Daily Archives: 2017-12-24 05:07:42 GMT+0000

Another reason not to harmonize the gospel nativity narratives

In nice timing with my earlier post on one problem that arises when we try to harmonize Matthew’s and Luke’s accounts of Jesus’ arrival on planet Earth, Deane Galbraith has posted a clear explanation of why the two accounts don’t harmonize anyway:

The Two Stories of Jesus’ Birth in Bethlehem

And since Christmas is a time for reminiscing, here are some older posts addressing the differences from yet another perspective:


Bible scholars: the degeneration continues

If I were a biblical scholar I hope I would be ashamed to be associated with peers who descend to the level we see in the latest blogpost by Michael Bird. I hope I would publicly dissociate myself from their puerile level of discourse and make efforts to speak out for a professional standard at all times both in public and scholarly engagements. After calling anyone who denies the historical existence of Jesus a “crank” or “bad historian” and in effect hitting on them to pay around $40 to read an article in a subscription-only journal, Bird concludes with

Finally, let me add, for all those former Jesus Mythicists out there who suddenly feel their bowels becoming loose because this Jesus thing just got “real,” don’t worry, even if Jesus existed, you can still be an atheist, just not a dogmatic dumbass one.

Very profoundly Bird begins his post with the same shocking information that Larry Hurtado was recently presenting to the public. Did you know that mainstream biblical scholars on the whole do not accept the Jesus myth view? Hard to believe, I know, but that is the message that these scholars seem have thought is so badly needed lately that they have posted claims to just that effect. No doubt many readers will now be better informed and no longer believe the contrary!

If Jesus mythicism were such a crank, fringe notion then one does really have to wonder what prompts such scholars to make such a fuss about it. And why, oh why, would a peer-review journal run by editors who all think the Jesus myth notion to be arrant crankery publish a 37 page review by a scholar critical of its latest publication?

These constant insulting attacks on anyone who thinks or writes the wrong things, and even a 37 page review by a scholar who admitted he did not understand key sections of the argument of the book he was reviewing and who failed to explain to readers the significance the author assigned to the arguments he was criticizing in his review, all of this looks to me like a circling of the wagons, as Earl Doherty used to say. read more »

Finding “unbelievable fullness of meaning” in the Christmas stories?

Very strange. I don’t understand how an atheist or agnostic (Bart Ehrman in this instance) can “absolutely adore” the Bible’s stories of Jesus’ birth and find them “so deep … and so unbelievably full of meaning”.

Is the Christmas Story a Myth?


Even so, I have to say that I absolutely adore these stories. They are simultaneously so simple and so deep, so matter-of-fact and so unbelievably full of meaning. As is this season. Even for me as one who personally stands outside the Christian tradition. Or do I? I suppose I’ll always be inside it. It’s in my DNA. I completely resonate with it. I relate to it. In my own secular way I embrace it. I’ll say more about that in my next post.

What deep meaning can there possibly be in those stories unless it is one for those who believe God became incarnate? That message has no meaning, surely, for anyone who is not a Christian, certainly not one for any atheist.

To me the stories have no meaning at all except as part of our cultural heritage, like May Day or having weekends off. Christmas is certainly no part of my DNA. I suppose I am expected to find the answer in the next post Bart Ehrman promises. Since I refuse to play his game of justifying the maintenance of a paywall around access to his knowledge I guess I’ll remain in ignorance. Maybe a kindly disposed reader who does have access will be able to pass on the message of how a secular-minded person can bring absolute adoration to the bible stories and find unbelievable fullness of meaning in them. Very strange.