Friday, 8 April 2016

Did Jesus Really Exist?

Like it or not, the "Jesus myth" is slowly entering mainstream discourse. This article from Canada's McLean's magazine is a case in point.


  1. There is an understandable bias in scholarly circles, even among those who have long since given up on christianity, that there must have been a real life man behind the legends, and Bart Ehrman is no exception. Despite the fact that neither Price nor Carrier are the best ones, in my opinion, to sell the mythicist position, I think Carrier in Proving History succinctly devastates the mainstream expectations, and shows why the historicists have never actually made their case, but simply assumed it, and propped it up with flawed proofs by criteria. Anyone can do that for just about anything. William Lane Craig keeps doing exactly that by arguing that Kalam, an empty tomb, etc., make christianity more probably true than false; someone of his prominence ought to be embarrassed by reasoning so flawed.

    It's easy for scholars to take the current majority view simply because it's the majority view. But as more and more scholars of note realize that this view needs to be vetted against the case for mythicism, simply to see whether or not it holds up, and that until it is, this will be a weakness for the historical position, the more mainstream prominence it will attain. Now, I'm not saying that mythicism should succeed, or will succeed, just that until the historical position is tested against it, Carrier is right, a sufficient case for historicism hasn't yet been made, and we shouldn't be nearly so certain of its correctness until one has.

    Given Ehrman's historical views, I'm surprised he would be the one to delve into such interdisciplinary research which has the very real possibility of falsifying his views. Although the very idea that such a well-established scientific conclusion as oral traditions being unreliable as a means of preserving veridical data should be news to the most prominent New Testament scholars is a little bit breathtaking in it's own right. It shows just how insulated New Testament scholars are from pertinent facts that don't support the biases of the consensus. If Ehrman is up to challenging the remnants of his own theistic beliefs (ones he doesn't admit to having) then my hat is off to him. It takes a big man to be bigger than his own ego.

  2. Perhaps God miraculously preserved the memories of these witnesses, and ensured that they wrote accurate accounts 40+ years later. After all, why would the all-knowing creator of the entire UNIVERSE leave something so important dependent upon ever-changing human memories?

  3. Good article.
    The author is really up to speed on the subject. he says:

    "The Gospels are forthright in their agendas to serve theological and not historical needs."

    So yes, in assessing the nature of the Gospels, scholars need to determine their GENRE.
    If churchmen want to still claim they're historical manifestos, good luck with that!

    At the end of article he hints of the upcoming Price/Ehrman debate. I'm going!

    1. I myself am curious about what the nature of christian belief actually was in the first and second centuries A.D. I wonder how literally they took it, and how much of it was originally taken to be parabolic, metaphorical, and allegorical. I am confident however that it would be nearly unrecognizable to us Armstrongites who were thinking that we had "recaptured" first century apostolic christianity.

      I know one of the important pillars that made the bible and christianity seem believable to me was the mistaken impression that it was unique and original, and that was only possible because I had been systematically miseducated by people I trusted to tell me the whole truth. I think that a lot of people who are literalist christians today would not be if only they knew the original literary and religious context of their bibles and their religion, and recognized how totally unoriginal it all is.

    2. "I .. am curious about .. belief .. in the first and second centuries"

      For me, Carrier&Price have some fresh insights:
      I'm studying one of Price's papers posted here:

    3. So working my way through Price's piece, I hit a snag with his radical interpretation of Thessalonians (possibly Paul's earliest work - 52AD) where he claims Paul is really looking for a 1st-Coming of Jesus rather than a 2nd-Coming (as the tenses in the text imply). He appears to be employing Doherty's argument here. This, along with other reasons no doubt, may be why Hoffmann turned around after a brief flirtation with mythicism?