Valerie Tarico’s Historical Denialism

Valerie Tarico’s Historical Denialism August 30, 2014

In a recent online article, Valerie Tarico suggests that “a growing number of scholars” are concluding that there was no historical Jesus.

It isn’t clear to me that Richard Carrier, Robert Price, and Thomas Brodie represent a “growing number” compared to past generations. If one goes back half a century or more, the idea had more credence than it does now, because we had less evidence about ancient Judaism than we do now, not to mention rampant antisemitism that preferred a Jesus borrowed from non-Jewish deities, to a Jesus who was a real Jewish human being.

Some of her claims are unsurprising – which other messianic claimants in the Judaism of this period are mentioned by non-Jewish historians?

And some are bogus – she claims that the story gets more and more detailed as time goes on, but what she points to are mythical additions such as the virgin birth, which indicates (against Carrier) that Jesus appears in the relevant sources to be a historical figure being mythologized, rather than the reverse.

That scholars make very different proposals about aspects of Jesus shows that this is a vibrant field. That’s what scholars do – make different proposals.

Nothing in the article justifies the overall impression Tarico gives. But by jumping on the fringe bandwagon known as Jesus mythicism, she certainly undermines her claim to be a freethinker, if by that she means someone who can see through bogus claims, rather than the sort of people who “think freely” by denying scientific and historical consensus.


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