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What Would It Take To Get You To Read Richard Carrier’s Book?

What Would It Take To Get You To Read Richard Carrier’s Book? September 21, 2015

A commenter on this blog mentioned how useful it would be if scholars in Classics, ancient Jewish history, or Roman history were to read and give their impressions of Richard Carrier’s book, On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt. The truth is that, just as I am perhaps going to read mainstream scholarship in fields other than mine but related to mine, on which I thus need to keep up to date, but am not going to read every monograph in those fields since they may or may not prove to be persuasive, likewise those in fields which neighbor my own are unlikely to read and comment on a book like Carrier’s, but only on ones which present the consensus, or which are seen to make a big splash among scholars working in this precise area.

But since the mythicist crowd doesn’t trust New Testament scholars and historians of ancient Christianity, considering us to be importing Christian assumptions into our work, it might help if scholars who cannot be so accused were to chime in. Of course, Bart Ehrman and Maurice Casey have done precisely that. But mythicists then claim that New Testament scholars are not using the same methods that other historians are. And so it would be useful if historians in other areas were to do likewise – although it probably will not change anything.

I am quite sure that, if any completely secular Classicist or historian writes a critical review of Carrier’s book, they will simply become the focus of attacks by the online mythicist crowd. I’m not sure what the mythicists will appeal to in their attempt to discredit such individuals, but they will certainly try something. It is what mythicists do. Perhaps they would even find themselves on the receiving end of invective from Carrier himself (see here for what they might have in store for them).

If this doesn’t seem like a very compelling invitation, well of course it isn’t. I’m asking someone who is busy and finds it hard to keep up with the abundant literature in their own field to read something in another, and more than that, to read 700 pages of unpersuasive claims, in order to try to persuade people who are unlikely to listen, and who are on the other hand very likely to cause them headaches for their efforts.

And so I have the feeling that simply offering to buy someone a beer is not going to be sufficient recompense.

And so what, if anything, would convince you to take on this unpleasant, unappealing, and unrewarding task?

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