2012-04-13

2. Earl Doherty’s Response to Bart Ehrman’s Case Against Mythicism: Chapter 1

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by Earl Doherty

This second post addresses the opening pages of Ehrman’s first chapter. It continues from the last words of the first installment.

Here Doherty examines

  • Ehrman’s appeal to Schweitzer and the problems faced by both Schweitzer and Ehrman
  • The logical improbability of Ehrman’s reconstruction of an historical Jesus
  • Ehrman’s appeal to pre-Gospel sources and his failure to notice the problems that will have for his own reconstruction
  • Ehrman’s treatment of the history of mythicism and the contradiction his observations present for common claims about mythicism among mainstream scholars

*  *  *  *  *

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“But as a historian I think evidence matters,” says Ehrman. Let’s see how he handles evidence, and those who interpret that evidence in a different way.

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Chapter 1: An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus

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Ehrman begins by quoting the great Albert Schweitzer. On the one hand, says Schweitzer:

There is nothing more negative than the result of the critical study of the life of Jesus. The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the Kingdom of God, who founded the Kingdom of heaven upon earth, and died to give his work its final consecration, never had any existence.

On the other hand, says Ehrman,

toward the end of his book he [Schweitzer] showed who Jesus really was, in his own considered judgment. For Schweitzer, Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet who anticipated the imminent end of history as we know it.

This of course is a “judgment” dear to Ehrman’s heart, because he himself subscribes to it and has written a book advocating such a picture of Jesus. It is a mantra in New Testament scholarship these days, in agreement with Schweitzer a century ago, that immense difficulties abound in the effort to unearth the real historical man from beneath the Christ of faith. And yet scholar after scholar, from Schweitzer and before him to Ehrman and no doubt after him, can claim that they have done so, and have usually disagreed with each other on what the result is. Both Ehrman and Schweitzer can acknowledge the difficulty of getting beyond the faith literature—Ehrman and more modern scholarship have benefited from the realization that there is no “history remembered” in the Gospels, and that virtually all of it is midrashic construction out of scripture—and yet both declare certainty in their knowledge that the Jesus character (whatever he was) did indeed exist.

Schweitzer and Ehrman importing the Gospels into the epistles

On what is that certainty based? We will look at Ehrman’s own justification for it as we go along, but perhaps we might ask a few questions ahead of time. Did either Ehrman or Schweitzer take off their Gospel-colored glasses as they studied the epistles? Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet, they say. Paul and most of the other epistle writers were engaged in the same activity, prophesying the impending arrival (not return) of the Son Christ Jesus at the imminent End-time. Did either of them notice that Paul and the others never once refer to their Jesus as having been a prophet on earth foretelling the very same thing? (See later about mainstream scholarly interpretation of Paul’s “words of the Lord” in regard to 1 Thess. 4:15.) Did they not consider it reasonable that we should expect Paul to place himself in Jesus’ line, to appeal to the Son on earth as having begun the prophetic process, to validate his own preaching by pointing to its divine predecessor?

Those who dismiss the argument from silence under any circumstances, no matter how compelling the unfulfilled expectation, are invited to turn to Romans 8:22-3:

Up to the present, we know, the whole created universe groans in all its parts as if in the pangs of childbirth. Not only so, but even we, to whom the Spirit is given as firstfruits of the harvest to come, are groaning inwardly while we wait for God to make us his sons and set our whole body free. [NEB]

Paul is looking ahead to the End-time and he is encouraging his readers to have faith that it is coming. “Up until the present” refers to the past, with its promises of the future birth of the new age. But where is the promise as embodied in Jesus’ own prophetic teaching? What have been the firstfruits of the harvest to come? Solely the Spirit, God’s revelation and gospel found in scripture about the Son. This is the only thing the epistle writers ever appeal to, never the preaching of such promises by the Son on earth. This is not a simple silence, it is an exclusion of any such earthly preaching Son. Both Schweitzer and Ehrman are importing the Gospels into the epistles.

What of Titus 1:3?

Yes, it is eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, and now in his own good time he has openly declared himself in the proclamation which was entrusted to me by ordinance of God our Savior. [NEB]

As I say in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man (p.39),

“There is not a crack in this facade where Jesus could gain a foothold. In the past lie God’s promises of eternal life, and the first action on those promises is the present revelation by God to apostles like Paul who have gone out to deliver the message. Jesus’ own proclamation of eternal life, or whatever he may have proclaimed, has evaporated into the wind. Here is a prime example of the very exclusion of a human, historical Jesus.”

Paul allots to himself “the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18-19). God has qualified him “to dispense the new covenant” (2 Cor. 3:5). A role for Jesus here is non-existent; it is de facto excluded.

Ehrman’s bizarre reconstruction of Jesus

Might Ehrman claim that the historical Jesus was solely an apocalyptic prophet and therefore had nothing to say about eternal life and new covenants? What kind of bizarre situation would that create? That a Jewish rebel who had nothing more profound to say than that the apocalypse was upon us and to rise up against the Roman overlords (a message preached by all manner of Zealots and would-be messiahs, most of whom were also slaughtered) was nevertheless turned into a part of God who had risen from his grave and redeemed the world’s sins? That a whole group of apostles who preached the supposed return from heaven of this apocalyptic prophet, along with promises of eternal life and new covenants with God, would never once ‘read back’ their preaching into that of his, never make him into a precursor to their own activities and teachings, never appeal to his authority and their own connections to him? That would show a woeful ignorance of how sects work, let alone of human nature.

I’m mentioning here only a smattering of the passages in the epistles which provide us with compelling indication that their writers place no historical Jesus in their own past. 2 Cor. 5:5 tells us that as a guarantee of “life immortal,” God has sent “the Spirit,” not Jesus. There is no post-Jesus world evident in Romans 13:11-12 or 1 Cor. 10:11. More will crop up later, such as Hebrews 8:4 which tells us in no uncertain terms that Jesus had never been on earth; or its 10:37 which promises that “the one who is to come” (a prophecy which later Gospel-based Christianity universally applied to the incarnation, not the Parousia) will come, and soon. All of this and much more both Ehrman and Schweitzer have failed to take into account. Their a priori convictions that a Jesus existed have screened it out for them.

Ehrman’s own “primary sources” are his lurking iceberg

Ehrman declares:

I agree with Schweitzer’s overarching view, that Jesus is best understood as a Jewish prophet who anticipated a cataclysmic break in history in the very near future, when God would destroy the forces of evil to bring in his own kingdom here on earth. (p. 14, DJE?)

Now, Ehrman is one of that majority of scholars who subscribes to the existence of a Q document (as do I), though I cannot say with how much of the detailed analysis of it he agrees. But if he assumes, as many critical scholars studying Q these days do, that the so-called “Wisdom” stratum—labelled Q1—represents the earliest and most reliable material as belonging to the “genuine” preaching Jesus, he ought to be aware that the content of such a stratum contradicts his contention above. For Q1 has virtually nothing to say of an apocalyptic nature, it contains no prophetic sayings, no mention of the Son of Man as a future judge, no break-up of the world or history. In fact, there is very little if anything of a specifically and exclusively Jewish nature at all. And yet, as we shall see later in his book, Ehrman appeals to alleged early pre-Gospel sources containing not only reliable information about Jesus and his teachings, it supposedly concerns Jewish interests and can even be confidently declared as having existed in the Aramaic language. Q is obviously front-row-center in Ehrman’s body of ‘early witness.’

He should also be aware that the way Q is analyzed these days, the prophetic/apocalyptic stratum of Q—labelled Q2—is generally regarded as a later development, a later addition to the evolving collection. Now, one can admit that this “compositional history” does not have to coincide with “tradition history,” in that some Q2 sayings may go back as early as the Q1 sayings even if not recorded at the same time as those Q1 sayings. But this idea and rationalization has serious problems, which we can get to later. I just want to warn the reader that everything is not so nice and tidy as Ehrman presents it, and that icebergs lie in wait.

Two histories

Ehrman provides a fairly competent summary of the history of the mythicist ‘movement’ over the centuries, which is a bit surprising, given that he admitted only recently to even becoming aware that such a thing existed. Perhaps he sourced it from somewhere else. However, he left out my own and others’ favorite from the 1920s, Pierre-Louis Couchoud. In the modern period, he brings in G. A. Wells, Robert M. Price, Frank Zindler, Richard Carrier, and Thomas L. Thompson (Acharya S and Timothy Freke/Peter Gandy he discusses only to dismiss). And he did have the good grace to work in reference to myself as someone

seen by many as the leading representative of the view in the modern period. By his own admission, Doherty does not have any advanced degrees in biblical studies or any related field. But he does have an undergraduate degree in classics [actually, my degree is a combined one of classics and history], and his books show that he has read widely and has a good deal of knowledge at his disposal, quite admirable for someone who is, in his own view, an amateur in the field. (p. 17, DJE?)

How he handles my views and arguments, especially in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, will be seen later.

That history Ehrman supplements with another ‘history’, that of mythicists and their books being ignored or summarily dismissed by mainstream scholars. One of these, John Meier is quoted as saying, a single sentence in a four-volume work on the historical Jesus:

[G. A.] Wells’s book, which builds its arguments on these and similar unsubstantiated claims, may be allowed to stand as a representative of the whole type of popular Jesus book that I do not bother to consider in detail. (p. 20, DJE?)

This situation seems to stand in contradiction to the common claim, almost a mantra among historicists, that mainstream scholarship has long addressed the mythicist case and thoroughly demolished it. It’s difficult to see “demolition” in the comment by Meier, or in any of the other books which Ehrman mentions as ignoring or dismissing those who theorize that Jesus never existed. For a comprehensive examination of the refutation of mythicism since the beginning of the 20th century, see my 3-part website article “Alleged Refutations of Jesus Mythicism” beginning at: http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesRefut1.htm

To be continued . . . .

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10 Comments

  • 2012-04-13 06:54:23 UTC - 06:54 | Permalink

    This series of posts is being indexed and linked in a new page I have created in the right hand column of this blog: Earl Doherty’s Response to Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?

    Look under Pages there.

  • John
    2012-04-13 14:28:47 UTC - 14:28 | Permalink

    “There is not a crack in this facade where Jesus could gain a foothold. In the past lie God’s promises of eternal life, and the first action on those promises is the present revelation by God to apostles like Paul who have gone out to deliver the message. Jesus’ own proclamation of eternal life, or whatever he may have proclaimed, has evaporated into the wind. Here is a prime example of the very exclusion of a human, historical Jesus.”

    This kind of thinking on Paul’s part is understandable regardless of the question of whether or not Jesus was historical or a myth, since he elsewhere states that he did not receive “the gospel which was preached by me … from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ” (Gal. 1:11-12). Paul’s information came from what he believed was the resurrected spiritual Jesus (1 Cor. 15:45) and the OT (Rom. 1:2). This Jesus may as well be called a myth.

    And anyone who was in any way, to whatever degree, influenced by Paul, built on this foundation. This includes most of the NT (which most people seem to be the most interested in discussing), which I agree is essentially about a mythical Jesus, however elaborated or historicized. I don’t think Earl is imagining this, even if I don’t agree with his conclusion that there was therefore no historical Jesus.

    This is because I’m more interested in the “other gospel” that Paul complains about (Gal. 1:6-7), the other “Jesus” and “different gospel” that was preached by the Hebrew super apostles (2 Cor. 11:4-5; 11:22-23). I’m more interested in its origin and what traces remain of its development through the centuries. I’m interested in Eisenman’s idea that the Dead Sea Scrolls provide us with a more accurate picture of what “Messianism” was like in Judea in the first century than most of the NT, and that the Essenism described by Josephus, Philo and Pliny was what “Christianity” was before Paul came along.

    I’m interested in how the preachers of this other “Jesus” and “different gospel” reacted to Paul (and anyone like him), such as in the epistles of James and Jude and later writings pertaining to the Ebionites (and even -and most importantly- the Dead Sea Scrolls). I think this is where the focus should be in looking for an historical Jesus (if there was one). From what I’ve gathered online,this is not an area that Earl or Neil have addressed to my satisfaction.

    • Roger Parvus
      2012-04-13 22:01:10 UTC - 22:01 | Permalink

      To find that “other gospel” and “other Jesus” I think we need look no further than the book of Revelation.

      • John
        2012-04-14 02:40:53 UTC - 02:40 | Permalink

        “To find that “other gospel” and “other Jesus” I think we need look no further than the book of Revelation.”

        Why “no further than” the book of Revelation? While it is arguable that Revelation has a first century non-Pauline origin, the same can be said for the Gospel of the Hebrews, so why not also look there?

        I think that this was not only an early gospel, but perhaps even the first, and that Mark was the Pauline gentile response, and that Matthew and Luke later combined the two.

        This explains why patristic sources regarded the GH as an incomplete Matthew, as well as the odd and seemingly distorted similarities of the Transfiguration scene in Mark and the Emmaus Road scene in Luke with information about James in Paul, the GH and Hegesippus.

        Though the latter source is dated from the mid to late second century, this isn’t much later than early witnesses for the NT gospels, and he is said to have drawn “occassionally on the Gospel of the Hebrews, on the Syriac Gospel, and particularly on works in Hebrew, showing that he was a believer of Hebrew stock, and he mentions other matters as coming from Jewish oral traditions” (EH 4.22). He is therefore an excellent mile-marker in the evolution of the Hebrew super apostles’ “other Jesus.” And his Jesus, like the one in the GH, was a human being.

        But we can go back even futher, if we include the Dead Sea Scrolls. It’s too much to discuss in full here, but a case can be made that these include writings of pre-70 “Ebionites.” I don’t think there is anything “wacky” about this idea. It has always struck me as quite plausible, even when only considering the more obvious similarities, such as both groups being messianic law keepers, led by someone called the Righteous One, described as “the poor” who practiced “the Way” and belonged to “the New Covenant” and settled in a place called “Damascus.” Add to this the fact that they interpreted some of the same scripture that the NT uses (though with different results) and dealt with a law breaker who raised his own congregation on lies. That’s too much, and only the beginning of the similarities, really. I’ve never understood why more people don’t take these similarities more seriously.

        And whether or not there is an “historical Jesus” in the Scrolls, there is a “Branch of David” and “Messiah,” who is associated with the Righteous One/RighteousTeacher, and there is an expectation of “seeing” salvation (literally “yeshua”).

        All this is debatable, but I think this is the kind of stuff we should include in the debate of the question an historical Jesus.

        This article gives a great summation of Eisenman’s theory of Christian origins, and it saves me a lot of trouble trying to explain what is admittedly a complicated subject.

        http://roberteisenman.com/articles/d_last_column.pdf

        • Roger Parvus
          2012-04-24 00:06:30 UTC - 00:06 | Permalink

          John,

          Sorry for my delay in responding. Right now my job is only allowing me a free hour or two on weekends to devote to my favorite hobby.

          By “look no further than” I meant that one can find right in the book of Revelation all that is needed to plausibly identify Paul’s Corinthian opponents. Revelation’s gospel, in my opinion, corresponds remarkably closely to what Paul’s Corinthian opponents were pushing. We know in general that they based their preaching on “visions and revelations” (2 Cor. 12:1) of a grandiose nature (“loftiness of speech”- 1 Cor. 2:1), and this of course is what Revelation is all about. But when chapters 1 through 4 of 1 Corinthians is set alongside Revelation, especially its chapters 20 through 22, the gospel of Paul’s opponents comes into focus even in some of its particulars: It was the gospel of the thousand year reign of Christ and the new Jerusalem. To illustrate:

          In 1 Cor. 4:8 Paul writes:

          “Are you satiated yet? Have you become rich yet? Have you started reigning without us?” (1 Cor. 4:8)

          By saying, “Are you satiated yet?” Paul is mocking his opponent’s belief in a new Jerusalem that will supposedly possess trees of life that bear twelve kinds of fruit, yielding a different one each month of the year (Rev. 22:2). And by saying “Have you become rich yet?” he is laughing at their belief that the kings of the earth will supposedly bring “the treasure and the wealth of the nations” (Rev. 21:26) to the new Jerusalem. And his “Have you started reigning without us?” is making fun of the “thrones” (Rev. 20:4) that will supposedly be there for the elect who “will reign with him for a thousand years” (Rev. 20:6). Paul’s gospel was not about abundance of food, wealth, and thrones. These are visible, material things and he would not have been impressed by them even if they were to last for a thousand years. He looked for the eternal, invisible, spiritual things of heaven, not an earthly reign of Christ on earth.

          1 Cor. 3: 12-13:

          “No one can lay down a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, the work of each one will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove what sort of work each has done.” (my emphases)

          The meaning of this passage comes out when set alongside Revelation’s grandiose talk about the new Jerusalem’s walls of jasper (Rev. 21:18), streets of gold (Rev. 21:21), and foundations decorated with precious stones: “the foundations of the city wall were decorated with every precious stone… jasper… sapphire… chalcedony… emerald… sardonyx… carnelian… chrysolite… beryl… topaz… chrysoprase… hyacinth… amethyst” (Rev. 21:19-20). To Paul these things too are visible, material and, as such, are destined to be burned up like the rest of this world. And on that day the preaching of a gospel about a new Jerusalem built with gold, silver and precious stones will be proven worthless too.

          1 Cor. 3:16:

          “Don’t you know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?”

          With this comment Paul was correcting the belief put forward in Rev. 21:22 that God and Christ will dwell in the new Jerusalem as its temple: “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” Again, the same objection applies: It is a kata sarka hope to look for some future dwelling of the spiritual God in a material city, even one made with gold, silver and precious stones. God’s Spirit dwells in the faithful as his temple, and what one should hope for is the consummation of that indwelling by the leaving behind of the flesh and the destruction by fire of the material world. By its materialist gospel the Revelation community was destroying the real temple of God, and Paul’s warning is directed to them: “If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person; for the temple of God, which you are, is holy” (1 Cor. 3:17).

          1 Cor. 3:21 – 4:6:

          “Let no one boast about men… One should regard us (i.e., apostles) as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Now it is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. It is a very small matter with me that I be judged by you or any human court… It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes… Then each one will have his praise from God…. that none of you may be puffed up in favor of one against another. ”

          Paul’s resents the praise being given to other apostles by his Corinthian opponents, their boasting about them, and their judgment that Paul doesn’t measure up. Paul’s resentment strikes me as the kind of reaction he might have to Revelation’s claim that “the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (Rev. 21:14) will be inscribed on the foundation of the new Jerusalem. His name will not be one of the twelve. Worldly honor, of course, including getting one’s name inscribed on a material wall, he would regard as kata sarka. What counts is praise from the Lord. And that, he is careful to point out, depends on trustworthiness in preaching the gospel. The determination about which apostles have been trustworthy will only definitively come out when the Lord comes. The implication seems to be that his Corinthian opponents are in for a surprise on that day.

          1 Cor. 2: 1-6:

          “When I came to you, brothers, proclaiming the mystery of God, I did not come with loftiness of words or of wisdom… my message and proclamation were not with clever words of wisdom… so that your faith might not rest on the wisdom of men. Yet we do speak a wisdom to the perfect, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are passing away.”

          Paul characterizes the wisdom of his Corinthian opponents as just “clever words”, a wisdom “of men”, “of this age”, “of the rulers of this age who are passing away”. This description corresponds very well to the kind of “wisdom” that the book of Revelation pushes (See Rev. 13:18; 17:9). In effect, Revelation’s wisdom consists of riddles about the unfolding of events in this world. Holy riddles, Batman! What beast has seven heads and ten horns? Need a clue? See Revelation 17:9-14. Wisdom for the Revelation community is what is needed to correctly decipher the cryptic contents of its nationalistic visions.

          Paul’s Corinthians opponents are Jews (“Are they Hebrews? So am I!” – 2 Cor. 11:22) But like the people who produced the book of Revelation, their attachment to Judaism is not just a matter of blood. They are still very much Jewish in their beliefs. They sing the song of Moses (Rev. 15:3) unaware that, as Paul puts it, Moses deceived them by putting a veil over his face, with the result that “to this present day the same veil remains unlifted when they read the old covenant…” (2 Cor. 3:14). Moses was in cahoots with “the god of this world who has blinded the minds of unbelievers” (2 Cor. 4: 3-4). And that is why the wisdom of Paul’s opponents is a wisdom “of the rulers of this age who are passing away” (1 Cor. 2:6). It is a wisdom concerned about this material world. The rulers in question are the spirit rulers, the gods who made this material world, with the Creator god of the Jews at their head.

          In summary: Paul regarded the gospel (Rev. 14:6) of the Revelation community as a false gospel (2 Cor. 11:4), and its Jesus as a false one (2 Cor. 11:4). And he regarded the apostles who preached that gospel and Jesus as “false apostles” (2 Cor. 11:13). Perhaps, as you claim, John, there may be things in the extant fragments of Hegesippus and the Gospel of the Hebrews—or even in one or other of the Dead Sea scrolls—that can add to our knowledge of Paul’s opponents. But I maintain that already, just using the book of Revelation, it can be plausibly shown that they belonged to the community that produced that book.

  • mP
    2012-04-13 18:40:31 UTC - 18:40 | Permalink

    Its amazing that Bart dismisses the miracles and super natural type accounts and claims in the gospels as creative theology or writing and yet assumes that the remainder of the stories can be trusted. How exactly or perhaps why does Bart assume any of the Gospels can be trusted ? I am no historian but it seems to me regardless of whether the authors or last major editors were actively writing to deceive, the fact remains someone in the revision history did lie. Given all the writings are based on here say or word of mouth from somebody who knew somebody else and so on, how can any of the accounts be trusted ?

    I havent read all the book yet, but so far Bart has yet to address this for me…

  • Blood
    2012-04-13 23:57:20 UTC - 23:57 | Permalink

    “I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1)

    Pretty hard to construct “history” from a statement like this. Unfortunately, Ehrman and company will never realize that fact.

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-04-14 02:27:57 UTC - 02:27 | Permalink

    ” see my 3-part website article “Alleged Refutations of Jesus Mythicism” beginning at: http://www.jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/CritiquesRefut1.htm

    I have read each word in each line of those three articles, all answers to the alleged refutations of Jesus mythicism. They are all instructive and well organized, and give credit to their author.

    However, I have already directly made some remarks about them, and I find it worth repeating my 2 cents comment here.

    Those articles are massive: No. 1 is 20,800 words long, No. 2 is 10,500 words, and No. 3 is 13,300 words. All in all it’s 44,600 words. Massive is an understatement.

    My comment was that such an amount of text would easily discourage anybody who is not driven by a special interest in the big debate of “Jesus – History or Myth?” The normal temptation would be: Where can I get a summary of the key arguments in these immense texts and spare me the burden of going through them?

    In addition, the layout is discouraging. The text uses a large font, Georgia 19 pts, with NO SPACE between lines.
    This aggravates the feeling in the reader that he has to swallow an enormous unbroken morsel of dissertation, looking rather indigestible from the simple look of it. After having been exposed to this kind of reading once, many may not have the desire to return for more.

    In addition, this hyperdense layout, without ventilation, discourages the ordinary reader with a feeling of suffocation even before starting. Worse, at the end, it makes it hard on memory to remember the salient points, without the help of a detailed table of contents at the top of the article, and not allowing some air to circulate between paragraphs.

    I am afraid that this typographical style of presentation must deter a lot of would-be readers who may not have a lot of enthusiasm, and restrict the spread of its information to a wider readership.

    By contrast, and ordinary reader may have no hesitation plunging in the oceans of text presented by Wikipedia, or the elegant layout of Vridar, or the beautiful WordPress blog of Jerry Coyne’s, or the serious but attractive and breathable layout of Richard Carrier’s own blog at Freethoughtblogs.

    Because of the avalanche of information provided by blogs, the only response for self-preservation against the experience of drowning in the Internet tsunami is a strict elimination for all kinds of personal considerations.
    As Steve Jobs really understood, beauty of design and and elegance of function are paramount in attracting and keeping customers. I suspect this applies even more so to the success of blogs and Internet communications.

    Doubling the space between the lines, putting more care in paragraph breaks and a more judicious use of colors could render those gigantic posts much more attractive, readable, digestible, memorable, and quotable.

    Following the example of Vridar, as a suggestion, would be a good start to increase the chances of these voluminous posts to be read by many who would otherwise tend to ignore or skip them.

  • mP
    2012-04-14 18:21:28 UTC - 18:21 | Permalink

    Why is it Bart fails to explain how Josephus father who is said to be a priest never mentions to his son anything about Jesus. The gospels tell us that Jesus had various incidents including the night of his own death which involved the priests how is it his son never knew of these ?

    – Why is it Bart never acknowledges the apparent Solar worship connection with Xianity from the beginning of time until this very day. In his book when he discusses Pliny the Younger and his line about Christ, he says the Christians were known to get up early to pray. Why does he not say they were praying to the morning sun ?

    – Why does Bart fail to comment on just how much sun and solar imagery is present in Xianity back then and even today ? If there is no solar connection with Jesus then why is there so much solar imagery in the Catholic Church today ?
    – For starters the Vatican itself is built upon an old Mithra site and incorporates many artefacts of the Mithra religion. The Vatican itself points east and uses a Obelisk to Ra as a part of a gnomon.
    – Many positions of the church are themselves of a astrological origin, cardinal, decan, etc.
    – Christian art always paints jesus within a solar orb in its background. How or why did these artists some of whom who worked for the pope also followed this tradition.
    – Many cathedrals all have yellow solar rays surrounding the holy YWHW and other obvious sun allusions.
    – How is Xmas is the winter solstice and Easter is the Spring Equinox, is this a crazy coincidence or what ?
    – Why is the Lords day Sunday if he is not the sun ?
    – Why doesnt Bart address any of these issues instead of taking cheap shots at people like DMMurdoch ?

    – Why does he plain ignore how Pauls language seems a perfect fit for the sun rather than a man ?

    – Why is the language used to describe Jesus returning and a part of heaven a perfect match for the sun itself ?
    I wont include any scriptures, they are easy to find. Surely the overwhelming number of such scriptures, tells the reader something that cannot be avoided. To come to this conclusion one doesnt need to transpose new meanings to words or be aware of something metaphysical. Reading the scriptures literally is enough.

    – Why does he ignore the very rich solar/lunar aspect of the Jewish religion ?
    Even Josephus himself acknowledges that the twelve tribes represent the zodiac signs and he also confirms that there was a zodiac wheel in the temple in Jerusalem. We also have other archeological sites many with photos on the internet which contain mosaics and more of the zodiac ?

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-04-14 10:49:55 UTC - 10:49 | Permalink

    As a footnote, here is “Ehrman’s Folly”, by Ben Goren, a trumpet player who supplements his gigs with Web design and photography, and has enough energy left to blow out a forceful polemic about Jesus mythicism, when the occasion is ripe.

    This is a full-fledged answer to Bart D. Ehrman’s refutation, one that is vibrating with the passion of youth and grabs readers from the first line to the last (in single-spaced lines!).
    Not your usual poised dissection of biblical quotes from silver-haired theologians, but a rebuttal breathing fire, delivered as a powerful harangue that concedes nothing to the learned professor. Ben is of course itching to play his trumpet while waiting for the next gig.
    A unique contribution by a performance artist:

    ….trumpetpower.com/pub/Ehrman’s%20Folly.html’s%20Folly.html’s%20Folly.html [Link broken, 17th August 2015 — Neil. Try http://trumpetpower.com/pub/Ehrman's%20Folly.html )

    (Wondering whether he’s got any connection to another famous Goren, Charles, who was the first grand theorist of contract bridge.)

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