Friday, 21 September 2012

Battling Mythicism BB (Before Bart)

There isn't much that's new under the sun, to echo Ecclesiastes, and the mythicist debate is no exception.

1949 was, as they say, "a powerful long time back."  In that year Harry Emerson Fosdick published his The Man From Nazareth.  It appears that the peril of Jesus mythicism was weighing on his mind at the time, and the very first chapter, A Real Man, not a Myth, takes up the cudgels.

I doubt Bart Ehrman bothered to consult this classic text before producing his own book earlier this year; it gets no mention in his bibliography.  Yet Fosdick's goal was remarkably similar to his own, to present a lucid, comprehensive case against mythicism aimed at the general reader.  This he accomplished in this single, passionately written chapter.  Granted, in 1949 scholarship lacked many of the insights it has today in addressing issues like these, but Ehrman could have done a lot worse than simply updating that text.  As it was he did do a lot worse.

So if you want to read a decent argument against mythicism, Fosdick is in the public domain and free to download (the Kobo store is one source).  Cut him some slack for having written over sixty years ago - there are weaknesses as a result, but in large part the case made then is much the same today.


  1. What we're all dying to know is, did he cite Pliny correctly? ;)

  2. Did you know that no other actual character in history was believed to not have a body except Jesus? Yep, all the other characters of history who had no flesh and blood bodies are considered to be mythological. Imagine that. Jesus, however, is different because...well, he just is, that's all. And, therefore, an entirely different historical methodology has to be used to discover him and certain Bible passages have to be interpreted in just exactly the way that the HJers want it to be interpreted. Otherwise, someone may get the idea that they are, perhaps, just another sect of Christendom themselves.

  3. I'm surprised this site does not have a mythicist alignment,
    as it seems to me to be the default of avant-garde cyberspace