2012-04-02

Ehrman’s Most Bizarre Criticism Of All Against Doherty

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by Neil Godfrey

Bart Ehrman’s attempt to deal with Earl Doherty’s book, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, is “filled with so many unguarded and undocumented statements and claims, and so many misstatements of fact, that it would take a [book three times the size] to deal with all the problems.”

I have quoted Ehrman’s own words to describe Doherty’s book and turned them against Ehrman himself. In the paragraph following that description Ehrman flagrantly misquotes Doherty to falsely accuse him of claiming that there was only a single world-view among the ancients. I addressed this in detail in my first post of this series.

From this point on Ehrman continues to demonstrate that he has simply failed to read much of the book he claims to be reviewing. As part of his effort to dismiss Doherty’s argument that Paul’s Christ had no earthly context, Ehrman accuses Doherty of asserting, without any evidence, that the mystery religions at the time of early Christianity “were at heart Platonic”:

What evidence does Doherty cite to show that mystery religions were at heart Platonic? Precisely none. (p. 192, Did Jesus Exist?)

But he [Doherty] then asserts that they [the mystery cults] thought like the later Platonist Plutarch. . . . 

Quite oblivious to everything Doherty wrote on the matter, Ehrman attempts to refute what he (wrongly) says is Doherty’s argument by explaining the very things Doherty himself points out in his book. That is, Doherty has argued that the beliefs of the mystery cults were for most part very probably unlike the philosophical views of the day and then offers the reasons for this judgement. Ehrman bizarrely says Doherty argues the very opposite of what he does, that the mystery cults thought like the philosophers of the day. He then proceeds to explain how it really was, and then presents Doherty’s argument as if it were his own and as if he is explaining what Doherty should have written! But what he thinks is his own argument against Doherty is exactly what Doherty did write! This is most bizarre!

Here are Ehrman’s “corrective” statements he obviously thinks (wrongly) that Doherty “should” have understood:

And it is highly unlikely that adherents of the mystery cults (even if we could lump them all together) thought like one of the greatest intellectuals of their day (Plutarch). Very rarely do common people think about the world the way upper-class, highly educated, elite philosophers do. . . .

In the case of someone like Plutarch there is, in fact, convincing counterevidence. Philosophers like Plutarch commonly took on the task of explaining away popular beliefs by allegorizing them, to show that despite what average people naively believed, for example, about the gods and the myths told about them, these tales held deeper philosophical truths. The entire enterprise of philosophical reflection on ancient mythology was rooted precisely in the widely accepted fact that common people did not look at the world, or its myths, in the same way the philosophers did. Elite philosophers tried to show that the myths accepted by others were emblematic of deeper spiritual truths. (p. 192)

One can only read this and shake one’s head in dismay. Doherty himself has written just that! Where was Ehrman’s mind when he was turning the pages that contained the following paragraphs?

Even the traditional religious myths which took shape in ancient society tended to be chaotic and lacking any sense of what we would call the rational and comprehensible (for example, Dionysos born from Zeus’ thigh). Yet such features were still looked upon as ‘real’, however illogical they may seem to us; they were allegorized only by the intelligentsia. If pressed, average devotees might have been mightily exercised to define exactly how they saw the stories Attis, Dionysos and Mithras unfolding in their world of myth, let alone to provide a location for them. (p. 155, JNGM)

This is highly esoteric stuff, almost unintelligible to the modern mind . . . which only the philosopher may have thought to understand. . . .  It tells us that in philosophical circles, and from the time of Plutarch, an application of the myths to a primordial earth setting was no longer in vogue. This may or may not give us a definite picture of how all the devotees of the cults looked upon such things, but it demonstrates that the thinking of the era had moved in an upward direction, and we have no contrary evidence to suggest that the interpretation of the myths in the cults as a whole did not follow. . . . In contrast with the philosophers, however, it can hardly be thought that the entire membership of the cults, even if following their lead into the upper world, went so far as to reduce the myths to pure allegory, things that never happened as described. The priests and even some male devotees of Attis literally castrated themselves, amputating their genitalia in a fit of devotional frenzy, this in emulation of Attis himself whose myth had him performing the original act. Would something viewed as mere allegory have been capable of prompting such an imitation? (p. 149)

We know that some philosophers rejected literality and saw such things as allegory for spiritual processes otherwise indefinable. (p. 145)

Nor would legends like those of Heracles or the Olympian gods interacting on earth with human beings have undergone a Platonic shift to some spiritual dimension. (p. 146)

But this does not tell us how the myths were understood within the context of the cults that were founded on their raw material. The myth of Egyptian Isis and Osiris had long predated the Hellenistic salvation cult which evolved later. (The native Egyptian cult of Osiris going back into the Old Kingdom was not a “mystery cult” in the later sense of the term, and of course owed nothing to Hellenism or Platonism.) But not everyone knew the understanding of that myth as conceived by the Hellenistic cult of Osiris, and any writer not in the latter group, or not choosing to address it—as Plutarch did—would have had no reason to present the myth in any other than the traditional way. In fact, anyone was essentially forbidden to do so.

This is the main reason why we are groping in the dark to try to understand how the savior god myths were conceived within the cults. We have virtually no writings of the period on the subject to reflect those conceptions. Plutarch (end of the 1st century) is almost our only source from the turn of the era, and we must work through his personal disposition to render it all allegorical. (p. 146)

Notice in the last line that Doherty is saying it is the allegorical interpretations of the myths by the philosopher Plutarch that makes it difficult for us to discern what was the thinking within the cults.

Ehrman makes it worse by also saying that he agrees with Doherty when he (supposedly) says we do not know what the mystery cults thought, Period. There is much we don’t know but we do know some things that are found in any text on the history of the period, such as their interpretation of traditional myths in ways that opened the way for personal salvation for initiates.

When, in his second edition, Doherty admits that we do not know what the followers of the mystery cults thought, he is absolutely correct. We do not know. But he then asserts that they thought like the later Platonist Plutarch. How can he have it both ways? Either we know how they thought or we do not.

As shown above Doherty does not assert the followers of the mysteries “thought like the later Platonist Plutarch” at all. Doherty even writes, as I have shown above, that it is Plutarch’s allegorizing that makes it extremely difficult for us to know what the average cult initiate thought.

Ehrman adds to his obvious failure to have seriously read Doherty’s book this bit of illogical nonsense:

[Doherty] admits that in fact we do not know if that is true and that we do not have any reflections on such things by any of the cult devotees themselves since we don’t have a single writing from any of the adherents of the ancient mystery cults. Yet he still insists that philosophers under the influence of Plato—such as Plutarch, whom we have met—certainly interpreted things this way. (my emphasis)

That is, Doherty says we don’t know the details of what the cult devotees thought [but Ehrman still castigates him for supposedly saying they thought like the philosophers of the day as if Doherty is the one contradicting himself] and then follows with the meaningless non sequitur that Doherty says philosophers under the influence of Plato thought in a Platonic way! Perhaps one might excuse Ehrman for assuming that in this case the philosopher was also a mystery cult initiate, but that’s not how he argues subsequently for a clear distinction between the thinking of the philosophers cult devotees.

Against this clear evidence of Ehrman’s failure to have done anything more than merely skim sections of Doherty’s book, we have the curious indication that he does know the contents of Doherty’s first edition of this book, The Jesus Puzzle, well enough to draw comparisons between Doherty’s thinking in the two works.  Did he have time to read the first book and to see where Doherty revised some of his presentation in the second volume, but failed to read what Doherty in fact wrote in the second volume? This is strange indeed. One might almost suspect that Ehrman was being fed arguments from a hostile critic of Doherty whom he fails to acknowledge in his preface. But I’m sure Ehrman is a lot more scholarly than to rely on anything but his own diligent research and that the best explanation is that Ehrman was under such enormous pressures that he simply had to take short-cuts and skip pages — after first catching up with Doherty’s earlier book.

What Doherty Does Argue

Nowhere does Doherty claim that we know how the mystery cults interpreted their myths. Rather, he says we have no clear evidence for what they believed. All standard text-book stuff. What he does argue is that we have certain evidence about the cults which could lead us to deduce that at least to some degree their interpretation of their myths was influenced by Platonism. Doherty presents that evidence and deductive argument.

Bold type within the main body of text is my own to draw attention to the key points that Ehrman obviously failed to read:

The Nature of the Mystery Cult Myths

The exact interpretations of the mystery cult myths during the period when Christianity was developing, the stories of gods like Osiris, Attis, Mithras, Dionysos whose acts provided personal salvation to their devotees (to be looked at in detail in the next chapter), are hard to pin down. We possess virtually no writings about the mysteries which explain the meaning of the myths themselves, since this was forbidden; certainly none from the average believer or apostle of the cults. What we have are a few writings by philosophers who seek to impose an allegorical interpretation on the myths. Plutarch is the most notable, virtually the only one from the turn of the era period, which is why we rely so much on his Isis and Osiris with its discussion of the myths of the Egyptian savior deities. Other hints and deductions which can be derived from archeological remains, such as the Mithraic monuments, can also be informative.

Plutarch, as we shall see, provides indications that Platonic-type renderings of the Osiris myth envisioned a heavenly location for it. But such myths, for the most part, had begun as primordial myths, stories set in a distant or primeval time on earth. In that form they had the weight of centuries behind them, and when Platonism became dominant they were not likely to undergo an immediate and universal recasting into a new heavenly context; nor would everyone, from philosopher to devotee-in-the-street, shift to understanding and talking about their myths in such a revised setting. The changeover in the mind of the average person may well have been imperfect, just as modern science has effected a rethinking of past literal and naïve views toward elements of the bible in the direction of the spiritual and symbolic, but in an incomplete and varied fashion across our religious culture as a whole.

What we do know is that the philosophers whose writings have come down to us did in fact transplant the myths and it was under the influence of Platonism. They transplanted them from a primordial time to a supernatural dimension, turning them into allegories of cosmic forces and spiritual processes. For them, the religious myths now symbolized things that happened beyond earth. And if that transplanting is the trend to be seen in the surviving writings on the subject, it is very likely that a similar process took place to some degree in the broader world of the devotee and officiant of the mysteries; it cannot be dismissed simply as an isolated elitist phenomenon. In fact, that very cosmological shift of setting can be seen in many of the Jewish intertestamental writings, presenting divine figures and salvific forces operating in the spiritual realm of the heavens, as in the Similitudes of Enoch, the Shepherd of Hermas, the Ascension of Isaiah and other writings to be examined; in the New Testament itself, the Epistle to the Hebrews presents a spiritual sacrifice by Christ in a heavenly sanctuary.

This general shift to a vertical salvation process between heaven and earth from the older horizontal one between primordial past and present, a shift from a mythical time on earth to a mythical, spiritual world beyond the earth, needs to be applied as an interpretive tool to the early Christian record, especially given that this record has nothing to say about a life and death of Christ in an historical earthly setting. This is not to say that such an interpretation of Christian myth is dependent on establishing the same thing in regard to the mystery cults. Rather, the latter will provide corroboration and a wider context in which to understand and set the conclusions which can be drawn from the early Christian writings themselves. It is that early Christian record which reveals the nature of the original Christian belief in a heavenly Christ.

From page 114, not the words “postulating” and “we have suggestions” and contrast with Ehrman’s claim that Doherty merely “asserts”:

The savior god myths began as stories set in a distant or primordial time on earth. But in postulating their conversion to a more Platonic interpretation in the initial Christian period, we find indicators of a new, vertical thinking emerging. Plutarch equates the savior god Osiris with the Logos, and sees him as a symbol of the Logos’ activity as ‘immanent’ in the world, in the sense of it being an intermediary between the highest sphere of the timeless changeless God and the sphere of temporal changing matter. This is akin to the idea of the descending redeemer and of the cultic savior who operates in some lower celestial sphere impinging on the material world. The 4th century philosopher Sallustius regards the myths of savior gods like Attis as allegories of “timeless processes.” He calls the story of Attis “an eternal cosmic process, not an isolated event of the past” (On Gods and the World, 9), which places his understanding in a timeless spiritual realm. Similarly, his mentor, the emperor Julian the Apostate, describes (Orations V, 165) Attis’ descent to the lowest spiritual level prior to matter, undergoing his death by castration to give the visible material world order and fruitfulness; he regards this as a symbol of the annual cycle of agricultural rebirth, the generative power which descends into the earth from the upper regions of the stars. Thus, we have suggestions in pagan literature of the concept of the descending god in the mystery cults’ interpretations of their myths.

To expand on a quotation I included above from pages 145-6:

In such an atmosphere, it is probably safe to assume that the mystery cult myths were carried along by the spirit of the times and were envisioned as taking place in a similarly ‘mythical’ dimension. But an important distinction must be made here. It is the religious context in which we would expect this transplanting to happen. Most of the savior god myths preceded the formation of the cults that came to surround them, even before they were styled ‘savior gods.’ What the Hellenistic salvation cults growing out of the old myths brought to them was a new or evolved interpretation of their meaning, a secret understanding which conveyed insight and consequent advantages both in this life and the next.

….

But this does not tell us how the myths were understood within the context of the cults that were founded on their raw material. The myth of Egyptian Isis and Osiris had long predated the Hellenistic salvation cult which evolved later. (The native Egyptian cult of Osiris going back into the Old Kingdom was not a “mystery cult” in the later sense of the term, and of course owed nothing to Hellenism or Platonism.) But not everyone knew the understanding of that myth as conceived by the Hellenistic cult of Osiris, and any writer not in the latter group, or not choosing to address it—as Plutarch did—would have had no reason to present the myth in any other than the traditional way. In fact, anyone was essentially forbidden to do so.

This is the main reason why we are groping in the dark to try to understand how the savior god myths were conceived within the cults. We have virtually no writings of the period on the subject to reflect those conceptions. Plutarch (end of the 1st century) is almost our only source from the turn of the era, and we must work through his personal disposition to render it all allegorical.

And one more from page 152:

For the ancients . . . much of the world around them was mysterious; fantastic views of reality abounded. . . . The ancient mind would have had no reason to think that such-and-such was impossible, that certain things could not exist and go on in the unseen spiritual realm. If gods lived in the upper part of the universe, there was no impediment to thinking that they could do things there. Since the gods were essentially anthropomorphic, it was feasible that they could do anthropomorphic things in geomorphic circumstances.

To paraphrase Doherty’s words from elsewhere, what he has done is no more than suggest that we may deduce some degree of likelihood that the mystery cult myth interpretations within the cults themselves took a Platonic turn. To this extent Doherty argues that it is plausible to think that the mystery cults viewed salvation as being effected by gods from above rather than from a primordial past. He cites a shift in the thinking of the elites, certain archaeological evidence in relation to the Mithraic mysteries and Jewish sectarian literature as evidence of this shift. Certainly his interpretation of Paul’s heavenly Christ does not stand or fall on being certain about that possibility, since certainty is indeed not possible. But an argued possibility of corroboration from the cults is a legitimate exercise, and is definitely based on evidence he has put forward. 

For Ehrman to declare that Doherty merely asserts without argument a shift in thinking in the way the myths were interpreted, and to even state that Doherty claims the mystery cult devotees entirely thought like philosophers, is blatant and unconscionable misrepresentation.

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Neil Godfrey

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22 thoughts on “Ehrman’s Most Bizarre Criticism Of All Against Doherty”

  1. I was reading Ehrman’s book as well.

    Building on Ehrman’s line of thinking in seeing independent traditions all over the place, I would say that we have two independent traditions about the mystery religions in Ehrman’s and Doherty’s books.

    In fact, if you think about it, we have three independent traditions! The common phrases (or Q), Ehrman’s own (or E) and Doherty’s (or D). And evidently, Q, E and D go back to the 30s CE.

    /sarcasm

  2. It’s obvious that Ehrman and Doherty agree that faith in Jesus Christ is unwarranted and worthy of intellectual assault. They just go about the assault in different ways. Here’s how Ehrman puts it in his book’s conclusion:

    “In my view humanists, agnostics, atheists, mythicists, and anyone else who does not advocate belief in Jesus would be better served to stress that the Jesus of history is not the Jesus of modern Christianity than to insist—wrongly and counterproductively—that Jesus never existed. Jesus did exist. He simply was not the person that most modern believers today think he was.”

    Ehrman is thus embarrassed to be associated with the mythicists – in the same way that either political party would be embarrassed to have flat-earthers among them – and the book is Ehrman’s means of distancing himself.

    In the end, however, Ehrman agrees with Doherty on what matters most.

    1. Mike: “. . . Ehrman agrees with Doherty on what matters most.”

      That depends on what you believe matters most. For me, it’s personal integrity and honor, not whether somebody believes in some supernatural god-man.

      From that perspective, I’ll side with Earl.

        1. Not at all. I’m saying that Dr. Ehrman has written a book that is riddled with errors. I know from listening to the Bible Geek podcast that Robert M. Price had given Bart a list of several sources for researching mythicism. It would have been quite easy for Bart to send a copy of the book to Price and Ehrman to see if there were any factual errors he should correct — and we know there are many. He chose not to, because this is first and foremost a hit piece.

  3. According to Robert M. Price, on his April 12 Bible Geek podcast, Ehrman didn’t read the Mythicist books. He just had some of his students read them and write summaries for him.

  4. I have read many times about the Hellenistic Mystery Religions, since there seems to be information about them. They have not much to do with myths. They are all about a dying-rising-god-saviour. The saviour part (spiritual life after death) is Gnostic, as originating from Plato. The dying-rising-god seems to be the problem, since Ehrman (and the other biblical scholars) cannot find one like Jesus. They do not seem to exist. Doherty also misses the point. What is a dying-rising-god? That is very simple: a SUN GOD. Attis, Dionysus, Mithra and Osiris are all (former) sun gods. Is it still necessary to explain why a sun god is a dying-rising god? Because the sun is “dying and rising”. On 22 december the sun is at its lowest point; this is called the dying of the sun. After 3 days the sun starts rising again, only one degree. This is called the rising of the sun. Since 3500 BC that we know of the (re)birth of the sun is celebrated on 25 december, the birthday of every sun god. Any other stories do not matter. The sun religion is the oldest civilised religion in the world. And all over the world. Sun temples are found in cambodja, malta, Ireland, and even in the USA, built by Indians in the south. We should never have left this religion, since it is completely peaceful. In Hellenism the gnostic religion coming from Greece, came together with the old sun religions. I believe this is called syncretism. This produced the mystery religions, now resulting in a dying-rising-god who was a saviour, bringing life after death, which was probably why they were secret. They were all about sun gods, e.g. Mithra was the Persian sun god, moving west.
    I was doing research into the origin of christianity. Apart from the bible I tried to look into history, since I am an historian, and the NT is just one book. It is the only book most biblical scholars and amateurists study. They do not know what they miss. When I started to read the letters of Paul for the second time (for the first time I had understood nothing) I only looked at what he was preaching exactly, and left the rest out. The exact preaching is simple: it is a MYSTERY RELIGION, to be exact the mystery religion of Mithra with another name in it. Since the mystery religions are gnostic (the saviour part), Paul is a gnostic. And I found out that he also did not say “Jesus Christ”, but “Isu Chrestos”. There has been done a lot of forgery and interpolation in his letters to make him suitable for the church. To start a mystery religion you have to have been a member there yourself (they are secret) so Paul had been a member of the Mithra religion. I suppose this is enough to say that Paul was not jewish but greek. At that moment you know that the Acts are fake. As is a rather large part of his letters. All his letters. The mystery religion is very obvious still there. I do not understand that nobody seems to notice it. Now we know why he does not write about Jesus’s life: a mystery religion starts with a violent death. Always. The rest of the life of the saviour god has no part in it. It is by the way not about dying, but about rising. Without dying first you cannot rise. Paul is the originator and founder of gnostic chrestianity, which will get popular in the second century. (Of course all the E’s have been changed in I’s).
    Maybe this sounds incredible. But it isn’t. There is more than enough evidence, from his letters, as well as in history. If internet pages are allowed, I would not know why not. There is much more information there than in the NT, which was written by the church of rome as I discovered. This is really not difficult to find. But most people have been brainwashed so thoroughly, that they believe that the NT is real and of course all written in the first century, as they have been told now for 1800 years. The truth is quite differently and it can be found out. But if you say something about it you get ignored or people become aggressive. I was for the first time of my life on a forum and suddenly I was permanently banned. No explanation, no warning, nothing. You could only contact the board, which I did, but I have not got any answer. It happened right after I said that Paul was not jewish. I got a very strange reaction and then I was banned for ever. The only thing I could find is that it would be for anti-Semitism, because I had found out that Paul was not jewish (for which there is more evidence). It is sort of dangerous to speak your mind, even if you can prove it. People do not want to hear, they rather cast you out of the forum.

    1. It is very clear from your comment why you are banned from forums and I would like to help you understand but I don’t think you are willing to admit you could possibly have been wrong with your astrotheology hook or to open up and learn what researchers of ancient Hellenistic and Roman cultures do in fact know and how they know it.

      1. Thank you for placing my view at least. I had hoped your comment would have been more extensive. I am banned because I use more than the bible alone to learn about Christianity from 0 to 200, like real events and real dates. This is not allowed because it disturbes the consensus-image, and is therefore “not true” and thrown out. Of course you know that the victors write the history? So the church did. Since I am myself a historian and researcher I think I am capable of learning what whoever has to say. What does not mean they are always right. I have enough knowledge and critical thinking in me to evaluate them. I do not look up to someone because he publishes a book. I met a wonderful researcher on the net who did not even use any biblical scholars, because he thought them “lazy” and “worthless”.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        So far so good I hope. And again, it is not my doing or my fault that practically NOBODY of the scholars knows anything about mystery religions or about Gnosticism.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        Mostly they also do not know anything about Judaism or the land itself. Also not my fault. I hope you see that I researched more than the NT.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        This happened probably between 90 and 120. There is proof that the original story from Judea was written after 70, maybe 73 or so.

        So you can now start laughing, saying that I am of course wrong (I would like to know from what evidence, as long as it is not the NT), or that I should open up to some sort of researchers, but I would like to know why everybody is not opening up to knowledge outside the NT.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        I write this all very briefly, I can do much better. Everything comes from books, articles, the NT, Christian writers and internet. I spent years on this, and I had no idea if it could be solved. I was lucky.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        I don’t know how to end. I did a lot of research. Everything can be proven. Especially now I know that the group who wrote this started themselves after the war (70). Which moves Paul to somewhere after that. That is enough to say that the NT and the church are lying. What is terrible for me is that even intelligent people who are supposed to think independently of the bible, say nothing or say that I am wrong. And all the 1000s of people who look ONLY in the bible and NEVER past the year 100 are right? Because everything “happened” then, all eye-witnesses. That is part of the scheme of course. They were going to sell Isu as a human being. I looked also outside the NT and went until the year 200. Just far enough to see the start of the catholic church in 200.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        Everything apart from that happens in the 2nd century. Now I am wrong? And why is that? I really do know what I am talking about, otherwise I would keep silent. It is again not my fault that Christianity is a set-up by the church of Rome, and that it is fake. I only wonder that nobody ever found out.

        << lengthy section deleted by Neil >>

        1. I have deleted most of your 2000 word comment because at several points it violated our guidelines blog comments here (see the right margin for the link to these guidelines). Your first comment also broke the rules but sometimes I am feeling generous with first-time commenters.

          You are evidently self-taught, which is fine, but the danger is that a self-taught person can fail to read works that would give one a good grasp of the topic. By not reading the scholarship that person can get the totally wrong idea about what the scholars say, about what is actually written in the books they choose not to read.

          The church has not written many of the works we have about the history of Christianity; many professional biblical scholars are in fact extremely good and must be read so to dismiss them all as lazy etc is misguided; scholars know a lot more about mystery religions and Judaism and the generations before, during and after the time of the New Testament. You are simply wrong to think that they don’t.

          And there is no such year as 0.

      2. << section deleted by Neil >>

        Everything is not so straightforward as WE mostly think. I think we underestimate people from long ago, and that we overestimate ourselves.

        << section deleted by Neil >>

        What would I want with books about Hellenistic and Roman cultures? I am not studying cultures, I am studying religion, the origin of Christianity, which is already wide enough the way I do it. What would they want to show me that I don’ know? That mystery religions don’t exist? Maybe I am not receptive enough, but I think I know everything there is to know about this subject. All my questions are answered. And I did not give up till they were. In the meantime I am now myself an expert on this subject. Everything fits whatever way you look at it, for everything there is evidence. The Canadian professor I had contact with, called it “a splendid historical narrative” and that means something to me.

        I thought this might find recognition somewhere, I hoped with you, since people praise you highly, but if you think I am wrong or not worth reading, please let me know.

        << section deleted by Neil >>

        The gospels are simply invented, and fiction. The only original one is gone.

        1. Your new comment arrived while I was responding to the earlier one. Again — you clearly have no idea what scholarly research into Christian origins has learned or what the evidence is that they rely upon.

          If you refuse to study culture then you cannot understand religion because religion is a part of culture. Cultures do shape religions. Anthropologists have come to understand much about what religion actually is and what needs it serves in a society by first understanding the cultures in which different religious expressions are found.

          Anyone who says they think they know everything there is to know about a subject, as you do, is not treated seriously by those who do know a lot. I think it is true of most people who study a field that they feel that the more they learn the “less they know” because they know there is so much more to learn and discover than they ever realized when they began their studies. They also know just how fragile the evidence for their “sure knowledge” often is, and are always ready to change their mind with further critical insights or new information.

          Critical scholars are well aware that the gospels are for the most part not true stories and some think they are entirely fiction. (Only apologists think otherwise.) When you try to point out that fact as if it is something new then again you are only showing your lack of awareness of what researchers have learned.

          If you have read and thought enough to find your questions answered, then that is fine for you. But it is a mistake to assume other people will find the same answers completely satisfactory simply because they have read other things and have found their own reasons to think differently from you.

      3. Not to feed the trolls (with the astrotheology obsessions) but it is interesting how some like the German Egyptologist Assmann use a word ‘Kosmotheismus’ https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kosmotheismus for years while apparently being ignorant of the use of ‘Cosmotheism’ in the same period by the Maltese founder of Imperium Europa Norman Lowell https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_Lowell & the American white nationalist William Luther Pierce https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Luther_Pierce Funnily enough apparently ripped that off in part from the wonky writings of some Israeli guy: “The COSMOTHEIST HYPOTHESIS of Mordekhai Nessyahu”.

        “William Luther Pierce III was an assistant professor of Physics at Oregon State University and as such was a recipient of one of Nessyahu’s English language drafts of cosmotheism. Unfortunately Pierce was also a white supremacist and neo-Nazi racist and co-opted the term cosmotheism, establishing a “religion” by the same name based on white racialism and National Socialism. Pierce’s views influenced Norman Lowell a European and founder of the racist Imperium Europa which advocates an all-White Europe and the forced expulsion of non-whites from the continent. Needless to say these positions would have been anathema to Nessyahu and are in complete contravention of the spirit of cosmotheism. As a consequence, Tsvi Bisk, his collaborator and translator decided to rename Nessyahu’s Hypothesis to cosmodeism, which ironically is a name closer to the tradition of natural theology under which cosmodeism might be listed. Bisk is presently writing a book entitled Cosmodeism: A Worldview for the Space Age.”

  5. Thank you for placing my comment. It was meant for Earl Doherty and I mentioned never anything about the sun-gods before. You think I am wrong on the wrong assumption. I was just trying to explain that Paul, in preaching Isu the son of the gnostic god, made use of an (also gnostic) mystery religion, which is about a dying-rising-god-saviour. So IC died, IC rose again, if you have faith in that you will get life after death yourself (saviour). I think this was revolutionary because neither jews nor greeks have a life after death. And it is the beginning of “faith” (trust). Faith brings you life after death. The mystery religions were secret, Paul was the first to bring this in the open. What nobody knows: god the father and the son who was there from the beginning can only be gnostic. It is god the father and the Logos. This is messed up by placing creator and co-creator behind it, which the church did and which is not jewish at all. Also the holy spirit is pure gnostic. Chrestos does not mean “good” here, it means saviour in connection with a god, like Apollo Chrestos. Isu is thus a god, the son of the gnostic god. But Isu is in fact the name of the human being in the story Paul obtained in Judea, and which he was going to use as a gospel. Therefore the cross (actually the stake). So it is a combination of things. Paul was intelligent, he planned this all. Maybe you don’t understand it, but I gurantee you the church of Rome did: Paul was a gnostic. From him comes the word “chrestianity”. The first one who noticed them was Plinius in 112. These people came from Paul, because Plinius tortured 2 diaconesses. Only in Gnosticism men and women are equal, and women can have functions in the religion. Everything from before 112 is completely fake. What has this to do with sun-gods? Nothing at all. Except that the 4 mystery religions I know are about a sun-god, who is the dying-rising-god. It is therefore not strange to see a connection between dying-rising and the sun. Why would it otherwise all be sun-gods? Because the mystery religion is open there in Paul’s letters, the “scholars” have been busy now for 40 years to break this connection. Result: dying-rising-gods do not exist, they cannot be found. I only follow Bart Ehrman and he is pathetic. He is an imbecile, or he pretends to be one because of his income and popularity. I cannot imagine anyone talking such nonsense and I cannot understand how he gets away with it. The connection is that they are all sun-gods and not their so-called life-story. And he did not notice this? Really? This level of “research” is way below zero, and is hiding the most popular religions of Hellenism, because of Christianity. That is the level we are at. Well, I have a fact for Bart Ehrman: Paul said Isu, and Marcion said Isu, and the name Jesus was invented by Justin Martyr (160) and Irenaeus took it over. There was originally no Jesus mentioned anywhere. I suppose with this the astrotheology problem concerning Paul is gone, and I don’t have to study additional books about Hellenistic culture. Unless there is something really important that I should know, but then you should tell me. Any research about Christianity is in a very bad shape. In the 19th century there was a lot of really good research done with results. Albert Schweitzer did not like this, so he started “the quest for the historical Jesus”. It became a failure. There could nothing be said except that he was an apocalyptic prophet. He certainly was not. It is now 2021 and 65% of all biblical scholars still says the same. This says enough about the “progress” made. There is none. There is criticism from historians that they do not keep to any standards of research at all. What is a biblical scholar except someone who studies the NT to confirm it? I think that ridiculous. Thank god we don’t have them in Europe here. And they determine the “consensus”? IMO everything to the right of Bart Ehrman can be done away with. If they want to confirm why don’t they study for minister and preach in a church? No progress is made since Albert Schweitzer swung the pendulum. It is all about the real Jesus. They are 90% of all scholars. We should look at the other 10% and to historians. Earl Doherty is good and probably the only person who would want to talk to me. But who is there more? On the forum it was also misery. Most of them were only talking about the gospels. Who are so-called written between 70 and 100 without ANY evidence. It is only an assumption, and I can easily prove they are not. Just as good, original, researchers are ignored or attacked/put down by the consensus, also named the guild, so I who has solved this very cold case like a historical detective (until someone knows something better, which I doubt) on such a forum get ignored or attacked/put down by the consensus. Nothing out of the ordinary may be said. Change is not allowed. I only see people who know next to nothing and also never will. I feel like Gallilei who discovered that not only the earth turned around the sun, but also said that the earth was turning around its own axe. That was not allowed, that was not true, that was against the bible!!! And he was dragged before the Inquisition. That is the fate of someone who discovers something new: it may not be said, it is not true, because it is against the bible. Waiting for enthousiasm was apparently my fault. People do not want change, it should remain all the same. I did it all for nothing. Gallilei got lifelong house-arrest and was forbidden to write about it ever again. I have some sort of house-arrest because of an illness. I have to communicate through a laptop, which is not the worst, unless I am forbidden to write about my discoveries which can change the view. By people just as “religious”, fanatical and narrowminded as in 1600. Not that I think I am Gallilei. It is just an example. You simply may not deviate. Most important I got back to the original group who wrote the original story in Judea, after 70. Yes, it is a written story, written after 70, and playing in the time of Pilatus. And I know what it was about and why they wrote it. It was a written character. So no, there did not exist anybody at all. Isn’t that nice to know? It is all a big hoax by the church of Rome. Worshipping Jesus is actually worshipping Irenaeus, who wrote, interpolated, forged and lied together the whole NT. It is all his conservative and authoritarian view. The original Isu is gone forever. There seems to be some part of it in Luke. The original story played in Judea, there was no Gallilea in it, so it is definitely Irenaeus’ story. The Pilatus trial and execution is fake, and is taken from John (a gnostic gospel). The resurrection is invented.

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