2016-10-23

Woops …. with gaffes like these. . . . (will anyone dare to discreetly tell the professor that David was right all along?)

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by Neil Godfrey

Most readers with an interest in the mythicism debate are well aware that Paul never uses the term for “disciples” in any of his letters but only ever speaks of “apostles” — e.g. 1 Cor 9:1-5; 12:27, 29; 15:7, 9; 2 Cor 11:5; 12:11f; Gal 1.17, 19.

So what are we to make of the following exchange in the Ehrman/Price Post-Debate Show @ 22 min 30 sec . . . ?

David Fitzgerald: [Paul] never even uses the word disciple in any context ever in any of his [writing]. He never implies that Jesus had twelve of them. He never identifies the twelve. . . . .
James McGrath: Are you thinking of apostle? Are you thinking of apostle?
David Fitzgerald: He talks about apostles but when he describes what an apostle is it has nothing to do with being a disciple of Jesus who followed him around. . . .
Moderator: [Attempts to intervene and redirect the discussion]
James McGrath: It’s characteristic that mythicists don’t know the terminology that’s used in these sources. You have a superficial familiarity with it and then they’re confused by it and think that proves something. I think this actually illustrates an important point.
David Fitzgerald: I don’t know why you’re here James, to be honest with you, because what else are you going to say besides shitting on mythicism?
Daniel Gullotta: Because he’s an expert in [the New] Testament?
James McGrath:
(shouting!)
I’m going to point out you don’t know what the sources say. You don’t know the terminology. When a student in my class says the Bible is important and they talk about the Book of Revelations with an s at the end, I’m like, they haven’t even looked at the title carefully. I know there’s a [certain] familiarity; they’re paying lip service to the text. They don’t actually know it.
David Fitzgerald: I’m not going to get into a pissing match about . . .
James McGrath: No, this is not a pissing match. I’m talking about the evidence. I want you to talk about the evidence!

(By the way, alone the above might read as if David is quick to express himself roughly with Professor McGrath but I suggest one might better appreciate the context by listening to the full discussion. Up to this point David had been interrupted and spoken over with polemic a few times.)

All this is understandable given the Professor’s earlier introductory remarks where he pointed out that the problem with engaging with mythicists was that such a process only advanced the mythicist cause. Hence, presumably, the interruption after a few words and latching on to a polemical response over only part of what was said and failing to even listen to the argument in full. This habit sadly explains why the same Professor can claim to have read mythicist books and even reviewed them while — as is obvious to anyone who has indeed read the books — completely failing to grasped their main point and flatly said they argue what they don’t, and don’t what they do, etc.

I might write more about the debate itself later. In brief, Ehrman simply repeated his arguments for a HJ explaining he was not going to address the mythicist case. And so the pretence continued …. even in to the post-debate circus as above.

9 Comments

  • R Pence
    2016-10-23 08:16:26 UTC - 08:16 | Permalink

    I look forward to hearing more about the Price-Ehrman debate. As for the above, I could only take the first ten minutes of that ‘Post-Debate Show’.

  • Tim Widowfield
    2016-10-23 15:02:01 UTC - 15:02 | Permalink

    So do I understand correctly that Ehrman was paid to come and recite bits of his poorly executed book? Sounds like a bad deal.

  • Matt Cavanaugh
    2016-10-24 00:25:41 UTC - 00:25 | Permalink

    Whether he intended or not, Fitzgerald comes across as labeling The Twelve as ‘disciples’, a subset of all ‘apostles’. McGrath pounces on that; he is not disputing that Paul never uses the word “disciple”.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2016-10-24 01:01:36 UTC - 01:01 | Permalink

      I don’t know what audio you were listening to or what transcript you were reading.

      • Matt Cavanaugh
        2016-10-24 02:39:05 UTC - 02:39 | Permalink

        Your link and yours here.

        He talks about apostles but when he describes what an apostle is it has nothing to do with being a disciple of Jesus who followed him around. . .

        That implies that The Twelve are ‘disciples’, a distinct designation not applicable to Paul and other later ‘apostles’ who didn’t follow Jesus around. Perhaps David could clarify whether he really applies this terminology to denote that distinction.

        In any case, it distracted from a solid point that these characters found in Paul could’ve been later worked into the Gospel narrative.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2016-10-24 02:51:15 UTC - 02:51 | Permalink

          David begins his point by reminding us that Paul never uses the term “disciple”, never implies Jesus had 12 disciples etc…..

          McG interjects, suggesting for some reason, missing D’s point, that he is thinking of “apostle” . . . and from that point on McG just went to town on it.

          It’s how McG has regularly “engaged” with mythicist arguments: he latches on to a point at the beginning, twists it to something that is not part of the argument, ignores the rest of the argument, and hits mythicists over the head with his straw-man attack, and then claims victory. When I and others have attempted to point out that he actually failed to read or grasp the main argument, he accuses us of complaining about being beaten or similar — like creationists.

          • Matt Cavanaugh
            2016-10-24 18:12:56 UTC - 18:12 | Permalink

            Yes, McGrath is a thoroughly disingenuous debater — all the more reason not to hand him gifts like this. And it does seem that when Fitzgerald says “[Paul] never implies that Jesus had twelve of them [disciples]”, he makes a distinction between these twelve and only twelve “disciples” and countless other “apostles”, something easily dismissed merely by citing John 6:66-67.

  • J. Quinton
    2016-10-24 16:45:05 UTC - 16:45 | Permalink

    Heh

    Fitzgerald: Paul never uses the word “Internet” in any of his writings…

    McGrath: Do you mean “Christ”? Do you mean “Christ”? These mythicists! It’s characteristic that mythicists don’t know the terminology that’s used in these sources. You have a superficial familiarity with it and then they’re confused by it and think that proves something. I think this actually illustrates an important point.

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