2015-03-18

Reading Mythicist Arguments Cautiously

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

by Neil Godfrey

ChristInEgyptI recently posted the following on the Biblical Criticism and History Forum. I post it here to explain the main reason I am very cautious about the works of one group of Christ Myth advocates and hopefully to encourage them to a more constructive and critical approach to the debate. I do hope that the supporters of this perspective will try to understand that my failure to take their views on board is not motivated by any sort of hostility towards the author or their proposed thesis itself but is based upon their failure to appreciate the fundamentals of sound argument and critical thinking.

Let’s start with the positive. In defence of D. M. Murdock’s (aka Acharya S’s) discussion in Christ in Egypt about “crucified” Egyptian gods I think she does an interesting job of detailing the evidence for the various deities, especially with respect to Osiris, including the function of the djied cross or pillar, and early Christian interpretations of these — pages 336 to 352.

I think this is interesting background information that should rightly be factored into any historical and literary analyses that considers the origins of the Gospel of John’s miracle of the raising of Lazarus (as addressed in detail by Randel Helms in Gospel Fictions), Secret Mark (with its patent links to the raising of Lazarus story in John’s gospel) and the stories of Alexandrian provenance for certain early Christian authors.

But then on pages 353 to 356 it seems Murdock crashes into a brick wall by trying to overstate her case.

Or am I missing something that she has explained elsewhere to justify her argument?

We come to the heading “Divine Man” Crucified in Space. Referring to Massey’s discussion of the phrase “crucifixion in space” Murdock writes: 

The crucifixion in space usually refers to that of Plato’s “second God, who impressed himself on the universe in the form of the cross,”2 constituting the Greek philosopher’s “world-soul” on an X, which, as we have seen, represents the sun crossing the ecliptic. . . (p. 353)

I expected to see here the footnote directing me to Plato and his discussion of this “second God”. But instead she takes us to Lundy, Bradshaw, Roberts, and Philo. That leaves me wondering where Plato speaks of “a second god” who made himself in the “form of a cross” at the ecliptic. My memory tells me that Plato did speak of the ecliptic being like a cross but no more. Have I forgotten crucial details? Murdock does not help me here.

Murdock then writes:

Another Platonic concept is the crucified “divine man”3 or “just man,” found in Plato’s Republic …

Again I look up the footnote and am disappointed once again to find not a reference to where Plato speaks of the divine man but instead to an interpretation by Massey. My recollection was that Plato spoke of a just man but I don’t recall him ever equating this just man with a divine man. My memory might well be faulty but again Murdock does not help me establish her idea.

Then on page 355 Murdock continues with:

Further elucidating upon the divine man, Albert Parsons remarks:

Plato spoke of a crucified divine man floating in space…

Again no reference to Plato, only to Parsons. And when I look up Parsons more generally I see he appears to be more interested in spiritualism and such ideas than sound history.

D.M. Murdock was doing quite well, I thought, with cross symbolism in Egyptian culture but then left me with no way of verifying her claims that the Egyptians and Plato had the concept of a divine man in a cross formation in space. The closest evidence she seems to provide for the idea is in the Acts of John where Jesus is told to look towards the true cross of light in the sky. But that reads to me like a vision, not a pointer to the ecliptic.

This is just one instance of what I take to be Murdock’s approach. Had she limited her discussion to what she had hard evidence for (and there are many illustrations making the point along with quotations of Church fathers etc) that are very suggestive then I think her work would have been all the stronger.

I think her attempts to go beyond the evidence and confuse interpretations with facts (explained by her evangelical interest as expressed in the front and end pages — just like many religious scholars themselves do in their books) does her work serious damage. If an editor could see to major cuts throughout the book I think it could be a much stronger contribution to the Christ Myth debate.

One more

Another poster on the same BC&H forum posted a similar criticism in relation to a passage in Suns of God. (I won’t name him here because he, too, does not appreciate the hostile denunciations that too often come from supporters of this author of but would prefer to focus on the substance of claims made.)

In an apparent effort to substantiate the claim that the early Christians were known as “sun worshipers” and that Christianity itself indeed began as a form of sun-worship Murdock wrote the following:

pg232

The comment: :

Four authors mentioned in the span of a few lines. Zero footnotes and zero references.

It might be right . . . but that’s beside the point.

It also doesn’t really matter whom this comes from . . . 

The wonderful little turn of phrase known as “Trust, but verify” comes to mind (and, yes, it is a wonderful turn of phrase, whatever you think of its original context).

The reader could be spared searching out the truth here . . .  with the simple convention of footnotes and exact references. And then the search for the references would have been done ‘once for all’.

. . . . 

PS– Apparently there is some kind of “reference,” but not what you’d expect. The reference is to Catholic Encyclopedia, “Christmas.” Consulting this can lead the reader to find the actual references and some of their wording.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03724b.htm
The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cyprian, “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus.” — “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.”

In the fourth century, Chrysostom, “del Solst. Et Æquin.” (II, p. 118, ed. 1588), says: “Sed et dominus noster nascitur mense decembris . . . VIII Kal. Ian. . . . Sed et Invicti Natalem appelant. Quis utique tam invictus nisi dominus noster? . . . Vel quod dicant Solis esse natalem, ipse est Sol iustitiæ.” — “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”

Already Tertullian (Apol., 16; cf. Ad. Nat., I, 13; Orig. c. Cels., VIII, 67, etc) had to assert that Sol was not the Christians’ God; Augustine (Tract xxxiv, in Joan. In P.L., XXXV, 1652) denounces the heretical identification of Christ with Sol.

33 Comments

  • john dauria
    2015-03-19 15:08:48 UTC - 15:08 | Permalink

    there is no substitute for sound methodology [ie. logical] and frank footnoting [as well].

  • Max
    2015-03-19 17:11:44 UTC - 17:11 | Permalink

    Neil Godfrey, are you actually reading the book or just looking for dirt to throw at the author again like your other “reviews”?

    It seems Dr. Robert Price understood what she was saying without issue why couldn’t you?:

    “…Osiris is doubly resurrected as his son Horus, too, and he, too, is eventually raised from the dead by Isis. He is pictured as spanning the dome of heaven, his arms stretched out in a cruciform pattern. As such, he seems to represent the common Platonic astronomical symbol of the sun’s path crossing the earth’s ecliptic. Likewise, the Acts of John remembers that the real cross of Jesus is not some piece of wood, as fools think, but rather the celestial “Cross of Light.” Acharya S. ventures that “the creators of the Christ myth did not simply take an already formed story, scratch out the name Osiris or Horus, and replace it with Jesus” (p. 25). But I am pretty much ready to go the whole way and suggest that Jesus is simply Osiris going under a new name, Jesus,” Savior,” hitherto an epithet, but made into a name on Jewish soil. Are there allied mythemes (details, really) that look borrowed from the cults of Attis, Dionysus, etc.? Sure; remember we are talking about a heavily syncretistic context. Hadian remarked on how Jewish and Christian leaders in Egypt mixed their worship with that of Sarapis (=Osiris).”

    http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/reviews/murdock_christ_egypt.htm

    • Reader
      2015-03-19 19:53:36 UTC - 19:53 | Permalink

      Max, The above post is constructive criticism as constructive criticism gets. If we are to be critical readers and thinkers then we must not be afraid to make requests for sources and to not conclude more than what we have evidence for.

      The fact that Dr. Robert Price in your words “…understood what she was saying without issue…” does not in itself provide the source for Plato’s discussion of a “second God”.
      Again, from the above quotation you provided Dr Price states, “As such, he seems to represent the common Platonic astronomical symbol of the sun’s path crossing the earth’s ecliptic.” He did not mention a man on a cross or a “second God”. Dr. Price does did not provide a source for Plato’s alleged(until its source can be tracked down) claim either. In essence he stated no more than what Neil says from fuzzy memory that he remembers “My memory tells me that Plato did speak of the ecliptic being like a cross but no more.”

      Are we to desist from looking up sources for claims when it suits us?

      The book in question is in the majority well referenced and documented, I think even Dr. Price said the same :

      “Just so no one will suspect Acharya paid me to puff this thing, I suppose I ought to supply a couple of minor criticisms. My main one is that, as in the case of the great Robert Eisenman, she seems to me to over-document her case, almost to the point that I fear I will lose track of the argument.”

      What Neils post fails to do is to indicate whether is observations in this particular case occurs throughout the work in question. A person who has not read the book may come away from the above post with the impression that this is common throughout the work – I do not think it is.

      Max, we must not be afraid to question and query any and all that we read. Doing such does not imply personal animosity or dirt slinging. Someone slinging dirt would not say things such as

      “Let’s start with the positive. In defence of D. M. Murdock’s (aka Acharya S’s) discussion in Christ in Egypt about “crucified” Egyptian gods I think she does an interesting job of detailing the evidence for the various deities, especially with respect to Osiris, including the function of the djied cross or pillar, and early Christian interpretations of these — pages 336 to 352.”

      • Max
        2015-03-21 17:21:33 UTC - 17:21 | Permalink

        Reader, I agree with you, it’s just that as pointed out in that forum thread linked to in the OP, Neil Godfrey is simply not a reliable or trustworthy source of information on astrotheology or the author DM Murdock/Acharya S due to his severe case of biases that drips from the page when reading his other blogs and comments elsewhere on that author. Neil Godfrey is the last person I would trust on this topic.

        I bet Mr. Godfrey would never have blogged about this book had he not found something to complain about. He could not write a blog about this author without throwing in an attack if his life depended on it and it’s a disservice to freethinkers and the mythicist movement because the author actually has far more to offer than Neil Godfrey will ever concede.

        Reader: “Someone slinging dirt would not say things such as

        “Let’s start with the positive. In defence of D. M. Murdock’s (aka Acharya S’s) discussion in Christ in Egypt about “crucified” Egyptian gods I think she does an interesting job of detailing the evidence for the various deities, especially with respect to Osiris, including the function of the djied cross or pillar, and early Christian interpretations of these — pages 336 to 352.”

        Apparently that was just a distraction to “butter us up”:

        “I fully expected to be napalmed for a similar criticism of a passage in Christ in Egypt but it never came. Presumably that was because I buttered them up by preceding my criticism with something positive about Murdock and holding out a constructive comment on her work at the end. No doubt they recognized I am not the hostile bigot they had previously taken me for.”

        http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=31641#p31641

        neilgodfrey wrote:

        “I avoided astrotheology like the plague for a long time simply because I was not interested.”
        http://earlywritings.com/forum/viewtopic.php?p=31261#p31261

        So Neil Godfrey is purposely being deceptive, which is why he is not a reliable or trusted source on the subjects of astrotheology or Murdock’s work.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-03-21 21:56:10 UTC - 21:56 | Permalink

          Max, I know nothing I can say will make one bit of difference to you but for the record here let me remind everyone that not too many years ago I protested against the obnoxious personal attacks on DM Murdock/Acharya S and I still do deplore them. I made my anger against such bitter attacks publicly known.

          But I never discussed her views because I could not see the point. I disagreed with them and chose to ignore them.

          It was only after constant pressure from her supporters that I finally came out and explained what I found troubling about her views and I used no personal attacks whatever. But the result was that her supporters railed on me as if I had just raped and murdered my grandmother. And it has been the same ever since. Forgive me if I continue from time to time to explain why I believe her arguments are seriously flawed.

          If I have any hope at all when I do explain why I believe her arguments are flawed it is that some of her followers, when the time is right, will think more critically and move on to more sober and valid viewpoints.

          Your effort to rip words of mine from other discussions elsewhere and use them with malicious intent in different contexts is the sort of practice I have come to expect from Murdock and her followers by now.

          Clearly your intent is to shut me up. I began by defending Murdock from personal attacks; I tried to point out why I disagreed with her writings in a civil and honest manner without any ad hominem; I have since been confronted with slander, lies, dishonesty of all kinds in attempts to silence me; I will accordingly refuse to be silenced and continue from time to time to expose more of the failed logic and methods of her arguments — but I will not retaliate in the bloody-minded vicious ways you and she attack me.

          I will leave that sort of slander and lying to you and her supporters and leave other readers to decide who is being the more honest and critical in their reading and evaluation of her work.

          P.S. Please don’t waste your time repeating part-quotations from Robert Price and others that sound as if they are in total adoration of her ideas. Unlike you, it seems, I do not just follow blindly the views of “favourite authors” but actually try to think critically about what I read with the result that I don’t know if there’s a single author (Price, Doherty, Carrier, Parvus, anyone) with whom I find myself in agreement on all things.

          • David
            2015-03-22 13:20:07 UTC - 13:20 | Permalink

            Don’t worry Neil, I feel the same way about her work from reading it, and that was long before I found your blog. Way to much speculation that goes, later, as fact!

          • Max
            2015-03-22 17:47:39 UTC - 17:47 | Permalink

            hahahahaha, Neil you are lying and you know it. Who exactly are you trying to fool? I was reading your blog back then too and know for a fact you are flat out lying in your post above attempting to make yourself out to be so innocent in all of this. It’s not true and you know it.

            Her supporters NEVER asked to review her first book, which you used as an opportunity to bludgeon her to death with an endless stream of misrepresentations and false accusations and then, after they rightfully point out your intellectual dishonesty you attack them for pointing out your errors and sloppiness. Any honest person can see your biases dripping from those blogs.

            People can read that other forum and see for themselves, Neil.

            http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4316

            Your blog here is another case in point for your blatant biases as her sources most certainly do in fact support what she said in her book. You could not possibly be any more intellectually dishonest here and it’s shameful and a disservice to us all. Shame on you, Neil Godfrey. You remind me of the Republican party in America whereby you falsely accuse the other side of exactly what YOU are doing. I don’t know a single person who appreciates misinformation and lies spread about them so, I understand where they’re coming from and don’t blame them for getting so upset from such utter dishonesty.

            You are simply not a reliable or trustworthy source on astrotheology or Murdock’s work. Your other blogs tend to be well done but on this subject you consistently drop the ball big time. At what point do you finally make an effort to deal with your biases here? You need to be called out more by others on this issue.

            • Tim Widowfield
              2015-03-22 19:35:12 UTC - 19:35 | Permalink

              Oh, Max. Such drama! “Bludgeon her to death”? Seriously?

              What is it about Murdoch that brings out hysterical, misguided white knights like you? I’m embarrassed for you.

            • 2015-03-22 19:51:59 UTC - 19:51 | Permalink

              Max, just fucking look at what befalls any criticism of Acharya’s claims – no matter how fact-based and scholarly and even polite, her attack dogs come out of the bushes and accuse whoever dares utter a critical word of being a sociopath, of lying, of being on a smear campaign, etc.

              Neil’s been more than courteous and he still fucking is.

  • David Ashton
    2015-03-19 19:04:55 UTC - 19:04 | Permalink

    “Simply Osiris going under a new name Jesus..on Jewish soil”. Really – “simple”? Did Osiris raise himself (Lazarus) from the dead? What was the point of inventing all this apparently “biographical” detail of Jesus and his followers, and adding parables and sermons to flesh out a purely astral myth from an earlier and different civilization?

  • Blood
    2015-03-20 00:15:31 UTC - 00:15 | Permalink

    Plato’s Republic 361e-362c

    “To the best of my ability,” he replied, “and if such is the nature of the two, it becomes an easy matter, I fancy, to unfold the tale of the sort of life that awaits each. We must tell it, then; and even if my language is somewhat rude and brutal, you must not suppose, Socrates, that it is I who speak thus, but those who commend injustice above justice. What they will say is this: that such being his disposition the just man will have to endure the lash, the rack, chains, the branding-iron in his eyes, and finally, after every extremity of suffering, he will be crucified, and so will learn his lesson that not to be but to seem just is what we ought to desire. And the saying of Aeschylus was, it seems, far more correctly applicable to the unjust man. For it is literally true, they will say, that the unjust man, as pursuing what clings closely to reality, to truth, and not regulating his life by opinion, desires not to seem but to be unjust,

    Exploiting the deep furrows of his wit
    From which there grows the fruit of counsels shrewd,

    first office and rule in the state because of his reputation for justice, then a wife from any family he chooses, and the giving of his children in marriage to whomsoever he pleases, dealings and partnerships with whom he will, and in all these transactions advantage and profit for himself because he has no squeamishness about committing injustice; and so they say that if he enters into lawsuits, public or private, he wins and gets the better of his opponents, and, getting the better, is rich and benefits his friends and harms his enemies; and he performs sacrifices and dedicates votive offerings to the gods adequately and magnificently, and he serves and pays court to men whom he favors and to the gods far better than the just man, so that he may reasonably expect the favor of heaven also to fall rather to him than to the just. So much better they say, Socrates, is the life that is prepared for the unjust man from gods and men than that which awaits the just.”

    • Bee
      2015-03-20 17:11:09 UTC - 17:11 | Permalink

      It is tough dealing with dozens of often obscure cultures, and remembering where you heard about theM. So thanks for your assist here on some important bibliographical points.

      By the way, one recent article from Harvard sees the martyred Socrates as a possible proto christ, or Christian “martyr, ” n.s.. Possibly Plato also had him in mind in part.

      • Bee
        2015-03-20 17:44:35 UTC - 17:44 | Permalink

        “Mors Philosophi,” Harvard Theological 2001.

        We can thank Murdock thoough for reaching the popular audience. And for being more right than many thought, on further investigation.

      • Kris Rhodes
        2015-03-20 19:49:29 UTC - 19:49 | Permalink

        Possibly Plato had who in mind?

        • Bee
          2015-03-20 20:23:37 UTC - 20:23 | Permalink

          Some think Plato embellished some words attrib to Socrates.

          • Sili
            2015-03-21 00:33:10 UTC - 00:33 | Permalink

            “Some”?

          • Kris Rhodes
            2015-03-21 02:02:32 UTC - 02:02 | Permalink

            I know, but I was trying to figure out what you meant when you said “Possibly Plato had him in mind,” specifically, was trying to figure out _who_ you thought Plato possibly had in mind.

            • Bee
              2015-03-21 07:17:00 UTC - 07:17 | Permalink

              The words attributed to Socrates by Plato, on a just man crucified, might be partly Plato, memorializing Socrates, I speculate.

              This is quite speculative. It seems certain though that such Greek, Platonic ideas eventually influenced Judaism, and Christianity.

              • Bee
                2015-03-21 07:52:44 UTC - 07:52 | Permalink

                Gilbert Ryle, “Plato,” Ency. Phil., v.6, p. 316: “In several dialogues Socrates is made the spokesman of the Theory of Forms, which, as Aristotle explicitly says, was not a Socratic, but a Platonic theory.”

    • Pausanias
      2015-03-21 15:30:23 UTC - 15:30 | Permalink

      1st Possibility: The translation of Plato’s Republic I do not think would be accurate. The Greek is ἀνασχινδυλεύω. The LSJ does not list crucifixion as part of its definition or anything related. The basic idea of any such “schi-” word is separation or splitting apart (as in schizophrenia). The normal translation in this case is that the man will be “impaled”. I agree that people have translated this passage from Plato as involving crucifixion. I think this has to do with Christians seeing Plato as prefiguring Christianity, and not with getting an accurate translation.

      2nd Possibility: I am aware of the etymology and there is nothing wrong with translating the word as “crucifixion,” since “crucifixion” in ancient times was understood as a form of “impalement.”

      And there is every reason to think Plato would be familiar with the punishment of crucifixion. Crucifixion (or impalement), in one form or another, was used in pre-Roman times by the Persians, Carthaginians, and Macedonians. In his Histories, ix.120–122, the Greek writer Herodotus describes the execution of a Persian general at the hands of Athenians in about 479 BC: “They nailed him to a plank and hung him up … this Artayctes who suffered death by crucifixion.” The Commentary on Herodotus by How and Wells remarks: “They crucified him with hands and feet stretched out and nailed to cross-pieces; cf. vii.33.”

      But this is all really beside the point. My argument is that the early Christian writers could have seen the passage in Plato and used it along with Isaiah 53, Psalm 22 and the Wisdom of Solomon to invent Jesus’ crucifixion narrative as haggadic midrash. Even if Plato never intended the word to mean “crucifixion,” the early Christian writers could have seen the word “impaled” in Plato and interpreted it from the point of view of the popular punishment of their time, namely crucifixion. The early Christian writers were not really concerned with preserving the original meaning of the texts they were using for haggadic midrash. For example, they used “Out of Egypt I have called my son (Hosea 11:1)” to invent a story about the young Jesus in Egypt, even thought in the Old Testament original “son” referred to the Jewish people, not a specific person.

  • Bertie
    2015-03-20 14:48:17 UTC - 14:48 | Permalink

    There’s one more line of criticism that I tried to put forward in that other thread as well — if you’re going to assert a causally relevant “pagan parallel”, then you had better find out whether there’s an alternative explanation in the Jewish literature of the day (Septuagint, Jewish Apocrypha, DSS, Philo, Josephus, even rabbinical sources that may be relevant at this earlier time) and if so, defend your “parallel” against that Jewish alternative (which is going to be difficult) or perhaps argue for alternative paths of causation (like your “parallel” being at the root of both the Christian and Jewish text or that your “parallel” underlies the Jewish text which in turn underlies the Christian one).

    Murdoch doesn’t even bother. To her, Christianity is non-Jewish, period, its supposed Jewish parts just a late, appropriating overlay irrelevant to the origins of the cult and we don’t even need to bother discussing them. Isaiah 53, explicitly cited by New Testament writers, they even interpret it for us, reading Jesus into it so we don’t have to guess — nah, who cares about that; Jesus is obviously Horus. On crucifixion, do we need to consider evidence like crucifixion in the Septuagint, say the Book of Esther along with Josephus’s reading of it (not to mention the mundane historical fact of Roman crucifixion)? Nah, who cares about that; Jesus is obviously Horus. On resurrections, do we need to bother with 1 Kings and 2 Kings, where Elijah and Elisha each perform one (well, Elisha gets a second one in after he himself is already dead)? Or bother with the general resurrection at the end of days in Daniel? Nah, who cares about that; Jesus is obviously Horus.

    Look, this isn’t the 19th Century anymore and we’re not a bunch of raging anti-Semetic Continental Europeans with an ideological program to de-Judaise the New Testament — ever since Schweitzer we’ve had theories of Christian Origins with vast explanatory power over the New Testament, ones with comparatively fewer ad hoc assumptions than any radical pagan theory could ever hope for (because those theories leave the historical setting of the cult where the plain reading of the texts says it is, in the Levant and later the Eastern Mediterranean, and the religious setting of the cult where the plain reading of the texts — and their direct quotation of the Septuagint — says it is, in Judaism of the first century). Theories like Schweitzer’s and other more-or-less Jewish, Levantine Jesuses may yet be overthrow in favor of pagan Jesuses — Doherty and Price are kinda on to something when they say that some of the old “history of religious” stuff needs to be revived and put on firmer scholarly ground — but you must acknowledge how far the bar has been raised in a post-Schweitzer era of New Testament studies. How much of the Gospel of Mark can you get out of “pagan parallels”? 10%? 15%? How much of it can you get out of “Jewish parallels”? 80%? 90%? All of it?

    For those reasons, I think that in so far as radical theories of New Testament origins have any future, they’ll be very roughly along the lines of what Mr. Parvus is doing on this site — spend more time looking in the fringe of Levantine Judiasm: esoteric apocrypha, gnosticism, John the Baptist descendents, Samaritans, and so on, while dumping the worthless pagan parallels (and dump Marcion while we’re at it — another dead end).

    • Don
      2015-03-20 16:34:23 UTC - 16:34 | Permalink

      Bertie

      Would you be able to say that the true Jesus myth, if proof were found of his having lived but as a Samaritan, was that he was Jewish? Is there a historicist myth now?

    • Bee
      2015-03-20 18:55:45 UTC - 18:55 | Permalink

      Bert: what was before Judaism, in turn?Babylon, the first civilization. And Egypt. Thousands of articles note influences there.

      To be sure, those old articles need updating. By a generation of new ANE scholars. Unfortunately though, anyone who enters that field is hugely outnumbered by fans of a strict judeo-Christian outlook. The new religious dogma.

      But sure. they should note any immediate Jewish intermediary.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-03-20 21:07:12 UTC - 21:07 | Permalink

      Yes, this is the black hole of astrotheology as argued by Murdock and her supporters. In my exchanges with a few of them one thing consistently comes through: they simply do not know the alternative explanations for the evidence they cite and are not interested in learning about them.

      • Bee
        2015-03-20 21:22:46 UTC - 21:22 | Permalink

        Astrotheology in particular, to be sure, is problematic. Astronomy absolutely rejected horoscopes long ago.

        • 2015-03-21 12:26:04 UTC - 12:26 | Permalink

          Bee, you do realize that astrotheology is not the claim that astrology is accurate – it’s a claim that astrology is a belief system that is at the root of many belief systems.

    • Max
      2015-03-21 17:36:55 UTC - 17:36 | Permalink

      Bertie “Murdoch doesn’t even bother. To her, Christianity is non-Jewish, period…”

      That’s just false and nobody who has read the authors work would ever say such a thing.

      Rabbi: Did Jesus actually exist?
      http://freethoughtnation.com/rabbi-did-jesus-actually-exist/

      Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
      http://www.amazon.com/Moses-Exist-Myth-Israelite-Lawgiver/dp/0979963184/thruthbeknownfoun

      Star Worship of the Ancient Israelites
      http://astrotheology.net/star-worship-of-the-ancient-israelites/

  • Pausanias
    2015-03-22 16:15:07 UTC - 16:15 | Permalink

    Somewhat of an aside, but Carrier has just posted his review of “How Jesus Became God” by Ehrman. It’s here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/6923#more-6923

    • Neil Godfrey
      2015-03-22 20:04:39 UTC - 20:04 | Permalink

      Yes he did, the rat. Just as I had finished my own reading of Ehrman’s book and made notes for my own review Carrier goes and covers most of what I had planned to say. Damn!

      • Lowen Gartner
        2015-03-24 15:56:50 UTC - 15:56 | Permalink

        That’s a pretty damning review. At first I thought Carrier was just nitpicking – but then he challenges Ehrman’s academic integrity: “This evidence is damning to Ehrman’s argument here. Yet he knows all of this. So his omitting it is deeply troubling to me. It looks like an attempt to deceive, to doctor and alter the evidential record so that only his conclusion seems viable, and not even tell anyone about the evidence contradicting him, much less attempt to wriggle out of it. This same behavior plagues his entire case for historicity…”

        So are your opinions mostly aligned with Carrier’s review? What happened to the Ehrman I adored 10-15 years ago…Did his tendencies start with DJE or were all the same problems in the earlier books and we just didn’t notice?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2015-03-24 20:16:54 UTC - 20:16 | Permalink

          My overall impression was that compared with my own thoughts on Ehrman’s book Carrier was much kinder and gentler with Ehrman than I thought he deserved. Ehrman relies a lot on creating the image of professionalism without explaining the arguments (often hypothetical, rarely solid) underlying many fundamental ideas. He also tends to express his own view as if it is the main consensus or the only one readers need to know — so many biblical scholars write like this for the public. He appears to write in haste or certainly without deep thought when so often we find him contradicting the logic he used to underpin other arguments than the one he is expressing at the time.

          Ehrman comes across to me as a public professional who is failing, even betraying, his public (and cheating them of their money — it makes no difference that the money goes to charity — through his carelessness and superficiality.)

          As for his contradictory claims we noticed that with “Did Jesus Exist?”. Several times he contradicted arguments and outright facts he had presented in his earlier books in his effort to “slay mythicists”. So his tendency to back-flip is not new. But what we see is his inability to give any respect to a view he himself will later come to hold when it is espoused by a group he is attempting to marginalize.

          I used to think that Ehrman demonstrated that he had never read Doherty’s book at all as he claimed in his DJE? but now I’m wondering if his contradictions and erroneous statements are the result of poor editing and preparation, as Carrier himself suggests: does he write drafts then stitch pieces together later without proper review? Either way, this is not professionalism.

          And professional scholars who fail to call him out on these fundamental problems are likewise failing their public and their profession.

  • James D. Williams
    2015-03-24 19:29:15 UTC - 19:29 | Permalink

    Pausanius’s link above leads via “errors” and “explicitly” to Richard Carrier’s “Spiritual Body FAQ” which has delightful notes about Origen:

    Max’s link above http://www.freethoughtnation.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=4316
    is an easily perused astrotheology nutshell (Tulip, Acharya). … pertinently restricted to the naked-eye astronomy of the ancients. A done deal, let’s move on!

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