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Old 12-21-2001, 02:19 PM   #11
Pantera
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Quote:
Originally posted by Polycarp:
<strong>[b]The homepage here should give you a clue as to the type of “biblical scholarship” being read. “The Jesus Mysteries”, by Timothy Freke and Peter Gandy is endorsed. Enuff said…</strong>
Hmmm... to quote from the <a href="http://www.secweb.org/bookstore/books.asp" target="_blank">synopsis</a> of the book in the bookstore.

Quote:
The Secular Web advises extreme caution when reading such books, since the evidence has been abused and taken too far in such a way before. But this book promises to document its claims with hundreds of primary source references and, if so, then it should be capable of being evaluated by anyone--it is possible some claims will check out and others won’t, which means a reader will have gained in understanding of the origins of Christianity even if one disagrees entirely with the thesis being advanced. At any rate, this book may be the "best" attempt at defending such a theory to date and is worthy of attention for that sake alone, even if it doesn't hold water in the end.
Not quite enuff said perhaps.
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Old 12-21-2001, 02:21 PM   #12
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Personally, I don't like the Jesus Myth position very much. In my opinion, there is strong enough evidence to conclude that there was almost certainly a person who inspired the early Christians.

And frankly, the whole position makes the atheist position look a little wacky. (Sort of flip version of Nomad and Layman.) As a curiosity, it is interesting; but I don't think it's a very serious theory.

In the other hand, I'll never claim to be a serious NT scholar, so I could be missing something here.

And Polycarp, as much as I dislike the Jesus Myth position, I doubt it is the vast majority here. You might want to review the disclaimer Pantera provides above. And at least you can have a discussion with a Jesus Myther. With Layman and Nomad you have to wade through so much BS it is hardly worth it.

[ December 21, 2001: Message edited by: DennisM ]</p>
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Old 12-21-2001, 02:22 PM   #13
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Originally posted by Polycarp:
Don't feel sorry for me, Michael. My therapist says I'm really progressing. Fits of delusion only occur once a day, compared to the four or five episodes from which I was suffering earlier this year.

Thanks for your faith in my essential highmindedness. Handing me a set-up line like this &lt;grumble&gt;

Besides... It's that time of year when I celebrate the birth of Mithras. How could a guy not be happy about such a joyous occasion?

Well, enjoy it while you can. I hear the Christians have designs on your holiday.

Michael
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Old 12-21-2001, 03:51 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by turtonm:
<strong>If it had a section on the history of ideas, yes. But more importantly, Brown does not deal with a whole wing of scholarship on the question of Jesus' historicity. GA Wells is not mentioned. He does mention Spong, though, to sneer at him, and Spong is not a scholar.</strong>
I agree that a whole wing would indeed be a serious omission. However, GA Wells is hardly a whole wing of scholarship - he is one individual scholar, and a professor of German at that. Unless he has more supporters among NT scholars than I am aware of, this would be somewhat analogous to a biology textbook not mentioning Behe - or even Fred Hoyle.

Spong is probably irrelevent as far as serious scholarship goes, but at the same time he is a bestselling author, so I can see why Brown would choose to deal with him and not, say, Freke and Gandy. You are correct though that it does at least weaken the defence that Brown is only interested in professional scholarship.

Quote:
<strong>To throw your analogy back at you, imagine if a textbook on the solar system had ignored the whole discussion/evidence on life on Mars, neglected to mention the Viking missions, the recent controversy on the meteorites (which I think was finally put to rest this week) and so on.</strong>
That was a major controversy involving large numbers of profesional scientists from many institutions. Unless the mythicist position is taken far more seriously in academia than I am aware of the analogy hardly applies. Also, if the issue has indeed been put to rest among scientists I wouldn't expect it to get much attention in a textbook written 30 years from now - even if UFOlogists are still pushing it then. I'd say much the same about cold fusion in current textbooks.

I haven't read Brown so I'm certainly not going to engage in a dogged defence of him. If he has indeed left out entirely viewpoints which have a significant following within professional scholarship, or if he has an extensive history of ideas section which leaves out viewpoints which had a major following in the past, then that would indeed be a major fault. I was just trying to make the point that I don't really see it as the duty of an academic text to discuss every single theory being discussed by amateurs outside the peer-reviewed literature - or the many ideas which may have had some following in the past, but have since been discarded. A textbook has enough trouble trying to give a fair hearing to all of the reasonably mainstream positions - many don't even succeed in doing that.
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Old 12-21-2001, 05:27 PM   #15
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Offa; My 2 cents worth. I read Thiering and the one thing she did was convince me of was that Jesus was a real person and he was crucified and survived.

Now, she is not the only person I read. She is the only person who gave me sources to her conclusions and I agree with her (but not on other things). I bought every bibliography I could that she used.

I agree with her, Jesus wrote John and he sure as hell was an eye witness.

Thanks, Offa
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Old 12-21-2001, 06:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pantera:
Not quite enuff said perhaps.
Fair enough. But to think the works of Raymond Brown or Udo Schnelle would ever be featured here is pure fantasy. To the best of my knowledge, mainstream biblical scholarship has never been promoted by those running the site.

Peace,

Polycarp
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Old 12-21-2001, 06:53 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally posted by DennisM:
And Polycarp, as much as I dislike the Jesus Myth position, I doubt it is the vast majority here. You might want to review the disclaimer Pantera provides above. And at least you can have a discussion with a Jesus Myther. With Layman and Nomad you have to wade through so much BS it is hardly worth it.
I won't quibble over percentages, but if Cowboy X doesn't start a thread on the topic I will after I'm finished celebrating the birth of Mithras next week. I've got the bull lined up to be sacrificed. You know, we need one to get the blood running onto us and stuff.

I'm in the same camp as Layman and Nomad, and I don't think I'm any less prone to BS than they are. Anything of which they're guilty, I have also probably committed. As a matter of fact, I think they're gonna be over at my place for the bull sacrifice ceremony.

But seriously now... We'll resurrect the Jesus-myth in the near future and see who crawls out of the woodwork.

Peace,

Polycarp

P.S. I'll try to reply to your "extraordinary claims" post on Saturday.
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Old 12-21-2001, 08:08 PM   #18
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I too am just an amateur at this, but I think it is stretching things to compare the mythicist case to phlogiston or creationism. I think that was a ploy that Nomad picked up so that he could avoid discussing the actual merits of Wells or Doherty's theories.

In a real science, there is a body of knowledge and methods of testing. Creationism does not meet the standards of a scientific theory.

There is no such methodology or consensus in history. The "mainstream" of Bliblical scholarship has no way of disproving the mythicist case the way creationism has been disproven. It seems reasonable to assume that there was some person behind the stories of Jesus, but that does not mean that it is true with any real degree of certainty.

This is not to say that there are no crackpot theories about Christianity that are not worth the time to refute. I just don't think that Doherty is one of those crackpots.

In fact, Wells is not just an isolated individual. There is a group of scholars around the <a href="http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/jhcbody.html" target="_blank">Journal of Higher Criticism</a>, including Robert Price and a number of Europeans, who treat the mythicist case with respect, if they do not subscribe.

From <a href="http://www.depts.drew.edu/jhc/pricejhc.html" target="_blank">Introducing the Journal of Higher Criticism</a> by Robert Price, I get the idea that there may be much more to the mythicist case than its popularity among mainstream scholars would indicate:

Quote:
Michel Foucault, the archaeologist of knowledge, spoke of a regnant archive, or body of implicit canonical assumptions that restrict and define the parameters of academic discourse in every era. Some ideas, notions, theories, seem to be ruled out from the start. In our field of biblical criticism, for instance, the shocking notion that no historical Jesus ever existed, once seriously debated by scholars (even by those who strongly rejected it), was only a few years later dismissed, ruled out of court by Rudolf Bultmann as the mad fancy of unstable minds. . .

Each scholarly generation seems to feel it must define a basic consensus so that all may have a common game board and set of rules. Certain questions are just not kept open, certain disturbing theories left to collect dust, frozen out by agreed neglect, though it is far from clear that they were ever really refuted. Indeed, one of the most important lessons to be learned by the biblical student from a study of the history of the discipline is that many of the critical dinosaurs consigned to the museum had much more in their favor than any of today's standard textbook summaries would lead their readers to believe. . . .

It seems to some of us that we find ourselves in a period of critical retrenchment, a return to the comforting apologetics of an earlier generation, one more amenable to a certain neo-conservative ecclesiastical ethos. The old theories, once so disturbing to the dogmatic slumber of the faithful, have been consigned to undeserved oblivion. They have fallen off the scholarly agenda not so much from any inherent untenability (indeed, how could one judge their tenability when only caricatures are available for evaluation?) as because of a demographic shift. The sheer volume of conservative biblical students and scholars reflects the demographic triumph of the conservative denominations and their seminaries. New hands are taking control of the biblical studies plausibility structure. And theories seem plausible or implausible insofar as they can flourish in the resulting climate of opinion. . . . .
(emphasis added)

I would like to see someone defend the idea that there was an actual historic Jesus, but from my reading, there really is no strong case. Nomad certainly did not make a strong case in his debate with Doherty. Most of Nomad's arguments on these boards came down to citing one or another atheist historian who believed in the exitence of Jesus, with no real critical analysis of the evidence. (Not that Nomad follows any kind of standard historical methodology.)

I understand that Richard Carrier is working on a review of Doherty's book (in his spare time between working on this site and getting a PhD.)
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Old 12-21-2001, 08:24 PM   #19
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I would like to see someone defend the idea that there was an actual historic Jesus, but from my reading, there really is no strong case.

Yes, that was my problem with Brown. The whole question of historicity is never explored; the canonical gospels are canonical, the non-canonical gospels are pretty much worthless, and the mythicist case does not exist, and is not even going to be mentioned.

But it's not just Brown. Erhman makes no discussion of historicity either; most of his Intro to the NT is devoted to discussing methodologies for understanding the gospels-as-texts, but he shies away, as I recall (my books are packed), from actually making an explicit declaration that some portion of the events discussed therein are historical, or how we know they are historical. Does anyone have a copy they can look through?

Michael
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Old 12-21-2001, 09:16 PM   #20
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It should be noted by those who accuse this site of featuring fringe history that Jeffrey Lowder has written a defense of the historic Jesus <a href="http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/indconf.html" target="_blank">here</a>.

There is also a <a href="http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/robert_price/price-rankin/index.shtml" target="_blank">debate on the historic Jesus between Robert Price and John Rankin</a>: Jesus - Fact or Fiction?

This site also links to the work of <a href="http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/" target="_blank">Peter Kirby</a>.

The Christian faction would like to avoid actually discussing the issues by portraying us as wild-eyed fringe conspiracy theorists. The actual facts do not bear this out.
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