Keep Calm and Carrier On

Keep Calm and Carrier On September 13, 2015

For those interested in a third party perspective on Richard Carrier’s recent blog post about me and my review article, Stewart James Felker offers his thoughts on the matter.

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  • Neko

    Felker wrote:

    However, the enquoted line “no one of these criteria is sufficient to identify a narrative as mythical” was originally Carrier’s, not McGrath’s; and as this line appears in McGrath’s original article, it appears only as a quote of Carrier!

    Ouch ouch ouch.

    I only occasionally drop in to observe the bloodsport between mythicists and NT scholars and am hardly down in the weeds with this stuff. But I am aware of Neil Godfrey’s longstanding antipathy toward James McGrath. Why would Carrier rely on a hostile witnesses’s account of the argument when it’s not that hard to check the source? Slapdash.

    Edit: So I read McGrath’s critique and started Carrier’s rebuttal, but, as usual, didn’t have the patience to soldier through his breathless stream of invective and sophomoric asides to the bitter end. It’s not like I don’t enjoy reading polemics; quite the contrary. But the best polemics artfully deploy a few potent barbs within a forceful, cogent argument. Carrier rambles on and on about what a lying knave McGrath is and the injustice of it all. As many note, it’s unprofessional (and embarrassing to read).

    I will say I find McGrath to be subtle and was initially startled by his contention that “Scholars of the New Testament typically view allegorical interpretation of the texts they study with disdain,” but by the end of the piece gained some insight as to the risks of such an approach. If Carrier offered any insight in his response, maybe he saved it for the last.

  • Scott P.

    A good example of the unprofessionalism of Carrier. He writes:

    McGrath leads with the shamelessly false claim that “Scholars of the New Testament typically view allegorical interpretation of the texts they study with disdain.” He evidently has never read Burton Mack, John Crossan, Dennis MacDonald, Harold Attridge, Thomas Sheehan, Mary Tolbert, Marcus Borg, William Lyons, Elaine Pagels, Morna Hooker, Craig Evans, etc., etc., etc.”

    and then later:

    “Do you know who does disdain all that these scholars have shown regarding the Gospels being allegorically constructed? Christian fundamentalists,” and “Do you know who pretends their view is the mainstream view and all other views are “disdained” in the field when in fact the opposite is true? Christian fundamentalists. Who is McGrath siding with? Hm.”

    Since Carrier knows (or ought to know) that McGrath is a) well-read in the field and b) not a fundamentalist, he ought to conclude that his understanding of what McGrath is trying to say is in error. Maybe that’s due to the way McGrath phrased his statements, but in any case the proper response would be to ask for clarification. Instead, Carrier is content to stick to his misinterpretation since his only goal is to find a handy rhetorical cudgel.