The Carrier-Goodacre Debate

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by Neil Godfrey

Just when I had a breathing space to catch up with the comments on the Carrier-Goodacre posts here I have been alerted to both Mark Goodacre’s own blog discussion and to Richard Carrier’s detailed post that will no doubt attract much more:

Mark Goodacre: Did Jesus Exist? with Richard Carrier and me on Unbelievable

Richard Carrier: The Goodacre Debate

I’d like to read them all, along with Mark Goodacre’s comments and those of others here, and taking time to prepare a better informed response of my own. Hopefully before Christmas!

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Neil Godfrey

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5 thoughts on “The Carrier-Goodacre Debate”

  1. I’ve looked at some of the discussion on Dr. Goodacre’s NT blog. There seems to be alot of controversy about Carrier’s characterization and use of Philo’s divine being as a a potential precident to Pauline Christianity. Does anyone know more about this? I feel like Carrier’s analogy is still solid even if the Philo passage doesn’t actually refer to “Joshua” as the name of his mystical being… it still seems like a strong conceptual precident.. I would love some elaboration on this by anyone that has a grasp of this material. thnx.

    1. I’ve written a little about it @ http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/a-pre-christian-heavenly-jesus/ and Earl Doherty has recently added his comment on this @ http://www.blogger.com/profile/15606309614441934447

      Margaret Barker in ‘The Great Angel’ pointed to Philo’s identification of the Logos with the Branch of Zechariah 6:12 — whom we all know is the high priest Joshua/Jesus standing alongside Zerubbabel as one of the two anointed ones in the newly resettled province of Jehud.

      It’s one of many indicators that Second Temple Jewish beliefs were precursors to what emerged as Christianity.

      I have posted here a series on Jewish scholar Levenson’s work, ‘The Death and Resurrection of the Beloved Son’, in which he traces the threads of a Jewish belief that Isaac was actually sacrificed by Abraham and restored to life again and that his blood was believed to be an atonement for the sins of all Jews for all generations. (The term “Beloved Son”, well known in the Gospels, turns out to be a virtual technical term for one destined to be sacrificed — it was used of Isaac and others who suffered this fate.) Levenson also sees some evidence that elements of this interpretation found their way into Paul’s writings. (I don’t know if Carrier is even aware of Levonson’s study.)

      Another Jewish scholar, Daniel Boyarin, sees 1 Enoch as containing the core beliefs of Christianity: he sees in it evidence that some Jews came to believe that Enoch himself was, though entering the world as a human, really the pre-existent Son of Man and was eventually restored to his former glory. He sees here the earliest belief that acknowledged one of the two beings in the god-head (Son of Man and Ancient of Days) could become a man for a time.

      Incidentally, Larry Hurtado can’t stand Boyarin and scoffs at his interpretation on the grounds that the Ethiopic version of 1 Enoch on which it rests has variant terms for the “Son of Man” so it’s not a fixed title; but Hurtado failed to notice that Boyarin is actually referring to other scholarly arguments to the contrary, especially those of Colpe, who argues — on the basis of context — that these Ethiopic variants were translations of a fixed Greek term. Nickelsburg has since argued the same point, but Nickelsburg is a good scholar in Hurtado’s eyes, it seems, so Hurtado is much more respectful when addressing this view when it comes from him.

      The point is that we need to know a lot more about Second Temple Jewish beliefs. Christian scholars have done a good job for most part of explaining why they are mostly irrelevant to Christianity. It is ironic that it seems to be the Jewish scholars are are the ones noticing what their Christian counterparts have tended to obscure.

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