Daily Archives: 2011-07-20 09:36:38 GMT+0000


3rd post in the series by Roger Parvus. The complete series is archived here.

TDOP = The Death of Peregrinus by Lucian. Harmon’s translation here.

In my previous post I argued that the Asian delegates to Antioch mentioned in the letters to Philadelphia and to Smyrna should be identified as being part of the Asian delegations that, according to Lucian, were sent to encourage Peregrinus when he was imprisoned by the governor of Syria. The author of the letters was Peregrinus, I maintain, and when he wrote them he himself was being led in chains to Antioch for imprisonment and – he hoped – martyrdom. And having heard that the recent factional turmoil in the church of Antioch had ceased, he wanted the churches in Philadelphia, Smyrna and other cities in Asia to appoint delegates to go Antioch for his martyrdom.

I was intending to next look into the would-be martyr’s route, but – on second thought – I have decided that now would be the best time to inspect the other letter that he wrote after learning that peace had been restored in the Antiochene church. That letter is the letter to Polycarp, and although it was written at the same time as the letters to Philadelphia an Smyrna, it differs from them in several significant particulars. As will be seen, these differences are the clue to its true character. Solving the many puzzles of this letter will confirm that the would-be martyr was indeed being led to Antioch, not Rome.


Polycarp is identified as the bishop of Smyrna in the letter addressed to him but, strangely, not in the letter to the Smyrneans that was written at practically the same time. The prisoner wrote the two letters just a short while after his departure from Smyrna, having visited with Polycarp and his church during his stop there. Yet, from the kind of advice contained in the first five chapters of the letter to Polycarp, one would never guess that the two men had just parted. One could legitimately wonder why they didn’t discuss the material in those chapters when they talked face-to-face presumably just days before. And the advice to Polycarp regarding his responsibilities to the members of his church who are widows, or married, or slaves (IgnPoly 4 & 5) looks like advice for a newly installed bishop. read more »

Doherty’s response to McGrath’s “review” of chapter 9

In response to McGrath’s “review” of chapter 9 of Earl Doherty’s book Doherty has written the following response. (I note that McGrath in comments on his blog justified his failure to address any of Doherty’s actual arguments in his review by labeling them all as “wrapping” to sell an unsuspecting reader a bogus product. Since McGrath likes to bring in comparisons with Creationism, it is worthwhile pointing out that it is Creationists who dismiss arguments through scoffing and it is evolutionists who have no reason to misrepresent Creationist arguments — the facts they present speak for themselves.)

Doherty’s response:

Jim: “thus far the essence of Doherty’s “case” has been a combination of saying that there are no hints of a historical Jesus in the epistles, combined with a postponement of discussion of counter-evidence.”

Once again, Jim, you are guilty of misrepresenting my arguments, falsifying what I say, and then thinking to discredit your own straw men. You really do need to read me more carefully. But I know that you are so blinded by your rabid animosity toward mythicism and mythicists that you just charge ahead and (mis)represent me in whatever way suits you best.

I did not make any blanket statement that “there are no hints of an historical Jesus in the epistles.” The subject matter you were responding to related to those descriptions of the Son such as we find in Colossians 1:15-20, Hebrews 1:1-3 and so on. Let me quote right from your above review: read more »

Appeals to McGrath, Regrets and the Responsibility of Public Intellectuals

Let’s deal with the regrets first. Yes, I have expressed some regret over when, a little over a year ago, I once made an offensive play on his name.* I have also taken note of Lester Grabbe’s discussion of unscholarly standards of debates and have taken his words as a warning to myself as much as a commentary on a wider situation.  I have attempted to understand why the irrational and unprofessional hostility among some scholars towards certain views and to be careful how I do express myself. I highly respect the way others like Earl Doherty and Rene Salm maintain their civility and I am grateful to a number of readers of this blog who, after I had posted something heated, wrote to me encouraging me to keep my cool.

I have also appealed to McGrath to put the past behind us, but even since then his responses to me have been laden with hostile insinuations. I have appealed to McGrath repeatedly to acknowledge Lester Grabbe’s warnings.  Till now my appeals have done nothing to lessen his personal barbs against me. It is clear he cannot carry on an exchange without imputing sinister motives.

There is simply no place for this from one who speaks as a representative of the scholarly community. And I am a little surprised that McGrath’s manner has apparently gone without censure among his own peers. This is not a good sign. Some biblical scholars like to follow Noam Chomsky’s outspokenness on international issues. It is time they also took note of his criticisms of public intellectuals.


* (The accusation that I also insulted McGrath an earlier time is false. I re-wrote his name as an innocuous anagram when creating a parable to clarify through analogy a point I was trying to make about his argument at the time. It was by no means an insult.)