To say that John implies that the siblings of Jesus mentioned earlier in the Gospel were all dead by the time of the crucifixion seems a stretch.

          And that would be the challenge if we insisted that John was high-quality history or journalism. Maybe that assumption is poor, and John’s story has internal inconsistencies. Maybe our copies of John have had something altered. I’m just saying that Gal. isn’t the final word on the subject.

          The Synoptic Gospels depict Jesus as saying that families would be divided on his account. But you seem to want to assume that his family was united against him.

          I want? No, I’m just picking out facts from the New Testament that don’t seem to fit with your hypothesis.

          The context is the entire New Testament (or perhaps the entire Bible). Just because Paul says X in Galatians doesn’t mean that the case is closed. We must make sure that X is never contradicted elsewhere in the New Testament.

          But even then, one ,ight have to posit a radical change of heart, akin to what Paul experienced, on the part of James.

          To account for the change from Mark 3? Sure, it’s possible that James and the rest of the family thought that Jesus was crazy but then later James had a change of heart. But of course later still Mark was written, and if there were a change of heart, he’d have known about it. So either (1) the author of Mark knew that Jesus’s family thought he was crazy and that they never changed their minds, or (2) the author knew they first thought he was crazy but then changed their minds, but he wanted to deliberately leave the crazy bit uncorrected for some reason. (2) isn’t impossible, but (1) seems likelier.

          Why does bending over backwards to interpret texts as though they do no mention or allow for Jesus having siblings seem to you a preferable approach?

          Huh? I’m not being mean to you. You’re making an argument, and I’m pointing out the things you’ve forgotten to address. You’re welcome.

          You can’t say, “In one verse in Galatians, Paul makes clear that Jesus had a brother” and pretend that that’s a complete argument that Jesus had a brother. You’ve got to bring up all the other places where Jesus’s family is mentioned that either support or reject that claim.

          In response to your last question, if you are inventing a business that you will then ask people to invest in, do you invent that it has a history of bankruptcy and financial instability?

          Yes, I get that “Jesus is the Messiah! Oh, and please forget that whole shameful, public death thing” makes for a sloppy argument. But after having my wrist slapped several times for bringing up conventional apologetics arguments instead of our actual topic, which is Jesus as a real person, I’m a little sensitive. I see that this argument has problems, but I’m used to seeing this argument in an apologetic context. How does it support Jesus as a real person?

        • The context, for the historian, is not “the Bible” or “the New Testament.” When Paul was writing letters to churches, they were letters from a person, not scripture. That they were later collected into a compilation needs to be set aside. Later sources can and should be brought into the picture, but only as long as the chronological relationship is kept firmly in mind. Sometimes later texts preserve accurate information that fills in the picture. Sometimes information has been forgotten as time has passed. Sometimes a later author is deliberately trying to change things.

          In response to your last question, it is unlikely that if someone is inventing a Davidic Messiah that they plan to ask people to believe in, they will invent a failed one.

        • Greg G.

          When Paul was writing letters to churches, they were letters from a person, not scripture.

          But Paul doesn’t refer to Jesus with first century knowledge. He only talks about him in terms of the OT. So they are not evidence of a first century Jesus. Heck, the only way to date Paul’s letters is the reference to Aretas. Aretas IV ruled for almost 50 years so that leaves his letters rather indeterminate. However, it is not clear that Aretas IV ever had control of Damascus. Aretas III definitely did but that was early first century BC. I think the similarities between Paul’s eschatology of expecting the Messiah during his lifetime, seemingly like he expected it to happen at any time, and the expectation of the Jews fighting the Romans who defended Jerusalem to the end waiting for the Messiah.

          In response to your last question, it is unlikely that if someone is inventing a Davidic Messiah that they plan to ask people to believe in, they will invent a failed one.

          Unless they were trying to find excuses for the fall of Jerusalem. But it didn’t take long for them to renew the expectation that the Messiah was coming. Hardly a generation has not gone by without some group expecting the return of Jesus, allowing for the collection and preservation of such records through history.

        • When Paul was writing letters to churches, they were letters from a person, not scripture.

          That’s fine. Similarly, John wasn’t writing scripture, and he contradicts Paul.

          Later sources can and should be brought into the picture, but only as long as the chronological relationship is kept firmly in mind.

          Paul was earlier and so likelier to be accurate? OK.

          Sometimes later texts preserve accurate information that fills in the picture. Sometimes information has been forgotten as time has passed. Sometimes a later author is deliberately trying to change things.

          To your point: John also seems to have changed the date of the Last Supper for deliberate, literary reasons.

          How does a historian resolve these difficulties?

          it is unlikely that if someone is inventing a Davidic Messiah that they plan to ask people to believe in, they will invent a failed one.

          Again, agreed, but who thinks that anyone deliberately invented anything here?

          And I’m still not sure why you’d bring this up as evidence for Jesus as a man.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is the latter the case—that your argument is so obtuse that I need to do a lot of research to verify your claims or agree with your assumptions?

          Yip. I’ve been following this stuff for over 10 years…nadda, nothing, zip, zilch….consensus and hand waving, usually that of credentials issue…it’s easy to not address the core arguments that way.

          Of course there are quite a number of others here who have also followed the debate for quite sometime as well.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And so is there a figure akin to Jesus, where we have someone who wrote letters mentioning him that refer to him as a historical figure,…

          That’s the argument. Do Paul’s letters refer to him as an historical figure?

          …and where the author had met the person in question’s brother,…

          That is not the only interpretation of the passage and you know it?

          Carrier cites peer-reviewed scholarship that is not controversial in academia apparently. L. Paul Trudinger, Hans Dieter Betz and George Howard, who cite earlier scholars, that question the grammar of the passage. The argument is that the James in the passage is being defined as a brother specifically because he isn’t James the apostle, but the more common member of the cults brethren.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/11516

          The problem is the ambiguity…of course you are entitled to posit your hypothesis.

          Like has been pointed out, it makes little sense in the context with the rest of Paul’s writings if he was rubbing shoulders with the biological brother of Jesus, but got not a jot of Jesus stuff from him.

        • So if anyone holds a divergent opinion then you view a situation as radically ambiguous and uncertain – as denialists do in the same way in relation to other matters?

        • Ignorant Amos

          So if anyone holds a divergent opinion then you view a situation as radically ambiguous and uncertain –

          I’ve no idea where you’d get such an idea. I’m talking about this issue, all other issues are taken on their own merits, or lack thereof.

          The passage isn’t all that ambiguous if it is compared with the many occurrences in Paul where the term “brother” is used as a fictive kinship and the rare places it defines a biological brother. It becomes an ambiguous by necessity when it is insisted that it must be the usage of one over the other. Even though the more common usage is that of fictive kinship.

          …as denialists do in the same way in relation to other matters?

          Who is being the “denialist” on this issue of the “brother of the Lord” definition?

          I’m looking at who makes the most convincing argument…and it’s not you or Ehrman.

          https://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/20-earl-dohertys-response-to-bart-ehrmans-case-against-mythicism-part-20/

        • Grimlock

          We’re approaching with frustratingly ponderous steps, but yes, perhaps that’s the goal. I’ll be interested to hear how confident we can be in this historical Jesus.

          It’s not that different from an approach I’d use with someone unfamiliar with any other subject. Establish some reference points, maybe some common ground, draw associations to familiar knowledge. You know, all that stuff.

          It’s can probably be quite annoying to be on the receiving end of it, though.

        • I might be unfamiliar with the subject, but possibly not. Indeed, when James finally got into an actual argument (Paul in Galatians talks about James the brother of Jesus, and if James is an actual person, Jesus probably is, too), I was familiar with the subject. The throat clearing was unnecessary.

          Or seen another way: find some apologist explaining any apologetic argument. There’s not a long back-and-forth Q&A to lay the groundwork; they just begin the argument at a particular level (experts only, armchair apologists, complete amateurs, etc.) and dive in. That’s what I was begging him for.

        • Grimlock

          I really don’t think that it’s comparable to throat clearing. Rather, I find it to be a sensible approach when dealing with someone whose knowledge level is uncertain. And to be fair, you did yourself claim to not be familiar with the debate. (Might you have underestimated your knowledge?)

          Regarding apologists, it seems we have different preferences. (Oh the horror!) I find the usual apologists’ approach to be vaguely dishonest, skipping over relevant topics that they find inconvenient, and presenting biased information. I can deal with that if my aim is to debunk their arguments, but I don’t find it optimal if my aim is to have a mutually beneficial exchange, and want to understand why they hold that particular position.

        • OK, thanks.

        • Pofarmer

          But McGrath seems perfectly dismissive of apologetics that misuse historical research.

          But he’s using the at least some of the very same scholars who use those texts for apologetics to support his position. In fact, the entire body of work of the field he’s in is built on it. To me, the “consensus” he has here is very brittle. In science, you always want to know what would disprove your theory. You want people to try to “break” it. I don’t see any of that here. Epeeist has specifically asked it, and, nothing. Add to that McGrath is also a believer, if only some sort of nebulous “Progressive” believer, with degrees in theology, etc, so now he’s investigating the object of his worship. This is never a good look, for pretty obvious reasons. Then you get to the actual reasons for why the “historical Jesus” must have existed, and they’re all just a mess. “James the Brother of the Lord?” “Come of a woman, Come under the Law.” The best you got is Bible passages? As I’ve said, show me how the evidence for Jesus differs from the evidence for Rhett Butler, and maybe we can talk about it. And then a lot of what he’s doing is “Well, they must have thought this or that to need to make up this or that detail.” The problems with this approach should also be obvious. I don’t want to try to read the minds of religious buffoon’s today, let alone try to get in the head of an ultra-religious buffoon 2000 years ago,.

        • Susan

          But McGrath dancing around the issue with a touch of annoyance is pushing me in the wrong (from McGrath’s position) direction.

          Yep. A couple of other things that bother me.

          J.M. called Michael Behe a “credentialed biologist”. epeeist corrected him on that and it hasn’t been acknowledged. We can let that one slide, based on the dogpiling handicap, but for someone who likes to accuse people who don’t unquestioningly accept a historical Jesus as being akin to creationists, it’s an annoying bug.

          Also, I pointed out that creationists demonstrably lie, misreprent the facts, attack strawmen.

          That is the implicit accusation James continues to make about people who even dare to question a historical Jesus.

          But he doesn’t ever show it.

          To compare a historian who dares to question the claim that a historical Jesus exists to someone who lies about the evidence requires lots of support.

          But James hasn’t provided it.

        • but for someone who likes to accuse people who don’t unquestioningly accept a historical Jesus as being akin to creationists, it’s an annoying bug.

          A scientific consensus and the consensus of religious historians are very, very different. JM needs to acknowledge and correct for this problem or just drop the comparison.

          “The consensus of Muslim historians is X” isn’t very convincing to a non-Muslim.

          James is a historicist who very invested in the topic and has written much and yet doesn’t even understand how the obvious post has yet to be written? I think he needs to get out and meet more people.

        • Ignorant Amos

          J.M. called Michael Behe a “credentialed biologist”. epeeist corrected him on that and it hasn’t been acknowledged. We can let that one slide, based on the dogpiling handicap, but for someone who likes to accuse people who don’t unquestioningly accept a historical Jesus as being akin to creationists, it’s an annoying bug.

          James cherry-picks the comments he answers. Nothing wrong with that, but he consistently avoids the comments, or parts of comments, that puts the spotlight right on him, while choosing what he reckons is the the lower hanging fruit to respond. An acknowledgement to epeeist would be an admission he’s wrong on something and that just wouldn’t do for a professor, would it?

        • wtfwjtd

          My take on this subject has been that since most large movements have an initial starter of sorts, then it’s more reasonable than not to assume that Jesus was a historical person. This, in a nutshell, seems to be the most common argument put forward by those who say that Jesus was *for sure* a historical person. All right, fair enough, I don’t really have an argument or rebuttal to this, it seems reasonable enough.
          However, many apologists then make the “leap of faith” and claim that “historical Jesus” means “historical Gospels”, and claim that the Gospels and the stories contained therein are a reliable description of this Jesus. Apologists seem to get offended when lay people like me question the link between the two, and wish to be provided more evidence that the Gospels and Historical Jesus are indeed linked together in a meaningful way. They seem to take further offense when I politely ask for extra-biblical evidence concerning the life of Jesus, or how we would reliably know anything about him outside the gospels. I spent a good portion of my life dedicated to the cause of Christianity. Is it too much to ask for reliable information about its beginnings?
          I don’t have any interest in challenging Mr. McGrath’s claim that there was, indeed, a historical Jesus. At this point, what I am very interested in seeing is evidence that links a historical Jesus, whomever he might have been, to the stories contained in the Gospels. Is that too much to ask?

        • Doubting Thomas

          My take on this subject has been that since most large movements have an
          initial starter of sorts, then it’s more reasonable than not to assume
          that Jesus was a historical person.

          Christianity, as all other religions, undoubtedly had an initial starter or starters. Islam had Mo. Mormonism had Joe Smith.

          Why should we assume Jesus to be the actual starter of Christianity? Much like we recognize that Gabriel and Moroni didn’t found religions and were instead just the mythological basis used by the actual founder, it seems that we should place Jesus in the same group due to his overwhelming mythological nature. Jesus looks more like Paul’s version of Gabriel or Moroni and I think it should take evidence to move him out of the group from myth to historical instead of assuming historicity by default.

        • wtfwjtd

          Those are some valid points, and I think they deserve addressing. But heck, I can’t even reconcile the Jesus of Paul with the Jesus of the Gospels, so my take on them probably isn’t worth much. I’d be satisfied with a reasonable discussion about what evidence connects historical Jesus to the Jesus of the Gospels.

        • Doubting Thomas

          I’d be satisfied with a reasonable discussion about what evidence connects historical Jesus to the Jesus of the Gospels.

          It looks like we’re getting ahead of ourselves. It’s tough to connect a historical Jesus to anything if there wasn’t a historical Jesus. And given Jesus’ high standing on the Rank-Ragland scale, starting off with a mythical Jesus looks like the best approach.

          There’s good news for the proponents of a historical Jesus. It should be easy, with the right evidence, to move him from mythical to historical. But if you’ve been paying attention to the discussion here with Dr. McGrath, you might notice a lot of arm waving but not a lot of substance. This seems to be the trend with the historical camp.

        • wtfwjtd

          I guess I just got tired of the sneers of condescension from the historical camp whenever the subject came up, and the patent response of “it’s the consensus among scholars” thing. Okay, so let’s not go there–how about just providing evidence connecting this historical Jesus with the god-man supernatural Jesus depicted in the Gospels then? And what do you know, I get mostly the same sneers of condescension for asking this–as if they’re the same thing, as if there’s scholarly consensus that the supernatural god-man of the Gospels is totally historical, and as if there is overwhelming evidence and agreement on this point as well.
          Now I can good and well call bullshit, bullshit–I’m still getting the same pat (non-)response to a legitimate inquiry, on which there is no scholarly consensus, coupled with excuses, arm-waving, and little substance. So that’s why I take that angle. And mind you, it’s not just as a skeptic; as a believer, I was begging for evidence, searching for something, anything, to justify my beliefs as a Christian. And I still got the same pat answers, and the same vacuous responses, the same non-answers to legitimate inquiries. It’s a big part of the reason that I was forced to abandon Christianity, and after several years I see that nothing has changed in that regard.

        • Pofarmer

          Here’s the funny thing. There’s a tradition in the church of a James the Just, who was an early leader in Jerusalem. But, from just a little digging I did, it seems like the world “just” also translates as “brother” or something or other. Then there’s a gnostic text called “The first Gospel of James” that’s very early, that has Jesus directly teaching James, and it explicitly says that James wasn’t Jesus “material” brother. The more I try to dig on some of this stuff, the more it’s just a mess. And if it makes their case, why don’t the historicists use it? They all just want to go back to the bible?

        • wtfwjtd

          That is funny Po. I mean, is James the brother of Jesus or not? What extra-biblical evidence do we have of this James? Or is he just an illusion, a convenient story element? And so forth.
          As you and others have aptly pointed out, there isn’t really a congruity between the non-believer and the Christian when it comes to the questions surrounding historicity. I mean, I don’t give a damn if the probability of Jesus’s historical existence is 5 percent or 95 percent–I’m still willing to discuss the subject, and explore hypotheticals if only for the sake of such a discussion. This is why that fixing an arbitrary probability to historicity doesn’t really interest me much of the time, as I often find it to be an unnecessary distraction.
          However, many theists don’t really have this luxury, do they? Consider–“Praise Jesus, I’m 75 to 95 percent certain that Jesus was indeed an historical figure, and is therefore probably the Lord and Savior of my life!” said no Christian, ever. And how about all those scholars, if their employing institution even gets a *whiff* of them admitting that there might be a possibility that Jesus might not of existed–however small, they could (and sometimes have been) fired from their employment immediately. Under those circumstances, what can I reasonably expect them to say about the subject? I mean, gee whiz, when their very job could be on the line for even mentioning a hypothetical for the sake of discussion, what else could I expect but a wall of absolute, red-faced, hysterical denial?

        • Greg G.

          “it’s the consensus among scholars” thing.

          And the consensus is based on the consensus, most of members have never questioned the issue because of the consensus and they agreed with the consensus long before they were scholars.

        • Not so, any more than the consensus that evolution occurred is simply assumed by biologists, rather than being confirmed by their continued work in the field within that framework.

        • Susan

          Not so, any more than the consensus that evolution occurred is simply assumed by biologists, rather than being confirmed by their continued work in the field within that framework

          You keep making this comparision. But you don’t show that comparison.

          Even if you have legitimate reasons to claim that a historical Jesus is better-supported than a mythical one… and you may well have…

          It is disingenuous to suggest that historians who hold a different point of view are akin to creationists.

          There have been legitimate scientific pursuits that have turned out to be wrong. That does not make them creationists.

          Questioning the consensus is a legitimate part of the academic process.

          rather than being confirmed by their continued work in the field within that framework.

          Well… gosh. There are the mountains of evidence across categories that support the consensus. And, yes. It continues to be “confirmed”. That is, no theory better explains how life behaves at a certain level than the theory of evolution by natural selection.

          I understand that history is a more fragile and less precise discipline. And that it is still a very valuable discipline.

          But people who challenge Darwin’s early models aren’t reviled as “creationists” because they challenge Darwin’s early models.

          Appealing to the “consensus” isn’t how biology is done. Inviting better models that can undermine or refine the consensus has taken us far past Darwin.

        • Appealing to consensus isn’t how history is done, either. It may be what some people do with it on blogs, but it isn’t what you’ll find in academic monographs and articles.

        • That’s great to hear. Nevertheless, the typical historicist argument begins and ends with, “Oh, c’mon–the academy is overwhelmingly in agreement that Jesus was a real person.”

          You’re saying that you never make this as an argument?

        • I think, again, you use “historicist” to mean “a blog commenter who isn’t a scholar but appeals to scholarship.” Scholars do typically either work within the framework of a consensus if it is a strong one and their focusis on something else; or we seek to challenge and change the consensus, recognizing that the burden is squarely on the one trying to do so.

          When it comes to laypeople, don’t you think they ought to defer to the consensus of experts in a field, whether the field be history, medicine, geology, physics, or something else?

          (By the way, I was notified of a comment of yours continuing our main conversation thread, but I don’t see it here on the blog.)

        • Grimlock

          Let me first just say that I realize that you are receiving a lot of comments here, and so I completely understand if you don’t have the time to follow up on all comments.

          When it comes to laypeople, don’t you think they ought to defer to the consensus of experts in a field, whether the field be history, medicine, geology, physics, or something else?

          I was wondering about this. In general, I find this to be true. But I also think that there are exceptions.

          For instance, consider philosophy of religion. A majority of those working within that field are theists. Should we therefore trust the majority, and hold that theism is the most plausible worldview?

          I think not. For one, there is a heavy selection bias, where the vast majority of those going into PoR are theists. In fact, the rate of those who change from theism to atheism is greater than the reverse. (And that’s just from looking at those who stay in the field.) The field also appears to be rife with partisanship and mixed up with theological motivations. Not to mention that a fair bit of the work is done within private colleges that have close relationships to some version of theism.

          As an outsider, who presumably gets a skewed view due to being mostly interested in the apologetics/counter-apologetics discussion, it appears that Biblical studies suffer from similar issues. And as such, the consensus view is less reliable than it could have been.

          Admittedly, the sizes of the relevant consensus in these two fields is vastly different – the portion of atheists in PoR is far greater than the portion of mythicists in Biblical studies.

          Do you think that it’s understandable that one can get this impression of Biblical Studies?

        • There is a wonderful history of atheism in philosophy of religion. But, undoubtedly, historically speaking , most fields havebeen dominated by religious people and sill are, for the simple reason that most people were and are religious in some fashion. And so I would say that philosophy of religion raises two better questions, namely the differences between disciplines with respect to consensus, and the degree to which the majority of participants’ allegiances clearly predetermine or at least influence what is agreed upon. Philosophy tends to have less consensus in general simply because it focuses on the most controversial topics, which are sometimes also the most difficult to pin down. I view the conclusions of chemistry as typically more secure than those of biology, sometimes due to the complexity that organisms have, at others because evidence about past life is piecemeal as is so much of human historical record as well. Physics can be the most straightforward and mathematical – but then get into cosmology and string theory and suddenly tere are debates about whether you’re even doing science at all! The second law of thermodynamics is a matter of consensus in a way that branes and a multiverse are not.

          And so I think the most important aspect of public literacy, something I emphasize to my own students, is how tointerpret consensus as well as the lack of it. If academics at secular universities agree on something almost universally, that doesn’t guarantee they are right. But it is more likely that experts across cultures, ideologies, and individual perspectives are going to be right about this than someone outside the field entirely. Our jobs depend on us publishing, and so if a consensus can be challenged it will be, sonce it goves us something to write about. If professors at confessional institutions that require faculty to sign statements of faith all agree, it tells you something else: that those places stifle rather than foster research. And when there is no clear consensus, it suggests that the evidence is compatible with more than one conclusion. But even then, the fact that multiple theories fit the evidence doesn’t meam that anything goes. There is probably still some evidence that constrains what is plausible and what simply isn’t.

        • Susan

          undoubtedly, historically speaking , most fields havebeen dominated by religious people and sill are, for the simple reason that most people were and are religious in some fashion

          But historically speaking, (according to the Internet Enclyopedia of Philosophy), “The scope of much of the work done in philosophy of religion has been limited to the various theistic religions.”

          It goes on to say:

          “More recent work often involves a broader, more global approach, taking into consideration both theistic and non-theistic religious traditions.”

          You ignored Grimlock’s point, I think, which was:

          there is a heavy selection bias, where the vast majority of those going into PoR are theists. In fact, the rate of those who change from theism to atheism is greater than the reverse. (And that’s just from looking at those who stay in the field.) The field also appears to be rife with partisanship and mixed up with theological motivations. Not to mention that a fair bit of the work is done within private colleges that have close relationships to some version of theism.

          We know how physics is done.

          Physics can be the most straightforward and mathematical – but then get into cosmology and string theory and suddenly tere are debates about whether you’re even doing science at all!

          Of course, there are. I don’t see how this answers Grimlock’s point.

          The second law of thermodynamics is a matter of consensus in a way that branes and a multiverse are not.

          Of course it is. That’s how science is done.

          Now, let’s talk about how history is done.

          What’s the historical basis for the existence of Jesus?

          You’ve already talked about the problems with showing historical support for a non-statesman in the ancient world.

          Can you provide an example of a less prominent figure in the ancient world who

          1) Is accepted by historical consensus to have existed, to the extent that to even question their existence is akin to creationism

          2) With equal evidence

          and

          3) What the criteria are?

        • Grimlock

          Thank you for a couple of very thorough replies! Just want to let you know that it might take me a day or two to get back to you, as they require some time to give them the attention that they deserve.

        • It’s good to see that we agree on the problems of faith statements.

        • Greg G.

          I think, again, you use “historicist” to mean “a blog commenter who isn’t a scholar but appeals to scholarship.” Scholars do typically either work within the framework of a consensus if it is a strong one and their focusis on something else; or we seek to challenge and change the consensus, recognizing that the burden is squarely on the one trying to do so.

          We are asking what evidence the consensus is based on and you appeal to the consensus and the fact that it is strong. The consensus seems to be based on the consensus, making Jesus historicism a circular argument.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve been re-reading Carriers article about Ehrman and James the brother of the Lord bit in Paul.

          Jesus scholars seem to be happy enough with circular reasoning, even to the expense of peer reviewed scholarship that counters their pet theory.

        • I think, again, you use “historicist” to mean “a blog commenter who isn’t a scholar but appeals to scholarship.”

          With that definition, where would I put RM Price or Richard Carrier?

          I use “historicist” to mean “anyone who argues that Jesus was a real person.” Is this not correct?

          When it comes to laypeople, don’t you think they ought to defer to the consensus of experts in a field, whether the field be history, medicine, geology, physics, or something else?

          Science—yes, absolutely. I’ve written several posts making this argument. Theology, not so much. The consensus of experts on Mormonism (or Islam or Scientology) say that you and I are both doing it wrong, but I think we’re both justified in rejecting that conclusion.

          (By the way, I was notified of a comment of yours continuing our main conversation thread, but I don’t see it here on the blog.)

          Disqus—whaddya gonna do? I don’t see a problem in the Pending and Span folders, but I’ll look out.

          And, back to the main point, didn’t you appeal to the consensus of NT historians several days ago?

        • I’m not talking about theology, I’m talking about history.

        • Then take a Muslim historian.

        • ildi

          Bob, since I’ve been continually mystified by the apparent inability of an educator like Dr. McGrath to summarize the situation, I decided to take it on. (I’m addressing you because none of my comments directed at him have garnered a response.)

          First from what I understand, there are three categories of mythicists: The true mythicists, exemplified by Richard Carrier, argue that the early Christians believed in a celestial being. Paul, as the earliest documentation, supposedly supports this because Paul makes no mention of a historical Jesus, does not reference any of Jesus’ teachings, and specifically says everything he learned came from revelation, not any earthly teachers. Counterargument to this is that Paul says he met Jesus’ brother. Plausible explanation for this is that early Christians considered each other to be “brothers of the Lord”, therefore Paul was not referring to a biological but a spiritual brother.

          Variant is what I would call “legendists,” i.e., that there was an actual charismatic itinerant preacher who was maybe even executed for his rabble-rousing who was the catalyst for Paul’s visions, but analogous to the King Arthur legend, the Jesus of the New Testament is Paul’s version, and we have no way of knowing anything about the historical Jesus. I can see Paul’s terseness on the historical Jesus also being supported by the idea that his mission was to prepare people for the imminent return of Jesus, so details about him were irrelevant and immaterial.

          Finally, there are the agnostics, Raphael Lataster falling into this category, who says there is simply not enough information to posit with any confidence either way.

          Based upon my understanding of the reviews of Ehrman’s and Casey’s books, the counterargument is that even though the synaptic gospels are written later and are not primary sources, they do reflect early Christianity because they’re based on a hypothetical Q source, that in turn is based on oral tradition. Casey goes further in dating the gospel of Mark to 40, which, it should be noted, appears to be outside the consensus of NT scholars, whereas 70 is not. Casey also argues for linguistic evidence that NT writers had access to early Aramaic sources, which again I assume is evidence for their basis in early writings.

          What stands out to me is that there doesn’t seem to be consensus for the existence of this hypothetical Q source. (Also, is assuming a hypothetical document a standard method for historians to date documents to an earlier time? Are there other examples of this being done?) Can you have consensus for a historical Jesus if there isn’t consensus for a key posited argument for the historicity of the synaptic gospels? Another element that seems to be ignored is that historians know that the synoptic Gospels were included in the New Testament hundreds of years after they were written precisely because they reflected church dogma of the time, not for their historical accuracy or provenance.

          One comment that really stood out to me in one of the reviews, given that McGrath makes a big point of saying that the consensus is based on secular historical methods: the reviewer points out that

          The term ‘primary source’ in common discourse on history refers to sources from the time of the supposed event. Apparently primary sources are lacking for NTS, and hence Casey defends a different use of terms: “Consequently, many of us use ‘primary sources’ to refer to the synoptic or canonical Gospels when studying Jesus, and Paul’s epistles when studying Paul, while we use ‘secondary literature’ to refer to the works of Funk, Marshall and all other modern scholars. This terminology is clear as long as it is understood, and Blogger Godfrey has no excuse for ordering us to use his interpretation of Von Ranke’s comments instead.” (p65) I am actually somewhat shocked by this. If something is not primary, why call it such?

          McGrath doesn’t mention this in his review of Casey’s book, but that seems to be an apologetics standard, and it doesn’t seem to follow secular historians’ standards?

          Another thing that stood out to me is how much of the reviews of the mythicist-legendist-agnostic arguments (they seem to be lumped in the same crank category) is based on their writing style and supposed motivation, not on, you know, their actual arguments. For example,

          … Casey bizarrely accusing mythicists of being unable to accept that Jesus had a brother (i.e. James, the ‘brother of the Lord’), as “mythicists used to be conservative Christians: they did not believe that Jesus had natural brothers because they believed in the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.

          That does not sound to me like a scholarly rebuttal.

          McGrath also argues in his review of Casey’s book that

          Casey also notes once again the all-or-nothing view the mythicists adopt, which mirrors their pasts in fundamentalism. Finding that the Gospels are not inerrant, as they once assumed them to be, they now assume that nothing in them is factual.

          and

          Casey notes from the outset the fundamentalist-type assumptions at work: the notion that Jesus’s teaching must either be wholly unique or entirely unoriginal and that anything shared not only must be directly borrowed but implies that the teacher does not exist.

          Well, to me there is a big difference between “not being inerrant” and “is a secondary source,” and either a religion is unique, or it has similarities to other religions of the time. How are these fundamentalist assumptions? This all-or-nothing interpretation of the mythicist arguments appears to be more lodged in the minds of Casey and McGrath, not in the arguments presented by mythicists/legendists/agnostics themselves. So much of the anger and vituperation seems to have an apologetics, not a scholarly basis.

          McGrath states in his review that

          I suspect that many will find the tone of Casey’s volume rather too acerbic—especially if they have never had to deal with online mythicists themselves.

          Lataster points out that Casey is not only ‘acerbic’:

          Mary is described as having been “preggers”, rugby games are referred to as “rugger games”, bona fide scholar Thomas Thompson is described as a ‘scholar’ (quotation marks included), and ‘criticising’ is replaced with “slagging off”. Casey also finds time to highlight one critic’s being “a gay anti-Christian socialist”, as if sexual orientation or politics has any relevance to the soundness of an argument.

          As another example of noting who exactly is following secular historians’ methods, in a review of one of Lataster’s articles, his former advisor John Dickson states

          Fourthly, there are numerous idiosyncratic statements throughout Lataster’s article which he passes off as accepted insights of historical study. For example, the claim that the Gospels are all “anonymous” is no more accurate than insisting that a modern biography is anonymous on the grounds that the biographer’s name appears only on the front and back cover of the book not in the body of the work. Of course, the Gospel writers did not begin by writing, “I, Mark, now want to write about Jesus of Nazareth …” But wherever we have a surviving front or back page of a Gospel manuscript, we find a superscript indicating the biographer’s name, and there is absolute uniformity of that name: euaggelion kata Markon, euaggelion kata Lukan and so on.

          Ok…. But I was under the impression not that the gospels were anonymous per se, but that the authors as named are anonymous and not the apostles as originally claimed by the church.

          In summary, color me unimpressed. The constant comparison to creationists, the implication being that there is only an underlying anti-theist agenda and no good counter-argument to the historicist consensus while lumping in NT scholars with an obvious religious bias as part of the ‘consensus’ is disingenuous at best and comes across as a poisoning-the-well tactic at worst.

        • ildi

          btw, I notice sometimes I typed synaptic instead of synoptic but at this number of comments it’s just too tedious to edit.

        • Thanks for the thorough summary.

          Paul, as the earliest documentation, supposedly supports this because Paul makes no mention of a historical Jesus, does not reference any of Jesus’ teachings, and specifically says everything he learned came from revelation, not any earthly teachers.

          Paul mentions the third heaven. I haven’t followed up to understand what cosmology he imagines and how Jesus fits into it.

          even though the synaptic gospels are written later and are not primary sources, they do reflect early Christianity because they’re based on a hypothetical Q source, that in turn is based on oral tradition.

          That’s an interesting attempt to appeal to earlier sources, but the no-Q hypothesis is also compelling: Matthew used Mark and his own material (the stories in his own Christian community that weren’t in Mark), and then Luke used Matthew and Mark. That explains the material shared between Matthew and Luke (formerly sourced from Q).

          Casey goes further in dating the gospel of Mark to 40, which, it should be noted, appears to be outside the consensus of NT scholars

          Yes, that’s very early.

          Another element that seems to be ignored is that historians know that the synoptic Gospels were included in the New Testament hundreds of years after they were written precisely because they reflected church dogma of the time, not for their historical accuracy or provenance.

          Right—it was a popularity contest. The Gnostic and Marcionite material plus the later gospels were discarded simply because they weren’t popular, not because their theology was incorrect and the canonical theology correct.

          I was under the impression not that the gospels were anonymous per se, but that the authors as named are anonymous and not the apostles as originally claimed by the church.

          I’d like to see these scholars explain why the gospel of Mark was written by Mark, Paul’s assistant. There is an argument to be made, but it’s very tenuous. And so on for the other gospels. This “they’ve always been called that” argument gets very close to making a bold statement as a bluff, hoping that no one calls you on it.

        • Greg G.

          I’d like to see these scholars explain why the gospel of Mark was written by Mark, Paul’s assistant.

          You are robbing Peter of recognition to pay Paul.

          There is an argument to be made, but it’s very tenuous.

          “Peter” and “John called Mark” are mentioned together in Acts 12:12 so it follows in ancient Christian logic that he was an assistant to Peter and Papias says there was a gospel written by Mark. John has a mention of it coming from the testimony of John or something so that one gets that name. Acts uses the pronoun “we” for some sea voyages of Paul and some of the epistles have Paul traveling with a Luke and so the gospel written like Acts must be by that person. Papias also says there was a gospel written by Matthew and one of the remaining gospels has the tax collector named Matthew where Mark has Levi, so that author must have known his own name so that one is Matthew. Now we have one name left and one gospel left, so that must be Mark.

          Tenuous? What could be more straight forward than that?

        • Pofarmer

          Did you ever want to know this much stuff about this stuff?

        • Whoops–thanks for that correction.

          The signal-to-noise ratio for those trying to find out who wrote what isn’t so good. If someone said that “Mark” is simply our best guess, I could buy that, but that’s not saying much.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul mentions the third heaven. I haven’t followed up to understand what cosmology he imagines and how Jesus fits into it.

          That’s as far as Paul got to visit.

          The cosmology of the Jews over the time in question had a number of “heavens”, Greek thought in the centuries before Paul was three heavens..first century Judaism believed there were seven heavens.

          “There are seven heavens one above the other: (1) Velon [Latin, velum, “curtain”], which is rolled up and down to enable the sun to go in and out; according to Isa. xl. 22, ‘He stretched out the heavens as a curtain’; (2) Raḳi’a, the place where the sun, moon, and stars are fixed (Gen. i. 17]; (3) Sheḥakim, in which are the millstones to grind [shaḥak] manna for the righteous (Ps. lxxviii. 23; comp. Midr. Teh. to Ps. xix. 7]; (4) Zebul, the upper Jerusalem, with its Temple, in which Michael offers the sacrifice at the altar [Isa. lxiii. 15; I Kings, viii. 13]; (5) Ma’on. in which dwell the classes of ministering angels who sing by night and are silent by day, for the honor of Israel who serve the Lord in daytime [Deut. xxvi. 15, Ps. xlii. 9]; (6) Makon, in which are the treasuries of snow and hail, the chambers of dew, rain, and mist behind doors of fire [1 Kings, vii. 30; Deut. xxviii. 12]; (7) ‘Arabot, where justice and righteousness, the treasures of life and of blessing, the souls of the righteous and the dew of resurrection are to be found. There are the ofanim, the seraphim, and the ḥayyot of holiness, the ministering angels and the throne of glory; and over them is enthroned the great King”

          http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1521-angelology#anchor20

          This is element is central to a mythicist hypothesis the celestial Jesus. Everything that is on Earth has a copy in one of the heavens. That’s where the “archons of the age” did for Jesus. Archons meaning demons. The Devil and his cohorts who reside there. As in the Ascension of Isaiah.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ascension_of_Isaiah#Demons

          As alien as such beliefs might be to us, this sort of thing was not unaccepted as the norm back then apparently. And there is no reason to think that Paul didn’t have this idea in mind in his beliefs about Jesus.

          That’s an interesting attempt to appeal to earlier sources, but the no-Q hypothesis is also compelling: Matthew used Mark and his own material (the stories in his own Christian community that weren’t in Mark), and then Luke used Matthew and Mark. That explains the material shared between Matthew and Luke (formerly sourced from Q).

          Indeed, the Farrer Hypothesis has nu use for Quelle.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Farrer_hypothesis

          Right—it was a popularity contest. The Gnostic and Marcionite material plus the later gospels were discarded simply because they weren’t popular, not because their theology was incorrect and the canonical theology correct.

          Indeed. The Docetists must have been an early sect. If knowledge of an historical Jesus crucified by the Romans and risen, was rampant within the past 70 years, one wonders why anyone would buy into Gnosticism? Then again, perhaps not, humans can be really dumb.

          But yes, all manner of Christianities and their holy scriptures were vying for the top spot. By the end of the second century, the proto-orthodox had it more or less sewn up and all the rest were deemed heretical, though it would take another couple hundred years to mop up all the heretics completely and make the proto-orthodox Roman Catholicism the winner.

        • helpful research, thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Regarding the Dickson debacle…here’s a blog containing G S Neil’s defence of Lataster from Dickson’s utter fuckwittery.

          http://otagosh.blogspot.com/2014/12/prof-dickson-has-hernia.html

          I also remember reading at the time another defence of Lataster from a fellow peer who shared the same class as Lataster with Dickson. It was a while ago, but she was scathing of Dickson and his lack of scholarly integrity iirc…I can’t find her, but I think it might have been the same scholar who favourably reviewed Lataster’s book here…

          https://www.academia.edu/33088935/Review_of_Raphael_Lataster_Jesus_Did_Not_Exist_A_Debate_Among_Atheists

          In summary, color me unimpressed. The constant comparison to creationists, the implication being that there is only an underlying anti-theist agenda and no good counter-argument to the historicist consensus while lumping in NT scholars with an obvious religious bias as part of the ‘consensus’ is disingenuous at best and comes across as a poisoning-the-well tactic at worst.

          Indeed…even Tim O’Neil asserts that comparing history and science is a false equivalence like comparing apples with watermelons.

          The analogy works equally as well if the mythicist position is compared to the new idea of Darwins evolution and the historical Jesus compared to the tired old thesis of god-did-it. Granted, Darwin had objective science behind him, but therein lies the problem with the comparison of science to history. It’s fucking stupid, but a trope McGrath has an investment in, because his arguments are full of holes. Some might say, naively so.

        • Greg G.

          the synaptic gospels

          I am stealing that tpyo!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Let’s not pretend that what James is engaging in here is not par for the course. Anyone that has been interested in this stuff at any length knows that it is his modus operandi and has been for quite a number of years.

          https://vridar.org/2012/09/12/mcgrath-as-mcmuddled-as-ever-over-mythicism/

          Plenty of time for him to step up to the plate and produce something a few thousand words in length, never mind book length. The gud doctor engages in that creationist tactic that he accuses the mythicist side as been the equivalent to being. That is, if he can fallaciously attack mythicists with a barrage of straw men, ad hominems, poisoning the well, circular arguments, credential snobbery, argument from a skewed consensus, etc., etc., then addressing the actual minutiae of the strongest mythicist position can be juked.

        • I’ll take a look. Thanks.

        • Greg G.

          Appealing to consensus isn’t how history is done, either.

          It is how Jesus historicism is done. From Did Jesus Exist as Part One:

          Odd as it may seem, no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived. To my knowledge, I was the first to try it, and it was a very interesting intellectual exercise.    –Bart Ehrman

          What does he give us? Ehrman’s independent Gospel sources are Mark, Q, M, L, sayings source, passion narratives, and protoThomas.

          We have Mark as evidence. The others are hypothetical and based on the assumption that Jesus was historical, plus the sources are assumed to be about Jesus.

          What might be M would be ideas and words taken from James to put in the mouth of Jesus even though James never quoted Jesus (barely mentioned him as a heavenly being) even though his arguments would have been stronger with a “Jesus said” in front of it. Matthew’s nativity story appears to be based on Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews account of Moses nativity story plus the story of Herod preceding his death, but that is not about Jesus.

          What might count as L are the parallels with Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews and his autobiography all in the parts of Luke that are not parallels with Mark and Matthew. If they are coincidences, they should be randomly distributed rather than concentrated in the 30% or so that is not from Mark and Matthew. There are even more parallels with JA in Acts that are too complex to be mere coincidence.

          Q was conceived to explain the similarities between Matthew and Luke without having to explain the differences.

          It is no wonder that historicists only point to the consensus when asked for the evidence.

        • You seem to be faulting Ehrman for even mentioning the overwhelming consensus in his book-length treatment of this subject. That strikes me as bizarre. As Ehrman does with this historical question, books addressing science denial often mention the scientific consensus.

        • Greg G.

          I am not faulting Ehrman for mentioning the consensus. He simply points out that there is no scholarly basis for the consensus. Has anyone contradicted him by pointing out a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived?

          I fault him for citing seven pieces of evidence for Jesus when it is one piece of evidence and six hypotheticals.

          I fault the overwhelming consensus that is circularly based on itself and not on scholarship.

        • Where does he say that “there is no scholarly basis for the consensus”? What on earth are you talking about?!

        • Greg G.

          Where does he say that “there is no scholarly basis for the consensus”?

          Odd as it may seem, no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived. To my knowledge, I was the first to try it, and it was a very interesting intellectual exercise.
          –Bart Ehrman

          I haven’t seen him contradicted on that point by showing him a sustained argument in the past seven years. I had assumed that scholars had some way to look at the evidence that added up to the existence of Jesus but Did Jesus Exist? convinced me otherwise.

        • Greg G.

          I have read most of the first book by Conybeare. Yep, he does present a sustained argument for the existence of Jesus. It is a lot like Ehrman’s as a matter of fact. On page 123, he summarizes the evidence for Jesus:

          We have in them at least six monuments — to wit, Mark, the non-Marcan document, the parts of the First and Third Gospels peculiar to their authors, the Fourth Gospel, and the history of Paul and his mission given in chapters xiii to xxviii of Acts.[My transcription]

          Ehrman and Conybeare both have Mark and the non-Marcan document is Q though it is hypothetical. The parts of the First and Third Gospels are essentially the hypothetical M and L documents the Ehrman cites. Ehrman breaks up John into two hypothetical source documents. The most significant difference is that Conybeare cites the Paul story in Acts whereas Ehrman cites a hypothetical protoThomas.

          The next chapter is on Paul’s epistles. Conybeare says he explained away in an earlier book Paul’s reluctance to tell a lot about Jesus. We have already discussed Paul’s epistles.

          Does Conybeare ever get around to being persausive?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thus demonstrating how poor Ehrman’s work in that book on the subject is, and his knowledge on the subject, if he was unaware of that stuff and couldn’t even find that information out for himself.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’m wondering who it is that is down voting all your comments. Surely Dr. McGrath wouldn’t, would he?

        • The purpose of Ehrman’s book was to make the case. He might mention the consensus in passing, but it certainly wouldn’t be an argument since the book itself was supposed to make the comprehensive case that underlies that consensus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Also, hypothetical sources might also have contained stuff that were detrimental to the historical Jesus, hence the reason they became hypothetical. The good stuff was harvested and the bad stuff binned, depending on what view one takes of course. We just don’t know.

        • Ignorant Amos

          It may be what some people do with it on blogs, …

          Ya think?

          Greg G posted this saved info a number of days ago…

          davidgerard
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
          What’s glaringly missing from this reply is your proposed alternative. Or even your answer to the question: which elements you hold to, which you don’t, which might be. You know this area, surely you can offer us something rather than “nuh-uh, try again lol”.

          James F. McGrath
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
          My proposed alternative is the consensus of mainstream secular historical study.

          James F. McGrath
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
          The bedrock is that Jesus was someone whose followers believed him to be God’s anointed one, the descendant of David who would restore the Davidic line to the throne. The strongest evidence for this is the fact that they also acknowledged that he had been crucified, which normally would disqualify someone from serious consideration to be a dynasty-restorer. And so we get from this two key elements: messianic beliefs about him, and crucifixion. Determining the extent to which Jesus himself fostered the messianic interpretation of his role is harder to say – as we see in the famous case of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it isn’t necessary for someone to explicitly claim to be that sort of figure, for followers to believe it, and to find methods of dealing with the cognitive dissonance that occurs when the person dies.

          Another point of consensus is that Jesus expected the dawn of the kingdom of God in the near future. Apocalypticism pervades our earliest sources, and later sources engage in damage control in relation to the fact that the end did not occur as expected.

          That he was from Nazareth is also very likely, given the fact that two sources make efforts in contradictory ways to explain how he could be born in Bethlehem – and thus fulfill that expectation – despite having been known as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Someone inventing from scratch would have had no need to invent problems for themselves in this manner.

          There are a few examples of the kinds of things that historians feel confident about.

          https://disqus.com/home/discussion/crossexamined/a_popular_blunder_bringing_something_into_existence_with_an_if/#comment-4395643517

          Seems like an appeal to consensus to me.

        • epeeist

          The theory of evolution makes predictions, the testing of which could falsify the theory. So what is the equivalent in the historicity of Jesus debate?

        • There are fewer analogues to that aspect of the natural sciences in the field of ancient history, but the discovery of first century habitation in Nazareth, or of the Pilate inscription, or of the Gospel of Thomas in relation to the genre of Q, are all examples of confirmations that there is some history amid the New Testament’s creative storytelling, or in the latter case, that a source hypothesis fits the first century literary context. As in paleontology, the theory predicts what we should find and where, but it doesn’t provide any reason to expect that relevant evidence has survived. Tiktaalik is an exciting find, but a denialist will insist that we should find every step of the process, and that isn’t a plausible stance given the fossilization process and how it works (the classic “missing link” objection that persists no matter how often it is addressed). The same goes for what some pseudoskeptics ask for in relation to ancient history.

        • epeeist

          but the discovery of first century habitation in Nazareth, or of the Pilate inscription, or of the Gospel of Thomas in relation to the genre of Q, are all examples of confirmations that there is some history amid the New Testament’s creative storytelling

          Normally Amos does this one, but I am happy to step in:

          You may be aware that here in the UK blue plaques are put up to “commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, event, or former building on the site, serving as a historical marker.” Here is one of them:

          http://s0.geograph.org.uk/geophotos/03/90/45/3904594_4c6439e5.jpg

          I am going to step out of this debate since others here know much more about the intricacies of the historicity of Jesus debate. I have been accused of being a mythicist in the past, how I much closer to being an agnostic on the subject.

          The one thing I would commit to is that the best you can do is to assign some level of probability to the existence of Jesus and I remain to be convinced you have the methodology to do this.

        • epeeist

          then it’s more reasonable than not to assume that Jesus was a historical person

          It is plausible, but that doesn’t mean that it is probable, the latter would require some justification.

          However, many apologists then make the “leap of faith” and claim that “historical Jesus” means “historical Gospels”,

          Or that the existence of a minimal historical Jesus means that a supernatural Christ existed. It is a shell game again, accept the former as hypothetical and the latter springs into existence and all conditionality disappears.

        • wtfwjtd

          >>>then it’s more reasonable than not to assume that Jesus was a historical person<<<<

          "It is plausible, but that doesn't mean that it is probable, the latter would require some justification."

          Agreed. And mind, this isn't *my* argument, it just seems to be the most popular (and sometimes about the only) argument I've found for those who argue for a historical Jesus.

          "Or that the existence of a minimal historical Jesus means that a supernatural Christ existed."

          Yeah, that's the show-stopper for me, and the one that gets my attention. I don't even have to question historicity, but I still get hand-waived away for demanding evidence for the connection between the two. And that's just wrong.

        • MR

          Indeed. The presumption is that the “historical” part of an historical Jesus is the Gospels. Acknowledging the likelihood of an historical Jesus is the same in their minds as acknowledging the veracity of the Gospels.

        • Ignorant Amos

          OT…a 3 day old comment only being notified today at 08:30 a.m. today….WTF Disqus? … @BobSeidensticker:disqus

        • Again?

          Thanks for the notification.

        • epeeist

          If creationism were debunked 50 years ago, if wouldn’t come back up.

          And yet we have flat-earth society, those that believe that the whole moon-landing thing was faked and a whole slew of other conspiracy theories.

          The leading proponent of ID is a credentialed biologist.

          If you are talking about Michael Behe, he is a chemist and a biochemist. As for his view, the department of which he is a member has this disclaimer on its website. Interesting that you pick a single counter-example to the overwhelming consensus within the domain of those working within biology.

        • I was pointing out the parallel between mythicism and ID – not arguing in favor of ID!!!!!

        • epeeist

          Fine, it will teach me to read the thread before I respond.

          It does however raise a couple of points:

          1. I tend to accept Quine’s ideas on the under-determination of hypotheses, i.e. all hypotheses are under-determined by their data. This being so it follows that one can raise many hypotheses to explain a particular set of data (and one can rescue an hypothesis from falsification by the use of an ad hoc auxiliary).

          This then raises the question, how do we choose the best hypothesis? This of course depends on what properties we want our hypothesis to have, this is well developed within the philosophy of science (personally I think that Fr. Ernan McMullan’s The Virtues of a Good Theory is good summary) but I don’t know how well it is developed in history. In science we would be looking primarily at explanatory power, empirical fit and parsimony. In the case of a minimal historic Jesus this would lead one to place an emphasis on an actual historical figure, but one wonders whether you have enough information to eliminate alternative hypotheses such as, for example, an archetype on which the stories were built.

          2. The second thing it raises is consensus, in science this tends to come with consonance between hypotheses and the consilience they bring between different classes of phenomena and domains of discourse as well the ability to survive more and more stringent testing.

          While there does seem to be consensus among historians about the historicity of Jesus one has to wonder how much this adheres to the principles I have set out above. To an outsider it tends to look somewhat like a pseudoscience

        • Pofarmer

          But apart from that, which historians in history departments have you
          consulted to see what they have to say about this matter and your views
          on it?

          I’ve actually looked for work from credentialed historians working in history departments. I’ve found exactly zero. Perhaps you have something?

          I mean, Ignorant Amos has already quoted a well credentialed historian who calls the Jesus club’s methods into question and you summarily dismissed him. Raphael Lataster has presented at historical conferences saying exactly the same thing, but I’m sure you dismiss him, too. The truth of the matter, and I’ve seen it written on several places, the Jesus club’s methodology here is – unique, and that presents a problem.

          And I see you ducked my question. What does Michael Behe have in common driving his creationism with the majority of Jesus historicity proponents? It’s not a small thing.

          And you’ve still not even nibbled around the edges of the question. How is the evidence for Jesus different than the evidence for Rhett Butler? Or Marco Ramius or Jack Ryan, if you prefer.

        • Doubting Thomas

          This thread seems to perfectly illustrate something Robert Price once said. It was along the lines of “Jesus mythicism hasn’t been disproven as much as it’s simply been ‘harrumphed’ away.”

        • Pofarmer

          Nice.

          I don’t remember where I saw it now, someone saying that this or that mythicist position was “Debunked”. So I went looking for the debunking and never found it. It became apparent that by “debunking” the meant “ignoring” so they could carry on their merry way unimpeded. After all, facts have never really been a hurdle for the religious.

        • Ignorant Amos

          There are scholars within the academy who are historicists and assert the methodology is a loada pants. But in the absence of anything else, they’re stuck with it. They won’t touch BT with a barge pole…it’s too dangerous.

          https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/LA/article/viewFile/8328/8466

          Btw…you’ve an open html tag.

        • Look at just about any history of the Roman world or of first century Judaism and you’ll find Jesus mentioned.

          The earliest evidence for Jesus we have is in letters from someone who had met his brother, advocating for acceptance that he was the rightful heir to the throne of David. Do you have evidence for such movements preceding Gone With The Wind etc.?

        • Pofarmer

          https://www.fanfiction.net/book/Gone-with-the-Wind/
          You can pick.

          The novel contains several pieces of information about him that do not
          appear in the film. After being disowned by his family (mainly by his
          father), he became a professional gambler, and at one point was involved
          in the California Gold Rush, where he ended up getting a scar on his stomach in a knife fight.
          He seems to love his mother and his sister Rosemary, but has an
          adversarial relationship with his father which is never resolved. He
          also has a younger brother who is never named, and a sister-in-law (both
          of whom he has little respect or regard for), who own a rice
          plantation. Rhett is the guardian of a little boy who attends boarding
          school in New Orleans; it is speculated among readers that this boy is
          Belle Watling’s son (whom Belle mentions briefly to Melanie), and
          perhaps Rhett’s illegitimate son as well.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhett_Butler

        • Ignorant Amos

          A missed this comment…Disqus was playing up…soz.

          The truth of the matter, and I’ve seen it written on several places, the Jesus club’s methodology here is – unique, and that presents a problem.

          Oh McGrath knows that all right…he just chooses to ignore the scholars that agree, that’s all. He is the one acting like the creationist. There’s a book with contributions by well credentialed scholars in the field of HJ studies that call into question the current methods the academy is using to find the historical Jesus.

          Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity ~Edited by Chris Kieth and Anthony Le Donne, 28 Jun 2012

          Criteria of authenticity, whose roots go back to before the pioneering work of Albert Schweitzer, have become a unifying feature of the so-called Third Quest for the Historical Jesus, finding a prominent and common place in the research of otherwise differing scholars. More recently, however, scholars from different methodological frameworks have expressed discontent with this approach to the historical Jesus. In the past five years, these expressions of discontent have reached a fever pitch.

          The internationally renowned authors of this book examine the nature of this new debate and present the findings in a cohesive way aimed directly at making the coalface of Historical Jesus research accessible to undergraduates and seminary students. The book’s larger ramifications as a thorough end to the Third Quest will provide a pressure valve for thousands of scholars who view historical Jesus studies as outmoded and misguided. This book has the potential to guide Jesus studies beyond the Third Quest and demand to be consulted by any scholar who discards, adopts, or adapts historical criteria.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jesus-Criteria-Demise-Authenticity-Chris/dp/0567377237/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

          None of those folk are mythicist as far as am aware, and none of this stuff supports the MJ position either. It just means that credibility is dodgy for those using recognized fucked up methods and it does your argument no good slapping down scholars who see the problems in yer own camp, just because they hold the MJ position, when yer own guys see the same issues.

        • Greg G.

          How to Tell If a Saying Attributed to Jesus Is Authentic.
          Is the saying repeated similarly by other sources?
            Yes: The saying is authentic by the Criterion of Multiple Attestation.
            No: Is the meaning of the saying altered in later sources?
              Yes: The earlier version of the saying is authentic by the Criterion of Embarrassment.
              No: Is it possible that the saying could have been translated from Aramaic?
                Yes: The saying is authentic by the Criterion of Aramaicisms.
                No: Is the saying similar to first century Jewish thought?
                  Yes: The saying is authentic by the Criterion of Historical Plausibility.
                  No: Does the saying fit well with later Christian thought?
                    Yes: The saying is authentic by the Criterion of Coherence.
                    No: The saying is authentic by the Criterion of Double Dissimilarity.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Fuckwittery, isn’t it? It can all be applied to texts of known non-historical characters.

          Ave been reading some of McGrath’s pathetic articles he has linked to on B & I….what is more entertaining is some of the comments, particularly those made by Carrier, Godfrey, Verenna, Thompson and few others whom McGrath misrepresents badly.

        • epeeist

          Well yes, where I was going with McGrath until he bailed was an attempt to ascertain whether the methods used were a reliable way of acquiring knowledge.

        • Greg G.

          McGrath is a follow the consensus kind of guy, no matter what. I posted the contents of a file I came across while searching for something completely different and IA reposted it at https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4402403973 .

          Most scholarship is willing to change with new evidence while religion struggles to stay the same in light of the evidence. Clinging to the consensus is a tactic of religion.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s funny that Jim and company don’t seem to want to determine the authenticity of their document.

          And it seems to me that the question still stands. How is the evidence for Jesus different from the evidence for Rhett Butler?

        • Greg G.

          How is the evidence for Jesus different from the evidence for Rhett Butler?

          Frankly, Rhett didn’t give a damn but Jesus does give them.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He knows they are not a reliable way of acquiring knowledge…but it’s hard when one is committed to crappy methods, and when the alternative suggestion is just untenable for ones own immovable position, he’s backed into a corner.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14352

          https://vridar.org/2018/07/07/reply-to-james-mcgraths-criticism-of-bayess-theorem-in-the-jesus-mythicism-debate/

          So he is stuck with sucking shit.

        • epeeist

          On a totally different front how do you think the DUP now regard Jacob Rees-Mogg. I suspect his Catholicism wasn’t a problem when he was supporting them, but of course he switched sides on Friday.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well working with murdering traitors who were Catholic hasn’t been a problem for them in the past, so Rees-Mogg being a Catholic wasn’t ever an issue regardless which view of Brexit he runs with. Corbyn’s treasonous views and stance in Ulsters politics, and Labour, notwithstanding.

        • Rudy R

          If creationism were debunked 50 years ago, if wouldn’t come back up.

          So with that brilliant logic, we should also give credence to the flat earth “theory”.

        • The point was whether it was a valid argument that, if mythicism were really debunked 50 years ago, it wouldn’t still have adherents. I am glad you too see that such an argument doesn’t work!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Mythicism wasn’t debunked 50 years ago though, was it?

          A particular mythicist thesis might have been debunked, but that’s not the same thing, is it. Surely you should know this stuff….oh, wait a wee minute, no ya don’t, which is evident by the ignorant stuff ya post.

          Paradigm shifts change as new data comes in, or the existing data is reassessed using an revised argument. That’s the issue you have not dealt with. Refuse to deal with. Or you seem impotent to deal with it. The internet is littered with articles taking your position apart and you go-to retort is, “consensus”, “creationism” and “credentials”.

        • How would you respond if someone said that “creationism wasn’t debunked” however many years ago, just some particular creationist thesis?

        • Greg G.

          Evolution has lots of evidence. There is the heirarchy of lifeforms based on physiology with another based on genetics and they correspond. There is another heirarchy based on the fossil evidence and it matches up, too. The case for evolution is based on evidence.

          That is much different than trying to debunk particular mythicists and thinking that makes your case. That is how creationists operate. They think refuting evolution means creationism is true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Whaaaa?

          I’d ask them to provide the particular thesis they now propose that hasn’t been debunked, yet needs debunking, and then set about the task of debunking it of course.

          There is a precedent for this of course. It was called Intelligent Design. But when that was examined, it was demonstrated to be creationism repackaged. Yet it took scholars to examine it and then refute it as such. You’ve undertaken no such task. This is demonstrable in the mountains of errors you make, then ignore. You are disingenuous to a tee.

          What I wouldn’t do, is what you keep doing, point to out dated scholarship and a consensus that really isn’t a consensus at all, as has been repeatedly been pointed out to you ad nauseam, but what amounts to a self appreciation society.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve been reading reviews of Casey’s book and the criticisms seem reasonable (early dating of Mark, arguing that having Aramaic roots means it’s non-fiction).

          Raphael Lataster’s book is the best rebuttal to both Casey’s garbage and Ehrman’s too.

          Raphael wrote his Master’s thesis on Jesus ahistoricity theories, concluding that historical and Bayesian reasoning justifies a sceptical attitude towards the ‘Historical Jesus’. For his doctoral work, Raphael analysed the major philosophical arguments for God’s existence (as argued by William Lane Craig, Richard Swinburne and Thomas Aquinas), demonstrated the logical improbability of theism, explored the theological tendencies of Philosophy of Religion, and argued for the relative plausibility of pantheistic worldviews.

          Lataster asserts that Christian scholars should be excluded from the debate, because they start from a presupposed position that Jesus was historical and are therefore biased. Casey and Ehrman, the two scholars that have even bothered to write tomes on the issue, are non-believers…though Ehrman has baggage.

          Oh, aye…the book…”Jesus Did Not Exist: A Debate Among Atheists”…

          https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1514814420/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i1

          Though since ya’ve just a passing interest, internet reviews will be sufficient to unpack the extensive flaws in both Casey and Ehrman’s works.

          The argument that mythicists are all just BLOGGERS whereas historicists are secular historians doesn’t seem to be accurate, either.

          That’s because it is a lie. And it doesn’t even matter. A well informed blogger’s argument is what should be assessed and if it passes scrutiny and is well supported, that’s more important than credentials afaic. Plenty of credentialed scholars are wrong on lots of stuff, particularly when it comes to this particular subject. All opinions can’t be right, but they can all be wrong.

          Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/wwjtd/2012/01/will-the-real-jesus-please-stand-up/

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Ignorant Amos

          The irony is, just about all creationists are historical Jesus proponents too. James should be careful for what he wishes for, haha.

        • Pofarmer

          Shhhhhh, I was hoping he might make the connection.

        • They most certainly are not. If you can show me one who accepts the Jesus who mistakenly predicted the kingdom of God would dawn within the lifetime of his hearers, please do so. They embrace the Jesus depicted in the Gospels with no historical scrutiny or skepticism whatsoever. They oppose the work that historians do on Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          They most certainly are not.

          Whaaaa? Christian creationists don’t believe Jesus was a real historical person? Really?

          If you can show me one who accepts the Jesus who mistakenly predicted the kingdom of God would dawn within the lifetime of his hearers, please do so. They embrace the Jesus depicted in the Gospels with no historical scrutiny or skepticism whatsoever.

          A non sequitur.

          James, whatever other nonsense they believe about Jesus is irrelevant. How they embrace the Jesus figure, or what methods they use, is academic. Though those methods are nonsense too. They believe he was a real historical person.

          https://answersingenesis.org/media/audio/answers-with-ken-ham/volume-122/secular-evidence-that-jesus-lived/

          They also believe Adam was a real historical person btw.

          They oppose the work that historians do on Jesus.

          Another non sequitur. And they don’t, when it is supporting their position. In fact, they actually cite historians in support of their belief that Jesus was a real historical person.

          https://answersingenesis.org/jesus-christ/incarnation/jesus-did-not-exist/

          Maybe you are just not aware of this stuff.

        • I am obviously aware of it. It is not the Jesus of historians they are talking about, any more than their “creation science” is the science that biologists and geologists are talking about. If they happen to agree with geologists that rocks exist, that doesn’t make it less likely that rocks exist, nor does it mean that they are talking about the same thing on anything more than a superficial level.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I am obviously aware of it.

          Then why say stupid stuff to the contrary?

          It is not the Jesus of historians they are talking about, any more than their “creation science” is the science that biologists and geologists are talking about. If they happen to agree with geologists that rocks exist, that doesn’t make it less likely that rocks exist, nor does it mean that they are talking about the same thing on anything more than a superficial level.

          What has any of that got to do with whether Christian creationists believe Jesus was a real historical person?

          Do creationists believe Jesus existed as a real person in history?

          If you are implying that there is something more to this that creationists deny, I really don’t care in that case. The claim that “They most certainly are not” is an erroneous response to my claim that “…just about all creationists are historical Jesus proponents too”. By my definition of what a minimal historical Jesus proponent believes on the minimal historical Jesus position. Everything else is debatable fluff.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus

          It’s no bloody wonder so many folk get vexed at you James.

        • Grimlock

          I dunno, it seems to me that the Jesus that historians are talking about it so different from the Jesus of creationists he might as well be a different person.

          Creation-Jesus is a supernatural being, whose actions and words are perfectly rendered in the Bible. A god incarnate.

          The Jesus of historians is (more or less – it’s been a while since I’ve read about it) a failed apocalyptic preacher, whose followers embellished stories about him for some all too human reason.

          Beyond the same name, and being placed at more or less the same place and time in history, I don’t see much of a resemblance. The epistemological approaches are also quite distinct; creationists appears to be adherents of some version of Biblical inerrancy, while Biblical scholars have a somewhat more sensible approach, reminscient of the principles on which Bob wrote about for evaluating the Bible.

          Certainly, both creationists and the majority of relevant scholars think that there is some historical person at the core of the Gospel stories. But I don’t think that using this lowest common denominator is sufficient to put them in the same category.

          An analogy might be that some person were to be claiming that vaccines help protect us from disease, but also that vaccines can be used as rocket fuel, regrow lost limbs, and give you telepathy. Also, this person holds this belief because it came to them in a dream. While I also hold that vaccines help protect us from disease, I really don’t feel like I fit into the same category as this person just because there is some common denominator.

          But really, this might be more about semantics than content…

        • Ignorant Amos

          I dunno, it seems to me that the Jesus that historians are talking about it so different from the Jesus of creationists he might as well be a different person.

          That is irrelevant to the point. We are talking about one thing, and one thing only, whether Jesus was a real flesh and blood historical person that lived in the Palestinian Levant in the early first century and whether creationists believe that to be the case. Everything else is debatable and extra bells and whistles embellishment.

          There are 45,000+ flavours of Christianity. What they all believe about Jesus varies from the sublime to the ridiculous. Even secular historians don’t agree on every detail. New Testament scholars differ even more.

          Mike Licona in his book “he Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach” had the audacity to suggest the zombie saints resurrection in Matthew 27 was apocalyptic imagery and not literal, he got fired from his position for it.

          Christian historian James Tabor states the historian can have no truck with the supernatural aspects of the bible, that stuff must be taken on faith. Not all historians agree.

          John Dominic Crossan is an historian and NT scholar that has a variety of controversial views on Jesus and the subject of NT scholarship.

          There is a scale of stuff that varies among scholars as to what they believe about the historical Jesus, regardless of theology and the supernatural.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_Jesus#Consensual_knowledge_about_Jesus

          It is all academic to the issue. Creationists believe in an historical Jesus, Professor James McGrath said on this thread that they don’t. That is unadulterated nonsense as I’ve demonstrated. This is basic stuff.

          Creation-Jesus is a supernatural being, whose actions and words are perfectly rendered in the Bible. A god incarnate.

          Indeed. That’s not exclusive to creationists though is it? The largest Christian denomination is the RCC, that statement also applies. It has nothing to do with whether the believe that the supernatural being was a real person or not. They do. And most Protestant denominations do too.

          Beyond the same name, and being placed at more or less the same place and time in history, I don’t see much of a resemblance. The epistemological approaches are also quite distinct; creationists appears to be adherents of some version of Biblical inerrancy, while Biblical scholars have a somewhat more sensible approach, reminscient of the principles on which Bob wrote about for evaluating the Bible.

          I don’t really care. I don’t understand what is so difficult with this basic concept. All that stuff is academic and not something I’m arguing for or against. I made a one sentence statement which was accurate and demonstrably so, McGrath came back with an erroneous assertion with a bag of straw men. It appears that you are buying into his superfluous argument that is completely irrelevant.

          Certainly, both creationists and the majority of relevant scholars think that there is some historical person at the core of the Gospel stories.

          Creationists, majority of Christians, and everyone not a mythicist, think there is some historical person at the core of the NT stories, not just the gospels. Whatever else they believe is of no consequence to me or my point.

          But I don’t think that using this lowest common denominator is sufficient to put them in the same category.

          What category would that be then? The historical Jesus category? The only category I was putting them into? Well, yeah, it is indeed sufficient. Given that’s the only category I was asserting.

          An analogy might be that some person were to be claiming that vaccines help protect us from disease, but also that vaccines can be used as rocket fuel, regrow lost limbs, and give you telepathy. Also, this person holds this belief because it came to them in a dream. While I also hold that vaccines help protect us from disease, I really don’t feel like I fit into the same category as this person just because there is some common denominator.

          FTFY. I’m making a single claim. I’m neither interested or care about what other mumbo-jumbo is believed by Christians. It has no bearing on my point. The woo-woo beliefs are a conversation I neither made, nor care about. Different Christians believe all sorts of muck on top of “he was a real person”…it’s not exclusive to creationists. Secular historians vary in what historical details are facts, the point is, they can’t claim any certainty past a consensus on those either. And given the variety of Jesus’s believed in across the board, I care not for that “claimed” consensus or the flawed methodolgy the “experts” employ.

          But really, this might be more about semantics than content…

          Nope. I made a single claim on one point. Creationists believe in a real historical Jesus. They do. On every other aspect there are lots of disagreements. Even among secular historians that are even bothered to be interested. The contrast between Ehrmans and Casey’s books are examples of that. Not relevant to my single claim. McGrath said “no they don’t”, which in any plain reading of the discussion, means no the don’t believe in an historical Jesus. His lack of communication at that point is of no consequence to me. Whatever else creationists believe about Jesus contrary to his position, is not relevant. Jesus historicists is a very big umbrella…and as well as including creationists, it also includes most atheists that have taken no interest in the subject, some that have too.

        • Grimlock

          Look, I think we both know that I agree with a lot of what you write there. But when it comes to this disagreement you’re having with McGrath here, it seems obvious to me that it’s a matter of semantics. You mean different things when you use the term “historical Jesus proponent.”

          In your case, you mean someone who believes that there is an actual human (divine or otherwise) at the core of the Gospel stories. And when using this meaning, you are of course entirely correct in that creationists fit into this category.

          When McGrath uses the term, he seems to think about the idea that there is an historical figure, hidden behind embellished and made up stories, who was very much human, and whose existence can be discerned to some extent using a certain epistemological approach. Using this meaning, creationists do not fit into the category.

          You’re simply talking past each other.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Look, I think we both know that I agree with a lot of what you write there.

          Indeed, I presumed you’d taken on the mantle of Devils Advocate.

          But when it comes to this disagreement you’re having with McGrath here, it seems obvious to me that it’s a matter of semantics. You mean different things when you use the term “historical Jesus proponent.”

          If that is the case, then it behooves McGrath to request clarification on the definition I’m using. I think it’s pretty straight forward. The term historical Jesus proponent means one thing in the context I used it and I thought that was pretty obvious too. As Lataster puts it, “Did a man called Jesus of Nazareth walk this Earth?”, historicists, including creationists, McGrath, many atheists, and most Christians, answer in the affirmative. That’s it. If McGrath means something more than that then he is using a different criteria and one that not everyone agrees on and is therefore faulty.

          In your case, you mean someone who believes that there is an actual human (divine or otherwise) at the core of the Gospel stories. And when using this meaning, you are of course entirely correct in that creationists fit into this category.

          Thank you.

          When McGrath uses the term, he seems to think about the idea that there is an historical figure, hidden behind embellished and made up stories, who was very much human, and whose existence can be discerned to some extent using a certain epistemological approach.

          Yes, I don’t disagree that’s his approach. But given the context of this conversation and his comparison of mythicists to creationists, that has no bearing. McGrath doesn’t concern himself with methodology when arriving at his conclusion about creationists and mythicists being different stripes of the same colour. So I’m less interested in making my comparison on the same grounds. It’s all nonsense.

          Using this meaning, creationists do not fit into the category.

          Nor do most devout Christians either, but McGrath isn’t concerned about that angle. So neither am I in that case.

          You’re simply talking past each other.

          He’s talking past me ya mean. I made a simple statement. How creationists get to their position vis a vis how McGrath gets to his position, or most Christians get their position, or historians get to their position, or atheists get to their positions, is not relevant to my assertion. It’s McGrath that is trying to make that the relevant issue. Something that at this point, I’m not interested in, because they all get to different places on the question of “who was the historical jesus?”. His methods are flawed, hence the lack of cohesiveness on anything other than they think the guy existed.

          Numerous secular scholars have presented their own versions of the so-called “Historical Jesus” – and most of them are, as biblical scholar J.D. Crossan puts it, “an academic embarrassment.” From Crossan’s view of Jesus as the wise sage, to Robert Eisenman’s Jesus the revolutionary, and Bart Ehrman’s apocalyptic prophet, about the only thing New Testament scholars seem to agree on is Jesus’ historical existence. But can even that be questioned?

          https://www.richarddawkins.net/2014/12/did-historical-jesus-really-exist-the-evidence-just-doesnt-add-up/

          Why they all believe he existed is of less interest to me than they all do for my purpose…especially if they can’t demonstrate it convincingly…to-date anyway.

        • Grimlock

          I presumed you’d taken on the mantle of Devils Advocate

          You gotta do some pro bono work once in a while, even if it’s for the devil.

          As for placing the responsibility of communicating clearly, I think I shall simply stay out of that particular conversation. (Primarily because it doesn’t seem all that interesting.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          You gotta do some pro bono work once in a while, even if it’s for the devil.

          I’m sure the Devil appreciates your effort }8O)~

          As for placing the responsibility of communicating clearly, I think I shall simply stay out of that particular conversation. (Primarily because it doesn’t seem all that interesting.)

          I dare say you are right about how interesting it isn’t. Wise move to juke it completely. A waste of time rabbit hole if ever there was one.

        • Greg G.

          In your case, you mean someone who believes that there is an actual human (divine or otherwise) at the core of the Gospel stories. And when using this meaning, you are of course entirely correct in that creationists fit into this category.

          When McGrath uses the term, he seems to think about the idea that there is an historical figure, hidden behind embellished and made up stories, who was very much human, and whose existence can be discerned to some extent using a certain epistemological approach. Using this meaning, creationists do not fit into the category.

          What is the difference there? I think IA and I are pretty much on the same page there. McGrath insists that there is a real human behind the embellishments but I (and I think IA) think there is no human behind it, just more embellishment.

          The OT promised that David’s throne would stand forever but then the Babylonians came. The promises became conditional, then it was punishments for not following God’s expectations but the throne would someday be restored. The Jews defending Jerusalem to the end were motivated by the prophecy of the coming Messiah, too. The early Christians also expected the Messiah but they also read the Suffering Servant as a long hidden mystery who was actually a person, not a metaphor for the Jewish nation. That person died for sins, was buried, according to Isaiah 53:8-9, and raised on the third day, according to Hosea 6:2. That story got embellished in the gospels as a first century person, but there was no real person behind any of it.

          McGrath relies on the consensus that he cites and scholarship that he never cites.

        • Grimlock

          What is the difference there?

          While I (obviously) can’t speak for McGrath, I see it primarily as a difference in epistemology. I think we can all agree that there is something of a difference in the epistemological approaches of adherents to inerrancy, and scholars like McGrath? (Even though I know you don’t think scholars are, in general, sufficiently skeptical of the source material.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, if you can’t refute the actual arguments themselves…what else is there?

        • Pofarmer

          Bluster and sputter?

        • Otto

          I also think you are missing a bit of the point, even if Jesus was a flesh and blood person that still doesn’t mean the stories in the Gospels weren’t made up or embellished to the point of absurdity, and questioning the veracity of the claims in the Gospels is not the same as being an anti-vaxxer, etc.

        • No, that is the very point! That there was a historical Jesus about whom stories were not only passed on but also embellished and fabricated is a conclusion of mainstream historical scholarship on the matter!

        • Otto

          OK…fair enough, than how do we reasonably separate fact from fiction. I sure don’t see a whole lot of historical value in the Gospels, I am not saying there is none…but it certainly does not read as a real biographical account, especially as to the central issue of the claims of the Christian religion.

        • We need to be skeptical, and thus there is a lot that historians judge unlikely to be historical, and plenty about which we should simply say that we don’t know. It is when something is at odds with the things we know the early Christians were motivated to invent that we get the distinct impression that there were constraints on them imposed by things that were generally known and so simply had to be dealt with through some sort of theological damage control. That, at any rate, is the approach you’ll find in mainstream scholarly works about the historical Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude.

          None of this screams “Historian.”

          James McGrath earned his diploma in religious studies (with distinction) from the University of Cambridge in 1993. He went on to receive his Bachelor of Divinity from the University of London, in which he was awarded Second Class, First Degree honors in 1995. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Durham in 1998, under the supervision of James D. G. Dunn.
          He has served as assistant professor of New Testament at Emmanuel University and the University of Oradea (1998-2001), an adjunct professor at Biblical Theological Seminary and Alliance Theological Seminary (2001-2002), and professor of Religion at Butler University (2002–present). In 2010, he was appointed the Clarence L. Goodwin Chair of New Testament Language and Literature.
          McGrath is also the creator of Canon: The Card Game

        • Pofarmer

          For those interested, this is the CV of James Dunn, who directed the PhD in philosophy.

          James Douglas Grant Dunn FBA (born 1939), also known as Jimmy Dunn, is a British New Testament scholar who was for many years the Lightfoot Professor of Divinity in the Department of Theology at the University of Durham, now Emeritus Lightfoot Professor. He has worked broadly within the Protestant tradition.

        • Otto

          It is when something is at odds with the things we know the early Christians were motivated to invent that we get the distinct impression that there were constraints on them imposed by things that were generally known and so simply had to be dealt with through some sort of theological damage control.

          We only have to concern ourselves with early Christian motivations? How about what we know about those things that are at odds with reality…like blindness isn’t healed with spit, or water cannot be magically turned into wine, or food is not magically multiplied out of thin air, or people cannot walk on water. I don’t have to figure out the motivations of the writers to realize there is a problem with such a story being viewed as historical.

        • Such things are inherently improbable and so historians don’t even bother with them, but simply set them aside. But if we did consider motivations, they would be the sort of things devotees would be motivated to invent.

        • Pofarmer

          It seems to me, some people in this field, have convinced themselves that they’re something they are not.

        • Otto

          The label ‘historian’ comes to mind.

        • Pofarmer

          Indeed.

        • Grimlock

          Even if one were to take the Gospels as entirely made-up, they’d still provide an interesting glimpse into the culture of the time. Consider our fiction. It certainly says some things about our society and culture. (The role of women in the original Star Trek comes to mind.)

        • Otto

          Oh I agree the Gospels are fine for information, but they certainly don’t provide reliable historical information as to Jesus.

          And women in the original Star Trek were treated pretty progressively for the time…but looking back it sure doesn’t seem that way…kinda like the Gospels and morality imo.

        • Grimlock

          Oh, I’m not really convinced that the morality of the New Testament was all that progressive for its time… The whole “Hell” thing is really rather off-putting.

        • Greg G.

          This is part of a canned response that shows that other first century writers were ahead of the Jesus character:

          A Roman pagan writer who thinks of slaves as friends who should be treated well.

          “‘They are slaves,’ people declare. NO, rather they are men.
          ‘Slaves! NO, comrades.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are unpretentious friends.
          ‘Slaves! NO, they are our fellow-slaves, if one reflects that Fortune has equal rights over slaves and free men alike. That is why I smile at those who think it degrading for a man to dine with his slave.

          But why should they think it degrading? It is only purse-proud etiquette… All night long they must stand about hungry and dumb… They are not enemies when we acquire them; we make them enemies… This is the kernel of my advice: Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your betters.

          ‘He is a slave.’ His soul, however, may be that of a free man.”
              — Seneca the Younger (4 BC – 65 AD), Epistulae Morales, 47.

          Jesus doesn’t think slaves should even be thanked for their service.

          7 “Who among you would say to your slave who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here at once and take your place at the table’? 8 Would you not rather say to him, ‘Prepare supper for me, put on your apron and serve me while I eat and drink; later you may eat and drink’? 9 Do you thank the slave for doing what was commanded? 10 So you also, when you have done all that you were ordered to do, say, ‘We are worthless slaves; we have done only what we ought to have done!’” –Jesus, Luke 17:7-10

          Why were pagans so far ahead of Jesus on slavery?

        • Grimlock

          Why were pagans so far ahead of Jesus on slavery?

          Why wouldn’t they be? Unless you think that he’s the incarnation of a perfectly moral being, of course.

        • Otto

          I agree regarding the doctrine of hell, but some of the concepts, like even looking at women as anything more than just possessions, was a bit progressive for the time and place. There is still plenty to take issue with, I was just saying that I am not discounting the gospels as having zero redeeming value. There are some ideas that were dumb. some that are downright immoral, and some that were ok, it is a case by case basis.

        • Grimlock

          Agreed.

        • Pofarmer

          is a conclusion of mainstream historical scholarship on the matter!

          No, it’s not dammit. It’s the conclusion of mainstream BIBLICAL scholarship. Almost NONE of whom have any qualified credentials in HISTORY!!!!!!!!! Most of them have M Divinity or theology degrees. Show me the ones with qualified history Ph.D’s or degree’s. I’ll wait.

        • Grimlock

          Writing longish posts has made evolution-denial go away? The anti-vaccination movement?

          Sometimes I wish I lived in a world like that. (Even though it’d probably have some horrifying side effects.)

          On the other hand, there are some fairly accessible and thorough (online) resources for debunking creationism, such as the Talk Origins archive.

          ETA: Stupid HTML codes.

        • Pofarmer

          (as far as I could tell, the long list of articles above isn’t it).

          good old Gish Gallop.

        • Ignorant Amos

          No, that isn’t what the term mythicism refers to.

          The term “mythicism” refers to more than one idea.

          There are three strands of mythicism, including the view that there may have been a historical Jesus, who lived in a dimly remembered past, and was fused with the mythological Christ of Paul. A second stance is that there was never a historical Jesus, only a mythological character, later historicized in the Gospels. Thirdly, no conclusion can be made about a historical Jesus, and if there was one, nothing can be known about him.

          Even more than that…

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory#Meanings_of_.22Christ_myth_theory.22

          https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory#Problems_with_definitions

          I’ve been blogging and writing elsewhere about this for many years.

          Why?

        • Greg G.

          Regarding https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2012/03/mythicism-and-james-the-brother-of-the-lord-a-reply-to-richard-carrier.html, about “the brother of the Lord”, I looked at all the uses of the root “adelph-” in the New Testament. In the Gospels and Acts, it was about 50-50 between the figurative religious use and the literal sibling sense. But in the epistles, it was used about 190 to 200 times. Almost all were in the figurative sense. One referred to a literal sister in Romans 16 and two uses in the same verse (1 John 3, I think) referred to Cain and Abel. The other two were the “brothers of the Lord” in Galatians 1:19 and 1 Corinthians 9:5, which would be the only two places in the epistles where the root was used to refer to actual real brothers.

          I notice that Galatians is sarcastic. Galatians 5:12 is a stated wish that the circumcisers would go the whole way and castrate themselves. Calibrate your sarcasm meter on that. Galatians 2:11-12 identifies James as a leader among the circumcision faction. Galatians 1:1 is similar to the opening of several of Paul’s letters but this one has him saying that he is sent by the Lord, not by men (like James does). In Galatians 1:11-12, he says he did not get his information from a human source, just before he points out that he spent time with Cephas and James and they didn’t add to his knowledge, either.

          In 1 Corinthians 9:5, he refers to the “brothers of the Lord”. In 1 Corinthians 9:8, he brings up “human authority”, then goes on to cite Moses in support of his position.

          I think that Paul was saying that people who order people around and make proclamations based on their own knowledge, rather than on the scripture of the OT, are putting themselves at the Lord’s level, as if they are a brother to the Lord, in a sarcastic way.

          I got this far in your list by scanning for evidence for a historical Jesus, but all I see are refutation attempts of Brodie and Carrier.

          I am looking for the evidence that the scholarly consensus is based on. So far, supporters cite the consensus but cannot say what the consensus is based on. It seems to be self-referential.

          From Did Jesus Exist as Part One:

          Odd as it may seem, no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived. To my knowledge, I was the first to try it, and it was a very interesting intellectual exercise.    –Bart Ehrman

          Ehrman gave seven independent gospel sources as evidence: Mark, Q, M, L, sayings source, passion narratives, protoThomas.

          We have Mark and I might concede that there was a protoThomas but I don’t know about those two being independent. The others are hypothetical based on the assumption that the gospels are about a real, historical figure, which makes that argument circular.

          I think the M source includes Antiquities of the Jews for the nativity story. It is more like Josephus’ account in AJ 2 of the Moses nativity than the Exodus account and melds well with the Herod account in AJ 17 with the references to prophecy, which Josephus emphasized often, being that his prophecy about the world leader rising from Judea would be Vespasian.

          Luke and Acts rely on AJ and Josephus’ autobiography. In Luke, the coincidences with Josephus just happen to be in the places where Luke does not correspond to Mark or Matthew, which indicates that they are not random coincidences.

          So the M and L sources that we can identify are not about a historical Jesus at all.

          Paul talks about Jesus a lot. He uses “Jesus”, “Christ”, or either combination about once for every five verses but as much as he likes to drop the name and title, he never says anything about a first century Jesus. Every mention that appears to be about a historical Jesus, past, present, or future, apparently comes from an OT reference. Twice in 2 Corinthians, he says his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the super-apostles, who were supposed to have been disciples. That would be an extraordinary claim if he only had info from ancient documents while they knew Jesus, as in the gospels.

          They way to argue against mythicism is to provide actual evidence or the combination that adds up to the existence of a historical Jesus, something besides the consensus of opinions of people who started believing in the existence of Jesus when they were children.

        • Greg G.

          Regarding https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2011/10/mythicism-and-pauls-claims-to-supernatural-revelation.html

          The only real options are (1) that Paul did in fact miraculously receive the same information that other Christians had, or (2) Paul received information about the Christian Gospel from other human beings, whatever he might or might not say to the contrary.

          (3) Paul considered ideas that popped into his head while reading the scriptures to be messages from the Lord.

          Paul loved to talk about Jesus. He used “Jesus”, “Christ”, or either combination about once every five verses in his “authentic” epistles but he didn’t give a lot of information. Here are the facts that he gives about Jesus, the verses where he says it, and some likely OT verses where the information could have been found:

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12* > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10*
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26*, Habakkuk 2:4*, Leviticus 18:5*
          Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
          Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9*
          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49*, 2 Samuel 22:50*, Deuteronomy 32:43*, Psalm 117:1*, Isaiah 11:10*
          Became Wisdom of God > 1 Corinthians 1:30 > Isaiah 11:2

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 3:13* > Deuteronomy 21:23*
          Died for sins > 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:8, Isaiah 53:12
          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8*

          (* indicates that New Testament passage contains a direct quote from the Septuagint.)

          Everything Paul knew about Jesus came from reading centuries old scripture, not first century lore. He didn’t learn anything from Cephas and James because they were looking at the same scriptures. In 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 12:11 says his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the super-apostles. That’s pretty bold if he thought they had spent time with a first century Jesus. He spent a couple of weeks with Cephas, you’d think it would have come up in conversation.

        • You seem to be assuming what you need to prove, ignoring how poorly Jesus fits some of the details in the texts in question, positing a method of pulling bits from here and there in texts and using them to create new fictional characters, and ignoring the extent to which things you mention were characteristics of real human beings. Unless you think that only fictional people had female mothers, lived under Torah, or could be gentle…

          You sound like someone who grew up hearing that Jesus fulfilled the “Old Testament” and believed it, and now have only partially rejected that view, assuming that he fits the Jewish scriptures, but only because he was invented. If you read the relevant texts, you’ll find that the dishonesty in the claims you previously encountered was not in the supposedly miraculous fulfillment, but in the supposedly precise fit!

        • Greg G.

          You seem to be assuming what you need to prove

          That is exactly what you are doing in the quote by ignoring the third option. Paul rails against using human knowledge and authority. Do you know what Paul called people who used human authority and knowledge instead of the Lord’s? He called them “brothers of the Lord” or “the Lord’s brother” as they were using their authority as if they were at the Lord’s level. He brings that up a lot from Galatians 1:1 until he calls James that and brings up “human authority” three verses after referring to “the brothers of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians 9:5, then begins citing what “is written in the law of Moses.”

          But it is not just Paul who only knew Jesus through the OT. It is all through the other epistles, too. Here are the ones forged in Paul’s name:

          Past
          Cornerstone > Ephesians 2:20 > Psalm 118:22-23
          Apportioned gifts > Ephesians 4:7-8 > Psalm 68:18
          The firstborn of all creation > Colossians 1:15 > Psalm 2:7, Psalm 89:27, Proverbs 8:22
          All things in heaven and on earth were created before all things, > Colossians 1:16-17a > Proverbs 8:22-30
          Forgave us all our trespasses > Colossians 2:13 > Isaiah 53:12
          Came into the world to save sinners > 1 Timothy 1:15 > Isaiah 53:12
          Raised from the dead > 1 Timothy 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:8 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Descendant of David > 1 Timothy 2:8, 2 Timothy 2:8 > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10
          He was revealed in flesh > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 49:5, Isaiah 53:2
          Vindicated in spirit > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 52:13
          Seen by angels > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Psalm 91:11
          Proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Psalm 9:11, Isaiah 49:6, Isaiah 49:22
          Taken up in glory > 1 Timothy 3:16 > Isaiah 52:13
          His testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession > 1 Timothy 6:13* > Luke 3:1, John 18:33-37

          Present
          The image of the invisible God > Colossians 1:15 > Genesis 1:26, Exodus 33:20
          In him all things hold together > Colossians 1:17 > Psalm 89:28

          Future
          Will shine on you > Ephesians 5:14 > Isaiah 26:19, Isaiah 60:1, Malachi 4:2
          Coming > 2 Thessalonians 2:8 > Isaiah 26:19-21a, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13, Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8
          Coming and Judging > 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 > Psalm 96:13, Daniel 12:2

          * 1 Timothy appears to be a late forgery that relies on the gospels.

          And General Epistles:

          Past
          Came by water and blood > 1 John 5:6 > Zechariah 13:1
          Blood, lamb without blemish > 1 Peter 1:19 > Exodus 12:5, Exodus 12:13
          Rejected by mortals > 1 Peter 2:4 > Isaiah 53:3
          Chosen and precious in God’s sight > 1 Peter 2:4 > Isaiah 42:1
          Suffered > 1 Peter 2:21, Peter 2:23; 1 Peter 4:1 > Isaiah 53:3
          Abused, didn’t return abuse > 1 Peter 2:23 > Isaiah 53:7
          Bore our sins > 1 Peter 2:24 > Isaiah 53:12
          Put to death > 1 Peter 3:18 > Isaiah 53:8-9
          Laid down his life > 1 John 3:16 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:12

          Present
          Gone into heaven > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1, Isaiah 53:12
          At the right hand of God > 1 Peter 3:22 > Psalm 110:1
          Angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him > 1 Peter 3:22 > Isaiah 45:22-25
          Advocate for sin > 1 John 2:1 > Isaiah 53:11-12

          Future
          Will come > James 5:7-8, 1 Peter 1:5, 1 Peter 4:7, 2 Peter 3:10, 1 John 3:2 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Isaiah 25:8
          Will come judging > James 5:9, Jude 14-15 > Psalm 96:13; Daniel 12:2

          The Epistles know nothing about the Gospel Jesus, the preacher/teacher from Galilee.

        • You’re still assuming what you need to prove – that the fundamentalist nonsense that you believed was right about Jesus being a perfect match to those texts which you keep copying and pasting, and that that is what “brothers of the Lord” denoted.

        • Greg G.

          You only think that because you are assuming what you want to prove. I start with no assumption about Jesus’ existence because it is irrelevant to me. My job doesn’t depend on whether I believe it or pretend to believe it. It is merely an academic question.

          I find nothing in the Epistles that show that they are about a first century person. The Gospels have a lot of material that is absurd that we can dismiss for that reason or because it is similar to elements in the literature of the day. But many of the plausible accounts in the Gospels have elements from the literature of the day so we cannot trust that either.

        • My job doesn’t depend on it, and it certainly doesn’t seem like an academic question for you. It is an academic question for me, and seems to be a matter of apologetics and counterapologetics for you. History has to deal all the time with sources that are untrustworthy in a variety of ways. Fiction is not untrustworthy unless you mistake it for history. The Gospels do not seem to be fiction. They are works connected with a movement that proclaimed Jesus as the long-awaited heir to the kingship. They are distortions of history, and historians have great expertise in figuring out what can usefully be gleaned about events and people from those who seek to misrepresent them.

        • Doubting Thomas

          The Gospels do not seem to be fiction.

          Please tell us you’re not serious about this.

        • I should have expressed myself more clearly. They don’t read like novels written for pure entertainment purposes. They most certainly do read like the fictional lives of great people that we encounter, some of which have little that is historical except the name, others of which contain much that is accurate but legend and miracle has been added. Does that make things clearer? Would you still disagree?

        • Doubting Thomas

          We can debate the purpose of the gospels, but they seem to clearly be fiction. We don’t move “Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” out of the fictional section simply due to the namesake.

        • Of course! But we don’t move Abraham Lincoln out of the category of historical persons either, and we might just even be able to work out that he had been one even if the Vampire Hunter story had been the only one that survived…

        • Doubting Thomas

          But we do put Abe Lincoln: Vampire Hunter in the fiction section due to it’s blatantly fictitious nature regardless of its namesake much like the gospels should be considered fictional regardless of the historicity of Jesus. Jesus can be historical and the gospels can be fiction. This is why I was incredulous that you would say something like “The Gospels do not seem to be fiction.”

          Yes. Yes they do.

        • Yes, I should have been clearer. I don’t think that the Gospels were written as fiction of the kind that has no basis in any historical persons or events and which was written solely for entertainment. The Gospels contain a great deal that is fiction of one sort or another. I don’t think that trying to put them in a bookshelf section based on a binary “fiction” vs. “nonfiction” categorization would be helpful!

        • Greg G.

          My job doesn’t depend on it,

          Are you sure? Mike Licona didn’t seem to think his job relied on him believing in Matthew’s zombie apocalypse.

          it certainly doesn’t seem like an academic question for you.

          It has become a hobby.

          It is an academic question for me, and seems to be a matter of apologetics and counterapologetics for you.

          Why don’t you have better arguments?

          History has to deal all the time with sources that are untrustworthy in a variety of ways. Fiction is not untrustworthy unless you mistake it for history.

          Exactly! You should compare the Gospel of Mark with the literature of the day to make sure the elements are not borrowed.

          The Gospels do not seem to be fiction.

          Legion and the pigs? The Feeding of the 5000/4000 aren’t riffing on Elisha’s Feeding of the 100? Walking on water like Hermes? The Pharisees popping up in a field on the Sabbath sounds like a Hee Haw skit. Jesus cited 1 Samuel 21 but the Pharisees likely would have countered with 1 Samuel 22 where the whole village was slaughtered because of what happened in 1 Samuel 21.

          They are works connected with a movement that proclaimed Jesus as the long-awaited heir to the kingship. They are distortions of history, and historians have great expertise in figuring out what can usefully be gleaned about events and people from those who seek to misrepresent them.

          The Jews had the same prophecies and signs which led them to believe the Messiah was coming. Some of them went so far as to pick a fight with the Romans on that assumption.

          Paul wasn’t much different. He mentioned the coming of the Lord a couple of times and used the first person plural for those who would be alive at the time and the third person plural for the dead who would be raised.

          Paul expected it to be so soon that there was no reason to get married unless you were too horny to not resist.

        • Of course people like Mike Licona who work at religious institutions have requirements. Many of the same institutions also teach dubious things in the biology classroom. Why are you looking there instead of at mainstream secular scholarship?!?!

        • Greg G.

          Does your department get donations from patrons? Are you sure those patrons would be as generous if there was a known mythicist in the faculty? If the donations were reduced, would there be a reduction in staff? Who would then be under pressure?

        • Academics at my university have academic freedom. I’ve had religious people contact the university to complain about things I’ve said about the Bible and about young-earth creationism. The administration is amused when that happens.

          Are you really unfamiliar with the existence of private non-sectarian institutions of higher education?!

        • Greg G.

          You missed this:

          Legion and the pigs? The Feeding of the 5000/4000 aren’t riffing on Elisha’s Feeding of the 100? Walking on water like Hermes? The Pharisees popping up in a field on the Sabbath sounds like a Hee Haw skit. Jesus cited 1 Samuel 21 but the Pharisees likely would have countered with 1 Samuel 22 where the whole village was slaughtered because of what happened in 1 Samuel 21.

          Do those not seem like fiction to you?

        • Of course there is fiction in the Gospels. Who suggested otherwise? But looking for resemblances the way fundamentalists do when they relate passages to one another is not the way to figure that out. Some may be pure fiction (e.g. the infancy stories). Some seem to be based on real events overlaid with echoes of the Jewish scriptures, sometimes with results that show Jesus is being crowbarred into a framework into which he doesn’t naturally fit.

        • Greg G.

          Of course there is fiction in the Gospels. Who suggested otherwise?

          You did with “The Gospels do not seem to be fiction.”

          I posted that two minutes before you posted a reply to Doubting Thomas about that.

          Some seem to be based on real events overlaid with echoes of the Jewish scriptures, sometimes with results that show Jesus is being crowbarred into a framework into which he doesn’t naturally fit.

          If we know there is fictional elements, then we should consider how these pieces are concocted. I see a pattern in the Gospels, especially Mark, where he takes elements from a fictional story and blends it with OT scriptures. Legion lives in tombs and wore chains. Isaiah 65:4 has tombs, secret places, and eating swine while Psalm 107:10 has darkeness, gloom, misery, and irons. In the Odyssey, Circe turned sailors into pigs, while the Cyclops herded sheep. The Cyclops name was “Polyphemus”. The roots are “poly-” as in “polygon” and “phem-” as in “blasphemy”, so it means “many speak of” or “famous”. In the Textus Receptus, the word “lego” for “said” immediately precedes “legio” for “Legion”, and that is followed by an emphasis on the many, using “polys”, so “legolegio” forms a visual bilingual pun that means “many speak of”, so Mark may have been tipping his hand so his readers know he is mimicking Polyphemus. Mark would not be the first or last to borrow from Homer.

          Then the mass Feedings would be based on 2 Kings 4:42-44 but why two? Odysseus’ son attended two feasts, one of which had nine ranks of 500, which rounded up and down gives us the numbers in Mark.

          Do you accept that the beheading of John the Baptist is based on Esther? The “up to half my kingdom” seems like a dead give-away.

        • As I’ve already clarified, I should have said “pure fiction without any trace of history.” That was what I meant.

          I don’t find that every similarity is indicative of direct borrowing, and even when there is borrowing, we have to ask whether it is added to the telling of a historical event in order to encourage the reader to connect the two stories or events.

          These articles of mine address my qualms with excesses in parallelomania:
          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2015/08/mcg398026.shtml
          http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/03/mcg388024.shtml

        • Greg G.

          As I’ve already clarified, I should have said “pure fiction without any trace of history.” That was what I meant

          .

          Yes, I noted that you posted your clarification after I posted.

          I don’t find that every similarity is indicative of direct borrowing, and even when there is borrowing, we have to ask whether it is added to the telling of a historical event in order to encourage the reader to connect the two stories or events.

          Sure, sometimes a coincidence is just a coincidence. But patterns of coincidences deserve an actual explanation.

          From the first link:

          If everything is compatible with mythicism – just as nothing can contradict Thiering’s pesher approach to the New Testament, and any details in a text can be allegorized if one is determined to do so – then far from demonstrating mythicism to be correct, this shows it to be unfalsifiable, and thus scarcely worthy of serious scholarly discussion.

          This sounds like creationist reasoning – “If everything is compatible with evolution…”

          If the explicit statements in Paul’s writings and in the Gospels to the effect that Jesus was a historical figure are unable to count as counterevidence to mythicism, then clearly nothing can, and the appropriate scholarly response to this approach is to set it aside as “not even wrong.”

          In other articles, you lament that Paul doesn’t say much about Jesus. Why is that supposed to be a point in your favor now?

          I have shown that everything that Paul says about Jesus can be found in the OT. I have shown that Paul disdains human knowledge and says he did not get his gospel from humans. I have shown that Paul insists on the written word of the OT. Even the other early epistles only refer to Jesus in terms of the OT. The early epistles appear to have though Jesus lived centuries before the first century and is going to return during that generation, much like the Jews of the day believed when they fought the Romans.

          You know that much of the gospels are fiction or exaggerated. All you can do is pare them down to the merely plausible, then call that evidence for a historical Jesus. Then you reject evidence to the contrary the way creationists reject evidence for evolution by mocking it with words like “parallelomania”.

        • MR

          Of course there is fiction in the Gospels.

          What are some of the motivations that would cause someone to lie in these writings?

        • Wanting to make the historical Jesus seem more impressive to people they were trying to persuade to believe that he was the long-awaited king?

        • MR

          Perhaps, I’m mistaken. Aren’t you an historian? Is that all you can come up with? I mean what are reasons historians consider for any text not just specifically for these texts?

        • Are you asking me for a comprehensive list of all the reasons that people invent things in every kind of literature? I presumed you were asking for an example. What purpose would such a list serve here? The possible reasons people lie are numerous, and which might apply to a particular case depends on the evidence, does it not?

        • MR

          What are some of the top reasons a historian would consider? And then with the specific text what are some of the top reasons a historian would consider?

        • Susan

          Of course there is fiction in the Gospels.

          What isn’t considered “fiction” in the Gospels and on what basis?

          This is an open question. I am not assuming there was no historical Jesus.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul received information about the Christian Gospel from other human
          beings, whatever he might or might not say to the contrary.

          So we’ve now concluded that Paul us untrustworthy as a witness, by their own standards. SMH.

        • If you are looking for people who are never untrustworthy, you’re not holding Paul to a realistic standard. No one is always trustworthy except in the fictional world imagined by religious apologists.

          But Paul doesn’t say “I received from the Lord through divine revelation” or “I saw in a dream.” He emphasizes the ultimate source of his information.

          But if what it takes to get you to recognize that he was well-poised to know about a historical Jesus is for you to view him as completely untrustworthy on everything else, I can live with that…

        • Greg G.

          But Paul doesn’t say “I received from the Lord through divine revelation” or “I saw in a dream.”

          Paul actually does say that.

          Galatians 1:11-12 (NRSV)11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

          Since everything he knows about Jesus comes from the scripture, it follows that he considered that coming from Jesus.

          He emphasizes the ultimate source of his information.

          Paul’s source was the written word. He had disdain for human authority.

          1 Corinthians 9:8-10 (NRSV)
          8 Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same? 9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” Is it for oxen that God is concerned? 10 Or does he not speak entirely for our sake? It was indeed written for our sake, for whoever plows should plow in hope and whoever threshes should thresh in hope of a share in the crop.

          1 Corinthians 4:6 (NRSV)
          6 I have applied all this to Apollos and myself for your benefit, brothers and sisters, so that you may learn through us the meaning of the saying, “Nothing beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of one against another.

          Romans 1:1-2
          1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, 2 which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures,

          Romans 16:25-27
          25 Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26 but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith— 27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

          1 Corinthians 2:6-9
          6 Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish. 7 But we speak God’s wisdom, secret and hidden, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this; for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written,

          “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
              nor the human heart conceived,
          what God has prepared for those who love him”—
                  (Isaiah 64:4)

          The pseudo-Pauline author of Ephesians said:

          Ephesians 3:2-9
          2 for surely you have already heard of the commission of God’s grace that was given me for you, 3 and how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I wrote above in a few words, 4 a reading of which will enable you to perceive my understanding of the mystery of Christ. 5 In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: 6 that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 7 Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given me by the working of his power. 8 Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;

        • Doubting Thomas

          Since everything he knows about Jesus comes from the scripture, it follows that he considered that coming from Jesus.

          It’s also an odd thing to say if he knew Jesus’ actual brother since you would think Paul might have asked him a question or two about the life of Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          It would be strange to not include the brother as a super-apostle and claim to have knowledge not inferior to his.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ah see I was a good few hours late on this obvious point? A shoulda known already.

        • He says that he didn’t depend on the apostles in Jerusalem for his gospel that he proclaimed. Not that everything he knew he knew in that way. And even in that case, do you really think Paul didn’t know what Christians were proclaiming when he persecuted them? And if you accept his claim without due skepticism, won’t you have to posit a miracle of some sort to explain why his gospel and his tradition about the last supper/Lord’s Supper matched that of the other apostles?

          But whatever you choose to believe, a historian has to pursue a more mundane explanation of this. No miraculous revelations.

        • Greg G.

          He says that he didn’t depend on the apostles in Jerusalem for his gospel that he proclaimed. Not that everything he knew he knew in that way. And even in that case, do you really think Paul didn’t know what Christians were proclaiming when he persecuted them?

          There you go assuming what you want to prove, again. Those Christians would have only know what they read in the scripture, too.

          And if you accept his claim without due skepticism, won’t you have to posit a miracle of some sort to explain why his gospel and his tradition about the last supper/Lord’s Supper matched that of the other apostles?

          Check out 1 Corinthians 10:14-22. Paul develops a pattern of an exhortation, a question, and an explanation using the same metaphor as the question. But the third question is not answered in sequence. The explanation is in 1 Corinthians 11:30-31. This looks like a seam of an interpolation. The Eucharist account in 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 appears to be a forged interpolation based on Luke’s account which Luke got from Mark.

          But whatever you choose to believe, a historian has to pursue a more mundane explanation of this. No miraculous revelations.

          Paul didn’t need a miraculous revelation to believe he had a miraculous revelation. The historian should be able to distinguish the difference.

        • How do you know what early Christians did and didn’t know?!

          If you say that Paul consulted with no human being, and got information from no human source, and yet ended up with precisely the same core message and even the same details about Jesus’ final meal with his disciples (or a celestial meal, if you prefer), then you most certainly do need to provide an explanation for how this could be possible.

          Simply saying that anything that does not fit your view is an interpolation is not likely to persuade anyone not already committed to the same ideologically-driven procrustean task of forcing the evidence to say what you want it to…

        • Greg G.

          How do you know what early Christians did and didn’t know?!

          The early Christians seem to have been Jews expecting the Messiah because of ancient writings.

          If you say that Paul consulted with no human being, and got information from no human source, and yet ended up with precisely the same core message and even the same details about Jesus’ final meal with his disciples (or a celestial meal, if you prefer), then you most certainly do need to provide an explanation for how this could be possible.

          I just told you that was an obvious interpolation. Mark made up the story based on the verse in the part I set off as a blockquote in https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4382987313 under the Past segment.

          At one time, I thought Paul got it from Cilicia based on:

          Plutarch, The Life of Pompey, Chapter 24: (first sentence)
          The power of the pirates had its seat in Cilicia at first, and at the outset it was venturesome and elusive; but it took on confidence and boldness during the Mithridatic war, because it lent itself to the king’s service.

          (last sentence)
          They also offered strange sacrifices of their own at Olympus, and celebrated there certain secret rites, among which those of Mithras continue to the present time, having been first instituted by them.

          I figured Mark got it from 1 Corinthians, directly or indirectly. But the evidence that there is a huge interpolation in 1 Corinthians 10 to 11 that includes the Corinthian Eucharist is to great to ignore.

          Simply saying that anything that does not fit your view is an interpolation is not likely to persuade anyone

          I didn’t simply say it. I told you where to look and what to look for. I give you enough credit to be able to figure it out.

          not already committed to the same ideologically-driven procrustean task of forcing the evidence to say what you want it to…

          You lack self-awareness.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I figured Mark got it from 1 Corinthians, directly or indirectly. But the evidence that there is a huge interpolation in 1 Corinthians 10 to 11 that includes the Corinthian Eucharist is to great to ignore.

          McGrath whines on about how mythicists punt to interpolation as the go-to trope in explaining awkward passages in Paul, which isn’t even what mythicists are doing. They are citing mainstream scholars on much of this material.

          And these are scholars that would agree with that conclusion of yours…A project at the University of Massachusetts for example…

          Corinthians 11:23-26, words of institution of the Eucharist [Adding Gospel tradition]

          https://www.umass.edu/wsp/alpha/texts/new%20testament/paul/interpolations.html

          Neil Godfrey writes a good OP at Vridar and the first comment by Roger Parvus is particularly interesting too.

          McGrath could hardly accuse William O. Walker Jr. of supporting MJ by seeing interpolation in Paule.

          https://www.westarinstitute.org/membership/westar-fellows/fellows-directory/william-o-walker-jr/

          His book…

          Interpolations in the Pauline Letters (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement S.)

          In this fundamental and at times provocative study, Walker demonstrates that Paul’s letters contain later, non-Pauline additions or interpolations and that such interpolations can sometimes be identified with relative confidence. He begins by establishing that interpolations are to be assumed simply on a priori grounds, that direct text-critical evidence is not essential for their recognition, that the burden of proof in their identification is lighter than most have assumed, and that specific evidence for interpolation is often available.Successive chapters then argue that 1 Cor. 11.3-16, 1 Cor. 2.6-16, 1 Cor. 12.31b-14.1a, and Rom. 1.18-2.29 are in fact non-Pauline interpolations, and Walker goes on to summarize arguments for the same conclusion regarding five additional passages. A brief epilogue addresses the question of interpolations and the canonical authority of scripture.

          https://www.amazon.co.uk/Interpolations-Pauline-Letters-Testament-Supplement/dp/1841271985

          I also read this interesting take on the Eucharist in Paul…

          https://isthatinthebible.wordpress.com/about/

          I guess McGrath hopes that no one here is aware of these other ideas from his peers?

          Or is it as you say, just his own lack of self-awareness when trying to put the rest of us down on issues that aren’t as out there as he’d have us all imagine?

        • Greg G.

          How do you know what early Christians did and didn’t know?!

          I think Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15. He said Cephas saw that Jesus died for sins and was buried according to the scriptures, which would be from a Suffering Servant song, specifically Isaiah 53:8-9, and was raised on the third day, according to the scriptures, most likely Hosea 6:2. Then he says others bought into the idea.

          Paul cites and quotes Hosea and Isaiah together in Romans. He quotes Hosea by name in Romans 9:25-26, quoting from Hosea 2:23 and Hosea 1:10, and immediately quotes Isaiah by name in Romans 9:27-28 (Isaiah 10:22-23) and again in Romans 9:29 (Isaiah 1:9).

          We can see there are different varieties of early Christians. Galatians is refuting James and Cephas for their adherence to following the law rather than relying on faith and Paul has a problem with their insistence on circumcision. He also points out that their insistence on circumcision is to avoid the persecution of the cross in Galatians 6:12. Paul seems to follow the teachings of Hillel with Galatians 5:14, saying that if you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the whole law.

          James replied by sending out at least a dozen letters to churches. He took issue with Galatians 5:14 by saying it is a good start but if you do not follow the whole law, you will be committing adultery and murder and in James 2:8-11. Paul replied to that in Romans 13:9-10 by saying that if you love, you will not commit adultery, murder, steal, or covet.

          Paul quoted Genesis 15:6 in Galatians 3:6 that Abraham was justified by faith. James argued against that in James 2:17-26, arguing that Abraham was justified by works when he tied Isaac to the altar.

          Paul responded to that in Romans 4:1-3, where he quotes Genesis 15:6 verbatim as it is in James 2:23 which is a little different than how he quoted it in Galatians 3:6. But in Romans 4:10-12, Paul asks whether Abraham was justified before or after he was circumcised. That completely refutes James’ argument because Abraham was justified before he was circumcised and before Isaac was born. IIRC, Martin Luther pointed that out.

          James takes some other swipes at Galatians. After Paul talked about Abraham, he talked about the faith of his wives. James brings up the works of another woman, Rahab the prostitute.

          Perhaps James 4:15 is a comment inspired by Galatians 1:1 & 6:14. I’m not sure if Paul is agreeing or mocking in 1 Corinthians 4:19 about adding “If the Lord wills” but the Greek “ὑμᾶς ἐὰν ὁ κύριος θελήσῃ καὶ” is identical where Paul is talking about his future travels.

        • Greg G.

          If you say that Paul consulted with no human being, and got information from no human source, and yet ended up with precisely the same core message and even the same details about Jesus’ final meal with his disciples (or a celestial meal, if you prefer), then you most certainly do need to provide an explanation for how this could be possible.

          If there were no stories about a first century Jesus and Mark only knew of some letters written by Paul, then wrote a fictional story about a Jesus of Galilee…

          You are assuming your conclusion to propose such a proposition…

          Simply saying that anything that does not fit your view is an interpolation is not likely to persuade anyone not already committed to the same ideologically-driven procrustean task of forcing the evidence to say what you want it to…

          And you are projecting.

        • Pofarmer

          Out of the entire Pauline Corpus, there are exactly 3 verses they have to hang their hat’s on, that’s it. ” James, the Lord’s brother”, which has been pointed out ad nauseum certainly isn’t universally agreed as genuine, and there are ancient sources even insisting that it was fictive and not “material.” Then you have “Born of a woman, Born under the Law”, which in a little reading I’ve done,could also be translated as “Come of a woman, come under the Law.” Which, is sufficiently vague to not show any real knowledge. But, could also plausibly have an astrological or heavenly meaning because they didn’t have the same view of the world and the Heavens as we do. Even if it’s original to Paul, it may not mean what a modern reader thinks it means, or even a Pagan, non-Jewish one. And then the Lord’s supper, which, as far as I know, is pretty widely regarded to be an interpolation, for the obvious reasons you’ve already outlined, and that’s it. That’s the slam dunk. You have texts that you know were monkeyed with, in a dead language, that the authors had access to each others works, and, and, and……….. It’s just a mess.

        • Greg G.

          Out of the entire Pauline Corpus, there are exactly 3 verses they have to hang their hat’s on, that’s it. ” James, the Lord’s brother”…

          Then you have “Born of a woman, Born under the Law”

          That’s two verses, Galatians 1:19 and Galatians 4:4.

          I’ll say again that I think Paul was using sarcasm when he called James “the Lord’s brother”.

          The Greek word “ginomai” appears over 700 times in the New Testament but is only translated as “born” in this one verse and only in modern translations of Galatians 4:4.

          I think Paul and probably many others thought of the metaphor of the Suffering Servant as a “hidden mystery” telling about Jesus from previous centuries. Paul relies heavily on Isaiah and Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, and Isaiah 49:5 are all about coming from a woman.

          Paul explains what he means by “under the law” in Galatians 3:10-12 where he quotes from Deuteronomy 27:26, Habakkuk 2:4, and Leviticus 18:5.

          So Paul was imagining an ancient Jesus from an old metaphor in the OT writings, while collecting details from the same sources.

        • Pofarmer

          Explain Ginomao please.

        • Greg G.
        • Pofarmer

          Well, that really changes the meaning of the thing doesn’t it?

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you know what early Christians did and didn’t know?!

          Try reading for comprehension. Not Christians, those Christians, as in those that Paul spoke to.

          If they knew anything more, then they didn’t say anything about it to Paul, because Paul says so.

          “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” ~Galatians 1:11-12 NIV

          Paul claims it wasn’t from human origin…so what was then was the Jesus he claimed he got the info from? Could Paul make it any clearer?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul didn’t need a miraculous revelation to believe he had a miraculous revelation. The historian should be able to distinguish the difference.

          But, but, but,….Joe Smith and the angel Moroni…or Mo and the flying horse to go see the Arch-angel? No? Some credulity issues are at play here.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Did Paul persecute Christians? Who says?

          If Paul was the Christian persecutor, then who took over, and why wasn’t Paul then pursued and persecuted?

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah. He emphasizes scripture.

        • Greg G.

          Regarding https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2014/09/mythicisms-missing-middle.html (Mythicism’s Missing Middle), again you are assuming your conclusion and imagining evidence to fill in the gaps. You are like Joan of Arc when you imagine an entity and ignore more down to earth explanations. Yet you accuse mythicists of doing that.

          But there are still other possibilities that mythicists ignore. What if Paul was simply a terrible communicator?

          It is not just Paul, it is all of the Epistles.

          It could be that the consensus date for the Gospel of Mark is wrong, and that Maurice Casey and James Crossley are right.

          There is evidence that Mark used Paul’s letters, so that is out.

          Paul may have sent copies along with his letters, or known that churches already had them. This may be implausible – but is it more implausible than mythicism’s scenario?

          Yes, it is far more implausible unless you assume your conclusion. If every church had something about Jesus’ life, it is strange that none of those stories survived and no reference to them survived while epistles and forged epistles did. Paul quotes and alludes to the Septuagint a lot, but never to a biography of Jesus. All he ever says about Jesus is from the ancient scriptures. Paul even alludes to Greek literature.

          What other options are there, which mythicism simply ignores, preferring to see in Paul what it wants to? How many more alternative explanations can you come up with?

          The historical Jesus case requires so much more imagination than real evidence.

          In concluding, it must be added that mythicism isn’t merely a filling of Paul’s silences with things he doesn’t say, but a filling of Paul’s silences with things that contradict what he explicitly says.

          As you have so perfectly illustrated here, it is the historicists that are merely filling Paul’s silences. The only contradictions of Paul is the contradictions to your interpretations of Paul.

        • Pofarmer

          So, one little tid bit I picked up, to further screw up this thread. James the Just get’s mentioned in Josephus as a particularly righteous dude. Josephus even says that it may have been James death that sparked the Jewish revolt. So, would Paul have inserted the meeting with James the Just as a means of embellishing his own credentials? I mean, he sort of uses other historical figures as well.

        • Josephus mentions James the brother of Jesus “called Christ.”

          Paul inserts a respected person as disagreeing with him, who he did not in fact know and yet whose emissaries to Antioch and Galatia he was concerned about?

        • Pofarmer

          Josephus mentions James the brother of Jesus “called Christ.”

          I’m in the “clearly an interpolation” camp on that one, for multiple reasons.

          Paul inserts a respected person as disagreeing with him, who he did not in fact know and yet whose emissaries to Antioch and Galatia he was
          concerned about?

          Well sure, but this gives him street cred to make his argument. “I met with those guys, and this is what we agreed on” sort of. He seeks to put himself on equal footing with the “pillars” in Jerusalem. The folks in the hinterlands wouldn’t have any way to check if this is true or not.

        • Greg G.

          Josephus mentions James the brother of Jesus “called Christ.”

          Did he? I read Origen as associating the James of Galatians with the James “the brother of Jesus” referring to Jesus Damneus in JA 20 but the “who was called Christ” appears to refer to Galatians. Eusebius had Origen’ copy of Josephus’ writings. The Testimonium Flavianum was certainly not in Origen’s copy but it has Eusebius’ fingerprints all over it. The reference to “Christ” would make no sense without the TF.

          Paul inserts a respected person as disagreeing with him, who he did not in fact know and yet whose emissaries to Antioch and Galatia he was concerned about?

          Paul said he did know James. He is discrediting him by saying that they didn’t add to his knowledge. Paul claims he is sent by the Lord, not by human authority, and points out that James sends people to places by human authority. Paul is sarcastically saying that James is putting himself at the level of the Lord, as if he is the Lord’s brother.

          James only refers to Jesus as Lord, not as his brother. Jude claims to be the brother of James, but not Jesus.

        • I am not talking about Origen I am talking about Josephus:

          But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.

          Jewish Antiquities 20.9.1

          How does your interpretation apply to the 1 Corinthians 9:5 reference?

          https://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/9-5.htm

        • Greg G.

          I am saying that Eusebius apparently forged the Testimonium Flavianum and there is plenty of evidence for that. Origen of Caesarea bequeathed his library to the city where is was curated by Pamphilus of Caesarea who was the mentor of Eusebius of Caesarea. If Origen never saw the TF, it couldn’t have been in there because he mentions Josephus several times and the John the Baptist paragraph a couple of times, which is very near where the TF is now found. It would be remarkable if Origen had overlooked it or forgot about it.

          Without the TF, the “one called Christ” would make no sense to Josephus’ readers, only to Christians so it was not originally in there. Origen connected the James in there with the James in Galatians but when he discussed it, he was getting “the brother of the Lord” from Galatians and not from AJ 20. It seems that Eusebius fixed that, too, in Antiquities.

          How does your interpretation apply to the 1 Corinthians 9:5 reference?

          It appears that someone was questioning whether the Corinthians should be supporting Paul financially in that passage. Paul is defending his pay by pointing out the others having greater expenses and supporting his worth with Bible verses. He is saying that those arguing against him are using human authority right after calling them “brothers of the Lord”, then proceeds to cite the Bible to defend his pay.

          1 Corinthians 9:8 (NRSV)8 Do I say this on human authority? Does not the law also say the same?

          In Galatians, he brought up that he was not using human authority or that his gospel was from human origins, which implies that others were using human authority.

          Galatians 1:1 (NRSV)1 Paul an apostle—sent neither by human commission nor from human authorities, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead—

          Galatians 1:11-12 (NRSV)11 For I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Another coincidence….ave just been reading through this stuff again…

          Josephus’ James

          Ehrman also throws Antiquities 20, with its “brother of Jesus, called Christ,” onto the pile as an “independent tradition” of the phrase. I have dealt with this passage in instalment 6, as I did quite thoroughly in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Ehrman failed to address any of it, especially the point that, like the Testimonium, Eusebius is the first to witness to the presence of that phrase in Antiquities 20.

          Naturally, Josephus would hardly have said “brother of the Lord,” nor would Eusebius, or some other interpolator, have made the glaring mistake of making him do so, but Ehrman can hardly appeal to it as a tradition supporting “brother of the Lord” in Galatians 1:19 precisely because it is not the same wording. To declare that both have the same meaning is once again to beg the question. And it illustrates the point that “brother of Jesus” would indeed have been the more natural way to express the idea.

          Besides, “brother of Jesus” may even have been written by Josephus, but referring to another Jesus (the son of Damneus mentioned immediately after), with only “called Christ” added by a Christian.

          https://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/06/18/20-earl-dohertys-response-to-bart-ehrmans-case-against-mythicism-part-20/

        • Ignorant Amos

          Also…if Paul did indeed meet a sibling of Jesus, then his claim about his source information about Jesus, not being inferior to those he had met and only being through revelation and scripture, is highly suspect. Are we to believe that Paul and the other super apostles were in the company of Jesus’s brother and got no information from him, or bothered to report any such chat, no matter how mundane?

          The most parsimonious explanation is that of fictive kinship…a brotherhood of Christ.

        • I find Carrier’s rebuttal to the Josephus story quite convincing.

          The key is at the end, where we find that Jesus, the son of Damneus, was made the new high priest after Ananus was removed for overreach. Ananus had killed James, the brother of Jesus, and this new role for Jesus son of Damneus could’ve been an attempt to right the wrong.

          The clumsy phrase “who was the Christ” could’ve been a marginal note that got incorporated into the body of the text by a later copyist. With this interpretation, we have a plausible argument that the story never had any connection to Jesus Christ.

        • In relation to the OP, at what point is it or isn’t it appropriate to draw historical conclusions based on what is hypothetically possible, versus what the evidence we have suggests?

          There is no reason I can think of why anyone would have sought to introduce a reference to James the brother of Jesus at this obscure point in what Josephus wrote. And Origen’s recollection that James the brother of Jesus was mentioned means that as far back as we know of Josephus’ writings, we have testimony to such a reference.

          Could it be a later interpolation? Sure. Is it likely? Not as far as I can determine. Is it more likely than not? I think the answer has to be no, given the evidence we currently have. If new evidence comes to light, historical conclusions are always open to revision. But surely you’re not going to suggest that historians should do otherwise than follow the evidence currently available to its most logical and probable conclusion, especially not in a comment on this particular post…

        • at what point is it or isn’t it appropriate to draw historical conclusions based on what is hypothetically possible, versus what the evidence we have suggests?

          You’re asking when we should consider the second-, third-, and fourth-most likely candidates rather than the first? I’d want to (1) find the first-most likely candidate and (2) have an estimate of how likely it is to be correct. Example: I was just discussing with someone else the question, “Who wrote the gospel of Mark?” (1) I could buy Mark as the most likely candidate, but (2) it’s not likely to be correct because it’s so tenuous an argument.

          There is no reason I can think of why anyone would have sought to introduce a reference to James the brother of Jesus at this obscure point in what Josephus wrote.

          Josephus was writing about the removal of Ananus as high priest, and his killing James ben Damneus was an important factor. I don’t see what’s obscure.

          And Origen’s recollection that James the brother of Jesus was mentioned means that as far back as we know of Josephus’ writings, we have testimony to such a reference.

          And that doesn’t conflict with Carrier’s hypothesis. His suggestion is that “who was the Christ” was the addition, not “who was the brother of Jesus.”

          surely you’re not going to suggest that historians should do otherwise than follow the evidence currently available to its most logical and probable conclusion, especially not in a comment on this particular post…

          I’m going to try to follow the best conclusion, in this or any post.

        • Pofarmer

          There is no reason I can think of why anyone would have sought to
          introduce a reference to James the brother of Jesus at this obscure
          point in what Josephus wrote.

          I’ll vote for “Because they were searching for proof of their Jesus for $500 Alex, and this was kinda sorta close and kinda sorta jived with Paul and was a handy apologetic.

        • Ignorant Amos

          surely you’re not going to suggest that historians should do otherwise than follow the evidence currently available to its most logical and probable conclusion, especially not in a comment on this particular post…

          I pished myself laughing at that bit.

          …he [McGrath] once again proves my point: He doesn’t read things with which he has a predisposition to disagree. He reacts to them. This is precisely the criticism I gave to him before. And because he doesn’t critically examine things he just flat out disagrees with, he makes gaffes and is then called on them and then he has to apologize and eat humble pie (he hasn’t yet, but perhaps he should). Which is a shame.

          https://tomverenna.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/james-mcgrath-responds-to-richard-carrier-and/

        • The last couple of blog links you’ve provided have been new to me. Thanks.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I’ve been following this stuff for almost 10 years now. Like everyone else, including the most “infamous” name in mythicism today, Richard Carrier, I just accepted the consensus that Jesus was a real person. Not that it matters, real person or not, the guys in the gospels aren’t him. And a mundane run of the mill first century preacher shouldn’t warrant cult status as a god-man. So a have to ask myself, what is McGrath’s angle?

          Then I heard about this idea that I’d not heard about. Jesus could be just a yarn from bottom up. The story of Jesus isn’t that unique. The stuff he says and does isn’t that unique. I thought there was something to this, and why have people being lying about the situation, or at least omitting important details. As I looked into it, I discovered lots of stuff that is accepted by “mainstream secular scholars” and even others that are not secular scholars.

          McGrath waxes lyrical about Carrier being “paid” to look at mythicism and give an assessment. This is true to an extent. He had to be coerced into looking at Earl Doherty’s thesis before agreeing to dig into the data. He was then “crowd funded” by patrons to cover his university debt to the tune of $20,000 grand in order to release the time and effort to devote to the project. I don’t think that was much to ask once ya see the work put in and the time it must’ve took. And as was pointed out by Korus Destroyus ad nauseam he must’ve known the impact it would have by sticking his neck out.

          There quite well may have been a first century rabble rousing Rabbi making a nuisance of himself around the first century Levant. I’m not closed off to that proposition, but the experts on the historicist side have monumentally failed to refute the key points of the best mythicist argument. That’s hardly my fault. We all waited in anticipation for Ehrmans DJE? I devoured it in a couple of sittings and even as a layperson knew enough for a lot of WTF? moments while reading it. The professional reviews decimated it as complete crap. That’s where we are on this matter. The one side has failed to refute the other side. That doesn’t mean the mythicist side is correct, it just means that it can’t be demonstrated as wrong. If creationists or ID proponents could claim the same, they’d be delighted. This is why when I hear this fuckwits comparison, the person making it’s credibility goes into the sewer and any respect I had for them goes up in smoke. This happened with McGrath a long time ago. He argues his point disingenuously, as has been witnessed here presently.

          In the whole Pauline corpus the three references to Jesus that is claimed represent Paul knew Jesus was an actual on Earth human being, are ambiguous at best. The scholars on the historicists side have so far failed to shoulder their burden. That’s why I’m not convinced. Making stupid statements like ya have to be an expert in order to understand the data might apply to quantum physics, less so for evolutionary biology, even less so for history. And when even some scholars are not convinced, and the numbers are growing, even if just sympathetic to the argument, then the issue isn’t a dead one. That’s not the same as for creationism, flat-earth theory, holocaust denial, anthropomorphic climate change denial, etc.,…that should be obvious to any scholar worth their salt, claiming it is just reinforces my belief that one is a dickhead for doing it, regardless of ones credentials. If they had a strong argument, they’d have made it by now. The faux consensus and credential snobbery isn’t convincing.

        • McGrath waxes lyrical about Carrier being “paid” to look at mythicism and give an assessment.

          Sounds like jealousy to me! Anyway, it’s not like McGrath isn’t paid, and publishing books is part of his job as well, at least informally.

          He was then “crowd funded” by patrons to cover his university debt to the tune of $20,000 grand in order to release the time and effort to devote to the project.

          That sounds like something to brag about. How many intellectual projects can get that kind of backing?

          I’m not closed off to that proposition, but the experts on the historicist side have monumentally failed to refute the key points of the best mythicist argument.

          I’m still trying to figure out McGrath’s deal. He’s a historicist who’s written loads on that topic . . . but who hasn’t quite gotten around to writing a nice summary of the evidence in favor of his position?? Even after 3 or 4 comments trying to explain this problem, he didn’t or wouldn’t understand the problem.

          That doesn’t mean the mythicist side is correct, it just means that it can’t be demonstrated as wrong. If creationists or ID proponents could claim the same, they’d be delighted.

          Wait—so the Creationist comparison is flawed?? But McGrath raised it so often! I’m sure he’ll correct himself.

          This happened with McGrath a long time ago. He argues his point disingenuously, as has been witnessed here presently.

          I was happy to give him the benefit of the doubt and encourage him to present his case. As a result, my respect for the historicist position has taken a hit, I’m afraid.

          In the whole Pauline corpus the three references to Jesus that is claimed represent Paul knew Jesus was an actual on Earth human being, are ambiguous at best.

          And that brings up the problem of Paul’s writings and the gospels being very different. It then makes it possible to respond to “Paul says” with “Yeah, but [pick a gospel] says something quite different.”

          If they had a strong argument, they’d have made it by now.

          My feeling as well.

          Still, as a debating point, the mythicist argument isn’t helpful. In the abortion debate, nothing seems to delight an anti-choicer than, “So you are OK with abortion sometimes? Well, where is that line—is it 9 months? 7 months?” They can wallow in that question for days. Similarly, I’ve had apologists who want to retreat into the mythicist argument, presumably because they at least feel comfortable arguing against that. I respond by saying that that’s not an argument I defend, so there’s nothing to talk about, and I try to encourage them to make an argument. I guess we all prefer to attack than defend, but that’s their problem. They’re making the remarkable claim, after all.

        • Greg G.

          Sounds like jealousy to me! Anyway, it’s not like McGrath isn’t paid, and publishing books is part of his job as well, at least informally.

          That is what I was thinking. They always point to the consensus of scholars at reputable institutions like they are the only ones who count but they are all getting paid.

        • Pofarmer

          I’m actually happy to put forth a mythicist argument based on our earliest writings, including things like the Didiche. Why don’t they use the Didiche, which is at least as early as the Gospels? Because it doesn’t support there position. The only weakness in the argument, honestly, is those 3 NT references. In one, the brother one is ambiguous, The born of can just as well be “Made of” and that changes that whole passage, and the Last Supper scene is a pretty easy interpolation. That’s it. You don’t have to suppose missing documents. You don’t have to give an author motivations they themselves don’t say they have, or give them sources they don’t say they have. I think mythicism is certainly the easiest reading of Paul. I think if there were an historical Jesus behind Mark, he’s unrecoverable, and you can’t imagine the Author of Mark would really know anyway, because it’s always been thought that Gospel was written in Rome.

          Hell, I’ll make my Argument.

          There was a dude named Saul, who was, for whatever reason, interacting with a Jewish apocalyptic cult we’ll just call “Christians.” He started searching his scriptures and “Bam!” he found himself agreeing with them, and even finding MORE stuff in those scriptures, and became a convert and an Apostle. At some point, he was coming up emissaries from the head of the cult in Jerusalem, and they had some sort of disagreement, which may have wound up with him getting arrested. He was released, and went on writing his epistles to Church’s he had visited, still in disagreement with the cult in Jerusalem over some matters. At some point the letters stop, and later authors make up a Martyr’s death for him. The Author of Mark, in Rome, picks up some of those letters, or interacts with one of the Church’s and see’s some of Pauls work, and makes up the Earthly Jesus story for, well, whatever reason, because it really doesn’t match Pauls story at all. More or less, the end.

        • I like it. I haven’t wrapped my head around the Paul’s Christianity vs. gospels’ Christianity thing. This is an interesting hypothesis.

          But, golly–do you think it’s more likely than the supernatural hypothesis? That’s pretty danged compelling, and it effortlessly explains everything.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol. Yes.

        • Greg G.

          There was a dude named Saul, who was, for whatever reason, interacting with a Jewish apocalyptic cult we’ll just call “Christians.” He started searching his scriptures and “Bam!” he found himself agreeing with them, and even finding MORE stuff in those scriptures, and became a convert and an Apostle.

          I concur. I think Saul/Paul may have been trying to disprove them through scripture but saw where they were getting their ideas and swallowed it. Then he came up with faith over law/works and the crucifixion on his own.

        • Pofarmer

          So, do you think that the original cult was just preaching a messiah who was going to come to Earth and Paul added the dying and rising part?

        • Greg G.

          From Jewish Wars, I see that the Jews who battled the Romans and defended Jerusalem to the end were expecting a Messiah but Josephus doesn’t say what their other beliefs were unless they were the Zealots who held similar beliefs to the Pharisees who believed in an afterlife for the good.

          1 Corinthians 15:3-4 credits Cephas as the one who came up with the “dying for sins and was buried” in one “according to the scriptures”, which would then have to be Isaiah 53:8-9 and the being “raised on the third day” under a separate “according to the scriptures” so probably Hosea 6:2. Many others apparently followed along.

          In Galatians, Paul is railing against “human authority” for verse 1:1 and pointing out that he didn’t get anything from Cephas and James. He calls them the “circumcision faction” and that James is the leader while Cephas is subservient to them. He is quite sarcastic about them in Galatians 5:11-12, wishing they would go the whole way and castrate themselves. In Galatians 3:1, Paul rhetorically asks, “Who has bewitched you?” Since he is discrediting the circumcision faction before and after but nobody else, he has to be referring to them. Then he says the Galatians had be shown that Jesus had been crucified, then goes over his “logic” citing the Old Testament (not human authority) from Galatians 3:6-14 (or so) to show that Jesus had to have been crucified. In Galatians 5:11 and 6:12, Paul associates the circumcisers with the denial of the cross.

          The Epistle of James appears to be a reply to Galatians. James 2:8-11 attempts to refute Galatians 5:14, which says love fulfills the whole law but James says it is a good start but if you don’t follow the whole law, you will be committing adultery and murdering, and James 2:17-26 argues against Galatians 3:6, which says Abraham was justified by faith, by saying that Abraham was justified by the works of Binding of Isaac. Paul used the example of the faith of Abraham’s wives and James countered with the works of Rahab the prostitute in Jericho. James seems to have thought following the law meant circumcision so he doesn’t make a big deal nor even mention it. He doesn’t address the crucifixion, either, so maybe he thought it was a silly idea, else he would have acknowledged it.

          Paul replied to James’ Abraham argument in Romans 4:1-3, then demolished James in Romans 4:10-12 by pointing out that Abraham being justified in Genesis 15:6 was before he was even circumcised, which, of course, was before Isaac was born.

          Paul replied to James 2:8-11 in Romans 13:8-10 by pointing out that if you love, you will not commit adultery, murder, steal, or covet.

          Since Paul makes a big deal out of circumcision and “preaching Christ crucified” while James doesn’t mention them, I take it that Paul thought those were important but the Jerusalem “circumcision faction” did not. They were just another sect of Judaism that were following their own interpretation of their scriptures.

        • Pofarmer

          If you read Galatians 4 1-7 with “made” instead of “born” then the whole thing makes sense. Jesus was created under God’s laws, the same as people were under God’s laws. He was made from a woman, cause, I mean, how else do you make someone? Even a heavenly someone. And they had a very different cosmology and order of Heavens that we may not know exactly what it even was. Paul in Galatians is talking about what he had been teaching when he visited the Church’s before, but we don’t even know exactly what the was. We have to fill in the blanks.

          1 Corinthians 15 3-4. Isn’t that pretty obviously a solar parallel? The whole dying and rising and 3 days thing would have been pretty common at the time in other religions.

          2000 years of people believing made up shit up until we get Donald Trump.

        • Kodie

          Jesus was created under God’s laws, the same as people were under
          God’s laws. He was made from a woman, cause, I mean, how else do you
          make someone?

          I always wonder back to Noah’s Ark, why god didn’t just kill everyone in a non-painful way, and start over with dirt like he did the first time. I mean, he didn’t even have to kill those people, right? He could have just erased them. Why can’t god erase people? Why do they have to die? So, instead of making Jesus from dirt, he had to force himself on a young woman and she had to give birth, and the freakin’ savior of humanity, which was so very important all of a sudden, had to spend 30 years just growing from infancy like a regular person, instead of fully grown creation from dirt like Adam. And Jesus couldn’t get out of the bargain. He had to be crucified violently instead of just doing anything useful to save people from god’s wrath or whatever. The story is so bullshit, I can’t even.

        • Pofarmer

          Ur making my brain hurt. Lol.

          The Noah’s ark thing, got no idea. The whole Jesus born and dying thing? I GET that. It’s powerful. I mean, God was willing to be tortured by us, and be killed for us, and die for US! We horrible sinners! I get the power of the message. I also get how damaging it is.

        • Ignorant Amos

          The Hook.

        • Greg G.

          1 Corinthians 15 3-4. Isn’t that pretty obviously a solar parallel? The whole dying and rising and 3 days thing would have been pretty common at the time in other religions.

          Paul says over and over that he was getting information from scripture, even the revelation from the Lord seems to be through scripture.

          Isaiah 53:8-9 (NRSV)8 By a perversion of justice he was taken away.    Who could have imagined his future?For he was cut off from the land of the living,    stricken for the transgression of my people.9 They made his grave with the wicked    and his tomb with the rich,although he had done no violence,    and there was no deceit in his mouth.

          The bold is where he died, the italics is for sins, and the underlined is for the “buried”. Every verse in Isaiah 53 is quoted or alluded to in the New Testament.

          Hosea 6:2 (NRSV)2 After two days he will revive us;    on the third day he will raise us up,    that we may live before him.

          In Romans, Paul cites and quotes Hosea and Isaiah back-to-back.

          While the Jews seem to have been into watching the heavens as seen in Jewish Wars, Paul seems to have been more bookish.

        • Pofarmer

          You realize you’re going to make me get my Bible out for at least pull it up on some device and read the passages around those passages right?

        • Greg G.

          Read Isaiah 53 and Zechariah 3, only 22 verses, and see how much of Christianity sounds like it comes from them. If your Bible says “Joshua” in Zechariah, be advised that the Septuagint has “Jesus” spelled as it is in the NT.

        • Pofarmer

          Much of father Brody’s stuff has been scrubbed, but now I am seeing where he was coming from I think.

        • Pofarmer

          Holy fuck.

          53 Who has believed our message
          and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
          2
          He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
          and like a root out of dry ground.
          He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
          nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
          3
          He was despised and rejected by mankind,
          a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
          Like one from whom people hide their faces
          he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

          4
          Surely he took up our pain
          and bore our suffering,
          yet we considered him punished by God,
          stricken by him, and afflicted.
          5
          But he was pierced for our transgressions,
          he was crushed for our iniquities;
          the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
          and by his wounds we are healed.
          6
          We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
          each of us has turned to our own way;
          and the Lord has laid on him
          the iniquity of us all.

          7
          He was oppressed and afflicted,
          yet he did not open his mouth;
          he was led like a lamb to the slaughter,
          and as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
          so he did not open his mouth.
          8
          By oppression[a] and judgment he was taken away.
          Yet who of his generation protested?
          For he was cut off from the land of the living;
          for the transgression of my people he was punished.[b]
          9
          He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
          and with the rich in his death,
          though he had done no violence,
          nor was any deceit in his mouth.

          10
          Yet it was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer,
          and though the Lord makes[c] his life an offering for sin,
          he will see his offspring and prolong his days,
          and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
          11
          After he has suffered,
          he will see the light of life[d] and be satisfied[e];
          by his knowledge[f] my righteous servant will justify many,
          and he will bear their iniquities.
          12
          Therefore I will give him a portion among the great,[g]
          and he will divide the spoils with the strong,[h]
          because he poured out his life unto death,
          and was numbered with the transgressors.
          For he bore the sin of many,
          and made intercession for the transgressors

        • Ignorant Amos

          Or coulda borrowed those motifs from the other dying and rising cults from the locale. Saul was supposedly from Tarsus, which was the capital of the Roman province of Cilicia, where the mystery religion of Mithraism was rife among the pirates apparently.

          According to Ulansey, the earliest evidence for the Mithraic mysteries places their appearance in the middle of the 1st Century BCE: the historian Plutarch says that in 67 BCE the pirates of Cilicia (a province on the southeastern coast of Asia Minor) were practicing “secret rites” of Mithras.

          Ritual feasting was a major part of Mithraic practices. So even if not a later interpolation in Paul as Po says, it can still be given an alternative explanation of a plagiarized motif.

        • Pofarmer

          I really think Jim and his merry band of “secular historians” have a hard time overcoming their divinity and theology degrees and seeing something in another way.

          Question. We know next to nothing about Mitraic rituals. What if the rite is about the bull, and not the dude stabbing the bull?

        • Ignorant Amos

          I really think Jim and his merry band of “secular historians” have a hard time overcoming their divinity and theology degrees and seeing something in another way.

          Without doubt.

          Question. We know next to nothing about Mitraic rituals. What if the rite is about the bull, and not the dude stabbing the bull?

          Therein lies the problems with an ink blot test, especially when it’s an incomplete Rorschach image.

        • Greg G.

          Plutarch also says the Mithras cult were still practicing those rites when he wrote in the very late first century.

        • Pofarmer

          The mithras Colt appears to have been quite popular. Could Christianity have been a Jewish version of the mithras cult?

        • Greg G.

          Hard to say because we don’t know much about the Mithras religion. Christianity seems to have come from the Pharisee sect of Judaism, from what Josephus says about them, the Sadducees, and the Essenes.

          Here is a summary of what Josephus tells us about the Pharisees:

          First Century BC
          ◦Antiquities of the Jews 13.5.9
          ◾Some actions are the work of fate
          ◾Some actions are in our own power
          ◾Actions are liable to fate
          ◾Actions not caused by fate

          ◦Antiquities of the Jews 13.10.6
          ◾Not apt to be severe in punishments
          ◾Accepted oral traditions not in the law of Moses
          ◾Had the multitude on their side vs. the Sadducees
          ◾Actions not caused by fate

          •First Century BC
          ◦Antiquities of the Jews 17.2.4 §32-45
          ◾Tended to oppose kings
          ◾Did not swear to Caesar and the king’s government
          ◾Were believed to have foreknowledge from divine inspiration

          •First Century AD
          ◦Jewish Wars 2.8.14
          ◾Esteemed most skillful in the exact explication of their laws
          ◾Ascribe all to fate and to God
          ◾To act what is right, or the contrary, is principally in the power of men, although fate does co-operate in every action
          ◾All souls are incorruptible
          ◾The souls of good men only are removed into other bodies
          ◾The souls of bad men are subject to eternal punishment

          ◦Life of Josephus 2
          ◾Like the Stoics

        • Ignorant Amos

          Carrier thinks so to a point…at least in general outline in any case.

          He discusses the similar characteristics that Christianity has with the neighboring saviour religions of the region with David Marshall at the following link…

          https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/Unbelievable-Was-Jesus-created-as-an-ancient-myth-Richard-Carrier-vs-David-Marshall

        • Ignorant Amos

          Btw…apologies for the rant…it’s just that it gets to me being compared to a creationist when it is fuck all of the sort and any cretin with half a brain should be able to recognise why.

        • Pofarmer

          It shouldn’t be lost that there’s one huge congruency between most creationists and most historicists, which Jim seems really eager to ignore…………….

        • It’s just another smokescreen, I suppose.

        • Pofarmer

          And Origen’s recollection that James the brother of Jesus was mentioned
          means that as far back as we know of Josephus’ writings, we have
          testimony to such a reference.

          What?

        • Greg G.

          There is no reason I can think of why anyone would have sought to introduce a reference to James the brother of Jesus at this obscure point in what Josephus wrote.

          They read Galatians. They see a James who was killed and he is identified as the brother of Jesus, who was mentioned earlier in the sentence. So they make a margin note with the Galatians claim so they can come back to it. Eventually it gets copied by a scribe who interprets the margin note as a correction and inserts it into the text.

        • Pofarmer

          Now how hard was THAT?

          Are we at a weak form of the argument of incredulity now?

        • Ignorant Amos

          Which makes a whole lot more sense than what James thinks makes sense…no matter how many historians think the same. But this is his fictional consensus rearing its head again. A consensus built on flawed or incomplete data. Or even the bandwagon fallacy. Who in the field is even looking at what’s happening?

          It’s this sort of thing that impacts McGrath’s credibility and demonstrates that he is not all that he’d like us all to believe.

          Origen’s recollection isn’t what James believes it was, that argument is fucked. But Jim won’t hear it. He’s all about fingers in the ears and laalalalala…consensus believe…lalalalala…old obsolete scholarship…lalalaalalal.

          And even if he did cite what he thought was in a copy of Josephus, it is still more likely a scribal ditto-graph.

          Rather than respond to the latest arguments, it’s all about what his like minded historians think. It’s absolute pants.

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Interesting.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not just plausible, it’s pretty damned obvious.

        • Like the impossibility of evolution is obvious to creationists? What is the significance if something seems “obvious” to internet debaters and not obvious to most experts in relevant fields?

        • Pofarmer

          and not obvious to most experts in relevant fields?

          Who happen to be 96% Christian with about 60% belonging to institutions with faith statements.

          And it’s not even really my opinion. It’s the opinion of at least one group lf “relevant experts” who read the text and go gooooolleeeee, lookee there, they’re actually talking about this other James, brother of Jesus Ben Damneus, so the whole “who was called Christ’ thing there doesn’t make sense. Geee Whillikers Gomer.

          I don’t remember who first pointed this out to me.

        • Mythicists are to NT historians as Creationists are to biologists–yes, we see the comparison. We can probably all agree that Creationists stick to their conclusion because of their agenda, not the evidence, and that we shouldn’t be like Creationists.

          I think you’re on a stronger foundation when you have an actual argument. Are you planning on going beyond the “Paul thought that James was the biological brother of Jesus” argument? I assumed that was just one in a series of points.

        • You hadn’t seemed to yet have grasped my extremely basic point about the unlikelihood of a group having invented a crucified Davidic messiah as the focus of a belief they wanted to convert their fellow Jews to, and so I wasn’t sure if it was worth continuing.

        • You hadn’t seemed to yet have grasped my extremely basic point about the unlikelihood of a group having invented a crucified Davidic messiah as the focus of a belief they wanted to convert their fellow Jews to

          Uh, no, you haven’t seemed to grasp that I agreed with you:

          Yes, I get that “Jesus is the Messiah! Oh, and please forget that whole shameful, public death thing” makes for a sloppy argument.

          I said that here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4383203877

          You repeated your argument, and I said in response,

          Again, agreed

          I said that here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4384308600

          What’s the problem here? Did I not say “Simon says”?

          I wasn’t sure if it was worth continuing.

          If you don’t feel like continuing, don’t, but don’t tell me that I’m not trying to engage with your conversation.

        • You wrote “And I’m still not sure why you’d bring this up as evidence for Jesus as a man.” I had presumed ot was in response to this point.

          So alas, there do seem to be insurmountable communication difficulties here, which I think is extremely unfortunate.

        • You wrote “And I’m still not sure why you’d bring this up as evidence for Jesus as a man.” I had presumed ot was in response to this point.

          First, I agreed with the problem, several times. Then, I asked that this comment of yours be in support of “Jesus was a historic figure,” since this had been something that you had insisted on yourself.

          there do seem to be insurmountable communication difficulties here

          OK.

          If I may suggest two takeaways: your Socratic-like Q&A approach was slow going. Eventually, after many, many comments, you finally made an argument (Paul said that James was Jesus’s brother), as I had asked up front. With an actual argument, we actually were able to exchange ideas.

          Second, when someone says that they’d like to read a summary of the historicist argument, have a link available, and give it immediately. No throat clearing, no preliminaries, no “well, y’know that it’s the overwhelming consensus”–just give them what they asked for. If it turns out that it’s a little higher level than they can handle, then they can do some research, or you can answer their questions.

        • Since I had many links and shared them, including a round-up of a significant amount of my discussion of various aspects of the evidence for a historical Jesus and the unpersuasive character of mythicism, I think we can stop here and, if you are so inclined, you can do further research and/or ask follow-up questions in a comment on whichever of my posts seems most relevant. I suspect our conversation might be more fruitful there anyway, since I have a stricter policy about trolls, tone, and lying about commenters than you seem to have on your own blog.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I suspect our conversation might be more fruitful there anyway, since I have a stricter policy about trolls, tone, and lying about commenters than you seem to have on your own blog.

          Bwaaaahahahahahaha!

          You mean that you can censor the awkward stuff.

          Who is trolling or lying other than you, here?

          As for your tone trolling…grow a thicker skin fer feck sake.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Even Origen thought the Galatians 1:19 passage refers to a fraternal brother of the fictive kinship kind.

          Contra Celsus 1:47

          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.

          http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/04161.htm

          Hardly a mythicist concept then, is it?

        • Has McGrath replied to this? I’ve seen your conversation with him but didn’t read every comment.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope.

          He is doing what I’ve seen him do historically. He ignores the hard stuff.

          He may claim that he has banned no one on his blog for asking questions, but that’s a lie. Both Pofarmer and I got banned for pain in the arse questions. The thread was on a previous incarnation of his blog and it seems that when he transferred his OP’s over to the revamped new Religious Prof blog, he conveniently left behind the comments thread where the evidence has been lost.

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2013/07/finally-there-will-be-a-peer-reviewed-case-for-mythicism.html

          What will happen next, being the prophet I am, is that he will pick up his ball and cry off to Croydon, because he’s not being taken seriously and some of us have said mean things. Oh, and we are not of the same intellectual level to understand his non-arguments.

          ETA…I’m not 100% certain that’s the OP in question, it was a while ago and am going a bit senile.

        • That’s a poetic portrait of the end game! We’ll have to see.

        • Ignorant Amos

          He has had four years…but crickets, I accidentally came upon the thread where over 1000 comments on the same shit. I think that might’ve been the one both Po and I got the hammer. carrier pitched up and challenged McGrath to show where he’d misrepresented McGrath’s dishonest commenting…Carrier got crickets too.

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/09/richard-carriers-dishonesty.html#comment-2273787086

          And he is still burbling the same ballix about the Josephus entries as he was four years ago, in spite of the experts. So much for scholarship and the “mainstream scholarly historian” approach.

          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/religionprof/2015/09/richard-carriers-dishonesty.html#comment-2271247353

        • What amazes me is that playing ball wouldn’t be hard for him. He’s being criticized for being evasive, which is worse (in my mind) than having a weak argument.

          James, just write up a comprehensive summary of the historicist position.

        • Greg G.

          I found an old thumb drive and started copying the files to a bigger drive. I was watching the files being added to the new folder.and saw one with McGrath’s name. Here are the contents of the file:

          davidgerard
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:17 pm | Permalink
          What’s glaringly missing from this reply is your proposed alternative. Or even your answer to the question: which elements you hold to, which you don’t, which might be. You know this area, surely you can offer us something rather than “nuh-uh, try again lol”.

          James F. McGrath
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
          My proposed alternative is the consensus of mainstream secular historical study.

          James F. McGrath
          Posted September 6, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Permalink
          The bedrock is that Jesus was someone whose followers believed him to be God’s anointed one, the descendant of David who would restore the Davidic line to the throne. The strongest evidence for this is the fact that they also acknowledged that he had been crucified, which normally would disqualify someone from serious consideration to be a dynasty-restorer. And so we get from this two key elements: messianic beliefs about him, and crucifixion. Determining the extent to which Jesus himself fostered the messianic interpretation of his role is harder to say – as we see in the famous case of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, it isn’t necessary for someone to explicitly claim to be that sort of figure, for followers to believe it, and to find methods of dealing with the cognitive dissonance that occurs when the person dies.

          Another point of consensus is that Jesus expected the dawn of the kingdom of God in the near future. Apocalypticism pervades our earliest sources, and later sources engage in damage control in relation to the fact that the end did not occur as expected.

          That he was from Nazareth is also very likely, given the fact that two sources make efforts in contradictory ways to explain how he could be born in Bethlehem – and thus fulfill that expectation – despite having been known as “Jesus of Nazareth.” Someone inventing from scratch would have had no need to invent problems for themselves in this manner.

          There are a few examples of the kinds of things that historians feel confident about.

          I do not recall creating the file or where it came from.

        • Pofarmer

          Has it really been that long? Holy cow!

        • ildi

          Sounds like McGrath has left the building.

          I suspect our conversation might be more fruitful there anyway, since I have a stricter policy about trolls, tone, and lying about commenters than you seem to have on your own blog.

          Is he calling the commenters in this thread responding to him trolls and liars? If so, has he called them out as it happened and I missed it?

        • Yes, I think he’s shaken the dust off his feet and moved on.

        • Susan

          Man, the experience was frustrating.

          And that exit makes it even worse.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah, he’s also kind of a drama queen on this issue.

        • Pofarmer

          Isn’t it obvious we’re too stupid to grasp the genius of his arguments? I mean how can anyone not understand?

        • ildi

          Well, I enjoyed learning something new (though I suspect my take-away on this topic may not be what Dr. McGrath intended), which is one of my favorite aspects of this blog 🙂

        • epeeist

          Is he calling the commenters in this thread responding to him trolls and liars?

          Well it’s a good way of avoiding admitting that you have no answers to many of the questions put to you.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Sounds like McGrath has left the building.

          Fecked aff ta Croydon then…figures.

          I suspect our conversation might be more fruitful there anyway, since I have a stricter policy about trolls, tone, and lying about commenters than you seem to have on your own blog.

          Where did the prof say this?

        • ildi

          I don’t know how to link to comments; it was a response to Bob two days ago: https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/476b3c2753072fb23aaeb015909eef1268ef549d5f703306b2f6ce91ea873903.jpg

        • Ignorant Amos

          Thanks…Disqus is acting up a wee bit with me, so a didn’t see that yet ….to link to a comment, right click on the time stamp at the top of the comment and click on the “copy link address” in the drop down, then paste it into your combox.

        • Greg G.

          That is a third way to do it. Can you press and hold the time stamp on a cell phone browser to get that drop down? (My phone is upstairs charging and I am too lazy to hike up a flight of stairs at the moment.)

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope…not on my Iphone anyway.

        • Greg G.

          Disqus is acting up a wee bit with me,

          I wonder if they were adding a new feature? I see a “Show more replies” at the bottom of long threads instead of at the bottom of the comments section. That is new.

        • Greg G.

          I don’t know how to link to comments;

          There are at least two methods. One is to mouseover the “Share >” below the comment until a short link pops up. Slide the cursor over to the link and click on it. Then it should be copied to Clipboard and you can paste it elsewhere. The mouseover is hard to do on a touchscreen though.

          The other method is to click on the time-date stamp above the comment. This will change the URL in the browser address bar to that comment. Then you can copy that and paste it where you want it. Another benefit to this method is that if you are linking to a comment on the same article, when the user clicks the link, the browser may jump to the article without having to load the whole page.

          You can use HTML to code the link but on Patheos, it is barely distinguishable from regular text since the latest site renovation. Usually I just paste the link nowadays.

        • Susan

          I don’t know how to link to comments.

          If you right click on the time stamp next to the comment, it gives you the option to copy link address.

          Then, you just paste it into your comment box.

        • Greg G.

          McGrath is a professor at Butler University. Here is the university calendar:

          https://www.butler.edu/registrar/academic-calendar-2018-2019

          Perhaps he was just trolling here during Spring Break.

        • Pofarmer

          Jim, what’s the likelihood that a dude would claim to find golden plates that had to be translated with a special hat and special stones and these plates came directly from the Angel Moroni and tells us that Native Americans are actually Ancient Israelite’s? Hm? Good Lord. Look at the Cultures that the Israelite’s were exposed to. There were how many dozen different god stories swirling around? And you find it hard to believe someone would make this shit up? People make up this kind of shit ALL THE FRICKEN TIME.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Invented? From whole cloth? Is that what you think we think happened? Anyway…

          Why is it unlikely? That’s exactly what happened. And guess what? It worked. Unless ya think all the supernatural mumbo-jumbo is historical too?

          The central figure had to get martyred for the story to work. That’s the ploy ya have to use when ya don’t actually have a conquering warrior Messiah, c/w army to overthrow the occupiers. I thought that would be obvious.

          “The idea that Jews would be (actively and aggressively) scandalized by the message of a crucified messiah because of his manner of death should be retired from New Testament scholarship.” ~ Paula Fredriksen, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle

          It’s not like crucified saviors was a thing in antiquity, or anything like that. //s

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_World%27s_Sixteen_Crucified_Saviors

          The criterion of embarrassment is one of those silly methods that constantly fail, that I was talking about.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_lK2EJLx_0

          I’m strained to understand why this stuff is novel to you…it’s all out there.

          https://vridar.org/2018/06/26/a-crucified-messiah-was-not-an-offensive-scandal-to-jews-with-a-postscript-on-evangelical-language-among-scholars/

          What I’d like to see is your attempt to refute it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Because no group has ever invented a bunch of weird nonsense as elements of a religion either before, or since? Wise ta fuck up.

        • Greg G.

          The Jews had a Davidic messiah already. Paul seems to have added the crucifixion bit per his reasoning given in Galatians 3:6-14.

        • Pofarmer

          I assumed that was just one in a series of points.

          There’s, quite literally, one other.

        • Pofarmer

          And not only that. Josephus drops in “Who was called Christ” and never EVER mentions who this Christ dude is? Josephus didn’t write like that. Here’s a clue Jim. I’d show a little less disdain if you actually showed you had a little respect for your audience and sisnt trot out this weak shit riddled with apologetics as “fact.” You can’t bluff this crowd.

        • Obviously if you excise the previous mention of Jesus called Christ then you create a difficulty.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh Good Lord.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Condescending shit that James spews is what really triggers me…especially when it is abundantly clear he ain’t as smart as he thinks he is on the basics.

        • Greg G.

          Why to you keep comparing others to creationists when you are using the Bible and ignoring the other non-Christian evidence? That is what creationists do.

        • I utilize non-Christian ancient sources and non-Christian modern authors all the time. I see no reason to continue a conversation with someone who is simply dishonest in this way, or in a place that is happy to allow it.

        • Greg G.

          Do you accept that Luke may have used Jewish Antiquities and Josephus’ autobiography in the parts of the one third of the gospel that do not correspond to Mark and Matthew and throughout Acts? If so, I retract the accusation. If not, see what I mean?

        • Pofarmer

          Apparently, you’re being unreasonable.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Unreasonable? But, but, but, James is a “mainstream secular historian” with no bias and the consensus on his side, so can’t be wrong.

        • Pofarmer

          Here’s my finger pull the other one.

        • epeeist

          James is a “mainstream secular historian”

          To offer a slight variant on Kuhn’s ideas on the way science works, you have those who work at the leading edge who may possibly generate a “paradigm shift” and those who work in “normal science” filling in the holes using the current paradigms (I would put myself in this group).

          I would suspect that James falls into the latter group, someone who should be working within the current historical paradigms and filling in the gaps in our knowledge. However I get the feeling that he may see himself as one of those working at the leading edge…

        • Susan

          when you are using the Bible and ignoring the other non-Christian evidence?

          OK. I’m just going to flat out ask you (because James F. McGrath is a terrible representative for the historical Jesus position, and maybe there’s a half-decent one out there)…

          Who do you think accepts a historical Jesus that makes a good case and takes seriously the possibility that there isn’t one?

          Is there a historian out there who makes a reasonable historical case?

          Suddenly, my experience of considering even historical Jesus has become too much like my experience of considering supernatural Jesus.

          That is, it consists of people insisting its basically true and it’s my job to disprove them.

          I assumed that historians had a solid case for some real guy. Because they said they did.

          Like biologists for evolution.

          And cosmologists for a big bang.

          The difference is that the last two make a case.

        • Pofarmer

          I’ve looked for historians to make the case for Jesus. I’ve never found one, Jim couldn’t name one, either. All I got was “standard histories list Jesus”. Well, they probably would if the authors never considered the evidence. There is no Primary evidence for Jesus. Nothing he wrote. No personal articles, no evidence written by other people about him at the right time or in the right place. There’s no indirect evidence of him either. No evidence of tomb worship or worshipping the site of the crucifiction. There’s not even any relevant Temple grafitti, for instance, in the correct time frame. Nothing. All they have is biblical evidence, and two likely interpolations in Josephus that kind of work. I actually thought the later “James the Just” references by Origen et al might be decent evidence, but that all turns out to be spurious. So, no, they’re hanging their hat on “James the brother of the Lord”, “Born of a woman, born under the Law” and the “Last Supper “ story in Pauls letter that’s the most obvious interpolation of them all. Thing is, if you read Paul’s genuine Epistles, it becomes pretty clear he’s not talking about an Earthly dude. He’s talking about a heavenly savior. There’s lot’s of little tips. Poster TruthSurge on Youtube has an excellent series called “excavating the empty tomb” that I highly recommend. He points out the total lack of any kind of Primary or corroborating evidence for Jesus. No evidence of early tomb worship, no worshiping the site of the crucifiction, not even any Temple grafiti. At the end of the day the whole things a mess, influenced way too much by the theologically inclined.

        • Greg G.

          Poster TruthSurge on Youtube has an excellent series called “excavating the empty tomb” that I highly recommend.

          I would like to second that recommendation. He does voices for computer games so his voice-over is excellent on top of the videoes themselves. Can I third the recommendation, too?

        • Pofarmer

          How many hours do you think he had in compiling and researching and editing and producing all that?

        • Greg G.

          A lot of time on research, a lot of time on graphics, a lot of time on recording, and a lot of time on editing.

        • A bizarre (or maybe Bizarro) idea comes to mind. Since James can’t provide a thorough, thoughtful, short-ish historicist argument, maybe I should. The process would certainly be educational to me.

          Besides this comment of yours, I found this one:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/03/a-popular-blunder-bringing-something-into-existence-with-an-if-christian-hypothetical-god-fallacy/#comment-4387955268

          They’ll get me started. Can you (or anyone) point me to more evidence that supports the historicist position? My goal, obviously, would be to summarize the historicist position such that James or any other historicist would find it accurate and complete (given the limitations imposed by word count).

          Following that, I’d do the critique.

        • Pofarmer

          i’m not sure there’s any account you can do that doesn’t start with “there was this dude named Jesus”

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Helpful, thanks!

        • Ignorant Amos

          Conclusion from the first link…

          Few gospel scholars doubt the importance or the interest of the discipline of questing for the historical Jesus; however the discipline is currently in some disarray because of the vast number of portraits of Jesus that have been proposed and the inability of the methodological controls that are widely accepted to make much progress in deciding between them. There are few facts about Jesus that are not contested by one scholar or another.

          From a conservative perspective, this disarray is direct a result of casting undue suspicion on the canonical gospels. Once this is done, it becomes arbitrary when one curbs one’s scepticism and starts to accept the veracity of the various bits of the gospel accounts. The evidence is that one’s presuppositions can dramatically alter the understanding one ends up with of Jesus.

          Accepting the gospel accounts of Jesus and veracious historical accounts does not, of course, immediately answer all the various historical questions which one must face. But it seems to me, that the resulting Jesus fits well into his contemporary context, and can best explain the response of his contemporaries to him, his death, and why his followers gave creedance to their experiences of his resurrection.

        • We don’t even know who wrote the gospels or when. Not a great foundation as evidence for much of anything.

        • Greg G.

          it becomes arbitrary when one curbs one’s scepticism

          Skepticism seems to be avoided.

          The evidence is that one’s presuppositions can dramatically alter the understanding one ends up with of Jesus.

          So must adjust your presuppositions to come out to the consensus position.

        • epeeist

          The problem is that there is little to no data.

          If you only have one data point then you can draw whatever line you like through it.

        • Greg G.

          Who do you think accepts a historical Jesus that makes a good case and takes seriously the possibility that there isn’t one?

          Philip R. Davies came to mind immediately. When I looked him up, I saw that he died last year. From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philip_R._Davies

          Christ myth debate
          In 2012, Davies weighed in on the Christ myth theory debate in the article Does Jesus Exist? at bibleinterp.com. He applauded the book Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus edited by Thomas L. Thompson writing “the rather fragile historical evidence for Jesus of Nazareth should be tested to see what weight it can bear,” criticizing scholars like Bart Ehrman who write with near certainty about Jesus’ existence, and concluding “I don’t think, however, that in another 20 years there will be a consensus that Jesus did not exist, or even possibly didn’t exist, but a recognition that his existence is not entirely certain would nudge Jesus scholarship towards academic respectability.”

          Is there a historian out there who makes a reasonable historical case?

          Even Bart Ehrman couldn’t find any. From Did Jesus Exist as Part One:

          Odd as it may seem, no scholar of the New Testament has ever thought to put together a sustained argument that Jesus must have lived. To my knowledge, I was the first to try it, and it was a very interesting intellectual exercise.    –Bart Ehrman

          McGrath cited three pre-World War I books that did tackle the question. I went through most of the first one and found that Conybeare’s thinking was much aligned with Ehrman.

          Ehrman cited seven pieces of evidence for Jesus:
          1. Gospel of Mark
          2. Q (Matthew and Luke’s shared material)
          3. M (Matthew’s unique material)
          4 L (Luke’s unique material)
          5. sayings source
          6. passion source
          7. protoThomas

          We have Mark. The others are hypothetical documents based on the assumption that there was a real Jesus.

          Conybeare listed:
          1. Mark
          2. the non-Marcan document (he means Q)
          3. the parts of the First and
          4. Third Gospels peculiar to their authors (corresponds to M and L)
          5. the Fourth Gospel (that would be John)
          6. the history of Paul and his mission given in chapters xiii to xxviii of Acts.

          I assumed that historians had a solid case for some real guy. Because they said they did.

          I did, too, even when I new all the evidence they said they had, I assumed they had some way to arrange it so it followed that Jesus was real. Then I read Ehrman’s Does Jesus Exist? expecting that to settle it for me. Nope, it convinced me that they had no real argument.

          Since then, I started looking at how the Gospels were put together and they fell apart as history, so not evidence. Then I looked at the early Epistles and noticed that they didn’t really talk about a first century person and everything they said about Jesus comes from the Old Testament.

        • Ignorant Amos

          I assumed that historians had a solid case for some real guy. Because they said they did.

          Creationists think AiG makes a solid case for their thesis, but they haven’t looked at the alternative either. The difference between the evolutionary argument from consensus and the Jesus historicists argument from consensus is that the evolutionist can back their consensus up with evidence, the creationist can’t. The mythicists have also backed their claim up with evidence, it’s up to the other side to soundly refute it, so far, they’ve failed.

          Like ya say, if they could just make a half decent case…Ehrman and Casey failed…McGrath hasn’t even made an effort.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Josephus mentions James the brother of Jesus “called Christ.”

          Nope.

          The TF is an interpolation and without the TF the James the brother of Jesus “called Christ” makes no sense. Especially as the James and Jesus that Josephus is talking about are not the NT James and Jesus. The “called Christ” bit is more probably a Christian scribes error. Neither mentions of Jesus the Christ in AJ is known to Christians in the first two centuries of Christianity…even to those versed in Josephus who had they been in there, would in no way omitted to use those references.

          Ya need to get up to speed with recent scholarship James.

        • Origen knew of a reference to James the brother of Jesus by Josephus, and Agapius clearly seems to have known a version of the TF without the Christian interpolations, unless you want to propose that he, as a Christian, when recalling the TF, happened to forget precisely those parts that scholars think are Christian interpolations.

          But of course, it is not impossible that the entire TF is an interpolation, even if it is less likely, and apparently that is sufficient for you to choose to believe it.

        • Pofarmer

          However, Alice Whealey proved, quite conclusively, that in fact Agapius was translating the Syriac edition not of Josephus, but of Eusebius.
          And it therefore certainly did not come from any earlier manuscript
          tradition untouched by Eusebius, but the very same one, in fact from
          Eusebius himself! Moreover, Agapius was translating this passage from
          the Syriac Chronicle of Theophilus (or some other Syriac Chronicle
          closely akin), written in the 8th century, the exact same text copied
          by Michael the Syrian in the 12th century in his own Syriac Chronicle

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12085

        • Ignorant Amos

          Now you really are acting like a creationists. There’s me thinking you were a “mainstream secular historian” who wouldn’t let bias interfere.

          Origen knew of a reference to James the brother of Jesus by Josephus,…

          That’ll be the same Origen that knew nothing of the TF? Did he now? Did he really know of a reference to James the brother of Jesus by Josephus? That’s not up-to-date thinking.

          Origen was tasked by Celsus with finding anything in Josephus that corroborated anything in the Gospels. All Origen could find was a reference to John the Baptist, and a reference to James (which he then confused with the account in Hegesippus). If there had been any reference to Jesus, Origen would have quoted it or cited it. Especially if it was negative. Because Origen is standing on the authority of Josephus; the reason why his being not a Christian made him a valuable source to Origen rhetorically. If Josephus said anything negative, Celsus (or any critic ever, who is reading what Origen is writing) would be able to cite that back at him and turn Origen’s own source against him; so Origen would need to include a preemptive apologetic against any negative thing Josephus said. That’s how ancient rhetoric operated. That Origen never does that, shows there wasn’t even a negative statement against Christians in Josephus that Origen’s critics could pounce on and that Origen then would have to apologize for or run damage control on.

          https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12071

          Origen’s report offers scant reason to believe that Josephus described the Christian Jesus using the same distinctive words that Pontius Pilate had used in the Gospel of Matthew. Origen doesn’t actually say that Josephus used those words about Jesus, or anything else verbatim. As for what Origen does say, in paraphrase, that Josephus wrote about Jesus’ brother, Josephus wrote those things, but Josephus didn’t write them about James the Just.

          https://uncertaintist.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/josephus-and-jesus-v-seriously-origen-howd-you-manage-to-do-that/

          …and Agapius clearly seems to have known a version of the TF without the Christian interpolations, unless you want to propose that he, as a Christian, when recalling the TF, happened to forget precisely those parts that scholars think are Christian interpolations.

          Wait…you are punting to a 10th century Arabic translation from what source do you think?

          The 8th century Syriac chronicle authored by Theophilus of Edessa. An Arabic translation for Arabic speaking Christians from a Syriac version. Alice Whealey asserts that it is a paraphrase, rather than a verbatim translation.

          Guess where scholars think this Syriac translation originated from? That’s right…a Syriac translation of Eusebius of Caesarea’s “Historia Ecclesiastica”…go figure.

          Pofarmer has pointed out current scholarship on that anyway.

          As to the claim that Agapius forgets the Christian bits…wise up!

          Agapius’ version of the TF translated by Shlomo Pines in Alice Whealey…

          “…at this time there was wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the Messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders.”

          Forgot the Christian bits, did he? Nope, I don’t think so. Like I really don’t think you know what you are talking about. I pity your students if this is your level of scholarship.

          Maybe you meant to say a reword [paraphrase] of the TF in order to tone it down a wee bit and make it less Christian polemically.

          No matter, it is another red herring.

          What you have is an Arabic translation of a Syriac translation of a Eusebius the liar and pious frauds Josephan interpolation.

          But of course, it is not impossible that the entire TF is an interpolation, even if it is less likely, and apparently that is sufficient for you to choose to believe it.

          Less likely? I “choose” to believe it?

          Like I said. you’re not up to date with current scholarship.

        • Greg G.

          I read Galatians as Paul discrediting James and Cephas more than name dropping. The opening of Galatians is similar to other letter openings but he . It has the weird part about being sent by the Lord, not by human authority, then later mentions that James sends people places by his own human authority. Paul also says explicitly that he didn’t learn anything from them. In Galatians 2:6-9, he throws shade on them by saying what they were makes no difference to him then names them as James, John, and Cephas.

          I think the epistle of James is largely a response to Galatians sent to many churches. But Paul crushes a few of James’ arguments in Romans.

        • Pofarmer

          “Paul also says explicitly that he didn’t learn anything from them. ”

          Which is weird if it really were be Brother of Jesus.

        • That he tries to claim both that the Jerusalem apostles approved of his work, and that he doesn’t need their approval or depend on them for his gospel (he doesn’t claim to have learned nothing from them), makes perfect sense given what we can deduce right from the opening greeting about Paul’s authority being challenged in the church in Galatia.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul came into a movement that was already started. I mean, he claims to have been persecuting christians, whatever that means. So, he says he didn’t get his gospel from any man, but as revelations from the scripturs, which jives with what Greg says. I’ve seen it some scholars say that when Paul was sent to the Gentiles he was essentially cast out. Whatever argument they were having he lost, and spun it as a win. This comes up again later when he “rebukes” Cephas. All of this conflict seems really odd if the actual Brother of the one who started the cult is on the other side. And yet that authority is never intoned?

        • Greg G.

          I’ve seen it some scholars say that when Paul was sent to the Gentiles he was essentially cast out.

          Per 1 Corinthians 9, it looks like Paul was making so much money, the Jerusalem group wanted some all of it.

        • Greg G.

          I think you are reading Galatians with your sarcasm meter set to “Sunday School” mode. Calibrate it on this passage:

          Galatians 5:11-12 (NRSV)11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!

          Galatians 5:11-12 (NIV)11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. 12 As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!

          Paul is referring to the circumcision faction. Paul identifies James as a leader of the circumcision faction and that Cephas kowtowed to them:

          Galatians 2:11-12 (NRSV)11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12 for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction.

        • Adam “Giauz” Birkholtz

          Unfortunately, no God is corroborating any of this.

        • Grimlock

          Hmm…

          Pofarmer asked for posts that demonstrate that the [Canonical] Gospels ain’t simply fiction. But the two posts that you link to, at best, provide undercutters for a magnificently bad argument that they are fiction*. Showing that such claims are ridiculous does not provide a positive reason to think that the Gospels ain’t fiction.

          *To be fair, the argument to which you object appears to be a parody or mockery of the Ken Ham-style argument that you reference. At least that’s how I think it should be charitably interpreted.

        • Hoo boy! Here lies the catch: “If you can behave with decency and respect both for academic study and for other commenters, you will be welcomed back any time.” — translated, “decent behaviour” means “respect for academic study” which means accepting the fallacious methods and unsupported assumptions at the heart of the study of the historical Jesus — despite those methods and assumptions having no place in other historical studies of the ancient past. Hoo boy! Here lies the catch: “If you can behave with decency and respect both for academic study and for other commenters, you will be welcomed back any time.” — translated, “decent behaviour” means “respect for academic study” which means accepting the fallacious methods and unsupported assumptions at the heart of the study of the historical Jesus — despite those methods and assumptions having no place in other historical studies of the ancient past. See, e.g. An Ancient Historian on Historical Jesus studies

        • Interesting article; I’ll take a look, thanks.

          The rules/guidelines that historians and other social scientists follow is very interesting. I do wonder how objective their work is, whether they’re a secular historian vs. a religious one.

      • Mark

        Mark isn’t simply fiction, but at best ‘historical’ fiction. The characters, e.g. Pilate and Jesus, existed, as we know from other sources.

        • Pofarmer

          You are assuming the consequent. Gone With the Wind details Shermans march through Atlanta, as well. Does this mean Rhett Butler was an actual person? And see, the problem is, as even Bart Ehrman states, as even McGrath seems to realize, we have no other sources for Jesus.

        • Mark

          We have Paul and Mark together. Paul could hardly be wrong about the flesh and blood existence of Jesus. During his period ‘persecuting the church’ he would have found out the dirty secret you imagine.

        • Pofarmer

          Paul never really talks about the flesh and blood existence of Jesus. He never references any teachings of Jesus or “Jesus said” passages. In fact, those arguing AGAINST Paul, apprently don’t either. You’re reading into Paul what you wish to. One pretty serious question, is that if Paul were really worshiping a risen Flesh and Blood Jesus, and he talks about that quite often, Jesus coming to Earth, etc, etc. Why, when he went to Jerusalem, did he a) go meet the Apostles and b) go to the Temple? No visit to the site of the crucifixion? Not even a mention of it? Nothing mentioned about the tomb? The site of the miraculous resurrection? C’mon man.

        • Pofarmer

          Oh, and we really don’t have Paul and Mark “together.” Paul and Mark are separate literary creations in both time and place. They are separated by both time and geography, with ample time for Mark to have been exposed to both the works of Paul and Josephus, along with who knows what else.

        • Greg G.

          The flesh and blood existence Paul talks about comes from the OT scriptures. Of all the people who have ever died, how would Paul have known that one of them was for sins? When Paul says Christ died for sins according to the scriptures, he got that from Isaiah 53:8. When Paul says he was buried and raised on the third day according to the scriptures, he was referring to Isaiah 53:9 and Hosea 6:2. There was no dirty little secret. Nobody thought Jesus was a first century person until Mark wrote a fictional story about it.

        • Paul could hardly be wrong about the flesh and blood existence of Jesus.

          Why? You believe everything you read?

        • Mark

          No, but he persecuted the ‘church’ and if their dirty secret was that Jesus hadn’t lived at all, though they said he did, he would too easily have found out. Apply common sense. He first falls into the ecstatic-visions-of-resurrected-Jesus mode only a few years after the rest of them.

        • Sure, maybe he persecuted the church. Maybe he believed Jesus really lived.

          That’s your argument?

        • Pofarmer

          I don’t think Mark came fully loaded.

        • Well, it’s 5:00 somewhere. Maybe he actually was loaded.

        • Mark

          He persecutated a church that believed, as he did at the time, that a real Jesus had existed and been crucified. Then he joined their additional belief that later he was transformed in to resurrectional spiritual/pneumatic/heaven-stuff form.

          This would not have been possible if he had not shared their belief in the physical bloody potentially-dying form of Jesus having existed, even when he opposed their views about Jesus.

        • Greg G.

          He persecutated a church that believed, as he did at the time, that a real Jesus had existed and been crucified.

          Paul admits to the persecution and they may have believed a real Jesus existed centuries ago but Paul seems to have invented the crucifixion.

          In Galatians, Paul is discrediting James, Cephas, and the “circumcision faction”. In Galatians 2:11-12, he identifies James as a leader and Cephas as subservient. In Galatians 5:11 and 6:12, he says the circumcisers are avoiding the persecution of the cross. Paul explained how he gets to the crucifixion idea by citing scripture in Galatians 3:6-13 after rhetorically asking who bewitched them and immediately brings up the crucifixion topic. He doesn’t bring up anybody but the circumcisers in the whole letter. The answer to his rhetorical question is the circumsers.

          The Galatians obviously knew James and Cephas so Paul could have just said to ask them about the crucifixion but he doesn’t.

        • Mark

          You’re suffering from a hell of a hangover from Christianity.

        • Greg G.

          You are still buzzed.

        • We know very little for certain about the very early Christian church in the 30s and 40s CE.

          And you still need to grasp the concept that, just because it’s written down, doesn’t make it accurate history.

        • Mark

          It is a question of interpreting and explaining Paul’s letters. They are perfectly ordinary illustrations of late second temple Jewish thinking. There isn’t anything ‘Christian’ about them, though what we call ‘Christianity’ or the ‘Christian’ church, grew out of this particular tendency in Jewish thought.

        • MR

          Heck, people question what’s written down the very next day.

        • Pofarmer

          You do realize you don’t have any evidence of this persecution at the hands of Paul, right?

        • Greg G.

          He voluntarily confessed to it in Galatians 1:13. But we know how Christians exaggerate how bad they were before they became a Christian.

        • Pofarmer

          Yeah I know, I mean aside from that. And that’s almost just a throwaway.

        • Greg G.

          Paul may have been a teen-age bully who beat up smaller Christian kids.

        • Pofarmer

          Lol.

        • Mark

          Paul isn’t a Christian.

        • Greg G.

          Po-tay-to, pa-tah-to. Paul is a prototype that Christians try to emulate.

          Paul extended it to Gentiles and diminished the Hebrew law in favor of faith.

        • Mark

          My evidence is that he says it. His various congregations have other avenues of communication with the Jerusalem ekklesia and its hangers on, and such people frequently turn up in the letters.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude, people could easily verify or debunk religious bullshit today and by and large they don’t

        • Ignorant Amos

          Who’d have believed it…an epiphany conversion from poacher to game keeper.

          A Jihadi who turned Christian…

          It is a transition that has surprised everyone, not least of all himself. Four years ago, Mr. Mohammad tells me, “Frankly I would have slaughtered anyone who suggested it.” Not only have his beliefs changed, but his temperament has, too. Today, his wife, Hevin Rashid, confirms, with a hint of understatement, that he is “much better to be around.”

          https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/24/world/middleeast/the-jihadi-who-turned-to-jesus.html

          What about devout Christians going rogue?

          Check out the Clergy Project…

          http://clergyproject.org/

        • Greg G.

          A real first century Jesus learned about second hand explains it no better than an imaginary 5th century BC Jesus learned about through misinterpretation of centuries old scripture. For someone who expressly disdains human authority and favors scripture, the latter explanation is far better.

        • Most nonhistorical persons have been presented as real flesh and blood, I suspect. Except maybe Pinnochio.

        • Mark

          Yes, Paul could be lying and making up a flesh and blood Jesus who after dying was the first subject to pharisaical resurrection, no longer of flesh and blood. But he isn’t.

        • “Making up” isn’t the only option. He could be passing on stories that he honestly believes are true.

        • Greg G.

          Paul could be lying and making up a flesh and blood Jesus who after dying was the first subject to pharisaical resurrection

          Paul could also be stating his interpretation of Isaiah 53, Zechariah 3, and other scriptures.

        • Mark

          Except Paul believes in this flesh and blood.

        • Greg G.

          Paul’s belief is consistent with imagining a real person from Isaiah 53.

        • Mark

          Many of those who witness his identity in his resurrection-form are still alive.

        • Greg G.

          Many of those who had an epiphany reading about it in Isaiah 53 are still alive.

          I think Ephesian 3 reflects the idea of the coming of the Messiah during the early time. The Jews were hoping for it and trying to convince themselves that it would happen during their lifetimes. No different than Christians have done throughout history expecting the end. Ephesians 3:3 says that the mystery was made known through revelation (Romans 16:25-26 tells us the revelation was through the prophets) and 3:5 says it was not made known to former generations. They thought it was significant that it was made known to their generation so it was going to happen to their generation. So as long as some of the original people who first had the revelation were alive, they had hope that it would happen in their lifetime.

          The epistles do not give a date but it could have happened shortly before the Jewish unrest that precipitated the war with Rome.

        • Pofarmer

          Your circular argument is circular.

        • Ignorant Amos

          So what? That doesn’t make it so.

        • Mark

          How did he come to think there was such a human being? Why would you think he could be wrong about something so simple? He knew about this human being when he was opposed to ‘the church’.

        • Pofarmer

          He knew about this human being when he was opposed to ‘the church’.

          You are assuming things simply not in evidence. If Paul were opposed to the church, we honestly don’t know what it’s over. And if he was opposed to its teachings, he wouldn’t have worried about the physical jesus anyway. But theres no indication he knew the physical Jesus, and if he was from Tarsus, as had been supposed, where would he check? Why would he check? Why would he care? Religious movements were a dime a dozen
          And when he’s in Jerusalem why doesnt he take time to learn about the Earthly dude? Visit the site of the crucifixion? The resurrection? The most important site in early Christianity and nobody seems to know where the fuck it is? C’mon man.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How did he come to think there was such a human being?

          You are really struggling with this, aren’t ya?

          Paul, a Hellenistic Jew, claims (creates?) a supernatural entity (a son of God/archangel?), based on scripture, who came down/will come down, from the upper Heavens to a lower realm (firmament?), where the demons and fallen angels reside, where he had/has to take the form of a man in order that the demons (archon?), could crucify him in line with scripture, so he could resurrect in line with scripture, then rise back up to the Heavens in line with scripture, and save the world and all that jazz.

          Why would you think he could be wrong about something so simple?

          Simple? It’s anything but simple. If it was simple, this conversation wouldn’t be happening. It might have been simple when Paul was writing it, but to us, it is ambiguous at best, it being contrived to us today is a better description.

          What is he wrong about? People believed the same thing all over the place at the time. What made every other “dying and rising” god-man of the era wrong? What people believe happened is not evidence of what happened. Just because it gets written down, isn’t evidence to the veracity of the story, otherwise we’d all be Mormons, Muslims, or Scientologists.

          He knew about this human being when he was opposed to ‘the church’.

          No, he didn’t. Nor does he claim to outside of scripture and revelation. At best, he knew about the believe in this character. But we don’t know whether he believed Jesus was an on the Earth human being, because he doesn’t say…even when quoting said would bolster his position immensely.

          Paul might have been the Mohammad, Joseph Smith, or Ron L. Hubbard of Christianity. He was certainly the founder of a type of Christianity that found favor and made up the biggest part of the version that won the day. Regardless if it was a human being at the foundation of it, or not.

          This is not a fringe theory. Mainstream scholars theorize this idea and there are numerous books on the subject. Christian historian, James Tabor has written extensively on the subject.

          One thing historians of religions often emphasize is that no religious tradition is a static monolithic entity. Whether we are talking about Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, or Islam, the varieties and diversity within each tradition are rich and complex. Judaism is no exception. In the time of Jesus, which historians often refer to as the “late 2nd Temple period” we find within the varieties of emergent Judaism multiple interpretations of almost every subject imaginable — the nature of God, the coming of the Messiah, free will and determinism, and explanations for the causes of sin, suffering, and evil. At the center of it all was the practical matter of how one is to observe and follow the Torah, or what was believed to have been the revelation of God to the people of Israel through Moses at Mt. Sinai. One of the things we most emphasize in courses on the “Judaisms” of this period is this matter of diversity as we see it reflected in the so-called Pseudepigrapha literature, the Dead Sea Scrolls, Philo, the Mishnah, and other rabbinic writings.

          https://www.huffpost.com/entry/paul-the-jew-as-founder-o_b_3930630

          James D. Tabor writes in Paul the Jew as Founder of Christianity?:

          Countless books have been written in the past hundred years arguing that Paul is the “founder” of Christianity, sharply distinguishing him from Jesus.

          Joseph Klausner’s, From Jesus to Paul is one of the first and is still worth a close study, but many others come to mind,

          Albert Schweitzer, The Mysticism of the Paul the Apostle,

          Gerd Lüdemann, Paul the Founder of Christianity,

          Hugh Schonfield, Those Incredible Christians,

          and Barrie Wilson, How Jesus Became Christian, to name a few.

          My own new book, Paul and Jesus: How the Apostle Transformed Christianity explores these and many related questions.

          Most important, I see to place Paul in the broader spectrum of the religions of the ancient Mediterranean world as systems of divinization against the background of a dualistic Hellenistic cosmology but within that world I see him decidedly as laying the foundation for a new faith distinct from Judaism in its various forms.

          There are others…

          https://vridar.org/2017/04/09/the-question-of-whether-paul-was-the-founder-of-christianity-responding-to-bart-ehrman/

        • Mark

          Mormons, Muslims, or Scientologists

          You keep thinking that with Paul and Mark we have to do with the founding of a new ‘religion’ and that wisdom about such things bears on the topic. Paul is an unexceptional pharisaical Jew and is not in any way inventing a new religion. He is applying what he always believed — messiah and general resurrection – to a somewhat bizarre conception of current events.

        • Ignorant Amos

          You keep thinking that with Paul and Mark we have to do with the founding of a new ‘religion’ and that wisdom about such things bears on the topic.

          Both Joseph Smith and Mohammad did the same.

          There are versions of Christianity today that purists say they are no longer classed as the Christian religion.

          There comes a point when the mutations and adaptions change the thing to a new species.

          It’s not the traditional things about Judaism that Paul retained that turned the cult from Jewish to something new…it was the stuff excised and the new rules taken on.

          All the earliest followers of Jesus were Jews, and all the books of the New Testament were written by Jews, with one or two possible exceptions (e.g. the author of Luke and Acts). Certainly the very earliest followers of Jesus did not see themselves as creating a new religion. They were sectarian Jewish followers of Jesus. However, through a process which involved a variety of factors (growth, evangelization, and conversion of many Gentiles, Christocentric rather than Torah-centric focus, expulsion from various synagogues in the Empire) the Jesus movement de facto became a separate entity from early Judaism, and in fact it appears that this was already the case during the lifetime and ministry of Paul. One can say that Paul was a catalyst which helped lead the Jesus movement out of Judaism and into being its own religious group.

          Paul is an unexceptional pharisaical Jew and is not in any way inventing a new religion.

          Paul was not a Pharisee.

          http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/paul_pharisee_too_many_inconsistencies.htm

          He is applying what he always believed — messiah and general resurrection – to a somewhat bizarre conception of current events.

          Whether he always believed that stuff is not relevant.

          What he did was in adapting those two things and changing other stuff. It’s those actions that made the new religion of Pauline Christianity.

          http://paulproblem.faithweb.com/

        • Pofarmer

          He keeps taking apart and putting back together Paul and Mark.

          And it’s always been unclear, to my knowledge, that Mark was a Jew, since it’s long been assumed that Mark was written in Rome, to a non-Jewish audience. I don’t know where he’s getting this shit.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Tradition a suppose.

          It was certainly written for a Gentile audience and it used Gentile sources in it’s composition. But there is nothing to confirm who wrote it, nor it’s intended purpose outside speculation.

        • Paul is an unexceptional pharisaical Jew and is not in any way inventing a new religion.

          You can demonstrate this by showing Paul’s contemporaries who also wrote the same stuff that he did.

        • Mark

          He has the doctrine of resurrection and of the coming of the Davidic messiah. That’s 90% of what’s needed. Here’s a good account of what should largely be obvious. She’s maybe a little too confident in her ability to work out the details. https://www.amazon.com/Paul-Pagans-Apostle-Paula-Fredriksen/dp/0300225881/ref=nodl_

        • Show me the OT verses describing this coming messiah and show that that’s what Paul was talking about. From what I’ve seen, the OT messiah was an ass-kicking general. That’s not what Paul described.

        • Greg G.

          Promises That David’s Seed Would Remain on Throne Forever
          2 Samuel 7:1-17
          1 Chronicles 28:6
          Psalm 89:3-4
          Psalm 89:34-37
          Psalm 110:1
          Psalm 132:11
          Isaiah 11:1-10

          The Promises to David Become Conditional
          1 Kings 2:1-4
          1 Kings 6:11-12
          1 Kings 8:25
          1 Kings 9:2-7

          The Kingdom is Split into Judah and Israel
          1 Kings 12:17-20

          Assyria Captures Israel, the Northern Kingdom
          2 Kings 15:19

          God’s Excuse for Allowing the Assyrian Invasion
          2 Chronicles 33:1-11

          The Promises are Broken
          2 Kings 24:10-12

          God’s Excuse for Allowing the Babylonians to Conquer
          2 Chronicles 36:15-17

          Promises to Restore David’s Seed to the Throne
          Isaiah 9:6-7
          Jeremiah 23:5-6
          Jeremiah 33:14-17
          Ezekiel 21:26-27
          Daniel 7:13-14
          Micah 5:2-5

          Jews Thought the Messiah Would Arrive Soon

          Jewish Wars 6.5.2 §286-287
          Now there was then a great number of false prophets suborned by the tyrants to impose on the people, who denounced this to them, that they should wait for deliverance from God; and this was in order to keep them from deserting, and that they might be buoyed up above fear and care by such hopes. Now a man that is in adversity does easily comply with such promises; for when such a seducer makes him believe that he shall be delivered from those miseries which oppress him, then it is that the patient is full of hopes of such his deliverance.

          Jewish Wars 6.5.4 §312-313
          But now, what did the most elevate them in undertaking this war, was an ambiguous oracle that was also found in their sacred writings, how, “about that time, one from their country should become governor of the habitable earth.” The Jews took this prediction to belong to themselves in particular, and many of the wise men were thereby deceived in their determination.

          ***    This is thought to be the passage that Josephus called “an ambiguous oracle.”
          Testament of Judah 24:1–6
          And after these things shall a Star arise to you from Jacob in peace, and a Man shall rise from my seed, like the Sun of righteousness, walking with the sons of men in meekness and righteousness, and no sin shall be found in Him. And the heavens shall be opened above Him, to shed forth the blessing of the Spirit from the Holy Father; and He shall shed forth a spirit of grace upon you, and ye shall be unto Him sons in truth, and ye shall walk in His commandments, the first and the last. This is the Branch of God Most High, and this the Well-spring unto life for all flesh. Then shall the sceptre of my kingdom shine forth, and from your root shall arise a stem; and in it shall arise a rod of righteousness to the Gentiles, to judge and to save all that call upon the Lord.

          Roman Comments About the Messiah Beliefs (probable source would be Josephus)
          Suetonius, Vespasian 4.5
          There had spread over all the Orient an old and established belief, that it was fated for men coming from Judaea to rule the world. This prediction, referring to the emperor of Rome -as afterwards appeared from the event- the people of Judaea took to themselves.

          Tacitus, Histories 5.13
          The majority [of the Jews] were convinced that the ancient scriptures of their priests alluded to the present as the very time when the Orient would triumph and from Judaea would go forth men destined to rule the world. This mysterious prophecy really referred to Vespasian and Titus, but the common people, true to the selfish ambitions of mankind, thought that this exalted destiny was reserved for them, and not even their calamities opened their eyes to the truth.

        • Then to distill it down, would you say that Paul’s Jesus wasn’t at all like the messiah predicted by the OT?

        • Greg G.

          Paul expected the dead to be raised and the living to not die. I think he got that from Isaiah 26:19-21 and Isaiah 25:8, the latter he quotes in 1 Corinthians 15:54:

          “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

          He also anticipated the Messiah coming from the sky which might be from Daniel 7:11 &13.

          Other than those major details, Paul’s prediction might not have been all that different. According to Josephus, those defending Jerusalem to the end were being encouraged to wait for deliverance from God, which may have been something like Paul wrote.

          I expect there was a lot of midrash going on. It would just come down to which set of verses a particular person included. Paul’s idea was not like Josephus’. When Josephus’ life depended on it, he guessed it was actually about Vespasian and it paid off for him.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Also…how much inconvenient Paul was redacted out?

        • nevbig

          he will strike u in the heel ..you will crush him ..

        • Mark

          Paul thinks Jesus is going to kick plenty of ass when he makes his messianic ‘arrival’ or ‘appearance’. We were discussing 1 Cor 15 – see 24-8

        • Like you say, this ass-kicking will happen in the future; it doesn’t describe Jesus as the NT records him. And is this great return described in the gospels as well?

        • Mark

          Why are you talking about ‘the gospels’ and ‘the NT’? These are groupings of texts canonized centuries later. The authentic letters of Paul are what they are. The ‘Mark’ ‘gospel’ is what it is. The former are from the 50s, the latter seems to be from the 70s, the period of the fall of the temple. Paul and Mark aren’t responsible for the gentile church gluing their book and letters together with other things.

          That half the letters imputed to Paul are fake is a good objection to ‘Christianity’ if that’s what you’re looking for, but there are a thousand good objections. None of them have anything to do with the historical questions, did Jesus exist? was he crucified by the Romans? For this, we need to comprehend Paul, whose background is in 2nd temple Jewish milieus, and perhaps where Mark is getting his ideas from.

          As long as ‘Christianity’ and the Christian ‘church’ are still in your brain, you can’t comprehend this material.

        • Let me see if I understand your position. You defend “Jesus was a historical person” with just Mark? And your question is, “How could you explain Mark’s authentic writings better than that there was a historical Jesus in there?”?

        • Greg G.

          I think he leans mostly on Paul, not Mark. See “For this, we need to comprehend Paul, whose background is in 2nd temple Jewish milieus, and perhaps where Mark is getting his ideas from.”

        • But that does minimize the support for his historicist position. If he only puts Paul forward, I can at least applaud the conciseness of his argument. The McGrath-style argument seems to be more a good dose of Paul, a helping of the gospels, plus pinches of Josephus, Tacitus, and so on.

        • Greg G.

          He puts a lot of weight on 1 Corinthians 15.

        • Indeed, so much weight that I wonder if something will break.

          If Paul in general doesn’t provide much for his argument but this one passage is a goldmine, one wonders why it looks so different. P45 is our oldest fragment of 1 Cor. 15, and it’s from c. 200 CE. 150-ish years is a long dark ages period.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And he ignores the epistles that point to a spiritual Jesus putting on the trappings of a human for the purpose of prophecy fulfillment.

        • Pofarmer

          Now there you go being all skeptical

        • Greg G.

          I looked it up. P45 has the Gospels and Acts. P46 is mostly Pauline epistles.

        • Right! Thanks.

        • Mark

          No, I defend ‘Jesus was a historical person’ with Paul, who obviously and constantly asserts it.

        • Ignorant Amos

          “Christianity” and “Christian church” is just used out of convenience for the various groups of Jewish and early Gentile Jesus followers. Swap out the descriptions if it makes you feel better. Stop fixating.

        • Mark

          No, it’s used by confused people who are absorbed by the tiresome question whether ‘Christianity’ is true. My remark was to someone who was letting phenomena of the later gentile church infect the reading of 1st c. material. It’s of a piece with Lutheran readings of Paul which secular and even Jewish writers frequently take for granted.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Ballix.

          No one here is denying Christianity is true. It’s on what Christianity is based on that is being questioned. That shit ain’t true. It doesn’t matter whether one is an atheist that believes in an historical Jesus or not. The Pauline epistles and the gospels, are woo-woo.

          You think you are here telling us all something we are not aware of already.

          There are conflicting thesis’ on Paul…that’s the argument. Why should I believe yours?

          Everything you know about the Gospel of Paul is likely wrong

          The essence of Paul’s theology is something far stranger, and unfolds on a far vaster scale. For Paul, the present world-age is rapidly passing, while another world-age differing from the former in every dimension – heavenly or terrestrial, spiritual or physical – is already dawning. The story of salvation concerns the entire cosmos; and it is a story of invasion, conquest, spoliation and triumph. For Paul, the cosmos has been enslaved to death, both by our sin and by the malign governance of those ‘angelic’ or ‘daemonian’ agencies who reign over the earth from the heavens, and who hold spirits in thrall below the earth. These angelic beings, these Archons, whom Paul calls Thrones and Powers and Dominations and Spiritual Forces of Evil in the High Places, are the gods of the nations. In the Letter to the Galatians, he even hints that the angel of the Lord who rules over Israel might be one of their number. Whether fallen, or mutinous, or merely incompetent, these beings stand intractably between us and God. But Christ has conquered them all.

          In descending to Hades and ascending again through the heavens, Christ has vanquished all the Powers below and above that separate us from the love of God, taking them captive in a kind of triumphal procession. All that now remains is the final consummation of the present age, when Christ will appear in his full glory as cosmic conqueror, having ‘subordinated’ (hypetaxen) all the cosmic powers to himself – literally, having properly ‘ordered’ them ‘under’ himself – and will then return this whole reclaimed empire to his Father. God himself, rather than wicked or inept spiritual intermediaries, will rule the cosmos directly. Sometimes, Paul speaks as if some human beings will perish along with the present age, and sometimes as if all human beings will finally be saved. He never speaks of some hell for the torment of unregenerate souls.

          The new age, moreover – when creation will be glorified and transformed into God’s kingdom – will be an age of ‘spirit’ rather than ‘flesh’. For Paul, these are two antithetical principles of creaturely existence, though most translations misrepresent the antithesis as a mere contrast between God’s ‘spirit’ and human perversity. But Paul is quite explicit: ‘Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom.’ Neither can psychē, ‘soul’, the life-principle or anima that gives life to perishable flesh. In the age to come, the ‘psychical body’, the ‘ensouled’ or ‘animal’ way of life, will be replaced by a ‘spiritual body’, beyond the reach of death – though, again, conventional translations usually obscure this by speaking of the former, vaguely, as a ‘natural body’.

          Paul’s voice, I hasten to add, is hardly an eccentric one. John’s Gospel too, for instance, tells of the divine saviour who comes ‘from above’, descending from God’s realm into this cosmos, overthrowing its reigning Archon, bringing God’s light into the darkness of our captivity, and ‘dragging’ everyone to himself. And, in varying registers, so do most of the texts of the New Testament. As I say, it is a conceptual world very remote from our own. ~ David Bentley Hart

          https://aeon.co/ideas/the-gospels-of-paul-dont-say-what-you-think-they-say

          That’s a celestial Christ and a spiritual resurrection being described there.

          All you’ve done here is make unsubstantiated assertions based on your interpretation of the data. The Pharisee’s believed in a different resurrection doctrine to what Paul writes about.

          The Jewish people believed that God created the world. Our physical world is God’s creation, and it is good. The Pharisees, in contrast to the Greco-Roman religious beliefs, vigorously affirmed the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead. The Pharisees stressed a literal resurrection of the physical body, which would be reunited with the spirit of an individual. Their worldview embraced a future restoration of God’s original design for his world. The Pharisees envisioned a time of redemption in which God would realign the physical creation with the ethereal realm. ~Brad H. Young, Paul, The Jewish Theologian, at 123.

          Paul was not a first century Pharisee and his views were not typical of any version of Judaism at the time he was writing by any plain reading of what he is supposed to have wrote.

          Not a Hebrew Scholar; a Hellenist.

          http://jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13232-saul-of-tarsus#964

          The argument is, that Paul took the concept of resurrection found in the scriptures of the OT post Babylonian exile…and there wasn’t just one version of it, and he applied Hellenistic ideas to it. Paul grew up in a world surrounded in Hellenistic religions.

          It wasn’t an alien concept in 2nd Temple Judaism that the body turns to dust at death, with the soul (spirit?) leaving the body and existing eternally. Apparently.

          https://brill.com/view/book/edcoll/9789004236394/B9789004236394-s006.xml

          You are trying to foist your concept of a first century thinking which is not an exclusive one, onto the rest of us here, without demonstrating why the alternative is flawed,

        • Mark

          No Paul is totally characteristic and believes what Young is stating. Moreover Paul’s particular elaboration of the resurrection can be found in 4 Ezra and 2 Baruch. Where Hart – an orthodox believer – is not nonsense it is compatible with this. He doesn’t address the resurrection of Christ, which is the decisive matter. Pre existence of Christ is here as everywhere a red herring since Paul like most Pharisees, it seems, believed in the preexistence and ‘predestination’ of everybody.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Queen Victoria existed, Sherlock Holmes, not so much…what are these other sources you believe that account for Jesus existing?

        • Mark

          Paul is quite enough to know that Jesus existed. It is incredibly irrational, and obviously religiously motivated, not to find them an adequate basis. Paul thinks (for example) that Jesus – who is fairly recent temporally – used to be flesh and blood, but is not not flesh and blood. It is not credible this would-be historical flesh and blood existence was itself a fiction had been hoodwinked into believing by ‘the ekklesia’. He’d heard enough in his anti-Jesus period to know that he existed.

        • Pofarmer

          So, is Gone with the Wind, enough to know that Rhett Butler existed?

          Oh, and we don’t know spit about Pauls “Anti-Jesus” period. You’re just inventing stuff at this point.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul is quite enough to know that Jesus existed.

          Whaaaa? No, he really isn’t. At best, if ya believe what is in Paul is accurate, he is supposed to have met some folk in Jerusalem who were Christ followers, but he never says anywhere that they met Jesus, in fact, he makes it clear that they knew Jesus as he did, through scripture and revelation (dreams).

          By your logic, the angel Moroni existed because Joseph Smith says so. A flying horse called Buraq and an archangel called Jibril existed because Mo said so. Romulus existed because the historian Plutarch said so. Ya see the inherent problem here?

          It is incredibly irrational, and obviously religiously motivated, not to find them an adequate basis.

          Quite the contrary. Giving them credibility based on nothing more than the texts themselves say so, is special pleading when all the claims of other religions are being hand-waved away. That’s what is irrational.

          Paul thinks (for example) that Jesus – who is fairly recent temporally – used to be flesh and blood, but is not not flesh and blood. It is not credible this would-be historical flesh and blood existence was itself a fiction had been hoodwinked into believing by ‘the ekklesia’.

          There are Cargo Cults still waiting for John Frum and Ron L. Hubbard has hoodwinked millions…unless you think Scientology has a basis in reality?

          He’d heard enough in his anti-Jesus period to know that he existed.

          Did he? Who said?

        • Joe

          Did he? Who said?

          His name began with a “P” and ended in “-aul”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          His name began with a “P” and ended in “-aul”.

          Same as maself…and I’ve never made shit up…or have I?

        • Greg G.

          Paul is very down on human authority and human knowledge, favoring what is written in the scriptures. Paul never says anything about Jesus except what is found in the scriptures. In 2 Corinthians 11:4-6 and 2 Corinthians 12:11, Paul insists his knowledge is not inferior to the knowledge of the “super-apostles”. That would make no sense if he knew that the “super-apostles” had spent time with a living Jesus, and since he spent two weeks with Cephas, it is not possible that the particular thing never came up in the conversation.

          The only way Paul could make the claim of knowledge that was not inferior is if he knew they were getting their knowledge the same way he did — from the OT scriptures.

          Paul speaks of Jesus hundreds of times but seldom tells us anything about him. Below is everything he tells us.

          Past
          Descended from David > Romans 1:3, Romans 15:12* > 2 Samuel 7:12, Isaiah 11:10*
          Declared Son of God > Romans 1:4 > Psalm 2:7
          Made of woman, > Galatians 4:4 > Isaiah 7:14, Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5
          Made under the law > Galatians 4:4, Galatians 3:10-12* > Deuteronomy 27:26*, Habakkuk 2:4*, Leviticus 18:5*
          Was rich, became poor > 2 Corinthians 8:9 > Zechariah 9:9
          Was meek and gentle > 2 Corinthians 10:1 > Isaiah 53:7
          Did not please himself > Romans 15:3* > Psalm 69:9*
          Became a servant of the circumcised > Romans 15:8 > Isaiah 53:11
          For the Gentiles > Romans 15:9-12* > Psalm 18:49*, 2 Samuel 22:50*, Deuteronomy 32:43*, Psalm 117:1*, Isaiah 11:10*
          Became Wisdom of God > 1 Corinthians 1:30 > Isaiah 11:2

          Was betrayed > 1 Corinthians 11:23 > Psalm 41:9
          Took loaf of bread and wine > 1 Corinthians 11:23-26 > Psalm 41:9, Exodus 24:8, Leviticus 17:11, Isaiah 53:12 (“wine” = “blood of grapes” allusions in Genesis 49:11, Deuteronomy 32:14, Isaiah 49:26, Zechariah 9:15)

          Was crucified > 1 Corinthians 2:2, 2 Corinthians 13:4, Galatians 3:13* > Deuteronomy 21:23*
          Died for sins > 1 Corinthians 15:3, Galatians 2:20 > Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:8, Isaiah 53:12
          Was buried > 1 Corinthians 15:4 > Isaiah 53:9
          Was raised > Romans 1:4, Romans 8:34, 1 Corinthians 15:4, 2 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Corinthians 13:4 > Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10

          Present
          Sits next to God > Romans 8:34 > Psalm 110:1, Psalm 110:5
          Intercedes > Romans 8:34 > Isaiah 53:12

          Future
          Will come > 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, 1 Corinthians 15:51-54*, Philippians 3:20-21 > Isaiah 26:19-21, Daniel 7:11, Daniel 7:13; Daniel 12:2, Isaiah 25:8*

          (* indicates that New Testament passage contains a direct quote from the Septuagint.)

        • Mark

          Paul tells us quite enough about Jesus, e.g. that he was flesh and blood, crucified and bleeding, dead and buried. Then, as Paul came to believe – having got to close to the fire – Jesus was the first to experience the general resurrection of the pharisaical tradition, and is flesh-and-blood no longer. 1 Cor 15 totally relies on a real physical Jesus. If none such had existed, Paul would have known. None of Hosea 6:2, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 41:10 have to do with resurrection, much less pharisaical resurrection. Deuteronomy 21 does not predict the crucifixion, though its general claim no doubt influence’s Paul’s thinking. Isaiah 49:1 is in the future tense, Paul in the past. The assertions in Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5 are prophetically envisaged, but can only be true of someone who was in the womb. Paul thinks Jesus WAS in the womb.

          This is a kind of madness.

        • 1 Cor. 15 is a story. You say it’s history? Great–show us.

        • Mark

          It’s a metaphysical account of the resurrection of the dead in general. It is in line with other pharisaical and rabbinic sources. Such a thing is not a story, it’s more nonsensical than a story can be. With this he combines the claim that Jesus, having walked in flesh and blood, and died, underwent this metaphysical transformation. It’s the part about Jesus having walked in flesh and blood that is a record of history, the rest is just standard pharisaical doctrine and an application of it to Jesus as the first case. There is in fact nothing like a ‘story’ in any of this, since the main topic under discussion, the resurrection body, cannot be pictured.

        • Joe

          Where did Paul research his material on the historical Jesus?

        • Mark

          His principal (genuinely) historical material is that Jesus was crucified died and buried. It is clear that in his period of attacking people who had strange views about Jesus, he had ample opportunity to test the proposition that such a person did in fact exist. It isn’t a question of research.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Where did he get this “genuinely” historical material from and how do you know?

        • Greg G.

          Paul says he died for sins which cannot be historical material. It is an indication of reading Isaiah 53 which also accounts for “buried”.

        • Mark

          Yes, and Paul didn’t think he had died for sins when he ‘persecuted the church’ but he believed in Jesus and the crucifixion.

        • Greg G.

          Paul hadn’t read and reflected on Isaiah and Zechariah then.

        • Mark

          Because any 1st c Jew who read and reflected on Isaiah and Zechariah would know that once upon a time there had been a Jesus who died for our since.

        • Pofarmer

          Dude. It only takes one guy claiming he can read golden plates with seer stones and a magic hat to start a religious movement.

        • Mark

          This is a very normal pious 1st c. pharisaical writer.

        • Pofarmer

          So he could never see anything differently? He could never look in the scriptures and say Hey there he is?

        • Mark

          He looked in scriptures and found that a savior king was crucified several hundred years earlier, and we need to get around to singing his praises. That sounds like pharisaism all right …

        • Ignorant Amos

          You keep repeating this, but Paul was anything but, a 1st century standard issue Pharisaical Jewish writer.

          Was he even a Pharisee…scholars such as Ehrman don’t think so….and he isn’t alone.

          Why is that?

          Jews themselves deem it untenable reading the NT.

          Oh…and your view on how the Pharisaical resurrection lined up with Pauline resurrection is a bit fucked up too, according to the Jews. The traditional Jewish resurrection is in line with later Christian tradition of the physical bodily resurrection..

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25C6djIbEd0

          Paul made shite up.

        • Pofarmer

          The traditional Jewish resurrection is in line with later Christian tradition of the physical bodily resurrection..

          I think it’s the “Church of Christ” in the U.S. that also still holds this doctrine.

        • Or one sci-fi author to whip up a supernatural religious tale, like a book that’s sold for $100,000 a copy.

        • Pofarmer

          All of these X just simply wouldn’t ever do that arguments really just amuse me with regards to religion.

        • Greg G.

          No. Paul didn’t believe it at one point in time, then he believed at a later time. Some believed and some didn’t.

          There were Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, Zealots, Messianic Jews who thought he was coming, Messianic Jews who thought the Messiah had lived, was resurrected, and was coming back as a ruler, and some who thought that last version died by crucifixion.

          They were all wrong.

        • Ignorant Amos

          How do you know Paul “persecuted the church”?

        • Mark

          He says so.

        • Ignorant Amos

          And you believe him? Because a religious God fearing person would have no reason to lie? How naive.

          http://www.judaismvschristianity.com/paula.htm

          What form did this so-called persecution take? By what authority was he persecuting fellow Jews?

          Is it more plausible that Paul made this up for full effect, or that he was actually persecuting a sect of Jews that had a diverse belief among diverse Jewish sects with differing beliefs? A sect of Jews, who at the time, didn’t even get on the contemporary radar.

          I note that in a comment on Ehrman’s blog…

          I think the same thing in regards to Paul stating that he persecuted Christians. Kind of like ministers now state that they used to be drug adicts, drunks, etc but look what God has done with their lives. Paul can say I used to persecute Christians but look what God has done with my life. Does that make sense?

          To which Ehrman replied…

          Yes, Paul is the first one on record to take that line.

          I’m gonna guess that Ehrman is suggesting that Paul is just the first Christian on record to take this line.

        • Mark

          The analogy with ex-addict evangelical preachers has zero force. Paul is just a normal pharisee, both before, during and after his opposition to the ekklesia. His messianic Noachide movement is similar to, say, Chabad’s.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Nope… you are talking nonsense…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0J2ZJTzuro

        • Ignorant Amos

          The analogy with ex-addict evangelical preachers has zero force.

          The argumentum ad hominem fallacy is what has zero force.

          Paul is just a normal pharisee, both before, during and after his opposition to the ekklesia. His messianic Noachide movement is similar to, say, Chabad’s.

          Unsupported piffle.

        • Joe

          You don’t know any of this. Nobody does.

        • Well, heck, what more could one ask for?

          Books of unknown provenance, written 2000 years ago by a guy eager to brag how deep his sin was to illustrate his religious leader’s saving power … what’s to question?

        • Joe

          De Niro is sitting there — God bless you, Bob, he’s got the beard on. To know him is a treat, he’s one of the great actors of our time. You ask him! You ask him, he’ll tell you.”

          – Don Rickles on Robert DeNiro

        • Pofarmer

          You don’t have any idea if this is true. This is what you believe, but there’s no way to support it from what Paul writes. You’re reading your own biases into it bigly.

        • Mark

          You think Paul is lying about having formerly ‘persecuted’ the church/ekklesia?

        • Pofarmer

          I think that Christian’s today embellish and make up conversion stories. I don’t see why it would have been any different in Paul’s day. It would have increased his pull with his target audience. He never states what this “persecution” amounted to either. Acts has Paul as some kind of roving religious enforcer when it’s not really clear that was even a thing.

        • Mark

          Paul is in no sense a ‘Christian’. He is a standard-issue 1st c. pharisaical Jew … who happens falsely to think it’s the end-times and the ‘messiah’ has come and the resurrection has started.

        • Pofarmer

          It makes no difference if Paul was technically a Christian or not. The point is that believers tend to embellish their stories in an attempt to burnish their credibility with those they would like to convert or other believers. Paul doesn’t ever say that the messiah has come. He always says that the messiah will come.

        • Mark

          He’s not a ‘believer’ except in the sense that every Jew was.

          Paul calls Jesus ‘Jesus Christ’ in every other sentence. He thinks he was crucified, buried, etc. His ‘parousia’ hasn’t happened; this is an imperial arrival or ‘appearance’.

        • Pofarmer

          You may not know the Catholic, well, I don’t know what to call it, that the say. “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come againnnnnnnnn. ” Paul never says “Again”. If there was this fleshy Jesus, that recently died and was resurrected in some heavenly body, then don’t you think “Again” would be appropriate? This looks a whole lot like other dying and rising saviors that were common in surrounding religions and rites.

        • Mark

          Paul says he will make a messianic parousia, which he certainly didn’t do before. It’s not clear how far Paul thinks Jesus had messianic or quasi-imperial status before the resurrection.

          Later on various texts put more emphasis on events before the crucifixion and resurrection, and soon enough the church is making a big deal of the moment of incarnation and so on.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s not clear how far Paul thinks Jesus had messianic or quasi-imperial status before the resurrection.

          Paul never unambiguously mentions anything about Jesus before the resurrection, and neither do any of the other early documents. The Didache, for example, is very consistent with a Heavenly Christ. There’s never a “Jesus said” until you get to the Canonical Gospels, which are relatively late.

          Paul says he will make a messianic parousia, which he certainly didn’t do before.

          So? He’d been here once as flesh, but was going to come back as the messiah? Easy Peasy, right?

        • Ignorant Amos
        • Mark

          This is desperate. Paul once opposed the Jesus crowd. His ‘assemblies’ have other connections to e.g. Jerusalem. They even fight occasionally over theology.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul told lies.

        • Joe

          I’m asking where he found out about Jesus’ life and death? Which library did he research at? Which texts did he read?

        • Mark

          Where is the ’embellishing’ in claiming someone was crucified died and buried? He knew this both before and after he believed in the resurrection.

        • Joe

          Where is the ’embellishing’ in claiming someone was crucified died and buried?

          The parts in between.

          You keep saying Paul “knew” things, but can’t give a plausible reason as to how he knew. You seem to be conflating knowledge with belief, unless I’m mistaken?

          Are you saying Paul met Jesus? If so, why doesn’t he say so? Or you saying he heard stories about Jesus? If so, why couldn’t those stories have been myths? There was no Google, no cellphone cameras, no CCTV etc. Facetiousness aside, there was certainly no physical evidence (writings, statuary, a home) for him to look at. Nor any documentation by historians to read.

          Your argument works both ways: If you’re saying people knew a flesh and blood man had been killed (How? Did Pilate commission some flyers or a billboard?), then they would surely rubbish any supernatural claims that followed such as him coming back from the dead. That would kill Christianity just the same as no flesh and blood man existing in the first place.

        • Mark

          > You keep saying Paul “knew” things, but can’t give a plausible reason as to how he knew.

          How do you know about people who exist today? It’s not hard. Paul had heard about Jesus before he believed in the resurrection. He thought the Jesus-resurrection crowd were pernicious. If he had thought they had faked the existence and crucifixion of a now-dead human person rather than faking the occurrence of a resurrection, he couldn’t have believed the whole line by bumping into a mysterious spectral non-fleshly body.

        • Joe

          How do you know about people who exist today?

          Meet them, pictures, social media, public records…..

          None of which were accessible to Paul.

          If he had thought they had faked the existence and crucifixion of a now-dead human person,

          What a bizarre thing to say. Why wold they have to have “faked anything”? They were likewise passing on myths that they heard.

        • Pofarmer

          One thing that would have strongly insinuated a flesh and blood Jesus was tomb veneration. Jews already practiced this. And yet there’s no record of it for Jesus. Paul goes to Jerusalem to meet the apostles and does he want to see the spot of the resurection? Visit the tomb? No. He goes to the temple. All the little tell tales of worshipping an earthly dude are missing.

        • Joe

          Maybe he got blind drunk the night before and missed the coach party that was leaving for the Empty Tomb?

        • HuggyBear

          No wishing to rain on your parade Mr. Joe, let me point out a few illogicalities in your logicality.

          1. The first and greatest Miracle that God produced was “The Creation ex nihilo”
          If you can produce that kind of miracle – then Virgin birth, resurrection from the dead, parting the Red Sea, healing …….why all these are a piece of piss in comparison.
          Thus first YOU decide if there is a possiblity of a Transcendent Realm and a Creator God and understand why that is logical before labelling everything else illogical.
          You might want to read Francis A Schaeffer ” The God who is there” and “The epistemological necessity?/” ( Title may be slightly wrong).

          2. When dealing with Paul and his writings you have to consider the context. He was a Tax Collector and one of The most learned Pharisees., a Roman Citizen and leading a comfortable wealthy life – all the more reason for him NOT to go on a boondoggle and put his very life at risk. His epiphany must have been compelling to change his Worldview so spectacularly. Thus we would do well to give him some credibility on his writings.

          3. When considering Knowledge -epistemology – it is generally accepted that there are different types of knowledge. One is the cartesian, doubting Thomas type born of experience ( Aristotle ) but there exists also a higher type of knowledge known colloquially as “intuititon” where – like Kekule’s benzine rings an understanding drops on you out of the aether – this latter usually happens after a thorough and prolonged mental chew on the subject of your meditation – the conceptual leap however has nothing to do with your previous thought processes.

          4. Proof and evidence is never “scientifically objectitve” in these matters as the supernatural is rarely reproducible on demand. However there are 63 scientifically accepted “Miracles” associated with Lourdes in France.

          Thus your frequent use of the word “belief” is not about “blind faith” but for erudite philosophically minded people “belief” is an extrapolation of best fit data and the application of “occam’s rasor”.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Complete and utter garbage.

        • HuggyBear

          Appropriate handle.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Bwaaaahahahaha!

          You win the prize…I can’t remember that last time a woo-woo merchant fell for it hook, line, and sinker, on their first reply.

          It’s a private joke, the regulars understand…don’t fret it.

        • 1. No, Genesis 1 doesn’t even say that God created ex nihilo.
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2019/01/god-created-the-universe-from-nothing-or-did-he/

          I reject the virgin birth “prophecy” here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2013/12/virgin-birth-of-jesus-fact-or-fiction/

          2. I believe Matthew was a tax collector and Paul was a tent maker.

          3. The benzene guy didn’t write a paper saying, “I dreamed I saw a snake make a circle, so therefore benzene must have a circular structure.” He used his dream only as inspiration and came to a conclusion the old fashioned way–through evidence.

        • HuggyBear

          Nevertheless “intuitive leaps” are exactly that, and are a form of knowledge.
          Kekule “knew” before he proved it and this has been the case throughout the history of science in many instances. This is a reversal of the scientific method, in that the answer appears before the scientific observations.
          That was the point I was making – Epistemology propounds different types of knowledge not simply the Joe type. A distinction he does not make.

          The argument for “ex nihilo” means that there is something before the creation. That something is what we call “God”. Anthropomorphise him in any way you wish the words and phrases used are just metaphors and analogies for describing the indescribable.

          You can get a good overview of the arguments by listening to Ravi Zakarias on YouTube but if you prefer a more “scientific” approach I suggest you read Polkinhorne of Paul Davies.
          Theism is the most compelling system for me and Christianity’s version of it, the most “believable” – Francis A Schaeffer’s books ( his trilogy ) set out the philosophical, epistemological, Christological and so on…..arguments in a pleasantly readable form.

        • Nevertheless “intuitive leaps” are exactly that, and are a form of knowledge.

          Get inspiration from wherever you want—tea leaves, Tarot cards, daydreams. The paper for the scientific journal won’t change a bit—your conclusion still has to be backed up with evidence.

          That was the point I was making – Epistemology propounds different types of knowledge not simply the Joe type.

          Dunno what “Joe” means here.

          List the different types of knowledge so I can see if we’re on the same page.

          The argument for “ex nihilo” means that there is something before the creation.

          Genesis 1 doesn’t say that God created ex nihilo.

        • Pofarmer

          Ur a brainwashed idiot. Just sayin.

        • HuggyBear

          Stick to milking the cows.

        • Pofarmer

          Goats. We milk goats.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Self proclaimed highly educated brainwashed idiot, a will have ya know….just sayin’….fuckin’ nutjobthat he is ffs.

        • Cynthia

          I looked up miracles at Lourdes.

          It sounded oddly familiar….and then I realized that I hear stories like that All.The.Time. People coming up to us, saying that they threw away their wheelchairs and canes. Saying that they were no longer living in pain. Expressing joy and gratitude that they were healed. They praise my husband for being a miracle worker.

          He’s a doctor.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Going all the way to Lourdes seems a waste of time and money to me if one is stateside…a visit to Pastor Ed Citronelli is all that is required…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z58HnORpb2E

        • Cynthia

          That’s kinda bonkers. I was thinking she could have used some Canesten – she is describing what sounds like a yeast infection. Plus some STD testing because I’m wondering if she was actually being sexually abused.

        • Joe

          The first and greatest Miracle that God produced was “The Creation ex nihilo”

          Let me stop you there.

          How do we know this?

        • epeeist

          The first and greatest Miracle that God produced was “The Creation ex nihilo”

          Really? Got evidence?

          When considering Knowledge -epistemology – it is generally accepted that there are different types of knowledge.

          Epistemology deals with propositional knowledge.

          but there exists also a higher type of knowledge known colloquially as “intuititon”

          Intuition is not knowledge unless and until there is justification.

          like Kekule’s benzine (sic) rings an understanding drops on you out of the aether

          But Kekule’s proposal for the structure of benzene doesn’t just get accepted because he had a dream about it, it is accepted because it is justified on isomeric terms.

          4. Proof and evidence is never “scientifically objectitve” in these matters as the supernatural is rarely reproducible on demand. However there are 63 scientifically accepted “Miracles” associated with Lourdes in France.

          Lourdes gets on the order of 5 million visitors per year and has had some 200 million visitors since it opened as a shrine in 1860. In all this time you can point to only 63 cases that are not explicable scientifically. Not too impressive. Oh, and strangely enough none of this healings involved the restoration of an amputated limb.

        • MR

          And let’s not forget that “scientifically accepted ‘miracles'” is a pretty dishonest characterization. Once they start to weasel in phrases like that, it’s hard to take them seriously.

        • epeeist

          And let’s not forget that “scientifically accepted ‘miracles'” is a pretty dishonest characterization.

          It’s the standard false dichotomy, “There is no scientific explanation, therefore it must be a miracle”.

          Oh, and if you look at the list of approved miracles it is replete with post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacies.

        • MR

          Oh, thanks for this list. That’s very interesting.

          Can you provide the list of the thousands of miracles that were not granted? 😉

          Just like when people travel to Las Vegas they come back with tales of their winnings, but they rarely tell you how much they lost.

        • epeeist

          Can you provide the list of the thousands of miracles that were not granted? 😉

          Sorry, unlike HuggyBear and his Catholic buddies I don’t indulge in anomaly hunting

        • MR

          I’m just reading more of the cases from the list you provided and I can’t help but think how side-steppy-squishy, to use the technical term, the claims are. You really have to be Catholic to accept these as bona fide miracles. Not even my Protestant friends and family would accept these as real “miracles.”

        • Greg G.

          Well, not a list but a number. 200 million visitors since it opened as a shrine with 63 possible miracles = 199,999,937 not granted.

          I wonder how many wished they had their cane back.

        • MR

          I just visited the shrine with the Holy Dirt (isyn). They had rows of canes and crutches, too. They didn’t allow pictures, or I’d post some. I wonder how many people have gotten bacterial infections from rubbing dirt all over themselves. 😛

        • Ignorant Amos

          I live in Ireland…Carrickfergus in fact….we have a great history here…much of it pre-Christian fuckwittery.

          There are multiple sites in the area where evidence of prehistoric settlements have been uncovered, most notably at Lough Mourne just north of the present-day town. Here, a number of crannogs were uncovered during draining of the lough in 1881, as well as several ancient structures and a wooden canoe – all though to be late-Neolithic in origin.

          https://carrickfergushistory.co.uk/

          A wonder how the managed without YahwehJesus before Judaism and Christianity was invented.

          Btw….many a brown trout was fished out of Lough Mourne by maself as a youth in the 70’s…a also took a course on local history.

        • MR

          Ok, three thoughts:

          Is a lough salt or fresh?

          Lough Mourne is nowhere near you.

          You do know I’m looking you up when I make it to Ireland and expect a tour right?

        • MR

          Scratch thought two. Apparently there are two Lough Mournes.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Three in Ireland…but only one of them is in this country.

          A bit of useless information. The lough was once drained and a neolithic settlement was uncovered.

          There are multiple sites in the area where evidence of prehistoric settlements have been uncovered, most notably at Lough Mourne just north of the present-day town. Here, a number of crannogs were uncovered during draining of the lough in 1881, as well as several ancient structures and a wooden canoe – all thought to be late-Neolithic in origin.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Is a lough salt or fresh?

          Both.

          https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/lough

          I live on the coast beside Belfast Lough, which is an inlet of the Irish Sea, salt water, but Lough Neagh is the big hole in the middle of Northern Ireland, fresh water.

          Lough Mourne is nowhere near you.

          Would I lie to ya?

          About three miles by road…near enough…as a youth in the 70’s, I lived in a satellite estate called Greenisland, just over five miles distance, we’d walk it back in them days.

          Google it…BT38 9DH.

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-PkM8R3KaNs

          You do know I’m looking you up when I make it to Ireland and expect a tour right?

          That’ll be an eye-opener for ya, but by all means. Northern Ireland btw.

        • They had rows of canes and crutches, too.

          Also unnecessary artificial limbs, too, right?

        • MR

          A shelf full of strap-ons left by eunuchs.

          eta: sorry, tmi

        • Well, you know that God says, Yes, No, and Wait. (And, giving that enormous fraction, quite possibly also: Maybe I’ll Think About It, Are You Kidding?, and Fuck Off.)

        • Greg G.

          God always says “No”, “Not in your lifetime”, or “Not in my lifetime”.

        • Pilgrims to Las Vegas have a much higher success rate. Maybe Satan has the better deal.

        • MR

          Trust me, more prayers are sent up in front of the slot machines in Vegas than at your average church revival.

        • Greg G.

          4. Proof and evidence is never “scientifically objectitve” in these matters as the supernatural is rarely reproducible on demand. However there are 63 scientifically accepted “Miracles” associated with Lourdes in France.

          Lourdes gets on the order of 5 million visitors per year and has had some 200 million visitors since it opened as a shrine in 1860. In all this time you can point to only 63 cases that are not explicable scientifically. Not too impressive. Oh, and strangely enough none of these healings involved the restoration of an amputated limb.

          In 1922, a train crashed into the rear of another train carrying pilgrims to Lourdes. There were 33 killed and 32 injured in the accident. So a person is more likely to be killed or injured on the way to Lourdes than to receive a “miracle”, 65 to 63. That is just counting one accident. Who knows how many were killed or injured traveling from their home to the seaport or airport, or the return trip? How many sunken ships or plane crashes had a Lourdes pilgrim traveling to or from?

        • epeeist

          In 1922, a train crashed into the rear of another train carrying pilgrims to Lourdes.

          You are stealing my thunder slightly, I have a report of a bus crash on the way back from a series of places, including Lourdes, in which 26 Polish pilgrims were killed.

          Also a British woman who was severely injured during a pilgrimage from falling out of her wheelchair.

          HuggyBear does the usual thing, he talks up the anomalies and disregards the rest. Sixty three unexplainable cures out of 200 million visitors? A success rate of 0.00003%. Imagine your doctor trying to get you to undergo a treatment that works so well…

        • Ignorant Amos

          Richard Dawkins makes the observation that one is more likely to pick up a disease, than be cured from one at Lourdes.

          Time stamp 5:20…

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nAos1M-_Ts

        • Greg G.

          I expect so. There are likely to be a higher percentage of people who are sick with a communicable disease there than anyplace but a hospital. Many of the others would have weakened immune systems. Anyone is more likely to catch something but the already sick are more likely to catch something.

        • HuggyBear

          “Intuition is not knowledge unless and until there is justification”
          Please develop this thought as I think I dealt with it in my summary.

          “……….restoration of an amputated limb…..”

          Well, there is the case of the Belgian Pierre de Rudder.
          “His shin bone was broken in two places by a falling tree, with a small piece of it eventually breaking away to lodge itself in the surrounding tissue. When the piece was removed surgically it left an open wound which refused to heal with the remaining length of shin bone separated by a space of more than 3 centimetres.
          His leg was permanently bandaged and he could hardly move even on crutches . The heel could be twisted right around to face the wrong way by twisting the lower leg.
          8 years after the accident he gave up on Orthodox medicine and made the pilgrimage in April 1875 after having been examined by a doctor who confirmed the state of his injuries.
          After a horrendously painful journey with his wife to Lourdes, he reached the cave of Our Lady and collapsed exhausted to the ground but so crowded was it that pilgrims repeatedly stumbled over his injured leg. He prayed begging to be cured so that he could support his wife. Suddenly as he later related, he was overwhelmed by a strange feeling. Deeply moved and without thinking, he rose and walked through the crowds to kneel before the Statue and “in rapture” walked around the cave. For the first time in 9 years, he was walking naturally.
          Rudder was taken to a nearby house where his leg was examined by doctors. Both wounds were now closed and his shin bone restored and his legs of equal length.

          On May 24th 1899 Dr Van Hoestenbuerghe amputated both Rudders legs, after his death from pneumonia so that the bones could be examined and photographed.. It was found that though the deformity on the left leg was visible the healing had taken place so that both legs were of equal length. The 3-centimetre piece of removed bone had been replaced by a piece of healthy white bone of exactly the right shape and length.

          The mystifying even of Rudder was not regarded as a miracle until 1908 when the Lourdes Medical Bureau was set up to verify all claims to recovery by Faith alone. More than 5000 cases have been recorded to date by the Bureau only 64 in the last 100 years have been recorded as “miraculous” one of these being Pierre de Ruder of Jabbeke Belgium”

          BELIEF is a much underestimated word.
          Call it the power of the “subconscious mind” or the “holy spirit” or “The Astral Light” – there are many other names for a Divine Power which resides in all human beings that can be triggered in certain circumstances. Norman Vincent Peal called in “Positive Thinking” – correctly formulated within a moral framework and a belief narrative – the Miraculous is possible.
          This has nothing to do with the Rational Conscious Mind – indeed this is usually an impediment to triggering the miraculous.

        • MR

          Subconscious mind, maybe. No need to invoke the supernatural for that, no need to claim a miracle, no need for a god. Natural healing can unexpectedly occur. No need to invoke the supernatural for that, no need to claim a miracle, no need for a god.

          Miracle is just code for “rare.”

          If you want to invoke “miracle” or “holy spirit” or “The Astral Light,” you have to first demonstrate that they exist. Saying so doesn’t make it so. People can say whatever they want.

          Capital letter BELIEF doesn’t make it true.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Well, there is the case of the Belgian Pierre de Rudder.

          Ya mean Pieter De Rudder?

          Bwaaaaahahahaha!

          The incredulity of the God virus infected mind, knows no bounds.

          http://www.cite-catholique.org/viewtopic.php?t=19073

        • epeeist

          “Intuition is not knowledge unless and until there is justification”

          Please develop this thought as I think I dealt with it in my summary.

          One would have to wonder whether you actually know anything about epistemology. You might want to look at the classical description of “knowledge”.

          Well, there is the case of the Belgian Pierre de Rudder.

          Not an amputee, he refused to have his leg amputated as did his employer the Vicomte de Gisignies. Strange that he only went to Lourdes after the Vicomte died and his pension was withdrawn.

          It would also appear that when he got to the shrine and displayed his leg the scar looked old and the doctors would not attest it to the priests. In fact the only people who would attest was a friend of Rudder and the friend’s son.

          Oh, and some of the testimony wasn’t recorded until 18 years after the event.

          If this is the best you can do for a “miracle” then colour me unimpressed.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Why not go directly to the Miracle of Calanda for a proper example of a regenerated amputated limb?

        • Re Lourdes: given 200M visitors total, how many of those had some accident or died along the way. Way more than 63, I’m guessing.

          Advice to potential Lourdes pilgrims: Don’t do it!! It’s too dangerous!

        • Ignorant Amos

          A don’t know about the figures, but the concept is close enough fer jazz.

        • Pofarmer

          Whaaattttt? Christians embellishing their stories? The hell you say. Religious nuts making stuff up? C’mon.

        • Pofarmer

          It’s also historical that Osiris was killed and dismembered, then reassembled and resurrected, except for his Penis, which was eaten by a crocodile.

        • Greg G.

          The crocodile washed it down with a Coca-Cola. Remember the old ad slogan? That is where it came from.

          “Things go better with Coke!”

        • A crocodile gets his (actually, it’s an alligator).

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54YezX7HeSI

        • Greg G.

          My niece told me how to tell the difference. One will see you later, and the other, after while.

        • Sounds believable to me. That’s just the kind of thing a crocodile would do.

        • Mark

          Osiris came back together, in the story, but was not subject to pharisaical resurrection, which is reserved for human beings who die.

          Paul thinks the only miraculous thing that happened to Jesus is exactly what most every Jew of the time thought was going to happen to himself or herself. Did the pharisaical public think they were Osiris? Do Christians today think they are Osiris?

        • Greg G.

          Paul tells us quite enough about Jesus, e.g. that he was flesh and blood, crucified and bleeding, dead and buried.

          I gave you examples of Paul saying such things and some OT references for them.

          Then, as Paul came to believe – having got to close to the fire – Jesus was the first to experience the general resurrection of the pharisaical tradition, and is flesh-and-blood no longer.

          It was “revealed” to him when he read about it in the scriptures.

          1 Cor 15 totally relies on a real physical Jesus.

          The one in Isaiah 53. Read it, twelve verses. Zechariah 3 is ten verses.

          If none such had existed, Paul would have known.

          How would Paul have verified an event that happened between David’s time and Isaiah’s time? I am saying that Paul didn’t think Jesus was a first century person. Nobody did until Mark wrote his gospel.

          Deuteronomy 21 does not predict the crucifixion, though its general claim no doubt influence’s Paul’s thinking.

          Of course. In Galatians 3, Paul establishes that the law is a curse with Deuteronomy 27:26. Then he uses Deuteronomy 21:23 to show that some one who hangs on a tree/wood/cross is cursed (The word in the Hebrew means tree, in the Septuagint, it means tree, wood, or cross.) So with Paul’s flexible logic, if Jesus died as a curse, then get resurrected as implied in Isaiah 53:11-12 and shown in Zechariah 3, the curse is broken.

          The assertions in Isaiah 49:1, Isaiah 49:5 are prophetically envisaged, but can only be true of someone who was in the womb.

          Those verses are written in the past tense. They are not verses about Jesus. The early Christians may have used them that way by taking them out of context. It wouldn’t be the only time.

          There is nothing in Isaiah 53 to suggest that the Suffering Servant was not in the womb. You seem to be hammering that point. I don’t make that claim.

          I think the Jews didn’t like living under Rome’s thumb so they were inventing stories through midrash to raise their hopes that it all might end. Some started reading the Suffering Servant as a hidden mystery that was revealed to them. Ephesians 3 suggests that they thought that since this was revealed to that generation, that the Messiah would come to that generation. They read that the Suffering Servant lived in obscurity, died, was buried, and he was an intercessory for sin. Then they apparently reasoned that was going to be the world leader who returned to earth, resurrected the dead believers, and changed the bodies of the living believers to immortal bodies from other scriptures. Paul added ideas that the Suffering Servant was crucified and faith was all that was needed, not circumcision and works, and that love fulfilled the law.

        • Mark

          > Those verses are written in the past tense.

          Right, that was badly put, they are self-ascriptions , both past and future, made by someone who lives as he speaks.

          The Jesus was historical but a few centuries earlier theory is a Jesus historicity theory. It is hopeless, since Paul calls witnesses, ‘most of them still alive’, to the transformation of Jesus from bearer of a flesh and blood to a pneumatic body.

        • Paul calls witnesses, ‘most of them still alive’

          I respond to the “500 eyewitnesses” claim here:
          https://www.patheos.com/blogs/crossexamined/2014/04/500-eyewitnesses-to-the-risen-christ-9-reasons-why-its-not-likely/

        • Greg G.

          It is hopeless, since Paul calls witnesses, ‘most of them still alive’, to the transformation of Jesus from bearer of a flesh and blood to a pneumatic body.

          They are witnesses to what Isaiah 53:8-9 and Hosea 6:2 say. Those are the claims Paul is referring to. Paul wrote that Christ died for sins. There is no way an eye-witness could actually testify to that but they could say that if they were getting it from Isaiah 53 because the point is made several times there.

        • Mark, are you aware that ancient historians and biographers not only wrote about historical persons but that they also wrote about mythical or non-historical persons whom they presented as historical, and flesh and blood, etc. ? Just saying someone was said to be flesh and blood does not tell us about their historical status.

        • Mark

          Paul writes not long after Jesus. He believes some people could identify him before and after his supposed transformation from flesh-and-blood form to his new pneumatic-pharisaical-general-resurrectional form – ‘most of them are still alive’. For whatever reason, he had earlier, much closer to the events, despised these people and their views. If they were lying about the prior existence of this flesh-and-blood crucified Jesus, he could very easily have found out. It would have been easier than any of his acts of ‘persecution’, whatever they were.

          As it happened, he was appropriately suggestible and fell into their strange visionary resurrectional view, maintaining his prior conviction that there was a flesh-and-bleeding crucified Jesus.

        • Ignorant Amos

          Paul writes not long after Jesus.

          Only by reading the later gospels back into the Pauline corpus can you get to that conclusion safely.

          He believes some people could identify him before and after his supposed transformation from flesh-and-blood form to his new pneumatic-pharisaical-general-resurrectional form – ‘most of them are still alive’.

          Nope. You are ignoring important stuff. He is talking about those that claimed revelation as he has. Paul doesn’t know anyone that claims to hve been an on Earth witness to Jesus…or at least he doesn’t make the claim if he did.

          For whatever reason, he had earlier, much closer to the events, despised these people and their views.

          So he says. But despising and persecuting people for what they believe is not evidence of what they believe is true. Folk believe all sorts of nonsense is true on the weakest of evidence or on the say-so of others. The much closer to the events depends on the the veracity of the gospels and reading them back into the epistles.

          If they were lying about the prior existence of this flesh-and-blood crucified Jesus, he could very easily have found out.

          You are presupposing stuff again. Who is it that is lying about what? Where was this Jesus fellow believed to have been flesh and blood crucified?

          It would have been easier than any of his acts of ‘persecution’, whatever they were.

          Indeed, whatever they were…if they were at all, and not just a literary device. Can you not see how such a claim could at gravitas to a claim?

          As it happened, he was appropriately suggestible and fell into their strange visionary resurrectional view, maintaining his prior conviction that there was a flesh-and-bleeding crucified Jesus.

          In the lower Heaven’s?

        • Mark

          >> Paul writes not long after Jesus.

          > Only by reading the later gospels.

          No, I don’t need any gospels, he says e.g. that most of the witnesses to the identity of the spectral pharisaical resurrection-body of Jesus after his brief period ‘buried’ as flesh-and-blood ‘are still alive.’ It follows from a lot of other features of the text as well, e.g. the growing difficulties with the delay of his parousia ((arrival as (quasi-) emperor, as Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, not Augustus Nero of Nero Caesar. )) Paul thinks the fact that Jesus is not visibly ruling now is a mere blip – in the end he thinks it is a little parenthesis for the sake of the gentile mission.

          > You are ignoring important stuff. He is talking about those that claimed revelation as he has.

          They ‘saw’ Jesus same as he has, but it was not an apocalypsis in his view, but /seeing a body./ He separates himself from them, as witnesses to the identity of the person, but characterizes his own experience as /seeing a body./ distinguishing himself as untimely born etc. (I don’t think it’s particularly unlikely that Paul had seen the real Jesus himself, but who knows.)

          > But despising and persecuting people for what they believe is not evidence of what they believe is true.

          By itself no, but part of what they believed was that //a specific flesh and blood person was buried// … and then rose in pharisaical-resurrectional form.. If Paul knew there was no such flesh and blood person, that would have been part of his campaign against them, and he could easily have known whether there was one. Judea is not such a big place. If they had a fictive real Jesus, /his/ getting the post-resurrection view of Christ could not have convinced him to adopt their view. You are not thinking our epistemology and their psychology through.

          > The much closer to the events depends on the the veracity of the gospels

          Again not at all. That everything under discussion in the letters of the 50s was in the last few decades is clearly entailed by the text in a million ways.

          > You are presupposing stuff again. Who is it that is lying about what? Where was this Jesus fellow believed to have been flesh and blood crucified?

          I am considering the hypothesis forced on my by your skepticism: i.e. the view that the ‘ekklesia’ Paul fought then joined had made up a historical Jesus and his crucifixion and burial – and added that they had seen him in resurrectional form. The latter is easily explainable by psychology and suggestibility; the former, not so.

          > his prior conviction that there was a flesh-and-bleeding crucified Jesus.
          > In the lower Heaven’s?

          The lower heavens are not flesh-and-blood. The resurrection is a movement from a form appropriate to the earth as it is (he also says in 1 Cor 15 that the subject of pharisaical-resurrection begins as earthly) to a form appropriate to the heavens. But the earth is sort of melting away into something heavenly/ pneumatic in form, the resurrection of Jesus is the ‘first’ fruits of the transformation that has begun — otherwise, as Paul is emphasizing in the text at hand, all of their beliefs are nonsense. What happened to Jesus will happen to us flesh-and-blood people — even those still living at the time of resurrection ‘will be changed, in an instant’ out of the form of mortal flesh and blood into an imperishable existence made of heavenly stuff.

          The crucifixion and pharisaical-resurrection, as he understands them, could not have taken place with a ‘heavenly’ being. What dies is earthy bloody, but can undergo conversion into the heavenly imperishable.

        • Greg G.

          No, I don’t need any gospels, he says e.g. that most of the witnesses to the identity of the spectral pharisaical resurrection-body of Jesus after his brief period ‘buried’ as flesh-and-blood ‘are still alive.’ It follows from a lot of other features of the text as well, e.g. the growing difficulties with the delay of his parousia ((arrival as (quasi-) emperor, as Christ Jesus or Jesus Christ, not Augustus Nero of Nero Caesar. )) Paul thinks the fact that Jesus is not visibly ruling now is a mere blip – in the end he thinks it is a little parenthesis for the sake of the gentile mission.

          All of that is consistent with interpretation of OT scriptures.

          They ‘saw’ Jesus same as he has…

          Yes, through scripture.

          By itself no, but part of what they believed was that //a specific flesh and blood person was buried// [as per Isaiah 53:9]… and then rose in pharisaical-resurrectional form.. [as per Zechariah 3]

          Again not at all. That everything under discussion in the letters of the 50s was in the last few decades is clearly entailed by the text in a million ways.

          Yet the early epistles say nothing about a first century Jesus. Everything comes from centuries old scriptures.

        • Pofarmer

          I would suggest you read what Paul actually says in 1 Corinthians, if you are going to argue it.

          3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance[a]: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas,[b] and then to the Twelve. 6 After
          that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters
          at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have
          fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.

          No mention of the walking around Jesus, only the heavenly vision,m “according to the scriptures”.

          Then read what comes next.

          20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he “has put everything under his feet.”[c]
          Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear
          that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

          He’s not talking about someone who has already been here. He’s talking about someone who is going to come in the future and do these things.

        • Greg G.

          Paul’s argument says that if Christ is not raised then their faith is futile. With the absence of evidence for the claim that Christ was raised from the dead in verse 20, he might as well have just argued that their faith was not futile, therefore Christ was raised.

          Paul must not have done so well in Philosophy 120 (Logic). Maybe he took Philosophy 120i which would be logic with imaginary evidence.

        • Pofarmer

          The whole trails scene in Acts is just “wow” too.

        • Greg G.

          Ha! In Agrippa’s court, he appeals to the Jews as character witnesses that he is not crazy, then tells a crazy story about Jesus appears to him, speaking Hebrew or Aramaic while quoting the Greek god, Dionysus.

          Why not just say to ask the Jews about Jesus’ body disappearing or the zombies?

        • Pofarmer

          just reading through some of Acts. It really is complete bullshit, isn’t it?

        • Greg G.

          Luke was making parallel stories between Jesus and Paul, Peter and Paul, and all three. He was pulling our legs.