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Author Topic:   Did Jesus Exist? by Bart Ehrman
crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 2 of 131 (658140)
04-02-2012 2:52 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Jon
04-02-2012 2:03 PM


Ehrman knocks down the Mythicist argument and lays out the argument for Jesus' existence based on early Jewish views of Messiah.

I don't understand how this can be an argument (and I understand I'm arguing about a book I've not yet read, so, take it as you will.) Historical existence has to be substantiated with historical evidence. Whatever views early Jews may have had about Messiahs, that can have no relevance that I can see as to whether there were any messiahs.

Myths aren't developed by survey; mythmakers aren't beholden to majority beliefs when they create enduring mythologies. When George Romero created Night of the Living Dead, the majority view of zombies were that they were a product of Haitian vodou. The difference between the zombies of NotLD and "early 20th century views of necromancy" isn't an argument for the veracity of NotLD as a documentary, and I don't see how the difference between the Jesus mythology and early Jewish views of the Messiah is evidence for the historical existence of Jesus. I'm not even sure it makes sense on the surface; followers of Christ are Christians, not Jews.

Ehrman doesn't do this, however, and instead seems to blindly accept the report that Papias had met folk who had met apostles.

Well, from my perspective this is largely consonant with how people approach the question of the historical existence of Jesus - bold, untested assertions of the credibility of unspecified sources; the assumption that far more evidence exists than can be produced. After all, all these other people are convinced!


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 Message 1 by Jon, posted 04-02-2012 2:03 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 5 of 131 (658171)
04-02-2012 9:43 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Jon
04-02-2012 6:31 PM


Re: The Crucified Messiah
So I'm gonna be waiting until I read the relevant portions of the book and then I will respond here with the arguments Ehrman uses. It should be within the next couple of days.

Thanks, Jon. I look forward to it.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Jon, posted 04-02-2012 6:31 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by Jon, posted 04-05-2012 2:50 AM crashfrog has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 9 of 131 (658456)
04-05-2012 7:34 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by Jon
04-05-2012 2:50 AM


Re: Less than Impressed
It seems clear that Erhman, having dismissed mythicism as being for "wrongheaded amateurs", feels somewhat put-upon that he even has to write a book at all.

I mean, they're wrongheaded! Amateurs! How can that not be enough? I'm convinced!


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 25 of 131 (658541)
04-05-2012 9:57 PM
Reply to: Message 23 by Jon
04-05-2012 9:38 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
That's nonsense; our very own Crashfrog made a huge deal out of the lack of official records back when the historical Jesus thread was still open.

Wow, Jon. All those pages and you didn't understand the argument?

The problem isn't that there's no birth certificate or execution order. The problem is that there's no anything, and Carrier is entirely right to point out that Ehrman is being disingenuous - you can't respond to that argument by saying "well, there's no Roman documentation of Pilate, either, by a hair-splitting narrow definition of 'Roman documentation.'" Mythicists aren't asking for documentation of Jesus Christ via an incredibly narrow definition of "Roman documentation." We're asking for the exact sort of evidence that exists for Pilate, which includes a large number of contemporary mentions, an inscription that Pilate himself most likely commissioned, and a myriad of other sources.

Ehrman wants to argue that if we don't count all the evidence we do have, we have as little evidence for Pilate as we do for Jesus. But that's stupid - we do count the evidence we have for Pilate and that's why historians believe Pilate existed. And it's precisely the sort of evidence we have for Pilate that we're asking Ehrman, and historicists, to present for the existence of Jesus Christ. Instead we get the incredibly logically-perverse argument that since we don't have certain kinds of evidence for Pilate, we shouldn't demand any kind of evidence for Jesus.

Carrier is writing as though the blog represents the entirety of Ehrman's position even though he admits that it does not and admits to having an incomplete knowledge of Ehrman's argument.

These can't both be true. You can't "write as though the blog represents the entirety of Ehrman's argument" at the same time you're affirming that the blog is not the entirety of Ehrman's argument. All Carrier is doing is refusing to do Ehrman's homework for him. You know, like a good historian.


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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 32 of 131 (658552)
04-06-2012 7:46 AM
Reply to: Message 28 by Jon
04-05-2012 10:23 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
But you don't have to use a 'hair-splitting narrow definition'.

Then Ehrman should explain why he feels the need to use one.

But you must then also admit that Ehrman is fully aware of and cites those other sources.

The amazing thing is - no, he doesn't:

quote:
With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) — sources that originated in Jesus’ native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves). Historical sources like that are pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind.

Really? We have them? Ehrman has a copy of the Q source! Funny, then, that he's opted not to share this incredible, groundbreaking archaeological discovery with anybody else. Carrier writes:

quote:
He actually says we have such sources. We do not. That is simply a plain, straight-up falsehood. I can only suppose he means Q or some hypothesized sources behind the creedal statements in Paul or the sermons in Acts, but none of those sources exist, and are purely hypothetical. In fact, barely more than conjectural. There is serious debate in the academic community as to whether Q even existed; and even among those who believe it did, there is serious debate about whether it comes from Aramaic or in fact Greek sources or whether it’s one source or several or whether it even goes back to Jesus at all.

Just like a historicist - talking about evidence without actually showing it. Even the esteemed Bart Erhman is not immune to the bizarre evidence lacuna that seems to infect all Jesus historicists.

Ehrman says that since we don't have certain kinds of evidence for Pilate, it is silly to expect that same kind of evidence for a man like Jesus.

Right, and by successive iterations of this argument, you can escape the burden of proof to supply any evidence for the existence of Jesus: We don't have any of evidence-type A for Pilate, thus we cannot expect it for Jesus; we don't have any of evidence-type B for Socrates, thus we cannot expect it for Jesus; we don't have any of evidence-type C for Caesar, thus we cannot expect it for Jesus. Repeat until you've covered all types of evidence, and you've created an argument that you can expect people to accept the historical existence of Jesus on the basis of absolutely no evidence at all.

Again, mythicists are not asking for "certain kinds of evidence" for the existence of Jesus; we're asking for any kind of evidence for the existence of Jesus. Ehrman is just engaged in the usual historicist pastime of logic-chopping his way out of the obligation to provide evidence to establish historical existence.

Yet he responds to that blog by claiming that anything Ehrman didn't mention in it is clearly something Ehrman did not know.

A falsehood, Jon. Ehrman is not being attacked for what he didn't say, but for what he did say.

But you wouldn't know that by reading Carrier's review, which reads as though he is arguing against everything Ehrman has ever said.

Another falsehood. There is not even a single place in this post that reads like it's a sweeping indictment of all of Ehrman's work. It's pretty clearly narrowly focused as a response to Erhman's provocative, needlessly-antagonistic and arrogant article on the HuffPo.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 28 by Jon, posted 04-05-2012 10:23 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 34 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 10:46 AM crashfrog has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 35 of 131 (658569)
04-06-2012 11:18 AM
Reply to: Message 34 by Jon
04-06-2012 10:46 AM


Re: Less than Impressed
The issue of Carrier's blog is getting old, so this will be my last response to it.

As you wish, but if you're going to keep saying things that are false, I'm going to keep replying.

Of course he's being attacked for what he didn't say. He's being attacked for not mentioning Philo of Alexandria.

No, he's being attacked by Carrier for his direct statement that Pilate is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That's what he did say.

But that's 100% wrong. Pilate is mentioned in Roman sources - via Philo of Alexandria, who was most likely a Roman citizen. And sure, Erhman doesn't pretend that Philo of Alexandria doesn't exist in his book; the problem is that he does seem to pretend he doesn't exist in his article. And it's the article that Carrier is replying to.

If you say one thing in one place and another thing in another place, it's not being disingenuous to point out that you're talking out of both sides of your mouth. If Erhman doesn't want to be accused of not being aware that Philo of Alexandria, a contemporary Roman, refers to the service of Pilate in Judea, then he should not write articles on HuffPo that appear to be ignorant of Philo of Alexandra.

The 'sources' in question that Carrier belittles Ehrman for not mentioning relate to Pontius Pilate; not Jesus.

And it's those exact sources that are completely elided in the HuffPo article. The fact that they appear in Ehrman's book is immaterial to the fact that they are specifically omitted in Ehrman's article.

Carrier is criticizing the article, not the book. That should not be surprising since the book had not been released when Carrier read the article.

Ehrman doesn't make this argument at all since he is only concerned with the historicity of figures in first-century Palestine.

He's making the argument about figures in first-century Palestine, then. It doesn't make it a valid argument. Mythists are not asking for specific types of evidence for Jesus - they're asking for all evidence of Jesus.

What I can say is that the same textual criticism methods that Mythicists employ when declaring anything that mentions an historical Jesus an 'interpolation' are the methods Ehrman uses to reconstruct various source materials within larger documents.

I'm sorry but in addition to being incomprehensible, this statement bears no relationship to the mythicist position. Mythicsts aren't using "textual criticism methods", they're using evidence methods.

If this is problematic, then the methodologies of both historicists and Mythicists need to be seriously reevaluated.

I think Carrier has a book on that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 34 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 10:46 AM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 39 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 3:17 PM crashfrog has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 37 of 131 (658571)
04-06-2012 11:21 AM
Reply to: Message 33 by Jon
04-06-2012 10:34 AM


Re: Less than Impressed
My main point, however, was that Carrier was being dishonest to claim that Ehrman didn't know about Philo of Alexandria simply because he didn't mention him in a short article that Carrier admits did not represent the entirety of Ehrman's position.

But he doesn't claim that Erhman doesn't know about Philo of Alexandra:

quote:
Forgetting (or not knowing?) that Philo attests to Pilate’s service in Judea is a serious error for Ehrman and his argument, because the absence of any mention of Jesus or Christianity in Philo is indeed very odd.

This is clearly nothing but a turn of phrase meant to refer to the curious absence of Philo in Ehrman's post. The fact that Philo appears in Ehrman's book is, again, immaterial; the book was not available to Carrier when he responded to Ehrman's post. And it is Ehrman, not Carrier, who bears the responsibility not to make arguments contradicted by his own books.


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


(1)
Message 40 of 131 (658582)
04-06-2012 3:33 PM
Reply to: Message 39 by Jon
04-06-2012 3:17 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
Mythicists most certainly make use of textual criticism methods when concluding, for example, that the passages of 1 Cor. dealing with Jesus' death and resurrection are interpolations and not original to the work of Paul.

Some mythicists may do that, but only, I imagine, in response to a claim by historicists that 1 Corinthians somehow represents evidence for the historical existence of Jesus.

Do not think Ehrman's entire argument rests on the lack of official Roman records for the existence of Pontius Pilate.

I don't think that it does. But again, you can't make the circular argument that evidence of type A wasn't necessary to establish the existence of Figure 1, and therefore isn't necessary for Jesus; evidence of type B wasn't necessary for Figure 2, and therefore isn't necessary for Jesus; and so on and on until you've obviated the need for all types of evidence to establish the existence of Jesus.

It doesn't work like that. You need evidence to establish the existence of a historical Jesus. It's precisely that evidence which, if it existed, would preclude Ehrman from making up evidence from whole cloth as he does when he falsely claimed:

quote:
With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves).

If that were really true, it would settle the debate. The problem is that it isn't true; Ehrman is talking about sources - the Q source - that is essentially defined by the fact that we don't have it; some historians assume that it existed at one time. But evidence you don't have isn't very compelling; the reason you don't have it, after all, may be that it never existed.

But it's not immaterial to the issue of whether or not Ehrman was aware of them; which is precisely the point Carrier makes against him

No, the point Carrier is making against Ehrman is that he wrote an article for the HuffPo as though he had no knowledge of Philo of Alexandria. And it's a fair cop. If Ehrman wants to avoid being accused of ignorance of something so basic, he shouldn't write articles on the HuffPo with such glaring errors and then demand the benefit of the doubt based on books that hadn't been released, yet. Your defense that Ehrman can't possibly not know about Philo of Alexandria because he mentions it in his book is completely irrelevant - if he knew about Philo of Alexandria, then why did he say that no Roman sources mentioned Pilate's service in Judea? The fact that Philo is mentioned in his book only compounds the error - ignorance, at least, would have been an excuse. With abundant proof that Ehrman's omission of Philo was deliberate, one can only conclude that it was an attempt to mislead.

Edited by crashfrog, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 39 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 3:17 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 42 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 5:05 PM crashfrog has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 43 of 131 (658587)
04-06-2012 5:14 PM
Reply to: Message 42 by Jon
04-06-2012 5:05 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
You really need to familiarize yourself with more of the Mythicist arguments.

Jon, there are no mythicist arguments, because mythicists are not required to advance any position. The default conclusion is that Jesus is a figure of mythology unless sufficient evidence can be brought forward by historicists.

The burden of evidence lies all on historicists. I'm not required to make Earl Doherty's arguments; I'm not even required to make any of my own. All that is required to support the mythicist position is the utterly inadequate evidence brought forward to try to substantiate the existence of Jesus.

Sorry if you feel like that's unfair, but then, we're not the ones making the extraordinary claim that Jesus Christ was anything but a legend.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 42 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 5:05 PM Jon has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 46 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 7:05 PM crashfrog has responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 53 of 131 (658610)
04-07-2012 8:08 AM
Reply to: Message 46 by Jon
04-06-2012 7:05 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
Like I said before, please investigate the Mythicist position. I think you will find it is much more than 'Jesus didn't exist'.

If the mythicist position is something other than "the evidence put forth to substantiate the historical existence of Jesus is insufficient" then I'm happy for you to not consider me a "mythicist." I'm not interested in defending any positions but my own.


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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 54 of 131 (658611)
04-07-2012 8:09 AM
Reply to: Message 47 by Jon
04-06-2012 7:07 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
The argument from silence is old.

But Theodoric was not making the "argument from silence."


This message is a reply to:
 Message 47 by Jon, posted 04-06-2012 7:07 PM Jon has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 55 of 131 (658612)
04-07-2012 8:10 AM
Reply to: Message 52 by Jon
04-06-2012 11:46 PM


Re: Less than Impressed
Once Mythicists get rid of the historical Jesus, they have to come up with an alternative explanation to take his place.

An alternative explanation of what?


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crashfrog
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 57 of 131 (658615)
04-07-2012 9:16 AM
Reply to: Message 56 by Thugpreacha
04-07-2012 9:04 AM


Re: Why Do Atheists Invest So Much Emotion?
I never was impressed much with "absence of evidence equals no Jesus" as default position.

Isn't that just the result of your prior ideological commitment to the existence of Jesus as the central figure in your faith?

How much evidence would you need to believe that there's no such thing as fairies? Surely all I'd have to do is point out that there's no evidence of the existence of fairies. Why would I have to do more? Or the existence of dragons? Again, the lack of evidence in support should be sufficient.

But for some reason, for you, the rules are different when it comes to Jesus. I kind of think I know why.

If you've learned anything about me in all these years, you should have learned that I'm completely puzzled by what people think they gain when they relax their standards of evidence. The downside seems pretty obvious - it becomes a lot easier for people to fool you and take advantage of your self-imposed gullibility. What, on Earth, is the upside to that?

For an argument supposedly based only on facts or the lack of same, there is quite a bit of emotionalism from either side...and it seems to me that there has to be a reason why the atheist side invests so much emotion into these arguments.

I'm sorry but I don't see any emotion in my posts at all, aside perhaps from the usual emotion of being excited to be involved in an interesting discussion. Can you elaborate on what you're talking about? Usually the invocation of "too much emotion" is used as an attempt at misdirection when someone is losing the debate.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 56 by Thugpreacha, posted 04-07-2012 9:04 AM Thugpreacha has responded

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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 62 of 131 (658628)
04-07-2012 12:25 PM
Reply to: Message 61 by Jon
04-07-2012 11:20 AM


Re: Less than Impressed
Thats not the argument from silence, though. Sounds like you're the one who needs to get more familiar with the arguments.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 61 by Jon, posted 04-07-2012 11:20 AM Jon has not yet responded

  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


(2)
Message 67 of 131 (660080)
04-20-2012 6:34 PM
Reply to: Message 66 by Jon
04-20-2012 12:03 PM


Re: Carrier's review of the full book
There are so many really bad arguments made by Mythicists that Ehrman could have easily destroyed the credibility of almost all of them had he chosen to and then argued that Jesus Mythicism is just a nonsense idea popularized by amateurs with little understanding of the topics they are talking about.

That's utterly stupid, though, and would have been even a larger crime against reason than the ones Erhman actually chose to commit. How would attacking only the worst positions of the most amateur "Mythicists" have supported an argument that "Jesus Mythicism is just a nonsense idea popularized by amateurs with little understanding of the topics they are talking about"? If an evolutionist tried to provide support for evolution by attacking only the most risible forms of and arguments in Creationism, he'd be pilloried. But that's exactly the "methodology" you seem to believe best suits Jesus Historicism. For that matter, how can the historical Jesus be evidenced by attacking any argument of any "Mythicist"? Even if every single "Mythicist" argument was demolished, that would supply precisely zero proof of, or even an increased probability of, the position that a historical Jesus existed.

The existence of a historical Jesus has to be supported with positive evidence, not by attacking the claims of any "Mythicist."

Carrier's excerpt is not representative of Ehrman's actual argument.

I think you're utterly misrepresenting Carrier, here. There's no evidence in his rebuttal that he thinks Ehrman isn't referring to specifically first-century records, and the examples he gives in rebuttal are first century records, like the birth records for Caligula (AD 12.)

Some of the things Carrier bugs on aren't really valid complaints.

It's certainly valid to complain when a so-called "historian" broadly asserts that we have no first-century Roman birth records when we do, in fact, have first-century birth records.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 66 by Jon, posted 04-20-2012 12:03 PM Jon has acknowledged this reply

  
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