More On Mythicism

More On Mythicism March 5, 2010

I don’t normally link to the blog Metacrock, since the number of typos even in the title of a post is usually enough to put me off. But as there’s a recent post on mythicism, interacting with Earl Doherty and bringing Helmut Koester into the picture, it seemed worth linking to.

Meanwhile, Vridar is continuing to post, and I honestly can’t figure out whether there is a point to these posts and if so what it is. There’s a post on E. P. Sanders and the criterion of double dissimilarity, but it is unclear what problem, if any, Neil Godfrey has with this particular tool of historical-critical inquiry, and what if anything he would recommend historians use in its place. And I found it particularly ironic that, after describing a tool Sanders uses to assess authenticity – admittedly an imperfect tool, but a tool nonetheless – Godfrey then states that Sanders has no method for assessing historicity!

There’s also a post on John the Baptist, in which Godfrey claims that “The Gospel portrayal of John the Baptist is drawn entirely from passages in the Jewish scriptures, as shown above. It does not come from oral tradition or any kind of historical memory.” It is impressive, if he’s right, that the Gospel authors managed to invent a figure with the same name and same practice as a figure mentioned by Josephus! If this were actual historical research, some explanation would be offered not only of the differences between Josephus and the Gospels, but also of the points of intersection, however minimal. That the Gospel authors present John, Jesus, and others using details and typologies from the Jewish Scriptures is not news to anyone who has kept abreast of the field. And it doesn’t seem to have any obvious bearing on whether the figures depicted in this way, through a Scriptural lens, actually existed.

I said I was going to stop posting about mythicism until I have time to interact with representatives like Thompson and Doherty in more detail. But I figure it can’t hurt to link to posts by the defenders and/or proponents of mythicism, when they illustrate so nicely why that enterprise is problematic.

And before you ask, no, the title of this post isn’t a pun. No, really it isn’t.

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