Many Jesuses?

Many Jesuses? July 9, 2017

There isn’t really debate about the plural of “Jesus.” If it were Latin, then perhaps “Jesi” would be appropriate. But as the Anglicized rendering of the Greek form of a Semitic name, it is better to go with “Jesuses.”

I have yet to even begin watching the TV series American Gods, but I gather that it has had multiple Jesuses too.

Here, however, I want to talk about the widespread mythicist claim that somehow the various things that people have said about Jesus means that we cannot talk meaningfully about a historical Jesus. Commenter Mark clarified things so admirably that I asked permission to quote him in a post. Here is what he wrote:

[T]his is all based on what Kripke calls the ‘disguised description theory of names’. There are not many Jesuses ‘the Jesus who raised Lazarus and who also …’, ‘the Jesus who was either killed by Pilate or … and …’ etc etc. This confuses the /truth of a statement/ with /the reference of a name occurring in it/. I cannot recommend reading “Naming and Necessity” highly enough; of the great works in the canon of the history of philosophy it is among the most readable.

The fact is that /either/ the use of the name ‘Jesus’ that comes down to us by the copying of the letters of Paul and the gospels etc. refers to a particular human being /or else/ it doesn’t.

The question, as Kripke shows, is very simple. Paul’s particular use of the name ‘Jesus’ (a common Aramaic name in the period) //defers// to the use of his predecessors whom he had formerly ‘persecuted’. When he says he saw ‘Christ’ whom he also calls ‘Jesus’ in e.g. 1 Cor 15, he means that he ‘saw’ the one they were already talking about, inter alia under the name ‘Jesus’.

To find the referent, then – if there is one – we now go to the usage of this popular 1st c. name for boys by ‘those who came before’ Paul – this is what the reference of Paul’s usage depends on and inherits. (People in Paul’s congregations also used the name ‘Jesus’; the reference in the sentences they formed by repeating this expression depends on or inherits the reference of Paul’s uses – and perhaps on the uses of the other independent Jesus-messianists who came their way). The question is whether /Paul’s predecessors’/ use of ‘Jesus’ depends on and continues, in the familiar causal way, a particular use of the name ‘Jesus’ for a particular 1st c. Palestinian human being. Either it does or it doesn’t. If the chain of repetition comes to a limit in a human being, then “Jesus” refers to a human being, and it is true to say “Jesus really existed”.

Given a genuine proper name referring to a real individual, there is no limit to the nonsense people can go on to attach to it as predicates. No amount of false predication affects the reference of a genuine personal name, if it has any. I don’t get to invent ‘a Jesus’ for each such predication – e.g.
“Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead” and ask ‘whether that Jesus exists’. I just ask whether the sentence is true…

If the referential chain exists, all uses of the repeated name refer to the original bearer. It doesn’t matter what people are saying /with/ the name through which they intend to replicate the chain. The point is developed with overwhelming force by Kripke. People can say wilder and wilder and more diverse and impossible things about Jesus – but they keep the same referential chain, saying ‘Jesus’ /because/ some predecessors said ‘Jesus’ – so they are along referring to the same 1st century individual whatever they say. You say “One group had this idea, other group had another idea” – and this is about the predicates they apply and have //no bearing// on the question of the referent of the name; it doesn’t change what they are applying these predicates to. They can’t change this, it is fixed by iron in the fact that even as they change doctrines they repeat the received expression ‘Jesus’ and entering into dispute with their immediate predecessors. Of course they are all massively wrong; but it’s a first century Galilean they are massively wrong about.

Our question is about 1st c Palestine; it is historical not anthropological.

If there is an original John Frum, an American soldier say, then that’s John Frum; sentences containing ‘John Frum’ are true just in case they are true of John Frum. The claim that he is identical with Manehevi, even if this is directly asserted, is in that case simply false, even if Manehavi exists. If ‘John Frum’ was introduced as a name for Manehevi, then things are different. The case is in fact of zero interest, as I said above. Frum is mirror and parody of Jesus; the reproduction of the cult depends on this internal relation to the Christianity they are rejecting.

In proto-Christianity have to do with a Jewish messianic movement. The charismatic target of all such movements actually existed and is unique and unambiguous. It is the same if we extend the expand the notion to include e.g. corresponding Islamic phenomena. Thus Menachem Schneerson, Sabbatai Sevi, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad all of course existed. Similarly, Jesus existed. John Frum and General Ludd and Robin Hood are not names preserved for us by Jewish messianic movements.

 

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  • Erp

    Could one have two referents if someone managed to think two narratives applied to the same referent and merged them before passing them on?

    • So for instance if Yeshua ben Pandera in the Rabbinic tradition was initially simply a different individual named Jesus, who then gets combined with Jesus of Nazareth? There would be two referents and two historical individuals, and subsequent historical confusion of the two in that case.

      • Bruce Grubb

        There are several theories presented that effectively say the Jesus in the Gospel is “composite” Jesus.

        Classic Christ Myther John M Robertson was prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus, perhaps more than one, having contributed something to the Gospel story. “A teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs” (of whom many are on record) may have uttered some of the sayings in the Gospels.”

        So you have the idea that the Jesus of the Talmud, a Jesus who preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and thereby met his death”, and-or a Galilean faith-healer with a local reputation woven together to form the Gospel version.

        Current ahistoricity Jesus (some times called Christ Myther) supporter G A Wells says that at best Paul and the Gospels talk about two different men. Paul talks of a legendary man possibly from the 1st century BCE while the Gospels talk about a Jesus who did indeed live in 1st c. Palestinian but was NOT crucified but lived to an old age and died in relative obscurity.

        Lena Einhorn, PhD suggests the “Egyptian Prophet” (between 52 and 58 CE based on the descriptions in Jewish War 2.259-263 and Jewish Antiquities 20.169-171) was the basis for the Gospel Jesus ( http://lenaeinhorn.se/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/Jesus-and-the-Egyptian-Prophet-12.11.25.pdf )

        Carrier suggested that Jesus ben Ananias [Ananus] of 66-70 CE was used as a kind of raw template for the Passover section of “Mark”. Now that could be used to support the idea of a kind of “composite” Jesus ala Wells or Robertson.

  • Jon-Michael Ivey

    In Latin the proper noun “Jesus” is irregular, but usually considered 4th declension. It is certainly not 2nd declension like most other words ending in ‘us.’ The form “Jesi” is thus very, very appropriate. In the 4th declension, the nominative plural (masculine or feminine) ending is ‘-ūs.’ Since macrons are not often used, the plural of “Jesus” should still be written as “Jesus,” although when spoken aloud the second syllable should be dragged out a little longer.

    • But why treat the English name, which derives from a Greek form of a Semitic name, as Latin at all?

      • Bruce Grubb

        More over the very letter “J” existed as a “swash” letter in Latin. It didn’t exist as a formal independent letter with its own sound until Middle High German (c1050 – c1350).

        יֵשׁוּעַ (Yeshua in Latinized Hebrew), Ἰησοῦς (Iesous in Latinized Greek), and Iesus (Latin) is the name we should be analyzing.

        Further compounding matters is that “Yeshua” was a common alternative for “Yehoshua” (Joshua); much like John is a common alternative for Jonathan in modern English. And it wasn’t the only variant. There was Yeshu as well.

        So we have a name that had three different renditions in Hebrew itself, another variation in Greek, and third in Latin.

        • Why are you stating obvious things in your last couple of comments, without making clear how you think that information is relevant to the conversation that we’ve been trying to have here?

          • Bruce Grubb

            Considering how many people are getting what I am saying wrong they are not “obvious things” because if they were people wouldn’t keep missing the point and going off on tangents.

          • If everyone else seems puzzled by why you are saying what you are saying, and seems to be going off on tangents, is it more likely that everyone else has issues, or that you are not communicating or perhaps not thinking clearly about the subject under discussion?

          • Bruce Grubb

            As I have said before this ‘disguised description theory of names’ was hashed out in anthology decades ago when Binford and Dunnell were the big names. The conclusion (c 1980) was that it was so Boasian in nature that a firm universal theory could not be formulated.

            So in terms of anthropology in general “Naming and Necessity” (1980) might as well been called the DOA theory. Heck, one only have to look at how the “meaning” of the proper names of King Arthur and Robin Hood have changed in tune with the culture around them to have insight to Binford and Dunnell.

            Culture drives the meaning of terms and even names. Different culture = different meaning.

            In 2 Corinthians 11:4 Paul himself notes there were others preaching “another Jesus whom we have not preached” and warned against “another gospel, which ye have not accepted”. So there was large fragmentation as to what Jesus meant in the c 50 – c60s and by the 180s it was all over the place.

            Irenaeus c180 CE Against Heresies ( http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0103.htm ) goes into the many views of what ‘Jesus’ meant to the various denominations of Chestians (a term going back to the 5th century BE that had its own baggage per this ‘disguised description theory of names’). It many respects it was nearly on par with how Jesus is viewed today with the culture of each group driving the image that “Jesus” invoked.

            “In the Far East where the major religions are Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism and Confucianism, Jesus is considered to be just another character in Western religious mythology, on a par with Thor, Zeus and Osiris. (Refuting Missionaries by Hayyim ben Yehoshua)

          • Mark

            Kripke’s lectures, the most famous philosophical event of the century, were given January 20, 22 & 29 1970 and first published in /Semantics of Natural Languages/, ed. Davidson and Harman, 1973. There are many antecedents of the so-called ‘causal theory of names’ going back at least to Geach, Mental Acts 1957, papers of Donnellan in the 60s etc. Meanwhile there are many variants of the description theory – that name is too narrow to cover them all. Take Wittgenstein’s sophisticated account in /Philosophical Investigations/ sec. 79

            > Consider this example. If one says “Moses did not exist”, this may mean various things. It may mean: the Israelites did not have a single leader when they withdrew from Egypt or: their leader was not called Moses or, there cannot have been anyone who accomplished all that the Bible relates of Moses — or: etc. etc.-

            This theory falls immediately to the Kripke-Geach-Donnellan critique; it is a typical illustration of the kind of account they oppose.

            As long as people repeat the name ‘Jesus’ picking it up from prior sentences, making new statements that either agree or disagree with those from which they acquire the use of the term ‘Jesus’, reference is preserved. Nothing can be done about this, even if in the end they say he was a docetic specter.

          • Mark

            You say, “So there was large fragmentation as to what Jesus meant in the c 50 – c60s and by the 180s it was all over the place.” burying yourself in the same systematic confusion. If Acts and the gospels can be trusted, there was fragmentation /within a few days/. Most people said well he’s dead, no messiah etc. – and meanwhile some spoke of him as a resurrected Christ. There would be no question that in a dispute in Jerusalem:

            Cephas: Jesus is risen, he is messiah, coming in glory soon.
            Saul: No, Jesus is quite dead.

            they are //talking about the same thing// and //using the same name// – else they wouldn’t be contradicting each other. These are opposing claims about the one Jesus, not disputes about what ‘Jesus’ meant (i.e. referred to). On your view it is basically impossible for people actually to disagree.

          • Bruce Grubb

            The key phrase there is “if Acts and the gospels can be trusted”. The problem is we aren’t sure they can be trusted. In fact, when we compare them to what is known about the period they either are ad hoc or at odds with known factors. Also it is estimated there were as many as some 30 (!) “Gospels” floating around c 180 CE.

            It is not “my” view but what has been pointed out by the more level headed people on both sides of the Christ Myth debate for well on 100 years.

            “The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of Heaven upon earth, and died to give His work its final consecration, never had any existence. He is a figure designed by rationalism, endowed with life by liberalism, and clothed by modern theology in an historical garb.” – Albert Schweitzer

            Note he is NOT saying Jesus the man didn’t exist but the particular version of the Gospels didn’t exist.

            Remsburg goes further and spells out exactly what he means:

            “Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist.”

            Remsburg then clarifies this position by stating “That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written.”

            “The “historical Jesus” reconstructed by New Testament scholars is always a reflection of the individual scholars who reconstruct him. Albert Schweitzer was perhaps the single exception, and he made it painfully clear that previous questers for the historical Jesus had merely drawn self-portraits. All unconsciously used the historical Jesus as a ventriloquist dummy. Jesus must have taught the truth, and their own beliefs must have been true, so Jesus must have taught those beliefs.” – Price, Robert (1997) Christ a Fiction

            Since people are putting their own views into the picture of Jesus they have when they use the term they are //not// talking about the same thing. Cephas and Saul both have their own views regarding what “Jesus” means.

          • Mark

            It is true that these texts, especially Remsburg are making the same mistake you are. Remsburg is clearly an out and out historicist, but he is expressing himself by converting sentences of the form “Jesus wasn’t F” into sentences of the form “The Jesus who was F didn’t exist” Since everyone affirms and denies things about Jesus, everyone, even fundamentalists, are ‘mythicists’ in this sense. There are “Jesuses” that don’t exist for them too. “The Jesus who was merely human and not also the son of God is a fiction of the humanists, a mere myth, and never existed”. This game is tiresome and corrupts clear thought. The clear way to speak is to say “Jesus was F/wasn’t F” It is false (I think) to say that “The Jesus of the gospels didn’t exist” as Remsburg does; the way to say it is “The gospels talk a lot of nonsense about Jesus”.

            The Price quote has nothing to do with mythicism v. historicity, but with attempts to find the views and life of the historical Jesus, which is a TOTALLY different task. “mythicism v. historicity” is about the name, the subject, the thing; the historical Jesus disputes at issue in Schweitzer are about the predicates, the properties of the thing.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “Either side of the historicity debate will at times engage in a fallacy here, citing evidence supporting the reductive theory in defense of the triumphalist theory (as if that was valid), or citing the absurdity of the triumphalist theory as if this refuted the reductive theory (as if _that_ were valid)” – Carrier

            Remsburg was quite clear on what he was doing. His argument was that while there was enough (in his view) to show Jesus was an actual person there was NOTHING to show any part of the Gospel account was historical.

            I might add as I have repeatedly shown there are people past and present who have been called “mythers” who did NOT discount the idea that Jesus existed as human being.

            It is akin to the term “culture” in anthropology; without a proper context it has no real meaning.

            You seem to conflating reductive and triumphalist Christ Myth theory in an effort to salvage something out of the mess.

          • Mark

            Right this is out right historicism and total rejection of the Christ Myth theory. You are are only person on the planet who uses words this way.

          • Bruce Grubb

            You haven’t been paying attention to the references I have provided have you?

            Bart Ehrman states that a Jesus who “had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.” was not a “historical Jesus worthy of the name” i e Christ Myth. So a Jesus who preached a form of Judaism that his followers altered into Christianity after he died would fall under this criteria.

            In fact that was Remsburg’s contention: “Jesus, if he existed, was a Jew, and his religion, with a few innovations, was Judaism. With his death, probably, his apotheosis began. During the first century the transformation was slow; but during the succeeding centuries rapid. The Judaic elements of his religion were, in time, nearly all eliminated, and the Pagan elements, one by one, were incorporated into the new faith.”

            By the very criteria Ehrman presents Remsburg is a Christ Mythist…even though Remsburg accepted Jesus was a real person. The same is true of GA Wells’ current stance because he states that Paul was invoking a “legendary” Jesus separate form the one used as the basis for the Gospel version ie the man the Gospel Jesus was based off of didn’t found Christianity.

          • John MacDonald

            The idea that someone could be called a Mythicist if they believed the Jesus of the New Testament tradition could be traced back to a historical figure is bizarre. When you talk about Wells’ “current stance,” it is his final stance, since Wells has passed on. Wells used to be a mythicist, but died a historicist. From the Wikipedia page:

            Wells said: “if I am right, against Doherty and Price – it is not all mythical.”

            Wells notes that he belongs in the category of those who argue that Jesus did exist, but that reports about Jesus are so unreliable that we can know little or nothing about him

          • Bruce Grubb

            “Wells notes that he belongs in the category of those who argue that Jesus did exist, but that reports about Jesus are so unreliable that we can know little or nothing about him”

            Which would fall into Remsburg’s historical myth category towards the “distorted and numberless legends attached until but a small residuum of truth remains and the narrative is essentially false” end of the spectrum he gave it. “Many radical Freethinkers believe that Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis, but that these narratives are so legendary and contradictory as to be almost if not wholly, unworthy of credit.”

            This is likely why Carrier used “ahistorical” rather then mythical or historical when summing up Wells’ work.

            “In wide circles the doubt grows as to the historical character of the picture of Christ given in the Gospels. […] If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with; but we know nothing of Jesus. Even in the representations of historical theology, he is scarcely more than the shadow of a shadow. Consequently it is self-deceit to make the figure of this ‘unique’ and ‘mighty’ personality, to which a man may believe he must on historical grounds hold fast, the central point of religious consciousness.” – Drews, Arthur (1910) _The Christ Myth_

            John M. Robertson also falls into this part of the mythist spectrum: “The myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility (that Jesus existed as a human being). What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded.”

            The Legendary Jesus thesis – “The term ‘legend’ has various meanings in different contexts. In some academic circles, i.e., certain sectors of folkloristics, the term has come to refer to a transmitted story set in the relatively recent, or at least the historical, past that, though believed to be true by the teller, may or may not be rooted in actual history. On the multiple uses and definitional complexities of the term ‘legend’—including its relationship to ‘history’—see [reference list omitted].” – Eddy, Paul R.; Boyd, Gregory A. (2007). The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic.

            Eddy-Boyd uses ‘Legendary Jesus’ and ‘Christ Myth’ so interchangeably that is effectively impossible exactly which one they are talking about in relation to their historical Jesus position.

            International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J also states “This view [Christ Myth theory] states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes…” But we know that some of those stories were based on real events (Battle of Troy, discovery of Vinland) falling into Remsburg’s Historical myth category.

          • John MacDonald

            There is no “mythicist spectrum.” If you believe there was a historical Jesus, you are a historicist. If you believe there was no historical Jesus, you are a mythicist. It’s an “either-or,” not a spectrum.

          • Bruce Grubb

            There is indeed a “mythicist spectrum” because there is one for the historical Jesus ranging form everything in the Gospels being historically accurate to Jesus existed as a human being rather then being totally a fiction like King Lear or Dr Who. ( Marshall, Ian Howard. _ Believe in the Historical Jesus_ 2004 pg 27-29)

            Carrier used Triumphalist and Reductive for the ends of this spectrum. Remsburg Reductive was historical myth in the narrative is essentially false vein.

            Since “historical Jesus” is a spectrum then logically the mythicist position must also be a spectrum. In fact, Eddy-Doyd dumps three fourths of the spectrum into the ‘legendary Jesus’ category.

            “We shall land in considerable confusion if we embark on an inquiry about the historical Jesus if we do not pause to ask ourselves exactly what we are talking about.” – Marshall

          • What you are referring to is the spectrum of historical views. Mythicists deny that there was a historical Jesus of any sort. Mainstream historians and scholars cover a wide spectrum ranging from there being almost nothing that we can know about the historical figure from our earliest sources, to concluding that we can know quite a lot.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “Mythicists deny that there was a historical Jesus of any sort. ”

            No they don’t. Mead has been called a “Mythicist” and he put Jesus c 100 BCE. Remsburg accepted there was a man behind the myth and he has been called “Mythicist”.

            Heck, the 1982 and 1995 editions of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J when out of their way to define the myth theory as the “story of Jesus (rather then the man himself) is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes…” Stories that include the Battle of Troy and discovery of Vinland….events we know actually happened…though certainly not as related.

            Even David Strauss was said to have presented a “mythical theory” with the very next sentence stating “Strauss held that there was verily a historic Christ, but that a vast mass of miracle and supernatural wonders had been woven like wreaths around the head of Jesus.”

            Wells with his legendary Jesus of Paul + actual 1st century teacher who dies of old age has been given the “Mythicist” tag. Carrier and Van Voost seem to have been the only ones to really understand what Wells had done and even they disagree, with Carrier putting Wells in the ahistorical (but not mythical or historical as Carrier defines them) category while Van Voorst put Wells in the historical category.

            “I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus. It is not difficult to pretend that Jesus never lived. The attempt to prove it, however, invariably produces the opposite conclusion” — Schweitzer, Albert, Out of my life and thought: an autobiography (1931), p. 125.

            But as I have shown James George Frazer certainly did NOT “contested the historical existence of Jesus”…UNLESS you are talking about the Jesus of the Gospels.

            John M. Robertson included an historical Jesus that may have “preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and thereby met his death”; and Christian writers concerned to conciliate the Romans may have suppressed the facts as part of his version of mythistism ( Robertson, John M (1916) The Historical Jesus: A Survey of Positions per Robertson, Archibald (1946). Jesus: Myth Or History. )

            Arthur Drews simply stated “In wide circles the doubt grows as to the historical character of the picture of Christ given in the Gospels.” The key phrase there is “the picture of Christ given in the Gospels”

            Even Constantin-François Volney, one the founders of the modern Christ Myth theory, allowed for confused memories of an obscure historical figure to be integrated in a mythology that compiled organically in his version. ( Wells, G. A. “Stages of New Testament Criticism,” Journal of the History of Ideas, volume 30, issue 2, 1969. )

            Example after example of the myth theory NOT being just denying that there was a historical Jesus of any sort but rather including denial of the Gospel Jesus can be found.

          • I understand that there are a small number of people who have not been using the term consistently, but that scarcely seems reason to attempt to derail a discussion and introduce that confusion here!

          • Bruce Grubb

            But the inconstancy in how the term is used is key. Heck, Ehrman specifically stated that a Jesus who “had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity” was part of the non-historical Jesus category.

            So a Jesus who actually existed but either cooped an already existing movement (variant of the theories of a Jesus-like Messiah before Jesus by Michael O. Wise and Israel Knohl)
            or whose movement was turned into Christianity after he died (Remsburg) would NOT be a historical Jesus by Ehrman’s criteria.

            And if we accept that “not historical” = mythical idea then such a Jesus would be a mythical Jesus…even though he existed as a human being.

          • But no mainstream scholar or historian disputes that Jesus is “mythical” in that sense, and so I am not sure what you’ve been trying to accomplish in this lengthy thread.

          • Mark

            I’d say it’s pretty clear that Jesus had ‘virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity’, nevertheless Christianity is all about him. It is anachronistic to speak of ‘Christianity’ as something taught by Paul much less Jesus.

          • Bruce Grubb

            But being about a person doesn’t mean they had anything to do with founding a movement as shown by the Rusefel (Roosevelt) and Johnson Cargo Cults. The followers of those cult simply latched on those people as the founders of their movements.

          • Mark

            I don’t need information about Wells’ development.

            Again, you are playing with words. “The Jesus of the New Testament tradition” is Jesus. There were a lot of people called ‘Jesus’ in 1st c. Palestine, and the expression “the Jesus of the New Testament tradition” singles out exactly one of them. Of course most of what “the New Testament tradition” says about him is false – it’s enough to note that it’s full of miracle attributions. Late Wells is aware that “the Jesus of the New Testament tradition”, sc. Jesus, is not a mythical figure but a human being.

            In the response to Ehrman, Wells is explicitly denies that the word ‘mythicist’ can be applied to him, but you inexplicably think he’s somehow on the side of your subjective usage.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Actually, “The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth.” – Remsburg

            Mythist John Robertson’s position was that “All that can rationally be claimed is that a teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs, may have Messianically uttered some of these teachings at various periods, presumably after the writing of the Pauline epistles.” – (1910) Christianity and Mythology

            He also accepted the possibility of that a man, named Jesus, “preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and thereby met his death”; and Christian writers concerned to conciliate the Romans may have suppressed the facts. – (1916) The Historical Jesus: A Survey of Positions

            If we accept the claim made repeatedly that the positions of Remsburg and Robertson are mythist then we have to accept how they defined that term. Ergo the term is NOT just Jesus didn’t exist a human being but that the particular Jesus of the NT (the miracle working demigod) didn’t exist Q.E.D.

          • John MacDonald

            I don’t think you understand what I wrote. Wells was a mythicist, but ended up a historicist.

          • Mark

            Yes I understood this throughout and presupposed it, there must be some confusion about the thread.

          • Mark

            ” a Jesus who preached a form of Judaism that his followers altered into Christianity after he died” is the standard secular picture and has nothing to do with mythicism. It is anachronism to speak of ‘Christianity’ in the early or middle 1st c. Paul for example was obviously not setting up a new ‘religion’ since he thought the world was crumbling around him anyway.

            Remburg seems in https://archive.org/details/christcriticalre00rems to be undecided between the standard historicist theory and mythicism; he is quite conscious of the distinction, but considers historicism more probable (p. 443) . He frequently plays the game where one says “the X that is F doesn’t exist/is a myth” in place of “X wasn’t F”.

            In general sentences like “A Jesus who is F is G” like those beginning “A Thomas Jefferson who is F is G” – and similarly with any proper name – are never serious statements but need to be decoded. The grammar is derived from “An S who/that is F is G” but “Jesus” and “Thomas Jefferson” are not common nouns.

          • Bruce Grubb

            John Frum shows evidence of existing (or at least the idea that became the cult) clear back into the 1910s meaning it was NOT “new” by the time it hit critical mass and non believers took notice in the early 1940s.

            We know from Josephus that there were would be messiahs (christs) popping up like mushrooms from 4 BCE to 70 CE. Interestingly if you do a quick graph that Jesus was in what amounted to a lull period with c 4 BCE and c 70 CE being the high ends.

          • Mark

            I don’t see what John Frum has to do with anything. Jesus is indeed one of those ‘messiahs popping up like mushrooms’ in the 1st c. The most important thing we know about Jesus is that he was the object of a 1st c. Jewish messianic movement, which is knowing quite a lot. We don’t know quite how to characterize what the Frum ‘movement’ is or was. A Jewish messianic movement – like the one the text of Paul presupposes – needs a human target and it isn’t likely to be confused about who it is or mistaken about its existence.

          • Bruce Grubb

            There have been comparisons between Jesus and John Frum as far back as 1957. Peter Worsley, the anthropologist that came up with the term Third World, wrote “Belief in Christ is no more or less rational than belief in John Frum.”

            Dawkins and Carrier have made more detailed comparisons between 1st-2nd century Christianity and the John Frum movement. I even found a work Carrier was unaware of that better supported his case: Guiart, Jean (1952) “John Frum Movement in Tanna” Oceania Vol 22 No 3 pg 165-177 ( http://horizon.documentation.ird.fr/exl-doc/pleins_textes/pleins_textes_5/b_fdi_16-17/22920.pdf )

            Here we have a snap shot of the movement just 11 years after it become noticeable to unbelievers. Even so close to that point it is not clear if John Frum is simply another name for Karaperamun (the High god of the region), a name that various actual people used as leader of the religious cult, or the name of some other person who inspired the cult perhaps as much as 30 years previously. If to confuse things further it has been suggested that Tom Navy, a companion to John Frum, is based on a real person: Tom Beatty of Mississippi, who served in the New Hebrides both as a missionary, and as a Navy Seabee during the war.

            In fact, Chief Isaac made a direct comparison to Jesus when asked why they still have faith that John Frum will return with loads of cargo: “You Christians have been waiting 2,000 years for Jesus to return to earth, and you haven’t given up hope.”

            Oh John Frum’s brother, Prince Phillip, is still alive. One problem, Prince Phillip has no brothers…only sisters.

            Paul himself make a curious comment in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4 about people being “corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” by “another Jesus, whom we have not preached,” “another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted” This shows that by c 50 CE the movement was very fragments and there may have been people who took up the name ‘Jesus’ or claimed to be a blood relative to Jesus to take the movement in a particular direction.

          • Mark

            Again, I don’t need to be informed about John Frum; nothing could be more familiar to me. Febrile mythicists mention him all the time – and you are cutting and pasting familiar half-thoughts from this familiar internet miasma. The question was what particular proposition you were using the Frum case to show and how. Jewish messianic movements always fix on a real individual human target and are never in a state of error about his historicity and identity. Nothing is more familiar than recovering from the intuitive failure of the movement with doctrines of occultation and increasingly wild claims about the dead or disappeared or converted messiah. No amount of later fabrication about the messiah and no diversity of theological doctrine can affect the reference of the name of the target of the movement who is always a definite and real human being.

            In Frum we do not have such a movement, but rather a brilliant parody of such a movement, so the question of historicity is naturally opaque.

            Only a burning psychological need for Jesus not to exist leads people to overlook these obvious facts, to falsify history, and spread 19th century mythicist fantasies across the internet.

  • LordSteel

    I think Mark and Bruce are talking past each other–though I’ll go ahead and say I find Bruce’s posts to be pretty hard to follow, so I can’t be sure Mark hasn’t grasped his argument better than I have!

    As far as I can tell, Bruce is arguing that the existence of many mutually contradictory descriptions of Jesus very soon after the origin of the use of the name for that figure provides evidence that the original use of that name was not for an existent figure but a fictional one. Bruce thinks the evidence on this is extremely strong, rendering Jesus’s real existence very improbable. The strength of the evidence is certainly debatable, but the mere idea that contradictory descriptions provides evidence that they are descriptions of a fiction is not particularly objectionable in itself.

    Mark, meanwhile, is providing an account of how names acquire their meaning. As far as I can tell, this was never at issue. Bruce talks about “the Jesus who” this and “the Jesus who” that not as a way of claiming that names are descriptions, but rather, as a way of referring to various descriptions that are in fact applied to that name. The conversation about how names get their meaning, then, and Mark’s insistence on the causal-historical account thereof, is kind of a red herring that took over.

    Bruce’s _basic_ point (sans his belief about how _strong_ the evidence is in this case) stands, no matter whether Mark’s Kripkean account of names is correct or not. How names get their meaning has no bearing on the question of whether the existence of contradictory descriptions for a named entity provides some evidence that the entity is fictional.

    • Gary

      “As far as I can tell, Bruce is arguing that the existence of many mutually contradictory descriptions of Jesus very soon after the origin of the use of the name for that figure provides evidence that the original use of that name was not for an existent figure but a fictional one”

      Bruce has a problem with Ehrman. I would suggest that perhaps Ehrman would respond to “the existence of many mutually contradictory descriptions of Jesus”… is simply a result of oral stories generated, modulated, exaggerated, modified, by each story teller in succession. Even 30 years is a long time to generate a lot of stories around the campfire.
      I see absolutely no correlation between the number of mutually contrary descriptions, and the real or fictional character of the main subject of the stories. Especially considering the different backgrounds of the story tellers. Educated, religious, non-religious, Northern Israel, Southern Israel, Gnostic, Essene.

      If our grandchildren were telling stories about Donald Trump in 30 years, they would say he is a devil, if the Grandparents were Democrats. And a patriot if Republicans. Actually – in 6 months, not 30 years. So, where is the correlation between real and fictional characters? With diverse, contradictory stories? Absolutely no correlation.

      • Gary

        Even if Ehrman doesn’t know how to spell Colombian. I’ll give him a pass!

        • Gary

          For those people that are baseball fans…
          Ok! Baseball home run derby. Rookie. NY Yankee. 6’7″. Easily wacks all comers. NY fans – hero. All other fans – villain Goliath. Diverse contradictory stories. He must be fictional! And the stories are only 2 hours old.

          • Gary

            That is – the last Judge in the OT. First name, Aaron. How biblical is that.

          • LordSteel

            To clear some ground here, I want to be sure you know what I mean when I distinguish between saying X proves Y and X provides evidence for Y. Do you?

            I ask because your use of the phrase “must be” here would generally indicate that you’re talking about proof–but your previous comments (and mine) were about provision of evidence rather than proof. Would you agree?

          • Gary

            “Must be” was my mis-statement. My point is that Bruce’s point stated by you, “Bruce is arguing that the existence of many mutually contradictory descriptions of Jesus…provides evidence that the original use of that name was not for an existent figure but a fictional one”. This provides absolutely no evidence at all about the real or fictional nature of the characters in a story. It might make Bruce feel better about his conclusion. But it adds no evidence whatsoever to the conclusion.

            Ehrman has a whole book about oral stories and how they change. About witnesses in court giving different descriptions of events and people. From 33AD to the first descriptive texts written, gives plenty of time to have oral stories develop in opposite directions. None of which give “must be” evidence of fictional or real personage. I would look at Bruce’s conclusion as a simplified assumption to validate his already convinced belief. Only 2nd or 3rd order, deeper evaluation of the texts can derive any real evidence. And neither Bruce or I are qualified to do that analysis. Ehrman and McGrath are. And the majority of ancient text scholars are. Not us. Not Carrier, since he is vastly “out-voted”, by the experts.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Again considering that Ehrman is comparing the evidence for Jesus to some of the most documented events of the 20th century it is hard to take him seriously.

            Also you seem to misunderstand what I mean by “fictional”. The Davy Crocket in _Davy Crocket and the Frozen Dawn_ is clearly frictional…BUT (and this is the part many keep missing) that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a Davy Crocket.

            Remember one of the definitions of mythism was that the *story of Jesus* was “possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes…”

            Stories which include the Siege of Troy, discovery of Vinland, and Eric the Red….all of which we know actually happened…though not in the way they are described.

            See the problem?

          • Gary

            “Also you seem to misunderstand what I mean by “fictional”. The Davy Crocket in _Davy Crocket and the Frozen Dawn_ is clearly frictional…BUT (and this is the part many keep missing) that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a Davy Crocket.”

            So, by analogy, you are indeed saying, as an example, “The Jesus in the Infancy Gospels is clearly fictional…But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a Jesus.”

            If so, then I don’t think you are in disagreement with Ehrman, McGrath, et al.

            The hard evidence, on the other hand, hasn’t really been discussed. You just don’t like Ehrman’s comparison of Jesus (the man) denialists, to JFK conspiracy advocates. Those two groups take conjecture (like multiple, possible/impossible stories) and generate their own false evidence.

            Although, I have to admit I haven’t read all you comments in the previous blog. Too many (+200), to plow thru. But Ehrman’s comparisons don’t consist of his evidence. Only his dislike for conspiracy theorists that don’t actually use hard evidence, but use conjecture (which is OK), but call it fact. Like, because there are multiple conflicting stories, the person must be fictional. Not really. Only the events attached to the person are fictional.

            So, I am glad you agree with Ehrman and McGrath. (BTW, McGrath miss-spelled “Colombia” awhile back on another post. Must be a biblical scholar thing, hanging around Columbia University too much, instead of Bogota.)

          • Bruce Grubb

            Ehrman’s comparison of evidence for Jesus (the man) to well documented events of the 20th century is totally boneheaded no matter how you try to sugar coat it.

            Sure there are royally convoluted theories regarding there JFK assassination but there are as convoluted Triumphalist theories that are used to claim EVERYTHING in the Gospels is historical true.

            The efforts to make Mark and Luke agree is the poster child of _that_ nonsense. The biggest hoot is that Publius Sulpicius Quirinius supposedly did an earlier (and unrecorded) census of Herod kingdom. This ignores the fact Publius Sulpicius Quirinius was fighting some two provinces to the east a minimum of 6-3 BCE with him being Duumvir of the area 6-1 BCE and some say the war goes back as far as to 12 BCE.

            Publius Quinctilius Varus oversaw the area covered by Herod the Great’s kingdom from c. 8 BCE to 4 BCE as documented by Josephus and Sentius Saturninus preceded him 10 BCE – c. 8 BCE.

            In Antiquities chapter 17 verse 27 Josephus expressly stated that as long as Herod the Great lived, the province of Judea was exempt from Roman taxation. Therefore, Luke’s taxation census must have occurred after Herod’s death, while Matthew requires it to have happened before.

            and on it goes.

            If we used this worse case example the pro historical Jesus wouldn’t look any better the Holocaust denialists would they?

            Carrier states both the Christ Myth and historical Jesus camps need to go back and clean things up as there are too many people on both sides of the debate producing off the wall tin foil hat crazy theories.

          • Nick G

            Well as Carrier is one of them, he could make a start all by himself!

          • Bruce Grubb

            Considering Carrier’s version of the Christ Myth passed peer review that says a lot about his particular version of it.

          • Nick G

            No, it did not, in the normal meaning of “peer review”. And even if it had, there’s plenty of garbage gets through real peer review.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Everything I have seen shows that Carrier followed the way peer review is done in the UK to the letter so it is “real”.

            Carrier is certainly better then what we have seen before. He cut through a lot of the ‘throw everything up the flag pole and see what gets a salute’ nonsense we have seen over the last 100 years.

            Paleographic dating is the biggest hoot on the HJ side as it is misused to support dates well outside of its ability.

            The poster child of that insanity is Rylands Library Papyrus P52 which is generally said to be c125.

            First problem is that date is actually from 1935 and nearly 15 years ago it was pointed out that P52 was in need of a serious evaluation. Second, that is the earliest not mid point of the date range…a major no no per modern historical methods. Third, when a date range is given it is generally well below the 50 years range that at best Paleographic can give…and in practical terms 70-80 years is more realistic. Finally, no actual support for the c125 CE (as a mid point) date is ever given.

          • I wish people would stop debating the process that Carrier’s book went through, since it seems to imply that, if a book has gone through the peer review process properly, that somehow vouchsafes the accuracy of its claims and the correctness of its conclusions, which is obviously not the case.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “The peer review process is integral to scholarly research. It is a process of subjecting research methods and findings to the scrutiny of others who are experts in the same field. The process is considered essential, but has also been criticized as slow, ineffective and misunderstood.

            Purpose
            The process is designed to prevent dissemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal views. It relies on colleagues that review one another’s work and make an informed decision about whether it is legitimate, and adds to the large dialogue or findings in the field.” ( http://teachingcommons.cdl.edu/cdip/facultyresearch/Definitionandpurposeofpeerreview.html )

            It isn’t perfect and recent years have seen a lot of predatory open access publishing where peer review is turned into a total joke but Sheffield Phoenix Press wasn’t one of those.

            That “prevent dissemination of irrelevant findings, unwarranted claims, unacceptable interpretations, and personal views” and “whether it is legitimate, and adds to the large dialogue or findings in the field” is key for evaluating a work that goes through peer review of a recognized academic publisher like Sheffield Phoenix Press.

            The fact people are getting on the ‘oh it wasn’t true peer review’ BS express shows they either don’t know what is actually in the work (and therefore can’t meaningfully debate it) or can’t really refute the points the book makes.

            Remember what Carrier’s criteria for a historical Jesus included: “My point at present is that even if we proved the founder of Christianity was executed by Herod the Great (not even by Romans, much less Pilate, and a whole forty years before the Gospels claim), as long as his name or nickname (whether assigned before or after his death) really was Jesus and his execution is the very thing spoken of as leading him to the status of the divine Christ venerated in the Epistles, I think it would be fair to say the mythicists are then simply wrong. I would say this even if Jesus was never really executed but only believed to have been Because even then it’s still the same historical man being spoken of and worshiped.”

            That is a _lot_ of leeway regarding a “historical Jesus” and would include various theories that have been called Christ Myth over the last century.

          • This isn’t an accurate depiction of peer review. Peer reviewers do not seek to replicate the findings of scientific experiments, nor to verify the conclusions of historical arguments, nor to inspect archaeological materials referred to. It is a process of looking to see whether the description of methods and procedures appears to be appropriate and thus merit publication. It is the further engagement of the scholarly community which will assess whether the arguments presented in the published work have real merit, and whether they are ultimately persuasive.

          • Bruce Grubb

            You do realize this depiction of peer review came straight from an accredited university’s web site, right?

          • So? Clearly this articulation is open to misunderstanding since you took it to mean that peer review vouchsafes that the published work’s claims are all correct. If that were true, then all the peer-reviewed work before and since Carrier’s book confirming that there was a historical Jesus would mean that it is safe to ignore Carrier. If you wish to take it that way, by all means go ahead, as long as you do in fact accept the implications of doing so…

          • Mark

            Carrier is very clear minded on this topic, I think, and sees that there is very /little/ leeway. The ‘mythicists are … simply wrong’ if the name ‘Jesus’ that e.g. Paul was using goes back causally to a the use of a name for a historical human being – even if he wasn’t actually crucified but somehow people came to think he was. As we know from his book he thinks that a human original is unlikely and thinks mythicism the probably proposition.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Carrier takes this on in What if Myth in chapter 10 of his book pg 389-396 and points out very early on “There are countless definitions of myth employed in a variety of fields…”

          • Mark

            The definition of myth has nothing to do with the present topic.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Yes it does. Jesus as a historical myth is NOT the same as Jesus as a philosophical myth.

            The mythical theory of David Strauss was “there was verily a historic Christ, but that a vast mass of miracle and supernatural wonders had been woven like wreaths around the head of Jesus.” – The Times Feb 06, 1910

            “The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth.” – Remsburg.

            In fact, Remsburg using Strauss gives three subcategories of myth: historical, philosophical, and poetical. Biblical studies professor J. W. Rogerson covered nearly the same material but he didn’t label the different kinds of myth.

            ‘Christopher Columbus sailing west to prove the Earth was round’ is a myth as is a good hunk of what we are told about the Middle Ages.

            It is where you get to Poetical myth that things get complicated as it is a “blending of the historical and philosophical” Effectively the ancient equivalent of a historical novel.

          • Mark

            When Remsburg says “The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being” he is saying something he doesn’t actually believe. Jesus ben Damneus isn’t “the Jesus of the New Testament” neither is Jesus ben Phabet. Some other 1st c. Palestinian Jesus is “The Jesus of the New Testament”. This is in fact Remsburg’s considered opinion. The NT just says a lot of ‘mythical’ things about him – of course it does, it belongs to a messianic tradition about him. Similarly, once many Jewish boys were named Sabbatai because they were born on Saturday. ‘The Sabbatai of the mystical songs of the Dönmeh’ is given nothing but supernatural predicates in the songs, but he was a particular Sabbatai – born one Saturday in Smyrna – and not at all a supernatural being.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “Some other 1st c. Palestinian Jesus is “The Jesus of the New Testament”.”

            Haven’t played attention to how Carrier and Price define ‘historical Jesus’, have we?

            “For even if we trace Christianity back to Jesus ben Pandera or an Essene Teacher of Righteousness in the first century BCE, *we still have a historical Jesus*.” – Price

            “My point at present is that even if we proved the founder of Christianity was executed by Herod the Great (not even by Romans, much less Pilate, and a whole forty years before the Gospels claim), as long as his name or nickname (whether assigned before or after his death) really was Jesus and his execution is the very thing spoken of as leading him to the status of the divine Christ venerated in the Epistles, I think it would be fair to say the mythicists are then simply wrong.” – Carrier

            As mentioned before _mystist_ John M Roberterson expressly stated that Jesus could very loosely based on a actual person. For him (and a lot of Christ mythers of his time) the myth theory was not concerned with denying the possibility of a flesh and blood Jesus being involved in the Gospel account, but rather: “What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded”

            Clearly you haven’t been payint attention at all

          • Mark

            Robertson isn’t a mythicist; you can say it as often as you like, but the Carrier you quote opposes you, so does Wells’ response to Ehrman, and so does the whole world. Your case is repeated assertion.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Yes John Robertson was and is considered a mythist.

            “Arthur Drews was the main influence on Britain’s most important early Jesus Myther, John M. Robertson (1856-1933).” – Holding

            Herbert Cutner in his _Jesus : God, Man, Or Myth?_ points to Robertsom as one of the must read authors regarding the Christ Myth…nearly on par with Drews.

            “With this move Bauer became a leading early proponent of the “Christ-Myth” theory, with others like Paul-Louis Couchoud, Arthur Drews and John M Robertson eventually following in his wake” – The Historical Jesus: Five Views pg 17

            Face it, John M Robertson’s views were and are considered Jesus Myther by mythers and historicists alike. And those views bring with them a certain definition of what Christ Myth is.

          • Mark

            You haven’t read the sentence of Carrier you keep quoting; it is saying “Bruce Grubb is wrong”.

          • Bruce Grubb

            I quote a sentence I haven’t read…you do realize how nonsensical that is, right?

          • Mark

            Not at all. The sentence is a little complex and means the opposite of what you think.

          • Mark

            The more important question though is why you bother with writers like Remsburg, the 19th c Kansas school teacher; Holding, a crank internet apologist trained as a librarian; and Robertson – also noted for his books arguing that Shakespeare was a fraud – and whose proposed hypothesis to account of the origin of Christianity (/The Jesus Problem/ pp 202-6) reads like something from a schizophrenic’s diary.

            It’s so degrading. There are actual scholars to read, people who know Greek, Aramaic, Hebrew, even Coptic and Ge’ez, people who actually know something.

          • Bruce Grubb

            And Louis “Pasteur had never felt a pulse or told a bilious man to stick out his tongue, it is doubtful if he could have told a lung from a liver, and it is certain that he did not know the first thing about how to hold a scalpel.” In short he wasn’t a doctor…he was a chemist.

            Just because something is beyond their normal expertise doesn’t mean they are wrong. As for the Shakespeare is a fraud thing, you do know that Robertson’ “The Shakespeare-Bacon Theory” appeared in the Encyclopedia Britannica, right? The one that said “We know so little of the composition of Shakespeare’s works, and the stages they went through, or the influence of other persons on him, that, so far as technical knowledge is concerned (especially the legal knowledge, which has given so much colour to the Baconian theory), various speculations are possible concerning the means which a dramatic genius may have had to inform his mind or acquire his vocabulary.”

          • Bruce Grubb

            “The sentence is a little complex and means the opposite of what you think.”

            Carrier is effectively saying that any search regarding the man Jesus must go before the c8 BCE – c36 CE lifespan of the NT. The opposite of that is any search be be exclusive to the c8 BCE – c36 CE lifespan of the NT.

            It is clear that Carrier is NOT saying that. So, you are still presenting a nonsensical position.

          • Mark

            Carrier is saying that mythicism is in any and every sense is false if there is a man Jesus at the end of the chain of references, even if he lived under Herod, even if he was never crucified.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Actually, Carrier set three criteria for the minimal historical Jesus:

            1) An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an identifiable movement after his death
            2) This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his follower to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities
            3) This is the same Jesus some of whose follower soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod)
            “If any one of these premises is false, it can fairly be said there was no historical Jesus in any pertinent sense, And at least one of them must be false for any Jesus Myth theory to be true.

            That any “ONE of these premises is false” is key.

            But there is Carrier’s criteria for the minimal mythical Jesus:

            1) At the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ was thought to be a celestial deity much like any other.
            2) Like many other celestial deities, this Jesus ‘communicated’ with his subjects only through dreams, visions and other forms of divine inspi­ration (such as prophecy, past and present).
            3) Like some other celestial deities, this Jesus was originally believed to have endured an ordeal of incarnation, death, burial and resurrection in a supernatural realm.
            4) As for many other celestial deities, an allegorical story of this same Jesus was then composed and told within the sacred community, which placed him on earth, in history, as a divine man, with an earthly family, companions, and enemies, complete with deeds and sayings, and an earthly depiction of his ordeals.
            5) Subsequent communities of worshipers believed (or at least taught) that this invented sacred story was real (and either not allegorical or only ‘additionally’ allegorical).

            “That all five propositions are true shall be my minimal Jesus myth theory.”

            That “all five propositions are true” is also key.

            There are various positions that don’t fit EITHER of these criteria:

            * John Robertson’s 1900 idea that the Gospel Jesus was a composite character or that a person inspired by Paul’s writings took up the name Jesus, tried to preach his own version of Paul’s teachings, and possibly got killed for his troubles fails both criteria.

            * The idea expressed by Remsberg that there was a Jesus but his following wasn’t an identifiable movement until Paul and later the writers of the Gospels got a hold of it also fails Carrier’s two sets of criteria: “Jesus, if he existed, was a Jew, and his religion, with a few innovations, was Judaism. With his death, probably, his apotheosis began. During the first century the transformation was slow; but during the succeeding centuries rapid. ‘The Judaic elements of his religion were, in time, nearly all eliminated, and the Pagan elements, one by one, were incorporated into the new faith.”
            * G. A. Wells’ Jesus Legend (1996) on with its mythical Paul Jesus + 1st century teacher who was not executed fails the “same Jesus” criteria and so is not a “historical Jesus in any pertinent sense”. Carrier’s classified this position as “ahistoricitical” rather then “mythical”.

            * Dan Barker’s “Other skeptics deny that the Jesus character portrayed in the New Testament existed, but that there could have been a first century personality after whom the exaggerated myth was pattered.” would also fail Carrier’s criteria as Baker’s first century personality need not be named “Jesus” or if he did his movement was not identifiable until much later.

          • Paul E.

            I would say, however, that it appears some are concerned that Carrier has not been entirely open about the process and other issues surrounding the publishing of his book. That, it seems to me, is a legitimate issue. I completely concur as to your main point.

          • Nick G

            Everything I have seen shows that Carrier followed the way peer review is done in the UK

            No, he didn’t. Carrier himself sent the book to people he chose. Here is what he says himself:

            I sought four peer review reports from major professors of New Testament or Early Christianity, and two have returned their reports, approving with revisions, and those revisions have been made. Since two peers is the standard number for academic publications, we can proceed. Two others missed the assigned deadline, but I’m still hoping to get their reports and I’ll do my best to meet any revisions they require as well.

            I live in the UK and publish in the scientific literature, and I assure you, that is not how it is done: while an author may suggest reviewers, they do not choose them, nor assess the reviews. But as James McGrath says (and as I’ve already noted), passing through proper peer review does not guarantee the quality of the work.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “The section for potential authors on Sheffield Phoenix Press’s website says, ‘Manuscripts offered by the author will always be sent for evaluation to a series editor or a reader for the Press.’

            http://www.sheffieldphoenix.com/authors.asp

            That’s absolutely standard for history books published by UK academic presses, although frequently it’s two readers, often one of series editors and an outside reader.
            […]
            Academic publishers will sometimes ask authors for recommendations for possible readers. But of course they do so in the full knowledge that authors will recommend names they think will be sympathetic. This can be used as a way of working out who not to send the book to.”

            Elsewhere there is this: “Those still earnestly wishing to dismiss Carrier’s anti-“historical Jesus” research as somehow being non-academic and non-seriously considered, may be interested to know (or maybe not, if facts still don’t mean all that much to them) that Carrier’s work on the make-believe, non-historical character otherwise known as “Jesus” has, in fact, been peer-reviewed and is now available through a reputable academic publishing house”

            In fact somebody claimed that the work hadn’t been reviewed and I found a review in the issue of December 2014 respected journal and it confirmed the ‘by the book’ peer review status of work.

          • Nick G

            Is the identity of this “respected journal” a secret? And Carrier’s claim of “peer review” was explicitly linked, by him, to the fact he sent the book to four people he had chosen, not to whatever the publisher chose to do.

          • Paul E.

            I don’t know about the supposed journal, but the comments following “Elsewhere” that are cited as somehow authoritative or persuasive apparently come from http://exmormon.org/phorum/read.php?2,1463300,1463300
            Only on the internet…

          • Bruce Grubb

            I mentioned it a long time ago in another thread so it isn’t a “secret”. Not my fault you haven’t been paying attention.

          • Paul E.

            I looked through the comments on this thread, and I cannot follow what, if any, point you are trying to make. Aside from what appears to be a simple misunderstanding of the peer review process and its significance relative to ultimate conclusions (especially when dealing with a fringe idea) and an apparent desire to engage in a semantic debate about the definition of “Christ Myth”, what are you trying to say? I am not trying to be glib; I honestly cannot determine if there’s a consistent, coherent point to your comments in this thread.

      • Bruce Grubb

        But our grandchildren would NOT be arguing over if Donald Trump was born in 1946, 1846, 1956, or 1960. Nor would why be debating if he become president in 2017 or 2029. This is the situation we have with Jesus in the 2nd century AD.

        My beef with Ehrman is he is comparing the denial of the “evidence” for Jesus as a person to denying there was a Holocaust, that we landed on the Moon, or that Lee Harvey Oswald was the only one involved in the assassination of JFK.

        Ehrman looked particularly stupid regarding JFK as the US Congress itself stated that JFK had been killed by “person or persons unknown”.

        It is hard to Ehrman seriously when he flubs on an event that happened within _his_ own lifetime wrong and uses other examples with such much evidence backing them that it is insane.

        • This is the problem with trying to make judgments about ancient history while not being aware that, in some parts of the world even today, and in many more until relatively recently, it was the rule rather than the exception for people to know when precisely they were born, never mind anyone else knowing. Widespread literacy and record-keeping have changed things dramatically, and the world that Jesus inhabited wasn’t the one that you live in.

          • Bruce Grubb

            This goes back into Historical Anthropology which is what Price and Carrier are using.

            Carrier’s “Kooks and Quacks of the Roman Empire: A Look into the World of the Gospels” (1997) (
            https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/kooks.html ) gives a cultural snap shot of that was going on in the time of Jesus.

            Also, the level of literacy in the Roman empire in general (ranging from 5% to 30%) or Palestine in particular is unknown. In fact, there is an argument that the Roman Empire in general and Palestine in particular was far more literate than once supposed. ( Di Renzo, A (2000) “His master’s voice: Tiro and the rise of the Roman secretarial class,” Journal of technical writing and communication, vol. 30, (2) 155-168; Dupont, Florence. (1989) Daily Life in Ancient Rome Tr. Christopher Woodall. Oxford: Blackwell; pg 223; and Millard, Alan (2003) Literacy in the Time of Jesus – Could His Words Have Been Recorded in His Lifetime? Biblical Archaeology Review 29:04, Jul/Aug 2003.)

            As I have said before any argument regarding the records on Jesus much include the Sun (Wu) Tzu counterpoint.

    • Mark

      The principal problem isn’t how names acquire ‘meaning’ – properly one should speak of how it acquires a ‘referent’ or ‘bearer’. This is because “meaning” can be understood in such a way that the right thing to say is that names don’t have a “meaning”, just a bearer (there are other ways of using the word ‘meaning’, though) The question is how reference, once acquired, is preserved by names. The matter is of particular importance where the use of a name survives constant contact with the bearer (“Hey Jesus, what do you want for dinner?”) – as in the case of ‘Moses’ or ‘Jesus’ or ‘Socrates’.

      I was not meaning to presuppose a historical Jesus; the account is the same if it the use of the name was introduced for an angelic spirit-being as in the Christ Myth accounts. Then the euhemerized Gospels will still be referring to this spirit-being (a fictional being as we would suppose) saying falsely that it was born of a woman, walked around Galilee and so on. If the chain of references comes to a limit in a spirit-being so be it. (Of course, in fact it doesn’t).

      I was just opposing that theory that we can speak of many Jesuses and dispute about which of them ‘exist’ – this is a wrong way to speak of the many claims about Jesus and which of them are true.

  • Bruce Grubb

    As Biblical scholar I. Howard Marshall stated there are “two views of the historical Jesus which stand at the opposite ends of a spectrum of opinion about him. (…) [W]e shall land in considerable confusion if we embark on an inquiry about the historical Jesus if we do not pause to ask ourselves exactly what we are talking about.”

    Carrier used the terms Reductivism and Triumphalism as the names for the ends of his historical Jesus spectrum but the whole thing boils down to ‘how much of the Gospel account is actual history?’

    For John M. Robertson and many of his fellow Christ Mythers it wasn’t so much the man didn’t exist but the account was largely if not entirely fictional no more telling us about the actual Jesus then penny dreadful and dime novels tell us about the actual Buffalo Bill, “Wild Bill” Hickok, or Annie Oakley.

    Some “Christ Mythers” like Mead said yes Jesus existed as a man BUT he existed outside the c 8 BCE – c 36 CE range normally given and lived c 100 BCE.

    So not so much a fictional Jesus but a fictionalized Jesus.

    • Mark

      Everyone but literalists thinks the gospels contain pseudo-information about the thing called ‘Jesus’.

      This has /zero/ to do with the question of the historicity of Jesus himself or opposing the truth of the Christ Myth theory. /Both/ of these theories presuppose that the name ‘Jesus’ is carried forward in time by a chain of intentions to refer to the same, and becomes the subject of fabrications later on – in the historicist case, these are deification, bogus miracle attributions etc; in the Christ-Myth case these are euhemerization, Palestinian birth, etc. They are totally symmetrical. The Christ Myth theory is a view about what is at the far end of the chain of repetitions of the name ‘Jesus’ that has come down to us, same as Jesus-historicism is.

      • Bruce Grubb

        It has every thing to do with historicity of Jesus himself or opposing the truth of the Christ Myth theory..otherwise you wouldn’t have people like Sir James Frazer and GA Wells called “Christ Mythers” when they accept that there was a Jesus in the 1st century that the Gospels were based on.

        • Mark

          Who is calling them adherents of the Christ Myth theory, except you and some of the false references you gave above? – I debunked a couple of these by the simple act of reading the text. It is in fact your private usage.

          The Christ Myth theory is that the chain of references in our use of ‘Jesus’ comes to a limit in an act of naming a supposed spiritual being, which was the primitive object of ‘Christian’ enthusiasm – and that later people came to attach predicates like “was a real human being from Galilee” to this name. It is a theory of what Paul and his predecessors in the faith meant to be talking about.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Claiming you debunked something doesn’t mean that you really did.

            “My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth.” – Frazer, Sir James George (1913) _The golden bough: a study in magic and religion: Volume 9 Page 412

            “I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus. It is not difficult to pretend that Jesus never lived. The attempt to prove it, however, invariably produces the opposite conclusion” — Schweitzer, Albert, _Out of my life and thought: an autobiography_ (1931), p. 125.

            “While Frazer did not doubt that Jesus had lived, or claim that Christians had invented the Jesus myth, his work became a source book of idea and data for many who did. In fact, Schweitzer included Frazer in a list of scholars who ‘contested the historical existence of Jesus.” – Bennett, Clinton (2001) _In search of Jesus: insider and outsider images_ pg 205

            G.A. Wells has been placed in the Christ Myth category by Doherty, Eddy & Boyd, and Stanton. Carrier and VanVoort on the other hand put him in the “ahistoricity” and “historicity” respectively.

            And if you had read on of the linked articles provided earlier you would have not asked that “Who is calling them adherents of the Christ Myth theory” nonsense. Nor made the “false references” claim (which is nonsense).

          • Mark

            Frazer wasn’t a Mythicist, he was a historicist. Everyone knows this. But Mythicists used his machinery, of course they did. Why not think Schweitzer is simply making a mistake putting him alongside Drews?

            —————–

            > Claiming you debunked something doesn’t mean that you really did.

            Dunno, all I had to was look at your sources. You haven’t actually read anything. It doesn’t take long; I recommend it. Here I cut an paste some debunking from earlier:

            There is no such work as Dodd, C. H. (1938). “Christ Myth Theory”. History and the Gospel. Manchester University Press.
            The book is /History and the Gospel/; the chapter is “An Historical Religion”. The words “Christ myth theory” are no part of the structure or text of Dodd’s book. The phrase appears at the top of the page in a now forgotten type of editing where some leading theme of a given page is printed at the top. To make the point clearer, the words “Christ myth theory” would not appear in any translation or reprinting of Dodd’s book. They may well be due to the typesetter or an editor, since it is only once type is set that final pagination is known.
            I won’t bother with the rest. You seem to be cutting and pasting material from febrile talk pages without actually looking at any of the works in question.

            ———————

            Ehrman calls Wells a mythicist, as he had once been. Wells’ response?

            “Ehrman is well aware that I have come to modify my originally mythicist position, and he states correctly that I now think that there really was a man Jesus but that we can know very little about him (19, 241). In fact I agree with his view that ‘Jesus really existed’ but ‘was not the person most Christians today believe in’ (143). That he nevertheless continues to label me a mythicist is confusing.”

            https://web.archive.org/web/20160304053543/http://www.radikalkritik.de/Wells_Ehrman.htm

            You might take a lesson from Wells. Schweitzer and Ehrman are capable of being wrong, making mistakes etc. You have no case, just a private, subjective monomanaical system and a webpage to express it on.

          • Bruce Grubb

            “The phrase appears at the top of the page in a now forgotten type of editing where some leading theme of a given page is printed at the top.”

            So you accept that Dodd is talking about the Christ myth theory when he says

            “[Noting that some mythicist positions accept the historical existence of a human being who called himself Jesus] …a religion may be based upon, the teachings of a sage or holy man, without any especial reference to the events of his life […] in the period to which the origins of Christianity are to be assigned, …were groups which had relations with the Jewish religion, and some of these last came to identify their Saviour-god with the Jewish Messiah, and created for him a mythical embodiment in a figure bearing the cult-name ‘Jesus’, derived from a Hebrew word meaning ‘salvation’. Or alternatively, they seized upon the report of an obscure Jewish holy-man bearing this name, and arbitrarily attached the ‘cult-myth’ to him.”

            We have seen a variant of that “without any especial reference to the events of his life” before. “The myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility [that Jesus existed as a human being]. What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded” – summation of John Robertson’s 1900 work.

          • Nick G

            So you accept that Dodd is talking about the Christ myth theory when he says

            No, Mark did not accept that. To complete the quote you cut short:

            The phrase appears at the top of the page in a now forgotten type of editing where some leading theme of a given page is printed at the top. To make the point clearer, the words “Christ myth theory” would not
            appear in any translation or reprinting of Dodd’s book. They may well be due to the typesetter or an editor, since it is only once type is set that final pagination is known.

            So we don’t know who put those words at the top of the page, or why. They certainly cannot be used to establish that everyone but you has been using the phrase “Christ myth theory” wrongly.

          • Paul E.

            I’ve been trying to figure out why it would even matter. So what if there are a couple of people who have an unusual usage of “Christ myth theory”? What possible significance could that have relative to a discussion of whether there is a historical figure named Jesus about whom we can say some things with some probability? Seems really bizarre.

          • Bruce Grubb

            But it isn’t just a couple of people but a lot over 100 years. As for the relevance it goes back into the range “historical figure” has.

            Even if Jesus is a historical myth (ie was a flesh and blood man) you could have the issue of the Gospel narrative being essentially false and telling you nothing about the actual Jesus other than he existed; as Robert Price puts it “For even if we trace Christianity back to Jesus ben Pandera or an Essene Teacher of Righteousness in the first century BCE, we still have a historical Jesus.”

            The problem is that such a reductive historical Jesus is similar to Robin Hood or King Arthur, where the core person (if there ever was one to begin with) has been effectively lost, and potential candidates are presented as much as 200 years from when their stories traditionally take place.

            To make Jesus more than that a researcher has to assume some parts of the Gospels narrative is essentially true. But which parts? In answering that question all supporters of a “historical Jesus” get into the confirmation bias problem of effectively turning Jesus into a Tabula Rasa on which they overlay their own views.

            This how ideas that Jesus was actually a Buddhist, or that he was a mythologizing of King Manu of Edessa that was eventually spun off into being a separate person come about. Heck, there is the very fringe theory that Jesus was actually a spaceman and his miracles were the products advanced science.

          • Paul E.

            If you want to fight a quixotic battle over the semantics of “Christ myth theory,” knock yourself out I guess. It may have some polemical value in a religious discussion I suppose, but it is irrelevant to the historical question of whether a figure named Jesus existed about whom we can say some things with some degree of probability. Perhaps some of your confusion over how historians do their work and come to conclusions lies in your belief that secular historians “assume” the essential truth of some parts of “the Gospels” narrative. Historians study evidence and come to conclusions. That is true whether they are studying first century Palestine, 4th century Britain, 12th century England, or any time/place. They often disagree sharply and widely in their assessments of the evidence. This is a good thing. It assists in the process by which a consensus can perhaps be had, and the existence of fringe theories does nothing to change that fact. Of course, there is a consensus about the historical figure of Jesus. If one wants to disagree, that is completely fine – fair game. But to support one’s own position against such a consensus, if one wants to be honest, one must acknowledge the hard work, expertise, and collective knowledge and process that goes into obtaining that consensus. A greater degree of knowledge and understanding of the process of historical work would be very helpful to you in this regard. Cheers.

          • Bruce Grubb

            Considering I have a masters in anthropology I have a very good handle regarding the process of historical work…especially Historical Anthropology which is the relevant field in this whole thing. Horace Miner did a satire paper on this.

            “Perhaps some of your confusion over how historians do their work and come to conclusions lies in your belief that secular historians “assume” the essential truth of some parts of “the Gospels” narrative.”

            ALL fields have postulates they have to assume are true. Extra Credit gave what amounts to the Cliff notes on this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h2Vx9qoLzFs ) and James Burke gave some examples while Horace Miner demonstrated how postulates (ie assumptions) can drive observations to predestine conclusions.

            Consensus is not evidence. Carl Sagan marked it as part of the argument from authority fallacy. For close on 1,500 years the consensus was the entire Gospel account was true. Only in the last 150 years has the idea that the Gospel account is not accurate gone main stream. As time goes the criteria for what is a historical Jesus gets smaller and smaller to the point that the ‘obscure nobody’ idea is more or less mainstream. A shadow of a shadow as Drews put it over a century ago.

            As Piltdown Man shows there is often no hard work, expertise, or collective knowledge to how a consensus is arrived at. As early as 1913 David Waterston of King’s College London stated in Nature that the find and an ape mandible and human skull. French paleontologist Marcellin Boule said the same thing in 1915. In 1923 Franz Weidenreich stated after careful examination that the Piltdown find was a modern human cranium and an orangutan jaw with filed-down teeth. Piltdown fit the structure of human evolution that these and other dissenters were ignored until a dating method came along that made the consensus look the fool.

          • Paul E.

            Your post is very difficult to follow, but I’ll try to respond as best I can. First, one’s claimed education often, sadly, does not translate into an understanding or appreciation of the work of experts who dedicate their lives to certain subjects, either with regard to process or substance. Nevertheless, and more optimistically, continued study can sometimes lead to a deeper appreciation of the time, sweat and interactive process necessary to become an expert in a field, to say nothing of the collective judgments of collections of experts. I encourage you to keep at it! Second, I did not view the cartoon you posted, but its title suggests a religious faith v. evidence kind of discussion, which is of course irrelevant to secular scholars. This type of cartoon could be at the base of your confusion about secular mainstream scholars simply “assuming” narratives to be essentially true. Third, I wonder why it would seem relevant to say something like “consensus is not evidence” or to attempt to give examples of where a consensus may have shifted over time or changed? That has nothing to do with anything anyone here has said. Consensus shifting or changing as evidence is analyzed, re-analyzed, discovered, etc., is part of the process. That is a good thing. The weight and value of consensus is so patent, especially as to anyone attempting to challenge it, I wonder if there is not something else at work here? Anyhoo, there reaches a point of diminishing returns in any discussion, especially where it appears now to have veered so far from the thread’s point, i.e. the historical question of whether a figure named Jesus existed about whom we can say some things with some degree of probability, so good luck to you!

          • Bruce Grubb

            And this is where the whole preconception things I was talking about comes in. To limit the search regarding a figure named Jesus whom we can say some things with some degree of probability the NT’s implied date range of c 8 BCE – c 36 CE for Jesus must be accepted as true.

            So alternatives, like a Jesus who lived into the time of Claudius Caesar reaching at least 46 (per Irenaeus’ _Demonstration_ and _Against Heresies_ ), “for our Lord was born about the forty-first year of the reign of Augustus” (i.e. 14 CE, Book III, Chapter 21 Paragraph 3 of Irenaeus’ Against Heresies), or the 100 BCE Jesus of the Tulmud have to be ignored or convoluted ways to make the statements fit the NT range are dreamed up.

            For example, Tertullian’s “in the forty-first year of the empire of Augustus, when he has been reigning for 10 and 8 years after the death of Cleopatra (30 BCE), the Christ is born.” is used as evidence that the count wasn’t from 27 BCE but rather 44 BCE. BUT Tertullian also suggests that the destruction of the Jewish temple (70 CE) happened 22.5 years after Christ’s crucifixion which results in 47 CE.

            As they say the fix is in.