Someone has posted a favourable review of Dr Maurice Casey’s Jesus of Nazareth. Anyone disappointed with my own difficulties in finding much of value in the book (my various references and discussions relating to it are archived here) may be pleasantly surprised to find that this “independent” scholar’s treatment has found a most favourable reception with a series of reviews on the Remnant of Giants blog: Did Jesus Rise From the Dead? Maurice Casey’s doctoral student, Stephanie Fisher, is effusive in her praises of these reviews, complementing them for their
careful attention to detail, clear argumentation, and refusal to reply on accepted authority for its own sake. No embarrassing amateurish agenda driven groupie opinions. Compared to other reviews generally by other reviewers, your reviews of this book are exceptional. I had no doubt of your independent mind or sophisticated, broadly learned, honest scholarship before, but you are inspiring. There’s hope for this discipline and a point to honest historical inquiry after all.
What I find most remarkable in both Casey’s book and among such impressed readers is how the presumption of historicity can so completely blind one from obvious indicators narrative fiction. There is not the slightest indication in any of the canonical gospels that any of the resurrection appearances of Jesus are “visionary experiences”. Those events are narrated as matter-of-factly as the accounts of Jesus calling the disciples, debating with Pharisees, walking on water, stilling storms, casting out demons, miraculously feeding multitudes with a few loaves and raising the dead. But since there can be no serious questioning of the presumption that the basic Christian narrative is an elaboration of core historical events, even the gospel tales of the resurrection are rationalized as reports by authors who are motivated by a desire to record history as honestly as they can within their pious understanding.
The process is, of course, a classical fallacy of circular reasoning. How do we know the gospels are based on historical events? Answer: Their authors are sincerely dedicated to conveying an honest account of events. How do we know the authors were so piously honest? Answer: The gospels contain an accurate account of events or what witnesses believed or understood had really happened.
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