Following on from the 17+ mantras of biblical scholarship —-
It is highly unlikely that the Church went out of its way to create the cause of its own embarrassment. [i.e. the account of the baptism of Jesus]
Once again, it is highly unlikely that the Church would have taken pains to invent a saying that emphasized the ignorance of its risen Lord, only to turn around and seek to suppress it.
Both of these sentences appear on page 169 of A Marginal Jew, volume 1, by John P. Meier (1991).
And both demonstrate how a biblical scholar is subject to the tyranny of the Gospel narrative when framing questions about the narrative’s historicity.
Meier here has fallen into the trap of assuming that there was a single church entity that started out recording certain events on account of their historical nature, but over time came to see some of these as PR liabilities, and accordingly set about re-spinning them.
But his scenario actually raises more questions than it answers, and there are simpler explanations for the existing evidence that it overlooks.
I have discussed the fallacies at the heart of this criterion a number of times from different perspectives. The whole idea of using “criteria” to “discover bedrock evidence” is itself fallacious; this particular criterion stands in conflict with other criteria; and what the evidence points to is the embarrassment was over rival theologies or christologies among different communities, not over what we would call historical facts themselves. All of this has been discussed in previous posts that I have archived here.
But since John P. Meier lists this criterion as # 1 of “primary criteria”, I am adding to those posts a response from a slightly different perspective this time.