2017-04-24

Jesus: Mything in Action

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

by Neil Godfrey

David Fitzgerald, author of Nailed: Ten Christian Myths that show Jesus Never Existed at All, has a new work out in three volumes:

Jesus: Mything in Action

A few of the 17 blurb responses . . . .

Richard Carrier’s comment:

A thorough and entertaining survey of what’s wrong with secular scholarship on Jesus, why most scholarship on Jesus isn’t really secular, and why the possibility that Jesus was mythical needs to be taken seriously. Every Jesus-myth enthusiast will want to read and reference this one. His demonstration that an alarming number of Jesus scholars are actually contractually required to deny mythicism is alone worth the price of admission. His also revealing the embarrassing truth of how historicist scholars contrive even more flawed or ridiculous theories than mythicists is just gravy.

—Richard C. Carrier, Ph.D., author of On the Historicity of Jesus

Co-blogger Tim Widowfield’s comment:

Jesus: Mything in Action, David Fitzgerald’s follow-up to Nailed, asks piercing questions that won’t go away. If Christianity began with a historical Jesus, then where is he? Why is he a no-show in every written work outside of the gospels? And if we can trace the literary and theological antecedents of every gospel story, is the historical Jesus even necessary? David takes us on a gripping journey through time to show where the myths of the heavenly Christ as well as the legends of the historical Jesus came from. But no matter where or when we look, Jesus of Nazareth himself is the man who wasn’t there. Don’t myth it!

—Tim Widowfield of Vridar.org

Frank Zindler’s comment:

Take your book off the shelf, Tom Aquinas, your Summa Theologica is being replaced by David Fitzgerald’s Summa Mythologica! Jesus: Mything in Action is the most nearly exhaustive synthesis of evidence indicating the non-historicity of Jesus of Nazareth ever written. Best of all, it’s written in breezy English prose—not the labyrinthine Latinate crime so often committed when discussing “sacred subjects.” The organizational logic of the book is impressive; it reminds me of Euclid’s Elements. Historical Jesus scholars should not be fooled by the ease with which this book can be read by the educated layperson: this book is a must-read for Jesus specialists also Mything in Action is a milestone along the long path to progress in Mythicist studies.

—Frank R. Zindler, American Atheist Press

And my own little addition to the blurb. . . .

Brilliant, very readable and comprehensive. A wideranging discussion of the evidence for Jesus demonstrating that it is exactly what we should expect if Jesus began not as a historical figure but as a theological and literary invention. David Fitzgerald’s opening chapters are especially noteworthy as a wonderful breath of fresh air for anyone who has read the diatribes of scholars hostile to the Christ Myth hypothesis. Partly with the assistance of some original research Fitzgerald exposes just how self-interested, strained and nonsensical those attacks have been.

—Neil Godfrey of Vridar.org

-o-

Jesus: Mything in Action Volume 1

Mything in Action, vol. I (chapters 1 – 12) looks at the myths of Jesus Mythicism: what it is and isn’t; what biblical scholars are saying about it (and why); and examines our oldest “biographical” source for Jesus – the allegorical story we know as the Gospel of Mark.

-o-

Jesus: Mything in Action Volume 2

Mything in Action, vol. II (chapters 13 – 18) discusses the changing Jesus from even before the earliest Christians, to Paul, to the Book of Hebrews, to the Gospels and beyond: the construction (and deconstruction) of the Gospels; how Jesus is presented in the rest of the New Testament; and examines the historical sources for Jesus outside of the Bible.

-o-

Jesus: Mything in Action Volume 3

Mything in Action, vol. III (chapters 19 – 25) presents a bold thought experiment: “The Gospel According to H.G. Wells,”  a multi-chapter time travel expedition through the origins and evolution of Christianity.

18 Comments

  • EmmaZunz
    2017-04-24 08:31:38 UTC - 08:31 | Permalink

    Thanks for the heads-up. Is it worth reading if we’ve already read Carrier’s book?

    • Matt Cavanaugh
      2017-04-24 20:12:14 UTC - 20:12 | Permalink

      Dr. Richard Carrier, Ph.D.’s books “end all rational debate”, to use his own words. Might as well give up reading entirely.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2017-04-24 22:54:54 UTC - 22:54 | Permalink

      You can read my own view of the book in the post: I quoted my commendation that I made in response to a review copy and that is published in the book. I don’t understand the negative responses here, especially of Matt. Perhaps Matt can helpfully articulate his reasons for his negative view. But here are the other comments on the blurb:

      My new favorite book! David takes the reader on a
      (de)mystifying journey into and then out of the dreamscape I
      once held as “reality.” Every page is yet another step up and
      out of the modern-day-evangelicals’ very own Platonian cave.
      My only disappointment is that he didn’t write this book thirty
      years ago! It would have saved me half a lifetime of chasing
      shadows and searching for someone who still remains ‘mything
      in action.’

      —Jerry DeWitt, Author of Hope After Faith

      ———

      A brilliant read. Jesus: Mything in Action is the definitive
      guide to Jesus’s historicity. It’s a masterpiece of scholarship
      that will be studied for decades to come.

      —Peter Boghossian, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at
      Portland State University and author of A Manual for Creating
      Atheists

      ———

      It’s not hard to convince atheists that God doesn’t exist, but
      denying the existence of Jesus? Most of us have never even
      considered that possibility. David Fitzgerald walks us through
      why that’s such an important question and then makes a strong
      case for why biblical scholars – and casual church-goers –
      should take a second look at an assumption they’ve long taken
      for granted.

      —Hemant Mehta, Editor of FriendlyAtheist.com

      David Fitzgerald: one of our liveliest, wittiest writers and a
      scrupulously thorough researcher. As entertaining as The
      Mormons – and as carefully, scholarly, detailed and truthful.
      And that’s well deserved high praise.

      For the rest of my life, when Christians challenge me on
      my criticisms of the truth of their tales and the worth of their
      piety, I will just say, “Read David Fitzgerald’s Jesus: Mything
      in Action and then get back to me.”

      Fitzgerald has provided us with the most readable,
      engaging, scholarly, and utterly thorough dismantling of
      biblical Christianity – and both the Jesus of faith and Jesus of
      history – I could’ve ever even imagined. My fellow citizens of
      Heretic Nation (as Fitzgerald fondly calls us) and I now have
      all we need for giving the Christian apologists reasons to
      backpedal – and plenty to apologize for.

      —Ed Buckner, Former President of American Atheists
      (retired)

      ———

      With this book, Fitzgerald brings forth his best work yet,
      targeting an audience that is generally open-minded, smart,
      educated, skeptical, and evidence based. Yet, there are atheists,
      non-believers, freethinkers and overall believe-in-godchallenged
      people who are still convinced Jesus was a real
      historical person. On this I say the author is mistaken – this
      exceptional book should target all those who care about what is
      true – yes, including Christians. This outstanding book
      provides a remarkable amount of evidence that clearly exposes
      the myth of a historical Jesus and it backs it up with a great
      wealth of references giving the reader little option but to be a
      “militant agnostic” about Jesus’ historicity. Even with a
      treasure-trove of information, this book is an easy read for
      anyone high school and up. The detailed approach to each
      piece of evidence and their link to each other, as well as the
      right amount of pages to present such evidence, its compelling
      logic, and the brilliant presentation makes Jesus: Mything in
      Action one of the best books I’ve read in recent years.

      —David Tamayo, President & Founder Hispanic American
      Freethinkers, Inc.

      ———

      As Charles Darwin drew upon the evidence in the natural
      world around him for the conclusions presented in The Origin
      of Species, so does David Fitzgerald with regard to history. In
      Jesus: Mything in Action, he reviews the evidence we have as
      well as the evidence we should have but don’t, how we ended
      up with what we do have, and what that all might mean for the
      myth of Jesus. With a high-level overview followed by
      meticulous examination on each point, David’s writing is
      conversational, fun, and accessible to laypersons and
      academics alike – while providing a veritable treasure map of
      resources for anyone looking to dig deeper.

      —Lyz Liddell, Executive Director of Reason Rally 2016

      ———

      For many years now I have said, “I am a 50% mythicist.” I
      have read, studied and observed the debate and scholarship for
      decades; however, I wasn’t quite there yet and still had a lot of
      questions. After reading Jesus: Mything in Action, I am now a
      172% mythicist. However, this is not just a book on the
      mythicist debate, David Fitzgerald turned my view of the New
      Testament and early Christian writings upside down. A view
      and understanding that I have had since my studies began as an
      undergraduate. If you have read Ehrman, Price, Carrier, or any
      number of other authors, this book brings them all together and
      clears away the fog.

      —Darrel Ray, Ed.D., author of The God Virus, and Sex and
      God

      ———

      Who was the real Jesus? There is no consensus. There is
      the Catholic Jesus, the Orthodox Jesus, the Muslim Jesus, and
      many more. They can’t all be right. What if they are all wrong?
      In Jesus: Mything in Action, David Fitzgerald explores the
      “Jesus of Faith” and the “Jesus of History” which ultimately
      leads him to ask the question, “Did Jesus really exist?” With
      wit, insight, and an immense amount of research, this startling
      book makes a compelling case to support the Jesus Myth
      theory. I really enjoyed this book and think you will too.

      —Dr. Karen Stollznow, linguist, author of Hits & Mrs.,
      Language Myths, Mysteries and Magic, God Bless America,
      Haunting America and Would You Believe It? and host of the
      Monster Talk podcast

      ———

      David Fitzgerald’s latest may have supplanted Nailed as my
      go-to resource regarding Jesus. Mything in Action makes a
      compelling case against the long-calcified academic
      assumptions that Christ’s legend is based on a literal person,
      but much more usefully, it provides a thoroughly-sourced and
      navigable journey around and over the huge cracks in Jesus’
      supposedly pristine persona. Mything in Action deftly dissects
      the conflicting and often nonsensical New Testament Jesus
      tales, exposes the perilous holes in Jesus “history,” and reveals
      a curiously confused Christ portrait that – very possibly – was
      drawn straight from imagination.

      —Seth Andrews, broadcaster, author, host of
      thethinkingatheist.com

      ———

      In his latest book, David Fitzgerald asks all the right
      questions about Jesus. He does not try to ‘prove’ any
      preconceived notions; rather, he follows the evidence. I was
      indeed surprised and absolutely captivated by what followed –
      a real page turner, full of interesting and entertaining facts,
      many ‘impossible to argue’ conclusions, a time travelling tour
      – exceptionally imaginative, brilliantly coordinated and hugely
      informative. This outstanding work is a must read for anyone
      who is questioning their faith or seeking confirmation that their
      atheistic leanings are indeed well founded. They say the
      quickest way to become an atheist is to read the Bible; this
      book could be an even faster route (it is shorter); so I would
      also recommend it to those who believe but are willing to put
      faith aside for a moment and ‘check the facts’ with an open
      mind. If you have the courage, then just as Fitzgerald promises,
      you really will “never look at Jesus the same again.”

      —Jim Whitefield, author of The Bible Delusion: 101 ‘Hang
      on a Minute’ Moments; And God’s Mysterious Ways and The
      Mormon Delusion series

      ———

      The genre of history is underpinned by scientific discipline.
      Although history involves telling stories about the past, the aim
      is that these should be stories based on evidence, not on
      prejudice or fancy or the wish to convey a moral. Stories that
      are told against the facts, especially those told with moral
      intent, are very likely to be myths. David Fitzgerald’s objective,
      well-researched, and clearly expressed book correctly consigns
      Jesus firmly to that latter genre.

      —Andrew Copson, Chief Executive, British Humanist
      Association

      ———

      I am often shocked by the number of non-believers who
      accept the Jesus myth unquestioned. Now, with Jesus: Mything
      in Action, David Fitzgerald removes all doubt that the history
      of Jesus is nothing but folklore and mythology. This is a
      welcome addition to any library of those interested in seeking
      out the truth with fact based logic and reason.

      —Dan Arel, Author of The Secular Activist and Parenting
      Without God.

      ———

      A very handy and entertaining popular-level reference
      guide to the topic. Loved the H. G. Wells themed section that
      creatively reveals how the faith could have started without the
      Historical Jesus and how little even the earliest Christian
      authors knew about Jesus!

      —Raphael Lataster, author of Jesus Did Not Exist and
      Teaching Fellow (Studies in Religion) at the University of
      Sydney.

      • Darth Ballz
        2017-04-25 17:26:27 UTC - 17:26 | Permalink

        Are there any recommendation blurbs about Fitzgerald’s new books from recognized expert New Testament PhDs?

        • Neil Godfrey
          2017-04-25 22:03:53 UTC - 22:03 | Permalink

          I have quoted enough, including comments from scholars. If we want to rely upon experts within this field then we best have no interest at all in the mythicist question. David Fitzgerald’s work contains an excellent documented exposure of the politics of the experts and any member of this field who is concerned to sustain a reputation.

          • Darth Ballz
            2017-04-25 22:16:39 UTC - 22:16 | Permalink

            If the blurbs on the back of one’s book are by people that have no relevant credentials, why not just randomly select six people off the street to evaluate your book?

            • Neil Godfrey
              2017-04-25 22:23:02 UTC - 22:23 | Permalink

              That’s fine. If six random people just happened to be interested enough in the topic to want to read the book and had the time to do so and were willing to offer their opinions, I’d find that a useful and interesting input. Wouldn’t you?

              If we are wanting only the opinions of leaders in the establishment that David Fitzgerald is analysing and criticising as an outsider we would not get very far, would we.

              Do you not think the views of people like Carrier, Price, Zindler, are of any interest and use in helping us evaluate whether or not we might find the book of interest?

              • Darth Ballz
                2017-04-25 22:34:21 UTC - 22:34 | Permalink

                You’re right, of course. I respect both Price and Carrier. For instance, in a recent blog post Carrier characterized two naturalistic alternatives to the actual risen Jesus, which agrees with my outlook:

                “Of course Habermas tries to sell Strobel on the tired apologetic line that “no one dies for a lie.” Surely not, “if they knew it was a hoax,” we hear said. This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. It’s one thing to ask how likely it is the resurrection appearance claims were a hoax. It’s altogether another to ask how likely it is they were like every other divine appearance experience in the whole history of all religions since the dawn of time: a mystical inner vision. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive. So the notion that no one would, is simply false.” (Carrier, 2017)

            • Neil Godfrey
              2017-04-25 22:33:44 UTC - 22:33 | Permalink

              No-one is pretending that blurbs are in-depth critical reviews. I use them to look for little indicators of what to expect to find in the book. A comment that says nothing more than “Fantastic” is useless, of course. I like those that tell me something of the approach of the author, what stands out to some others, special topics or arguments of interest, etc. I think, for example, it is interesting to compare the comments about David’s style in some of the comments I posted here and the opinion of Matt. One can see something in common between the two and understand that different people have different expectations and tastes. Next step….

      • Matt Cavanaugh
        2017-04-25 19:35:37 UTC - 19:35 | Permalink

        Neil, with the exception of you and Tim, I am not at all impressed with the providers of blurbs. Nothing but the usual suspects from the incestuous world of Patheos: Atheist Channel bloggers and the Skepticon/SSA/local atheist meet-up circuit.

        We have: fellow self-published authors Peter Boghossian, Jim Whitefield, and Dan Arel; blogger Hemant Mehta, who’s so ‘friendly’ he wrote a glowing blurb for The Happy Atheist, PZ Myers’ insipid collection of old blogposts; the disgraced fabulist, Karen Stollnzow; the grad student Ralph Lataster, also self-published, and member of the Bayesian mutual-admiration society. Carrier, of course, Fitzgerald’s intimate friend. And then Darrel Ray, who is linked to Carrier and Fitzgerald via the Amy Skiba scandal.

        Dust cover blurbs are typically a dime a dozen and handed out by practically anyone to practically anyone as a professional courtesy. But this group’s motivations seem especially dodgy.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2017-04-25 21:59:42 UTC - 21:59 | Permalink

          I am sure you and most others understand the point of my quoting the blurbs.

          The alternative to self-publishing is by no means any recommendation in this particular field. Just look at (and try to explain) Wipf and Stock’s “Mimetic Criticism and the Gospel of Mark” by Joel L. Watts and Bloomsbury’s “Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?” by Maurice Casey.

          The name of the game is money, what sells, and if quality serves that end then so much the better for quality; if not….

          • Matt Cavanaugh
            2017-04-27 17:36:13 UTC - 17:36 | Permalink

            I read your comment as “quantity” vs. “quality”. So, yes, it made pecuniary sense for Fitzgerald to get as many of his personal friends and atheist activist acquaintances as possible to pump his books, which I presume are his primary source of income.

            My point still stands that it’s highly telling that this insular, incestuous circle was the only source Fitzgerald could tap into. IIRC, Fitzgerald was once associated with the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion. Weren’t any of his erstwhile CSER fellows willing to endorse Mything, such as Hector Avalos, who Fitzgerald even quotes? None of the other dozens of contemporary authors he cites? Where are the endorsements of Price or Doherty, whose works Fitzgerald so heavily relies upon?

            WRT self-publishing, I have already noted that it allows an amateur to indulge in numerous bad writing errors, verbosity being the most egregious. Were I to edit Mything I suspect I’d begin by cutting about half for not pulling its own weight. The overall sloppiness of Mything (present, too, in Nailed, despite Fitzgerald’s insistence it was “peer reviewed” and “professionally edited”), is also a consequence. These flaws (to which I will add the atrocious cover art) make Mything a bad representative of mythicist inquiry. It reflects poorly on mythicism and only fosters the characterization of mythicists as amateur hacks. By promoting this decidedly sub-par work — especially when far superior popularizing alternatives exist — each of you have done mythicism a disservice.

  • R Pence
    2017-04-24 08:45:49 UTC - 08:45 | Permalink

    Well, he lost me at chapter one. He starts off with a worthy quote by Mark Twain saying that when you find yourself on the side of the majority you should pause and reflect. Then he goes on to poo-pooh all sorts of minority positions in other areas of interest. God forbid mythicists start craving respectability!

    • Matt Cavanaugh
      2017-04-24 20:15:05 UTC - 20:15 | Permalink

      He lost me with his infantile rip-off of BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE.

  • Giuseppe
    2017-04-24 09:39:18 UTC - 09:39 | Permalink

    I have read only the first book (while expecting the others 2) and what is left implicit (by moving the reader to realize it, if he wants) is the implication that, being the academy totaly influenced by the ”Historical Jesus guild” (really, true Christian apologists), then that counts already, obviously [i]partially[/i], as evidence against the historical Jesus.

    Beyond that, I hope to find more originality in the next two books.

    I would disagree where the author says that Mark is recognized as first Gospel by Mythicists (meaning that the fact is someway positive). Well: not at all. At least Brodie is proponent of proto-Luke priority. And I see that also the Mythicist Paul-Louis Couchoud thought so.

  • Darth Ballz
    2017-04-24 15:49:01 UTC - 15:49 | Permalink

    Recall Paul said “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2),” which seems to suggest that there was much more about Jesus Paul knew and could have been sharing, but Paul thought it was important for the listener’s faith to focus on the core of Paul’s Gospel. So Paul certainly could have known about Jesus’ earthly ministry.

    And I think Jesus’ central mandate of loving one another, found in Mark, is echoed in Paul:

    (A) ’30 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

    (B) “10Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Outdo yourselves in honoring one another. (Romans 12:10)”

  • Matt Cavanaugh
    2017-04-24 20:09:07 UTC - 20:09 | Permalink

    Mything in Action is an atrocious mess written for children.

  • Matt Cavanaugh
    2017-04-25 19:31:34 UTC - 19:31 | Permalink

    I’d previously read Fitzgerald’s Nailed and found it trite and amateurish. I recently read the generously long Kindle samples of the three pamphlets that comprise Mything in Action and found the same. I have multiple issues with Fitzgerald’s work, touched on below, but particularly cringe-worthy was his gratuitous introduction to his time travel gimmick:

    Take a moment to picture your time machine; I suggest a cool, appropriately steampunky, classic Wells-style number decked out with lots of faintly glittering brass, ebony, ivory, and translucent glimmering quartz. Since this is a fictional exercise, we can pimp our ride with some Gallifreyan TARDIS circuitry to let us move through both time and space. While we’re at it, let’s take a note from Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: no, I wasn’t going to suggest bringing a towel, but do be sure to pop a Babel fish in your ear (Eurgh!) for ancient language translation (and if you’re a woman, you might want to pick up a fake beard a lá Monty Python’s Life of Brian; these are sexist times we’re going to). If you don’t already, we’ll just have to pretend you can read Greek, Latin, various scripts of Aramaic, etc. Let’s start by just setting aside everything we’ve learned so far and just assume that yes, there totally was a real Jesus, and we’re going to go find him. (And though I’m sure you know this already, remember we’re using BCE & CE instead of B.C. and A.D.) Ready? Let’s go find Jesus!

    From the puerile tone of this excerpt, a tone that pervades Fitzgerald’s prose, and its awkward homages to geek culture, one can only conclude that the target audience is teenagers.

    In this blatant rip-off of BILL AND TED’S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, we next encounter two “bored Roman soldiers”:

    … maybe they can help. Getting closer, we see they aren’t actually Romans. A provincial governor of Pontius Pilate’s class doesn’t rate Roman legionaries. He has to keep the peace with cohorts of auxiliary troops, primarily locally recruited Syrians and Samaritans, under the command of a Roman tribune. When we ask if there’s been any executions scheduled for today, they look at us like we’ve been out in the sun too long. “What, this weekend? Don’t you know where you are? You picked a bad time to visit Jerusalem. The Jews aren’t doing anything this week but lots of praying to their god.”
    “And eating lots of lamb,” his buddy chimes in.
    “So there hasn’t been any trials, no disturbances in the temple, no big parades welcoming the, um, messiah? The king of the Jews?” you ask. Their expressions darken. “That sounds like Zealot talk…” one mutters, slipping his hand to the hilt of his gladius.

    So far, a few hundred words of all fluff, no meat — with the exception of a prolix aside to these imaginary, gladius-toting soldiers being local auxiliary, which does nothing to either support the argument or move the account along. Similarly, Fitzgerald, when citing the “heresy-hunting” Epiphanius, feels the need to mention that Panarion, the title of this ’heresy hunter’s’ “heresy-hunting guide”, means “The Medicine Chest”.

    Fitzgerald is fain to lard his rather lightweight content with the occasional factual nugget. As these inclusions rarely provide clarity or essential information, one must wonder whether his purpose is simply to impress his young readers. In any case, the effect is a ragged, distracting tone that alternately veers from the flippant — “[a] Jesus who was 98.5% chimpanzee”; “divine fig tree-icide” — to the ponderous — dead-end tangents on the Johannine Appendix, Suetonius, Plutarch, chreiai, etc. Entire sections & chapters, too, could have been excised with no noticeable loss, including several tedious, tendentious pages on why mythicism is like Darwinism, and a needlessly involved excursus on chiasmus.

    We also could have been spared Fitzgerald’s rather nasty attacks on both historicists and other mythicists. We must endure his sneering reference to “the smug dismissiveness of Christian apologists and secular scholars alike”, and the insult-laden complaint that

    [a]ll Christ Myth theory is not created equal; there are plenty of half-baked crackpot mythicist notions that are just as crazy wrong as anything in mainstream Christianity. Those cranks and their asinine pet theories just make the work of serious myth scholars harder, so they need to go away, too.

    We needn’t elaborate on the hubris of the holder of a BA in History from the CSU system, a minor speaker at minor functions, telling — in his self-published work, no less — the cranks to get out of the way of the “serious scholars.”

    We do get an inkling of who Fitzgerald considers a “serious scholar”: fellow itinerant lecturer and self-published author, Richard Carrier. The text I perused contained a preponderance of references to and quotes from Carrier, plus assorted citations of relatively unknown, contemporary writers such as Tim Dykstra. In each of the instances Fitzgerald relied on Carrier, earlier, more illustrious authors and scholars came to my mind. I did not have access to the footnotes, so it may well be that Fitzgerald admits he is largely standing on the shoulders of Doherty, who himself freely acknowledges his debt to the giants of Tübingen and Dutch Radicalism. Again, without access to the footnotes, among Fitzgerald’s many Questions about Paul?, I saw no references to Baur, Bauer, van Manen, Schmithals, or Detering, or even a retort pace the ‘smug dismissiveness’ of Harnack. Fitzgerald’s name-dropping is profuse, so it’s odd he omits nearly all of the more renowned scholars.

    In additon to problems with content, Fitzgerald’s prose disappoints. For one, it is riddled with minor but distracting errors. Such as when he incorrectly uses ellipses:

    Irenaeus informs us that Jesus had been crucified by Pontius Pilate and King Herod… but in the 40s… during the reign of the emperor Claudius

    or is inconsistent when writing out numerals:

    “… and Jesus dies exactly three hours after that; which is exactly 3 hours before sundown….”

    Another annoying quirk: it seems every third sentence ends with a question mark. While that may be useful when setting out one’s objectives, it becomes stultifying when continued throughout an entire work. On occasion, the question marks pile up like rush hour traffic:

    What sort of cracks? Here are a few of them, lurking behind questions such as: Did eyewitnesses write the Gospels? Were Matthew, Mark, Luke and John really the authors of the books attributed to them? Did they copy from each other? Do their Gospels contradict one another? Did Jesus (or any of the other characters in the Gospels) really say and do everything as presented in the Gospels? Are any of Paul’s letters forgeries? Are there interpolations in his undisputed letters? Was Paul’s Jesus different from the Gospels’ Jesus? Was there more than one Christ? Was John the Baptist’s sect withstood over a century and a half of challenges with unparalleled success, precisely the opposite can be said about Jesus Studies. Do you want to see a theory in crisis?

    (I’d hate to see the Spanish translation.)

    In short, the underlying problem is that Dave Fitzgerald is a bad, amateur writer who makes all the typical amateur mistakes. I realize there are many reasons for self-publishing. But one drawback to self-publishing is the lack of formal editorial review, especially copy editing. This usually results in tautology, pleonasm, verbosity, prolixity, circumlocution, and repetition — all abundant in Mything. As someone who for many years served as a content & copy editor for corporate marketing & promotional material, I instinctively reach for my red pen when suffering through unpolished works such as Mything.

    I anticipate the response will be that these pamphlets are nevertheless useful for popularizing mythicist theory. To that end, I would instead recommend the far superior Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, which even costs a bit less than the Mything in Action trio. Doherty’s prose is immensely better; his research, broader and more representative, his command of the material, more extensive & sophisticated; his ability to present complex or arcane information while remaining accessible, incomparable. Most importantly, unlike Fitzgerald, Doherty is writing for grown-ups.

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