Myths, Messiahs, and Minimalisms

Myths, Messiahs, and Minimalisms April 28, 2015

Simon Joseph blogged about the myth of the dying Messiah. He writes:

The myth of the Dying Messiah originated in and was generated by the suffering and death of a messianic Jesus… Jesus’ first followers suffered from cognitive dissonanceThe predominant model of early Jewish messianism was the militaristic Davidic warrior-king. The fact that Jesus did not “fulfill” the role of the conquering war-hero  – and was murdered by those he was supposed to oppose – could have destroyed the movement. Their teacher had just been brutally executed and they struggled to come to terms with this. They turned to the scriptures for understanding and enlightenment and, as a result, found scriptural texts that provided reasons why this might have happened. They subsequently began to supplement them with other scriptural resources (including 2 and 4 Maccabees, Isaiah 53, and the Parables of Enoch) in order to create and compose – out of sheer personal, historical, and theological necessity – the Dying Messiah tradition.

Matthew Baldwin blogged about Richard Carrier’s definition of “minimal historicism” in his recent book. He writes:

Carrier’s particular account of so-called “minimal historicism” is more than just a logical starting point. It is an overdetermined bit of theater. It has been shaped by a prior analysis of the data that is normally used in the creation of any minimal account of who Jesus was in history…This game is more than somewhat suspect: it is rigged from the start. The question of Jesus’ historicity has already been decided. By design, Carrier’s statement of the minimal form of the theory of Jesus’ historicity dooms it to failure, since it has been formulated in light of a prior assumption that is deadly to its premises: the only available sources available for investigation of the life of Jesus are so absolutely unreliable that no statements about Jesus based solely on them can be admitted at all. His conclusions also entail a prior rejection of widely shared assumptions about the best scholarly methods for reading these sources, i.e., how to extract reliable historical data from the conflicting narratives of the Gospels. Essentially, on Carrier’s account, every prior historian who has decided to rely on Christian sources for knowing about Jesus has been a dupe, a stooge or tool who has mistaken fiction for fact.

Steve Holmes discussed the claim that the name for Easter comes from a pagan goddess named Eoster.

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