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Old 04-29-2001, 12:49 PM   #1
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Earl Doherty, the author of the Jesus Puzzle has again said he is interested in joining us but he has been trying to finish up some work which is taking him longer than expected. He estimates that he will be ready in another week.

For those who wish to know more about his views, you are in luck. He has an extensive website which includes most of his ideas as well as numerous responses to emails and other feedback. The Jesus Puzzle: Was There No Historical Jesus?

For those interested in reading his book, you can find it at amazon.com for only $15 dollars and they can ship it in just a few days.

The exact format in which the debate will take place is still under consideration. I'd like some feedback. I have been thinking that for Earl's sake, we should set up a restricted debate where just Nomad and Earl would debate, but Earl has expressed interest in responding to others as well. I don't think he is prepared though, for how huge and confusing the threads would get with everyone responding. So I propose a compromise. We could set up one forum in which only Nomad and Earl Doherty would be able to post where the meat of the debate would occur. We would then have a parallel forum entitled something like 'Debate Feedback' in which everyone could post. Nomad and Earl could then read through those and reply to them there or reference them in the main debate if they wish.

The other option would be to simply invite Doherty to this forum and just see what happens. This concerns me somewhat due to Earl's insistence that people post using their real names (hopefully he doesn't mean changing our usernames, but just using our names in our posts) as well as his desire to keep the discussions cordial and free from ad hominem attacks. Since personal attacks and whining about who said what and when and whether they have taken it back are so common around here, I am wary of inviting Earl into that kind of scenario.

Though I am leaving this largely up to Earl and the Administrators, input would be appreciated.

One other thing. I and others might appreciate to know ahead of time what main sources of information will be used in the debate so we can either read them ourselves or have them nearby for reference.

Does anyone have a 'best of' list for pros and cons on the issue of whether or not Jesus was a historical person, i.e., lived and died in Palestine in the beginning of the first century? I don't simply mean a 'best of' list of books on the 'historical Jesus' since most don't seem to address the issue of whether or not Jesus existed. This is often an assumption (which I'm not claiming is unreasonable) and is not addressed in much detail.

In other words, which books (or websites) would be useful in supporting or debunking the ideas of Earl Doherty?

Thanks,

PhysicsGuy
Ethan Blansett
 
Old 04-29-2001, 01:04 PM   #2
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I think Earl's best bet is to be in the Debates forum; it seems easier to accomodate his stipulations there.

Also, you can find The Jesus Puzzle in the Secular Web's own bookstore; buy it here and support our site!
 
Old 04-30-2001, 09:25 AM   #3
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Hello Ethan

I have seen that the debate forum has been set up. If you wish to write to me about specific rules for the discussion I do not mind. At the same time, I have few personal requests. I do not care how many people participate in the discussion, so long as everyone stays on topic. A Q&A thread running separate from, is probably a good idea, but should be saved until after the debate itself is over.

I have no interest in a "timed" discussion, nor in limits on the size of the posts. I cannot always guarantee that I will be available or able to post in a given time frame, and I suspect that Doherty is labouring under the same constraints. My personal preference is for a back and forth, similar to how posts are currently handled, and if Doherty has difficulties with the "quote" features of this discussion forum I will refrain from using them.

I am willing to be as flexible as it takes to ensure that the discussion takes place. My only "rules", such as they are, is that each of us is free to post as we see fit, and that no one engage in slander or libel.

Please let me know if and when Doherty contacts you, and we can proceed from there.

Thanks again, and write me if you have any questions or ideas on what you would like to see.

Brian Trafford (Nomad)
 
Old 04-30-2001, 10:37 AM   #4
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PHYSICS GUY: So I propose a compromise. We could set up one forum in which only Nomad and Earl Doherty would be able to post where the meat of the debate would occur. We would then have a parallel forum entitled something like 'Debate Feedback' in which everyone could post. Nomad and Earl could then read through those and reply to them there or reference them in the main debate if they wish.

EARL: This is exactly what I would like to see happen, since I have the same worries about losing the debate in a single thread in which everyone can post. The debate itself should take place in a separate, isolated forum.

Nomad has suggested that a Q and A thread should be set up after the debate is over, and I think I see his point. Sidebar threads would be distracting to the two main participants, and they wouldn't be able to respond to everyone at once. They would get behind, as it were. This would mean, though, that moderators would have to censor the setting up of commentary threads as the debate takes place, which doesn't seem fair. Plus a number of people, such as myself, wouldn't want to hold our tongue until the debate's over. On the other hand, it would be best to wait until the debate is over before evaluating it. Once the debate is over everyone would be free to weigh in, analyze the debate, or ask questions without Doherty or Nomad being able to change in mid stream due to criticism. The debate, then, would be a true test of the participants' abilities. So although there are drawbacks, I think I'm with Nomad on the question of when the side threads should be set up.

The main thing, though is to set up an isolated thread for the debate itself, which apparently has already been done.

As for books on the mythicist position, Price's "Deconstructing Jesus" is very good, and Doherty reviews the book at his web site (at http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus/BkrvPric.htm ). Freke and Gandy's "The Jesus Mysteries" is also fascinating. However, their theory is so clear and simple (Christianity was just the Jewish version of a Pagan Mystery religion) that the skeptic has to wonder if they've left out important details. Doherty also reviews their book, as well as two others on mythicism (at http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus/Bkrvintro.htm ). Another book that might be very relevant (unfortunately I haven't yet read it) is Pagels' "The Gnostic Paul," on the way Gnostics interpreted Paul's letters.

See J.P. Holding's and Glen Miller's sites for criticism of mythicism (http://www.tektonics.org/ and http://www.webcom.com/~ctt/ )--if you can stand the former's infamous ad hominem and the latter's plodding style.


[This message has been edited by Earl (edited April 30, 2001).]
 
Old 04-30-2001, 11:29 AM   #5
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SingleDad, I agree. Let's keep the main debate in the controlled forum.

Brian (Nomad), your concerns seem to be the same as Doherty and a controlled forum where only you and Doherty could post should satisfy the two of you. No time limits on posts, and no overall time limit. Just consider it a typical thread where you two can post whenever you want, and post for however long you want.

About a parallel thread. I agree that it shouldn't be done in such a way that it would detract from the main thread. Also, given the software, I don't even know if it is possible to have an uncontrolled thread in the same forum as a controlled thread since it is my impression that the controls are set for the whole forum.

Of course there is no stopping people starting up related threads in BC&A and Doherty expressed interest in knowing what others have to say as well.

How about I drop the idea of an official 'parallel' thread or forum and those who wish to address Nomad or Doherty during the debate can post here in the BC&A forum with an 'Attn: Nomad' or 'Attn: Doherty' in the title. They can ignore those threads or respond as they desire.

Earl: "On the other hand, it would be best to wait until the debate is over before evaluating it. Once the debate is over everyone would be free to weigh in, analyze the debate, or ask questions without Doherty or Nomad being able to change in mid stream due to criticism. The debate, then, would be a true test of the participants' abilities. So although there are drawbacks, I think I'm with Nomad on the question of when the side threads should be set up."

I see your point and if Nomad and Doherty were willing to continue and discuss a great deal after the debate, then it wouldn't matter when other people put their two cents worth in. I was hoping, though, that we could minimize the importance of personal pride in this debate. Personal pride is a dominant feature in a large percentage of the posts around here and allowing others to help out, at least by posting here, would give the debate more of a community feel.

Well, no need to overanalyze this. Let's just stick with what's already set up and see what happens.

PhysicsGuy (Ethan)
 
 

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