Dr Hurtado asked me for specific and concise responses to his recent comments and I gave them. Presumably they have got lost in his moderation queue because they have not appeared on his blog though later comments from others have since appeared. It gets to the heart, I think, of where historicist reasoning gets warped within its institutionally embedded assumptions. Larry appears to me to be genuinely confusing the logic of the argument involved and is trapped in his own belief that scholarly attention to what Jesus was like by “definition” has taken care of the question of having addressed the historical existence of such a figure. Scholars have found the answers to past questions so easily answered by the historical Jesus model that to now question its logical foundations is beyond their abilities.
In short, Jesus is said to have existed primarily because scholars have found him such a handy reference in all their questions — never mind that the questions were always ultimately predicated upon his existence in the first place.
Larry asked the following:
I stand by my characterization of your stance (and that of Vincent) [that is, that we are intellectually akin to flat-earthers]: I provide you with texts and reasoning, and the typical response has been “oh yes, but it just might also mean something else,” without offering any reason for preferring the latter.
The reason that most scholars treat Jesus of Nazareth as a historical figure, Neil, is that they think that makes the best sense of the data. You’re simply wrong in putting it all down to a “question-begging” assumption. Wrong. And so misleading, and unfair. It’s tiresome to keep pointing you to your errors in these matters.
I don’t expect you or anyone else to develop a ful “alternative scenario” in blog comments (God save us from any such attempt!), any more than I’ve thought I could mount the full scholarly reasoning and analysis in a blog posting or comments. Instead, I have summarized all too briefly the results of many scholars over many years, published in many articles in refereed journals and scholarly monographs and debated in academic conferences. So, again, simply cite and summarize briefly the warrants given in the scholarly work on which you base your stance.
My reply that appears to have become lost was:
I’m sorry you find this so frustrating, Larry. I do too. I think your request for a bibliography was in the other thread where we have been exchanging comments and I think you are confusing me with someone else, anyway, with your question, and I have responded to that there.
I have no problem with your claim that scholars believe the historicist scenario makes best sense of the data. I do not doubt this. And it is NOT question-begging to offer a historicist scenario to explain, say, what one thinks Paul and Peter may have discussed.
The question begging only kicks in when scholars such as yourself try to explain how they know Jesus existed at all — or how details such as Paul’s meeting with Peter supports the belief in the historicity of Jesus. It’s then that all the training and studies in areas that took the existence of Jesus as a starting assumption are of no use.
That’s not a put-down, by the way. I think it best I address these things in detail on my blog and avoid exchanges with your directly that only seem to offend you.
On another thread in his blog Larry asked me:
Neil, I don’t expect you to engage adequately my questions in a comment here. But, since you claim to have done so (and, indeed, claim that others have as well), then refer me to the journal articles, scholarly monographs, etc. where this has been done. When you’ve asked for bibliography on things I’ve referred to, I’ve provided some. So, kindly do the same. My questions aren’t in fact based on any assumption, they’re based on data that require explanation. Please ante up or leave the table. Point us all, please, to the putatively persuasive answers to them all that you claim have been produced. If you like, let’s just choose one: How about you explain for us all why it is so unremarkable for early Christianity to have talked about the crucifixion of a figure when it never happened. Could you do that in a comment of a few paragraphs? You say it’s all been worked out, so perhaps a summary would be easy (and don’t forget the data). I don’t myself cruise the blogosphere (as so little of it seems worth the time). So do give me the bibliography on the work on which you rely, concisely cite the data that overturns what most scholars think about these matters.
My response, again apparently lost in the moderation queue as other moderated comments have since appeared:
One concise pointer to the answers to the question about a religion with a crucifixion as its central idea taking off: Read relevant chapter of Richard Carrier’s “Not the Impossible Faith”. (I don’t have it with at the moment so can’t give you page references.)
I don’t recall asking you for a bibliography, so I don’t follow your request here. (Are you confusing me with someone else or have I forgotten something?) There is nothing secret or hidden about the other scholarly works to which I was referring — mostly related to literary and narrative analysis. Just have scroll through the books and authors I’ve discussed in the Categories drop down box in my blog. I’ll discuss each of your questions in separate posts — with bibliographic citations, too.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider donating to Vridar. Thanks!