Daily Archives: 2010-02-26 17:57:12 GMT+0000

James McGrath’s reply. Enjoy :-(

-- updated with edits 4 hours after original post --

Why do academics, public intellectuals of all people, need to resort to abuse, insult, apparently deliberate misrepresentation and outright fabrication in order to counter a view they believe to be wrong?

James appears to be bowing out from his public mockery of arguments for a mythical Jesus with this one final lying insult:

I think, with Neil Godfrey’s help, I finally understand mythicism. It is a belief system in which, when asked about the historical figure of Jesus, you answer by mentioning William Tell, Rama, the God of the Bible and Atlantis. You then assume that these figures are comparable to Jesus of Nazareth in terms of the historical evidence. You then once again blame the other party for unfairly demeaning this viewpoint.

Oh, and don’t forget to cite Wikipedia and yourself as your sources, just to bolster your credibility.

This interaction has been interesting, but it has already begun to become repetitive. I have some exciting projects that I’ve begun or will be beginning work on, with which I expect to do one thing that mythicists tend not to: submit them for peer review. And so I expect to focus in the coming weeks and months on those and other more interest and challenging tasks.

James response here demonstrates to me that he was never for a minute interested in genuinely understanding the mythicist case, despite his repetitive pleas that he really was so genuinely “interested”.

The E. P. Sanders challenge and response

James challenged his readers to go through Sanders point by point and see if anyone could come up with a different conclusion. James knows I began to do this, and he has responded with silence and finally insult.

James has failed to point to a single mainstream biblical scholar who has actually addressed the question of Jesus’ existence — as opposed to assuming his existence. And I have demonstrated from Sanders’ book that Sanders is included here. James has responded with silence then insult.

The messianic expectation evidence and response

James insisted that there is abundant evidence for general Jewish expectations of a Davidic messiah at the time of Jesus, and told me to “read a book” when pressed for that evidence. I replied that I had read that book, and that it was what convinced me there was no such evidence, and I gave him evidence from other scholars to demonstrate that there was no such evidence. James has replied with silence then insult.

The evidence for earliest Christian belief and response

James insisted that there was evidence that the earliest Christians believed Jesus was a man and not a divinity, and when pressed he eventually produced Philippians 2, along with one interpretation that attempts to see Jesus being described as a second Adam and not a divinity. Apart from the arguably tendentious nature of the interpretation, I pointed out that in Second Temple Judaism Adam was believed to be a divine or angelic being first and foremost anyway. James has only ever responded with silence then insults.

Historical methodology and response

James remained ignorant throughout the exchange of genuine historical methodology in areas of history outside his narrow field of New Testament studies and seems to genuinely believe that NT “criteria of authenticity” are well established norms for all historical disciplines, although they might be named or defined differently by NT scholars. After I pointed out to him that not even all NT scholars conceded their value, and exposed their fallacies, and that other history departments have very different standards, James has responded with insult.

When I presented to him more supportable, logical and widely used criteria and normal historical methodologies, James responded repeatedly (so therefore apparently deliberately) with a false and misrepresentating rewording of what I wrote.

James seems to find such calls for him to support his assertions with evidence, and to answer the evidence produced by myself and others, as “repetitive”. He has only ever responded with insult.

Final remarks of sarcasm and ignorance

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