Reading McGrath’s chapter reviews of Doherty’s book is to experience repeats of McGrath’s criticisms of mythicist arguments that he was making long before he ever apparently knew Doherty had a book. Now in his latest, Doherty is — don’t be shocked now — like a creationist!
Before then, we heard the same old line that Doherty does not consider or address alternative explanations, that Doherty simply thinks by advancing his own theory that he thinks he was made a persuasive argument, that by pointing out false attributions of sayings, or deeds, to Jesus, that he is proving his nonhistoricity, that he fails to engage the scholarship in the area, etc.
Here is my prediction for the rest of his reviews of Doherty’s book. Every complaint that McGrath has made about mythicism before he read Doherty’s book will be made again with reference to Doherty’s book.
I venture to suggest that McGrath’s intention is not to present and debate Doherty’s arguments but to use the book as a platform to repeat, ad nauseam, all he has ever said about mythicism before. And to do that he will continue to simply ignore — as he did with his review of Price’s chapter in Five Views — whole chunks of central arguments Doherty does make. He will continue to say Doherty fails to address points that he in fact does address. He will continue to ignore Doherty’s own explanations as if he silently makes way for McGrath to fill in gaps with his own mantras.
McGrath has said repeatedly he does not believe mythicism should be taken seriously. He has said that he believes he should write against mythicism, however, because it still gets a positive press in some newspapers and ‘on the internet’.
McGrath has even disingenuously claimed that he is really and truly open to the possibility of Jesus not having existed, but that, well, mythicists just can’t make a good enough argument to convince him. But he let his colours show when he had no answer for the logic of Earl Doherty’s argument.
McGrath will continue to insult Doherty and mythicists (comparing them with creationists etc) while accusing them of making false accusations.
But one thing you will not see is a serious engagement with Doherty’ (or other mythicists’) arguments. He will always come back to repeating one of his 23 auto-responses.
McGrath is convinced he understands mythicist arguments (he understood Doherty’s before he even read them!) and will continue to say that mythicists are just like creationists if they complain that he, a representative of the academic guild, disagrees with them.
McGrath’s intention is clear. It is to silence Doherty, to deflect readers from Doherty’s book. He may even say (as he did with Price) that he hopes his readers do read Doherty’s book for themselves — just to see f0r themselves how wrong it is. It’s the old peer-bullying tactic.
In my previous post I quoted Lemche’s discussion of the tactics of conservative scholarship. Replace “minimalists” with “mythicists” there and names like Davies, Lemche, Whitelam and Thompson with Price, Doherty, Salm and Thompson, and see how perfectly aptly it still reads.
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