2012-06-09

Blogger Godfrey’s Reply (1) to Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey of The Jesus Process ®©™

by Neil Godfrey
English: A view of the cloister garden and sta...

English: A view of the cloister garden and statue of Jesus from one of the walkways at Holy Spirit Monastery in Conyers, Georgia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Maurice makes sure I know my place when he twice identifies himself as Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey and nine times identifies me as Blogger (Neil) Godfrey. The “Internet”, for Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey, is a hotbed of “hopelessly unlearned people”, “Christian apologists and determinedly anti-Christian atheists” who are “impervious to evidence and argument”, in “closed-minded” “rebellion against traditional Christianity” and critical scholarship, “uncontrolled and apparently uncontrollable”. So naturally Casey does not write as Blogger Casey but as Emeritus Professor, and does not write a blogpost for a blog but “an essay” for “The Jesus Process ®©™”.

Now I have no problem at all with any person having earned an honourable title, and I do respect the title of Emeritus Professor. But I am quick to lose respect for anyone who indicates they believe they are above public accountability when they (1) willfully denigrate another person in a conversational or intellectual exchange of views, and (2) expect their title to be enough to tilt an argument or assertion in their favour.

And there lies Maurice Casey’s (and his fellow Jesus Processors) problem with the internet. The internet has forced scholars, many of whom once cloistered in their “quite different world” from the rest of humanity, to make a choice: they can seek to remain cloistered and irrelevant to all but their peers or embrace the full implications of the communications revolution. He blanket denigration (echoed by his colleague R. Joseph Hoffmann) can scarcely disguise an elitist contempt for “the masses”, the “public”, for the necessary uncontrolled untidiness of a democratic society. Public intellectuals do have a public responsibility and with the internet the public can make its views known more widely. That appears to be a notion too frightening for some scholars (by no means all) to take seriously.

So when Casey quotes Earl Doherty saying that his aim was to reach “the open-minded ‘lay’ audience” (p. viii of Jesus, Neither God Nor Man), he cannot conceive that such an audience as encountered on the internet could be viewed as “open-minded”. Doherty writes that he intended to reach the open-minded people beyond the confines of academia but Casey implies that such an audience simply does not exist on the internet:

This [Doherty's reference to "the open-minded 'lay' audience"] is as inaccurate as possible. The internet audience is ‘lay’, but it is not open-minded. . . . (Casey, Mythicism, A Story of Bias, Incompetence and Falsehood).

(No need to point out the obvious irony that Casey’s “essay” was written for internet publication! And of course if one of us “of the internet” disagrees with him we are by definition “closed minded”.)

Now cloisters that safeguard academic freedom are very much a good thing, an absolute necessity if we are to maintain any hope for a free society. But the internet is nothing other than “the rest of the world” who have been given new ways of communicating about the research of those in those cloisters. This applies especially to research that touches on ideologies central to the lives of many such as evolution, political, social and religious studies. Suddenly it is hard for even the most isolated of scholars who are engaged in those disciplines that overlap with public ideologies to remain ignorant of what “the rest of the world” is thinking about their work.

Scholars in some disciplines have responded magnificently to this revolution. Evolutionary scientists are steadily feeding the wider public with answers to religiously spawned doubts and demonstrations of the truth of evolution. Blogs, websites, discussion forums, books and articles discussed and made available via the web. Others have failed disastrously and, instead of confidently addressing doubts, react defensively, fearfully, even fraudulently, and with bitter personal attacks on the unwashed outsiders. The Jesus Process © typifies the latter.

Its intellectual pillars make no secret of their fear:

The failure of scholars to take “the question of Jesus” seriously has resulted in a slight increase in the popularity of the non-historicity thesis, a popularity that — in my view — now threatens to distract biblical studies from the serious business of illuminating the causes, context and development of early Christianity. (Hoffmann, Controversy, Mythicism, and the Historical Jesus)

One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist. . . . The presentation of this view has changed radically in recent years, led by hopelessly unlearned people. It has two major features. One is a rebellion against traditional Christianity . . . The second is . . . the internet . . . uncontrolled and apparently uncontrollable. (Casey, A Story of Bias, Incompetence and Falsehood)

So for Hoffmann only “a slight increase” in the popularity of mythicism is in evidence yet for him this is enough to seriously threaten the calling of biblical studies, while for Casey mythicism has experienced a “massive upsurge” in popularity on the internet and is accordingly hopelessly ignorant and anarchic.

So according to the big cheeses of the The Jesus Process © the debate is between elitist scholars composing essays and the riff-raff public blogging posts.

One advantage of elitism is that it enables those so honoured to apply simplistic labels to outsiders but never to themselves. An elitist’s mind is too complex and sophisticated to be labelled. So though Hoffmann and Fisher are what ‘lay’ people would call atheists, they will take umbrage at outsiders so describing them. No, their nonbelief in “god” (whatever that means) will be couched in complex qualifications and nuances that no-one will really understand, and they will disdain the thought of being called “atheist” because such a word is far too simplistic to capture the totality of all the thought that has gone into their deeply personal positions, and so forth. (I base this on past discussions with some of them.) But Casey will not hesitate to label people in internet-land “atheists” and with that label impute to them hostile and hateful attitudes. If a mythicist was once a fundamentalist Christian then Casey will continue to apply the ‘fundamentalist’ label to that person (even if in the form of “former-fundamentalist”) and with it impute to them an anti-scholarly or anti-rational bias.

Such is the depth of Casey’s (and Fisher’s and Hoffmann’s) “character analysis” of their opponents. And “character analysis” of mythicists is of primary importance to them — in particular to Casey and Fisher. Try to find what Casey argues in response to mythicism and one is soon lost in a morass of character attacks and finds nothing more substantial than tangential (and often misleading) references to mythicist arguments. That does not stop him from repeating his own arguments at some length. That’s the typical model: character attack, tangential (and often misleading) reference to a mythicist point, detail one’s own argument.

Let’s see how it works. First, his treatment of Doherty.

First, we must know that Doherty was once a Catholic. Though he became an atheist at age nineteen Casey will find opportunities to hurl both the “atheist” and “Catholic” labels at him to denigrate his “attitudes” or “motives”, and by implication, his arguments. (Casey is careful to conceal from readers his own convictions and past associations, informing readers more about what he is not — he is no longer an adherent of orthodox Christian faith — than what he is.)

Casey cannot allow Doherty’s obviously extensive reading and ten pages of a selected bibliography to be awarded any favours (even Bart Ehrman found room enough to commend Doherty on his wide reading of the relevant scholarship) so writes

When he has read any critical scholarship, Doherty is hopelessly out of date. For example, he announces that Mark contains ‘many anachronisms. It is generally agreed, for example, that there is no evidence for synagogues (in which Jesus is regularly said to preach) in Galilee forty years prior to the Jewish War. . . . ‘ This relies on out of date scholarship, which Sanders saw straight through, and which critical scholars no longer believer (sic) in. [here Casey adds a citation of Sanders, Kloppenborg and Charlesworth] By 2009, Doherty should have known better, including the archaeological remains of synagogues at Gamla, Herodium and Masada, and the Theodotus inscription . . . which records the building of a synagogue in Jerusalem.

I don’t know if Casey’s age is starting to impact on his intellectual faculties or if he is simply lazy and doesn’t really know the details of the references he cites or if he thinks he can get away with nonsense and falsehoods with an “internet” audience he despises as “impervious to evidence and argument”, but one can begin to see why he does fear the internet. It took me ten minutes on the internet to follow up the references he cites to support his assertions in the above passage. Result, the internet and its various search functions enabled me to access enough of the works of Sanders, Kloppenborg and Charlesworth whom he cites here to see that Casey is fobbing off on to his “hopelessly unlearned” internet readers outright falsehoods.

Firstly, Casey’s response is a non sequitur to Doherty’s point. Doherty observes that “it is generally agreed” among the scholarly community that there is no evidence for Galilean synagogues in the time of Jesus. Casey does not deny that this is generally agreed among his peers — he does not even address what is “generally agreed” on the matter.

Secondly, Casey’s cited bibliography of Kloppenborg relies upon works dating as early as 1934, many others from the 1980s and 1990s and only one from as late as 2000. There is not a single reference to any recent archaeological finds that would overturn the generally held understanding that there is no evidence for synagogues of the type depicted in the Gospels in Galilee in the time of Jesus. Sanders clearly adds nothing to this state of affairs. And as if to beg for ridicule and scorn, Casey cites archaeological sites of synagogues that are nowhere near Galilee and one (Gamla) that is in Galilee but that is — in the works cited by Casey — dated to the later part of the first century.

Note the method: Doherty is “hopelessly out of date”, critical scholars can “see straight through” what Doherty cannot and no longer believe what Doherty thinks they do, Doherty “should have known better”. So Doherty is portrayed personally as a dolt. “True scholarship” “sees through” things, and can cite lots of archaeological cites and literature that is said to demolish Doherty’s point. All the while Casey’s point is a non sequitur to what Doherty actually wrote and his citations are, on closer examination, applied mendaciously or with irresponsible — certainly unscholarly — carelessness. The sort of thing one might expect from a “hopelessly unlearned” internet blogger.

Such is the opening salvo of the mighty Emeritus Professor against his internet based mythicist target.

Many of Casey’s other criticisms of Doherty are briefly addressed in Earl Doherty’s Response to Maurice Casey. Earl may return to them for elaboration after he completes his answer to Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? I will return with another post addressing a further criticism of Casey’s that has since drawn in Hoffmann and Fisher to Casey’s defence on The Jesus Process © Blog, and of course a response to Casey’s treatment of Blogger Godfrey.

  • alnitak
    2012-06-09 03:26:02 UTC - 03:26 | Permalink

    It is of surpassing interest that members of The Jesus Process © don’t address the factual basis of the historical Jesus effectively. If their case is so strong that those who doubt or deny the historicity of Jesus are merely flakes, why don’t they focus on in-depth evidence-based rebuttal? As you point out here, when they appear to get down to the evidence, their case gets weaker. Where is the scholarly acumen and skill at communication that rebuts the simple null hypothesis that Jesus is simply a character from a religious tableau?

    • ROO BOOKAROO
      2012-06-09 10:19:01 UTC - 10:19 | Permalink

      Some skill of communication collapses under the spontaneous impulse for bad-mouthing.
      I was watching a site (transit of Venus) where a younger crowd was enjoying venting their feelings at one another.
      Some of their verbatim comments follow, all very amusing and delightfully appropriate:

      BAD MOUTHING – EXAMPLES

      “And you sir, are an immature individual. Why do they let people like you live on this planet?”

      “Retards like this is what makes people lose faith in humanity”

      “Shut up & go back to your cave”

      “Have you been in an American high school lately?”

      “Wow you really are dumb, aren’t you? I’m going to go ahead and give you the benefit of the doubt on this one”

      “You are an idiot.
”

      In 18th and 19th century England, the art of insult was brought to an exquisite level of sophistication, and its elegance and abundance have been lost for lack of practice and lack of higher education.
      Now, feelings are too often stripped of their fancy dress and brought out in naked shape.

      If you simply imagine dressing up the spontaneous denigrations of those young souls with some more abstract words, for instance replacing the high school diploma with a Ph.D. degree, etc…you could very quickly spot the same sentiments expressed in more elaborate form by the members of the “Jesus Process” troika in the choice belittlings and disparagings addressed to their innocent commenters.
      I am pretty certain that Tim Widowfield would agree.
      I particularly liked “Shut up and go back to your cave”, a favorite of the great Manitou.

      Some scholars and would-be scholars love to spawn blogs where they can play the roles of great providers of esoteric knowledge and lord it over an audience of uneducated admirers.
      They can get fooled by their own act, becoming so blinded in their conviction of absolute pre-eminence that they reach a point where they become incapable of recognizing or tolerating a legitimate critique.
      Yes, then, no doubt, their scholarly acumen, or what is left of it, simply breaks down. This is when the put-downs and aspersions come in handy.

      • Steve Byrne
        2012-06-10 03:29:30 UTC - 03:29 | Permalink

        This is where I would say the late,great Hitchens comes in. He may have been quoting someone else but i heard him say ” a gentleman never insults anyone accidentally “.

        • ROO BOOKAROO
          2012-06-10 04:17:01 UTC - 04:17 | Permalink

          Exactly. Hitchens was the last representative of that glorious insulting-as-art tradition. His move to the States gave him a little more scope for his talent that was no longer available in Britain, reduced from its role as world power to that of fighting for its own survival.
          Political correctness has put a serious damper on the skills of creative insulting artists.

  • 2012-06-09 05:35:54 UTC - 05:35 | Permalink

    Student: How do we know what you say is true?
    Professor: Because I have a Ph.D.

    • ROO BOOKAROO
      2012-06-09 14:07:43 UTC - 14:07 | Permalink

      In the same spirit, let’s not forget Anna Nimus’s brilliant observation:

      If you ask a biblical historian for evidence that Jesus Christ existed, they will show you their Ph.D.

      (“My Work Has Been Serf-Reviewed”, 2012/06/03)

  • 2012-06-09 07:46:43 UTC - 07:46 | Permalink

    Hi Neil, your post illustrates how we are undergoing a new Christian reformation, with the internet proving as revolutionary and transformative for Christian faith as the printing press was in the time of Luther and Calvin.

    The case study you present of Maurice Casey’s foolish insulting treatment of Earl Doherty is highly instructive. Just as the Catholic Church was riddled with corrupt priestcraft at the time of the Reformation, and was incapable of logical argument against Protestants, the True Believers of today have to resort to ad hominem abuse in order to ratchet up their evangelical rhetoric about the historical Jesus.

    The incentives to become a True Believer or a rational skeptic are quite different. Rationality has an ethical focus on evidence, whereas belief has a selfish focus on career advancement. Many academics assess that questioning the historicity of Jesus is a bad career move. This has proven wise in the short term for some, but they gain the world at the cost of their soul.

    Just today I see the redoubtable Blogger McGrath pours scorn again on Robert Price by means of the device of asking what would be needed to believe in the resurrection. This debate can best be understood by reference to George Orwell’s prophetic description in 1984: “In the end the Party would announce that two and two made five, and you would have to believe it. It was inevitable that they should make that claim sooner or later: the logic of their position demanded it. Not merely the validity of experience, but the very existence of external reality, was tacitly denied by their philosophy.”

    Believing in the physical resurrection is like accepting that 2+2=5. Both require a will to accept the absurd, to allow political power to be more important than logic and evidence, and to go along with the social herd by accepting that things that are obviously untrue may be justified by some higher mystery.

    • 2012-06-09 08:59:40 UTC - 08:59 | Permalink

      In his letter to the Church of Scotland in 1650 Oliver Cromwell wrote:

      “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.”

      Good advice for all of us.

    • Steve Byrne
      2012-06-10 03:42:41 UTC - 03:42 | Permalink

      The currupt priesthood of today is not found in the RCC, in this sense. Of course pederasty, but thats a different subject. Today the indelibledogma come from the elite scholars who know of where they speak because, um, THEY KNOW OF WHERE THEY SPEAK! Lets burn some mythics.

  • vinnyjh57
    2012-06-09 10:46:41 UTC - 10:46 | Permalink

    I like to think that I am a reasonably bright person. I graduated in the top 5% of my class from law school and I am an expert chess player. I took and passed the test for Mensa. I was able to follow Hawking’s A Brief History of Time without an advanced degree in physics. I have been able to follow the logic of Steven Pinker, Daniel Denett, Ronald Dworkin, Joseph Stiglitz, and Jared Diamond as well as other scholars without advanced training in their fields. I cannot do what they do, but I can generally understand how they use the evidence to reach their conclusions. For some reason, however, I’m not capable of figuring why New Testament scholars find the evidence so convincing because I don’t have enough training.

    • 2012-06-09 11:24:50 UTC - 11:24 | Permalink

      Well put. I think several of us would absolutely love New Testament scholars to seriously engage with mythicist arguments. But the more I think about it, is this really possible? It is surely clear that the historicist position rests upon an assumption of historicity, and the bulk of the attempted arguments to justify this are little more than ad hoc question begging exercises. And Carrier was absolutely correct to attack the academic peer pressure to conform to the HJ view.

      To take the mythicist arguments seriously is the first step to turning one’s back on a discipline for which so many have dedicated their lives and that also has such overwhelming community demand. The best outcome for these scholars is that it will leave us with a historical Jesus who is ultimately irrelevant to the question of Christian origins. That view can only be accommodated within the broader matrix of historicist views.

      Mythicism really is a threat to the New Testament studies establishment.

      That’s just how it is. Evolution really is a threat to the Abrahamic faiths. Many believers have found solace by kidding themselves that they can believe both (there really is a little angel in each of those genes making them mutate just so, or a big god in the sky throwing meteors at earth to steer the right environment conditions to bring about the right results). Maybe if more Christians can bring themselves to follow Albert Schweitzer’s advice to build their faith on a metaphysic and not history then there will be room for mythicism and religion to exist side by side, too.

      • Grog
        2012-06-09 11:39:27 UTC - 11:39 | Permalink

        As a paradigm, the HJ construct has been immensely useful. It has, in fact, been the framework for advances in our understanding of of early Christianity, even allowing for the emergence of a viablle origin theory sans the man Jesus. It stands to reason, though, that those who have built their careers advancing theories based on HJ paradigmatic assumptions would be reluctant to relinquish what has been so kind to them and their careers. As they say, paradigms fall one funeral at a time.

        • Jer
          2012-06-10 03:18:16 UTC - 03:18 | Permalink

          It isn’t just that (careers that have been made vs. a paradigm shift that upends the entire field). If it were JUST that then they’d be fighting, but there would be pushback from within the field. Every academic discipline has this happen at some time or another – an “unpopular” theory arises, the Old Guard scoffs at it, denigrates it, pushes back against it, but tenure and free inquiry eventually mean that a hypothesis that is “unpopular” but of higher explanatory usefulness than the common view will eventually win out.

          There’s more to this inability to even engage the idea of a Jesus who isn’t based ultimately on some historical teacher than the usual slow pace of the Academy going on here. You cannot be a mainstream Christian believer without believing that a historical teacher named Jesus who was born of a woman named Mary wandered around Galilee in the first century and eventually was crucified by Pontious Pilate. Every mainstream Christian faith embraces some form of the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed in one fashion or another – and these creeds categorically state that to be a Christian you MUST believe in a real, historical figure as the origin of Christian teachings.

          If you propose something that goes against that – a spiritual figure based on Jewish ideas who was “revealed” to a small cult of followers rather than actually walking among them teaching – you are striking at the very root of Christianity. The creed does not say “I believe in a spiritual avatar of God who was crucified in the heavenly sphere by the rulers of the age”. It says “I believe in Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified died and was buried”. The very basic beliefs of Christianity are embedded in the idea that a real man named Jesus existed and died on a cross. Turn that into metaphor or “revealed wisdom” and you have something very different from what a mainstream Christian believes today.

          And then we get into the fact that most of these NT studies departments in the US are parts of colleges founded by religious believers and for religious believers. How long would the field of NT studies exist in the US if the conventional wisdom became “well there never was a real man named Jesus who touched off Christianity with his teachings – he’s a composite figure of a number of different Messianic cult leaders mingled with extrapolations from Scripture by early Christians”? In my opinion, not very long – and that’s just a pinprick worth of mythicism there.

          There is no way that Christian believers are going to be accepting of any idea that doesn’t ultimately trace Christian origins back to a single teacher figure – no matter how flawed that teacher figure might be in modern eyes. And there is no way that a professor of NT Studies is going to propose something so radical that it would threaten the very existence of funding for his field.

          And so of course they can’t seriously argue against it either. To seriously argue against a position, you have to understand it deeply enough to be able to find real flaws – not the kind of superficial nonsense that Ehrman tries to score points with in his book but real, actual flaws in the argument and the evidence. But to do that you have to read the theory with an open enough mind that your opinion could really be changed by the argument and its evidence. If you can’t do that, you can’t start to poke meaningful holes in it. And believing Christians can’t afford to do that – and professors of NT Studies DEFINITELY can’t afford to do that. It could cost them their jobs!

      • Michael Kingsford Gray
        2012-06-10 17:15:59 UTC - 17:15 | Permalink

        …would absolutely love New Testament scholars to seriously engage with mythicist arguments.

        At least their academic qualifications and intelligence are sufficient for them to predict that such a course would end their cosy parasitic sinecures.
        (As I suspect that they know, no so very deep in their hearts, or bowels, that they are supporting the unsupportable)

    • 2012-06-09 16:00:38 UTC - 16:00 | Permalink

      Well, New Testament scholars can see that their field is broken,

      Take Larry Hurtado’s excellent blog.

      Blogger Hurtado writes ‘“The Markan community has failed to provide even the semblance of a control on readings of the Gospel of Mark. . . . .The reason for this is that virtually every scholar who discovers a Markan community behind the Gospel . . . discovers a different Markan community…..”

      The Markan “community” is “the product of highly speculative, viciously circular and ultimately unpersuasive and inconclusive reading.”

      All you have to do is substitute ‘historical Jesus’ for ‘Markan community’ and you have described the situation perfectly (after all, there may even have been a Markan community!)

  • Bob Carlson
    2012-06-09 12:35:38 UTC - 12:35 | Permalink

    Seems like Casey should be overjoyed that Carrier is offering these Internet lay people a course on the historicity of Jesus.

  • Blood
    2012-06-09 13:51:16 UTC - 13:51 | Permalink

    It is the height of pretentious hypocrisy for an atheist to use another writer’s atheism as evidence of prejudice or incompetence in religious studies. Casey and Hoffmann have done it, and quite a few hypocrites have expressed the same criticism of Dawkins and Dennett. There are some serious cases of denial lurking out there.

  • proudfootz
    2012-06-09 21:53:39 UTC - 21:53 | Permalink

    I agree with the comment that while the ‘Jesus myth’ hypothesis’ is no real threat to christianity it *is* perceived as a threat by members of the ‘historical Jesus’ community, who respond in the tried and true fashion of chest beating, threats, and pooh flinging.

    While this may not pass as a reasoned response to an idea, it does tend to confirm our common ancestry with monkeys and the ultimate truth of evolution.

  • 2012-06-10 07:02:40 UTC - 07:02 | Permalink

    You may be interested in this posting I recently placed on FRDB directed at one of those pontificating ignoramuses there never seems to be a shortage of:

    Quote: Originally Posted by Legion
    “The entirety of your claim rests simply on the fact that virtually all specialists in any field which potentially relates to historical Jesus studies reject your view. But this can all be swept under the rug by an appeal to an unfalsifiable construct: hegemony. It needs no defence, no evidence, because any critique of the notion can be dismissed as a product of the very hegemony claimed.”

    I’m going to horn in on this back-and-forth debate which is going nowhere, that I can see (though I side with spin). As I see it, yes, historical Jesus studies since Reimarus have been steadily dismantling the old hegemony, the one still in evidence in evangelical circles. But that does not mean that they have not been busy building their own new hegemony. You scoff that such a view is simply a mythicist tactic to make the concept “unfalsifiable”: as long as we can put some kind of hegemony in view, we can explain why the members of it don’t agree with us.

    You know what your problem is? You’re not on the front lines. You’re not on the receiving end of, let alone grappling with, the hostility, the vitriol, the vacuous and fallacious counters, the rabid ad hominems, the foaming-at-the-mouth responses of supposedly professional and qualified scholars in their antagonism toward mythicism. That right there is a dead giveaway. This is not a scholarly debate that’s going on, whether it involves “specialists” or not. It is a desperate defence of the new, reduced hegemony which the historical Jesus scholarly community has adopted, standing at the line it has drawn in the sand.

    The very fact that such ‘specialist’ academia has withdrawn all the way to the point where it is willing to postulate an HJ who was a virtual non-entity, who didn’t say or do almost anything of what the Gospels tell of him, who garnered virtually no notice outside his personal circle—to postulate that, rather than give the idea that no such figure ever existed any consideration, any time of day, and to attack such theories and those who hold them in the most disgracefully unprofessional manner…well, that tells you something. It certainly tells me something.

    This goes far beyond wanting to defend its own evidence (which it rarely even attempts to provide) or to calmly and effectively dispute and disprove the opposite evidence (which it almost never seems to undertake or manage to do but only declares has been done), it goes much deeper than that. Call it personal investment, call it fear of retaliation, losing face, call it aversion to radical new paradigms (history is certainly full of that). Or call it a new hegemony.

    After all, despite all those conflicting and perpetually unresolved quests for the real Jesus, at least we got one thing right! He existed! Maybe even one of our interpretations is correct, we just don’t know which one. But that he never existed at all? Who would want to think that we’d all been ‘had’ to that extent and for so long? No way! (Oh, the shame! The embarrassment! The waste of an entire career! The lost book deals, the A&E Specials!) No, no! This is where we make our stand!

    Have you read Bart Ehrman’s new book, the long-awaited defense of historicism, finally supplying the proof that mythicism hasn’t got a wooden leg to stand on? Do you think he’s accomplished that? He’s been inundated by a flood of negative reactions, including from some historicists, who think–and have demonstrated–that his ‘case’ is a joke, a piece of blatant incompetence, not even addressed to a scholarly audience. Have you read my ongoing detailed response to the book on the Vridar blog? (If you haven’t, you shouldn’t be given the time of day in a discussion like this on a forum like this.)

    This (and let’s throw in that clown McGrath, or the Triage Trio of Hoffmann, Casey and Fisher who are desperately trying to keep historicism on life support on their Jesus Processed blog while slaying the mythicist monster) represents your “ubiquity of experts who find our evidence for the historical existence of Jesus so convincing”? Ehrman is at least even-tempered, even when casting ad hominems about agenda-driven mythicists, but Hoffmann & Co. would choke on the vomit they spew at mythicism and mythicists, accompanied by very little in the way of rebuttal to our arguments. This is professional, unbiased scholarly conduct by open-minded academics who have abandoned all semblance of hegemony? Their behavior speaks for itself.

    Quote:
    “I know what hegemony means. Which is why your claim that it applies here is so laughable. Social control? Of whom? And what culture? The “West” (i.e., the various countries where most, but not all, scholarship on the subject takes place)? Yes, the universities across Europe and America are (un?)consciously using their status to impose their conception of the historical Jesus…wait, sorry, there isn’t any such conception…so we are left with merely one of their few points of agreement: that a historical Jesus exists. Jesus eaten by dogs? Unproblematic. The NT generally unreliable? No problem. Jesus was cynic philosopher, or an egalitaritan, or failed messianic leader, or a backwater nobody who we only know about because of Paul? All acceptable. But threaten the “hegemony” by declaring we don’t have enough evidence he even exists? All of the sudden this vast hegemony which spans continents rises up to quash such revolutionary thinking and imposes their ‘cultural values’.”

    Of course there’s a conception. The conception that such a figure existed, even if he has been reduced (by necessity) to a bare-bones figure, about whom nothing can be known. If this character cannot be defined in any consensus manner, all options open, with nothing in the Gospels representing what he actually was or did, where is the evidence for his existence—or to put it a more pertinent way, what constitutes the evidence that his existence, his bare existence, is so irrefutable, so sure, so sensible, that a theory within scholarship interpreting the evidence differently for two centuries is nothing but a sham and the refuge of incompetents and charlatans?

    Since Ehrman has clearly disappointed, since McGrath is a joke, since Hoffmann & Co. spend 90% of their time insulting and shitting on mythicists, we still need someone to put forward that overwhelming and problem-free evidence for the existence of Jesus, and to rebut with solid substance once and for all the arguments put forward by mythicists.

    How about you, Legion? Are you up to it? Or have you too put your blind trust in professionals who have all the right credentials and would never be guilty of bias, fear or vested interest? Why not start with my response series to Ehrman on Vridar? Right there, you can see both sides of the story. You can start a new thread here on FRDB, detailing the wonder and wisdom of Ehrman’s case and the faults and fallacies of mythicism. Don’t let us down, now.

    Earl Doherty

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