The Historical Jesus around the Blogosphere

The Historical Jesus around the Blogosphere April 26, 2012

There’s a lot of interesting stuff in the blogosphere in the past day or so related to topics of regular interest on this blog.

Bart Ehrman offered a lengthy reply to Richard Carrier. Ehrman also did an interview at Religion Dispatches about his latest book, Did Jesus Exist?

Thom Stark deals with Richard Carrier’s attempt to claim that Targum Jonathan provides evidence of Isaiah 53 being interpreted before the rise of Christianity in terms of a suffering messiah. In fact it shows the opposite: when that interpreter treated the passage messianically, he made it the messiah’s enemies who suffer rather than the messiah himself!

Jerry Coyne and Joel Watts mentioned an article on the historicity of Jesus by Stephen Law.

Nijay Gupta mentioned an online article by Dale Allison about the historical Jesus and human memory.

Helen Ingram has a new blog/web site on the topic of her thesis, whether Jesus was a magician (HT Jim Davila). It includes videos of an interview she did on the topic as well. Here’s a sample:

April DeConick has begun blogging about her sabbatical project, which examines continuity between certain currents in ancient religion and more recent forms of mystical and New Age religion.

John Loftus argues that Jesus mythicism doesn’t do atheism any favors. Tom Verenna mentions a book he edited on the question of Jesus’ historicity (although the table of contents suggests that the volume is not going to address that topic consistently and directly in the manner many might expect). I hope I get sent a review copy!

Bob Cargill and Jim West discuss the alleged “Arimathea” name among the residents in the Talpiot apartment building that is over one of the tombs. Jim also suggests that the Canadian version of the recent documentary may have differed from the one shown in the United States.


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  • TomVerenna

    James, thanks for the generous mention!  The book actually attempts to organize the contributions into three subparts (which can be found in the introduction, a pre-galley copy is available on Bible and Interpretation); some contributions deal with the question as it relates to scholarship, some deal with it directly, and others deal with the way certain presumptions of historicity have hindered scholarship (thus they analyze the function of the narrative without a dependence upon the historicity of Jesus).  All of the contributions are outstanding, and you’ll probably really enjoy Crossley’s paper, Muller’s paper, and Grabbe’s paper the most.

    • It definitely looks like an interesting volume, and I hope to read it and blog about it at some point. My comment was simply that a lot of the chapters are not directly tackling the question “Did a historical Jesus exist?” – and some which are may be doing so indirectly. And so the volume may not be what some folks interested in that question expect – which is not necessarily a bad thing, just an observation! 🙂

    • Brettongarcia

      Tom V:  I often seen HJ scholarship serving an essentially conservative apologetic.  What do you think?

  • TomVerenna

    Quite so!  Thanks James!

  • John MacDonald

    Tom says: “thus they analyze the function of the narrative without a dependence upon the historicity of Jesus”

    No, I don’t think you’re going to get the most out of the gospels that way.  As the brilliant John Shelby Spong shows in “Liberating the Gospels” and “Reclaiming The Bible for a Non Religious World,” We can very likely see the historical memory of Jesus as it was shaped in the life of the Synagogue imprinted all over scriptures.

    • TomVerenna

       John, a lot of scholars argued that point about the Genesis narratives as well.  It is fruitless.  Such an endeavor will yield hundreds of Jesuses and none of them will be any closer to a historical core than any other.  This was the problem with the historical Jesus quest in the time of Schweitzer, in the time of Bultmann, in the time of the Jesus Seminar, and now in the time of Ehrman.  Point me to one historical Jesus that has been found and I’ll point to ten more (often conflicting) that are just as valid using the same methods to locate yours. 

  • Stephen Law

    The paper of mine that Joel Watts misrepresents is here, if anyone is interested:

  • John MacDonald

    I just wanted to share this wonderful article by Dr. Robert M. Price:   Such an excellent scholar!

    • John MacDonald

      it shows there might have been Greek influences on the Jews in the time of Jesus.