Hermann Detering’s Review of Lena Einhorn’s “Shift in Time” Part 2

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by Neil Godfrey

Rene Salm translates from the German:



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5 thoughts on “Hermann Detering’s Review of Lena Einhorn’s “Shift in Time” Part 2”

  1. Is Einhorn really incompatible with Doherty, Carrier, Detering, Price and Parvus (presuming the five are not mutually incompatible), or could it be separate strands that converged?

    1. Add Dennis MacDonald to the mix.

      It would seem best to assess each proposal in light of the other proposals – there are so many it’s a complicated analysis.

  2. Detering complains that Einhorn does not account for other factors that could have originated Christianity. But Richard Carrier says in OHJ which are enough alone the three points of minimal historicity to wait all the ”evidence of background”.

    Detering complains that there is no evidence that a rebel movement has depoliticized itself through the gospels. But prof Bermejo-Rubio has already replied to this objection in pag. 45 of his article.

    Objection 17: The hypothesis of a seditionist Jesus is inconsistent with later Christian developments and emphases, which proceeded in the direction of pacifism.

    This objection unfortunately ignores the kind of inverting processes and surprising shifts which take place in the history of religions, away from the goals of founders (or allegedly founding figures). It also ignores significant developments in Jesus’ own movement. For instance, Jesus’ mission was exclusively directed towards the (lost sheep of the) house of Israel, not towards the Gentiles (about whom Jesus did not have a flattering opinion). This fact —which has caused a lot of headaches and embarrassment to Christian scholars— did not prevent people re-ferring to Jesus as their Lord from transferring the Tanak’s promises to the Gentiles. If this innovation succeeded, why could not others have taken place? And if Jesus the Jew was rapidly thought of as not being a Jew at all, and was even transformed into a kind of anti-Jewish figure, and if a flawed Galilean man aware of his limits (see Mark 10:18) was transformed by his followers into a blameless and divine being, why should we rule out the possibility that an anti-Roman seditionist was turned into a wonderful pacifist?
    Let us take the example of Paul. How could the apparently pro-Ro-man Paul preach and honor an anti-Roman Jesus? The answer to this alleged objection lies in the character of his faith, and in some general considerations of religious psychology. As far as we know, Paul was not an eye-witness of Jesus’ deeds, neither one of his companions or kinsfolk. He was an enthusiast who derived his ideas about Jesus not only from tradition but also from ecstatic visions, out of which Paul granted Jesus superhuman status, and interpreted his death as a saving event. In this sense, Paul’s interest in Jesus’ life must have been rather selective. When human beings seriously hold religious beliefs which are comforting and meaningful for their lives, and especially when they refer to a being deemed to be divine, quite a few concrete data —all the more so when they are potentially embarrassing— are dropped or become irrelevant.

    The third criticism by Detering is to resize the presumed parallels with ”the Egyptian”, in the light of other parallels from Josephus. Exactly the same criticism of Neil when he writes:

    My difficulty with the identification of Jesus with the Egyptian is not that it is of itself unlikely, but that it should claim to be “the” identification. The evidence rather points to Jesus being constructed from many motifs available to his creators.

    I have responded to that criticism in this other comment.

  3. Hi Neil,

    I have read recently this academic article of prof Bermejo-Rubio: Changing Methods, Disturbing Material -Should the Criterion of Embarrassment Be Dismissed in Jesus Research?.

    In short, his case is the following:

    Three reasons of the evangelists to remember and mask the memory of a historical seditious Jesus:

    1) we have disiepta membra of sedition. The risk is to see the single trees, but not the entire forest.

    2) any single element of the pattern is semi-hidden by other invented material, sometimes created to the precise goal of neutralizing the relative seditious element.

    3) the pattern is been tamed deliberately sometimes. So we have the paradox of episodes who are clearly fantastic (and not-historical in nature) even if they allude to sedition.

    The prof Bermejo-Rubio is challenging us, just as Lena Einhorn has made, to prove togive an explanation of the entire forest (and not of the single trees taken in isolation one from other) of seditious clues without doing appeal to the hypothesis of a historical seditious Jesus as best explanation of the evidence. He thinks that this is impossible. Therefore he concludes that the use of the Criterion of Embarrassment is legitimate and therefore Jesus probably existed. (he criticizes Carrier because in Proving History he doesn’t consider the pattern of seditious clues in the Gospels).

    I write this comment in this thread because I think that Detering’s criticism of Lena Einhorn would work perfectly also as criticism of Bermejo-Rubio’s defense of CoE.

    In short, according to Detering, an explanation of the pattern of seditious clues, considered in his entirety (and that doesn’t use the not-necessary hypothesis of a historical Jesus), exists:

    It seems highly likely that the evangelists would want to paint the Christian hero in terms reminiscent of failed revolutionary or prophets.

    If the ivented Gospel Jesus had to pose as the Christ, then he had to emulate the failed messianists.

    This says us something in more, I think:

    that the Gospel were written in II CE because only in that period the failed revolutionar or prophets of the first half of I CE were considered rival ”Christs” of their own right.

    What do you think about this, Neil? I am curious about your opinion.
    Very thanks,

    1. I have read Bermejo-Rubio’s article and consider it to be typical of what passes for New Testament “scholarship” — that is, it is nothing more than a lot of speculation and rhetorical surmising on why BR believes this thesis is possible but completely lacking any evidence to demonstrate that it really should be taken seriously.

      Take one of his strongest arguments: that some details were simply too well known to be ignored despite their embarrassing character. But we know this is not so because, for example, the gospel of John and letters of Paul ignore the baptism of Jesus; Q and the Gospel of Thomas, Book of Revelation and Letter to Hebrews ignore the crucifixion. That the argument is nothing more than a rationalisation is demonstrated by the regular use of its very opposite logic to explain why Paul does not mention details about Jesus’ life — it’s because they were “too well known so there was no need to mention them”!

      The one historian of the period who has demonstrated the clearest understanding of how to interpret and use source material is Steve Mason in his latest book on the Jewish War and in his application of sound method in reading Josephus he shows that there is no evidence of anti-Roman rebel activity at the time of Jesus. Therefore B-R’s argument that a rebel Jesus explanation for many gospel details actually fails on contextual and verisimilitude grounds rather than being supported by them as he maintains.

      Theudas and the Egyptian were not presented by Josephus as false messiahs and there is no evidence to think anyone viewed them that way. Contrary arguments are entirely speculative and fly in the face of the evidence. Besides, they do not reflect the conditions of the time of Jesus anyway.

      Bermejo-Rubio at no point addresses the evidence that the gospel details have been created out of borrowing and adapting “Old Testament’ writings. There is evidence for literary sources for the gospel narratives so we do not need to assume something for which we have no secure evidence — that the gospels were sourced by oral tradition.

      Finally, BR digs in that classic and in this case gratuitous innuendo that anyone rejecting his argument is flirting with anti-semitism.

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