Daily Archives: 2010-07-08 13:53:54 GMT+0000

Why I am Not a “Mythicist”, and why I challenge mainstream methodology

This cartoon has nothing to do with the post, but I like to add a bit of colour, and blue is my favourite colour, and I like mermaids, and I can’t find anything else appropriately mythical.

I suspect [ETA: strongly suspect] Jesus originated as a theological and allegorical creation, that he was “a myth” if you like. I do not know it. I cannot prove it. But I can see some very good arguments in favour of this proposition. I can also see some very good reasons to question the standard methodology of mainstream scholars based on the assumption that Jesus was a historical figure. And the same questions I raise about this methodology also open up questions about the standard mainstream arguments for the historicity of Jesus.

But I have never thought of myself as “a mythicist” because that sounds to me like I am entrenching myself in a position that I will defend at all costs.

I have posted this sort of remark before, but given that James McGrath and others continually label me “a mythicist”, I will repeat it once more. I do not see the point of “defending” a “mythical Jesus” position.

That is not what historical inquiry is about.

Would any scholar bother to spend a career arguing for or against a historical or mythical Socrates? Some mainstream scholars really do question the historical existence of Socrates, but no-one calls them “Socrates mythicists”. It is a ludicrous proposition when we see it in the context of nonbiblical studies. The existence of Socrates has been occasionally raised as a minor side-point that is really quite irrelevant to the real historical questions about the origins and nature of early Greek philosophy.

My interest is, to repeat, in exploring the origins and nature of early Christianity.

I think that this historical inquiry has been held captive by mainstream NT historical methods that begin with the presumption that the narrative of Gospels-Acts is in some sense related to real events. What I have questioned is the rationale for this assumption. read more »

Joel Watts stoops to lies and slander — and doesn’t even care!


Since the original of this post I have added the last phrase to the title.

In response to my request for him to support his allegations of lying etc, Joel said quite bluntly that he doesn’t not have to bother being nice. — presumably “being nice” means little things like telling the truth about me. I have reproduced his comment in the comments section.


Joel Watts has published the following on his Church of Jesus Christ blog:

Dr. James McGrath, again, on the Resemblance Between Mythicism And Creationism

In responding to a rather juvenile post by Neil G., Dr. McGrath again steps into the water and wades out a little bit deeper. This is Neils bailiwick, in which he insults someone who he disagrees with, and then proceeds to spit out nothing by lies, misinformation, and logical fallacies about them and their positions along with the notion that Christ is nothing more than a myth. I would encourage you to read the posts in the series (click the tags at the bottom of this post, or the labels at Dr. McGrath’s site) for a better understanding of the issues and how it is academically handled.

I will return to the insult charge at the end of this post, though anyone who knows the history of James McGrath’s exchanges with me can well make up their own minds on that one.

Joel’s last sentence inviting readers to read my post implies it is linked at the bottom of his, but I did not see any links to it – only links to spread his own post on Facebook and Digg. But maybe I missed them.

Watts has blatantly accused me of “spitting out nothing but”

  1. lies about James McGrath and his arguments
  2. misinformation about James McGrath and his arguments
  3. logical fallacies in response to James McGrath’s arguments
  4. the notion that Christ is nothing more than a myth

He is referring to this post of mine.

Joel does not cite a single instance of a lie, a piece of misinformation or a single logical fallacy, and does not reference any part of my post arguing that Jesus is a myth. Given that he charges my post is “nothing but” a collation of these it should have been easy for him to have cited just one example of one of those.

What my post does is challenge the methodology of mainstream historical Jesus scholarship.

That I can get this sort of response to making that critique is most instructive. read more »