I never was impressed much with "absence of evidence equals no King Arthur as default position. I never was impressed much with "absence of evidence equals no Loch Ness Monster as default position.
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. Just what feels so good about your (not you personally,Crash) position, exactly?
Of course there is emotion. What other subject do people accept unquestioningly with a total lack of evidence.
As I have challenged Jon, show us the historical evidence. Not the nonsense gobbledygook, as Jon would say.
Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts
Richard Carrier has now posted a full lengthy review of this book on his website, and it isn't any more favourable than the review of the HuffPo article although he does say that the book addresses most of the issues he had trouble with in the article more effectively .
A small excerpt ...
I cannot recommend books that are so full of errors that they will badly mislead and miseducate the reader, and that commit so many mistakes that I have to substantially and extensively correct them. Did Jesus Exist? ultimately misinforms more than it informs, and that actually makes it worse than bad. Like the worst of mythicist literature, you will come away after reading it with more false information in your head than true, and that makes my job as a historian harder, because now I have to fix everything he screwed up. This is why I don’t recommend anyone ever read bad mythicist literature, because it will only fill your head with nonsense that I will have to work harder to correct. Ehrman’s book ironically does much the same thing. Therefore, it officially sucks.
I share in Carrier's disappointment with Ehrman's book.
Did Jesus Exist? could have just as well been written as a standard introduction to the issue of the historical Jesus as a reply against the Mythicist position, which just doesn't get the amount of attention it should get in the 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.
Some of the things Carrier bugs on aren't really valid complaints. For example, Carrier makes a big deal out of Ehrmans short response to a point made by Freke and Gandy:
Ehrman declares (again with that same suicidally hyperbolic certitude) that “we simply don’t have birth notices, trial records, death certificates—or other kinds of records that one has today” (p. 29). Although his conclusion is correct (we should not expect to have any such records for Jesus or early Christianity), his premise is false.
Carrier's excerpt is not representative of Ehrman's actual argument. In the sentence previous and in the sentence following what Carrier quotes, Ehrman makes it very clear that he is talking about only the first century (when Jesus would have lived):
quote:Ehrman in Did Jesus Exist? (2012):
If Romans were careful record keepers, it is passing strange that we have no records, not only Jesus but of nearly anyone who lived in the first century. We simply don't have birth notices, trial records, death certificates—or other standard kinds of records that one has today. Freke and Gandy, of course, do not cite a single example of anyone else's death warrant from the first century. (p. 29)
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.
The fact that there is an argument, from Jesus Mythers, which makes a big deal of mystical visions and post-Easter revelations, needs to be put to the test of historical probabilities.
Is it probable that a religion that lost it's, (MESSIANIC JEWISH) eternal-life teaching, human founder - who was said, at some point (after death?), to have supernatural powers - to a tragic UNEXPECTED death would end up with post-humous followers, like Paul, would have (claimed or actual) visions of the Messiah HE NEVER MET?
Exhumations can and do happen.
Why not visions of the dead?
There is also the issue of later Christian groups competing with the powerful, orthodox claimant, Irenaeus, who claimed to have title deeds straight from the Apostles.
Christ Mythers make a lot of the gnostic's mystical and visionary revelations.
They also make a lot of the "the peculiarity of Christian history itself" which emerged with a "historicist" type of Orthodox argument to support its theology.
quote: Every Patristic historian remarks on how regularly the surviving ("orthodox") literature of the second and third centuries slanders opponents with exaggerated or even false charges, how they employed shunning and other acts of social intimidation rather than open debate, and how routinely complaints are heard of forged texts and other tools of deception in the ranks.
To make matters worse, when the Church finally acquired absolute political power under the Constantines, opponents were compelled by force to fall in line. The sect that gained the emperor's ear did not win this trophy through convincing him by sound evidence and argument in an open and equal debate with opponents, but by mere luck: they just happened to be the ones in his entourage. As the threat of death, prison, or dispossession was used to eliminate opponents, "disapproved" texts were collected and burned, or simply never copied and thus left to disintegrate, never to be read again. And thus, though we know there were radically variant sects even in Paul's day, we have not a single text from them. Instead, the vast bulk of surviving material is solely what was approved by the victorious "orthodoxy," who did not win because of their greater adherence to the truth, but their more effective and fortunate politics.
Devout Christians have the most reason to be alarmed at this: a church that engages in murder, slander, deceit, compulsion, and intimidation could not plausibly be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Like Jesus himself, true Christians did not write down their beliefs to argue or prove them, but simply had faith, accepting their deaths without a fight. Thus, if there is any true Holy Spirit, it was more likely inspiring the first believers, none of whose literature survives, and those souls who turned the other cheek to the "orthodoxy's" bullying and machinations rather than fight back. And so true Christianity could well have died a silent death.
Yet the "victorious" sect happened to be historicist. Since that was an accident of their tactics and good fortune, we cannot be entirely confident that the orthodoxy, much less the surviving source material, reflects the truth about Jesus.
This argument from Carrier is used to defend the idea that Jesus was a divine cosmic creature from the very start, but documents are missing to make the decisive case.
The constantly described visions, from 2nd century Gnostics, are seen as evidence that Jesus was not earthly.
(like the evidence of Pauls mystical contact with Jesus)
But a survey of the historical circumstances of Jesus' followers, might make the Carrier/Doherty historical probability case less probable than it might sound.
Here is Elaine Pagels article, Visions, Appearances, and Apostolic Authority: Gnostic and Orthodox Traditions (pp. 415-430), in a 1978 work titled, GNOSIS, Festschrift fur Hans Jonas.
It might put things into the proper perspective.
The bishops' promise to "remain bound by original apostolic witness," which Irenaeus takes as proof of their incontestable authority,means something else to gnostic Christians: they take it as proof of the severe limitation of the bishops' authority.
If gnostics reject the orthodox view of resurrection- and of authority what theological and political views do they advocate instead? In the first place, they use and adapt the type of resurrection tradition that Dodd classifies as "circumstantial." 14
These accounts, which include the appearance to Mary Magdalene (Jo. 20, 14-18) and the appearance at Ernmaus (Lk. 24, 13-35), follow a discernible pattern. Christ appears to one person, or to few (not to the whole group of disciples together); those to whom he appears are in despair; Jesus appears suddenly, unexpectedly, and addresses them. Through a verbal interchange, the recipients come to recognize him. Here recognition of the risen Christ forms the climax of the story 15.
Lindbiom adds to these such NT accounts as Paul's vision of Christ (which shares most of the features mentioned above), and points out that the appearance to Paul (Acts 9, 3-7), to Stephan (Acts 7, 55-56) and to John on Patmos (Rev. 1, 10-18), share certain common features.
First, they are considered to have occurred after Pentecost; second, the risen Christ appears from heaven in a blaze of glorious light; third, such accounts lend themselves to interpretation as visions which are perceived by the "inner eye" or "inner ear" (cf. Acts 7, 55-56; 9, 7; 22, 9) or by one who is in an ecstatic state (Rev. 1, 10; Acts 10, 10) 16.
What primarily differentiates these accounts from the rest, however, is that they center not upon the singular "event" of Jesus' resurrection but upon the continuing presence of the Living One. Unlike the empty tomb stories, these show no interest in the question of whether Christ rose bodily from the grave. Unlike the "concise" type, they are not concerned "with what body he comes." None of these, of course, deny the reality of the resurrection: in all probability, they assume it. Nevertheless, the accounts themselves show no interest in proving or explaining the reality of the event. Instead, their purpose is to dispel the disciples' mourning for Jesus' death and their uncertainty about their own commission. They intend to show that Jesus is the Living One, and to share the revelations that he communicates to the elect.Â
quote: [Gnostics] claim to have access to continuing revelation through visions. Gnostic authors develop many variations on this theme: the Gospel of Mary describes how the Savior appeared to Mary in her dream; the Apocalypse of Paul, how the spirit appeared to Paul in the form of a child he met on the road; the Dialogue of the Savior, how the elect disciples receive visions of "heaven and earth."
When gnostic authors choose to refer to the resurrection, then, they favor those NT accounts which can be interpreted as visions. Even more important than any reference to the resurrection, however, is evidence that the disciple (as gnostic) participates in present communication with the Living One. Since gnostic authors do not consider themselves bound to the apostolic testimony alone, those who receive such visions are not limited to the circle of the twelve: Mary Magdalene, James, and Salome also appear.
Nor are they limited to those who, in Paul's words, knew "Christ accounting to the flesh" (2 Cor. 5, 16): so Paul himself may be included, as later tradition includes even Valentinus. 21 Puech, Gnostic Gospels, 246: the author lists what he considers to be characteristic features of "the usual type of gnostic works off this category," 252: he states that two works "both have the form of a gospel of the common gnostic type: they profess to contain the esoteric teaching revealed by the risen Christ to his disciples in response to their questions, and in the form of a dialogue."Â
quote: Gnostic Christians who reevaluate the original "apostolic" witness, and include persons outside the "apostolic circle" among the recipients of direct revelation, nevertheless express conflicting views on the question of the apostles and their authority. The Apocalypse of Paul, for example, recounts Paul's vision of the spirit in order to answer the question, how can the late comer Paul attain to the status and authority of the twelve apostles? The extant text begins as Paul, desiring to join bis "fellow apostles" in Jerusalem, asks a child which road to take.
The child greets Paul, and identifies himself and his mission: "I have come to you so that you may go up to Jerusalem, to your fellow apostles ... I am the spirit who accompanies you" (CG V, 2:18, 3-21). The spirit declares that Paul shall go to "the twelve apostles" since "they are elect spirits." Paul ascends, led by the spirit; reaching the fifth heaven, he says, "I saw my fellow apostles going with me" (CG V, 2:22, 14-15). Proceeding finally from the seventh heaven into the Ogdoad, he sees the "twelve apostles" who greet him. and they advance together up to the tenth heaven (CG V, 2:24, 1-8).
Thus the author solves the problem of Paul's apostleship: the vision Paul receives through the spirit enables him to reach the same place where the other apostles stand, and to become the equal of the "twelve apostles," their "fellow apostle" and "fellow spirit."
The Letter of Peter to Philip shows that even one who belongs to the circle of original apostles may need additional visions and revelations in order to share in the authority of the apostolic circle. The Letter opens as Peter, "the apostle of Jesus Christ," writes to summon "Philip, our beloved brother and fellow apostle, and to the brethren who are with you" (CG VIII, 2:132, 12-15). Peter tells Philip "that we have received orders from our Lord and Savior that we should come, speak, give instructions, and preach" (CG VIII, 2:132, 16-21).
But Philip was not present at the time of their authorization: "you were separated from us, and you did not want to come together to know how we should place ourselves in order to tell the good news. Therefore, would it be agreeable to you, our brother, to come according to the order of our God Jesus?" (CG VIII, 2:133, 1-8). Having received the Lord's command through his emissary Peter, Philip gladly goes to join hirn and the others (identified throughout as "the apostles").
After they gather upon the Mount of Olives and join in prayer to the Father and to the Son, a "great light" appears, and they hear the voice of "Jesus Christ" (134, 9-18). Following the vision, they go to Jerusalem, teaching, healing, and preaching, "filled with a holy spirit." At the close of the extant Letter Jesus appears to them again, giving them "joy and grace and power."Â the apostles all share in a common commission; they all go out to preach, strengthened "by a power of Jesus in peace."Â
quote: Other gnostic Christians, notably Valentinians, take a more radical position. Reversing the orthodox criterion entirely, they claim that as visions of the risen Christ surpass mere eyewitness observation of Jesus' life, so those who receive such visions surpass Jesus' earthly disciples! For the Valentinians, the problem is not how Paul can attain to the exalted level of his "fellow apostles" (as in Apoc. Paul), but rather the opposite: how the other disciples can attain to the level of Paul, the "apostle of the resurrection"Â
CHALLENGE TO THE CHRIST MYTHERS:
What is the best exegesis of Paul's words, when he talks about those who knew "Christ accounting to the flesh" (2 Cor. 5, 16)?
14 For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; (B) even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view,(C) we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;
Footnotes: 2 Corinthians 5:3 Other ancient authorities read put it on 2 Corinthians 5:16 Gk according to the flesh 2 Corinthians 5:16 Gk according to the flesh 2 Corinthians 5:19 Or God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself
3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits[a] of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
quote: 6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous personâ€”though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God.[e] 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Adam and Christ
12 Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinnedâ€” 13 sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. 14 Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.
15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one manâ€™s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many.
Context, combined with multiple writings from Paul, helps clarify the meaning.
1 Corinthians 15 seems to have Paul saying he was not born into circumstances to see Jesus during his lifetime.
Will Jesus Mythers be forced to drop the arguments from Paul (and do a total reboot)?
Verses like this really make one wonder.
quote: 1 Corinthians 15
21 For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; 22 for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ.
Humans and flesh and the law and death are all synonymous.
Galatians 4:4 is tough on the Christ Myther theory.
quote: 3 So with us; while we were minors, we were enslaved to the elemental spirits[a] of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 in order to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as children.
And, shockingly, Carrier says one would not expect Paul to say such a thing if Jesus actually had a human mother.
quote: And Doherty certainly could emphasize even more than he already does how bizarre it is for Paul to say "born of a woman" about someone everyone already took for granted had parents. Are we to imagine that this was in doubt, so that Paul had to remind his parishioners of the obvious fact that men have mothers? In light of this, and the fact that Paul himself provides support for the alternative Doherty offers, Doherty's reading still fits the facts at least as well as a historicist reading. But he hasn't made the case for this that he could have.
It seems that this might be an example of an early (2002) slip of the pen.
Guess we shouldn't expect too many other lines from Paul about Jesus being a human?
Guess we should really see the "human" verses as telling us an awful lot.
Guess the totality of the Christian texts before c. 70 DO INDEED tell us Jesus was seen as human from the start?
Guess the Josephus Antiquities Book 20, "brother of Jesus called Christ" reference to James, might not be the big controversial document it is made out to be. Josephus lived in the same small city James did during the early 60s.
The Mythers haven't shown us where Paul said anybody else was "brother of Jesus", have they?
(At any rate, he did not single out anybody - as "brother" - like he did James, and the only logical forgers, of Paul's Galatian manuscripts would probably not be Orthodox Europeans, who would have no interest in giving James a mention, unless there was some attempt to lower his status, which Galatians did not necessarily do)
Perhaps Paul's entire corpus will be entirely ditched, by Jesus Mythers, as some "late forgery"? Once the endless (exclusive Jesus Myther's) "new translations" attempts are actually seen by enough people, so that the unlikely verbal gymnastics look like the special pleading they are. Too few seem to take the translation gymnastics seriously at present. The conceptual gymnastics ("it all happened in some spiritual outer space anyway") are just as unlikely too.
Re: Will Jesus Mythers be forced to drop the arguments from Paul (and do a total reboot)?
I have no problem at all with the (probably flawed) Jesus Myther theories.
I am glad there are decent scholars looking at all the legitimate, as opposed to Gerald Massey type (made up) stuff, mythological concordances, and attempting to draw the parallels to the New Testament texts.
The main Mythers (Carrier, Doherty, Price)are willing to engage the contrary evidence.
Relative to this (small fringe) school, the challenging issue is that the great mass of followers (as reflected by the endless supply of sweeping internet comments and website posters throughout the web) generally don't feel like they need to actually engage the evidence (if they even know what the stronger problems are to the Myther Theory)
There seem to be a few generic responses, that are constantly uncanned.
Re: Will Jesus Mythers be forced to drop the arguments from Paul (and do a total reboot)?
quote: OMG. Long stuff. It actually is easy. Any empirarical, verifiable evidence for the existence of Spooks?
Since the invention of camera phones, the photo's of Spooks have disappeared...
So do you support the Mythers theories or not?
The Mythers don't believe in any actual mystical visions (so far as I know), but they see Christianity as a religion that started with followers claiming to have had (supposed) mystical conversations with Jesus (early on).
The main evidence is Paul's text, because pre-70 Christian texts consist entirely of his Epistles.
Everything after 70 is seen as the fake history, which makes Jesus into an actual historical man, and the various documents (like the Gospels) take Jesus - formerly a non-earthly cosmic creature - down to a human level.
(This Jesus Myther school, of Doherty & Price & Carrier, represents the first actual theory to explain how and why "Jesus did not exist")