Daily Archives: 2011-05-12 15:54:52 UTC

McGrath “not paying close attention” in his review of Doherty’s chapter 4

Probably most of us who have witnessed someone attempting to engage Associate Professor James McGrath in a rational debate will be familiar with his rejoinder: “You seem to be saying . . .”. And those who are familiar with this line of his know he has missed (or misconstrued) the point the other person was making entirely.


I once attempted to illustrate what I meant by independent testimony for the existence of Socrates by pointing to sources from a serious philosopher and a comic playwright. Such disparate sources are clearly independent testimony, while what we have in the New Testament are all from the one source: followers of Jesus. This was the point Albert Schweitzer himself made when comparing the evidence for Jesus with the evidence for other historical figures.

McGrath responded that it “seemed” I was arguing that I believe we should believe philosophers and playwrights in preference to Christians!

So when I read in McGrath’s review of chapter 4 of Doherty’s book the refrain (about half a dozen times) “Doherty seems to say . . . .” then I know whatever Doherty did say is completely beyond his comprehension.

This post is not an attempt to argue Doherty’s case. It is an analysis of a review about Doherty’s book made in the hope that it may alert some to think about what they are reading and that not everything from an academic is of a scholarly standard. read more »

Curious inconsistencies: If it works for Adam and Caesar, why not for Jesus?

From time to time since I started blogging about various scholarly books on the Old and New Testaments, I receive an email from one of the authors thanking me for the post, and offering a few additional pointers, queries or discussion sometimes. The most striking thing about these emails is the total contrast in their tone to most scholars’ comments I have received on posts of mine that broach the possibility of a mythical Jesus.

The reason I think this is so odd is because the method, the approach, the logical processes, the standards I use for my discussions of the origins of early Christianity, and the inspiration for the canonical narratives of Jesus, are (I believe) exactly the same. I have even tried several times to explain that my views on Christian origins and the Jesus Christ idea are derived directly from studies of classicists and historians of the Old Testament. read more »