2011-02-28

A Poll — just for the sake of killing my cat

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by Neil Godfrey

Curious to know where visitors of this blog stand on the question. I get the impression most are fence-sitters. This poll may confirm that, or it may disconfirm it, — either way I will probably always wonder if I can trust this poll.

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7 Comments

  • P who is Not P
    2011-03-01 02:04:14 GMT+0000 - 02:04 | Permalink

    I think the people who advance the “historical Jesus” argument are confused about what it means, or else do not represent the issue fairly. There is a difference between the strong claim:

    “There was a historical Jesus with traits X, Y, and Z.”

    and the weaker claim,

    “There was at least one actual person who preached some form of a gospel and to whom the Biblical stories were attributed.”

    The second argument can be supported fairly well in my opinion by just shrugging and saying, “Well, it would explain a lot, wouldn’t it? Its the best explanation we have, so why not admit the evidence is lousy but go with it?”

    The first argument requires good historical evidence.

    • 2011-03-01 04:33:00 GMT+0000 - 04:33 | Permalink

      There was at least one actual person who preached some form of a gospel and to whom the Biblical stories were attributed.

      What indication is there that a “gospel” was at all preached by this hazy figure that became “Jesus”?
      I think that mythicism should drop the “Jesus didn’t exist” stance . . . . and instead emphasize the tendentious, syncretic, and fictive aspect of the texts. The latter is actually quite demonstrable, the former becomes meaningless when this sinks in.
      An example from the minimalists: if the evidence shows that there was very probably no such thing as an exodus as described in the Pentateuch, what good does it do to speculate on the nature and function of Moses or of Joshua or of Ramses with respect to the story? Luckily, we have extra-biblical evidence for Pharaoh. But for all intents and purposes, Moses and Joshua are simply legendary edifying characters. To say that they even simply “existed” is as substantial as the sound of one hand clapping.

    • 2011-03-01 12:22:13 GMT+0000 - 12:22 | Permalink

      P !P wrote: “The first argument requires good historical evidence.”

      You would think so, and I’d agree, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Countless times I’ve run across statements from NT scholars who say they couldn’t even begin to entertain the possibility that there was no historical Jesus, because of the “mountain of evidence.” Naturally, they can’t show us the mountain right now because it’s too large, or too complex for us to understand, or it’s in the shop getting its steering realigned, or something.

      Not only do most historicist scholars believe a corporeal Galilean crucified Jew is the simplest explanation for the flowering of “Christianities” in the second century CE, but they also think they know certain things this Jesus “must have done” and “almost certainly said.” It’s quite a leap of faith.

      • 2011-03-01 17:14:56 GMT+0000 - 17:14 | Permalink

        On the “mountains of evidence”, one encounters from time to time the claims that it is “all there” but tucked away in scholarly journals or papers of long ago and not out there in the debased land of “internet banter” — but it is never cited. Nor does it seem useful enough for any scholars involved in “internet banter” to actually repeat the arguments online that were so persuasive for them in the pre-web age.

  • Evan
    2011-03-01 07:24:34 GMT+0000 - 07:24 | Permalink

    I completely agree with Quixie, which is why I think that likening Jesus to Sherlock Holmes, who clearly had a historical antecedent that was nothing like the life we see depicted in the books is a reasonable analogy.

  • 2011-02-28 21:44:41 GMT+0000 - 21:44 | Permalink

    I had to smile at how you phrased the question with the word ‘myth’.

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