Part 2 of Professor McGrath’s discussion on historicity of Jesus is in podcast form. Disappointing in that it is mostly a mocking of mythicism by setting up a series of seriously oversimplified claims and outright straw-men. I was hoping for a more serious collation of arguments for historicity of Jesus. The strongest they came to that was by saying that “critical scholars” have done “tons of research” and have “concluded some things are more probable than others” on the basis of “the evidence”. Not much detail there. (As some of us are well aware, that research has by and large been into what the Jesus who is assumed to have existed may have said and did — not whether he existed or not.)
Points from part 2 of the Historicity of Jesus podcast follow. [I] = interviewer expresses the idea; [M] = McGrath’s thoughts. Mostly paraphrased, not always word for word.
[I] The crucifixion is a good indicator that the early Christians did not make up Jesus because the crucifixion was actually contrary to the message they were trying to spread about him! (I think the point here is that the Christians wanted to teach Jesus was the Davidic King Messiah and Crucifixion was an embarrassment to that claim so they were compelled to mention it because it was unavoidable because everyone knew about it being historically true.)
[M] Responding to “mythicist claim” that mythicist Jesus is not on the agenda because biblical scholarship is funded by churches, says no, not true, and cites his own university, Butler, as a secular university. McGrath teaches at a secular university so the implication is that there is no religious bias from his quarter. Moreover, what “historians” say about the HJ [=historical Jesus] is not liked by most religious (liberal and conservative Christian) people. Did not claim to be God; he was a rabbi, faith healer, followers thought he was messiah and he expected kingdom to come in his time but he was wrong — so Christians don’t like this Jesus.
Mocking denigration of mythicists skipped here.
[M] Jesus was believed to fit typologies in Jewish scriptures so these were used to depict Jesus — but not so with pagan dying and rising gods like Osiris.
[M] Docetists were not mythicists because they admitted there was a Jesus in history.
[M] Gospel of Matthew uses the Moses typology with the birth of Jesus and his final commission to disciples from the mountain. These sorts of infancy stories (supernatural) were common in ancient biographies. So these are not an indication that Jesus was myth.
[M] But Brodie is implausible when he tries to argue every story in gospels is created this way.
[M] Wants those who believe Jesus is based on Egyptian mythology to “fact-check” the claims for themselves.
[M] Historical kings in ancient times were often described with mythical language. So if Jesus is described in mythical language and with mythical comparisons — they could be applying these images to a historical person. So parallels don’t demonstrate ahistoricity.
[M] Compare Hubbard of Scientology. In years from now some followers may say to their audience that they may have heard some embarrassing things about H but here’s why you should not think negatively about him because of that. Embarrassing stories don’t make him a myth.
[I] Doesn’t the pagan origin of Easter and Christmas prove there was no HJ?
[M] On the Ascension of Isaiah — even if this text speaks of a celestial crucifixion (as argued by Carrier), according to docetic beliefs, this would also have reflected an earthly crucifixion. Heavenly was a reflection of the earthly.
[M] “If you think you can make an accurate judgment about history, without knowing the time period, without knowing the sources, without knowing the relevant languages, without really having this kind of expertise, then I think you are fooling yourself.” — Comparing the skills with evolutionary science.
This podcast is getting tiring. The title led me to think it was going to be about the historical Jesus but instead it’s really a litany of straw men claims [has McGrath really read Doherty and Carrier?] and jokes about supposed mythicist arguments. Anyway, to continue. . . .
[M] Scholars have pored over the evidence with tons of research and concluded through all their hard and long labour that some things are more likely to be probable than not about the HJ.
[M] I have the right to think most scientists are wrong about physics but I hope I’d have the humility to admit I’m probably wrong because most physicists contradict me.
[M] I’m glad mythicists have published in peer review because I want to engage in serious versions of mythicism and not the internet version.
The rest of podcast is bogging down into spirituality, history, Jesus being alive today, personal experiences with Jesus today, meaning of faith, God, etc etc etc. Yawn!
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