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Old 05-23-2001, 01:24 PM   #61
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
Meta =&gt;Sorry, that is pure bunck. You really think the so called "mythist" posoition is growing?

You've misread (and not for the first time). The disagreement in this spot is over whether John is dependent on Mark. That consensus shifts back and forth over time. Currently the pendulum seems to be moving back in the "dependence" direction although the "independence" advocates are still the majority. That's all.
MEta -&gt;That's what I know. It is YOU who are missing the point. I wasn't saying that the John is dependent crowd doesn't get the time of day and is a triy minority ect. Although I don't think they have much of a case. I think that John and Mark use common sorces for a small amount of material. To describe that as "John is dependent upon Mark" is a total distortion. For one thing, we don't even know what form of Mark he would have used (did you know that Matt and Luke used different versions of Mark?). MOreover, I can't think how that could possibly make any difference. So what? Even if John was dependent upon Mark that doesn't help the "mythicist" position one iota.

Ha! It's a tiny minority and real histoirans and scholars wont give it the time of day. I've told you this before, but when I've spoken to historians I've TAed for and worked with, atheists, secular historians, they say "why are you wasting your time on that crap?" That is literally what they said. One, a Cambridge trained historian of Iranian history, said something to the effect that this view is for idiots (no offense). These are not biased fundamentalists, they are atheists!

What about scholars of myth, comparative religion, psychology of religion, cognition and religion, etc?

Meta =&gt; Sorry but you are all wet on that one:
1) Show me on single major figure form any of those fields who is willing to actually say that there was no historical guy called "Jesus of N." Campbell held to a syncratistic position, that doesn't mean he tought Jesus was a pure myth with no historical figure behind it. He even thought King Arthur was based upon an historical personage partly. So I have no reason to think any of them would agree with Dhorety on that.

2) Where you are really missing the boat on that point is that most scholars in those fields beleive in syncratic influences from culture or jungian archetypes, they do not beleive in any sort of conscious barrowing;
that means they don't deny that Jesus was a real guy so its just a question of how much of what comes through is really part of the story? I quote Myere who is a classcist not a christian and not a Bible scholar (this is on my web page) who says that most scholars today deny the notion of conscious barrowing.

3) So given that even most of them will agree that Jesus was a real guy, the probablity is higher that most of what is attributed to him was really said by him and that the major outlines of the story were histoircal; he was really crucified, some really thought they saw him reisen, ect.

They reason they say that is because the thing you always miss is that the case for anyone in hisory is just as shaky as that for Christ!

No, it's not. The case for Augustus or Julius Caesar, or Wang Mang is a lot stronger. Have you never heard of archaeology?

MEta =&gt;No, you think that because you are not willing to apply the same shaky criteria to their existences that you do to Jesus. You give them the benifit of the doubt and assume than any historical mention of them is unassailable proof of their veracity. But if you examine the sources for them in the same twisted and biased way that Dhorety does you can make them go away too. Even their faces on coins are no proof of anything,I have Mercury on a coin, does that mean he existed? Most of the sources that talk about them are either polemical or religious. So?

If we are going to assume that we know anything about history we have to assume this!!! There are no archivel records with Cesar's birth certificate. You don't find everyone in the first century talking about Mark Antony, these are not people whose personal records you can go and look up. Now granted the evidence for their existence is better than for that of Jesus, but histoirans don't question ether becasue its good enough and it's not that much weaker. There is not really hard undeniable evidence for much of anything in the ancient world.

As a general statement, history about the ancient world is problematic on many points. But it is not as shaky as that for Jesus.

Meta =&gt;That's ridiculous. That is a ridiculous and absurd statement. Ok other than Ceaser name one figure who is as well documented as Jesus, without accepting his evidence and excluding the NT merely becasue its religious. MOst kings in the ancient world we know through quasi religious documents. We only have one source for the burning of Rome. We only have one source most things Tacitus writes about. Tacitus wasn't even known until the middle ages so he alone increased our knowledge of the ancient world immensely. There are only about 12 sources from the first century that don' mention Jesus. If you applied the same criteria to the other guys they would disappear too. But you aren't willing to do that. You start with the assumption that "Jesus couldn't be real casue that' s Christinity but we dare not question the existence of these others cause there's no need to, they aren't crucial to anything I don't like."

That does not mean we can just make up history. It doesn't mean that we are free to fill in the gaps with what we wish was there.

I agree. I just wish Christians did too.

clueless! So stop doing it!!!!

Controvery? A position that 90% of academics place in the same category as big foot and flying saucers is hardly a "controversy." more like a side show.

Really? This 90% would include all scholars of myth, as well?

MEta =-&gt; O let's see some documentation that "All the shcolars of myth" think Jesus didn't exist! Meyer says most scholars reject that sort of BS and go for a more subtle approach--syncratic elements through cluture, which does not rule out the basic core of the Jesus story.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
MC, your other comments are so cheesy it is actually difficult to discuss them. "By your logic than there wasn't a Jewish settalment near the dead sea that hid documents in a cave becasue we didn't know about them for a long time." It looks like you haven't read a word I've said. If you are going to reply please take the time to read the entire post, instead of skimming and then screaming at me.</font>
Meta =&gt; I have a better example earlier which I notice you don't quote But that point is a good one. You were trying to make it seem that argument from silence is a valid appraoch. You were trying to say that if we dont' know about it than it must not be there, you said that sort of thing many times. YOu said the consensus keeps shifting because there was no real history to the core story and so forh. That is an absurd conclusion. So by that logic I could have argued prior to 1948 that since we have no evidence of an essene community other than Joesphus mention of them that there must not have been any, and since we have no documents from Jewish Heterodoxy it must not have existed. Than in 1948 I would have been disproven.

What's wrong with embarassment as a criterion? It's used all the time, in many feilds, and its just common sense. If something was being hidden than a redactor would hardly admit to it. Why is that not logical? Now I agree that the application to John the B. is a little thin, but that doesn't mean the criterion is bad. It's just part of the rules of internal consistancy disocovered at Port Royal.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
The problem with "embarrassment" -- which Nomad has defined as an "admission of truth contrary to interests" -- as a criterion is manifold. In the case of the John the Baptist story, we do not know if truth is being admitted, and we do not know if it was contrary to the writer's interests. Have you met Mark? Do you know anyone who recorded what he wrote and thought? You can't apply the "embarrassment" theory to myth, it won't work. GIGO.</font>
Meta =&gt; Well, no offense to Brian and Layman, who I do respect them for their knowledge and because they are nice guys, but I do largely agree that embarrassment doesn't really help with John the B that much. But it's used elsewhere even by Nomad and its inapplicability to J the B does not mean that it is a bad criterion in general. But your reasoning here is unfounded.We don't know it if was embarrassing for John to baptize Jesus, that could be, an argument could be made. But than to assert that I have to actually know Mark to know what would be embarrassing, or that the crieria itself is useless unless we know the author personally is just plain silly.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Consider, as I posted to another thread, if we only had Kunene's Shaka Epic for information on Shaka the Great, we would attribute his problems with his mother as the cause of his trouble with his parents, as Kunene writes in the Epic, but actually, Shaka was illegitimate. One embarrassing story covering another, a common feature of many myths.</font>
MEta =&gt;1) If we were to assume that Marcuse knew Rosa Luxemberg than we might associate his thoery of combined and uneven development with Libenoch's notion of the popular front.

2) Your reasoning is ciruclar; begin with the assumption that it is myth, than try to prove that it's myth by applying the criteria which you already assume.
3) you have yet to spell out what exactly is myth.
4) You never lay out any criteria for makes myth identifiable from historical material.
5) You merely ignore and gainsay the historical fact of the evidence and than assume that you are dealing with myth.
6) embarrassment is not in the story, we don't assume that Jesus was emberassed to be baptized by John, it is in the redacktor, we assume that the community would not want to admit that. so that proves it is histoircal, suppossedly, you can't just assume it is myth and pretend that because the counter argument doesn't work against your assumption that you have proven that it is!
6) I could imagine a senerio where, for example, the Horace, Issise Serapi cult was embarassed by the adoration of Osiris and so changed the myth to Horace as the object of adoration. That would account for the shift in that cult form one to the other in re-telling the story. But why would Mark invent that jesus was baptized by John?
7) Now some 19thy century scholars argued that Jesus had been a diciple of Johns and that putting the words in his mouth "behold the Lamb of God" and turning him into Jesus herold is to make up for the embarrassment of that fact that Jesus was a diciple. But guess what? That assumes that Jesus was a real guy.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Unless we have some objective history outside of the gospels, we can't tell which way the truth runs. </font>
Meta =&gt;Ture, but guess what? we do. We know enough about the objective historical situation to know that it might have been somewhat of an embarrassment to have Jesus baptized by one who was supposse to merely herold his comming; becasue we know they beleived in a coming Messiah, we know what importance some groups placed upon bapatism,ect. There are also other applications of the criterion in which we have much better knolwedge. And some applications are merely obvious. Mainly it works in aswswering assumptions skeptics make about the nature of the text. Skeptic says 'they made this up to cover up x' but than why even include x?

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Imagine if you applied that criterion to the Arthur stories. Was he really betrayed by Gwen with Lance? It's certainly embarrassing. For myth, which is what the gospelers wrote, embarrassment is simply worthless.</font>
MEta =&gt;You still have laid down no criteria for determining what is myth and what isn't. You are merely assumpting by stipulation that it is, and than using what you read into it to prove that it is, circular reasoning. Your preimsie rests on your conclusion. The BS that embarrsssment wont work with myth is merely inapplicable, and you are just making up strawman examples that doge all the real arguments.

Sorry to insult you, I don't mean to, but you don't begin to come anywhere close to understanding the complexity involved in that. You should really read Helmutt Koester's book. The redactors of John didn't just re-write him, what it shows is a community that had re-told the material over and over and that had become heavily neuonced with communal interp. And there are many layers of change all over it. There is a common source with Mark and it goes back to AD 50 according to Koester.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Thanks! First you tell me how dumb I am, then you announce that your position and mine are very close. Of course the Markan and other material was worked over by a community with different interpretations. How much can I write in a one-sentence summary? Duh.</font>
Meta =&gt; I didn't say you were dumb. I said you miss the complexity. That sort of interpretation of my words is indicative of your over all approach. you are not dumb, but your appraoch is sloppy and incomplete and the assumptions you make are circular, biased, and uninfored by the feild (but other than that I have nothing against you, ahahhhahaha, sorry). See now here's a good example. I say the community had a dialogue and the Gospel reflects the many layers of that discussion. You take that to man 'they re-wrote it and made it all up.' One is a careful analtical assessment (made by Koester) and the other is just a big general braod brush job covering over all the neuonces of the discipline merely to arrive at a biased and ideologically driven conclusion!

Besides, I doubt you are very sorry to insult me.

MEta =&gt;NOOOOooo, I am, I am! I really don't think ill of you as a person! I like your webpage, I think you are trying to do something positive and helpful to humanity with your life. That's great,I admire that sort of thing. Aren't you the one whose teaching in Asia? I admire anyone whose dedicated to teaching. But you have these blind spots. Now granted, so do we all.;-)

There are no major differnces in any of the stories of Jesus, in the Jewish gospels, the infancy gospels, the Gnostic Gosples, the canonical Gospels, the non-canonical Orthodox Gosples, over 50 alternate Gospels and not a one of them has Jesus die in another place, by another means, or be burried in another way, or not raise from the dead, or not have an empty tomb, or the tomb not be discovered by the women (even though the number differs) not crucified at noon, not under Pilate, and so on.

I'm always happy when an apologist makes sweeping statements. Let's look at how dumb this one is.

Meta =&gt; O so I'm making sweeping statments? You have decided that differences in opionion among scholars equal no core history for the story of Jesus, but I'm making sweeping statments. OK. I you are...

The Gospel of Thomas: contains no mention of any other major miracles, the crucifixion, resurrection, virgin birth etc. I guess those must not be major differences.

MEta =&gt;Um, but that is not really a fair example, because it's not a narrative. Have you read it? Since its not a narrative it's not giving the story point for point so there isn't a reason to include those things. Why should it metion his miracles when it is just a list of things he said? And if you look at what he does say there are about three seperate statements where he says he is divine,that he came to save man form sin, that he is from heaven and from God. And since it was redacted and placed in the Gnsotic framework in the fourth century that doesn't really fall within the historical peramiters that I mention.

Gospel of Philip: criticizes virgin birth and bodily resurrection as na´ve misunderstandings. No major differences here!

Meta -&gt; Missing the point on that. First, in saying that he acknolweges that it was the standard story before the point of writting. Secondly, he doesn't say "It's really that he was stoned and not crucified and it wasn't in Jerusalme but in Turkey" he actually acknolwedges the events but ascribes them to the "Jesus was not flesh and blood so he didn't really die" kind of thing. So it's not another sotry. It's not a different version of the story, it's merely a re-interpt to put it in a Gnsotic frame work. And it's very late, it's at least late second but probably third or fourth century. By that times is far enough removed form the historical facts that there is more freedom to move away from the common knowledge.

Somethings come up, I have to finnish latter. Sorry.
Old 05-23-2001, 01:42 PM   #62
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Layman - I am looking for someone who uses the embarrassment criteria in something outside New Testament studies. Does anyone seriously contend that the Greek gods must be factual because their escapades were so embarrassing to the sober-minded classical Greeks? That the Old Testment must be true because of the sexual escapades and other lurid material in it?

Akenson is "Beamish Research Professor of Irish studies at the University of Liverpool", so his NT work is technically outside his area of specialty. (As I recall, you dismiss Wells for that reason.)

An on-line review of his book notes that
<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">
Historian Donald Harman Akenson believes that biblical scholars have gone wrong in searching Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John for the historical Jesus. All of the gospels, he points out, were written after the destruction of the second temple in A.D. 70; the Jesus of the gospels is therefore "a derivative of texts whose goal was to modify, minimize, or exorcise his Jewishness." . . . Akenson's readings of Paul/Saul discern a faint vision of Yeshua, the follower of Yahweh, before he was made into Jesus and deemed a copartner with God.</font>
Faint vision? Well, I'll put it on my list to read.

[This message has been edited by Toto (edited May 23, 2001).]
Toto is offline  
Old 05-23-2001, 02:50 PM   #63
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You asked in your post about Michael Grant's criteria. He refers to one he realies on heavily as "surprise." It is, in fact, the criteria of embarrassment.

No, this isn't it. It's in the last section of the book. I'll run to the library and get it this weekend.

Old 05-23-2001, 03:35 PM   #64
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Metacrock --

I am bushed and busy, so this won't be as long as I'd like.

Turton: The Gospel of Thomas: contains no mention of any other major miracles, the crucifixion, resurrection, virgin birth etc. I guess those must not be major differences.

MEta =&gt;Um, but that is not really a fair example, because it's not a narrative. Have you read it?

Yes, I have read the amazing Gospel of Thomas. You made a sweeping statement including all canonical and non-canonical documents. Then when I punch holes in your claim with a 5 minute search on the net, you respond by saying I can't count this or that. Try again next time with a more "nuanced" approach.

I have, throughout this discussion, laid down a very thick description of myth on several occasions. The gospels are clearly myth, stories following archetypal patterns, created by communal and individual inventiveness, out of extant and imagined people and events. Whether they are narratives or not they remain myth, constructions of their writers and the communities they emerged from. I do not "assume" they are myth. I look at them, and see that they are myth. Such history as is in them, has been extensively reworked and edited for theology, internal politics, aesthetic reasons and just plain creative orneriness. Are you claiming that Mark et al created their gospels out of context, with no mind to the struggles between the various Christianities alive in the first century? We already know they aimed at specific audiences and communities. The ancients were not less sophisticated and self-aware than we when it came to creating.

Further, you live in a dream world if you think Jesus is among the best-attested figures of antiquity. Perhaps you are not aware, but in China the evidence is simply so much thicker there is no comparison. There are tens of thousands of documents from ancient China, with more turning up at a regular rate. From a single tomb in Gansu 20,000 bamboo tablets were yanked covering local administrative matters during 1972-1976. Any of that would attest better to the individuals named than anything in the gospels to Jesus.

is a database of early Chinese manuscripts. Consider that the first two listings, of oaths and pledgings engraved on stone tablets, consist of 15,000 pieces in total.

Or look at this entry:

Contents: administrative documents including:
military despatches,
fragments of law,
judicial documents,
private letters, etc.
Material: wood
(tamarisk: 54.1%
spruce: 31.4%
poplar : 13.1%) strips etc.
Pieces: 1,200
Size: L 23.3
W 0.8
Graphs: 15,000
Script: Han clerical, semi- and full cursive
Reproductions (R) / Transcriptions (T): Ooba Osamu, Dai Ei toshokan zou Tonkou Kankan, 1990 (R, T);
Wu Rengxiang et al., Dunhuang Hanjian Shiwen, 1991 (R of some docs., T);
Gansu sheng wenwu kaogu yanjiusuo, Dunhuang Hanjian, 1991 (R, T);
Oosaka furitsu Chikatsu Asuka hakubutsukan, Shirukuroudo no mamori, 1994 (a few colour R, T)
Remarks: Sizes vary, those given above represent the most common. Percentages of materials are given in the excavation report
(Dunhuang Hanjian, p.67).

Considering the large number of tombs from China in which the occupant is indentified multiple times in the inventory placed in the tomb, in identification documents and sometimes with personal documents, such as a diary, any ordinary buried literate person in the Han period would be better attested than Jesus.

Further, Jesus is not even the best attested person from the Mediterranean area. Not even in the top 100. Automatically many of the the writers of Mediterranean antiquity -- from Xenophon to Tacitus (the historican, not the Emperor, who has his own mythical history) and Procopius -- would be better attested as to actual existence. They left books, remember? For Jesus we have only after-the-fact accounts from second and third-hand writers writing decades later.

Would you consider Jesus better-attested then, say Cicero, or Wang Chung, or Ashoka?


PS: Thanks for the kind words on the website.
Old 05-23-2001, 04:42 PM   #65
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As to the embarrassment criterion about Greek mythology, there was much to be embarrassed about :-)

Blatant anthropomorphism: consider the remarks of Xenophanes about how people think that the Gods look like them and wear the same kind of clothes as them.

Lechery: there was someone who supposedly commented that if Zeus, Apollo, and Poseidon had to pay the fine for deflowering a virgin, they would have bankrupted all the temples in Greece. Even though Zeus had been married to Hera.

All-around wickedness: Plato proposed banning the works of Homer and Hesiod from his Republic for this reason. Among his examples of such wickedness was how the Gods had laughed as they watched lame Hephaestus huffing and puffing as he tried to move around. And he objected to the laughter, not the cruelty to those with disabilities.

By the embarrassment criterion, the rulers of the Universe must look completely human and some of them must be absolutely shameless horndogs who produce numerous illegitimate children.
Old 05-23-2001, 07:09 PM   #66
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by turtonm:
You asked in your post about Michael Grant's criteria. He refers to one he realies on heavily as "surprise." It is, in fact, the criteria of embarrassment.

No, this isn't it. It's in the last section of the book. I'll run to the library and get it this weekend.

This is from the last section of his book. Perhaps if you could be more specific?
Old 05-23-2001, 07:44 PM   #67
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<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">Originally posted by Toto:
Layman - I am looking for someone who uses the embarrassment criteria in something outside New Testament studies.

... and higher and higher.

First, some complained that the reference to the embarrassment criteria, although a highly respected scholar, was a Catholic. It was then pointed out that the use of this criteria was common among nonCatholic, indeed, nonChristian scholars.

Second, it was suggested, although never demonstrated, that only New Testament scholars use this criteria and are unjustified in doing so. It was then pointed out that nonNew Testament scholars like Durant and Grant used the same criteria when they turned their attention to the New Testmant.

Third, you, Toto, making no mention of Grant's use of the criteria, complained that Durant was not a "working historian." You asked for a "serious contemporary historian" who used the criteria. Although I'm not sure why Grant didn't qualify, I provided a reference to the serious contemporary historian Ankreson.

Now I am told that Ankerson will not do because his work is "technically outside his area of speciality" and I allegedly dismiss Wells for this reason.

First of all, I don't know that I've ever discussed, much less dismissed Wells, because he is outside of his area of speciality. My memory could be faulty, however, so please direct me to my alleged comments.

Next, I find it kind of disengenuous to accuse me of relying on someone outside of of the NT area of expertise when I was responding to implications that only those scholars who specialize in the NT use the criteria of embarrasment. Other than what I posted, and a quick review of a review of his book, I don't know much about him. I was responding to a direct question for a serious, contemporary historian who uses the criteria.

But finally, you are requesting, apparently, a nonNew Testament scholar, not writing about the New Testament, that uses the criteria. I think I've done my part Toto. How about finding historians who trash the criteria and find it to be useless in all contexts. Remember, the use of the criteria of embarrassment is very context specific. As I discuss below, it will not always be useful for all historians in their respective endeavours.

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2"> Does anyone seriously contend that the Greek gods must be factual because their escapades were so embarrassing to the sober-minded classical Greeks? That the Old Testment must be true because of the sexual escapades and other lurid material in it? </font>
Not that I am aware of. And with good reason. I have never heard of a scholar who finds our sources for the Greek gods to be comparable to our sources for early Christianity. If you have information that finds the two sets of sources to be comparable please provide it. I would be interested in it.

Additionally, you are betraying a common skeptic misconception about the "criteria of embarrassment." Perhaps the name is misleading and Grant's use of the phrase, "criteria of surprise" is more appropriate.

It does not mean that things embarrasing to the subject persons in the literature are stated. It means that the author included material that contradicts his agenda in writing. Greek religion did not maintain that their gods were perfect. Far from it. There gods were much like they were. That was a common and important part of their stories. Thus, it is not an "embarrasment" to the authors purposes or agenda to include stories about Zues comitting adultery.

The Gospels do not represent Jesus has having our faults. Far from it, he is righteous and sinless. Yet, the Synoptics record that he was baptized by a man who baptized people for the repentance of sins. Not only is this "embarrassing" but it hurts the church in its competition with the still active disciples of the departed John the Baptist.

They could have simply left it out, as John does, or altered the scene to a simple annointing or, better yet, having Jesus baptize John.

Context, context, context. That is the key to the criteria of embarassment.
Old 05-23-2001, 07:51 PM   #68
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Layman: Jesus existed. It's not that threatening of a concept. Unless, of course, it is.

You have gone beyond the boundaries set by historians here. The existence of Jesus, an ancient human being, is a matter of probability, not absolute fact. Literary evidence, in the form of religious propaganda, dating from almost two thousand years ago, CANNOT demonstrate the absolute historical existence of any particular person. ALL non-Christian sources COULD derive from the religious literature.

You would be on firmer ground if you were to say something like, "I think the evidence suggesting the existence of Jesus is convincing."


Old 05-23-2001, 08:55 PM   #69
Posts: n/a

Well, I think Earl Doherty should be baptized by G. A. Wells. Or put through whatever ritual mythicists do. This would be comparable to John baptizing Jesus.

Actually, I find the amount of discussion on the baptism remarkable. It should never have been brought up, and is and has been easily shot down. The argument of embarrassment has some merit IF we assume a historical Jesus and, with this starting point, try to guess the truthfulness of the baptism story. I suspect (perhaps Layman can confirm) this is what Grant, Akenson, etc. are doing.

But the historicity of Jesus is the very point under discussion! Here, the criterion of embarrassment is worthless, as several on this board have already demonstrated with examples. A fiction writer could have any number of reasons for including the baptism in his story (symbolic, passing the torch, emphasizing the importance of the ritual).

On another matter, on the all-too-frequent response when people point out that the Josephus and Tacitus references are too late or otherwise insufficient to establish a historical Jesus. Here are a couple of examples:

<font face="Verdana, Arial" size="2">So, just so that the readers are very clear, Earl thinks that the existence of John is sufficiently proven by the singular mention of John in Josephus. Yet Jesus is mentioned in Josephus twice, Tacitus once, Suetonius once, and dozens of epistles from Christian sources both Canonical and non-Canonical. Why does Earl reject all of these references to a holy man named Jesus of Nazareth, but not the one to John the Baptist?

. . .

Yes, Josephus writes late in the first century. So what? He writes about many things commonly accepted by historians which occurred even before Jesus' time. Are you saying that historians should not accept sources who write 60 years after the events they describe? Is this a common historical method?</font>
People keep making the same poor analogies. Jesus is being treated EXACTLY THE SAME as everyone else in history. If all we had for Jesus were one or two writings from historians a century after the fact (no New Testament, no religious movement--or one that died out quickly), then of course we would regard him as historical, as we do for everyone else.

The Joey and Tacy passages are considered IN CONJUNCTION WITH everything else we have about Jesus. To make a good analogy, you will need to produce another religious figure who was regarded as both human and divine; for whom we have a plethora of early writings which describe him in a heavenly, cosmic way with no apparent knowledge of anything he did on earth; and when the earthly stories do come out, they are mythical in nature. Find someone who meets these criteria, and then we'll talk. Then we'll try to ascertain whether the references to him from outside his group are adequate to establish his existence.

Much of the discussion on this board has been interesting! Layman and turtonm in particular strike me as not only knowledgeable, but intelligent. (I'm definitely not the former. Others can decide the latter!) Regarding Layman's evidences of HJ (briefly):

On the gospels and Q, I agree with Mike. They don't suffice. Yes, there are real people who have myth added to them, and this COULD be the case with Jesus, but it's not reliable. At least I've never found a reason to regard the NT gospels as any more reliable than any story of any god in any religion in all of history.

Hebrews? You'll have to be more specific. M? Sorry, I'm not up on what this abbreviation means! Josephus? I concede the smaller passage is a vote for HJ, but questionable and late enough to be far from decisive. The TF is a joke. Attempted reconstructions are nothing but speculation and cannot be used as evidence for HJ.

Here's something I posted on the original comments thread, thinking it was taking over as the main discussion forum again:

It seems there is never a shortage of people who just want to deal Earl a quick knock-out blow and hope he will go away. "Look! The Josephus and Tacitus references. And look here! Romans 1:3: 'Of David's seed'. And here! Galatians 1:19: 'James, the brother of the Lord'. That's it. Earl Doherty's busted. No need to look any further." And they'll add that the epistles' purpose is not to tell the life story of Jesus.

(Maybe Miss Manners would frown at me for that one.) Two people responded, but they were just further examples of the above. I went on:

The key is to keep the whole picture in mind and consider which side has the most significant problems. Yes, the items noted above (and a few other things) pose some difficulty for the myth view and require explaining. But they ARE explainable, and if they weigh a combined 5 pounds on the scale of significance, then the Great Silence and other features noted by Earl weigh a ton in the other direction.

I haven't read much, but I've read the New Testament and Earl's work. It's impossible for me to conclude that the Jesus of the gospels is the same individual as the Jesus whom the epistle authors have in mind. These last couple weeks have been interesting, but nothing has happened yet to make me feel the myth view has more problems than the human view.

Old 05-23-2001, 09:51 PM   #70
Posts: n/a

Hello Bill

Very quickly, do you believe that Apollonios of Tyana is historical? Is Paul himself historical? If your answer to either is yes, I would like to know why please. Finally, what have you read on this topic besides Doherty?

Your answers would be very helpful.

Thank you,


P.S. Wells is no longer a mythicist. He accepts that Jesus is historical.

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