2016-01-25

What Is Euhemerism?

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by Tim Widowfield

chromolithograph Caricature of Thomas Henry Hu...

Chromolithograph Caricature of Thomas Henry Huxley. Caption read “A great Med’cine-Man among the Inquiring Redskins”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[Note: This post reflects my perspective. Neil is not responsible for any of the following content. –Tim]

We have Thomas Huxley to thank for the word Darwinism, which he coined in 1860 in a review of On the Origin of Species. In modern times, of course, creationists have misused the term, applying it to any theory of natural evolution, and even to the study of abiogenesis. They continue to embrace the “ism” since bolsters their assertion that evolution is a kind of belief system, just as irrational as religion.

What is Darwinism? 

Simply stated, Darwinism is the theory of biological evolution by means of natural selection. Technically, the terms Darwinism and biological evolution are not entirely synonymous, since theories of evolution existed before Charles Darwin. I recall being taken aback when I first read that Charles’ grandfather Erasmus had written a poem suggesting all forms of life were interrelated and had evolved to their present state. And well before Charles published his book, Jean-Baptiste Larmarck had proposed a theory of evolution based on the idea that organisms acquire traits during their lives, and later pass them on (somehow) to their offspring.

Darwinism differs from other competing theories of evolution in its mechanism for change. It makes no sense, then, to apply the term to other theories that posit some process other than gradual modification through natural selection.

Nor is it technically correct to call today’s modern synthesis “Darwinism,” since it embraces two other important foundational concepts, namely mutation theory and Mendelian genetics. So those who would today call an evolutionary biologist a Darwinist betray their ignorance of evolution, Darwin, and biology in general.

A less familiar term, euhemerism, from time to time suffers similar misuse. How should we define this word? We might explain it, following Dr. Richard Carrier, as “doing what Euhemerus did.

But then we have to ask, “Well, what was that?”

What did Euhemerus do?

Euhemerus (also spelled Euhemeros) of Messene, as you may already know, wrote a book called Sacred History, in which he claimed to have visited a land called Panchaea, where he said he found evidence that Olympian gods were actually ancient kings who had been deified. Unfortunately, the book has not survived; we have only references to it in fragments by Diodorus Siculus. Worse than that, the fragments come down to us through Eusebius of Caesarea, so we can be fairly certain what we have is not exactly what Euhemerus wrote.

In Book VI, Diodorus notes that ancient people thought of some gods as eternal, existing “from everlasting to everlasting.” The sun and the moon, for example, predate human existence and will be in the heavens long after we’re gone.

But the other gods, we are told, were terrestrial beings who attained to immortal honour and fame because of their benefactions to mankind, such as Heracles, Dionysus, Aristaeus, and the others who were like them.

Euhemerus’s possibly unique contribution was the notion that all Olympian gods existed one time as humans on earth. (N.B., however, that some scholars say that the myth of Zeus’s tomb predates Euhemerus.) That is to say, at one time in the distant past, beings whom people later came to believe were eternal deities began their lives as men and women who had lived on Earth. In Sacred History, he wrote that he visited the island of Panchaea, where he met the natives whom he described as pious and honorable.

[6.1.6] There is also on the island, situated upon an exceedingly high hill, a sanctuary of Zeus Triphylius, which was established by him during the time when he was king of all the inhabited world and was still in the company of men

[6.1.7] And in this temple there is a stele of gold on which is inscribed in summary, in the writing employed by the Panchaeans, the deeds of Uranus and Cronus and Zeus. 

[6.1.8] Euhemerus goes on to say that Uranus was the first to be king, that he was an honourable man and beneficent, who was versed in the movement of the stars, and that he was also the first to honour the gods of the heavens with sacrifices, whence he was called Uranus or “Heaven.” 

[6.1.9] There were born to him by his wife Hestia two sons, Titan and Cronus, and two daughters, Rhea and Demeter. Cronus became king after Uranus, and marrying Rhea he begat Zeus and Hera and Poseidon. And Zeus on succeeding to the kingship, married Hera and Demeter and Themis, and by them he had children, the Curetes by the first named, Persephonê by the second, and Athena by the third. (emphasis mine)

They weren’t dead yet

I highlighted those words at the beginning of the block because they raise an important point. In The Ritual Theory of Myth, Joseph Fontenrose notes that Lord Raglan committed a common error when explaining the euhemerist position.

Raglan seizes upon the phrase “after death,” supposing that the essence of Euhemerism is the worship of a dead king or benefactor. He has fallen into the common misconception of Euhemerisim; for Euhemeros did not say that the first gods were dead kings: he said that they were living kings. (Fontenrose, 1971, pp. 20-21)

Oddly enough, Carrier makes the same mistake in On the Historicity of Jesus, where he writes:

A popular version of this phenomenon in ancient faith literature was the practice of euhemerization: the taking of a cosmic god and placing him at a definite point in history as an actual person who was later deified. (Carrier, 2014, p. 222, emphasis mine)

As we see from Diodorus’s fragments widely available in print and on line, Euhemerus wove his tale around a very pious and extremely remote people who worshiped a living Zeus. He wasn’t “later deified“; he was worshiped while alive. I’m inclined to give Carrier a pass here, but only if we separate “doing what Euhemerus did” from doing what later euhemerists such as Eusebius and Clement of Alexandria did.

Euhemerus in Panchaea

Some scholars, a minority to be sure, still think that Gruppe was right and that Euhemerus was pulling our legs.

Carrier continues:

Euhemerus was a Greek writer of the early third century BCE, who wrote a book called The Sacred Scriptures [sic] in which he depicted an imaginary scholar discovering that Zeus and Uranus were once actual kings. (Carrier, 2014, p. 222, emphasis mine)

It is unclear why Carrier would choose the idiosyncratic translation of Ἱερὰ Αναγραφή (Hiera Anagraphē) as The Sacred Scripture, when most scholars call it Sacred History or Sacred Writings (with no definite article), unless perhaps it’s because he’s loosely translating the Latin version — but no matter. What does matter, I think, is the implication that Euhemerus invented some “imaginary scholar,” when in fact that scholar was Euhemerus himself.

Quoting Diodorus again:

[6.1.4] Now Euhemerus, who was a friend of King Cassander and was required by him to perform certain affairs of state and to make great journeys abroad, says that he [Euhemerus] travelled southward as far as the ocean; for setting sail from Arabia the Blest he voyaged through the ocean for a considerable number of days and was carried to the shore of some islands in the sea, one of which bore the name of Panchaea.

Is Euhemerus recounting a tall tale? Absolutely. It is perhaps a philosophical travelogue or even, as some scholars have theorized, an elaborate piece of satire (as Otto Gruppe put it“finding expression not so much in the form of crude satire, but as genteel irony” [my translation]). And here’s a good reason not to say that euhemerization was “doing what Euhemerus did”: We’re not entirely sure what Euhemerus was doing. Some scholars, a minority to be sure, still think that Gruppe was right and that Euhemerus was pulling our legs.

Moreover, as we noted above, our fragments come to us third hand.

. . . it is clear that a summary passed on by Diodorus cannot be considered Euhemerus’ original text. It is even less appropriate to treat Latin version of Euhemerus’ text as fragments because here we are dealing with a rather free interpretation partially preserved in Lactantius’ work (c. 300 AD), which was only indirectly based on Ennius’ translation. Hence, we do not actually possess any fragments of Euhemerus’ text in the strict sense of the word. (Marek Winiarczyk, 2013, p. 13)

Turning gods into men

An important thing to keep in mind when trying to understand euhemerization is what so-called euhemerists after Euhemerus did. One instructive case is Eusebius, who wrote about Belus (Bel Marduk) as if he were an ordinary mortal king.

Belus was the king of the Assyrians. During his reign, the Cyclopes brought lightning and thunder to assist Zeus during his battle against the Titans. At the same time, the kings of the Titans were in their prime — including king Ogygus.

Naturally, Eusebius was embellishing upon what he’d read in Diodorus’s fragment (see 6.1.10). He was describing a fictional human past in which old, mythical gods supposedly arose from the memory of great kings. He’s imagining a historical epoch when some highly respected men walked the earth, and whose reputations grew over time until they were revered as gods.

This sort of god-demoting apologetic became a familiar weapon in early Christianity. Fentriss and Wickham in Social Memory: New Perspectives on the Past write:

The subsequent history of the doctrine that the gods were once mortal men is no less interesting. The doctrine was quickly adopted by the Fathers of the Church, who used it as a weapon against pagans: ‘Those to whom you bow were once humans like yourselves‘ (Clement of Alexandria, in [Jean] Seznec 1972: 11 [The Survival of the Pagan Gods]). Gradually, however, with the spread of Christianity, the euhemerist tradition lost this polemical function, being retained simply as a means of ordering information concerning pagan history, both classical and then, later, Celtic and Germanic. (Fentriss and Wickham, 1992, p. 83, emphasis mine)

Euhemerus’s unique contribution

The authors quote Seznec’s definition of euhemerism as the doctrine that “the gods had been recruited from the ranks of mortal men” (Fentriss and Wickham, 1992, pp. 82-83). However, that description isn’t quite complete, at least as regards the question, “What was Euhemerus doing?” According to Winiarczyk, Euhemerus took several well-known existing ideas and blended them to develop his own theogony (“the genealogy or birth of the gods”).

Euhemerus’ religious views were not in any way original because he was referring to:

a) old Greek concepts (the apotheosis of heroes, gods founding cults and the tombs of gods),
b) the idea of euergetism,
c) rationalistic interpretation of myths,
d) Sophistic theories regarding the origins of religion,
e) the commander and ruler cults which began at the turn of the 4th century.

Nevertheless, Euhemerus did combine all these issues into an interesting whole, which meant that the Ἱερὰ Ἀναγραφή [Sacred History] influenced not only the Greeks but also, thanks to Ennius’ translation, the Romans. (Winiarczyk, 2013, p. 108, reformatting and emphasis mine)

Winiarczyk focuses heavily on the concept of euergetism, by which he means benefaction or a person doing some good and noble work for others. For example, he reminds us that the Trojans called Hector a god, just as the Greeks sometimes called Achilles a god. He gives many other examples of sacrifices and praise given to human benefactors, concluding:

At the core of this belief was the conviction that one of the most important attributes of a deity was the performance of benefactions (τὸ εὐεργετεῖν). By performing good deeds a person likened himself to a god. (Winiarczyk, 2013, pp. 41-42)

Such benefactions included the promulgation of just laws and the support of inventions that benefited humankind. Recall again that Euhemerus said that the people of Panchaea worshiped the men Zeus and Uranus while they were alive, erecting temples in their honor. While touring the world, other peoples from distant lands paid similar homage. Diodorus writes:

[6.1.10] . . . And coming to Cilicia he conquered in battle Cilix, the governor of the region, and he visited very many other nations, all of which paid honour to him and publicly proclaimed him a god. 

So, what exactly did Euhemerus do, and why did he write Sacred History?

The author of the Ἱερὰ Ἀναγραφή [Sacred History] (c. 300 BC) wanted to show that the Olympian gods were deified people. That is why Euhemerism is sensu stricto the reduction of the Olympian gods to the role of deified humans. It is not proper to call Euhemerism the apotheosis of people who had achieved things for humanity, as this concept had existed before Euhemerus. The notion of the apotheosis of people stemmed from three other concepts:

[a] euergetism,
[b] the conviction that Heracles and other heroes had been deified
[c] as well as the theory of the Sophist Prodicus stating that religion emerged out of a sense of gratitude.

(Winiarczyk, 2013, p. 123, emphasis mine)

Later euhemerists’ contributions

For Plutarch it was enough to know the basic idea to reject it as impious atheism. But for the early Christian Church Fathers it became a useful weapon to combat paganism.

Obviously, what Euhemerus had in mind is not identical with the ideas of subsequent euhemerists. He continues:

In discussing the reception of Euhemerism I shall nevertheless take into account the view that it was the performing of benefactions (εὐεργεσία) which led to deification because Euhemerism is so perceived by many scholars. On the other hand, it is decidedly wrong to term rationalistic interpretations of myths as EuhemerismNor was it writing about the tombs of certain gods, since the tradition of the deaths and tombs of particular deities (Zeus and Dionysus) preceded Euhemerus. Nevertheless, one has to admit the Christian writers willingly used this tradition to show that the pagan gods were ordinary human beings. (Winiarczyk, 2013, p. 123, emphasis mine)

Looking over the evidence we can see that most people who invoked the name of Euhemerus had never actually read his work, and probably only knew of a brief synopsis. (And despite their brevity, the extant fragments apparently go unread even today.) For Plutarch it was enough to know the basic of the idea to reject it as impious atheism. But for the early Christian Church Fathers it became a useful weapon to combat paganism.

We should note that besides what is known as positive euhemerism, we also have negative euhemerism. In the latter, Christian writers argued that the deified rulers were not benefactors (εὐεργέται) but wicked people who committed many evil deeds. (Winiarczyk, 2013, p. 123) Even so, the Christian practitioners of euhemerism — positive or negative — stuck fairly close to the script, so to speak. They invented backstories in which ancient gods turned out to be famous humans from the past.

In modern descriptions of euhemerism you’ll often find watered-down or even misunderstood versions. For example, in D.M. Murdock’s Christ in Egypt, you’ll find this terse definition in one of the footnotes:

One of the relatively few actual instances of what is called “euhemerism” or “evemerism”—making a human into a god or goddess, also deemed “apotheosis”—apparently occurred with the Egyptian architect Imhotep [citing Donald Redford, The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion] . . . (Murdock, 2011, p. 10, emphasis mine)

What’s wrong here is the simple equating of euhemerism to apotheosis. Carrier in a blog post from July 2015 correctly notes:

I do wonder where the confusion arose among people (and I’ve seen a lot of them online) thinking euhemerization means turning a real person into a god. That’s not euhemerization. That’s deification. Julius Caesar was deified. He was not euhemerized. Euhemerized gods are always historically non-existent.

Demythologizing the gods: Rationalism run amok

As you can easily see from the examples above, the earliest euhemerizers in the Christian tradition did something similar to what Euhemerus himself did. They constructed fictional histories and genealogies for beings who had once been considered eternal gods. Notwithstanding Euhemerus’s ultimate aim, later euhemerizers were doing it in order to demythologize or, more to the point, desupernaturalize pagan gods. This trend continued into modern times where even medieval heroes and kings such as St. George the dragon slayer and King Arthur were imagined to have existed as ordinary men.

Anyone who has read Lord Raglan must recall his astonishment at the lengths to which euhemerizers were willing to go. Surely by now, he argued, everyone should consider King Arthur to be a mythical character.

That he is not so is due to two causes. The first is the extreme lengths to which euhemerism has been carried by modern scholars. Whereas Euhemeros was content to claim that the gods had once been great men, it now seems to be generally held that such a thing as a purely mythical character has never existed. The second cause is that Arthur is supposed to have lived among the post-Roman Britons, a people of whom we know almost nothing, and about whom, therefore, those who attach little weight to evidence can speculate with considerable freedom. (Raglan, The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, 1936/2003, p. 70, emphasis mine)

Raglan championed the cause of anti-euhemerism for mythical characters who were obviously mythic. He was fighting against rationalism run amok. For ultra-euhemerists, nothing was ever pure myth; everything had some kernel of truth with some real person at the center of it all.

And in the end, that’s what euhemerism became: the rationalization of divine (or superhuman) beings by proposing ordinary human histories. In its extreme form, obviously mythical or even fairytale-like people can be euhemerized. Whether false or not, the aim is to create an alternative, anti-supernatural history. Remember Clement’s line:

“Those to whom you bow were once humans like yourselves.”

Was Jesus euhemerized?

So if Carrier says Jesus was euhemerized, then who were the euhemerists? Specifically, here’s the big question: Was the author of the Gospel of Mark a euhemerist? Carrier says:

Mark’s euhemerization would logically transfer Jesus’ demonic enemies to earthly ones, leading to the allegory of internecine betrayal in the Judas narrative (where the whole world conspires to kill him: Romans, Jews and ‘Christians’). (Carrier, 2014, p. 560, n. 62)

Wait. So, were all the gospels really euhemerizations of a cosmic Jesus?

The Gospels were simply constructed to euhemerize Jesus, as all mythical demigods had been (Element 45) . . . (Carrier, 2014, p. 613)

I want to be generous, but I can’t make any sense these statements. For Carrier to be correct, then the word euhemerize would have to be identically synonymous with historicize, and that cannot be the case. If Carrier is right, we would have to leave aside the bulk of what Euhemerus and later euhemerists said and did.

Were the evagelists rationalizing Jesus? Were they desupernaturalizing him? Absolutely not. They may well indeed have been historicizing the life of Jesus on Earth. And that’s a perfectly fine way to put it. Let me be clear: My quibble isn’t with Carrier’s overall thesis. I merely contend that his use of the terms euhemerist, euhemerism, and euhemerize conflicts with Euhemerus’s own writings and all euhemerist practitioners thereafter.

Answering one of his critics online, Carrier writes:

You seem to be confusing Euhemerus creating a historical man out of a celestial god (the actual thing Euhemerus notably did) and Euhemerus doing so without making that historical man magical. Those aren’t the same thing. And the latter is not what euhemerizing is. . . . Not all euhemerizers were rationalists like Euhemerus, BTW. Romulus and Osiris were euhemerized, but they were miracled up a bit. So was Dionysus. And Hercules. And Isis. Etc.

He has vigorously defended this position before. For example back in October of 2013 he wrote:

Osiris and Romulus were once non-historical cosmic gods, and then centuries later were transformed into historical men later deified. That is euhemerization. That cult believers then embraced both is also well in evidence, so again it doesn’t matter why or how that happened, we still know it happened.

If gods, demigods, and heroes were being euhemerized (according to Carrier’s definition) even before Euhemerus existed, then what was his contribution? Why bother naming it after him? People well before his lifetime had historicized mythical characters. They had applied rational explanations to supernatural stories. His building blocks had been around for decades, if not centuries. What Euhemeris did, as Winiarczyk pointed out, was to “combine all these issues into an interesting whole.” 

It gets worse in On the Historicity of Jesus, when Carrier introduces the concept of “instant euhemerization.”

First, a deity can easily be euhemerized from day one. It does not require any time lag at all. Especially if that deity is euhemerized to cre­ate an exoteric allegory for both the public and new initiates, whose esoteric meaning is explained only to more advanced members (Elements 13 and 14). Although the deities and heroes in the Rank-Raglan class were either euhemerized centuries after they were first worshiped as deities (like Osiris), or at the moment of their invention they were placed centuries in the past (like Jason), this was not because either was necessary for the process to work. (Carrier, 2014, p. 249)

By now, Carrier’s definition of euhemerization is all but unrecognizable. If Jason was “instantly euhemerized,” then any number of heroes from the past can be construed along the same lines, which goes well beyond with anything Euhemerus or any subsequent euhemerist ever imagined.

Conclusion

I’m arguing here not so much for a strict definition of euhemerism, as for a coherent one. As we’ve seen, later euhemerists may have stretched the meaning slightly, but in every instance they were rationalizing well-known divine, semi-divine, or heroic beings by creating mundane histories.

This usage is backed by a well-documented pedigree. The word “euhemerism” entered the English language back in 1846 (see the OED Compact Edition, 1986, p. 902). According to Max Müller (1864):

. . . Euhemerism has become the recognised title of that system of mythological interpretation which denies the existence of divine beings, and reduces the gods of old to the level of men. Distinction, however, must be made between the complete and systematic denial of all gods, which is ascribed to Euhemerus, and the partial application of his principles which we find in many Greek writers. (Müller, 1864, p. 397)

Müller perhaps overstated the case with respect to Euhemerus, but he was correct in that euhemerism is the application of what later writers (not only Greek, but Roman as well) believed to be euhemerist principles, and therefore the verb to euhemerize derives from that practice, and not strictly from Euhemerus himself.

Consequently, taking into account the writings of euhemerists in the past as well as its usage by scholars in modern times, euhemerism cannot refer to the gospels, since none of the evangelists were trying to rationalize a celestial Christ. They may have been creating legendary terrestrial events in a reconstructed life of Jesus, but they were clearly not consciously creating history in order to demythologize Jesus. If anything, they were adding to the miraculous nature of a celestial Christ who once walked on Earth — building him into a beloved teacher, a healer, a miracle worker, a wise man, a champion of the poor, a great prophet who stood up to the corrupt priests, a deep thinker who jousted with Pharisees and Sadducees, a true friend of his followers, a ransom for many, the beloved son of God.

We began this post by discussing the roots and meaning of the word Darwinism. One could argue, à la Carrier, that it’s “doing what Darwin did,” which would be to claim that all species have descended from a common ancestor, through a process of gradual change, effected by natural selection. Similarly, “doing what Euhemerus did” would be to claim that certain beings we now think of as divine (or semi-divine or heroic) are really just ordinary men and women who once lived among us, were revered because of their good works, and eventually became thought of as gods.

To think of euhemerism as something other than this specific method of rationalization and demythologizing is to misunderstand its proper usage and to misrepresent its well-documented history.

[Note: This post reflects my perspective and mine alone. Neil is not responsible for any of the above content. In other words, don’t blame him; blame me. –Tim]


Carrier, Richard

On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, Sheffield Phoenix Press Ltd., 2014

Fentriss, James and Wickham, Chris

Social Memory: New Perspectives on the Past, ACLS Humanities E-Book, 2008

Fontenrose, Joseph

Ritual Theory of Myth, University of California Press, 1971

Müller, Max

“The Mythology of the Greeks” in Lectures on the Science of Language, Vol. 2, Longman, Green, Longman, Roberts, and Green 1864

Murdock, D.M.

Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection, Stellar House Publishing, LLC, 2009

Raglan, Lord (FitzRoy Somerset)

The Hero: A Study in Tradition, Myth and Drama, Dover Publications, 2011

Winiarczyk, Marek

The “Sacred History” of Euhemerus of Messene, De Gruyter, 2013

 

94 Comments

  • 2016-01-25 05:37:14 UTC - 05:37 | Permalink

    Didn’t Carrier include in his thesis his “special use” of the word “euhemerize? Or, did he do that elsewhere?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-25 06:00:07 UTC - 06:00 | Permalink

      I don’t know. And what would that “special use” be?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-25 06:21:06 UTC - 06:21 | Permalink

      Phil, if you look at p. 540, para. 2 of OTHJ, you’ll see this:

      . . . and what that gospel was before the Gospels mythically euhemerized Jesus into an earthly man.

      But euhemerization isn’t about creating myths; it’s about creating legends. It’s about inventing a rational alternative.

      The following link may help explain this difference.

      http://www.diffen.com/difference/Legend_vs_Myth

      • MrHorse
        2016-01-26 02:00:47 UTC - 02:00 | Permalink

        I’m not sure ‘rational alternative’ is a good term for euhemerization or euhemerism.

        I’d say euhemerization is about re-defining a narrative.

    • MrDolphin
      2016-02-24 19:37:28 UTC - 19:37 | Permalink

      i think i know what the book was about, if athena saved athens (thats why its called athens) and Gaia the original greek godess made the land and oceans. Dosnt that mean they have an influence of power in the mortal world. Meaning if there are several different gods Egyptians, Nordic , chinese, hindu, hebrew . (– what if other gods like chinese or aztec used their power(combined) to defy zeus’s power in the mortal world Since the power of the aztec gods and chinese combined beat the power of all the olympian gods then they would have no influence at all in the mortal world as long as they were overpowered(defied) By other gods. —– My best guess.. Mathematic calculation — Groups of gods
      /////considering any region in the world with: MYTHOLOGY to have a group of gods as its origin i get////// * = a possible group of gods **= rare possibility

      Nordic / Egyptian / Greek / Chinese / japanese / *British(possibility, Stone hedge,mages, dragons)
      Aztec / *Several african groups of gods / *North american (Northern Canada Artic) / North america Non Arctic / *Mexico / *Australia / **Persian ———————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————-

      (Gods that seize to exist) Nordic, Egyptian, Greek, V.S Chinese, Hindu, Hebrew, British, Japanese, All African gods (that exist still)
      , North american Arctic part
      Who do you think wins?
      Clearly the left side would of been defied entirely by the right sides group of gods

      /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////// ///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
      Just in the last 100years most of the right side seems to be rapidly losing if u look at how how nice there countrys are .even the north american Arctic (unaffected by British colonization) now seems to be losing to global warming which directly affects them more then anyone else in the world/—- my best guess the right side defied many north american gods making the sides become more even – left side has about 48power ,, right has 49 out of 100 with all gods included just Gaia is still in idle for her extreme hatred against zeus, but say if something could make her want to help zeus regain his throne and considering she made uranus and basicly all the greeks gods meaning she has a good amount of power she’d make the sides 51 to 49 meaning the greeks are now winning but with her as the keypiece to who wins or loses this fight she has complete control over them meaning she could still punish the gods on the right side but not give back zeus his throne nor the greeks to again worship him, kinda meaning she has control over everything pretty much at this point. and could explain the rapid development of technology in the past 100years. So i kinda think what happened was all the gods went to war with each other, with the lesser gods become more powerful then the greek gods who were once the most powerful ones. Just the ironic part is zeus tryed to hard to not be dethroned like chronos but didnt get defied by his own son, rather instead defied by the other gods and now dethroned but if Gaia really is in power she might as well make a new god to replace him. For her hatred against means she probably would never give him back his throne (she hates him cause he imprisoned all the titans who were her children) plus she foretold Zeus of his victory if he freed 2 deformed titans from tataurus which chronos imprisoned who were his sons. But this is all a made up theory just in this theory if she did help zeus it would of had to been something in the mortal world that affected a goddess so much that she eventually came to there aid as she did to chronos wife when she begged her for help. Just the prophecy states that a son will dethrone him but Gaia once again came to there aid as she did the first time which i guess is basicly a repeat of the first time just it was zeus who dethroned chronos after he grew up but who will dethrone zeus? Plus theres only clearly 1 greek godess who could ever be affected by what happens in the mortal world that it would be any concern to Gaia if u can guess which one it is.

      and anyone with confusion on the british (they had dragons,merlin, witch hunts only 500years ago, which is existence of their mythology meaning there not defied and are the right side where greek mythology is completely gone, plus they invented alot of stuff just like the chinese)

      Just to be clear this all is only a made up theory

  • Joss
    2016-01-25 11:08:53 UTC - 11:08 | Permalink

    What Carrier writes, is incorrect: “Euhemerized gods are always historically non-existent.” Nope. But it’s only incorrect in that it’s kinda incomplete: euhemerized gods are historicized gods who may or may not have been actual historical persons once who were deified (quickly after their death, or over generations). Of course this does not entail that euhemerization is equal to deification. But there is the possibility that a euhemerized god was originally a deified human. We simply don’t know whether the latter is the case. But considering that deification was common-place in antiquity, even before Euhemerus’ times, then the probabilities actually lean in favor of the ancient gods (euhemerized or not) being once-deified humans. This doesn’t mean that their euhemerizations are historically accurate; quite the contrary: these are surely just auxiliary legends—maybe rationalizing legends in a sense, at least coming from a more rational state of mind—, but that doesn’t prove that these gods were “historically non-existent” per se. They are only historically non-existent as far as our currently available historical sources go.

    The way Carrier applies the term “euhemerization” is however correct. When he writes of the “euhemerized Jesus”, he is spot on. Until now “Jesus of Nazareth” was never proven to have been a historical person, so either (as Carrier posits) he was created as a celestial revelation, and was later historicized into this (fictional) pseudo-historical person (“Jesus of Nazareth”), or he was a completely different historical person, in which case that person was deified, but then re-historicized into a completely different (fictional) pseudo-historical person (“Jesus of Nazareth”). In both cases we are dealing with euhemerization, but in only one case we are dealing with an additional original deification.

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-29 02:28:47 UTC - 02:28 | Permalink

      Joss’s second paragraph is an interesting take on Carrier, but I disagree with aspects of Joss’s 1st paragraph, though that 1st paragraph raises interesting points about changing concepts of specific gods over time.

      I see euhemerised gods as gods who were previously *gods without much in the way of human attributes or characteristics* (as much as human-centric theology writes could) who are, at some oint in time, given greater human attributes or characteristics.

      The points that Joss raise introduce, to me, at least, the possibility that, before they were latterly euhemerized, some gods had variably been portrayed, at different times in the past, or in different places, with different degrees of human characteristics. So, Zeus or Uranus may have been portrayed with more human characteristics in some pre-Euhemerus times than others, or in some places more than others, or both, before Euhumerus’s commentary became prominent.

  • MrHorse
    2016-01-25 12:30:35 UTC - 12:30 | Permalink

    Another confusing aspect to euhemerism is that

    Euhemerism was fashionable among the Church Fathers (the religious teachers of the early church) as an ‘account’ of paganism.

    [ie. Euhemerus had [supposedly] ‘shown’ the Greek and Roman ‘gods’ were merely deified humans.]

    http://www.britannica.com/topic/Euhemerism

    ie. the Christians used Euhemerus’s narration to misrepresent non-Christian gods as mere men who had been deified.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-25 14:16:01 UTC - 14:16 | Permalink

      It isn’t a “confusing aspect.” It’s actually one of the main points of this post. Eusebius and Clement were following exactly in Euhemerus’s footsteps. I thought I made that pretty clear.

      Euhemerus: “Zeus and Uranus were mortal men who were venerated and thought of as gods.”

      Eusebius: “Belus was the king of the Assyrians. During his reign, the Cyclopes brought lightning and thunder to assist Zeus during his battle against the Titans. At the same time, the kings of the Titans were in their prime — including king Ogygus.”

      Clement: “Those to whom you bow were once humans like yourselves.”

    • Geoff
      2016-01-25 19:57:51 UTC - 19:57 | Permalink

      Couldn’t the Gospel accounts then be attempts to address this same possibility for their God. Look, no our God wasn’t a mere human, he was the Son of God on Earth and as evidence, see, he could perform miracles.

      I’ve been thinking about this and the apparent existence of a purely Logos religion called Christianity well into the writings of the Fathers and the absence of Jesus of Nazareth. It seems to me that Minucius Felix provides evidence of a dispute between the more spiritually based Christians and the counter-counter Euhemerists (euhemerists, but denying euhemerism). To me, the pure Euhemerists are today’s historicists. Don’t they fit the definition exactly?

      • MrHorse
        2016-01-26 22:48:20 UTC - 22:48 | Permalink

        I think you make valid points, Geoff.

        Yes, the initial Christian writings (and concurrent apocryphal writings) seems to be about a celestial Logos, and it’s not until later than Jesus of Nazareth ‘appears’ in the writings.

        It does seem today’s Jesus-historicists are euhemerists.

  • Bee
    2016-01-25 12:55:24 UTC - 12:55 | Permalink

    I’ve seen “euhemerism” used many different ways. Creating much confusion. Generally, originally perhaps, it referred to 1) the theory that most of our legends of gods came from actual men, kings, who were revered by their subjects. But also “euhemerism” is taken as 2) a false belief; people coming to wrongly believe their god was originally a real person.

    As applied to Jesus, this gets complicated. Number two here, would fit most of what I Dougherty-style mysticism mostly says: likely the original concept of Jesus was actually a disembodied ideal. One that I might add, later was said to have come to earth, to become, or be seen as, a flesh and blood person.

    I agree with most of this. But here I add that the potentially historicist number one, might also have a LIMITED truth. In that as I assert, part of the notion of Jesus may have come not just from an abstract ideal in heaven, being incorrectly taken as a real person. But in addition, likely their were not just one, but hundreds of real heroes, martyrs, kings. Bits of whose stories, worship, inspired parts of the story of Jesus.

    Here I do not support historicity, or this kind of euhemerism: the thesis that there was a single, real person behind the Jesus stories. Instead I and many similar Composite theories, see the Jesus myth as coming in part from1) the incorrect summarization of an abstract notion. Or, 2) if parts of Jesus came from any real, historical persons, he came not from just ONE of them. But from bits and pieces of DOZENS of them.

    So I don’t call myself, or other similar theorists, “historicist.” In my view, there are bits of mangled history in the Jesus story. But there was still no single “historical Jesus.” Just 1) myths taken for realities. Or at most. 2) badly, hopelessly mishandled semihistorical bits of not one but dozens, even hundreds of, at most, semihistorical heroes and lords.

    I suppose someone might worry that in some way I and similar theories, thereby support Historicism. However, the “historical” material I see behind the Jesus myth was so mangled, that it couldn’t be said to have come from any single person. But only from at least dozens of them. Whose stories were hopelessly mixed together. And then added to purely mythical/heavenly material.

    So in my own views to date, there is still no person who could be called “the real, historical Jesus,” in any meaningful sense. Just lots of myths, and misused bits of badly mangled history, at best. Bits of dozens, if not hundreds, of conflated figures.

    • Bee
      2016-01-25 20:28:32 UTC - 20:28 | Permalink

      To clear up confusions, I’d define Euhemerism as, roughly: the belief, true or false, that the original inspiration for a given god or supernatural being, was mainly a human being, or a number of human beings. In some cases that belief may have been correct. In other cases, not.

  • 2016-01-25 13:44:30 UTC - 13:44 | Permalink

    This is an excellent and thoughtful article.
    Perhaps Euhemerism can be thought of as part of a re-contextualization of symbols that happens when a new language or a new dialect is developing. Reconextualization of symbols can happen with any symbols apparently, and it does not matter if the symbol is myth – Mother Earth, for example, or “the motherland” or “fatherland,” or “homeland” or an actually existing person.
    I find the process happens with famous symbols all the time. Think of Donald Trump who was associated with hedonistic great wealth and Gambling casinos in the 1980s. In the 2000s he was re-contextualized as a television reality-game show host with the catchphrase, “You’re fired.” He is now re-contextualized as an outrageous presidential candidate, either a new Hitler or the hope of Western Civilization against barbarism.
    One can also see it with Bill Cosby. In the 1960’s he was a hero because he was the first black person to be in a television dramatic series in the United States and the first black person to win an Emmy Award. He was called “the Jackie Robinson of television” after Jackie Robinson, the first black baseball player in the Major Leagues. In the 1980’s, he was known as “America’s Favorite Dad” because of his #1 rated television show based on his life as a father called “The Cosby Show.” In the 2000’s, a group of people (who have been described as third wave feminists or sex negative feminists, or the lesbiangaytransgender community or anti-rape activists or some combination thereof) recontextualized the symbol to make him into “America’s Serial Rapist.”

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-25 14:21:39 UTC - 14:21 | Permalink

      You have interesting terms for “rape victim.” I would just point out that rumors about Cosby’s crimes had circulated for many years. It was an open secret in the comedy community.

      It took a male comedian, Hannibal Buress, to break the ice and make it public.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/hannibal-buress-reacts-to-controversial-bill-cosby-joke-2015-7

      • 2016-01-25 16:07:42 UTC - 16:07 | Permalink

        Hi Tim,

        I don’t want to sidetrack the discussion.
        Just for information purposes, since I’ve been investigating the case for 14 months, the Cosby case is filled with carefully constructed fictions by an array of ideologically motivated groups.
        The Hannibal Buress 2 minute “Cosby is a serial rapist” routine, was a weak copy of Eddie Murphy’s famous “Fuck you, Bill” routine in his 1987 film “Raw.” (#1 stand=up comedian movie of all time). It was done by a virtually unknown comedian and did not go “viral” until Philly.Mag and other news websites started saying it had gone viral. It was a poor joke and had little to do with the branding of Cosby as a serial rapist. One has only to ask when any comedy bit by a black comedian has ever been taken seriously before by international multi-billion dollar network news organizations?
        This comedy bit was done in October of 2014. Eight months before this on Feb 4, 2014, Newsweek, a dying but historically important, national news magazine published this piece which marked the first serious attack against Cosby since People Magazine had published an article on the settlement of Cosby’s lawsuit with the only accuser who brought a legal case against him. http://www.newsweek.com/tamara-green-talks-about-bill-cosby-228495.) The article was written by Katie J.M. Baker, a noted “anti-rape activist” who has been quoted as saying that she “thinks about rape 24 hours a day,” and that anybody who says there are two side to any story is a “rape apologist.” In this piece, she leaves out important information that the alleged victim
        lawyer “Tamara Green” was facing disbarment from the California Bar Association for stealing $20,000 from three clients and not getting help for her mental illness, as she had promised the Bar, at the time she made her 35 year old allegation against Cosby. Her license was suspended the following year. Although she married an Academy Award winning producer and one of the most powerful people in Hollywood a year after the alleged incident, she never told him or anybody else about it. She only went on national television (and was interviewed on six different shows) in early February, 2005, three weeks after ex-professional basketball player, 6ft. tall, Lesbian Andrea Constand had publicly accused Cosby of drugging and sexually assaulting her. Constand herself was 31 years old, broke, out of work and living in her parents home in Canada when she suddenly went to police to report the incident, one year after it allegedly took place.
        The whole story is fascinating and the study of the accusers, lawyers and journalists involved and their interaction is quite complex. There will be a hundred more surprises in the next year, but I’m pretty sure it is going to lead to the apotheosis of Bill Cosby in the next decade or two, after his death.

        • 2016-01-25 16:41:42 UTC - 16:41 | Permalink

          Oh, and there is no evidence of any comedian or anybody making any joke or saying anything about Bill Cosby drugging or sexually assaulting anybody before Andrea Constand went public with her accusation in 2005 when Cosby was 65 years old and had been famous for over 40 years. The only exception to this is an article in the National Inquirer (the leading tabloid sex and scandal magazine in America at the time). They paid the parents of a young actress several thousand dollars for an article in which they alleged that he exposed himself to their daughter and fondled her breasts. They had taken the daughter themselves to the police to report Cosby the previous week. The daughter had reported that Cosby had put her hand under his sweatshirt and had started to move it “south”. She said “I’m leaving.” She says that Cosby said “Fine,” and she left. The daughter did not report any attempt at drugging or any attempt at a sexual assault. Only the parents reported inappropriate sexual behavior when they were paid by the National Inquirer, who incidentally also paid Andrea Constand (in 2005) for her first interview after reporting Cosby to the Police.

  • Giuseppe
    2016-01-25 15:30:31 UTC - 15:30 | Permalink

    Similarly, “doing what Euhemerus did” would be to claim that certain beings we now think of as divine (or semi-divine or heroic) are really just ordinary men and women who once lived among us, were revered because of their good works, and eventually became thought of as gods.

    I agree that the evangelists were not strictu sensu euhemerists (as not de-mythologizers), but I think that you should recognize that, under the hypothesis of a mythical Jesus, the pagan rationalist philosophers as Celsus and Porphyry were real ”Jesus euhemerists” according to your correct definition of euhemerism, since they, to make sense of a mythological/legendary figure as the Gospel Jesus, could not do other than ”to claim that Jesus was really just ordinary man who once lived among us, was revered because of his good works, and eventually became thought of as god”.

    In this sense, if mythicism is true, then what all the historicist scholars are doing is mere 100% euhemerism (by the same distinction between a Jesus of history and a Christ of faith).

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-25 15:56:02 UTC - 15:56 | Permalink

      I think euhemerism has become one of those words that’s been misused so often that we may have to abandon it. Some writers act as if it’s synonymous with apotheosis, while others think it applies to any kind of historicizing. In Carrier’s OTHJ he starts off with an almost correct definition, but then veers off into one that’s so loose that it practically loses all meaning.

      • Giuseppe
        2016-01-25 16:12:07 UTC - 16:12 | Permalink

        I agree partially. Euhemerism loses his meaning in a modern discussion. But it may be still useful to describe correctly the reaction of ancient pagan learned people.

        For example, under the mythical hypothesis, I find 100% expected that the reaction of rationalist pagan philosophers (or even of talmudic writers talking negatively about the heretical Jeshu ha-Notzri et similia) was very like Euhemerus. A Celsus despised so much his ‘historical’ Jesus because it was apparently his only way of euhemerizing (rationalizing) him, not because he was very persuased that he was historical and a bad person. This may be a valid argument against those anti-mythicists who think that the absence of mythicist complaints by Celsus is sufficient proof that Jesus ”really existed”.

        • Tim Widowfield
          2016-01-25 16:44:42 UTC - 16:44 | Permalink

          We agree on most points. To continue with your example, the Yeshua ben Panthera legend is an attempt to de-mythologize and rationalize Jesus.

          • David Ashton
            2016-01-25 19:23:19 UTC - 19:23 | Permalink

            What is your evaluation of the Justin-Trypho dialogue? Another fake script?

            • Tim Widowfield
              2016-01-25 19:48:33 UTC - 19:48 | Permalink

              I’d say so. Trypho is likely a fictional character with Justin supplying both sides of a dialog.

              Would you agree?

              • David Ashton
                2016-01-25 22:36:29 UTC - 22:36 | Permalink

                Quite possibly. There are however common-sense limits to which the early Christian materials can be dismissed as fantasy, fiction and fabrication, with redaction and interpolation devised to discard any item inconveniently suggestive of an historical person or event.

                The earliest exclusive Jewish traditions suggest that Jesus was a human being not a completely imaginary deity.

              • Tim Widowfield
                2016-01-25 22:47:56 UTC - 22:47 | Permalink

                Just so we’re clear, I think Justin isn’t breaking new ground here. Plato, for example, is the voice behind Socrates and all his dialog partners.

                David: “The earliest exclusive Jewish traditions suggest that Jesus was a human being, not a completely imaginary deity.”

                Those Jewish traditions are pretty late, and quite derivative. I don’t think they’re adding any new facts. Instead, they’re reacting to stories about Jesus circulating at the time.

  • Evan
    2016-01-25 23:32:53 UTC - 23:32 | Permalink

    So much work to avoid using the word fiction. Can’t we just use that word?

    • Bee
      2016-01-25 23:47:38 UTC - 23:47 | Permalink

      Don’t forget lies.

    • Pofarmer
      2016-01-26 03:59:28 UTC - 03:59 | Permalink

      Works for me.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-26 06:57:57 UTC - 06:57 | Permalink

      Whether we like it or not, the word fiction carries with it the connotation of things that both the author and the reader know are not true and which are presented as either entertainment, instruction, or both.

      However, in this case we’re dealing with legends. In most cases, at least in ancient times, the euhemerist almost certainly invented the legend; he knew he was lying, but the reader most often did not.

  • MrHorse
    2016-01-26 00:19:12 UTC - 00:19 | Permalink

    Tim, you present a lot of pertinent information, yet I think it is possible to clarify some concepts, and downplay others.
    .

    In your section “Was Jesus euhemerized?” you say –

    “For Carrier to be correct, then the word euhemerize would have to be identically synonymous with historicize, and that cannot be the case.”

    A key concept here, in and around the concepts of euhemerization or euhemerism, is *anthropomorphize* – to attribute human concepts or values to something; to give human attributes to something: that, to me, at least, is what euhemerization or euhemerism is: attributing human concepts to [previous] notions of gods.
    .

    This also applies to –

    “Were the evangelists rationalizing Jesus? Were they desupernaturalizing him? Absolutely not. They may well indeed have been historicizing the life of Jesus on Earth.”

    It’s highly likely that the ‘evangelists were’, over considerable time, anthropomorphizing Jesus – ie. giving human attributes to a previous but evolving theological/celestial concept.

    The notion of historicizing the life of Jesus on Earth is a concurrent or subsequent one: the historicity & hagiography of the portrayal of the notions of the life of Jesus reflects (i) how those notions were portrayed at any one point in time, & (ii) how they may have changed over time.
    .

    The issue of whether past deified-figures (such a Zeus) were contended to have been living or dead seems, to me, to be moot (see your section above “They weren’t dead yet”).
    .

    Can we really contend that Euhemerus “found ‘evidence’ that Olympian gods were actually ancient kings who had been deified” ?? Perhaps we should be framing this along the lines that –

    ‘Diodorus’s euhemerism’ was *the notion* that “Olympian gods [had] existed one time as humans on earth”.
    .

    Whether “the tradition of the deaths and tombs of particular deities (Zeus and Dionysus) preceded Euhemerus” also seems to be moot.
    .

    As does whether “most people who invoked the name of Euhemerus had never actually read his work” is, in the current, modern context.
    .

    Your point centred around “Why bother naming it [euhemirism] after him [Euhemerus/Euhemeros]?” and seeminly having a dig at Carrier (2014) is also moot. Winiarczyk (and others) had done it previously 2013 …

    … and I agree with Winiarczyk –

    “Euhemerism is sensu stricto the reduction of the Olympian gods [and other gods] to the role of deified humans”
    .

    In the section “Demythologizing the gods: Rationalism run amok” you make some good points about desupernatualizing gods, but that is hardly ‘demythologizing’ them – it is then competing-theists re-defining them, so those competitors can promote their own deities: it may be seen as an attempt then to rationalize, but it is, to us today, hardly rational per se.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-26 07:16:02 UTC - 07:16 | Permalink

      You’ve brought up some interesting points, all of which I’ll try to address in time, but it’s rather late here. I do want to address your first point now, though.

      MrHorse: “A key concept here, in and around the concepts of euhemerization or euhemerism, is *anthropomorphize* – to attribute human concepts or values to something; to give human attributes to something: that, to me, at least, is what euhemerization or euhemerism is: attributing human concepts to [previous] notions of gods.”

      In the case of Euhemerus himself, the Olympian gods he referred to were already anthropomorphized. They were depicted in human form (albeit as flawless and beautiful). They also had human emotions, including the bad ones: jealousy, anger, hatred. Recall that Zeus lusted after human females and sired children with many.

      An important part of their nature was their supposed origins in mythical time, well before the age of humans. Euhemerus pulled them out of mythical time and space and placed them into the human era. He scrapped the old myths and created new legends.

      Traditionally, they were eternal gods who happened to have human form and human wants and needs. Euhemerized, they became well-loved humans who did nice things for people.

      • maryhelena
        2016-01-26 09:22:49 UTC - 09:22 | Permalink

        Tim wrote: Traditionally, they were eternal gods who happened to have human form and human wants and needs. Euhemerized, they became well-loved humans who did nice things for people.
        ———————-
        Methinks you were doing well up to this point…..;-)

        A scholar that is making a name for himself in the study of Euhemerism is Nikolas Roubekas. Three articles are available for pdf download at https://aberdeen.academia.edu/NRoubekas

        What is Euhemerism? A Brief History of Research and Some Persisting Questions

        Post Mortem Makes a Difference: On a Redescription of Euhemerism and Its Place in the Study of Graeco-Roman Divine Kingship

        Which Euhemerism will you use? Celsus on the Divine Nature of Jesus

        Later this year Roubekas is publishing a book:

        An Ancient Theory of Religion: The Reception of Euhemerism from Antiquity to the Present (Routledge Monographs in Classical Studies)

        A few points from:

        Which Euhemerism will you use? Celsus on the Divine Nature of Jesus.

        Nickolas P. Roubekas

        Euhemerus’ theory was formulated as follows: The ancient gods were once mortal kings that were deified due to their good deeds, others during their lifetime and others post mortem. Those gods were not real deities; on the contrary, as Euhemerus put it, true divinity really exists not here on earth but in the heavens and in the natural phenomena.

        ===========

        Footnote 4:
        Bolle makes a distinction between euhemerism as Euhemerus formulated it and as it was used and exploited by later, mainly Christian, writers. The latter only focused on what Euhemerus said regarding the Olympian gods and completely overlooked (or were unaware of) his explicit categorization of the gods into earthly and heavenly deities.

        ———————-
        Perhaps if this ”categorization of gods into earthly and heavenly deities” was kept in mind then some of the confusion over euhemerism might be put to rest….

        The origin of Carrier’s celestial christ figure is heaven.
        The origin of Euhemerus’ Olympian gods was earth. Carrier has a top down approach. Euhemerus has a bottom up approach.

        Reversing Euhemerism to say something it does not say is not Euhemerism – it is a Carrierism.

        —————
        As an aside re Carrier’s misuse of euhemerism:

        Perhaps what is behind Carrier’ misuse of euhemerism is his rejection of Q. Without Q he has ‘lost’ Doherty’ Q preacher figure – albeit for Doherty an imaginary preacher figure. Doherty was able to utilize this Q figure, and its community, to link in with the Pauline celestial christ community. Doherty sought to fuse the earthly Q preacher (albeit for him imaginary – and for Wells historical..) with the Pauline celestial christ figure. Without Q Carrier has to have some means of getting his Pauline celestial christ down to earth. Rather than simply proposing a historicization he has attempted to gain more mileage by a misuse of the theory of Euhemerus.
        ———————-
        From amazon re new book on Euhemerism by Nickolas Roubekas

        This book examines Euhemerism – a theory of religion developed by Euhemerus of Messene in the late 4th through early 3rd centuries BCE – tracing the history and reception of the theory in antiquity and in early Christianity, where it was adopted and reshaped for particular religious and ideological reasons. It shows how and why Euhemerism arose, how it was used, and how it significantly influenced theoretical discussions of religion from antiquity onward.

        Scholars have identified the euhemeristic tradition in various ancient and contemporary religious phenomena around the world: from the worship of the ancestors in the traditional African religions and the deified kings of the Mesoamerican civilizations to the Japanese Emperor in modern day Japan. This book examines those phenomena alongside the ancient theory of religion itself, including the motivations for its adoption, alterations of the theory in later periods, and conversion and identity formation. An Ancient Theory of Religion assumes no prior knowledge of Euhemerism and will be of interest to scholars working in classical reception, religious studies, and early Christian studies.

        http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Theory-Religion-Euhemerism-Monographs/dp/113884893X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453760871&sr=1-1

        • Tim Widowfield
          2016-01-26 13:01:05 UTC - 13:01 | Permalink

          Maryhelena: “Perhaps what is behind Carrier’ misuse of euhemerism is his rejection of Q.”

          I cannot explain Carrier’s misuse. At times he seems fully aware of what it means, and then in the next paragraph he careens into the ditch.

          • maryhelena
            2016-01-26 13:24:33 UTC - 13:24 | Permalink

            Sometime ago I posted the Nikolas Roubekas pdf links on Carrier’s blog post:

            Euhemerization Means Doing What Euhemerus Did.

            His reply:

            Thanks. He is making distinctions not relevant to the current question, though. But he collects a lot of useful data all the same.
            …….
            That says it all really….Carrier is not on the same page as scholars of Euhemerism….

            • Tim Widowfield
              2016-01-26 17:04:26 UTC - 17:04 | Permalink

              Yes, I saw that. I gather that he thinks certain features of euhemerism — ones that I (and scholars I’ve read) think are defining characteristics — are ancillary and “not relevant to the question.”

              However, he seems to understand that all other examples of euhemerization he talks about are based on fiction. That is, the authors knew they were creating legends. Were the gospel writers really doing that? — I mean, deliberately lying to their audience?

              And if so, were they lying in order to perform a kind of reverse apotheosis? Because that’s what other euhemerizers, including Euhemerus himself was doing. In fact, you could argue it was their primary goal. “Forget the divine myth; those gods were really just human beings.”

              Finally, I’m completely bewildered by his “instant euhemerization.” He’s using the term in a way that other scholars outside mythicism don’t use it. But unfortunately, I can’t get a fix on exactly what that definition is. I think, just possibly, he’s using it as a synonym for “historicization,” and if that’s the case, let’s use that instead.

              • Bee
                2016-01-27 12:42:06 UTC - 12:42 | Permalink

                There are indeed scholars who hold that by showing God as a vulnerable human person, the authors if the New Testament were in fact, hinting that legends of our God were based on fallible human beings.

                Whatever Euhemerus himself wanted to say, today Euhemerism refers, I suggest, to the opinion, true or false, that legends of a particular God were based on a mere mortal human. The intent is often to debunk a god.

                Was that the original definition? Lexicology tells us that the meaning of words often semantically drifts from an original meaning. But it is the duty of Descriptive Linguistics, to describe both the origin, but also the later usages.

      • MrHorse
        2016-01-26 21:13:28 UTC - 21:13 | Permalink

        Whether “the Olympian gods [that Euhemerus] referred to were already anthropomorphized” is beside the point – the process of anthropomorphizing gods has been termed ‘euhmerization’ and euhemerism’.

        Winiarczyk (2013), p.123 –

        “Euhemerism is sensu stricto the reduction of the Olympian gods [and other gods] to the role of deified humans”

  • Giuseppe
    2016-01-26 07:43:40 UTC - 07:43 | Permalink

    David: “The earliest exclusive Jewish traditions suggest that Jesus was a human being, not a completely imaginary deity.”

    The defamation and contempt shown towards mythological figures (eg Eusebius to the pagan gods, both Celsus and the Talmudist authors to their heretical Jesus, perhaps the same Euehmerus and other ancient euhemerists to the gods of Olympus) is in my opinion a common mediterranean tropos to downsize and rationalize (to ehuemerize) claims of cosmic deities around a hero of a rival cult. Paradoxically, so they helps to euhemerize these figures!
    To think otherwise makes appear inexplicable any hatred, contempt, defamation, moved against Jesus by Celsus and the Talmud: think about the accusations of being a bastard, a thief, an impostor… Too much hate is unwarranted for even a real person! The same criterion of embarrassment applied on fiction is really the essential tool of any perfect euhemerist.

    Even today some atheists prefer to denigrate their reconstructed ‘historical’ Jesus when in polemic with Christian apologists rather than to question his historicity. The merit of prof Hector Avalos (Jesus Agnostic) is showing that the Gospel Jesus can be condemned (from a moral point of view) without to assume a priori by need his historicity.

  • David Ashton
    2016-01-26 12:37:01 UTC - 12:37 | Permalink

    How much hate is warranted for even a real person is a subjective judgement. Describing Jesus as a “mamzer magician hanged on the eve of Passover” does not seem to me so outrageous that ipso facto it helps prove that he never existed at all. Maybe that was more or less what he was.

    On the ethics of the Gospel Jesus, I should like to see Hector Avalos debate with Raymond Belliotti.

    • David Ashton
      2016-01-26 12:50:24 UTC - 12:50 | Permalink

      PS I regret I have only just noticed Neil’s essay on Paul’s “born of a woman” &c which refers to the illegitimate birth issue & may reshape my views re “mamzer” (& Jesus as an expected virgin-born world-savior). His sometimes proposed biological father (Julius Tiberius Abdes) Pantera was buried in a Mithraic cemetery in Germany.

    • Giuseppe
      2016-01-26 19:05:35 UTC - 19:05 | Permalink

      To claim ‘Jesus is son of a prostitute’ is:
      1) a purely gratuitous defamation or…
      2) an expected way for Talmudists to make accept as mere human the hero of a rival religion Or…
      3) the pure and simple reality.

      1 is more probable than 3 but 2 is more probable than 1.

      • David Ashton
        2016-01-26 19:46:50 UTC - 19:46 | Permalink

        Here is another idea, impossible to prove but not impossible or even far-fetched. The widespread expectation of a world-savior in that part of the world, which originally arose from the Persian promise of a saoshyant, came to a coincidental climax with the time-line of the 70 sevens in Daniel and astronomical predictions including a major comet and a significant planetary conjunction.

        To enable its fulfillment, a Galilean virgin was purposely impregnated by a Servant of God in the Magian tradition, his infant care being temporarily left to a foster-father and his subsequent education in religious texts and “medical” arts to a community like the Therapeutae. At the rabbinical age of maturity he emerges to fulfill a messianic destiny in combat with the Satanic world, but open to charges of being a bastard and/or “Samaritan” instead of having a specific “divine” origin and mission (cf. John 8.41). His personal origin affects his psychology as an authoritarian charismatic and separates him from his immediate relatives.

      • MrHorse
        2016-01-26 21:06:29 UTC - 21:06 | Permalink

        “2) an expected way for Talmudists to make [Jesus] accept[ed] as mere human the hero of a rival religion” is euhemerisation; as parody dismissal, as Christians were doing to the pagans

  • maryhelena
    2016-01-26 18:22:37 UTC - 18:22 | Permalink

    Tim Widowfield commented on What Is Euhemerism?.

    in response to maryhelena:
    ———————————

    maryhelena: Sometime ago I posted the Nikolas Roubekas pdf links on Carrier’s blog post: Euhemerization Means Doing What Euhemerus Did. His reply: Thanks. He is making distinctions not relevant to the current question, though. But he collects a lot of useful data all the same. ……. That says it all really….Carrier is not on the same […]

    ————————–
    Tim: Yes, I saw that. I gather that he thinks certain features of euhemerism — ones that I (and scholars I’ve read) think are defining characteristics — are ancillary and “not relevant to the question.”

    However, he seems to understand that all other examples of euhemerization he talks about are based on fiction. That is, the authors knew they were creating legends. Were the gospel writers really doing that? — I mean, deliberately lying to their audience?

    And if so, were they lying in order to perform a kind of reverse apotheosis? Because that’s what other euhemerizers, including Euhemerus himself was doing. In fact, you could argue it was their primary goal. “Forget the divine myth; those gods were really just human beings.
    ———————
    maryhelena: Yes, if Carrier is using his idiosyncratic version of euhemerism then the charge could be made that the gospel writers were knowingly writing a lie. i.e. Carrier’s euhemerism approach to the gospel Jesus figure produces not a legend but a myth – a myth from beginning to end. And that, of course, is Carrier’s version of the ahistoricist/mythicist position…

    I don’t think Euhemerus was telling lies re Olympian gods having their origin with humans on earth. Legends can contain ‘truth’ as much as it can contain error. At what stage did man create gods in his own image – long before Euhmerus. That’s also a fundamental part of how humans operate today – we create ‘gods’ out of anything that takes our fancy – human or immaterial. Debating what specific god was originally human – might well be an academic exercise but it has no relevance for the wider principle involved. Humans create gods in their own image – today, yesterday or in the forgotten days when legend was allowed it’s role as safekeeper of ancient thought.

    Doherty held on to an imaginary Q figure i.e. an imaginary human figure. i.e. a human image, imagined or real (Wells). Carrier has jettisoned this position with his theory that the gospel Jesus was the celestial christ figure euhemerized. Pure mythology. No connection to flesh and blood, imagined or real.

    If Carrier is wrong, and I believe he is, then, as he himself wrote:

    ”If ‘Jesus Christ began as a celestial deity’ is false,
    it could still be that he began as a political fiction,”. (OHJ)

    Rather than use the term ‘fiction’ for the gospel story, a better approach would be to view the gospel story as a political allegory. Yes, one can enjoy the story (as for instance Animal Farm) but at the same time acknowledge the possibility that the authors of the gospel story had other intentions besides theology or entertainment.

    The big bonus with this approach is that questions of lying by the gospel writers become nonsensical.
    ———————-

    Tim: ”Finally, I’m completely bewildered by his “instant euhemerization.” He’s using the term in a way that other scholars outside mythicism don’t use it. But unfortunately, I can’t get a fix on exactly what that definition is. I think, just possibly, he’s using it as a synonym for “historicization,” and if that’s the case, let’s use that instead”.

    maryhelena: Yep, that looks like what Carrier wants to do – assimilate euhemerism with historicization…However, all he has achieved is bringing more negativity upon the ahistoricist position.
    —————–
    Sorry about moving away from the original thread – the forum software ends up with comment lines containing only a few words – hence makes reading trying…

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-26 21:22:17 UTC - 21:22 | Permalink

      I think maryhelena and Tim are misrepresenting Carrier’s position as ‘wanting to assimilate euhemerism with historicization’ –

      the euhemerized figure becomes historicized (or forgotten).

      As Winiarczyk wrote –

      “Euhemerism is sensu stricto the reduction of the Olympian gods [and other gods] to the role of deified humans”

      • maryhelena
        2016-01-26 21:45:31 UTC - 21:45 | Permalink

        “Euhemerism is sensu stricto the reduction of the Olympian gods [and other gods] to the role of deified humans”.

        To take that statement as meaning that the theory of Euhemerus was that the Olympian gods were gods before they were reduced to being human is to throw out the whole thrust of Winiarczyk’s book.

        This is the fuller statement:

        ”The author of the Ἱερὰ Ἀναγραφή (c. 300 BC) wanted to show that the Olympian gods were deified people. That is why Euhemerism is sensu stricto the
        reduction of the Olympian gods to the role of deified humans.

        ”The ‘reduction’ of the Olympain gods to being deified humans is brought about, re Euhemerus, by acknowledging their origin on earth. That is the whole point, the whole argument of Euhemerus – and Winiarczyk.

        The theory of Euhemerus is bottom up not top down – as with Carrier’s misrepresenting of Euhemerus with his celestial christ figure being euhemerized as the gospel Jesus.

        That the gods don’t exist is irrelevant. It’s the theory of Euhemerus that is being considered. Humans existed – and, re Euhemerus, humans made, created, the Olympian gods. i.e. they deified, they elevated, they honored, worthy humans.

        • MrHorse
          2016-01-26 22:43:35 UTC - 22:43 | Permalink

          “the theory of Euhemrus” ????

          Yet (from Tim’s article above) – “the book [that Euhemrus supposedly write] has not survived; we have only references to it in fragments by Diodorus Siculus. Worse than that, the fragments come down to us through Eusebius of Caesarea, so we can be fairly certain what we have is not exactly what Euhemerus wrote.”

          Yes, “humans made, created, the Olympian gods”, but it doesn’t matter who antrhopomorphized them (or other gods) – the anthropomorphizing of gods (or notions of gods), to ‘reduce’ them, has been termed euhemerization or euhemerism.

          As far as “Carrier’s misrepresenting of Euhemerus with his celestial christ figure being euhemerized as the gospel Jesus” – Carrier has Not misprepresented Euhemerus …

          … Carrier has only proposed that an initial concept (or narrative) of a celestial christ figure was euhemerized (ie. anthropomorphized), over time, to become the [eventual] gospel Jesus.

          • MrHorse
            2016-01-26 22:49:45 UTC - 22:49 | Permalink

            “the book [that Euhemrus supposedly *wrote* …”

          • maryhelena
            2016-01-26 22:54:59 UTC - 22:54 | Permalink

            MrHorse, I’m not going to argue with you…You see Euhemerism as something that Carrier can use to support his celestial christ figure becoming the gospel Jesus . I don’t think Euhemerism can be used as Carrier has used it.

            Carrier should have stuck with ‘historicized’ for his ahistoricist/mythicist theory.

            Carrier needs to support his use of Euhemerism by referencing scholarly studies on Euhemerism.

            A quick search of OHJ did not turn up any mention of Marek Winiarczyk – a leading, and renowned scholar on this subject.

            As for the scholarly work of Nikolas Roubekas, Carrier says: ”He is making distinctions not relevant to the current question”.

            • Bee
              2016-01-27 12:59:20 UTC - 12:59 | Permalink

              I dealt with this kind of topic in my PhD dissertation. Noting there that modern Descriptive linguistics allows that the meaning of a word and associated concepts, can drift over time. And so we and dictionaries should allow not only the original or “strict sense” but also important variations. Like say, Carrier’s.

              • Tim Widowfield
                2016-01-27 13:29:07 UTC - 13:29 | Permalink

                I understand descriptivism, and I agree with it. Word meanings drift. They also become less specific and more broadly applied over time.

                The differences in this case are:

                1. Carrier appeals to “what Euhemerus was doing” as the definition, but in his magnum opus demonstrates that he doesn’t actually know what that is, as he gets details wrong and even poorly translates the title, “Sacred Writing.”

                2. Carrier’s working definition is incoherent — especially the term “instant euhemerization.”

          • Tim Widowfield
            2016-01-27 02:41:54 UTC - 02:41 | Permalink

            Maryhelena is exactly right.

            MrHorse, if you think I’ve misrepresented Carrier, please be specific.

            • MrHorse
              2016-01-29 02:44:05 UTC - 02:44 | Permalink

              I never said you’ve misrepresented Carrier, I said –

              “Carrier has Not misprepresented Euhemerus …

              “… Carrier has only proposed that an initial concept (or narrative) of a celestial christ figure was euhemerized (ie. anthropomorphized), over time, to become the [eventual] gospel Jesus.”

  • MrHorse
    2016-01-27 03:01:03 UTC - 03:01 | Permalink

    maryhelena, euhemerism is not a tool to be ‘used’. It is a euphemism for changing a narrative about gods: for anthropomorphising them – for changing the historicity of perception of concepts about them.

    Carrier has supported his proposition the the NT-gospel Jesus is the result of euhemerization of the Pauline Jesus: –

    1. ” …euhemerization is related to aetiological mythmaking, i.e. inventing a historical event to explain a current ritual or doctrine or practice or belief (even though that invented event isn’t what really started it). Jesus could have been contrived in just such a way (Moses most likely was).

    “However, the letters of Paul connect us with the originating events of the sect, and they involve inspiring visions of Jesus, and discoveries about him in scripture. It’s clear that Paul and the first apostles believed Jesus was a real person who existed…just, in heaven, as with all other archangels. So Jesus was not an aetiological myth. The Gospel Jesus could be (and for many details probably is). But that’s still a layering on top of the original worshipped deity of the sect. We also have evidence that this deity pre-existed Christianity in Jewish angelology (OHJ, Element 40).

    “Hybrids are possible, too. For instance, the vision Paul had of Jesus inaugurating the Eucharist ritual (1 Cor. 11:23-26) is agreed by many scholars (e.g. Gerd Lüdemann) to be an aetiological myth (I explain why in OHJ, pp. 557ff.), yet is at the same time (at least claimed to be) a vision, and thus not a contrivance. Paul’s subconscious did the authoring, and he then believed what it presented really happened as revealed. Unless of course Paul is inventing, or borrowing a previous invention of the sect, and only claiming it was a vision just to authenticate it—which entails if it was invented before him, as is most likely, it was originally also claimed to be learned by revelation, which is why for Paul only a revelation can authenticate it, rather than an assurance of having learned it from eyewitnesses.”

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057524

    2.a. Bruce summed up Carrier’s proposition in this comment http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057518

    ” … the original Jesus was some sort of angel or good-sky-demon, who wasn’t born of a virgin or anyone else, but simply lived where he was created, in outer space near the moon and below where the dome of the sky holds up all the rain. It was there that he “lived”, was crucified by bad demons, died, and was resurrected back to a new sky-body, as equally non-fleshy as Jesus’s original body. And it is possible that this is the only concept of Jesus that had ever existed through the lifetime of Paul …

    ” … some time after Paul and before Mark, or possibly the author of “Mark” itself, he did as they did with Osiris. That is, the Christian leader(s) took a sky God and created a Euhemerized Jesus man, set in the Jewish homelands. And this “human Jesus” may have been deliberately created to fool the masses, while the core inner group was allowed to know the secret. The secret was that the real Jesus had never been a man, but was always a pure sky God. Unfortunately, at some point, either the core inner group died off without passing on their secret, or else the fake story became so popular that nobody would accept the “true” sky God story. So by 120 or 150 a.d., nobody was left who knew that Jesus had been Euhemerized from a sky story.

    “We may never know which of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John’s authors “knew the truth”, and which ones literally believed that a fleshy Jesus once existed. But clearly all four authors wanted their lay readers to believe that Jesus was a real dude.

    “The key to Jesus as being Euhemerized is found everywhere in the New Testament where it says it happened “according to the scriptures”. To modern readers, this sounds as if it refers to the four gospels. But to first century people, it clearly meant Old Testament books such as Daniel and Isaiah. Many people speculated about a source book Q (quelle), but I think Q effectively was whatever people could pull out of their ass while reading Daniel and Isaiah. So they read the old books, imagined a sky Jesus, then pretended he was a dude to fool the commoners, then got overridden by the commoner tea party types of the day. So everyone who knew Jesus was really just a sky God got condemned for heresy by the first-century tea party Euhemerization-dupes, and now the fake story is the only history permitted.”

    Carrier’s repsonse http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057525

    “Yep. You have sussed every point correctly, IMO. …

    ” … 2 Peter and Irenaeus … give hints of Christians existing who were insisting the Gospels were just allegories for the cosmic reality … but both the forger of 2 Peter and Irenaeus are condemning them as heretics; and thus kicking them out and shunning them. This split then became politically dominant through various happenstances, including having the ear of Constantine when he lucked out and won the empire and chose that sect as a vector for his governance.”

  • maryhelena
    2016-01-27 13:30:22 UTC - 13:30 | Permalink

    Bee wrote: I dealt with this kind of topic in my PhD dissertation. Noting there that modern Descriptive linguistics allows that the meaning of a word and associated concepts, can drift over time. And so we and dictionaries should allow not only the original or “strict sense” but also important variations. Like say, Carrier’s.
    ====================
    Special pleading for Carrier’s idiosyncratic, not standard, non-scholarly, use of Euhemerism?

    Indeed the meaning of words can change. However, Carrier is not claiming that the meaning of Euhemerism has changed – at least not that I have read…

    This is what Carrier says Euhemerism is:

    ”The same had already been done to other celestial gods and heroes, who were being transported into earth history all over the Greco-Roman world, a process now called Euhemerization, after the author Euhemerus, who began the trend in the 4th century B.C. by converting the celestial Zeus and Uranus into ordinary human kings and placing them in past earth history, claiming they were “later” deified (in a book ironically titled Sacred Scripture)”.

    http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/2014/08/car388028.shtml

    Carrier, as previously, noted, has not referenced any Euhemerist scholar for his definition of what Euhemerism is.

    Until he has scholarly support for his definition of Euhemerism then he is going to be repeatedly called out for his misuse of the theory of Euhemerism.

    Why does he need scholarly support? Because he is presenting a very controversial theory of the NT. Having, as it were, the door closed before his theory can be debated, rationally or academically, is not good for the ahistoricist/mythicist debate.

    It’s not a good policy, if one wants ones work to be taken seriously, to start re-defining words to suit ones own views.

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-01-27 14:07:40 UTC - 14:07 | Permalink

      maryhelena: “It’s not a good policy, if one wants ones work to be taken seriously, to start re-defining words to suit ones own views.”

      Yes, it’s bad policy and really quite unnecessary.

      maryhelena: “Carrier, as previously, noted, has not referenced any Euhemerist scholar for his definition of what Euhemerism is.”

      He hasn’t carefully read the source material, either. Otherwise, he’d know that the Greek title for the book by Euhemerus is better translated as Sacred Writing, or perhaps even better: Sacred Inscription. Some argue the latter is better, because it probably refers to this passage inside the work itself:

      [6.1.7] And in this temple there is a stele of gold on which is inscribed in summary, in the writing employed by the Panchaeans, the deeds of Uranus and Cronus and Zeus.

      The title loses its irony when correctly translated.

      Not only would he have gotten the title right, but he would have discovered that Euhemerus was born in the late 4th century BCE, and did not write Sacred Writing until the 3rd century BCE.

      Finally, the gods were not “later” deified, but were (according to Euhemerus) worshiped while they were alive. So in just one sentence, he commits three completely unnecessary, totally avoidable errors — four, if you count the fact that the title is not ironic when properly translated.

      As you rightly point out, he’s presenting a very controversial theory (to which I am sympathetic) and bungling basic concepts like this is a regrettable distraction.

      • Bee
        2016-01-28 00:02:45 UTC - 00:02 | Permalink

        I’ve just submitted Dr. Carrier’s usage to the editorial board of Webster’s, as a significant modern variation. In a few years we should see whether they include it.

        Carrier’s usage is significant; possibly the most famous usage in nearly a century. Granted, it broadens Euhemerus’ own definition.

        Often scholars change the meaning of old words somewhat. And often dictionaries allow them to do so.

        • maryhelena
          2016-01-28 08:15:56 UTC - 08:15 | Permalink

          Why would you want to do that?

          Carrier is not a scholar of Euhemerism. His non-scholarly definition and use of Euhemerism, tied as it is to his very controversial theory of the NT, can only be met with cynicism.

          Why is it so hard for people to accept that Carrier has made an error, a serious error?

          If acceptance of Carrier’s definition of Euhemerism is what you want to see – why not start with editing Wikipedia – giving Carrier full credit for the request for re-defining this term. I’m sure such an edit will not wait a few years before Carrier’s definition is rejected. Having a vested interest in re-defining Euhemerism will not be viewed lightly.

        • Tim Widowfield
          2016-01-28 08:24:57 UTC - 08:24 | Permalink

          One more time, just so we’re clear: Carrier’s usage is not simply idiosyncratic; it’s incoherent. It is not useful, because it is nonsensical and wrong.

          I hope they’ll ignore your request, Bee.

          • Bee
            2016-01-28 09:44:32 UTC - 09:44 | Permalink

            Carrier is looking at the broader implications and fuller twists and turns, of the problem of the historicity of Jesus. And so he has drawn out Euhemerus’ limited assertion; that our heavenly gods came from earthly men. With the many complications of this situation. With, among dozens of apparently inconsistent possibilities, the Doherty position. That the obverse situation to what Euhemerus described, may also have happened: a notion of a God was born not in material reality, from real persons, but in neoplatonistic philosophy, the heavens. And was mistakenly or forceably represented as real, and historical.

            It may be that Carrier’s usage seems inconsistent and incoherent. But those of us who read a lot of philosophy see that every day. In the world’s most famous philosophers. In trying to work through to the truth, often philosophers will even backtrack, and reverse direction entirely for a moment.

            By the way, one very famous example of a word being significantly changed, is Neoplatonism. Which derived from Plato, and was named after him. But which departed significantly from Plato himself. So maybe we could resolve this situation, and call Carrier’s position say, “neo-” or “quasi Euhemerism.”

            Granted, the situation is not ideal, since the definitions are in flux, changing directions, backtracking. But that is typical on the frontiers of knowledge, among trailblazers.

            If Vridar wants to call for clarification from Carrier, that might be useful to be sure.

            • Bee
              2016-01-28 10:07:43 UTC - 10:07 | Permalink

              Those of us who have followed Socrates through a few dozen 180 degree turns though, are not too, too concerned.

              • MrHorse
                2016-01-29 01:48:58 UTC - 01:48 | Permalink

                Reference to Socrates brings up a possible irony –

                Socrates may only be a literary character; not quite a euhemerized character, but possibly a mythical one.

            • Bee
              2016-01-28 12:22:40 UTC - 12:22 | Permalink

              I see historical things, and then ideas about heaven, constantly interacting. So one minute we have earthly events wrongly considered heavenly, and the next minute, vice versa. Heavenly or mental ideals, considered earthly. And then we see odd mixes of both.

              Carrier chose to use the figure of Euhemerus as the symbol for both. Partly based on prior, conflicting definitions of Euhemerism. But also due to the complex interactions of both, that can be seen in the formation of the Jesus tales.

            • Tim Widowfield
              2016-01-28 17:02:55 UTC - 17:02 | Permalink

              I think you’re missing the point, Bee. Carrier’s overall thesis is that people had been euhemerizing gods for a long time before the Jesus legends were written. That is, many other gods had started as celestial, mythical figures, but then had been transformed into terrestrial, legendary figures.

              These are fairly easy-to-understand, concrete points, and they go toward building his case through Bayesian probability. However, his definition of euhemerism is self-contradictory and incoherent. He cites examples of euhemerism that are decidedly not euhemerism. He even gets basic facts about Euhemerus wrong.

              And I’m not saying all this because I want to point a finger and go, “Nyah-nyah.” I think what he’s doing is important, and it needs to be taken seriously. However, this is a flaw that affects his overall argument. It is not insignificant, and it needs to be fixed.

  • Giuseppe
    2016-01-28 12:04:06 UTC - 12:04 | Permalink

    Did Osiris was euhemerized by his priests according to strict definition of Euhemerism?
    They claimed that Osiris was a terrextrial hero – therefore they didn’t demythologize the celestial Osiris – but they did a ‘historical’ claim: Osiris was a Pharaoh.

    According to Carrier, this would be ehuemerism just as the Jesus case.

    Jesus was not demythologized by evangelists, but the evangelists said that he was a ”rabbi”. In virtue of only that fact (Osiris called pharaon, Jesus called rabbi), may the Carrier’s use of euhemerism be saved as (still) correct?

    I suspect that the answer is yes, because I have a particular theory about the fact that the evangelists take the disturb of translating ‘rabbi’ as ‘teacher’: they want clearly link Jesus with the Jewish culture at 100% against someone who did deny that link.

    In other terms, the our evangelists are not demythologizers, but they claimed that Jesus had a precise ”historical” role (in addition to all the other divine and/or heroic attiributes): rabbi. The Osiris priests are not demythologizers, but they claimed that Osiris had a precise ‘neutral’ role: Pharaoh.

    Is it a fallacy of false difference to distinguish between pure demythologizers and pure authors of legendary fiction? In line of principle, can a Gospel demythologize insofar it talks about Jesus as a rabbi? I remember that in Marcion’s Gospel Jesus is not called ”rabbi”…

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-29 02:00:33 UTC - 02:00 | Permalink

      Did you mean Osiris was an ‘extraterrestrial’ [celestial] hero, Giuseppe? (English is not your first language?)

      By saying ‘Osiris was a Pharaoh’, or became portrayed as a Pharaoh, seems to be anthropomorphism.

      The historical ‘claim’ changed.

      I think you raise an interesting point about trying to “distinguish between pure ‘demythologizers’ and pure ‘authors of legendary fiction’ … there are many shades of grey around these concepts are trying to distinguish them in those ancient times

  • maryhelena
    2016-01-28 17:52:17 UTC - 17:52 | Permalink

    Bee wrote: Carrier is looking at the broader implications and fuller twists and turns, of the problem of the historicity of Jesus.
    ——————————-
    Indeed. Carrier has come up with the theory that his celestial christ figure has been historicized as the gospel figure of Jesus. Carrier referencing Euhemerus in support of this theory. As Tim has pointed out in the OP – Carrier has misrepresented Euhemerism.

    The scholarship of Winiarczyk and Roubekas does not support Carrier’s usage of Euhemerism.

    Why does Carrier not want to deal with the basic, fundamental, principle of Euhemerism – the principle that the origin of the Olympian gods was earthly? Obviously the answer is that this would bring into question his theory regarding the gospel figure of Jesus. In connection to the gospel story, Euhemerism would support an earthly origin for the gospel Jesus figure. That origin could be flesh and blood or it could be an imagined flesh and blood figure. Whether Euhemerus was right or wrong regarding his theory is of secondary interest. His theory is what it is – the Olympian gods had an earthly origin. Jesus historicists, those who are not fundamentalists, can claim that Euhemerism is on their side of the historicist/historicist debate. i.e. a flesh and blood man was Euhemerised into the Pauline celestial Christ figure. Carrier does not want to go there – so – he has no option but to attempt to turn Euhemerism into the opposite of what that theory is.

    In effect, Carrier has give himself a lot of trouble for no gain.

    As a matter of interest – contrast the view of Earl Doherty to that now proposed by Richard Carrier. Note that Doherty had no need for Euhemerism. Doherty had an earthly origin, albeit an imaginary flesh and blood figure, as the basis of his gospel interpretation.

    —————————-
    Earl Doherty on FRDB:

    (2) You have little or no knowledge of my case if you think that I am saying that the Gospels, or Mark, are entirely based on historicizing the Pauline Christ. In fact, the Gospels would not ever have been written on such a basis, for in large part they are dependent not on Paul or any celestial Christ but on an historical “kingdom of God” preaching movement of the first century centered in Galilee and represented in the Q document. (Yes, yes, I know, not everyone accepts a hypothetical Q, but that is a separate matter, and I have presented a far better case for accepting a Q than the no-Q alternative.)

    The entire teaching, miracle-working and prophetic content of the Gospels is derived not from Paul, whose celestial Christ had nothing to do with such things, but from an imagined founder of the Q movement (that he was imagined and inserted into the evolving Q tradition at a later date I have fully argued). Even the death and rising dimension of the Gospel Jesus, which Mark added to the Q Jesus, cannot be firmly shown to be based on the Pauline Christ, though I suspect that the latter type of movement had some influence. It could even be an allegorical aspect of the beliefs of the Q/Markan sect that believers themselves, though suffering death, were fated for exaltation/resurrection, owing little to the Christ cult which operated separately on the first and early second century scene..

    http://frdb.talkfreethought.org/thearchives/showthread.php?p=7358669#post7358669
    ————————————-

    Carrier has dropped all of Doherty’s Q related theory and opted for a purely Pauline celestial christ figure historicized. Fine, if that is what he is proposing – but Euhemerism does not support this. If Euhemerism is now to become the bullet to take down the historicists – I’m afraid it’s going to be a case of Carrier being hoist upon his own petard….

    • maryhelena
      2016-01-28 18:21:11 UTC - 18:21 | Permalink

      Edit: Note that Doherty had no need for Carrier’s Euhemerism approach to the gospel story.

      • Giuseppe
        2016-01-28 19:49:54 UTC - 19:49 | Permalink

        I see a contradiction between 1 and 2:
        1) euhemerism is to invent “historical” ordinary men behind mythical people.
        2) Mark is not an euhemerist.

        Insofar you claim that 2 is true, then you should claim coherently that the modern Jesus historicists are strictu sensu euhemerists : because they say that “Jesus was an ordinary man adored as god or son of god maybe already during his life”.
        Carrier should give up to his re-definition of euhemerism insofar Tim resolves to call euhemerists the Jesus historicists. But this last step is not made by Tim even if it would be coherent with his definition of euhemerism: why? Was not a Jefferson (or is not an Ehrman) a demythologizer (i.e., an eheumerist) at end?

        • Tim Widowfield
          2016-01-28 20:50:21 UTC - 20:50 | Permalink

          A euhemerist invents a legendary past in order to demythologize an eternal god. Or at least that’s “doing what Euhemerus did.”

          Jefferson doesn’t fit that definition.

          • MrHorse
            2016-01-28 23:01:48 UTC - 23:01 | Permalink

            … a previously portrayed or previously perceived-to-have-been ‘eternal god’.

            And I’d that, more fully, say a euhemerist or euhemerism proposes a new narrative or meme about a god – ‘earthly’ narratives – and that is what Carrier is proposes happened with the evolution of the Jesus the Christ narrative.

            • maryhelena
              2016-01-28 23:29:58 UTC - 23:29 | Permalink

              If Carrier was to do what Euhemerus did he would be able to say: The origin of the Pauline celestial christ figure was earthly legend. Legend either with or without a known historical core.

              But Carrier cannot say this. He cannot say this because: ”At the origin of Christianity, Jesus Christ was thought to be a celestial deity much like any other……If ‘Jesus Christ began as a celestial deity’…”.

              In other words; the origin of the Pauline celestial Christ figure, for Carrier, was not earthly.

              Therefore, Carrier is not using Euhemerism at all. He is using, of his own creation, a pseudo-euhemerism. A pseudo-euhemerism to suit his own ahistoricist/mythicist theory of the gospel Jesus figure.

              It is not a question of whether Euhemerus was right or wrong; it is not a question whether historicity for any specific god can be proven. It is simply a question regarding a theory of the origin of the Olympian gods – that origin being earthly.
              —————–
              Wikipedia: Euhemerus has become known chiefly for a rationalizing method of interpretation, known as “Euhemerism”, which treats mythological accounts as a reflection of historical events, or mythological characters as historical personages but which were shaped, exaggerated or altered by retelling and traditional mores. In more recent literature of myth, such as in Bulfinch’s Mythology, Euhemerism is called the “historical interpretation” of mythology.[14] Euhemerism is defined in modern academic literature as the theory that myths are distorted accounts of real historical events.[15] ……However, Euhemerus is credited as having developed the theory in application to all myths, considering mythology to be “history in disguise”.

              —————–
              Euhemerism is not the only approach or method of interpreting or demytholozing myths. It is, however, the approach that Carrier has taken – and on that his usage has to be judged as adequate or a misrepresentation. That Carrier is being called out on his usage, not only on this site, but elsewhere on the web, indicates that his usage is being questioned.

              • Tim Widowfield
                2016-01-28 23:38:28 UTC - 23:38 | Permalink

                To be clear, here, Carrier never said he was doing the euhemerizing. He said the gospel writers were. But they absolutely were not.

          • Giuseppe
            2016-01-29 08:10:22 UTC - 08:10 | Permalink

            Tim: A euhemerist invents a legendary past in order to demythologize an eternal god. Or at least that’s “doing what Euhemerus did.”

            Jefferson doesn’t fit that definition.

            The article:
            To think of euhemerism as something other than this specific method of rationalization and demythologizing is to misunderstand its proper usage and to misrepresent its well-documented history.

            I don’t know why Jefferson is not a euhemerist: he invents ex novo a Gospel Jesus 2.0 ”in order to demythologize an eternal god”, without showing evidence for his claim.

            At any case, I suspect that when Tim says:

            euhemerism cannot refer to the gospels, since none of the evangelists were trying to rationalize a celestial Christ. They may have been creating legendary terrestrial events in a reconstructed life of Jesus, but they were clearly not consciously creating history in order to demythologize Jesus.

            he makes the mistake of not distinguish between extraordinary claims (miracles, etc.) and more neutral statements (Jesus as a rabbi, for example) made in the same book. The priests of Osiris and Romulus continued to exalt Osiris and Romulus (even after that they put them on the Terra ferma), but in the meantime they had made more neutral statements about them: Romulus was a simple king and Osiris was a simple pharaoh. To the extent that this is not an extraordinary claim, I would call this ”rationalization” of a previous myth. And to that extent I would call Mark an euhemerist, too.

      • Bee
        2016-01-28 22:26:45 UTC - 22:26 | Permalink

        I think Carrier might have been honestly mislead by a bad (Christian?) definition of Euhemerism that was popular a few years ago. Which rejected Euhemerus. And which therefore characterized his theory as: the false attribution of historicity, to purely mythical beings.

        • Bee
          2016-01-28 22:40:26 UTC - 22:40 | Permalink

          Vs. the theory also attributed to E.. That behind mythic gods there really were real historical persons, but not any real gods.

          There are therefore several different definitions out there. If Vridar can describe the views of E. himself, that would be useful. In the meantime and even after that however, a descriptive dictionary is obliged to report all the major definitions. Even if contradictory. And even if contrary to Euhemerus himself.

          The intent of the originator is not always definitive. So for example, many definitions of ” Nazi,” say, depart from Hitler’s glowing definitions.

        • MrHorse
          2016-01-28 23:10:25 UTC - 23:10 | Permalink

          I think Carrier has sussed out various aspects to the portrayal of euhemerism – see my quotes of his comments in my post above – http://vridar.org/2016/01/25/what-is-euhemerism/#comment-75866

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-28 22:57:01 UTC - 22:57 | Permalink

      maryhelena wrote –

      “the basic, fundamental, principle of Euhemerism – the principle that the origin of the Olympian gods was earthly …

      I say: it is not a principle; it is a proposition – a proposition re-writing history (or, more specifically, re-writing then & subsequent perceptions of previous history).

      ……………………………………………………………………..

      mayhelena wrote –

      “In connection to the gospel story, Euhemerism would support an earthly origin for the gospel Jesus figure”

      I say: Huh ???? even Rubbish.

      maryhelena contradicts that statement with her next –

      “That origin could be flesh and blood, or it could be an imagined flesh and blood figure.”

      I say: that is a somewhat glib bait-&-switch that is at the heart of perceptions of, and discussions of perceptions about, the origin of the NT-Jesus narrative.

      ……………………………………

      maryhelena wrote –

      “Whether Euhemerus was right or wrong regarding his theory is of secondary interest. His theory is what it is – the Olympian gods had an earthly origin.”

      I say: asserting or portraying Euhemerus as having a theory seems to be a misrepresentation.

      Of course, as maryhelena goes on to say, “Jesus historicists … can claim that Euhemerism is on their side of the historicist/historicist debate.”

      but to then say, as maryhelena wrote, that means “a flesh and blood man was Euhemerised into the Pauline celestial Christ figure” is to significantly misrepresent euhemerism/euhemerization !!!

  • maryhelena
    2016-01-28 23:58:27 UTC - 23:58 | Permalink

    Tim Widowfield
    2016-01-28 23:38:28 UTC – 23:38 | Permalink
    To be clear, here, Carrier never said he was doing the euhemerizing. He said the gospel writers were. But they absolutely were not.
    ——————————–
    Sure – he simply interpreted the gospel writers as having done the euhemerizing – but it’s his theory. He says they did it but he is the one reading euhemerizing into the gospel story.

    ————
    apologies for new thread – the reply button had disappeared….

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-29 02:37:33 UTC - 02:37 | Permalink

      Tim Widowfield wrote: “… Carrier … said the gospel writers were [euhemerizing]. But they absolutely were not.”

      Best you explain or argue the assertion ‘they [the gospel writers] absolutely were not [euhemerizing]”.

      Carrier has supported his proposition the the NT-gospel Jesus is the result of euhemerization of the Pauline Jesus: –

      1. ” …euhemerization is related to aetiological mythmaking, i.e. inventing a historical event to explain a current ritual or doctrine or practice or belief (even though that invented event isn’t what really started it). Jesus could have been contrived in just such a way (Moses most likely was).

      “However, the letters of Paul connect us with the originating events of the sect, and they involve inspiring visions of Jesus, and discoveries about him in scripture. It’s clear that Paul and the first apostles believed Jesus was a real person who existed…just, in heaven, as with all other archangels. So Jesus was not an aetiological myth. The Gospel Jesus could be (and for many details probably is). But that’s still a layering on top of the original worshipped deity of the sect. We also have evidence that this deity pre-existed Christianity in Jewish angelology (OHJ, Element 40).

      “Hybrids are possible, too. For instance, the vision Paul had of Jesus inaugurating the Eucharist ritual (1 Cor. 11:23-26) is agreed by many scholars (e.g. Gerd Lüdemann) to be an aetiological myth (I explain why in OHJ, pp. 557ff.), yet is at the same time (at least claimed to be) a vision, and thus not a contrivance. Paul’s subconscious did the authoring, and he then believed what it presented really happened as revealed. Unless of course Paul is inventing, or borrowing a previous invention of the sect, and only claiming it was a vision just to authenticate it—which entails if it was invented before him, as is most likely, it was originally also claimed to be learned by revelation, which is why for Paul only a revelation can authenticate it, rather than an assurance of having learned it from eyewitnesses.”

      http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057524

      2.a. Bruce summed up Carrier’s proposition in this comment http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057518

      ” … the original Jesus was some sort of angel or good-sky-demon, who wasn’t born of a virgin or anyone else, but simply lived where he was created, in outer space near the moon and below where the dome of the sky holds up all the rain. It was there that he “lived”, was crucified by bad demons, died, and was resurrected back to a new sky-body, as equally non-fleshy as Jesus’s original body. And it is possible that this is the only concept of Jesus that had ever existed through the lifetime of Paul …

      ” … some time after Paul and before Mark, or possibly the author of “Mark” itself, he did as they did with Osiris. That is, the Christian leader(s) took a sky God and created a Euhemerized Jesus man, set in the Jewish homelands. And this “human Jesus” may have been deliberately created to fool the masses, while the core inner group was allowed to know the secret. The secret was that the real Jesus had never been a man, but was always a pure sky God. Unfortunately, at some point, either the core inner group died off without passing on their secret, or else the fake story became so popular that nobody would accept the “true” sky God story. So by 120 or 150 a.d., nobody was left who knew that Jesus had been Euhemerized from a sky story.

      “We may never know which of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John’s authors “knew the truth”, and which ones literally believed that a fleshy Jesus once existed. But clearly all four authors wanted their lay readers to believe that Jesus was a real dude.

      “The key to Jesus as being Euhemerized is found everywhere in the New Testament where it says it happened “according to the scriptures”. To modern readers, this sounds as if it refers to the four gospels. But to first century people, it clearly meant Old Testament books such as Daniel and Isaiah. Many people speculated about a source book Q (quelle), but I think Q effectively was whatever people could pull out of their ass while reading Daniel and Isaiah. So they read the old books, imagined a sky Jesus, then pretended he was a dude to fool the commoners, then got overridden by the commoner tea party types of the day. So everyone who knew Jesus was really just a sky God got condemned for heresy by the first-century tea party Euhemerization-dupes, and now the fake story is the only history permitted.”

      Carrier’s repsonse http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/8161#comment-1057525

      “Yep. You have sussed every point correctly, IMO. …

      ” … 2 Peter and Irenaeus … give hints of Christians existing who were insisting the Gospels were just allegories for the cosmic reality … but both the forger of 2 Peter and Irenaeus are condemning them as heretics; and thus kicking them out and shunning them. This split then became politically dominant through various happenstances, including having the ear of Constantine when he lucked out and won the empire and chose that sect as a vector for his governance.”

    • MrHorse
      2016-01-29 02:38:30 UTC - 02:38 | Permalink

      I’d also like Tim to address points I made in this post –

      http://vridar.org/2016/01/25/what-is-euhemerism/#comment-75832

  • HoosierPoli
    2016-02-02 13:24:59 UTC - 13:24 | Permalink

    Isn’t the Gospel of Mark a rationalization though? Whatever allegorical significance it may have, on its surface it clearly takes a pre-existent God and makes him in a (somewhat extraordinary) man. I don’t think it adds to the glory of a God to have them tell cryptic parables and be crucified by Romans.

    Anyway, I’d say the popular revulsion at the Christ myth theory reflects the fact that the Gospels are rationalizations or demythologizing in effect (if not in intent). People of faith are perfectly happy to believe that God took human form and walked around performing miracles, but tell them that actually it only happened in a heavenly realm and that’s not good enough. A human Christ in Earthly history is inherently less crazy than a heavenly being who communicates only through visions. I think history and reason both support that contention. So was Mark TRYING to do that? Who knows what Mark was trying to do exactly?! But he ended up creating a rationalization, one way or the other.

  • David Ashton
    2016-02-02 22:34:22 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

    I cannot quite see how Mark “clearly” makes a pre-existent God” [who, Yahweh?] and into a man who is ingloriously crucified. Who knows – well, we can only begin with what this gospel says itself – “the gospel of Jesus Christ” who is blessed by God at first and who utters words at his end which also see God as Another. Your description would be more appropriate if applied to John.

    • HoosierPoli
      2016-02-03 08:07:28 UTC - 08:07 | Permalink

      I guess I should have made more clear that, as I’m responding to Carrier’s usage, I’m taking his mythicist hypothesis as a given for the sake of this specific discussion. I also find it utterly compelling but we need not agree on that to be able to talk about his usage in the context of his larger argument.

      • David Ashton
        2016-02-04 22:28:34 UTC - 22:28 | Permalink

        I am in almost complete accord with the description of the structure, content, style and themes of “Mark” by Lawrence M. Wills in “The Jewish Annotated New Testament” (OUP 2011) pp.55-57, and the indications thus provided of purpose in this account of a divinely-chosen exorcist-“messiah” – quite apart from date, location and authorship.

        The verisimilitude of “eyewitness” detail and language may not be entirely artificial. But the notion that it reflects colloquial preaching in Rome by Peter, using some Ur-Matthew for reference, was expressed by B. Christopher Butler, a Roman Catholic Abbot who believed, of course, that John Mark, Simon Peter, Jesus and God really existed. On the other hand, his refutation from internal evidence of the Matthew = Mark+”Q” hypothesis has gained traction – if the three synoptic gospels are considered in a line of direct succession. See e.g. David J. Neville, “Mark’s Gospel – Prior or Posterior” ([JSNT] Sheffield 2002).

        If Mark (as contended by e.g. David B. Peabody) also knew Luke, who probably used Josephus, the date would be much later than commonly supposed, and to that extent even less factually reliable.

  • Kelly Cookson
    2016-02-08 03:16:40 UTC - 03:16 | Permalink

    Carrier: “Euhemerus was a Greek writer of the early third century BCE, who wrote a book called The Sacred Scriptures [sic] in which he depicted an imaginary scholar discovering that Zeus and Uranus were once actual kings. (Carrier, 2014, p. 222, emphasis mine)”

    Tim: “What does matter, I think, is the implication that Euhemerus invented some “imaginary scholar,” when in fact that scholar was Euhemerus himself.”

    Two ways in which the scholar is imaginary. First, unless you have evidence to the contrary, the stele of gold which contained the written deed is imaginary. Some imaginary scholar wrote down the deeds on the stele of gold before Euhemerus wrote them. Second, unless you have evidence for the historicity of Euhemerus’ trip to the island where he supposedly heard these stories about divinities, then Euhemerus’ story of the trip is imaginary. This makes Euhemerus an imaginary scholar (i.e., a writer whose fictional story is about a scholar –himself–who has discovered ancient stories about the divinities).

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-02-08 05:40:10 UTC - 05:40 | Permalink

      I maintain that no reasonable person would read Carrier’s line — “he [Euhemerus] depicted an imaginary scholar” — and conclude that Carrier meant Euhemerus himself was the scholar in question. As far as we can tell, Euhemerus was a real scholar of myth, but this particular work (sadly, the only thing that has survived, albeit through secondary references) is fiction.

      Hence, the story was invented, but the scholar was real.

  • Ignorant amos
    2016-04-14 01:21:02 UTC - 01:21 | Permalink

    Seems the !an has decided to explain himself…
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/10004#comments

    • Tim Widowfield
      2016-04-14 13:34:12 UTC - 13:34 | Permalink

      Sadly, I seem not to have expressed myself clearly enough.

      • maryhelena
        2016-04-14 14:04:39 UTC - 14:04 | Permalink

        No worries, Tim. …. and now we wait for the astronomer
        Aaron Adair to support Carrier’s misuse of euhemerism….;-)

        The invisible celestial Christ figure morphing into a mythological, invisible human = zero…no wonder Carrier seems desperate to justify his mythicists theory by appeals to Euhemerism….or more correctly by a misuse of Euhemerism….

        While we wait upon Adair, Roubekas makes it all crystal clear…;-)
        ——————————–

        Ancient Greek Atheism? A Note on Terminological Anachronisms in the Study of Ancient Greek “Religion”

        Nickolas Roubekas:

        The prominent feature of Panchaia is its sacred character, an island that was blessed by the gods themselves. The
        narrative Euhemerus distinguishes between two groups of divine agents: the heavenly and the earthly gods. The former are
        eternal and immortal, while the latter are mortal (Historical
        Library, 6.1.2). In the first group, we find the sun, the moon,
        the stars, and the winds. In the second, there are the mortals
        who have acquired immortal honor and glory due to their benefactions to mankind; among them we find Uranus, Cronus,
        and Zeus.

        The Olympian gods were mere humans deified due to their accomplishments, but the heavenly gods replaced them as the true divine agents.

        https://www.academia.edu/10716649/Ancient_Greek_Atheism_

        • Ignorant amos
          2016-04-15 00:33:01 UTC - 00:33 | Permalink

          “…and now we wait for the astronomer
          Aaron Adair to support Carrier’s misuse of euhemerism….;-)”

          Whatever can you mean by such a comment?

          You are not going to be a credentials snob a la Ehrman or McGrath are you?

          Shouldn’t we be treating Adair’s argument on it’s merits? When it’s actually available I mean.

  • maryhelena
    2016-04-14 19:07:19 UTC - 19:07 | Permalink

    Two comment quotes from Carrier’s blog

    Richard Carrier says

    They are the ones making this about some sort of language policing of the term. I explain my meaning and use it consistently and intelligibly. That should, indeed, be the end of the matter. I do not know what motivates their desire to disallow it. Even if they were right about the term’s past usage.

    Richard Carrier says

    Euhemerization is taking an already existing God, and converting them into a human being in a specific time and place in earth history, who becomes a god (by definition after death or translation, since only by such means would one explain why they are no longer on earth).

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/arc … 4#comments
    my formatting
    …………………

    So now the god who is being converted into a human (albeit an invisible human) – was a god because said god became a god after death or translation after being on earth prior to being a god….;-)

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