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Mythicism and Peer Review

Mythicism and Peer Review July 27, 2011

Note what Earl Doherty says in the next sentence after the one I quoted in my previous post:

Great. Finally something that will give mythicism a shot in the arm. After all, if someone like Bart Ehrman feels the necessity to take it on, that implies a certain degree of legitimacy. It can no longer be dismissed as a fringe crackpot theory not worthy of mainstream scholarship’s attention.

Maybe I’ll finally get my “peer review.” I look forward to the challenge.

I’ll check and make sure that he did receive a copy of Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. If he didn’t, I’d send him one, if I knew an address for him. Anyone who can supply me with one?

Peer review does not, in its normal usage, refer to getting reviewed by a scholar in a journal. It is a part of the process of getting one’s own work published by an academic publisher, especially in a scholarly journal. Here is how the University of Texas Libraries web site explains it:

Peer Review is a process that journals use to ensure the articles they publish represent the best scholarship currently available. When an article is submitted to a peer reviewed journal, the editors send it out to other scholars in the same field (the author’s peers) to get their opinion on the quality of the scholarship, its relevance to the field, its appropriateness for the journal, etc.

Publications that don’t use peer review (Time, Cosmo, Salon) just rely on the judgement of the editors whether an article is up to snuff or not. That’s why you can’t count on them for solid, scientific scholarship.

I notice that Doherty used quotation marks, and so perhaps he knew he wasn’t using the term in its normal sense. But it doesn’t seem like it, since he goes on to propose sending Bart Ehrman a copy of his book.

If it is actual peer review Doherty wants, and he hasn’t gotten it, then that means he has foolishly been posting his writings online and in self-published books instead of sending them to academic journals and university presses.

But I would guess that, if he has been desiring peer review and being taken seriously, then by now he probably has actually had his work subjected to peer review. If he has submitted it to any scholarly publisher or journal, and had it turned down, it has been subjected to peer review – and not passed muster.

So what are the options regarding mythicists and peer review? Either mythicists have not had their work subjected to peer review because they have been too foolish to submit it, or they in fact have had their work subjected to peer review and rejected, and are not acknowledging the fact. Or they have been talking about peer review without understanding the concept.

Whichever turns out to be the case, a consideration of this doesn’t make mythicism seem like a perspective that is to be taken seriously – and it doesn’t make its proponents look good either.

But given that even bad papers, to say nothing of merely incorrect ones, sometimes make it past peer review, that mythicists have had nothing of this sort published suggests that what they have written thus far is of a very poor quality indeed. But if you have read their stuff, you knew that already.

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