Historical Jesus scholarly quotes on historical methodology

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by Neil Godfrey

Even fabricated material may provide a true sense of the gist of what Jesus was about, however inauthentic it may be as far as the specific details are concerned.

(From a scholarly review of a chapter of a book discussing historical methodology)

In a discussion of a Wikipedia article on Historical Method:

Is there anything in the method outlined there (or better yet in the books cited if readers know them well or have time to consult them) that is not in keeping with the practices of historians working on the historical figure of Jesus? Or is there any point at which this survey and summary (or the method set forth in the sources the article cites) is at odds with what most historians do?

I ask because mythicists regularly claim that what scholars investigating the historical Jesus do is different from what mainstream historical study does.

In those books cited in that Wikipedia article, and that are appealed to in order demonstrate that biblical historians use the same methods as nonbiblical historians, appear gems like the following:

The author of a historical source may be God, as well as man. Hence the distinction between divine and human sources.

The procedure of critics who reject the possibility of miracles is manifestly unscientific.

I know of course that most mainstream biblical historians do not openly admit to the supernatural when dealing with historical inquiry, but the fact that an associate professor of religion is blithely confident enough to make such a claim about books he obviously has never read and only thinks he understands demonstrates just how out of touch some biblical scholars are with the historiography outside their own ivory tower. This was a key point in Scot McKnight’s chapter on historiography in his Death of Jesus, and which I discuss in relation to key names in nonbiblical historiography that he sees as relevant for biblical scholars. The scholar who refuses to address this is the one who responded with the ignorant remark about sources for methodology on the Wikipedia article.

(I know I know. Someone said this is like shooting fish in a barrel with a shotgun. Let’s move on.)

Oh, just one more. . . .

I’ve tried being reasonable and respectful

(comment 11491)

Agreed, he is very trying

Response to James McGrath’s Argument from Wikipedia

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

by Neil Godfrey

Wikimedia Foundation
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In response to my post in which I cited the Game of Avoidance as one played by some HJ scholars in relation to mythicist arguments, one such scholar has posted a series of comments with each one ironically avoiding my argument. Irony seems to be lost on some people.

So when challenged to address my statements on nonbiblical historical methodologies, the same biblical historian chose to avoid my argument completely and respond by going back to his own blog and posting up a discussion and link to a Wikipedia article titled Historical Method.

Aside on the insulting manner and false accusations of the scholar: The same gentleman and scholar also took the pains to explain how respectful he has been in his exchanges with me — (calling me a pretender, a bait-and-switcher, ignorant of what I am talking about or attempting to address, selectively cherry-picking supporting sources, and of complaining about things I have never uttered anywhere, all fall within the ambit of “respectful” dialogue in his view) — proceeded to insult me and anyone else who argues for a mythicist view as deserving to be ignored and being one with young-earth creationists. He also proceeded to infer that I am unaware of religious conservatives complaining about secularization of biblical studies and implies that I argue that nothing but religious dogma keeps mythicism from gaining a foothold in mainstream biblical studies. Of course he provides no evidence for these views he attributes to me because he will not find them. He will find in my blog several posts that belie his charges if he cares to look or ask.


So what to make of the Wikipedia article to which he refers and which he seems to claim fully supports the methodology of HJ historians as being just like that found in any other field of history? Continue reading “Response to James McGrath’s Argument from Wikipedia”

Mythicism and the HJ scholarly guild: the same old, the same old

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

by Neil Godfrey

German philosopher Arthur Drews (1865-1935)
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“Whoever, though not a specialist, invades the province of any science, and ventures to express an opinion opposed to its official representatives, must be prepared to be rejected by them with anger, to be accused of a lack of scholarship, “dilettantism,” or “want of method,” and to be treated as a complete ignoramus. This has been the experience of all up to now who, while not theologians, have expressed themselves on the subject of the historical Jesus. The like experience was not spared the author of the present work after the appearance of its first edition. He has been accused of “lack of historical training,” “bias,” “incapacity for any real historical way of thinking,” &c., and it has been held up against him that in his investigations the result was settled beforehand . . . . .

“The author of this book has been reproached with following in it tendencies merely destructive. Indeed, one guardian of Zion, particularly inflamed with rage, has even expressed himself to this effect, that the author’s researches to not originate in a serious desire for knowledge, but only in a wish to deny.”

Arthur Drews, The Christ Myth, from preface to second edition, 1910, and reprinted in the 3rd ed.