2016-08-29

Jerry Coyne on Jesus Christ Again (per RR)

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by Neil Godfrey

Jerry Coyne is no doubt upsetting the biblical scholars whose living (and more often than not their personal faith) depends upon Jesus having been a historical figure @ Not much evidence for a historical Jesus. (He insists he speaks as a scientist and as such is not very impressed by theologians claiming he should respect the consensus of theologians; I do wish he’d approach Islam scientifically, too!) He’s referring to Historical Evidence For Jesus by Rosa Rubicondior.

(As an afterthought, I also wish theologians would not botch the theory of evolution by unscientifically saying that it is compatible with Old Earth Creationism.)

22 Comments

  • STEPHAN PICKERING
    2016-08-29 22:54:34 UTC - 22:54 | Permalink

    Shalom & Boker tov…actually, the phrase, Neil, should be ‘theory of natural selection’, which the almost unreadable Darwin plagiarised in large measure from Alfred Russel Wallace (cf. John Langdon Brooks’s 1984 Just Before the ORIGIN, which has never been refuted). Evolution is a readily observable process (ironically, Darwin in 1859 did not use it, in later editions using the word ‘evolve’).
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח”ם בן אברהם
    Torah אלילה Yehu’di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
    לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג

    THE KABBALAH FRACTALS PROJECT

  • Paxton Marshall
    2016-08-30 02:05:27 UTC - 02:05 | Permalink

    Coyne may be right that there was no single individual upon which the Jesus religion was based, but it is an overstatement to say he reached that conclusion as a “scientist”. As usual, his scientific investigation is very shallow. He says he bases his opinion largely on the fact that there is no mention of Jesus in the extant writings of Philo. Although Philo is said to have visited the Temple in Jerusalem, he lived his entire life in Alexandria Egypt. He was much involved with politics in Alexandria and Rome, and his professional writing is on the marriage of Jewish and Greek philosophy. There is little reason he would have been aware of, or written about a Galilean contrarian.

  • Paxton Marshall
    2016-08-30 02:22:04 UTC - 02:22 | Permalink

    I think the problem with dismissing a historical Jesus is Paul. If he really was writing in the 40s and 50s was he just making up his encounters with Jesus’ brother James, and disciples such as Peter? And we’re these fictional churches he was writing to in Corinth, and Ephesus, and Rome. It’s true that Paul seems to know few of the biographical details of Jesus’ life, as later described in the Gospels, but he does insist there was a living man who was executed. Was Paul the inventor of Christianity? I just can’t picture a scenario that makes sense if there wasn’t a man behind the myth.

    • Stephan Pickering/Chafetz Chayim benAvraham
      2016-08-30 02:38:22 UTC - 02:38 | Permalink

      Shalom & Erev tov…there is no ‘problem’ because ‘Paul’ did not exist, but, like ‘Yeshu benMiriam’ was the deliberate, necessary fabrication of a late 2/early 3 century CE, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian, revelatory, thanatos cult. There was no parthenogesis,no Nazaret, no discipleships, no Yosef/Miriam, no Gol’gotha/Kranion, no empty tomb, no anastasis…and no natz’rim. In the 1 century CE, there was no anxious waiting for a Mashiach.

      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח”ם בן אברהם
      Torah אלילה Yehu’di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
      לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג

      THE KABBALAH FRACTALS PROJECT

      • paxton marshall
        2016-08-30 14:38:58 UTC - 14:38 | Permalink

        Evidence that Paul did not exist? Evidence that “Paul’s letters” were fabricated around 200 ad? Fabricated by whom?

        • Stephan Pickering/Chafetz Chayim benAvraham
          2016-08-30 14:46:11 UTC - 14:46 | Permalink

          Shalom & Boker tov…all of the late 2/early 3 century CE koine Greek forgeries were concocted by various individuals, none of them, to be sure, contacting palaeo-CNN. The likely forgers for ‘Paul’ (who never existed) were those allied with, or part of the bloc, Marcionites. I have seen the earliest (albeit only fragments) koine Greek forgeries, and you will find in them no evidence for your phantasies. You may desperately cling to these phantasies, pretend that, like ‘Yeshu benMiriam’ may in some alternate multiverse have existed…but as a Yehu’di literate in Hebrew/Aramaic/Greek, I prefer the actual facts.
          ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
          STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח”ם בן אברהם
          Torah אלילה Yehu’di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
          לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג

          THE KABBALAH FRACTALS PROJECT

          • paxton marshall
            2016-08-30 15:31:16 UTC - 15:31 | Permalink

            I’m not desperately clinging to any fantasies. I don’t believe that Jesus was God, or that there is a god. But to claim that Jesus and Paul never existed requires evidence, just like the claim that they did exist. To say that forgeries were concocted by various individuals doesn’t rise to the level of evidence.

            • Stephan Pickering/Chafetz Chayim benAvraham
              2016-08-30 20:44:49 UTC - 20:44 | Permalink

              Shalom & Boker tov…by your fatuous statements, you embarrass yourself by illiterate babbling. Unfamiliarity with the manuscript evidence (and lack thereof) precludes an intellectual discussion with you, in English or Hebrew. Please, don’t respond to me as there is no basis for your posturing. I suggest you do some serious intellectual research; you can start with Earl Doherty’s work on the koine Greek manuscripts, as well as Hermann Detering’s brilliant exegeses. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              STEPHAN PICKERING / חפץ ח”ם בן אברהם
              Torah אלילה Yehu’di Apikores / Philologia Kabbalistica Speculativa Researcher
              לחיות זמן רב ולשגשג

              THE KABBALAH FRACTALS PROJECT.

    • 2016-08-30 04:03:43 UTC - 04:03 | Permalink

      Paul did not say he met Jesus’ brother or any disciple of Jesus.

      • paxton marshall
        2016-08-30 14:32:54 UTC - 14:32 | Permalink

        “Only after three years did I go up to Jerusalem to confer with Cephas, and I stayed with him fifteen days. 19But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.” Galatians 1:18,19

        • Neil Godfrey
          2016-08-30 20:05:48 UTC - 20:05 | Permalink

          That’s one of the points in question: on what grounds do we assume “the Lord” in that context is Jesus? (I think a very good argument can be made that it does refer to Jesus — I think it does refer to Jesus — but I cannot deny it remains open to challenge nonetheless and an alternative view is reasonable.)

        • Zbykow
          2016-08-30 22:31:19 UTC - 22:31 | Permalink

          Remember all members of the community referred to each other as brothers, and there was a whole subgroup called ‘brothers of the lord’ (1cor 9)

          Biological relationship seems to be the most naive interpretation.
          Whatever it was, Paul certainly didn’t make a big deal of it.

          • Paxton Marshall
            2016-08-30 23:37:30 UTC - 23:37 | Permalink

            So was Cephas not Peter? Why do we think Pauls letters were written in 40s and 50s? Stephan Puckering says that Paul didn’t exist either.

            • proudfootz
              2016-08-31 00:42:41 UTC - 00:42 | Permalink

              AFAICT Paul does not mention that Cephas traveled the dusty roads of Judea with any Jesus.

              This fellow could have been someone who ‘found’ Jesus in literature or in a vision.

              • Neil Godfrey
                2016-08-31 10:40:20 UTC - 10:40 | Permalink

                From another angle, what I think is generally overlooked is that this one passage in Galatians is said to carry the primary weight of Jesus’ historicity against an entire raft of evidence that in fact points in the opposite direction. Normally an anomaly like this verse would be looked upon as an anomaly that called for explanation: but ostrich-blindness to the fact that the many major strands of evidence point to Jesus being a theological/literary construct from the get-go leads many to focus on Galatians 1:19 as if it can carry the entire argument in the opposite direction.

              • Paxton Marshall
                2016-09-01 21:04:07 UTC - 21:04 | Permalink

                Why does there seem to be more confidence in the dating of Paul’s letters to 50s than in dating gospels (70 to 110)?

              • Neil Godfrey
                2016-09-01 22:30:48 UTC - 22:30 | Permalink

                2 Corinthians 11:32-33:

                In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands.

                There is dispute over the chronology referred to here but it at least offers some sort of internal evidence for the time of the letters.

                It is often said that the letters address issues that would have been of concern only to the first generation church. (I am not convinced: the same issues were very much alive and kicking hard in the second century, and at least one scholar is on record for questioning the authenticity of 2 Cor 11:32-33.)

              • Paxton Marshall
                2016-09-02 02:29:21 UTC - 02:29 | Permalink

                But this is the kind of detail a fictionalizer could have easily inserted 50 or even100 years later?

              • Neil Godfrey
                2016-09-02 03:32:50 UTC - 03:32 | Permalink

                My own thinking is that Paul’s letters are such a confusion of contradictions that their canonical versions are best explained as coming from the 2nd Century, but that leaves the originals “some time prior”.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2016-08-30 07:44:39 UTC - 07:44 | Permalink

      I agree Philo alone does not carry much weight, but Philo is one of a number of silences from that time, including one much closer to Galilee. The catch 22 is that if Jesus was a nobody worth noticing (contrary of course to the gospel narratives) then how on earth did he become identified as a deity almost from the moment of his supposed resurrection?

      From what I understand of Coyne’s views he has in fact in the past read more than the argument from Philo. At least he has read something of both sides of the argument. (How come I actually find myself on the side of a bloke who has banned me from commenting on his blog and refused to allow me even a right of reply to his own shocking distortions of what I once wrote? Jesus, I must be getting soft!)

      Paul’s reference to James the brother of the Lord is a single splinter that I am convinced raises many more problems than it answers.

      I’ve addressed it a number of times before, collecting several strands of argument in Putting James the Brother of the Lord to a Bayesian Test. But do look at Tim Widowfield’s most recent discussion at The Function of “Brother of the Lord” in Galatians 1:19.

  • Matt Cavanaugh
    2016-08-30 04:07:19 UTC - 04:07 | Permalink

    Brodie found a way to reject the historical Jesus while still believing in the spiritual Christ. But nearly all other believers cannot even entertain the possibility of an historical Jesus not existing. And that significantly compromises their objectivity.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2016-08-30 07:52:29 UTC - 07:52 | Permalink

      Right on cue comes yet another scholar from The Jesus Blog, Anthony Le Donne, testifying to how his faith in God was saved. One reader has further testified to how Le Donne’s book is a “personal transformational experience”!

      Sounds a bit like the work of an alchemist: a fascinating mix of chemistry and magical beliefs.

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