Letter from Ned Ludd to the Mythicists

Letter from Ned Ludd to the Mythicists April 23, 2012

This important historical document seems to me to be relevant to something mythicists often say, and so I thought I would share it…

Dear mythicists,

I, Ned Ludd, am writing to request that you kindly stop using my name as though it provided support for your nonsensical ideas. If you don’t, I expect that I really shall have no choice but to smash up your machinery.

Historians differ on exactly who I was. Some think that I was a simpleton who smashed some machinery in a fit of passion, and that the phrase “Ned Ludd did it” and the name for the supposed leader of the Luddite movement came from there. Others think that “Ned Ludd” is simply a pseudonym that was used in the writing of threatening letters to employers, not based on another earlier figure. In either case, there was a Ned Ludd, and/or one or more people who wrote letters using aliases which included Ned Ludd. The historical question is which historical people may or may not have borne that name, whether it was their real name, and what their relationship is if any to the Luddite movement that eventually appealed to me as their fictional/mythical leader.

But I should think it obvious that, whichever of the aforementioned scenarios was the case, the evidence regarding me ought not to lead anyone in their right mind to conclude that the Luddites thought that I was a celestial entity who existed solely in a heavenly realm, or that I was created based on astrological prototypes, or that Greek or Ancient Near Eastern myths about dying, rising, and machine-smashing gods had anything to do with it. That I ended up as a mythical figure doesn’t prove that I began as one. Just ask the historians. They’ll tell you.

So please stop making yourselves look foolish by appealing to me in support of mythicism. If anything, I support historicism better. If a relatively ordinary human individual who smashed machines later had his name taken up as a symbol of a movement that went beyond anything that he intended or could have foreseen, doesn’t that sound a lot like what many historians say about the relationship between the historical Jesus and Christianity? The fact that the Ned Ludd who became the centerpiece of the Luddite movement deserves to be called fictional does not prove that there was no historical figure by that name who was actually in the minds of those who started the later movement, any more or any less than in the case of the fictionalized and mythologized Jesus who became a supernatural figure at the center of Christianity and its doctrines.

And so, while I have no objection to your dragging your own reputations through the mud, I find the aspersions you cast on my historicity objectionable, and kindly ask that you desist, if you know what’s good for you.


Ned Ludd

General of the Army of Redressers of Mythicist Claims


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  • Brettongarcia

    Is this a real letter from Ned Ludd?  I guess an Historicist will accept it totally.  As “firm, indisputable, historical evidence.”  Since?  It’s a first person, eyewitness account!  Written in support of Jesus!  So it must be true.

    Of course, ending as a mythical or godlike figure, does not prove one began as one.  But it is suggestive.

    And?  If we accept Jesus was early on, just a human person?  Then that would suggest that we cannot use the Bible (as conventionally read), much as a source; since it insists mostly on another status. 

    Or if we pick up the subtext, that has Jesus himself avoiding asserting that he is the “Christ”?  That 1) makes his existence somewhat more likely.   2) But at the cost of abandoning his special status.  While 3) we might ask, if religious tradition seems false, WHERE  then can we find other evidence of his existence?

    There 4) is no good historical evidence.  While 5) attempts to reconstruct Jesus from close readings, analytics, an hypothecized Q source, are highly problematic. 

    Though 6) we are to go with Q theory?  and even suggest that Q was perhaps almost Jesus himself?   Then note my comments earlier, that Q is generally thought to be a “sage” or “wisdom”/sophia voice; and to be rather Greek. 

    So that?  Even if Jesus was a fairly normal, real human being, his ideas would be borrowed from Greeks … and therefore, Greek myth.

    So that? Even if he was real, he is partially myth.

    • Kevin C


      and even suggest that Q was perhaps almost Jesus himself?

      Of COURSE!  That explains EVERYTHING!  Could someone please photoshop John DeLancy’s face onto one of those Renaissance paintings of Jesus?  Thanks in advance.

  • Great post Ned. If you see Robin Hood, please give him my regards.

  • Brettongarcia

    My point here is that even if we found an Historical Jesus – even if we found his bones in Talpiot A say; and so forth?  Reconstructing him from the data?  Then still?  The ideas he had in his mind, the lessons he taught, we would find, are from … Jewish and Greco-Roman and ANE myths.

    So that?  Even a real Jesus,would have myths, forming his mind and lessons.

    Even a physically real jesus therefore, would be just walking myth, so to speak.

    Though you could put this into traditional Christian language:  “spirit” or good ideas, “made flesh.’

    • Brettongarcia,

      You are demonstrating the fact that mythicism is an anti-Christ movement.  As you say, you would even be okay if a historical Jesus was discovered – as long as his teachings were eviscerated.  

  • LOL! Poor James just doesn’t get it even when he’s trying to create a spoof. He has Ned say he “ended up a mythical figure” but no, he didn’t. He ended up a “historical figure”!  Duh!

    I earlier sent him a reminder that none other than a professor of Early Christianity, Arthur Droge, himself wonders if the Ned Ludd analogy might not be comparable to what happened to Jesus but he was too busy to notice that: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1026

    What Ned is asking us to believe here is that the mythical tales of Jesus must have had a real historical person doing comparable things that inspired the telling of those mythical tales, even though there is absolutely no, none, nadda, zilch evidence for that historical person doing those things outside the myth itself.

    Ned, my good friend, you were born out of an abundance of happenings for which there is clear evidence quite apart from your myth. Jesus, poor fellow, has no such matrix.

    What you demonstrate is how a mythical being can become understood as a historical person — and this is because that mythical being answers to the needs and experiences of the people of the day. Jesus answered to the needs and experiences of people of his day as a concept of all-powerful and sympathetic divinity, and those needs extended from Palestine and right across the Hellenized world. Smashed machinery was what Ned’s followers could relate to; a loving, healing, saving deity is what Jesus’ followers could relate to. The myth followed.

    Dr McGrath failed to answer my earlier query before he posted this here:

    Dr McGrath, Can you tell me the name of this logical fallacy?

    Person A mentions the name of Ned Ludd along with others as a
    case-study to demonstrate that people CAN come to believe mythical or
    fictional persons had a real historical existence. Nothing more. Just
    that simple point.

    Person B says that Person A’s point is invalid because Ned Ludd is
    not comparable to Jesus Christ or belief in him — yet whether or not
    there is any similarity in process is the question yet to be decided. What is that fallacy called when someone rejects an argument as not
    true because it does not agree with their own argument? That is, when
    someone refuses to allow anyone to raise a contrary argument and
    ridicules their efforts to do so, thus avoiding any need to bother with a
    genuine exchange?

    What is that fallacy called?

  • Brettongarcia

    My point would NOT be that Jesus’ teachings would be negated utterly; my point for now is that they would now be found to be largely Greek.

    While?  Even the Catholic Church allows that the Greeks, their “myths” or philosphy,  had some kind of partial revelation, even before the NT.

    Ultimately though?  I DO believe that most people today are following a false idea of Jesus, of Christ; they should be looking to the Christ of the Second Coming, as more fully fulfilling the ancient prophesies.

    And what will THAT Christ say?  Just reading your Bible more closely than most, will give you some clues.