Daily Archives: 2010-03-08 16:30:12 UTC

New blog category

I have placed all my posts relating to the recent exchanges with James McGrath together in a new category that can be found somewhere in that horrid long blue list of links on the right margin of this blog. Look for the HISTORIOGRAPHY category (you have to fly past all the BOOK REVIEWS AND NOTES) and anyone keen enough might see a child category there, Exchanges with James McGrath on mythicism.

It contains only posts directly relevant to the exchange. It does not include posts addressing historical methods or mythical Jesus views that are not related to that exchange.

Further explanation concerning “mythicism”

After my earlier post on Assumptions and Historicity it appears there is still some confusion about mythical Jesus arguments and points I have raised about the need for external controls to establish the historical value of a narrative.

History, mosaic by Frederick Dielman. House Me...
History, mosaic by Frederick Dielman. Image via Wikipedia

External controls are more than just nice extras

It has been said that my discussion about absence of external controls for the Gospel narratives merely leaves their historicity “inconclusive”, and that “in order to conclude that these stories are most likely not historical, we need some further argument.”

Certainly the absence of external controls renders the historicity of a narrative “inconclusive”, but “inconclusive” in the strongest sense. That means that we cannot begin to assume historicity at all. To suggest that the absence of external controls still leaves open the possibility of the narrative being historical is obviously true. Anything is possible. What we need is a defensible justification for inferring the historicity of a narrative. It is not valid simply to say we need more than the absence of external controls to conclude a narrative is “most likely not historical”. In the absence of external controls we have no way even to begin to work with a narrative as if it were historical. We cannot justify any assumption of historicity in the absence of a justification external to the narrative itself. read more »