Updated with mostly typo corrections, 6:30 am, 8th Dec. 2012.
Perhaps many readers of Bart Ehrman are impressed enough with his public reputation to be confident that when they read his book on mythicism, Did Jesus Exist? (DJE?), they are reading yet another fine, erudite, devastating critique by a scholar who knows what he is talking about.
A few who have also read René Salm’s book, The Myth of Nazareth (MoN), on the other hand, will shake their heads in disbelief that such a distinguished scholar is exposed as intellectually stark naked when he writes about that book. Ehrman, once again, demonstrates for any who are prepared to look that he clearly has not read the book he is reviewing. He even makes a complete fool of himself with simplistic retorts that only demonstrate his utter ignorance of what he describes as “the highly technical field of archaeology”. Ehrman exposes himself as a very shallow thinker when faced with serious challenges to a paradigm he had always, by his own admission, taken for granted.
The point of it all
Ehrman curiously thinks that Salm is arguing that if Nazareth didn’t exist then there was no historical Jesus, either:
The logic of this argument . . . appears to be that if Christians made up Jesus’s home-town, they probably made him up as well. . . Salm sees this issue as highly significant and relevant to the question of the historicity of Jesus. (DJE? pp. 191, 193)
But Salm’s argument is at no point so black and white and, contrary to Ehrman’s innuendo, does not simplistically assume that Jesus did not exist if Nazareth did not exist.
If Nazareth did not exist in the time of Jesus, then questions quickly arise: Why did the evangelists place him there? Was there something regarding his real provenance that they found objectionable? What was that provenance? If Nazareth was a persistent and recurrent invention in the gospels, then we leave the realm of error and enter the realm of elaborate fiction. This recognition would require a fundamental reappraisal of the Jesus story, and a paradigm shift in Christianity. . . . .
The implication is . . . irrefutable: if there was no Nazareth before his birth, then Jesus did not come from Nazareth. . . . .
It is not my intention here to question the conventional understanding of Christian origins, that a man by the name of Jesus . . . lived in Palestine in the early first century CE and inspired the religion we now call Christianity. . . . I restrict consideration to the archaeology of Nazareth, with the purpose of showing that the provenance of Jesus, as set forth in the gospels, is not historical.
He — whoever he was (or wasn’t) — certainly was not Jesus “of Nazareth” in Lower Galilee. . . . It remains to be determined why the evangelists found it necessary to invent such a Jesus.
(MoN, pp. xii-xiii, 148, 157-8, 308)
Nothing new, but everything anew
Ehrman mischievously implies that Salm is claiming to present new discoveries: Continue reading “Emperor Ehrman Walks Naked Through a Storyland Nazareth 4000 Years Old”