All posts in this series are archived in the O’Neill-Fitzgerald Debate.
Tim O’Neill (TO) excoriates Dave Fitzgerald (DF) for
consistently depict[ing] the topic as some kind of starkly Manichaean conflict between Christian apologists on one hand and “critics who have disputed Christian claims” on the other (O’Neill 2011)
What’s more, he produces the evidence. It’s found in the “first pages” of Nailed. By “first pages” he does not mean the first two pages — he skips those, and for good reason, as we will see — but the third and fourth pages where he complains that DF mentions
evangelicals, conservative Christians and populist apologists like F.F. Bruce, R. Douglas Geivett and Josh McDowell in rapid succession. . .
So from the start Fitzgerald sets up an artificial dichotomy, with conservative apologists defending a traditional orthodox Jesus on one hand and brave “critics who (dispute) Christian claims” who don’t believe in any Jesus at all on the other. And nothing in between.
This is nonsense, because it ignores a vast middle ground of scholars – liberal Christian, Jewish, atheist and agnostic – who definitely “dispute Christian claims” but who also conclude that there was a human, Jewish, historical First Century preacher as the point of origin for the later stories of “Jesus Christ”. . . .
Most critical scholars have no time for the McDowell-style Jesus either, so the Jewish preacher they present as the historical Jesus behind the later gospel figure is left totally unscathed by Fitzgerald’s naive arguments. (O’Neill 2011)
That sounds pretty damning.
To anyone who has read Nailed, however, it sounds pretty confusing.
Confusing because anyone who read the first page would wonder what TO is talking about. Anyone who went on to read the second page would wonder why TO has chosen to ignore DF’s clear statement of purpose for the book. TO claims to be “reviewing” the work so it is astonishing by any standard that he makes no reference anywhere to the author’s clearly stated intentions.
One would also wonder why the “reviewer” failed to notice how DF presented “scholars” and “historians” throughout Nailed, in particular the way they are so very often depicted as holding positions opposed to those of most apologists and conservatives!
Before continuing, I have an apology to make. I promised to keep posts in this series down to around 1000 words. In this instance, however, in order to do justice to the claims of both TO and DF that is impossible.
So let’s begin. How does DF explain what the book is about and what its purpose is? Let’s start with the first two pages — the two pages TO overlooked.
Continue reading “O’Neill-Fitzgerald Debate the Christ Myth: #4, A False Dichotomy?”