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.)
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:
“As is widely known, two key aspects of Wisdom in Jewish thought – pre-existence and a mediatorial role in creation – are also attributed to Christ in the New Testament – although the precise passages and their precise meaning are in fact topics of significant ongoing discussion among scholars.
Since none of the above is in dispute between mythicists and those who hold other viewpoints, let me turn attention to the heart of the matter as relates to the subject of mythicism. Doherty writes on p.94 that the “fallacy” of the widespread view that the aforementioned ideas are being applied to a historical Jesus is that “No identification with a human man is ever made, no writer gives us even a hint that an “application” to an historical Jesus is anywhere in their minds. As suggested earlier, scholars are guilty of reading into the text things they find hard to believe are not there.” “
By the time you got to your next paragraph, you apparently forgot that I was in fact talking specifically about descriptions and characteristics of the Son such as you outline above: things like pre-existence and a mediatorial role in creation, unifying and sustaining the universe and triumphing over the demons, ‘mythological’ features (a term which even mainstream scholars use in such contexts), the sort of features we find in those passages I just itemized. Where do you find a hint of an identification of such a Son with the Gospel Jesus in passages like Colossians 1:15-20, Ephesians 1:7-10 or Hebrews 1:1-3? Where is the vast difference between Hellenistic descriptions of the Logos and those of the Christian Son, namely that this Christian ‘Logos’ was incarnated in the person of Jesus of Nazareth on earth? Isn’t that an important distinction, not to mention advantage? What about the difference between personified Wisdom as God’s intermediary (who was also said to “dwell among men” without being incarnated in a human body—did you miss that?) and the Son/Christ as God’s intermediary? Is it feasible that every epistle writer giving us a description of God’s emanation who filled some of the same roles as Wisdom and the Logos would fail to mention that one little trifling point, that he had been recently incarnated, on earth, as a full human being, in the person of Jesus of Nazareth (or whatever one wants to call him).
Even in a Christological hymn like Phil. 2:6-11, there is not the slightest identification with a known or recent human man. Did you not notice that? This “hint” only repeats that constant motif we find throughout the epistles (and even outside them), that the Son, in performing his redeeming act of death and rising, took on the ‘semblance, likeness’ of flesh/humanity. Odd language, considering that alongside it no writer ever actually says he was a full human being, that he took on this ‘likeness to flesh’ on earth, or lived a life, much less provide a time, place and human identity for this ‘likeness.’ I guess that doesn’t even pique your curiosity.
There is no dishonesty here, and no lies, if you will simply read my book as it is written. If there is any dishonesty involved, it is your misrepresentation of what I write. And I am sure we are all getting tired of your constant mantra that I “postpone” evidence which would destroy my case. That would be pretty stupid of me, don’t you think, to ignore evidence in the early stages of the book that in later stages I simply wouldn’t have any means of countering or reinterpreting? Who would I be fooling, and for how long, if when I got to “born of woman” and the like I had no way of preventing it from washing away all the material I had dealt with thus far, as you seem convinced is going to happen? (You are already blustering about me going to “explain away” such conclusive evidences for historicism, and we’ll see about that, although I notice you hedging your bets by calling them “apparent references” to an HJ.) Your objection makes absolutely no sense and is getting very tedious.
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