2010-12-15

Open invitation to Dr Maurice Casey

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by Neil Godfrey

I invite Dr Maurice Casey to an online discussion or debate — an open exchange between himself and me in any blog or wiki or “live” public internet forum — about anything I have said in relation to his recent book, Jesus of Nazareth.

This all began when I had been wondering what happened to Mike Kok whose review of chapter 3 of Maurice Casey’s book I reviewed. The last time he visited this blog he dropped off a comment but failed to respond to my reply. I understand he has also failed to respond to others like this.) So in an idle moment I went looking and . . . .

I have just learned from a comment by Steph on the Sheffield blog that Dr Maurice Casey is to include in his forthcoming book responses to “the blogger Godfrey’s main arguments and ‘review’ there.” “There” is presumably this Vridar blog. (Ah yes, as Steph so often used to say, she cannot answer my arguments in a blog because it was “only a blog” and it would take a whole book to explain what is wrong with my arguments. So it looks like Casey, her mentor, is to produce the book she has been alluding to.)

I had no idea Maurice Casey or any professor of theology or biblical studies would bother to read a blog by a lay amateur that is intended to express his own personal thoughts and share what he reads on the internet. (Within the last twelve months only two such doctors have visited this blog with public comments as far as I am aware, and in both cases they showed themselves to be neither gentlemen nor scholarly.)

But continuing to read Steph’s comment on the Sheffield blog I learn that Dr Casey apparently does not have to read my blog to respond to my arguments. He can rely entirely on Steph’s own selections of posts. She continues: “and I have been gathering relevant posts for many months now.”

I used to wonder why Steph suddenly stopped commenting on this blog while still maintaining a subscription to my blog posts ever since March this year. So it appears that the subscription was maintained to garner fodder for Dr Casey’s book??? (I wonder if Steph showed Dr Casey very much of the correspondence that passed between herself and others on this blog. Now it would be most interesting to read Dr Casey’s reaction to much of that!)

So why does a Professor, a Doctor of …? (I do not know — I have not been able to learn this from simple internet searches), — according to a student he has publicly praised extremely highly, bother to take time to publish in a book responses to my own iddy biddy blog posts?

Dr Casey has never approached me or attempted to demonstrate publicly where my arguments are fallacious. It appears, according to Steph, that he is saving this up for inclusion in a book.

I invite Dr Maurice Casey to test publicly (on this blog or another of his choosing) any of his arguments and rebuttals against anything I have posted here (as filtered by Steph or read directly by himself). I also invite Dr Maurice Casey to inform us all of the exact nature of his Doctorate — what was the topic and field of study, and what is his educational background.

Mine is no secret. I am a layman, a librarian, specializing in digital resources and semantic web information systems, a metadata specialist, and my interest in biblical studies is entirely a nonprofessional personal interest. History, let’s say, is my educational background and ongoing interest. I ask because I was misled for a year or more by Dr James McGrath who has presented himself in a self-published tract for believers as “a historian”. I had taken that at face-value and was mystified repeatedly by his responses to my points about historical method until I finally learned that he has no secular history training at all and was, at least up till the time of our exchanges, ignorant of the most basic issues discussed in (nonbiblical) historiography and the philosophy (or nature) of history. Only then did the penny drop as to why he made such simplistic comparisons of history with courtroom and detective scenes, and insisting on clear separations of literary analysis from historical inquiry. McGrath has never, as far as I am aware, retracted his claim to be a historian, or qualified it in any way.

I had wanted to go easy on Dr Maurice Casey and limit my responses to only those inconsistencies or fallacies that impacted on more general internet discussion-topics of interest.

If what Steph says on the blog is true, then I find it curious that a very learned professor would bother to even respond to my posts. Or if he would respond to my posts, I find it very curious that he would at no time bother to approach me or leave a comment to point out errors in anything here. Is there any comment he (or Steph) can point to where they were met with a rude or abusive reply in response to their scholarly decorum?

Given the hostility Casey demonstrates against atheists in his book, I can imagine the nonsense he might also level against anything Steph selects to shows him on my blog.

But given Steph’s and Dr James Crossley’s rudeness and blatant trolling on this blog, and given that these two individuals are singled out as especial friends of Dr Casey and wonderfully “independent” intellects by Casey himself in his most recent book, I guess I can expect nothing but more of the same boorish and abusive rejoinders from Casey himself.

But, as Steph so often liked to remind us here, biblical scholars are such wonderfully decent and polite fellows when meeting each other at conferences. It’s only us damned sceptics (ouch, bad word in the halls of biblical studies!) who are deserving of contempt, apparently.

So back to my search for Mike Kok’s arguments. He is happy to drop off a comment, but will not reply to a response. Is he afraid he might find his comment is shown to contain fallacies? (When he first visited this blog it was to announce that he feared he would be hounded out by bad behaviour here, but when that never happened he continued to imply that bad behaviour was nonetheless imminent, until he finally gave up for a while. Coming into someone’s space and accusing them of being likely to behave badly is not exactly gentlemanly behaviour.)

I can assure Dr Casey that if he does have the decency to respond here to any of my arguments, and correct me if I am wrong — Steph no doubt could show him instances where I have admitted to correction and retracted errors — he will be treated with courtesy and respect as I have treated all who have behaved themselves likewise.

P.S. Oh yes, why do pingbacks to positive comments show up on the Sheffield Biblical Studies Blog, but no pingbacks appear there to any of my blog posts discussing their publications? 😉

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Neil Godfrey

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105 thoughts on “Open invitation to Dr Maurice Casey”

  1. Neil, are you familiar with the debate between spin and David Rohl that happened a while back? I think you should take one thing from it: As wrong as a trained academic might be, they can provide a flood of very heavy argumentation. In particular, I suspect Casey would crush you on the Aramaic issue. Not because you’re wrong, but because he knows that stuff like the back of his hand. I just hope if the two of you debate this, that you aren’t going to underestimate your opponent.

    Carefully, carefully, my friend. That’s all I’m saying.

    1. It makes no difference if every word of Mark could be demonstrated conclusively, even with archaeological finds of wax tablets beside a copy of Mark all carbon dated to 34 c.e./a.d. I am not arguing points of fact, but simple logic. (Such a find would not advance us beyond having a single “christian” source.) The basics that Schwartz, Einstein and even that “red” Hobsbawm and his peers (whose method McGrath rejects because he is a “red” and therefore by definition seeking to undermine good western capitalist values!), along with the “minimalists” and others, have all repeated, is the need for external corroboration. They don’t mean the “external corroboration” of every singe detail of a narrative, but merely some confirming indicator that the narrative indeed relates to historical persons/events.

      THAT is the first difference between secular historians and the Gospels. The second relates to literary analysis. Casey eschews this as a criterion or necessary methodological prerequisite, it seems, and follows the form-critics (whom he rejects because they come to the “wrong conclusions”) by opting for the fragmented patchwork nature of Mark.

      Some theologians (professing to be “historians”) excuse themselves on the grounds that they can find nonbiblical historians who are also lazy (e.g. see Liverani’s critique of Hittite historians, David Clines critique of biblical “historians” on Nehemiah, and not forgetting alternating scholar-populist Michael Grant). I don’t know if Casey uses the same rationale.

      My critiques go to the heart of the fundamentals of the logic of the method of such “historians”. Their methodology is, as Dale Allison himself quite openly admits, circular. I don’t mind if they recognize this and make it clear in their publications, as Allison does. But it seems the basics of this simple logic are hidden from quite a number of these theologians who seem to be struck with some form of hubris that leads them to think they are actually doing “history”.

      1. Some of what you’ve written goes to the heart of the logic, but other stuff is a clear case of you wading into linguistic details. You’ve now challenged Casey to respond to anything he likes. I wonder if he’ll challenge you on his home turf, and try to discredit you on the basis of your non-existent Aramaic skills and lack of familiarity with relevant research? If he does that, how much do you think it’ll matter whether your arguments are any good? The audience of a debate isn’t gauging the objective merit of every sentence. They read through the lens of how credible they consider each participant.

        Why do you think David Rohl, in his opening post, told everyone spin’s real name and accused him of being banned from places all over the net? He was trying to win the credibility game as early as possible. He had a reputation to defend, and wasn’t interested in losing to an internet amateur. Does Casey strike you as particularly more mature than Rohl? He doesn’t me.

        So, honestly, stop confusing “being right” with “able to win a debate”. It’s not that simple.

        1. Point taken. (Maybe I have much to learn in this respect. But I don’t think my arguments have been “linguistic” per se.)

          If Casey can prove himself to be more mature, pertinent and academic in his responses than either Crossley or Steph then I will be impressed. If he does better job of arguing his Aramaic case than he did in his “Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel” and “Jesus of Nazareth” then that would be a plus for everyone, especially for himself.

          If I am wrong in my arguments about historical methodology then I would very much welcome being shown where I am wrong. McGrath and Crossley have only played insult and avoidance games. My views on this have been slowly creeping into me for some years, and I put out many early tests of these ideas in a number of forums even before I started a blog.

          Casey appears to have something to say, so as Steven Carr implies, it does seem curious that he does not seem interested in getting to know the people he wishes to write about so judgmentally. Has he engaged in personal correspondence with Earl Doherty or Robert M. Price or even, say, Thomas L. Thompson? (I have attempted to encourage others critical of Doherty to ask Doherty himself for an explanation or feedback on their critiques, but I get the impression they fear that would spoil their fun.) If he cannot bring himself to do that then he still has an excellent opportunity to set any of these right by posting something on the web for immediate discussion and debate.

          But what Steph does not say in her comments here is more illuminating than what she is saying.

          1. It might be useful to frame the debate with clear, formal statements so as to discourage the descent into blather, obfuscation, and folderal.

            Resolved: That in the search for the historical Jesus, no primary sources exist and all extant secondary evidence is late, contradictory, anonymous, and theological. Therefore no saying or act, no event or date can ever rise to the level of “historically probable.”

            Within the context of this discussion, primary source information refers to official records, eyewitness accounts, physical remains, or tangible archeological artifacts. “Primary” does not mean “the earliest evidence we have.” It has to do with proximity, not chronology. To promote secondary or tertiary evidence to the status of primary evidence simply to fill the void is historical malpractice.

            Resolved: That Criteriology, even when performed with the utmost care and diligence, can only reveal plausibility, not historical probability.

            Specifically, any given criterion can reasonably demonstrate that, for example, “Saying A is more likely to have been uttered by the historical Jesus than Saying B.” However, it cannot (because of the lack of primary evidence) demonstrate that, “Jesus probably uttered Saying A.”

            To these we could add something about the Null Hypothesis and the burden of proof, but this is a good start. I don’t see how expertise in Aramaic or Greek or Syriac or any other ancient language matters much in the discussion of these basic, core arguments.

  2. He has a file of all your posts, I send them all, including political ones which I agree with, most recently your postings on wiki … – we both read them and discuss them and I tell him when you appear in comments on unrelated posts and when comments pop up later in earlier posts. But the myth book isn’t just about you as I suggested on Sheffield Biblical Studies. 🙂

    1. and I mean he keeps all your posts, including this one – it’s the nature of research for a book to read everything one can applicable, so in a proper response to the mythicist arguments, published print and public reception of it such as internet (which appeals to the authority of published authors) applies. I said in comments here a long time ago, after I had started talking about the need for a response with Maurice and forwarding your posts, that I thought mythicism ought to be taken seriously. I persuaded Maurice of this which is why he is writing this book. Naturally though, the book focuses on published print, the authors internet writers read anyway.

      1. But didn’t you (before the start of the Sheffield Biblical Studies blog) say it doesn’t matter what one says on a blog, that blogs can never be taken seriously?

        Why does Casey not publish a single rebuttal online? Is it because he prefers to save up his misrepresentations (e.g. http://www.ibr-bbr.org/IBRBulletin/BBR_2000/BBR_2000_1a_04_Porter_JesusUseGreek.pdf) and ad hominems for a book rather than face “real time” dialogue in which his claims can be responded to (and rebutted/exposed) on the spot?

        And why does he appear to be so coy about the details of his qualifications?

        And why could no-one — not even you or Crossley — offer a simple rebuttal of a simple logical argument I have made without abusive retorts — and in your case, and even Casey’s in his recent book — appealing to the need for “a whole book” to respond?

        And why can neither you nor Crossley offer a simple explanation where either I or Steven Carr have at any point really “misrepresented” what either of you have ever said – especially when we referenced direct quotes?

        And why have you failed to explain why Doherty’s use of rhetorical introductions must be judged by a different standard from the same types of rhetorical introductions as Paula Fredriksen’s?

        I smell a coward’s game here. Avoid online debate — even in a neutral forum or on your own forum you might set up — and publish the same sorts of stuff (i.e. avoidance games and insult) you and Crossley posted on this blog earlier (and the intellectually dishonest anti-atheist rot that Casey has published in his recent book) in the new book that will sit there in nice clean pages without anyone being able to respond to “in situ”.

        And why does Casey appear to rely so totally on you for email access to online groups and to speak for him in forums like this?

          1. And Steph’s comment illustrates the absurdity of asking her to justify with quotes and examples the complaints she makes.

            Throw a direct question at Steph and she will respond with a total blanking out of what has been said.

            A refusal to acknowledge that a person has said something is rudeness – the kind of rudeness that indicates that Steph has zero respect for what people say, to the extent that she simply ignores what people say to her.

            1. another example of why scholars and others tend to avoid getting involved in blogs like this is Steve’s comment. Except for example when a scholar has undertaken to write a book about a genre and research for such will necessarily include public reception, interpretation and background of the genre. Then blogs like this provide an example. You see as far as I remember, I think I made a typing error and was accused of lying and I said something about writing quickly and making mistakes on blogs perhaps, and that was twisted or misinterpreted and thrown back at me as though I had diminished the usefulness of all blogs. Clearly that it not what I meant, and even I had been invited onto the Dunedinschool blog to contribute where others contributed posts I valued. And now I have recently been invited to another blog set up by the director of the Harvard Humanist Chaplaincy, an interfaith blog, where scholars have been invited to contribute articles on interfaith (including gay) issues. There are several atheist scholars like me and agnostics, Christian scholars, Jewish, Muslim, even Jain, and scholars from other faiths too. So obviously I value the contribution of some blogs which are written by scholars and others, and journalists’ ones too, and one can be informed and even entertained, have collegial discussions and debate issues in collegial fashion. Several of these I read regularly. One I am grateful to Neil for first leading me to, although perhaps it is more a website than a ‘blog’, is Information Clearing House which I now subscribe to and I am very appreciative of that.

              1. Steph continues to take a lot of time to explain in great detail why she refuses to answer direct questions ,and passes up all opportunities to justify the malicious slander she has engaged in in the past.

                Professor Casey is devoting years to writing a book. Why not interview the people whose views he is writing about?

                Why is that not helpful to him?

                I have given up hope of ever being told the name of a Greek translation of an Aramaic document, where Casey has successfully reconstructed the original.

                At least in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes, people could see *some* clothes that these tailors had made. Now if I ask to see any clothes that Casey has made, I get no answer.

                There must be some surely? Surely there have been Greek translations of Aramaic documents that Casey has examined to see how people went about translating Aramaic into Greek?

              2. Steph, you will no doubt appreciate a reminder of your comment about the usefulness of blogs:

                Neither do they [i.e. staff in your deparment] bother with blogs. Scholars who pop stuff up there don’t publish ‘serious’ stuff there – I’ve heard it said, ‘just for fun’.

                and again:

                People speculate all the time on blogs – the whole point about scholarship is the detail and background, the research and arguments. Blogs are not academic.

                I wonder what has changed Casey’s mind that he now apparently sees fit to read blog posts. You used to say things like:

                trained scholars don’t consider your blog worth a glance.

                (here)

                and

                Neither James nor Maurice read your blog so will not respond

                and

                they don’t read your blogs so won’t therefore interact with you.

                (here)

              3. Thank you, yes, I was clearly talking about this blog and obviously scholars have blogs for public audience but do publish more academic material in print. And as I explained in my previous comments, while this book is not about you, it is about a genre and you represent an example of the reception of that genre and reception becomes important as part of the research for the book.

  3. I think Steph must be one of these many women followers who help with the practical organisation of Professor Casey’s ministry…..

    In which case, perhaps we can expect to see Professor Casey rummaging for scraps of food to avoid starvation 🙂

    How can Professor Casey crush Godfrey in a debate if he does not comment on the blog posts? Or at least let Neil know where he is wrong?

    ‘I suspect Casey would crush you on the Aramaic issue. Not because you’re wrong, but because he knows that stuff like the back of his hand.’

    Casey knows Aramaic better than native speakers, who are , in many cases, ‘not fully competent’ in the languages they speak.

    What is Casey’s track record on reconstructing the Aramaic originals of Greek documents? Has he ever produced an Aramaic original of a Greek translation that could be compared with the original Aramaic?

  4. Neil,

    You have to realize this is the new breed of Christian apologist. It’s a huge industry, and it’s specialized. Some of them work in forums and gather information. Then others use that information, and write books. Often, the book writers avoid actual interaction to appear to be staying above the fray. Then there are other that work to get “Ph.D” in front of their name. It does not matter that the Ph.D is not in history, or even from an accredited school. The goal is simply to appeal to those that are swayed by the authority of a Ph.D without realizing that the Ph.D. is not even in the same field they are making claims about. They will get a Ph.D. in a field other than history, then call themselves “historians”.

    more… http://twitter.com/RichGriese/status/15162693363171328

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

  5. Neil, it is a matter of the time involved to read and respond in depth to comments. I shut down my blog due to time constraints of doctoral work and am happy to just make the odd contribution on the department blog (and since the HJ is not my main area of academic focus but was asked to review select chapters for a blog, I am more than happy to retire to non-canonical Christian texts which carry less cultural and ideological baggage). I don’t want to be a troll and leave lengthy comments repeatedly on your own space, so I say my piece and let others respond as they will. I responded to Steven’s comment but it took time to get through moderation which I do not control, but it is difficult to respond to his same rhetorical questions over and over [as evidence A, I submit his “questions” and Dr. Hurtado’s response [http://larryhurtado.wordpress.com/2010/07/09/eyewitnesses-and-the-gospels/#comments], and exact same questions to his colleague Dr. Helen Bond as if Hurtado said nothing at all [http://cscoedinburgh.wordpress.com/2010/10/24/when-did-jesus-die/#comments]). And Mr. Griese, please tell us your own “history” credentials, ability in the ancient languages (Greek, Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic), knowledge of Jewish/Christian/Greco-Roman texts from 200 BCE – 200 CE, knowledge of how religious studies departments were formed in secular institutions as accredited part of the humanities? But I am an apologist and part of a “propaganda machine” who wants to use a slowing down tactic to prevent you from debunking the academic guild, so I won’t take up anymore of your time 🙂

    1. Hurtado responded to my questions, but never answered them.

      There is a difference. A difference obvious to anybody who does not think that any answer will silence questions, even bad ones.

      Hurtado was reduced to saying that Judas existed, because he is in the Bible.

      Hurtado was reduced to saying that Jews had heard about Jesus, because Christians made sure that they did.

      Which, of course,entirely misses the point.

      Or rather, reinforces my point – that Paul has no idea that any Jew could have heard about Jesus other than by Christians preaching about him.

      And Mike K. refuses to answer simple questions. He ‘responded’ to my comment, but never answered it, other than to claim that Biblical scholars know the baptism by John happened, because John’s Gospel never says any such baptism ever took place.

      Similarly, he has refused to answer the simple question of naming a Greek translation of an Aramaic document, where Professor Casey has successfully reconstructed the Aramaic original.

      Mike should know that Brits are fond of the Jeremy Paxman technique.

      If people refuse to answer questions, ask them the same question 14 times in a row, until it is obvious that they have no answer.

      1. My recent post on Andreski’s “Social Sciences as Sorcery” kicks in again here. Andreski points to politician techniques of avoiding answering direct questions, and always responding to the question they want to hear. Theologians (and their imitators) do exactly the same in the face of radical criticism.

        It’s the same technique that began with the shamans and witchdoctors — a lot of mumbo jumbo to make it sound like they know what they are doing so as to impress the gullible.

  6. JW:
    If Dr. Casey is willing to respond to your criticisms (because Christian Bible scholars like McGrath, who are paid to do so, are more afraid of criticizing fellow Christians than “Mark’s” women) than he should get credit for that. He’s also smart enough to no longer believe that god sacrificed himself to himself, thereby conquering death by dying in order to end his eternal law. Giving up the Christian ghost is evidence that he has mastered the Semitics. Knowing Hebrew/Aramaic has always been a litmus test for Christianity. Anyone who knew it knew that Jesus was not in the Jewish Bible. Ironically here, this is yet another reason to think that “Mark” was not proficient in Semitics.

    By the Way, if this is the Julian, formerly of FRDB, we’ve never seen anyone more proficient in Semitics than spin there. He/she looks like a professional to me. Rohl was the relative expert on Egypt but spin easily exposed the weaknesses of Rohl’s argument. As is often the case when arguing ancient religion, the only thing that made Rohl’s argument possible was the overall uncertainty regarding any conclusion.

    Joseph

    1. No, different Julian. I’m just a lurker at FRDB.

      As for Rohl, he’s a knowledgeable academic. If spin hadn’t been familiar with the research, Rohl would’ve won the debate. You can’t really push a criticism forward if your opponent knows the subject blindfolded, while you only sort of half know it. Casey and linguistics = Neil loses.

  7. MIKE
    Neil, it is a matter of the time involved to read and respond in depth to comments.

    CARR
    But Casey is apparently devoting 2 years to this book, if I understand Steph correctly.

    How much time would be saved if he sharpened his responses in the cut and thrust of trying to put up decent sounding answers to questions?

    Questions such as ,If John drops any reference in Mark to Jesus being baptised out of embarrassment , why does Luke/Acts chop out all references to Jesus having a brother called James?

    Questions such as ‘Why does Casey maintain that the earliest Gospel writers (and Luke) would never have been able to work out exactly when Jesus started his ministry?’

    Casey claims his Aramaic sources (that are literally not on the face of *this* planet) were written by people ‘in close touch with the events of the historic ministry’ (page 64)

    And then Casey claims on page 181 that people did not have and could not find clear information about the beginning of the ministry.

    How could Luke have found out when John the Baptist began his ministry, and yet Casey claims the entire Christian community had no clear information about the start of the ministry of Jesus, despite all these accurate details , written by people ‘ in close touch with the events of the historic ministry’?

    I’m certain there will be a response to this question, but never an answer.

  8. Incidentally, Professor Casey claims that Mark’s Gospel was eagerly expected, and widely distributed and copied without delay.

    These Christian churches must have been very keen to get information about Jesus, yet, of course, Paul’s letters mention almost nothing about any historical ministry, because Christians already knew so much about all of it that Paul could take it all for granted,and just make vague allusions to teachings here and there.

    Casey claims on page 77 that any person like Marcus who had achieved so much in writing the first Gospel must have become ‘well known in many churches’.

    And on page 78, Casey claims that the author is an ‘unknown Christian’ called Marcus.

    Fame is so fleeting, isn’t it?

    By the time you get to Papias and the early church fathers , the true identity of this famous author is lost altogether and Casey points out we should not believe the later traditions about him.

    Just how could somebody write such a Gospel that ‘Matthew’ and ‘Luke’ had to use, become so well-known among churches that his work was eagerly expected, and yet sink into such obscurity that just a few decades later, he had become an ‘unknown Christian’?

    1. The powers of modern research are mind-gobbling. All of that complex reconstruction can be uncovered about a Gospel that is nowhere found in any record till the mid or late second century! Nonbiblical historians are so backward. Make way for the theologians who can show them how to really reconstruct the ancient past!

  9. Hi Steph,

    What do you think of Neil’s critique of Casey’s book? Is there something you would like to respond to here? I haven’t read the book myself, but I must say that what I have read about it here does not really make me rush to the bookstore (okay, okay, I mean push a couple of buttons on amazon.com).

  10. ‘I also invite Dr Maurice Casey to inform us all of the exact nature of his Doctorate — what was the topic and field of study, and what is his educational background.’

    As far as I can make out, Casey studied for a doctorate under C.K.Barrett at Durham University.

    Scholars in the field do not generally seem to have recognised Casey’s psychic powers of reading wax tablets that have long been destroyed.

    http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/rt/otp/abstracts/trans/

    ‘It is fair to say that the prospects for retroverting a Greek text into anything close to its original Hebrew or Aramaic are quite poor.’

    ‘Nevertheless, it presumably remains possible to produce a retroversion of a Semitic original of many works which is something like what an ancient writer might have written in Hebrew or Aramaic. Moreover, with the advent of hypertext technology, one could envisage producing a reconstructed text that aimed to provide all possible Semitic retroversions of each word, phrase, sentence, etc. of a translated Greek work, with filters that would weed out impossible combinations. Such a “brute force” retroversion would be immensely complex and would require a huge amount of work, but somewhere in its myriad possibilities would indeed lurk something very like the original Hebrew or Aramaic text.’

    1. As far as I can make out, Casey studied for a doctorate under C.K.Barrett at Durham University.

      This is as much as I have been able to find, too. Did he complete his doctorate? What was his thesis? Knowing something like this may help one understand many of the approaches of Casey that do vary from a number of standard scholarly arguments. He speaks of being “independent” and has indicated that he means by this “independent” from “the Christian faith”. That doesn’t help anyone understand much about where his assumptions and approaches are coming from.

      1. ‘Did he complete his doctorate? What was his thesis?’ Classic!! – that’s quotable! It’s even published too: “Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7” SPCK 1979.

            1. http://www.jstor.org/pss/3266143

              page 643

              Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7, by Maurice Casey, London, SPCK, 1979.

              “Noting the importance for gospel research of determining the origin and meaning of the term ‘the Son of man’, and observing that none of the proposed solutions to the Son of man problem has won general acceptance, Maurice Casey, who is Lecturer in Theology at the University of Nottingham, has attempted in this revised version of his 1977 Ph.D. thesis at the University of Durham to ascertain the extent to which the Son of man motif in the gospels may have been derived from or related to the “man-like figure” in Dan.7:13 and then to provide an overall theory of the origin and meaning of the term.”
              ————————-

              1. Yes, he is a “Lecturer in Theology” who earned a Ph.D. But in what? It would be presumptuous (not to say damning) for us to say it’s a Ph.D. in Theology, since the self-appellation of “historian” would be dishonest, or at least greatly misleading.

              2. Tim, my further searching has not brought up more info on Casey’s Ph.D. Maybe someone else will be more successful.

                Or perhaps someone who knows Maurice Casey (even Maurice Casey himself) could be so kind as to enlighten us.

              3. The question had been put multiple times to steph who claims to know the man, and talk to him. But she has indicated that she has no idea what his degree is on, or is simply trolling by repeatedly avoiding the question.

                His email is listed on the school here he is listed;

                http://web.archive.org/web/20131203011806/http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology/people/maurice.casey

                maurice.casey@nottingham.ac.uk

                Perhaps Neil will post him directly, to convey the offer he has made via the topic of the page. And… can include the question of what his degree is in and from where.

                I think that it is a bad idea to rely on Steph for any of this information, she apparently has turned out to be a troll.

                Cheers! RichGriese.NET

              4. Rich: I am surprised you left your comment after I had left mine in order to explain his two degrees in Classics and theology, his Ph.D. several years later which is published and additionally, all degrees are from the University of Durham in the UK, an independent public university.

        1. Why am I not astonished that Maurice Casey’s thesis was in study of texts, and not in historical method?

          I have given up hope of ever being told the name of a Greek translation of an Aramaic document, where Casey has successfully reconstructed the original.

          I have concluded that Casey is a world expert on reconstructing the original Aramaic of a Greek translation, but that the has never successfully reconstructed a single document – the only expert I know who has never done what he claims he is specially trained to do.

          Of course, I could be wrong.

          1. I gather that the general consensus of mainstream NT scholarship is that he has failed to demonstrate that any such written Aramaic source materials ever existed, let alone that he has reconstructed them. Our only sure knowledge is that all the canonical works of the New Testament began as Greek documents.

            The books of the New Testament are Greek documents for Greek-speaking Christians, written by Greek-speaking writers.

          2. Once again, Steph has taken time out to not answer the simplest of questions.

            Professor Maurice Casey is a self-proclaimed world expert on recovering the Aramaic original of Greek translations of Aramaic documents.

            Can I have the name of an Aramaic document that was translated into Greek, that Casey has worked on, where he can show what the translator did, and how Casey got from the Greek to the original Aramaic?

            Surely a world expert has done something he is a world expert on at least once in his career?

            I don’t understand the problem in letting us know the names of these Greek translations of Aramaic documents that Casey has worked on.

            Why the secrecy?

        2. Steph:

          ‘Did he complete his doctorate? What was his thesis?’ Classic!! – that’s quotable! It’s even published too: “Son of Man: The Interpretation and Influence of Daniel 7″ SPCK 1979.

          Thank you Steph for finally offering an answer to a quuestion I have aked before without any response till now. You will observe that my questions I have raised have been sincere and arisen from the fact that it is normally not difficult at all for anyone to learn the qualifications of an academic. Usually if I have such a question I will ask the person directly if I am talking with them, not cynically, but to understand and appreciate better their area of expertise.

          I did ask James McGrath this question and he replied with insult as well as the details of his doctorate. I don’t know why he found it necessary to add the insult to his reply. I wanted to know if his doctorate was in history or a history-related field so I asked him.

          Now you reply to an equally honest question with your own insult.

          So twice now in my experience academics (or their students) reply with abuse when people outside their guild ask or make known the difficulty they have in finding their doctoral work — and the questions this raises.

          Twice might be a coincidence. What will it mean if it happens a third time?

          1. It was not meant to be insulting. I read your comment as a joke because I thought especially being a librarian, you could look up his thesis under his name on a library research thing like CAT. He has an updated version of his doctoral thesis now too – it is published by T&T Clark, 2007, The Solution to the Son of Man problem. It is much longer than his original thesis which is about 120,000 words, which exceeded (as they do) the limit for a Ph.D. which is set at 100,000 words normally.

  11. I do know of course what his degrees are. He has two – the first was in 1964: Classics (obviously in the Classics Department), in classical and general literature. For this he read history and historical method and studied under the now Emeritus Professor, Peter Rhodes. His second degree was in 1967, in theology and he taught high school classics and history before enrolling several years later in his Ph.D.

    1. Pearl – I have given the details of degrees and Ph.D. Perhaps you could read the published thesis itself so as to avoid making assumptions.
      Tim – I am sure you will assume alot of things but I have given the details of his two degrees also.

        1. Sorry Tim but you said ‘Should we assume the thesis was in fulfillment of his PhD in Ancient Near East History?’ As people have been assuming things about Maurice, I hope you would not assume also.

  12. Maybe some of the confusion here is partly to blame on James McGrath making it very clear that all one has to do to find the doctoral thesis of any biblical studies academic is to do a Google or Yahoo search. That’s how anyone can find his doctorate details, along with those of a host of others.

    I had asked McGrath directly what his specialty was in and that was his reply — and he proceeded to demonstrate how simple the process was by doing a web search for my background, and pulling out some details from a newsletter at a university I worked at a few years ago.

    He seemed to think he was very clever, so I pointed out to him that he could have found out all he wanted to know just by looking at my “About Vridar” profile on this blog.

    It’s an important question. It is not rudeness to ask. It is legitimate. Yet Steph’s reply indicates that she thinks it is bad to wonder publicly about such things after not being able to find the information as easily as James McGrath stressed that it is,

    But of course we know that some scholars do not talk so rudely among themselves (well, most times maybe) but presume to think any discourtesy and judgementalism is appropriate towards those who question the foundational assumptions of their work.

    1. I would have thought as a librarian you have the privilege to look up his thesis. It might help to explain why he has such intimate knowledge of what is happening on your blog if I tell you that since retiring as Emeritus Professor to full time writing, he has become poorly in physical health (poorly being what the English say) and I have undertaken to be his carer so I have the privilege of speaking to him whenever I please. It is also how I was able to convince him of the importance of responding seriously to mythicist authors as this was one of the examples of audience reception. So I am grateful to you for that too.

      1. Steph, for someone who is so quick to jump on others for what she sees as their presumptions, your own presumptions and and related abrasive responses are not easily overlooked. Perhaps you would still like to inform me of the authoritative database or site a librarian should have consulted to learn the facts of Casey’s doctorate. I’m quite sure one must exist and that one in your position would surely know about it. But I will not presume.

        The point is that I can (and do) ask people I am speaking with face to face about their qualifications when this is appropriate in the discussion, so I have been a wee bit shocked at the acerbic responses from both yourself and James McGrath.

        The presumptions extend beyond this matter, however. Steven Carr’s posts, for example, are often said to be abusive etc, but for the life of me I cannot see abuse in them. And when I have asked others to cite what was abusive exactly, they fail to do so. When I and others have quoted Crossley or Casey we have been accused of “misrpresenting” them by quoting them, and informed that it is impossible to explain how we have misrepresented them in a blog post.

        I have seen how Casey has no tolerance even for a humorous approach by Zindler when he has a laugh at some common faith-positions. I have no doubt that Christians have similar laughs about atheists, and I have seen many laughs about mythicism on the net. But will Casey treat all of these with equal condemnation? Of course not. The presumption is that if an atheist has a joke about the other side then that is an indicator of some nefarious incorrigibility. The other side is always “pious”.

        Casey is very clear in his latest book that he instinctively associates atheists critics with an intent to “rebel” against the Christian faith. This is gratuiitous overgeneralization and nonsense with respect to a number of those names he mentions. You yourself have accused me of a similar bias and have, like others who have made the same nonsense accusation, failed to cite evidence of this or to discuss my posts that testify to a completely different approach to Christianity and religion. Maybe you accuse me of this because it was once your attitude — I say “maybe” because I don’t know; McGrath has accused others of the stance he himself once embraced as a fundamentalist. It would be more commendable if we were more open to understanding where others are coming and avoided simplistic presumptions.

        I see also in an earlier comment you said that Casey will be addressing the bad-attitude comments that appear on blogs, too. I have been faulted for allowing certain comments on this blog. But who faults McGrath, for example, for allowing that “abusive” Steven Carr and others to leave comments on his blog?

        The double-standards of those who critique mythicist position — usually in the form of ad hominems — are blatant.

        I did once or twice email you to attempt to seek an off-line calm resolution of a comment or two of yours on this blog, and I thought that was appreciated at the time. But your propensity to slip back into attack mode is too strong. And this is all in keeping with the reactions of the scholarly community generally to anyone who espouses a mythicist position, or even critiques the fundamentals of the methods of the establishment.

        All I was “hoping” for with my initial post was for something that so far McGrath, Crossley and a few others in a comment from time to time have failed to offer — a genuinely civil discourse on any of my critiques of HJ studies, with special reference to Casey’s latest book.

        But once again all that I have received is the same old from earlier discussions with you. This is a shame. There were a number of times in earlier discussions (and off-blog emails) I had thought you might be open to a civil discourse instead of brash insinuations of what others are saying or meaning.

        1. I’m sorry but I can’t see how my comments can be read as abrasive, I have tried to respond to a few things here despite wondering and being a bit worried whether I should as I have found both the post and many commenters, insinuating bossy and rude. I knew also from past experience that if I did respond I’d get hooked in with abuse. But I tried anyway, and regrettably it might have been preferrable had I left you alone as I had previously chosen (and been advised by others) to do. Normally I ask for a librarian’s advice when I’m looking things up and as a qualified librarian I’m sure you know more than me. However CAT has proved useful for finding books but I’m not very computery and normally ask librarians to help when I get stuck. As for James McGrath, I meet him at conferences now and then and we get on fine but I’ve told him what I think – I don’t think it’s a good idea to react to you the way he does. It doesn’t benefit anyone and just adds insult to insult. I’ve told him so, so he knows, but we have to agree to disagree.

          1. It would help if you addressed the points raised and not what you perceive to be the character of the commenter. For example, I quoted what you said about (1) “blogs” in general and (2) mine in particular. Compare your response to the first two passages of yours I quoted. There is avoidance there. Your response here about librarians and advice again simply avoids the point I have made.

            These are only “little” points here, but the same avoidance is consistent from you and McGrath and Crossley in relation to the arguments of methodology.

            To say that Casey is going to answer all the questions in a book does ring very hollow in this context. I fully expect more of the same that he came out with in his last book.

            I am sure I would respect Casey as an elderly and fellow human being if I met him. What I object to is faulty logic, bigotry and ad hominem and outright intellectual “inconsistencies” being slipped in with scholarly publications.

            Public intellectuals should be held to account for such failings. I am not really surprised (though still disappointed) that responses to public exposures of such failings include avoidance and abuse and are very short on reasoned discussion.

            1. The problem is that the demands are constant and I can’t possibly keep up. The nasty comments to me above include such things as ‘troll’, ‘preparing his mission’ or suchlike’ (I think that might have been Carr) and more, including accusations I know nothing about Maurice’s qualifications, have indicated so in the past and avoided responding to requests to identify them. I had no idea I had been asked in the past – I can’t read every comment or respond to everything, it’s too much. Of course I knew had read his work and knew his past history and qualifications before I even applied for a scholarship to study with him. I haven’t ‘avoided’ anything and neither has James (Crossley). James doesn’t read your blog at all apart from a couple of posts about his work which I alerted him to, but he is a Reader, a full time senior lecturer, is involved in several publications and is on a board for Equinox and has a multitude of other commitments. The requests and commands are just too much. And right now my head is spinning – it’s nearly 3.30 am, and I’m grieving the death of my mother, who was everything to me, in New Zealand so I really can’t cope with this anymore. I’m sorry I got involved at all. I can’t constantly defend myself against the constant stream of attacks. I’ve been running backwards and forwards up and down the world and I’m much too enormously hugely sad.

              1. Steph, I am sorry about what you are going through and do believe you do need a lot of sympathy. At the same time you would find much more sympathy if you stopped consistently playing the victim card and going into outright denial and innocence-mode when others point to your insulting responses. (Casey would also more easily attract sympathy as a person if he refrained from false public accusations.)

                There is something unsavoury about your response here. I had addressed the problem of avoidance — of avoiding direct answers and direct engagement with issues raised. Your response here is itself an avoidance of that very comment, and not only an avoidance, but an avoidance that begs us all shed tears for you. There does seem something not quite nice about using your present personal predicament to justify continuation of this avoidandce issue that we are attempting to break through with you.

                No-one has accused you of not knowing Casey’s qualifications. No-one. To suggest that anyone has is simply false. This is what I was addressing previously — your propensity to presume to read into comments rotten motives and mindsets that are simply not expressed there at all. Casey does the same of atheists in his recent book.

                And I did a search here for where Steven Carr accused you of the words you put in quotation marks and I cannot find them. Kindly do Steven and others the decency of citing the exact place where Steven has cruelly and maliciously accused you of anything or retract your accusation and apologize.

                Yes, someone said you are a troll. Do you want me to censor or ban everyone who says something others — myself included — might not like or with which I might disagree? Is that what you want me to do? (There are many comments on this blog that I find personally offensive. I have decided to let most of them stand, often without comment. This is part of what the “blog genre” of which you speak involves.)

                To play the victim by saying that so many “demands” have been placed on you is not winning you any sympathy. No “demands” have been placed on you. You have been asked to do just one thing that you have failed to do till now, and that McGrath and Crossley have also failed to do, and that is respond directly to direct questions.

                As Steven Carr wrote earlier:

                Throw a direct question at Steph and she will respond with a total blanking out of what has been said.

                A refusal to acknowledge that a person has said something is rudeness – the kind of rudeness that indicates that Steph has zero respect for what people say, to the extent that she simply ignores what people say to her.

                and

                Steph continues to take a lot of time to explain in great detail why she refuses to answer direct questions ,and passes up all opportunities to justify the malicious slander she has engaged in in the past.

              2. STEPH
                The nasty comments to me above include such things as ‘troll’, ‘preparing his mission’ or suchlike’ (I think that might have been Carr)

                CARR
                Nope. Not me. I have never called Steph a ‘troll’.

                Perhaps Steph would one day finally quote something to back up her sustained campaign of malicious slander, accusing people of ‘abuse’.

                Could we , pretty please, have the name of just ONE Greek translation of an Aramaic document where Professor Maurice Casey has reconstructed the Aramaic that we can compare with the original.

                The guy is the world’s leading expert on reconstructing Aramaic.

                He must surely have reconstructed Aramaic at least once.

                I have never known an expert who has never once done what he claims to be an expert in…..

  13. Carr’s and Rich’s comments I pasted above are only examples. Your post was insinuating and insulting to both Maurice and me and your post comments are often long and I don’t have time, encouragement, or inspiration that there is any benefit to anything to spend so much time here. And my mother is more important than anything.

    1. I have lost dearly loved one’s too, some far too early in life, as I am sure most of us have. But I could never use them, or my experience of losing them, as cover to justify insults and false accusations of others.

      Your final post demonstrates your determination to the very end, even in times of personal distress, to smear the characters of others entirely on the basis of what you erroneously assume to be a hostile intent behind their sincere remarks.

      1. This is extraordinarily ugly. I make no excuses as your accusations are false and your suggestion that I am using my grief is vicious. I simply made an error attempting to explain my comments at Sheffield here, about the book, as I have been accused of many things and having to defend myself and explain myself for this entire thread – I am simply worn out. I should have avoided commenting as other do. There is no level you don’t stoop to as I’ve been told. You might understand why scholars and others do not take you seriously or do not try to engage you and dismiss you instead. Disagreement in comment is met with sarcasm, ad hominen attacks and charges of abuse and slander and false accusations. You make impossible demands to supply quotes from previous blog comments and your expectation that people respond to all your questions is self centred, and impossible also, and when they don’t you accuse them of avoiding questions. This is not an example of the typical blog genre or anything like quality blogging genres I’ve read elsewhere, where congenial discussions take place. However while you and your regular commenters continue unabated, you regrettably provide a clear example of the public reception of the genre of literature examined in the book, so you are part of background research for it.

        1. So Steph continues never to justify her campaign of malicious slander. I have already documented some of the places in Casey’s book where he engages in vicious abuse of ‘the American Jesus Seminar’

          Nor can Steph do the simple task of naming a Greek translation of an Aramaic document, where Professor Casey has reconstructed the original.

          Casey must have reconstructed one Aramaic original of a Greek translation, surely? The man is an alleged world-expert in doing just that, so he must have done it at least once, surely?

          1. I have come to the conclusion that Steph simply finds it way too onerous a task to trawl through Maurice Casey’s books looking for the name of a Greek document of an Aramaic translation, where Professor Casey has successfully reconstructed the original.

            She has ‘…other work to do and other things to focus on.’, rather than produce a sample of the clothes that the Emperor is clothed in.

            1. Stephen, we need to hold back and stop placing “all these demands” upon Steph’s shoulders. It really is most onerous for a researcher to wade through the material resources to find evidence to justify claims and accusations that no-one has ever heard of before, or to locate evidence that would break the circuit of circular arguments and that was never needed in the first place to concoct the hypothesis.

              I know I personally would find such tasks impossibly onerous.

        2. All I have ever asked, Steph, is that you calm down and respond directly to the content of what others say, and that you support your many hostile accusations against me and others here with cited evidence in support. Repeating outrageous accusations in response does not help you. If you ever respond again I would ask you to first outline what you believe the other party has actually said.

          1. how deliciously patronising and self centred. I’m calm – I’m exhausted. Calm down indeed – that almost, just almost made me laugh a little. It seems slightly ironic. I don’t think you’ve read or just maybe understood the gist of my comments. You ‘ask’ too much, and the expectation is that I must scroll through previous comments selecting appropriate evidence to support my hardly outrageous suggestions. Really? Hostile accusations I don’t think so – I haven’t made any and have not seen any provided … but anyway the point is you have not understood my comments and if you can’t read for example your own post above and see how hostile that is towards me and Maurice, I can’t trust your definition of ‘hostile’. You have called me names, you’ve accused me of ‘lying’ and all sorts of things, but I don’t feel obliged to go hunting through your posts which are no longer my concern, as I have other work to do and other things to focus on. And naturally as I said it was a mistake to explain my comments at Sheffield here at all. Even Maurice told me not to worry and while he agrees with what I’ve said here, he wishes I hadn’t bothered. But you are very good at wearing me out and pretty safe continuing the way you do with your supporters because it’s actually far better to stay away from here – n’night.

            1. The post to which Steph is referring over the lying accusation is at http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/biblical-historians-make-detectives-look-silly/#comment-9530

              Steph. You say here that you have never made hostile accusations:

              Hostile accusations I don’t think so – I haven’t made any


              Then in the same paragraph you write:

              You have called me names, you’ve accused me of ‘lying’ and all sorts of thing

              which is itself a hostile accusation. You then justify your failure to cite the evidence to support this hostile accusation:

              I don’t feel obliged to go hunting through your posts which are no longer my concern, as I have other work to do and other things to focus on.

    2. ’17.Carr’s and Rich’s comments I pasted above are only examples. ‘

      My comment was not an insult, especially as Steph does a lot more work for Maurice Casey than anybody could ever have thought at the time of writing.

      My statement was a parody of Maurice Casey’s claim that the ministry of Jesus was backed by financially OK women, and that also the disciples were so poor that they had to scrabble for raw grain to eat.

      But that Steph accuses me of all sorts of things, and is unable to come up with anything worse than a (not very humorous) parody of Casey’s position is interesting.

      And just what Greek translations has Casey compared with the original Aramaic?

      1. What we see here is more of the way “independent” scholars “take mythicists seriously”. Neither James M nor James C have done so, but SLF does and she informs us that we can be sure MC will deliver an even more thoroughly serious response to mythicists:

        I have also told you that I thought mythicists deserve to be taken seriously. That is why I passed your link to scholars suggesting the same thing. That is also why Maurice Casey is now in the process of responding to mythicists seriously in a whole book.

        From Just one more; and

        I am well aware ‘mythicists’ have been misrepresented in scholarship and not engaged with seriously which is why Casey is now writing a proper response which includes responding to Doherty.

        from Making detectives look silly.

        It’s nice to be taken seriously.

  14. There is no real comparison with anyone here, but for some reason I am prompted to think recently of certain doctor of biblical studies/theology or whatever who has proven himself to be one of the most obnoxious persons in groups which he does not himself moderate. Some may know of Geoffrey Gibson. He has used his academic status to slander others and ridicule their arguments even though he has never even read their arguments for himself. A while ago he posted to a discussion group where he had earned for himself a reputation for being a most thoroughly unpleasant person yet one more snide remarks about someone. He concluded his post by informing everyone of his dire personal distress, with a clear intent to win some sympathy despite his rudeness to all and sundry on htat over the death of his pet cat.

    What sort of personality slices daggers into people, all the while declaring angelic innocence and victimhood, and then proclaims a need for sympathy when personal distress strikes?

    1. While reading another blog recently, I noticed steph’s explanation of Casey’s peculiar use of the adjective “American” in American Jesus Seminar. To me it had a funny ring, as if he were attempting to disparage the Jesus Seminar by tarring them with a label, or that he felt the need to remind readers every single time that the seminar was not sufficiently represented by “real” scholars.

      But steph explained that there is a British Jesus Seminar, and he simply had to differentiate between the two. She said she had tried to explain but nobody would listen to her. (You know how she gets treated. It’s appalling. Just ask her.)

      That was news to me, so I Googled for “British Jesus Seminar” . . . and got exactly two hits. I think the idea that anyone would confuse the Jesus Seminar, which has endured lots of media attention with the British Jesus Seminar is laughable.

      1. Tarring them with a label? What is wrong with just calling the American debate about Jesus ‘appalling’, as Casey does on page 22.

        Or claming that there ‘are two major anti-scholarly faults in American society’, and saying the American Jesus Seminar was ‘of little learning’,with ‘mediocre fellows’, the vast majority of whom ‘cannot read Aramaic’.

        Unlike Casey who can read Aramaic wax tablets that have been destroyed, the American Jesus Seminar cannot even read Aramaic documents in front of them, a bit like Mark, I suppose.

  15. 5.I think Steph must be one of these many women followers who help with the practical organisation of Professor Casey’s ministry….. (Carr)

    I think it is obvious that what she is saying is that she does not know what his degree is in, or where it is from, or if he even has a degree.

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET
    question had been put multiple times to steph who claims to know the man, and talk to him. But she has indicated that she has no idea what his degree is on, or is simply trolling by repeatedly avoiding the question.

    His email is listed on the school here he is listed;

    http://web.archive.org/web/20131203011806/http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/theology/people/maurice.casey

    maurice.casey@nottingham.ac.uk

    Perhaps Neil will post him directly, to convey the offer he has made via the topic of the page. And… can include the question of what his degree is in and from where.

    I think that it is a bad idea to rely on Steph for any of this information, she apparently has turned out to be a troll.

    Cheers! RichGriese.NET

    (and by the way, that email no longer applies since he has retired – it expired earlier this year)

    Of course I don’t think you should censor people. What I am suggesting is that these sort of things don’t encourage me (and others who disagree with you and your commenters) to comment. And as I said we don’t read all the questions and don’t have the time to. It is too much and I regret trying to defend and explain my comments on the Sheffield blog here. Especially now, the very worst time.

    1. So you do not like Rich Griese’s comments. What rule is there that you have to take notice of every tom dick and harry who comments on a blog? You are using Rich as an excuse for how you respond to me and others.

      Your citation of Carr fails to support your accusations.

      You would not have to beg for sympathy if you treated people here — including Steven Carr — with more respect.

      1. I have done Rich Griese a disservice by not taking more careful note of what he in fact did say — which, surprise surprise, is inconsistent with Steph’s slander. I know Steph is going through a hard time, but I cannot stand by and let that excuse the false accusations she makes against others. I have come to find a certain trio of “independents” to be quite unpleasant types when engaging critics outside their guild. When they fail their publics as tax-funded intellectuals they deserve exposure. I look forward to them taking their unpleasantries elsewhere.

        But in defence of Rich Griese, I will let him speak for himself:

        I noticed steph complaining. One thing to clarify. MY questions were what his degree was in and from what school. It had nothing to do with the thesis questioning, because that is not of interest to me. And up to that point, Steph had NOT indicated what his degree was in not what school it was from. So she is incorrect in both her immediate followup to me about having posted it BEFORE I asked, and her complaint to you. Also, if you noticed I said that EITHER she did not know OR she was trolling and avoiding the question. I never made the claim that she did not know. It was a OR statement. When I noticed that she had been repeatedly asked about Casey’s degree and school, I simply also pressed the question.

        Subsequent to this, Rich is also honest and open enough to say what his opinion is nonetheless:

        My opinion is that she DID in fact know, but that as many people do on threads, they avoid ever answering questions that people put to them, and that is something I consider trolling.

  16. I’m not sure where to put this comment: I spent an hour before going to bed through some of your posts but I just scrolled down, didn’t click ‘read more’s or comments. Just noticed a heading were you called McGrath ‘McDaft’.

    However Maurice remembered the analogy this morning: you made an analogy betwen me and a ‘vampire’ and a ‘truly hopeless schoolteacher’, Fredriksen as a ‘naughty schoolgirl’ and ‘mainstream scholars’ (whoever they are) according to which ‘it is easier for a two humped Bactrian camel to be threaded through a No. 10 sized needle that it is for scholars to seriously contemplate a new paradigm” and ‘circular arguments’ which is what analogies are. Your commenters have accused others of ‘an inconsistent dunce’, a ‘troll’ as well as of worshipping ‘Satan’. You accused me of ‘slander’ when I wrote he relies on bloggers as a reasonable conclusion that they are his major audience, based on his own references to Carr, references on the internet and the lay element involved there as well as Carr. You also accuse me of not reading thoroughly let you make mistakes about me without acknowledgement, placing a project in the past tense when it isn’t, claiming that I’m at Sheffield when I’m in Nottingham.

    Maurice will go through his file on you thoroughly at the end but as I wrote earlier the book is about printed scholarship and other authors and not you.

    Incidentally we were in Sheffield this week as Maurice had a public paper to present, and we had dinner with three of the Sheffield staff. One is amused as we all are at the way you have misused his excellent work on Hebrew Bible by applying it to New Testament. He would not do that, it was not intended to be applied like this as the NT is different (bios etc) and written in a different way. Also he is not a mythicist. I will cut and paste this comment and give it to Maurice in case you don’t moderate it. If Maurice has time (he doesn’t want me to spend any more) he will have a quick look in his files for links, but it’s a bit of a messy business at the moment.

    1. Incidentally we were in Sheffield this week as Maurice had a public paper to present, and we had dinner with three of the Sheffield staff. One is amused as we all are at the way you have misused his excellent work on Hebrew Bible by applying it to New Testament. He would not do that, it was not intended to be applied like this as the NT is different (bios etc) and written in a different way. Also he is not a mythicist. I will cut and paste this comment and give it to Maurice in case you don’t moderate it. If Maurice has time (he doesn’t want me to spend any more) he will have a quick look in his files for links, but it’s a bit of a messy business at the moment.

      Anonymous laughter is not a critical argument. Do note I have explicitly stated where someone is not a mythicist if I am using their arguments in support for a mythicist point in particular to be sure there is no confusion.

      My discussions of Davies methodology has been in relation to logic and method per se. I am the one who has made the application — not Davies or anyone else that I know of. If anyone else at Sheffield had made the application I would not be writing what I do on this blog, I am sure. The only one who has responded to my arguments that do refer to (among others) the minimalists, is McGrath. But he has never responded to my rejoinder where I point to the logical fallacy in his reply.

      If my own discussions on methodology are faulty then I am willing to discuss and find out where and how they are faulty. So far I have only been met with “bloody weird” and total avoidance — and a report of laughter. I am more open to logic and reasoned argument, however — the very way I thought you yourself wanted scholars to respond to mythicism.

      I assume that the same game with mythicism is being played by biblical scholars today as has been played for over a century now: ignore and/or ridicule.

      1. Although Philip Davies is aware what goes on, I don’t he’d feel it necessary to respond to mythicists. People cite other people’s work to support views the original authors would never support, or use it in ways that don’t fit, it happens often. But I’ve never seen the original authors respond in print. I’ve only seen response to criticism of the original work.

        1. I don’t understand your point. I have never suggested Davies is a mythicist, and have made that clear. I do hope you also made that clear when you passed on your report of my blogposts to him. I am very aware that most scholars choose to ignore the arguments themselves, and some are very insistent that their arguments should not be taken to their logical conclusions. Spong is not a mythicist either, but I do argue that his book supports mythicism — he would be horrified, so I make it clear that he is not a mythicist himself. There’s nothing shonky in any of this.

          As for your previous comment, I also wonder why you bother to visit this blog. You don’t wish to engage discussion about the posts. You say it would take a book to explain where I get things wrong. You tell me someone laughs at my argument, and I reply that I would find a reasoned response more persuasive, so you reply again to say that the same person disagrees with how I apply his logic to the New Testament — still no reasoned response to my original point: you persist in ignoring my (and others’) points here.

          So what is your intention in coming here?

    2. I see Steph still cannot name a single Greek translation of an Aramaic document, where Casey has reconstructed the original, atlhough Casey has declared himself to be one of the world’s leading experts on reconstructing Aramaic originals of Greek translations of Aramaic documents.

      I am really astonished that Steph passes up every single opportunity to rub my nose in Casey’s expertise.

      Here is a list of Greek translations of Aramaic documents, where Steven Carr has been able to say what the original Aramaic was.

      1……

      Here is a list of Greek translations of Aramaic documents, where Maurice Casey has been able to say what the original Aramaic was.

      1……

      So far, we seem to be on an equal footing.

      I also see Steph has made absolutely no response to any comment on the content of Casey’s work – the one which describes people working in a ministry financed by women have to scrabble for food in fields.

      Casey’s work also describes contemporary notes written by people in close contact with the earthly ministry, and then explains how nobody could work out any good details of what happened when Jesus began his ministry.

      How could such important details vanish, when Casey pictures the Christian community as having such extensive accurate notes on what Jesus did?

      And has Casey communicated with people like Doherty to find out any details that Casey might want clarifying before writing a book?

      Would it not help Casey’s book about mythicists immensely if he talked to mythicists?

      Or would it hinder his book on mythicists if he had ever communicated with any?

      1. Steven: The whole point of international conferences which we regularly attend, in the UK, America, Europe (and I even go to Australasian ones too – I was in Dunedin earlier this year and Brisbane soon with Roland Boer and others) is meeting scholars whose work we read and write about. We have dinner and drinks and discuss each others work. Although Doherty isn’t qualified to attend these conferences he could try SBL which does not require such qualifications. However he has not yet attended this. SBL was where I met and talked to John Loftus, Frank Zindler and other mythicists (I know John is not) and Jim Linville, a good friend, who I had lunch with last time. Of course we have seminars and hear each others papers too but I still (and many others too) find the main advantage is getting to know and talk with scholars whose work we are involved with. Last year one of the conferences Maurice and I both attended was the Centennial Synoptic Conference. I met nearly all the living scholars whose work I discuss in my thesis there alone, and we all ate, drank and socialised together. And despite different conclusions, we never encounter animosity or sarcasm. I enjoy meeting and discussing each others work and the really nice thing is I always always always like those with whom I still disagree.

        1. So your reason for Casey not speaking to people he is writing books about is that Doherty does not go to the same conferences that Casey does?

          Amazing!

          Still if Casey wants to handicap himself by announcing in advance that he will never ask Doherty to clarify anything Casey is unsure about, feel free to tell the world that Casey prefers guessing what sources mean, rather than asking a source direct.

          1. Casey does meet people and know and talk to those he writes about – that’s the point. I just mentioned Doherty because he doesn’t go to conferences – he mentioned the possibility of going to the SBL on an online email forum of secular SBL people I’m part of – and I doubt has met those with whom he disagrees. Others do.

            1. Steph, you did not explain why you comment here when I asked. Simply repeating yourself without actually engaging what others say does does not get you far. We have pointed out Doherty’s efforts and experiences in interacting with the scholarly community, and his engagement with the scholarly literature, yet you continue to repeat your point that the fault is all on Doherty’s side without once addressing the evidence pointed out here to the contrary.

              Ditto in your recent replies to my comments in this thread. You simply ignored my points about Casey’s use of “American” and repeated yourself with no indication you had even read my reasons. This is an example of the rule, not an exception.

              So why do you keep commenting here when you fail to actually engage with what is being said?

      2. btw these international conferences are much more helpful than writing letters and blogs for people we never meet. It’s far more advantageous to be socialising informally and getting to know them as well.

  17. Here is one of the links provided by Maurice going through some files this afternoon:
    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/
    and some of the quotes cut and pasted:
    1. Neil Godfrey on 2010/05/29 at 11.19 a.m.
    Can you imagine a student getting something wrong in a test, being failed, and when asking why he was failed, the teacher telling him, “It would take a book to explain why you got it wrong. Wait 2 years till one is published and then you will know what is wrong with your answer.”
    2. On 2010/05/30 at 10.51 p.m.
    Hoo boy, Steph. For you to complain about rudeness is like a vampire declaring an outrage if someone shows it the sign of the cross.
    3. On 2010/05/28 at 9.40 p.m.
    I think this supports my point — and that of Stevan Davies — that it is easier for a two humped Bactrian camel to be threaded through a No. 10 sized sewing needle that it is for scholars to seriously contemplate a new paradigm.
    4. The last one is from the main text of the post itself.
    The flippant arguments of Stephanie Fisher
    Dr Paula Fredriksen is one scholar who did “respond” to something Doherty had written, but her response demonstrated that she at no point attempted to read Doherty’s piece seriously.
    I would even compare her responses to those like a naughty schoolgirl who has no interest in the content of the lesson, believing the teacher to be a real dolt, and who accordingly seeks to impress her giggly “know-it-all” classmates by interjecting the teacher with smart alec rejoinders at any opportunity.
    Fredriksen’s responses indicate a stubborn ignoring of the theme and content of Doherty’s argument, and consist of a series of superficial quips on particular phrasings and sentences read without any grasp of their context. Her approach as is if to think the subject was beneath her, and Doherty could not possibly be saying anything new. Her remarks, and Doherty’s responses, can be found here.
    In other words, even in making an appearance of addressing Doherty, Fredriksen was really treating the exercise as something of a joke.
    I mention this to compare her approach with another emerging scholar. Some may think Fisher’s views of Doherty unworthy of a response, and from one perspective I agree. But I also think it’s not a bad idea to have a response posted to views from someone whom others can view as speaking with some academic authority.

    Maurice is surprised you didn’t acknowledge the tone of the post about the invitation above. Also I had explained the use of “American” in the American Jesus Seminar in comments on another post but you didn’t acknowledge that when you were reviewing his book. I hope these quotes are what you wanted me to present to support what I said.

    1. Once we’ve finished picking the motes out of Neil’s eye, can we talk about the beam in Maurice’s?

      “[T]he opinion that Jesus did not exist . . . is demonstrably false. It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt. This is not merely worse than the American [sic] Jesus Seminar, it is no better than Christian Fundamentalism. It simply has different prejudices. Most of its proponents are also extraordinarily incompetent.” (p. 499, Jesus of Nazareth)

      You’re close to the man, right Steph? Maybe you can gently explain what “primary sources” are and how we don’t have any for Jesus. Oh, and you might want to break the news to him that almost nobody with a passing acquaintance with the epistle of Jude thinks it was written by Jesus’ brother. Make sure he’s sitting down. Give him a nice cup of tea and make sure the shawl is wrapped tightly around his shoulders.

      By the way, speaking as an atheist who leans toward mythicism, I can tell you that I do not hold my friends and family (nearly all of whom are Christian) in contempt. On the other hand, irresponsible public intellectuals? Incompetent hacks? Yes, those I do hold in contempt.

      1. CASEY
        It is fuelled by a regrettable form of atheist prejudice, which holds all the main primary sources, and Christian people, in contempt.

        CARR
        Of course this is just a campaign of malicious slander.

        Anybody who reads Doherty can see that he uses real primary sources – ie letters written by named Christians like Paul.

        All the above quote reveals is that somebody whose doctorate was on exegesis of Bible texts is willing to write books where he shows that he is not 100% clear on what a ‘primary source’ is.

        Casey claims Judas existed, when not a single primary source in the first century was written by anybody who named himself as ever seeing or hearing of Judas.

        Casey is competent in history , so he knows this is a fact, despite all his speculation about the religious beliefs of Judas, speculation based soley on reading an anonymous book and trying to make sense of the plot line.

        This is not using a primary source. There are no primary sources about Judas, just like there are no primary sources about the Angel Moroni or the Angel Gabriel who dictated the Koran to Muhammad.

        1. And while Casey is slamming atheist prejudice against primary sources, let us not forget that the leitmotif of his latest book is that ‘Mark’ is NOT a primary source, but a secondary source, being based on other previous sources, which only Casey in the whole world can read.

      2. Casey made it clear from the context and the names to which he referred that he was talking throughout of the Funk/Crossan “American” Jesus Seminar. It is special pleading to brush aside Casey’s strikingly repetitive use of the label, especially given his other derogatory uses of the adjective — which I covered in my reviews and comments. This is what Steph overlooks, so for these reasons her (and Maurice’s?) excuse that it is always used to distinguish it from the British JS just doesn’t gell

        By the way, given Steph’s tone and manner of posts I do not apologize for any of my remarks about her behaviour, and it is risible to suggest those statements of mine, especially in their contexts, are “name-calling”. As for the tone of my invitation I do not apologize for that either, though if Casey’s remarkable judgments of the minds and attitudes of mythicists and atheist scholars in his book are any guide, I suspect Casey may be reading far more into it than is warranted. I would be absolutely delighted if Casey were to really respond with reasoned argument. But we have seen the nonsense with which he reviews the arguments of Zindler and others, and Steph says he agrees with all of her comments, so I won’t be holding my breath waiting.

        1. No – the differentiation is because the American one is based in America and the British one is based in the UK. However international scholars, including American scholars, attend the British conference, but it is still a British organisation and part of the British NTC.

  18. Here are some comments from you cut and pasted by Maurice going through some files this afternoon:

    1. Neil Godfrey on 2010/05/29 at 11.19 a.m.
    Can you imagine a student getting something wrong in a test, being failed, and when asking why he was failed, the teacher telling him, “It would take a book to explain why you got it wrong. Wait 2 years till one is published and then you will know what is wrong with your answer.”
    2. On 2010/05/30 at 10.51 p.m.
    Hoo boy, Steph. For you to complain about rudeness is like a vampire declaring an outrage if someone shows it the sign of the cross.
    3. On 2010/05/28 at 9.40 p.m.
    I think this supports my point — and that of Stevan Davies — that it is easier for a two humped Bactrian camel to be threaded through a No. 10 sized sewing needle that it is for scholars to seriously contemplate a new paradigm.
    4. The last one is from the main text of the post itself.
    The flippant arguments of Stephanie Fisher
    Dr Paula Fredriksen is one scholar who did “respond” to something Doherty had written, but her response demonstrated that she at no point attempted to read Doherty’s piece seriously.
    I would even compare her responses to those like a naughty schoolgirl who has no interest in the content of the lesson, believing the teacher to be a real dolt, and who accordingly seeks to impress her giggly “know-it-all” classmates by interjecting the teacher with smart alec rejoinders at any opportunity.
    Fredriksen’s responses indicate a stubborn ignoring of the theme and content of Doherty’s argument, and consist of a series of superficial quips on particular phrasings and sentences read without any grasp of their context. Her approach as is if to think the subject was beneath her, and Doherty could not possibly be saying anything new. Her remarks, and Doherty’s responses, can be found here.
    In other words, even in making an appearance of addressing Doherty, Fredriksen was really treating the exercise as something of a joke.
    I mention this to compare her approach with another emerging scholar. Some may think Fisher’s views of Doherty unworthy of a response, and from one perspective I agree. But I also think it’s not a bad idea to have a response posted to views from someone whom others can view as speaking with some academic authority.
    and here is the link:
    http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/05/27/
    I hope this is what you wanted me to do. There is also the tone of this post which you haven’t yet acknowledged and the comment I have made previously regarding the use of ‘American’ in the American Jesus Seminar, which you didn’t acknowledge in your recent criticism again in Maurice’s use of it again in the Jesus book.

  19. Maurice Casey, we are now informed, has decided to “go through his file on [me] thoroughly”. Maurice himself is apparently personally concerned at the personal attacks Steph has supposedly suffered on this blog. Steph in two earlier comments (#3 2010/12/16@4:16 pm; #15 2010/12/18@10:18 am) here has indicated that she was the one to persuade Casey to write his book on mythicism or mythicists.

    But Steph and Maurice have since taken the time to go through my file thoroughly enough for Steph to cite the grounds for her complaint that I have been abusing her by calling her all sorts of horrible names.

    I will let the evidence she has cited speak for itself.

    (Steph’s comments are still on moderation, but I have let these through because they do give her reassurance that she has been able to publicly “justify” the grounds for her complaints about me and how she is treated on this blog.)

    One also might note an earlier comment of Steph’s (#15 2010/12/18@11:44 am) that she says McGrath told her that insult was okay in dealing with mythicists. I would also invite Steph and Maurice to see what I also wrote about my McDaft reference.

    1. Just a correction – I said ‘Maurice will go through his file on you thoroughly at the end’. He was always going to do that. I just asked him for the analogy quote which had remembered when I asked him, because he said he thought he also remembered which files they might be in.

      And the first comment I left, which contained citings without references, were from a previous comment on a post where I had left a long comment justifying myself. Maurice gave me the printed comment this morning from the file he knew it was in, but didn’t have the link to the post I left it on.

      And as I mentioned earlier in this thread, I’ve already told McGrath that we don’t think it is helpful to anyone and actually unhelpful to respond to mythicists in the way he does. I told him what I thought at a conference I was at. And I also said in the comment above, that we had to agree to disagree. And Maurice’s annoyance is with me for spending so much time here when we both know I have other work to do. He’s not upset about the publicity here.

  20. Neil, why don’t you just ignore the likes of casey and McGrath? If you are really interested in the origins of Christianity, I don’t think engaging these guys will be of much help.

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