2012-06-26

The New Apologists: R. Joseph Hoffmann and friends on a rescue mission for the “Jesus of history”

by Neil Godfrey

Ken Humphreys has posted his response to The Jesus Process (C) trio: The New Apologists: R. Joseph Hoffmann and friends on a rescue mission for the “Jesus of History”. . . .

A trio of Jesus myth denouncers from the world of academe have rushed into the breach opened up by the failure of Bart Ehrman’s final solution to the problem of Jesus’ existence (Listen, he was a small-time deluded doom merchant who thought he was king, so there). Professors Hoffmann and Casey, and a young academic who worked for Casey, Stephanie Louise Fisher, have come to Ehrman’s support with a few dubious arguments in favour of a historical Jesus and a visceral attack on Jesus mythicists as a thoroughly bad crew. . . . .

  • 2012-06-26 11:35:41 UTC - 11:35 | Permalink

    I’ve never gotten around to reading much of Ken Humphreys’ writing, and I guess he’s been guilty of much the same for me. Perhaps he never even heard of me. But if he read Casey’s article, he must surely have encountered quite a few paragraphs of Casey’s attack on someone named Earl Doherty. Curiously, while he enumerates several other names as the objects of Casey’s ire in that article (D. Murdock, Tom Harpur, Neil Godfrey, Steven Carr, and Robert Price), and even discusses some of that ire against them, I am nowhere to be seen, or heard. I guess that’s what comes of keeping too low a profile….

    Um, who am I again?

  • 2012-06-26 16:46:45 UTC - 16:46 | Permalink

    Sorry Earl, no slight intended. You’re up there with the angels, your books have pride of place on my shelves, and I’ll be pleased to add your name to the list of reprobates. I know that you’re more than able to offer Casey words of advice without any help from little me.

  • Anna
    2012-06-27 00:24:18 UTC - 00:24 | Permalink

    Here’s a response to Maurice Casey’s post in Joseph Hoffmann’s blog at Acharya’s forum, which links to Earl Doherty, Kenn Humphreys responses as well. That’s how I found this website:

    Response to Hoffmann/Casey Defense of Ehrman’s book
    http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=4144

  • Jason Goertzen
    2012-06-27 02:51:12 UTC - 02:51 | Permalink

    My favourite bit:

    1996

    ‘It is no longer possible to dismiss the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as the “marginal indiscretion of lay amateurs”.’

    – Hoffmann

    2012

    “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …”

    – Hoffmann

    I love it when someone is refuted by his own words! :)

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-06-27 03:14:40 UTC - 03:14 | Permalink

    Humphreys’s article is simply terrific. Something that he alone, and nobody else could have written.

    But I am still somewhat embarrassed by his labeling of the famous trio as “denouncers” of the Christ Myth.
    The term “Christ Myth” is in itself pretty ambiguous. The initial radicals were not supporting the “Christ myth”, they were supporting the theory that “Christ is a Myth”. They were “Jesus’s existence deniers” or “non-historicity advocates,” in short “Jesus deniers” or “historicity deniers”, as Arthur Drews called them, or as Hoffmann himself correctly calls them in the quote at the top of the article. In a perverse kind of way, mythicists could consider Christian believers as the de facto “Christ Myth” supporters since they are the ones to give credence to the mythical story of Christ.

    In 1946 a gifted Englishman, Archibald Robertson published “Jesus – Myth or History”, a complete survey of the raging dispute between the old-school “historicists” and the “Myth Theory” upholders, for whom he coined the term “mythicist” now become pretty famous.
    He never once used the term “Christ Myth” in the whole book, but referred only to the “Myth Theory”, whose advocates, exponents, or expounders are battling against its critics or opponents.
    But in his foreword Robertson offers some wise words that have still resonance in today’s disputes:

    “It was my fate once to engage in a debate in which I maintained, from a Rationalist point of view, the basic historicity of Jesus, and to be sarcastically advised afterwards by an obviously sincere ” old stager ” in the audience to join the Salvation Army ! The explanation of this bitterness is, I suppose, that the mythicist (i.e., the upholder of the theory that Jesus is a myth) feels that he is fighting under an unfair disadvantage.

    He has discovered, he thinks, an important truth which, once admitted, would knock the last nail into the coffin of the established religion. For that very reason he does not get fair play from professional theologians. They either meet him with a conspiracy of silence or, if that is impossible, treat him as an amateur whose lack of academic status (which they themselves owe in part to their ” safe ” views) robs his opinion of any value.

    Such treatment naturally makes the mythicist bellicose; and as against the professional theologian one cannot blame him. Unfortunately some mythicists are apt to be equally bellicose against fellow Rationalists from whom they are separated only by a secondary difference, and to see the cloven hoof of the ” apologist ” in any hypothesis of an historical Jesus, however shadowy, problematic, and useless to the real apologist such a hypothesis may be.

    This is the greater pity because, as we shall see, the divergence between recent historicists and recent mythicists is not insurmountable. I do not, of course, wish to convey the impression that ill-temper is confined to one side, or that it characterizes all mythicists. The late Thomas Whittaker was a model controversialist; and the works of Paul Louis Couchoud are such a joy to read that their style alone must have made many converts. There is no reason why those of us who have no stake in the historicity of Jesus should get ” short ” with one another over an academic issue.”

    Robertson used the term “mythicist” 25 times in his book, as against 8 times for “historicist”, but he never used “mythicism” even once, nor “historicism” for that matter. Because for him the real battle was not between abstract concepts but between personalities, usually the “historicist” versus the “mythicist”.

    There is no “mythicism” per se. Because, let’s face it, the “Christ Myth Theory” has no manifesto, no positive agenda, no bible, no credo, no council, no banner, no church, and it undertakes no cash collections. It is not a movement, not a party, and certainly not a “religion”. Only soft-headed people may like to imagine such abstractions. It is a collection of real historians, thinkers and writers, each one a strong individualist, totally opposed to the regimentation of any Church, and who reject the original Jesus story of the original Christian literature chock-a-block with its supernatural legends and myths. Not only do they reject the religion based on the Jesus memory, but they deny his very existence.
    There is room for a lot of people in that crowd: There can be a Noam Chomsky, or a Richard Dawkins, but each one retains his idiosyncratic feelings, opinions, likes and disgusts. Christopher Hitchens, for example, seemed to have remained a “historicist”. Jesus was for him, just another crazy fanatic. He was in the league of the Enlightenment acitivists such as Voltaire or Baron d’Holbach, more concerned about the vicious consequences of Christian morality and the Church’s power than the marginal, inconsequential question of Jesus’s historical existence. His brother, Peter Hitchens, another fine brain, became, sharing most of the same genes, a Church of England liberal believer. Go figure!

    This is why the phrase “Christ Myth denouncers” sounds somewhat odd. Are those critics simply messengers come to the market place to declare Christ Myth Theory proponents guilty of some moral turpitude, and unworthy of public recognition?
    No, they are also judges passing a sentence, and even would-be executioners. They are not just messengers, they are activist opponents. They want to eradicate, crush, and annihilate their victims. Keep them out of universities, out of the largest publishing firms, even out of the best amphitheaters of the country.

    Albert Schweitzer reviewed the state of the historicists’s efforts in retrieving Jesus’s life from the barnacles of legend, in his “Quest of the Historical Jesus – A Critical Study of Its Progress from Reimarus to Wrede” (1906), that is for the period 1774-1905 period. Not long thereafter, Arthur Drews countered with a pendant for the radicals side with his “Denial of the Historicity of Jesus” (1926), covering the period from the French Dupuis and Volney to the Dane Georg Brandes, that is 1784 – 1925. Drews listed and analyzed a mix of about 35 radicals and liberal critics.

    Drews’s initial list was vastly expanded by Humphreys in his book and Website “Jesus Never Existed”. He produced his modern list in an article on “scholars” which used to be called “The End is Nigh” but is now more clearly labeled “A History of Jesus Denial”. His long list is still mischievously entitled “Demolishing the Jesus Myth – A History” (Humphreys is often reluctant to spill out the real names of the goods). It is in fact a more complete list of Jesus Deniers, going back also to the pioneers of the Enlightenment, Reimarus, Voltaire, Volney and Dupuis, but this time going all the way to Thomas Thompson (2006) and Roger Vikllund (2008).

    The radicals of yesteryear have become “mythicists” on the way, thanks to Archibald Robertson, but they have remained at heart the “Jesus deniers” of Arthur Drews, and that is what they wish to remain.

    • RoHa
      2012-06-27 09:42:17 UTC - 09:42 | Permalink

      ‘the “Christ Myth Theory” … undertakes no cash collections.’

      Big mistake. That is why I, for example, don’t get terribly worked up about the issue. Show me how to make some serious dosh out of it, and I’ll be fully on board.

  • 2012-06-27 07:18:17 UTC - 07:18 | Permalink

    “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …”

    – Hoffmann

    “I love it when someone is refuted by his own words! :)” Me too, but this was never said; gloat later and look at the source. Quoting out of context is one thing; picking every twelfth word to get a sentence to say what you want is different. Is Mr Humphreys, whose incomprehensibly bad book ranks a whopping #7,420,569 on Amazon this careful when reading the texts he is supposed to refute?

    • reyjacobs
      2012-06-27 10:45:44 UTC - 10:45 | Permalink

      So you aren’t denying the first quote from ’96? ‘It is no longer possible to dismiss the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as the “marginal indiscretion of lay amateurs”.’ Instead, the 2012 quote, stating your PRESENT position, is the one you deny! Very interesting!

    • Jason Goertzen
      2012-06-29 04:28:44 UTC - 04:28 | Permalink

      I want to be sorry for not checking the accuracy of the quotes…but it’s unreasonable to expect the reader to verify every quotation. That’s what makes disingenuous misquoting a problem: it’s misleading *because* readers expect honest citation. The reader shouldn’t be expected to check, unless something sounds fishy–and that’s the problem: Humphrey’s fictional quotation did sound awfully consistent with how you’ve been arguing lately in your responses to mythicists’ writings.

      If not an actual quotation (despite his passing it off as one), it was at least a fair take-away with some of what you’ve been saying. One problem is the manner in which you have been saying it–padding out every though with long sentences that have tangents within tangents. Your pretentious writing style makes it exhausting to find out what you actually mean, which is invariably something relatively trivial or non-committal anyway. So it’s clear his misquoted you, but it’s not clear his *misrepresented* you.

      If he has, and if you’re going to take issue with being misrepresented, why not do us the favour of stating your position clearly? Do you even have a position to state? Or is that too banal? I have begun to suspect that you don’t have anything substantial to add to the historicity discussion. When you strip away the parts where you are heatedly criticizing others, or childishly comparing credentials (including Amazon rankings, of all things), what’s left sounds suspiciously like “I’m not sure,” veiled in academic jargon. If you’ll excuse my honesty, it comes across like someone who starts talking in hopes that he’ll find something worth saying along the way.

      Finally, in another comment here, you wrote: “Sorry to interrupt the fest. Carry on with the support group[.]” You should be careful throwing stones like that, given how you censor the comments section of your own blog–allowing critical comments to be posted only if you have some witty retort. If I’ve been a bit blunt here, it’s because I’m disappointed at your having censored a far milder, far more courteous critique there.

    • ROO BOOKAROO
      2012-06-30 21:44:48 UTC - 21:44 | Permalink

      Nobody “picked every twelfth word to get a sentence” out of Hoffmann’s sayings. It’s his usual style of distortion. No more than I paid any attention to his “punctuation” as he blatantly declared in another comment.

      When you review the totality of Hoffmann’s accusations and condemnations of mythicists’ ideas, you quickly get the gist of his feelings and biases. From the masses of his texts a spirit of bitter animosity emerges, a “kerygma” of his acidic message.

      So the sentence put together by Humphreys was nothing more than an innocent recapitulation of Hoffmann’s vindictive message. Humphreys could have been a little more prudent by phrasing it along the lines of “It is clear that Hoffmann claims/thinks/feels that the non-historicity thesis is a disease spread by amateurs”. But no essential misinterpretation of Hoffmann’s ideas was committed.

      Note that Hoffmann plays the same game of fabricating pseudo-citations. He invented Humphreys’s “amusing greeting ‘Welcome to Salvation’ ” to his site “Jesus Never Existed”. Only to be forced to admit “Thanks: it does in fact say Open for Salvation.” But again, in this case, Hoffmann had rendered the karygma of Humphreys’s thesis. No real misinterpretation either in this case.

      Hoffmann loves to play a game of micro-picking some little inconsequential words of his opponents, or focus on some irrelevant factoids in order to deliver pointed barbs that he finds extremely clever, usually distortions or tangentials remarks of no consequence.
      But with his style of writing abundantly and giving unrestricted vent to his spontaneous flow, he tends to completely forget what he’s written himself, and finds himself even more guilty of misquoting and laziness in double-checking his assertions.

  • Badger3k
    2012-06-27 10:32:10 UTC - 10:32 | Permalink

    Ooooh – someone’s ego is pricked – why should anyone care about Amazon rankings – is this a new “my pen is bigger than your pen is”?

    • Grog
      2012-06-27 11:47:29 UTC - 11:47 | Permalink

      It’s telling that he even bothered to look it up.

  • GakuseiDon
    2012-06-27 10:49:21 UTC - 10:49 | Permalink

    Ken, where does your quote by Hoffman “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …” come from?

    • reyjacobs
      2012-06-27 11:02:06 UTC - 11:02 | Permalink

      Doing a google search trying to find it on Hoffman’s blog. I didn’t find that exact statement, but found one that means the same. Mythtic Pizza and Cold-cocked Scholars

      “We can just ignore the provocative ignorance of Myers, Jerry Coyne, Neil Godfrey, and Richard Carrier et al. like so many mosquitoes.

      Except mosquitoes are tough to ignore, and some carry Dengue and Malaria…The disease these buggers spread is ignorance disguised as common sense. They are the single greatest threat, next to fundamentalism, to the calm and considered academic study of religion, touting the scientific method as their Mod Op while ignoring its application to historical study.”

      • GakuseiDon
        2012-06-27 16:49:18 UTC - 16:49 | Permalink

        How do criticisms of ignorant provocation by Myers, Coyne, Godfrey, Carrier et al suggest a change of position from “It is no longer possible to dismiss the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as the “marginal indiscretion of lay amateurs”? The article starts with Hoffmann noting that “atheist blogger and full-time loudmouth P Z Myers” applauding Carrier’s “coldcocking” of Ehrman’s book. Hoffman makes the following point:

        “This suggests that the sewer of internet-facilitated nastiness that exists, among other places, in the US Congress is also fully flowing into what used to be called academic discussion. Except this isn’t discussion and it certainly isn’t academic.”

        Later in the same article, Hoffmann makes the statement you give. Here it is, with the full context:

        “But more to the point, the endorsement of amateurs by amateurs is becoming a rampant, annoying and distressing problem for biblical scholarship—one that apparently others in my discipline think will go away by assuming, as I do not, that saner heads will prevail. We can just ignore the provocative ignorance of Myers, Jerry Coyne, Neil Godfrey, and Richard Carrier et al. like so many mosquitoes.

        Except mosquitoes are tough to ignore, and some carry Dengue and Malaria. If the last two years has proved anything, it is that the spawn of the new atheist movement, like Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored. Insult works. Spew works. Faitheist baiting works. What works works.

        The disease these buggers spread is ignorance disguised as common sense. They are the single greatest threat, next to fundamentalism, to the calm and considered academic study of religion, touting the scientific method as their Mod Op while ignoring its application to historical study.”

        You can see that Hoffmann isn’t criticizing “the non-historicity thesis” itself, but loudmouths and ignorance. It seems to me that one can be critical, say, of the work of Acharya S and her “Christ Conspiracy” and still think there is something to the idea that there was no historical Jesus.

        And we still have Ken Humphrey seemingly QUOTING Hoffmann as stating: “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …” Humphreys doesn’t present it as a paraphrase. It is given as a direct quote made this year. Where is it?

        • 2012-06-27 16:54:43 UTC - 16:54 | Permalink

          “ignorant provocation by Myers, Coyne, Godfrey, Carrier” — choice, GDon. Steph, Casey, Hoffmann, McGrath launch the most vile insults themselves and because some of us cannot take their pretentiousness and abuse seriously and have a bit of a laugh to bring them down a peg or two in response, Godfrey et al are “ignorantly provoking” these poor innocents. But you will not find in this blog anything comparable to comparing these people to disease carrying mosquitoes and such. You will find a little sarcasm and humour but you will not find the same vicious slander and libel that TJP have launched with their debut.

          For the record, I have deleted a few comments here that do attack McGrath and others with the same venom they use against mythicists.


          Added since posting the above: GDon, your perceptions of what your opponents think are not well honed. You interpreted my Fight Club post as an incitement to verbal mudslinging, or at least as if I found a thrill in hostile exchanges. Sometimes in your microreading you completely miss the whole point of an argument or a post and even bizarrely think it means the very opposite of what it is in fact conveying. Someone here recently referred to the King in Alice in Wonderland who could not tell the difference between unimportant and important words and accordingly completely lost the plot. It’s not just one post where you display this talent. It has become regular fare from you — hence my reference to you as a Mr Pettifogger.

          • GakuseiDon
            2012-06-27 22:38:30 UTC - 22:38 | Permalink

            Neil, Ken actually QUOTED Hoffmann as stating in 2012: “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …” on his website, to contrast with something that Hoffmann said 16 years earlier. But is this something Hoffmann actually wrote?

        • 2012-06-27 17:20:31 UTC - 17:20 | Permalink

          I see G Don is busy again trying to prove that anti-mythicists have nothing to say that is worth listening to.

          I remember Casey lambasting me for a statement that I had corrected literally one minute after writing the original, which shows the level at which the Jesus Process operate.

          But such personal attacks on me are all really beside the point. (I was amazed to even feature in a web essay supposedly about the historical Jesus by Casey. I had expected it to be about the historical Jesus.)

          The fact that Hoffman has been forced to take on board Casey and his invisible Aramaic wax tablets is an admission that he has reached the bottom.

          Does Hoffman really not blink when Casey tells him that he can relate the exact Aramaic words spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper?

    • 2012-06-27 13:56:02 UTC - 13:56 | Permalink

      I doubt Hoffman thinks that the non-historicity thesis is a disease spread by amateurs. That is so far from his true position that it is astonishing that Humphreys thought it an accurate thing to say.

  • 2012-06-27 17:25:44 UTC - 17:25 | Permalink

    Amazon rankings, huh?

    The book isn’t sold through amazon (go look: it’s listed as an import at the extortionate price of $141.27 (as of today). For five years amazon.com didn’t even list the book. After amazon.com started listing the book some months back it also deleted at least one favourable review from a reviewer who happened to be a publisher himself (and not my one). Go figure!

    Over at amazon.co.uk the book has been listed for longer. It carries five 5-star reviews. But amazon.co.uk. doesn’t supply the book either and lists only a secondhand reseller.

    Care for a different comparison, R.J.H. ?

    Alexa web rankings:

    jesusneverexisted.com
    622,779 Traffic Rank in US: 214,025
    Sites Linking In: 656

    Statistics Summary for jesusneverexisted.com
    Jesusneverexisted.com has a three-month global Alexa traffic rank of 625,933. Relative to the overall population of internet users, its users tend to be between the ages of 35 and 65, and they tend to be childless men browsing from home who have attended college and have incomes between $30,000 and $60,000. While the site is ranked #222,911 in the US, where we estimate that 35% of its visitors are located, it is also popular in the UK, where it is ranked #190,711, and the fraction of visits to it referred by search engines is about 11%. Jesusneverexisted.com is located in the UK.

    rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com
    748,668 Traffic rank in NL: 19,207
    Sites Linking In: 137

    Statistics Summary for rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com
    Rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com’s three-month global Alexa traffic rank is 748,668. The site is relatively popular among users in the city of Sherborne (where it is ranked #138). Approximately 61% of visits to the site consist of only one pageview (i.e., are bounces). The fraction of visits to this site referred by search engines is about 8%. Rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com’s visitors view an average of 1.7 unique pages per day.

    Your move.

    • 2012-06-27 17:33:47 UTC - 17:33 | Permalink

      “childless men”? or men who do not have their children living with them?

    • GakuseiDon
      2012-06-27 22:34:41 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

      Ken, you have QUOTED Hoffmann as stating: “The non-historicity thesis … is a disease spread by amateurs …” on your website. Can you tell us where you got the quote from, please?

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-06-28 00:36:50 UTC - 00:36 | Permalink

    How about another 2,000-word comment?

    WHY R. JOSEPH HOFFMANN’S RAGE AGAINST MODERN MYTHICISTS?

    There’s another suble factor in Hoffmann’s rage against mythicists. It is the loss of prestige and pre-eminence of the leading New Testament scholars.

    .

    I. The First Wave of Skepticism Against the Supernatural in the Christian Story and the Divinity of Jesus Christ

    Historically, a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum and to the current dispute between historicists and the so-called “mythicists”, essentially “Jesus existence deniers”. Archibald Robertson, in his fine book “Jesus: Myth or History?” (1946) rightly sensed that the historical dimension of the dispute was most significant.

    Skepticism about the New testament writings started early, with the first critical battle focusing against the supernatural religion and the divinity aspect of Jesus. 
The first critics were not proposing any theory, any new religious ideas. They had no agenda. They were primarily reacting to the creation of fables concocted by Christian propagandists, by objecting to them and denouncing them. 
Hoffmann, laudably, produced exciting books about Marcion (1982-4, his Ph.D. thesis), the first major fabulist and propagandist, and about Celsus, Julian, Porphyry, all first-class Roman critics. Those studies are wonderful credits to a “serious” NT scholar.

    These initial skeptics were never the first to invade the Forum. It was the Jesus followers who came to the market place with their placards and banners proclaiming:

    - “Yes, We Can!”, “Yes, We Can! Follow Jesus!” “Yes, we can save mankind from its sins by coming to Jesus!” “Follow Jesus! and Be Saved! For ever! Or else, watch out…”

    • How come?” asked the skeptics, in astonishment. “Why can this unknown, bedraggled, and illiterate vagrant Jew save us? And save us from what? Who is he, after all? What’s the proof of all this new nonsense?”

    And all through the first centuries the doubters became more and more vociferous against the insidious creep of Christian propaganda.

    - “Because he is the Son of God, that’s why! Jesus’s come down to earth to save us from our sins! Period. Follow Him or go to Hell!”

    - “How so? And what sins are you talking about? How come God deigns to send us a son? Why should we believe this kind of high-falutin story?”

    And so, throughout the history of the West, skeptics continually kept denouncing the godliness of Jesus.

    - “Baloney, Jesus is not divine. Jesus cannot be divine. The whole story is a fabrication, a fraud, a scam, the greatest con game perpetrated on mankind. A justification for the existence of the Church, its power, its wealth, its intolerance and fanaticism.”

    Throughout the centuries, skeptics kept hammering on the claims of Jesus’s divinity.

    - “This cannot be a son of God, no way. He was just a man, a preacher, a fanatic, some kind of trouble-maker. He had delusions about himself. The end of the world? Sheer insanity. Some mental disorder about a mission ordered by God.”

    This skepticism went on for 1,500 years, without making any decisive progress, remaining an exciting, but marginal, dangerous, protest.

It took the invention of printing to break the stranglehold of the Jesus fanatics on the access to their holy books.

    Once translated (in spite of the death penalty) and the sacred texts examined, doubts became more urgent and loud, spread by the infant press. 


    The explosion of the Enlightenment and the diffusion of their books, articles, essays, letters, and sermons — with the likes of Voltaire, Baron d’Holbach, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Robert Taylor, Richard Carlile — threatened the whole control that the Christian Church had established on Western society.

    What we now retrospectively call “historicism” became the hallmark of the skeptics during the whole 1750 – 1900 period.

    .

    II. The Second Wave of Skepticism Against the Existence of Jesus: From Historicism to Radicalism

    Once a solid base of critical review had been established by the Enlightenment thinkers, a second wave of criticism emerged, and it was directed at the existence of Jesus itself.

    The skeptical doubters of the Enlightenment, became even more concerned:

    - “Pray, tell us, about this son of God, did he even exist? Looking at the texts, it’s not that sure at all!”

    The skeptics, studying more and more books — with better and better glasses allowing them to read the fine prints and deciphering published manuscripts and new-found scrolls — were becoming “radical”, going beyond their critique of Jesus’s divinity, now assumed secured, to become “Jesus existence deniers”.

    All this new development was truly remarkable: the first phase of skepticism had done a very good job in denouncing the divinity of Jesus. A huge series of “Lives of Jesus” had followed, inundating the market. They had transformed Jesus into a Romantic hero in the 19th century mold, another “Great Man” shaping the history of mankind in glorious fashion, in fact “the greatest of men” as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ernest Renan, then Albert Schweitzer started rhapsodizing. It’s a theme that can be found everywhere, even today.

    - “Jesus, of course, not a god, but what a guy! The greatest influence on world’s civilization, the greatest moralist the world has ever known, nobody else comes up to his ankles, society couldn’t function and behave without him, and so on..”

    But the first-wave skeptics hadn’t gone far enough. David Strauss’s doubts gave way to Bruno Bauer’s new and outrageous kind of skepticism: radicalism. Jesus was a fiction. He had never existed. The Gospels took us for a ride. The radical Dutch school followed suit:

    - “And what about that Paul? What a strange character! Not so sure about him, either”.

    First-wave skepticism about the genuineness of Christian writings and the phony divinity of Jesus had gone as far as it could, the “radicals” now striding on front stage and raising doubts not just about the existence of Jesus, but also that of Paul.

    Skepticism had entered a second phase. Not only was the so-called divinity of this illiterate Jew denounced as a pure scam, but the radicals insisted that Jesus’s very existence as a mere, earthly man had been fabricated by the pious story-tellers. The whole Christian story looked more and more like a giant forgery.

    In the last part of the 19th century, this radical new thought exploded in public. The anthropological studies of James Frazer on primitive religion paved the way: Jesus probably never existed. Just another “dying-and-rising God”, to be repeatedly eaten by his followers as a sacrament. The whole story was a scam, not just the “Son of God” bit, and the phony salvation promise, but the very historicity of the character.

    This opened the gates to an avalanche of key books in the 1850-1950 period. Here is a short list of the most significant titles, all classics (only 40 out of thousands):

    Bruno Bauer, 1852 A Critique of the Gospels and a History of their Origin

    Charles Bradlaugh, 1860 Who Was Jesus Christ? What Did Jesus Teach?

    Robert Ingersoll, 1872 The Gods

    Walter Cassels, 1874-9 Supernatural Religion – An Inquiry Concerning the Reality of Divine Revelation”



    Bruno Bauer, 1874 Philo, Strauss, Renan and Primitive Christianity



    Bruno Bauer, 1877 Christ and the Caesars

    Allard Pierson, 1878 The Sermon on the Mount

    Thomas William Doane, 1882 Bible Myths and their Parallels in Other Religion

    John E. Remsburg, 1884 Bible morals: twenty crimes and vices sanctioned by Scripture

    Edwin Johnson, 1887 Antiqua Mater: A Study of Christian Origins



    Willem Christiaan [W. C.] van Manen, 1890, 1891, 1896 Paul



    John MacKinnon [J. M.] Robertson, 1900, 1910 Christianity & Mythology

    John MacKinnon Robertson, 1903 Pagan Christs

    George Robert Stowe [G.R.S.] Mead, 1903 Did Jesus Live 100 BC?



    Albert Kalthoff, 1904 The Origin of Christianity: New Contributions to the Christ Problem



    William Benjamin [W. B.] Smith, 1906 The Pre-Christian Jesus: Further Studies on the Origin of Christianity

    John E. Remsburg, 1906 Six Historic Americans [Paine, Jefferson, Washington, Franklin, Lincoln, Grant, the fathers and saviors of our Republic, Deists and Freethinkers]



    John E. Remsburg, 1909; The Christ: A critical review and analysis of the evidences of His existence. (Reprint 2007, The Christ Myth)

    Peter Jensen, 1909 Moses, Jesus, Paul: Three Variations on the Babylonian Godman Gilgamesh



    Arthur Drews, 1909 The Christ Myth



    Arthur Drews, 1910 Did Jesus Exist?



    Arthur Drews, 1911 The Legend of Peter

    Gustaaf Adolf [G. A.] van den Bergh van Eysinga, 1912 Radical Views about the New Testament

    Shirley Jackson Case, 1912 The Historicity of Jesus

    William Benjamin [W. B.] Smith, 1912 Ecce Deus: Studies of primitive Christianity



    Arthur Drews, 1912 The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus

    Frederick C. Conybeare, 1914 The Historical Christ; or, An investigation of the views of Mr. J. M. Robertson, Dr. A. Drews, and Prof. W. B. Smith

    John MacKinnon Robertson, 1917 The Jesus Problem: A Restatement of the Myth Theory



    Arthur Drews, 1921 The Gospel of Mark, a Witness against the Historicity of Jesus 



    Paul-Louis Couchoud, 1924 The Enigma of Jesus

    Maurice Goguel, 1925 Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History?



    Arthur Drews, 1926 The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present

    Joseph Wheless, 1926 Is It God’s Word? An Exposition of the Fables and Mythology of the Bible and the Fallacies of Theology

    Joseph Wheless, 1930 Forgery in Christianity



    L. Gordon Rylands, 1935 Did Jesus Ever Live?

    Paul-Louis Couchoud, 1939 The Creation of Christ: An Outline of the Beginning of Christianity

    Rudolf Bultmann 1941 The New Testament and Mythology (Transl. Kerygma & Mythos, 1948)

    Archibald Robertson, 1946 Jesus: Myth or History?

    Joseph McCabe, 1948 A Rationalist Encyclopedia

    William Benjamin [W. B.] Smith, 1957 The Birth of the Gospel: A Study of the Origin and Purport of the Primitive Allegory (posthumous publ.)

    And so, suddenly, the new brand of “radical” skeptics turned on their erstwhile allies, the skeptics of the first wave — who were now labeled “historicists” — for their timidity towards the new ideas.

    As Archibald Robertson so aptly described, a new divide was created: the second-wave skeptics, the radical Jesus deniers, no longer fighting the classical apologists, now were battling against the rear-guard defenders of Jesus’s existence… the historicists.
    Skeptics had spent centuries attacking Jesus, the Church and Christianity, uninterested in the marginal and inconsequential question of whether Jesus had really existed, and, lo and behold, they were suddenly pushed in the role of the last bastion in the defense of Jesus’s existence.

    - “Jesus non-existing? What a joke! Look, he’s better known, better documented than Alexander the Great, better than Julius Caesar, better than Napoleon, or Theodore Roosevelt!”

    The historicists, clinging to the memory of the first-wave pioneers, were becoming, willy-nilly, the new defenders of the core of the Jesus legend. This provided the final ironical twist of history: The historicists, now facing the radicals, had become the NEW APOLOGISTS.

    .

    III. The Rage of R. Joseph Hoffmann Revealed

    This strange group of “historicists” welcomed all the refugees, and absorbed the drop-outs and emigrants from the faith. R. Joseph Hoffmann is the epitome of that last-guard activism.

    For the whole of the 20th century, historicists had controlled universities and main publishing houses. Mythicists were allowed their splash in public, a factor of curiosity, but they were relegated to the fringe and the marginal existence of freethought free-lancers, without a job assuring them of a stable income.



    How could you generate cash and support a family as a “Jesus existence denier”? All the way from Thomas Paine and Roger Taylor, all through the 19th and 20th centuries, radical skeptics had to rely on sensational journalism, giving lectures and conferences, writing history books, making friends with obscure publishers for survival like Richard Carlile, or holding librarian jobs.

    But with the new techonology of communication, the Internet and self-publishing, a new era has dawned, and a second stranglehold broken. Radicals and Jesus deniers, for the first time in history, can at last reach the large public and produce a voice that can be heard, and even make some money by setting up a little commerce on the side — books, ebooks, conferences, DVDs, films, lectures, trips to Mexico, Israel, Italy, Greece, or Egypt, tapping an immense market of working people eager for easily digestible popularizations of the new ideas on religion, without the arcane and rebarbative apparatus of “serious” scholars — and plain begging for donations, in the old-fashioned Christian way.

    It is this feeling that academic biblical scholars, including the most gifted ones (among whom Hoffmann certainly lists himself), are losing the control of the research that they had long monopolized through the control of the great university libraries, their Ph.D. degrees, and their expensive professional journals.

    Suddenly, thanks to the Internet, a tsunami of commentaries is drowning the landscape, and the academic scholars are suddenly appalled and frightened by this new “single greatest threat, next to fundamentalism, to the calm and considered academic study of religion.” (So dixit Hoffmann)



    Not only is the new voice growing beyond all expectations but it has become unstoppable. The Great Manitous of the field, like Hoffmann, are losing their prestige and pre-eminence. Worse, some brave souls do not shy from ridiculing their know-it-all pomposity.



    Which is why these academic scholars have faithfully kept to the original skepticism of the first wave, satisfied with their critique of Jesus as a Godman, but stubbornly clinging to their fundamental belief in Jesus as a historical figure.



    In the process these descendants of the first-wave skeptics turned against their own offshoot, the radicals, the Jesus existence deniers. The First-wave skeptics had been the real McCoy, the original unbelievers. And, lo and behold, their modern avatars in the second wave had become, by force of unpredictable circumstances, the “New Apologists.”

    In the new cacophony, the voices of the sophisticated experts are getting muffled. This is what is really tormenting the likes of Bart Ehrman and R. Joseph Hoffmann. The self-selected experts of New Testament studies no longer control the public debate. Jesus deniers are being heard in larger numbers. Bart Ehrman and Joseph Hoffmann are forced to acknowledge the new landscape, and to make a public effort to salvage their credibility.

    Did Jesus Exist?” Bart Ehrman, in his recent book, was not capable of convincingly dealing with his own question, and is getting trounced all around as an easy butt of cynical criticism.
    Hoffmann thinks that he can do far better. His “Jesus Project” went nowhere, and now his “Jesus Process” is sinking into an abyss of insults and vituperations (what he calls “doing irony”), and with a motley crew, has turned into a farce. 


    His last resort would be to attempt one grand, definitive, “refutation” of mythicism, something that eluded Bart Ehrman, as Hoffmann has mischievously pointed out. Should we all be holding our breath waiting for that epoch-making book? Will it ever appear? And can it be the knock-out “refutation” Hoffmann is dreaming of?

    Make no mistake, Hoffmann’s personal anchorage in Catholicism explains his fondness for his beloved Jesus.

    But there’s also, barely muted behind a grating barrage of ironical putdowns, the anxiety of academic desperation — the Barbarians are again at the gates of Rome.

    This gnawing presentiment of a new turn in the direction of research and publication, and the bitter feeling of the Great Manitous losing control of the conversation are significant factors in the ill-disguised rage of Hoffmann against the current breed of Jesus deniers.

    Hoffmann may well be justified to be worried. Given the exponential speed of Internet diffusion, in a few decades, the mythicists’ notion of the non-existence of Jesus — that the Jesus story had all been just that, a fiction — may well become accepted, like a Richard-Dawkins meme, as a commonplace fixture of Western culture, exactly as it took time for Darwin’s new concept of evolution by natural selection to become accepted.

    • 2012-06-28 01:24:10 UTC - 01:24 | Permalink

      It took the invention of printing to break the stranglehold of the Jesus fanatics on the access to their holy books.

      Once translated (in spite of the death penalty) and examined, doubts became more urgent and loud, spread by the infant press.
The explosion of the Enlightenment and the diffusion of their books, articles, essays, and sermons — with the likes of Voltaire, Baron d’Holbach, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson — threatened the whole control that the Christian Church had established on Western society.
What we now retrospectively call “historicism” became the hallmark of the skeptics during the whole 1750 – 1900 period.

      Interesting observation. The printing press not only helped Protestantism, it also helped spread the idea of denying Jesus’ divinity. What was once radical before the printing press is now a respectable position to hold (e.g. denying Jesus’ divinity). What, I wonder, is the analogous invention in the modern era to the printing press? Will this produce a comparable paradigm shift in 100 years?

    • 2012-07-02 22:10:01 UTC - 22:10 | Permalink

      Roo Bookaroo can you either repost this to the Biblegeek Listern Discussion group on Facebook or give me permission to post it to that forum? Thanks, Steven

      • ROO BOOKAROO
        2012-07-04 02:14:04 UTC - 02:14 | Permalink

        I had not noticed your request.
        I am not on Facebook.
        Sure, go ahead.
        Any chance that you can be posting a link.
        I may use it for a future magazine article in the States, slightly expanded and improved, but this may not be a prejudice, I hope.

        When I think of Hoffmann, I am reminded of the old salute ancient Roman gladiators used to address the Emperor before combat:
        “Ave, Caesar, qui morituri te salutant” (Heil to Caesar, those who are about to die are saluting you)

  • ROO BOOKAROO
    2012-06-28 02:22:26 UTC - 02:22 | Permalink

    To: Neil Godfrey

    I am annoyed by slight mistakes, misspellings in my comment. Nothing dramatic, but irritating to any anal-retentive perfection maniac.

    This is due to the fact that the window for composing a comment is so narrow, and does not expand in length, which makes re-reading very difficult.

    Richard Carrier’s new blog has a nice Preview function, that works a bit like Amazon. Any chance to have such a feature installed on this blog? That would be a great plus.

    Meanwhile, I could repost my corrected comment here, and you could substitute it to the previous first-draft one.
    Is that conceivable, or should we just let it slide this time?

    The misspellings are not dramatic, but a bother.
    Especially when the whole diatribe is directed at Hoffmann, who is himself prone to laziness when it comes to double-checking, editing, and accuracy.

    By the way, I have found convincing evidence that Bart Ehrman must have used his graduate students to do some of his research for his book.
    Nothing reprehensible, after all, that is one good reason to get graduate students to do some learning. But, in his pride, he flatly denied it.

    Here is why:
    Remember the flap about the Pliny Letter, No. 10?
    I have found that in some ancient discussions of the Roman witnesses, that letter was indicated as Pliny (Letters. X). This is why the research assistant was misled into believing it was “Letter, No. 10″.
    But when you are used to 19th and 20th century numbering with Roman numbers, as in “X, 96″, or Gibbon, V, you immediately recognize that the “X” refers to the 10th BOOK, not the 10th letter, and the “V” refers to Gibbon’s fifth book.
    That Ehrman didn’t catch it is proof, in my eyes, that the info was transmitted to him as such, with the wrong interpretation, and that it he did not himself pick up the source reference.

    This is just another evidence that those top NT scholars rely too often on graduate help in digging out their material. Again, nothing wrong about it, the graduate students are flattered to help and gain the goodwill of the Great Manitou, but it is the dissembling of this fact, when a major mistake has been spotted and publicly denounced, that throws a shadow on their reputation.

    • 2012-06-28 06:02:15 UTC - 06:02 | Permalink

      Hi Roo, there are many things I’d like to change with the blog. But I am using the default wysiwyg WordPress offering and “what you see is what you get.” One day when I have more free I would like to look at other options. Meanwhile, the interim alternatives that have been suggested to me would mean I would have to change my URL address (as far as I understand) and I am not keen on doing that.

      If someone posts a list of corrections to their post, either to me directly or as a response to their post here, I have always been happy to make the corrections in the original comment. (I think, Roo, I have a number of times edited a few of your comments to add line spacing between paragraphs for easier reading — as I do very occasionally edit a comment even without being asked if I think its readability can be enhanced by an improved layout.)

      • ROO BOOKAROO
        2012-06-28 06:33:14 UTC - 06:33 | Permalink

        So can I send you right now by posting a new comment, the slightly corrected essay on Hoffmann’s rage, that you can substitute for the older version now in the page. I have slightly expanded the list of titles, because I feel this is a good opportunity for the few readers to made aware of the immense variety of writing on the historicity-mythicism debate in the 1st half of the 20th century.
        When I compare it with the products of Ehrman and the paltry “Jesus Process”, Marx’s famous quip about history repeating itself as farce does come to mind.

        I thank you for any spontaneous editing you’ve provided to my meager comments. The death of professional editing is one consequence of the new mode of communication.

        • 2012-06-28 06:38:13 UTC - 06:38 | Permalink

          Yes you can. Or normally just post it as a reply to your original comment with an explanation at the top and either Tim or I will replace your original post with it.

        • 2012-06-29 07:37:52 UTC - 07:37 | Permalink

          Have been traveling again so not able to make any changes till now. Would need more time than I have to resize the font, sorry. For what it’s worth, another reader sent the following suggestion:

          “The computer I’m using at the moment has Windows 7. If Roo is worried about misspellings, etc., he could type up the response in an editor such as Word and copy and paste it to the comment box. If the comment is larger than the window, I just hit the upward arrow key on my keyboard after pasting the whole comment, and the reply window then expands to show the whole post. Then it’s easy to make any further corrections, if necessary.”

  • 2012-06-28 03:19:24 UTC - 03:19 | Permalink

    I’ve responded to Hoffmann’s “The Humphrey Intervention”

    The comment is awaiting moderation; here it is for reference:


    Hoffmann: I apologize for my error: I should have known better—and I do. Buggers do not spread disease. Probably an autocorrect for ideas.

    Here’s the original quote from 23 April:

    We can just ignore the provocative ignorance of Myers, Jerry Coyne, Neil Godfrey, and Richard Carrier et al. like so many mosquitoes.

    Except mosquitoes are tough to ignore, and some carry Dengue [fever] and Malaria. If the last two years has proved anything, it is that the spawn of the new atheist movement, like Alex Forrest in Fatal Attraction, will not be ignored. Insult works. Spew works. Faitheist baiting works. What works works.

    The disease these buggers spread is ignorance disguised as common sense. They are the single greatest threat, next to fundamentalism, to the calm and considered academic study of religion, touting the scientific method as their Mod Op while ignoring its application to historical study.

    Since “ignorance” stands in apposition to malaria and Dengue Fever in the above tirade, the point seems to have been that Coyne, Godfrey, Carrier, et al. are pests who carry a “disease” not people who spread ideas.

    Naturally, if you want to persist in the polite fiction that your autocorrect changed the word, that’s up to you. I’m even up for a do-ever — an Internet mulligan, so to speak.

    BTW, do you still think that, other than fundamentalism, provocative mosquito-people are the greatest threat to the academic study of religion? Because it would seem to me the gross, widespread incompetence within academia itself (especially in NT studies) might pose a bigger threat — one more difficult to face and, therefore, correct.


    Note: The blockquote tag doesn’t seem to work on New Toxonian.

    • 2012-06-28 06:19:32 UTC - 06:19 | Permalink

      Here’s some more fun from the New Toxonian (Religion and Culture for the Intellectually Incontinent).


      My follow-up to Hoffy’s response seems to have gotten lost in the WordPress Sargasso Sea.

      Joe: @Tim. Oh my, Timothy: We don’t do irony, do we? Your quotation is quite correct. I did say what I said–that “buggers spread disease”, and of course it wasn’t an autocorrect error, as I would have thought anyone with an ounce of sense would see that the term to have likely caused offense was “buggers.” And yes, I see the proliferation of stupidity in this field by the likes of Mr Humphreys infectious because it encourages people to think that preposterous ideas are as good as smart ones. To me, that is the opposite of intellectual well-being. Btw, have you learned the definition of “pure mathematics” yet?


      My response (as near as I can remember it) was:

      Yes, Joe, it is hard to convey irony in print media, isn’t it?

      BTW, have you learned the difference between kronos and chronos/khronos?

      • muuh-gnu
        2012-06-30 02:59:44 UTC - 02:59 | Permalink

        > infectious because it encourages people to think that preposterous ideas are as good as smart ones.

        If his ideas are the smart ones, why is he unable to explain them to the target public in a way that would be as convincing or, like he points it, as “infectious” as the mythicist ones? He is calling his oponents “buggers” for no other reason than being more successful in explaining stuff than him.

        • Jason Goertzen
          2012-06-30 03:37:12 UTC - 03:37 | Permalink

          This. I had a professor once who said something that I disagreed with at the time, but have come to embrace as wisdom: “Until you’re able to explain your idea clearly to someone else, you haven’t thought about it enough, and possibly don’t understand it yet yourself.”

  • 2012-06-28 08:38:58 UTC - 08:38 | Permalink

    Hmmm, not that it matters but I think the reference to Coyne et al is not the same as what Humphreys quoted is it? He spliced it–or as mythicists seem to like the word, interpolated a bit. Just like he tried to make it appear that a quote from Plantinga was mine, the better to link me (heaven forfend) to William Lane Craig. But it’s ok, As I say in my latest post on Mr Humphreys, he has a mission. Honesty is not the issue for a debater with phantoms on his mind. Sorry to interrupt the fest. Carry on with the support group,

  • 2012-06-28 20:38:44 UTC - 20:38 | Permalink

    A reply to our learned professor posted on his blog – one never knows when his censor’s knife will fall.

    ––––––

    Why, Joseph. I’m flattered. A whole blog post to myself when you have so many detractors queuing up to call you names? But I can tell you enjoy a brawl, and fortunately, so do I. Must be something about growing up in a tough neighbourhood, eh?

    And you knew about my debate with Habermas from more than four years ago? Really, Joe? I’d just about forgotten it myself. The intriguing thing is how you knew that I’m “regarded by my own cheerleaders”, no less, as the clear loser. To be sure, there were not just members of the Christian Union (main organiser of the event) present in some numbers but there was certainly no vote taken. Were you there “in the spirit” perhaps? Or are you guided by some poll of viewers of the video, scrupulously edited over some months by the, er, Christian Union before being released? But then what atheist can compete with an apologist who, at last count, had written sixteen books just on the resurrection; the regular atheist sees only a page or two in the Bible and doesn’t agonise over its historical veracity.

    But enough of this nostalgia. I know you’re a stickler for accuracy. My amusing greeting is not “Welcome to Salvation!” but “Welcome to Enlightenment!” The “Salvation” bit refers to the “resurrected forum”. Nor do I have a blog (they do rather soak up time for little reward). When you do find a minute or two to peruse my writings you’ll notice there’s more than a touch of acidic humour. Gosh, I just can’t help sexing it up.

  • 2012-06-29 07:53:17 UTC - 07:53 | Permalink

    Joe Hoffman – Since my comments seem to have been deleted from your New Oxonian blog, I’ll repeat them here and hope for an airing.

    For some years I’ve had a friendly disposition towards yourself as well as Ken Humphreys, without the slightest animosity to either and respecting both of you, so I write sincerely and with some humility.

    My whole adult life I’ve been proud to be an active Atheist/Humanist/Naturalist, so some years back when our Scotland contingent was prodded by the Christian Right to have a debate, we agreed. They had money and resources, we had very little. They suggested Habermas for their side and I suggested Ken. I knew this wouldn’t be a fair fight but we couldn’t afford a high falutin’ American scholar, otherwise I might have asked for you! On the night, they had indeed bussed in for the audience a ‘bevvy of evangelizing zealots’ and we were vastly outnumbered. Maybe Ken wasn’t as polished as Habermas, but as far as I know neither did he (unlike Habermas) use spin and downright fibs to make his points (the vid shows me in the front row). So, I’d be interested to know from where you found the opinion that he was regarded as a ‘loser’? If you don’t agree with the conclusions he makes on his website, I and many others would delight in hearing them refuted one by one with the masterful rhetoric I know you possess and the opposing evidence I assume you have – oh and dressed with your creative images, I love them.

    I’ve read many Facebook posts by you and others decrying the behaviour of the pesky New Atheists that you say are rude and too intolerant and critical of Xtians so much so that it has forced the emergence of New Humanists. Are we to take it then that this type of internet squabbling you are presently engaging in, and the denouncing of characters you hardly know, discrediting websites you apparently haven’t read, and critiquing of events four years old (that you didn’t attend), is an example of New Humanist behaviour to be emulated?

    My teacher at my poor state school in Glasgow taught us that to make a point effectively, there’s no need to deliberately trample on anyone else – because there is no honour in it and when you’re the one trampled on, it hurts. Perhaps biblical scholarship is a dog-fight bereft of such honour or perhaps the teachers at Oxford omitted this educational nugget, but it’s stands. On occasion, the sensibilities of each of us are insulted, offended and bruised, so what? Adults roll their eyes and tut, get over it and get on with the important stuff. Please don’t ever forget you are a privileged adult. :-) June Maxwell

    • 2012-06-29 10:24:26 UTC - 10:24 | Permalink

      June: It’s well known and regrettable that Edinburgh have imported so many fundies, like David Owen etc, and come under the influence of the bullying tactics of conservatives like Hurtado (now emeritus staying on in Edinburgh instead of returning to his homeland). It’s a travesty that critical scholars in the UK are necessarily confronting. The situation in no way vindicates the vulgar rudeness and incompetence of Ken Humphreys especially expressed on his website. Joe’s eloquent satire is the perfectly appropriate and welcome response and greatly appreciated by others who don’t comment on mythtics. I wonder whether you have ever honestly explored Humphrey’s website or in particular, visited his latest ‘post’.

  • 2012-06-29 19:32:02 UTC - 19:32 | Permalink

    Suppressing truth in the name of truth. Professor Hoffmann unzips himself.

    He began his assault by quoting the purported judgement of “my own cheerleaders”: Humphreys is a loser (the intent, of course, to prepare the killing floor). He then suppresses the real comments from my real “cheerleader” (June Maxwell, above). He then releases to the world the comments of his own cheerleader Steph Fisher replying to June’s suppressed comments! Notice here (on an uncensored blog) Steph begins “June …” Go look at Hoff’s blog. The “June” has been excised – readers might have wondered who she was replying to!

    So let me ask Stephanie, as one of Hoffman’s most committed fans, what is her opinion of Hoffmann’s strategic censorship policy – vaporising any comment which reflects badly on him but allowing through the gate (aside from his fan mail of course) only ineffectual criticisms for which he has already prepared one of his trademark witty and vicious ripostes?

    I see that (on the same page!) of Hoffmann’s blog I am now revealed as both self-published and published by Nazis. Quite surreal. The correction of which of these two erroneous statements do you think Hoffmann would allow through his cutting room? I guess either charge would suit his purpose so it scarcely matters which, if neither, is actually true.

    More disturbing still is to the thought that Hoffmann is using the same, self-serving dark arts in opposing of the case for mythicism. Does adulation take precedence over honesty? It’s sad to see a once impressive scholar come to this. Is his lapsed Catholicism seeping out from the surface of the renaissance humanist, perhaps?

    • 2012-07-01 02:34:00 UTC - 02:34 | Permalink

      @Kenneth, you are among your friends here, so why not use this moment to clarify how an ultra-rightist publishing house: “Historical Review Press” became known as the publisher of your book “Jesus Never Existed”? Did they steal your manuscripts? They are listed as your publisher on Amazon. Looking at HRP’s website your book is indeed offered alongside neo-facist, Holocaust denying fare. They even offer “White Power” racist t-shirts (that’s what I call one-stop denialist shopping)! On your website you cite another of HRP’s publications “The Christ Myth” by Nicolas Carter a few times as an authoritative resource, so you cannot claim complete ignorance of this company. “Jesus Never Existed” description on your website doesn’t list any publisher so you can imagine my confusion. So, without further ado, the floor is yours…

      • 2012-07-01 19:56:36 UTC - 19:56 | Permalink

        Nazi! Nazi! Nazi! Well I guess that will put that mythicist back in the cellar where Herr Hoffmann says “his sort” belongs.

        Sorry pal, it’s not gonna wash. Are you sure you don’t want to switch to the “self-published” line?

        This is the problem with starting with your conclusion (who? he’s a mythicist? well what shit have we got on him?) rather than reading the book, or reading the website, or even asking. And then you turn to Amazon, a company that doesn’t handle the book?

        The “ultra-rightist” publishing house HRP actually also has an “ultra-leftist” imprint – Iconoclast – eminently suited, one could say, to a book debunking religion. Anyone who has actually seen the book Jesus Never Existed would know that Iconoclast appears on the cover and twice inside. Have you noticed how many versions of Mein Kampf Amazon sells, including the “rare official Nazi translation”?
        I guess in the publishing world money takes precedent over racial purity.

        As it happens, I never actually called the publisher in for a political correctness interview or vetted the library of material HRP also publishes. Would I have done that if I’d approached HarperCollins. Would I have quizzed Rupert Murdoch about his political sympathies?

        Guess what? It’s not that easy to get a book published unless you are already “a name”, particularly when the subject is so controversial. So I approached a small-time publisher of “rare and difficult to get hold of” books who happened to have one major advantage as far as I was concerned: he was located less than one hour’s drive from my home.

        So what are we saying here: if he had (and it is a had – he’s dead now) some nostalgic adoration for right wing causes, then I must do also? I don’t know where you are, but in the UK books on Hitler, the Nazis, the Waffen SS, and the rest of that well-dressed gang of criminals are immensely popular, and make oodles of cash for publishers large and small.

        Did the publisher change a word of my manuscript? No, sir, he was far too idle to do that, even cocking up the ISBN. And I thought the fascists made the trains run on time.

        Now, shall we return to Jesus or bring up my prison term for paedophilia or membership of a secret cell of Jihadists?

  • junemax
    2012-06-29 19:41:25 UTC - 19:41 | Permalink

    Stephanie, I don’t know who you are so not quite sure how to respond to you Let me just say, I don’t do angry or fighting, Internet or otherwise. I just feel sad grown people that i know have to come to this over trivia. In my day job I counsel those with relationship breakdowns, addictions, etc so I see enough of the results to ensure I steer clear of scraps, but others seem to live for them – i prefer the kiss and make up bit. The God/Jesus business is interesting and how stimulating a civilised discussion of both sides would be. I reckon most events from so far back must forever remain mysterious to us so such disputes are not really worth an increase in blood pressure or cortisol levels. I meet with rudeness every day should i put myself in a state of perpetual anxiety over it, or ignore it? Anyway Im one of those people so easily deplored by academics – Im a relativist and most rudeness in my humble opinion is relative. Not that Joe or Ken have ever been rude to me. But, I have encountered so many people in the Atheist communities whose God is dead, but the guy just won’t lie down – now that makes for complications.

    • 2012-06-30 00:30:19 UTC - 00:30 | Permalink

      June, I don’t know who you are either and I had never come across your friend Ken before. I can only conclude, in view of your passionate defence of Ken, that as you claim to be a humanist, you have not read his post he wrote a few days ago regarding our Jesus Process (which has a full group not yet announced) or truly explored his website. His post is the rudest piece of malicious inaccuracy I have ever encountered and I know the competition is tough. And he stooped lower than any human being I know by mocking me, my family and my mother whom I have recently lost. I have never come across someone in this atheist group so vulgar. I suggest you read his post please. I am nobody’s “fan” or “cheerleader” – we don’t do that in Aotearoa NZ. I am involved in civilised discussion and debate with colleagues and friends on a regular basis, mainly face to face, but I don’t think that’s what most internet atheists are willing to engage in. I am independent and Joe and I have been colleagues working on projects for a couple of years. I have also being working for several more years with my colleagues Maurice Casey and James Crossley. I suggest Ken and many other atheists have a problem with sexual identity, as also demonstrated by a commenter here who cannot resist referring to me as “this lady”.

      I made an error above – it’s Paul Owen the fundamentalist from the United States who has returned there to work at the fundamentalist Montreat College. Matthew Novenson also from the US, has replaced Hurtado but looks to be no improvement.

      Here is the link http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/newapologists.html

      • 2012-06-30 01:34:08 UTC - 01:34 | Permalink

        And, of course, Steph refuses to quote any of Humphrey’s mocking of her mother, which it appears consisted of quoting Stephanie’s own words about her mother.

        I guess Steph must have been mocking her own mother when she wrote those words, because those words of Steph’s are , I quote Steph, ‘mocking’.

        Shame on Humphreys to quote Steph’s words. That is despicable. He actually quoted Steph’s words. No wonder Steph regards him as scum.

        It is impossible to communicate with Steph, as she simply resorts to malicious , vicious, slander whenever she writes.

        • 2012-06-30 04:51:08 UTC - 04:51 | Permalink

          He quoted a short fragment about family names, out of context, from a very personal piece I wrote in memory of my mother. He chose the way to frame it “Apparently, her penchant for radical (ab)use of language ran in Steph’s family. Of her deceased mother she wrote” which is spiteful and malicious and inaccurate. How can both of you be so vulgar and inhumane to suggest I mock my much loved mother.

          • 2012-06-30 05:55:52 UTC - 05:55 | Permalink

            No it wasn’t spiteful, malicious or inaccurate or mocking.It was just quoting your own words about your mother. Words that you had decided were suitable words to write about your mother.

            Those words of yours that Humphreys quoted were as ‘mocking’ as the day you first penned them.

            Have you noticed, Steph, that it is generally agreed that Hoffman’s article in ‘The Jesus Process’ was much the best?

            Hoffman didn’t write an essay like yours and Casey’s. Hence his was the best.

            I was truly astonished to read Casey mention me.

            I had clicked on Casey’s article, fully expecting it to be about the historical Jesus. In my naivety, I thought it would be interesting to read , which is why I had decided to read it.

            Instead, Casey decided to make himself an irrelevancy by attacking an insignficant nobody like me. Like anybody in the world cared about what I had said….

            And to make certain that Casey rendered himself irrelevant, Casey spent a lot of words attacking a comment on the Internet, that had been corrected *one minute* after it had been originally posted. That was just strange. Even by the standards of internet blogging, few people take the trouble to attack posts that have been corrected after 60 seconds.

            But fair enough, it was Casey’s first attempt at blogging, so I should cut him some slack.

            • Jason Goertzen
              2012-06-30 07:12:36 UTC - 07:12 | Permalink

              I found this exchange kind of amazing. I’ve never seen anyone misunderstand an argumentum ad absurdum so completely before.

              Steph: He mocked my mother!
              Steven: But he was *quoting you*–so unless you were mocking your mother…
              Steph: How can you suggest I would mock my own mother!?

              To spell it out for you, Steph, Steven’s argument runs like this.

              Humphrey was quoting Steph.
              So if Humphrey was insulting Steph’s mother, then Steph was insulting her own mother–which is absurd.
              THEREFORE, Humphrey was not insulting Steph’s mother.

              I hope this helps.

              • 2012-06-30 08:25:45 UTC - 08:25 | Permalink

                This is what Humphreys wrote: it “Apparently, her penchant for radical (ab)use of language ran in Steph’s family.” in order to mock what he quoted. To suggest that what I wrote in memory of my mother, is in any way indulting, is absurd and vulgar and malicious. You know that. Carr knows that. Humphreys knows that.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2012-06-30 08:32:22 UTC - 08:32 | Permalink

                You’re still not getting it. Nobody is suggesting that what you wrote in memory of your mother was insulting. We’re suggesting the EXACT OPPOSITE–that it’s absurd to suggest it was, and that it is, therefore, not insulting to *quote* it. Your continuing failure to understand this is baffling.

              • 2012-06-30 08:50:43 UTC - 08:50 | Permalink

                I wrote “he stooped lower than any human being I know by mocking me, my family and my mother whom I have recently lost.” Ken wrote “Apparently, her penchant for radical (ab)use of language ran in Steph’s family” in order to mock us. It is very clear and it is also clear that his complete piece was composed in order to mock. If you deny it there’s no hope for you.

              • Jason Goertzen
                2012-06-30 09:42:11 UTC - 09:42 | Permalink

                *Obviously* he meant to mock. Wait–I’m sorry–surely I mean to “satirize” (if you’re going to call Hoffmann’s vitriolic posts as “eloquent satire” then the bar has been lowered sufficiently to include Humphrey’s post too). But he meant to mock *you,* not your mother. He’s criticizing you for something and pointing out (in passing!) that you claimed to have inherited this from your mother. It’s not even a particularly harsh criticism. He doesn’t like your use of language. That’s it.

                If you don’t like his quoting you about this, that’s your problem. It doesn’t make it ‘vulgar’ or ‘rude.’ It can’t have been respectful for you to write it, but vulgar and rude for him to quote it. You can’t have it both ways. If you think you can, ‘there’s no hope for you.’

                Seriously. You’re mature enough to not react like a wounded child when someone else doesn’t hold you in the same respect that you hold yourself. If you’re going to jump in the online arena and start criticizing people, you can’t react like this when you get criticized back. Grow thicker skin, or retreat from the arena.

              • 2012-06-30 15:53:25 UTC - 15:53 | Permalink

                How did Humphreys manage to mock Casey and his ability to read Aramaic wax tablets that he has never seen, and for which there is no trace of any evidence of them ever existing?

                Such claims by Casey are beyond mockery. Casey is so irrelevant to NT scholarship that he actually spent part of his blog post attacking a nobody like me, rather than talk about his psychic powers to read Aramaic wax tablets he has never seen better than people he claims could see them.

              • steph
                2012-07-01 01:03:32 UTC - 01:03 | Permalink

                Jason: This isn’t about being “wounded”. It’s about us critiquing his tactics. Including his quoting of a very very personal piece of grief written in memory of a mother, using it to interpret inaccurately, mock the author in his own words and include in his post. These are not civilised tactics, but vulgar and inhumane tactics. But you’re correct. This is not the appropriate forum and I was aware of that.

              • 2012-07-01 01:06:28 UTC - 01:06 | Permalink

                Gosh, Steph really was hurt by somebody quoting her own words about the way her mother mangled the language.

                Although nobody else can see anything else there.

                I guess seeing invisible things is a power that is restricted to members of The Jesus Process , as Maurice Casey can also see invisible things, including Aramaic wax tablets that only he thinks existed.

              • steph
                2012-07-01 01:15:23 UTC - 01:15 | Permalink

                What? You know that’s absolutely not what I wrote and completely untrue.

  • 2012-06-30 06:11:04 UTC - 06:11 | Permalink

    Stephanie

    I apologise that you feel hurt by anything these conversations have brought about. But, you know when such ruckuses get going, hurt is often the result, then the revenge kicks in and things can get nasty. So, I’m saying it’s time for me to bow out, I won’t be making any more responses to anyone on this thread. Besides, it’s become far too advanced for me; rudeness I can deal with, but pronouncing on sexual identities – that’s just way beyond my ken (oops pardon the pun).

    Stephanie, I sense you’re a young girl with your heart in the right place so, if I can put my counselling hat on for a minute I’d like to suggest that if all this bickering is causing you distress, why don’t you practise some self-preservation and bow out too, and any more conflicts Joe initiates with his ‘eloquent satire’ he could try to resolve himself. Best wishes,

    • 2012-06-30 07:55:59 UTC - 07:55 | Permalink

      Dear June, I was born in 1965. I am not as your friend Ken believes “Girl Friday” or some young “cheerleader”. I believe in defending the truth and I have an independent mind to decide for myself. I have two first class degrees and an overseas research scholarship writing up research on the double tradition. I sincerely hope you do read the post that Ken wrote which inspired Joe to write his, mocking Joe Hoffmann, Maurice Casey and myself and I would invite you to read the piece I wrote for my mother and family and friends. I was invited to write it by Chris Stedman who supported me when she died. He published it on the State of Formation interfaith website. Ken links to my piece while mocking what he quoted out of context. Our family are close and we laugh at ourselves. It’s unbelievable these people can distort and abuse it.

    • 2012-06-30 10:04:10 UTC - 10:04 | Permalink

      June: That’s a very good Scottish pun. I’m am referring to a problem with discrimination against women in our profession mainly by internet atheists. I think if you read his post you’ll agree that “Girl Friday”, “cheerleader” etc are not appropriate for twenty-first century civilised gender equality.

  • 2012-06-30 14:52:58 UTC - 14:52 | Permalink

    I have removed a comment responding to Steph that was meant to mock her by quoting the language she herself uses to insult others. Especially given the current tone of this thread such comments cannot be accepted.

  • 2012-07-06 05:24:20 UTC - 05:24 | Permalink

    The gods of irony are strong today.

    The Jesus Process has just signed up ‘Dr.’ Jim West, an uncredentialed Internet blogger at the ‘Quartz Hill School of Theology’/

    • 2012-07-06 07:21:00 UTC - 07:21 | Permalink

      Technically he’s a credentialed doctor of theology from an unaccredited university (Andersonville Theological Seminary of Camilla, Georgia). And who could argue with his body of . . . er . . . work?

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