Thursday 5 April 2012

John Shuck on Bob Price

After an admirably balanced posting (found here) on the latest Bart Ehrman book, Did Jesus Exist?, John Shuck moves on to a review of Bob Price's The Christ Myth Theory and its Problems.  Again, he does a sterling and fairminded job.  If you've been considering hearing the other side of the story, Price is probably the place to start, and Shuck's review is a great introduction.


  1. An historical Jesus may very well be the best explanation for the Xian religion but it may not be the correct explanation. Certainly it is the simplest.

    I suspect that an itinerant apocalyptic preacher running afoul of the authorities and getting himself crucified in first century Judea was not very unusual. Just pick one and make up some stories about him years later and who's going to know?

    I suspect that Gal. 1:19 and 1 Cor. 15:7 were inserted into Paul's letters because of Marcion but that's only a suspicion with no way to prove it. But, it is strange that Paul would mention the 12 apostles in verse 5 and then again in verse 7. And weren't there only 11 apostles when Jesus was resurrected?

    A story that constantly changed over such a short period of time as the Jesus story did has myth written all over it. It's like the story was being invented and then reinvented as the years passed until there was a variety of opposing sects before the end of the century.

    If we only had Paul's letters to go by, we wouldn't even know when Jesus was crucified, so how did the gospel writers know? I think that's pretty simple; the temple was destroyed in 70 CE, subtract 40 years for a biblical "generation" and you get 30 CE. But, that won't work with Paul's timeline - nor with the date of the death of John the Baptist in 36/37 CE who supposedly died prior to Jesus's crucifixion.

    Paul made no prediction of the temple's destruction, which is strange since that was Jesus's main prophecy in the synoptic gospels and supposedly why Stephen was stoned to death in the Acts - with Paul watching from the sidelines.

    One thing about vagueness and ambiguity, you can't disprove it. But, does that make it historical? I don't think it does. I think it makes it mythical.

  2. Based on the many notes in todays' good study Bibles, and the introductions and historical perspectives to each of the books, it is plain that there is much debate amongst scholars on a number of accounts. And, though textual criticism and other forensic sciences have improved the possibilities of being able to establish a higher percentage of factual material, a lot is left unknowable.

    Several years ago, I decided to give more weight to what was written in the books of the Bible than continuing to dissect unknowable minutiae. If there is some point made by the Bible, why ignore or miss out on it for the minutiae? Obviously, we can find easy targets for ridicule or disbelief, but there's also enough quality "stuff" (for lack of a better term) to convince one that this not just some generic, run of the mill book. Like all good books, the Bible takes one on a journey, in this case a journey through the spiritual. Obviously, some will choose to embark on the journey, and others will pass.

    My current perspective is that when I get to speak with Jesus one day, He will more than satisfy my curiosity with the story behind the story. I'm betting that'll be a really gripping tale, too!


  3. I am currently watching the entire collection of the Babylon 5 Series.

    It is myth, but it certainly seems real.

    But the important thing is to learn the lessons it teaches, because they are both very real and timeless.

    Much like... ????

  4. What I wouldn't give to hear a long (two hours minimum) debate between Price and Ehrman. I love Ehrman, but he seems to be punching above his weight on this topic. Price is agnostic on the matter but extremely familiar with every argument and relevant source from antiquity.

  5. Bob talked with me on my radio show Religion For Life today. He did a great job. Bart Ehrman, Dom Crossan, and Bob Price in an upcoming series, "Will the real Jesus please rise?"

  6. Will put in a link when they come up on your podcast page!

  7. That should be an interesting program.

    I agree with Price that the gospel story is invented from the Jewish scripture (the old testament) but I disagree that Josephus didn't mention the Jesus of Xianity. I think Jesus was mentioned but that it was only hearsay mentions. I think that because Josephus wrote a lot of other hearsay.

    Josephus was writing in the 90s, so I would imagine that most folks reading his books would have heard of "Jesus, called Christ" and that's the way Josephus identifies James (as the brother of Jesus), the victim of Ananus. Being the "brother" of Jesus in that passage doesn't necessarily mean a biological brother - does it, brothers and sisters?