At least one theologian has seen fit to write regular posts about mythicism even though it becomes more apparent with each one of his posts that he has simply never read very much at all by way of publications by mythicists. He certainly never cites his sources or quotes the places where he claims “mythicists say” or “mythicism says” this of that. Such vagueness certainly conveys to me the impression that he is doing nothing more than surmising from some general idea he has heard or skimmed somewhere. I certainly can’t relate his claims about “mythicist” arguments to any “mythicist” publications I have read. His claims are usually straw man parodies.
Then there are the usual charges that if mythicists were serious they would present their case to a scholarly audience. But then he will also say in the same ensuing discussion: “And it remains the case that, to my knowledge, no one who is a historian of the Judaism of this period finds mythicism worthy of serious consideration.” In other words, he is admitting that it would be a waste of time for “mythicists” to attempt to present their case to a scholarly audience. A scholarly audience, he is saying, would find any such presentation “worthy of serious consideration.”
But again, he is vague about whom he means by “mythicists” in this context. There are at least two contemporary scholars who have published for scholarly audiences on a mythicist Christ concept. Another, G. A. Wells, has been mentioned favourably in a re-publication by R. Joseph Hoffmann of Goguel’s critique of the Christ Myth. Earl Doherty has certainly attempted to present his case before academics by engaging with them in a number of ways in various venues, including on the old Crosstalk discussion list, and a number of the scholarly community have also spoken commendably about his work.
[Note 14th Feb 2011, I have removed paragraphs from here that were based on imputing too much into a few words by Mark Goodacre. See comments by Mark Goodacre below.]
I originally responded to James McGrath because he had repeatedly insisted he was genuinely wanting to understand “mythicism”. After all this time he is still doing blog posts that only demonstrate his total lack of interest in understanding it. Arguments that he made over a year ago, and that I responded to in some detail, he continues to make oblivious to any arguments that have been marshalled against his position. He is not interested in engaging with the “mythicist” position but only in slandering it.
Perhaps I should do a list of posts that he has responded to on this blog so readers can judge the integrity of his engagement with “mythicism” for themselves. I think that would be a more useful response to the wilfully ignorant fatuousness that appears in the periodic blog posts there.
Till then (I can’t imagine many more depressing blog posts, so it might be a while) here are what a few other scholars have said about Earl Doherty’s work, since it does seem to be mainly Doherty’s arguments for “mythicism” that he seems to be (culpably) misconstruing:
- How and why scholars fail to rebut Earl Doherty (includes a range of scholarly responses, good and bad, quotes and links to more)
- Another professor’s response to Earl Doherty (lengthy post by Professor of Religious Studies, Stevan Davies, at Misericordia University)
- Robert M. Price’s views (a video)
There are better and more worthy audiences to address than the wilfully ignorant McGrath.
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