Richard Carrier’s Decisive Argument Against Mythicism?

Richard Carrier’s Decisive Argument Against Mythicism? March 5, 2014

A commenter named Stuart wrote the following:

Although mythicism has survived attacks from Ehrman and Casey its days may be numbered. A decisive argument against mythicism has been made by a scholar whose competence certainly can’t be questioned. This scholar is Richard Carrier. In his essay “The Spiritual Body of Christ and the Legend of the Empty Tomb” Carrier shows that the first Christians believed that the body of Jesus remained in the tomb and that Jesus was given a new body. This is Carrier’s “two body” theory of the resurrection. Carrier makes a clear distinction between the physical, corruptible body that Jesus had on earth and the new spiritual body that Jesus was given. It is clear that this distinction could not apply if Jesus had only ever lived in a celestial realm. Carrier says:

“So the earliest Christians would have believed that Christ had really been raised, and raised bodily, even as his earthly body continued to rot in the tomb.”

Referring to the ideas of Philo he says: “And since heaven was celestial anyone who lived there had to be celestial too, leaving behind all earthly substance.”

Turning to Paul’s idea of the resurrection he says: “Paul goes out of his way to deny continuity, emphasizing instead how different the resurrected body will be.” According to Carrier, “Paul emphasizes that our resurrection will fundamentally resemble [Christ’s]. So what Paul says about our resurrection body applies equally to Christ’s.”

Carrier goes on to explain why the Corinthians had doubts about the resurrection: “However, if the corpse of Jesus remained on earth, it is easy to see how some might come to believe that his resurrection was peculiar.”

I wonder what made Carrier change his mind about all of this.

One could accuse Carrier of having become a Christian apologist, based on the above evidence.

Think about it. Just when he formulates what is a cogent and potentially persuasive objection to a physical resurrection of Jesus, based on historical reasoning, he jettisons it and starts advocating instead a fringe theory that makes himself and those associated look like gullible kooks. Could it be that he has realized the truth of Christianity, and is now trying to distract from his earlier arguments and undermine the atheist cause?

I am of course being completely tongue in cheek when I write the above. It is about as plausible as Carrier’s application of the label “Christian apologist” onto me. Of course, if he means by that “liberal Christian apologist, someone whose stance involves embracing the results of historical, scientific, and other scholarly inquiry” then I am of course guilty as charged. And I would indeed encourage him to embrace the latter as well.

But in the following I am being completely serious. Since Carrier now disagrees with the stance he once held, which is along the same lines as the views of people like Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey, I would love to see him debunk his own earlier writings with the dismissiveness and insults that he typically offers in such cases. I mean, why should he spare an author that treatment, just because the author is himself?

Browse Our Archives