Daily Archives: 2016-04-09 16:11:04 UTC

The Free Will Question Once More . . .

There’s an interesting outline of a new experiment to assess processes involved in decision making at the General Religious Discussion section of the Biblical Criticism & History Forum: Do we have free will? Researchers test mechanisms… (The original article is at Do we have free will? Researchers test mechanisms involved in decision-making.)

I was beginning to think that I no longer have any idea if we have free will or not and after reading the ensuing discussion I felt I could firmly conclude that I really am undecided — though lately beginning to lean a little towards the “yes, we do have it” side of the fence. For now.



Part 2 of the case for the historicity of Jesus

Part 2 of Professor McGrath’s discussion on historicity of Jesus is in podcast form. Disappointing in that it is mostly a mocking of mythicism by setting up a series of seriously oversimplified claims and outright straw-men.  I was hoping for a more serious collation of arguments for historicity of Jesus. The strongest they came to that was by saying that “critical scholars” have done “tons of research” and have “concluded some things are more probable than others” on the basis of “the evidence”. Not much detail there. (As some of us are well aware, that research has by and large been into what the Jesus who is assumed to have existed may have said and did — not whether he existed or not.)

Points from part 2 of the Historicity of Jesus podcast follow. [I] = interviewer expresses the idea; [M] = McGrath’s thoughts. Mostly paraphrased, not always word for word.

[I] The crucifixion is a good indicator that the early Christians did not make up Jesus because the crucifixion was actually contrary to the message they were trying to spread about him! (I think the point here is that the Christians wanted to teach Jesus was the Davidic King Messiah and Crucifixion was an embarrassment to that claim so they were compelled to mention it because it was unavoidable because everyone knew about it being historically true.)

[M] Responding to “mythicist claim” that mythicist Jesus is not on the agenda because biblical scholarship is funded by churches, says no, not true, and cites his own university, Butler, as a secular university. McGrath teaches at a secular university so the implication is that there is no religious bias from his quarter. Moreover, what “historians” say about the HJ [=historical Jesus] is not liked by most religious (liberal and conservative Christian) people. Did not claim to be God; he was a rabbi, faith healer, followers thought he was messiah and he expected kingdom to come in his time but he was wrong — so Christians don’t like this Jesus.

Mocking denigration of mythicists skipped here.

[M] Jesus was believed to fit typologies in Jewish scriptures so these were used to depict Jesus — but not so with pagan dying and rising gods like Osiris.

[M] Docetists were not mythicists because they admitted there was a Jesus in history.

[M] Gospel of Matthew uses the Moses typology with the birth of Jesus and his final commission to disciples from the mountain. These sorts of infancy stories (supernatural) were common in ancient biographies. So these are not an indication that Jesus was myth. read more »

Questions for Professor McGrath re Those Proofs

I trust I have set out Professor McGrath’s proofs for the historical existence of Jesus fairly and accurately in my previous post. Since the Professor has declined to engage in discussion with me I wonder if any interested readers would like to raise the following questions with him and alert us here of his responses.

Paul says Jesus was of the seed of David according to the flesh — thus indicating he believed him to be historical. Here Paul is talking specifically about “the Davidic anointed one” and referring to a “kingly figure” and the “expectation that the kingship would be restored to the dynasty of David”. That expectation meant that the messiah would be made the king, not crucified. So crucifixion was almost automatic disqualification from being the Davidic messiah.

“So if you’re inventing a religion from scratch and trying to convince Jews that this figure is the Davidical anointed one, then you don’t invent that he was crucified.”

If Jesus was crucified then is it not equally unlikely that the early disciples would have come to interpret him as having been the Davidic Messiah? Yet they obviously did interpret Jesus this way despite his crucifixion. So how can we explain a historical crucified man being interpreted as having been the Davidic Messiah? Is not your argument invalidated by the very fact that the early Christians chose to interpret a crucified one as the Davidic Messiah? read more »