2018-12-02

The Day Earl Doherty (author of ‘The Jesus Puzzle’) Personally Entered the Global Forum

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by Neil Godfrey

Earl Doherty, author the The Jesus Puzzle website, The Jesus Puzzle and Jesus Neither God Nor Man and other books, and contributor to The Journal of Higher Criticism, made his “public appearance” on a biblical scholars forum on Tuesday, the 9th of February, 1999: Crosstalk. In the light of some unfortunate mischaracterizations of the tone of Earl’s engagement with scholars and the wider public I have decided to post the lead up to Earl’s entrance into that web forum and the initial responses of scholars to his presence. This post only looks at the first half of that intention and concludes with the entrance of Earl to Crosstalk. The next post in this series will set out the posts demonstrating the way the different parties responded to his arrival.

Bill2200 started it.

It was a Thursday, 4th February 1999 when he did it. He posted the 4891st post to the Crosstalk forum, a forum for scholarly discussion among biblical scholars. He chose as the title of his post,

A man or a myth?

and this is what he wrote:

Hello. I’m new to Crosstalk and may not stick around long, but am hoping
someone can help me out here. I’m interested in the historical Jesus. Did such
a person actually exist? I’ll refer you to Earl Doherty’s work at:The basic argument, for those unfamiliar with it, is this: The NT epistles,
all the other 1st century non-canonical Christian writings and most of the
writings well into the 2nd century say nothing of an earthly Jesus: no
ministry, miracles, holy places, Mary & Joseph, the trial, the passion, etc.
The most plausible explanation for this is that Jesus started out as an
entirely divine entity, just like all the other gods in all the other
religions of the day. The idea of a historical human founder was a later
development in Christian mythology.So . . . is Doherty onto something here? I’ve read the lengthy rebuttal given
by Christian apologist J. P. Holding (Doherty provides a link), and it’s
rather feeble. I’ve read articles on Josephus and Doherty’s rebuttal. It’s
fairly obvious that the Testimonium Flavianum is a bad joke which offers not
one iota of support for a historical Jesus. The smaller Josephus reference is
better, but a far cry from compelling evidence.Most people posting messages here would seem to agree that the gospels are
loaded with fiction. To argue a mythical Jesus requires assuming the gospels
are ALL fiction—in other words, just like every other story of every
other god in every other religion in all of history. Is there anything
implausible about this?So help me out here! I like Doherty’s arguments, but am not a scholar and
can’t say whether his premises are true or whether he has been misleading or
has omitted significant information. Thanks in advance for any insightful
replies!Bill

And that’s who started it. We learn later that his surname is Paulson.

The first response was from Jim West (who still seems to have some difficulty making an informed response)

Jim West

At 10:33 AM 2/4/99 -0500, you wrote:

>Hello. I’m new to Crosstalk and may not stick around long, but am hoping
>someone can help me out here. I’m interested in the historical Jesus. Did such
>a person actually exist?

 

Yes, Jesus relly existed. Arguments (really pseudo arguments) to the
contrary notwithstanding.

Best,

Jim

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

Next came Antonio:

Antonio Jerez
Feb 4, 1999

No, Doherty is definitely not into something here. And I’m definitely no
Christian apologist, since I’m no Christian – but I still believe that the
mass of data show that a galilean prophet by the name of Jesus was
crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of a roman governor around 30 A.D.
And let’s leave Josephus out of this for a moment. You don’t really need
the Testimonium Flavianum or the notice about James execution to
be practically certain that Jesus really existed and died the way the NT
claims. You just need a little common sense and some knowledge about
the Messianic ideas that were in vogue in Palestine around year 0. There
simply wasn’t any expectations about the coming of a SUFFERING and
CRUCIFIED Messiah. The last thing a jew would have invented if he wanted
to missionize in Palestine around that time was a dead Messiah, specially
one crucified by Israels enemies. The simple fact is that the Jesus movement
one day found itself with a very dead leader. This terrible fact they had to
explain to both themselves and to other Jews. So next they started searching
the Scriptures for clues and “found” them in places like the Servant songs
of Isaiah, Psalm 22 and the Wisdom of Solomon. Also remember that the
ancient Jews read the OT much like many moderns read the prophecies
of Nostradamus – EVERYTHING about the fate of the world, from beginning
to end, can be found there if God opens your eyes to the mysteries.

Best wishes

Antonio Jerez

Next, Stevan Davies

Stevan Davies
Feb 4, 1999

Absolutely. You have Paul testimony from 50 AD that he knows of

Jesus AND, against wierd theories that Paul made him up, Paul’s
testimony about his relationships to James Peter John whom other
sources indicate knew Jesus personally. Not to mention lots of other
Paul references to people who were adherents of Jesus and who were
so prior to meeting Paul. So if Jesus were invented
it wasn’t Paul who invented him but X the unknown who did so
a considerable period before. It’s just silliness.Steve

Tom Simms
Feb 4, 1999

Then Tom Simms

On Thu, 4 Feb 1999 16:45:11 -0400, miser17@… writes:
Right on, Steve,
.. but don’t say God raised him from the dead and turned him into
some kind of a spirit and all that hocus pocus stuff. The
personal appearances recorded were not imagination. You know
how Meso-America works! The appearances’ effect turned a mob
running away afraid of their shadows into a group who knew
something they’d not known before. They didn’t get the
facts straight but they got a great message – and they really
ran with it!

Tom Simms

Followed by Stephen Carlson

Stephen C. Carlson
Feb 4, 1999

At 10:33 AM 2/4/99 EST, Bill2200@… wrote:

>The basic argument, for those unfamiliar with it, is this: The NT epistles,
>all the other 1st century non-canonical Christian writings and most of the
>writings well into the 2nd century say nothing of an earthly Jesus: no
>ministry, miracles, holy places, Mary & Joseph, the trial, the passion, etc.

Why are the gospels excluded from this august list of documents? The basic
argument is circular: there is no earthly Jesus because all of a select
list writings say nothing of an earthly Jesus. What was Doherty’s selection
criterion? Apparently, those documents that do not saying anything about
the earthly Jesus. But then there’s a pesky NT epistle, 1 Thess. 2:14-15,
which states that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus, an earthly event.
Predictably, Doherty dismisses this passage as an “obvious interpolation.”
Doherty can only make his argument from silence work by systematically
ignoring the contrary evidence.

Stephen Carlson


Stephen C. Carlson mailto:scarlson@…
Synoptic Problem Home Page http://www.mindspring.com/~scarlson/synopt/
“Poetry speaks of aspirations, and songs chant the words.” Shujing 2.35

To all of whom Bill replied as follows:

#4901

Re: A man or a myth?

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 4, 1999

Thanks to everyone who has offered input so far. The responses have been
polite, if unconvincing.First, I apologize if I’m posting messages in an odd or inconvenient manner.
I’ve tried repeatedly for two weeks to post from the web site (click “Post”,
type message, click “Send”). It fails every time. I’ve sent pleas of help to
the egroups folks, who say they’re working on the problem. Meanwhile, I’ve
resorted to “posting” by sending e-mail. (Is this common? Do many others post
this way?)

From Antonio:

>You just need a little common sense and some knowledge about
>the Messianic ideas that were in vogue in Palestine around year 0. There
>simply wasn’t any expectations about the coming of a SUFFERING and
>CRUCIFIED Messiah. The last thing a jew would have invented if he wanted
>to missionize in Palestine around that time was a dead Messiah, specially
>one crucified by Israels enemies.

I probably lack the knowledge you have, but I think your argument actually
supports Doherty’s position. True, no one expected a suffering, crucified,
dead HUMAN messiah. And I think Doherty would agree wholeheartedly that the
Jews would not have invented such a thing. If in fact Jesus was a historical
human, does this not mean that the idea that God incarnated himself in a man
quickly took root in many primarily Jewish milieus? Doherty considers this
nearly incomprehensible and calls it a huge fallacy. But a suffering,
crucified DIVINE messiah is more believable. It was routine, after all, for
gods to suffer.

And this is a big part of the argument: Paul and the other early writers
worshipped a divine, non-human Jesus, a concept that could reasonably appeal
to Jews. The gospels, according to Doherty, came from primarily Gentile
communities, probably late in the first century or early in the second. And
this idea was NOT appealing to Jews, especially since they were portrayed as
the evil killers of the hero figure. Most of the Christian apologists until
about 160 also give no clue that the object of their faith was a historical
human (Justin is an exception). It follows that the idea of a human founder
GRADUALLY took hold and was not a universal Christian belief until late in the
second century.

>Also remember that the ancient Jews read the OT much like many
>moderns read the prophecies of Nostradamus – EVERYTHING about
>the fate of the world, from beginning to end, can be found there if God
>opens your eyes to the mysteries.

No argument here. It’s nice to have that 20/20 hindsight! Thanks for replying.

From Stevan Davies:

>Absolutely. You have Paul testimony from 50 AD that he knows of
>Jesus AND, against wierd theories that Paul made him up, Paul’s
>testimony about his relationships to James Peter John whom other
>sources indicate knew Jesus personally. Not to mention lots of other
>Paul references to people who were adherents of Jesus and who were
>so prior to meeting Paul. So if Jesus were invented
>it wasn’t Paul who invented him but X the unknown who did so
>a considerable period before. It’s just silliness.

You need to read my message and Doherty’s work more carefully. What evidence
is there that Paul knew of a HUMAN Jesus? Or believed that anyone he knew
worshipped a human Jesus? The whole point is that Paul and the other epistle
writers believed in an entirely spiritual Jesus. And “X the unknown’s”
invention was not done by Paul or before him, but long after him.

From Stephen Carlson:

>Why are the gospels excluded from this august list of documents? The basic
>argument is circular: there is no earthly Jesus because all of a select
>list writings say nothing of an earthly Jesus.

The argument is not circular. The rationale is that most of the epistles
predate the gospels and reflect the early Christian beliefs. The gospels came
later, perhaps much later, and appear to be from one or two sources. They are
chock full of fiction, and it’s not unrealistic for them to be total fiction.

>But then there’s a pesky NT epistle, 1 Thess. 2:14-15,
>which states that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus, an earthly event.
>Predictably, Doherty dismisses this passage as an “obvious interpolation.”
>Doherty can only make his argument from silence work by systematically
>ignoring the contrary evidence.

Let’s not abuse the word “ignore”! Nothing is being ignored. All evidence is
being considered and given the weight it deserves. I’m not enough of an
authority to comment on the interpolation likelihood, but the arguments do
seem plausible and they are apparently held by many scholars who believe in a
historical Jesus.

The alternative to the Jesus-as-myth idea is to believe that Christianity
truly was founded by this one human, Jesus, and that writer after writer for
the first 150 years of the faith COMPLETELY IGNORED every aspect of this man’s
life on Earth and portrayed him in a manner which is perfectly consistent with
being an entirely spiritual entity–just like every other god in every other
religion of the day. If they only gave OCCASIONAL references to the earthly
Jesus, that would be reasonable. But nothing at all? Doherty considers this
extremely unlikely, and I’m inclined to agree.

There may very well be a major flaw or several in Doherty’s work. That’s why
I’m writing. I appreciate the replies I’ve seen so far, but if this flaw
exists, it hasn’t been demonstrated yet.

Bill Paulson

Next on the thread was Jan, #4927

Jan Sammer
Feb 4, 1999
 
>Tom Simms wrote:

>Right on, Steve,
>
>.. but don’t say God raised him from the dead and turned him into
> some kind of a spirit and all that hocus pocus stuff.

But that’s more or less what the texts say. Passing through locked doors and
appearing and disappearing at will, looking so different his closest
associates could not recognize him… we went through that before. The
gospel writers are clearly implying that Jesus’ resurrected body was
different from his previous human body. It may be that it was a somewhat
more solid body than the one Paul had in mind; nevertheless it was one
endowed with some unusual, even magical powers. Again (and I shouldn’t
really have to say this) in this case I am trying to establish what the
gospel writers tried to communicate, not what the historical facts may have
been.

Jan

Next, Mark Goodacre, more well known to many readers here:

Mark Goodacre
Feb 5, 1999

There is a discussion of a certain G. A. Wells’s theory that Jesus was an
invention of the third Christian generation in Theissen & Merz’s recent
_Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide_ (pp. 122-4 & 581-3). I was
surprised that they even give it the time of day. Strikingly, they are more
willing to discuss the question of the existence of Jesus (6 pages) than they
are the existence of Q (“presupposed”, p. 25).

Mark
————————————–
Dr Mark Goodacre mailto:M.S.Goodacre@…
Dept of Theology tel: +44 121 414 7512
University of Birmingham fax: +44 121 414 6866
Birmingham B15 2TT United Kingdom

Homepage: http://www.bham.ac.uk/theology/goodacre

Next,

Steven Appelget
Feb 5, 1999

—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–

I’m just an amateur at this HJ stuff. I’ve read JDC (_The Historical
Jesus_ and _The Birth of Christianity_) and am plowing through LTJ’s _The
Writings of the New Testament_. I’m busily putting Crossan’s complexes
into “topics” for the Online Bible program – btw, a fantastic Bible program
and FREE!

I think Doherty’s argument can be boiled down to “HJ researchers think the
canonical gospels were mostly made up. I think they were ALL made up.” I
think this is a very fine line; once you start tossing out big chunks of
the canonical gospels, why stop when you pare it down to Q and Mark?

I can’t find the hole in Doherty’s arguments. Obviously, some of the rest
of you can. Could you PLEASE outline what the holes are?

– —–
big brother is watching. learn to become invisible
appelget@…
– —–

Then Jeffrey Peterson

Jeff Peterson
Feb 5, 1999
 
BILL PAULSON
>>The NT epistles,
>>all the other 1st century non-canonical Christian writings and most of the
>>writings well into the 2nd century say nothing of an earthly Jesus: no
>>ministry, miracles, holy places, Mary & Joseph, the trial, the passion, etc.

STEPHEN CARLSON
>. . . there’s a pesky NT epistle, 1 Thess. 2:14-15,
>which states that the Jews killed the Lord Jesus, an earthly event.

The case that Bill summarizes is quite mistaken, and the epistolary
evidence that Stephen rightly draws attention to can be considerably
extended. Historically, the most significant data about Jesus are preserved
not in the Gospels but in the Pauline letters, which date from c. AD 50-60,
i.e., within 20-30 years of the date when Jesus’ death “under Pontius
Pilate” is reported (or about as distant in time as we stand from Richard
Nixon’s resignation from office).

These sources include the following reports about the earthly Jesus:

-Jesus was a Jew by birth (Gal 4:4) and of Davidic ancestry (Rom 1:3)

-He exercised a ministry to Israel, which was continued in the mission to
Gentiles by Paul and others (Rom 15:8)

-He taught on a range of topics including divorce (1 Cor 7:10-11), the
support of missionaries (1 Cor 9:14), and the future consummation of God’s
purposes (1 Thess 4:15-16)

-He anticipated his death with a symbolic meal which he asked his followers
to observe (1 Cor 11:23-25)

-Jesus’ Jewish countrymen were involved in his death (1 Thess 2:14-15), but
this was carried out by Roman crucifixion (1 Cor 1:18 et mult. al.)

All this is preserved in the professional, semi-public correspondence of
one who was personally acquainted with members of Jesus’ family and most
prominent disciples. It may be noted that the Synoptic account expands on
each of these data, whatever degree of literary embellishment the
Evangelists indulged in. Given such evidence there is about as much
historical basis for disputing Jesus’ existence as that of Alexander the
Great.

Jeff

————————————
Jeffrey Peterson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of New Testament
Institute for Christian Studies
Austin, Texas, USA
————————————

Tom was engaged with those engaged with his posts:

On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 07:29:25 +0100, sammer@… writes:
>>Tom Simms wrote:
>
>>Right on, Steve,
>>
>>.. but don’t say God raised him from the dead and turned him into
>> some kind of a spirit and all that hocus pocus stuff.
>
>But that’s more or less what the texts say. Passing through locked doors and
>appearing and disappearing at will, looking so different his closest
>associates could not recognize him… we went through that before.

Of course. And YOU want to think only what a 1st C Levantine
would think? You’re telling us what they THOUGHT not what WAS.
It’s our job to discover what really happened. If you want to
know how difficult that task is, go to the grassy knoll in
Dallas.

>The gospel writers are clearly implying that Jesus’ resurrected body was
>different from his previous human body. It may be that it was a somewhat
>more solid body than the one Paul had in mind;

By Paul’s account, he never SAW Jesus but he sure HEARD something
powerful enough to set in motion an idea that still works very
well on people. The PARSIMONIOUS explanation is the haoma/tetro-
dotoxin one. It had long legs in the East. That and taking a
near blinding sunburn from lying on his back open eyed in the
blazing sun. Read what the Japanese have experienced over the
centuries they’ve toyed with the puffer fish toxin (Fugu). Look
it up.

>nevertheless it was one
>endowed with some unusual, even magical powers. Again (and I shouldn’t
>really have to say this) in this case I am trying to establish what the
>gospel writers tried to communicate, not what the historical facts may have
>been.
>
>Jan

Jan –

The gospel writers thought of miracles. Do YOU?

When a plane crashes and half the load of passengers is killed,
the first thing you hear is some survivor thanking God for being
spared.

What about the half that weren’t spared? Should their survivors
condemn God?

That’s talking superstition.

If you’re going to write history, don’t spout the supernatural.
Otherwise, call it theology.

Tom

Jeff again,

Jeff Peterson
Feb 5, 1999
 
At 2:12 PM +0000 2/5/99, Tom Simms wrote:

> By Paul’s account, he never SAW Jesus but he sure HEARD something
> powerful enough to set in motion an idea that still works very
> well on people. The PARSIMONIOUS explanation is the haoma/tetro-
> dotoxin one. It had long legs in the East. That and taking a
> near blinding sunburn from lying on his back open eyed in the
> blazing sun. Read what the Japanese have experienced over the
> centuries they’ve toyed with the puffer fish toxin (Fugu). Look
> it up.

Paul accounts himself an apostle on the basis of his having “SEEN Jesus our
Lord” (hEWRAKA, 1 Cor 9:1; cf. OPTASIAS, 2 Cor 12:1) and cites comparable
VISIONS of the risen Christ (CHRISTOS . . . WFQH) to 515-odd people (1 Cor
15:1-11). Would you account for all of these as resulting from a
combination of sunburn and drugs?

Jeff

————————————
Jeffrey Peterson, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of New Testament
Institute for Christian Studies
Austin, Texas, USA
————————————

And Jon Peter enters

Jon Peter
Feb 5, 1999

Following are physical artifacts attesting to the famous Jesus Christ of
History.

1. The grave of
Pantera in Germany

2. The stela of Pilate at Caesarea

3. The ossuary of
Caiaphas

4. The coins of the various roman officials and emperors
that speak to the career of Jesus

5. The literary record reeks of the presence of Jesus no matter how well the
texts hide him from us.

The provenances of scripture manuscripts
are much richer and more supporting than those of most Classical authors.

CREDIT for the above belongs to a prominent Fundy mentalist who posted it in
a prior hash.

Correct answer to “man or myth?” is “both.” Obviously a Jesus existed, but
his bio is presented with theology and may contain legend.

Regards,

Jon

Tom again, but just a minor aside…

Tom Simms
Feb 5, 1999

On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 12:45:39 -0800, jnp@… writes:
>
>Following are physical artifacts attesting to the famous Jesus Christ of
>History.
>
>1. The grave of
>Pantera in Germany
>
>2. The stela of Pilate at Caesarea
>
>3. The ossuary of
>Caiaphas
>
>4. The coins of the various roman officials and emperors
>that speak to the career of Jesus
>
>5. The literary record reeks of the presence of Jesus no matter how well the
>texts hide him from us.
>
>The provenances of scripture manuscripts
>are much richer and more supporting than those of most Classical authors.
>
>
>CREDIT for the above belongs to a prominent Fundy mentalist who posted it in
>a prior hash.
>
>Correct answer to “man or myth?” is “both.” Obviously a Jesus existed, but
>his bio is presented with theology and may contain legend.
>
>Regards,
>
>Jon
>
>

Glad to see you know Quality when you see it…

and again

Tom Simms
Feb 5, 1999

5

On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 13:12:17 -0700, peterson@… writes:
>At 2:12 PM +0000 2/5/99, Tom Simms wrote:

[… Snip …]

>> near blinding sunburn from lying on his back open eyed in the
>> blazing sun. Read what the Japanese have experienced over the
>> centuries they’ve toyed with the puffer fish toxin (Fugu). Look
>> it up.
>
>Paul accounts himself an apostle on the basis of his having “SEEN Jesus our
>Lord” (hEWRAKA, 1 Cor 9:1; cf. OPTASIAS, 2 Cor 12:1) and cites comparable
>VISIONS of the risen Christ (CHRISTOS . . . WFQH) to 515-odd people (1 Cor
>15:1-11). Would you account for all of these as resulting from a
>combination of sunburn and drugs?
>
>Jeff

Read Paul’s account of the trip to Damascus…later, like many
evangelists do, even now, he added to the account later. You
clearly will be coming into your own in a month or so, for you
must be pure sap.

Tom

Then Antonio again, seemingly very well informed…

Antonio Jerez
Feb 5, 1999

Bill Paulson wrote:

>>From Antonio:
>>You just need a little common sense and some knowledge about
>>the Messianic ideas that were in vogue in Palestine around year 0. There
>>simply wasn’t any expectations about the coming of a SUFFERING and
>>CRUCIFIED Messiah. The last thing a jew would have invented if he wanted
>>to missionize in Palestine around that time was a dead Messiah, specially
>>one crucified by Israels enemies.

>I probably lack the knowledge you have, but I think your argument actually
>supports Doherty’s position. True, no one expected a suffering, crucified,
>dead HUMAN messiah. And I think Doherty would agree wholeheartedly that the
>Jews would not have invented such a thing. If in fact Jesus was a historical
>human, does this not mean that the idea that God incarnated himself in a man
>quickly took root in many primarily Jewish milieus? Doherty considers this
>nearly incomprehensible and calls it a huge fallacy. But a suffering,
>crucified DIVINE messiah is more believable. It was routine, after all, for
>gods to suffer.

Unfortunately Earl Doherty does not have any idea at all about
the symbolical and ideological thoughtworld of Palestinian Jews
around the turn of our era. And you my friend, need to immerse
yourself for a few months or even years in Jewish texts from that
time before you even have the slightest chance of weighing the strenght
of arguments people like Doherty. There is no shortcut to knowledge,
except hard work.

1. How do you know that the authors who wrote the NT really claimed
that GOD incarnated himself in a human? Do you know about any other
jewish group around year 0 that expected God to incarnate himself
in the Messiah? If so please show me the textual evidence.

2. Do you or Doherty have any textual evidence whatsoever that jews
would have found the idea of a crucified DIVINE Messiah more believable
than a crufified HUMAN Messiah. I doubt it.

3. You and Doherty claim that it was “routine, after all, for gods to
suffer”. Maybe for pagan gods, but certainly not for the Jewish God
or his Messiah. Jews did not expect their God to suffer and die.
Do you have any textual evidence to the contrary outside Christian
texts?

>And this is a big part of the argument: Paul and the other early writers
>worshipped a divine, non-human Jesus, a concept that could reasonably appeal
>to Jews. The gospels, according to Doherty, came from primarily Gentile
>communities, probably late in the first century or early in the second. And
>this idea was NOT appealing to Jews, especially since they were portrayed as
>the evil killers of the hero figure. Most of the Christian apologists until
>about 160 also give no clue that the object of their faith was a historical
>human (Justin is an exception). It follows that the idea of a human founder
>GRADUALLY took hold and was not a universal Christian belief until late in the
>second century.

Again Doherty shows that he doesn’t know what he is talking about. His
logic is totally upside down. Christianity started with a very human, although
quite special, person who was seen as spirit-endowed by his earliest followers.
They did not think he was God, but God’s Messiah – which is quite another
thing. After his death they saw him in visions and after finding some clues
in the Scriptures concluded that the God of Israel had exalted Jesus to a
post as God’s Vizier or Vice-regent. As a recompense for his hard work on
earth God also gave Jesus an immortal body and made him a kind of lesser
divinity (although higher than the angels, but lower than God himself). If Doherty
had immersed himself more in Jewish texts and not just greco-roman ones he
could also have learned that God making humans like Moses, Elijah and Enoch
into lesser divinities was not an uncommon thing in Second Temple Judaic
litterature. The thought of lesser divinities leaving heaven and taking bodily
form on earth was on the other hand an unknown idea among Jews.

Best wishes

Antonio Jerez

Jan Sammer….

Jan Sammer
Feb 5, 1999
 
Tom wrote:

> And YOU want to think only what a 1st C Levantine
> would think? You’re telling us what they THOUGHT not what WAS.

What was is anybody’s guess. What I’m trying to do is to figure out what
their purpose was in writing as they did. I think you agree with me that the
historical necessity to write the first gospels arose in the context of
Paul’s trial in Rome. The purpose has a lot to do with the content, don’t
you agree? What Ian calls “pious fiction” and Jack calls “midrash” then
enters the picture and results in a lot of creative writing, some perhaps
based on historical recollections, but we also observe the free invention of
entire episodes merely illustrate the fulfillment of OT messianic
prophecies. In my view the key to textual analysis is to establish the
purpose. A lot of useful judgements on what may or may not be historical
follow from accomplishing that successfully.

> It’s our job to discover what really happened…

I happen to think that is a hopeless endeavor with the evidence we have.
With regard to the resurrection appearances in particular, their basic
purpose appears to be to demonstrate the qualities of Jesus’ resurrected
body (it could pass through locked doors, yet could be touched; it could
materialize and dematerialize yet its owner could consume food; it is
different enough from the ordinary human body that it can cause your closest
acquaintances not to recognize you). The nature of Jesus’ resurrected body
was a very live issue in the early church, since the early Christians
believed they would all acquire such a body in the near future. Such
episodes, written to illustrate a particular position in a theological
dispute, are worse than useless for reconstructing what “really happened”

Jan

Antonio once more….

Antonio Jerez
Feb 5, 1999
 
Jeff Peterson wrote:

>At 2:12 PM +0000 2/5/99, Tom Simms wrote:
>
>> By Paul’s account, he never SAW Jesus but he sure HEARD something
>> powerful enough to set in motion an idea that still works very
>> well on people. The PARSIMONIOUS explanation is the haoma/tetro-
>> dotoxin one. It had long legs in the East. That and taking a
>> near blinding sunburn from lying on his back open eyed in the
>> blazing sun. Read what the Japanese have experienced over the
>> centuries they’ve toyed with the puffer fish toxin (Fugu). Look
>> it up.
>
>Paul accounts himself an apostle on the basis of his having “SEEN Jesus our
>Lord” (hEWRAKA, 1 Cor 9:1; cf. OPTASIAS, 2 Cor 12:1) and cites comparable
>VISIONS of the risen Christ (CHRISTOS . . . WFQH) to 515-odd people (1 Cor
>15:1-11). Would you account for all of these as resulting from a
>combination of sunburn and drugs?

Jeff,
I do not think the problem is with Paul’s ears or eyes. The problem
probably has to do with Tom. Why is it that I so often get the impression
that this Canadian has a habit of taking a mixture of mescaline, hydrogen-
pyroxide and prozac for breakfeast every day?

Best wishes

Antonio

and again

Antonio Jerez
Feb 5, 1999
 
Mark Goodacre wrote:

>>There is a discussion of a certain G. A. Wells’s theory that Jesus was an

invention of the third Christian generation in Theissen & Merz’s recent
_Historical Jesus: A Comprehensive Guide_ (pp. 122-4 & 581-3). I was
surprised that they even give it the time of day. Strikingly, they are more
willing to discuss the question of the existence of Jesus (6 pages) than they
>>are the existence of Q (“presupposed”, p. 25).

The professor, Alvar Ellegard, I’m going to attack in the article in Goteborgs-
Posten that is going to be published next wednesday has
actually copied most of his loony ideas and arguments
from Wells books.

Best wishes

Antonio

A Mike enters to ask…

Mike Myers
Feb 5, 1999
 
Jon, would you give us some more details concerning this “grave of
Pantera” in Germany? And elaborate on its relevance?

Thanks.
Mike

Then spin or Ian….

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 5, 1999
 
>On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 12:45:39 -0800, jnp@… writes:
>>
>>Following are physical artifacts attesting to the famous Jesus Christ of
>>History.
>>
>>1. The grave of
>>Pantera in Germany
>>
>>2. The stela of Pilate at Caesarea
>>
>>3. The ossuary of
>>Caiaphas
>>
>>4. The coins of the various roman officials and emperors
>>that speak to the career of Jesus
>>
>>5. The literary record reeks of the presence of Jesus no matter how well the
>>texts hide him from us.

Actually none of these do the job.

1) the grave of a Pantera in Germany needs somehow to be related to
the matter: linguistic arguments and rabbinic attacks don’t help.
2) the Pilate Stela gives supports the existence of Pilate — nothing
else.
3) the ossuary of Caiaphas tells us only about Caiaphas.
4) the coins speak only for their producers
5) the literary record reeks with the presence of Lancelot no matter
how well the texts hide him from us. Huh? (Arthurian lit.)

Ian

Twice

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 5, 1999
 
At 22.26 05/02/99 +0100, Jan Sammer wrote:
>What Ian calls “pious fiction”…

I called nothing pious fiction.

Ian

Then Jan again

Jan Sammer
Feb 5, 1999

>At 22.26 05/02/99 +0100, Jan Sammer wrote:
>>What Ian calls “pious fiction”…
>
>I called nothing pious fiction.
>
>
>Ian
>

My apologies to Ian. Looking back through my email archive I find he
*objected* to the expression “pious fiction”. I was working from memory;
should have checked first–sorry.

Jan

So we come back once more to Bill2200

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 6, 1999

From Jeff Peterson:

> The case that Bill summarizes is quite mistaken, and the epistolary
> evidence that Stephen rightly draws attention to can be considerably
> extended. Historically, the most significant data about Jesus are preserved
> not in the Gospels but in the Pauline letters, which date from c. AD 50-60,
> i.e., within 20-30 years of the date when Jesus’ death “under Pontius
> Pilate” is reported (or about as distant in time as we stand from Richard
> Nixon’s resignation from office).
>
> These sources include the following reports about the earthly Jesus:

Let’s take these bit by bit:

> -Jesus’ Jewish countrymen were involved in his death (1 Thess 2:14-15), but
> this was carried out by Roman crucifixion (1 Cor 1:18 et mult. al.)

We’ve discussed the Thessalonians quote and the likelihood of it being a later
interpolation. Regarding the nature of the death, don’t confuse “cross” with
Roman crucifixion. The cross was symbolic in religion long before the
Christian era. As usual, I’m not the best authority to speak on this, but I
think it stems ultimately from the zodiac symbol, one line being for the
solstices, the other for the equinoxes, and is illustrative of the sun god
nature of Jesus and many others before him.

> -He taught on a range of topics including divorce (1 Cor 7:10-11), the
> support of missionaries (1 Cor 9:14), and the future consummation of God’s
> purposes (1 Thess 4:15-16)

In none of these cases does my bible say that these teachings are from Jesus.
In each case, it’s “the Lord”. If there’s evidence that Paul means Jesus and
not God, by all means, bring it to the table!

> -He anticipated his death with a symbolic meal which he asked his followers
> to observe (1 Cor 11:23-25)

This definitely will not do. First of all, Mithras (and perhaps other gods),
clearly not a historical figure, also had a sacred meal. In the Corinthian
verses, Doherty points out that bibles often are translated with the word
“betrayed” (“on the night he was betrayed”), which the text does not actually
say. A classic case of translating with preconceptions in mind. Furthermore,
the synoptics all say, after Jesus broke the bread, that he “gave it to them”
or “gave it to his disciples”. Paul omits this key phrase. It’s a golden
opportunity for Paul to show he’s talking about a historical human being, but
he offers no clue.

> -He exercised a ministry to Israel, which was continued in the mission to
> Gentiles by Paul and others (Rom 15:8)

Again, no. I fear that you are reading this with gospel preconceptions. That
leaves:

> -Jesus was a Jew by birth (Gal 4:4) and of Davidic ancestry (Rom 1:3)

For these two, I will refer you to Doherty’s main articles and to his
supplementary article no. 8, where he deals with them more extensively. Here,
I will only say that
regarding the Davidic ancestry, bibles may again be poorly translated (mine,
for example, says “who as to his human nature was a descendant of David”,
which is inaccurate).

> All this is preserved in the professional, semi-public correspondence of
> one who was personally acquainted with members of Jesus’ family and most
> prominent disciples.

Do we have RELIABLE evidence (something other than the gospels and Acts) for
the existence of these family members or disciples?

> Given such evidence there is about as much historical
> basis for disputing Jesus’ existence as that of Alexander the Great.

Be careful about comparing Jesus with any non-religious figure. Religion is
mythical in nature. There are many stories of gods who were said to have come
to Earth at some time or another. These may be better comparisons for the
Jesus of the gospels. Or perhaps there is no good comparison, religious or
otherwise.

To Antonio:

Some of your stuff is over my head or at least beyond my knowledge. I’d rather
see Doherty or someone else tackle your points, but I’ll try to get a reply
off this weekend.

Bill

#4932

Lewis Reich
Feb 6, 1999
 
On 5 Feb 99, at 2:50, Bill Paulson wrote:

> And this is a big part of the argument: Paul and the other early writers
> worshipped a divine, non-human Jesus, a concept that could reasonably appeal
> to Jews.

I’m not at all sure why you think that this concept could reasonably
appeal to first-century Jews.

> The argument is not circular. The rationale is that most of the epistles
> predate the gospels and reflect the early Christian beliefs. The gospels came
> later, perhaps much later, and appear to be from one or two sources. They are
> chock full of fiction, and it’s not unrealistic for them to be total fiction.

The question of how to approach documents such as the gospels has
been discussed fairly thoroughly on the list, and I hope I’m
accurately reflecting my understanding of the consensus when I
suggest that it’s misleading to apply modern concepts such as
“history” or “fiction” to them. They were intended to be documents
of faith, not of history as we understand that term.

Lewis Reich

#4934

Tom Simms
Feb 6, 1999
 
On Fri, 5 Feb 1999 22:46:40 +0100, antonio.jerez@… writes:
>
>Jeff Peterson wrote:
>
>
>>At 2:12 PM +0000 2/5/99, Tom Simms wrote:
>>
>>> By Paul’s account, he never SAW Jesus but he sure HEARD something
>>> powerful enough to set in motion an idea that still works very
>>> well on people. The PARSIMONIOUS explanation is the haoma/tetro-
>>> dotoxin one. It had long legs in the East. That and taking a
>>> near blinding sunburn from lying on his back open eyed in the
>>> blazing sun. Read what the Japanese have experienced over the
>>> centuries they’ve toyed with the puffer fish toxin (Fugu). Look
>>> it up.
>>
>>Paul accounts himself an apostle on the basis of his having “SEEN Jesus our
>>Lord” (hEWRAKA, 1 Cor 9:1; cf. OPTASIAS, 2 Cor 12:1) and cites comparable
>>VISIONS of the risen Christ (CHRISTOS . . . WFQH) to 515-odd people (1 Cor
>>15:1-11). Would you account for all of these as resulting from a
>>combination of sunburn and drugs?
>
>
>Jeff,
>I do not think the problem is with Paul’s ears or eyes. The problem
>probably has to do with Tom. Why is it that I so often get the impression
>that this Canadian has a habit of taking a mixture of mescaline, hydrogen-
>pyroxide and prozac for breakfeast every day?
>
>Best wishes
>
>Antonio
>

************************************************************

Antonio, like all bullies, when he loses, name-calls

************************************************************

Now where was Antonio in the 1960’s? Working for
Harry Anslinger and his Dick Tracy system that’s
turning Columbia’s drug lords into MegaBillionaires?

If HE, or you Jeff in Anti-Jesus Texas, read Joe
Baxter’s summary or bought Barnes&Noble’s remaindered
Schonfield texts (the Essene Odyssey), you’d know
there exist lots of support for Shahina’s Ahmadiyyah
Islamic group’s opinions.

For shame, you bigots!

Tom Simms

Bill catches up with it all

4942

Re: A man or a myth?
Expand Messages

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 6, 1999

OK, back to the grind. First, from Lewis (quoting me):

> > And this is a big part of the argument: Paul and the other early writers
> > worshipped a divine, non-human Jesus, a concept that could reasonably
> > appeal to Jews.
>
> I’m not at all sure why you think that this concept could reasonably
> appeal to first-century Jews.

Maybe it wouldn’t. But see below. From Antonio:

> And you my friend, need to immerse
> yourself for a few months or even years in Jewish texts from that
> time before you even have the slightest chance of weighing the strenght
> of arguments people like Doherty. There is no shortcut to knowledge,
> except hard work.

I admit that I’m here primarily to pick others’ brains, since my own religious
knowledge probably pales compared with that of most others on this forum. But
I can usually recognize good and bad arguments and when people exaggerate the
significance of a piece of evidence. And this, I’m afraid, is exactly what you
are doing.

> 1. How do you know that the authors who wrote the NT really claimed
> that GOD incarnated himself in a human?

After a few centuries of copying, translating, editing and forging, no one
really knows what was originally written. But yes, this was a little sloppy on
my part. I know the trinitarian doctrine was formalized a few centuries later.
Not God, but close to it. At least according to the gospels. Or are you
suggesting even this much isn’t true?

> Do you know about any other jewish group around year 0 that expected
> God to incarnate himself in the Messiah?

Absolutely not. My impression (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the Messiah
was expected to be a king of sorts who would liberate Israel and make it an
independent, powerful nation again.

> 2. Do you or Doherty have any textual evidence whatsoever that jews
> would have found the idea of a crucified DIVINE Messiah more believable
> than a crufified HUMAN Messiah. I doubt it.

I’d like to say that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence shows that
this is exactly what happened, but this is the very point under debate, so
that would be circular reasoning. It’s not so much that the former WAS
palatable (I hadn’t heard to the contrary), but more that the latter was not.
But let me speculate and you, the expert, can tell me how realistic this is.
It must have been fairly evident to the Jews who didn’t live in Fantasyland
that this great Messiah wasn’t going to be coming along and liberating their
nation any time soon. Given this scenario, is it really implausible that some
might start looking skyward for a divine Messiah to do something worthwhile
for them?

> 3. You and Doherty claim that it was “routine, after all, for gods to
> suffer”. Maybe for pagan gods, but certainly not for the Jewish God
> or his Messiah. Jews did not expect their God to suffer and die.
> Do you have any textual evidence to the contrary outside Christian
> texts?

No, no one suggested that the Jews EXPECTED God or his Messiah to suffer and
die. But let me get to the point and see if I understand your position here.
Christianity arose in primarily Jewish circles and appealed to many Jews with
a concept (a suffering, dying Messiah) which was quite foreign to Jewish
belief. And you feel that this improbable event would not have happened
without a human leader who died and could be divinized a la Moses and Elijah?

I have to disagree. Again, you say the pagan gods suffered and died, but not
the Jewish god. I may have less than 1/1,000th of the knowledge you have in
this field, but I know a thing or two about human nature. Religions and
cultures have been exchanging ideas and concepts since time immemorial. If you
are suggesting that not even a small percentage of Jews would embrace another
culture’s idea of a suffering and dying divine entity, especially since the
super Messiah they really wanted was obviously a pipe dream, then I say you
are being very unreasonable.

Your argument may have some merit. But on the scale of significance, if it
weighs a pound in the direction of a historical Jesus, then Doherty’s Great
Silence weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.

And this is my question to you or anyone else: What do you make of the Great
Silence? Do you not find it just a teensy bit strange that writer after writer
for so many years would not utter a word about Jesus’s earthly teachings? Or
cite a single miracle? Or mention his trial? Or any detail of his passion
scene? Or when speaking of his death and resurrection, offer no clue that
they’re talking about something that happened to a human being here on Earth?
Do you not find this just a little peculiar? I don’t expect a chronology of
his life as in the gospels, but I expect SOME earthly, human references
SOMEWHERE.

I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as Mr.
Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful), and that there ARE at least a few
clear references to an earthly Jesus in the texts he cites; or (2) give a
GOOD, SENSIBLE explanation for this silence–something better than Doherty’s
explanation, which is that they simply aren’t talking about Jesus of Nazareth
or any other historical human. If you can do this, I’ll recommend to Doherty
that he scrap his whole website. I promise!

Bill Paulson

Next, Lewis Reich ….

#4943

Re: A man or a myth?

Lewis Reich
Feb 7, 1999
 
On 7 Feb 99, at 2:19, Bill Paulson wrote:

> It must have been fairly evident to the Jews who didn’t live in Fantasyland
> that this great Messiah wasn’t going to be coming along and liberating their
> nation any time soon. Given this scenario, is it really implausible that some
> might start looking skyward for a divine Messiah to do something worthwhile
> for them?

You’re looking at the situation with hindsight. At the time, Rome was a recent
interloper on the stage of Levant. A mere two hundred years earlier the
Maccabees had succeeded in driving off the Seleucids.

Lewis Reich

#4946 …. Antonio once more…

Antonio Jerez
Feb 7, 1999
 
Bill Paulson wrote:

Antonio wrote:
>> And you my friend, need to immerse
>> yourself for a few months or even years in Jewish texts from that
>> time before you even have the slightest chance of weighing the strenght
>> of arguments people like Doherty. There is no shortcut to knowledge,
>> except hard work.
>
>I admit that I’m here primarily to pick others’ brains, since my own religious
>knowledge probably pales compared with that of most others on this forum. But
>I can usually recognize good and bad arguments and when people exaggerate the
>. And this, I’m afraid, is exactly what you
>are doing.

But isn’t it a bit presumtious of you to say that you can “recognize good and bad arguments” when you aren’t even acquainted with the evidence from primary
texts? How do you know that we “exaggerate the significance of a piece of evidence”?
I suppose you are going on pure instinct. Many amateurs do that.

>> 1. How do you know that the authors who wrote the NT really claimed
>> that GOD incarnated himself in a human?
>
>After a few centuries of copying, translating, editing and forging, no one
>really knows what was originally written. But yes, this was a little sloppy on
>my part. I know the trinitarian doctrine was formalized a few centuries later.
>Not God, but close to it. At least according to the gospels. Or are you
>suggesting even this much isn’t true?

Yep, I am suggesting that the earliest gospels and Paul himself
did not claim that Jesus was God. According to them he stood
in a closer relationship with God than any human before or after
him, but they did not claim he was God.

>> Do you know about any other jewish group around year 0 that expected
>> God to incarnate himself in the Messiah?
>
>Absolutely not. My impression (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the Messiah
>was expected to be a king of sorts who would liberate Israel and make it an
>independent, powerful nation again.

Yep, you could say that was the standard Messianic expectation among
Jews in the first century. Luke expresses it quite clearly in the Emmaus
story and the beginning of Acts.

>> 2. Do you or Doherty have any textual evidence whatsoever that jews
>> would have found the idea of a crucified DIVINE Messiah more believable
>> than a crufified HUMAN Messiah. I doubt it.
>
>I’d like to say that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence shows that
>this is exactly what happened, but this is the very point under debate, so
>that would be circular reasoning. It’s not so much that the former WAS
>palatable (I hadn’t heard to the contrary), but more that the latter was not.
>But let me speculate and you, the expert, can tell me how realistic this is.
>It must have been fairly evident to the Jews who didn’t live in Fantasyland
>that this great Messiah wasn’t going to be coming along and liberating their
>nation any time soon. Given this scenario, is it really implausible that some
>might start looking skyward for a divine Messiah to do something worthwhile
>for them?

Your scenario is not totally implausible. But again you miss the direction
in the development of Messianic ideas in Judaism and Christianity.
GJohn (which is later than the synoptics) is the gospel were the heavenly
Messiah is already pre-existent. In GJohn Jesus has almost totally been
absorbed by Mythology. That is not the case in the earlier gospels. There
the direction goes from a human Messiah, born in a small Galilean village,
to a heavenly Messiah who is exalted by God precisely because he
perfectly embodied what being human is all about.

>> 3. You and Doherty claim that it was “routine, after all, for gods to
>> suffer”. Maybe for pagan gods, but certainly not for the Jewish God
>> or his Messiah. Jews did not expect their God to suffer and die.
>> Do you have any textual evidence to the contrary outside Christian
>> texts?
>
>No, no one suggested that the Jews EXPECTED God or his Messiah to suffer and
>die. But let me get to the point and see if I understand your position here.
>Christianity arose in primarily Jewish circles and appealed to many Jews with
>a concept (a suffering, dying Messiah) which was quite foreign to Jewish
>belief. And you feel that this improbable event would not have happened
>without a human leader who died and could be divinized a la Moses and Elijah?

Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.
The gospels show very clearly that this was even hard for Jesus own
disciples to swallow. The only way they could do it was through
REINTERPRETING the Messianic ideas of their time through selective
verses in the OT. Later other Jews obviously bought their idea, because
if not we wouldn’t have any Christianity.

>I have to disagree. Again, you say the pagan gods suffered and died, but not
>the Jewish god. I may have less than 1/1,000th of the knowledge you have in
>this field, but I know a thing or two about human nature. Religions and
>cultures have been exchanging ideas and concepts since time immemorial. If you
>are suggesting that not even a small percentage of Jews would embrace another
>culture’s idea of a suffering and dying divine entity, especially since the
>super Messiah they really wanted was obviously a pipe dream, then I say you
>are being very unreasonable.

We are not discussing if a small percentage of Jews could embrace
the idea of a suffering and dying divine entity. Some, like the author
if GJohn, obviously did. We are discussing what came first – the Hen
or the Egg. Doherty claims that the Hen (a mythological Jesus) came
first. I claim that the Egg (an earthly, human Jesus came first).

>Your argument may have some merit. But on the scale of significance, if it
>weighs a pound in the direction of a historical Jesus, then Doherty’s Great
>Silence weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.

But again you just show that you are not enough well acquianted with
text material from Antiquity to know how to weigh evidence. Do you
know the difference between religious myth based on NATURAL PHENOMENA
and religious myth based on a HUMAN, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER? Which
was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like Gotama Buddha or
Muhammed? Which was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like
the Orpheus or Osiris myth? Do you know the difference between myth
and Myth. If not why not take a University course in religious science.

>And this is my question to you or anyone else: What do you make of the Great
>Silence? Do you not find it just a teensy bit strange that writer after writer
>for so many years would not utter a word about Jesus’s earthly teachings? Or
>cite a single miracle? Or mention his trial? Or any detail of his passion
>scene? Or when speaking of his death and resurrection, offer no clue that
>they’re talking about something that happened to a human being here on Earth?
>Do you not find this just a little peculiar? I don’t expect a chronology of
>his life as in the gospels, but I expect SOME earthly, human references
>SOMEWHERE.

You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill. If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.
And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.
Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
community that has existed for decades? Do you find Mormon leaders
in New York rehashing the whole story about their prophet Joseph Smith
every time they send a letter or sermon to a sister church in Salt Lake
City or Stockholm? The answer is obvious.

>I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as Mr.
>Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful), and that there ARE at least a few
>clear references to an earthly Jesus in the texts he cites; or (2) give a
>GOOD, SENSIBLE explanation for this silence–something better than Doherty’s
>explanation, which is that they simply aren’t talking about Jesus of Nazareth
>or any other historical human. If you can do this, I’ll recommend to Doherty
>that he scrap his whole website. I promise!

I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
this list from ground Zero.

Best wishes

Antonio

 A long one from Ian @ #4948

Re: A man or a myth?

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999
 
At 10.15 07/02/99 +0100, Antonio Jerez wrote:
>Bill Paulson wrote:
>
>Antonio wrote:
>>> And you my friend, need to immerse
>>> yourself for a few months or even years in Jewish texts from that
>>> time before you even have the slightest chance of weighing the strenght
>>> of arguments people like Doherty. There is no shortcut to knowledge,
>>> except hard work.
>>
>>I admit that I’m here primarily to pick others’ brains, since my own

religious
>>knowledge probably pales compared with that of most others on this forum.

But
>>I can usually recognize good and bad arguments and when people exaggerate

the
>>. And this, I’m afraid, is exactly what you are doing.
>
>
>But isn’t it a bit presumtious of you to say that you can “recognize good

and
>bad arguments” when you aren’t even acquainted with the evidence from primary
>texts? How do you know that we “exaggerate the significance of a piece of
>evidence”? I suppose you are going on pure instinct. Many amateurs do that.

<grin>

(Comments come half way down.)

>>> 1. How do you know that the authors who wrote the NT really claimed
>>> that GOD incarnated himself in a human?
>>
>>After a few centuries of copying, translating, editing and forging, no one
>>really knows what was originally written. But yes, this was a little

sloppy on
>>my part. I know the trinitarian doctrine was formalized a few centuries

later.
>>Not God, but close to it. At least according to the gospels. Or are you
>>suggesting even this much isn’t true?
>
>
>Yep, I am suggesting that the earliest gospels and Paul himself
>did not claim that Jesus was God. According to them he stood
>in a closer relationship with God than any human before or after
>him, but they did not claim he was God.
>
>>> Do you know about any other jewish group around year 0 that expected
>>> God to incarnate himself in the Messiah?
>>
>>Absolutely not. My impression (correct me if I’m wrong) is that the Messiah
>>was expected to be a king of sorts who would liberate Israel and make it an
>>independent, powerful nation again.
>
>Yep, you could say that was the standard Messianic expectation among
>Jews in the first century. Luke expresses it quite clearly in the Emmaus
>story and the beginning of Acts.
>
>>> 2. Do you or Doherty have any textual evidence whatsoever that jews
>>> would have found the idea of a crucified DIVINE Messiah more believable
>>> than a crufified HUMAN Messiah. I doubt it.
>>
>>I’d like to say that the overwhelming preponderance of evidence shows that
>>this is exactly what happened, but this is the very point under debate, so
>>that would be circular reasoning. It’s not so much that the former WAS
>>palatable (I hadn’t heard to the contrary), but more that the latter was

not.
>>But let me speculate and you, the expert, can tell me how realistic this is.
>>It must have been fairly evident to the Jews who didn’t live in Fantasyland
>>that this great Messiah wasn’t going to be coming along and liberating their
>>nation any time soon. Given this scenario, is it really implausible that

some
>>might start looking skyward for a divine Messiah to do something worthwhile
>>for them?
>
>
>Your scenario is not totally implausible. But again you miss the direction
>in the development of Messianic ideas in Judaism and Christianity.
>GJohn (which is later than the synoptics) is the gospel were the heavenly
>Messiah is already pre-existent. In GJohn Jesus has almost totally been
>absorbed by Mythology. That is not the case in the earlier gospels. There
>the direction goes from a human Messiah, born in a small Galilean village,
>to a heavenly Messiah who is exalted by God precisely because he
>perfectly embodied what being human is all about.
>
>>> 3. You and Doherty claim that it was “routine, after all, for gods to
>>> suffer”. Maybe for pagan gods, but certainly not for the Jewish God
>>> or his Messiah. Jews did not expect their God to suffer and die.
>>> Do you have any textual evidence to the contrary outside Christian
>>> texts?
>>
>>No, no one suggested that the Jews EXPECTED God or his Messiah to suffer and
>>die. But let me get to the point and see if I understand your position here.
>>Christianity arose in primarily Jewish circles and appealed to many Jews

with
>>a concept (a suffering, dying Messiah) which was quite foreign to Jewish
>>belief. And you feel that this improbable event would not have happened
>>without a human leader who died and could be divinized a la Moses and

Elijah?
>
>
>Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
>mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.
>The gospels show very clearly that this was even hard for Jesus own
>disciples to swallow. The only way they could do it was through
>REINTERPRETING the Messianic ideas of their time through selective
>verses in the OT. Later other Jews obviously bought their idea, because
>if not we wouldn’t have any Christianity.

Dunno. If GMark was produced in Rome and GThom in Syria and given the
indications that the others were produced elsewhere in the Greek speaking
world, Christianity clearly took of in a non-Palestinian context. Paul’s
letters do indicate that he was at least partially dealing with people with
knowledge of things Jewish, though this is not the case with the
Corinthians. The churches in revelation are all in Asia Minor and the like.
I don’t think your assumption, Tony, is justified in the above.

>>I have to disagree. Again, you say the pagan gods suffered and died, but not
>>the Jewish god. I may have less than 1/1,000th of the knowledge you have in
>>this field, but I know a thing or two about human nature. Religions and
>>cultures have been exchanging ideas and concepts since time immemorial.

If you
>>are suggesting that not even a small percentage of Jews would embrace

another
>>culture’s idea of a suffering and dying divine entity, especially since the
>>super Messiah they really wanted was obviously a pipe dream, then I say you
>>are being very unreasonable.
>
>
>We are not discussing if a small percentage of Jews could embrace
>the idea of a suffering and dying divine entity. Some, like the author
>if GJohn, obviously did. We are discussing what came first – the Hen
>or the Egg. Doherty claims that the Hen (a mythological Jesus) came
>first. I claim that the Egg (an earthly, human Jesus came first).
>
>>Your argument may have some merit. But on the scale of significance, if it
>>weighs a pound in the direction of a historical Jesus, then Doherty’s Great
>>Silence weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.
>
>
>But again you just show that you are not enough well acquianted with
>text material from Antiquity to know how to weigh evidence. Do you
>know the difference between religious myth based on NATURAL PHENOMENA
>and religious myth based on a HUMAN, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER? Which
>was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like Gotama Buddha or
>Muhammed? Which was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like
>the Orpheus or Osiris myth?

Tony, you’re working on projecting 20th century ideas into the distant
past. You think you know on which side of the divide Jesus sits. This is
perhaps because you are too influenced by the Greek gospels and not by
either Paul or the earliest fathers for whom Jesus was not really perceived
as the human at all.

>Do you know the difference between myth
>and Myth. If not why not take a University course in religious science.

(Now there is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one! “religious
science”, indeed.)

>>And this is my question to you or anyone else: What do you make of the Great
>>Silence? Do you not find it just a teensy bit strange that writer after

writer
>>for so many years would not utter a word about Jesus’s earthly teachings? Or
>>cite a single miracle? Or mention his trial? Or any detail of his passion
>>scene? Or when speaking of his death and resurrection, offer no clue that
>>they’re talking about something that happened to a human being here on

Earth?
>>Do you not find this just a little peculiar? I don’t expect a chronology of
>>his life as in the gospels, but I expect SOME earthly, human references
>>SOMEWHERE.
>
>
>You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill. If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
>more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
>wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.
>And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
>the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
>fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.
>Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
>that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
>are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
>story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
>community that has existed for decades? Do you find Mormon leaders
>in New York rehashing the whole story about their prophet Joseph Smith
>every time they send a letter or sermon to a sister church in Salt Lake
>City or Stockholm? The answer is obvious.

I mentioned some time ago an article my Steve Mason called “Paul the
Chameleon”,

ftp://ftp.lehigh.edu/pub/listserv/ioudaios-l/Articles/smpaul

>I suppose you are going on pure instinct. Many amateurs do that.

>>I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as Mr.
>>Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful), and that there ARE at least a few
>>clear references to an earthly Jesus in the texts he cites; or (2) give a
>>GOOD, SENSIBLE explanation for this silence–something better than Doherty’s
>>explanation, which is that they simply aren’t talking about Jesus of

Nazareth
>>or any other historical human. If you can do this, I’ll recommend to Doherty
>>that he scrap his whole website. I promise!
>
>
>I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
>enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
>I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
>this list from ground Zero.

Tony in his usually presumptuous mood recommends decent books, most of
which are filled with the sorts of dumb assumptions that I would consider
not worthy of historical research and bear the title “hysterical recess”
better. Like most other people fiddling with the concept of a historical
Jesus, Tony assumes his egg without ever once looking at what would really
be necessary to justify that egg.

I don’t really care if there is no evidence that Hannibal crossed the Alps,
for there is evidence at Lake Trasemene for the battle there; there is
evidence above Rocca di Papa for his stay. What is the non-hysterical
evidence for Tony’s egg? Zilch. Zippo. Nada. Nil. He, like everyone else,
has literary texts and has produced no means of going beyond them. At best
he has egg on his face.

Ian

Once more from same, @ #4949

Re: A man or a myth? (Fantasyland)
 
Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999
 
At 03.07 07/02/99 -0500, Lewis Reich wrote:
>On 7 Feb 99, at 2:19, Bill Paulson wrote:
>
>> It must have been fairly evident to the Jews who didn’t live in Fantasyland
>> that this great Messiah wasn’t going to be coming along and liberating

their
>> nation any time soon. Given this scenario, is it really implausible that

some
>> might start looking skyward for a divine Messiah to do something worthwhile
>> for them?
>
>You’re looking at the situation with hindsight. At the time, Rome was a

recent
>interloper on the stage of Levant. A mere two hundred years earlier the
>Maccabees had succeeded in driving off the Seleucids.
>
>Lewis Reich

And add to this the efforts at the turn of the era, or those from the first
or second Jewish war against Rome. Maybe the Zealots and the sicarii did
live in Fantasyland, but it is precisely a universal liberation through
worldly action that the Jews did expect up until the debacle of Simeon
ben-Kosibah.

Ian

And Jim returns @ #4950

Re: A man or a myth?

Jim West
Feb 7, 1999
 
At 02:19 AM 2/7/99 -0500, you wrote:

>I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as Mr.
>Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful),

Ah, here it is….

You have already accepted the thesis and now you want others to do your
thinking for you and discredit this fellow. But, it doesn’t work that way.
D. has to prove his thesis- and since your his representative here then you
must do it. So, you prove him RIGHT! Its not our place to prove him wrong:
you have it just backwards.

But, I suspect, like the US Senators who already know what they believe and
no amount of truth will persuade them otherwise (!) you have already decided
that you like this fellows silly ideas and having made up your mind
conversation is unnecessary.

Best,

Jim

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

Antonio @ # 4954

Re: A man or a myth?
 
Antonio Jerez
Feb 7, 1999
 

Many months have passed since I met Ian Hutchesson’s alter ego
professore Giovanni Hutchissini, but here it looks like he is finally
back – healthy and alive. Benvenuto signor Professore!

>>Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
>>mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.
>>The gospels show very clearly that this was even hard for Jesus own
>>disciples to swallow. The only way they could do it was through
>>REINTERPRETING the Messianic ideas of their time through selective
>>verses in the OT. Later other Jews obviously bought their idea, because
>>if not we wouldn’t have any Christianity.
>
>Dunno. If GMark was produced in Rome and GThom in Syria and given the
>indications that the others were produced elsewhere in the Greek speaking
>world, Christianity clearly took of in a non-Palestinian context. Paul’s
>letters do indicate that he was at least partially dealing with people with
>knowledge of things Jewish, though this is not the case with the
>Corinthians. The churches in revelation are all in Asia Minor and the like.
>I don’t think your assumption, Tony, is justified in the above.

What exactly is it that you “dunno”. Do you want to say that Christianity
would have taken flight among the gentiles even if Christian preachers
like “Mark” had not explained through selected prophecies from the OT
in his gospel that God’s Messiah really had to suffer and die even if no
jew or gentile had any such expectations? Gospels like GMark and GLuke
are crystalclear in telling us readers that a suffering Messiah was a mystery
that could only be fully revealed and comprehended by both jews and gentiles
AFTER the resurrection. And this by God’s grace alone.
And since I know that you have immersed yourself in jewish texts from the
time it would of course be helpful if you could show us any evidence outside
Christian texts that jews had an expectation of a suffering and rising Messiah.

>>>I have to disagree. Again, you say the pagan gods suffered and died, but not
>>>the Jewish god. I may have less than 1/1,000th of the knowledge you have in
>>>this field, but I know a thing or two about human nature. Religions and
>>>cultures have been exchanging ideas and concepts since time immemorial.
>If you
>>>are suggesting that not even a small percentage of Jews would embrace
>another
>>>culture’s idea of a suffering and dying divine entity, especially since the
>>>super Messiah they really wanted was obviously a pipe dream, then I say you
>>>are being very unreasonable.
>>
>>
>>We are not discussing if a small percentage of Jews could embrace
>>the idea of a suffering and dying divine entity. Some, like the author
>>if GJohn, obviously did. We are discussing what came first – the Hen
>>or the Egg. Doherty claims that the Hen (a mythological Jesus) came
>>first. I claim that the Egg (an earthly, human Jesus came first).
>>
>>>Your argument may have some merit. But on the scale of significance, if it
>>>weighs a pound in the direction of a historical Jesus, then Doherty’s Great
>>>Silence weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.
>>
>>
>>But again you just show that you are not enough well acquianted with
>>text material from Antiquity to know how to weigh evidence. Do you
>>know the difference between religious myth based on NATURAL PHENOMENA
>>and religious myth based on a HUMAN, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER? Which
>>was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like Gotama Buddha or
>>Muhammed? Which was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like
>>the Orpheus or Osiris myth?
>
>Tony, you’re working on projecting 20th century ideas into the distant
>past. You think you know on which side of the divide Jesus sits. This is
>perhaps because you are too influenced by the Greek gospels and not by
>either Paul or the earliest fathers for whom Jesus was not really perceived
>as the human at all.

I don’t think I’m projecting anything, except drawing logical inferences
from the texts we have available. You, on the other hand, appear to have
read Paul’s letters in much the same way as Earl Doherty and Bill Paulson,
which is to say with rosy glasses that spot interpolations in almost any
sentence. Why not take a close look at Jeff Petersen’s message again
and then go through the passages in the NT he mentions again. It should
be obvious with anyone who has eyes to see with that Paul claims that once
in a time Jesus was a human that walked this earth just like us. That the
exalted, heavenly Jesus is of more importance to Paul is nothing surpring,
except to those who have no idea about NT theology

>>Do you know the difference between myth
>>and Myth. If not why not take a University course in religious science.
>
>(Now there is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one! “religious
>science”, indeed.)

Prof. Hutchissini of course spots a contradiction, but I can assure you
that it wasn’t meant as that. My english is not perfect so to make things
clearer I should have written “science of religion and religious ideas”.
This kind of science has nothing to do with doing theology or believing
in those religious ideas yourself. I think it is perfectly clear to most people
on the list that I am no believer.

>>>And this is my question to you or anyone else: What do you make of the Great
>>>Silence? Do you not find it just a teensy bit strange that writer after
>writer
>>>for so many years would not utter a word about Jesus’s earthly teachings? Or
>>>cite a single miracle? Or mention his trial? Or any detail of his passion
>>>scene? Or when speaking of his death and resurrection, offer no clue that
>>>they’re talking about something that happened to a human being here on
>Earth?
>>>Do you not find this just a little peculiar? I don’t expect a chronology of
>>>his life as in the gospels, but I expect SOME earthly, human references
>>>SOMEWHERE.
>>
>>
>>You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill. If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
>>more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
>>wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.
>>And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
>>the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
>>fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.
>>Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
>>that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
>>are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
>>story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
>>community that has existed for decades? Do you find Mormon leaders
>>in New York rehashing the whole story about their prophet Joseph Smith
>>every time they send a letter or sermon to a sister church in Salt Lake
>>City or Stockholm? The answer is obvious.
>
>I mentioned some time ago an article my Steve Mason called “Paul the
>Chameleon”,
>
> ftp://ftp.lehigh.edu/pub/listserv/ioudaios-l/Articles/smpaul

And I read Steve Mason’s article years ago, long before prof. Hutchissini
even knew of its existence. It is a very good article and I have deep respect
for Mason as a scholar, a far deeper respect than for prof. Hutchissini. And
if you read Mason’s article carefully it should be obvious that he in no way
gives support to your speculations about HJ. Read other writings by Mason
and you will find that he is a strong adherent of the majority view among
historians that there once existed a galilean prophet who was crucified
under Pontius Pilate.

>>>I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as Mr.
>>>Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful), and that there ARE at least a few
>>>clear references to an earthly Jesus in the texts he cites; or (2) give a
>>>GOOD, SENSIBLE explanation for this silence–something better than Doherty’s
>>>explanation, which is that they simply aren’t talking about Jesus of
>Nazareth
>>>or any other historical human. If you can do this, I’ll recommend to Doherty
>>>that he scrap his whole website. I promise!
>>
>>
>>I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
>>enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
>>I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
>>this list from ground Zero.
>
>Tony in his usually presumptuous mood recommends decent books, most of
>which are filled with the sorts of dumb assumptions that I would consider
>not worthy of historical research and bear the title “hysterical recess”
>better. Like most other people fiddling with the concept of a historical
>Jesus, Tony assumes his egg without ever once looking at what would really
>be necessary to justify that egg.

And prof. Hutchissini fully in character makes comments about my
book choices without me even mentioning exactly which books I
would recommend our friend Bill. No historian worth his salt would
do a thing like that.

>I don’t really care if there is no evidence that Hannibal crossed the Alps,
>for there is evidence at Lake Trasemene for the battle there; there is
>evidence above Rocca di Papa for his stay. What is the non-hysterical
>evidence for Tony’s egg? Zilch. Zippo. Nada. Nil. He, like everyone else,
>has literary texts and has produced no means of going beyond them. At best
>he has egg on his face.

The superminimalist prof. Hutchissini showing his true face again.
Niente…Nada…Zippo.. The Niente and the Nada is in the eye of
the beholder. Did prof. Hutchessini never learn at school that doing
history is not just reading, reading and reading old texts, but also
to draw reasonable conclusions from those same texts. Any bloody
amateur can learn greek or hebrew till you rabble it in your sleep –
but putting 2 + 2 together is obviously a thing that is far beyond the
horizons of “historians” like prof. Hutchissini.

Best wishes

Antonio Jerez

Then we hear from Jeff Peterson, #4957

Re: A man or a myth?
 
Jeff Peterson
Feb 6, 1999
 
On the question of Paul’s experience as visual or exclusively auditory:

1. Paul himself doesn’t recount a journey to Damascus, as has been
suggested on the list; this is narrated by Luke (Acts 9, 22, 26) and
includes both visual and auditory phenomena (the visual admittedly limited
to a blinding light).

2. Paul himself refers to a “revelation” (APOKALYPSIS) after which he
visited Arabia and “returned to Damascus” (it’s debated whether this
harmonizes naturally with the Acts narrative or implies that Paul’s prior
persecution of Messianists took place in Damascus rather than Jerusalem).
Although Paul doesn’t detail what he heard and/or saw on this occasion, the
metaphor involved in APOKALYPSIS is visual (unveiling).

3. The 1 Corinthians passages referred to in my Friday post aren’t
revisionist takes on this experience as others have suggested; 1 Cor
15:1-11 rehearses tradition Paul had earlier related to the Corinthians at
their conversion and includes the description of his apostolic commission
and that of others as resulting from a vision of the risen Christ (WFQH
being the key word). 1 Cor 9:1 rehearses the same tradition more obliquely,
and the emphatic negative OUCHI in the question “Have I not seen [hEWRAKA]
Jesus our Lord?” presupposes that the audience already has the information
necessary to supply an affirmative answer.

Jeff

Ian again #4959, long but only to Tony

Re: A man or a myth? (Only Tony)

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999
 
At 17.01 07/02/99 +0100, Antonio Jerez wrote:
>
>Many months have passed since I met Ian Hutchesson’s alter ego
>professore Giovanni Hutchissini, but here it looks like he is finally
>back – healthy and alive. Benvenuto signor Professore!

(Tak sa mycka.)

This just means, Tony, you haven’t made your dear presence for that many
months.

>>>Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
>>>mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.
>>>The gospels show very clearly that this was even hard for Jesus own
>>>disciples to swallow.

Note this interpretative nightmare. Tony, I know you are fully convinced
about this, but your conviction doesn’t make it history and never will.

>>>The only way they could do it was through
>>>REINTERPRETING the Messianic ideas of their time through selective
>>>verses in the OT. Later other Jews obviously bought their idea, because
>>>if not we wouldn’t have any Christianity.
>>
>>Dunno. If GMark was produced in Rome and GThom in Syria and given the
>>indications that the others were produced elsewhere in the Greek speaking
>>world, Christianity clearly took of in a non-Palestinian context. Paul’s
>>letters do indicate that he was at least partially dealing with people with
>>knowledge of things Jewish, though this is not the case with the
>>Corinthians. The churches in revelation are all in Asia Minor and the like.
>>I don’t think your assumption, Tony, is justified in the above.
>
>
>What exactly is it that you “dunno”. Do you want to say that Christianity
>would have taken flight among the gentiles even if Christian preachers
>like “Mark” had not explained through selected prophecies from the OT
>in his gospel that God’s Messiah really had to suffer and die even if no
>jew or gentile had any such expectations?

The “Dunno” is for the unjustifiable conjecture you made in the preceding
paragraph, matey, commencing “Later other Jews…”. You should know better
than dropping that sort of thing.

Most, if not all, of the literature we have were produced amongst gentiles
for gentiles. I don’t see any necessity for your claim about later Jews.

>Gospels like GMark and GLuke
>are crystal clear in telling us readers that a suffering Messiah was a

mystery
>that could only be fully revealed and comprehended by both jews and gentiles
>AFTER the resurrection. And this by God’s grace alone.

What? Has this got anything to do with your claims that later Jews bought
the concoction about the dying messiah?

>And since I know that you have immersed yourself in jewish texts from the
>time it would of course be helpful if you could show us any evidence outside
>Christian texts that jews had an expectation of a suffering and rising
>Messiah.

I don’t see any.

>>>>on the scale of significance, if it
>>>>weighs a pound in the direction of a historical Jesus, then Doherty’s

Great
>>>>Silence weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.
>>>
>>>But again you just show that you are not enough well acquianted with
>>>text material from Antiquity to know how to weigh evidence. Do you
>>>know the difference between religious myth based on NATURAL PHENOMENA
>>>and religious myth based on a HUMAN, RELIGIOUS FOUNDER? Which
>>>was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like Gotama Buddha or
>>>Muhammed? Which was the Hen and which was the Egg in cases like
>>>the Orpheus or Osiris myth?
>>
>>Tony, you’re working on projecting 20th century ideas into the distant
>>past. You think you know on which side of the divide Jesus sits. This is
>>perhaps because you are too influenced by the Greek gospels and not by
>>either Paul or the earliest fathers for whom Jesus was not really perceived
>>as the human at all.
>
>I don’t think I’m projecting anything, except drawing logical inferences
>from the texts we have available. You, on the other hand, appear to have
>read Paul’s letters in much the same way as Earl Doherty and Bill Paulson,
>which is to say with rosy glasses that spot interpolations in almost any
>sentence.

As I haven’t read Earl Doherty and don’t have much intention to, I’ll only
comment on your resilience to the fact that religious texts were never
static. It’s dumb, boyyo, real dumb.

>Why not take a close look at Jeff Petersen’s message again
>and then go through the passages in the NT he mentions again. It should
>be obvious with anyone who has eyes to see with that Paul claims that once
>in a time Jesus was a human that walked this earth just like us.

In your world Tony, the one-eyed man is king. If you think a pre-existent
being that existed in the form of God born of a woman in the likeness of
men is a representation of a human, then you’ve been hitting the juice for
too long.

>That the
>exalted, heavenly Jesus is of more importance to Paul is nothing surpring,
>except to those who have no idea about NT theology
>
>>>Do you know the difference between myth
>>>and Myth. If not why not take a University course in religious science.
>>
>>(Now there is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one! “religious
>>science”, indeed.)
>
>Prof. Hutchissini of course spots a contradiction, but I can assure you
>that it wasn’t meant as that. My english is not perfect so to make things
>clearer I should have written “science of religion and religious ideas”.

This is of no help, Tony. Putting the word science with religion is simply
unjustifiable. I didn’t have trouble with your language: I had trouble with
the feebleness of the thought.

>This kind of science has nothing to do with doing theology or believing
>in those religious ideas yourself. I think it is perfectly clear to most

people
>on the list that I am no believer.

You like too many others can’t face the fact that you only have texts to
manipulate. No room for science there.

>>>You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill.

Vintage Tony!

(Pot calling kettle black.)

>>>If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
>>>more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
>>>wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.
>>>And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
>>>the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
>>>fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.
>>>Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
>>>that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
>>>are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
>>>story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
>>>community that has existed for decades? Do you find Mormon leaders
>>>in New York rehashing the whole story about their prophet Joseph Smith
>>>every time they send a letter or sermon to a sister church in Salt Lake
>>>City or Stockholm? The answer is obvious.
>>
>>I mentioned some time ago an article my Steve Mason called “Paul the
>>Chameleon”,
>>
>> ftp://ftp.lehigh.edu/pub/listserv/ioudaios-l/Articles/smpaul
>
>
>And I read Steve Mason’s article years ago, long before prof. Hutchissini
>even knew of its existence. It is a very good article and I have deep respect
>for Mason as a scholar, a far deeper respect than for prof. Hutchissini.

That citation wasn’t for you, Tony. Someone else had aasked about the
reference and I took the opportunity to mention it here. I couldn’t imagine
that Mason’s reasoning for Paul’s shifts in presentation would penetrate
your three inch cranial bone.

>And
>if you read Mason’s article carefully it should be obvious that he in no way
>gives support to your speculations about HJ.

The article mentioned has nothing to do with speculations on HJ.

>Read other writings by Mason
>and you will find that he is a strong adherent of the majority view among
>historians that there once existed a galilean prophet who was crucified
>under Pontius Pilate.

I did not cite the other writings. Wake up Tony, will you and stick to the
point.

>>>>I ask that you either (1) show me that Doherty’s premises are wrong (as

Mr.
>>>>Peterson attempted, but was unsuccessful), and that there ARE at least

a few
>>>>clear references to an earthly Jesus in the texts he cites; or (2) give a
>>>>GOOD, SENSIBLE explanation for this silence–something better than

Doherty’s
>>>>explanation, which is that they simply aren’t talking about Jesus of
>>Nazareth
>>>>or any other historical human. If you can do this, I’ll recommend to

Doherty
>>>>that he scrap his whole website. I promise!
>>>
>>>
>>>I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
>>>enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
>>>I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
>>>this list from ground Zero.
>>
>>Tony in his usually presumptuous mood recommends decent books, most of
>>which are filled with the sorts of dumb assumptions that I would consider
>>not worthy of historical research and bear the title “hysterical recess”
>>better. Like most other people fiddling with the concept of a historical
>>Jesus, Tony assumes his egg without ever once looking at what would really
>>be necessary to justify that egg.
>
>
>And prof. Hutchissini fully in character makes comments about my
>book choices without me even mentioning exactly which books I
>would recommend our friend Bill. No historian worth his salt would
>do a thing like that.

When you are not rehashing someone else’s book on this list, it would seem
you are normally in hibernation. Someone must have disturbed your sleep.

>>I don’t really care if there is no evidence that Hannibal crossed the Alps,
>>for there is evidence at Lake Trasemene for the battle there; there is
>>evidence above Rocca di Papa for his stay. What is the non-hysterical
>>evidence for Tony’s egg? Zilch. Zippo. Nada. Nil. He, like everyone else,
>>has literary texts and has produced no means of going beyond them. At best
>>he has egg on his face.
>
>
>The superminimalist

!?

>prof. Hutchissini showing his true face again.
>Niente…Nada…Zippo.. The Niente and the Nada is in the eye of
>the beholder. Did prof. Hutchessini never learn at school that doing
>history is not just reading, reading and reading old texts, but also
>to draw reasonable conclusions from those same texts.

The magic word, Tony, is “reasonable”. What is reasonable to you would seem
to a historian on a par with Erich von Daniken.

>Any bloody
>amateur can learn greek or hebrew till you rabble it in your sleep –
>but putting 2 + 2 together is obviously a thing that is far beyond the
>horizons of “historians” like prof. Hutchissini.

Tony, you’re a believer in 2 + x = the right answer, whatever x really was
and whatever the current book you are regurgitating tells you.

I know real history is too hard for you, but you shouldn’t just belittle
what you can’t understand.

There is a propensity for a few XTalk contributors to simply vilify, as you
did with the writer you were originally commenting on. It would be better
for all concerned if you stuck to the informational content side of posting
and left off with the ad hominems and the air of superiority — which was
the thing that drew my comment on a post I would otherwise have left.

Ian

Will people ever get the idea that by pressing “Reply All” they send two
copies of the same post one to the group and the other to the individual
they are responding to. This is either laziness or ignorance. I spend a lot
of time cleaning out the double posts I receive and would like people to
think a little bit more when they send posts. Does it take too much effort
to remove the “To” address and replace it with the “CC” address?

Jon Peter speaks up #4960

Re: a man or myth (per E.P. Sanders)

Jon Peter
Feb 7, 1999
 
“Some External and Primary Sources attesting to HJ”

(A book report on E.P. Sanders’ *The Historical Figure of Jesus*)

Part I. External sources (pp 49-56).

Here’s what ya got:

(1) “Within ten years or so of Jesus’ death, Romans knew that someone named
Chrestus was causing tumult amont the Jews in Rome…”
[Seutonius, “The Deified Claudius” in *The Lives of the Twelve Caesars*]

(2) “In another twenty years, Christians in the capital city were prominent
enough to be persecuted by the emperor Nero and people knew about their
strange ‘superstition’ and their devotion to a man who had been crucified.”
[Tacitus, “Annals 15.44]

(Sanders concedes, however, that these Romans only gained their info
second-hand. No non-Christian writer offers independent direct testimony.)

(3) “Jesus was mentioned in Josephus’ *Antiquities*…[which] he wrote in the
90s… Failing a fluke discovery, we shall never know what Josephus actually
wrote.” [Sanders is referring to notorious Christian interpolations in
Josephus]

“But there is good news: the Christian scribes probably only rewrote the
text. It is highly likely that Josephus included Jesus in his account of the
period [he explains reasons]. Thus the author of the only surviving history
of Palestinian Judaism in the first century thought that Jesus was important
enough to merit a paragraph-neither more nor less.

This paragraph… is the best objective evidence of the importance of Jesus
during his own lifetime…”

(4) “[Roman historian] Tacitus mentions Pilate, but incidentally and only
in connection with Nero’s persecution of Christians… burning followers of
Christos, a man whom Pilate had executed.”
[Annals 15.44 again]

(5) “The gospels agree with Josephus and Philo on Pilate’s dates, but they
disagree with regard to his character.”

[End of external historical sources]

Part II. Primary Sources (i.e. the NT)

Sanders acknowledges many difficulties with this text as a source.
Nevertheless, HJ can be attested by matching *content* and *context.* He
writes:

“Our task in general is to search for good fits between the units of which
the synoptic gospels are composed and a context in Jesus’ day and time. If
we can do that, we shall know a lot about Jesus.” (p 77)

The two key contexts are (a) the theological one, which is the salvation
history and (b) the context of Jesus’ career.

As for (a) Sanders’ argument can be summarized as follows:

The gospel writers’ chief concern was to show Jesus as fulfilling messianic
typologies. The authors undoubtedly believed that Jesus’ life accomplished
this on various points. But in writing about these, they invented elements
to fill-in and fit the theological necessity. (Best example: implausible and
disparate birth narratives.) Admittedly one can’t glean any history from
this, to whit:

“What we must see is that Matthew and Luke had theological views that are
essentially beyond the scope of historical inquiry: we can learn that they
had them, and we can study how they worked them out, but we cannot deal with
the question of whether or not they are ‘true.’

“Nevertheless,” Sanders continues, “the gospels contain material that the
theological views did not create. Moreover, there are three synoptic
gospels, with somewhat differing theological views, and these disagreements
sometimes allow us to see what parts of the material are *not* explicable as
planks in a theological platform.”

He proceeds to elaborate on this using (b) the context of Jesus’ career.

The historical methodology Sanders uses is: “We doubt things that agree too
much with the gospels’ bias [and] we credit things that are against their
preference. This rule cannot be applied mechnically, since some things that
actually happened suited the authors very well…” Hence:

(1) “…it is most unlikely that the gospels…invented the fact that Jesus
started out under John [the Baptist] Since they wanted Jesus to stand out
as superior…they would not have made up the story that Jesus had been his
follower…” (p 94)

(2) Citing Paul’s apocalypticism and documented expectation of Christ’s
return, Sanders writes: “The only reasonable explanation of this early
Christian conviction is that during his lifetime Jesus had led his followers
to expect a new kindom to be established soon… [disciples] did not make up
the whole idea that the kingdom of God would fully arrive in their
generation.” (p 95)

(3) The foregoing apocalypticism was shared by: “John the Baptist, Jesus,
Paul, the authors of the synoptics [and] Jesus’ other followers.” (p 96).
And this particular theology comports well the context noted earlier, that
of Jesus within Salvation History and typological fulfillment.

The above summarizes why a few NT portions rate as primary sources for an
HJ. Beyond this basic starting point, how to sort out which sayings or story
elements belonged to HJ the man, and which came from his literary champions
(mythmakers), is of course problematic. Yet, some reasonably good inferences
can be drawn, and Sanders proceeds to make a stab at them for the rest of
his book.

Regards,

Jon

Antonio is always busy, #4964

Re: A man or a myth? (Only Tony)

Antonio Jerez
Feb 7, 1999

Giovanni Hutchissini wrote:

>At 17.01 07/02/99 +0100, Antonio Jerez wrote:
>>
>>Many months have passed since I met Ian Hutchesson’s alter ego
>>professore Giovanni Hutchissini, but here it looks like he is finally
>>back – healthy and alive. Benvenuto signor Professore!
>
>(Tak sa mycka.)
>
>This just means, Tony, you haven’t made your dear presence for that many
>months.

No, it just means that I have mostly deleted your messages automatically.
I’ve also learned from experience that it is useless to get into prolonged
discussions with Hutchissini. Stephen Carlson, Stevan Davies and many
others have also learned it the hard way. So have also other folks on lists
like Ioudaios where they kicked out prof. Hutchessini on his butt.

>>>>Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
>>>>mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.
>>>>The gospels show very clearly that this was even hard for Jesus own
>>>>disciples to swallow.
>
>Note this interpretative nightmare. Tony, I know you are fully convinced
>about this, but your conviction doesn’t make it history and never will.

Doing history is among other things to try your best to find out what
message an author is trying to convey and what may lie behind that
message. Since prof. Hutchessini neither has the will nor the talent
for doing that it would be better if he didn’t make constant ridicule
of people who try to do just that. Instead of just renegading he could
present an interpretation of his own. I don’t expect that since the
University where prof. Hutchissini got his diploma never taught him
to use both his brain halfes.

SNIP…SNIP..

>>>Tony, you’re working on projecting 20th century ideas into the distant
>>>past. You think you know on which side of the divide Jesus sits. This is
>>>perhaps because you are too influenced by the Greek gospels and not by
>>>either Paul or the earliest fathers for whom Jesus was not really perceived
>>>as the human at all.
>>
>>I don’t think I’m projecting anything, except drawing logical inferences
>>from the texts we have available. You, on the other hand, appear to have
>>read Paul’s letters in much the same way as Earl Doherty and Bill Paulson,
>>which is to say with rosy glasses that spot interpolations in almost any
>>sentence.
>
>As I haven’t read Earl Doherty and don’t have much intention to, I’ll only
>comment on your resilience to the fact that religious texts were never
>static. It’s dumb, boyyo, real dumb.

I’ve NEVER claimed that religious texts are always static. But what
I think is really, really dumb, Signor Mascalzone is to claim interpolations
on each and every page without any textual evidence among the
manuscripts. Only amateur historians resort to interpolations when their
other arguments don’t bear any weight. Of course you expect us others
on the list to trust your superior instinct when it comes to sniffing out
interpolations. We know what that instinct is worth after seing prof.
Hutchessini making a fool of himself in a longago discussion about
“James, the Lord’s brother”. Niente! Niente! Niente!

SNIP SNIP

>>>(Now there is a contradiction in terms if ever I heard one! “religious
>>>science”, indeed.)
>>
>>Prof. Hutchissini of course spots a contradiction, but I can assure you
>>that it wasn’t meant as that. My english is not perfect so to make things
>>clearer I should have written “science of religion and religious ideas”.
>
>This is of no help, Tony. Putting the word science with religion is simply
>unjustifiable. I didn’t have trouble with your language: I had trouble with
>the feebleness of the thought.

I think most people on the list are intelligent enough to know what
I am talking about – doing religion is one thing, studying religious
ideas another. And it should be obvious that studying religious
ideas is not a science in the sense that physics is. ´We do not need
prof. Hutchessini to point that out to us.

And now I think I have had my last chat with Giovanni “Leftbrain”
Hutchessini for a long, long time.

Adio Signor Professore

Antonio

Bill, who started it all, now speaks:

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 7, 1999

Round 4 begins! (I think; I’ve lost count.) From Antonio:

> But isn’t it a bit presumtious of you to say that you can “recognize good
> and bad arguments” when you aren’t even acquainted with the evidence from
> primary
> texts? How do you know that we “exaggerate the significance of a piece of
> evidence”?
> I suppose you are going on pure instinct. Many amateurs do that.

Not so much instinct, but logical thinking and a loyalty to the truth, no
matter what it happens to be. Even if this means admitting that I’ve spent a
huge amount of time, energy and labor under a whopping misconception. Many
“pros” would do well to have these characteristics.

> Yep, I am suggesting that the earliest gospels and Paul himself
> did not claim that Jesus was God. According to them he stood
> in a closer relationship with God than any human before or after
> him, but they did not claim he was God.

I agree. This is not what I asked. But you gave some of your answer below.

> Your scenario is not totally implausible. But again you miss the direction
> in the development of Messianic ideas in Judaism and Christianity.
> GJohn (which is later than the synoptics) is the gospel were the heavenly
> Messiah is already pre-existent. In GJohn Jesus has almost totally been
> absorbed by Mythology. That is not the case in the earlier gospels. There
> the direction goes from a human Messiah, born in a small Galilean village,
> to a heavenly Messiah who is exalted by God precisely because he
> perfectly embodied what being human is all about.

Thank you. This is interesting. But Paul, which is earlier than the gospels,
clearly has a pre-existent son of God. Correct? In your previous post, you
wrote:

> The thought of lesser divinities leaving heaven and taking bodily
> form on earth was on the other hand an unknown idea among Jews.

If Paul is talking about a human Jesus, then this is exactly what he’s doing:
what you call an “unknown idea among Jews”. The point you make, while not
critical to the discussion, nevertheless supports Doherty’s position that Paul
is not talking about a human.

> Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
> mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.

You’ve made this point in every posting so far. Believe me, I haven’t missed
it.

> We are not discussing if a small percentage of Jews could embrace
> the idea of a suffering and dying divine entity.

This is the very core of our discussion! You say the Christian movement would
not have started without a leader to die and be divinized. I say it ain’t
necessarily so. Embracing another culture’s idea of a suffering, dying, divine
(not human) godman is more than adequate.

After counting to 10, I’ve decided to skip over your next paragraph.

> You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill. If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
> more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
> wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.

YOU are saying that *I* do not listen? (Thanks, Ian, for citing this as a case
of the pot calling the kettle black.) I did read Jeff Peterson’s message
carefully, looked up the passages and THOROUGHLY REFUTED the entire posting.
Did you miss it? If so, I can mail you a copy.

> And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
> the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
> fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.

We both know the literary genre. I said in my post that I do not expect a
chronology of the man’s life.

> Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
> that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
> are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
> story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
> community that has existed for decades?

He shouldn’t. And I have never indicated otherwise. I ask for a handful of
references and you answer that I shouldn’t need the whole life story. Please
pay attention to what I write. Now, from you posting to Ian:

> You, on the other hand, appear to have
> read Paul’s letters in much the same way as Earl Doherty and Bill Paulson,
> which is to say with rosy glasses that spot interpolations in almost any
> sentence.

Interpolations in almost any sentence? What are you talking about? Doherty
argues for a grand total of one or perhaps two in the entire NT epistles. The
problem is not us reading it with rosy glasses, but of you reading it with
gospel preconceptions. As Doherty emphasizes repeatedly, let Paul speak for
himself.

> I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
> enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
> I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
> this list from ground Zero.

And I have neither the time nor the will to teach the pros to operate with an
open mind and to produce sound, logical arguments. This amateur has shredded
everything you’ve been able to come up with. Antonio, you sound like you’re in
a state of denial. I seriously encourage you to re-read my paragraph near the
top beginning with “Not so much instinct”. It’s for you.

Bill Paulson

Ian again, #4970

Re: A man or a myth? (Not only Tony)
 
Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999
 
>>This just means, Tony, you haven’t made your dear presence for that many
>>months.
>
>
>No, it just means that I have mostly deleted your messages automatically.

If our Spanish exile in Sweden had actually done this he wouldn’t have had
the opportunity to vent his bile. We all know the boy’s mixed-up.

The only useful comment to salvage out of Tony’s purility is:

>We know what that instinct is worth after seing prof.
>Hutchessini making a fool of himself in a longago discussion about
>”James, the Lord’s brother”.

This refers to an analysis I made with regard to a coherent use of “Lord”
in the New Testament. My claim was that a writer, using a term such as the
Lord would not use it ambivalently, ie with two possible referents. Paul
usually uses the term clearly for God. In a rather small group of examples
in Paul’s epistles the term is obviously used for Jesus. Given the contexts
in which these last examples are used have the earmarks of interpolation,
ie if the single phrase carrying kurios were left out there would be no
disturbance in the text flow, it seems reasonable to conclude that the use
of “Lord” for Jesus in the Pauline corpus is a series of interpolations.
This conclusion is not one that was liked by many people on the list. Too bad.

Paul almost always refers to Jesus as (Lord) Jesus or Christ Jesus or the
Lord Jesus Christ. Check these few Jesus=Lord examples out for yourselves:

1Cor2:8b, 1Cor6:14, 1Cor11:26-27

along with these unclear references to brother(s) of the Lord:

1Cor9:5, Gal1:19

These latter are difficult to discern as we have had the indoctrination of
nearly two millennia that says that James was Jesus’s brother. We have also
lived with the assumption of an ambivalent usage of “Lord” for the same
period without any real reason for soing so.

(I don’t consider Tony capable of passing a learned opinion even about the
weather, so I’m not particularly worried about his rejection of the idea.)

Ian

Joe Baxter…. #4973 … only to Tony…

Re: A man or a myth? (Only Tony)
Expand Messages
 
joe baxter
Feb 7, 1999
 
>At 17.01 07/02/99 +0100, Antonio Jerez wrote:
>>
>>Many months have passed since I met Ian Hutchesson’s alter ego
>>professore Giovanni Hutchissini,

What does this mean?

Joe

Stevan Davies …. to Tony and everyone else #4976

Re: A man or a myth? (Not only Tony)
 
Stevan Davies
Feb 7, 1999
 
Ian:

> This refers to an analysis I made with regard to a coherent use of “Lord”
> in the New Testament. My claim was that a writer, using a term such as the
> Lord would not use it ambivalently, ie with two possible referents.

OK. This seems to be a testable hypothesis.

Here’s some evidence:
> Paul usually uses the term clearly for God.

Here’s some more:
> In a rather small group of examples
> in Paul’s epistles the term is obviously used for Jesus.

Here’s some more:
> Paul almost always refers to Jesus as (Lord) Jesus or Christ Jesus or the
> Lord Jesus Christ.

And further:
> along with these unclear references to brother(s) of the Lord:
>
> 1Cor9:5, Gal1:19

So we have a thesis:

> a writer, using a term such as the
> Lord would not use it ambivalently, ie with two possible referents.

and, generously, substantial textual reference that refutes the
thesis. Hence the thesis is overthrown.

> (I don’t consider Tony capable of passing a learned opinion even about the
> weather, so I’m not particularly worried about his rejection of the
> idea.)

I’d sooner have his opinion about the most common dozen birds at
birdfeeders in Gotesburg. Really. What are they in Rome?

Steve

Ian @ #4978 (again only for Tony)

Re: A man or a myth? (Only Tony)
 
Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999
 
At 16.31 07/02/99 -0800, joe baxter wrote:
>
>>At 17.01 07/02/99 +0100, Antonio Jerez wrote:
>>>
>>>Many months have passed since I met Ian Hutchesson’s alter ego
>>>professore Giovanni Hutchissini,
>
>
>What does this mean?

It means that Tony’s scirosis from too much Swedish hard liquor has pickled
the remains of his grey-stuff.

Ian

The brain from Spain goes quickly down the drain.

Ian this time to not only Tony, #4980

Re: A man or a myth? (Not only Tony)

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 7, 1999

At 20.05 07/02/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:
>Ian:
>
>> This refers to an analysis I made with regard to a coherent use of “Lord”
>> in the New Testament. My claim was that a writer, using a term such as the
>> Lord would not use it ambivalently, ie with two possible referents.
>
>OK. This seems to be a testable hypothesis.
>
>Here’s some evidence:
>> Paul usually uses the term clearly for God.
>
>Here’s some more:
>> In a rather small group of examples
>> in Paul’s epistles the term is obviously used for Jesus.
>
>Here’s some more:
>> Paul almost always refers to Jesus as (Lord) Jesus or Christ Jesus or the
>> Lord Jesus Christ.
>
>And further:
>> along with these unclear references to brother(s) of the Lord:
>>
>> 1Cor9:5, Gal1:19
>
>So we have a thesis:
>
>> a writer, using a term such as the
>> Lord would not use it ambivalently, ie with two possible referents.
>
>and, generously, substantial textual reference that refutes the
>thesis.

Sorry, Steve, but where’s the “substantial textual reference”? (And why
“generously”?)

>Hence the thesis is overthrown.
>
>> (I don’t consider Tony capable of passing a learned opinion even about the
>> weather, so I’m not particularly worried about his rejection of the
>> idea.)
>
>I’d sooner have his opinion about the most common dozen birds at
>birdfeeders in Gotesburg. Really.

My usual sort of comment to something like this is “Come again, toucan?”
Just let me wonder what the informational content of this sentence is, ie
whaddaya mean?

>What are they in Rome?

I’ll tell ya when I get a translation of your previous statement!?

Ian

Always good for Bill to recapitulate…. #4981

Re: a man or myth (per E.P. Sanders)

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 7, 1999

From Jon Peter:

> “Some External and Primary Sources attesting to HJ”
>
> (A book report on E.P. Sanders’ *The Historical Figure of Jesus*)
>
> Part I. External sources (pp 49-56).
>
> Here’s what ya got:
>
> (1) “Within ten years or so of Jesus’ death, Romans knew that someone named
> Chrestus was causing tumult amont the Jews in Rome…”
> [Seutonius, “The Deified Claudius” in *The Lives of the Twelve Caesars*]

Even Christian apologist J. P. Holding, who threw everything he had at Earl
Doherty’s thesis, admits that this reference is only marginally reliable or
unreliable for establishing Jesus’s historicity. He claims it’s uncertain
whether “Chrestus” means Christ. Even if it does, there’s no indication in the
text that Mr. Chrestus was human.

> (2) “In another twenty years, Christians in the capital city were prominent
> enough to be persecuted by the emperor Nero and people knew about their
> strange ‘superstition’ and their devotion to a man who had been crucified.”
> [Tacitus, “Annals 15.44]
>
> (Sanders concedes, however, that these Romans only gained their info
> second-hand. No non-Christian writer offers independent direct testimony.)

Exactly. See no. 4 below.

> (3) “Jesus was mentioned in Josephus’ *Antiquities*…[which] he wrote in the
> 90s… Failing a fluke discovery, we shall never know what Josephus actually
> wrote.” [Sanders is referring to notorious Christian interpolations in
> Josephus]
>
> “But there is good news: the Christian scribes probably only rewrote the
> text. It is highly likely that Josephus included Jesus in his account of

the
> period [he explains reasons]. Thus the author of the only surviving history
> of Palestinian Judaism in the first century thought that Jesus was

important
> enough to merit a paragraph-neither more nor less.
>
> This paragraph… is the best objective evidence of the importance of Jesus
> during his own lifetime…”

Yes, the Testimonium Flavianum is the favorite reference people fall back on.
But stripping away the clearly bogus phrases and suggesting that what remains
is pretty much what Josephus wrote is like stripping away the clearly mythical
portions of the gospels (e.g. miracles and resurrection) and proposing that
the rest constitutes valid history. It’s unrealistic wishful thinking. What
really kills this passage is the Arabic version, which DOES strip away the
most bogus interpolations and STILL clearly suffers from some degree of
forgery. No, if there was any original at all, we can’t have any idea what it
said. It may very well have said something which conflicted with what later
became orthodox Christian belief, which of course would have given the
Christians an incentive to rewrite it.

> (4) “[Roman historian] Tacitus mentions Pilate, but incidentally and only
> in connection with Nero’s persecution of Christians… burning followers of
> Christos, a man whom Pilate had executed.”
> [Annals 15.44 again]

Holding loves the Tacitus reference, but destroys his own argument by
admitting that Tacitus had no respect for religions such as Christianity and
was highly unlikely to do the research necessary to ascertain the validity of
the Christian claims. (He tries to play this down, but is unsuccessful.) At
any rate, the Tacitus quote is too late (circa 112) to be of consequence,
since the stories of a historical Jesus were around by that time.

> (5) “The gospels agree with Josephus and Philo on Pilate’s dates, but they
> disagree with regard to his character.”

Insignificant. But thanks for checking in.

Bill

Antonio takes on a few @ #4985

Re: a man or a myth

antonio.jerez@kurir.net
Feb 8, 1999
 
Bill Paulson wrote:

>Round 4 begins! (I think; I’ve lost count.)

Interesting that you see this as a kind of boxing match. The problem
is that it is increasingly appearent that you didn’t visit this list to learn
but just to upset scholars with your ”intelligent” argumentative ”art”.

From Antonio:
But isn’t it a bit presumtious of you to say that you can “recognize good
and bad arguments” when you aren’t even acquainted with the evidence from
primary
texts? How do you know that we “exaggerate the significance of a piece of
evidence”?
I suppose you are going on pure instinct. Many amateurs do that.

<Not so much instinct, but logical thinking and a loyalty to the truth, no
<matter what it happens to be. Even if this means admitting that I’ve spent a
<huge amount of time, energy and labor under a whopping misconception. Many
<“pros” would do well to have these characteristics.

Many amateurs also believe that it is possible can make out what is
logical when you don’t even know the alternatives. Ever thought about
taking a philosophy course?

Antonio wrote:

Yep, I am suggesting that the earliest gospels and Paul himself
did not claim that Jesus was God. According to them he stood
in a closer relationship with God than any human before or after
him, but they did not claim he was God.

<I agree. This is not what I asked. But you gave some of your answer below.

Antonio wrote:
Your scenario is not totally implausible. But again you miss the direction
in the development of Messianic ideas in Judaism and Christianity.
GJohn (which is later than the synoptics) is the gospel were the heavenly
Messiah is already pre-existent. In GJohn Jesus has almost totally been
absorbed by Mythology. That is not the case in the earlier gospels. There
the direction goes from a human Messiah, born in a small Galilean village,
to a heavenly Messiah who is exalted by God precisely because he
perfectly embodied what being human is all about.

<Thank you. This is interesting. But Paul, which is earlier than the gospels,
<clearly has a pre-existent son of God. Correct? In your previous post, you
<wrote:
How do you know that Paul ”clearly has a pre-existent son of God”. I
suppose that you haven’t even heard the word ”Adam Christology”?
and I suppose a name like D G Dunn doesn’t ring any bells in your
head?

Antonio wrote:
The thought of lesser divinities leaving heaven and taking bodily
form on earth was on the other hand an unknown idea among Jews.

<If Paul is talking about a human Jesus, then this is exactly what he’s doing:
<what you call an “unknown idea among Jews”. The point you make, while not
<critical to the discussion, nevertheless supports Doherty’s position that Paul
<is not talking about a human.

Learn a little more about ”Adam Christology” first. Then come back to
the list. And it is precisely my point that before Gjohn the thought of
lesser divinities taking bodily form was unknown among Jews.
And why do you go on with this nonsense that Paul ”is not talking
about a human”?

Antonio:

Absolutely. But the thing you miss is that before 30 AD there was no
mass of Jews who had any appetite for a suffering or dead Messiah.

<You’ve made this point in every posting so far. Believe me, I haven’t missed
<it.

But you still haven’t read the relevant texts. So you have no idea at
all if I am just making things up.

Antonio:
We are not discussing if a small percentage of Jews could embrace
the idea of a suffering and dying divine entity.

<This is the very core of our discussion! You say the Christian movement would
<not have started without a leader to die and be divinized. I say it ain’t
<necessarily so. Embracing another culture’s idea of a suffering, dying, divine
<(not human) godman is more than adequate.

And you explain to me with your ”brilliant” mind why Paul and the
others would have to give this mythological Jesus a bodily biography
that included the ultimate degradation – being killed by the enemies
of Israel. Why invent a crucifixion by Pontius Pilate when no Jew in
his right mind expected the Mesisiah to be executed by Israel’s enemies?
On the contrary the Jews expected the Messiah TO KILL Israels enemies.
And why let this same Messiah be born into a humble family and raised
in an obscure galileean village that most Jews hadn’t even heard of.
I’m sure Bill will come up with unother one of his ”logical” explanations.

<After counting to 10, I’ve decided to skip over your next paragraph.

Antonio
You obviously do not LISTEN, Bill. If you had read Jeff Peterson’s message
more carefully and looked at the relevant passages in the NT you hopefully
wouldn’t go on putting forward nonsensical comments like this.

<YOU are saying that *I* do not listen? (Thanks, Ian, for citing this as a case
<of the pot calling the kettle black.) I did read Jeff Peterson’s message
<carefully, looked up the passages and THOROUGHLY REFUTED the entire posting.
<Did you miss it? If so, I can mail you a copy.

I don’t recall you ”thorougly refuting” anything. But maybe I missed
something, so you are welcome to mail your ”thorough refutation”
again. But I do recall that your ”thorough refutation” included the
standard amateurs ”argument” about interpolations. I do not even
think you know what the word TEXT CRITICISM means.
And it almost brings tears to my eyes to see that prof. Gioavanni
Hutchissini and you have finally become brothers-in-arms.

Antonio:
And I doubt that either you or Doherty have any idea whatsoever about
the litterary genre of most of the NT. Paul’s letters are not meant to be
fullblown biographies about the eartly Jesus for beginner Christians.

<We both know the literary genre. I said in my post that I do not expect a
<chronology of the man’s life.

To refresh you memory you actually wrote this:
”Do you not find this just a little peculiar? I don’t expect a chronology of
his life as in the gospels, but I expect SOME earthly, human references
SOMEWHERE”
As is obvious you say that you expect SOME EARTHLY, human
Refernces SOMEWHERE. Jeff gave you some of those, and still
you go on squeeking like a parott ”Nothing, nothing, nothing..”.

Antonio:

Paul’s letters are writings that are directed to PARTICULAR CHURCHES
that have PARTICULAR THEOLOGICAL problems that the apostle thinks
are in dire need of correction. Why would Paul have to rehash the whole
story of the earthly Jesus every time he writes a letter to a Christian
community that has existed for decades?

Bill:
<He shouldn’t. And I have never indicated otherwise. I ask for a handful of
<references and you answer that I shouldn’t need the whole life story. Please
<pay attention to what I write.

Do I hear the Parrot squeeking again?

Now, from you posting to Ian:

You, on the other hand, appear to have
read Paul’s letters in much the same way as Earl Doherty and Bill Paulson,
which is to say with rosy glasses that spot interpolations in almost any
sentence.

<Interpolations in almost any sentence? What are you talking about? Doherty
<argues for a grand total of one or perhaps two in the entire NT epistles. The
<problem is not us reading it with rosy glasses, but of you reading it with
<gospel preconceptions. As Doherty emphasizes repeatedly, let Paul speak for
<himself.

The problem is precisely that Doherty has no interest whatsoever in
letting Paul speak for himself. How are you going to have people
”speak” if you decide on your own authority to delete passages which
are not consonant with your thesis?

Antonio

I think I have given you the answer. Now I expect you to be intelligent
enough to read some decent books on the subject and start LEARNING.
I do not have time or the will to teach each and every amateur who enters
this list from ground Zero.

<And I have neither the time nor the will to teach the pros to operate with an
<open mind and to produce sound, logical arguments. This amateur has shredded
<everything you’ve been able to come up with. Antonio, you sound like you’re in
<a state of denial. I seriously encourage you to re-read my paragraph near the
<top beginning with “Not so much instinct”. It’s for you.

Sound very much like an amateur with a blank mind talking!

Best wishes

Antonio Jerez

Bill recaps once more…. #4990

Re: A man or a myth?

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 8, 1999

Antonio, this one’s going to be fairly short. Most of your last message
amounted to name-calling, criticizing a position without offering anything
that even resembles an intelligent argument to the contrary, and an inability
either to realize or admit that you’ve made a mistake.

The lone thing you offered which has any substance is this:

> How do you know that Paul ”clearly has a pre-existent son of God”. I
> suppose that you haven’t even heard the word ”Adam Christology”?
> and I suppose a name like D G Dunn doesn’t ring any bells in your
> head?

I may have mixed Paul up with a stronger passage in 2 Timothy, although
passages such as Rom. 16:25, Col. 1:26 and Eph. 3:3-5 speak of the mystery of
Christ which has been long hidden and only now is being revealed. If you wish
to suggest otherwise, that’s fine. As I said last time, it isn’t critical to
the discussion. Your suggestion that Christianity would not have gotten going
without a human leader is indefensible. Keep in mind also that a divine
Messiah, although suffering and dying, would also have been heroic and
triumphant–precisely the qualities Jews expected in a Messiah.

Here, now, is where you really show your mettle:

> And you explain to me with your ”brilliant” mind why Paul and the
> others would have to give this mythological Jesus a bodily biography
> that included the ultimate degradation – being killed by the enemies
> of Israel. Why invent a crucifixion by Pontius Pilate when no Jew in
> his right mind expected the Mesisiah to be executed by Israel’s enemies?
> On the contrary the Jews expected the Messiah TO KILL Israels enemies.
> And why let this same Messiah be born into a humble family and raised
> in an obscure galileean village that most Jews hadn’t even heard of.
> I’m sure Bill will come up with unother one of his ”logical” explanations.

This is the most incredible paragraph I have ever seen in any Crosstalk
message. I’m reading it in a state of near disbelief. The whole issue is
whether Paul and others are talking about a human Jesus or an entirely divine
Jesus. I never suggested that Paul or anyone else should give a mythological
Jesus a bodily biography. Or invent a crucifixion under Pilate. Why would
anyone suggest this? I am saying that IF they are talking about a human Jesus,
then I expect them to demonstrate this at least once in a while. And neither
you nor Mr. Peterson nor anyone else have been able to show this.

Antonio, if you have something of value to offer the discussion, please offer
it. But if your next message is like your last one, don’t be surprised if I
don’t reply.

Bill

Jim West, as steadfast as his god, #4991

Re: A man or a myth?
Expand Messages
 
Jim West
Feb 8, 1999
 
At 01:38 PM 2/8/99 -0500, you wrote:
And neither
>you nor Mr. Peterson nor anyone else have been able to show this.
>
>Antonio, if you have something of value to offer the discussion, please offer
>it. But if your next message is like your last one, don’t be surprised if I
>don’t reply.
>
>Bill

bill, bill, bill…..

You have yet to understand how it works. Yur the supporter of a view. It
is your duty to present your case. If it is persuasive you will persuade-
but if its not you wont.

What you want is others to DISPROVE your case and you havent even stated it
yet. Please present your case- and stop asking folk to do your work for you.

Best,

Jim

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

Then Jeff again…. #4994

Re: A man or a myth?
 
Jeff Peterson
Feb 8, 1999
 
I see that in responding to Bill Paulson re Pauline testimonia to the
earthly Jesus, I should have started with _very_ first principles; I think
by the way this can be a useful exercise and it would be good if scholars
did it more frequently rather than starting from wherever the consensus
happens to fall.

The single most important text for getting at the origins of Christianity
is a summary of first-generation preaching preserved by Paul in 1 Cor
15:1-11. Paul transmitted this information to his converts in Corinth c. AD
50 “among first things” (EN PRWTOIS, 1 Cor 15:3) just as he had receieved
it at his entry into the Christian community c. AD 33, and he presents it
in 15:11 as a consensus of the first Christian preachers. Its central
assertion is that “Christ died for our sins . . . and was raised on the
third day [from the dead, cf. 15:12].” Death is the very differentium of
human beings from the gods, the undying ones. So it’s quite clear from this
text that Jesus called Christ was a human being who suffered death.

Phil 2:5-11 has been regarded by many scholars as a hymn of comparable
antiquity which Paul taught his converts and here rehearses in the course
of his exhortation; this is much less certain than with the 1 Corinthians
text, and the passage may simply be a piece of exalted Pauline prose of
which the letters supply plenty (Rom 11:26; 1 Cor 13). Whichever, it’s
quite clear from Phil 2:7 that the Jesus Christ who will receive universal
acclamation as Lord (2:11) “came in the likeness of men” and, being so
found (2:7b), abased himself to the point of death by crucifixion (2:8), in
consideration of which God exalted him above all other beings (2:9).
Antonio and Bill have mentioned what is contested about this verse, viz.,
whether any pre-incarnate existence of Jesus is enterained (hard to deny
this in view of v. 7); what’s not at issue in any scholarly discussion of
this passage is whether a human existence of Jesus is here envisioned. Of
that there can be no reasonable doubt in the face of 2:7-8. Whether or not
Jesus is presented as the terrestial embodiment of a celestial being (like
Enoch in the Similitudes or the Torah in Sirach), he enjoys a human
existence and suffers the most shameful human fate.

>> -Jesus’ Jewish countrymen were involved in his death (1 Thess 2:14-15), but
>> this was carried out by Roman crucifixion (1 Cor 1:18 et mult. al.)
>
>We’ve discussed the Thessalonians quote and the likelihood of it being a later
>interpolation.

Not “likelihood” but “possibility” would better represent the state of
discussion of 1 Thess 2:14-16 as an interpolation, most influentially
proposed by Birger Pearson. Carol Schleuter’s _Filling Up the Measure_
(JSNTSup) is the most fully argued of several recent studies that strongly
challenge the grounds for this claim (which Luke Johnson has characterized
as “a mildly amusing form of censorship”).

>Regarding the nature of the death, don’t confuse “cross” with
>Roman crucifixion. The cross was symbolic in religion long before the
>Christian era. As usual, I’m not the best authority to speak on this, but I
>think it stems ultimately from the zodiac symbol, one line being for the
>solstices, the other for the equinoxes, and is illustrative of the sun god
>nature of Jesus and many others before him.

As the imperial power on the block, the Romans claimed a monopoly on
crucifixion in the eastern Mediterranean at the turn of the era. When Paul
says that Christ Jesus “was obedient to the point of death, and the death
of the cross at that” (Phil 2:8), this is tantamount to saying “Jesus was
executed as an enemy of the Roman order.”

>
>> -He taught on a range of topics including divorce (1 Cor 7:10-11), the
>> support of missionaries (1 Cor 9:14), and the future consummation of God’s
>> purposes (1 Thess 4:15-16)
>
>In none of these cases does my bible say that these teachings are from Jesus.
>In each case, it’s “the Lord”. If there’s evidence that Paul means Jesus and
>not God, by all means, bring it to the table!

A general point first: “the Lord” is a characteristic designation of Paul
for Jesus Christ; in 1 Cor 8:6 Paul says that Christians acknowledge one
God, the Father, “one Lord, Jesus Christ.” Doesn’t mean that Paul can’t
refer to God (i.e., the Father) as Lord, just that by far the greater
number of uses refer to Jesus. Now to the particulars.

1 Cor 7:10-12 sharply distinguishes (1) the instruction of the Lord on
divorce from (2) Paul’s own judgment on a case not explicitly treated in
the Lord’s instruction; in 7:25 Paul says he “do[es] not have a command of
the Lord” concerning virgins, and this suggests that the Lord’s teaching
formed a well defined corpus, such that one could definitely say what it
treated and what it didn’t. In 7:40 Paul cites his possession of “the
spirit of God” as authority for his own apostolic judgments, so the
difference between the instruction ascribed to the Lord in 7:10 and Paul’s
own judgment in 7:12 isn’t that the former comes from the Lord (i.e., God)
and the latter represents Paul shooting from the hip; in 7:40 Paul claims
divine authority for 7:12, too. Paul’s distinction can only be preserved if
the former derives from the Lord Jesus Christ during the ministry to Israel
mentioned in Rom 15:8. The prepresence in the Gospels of teaching
corresponding to what Paul summarizes (Mark 10:11-12 et parr.) serves to
confirm that this is what Paul is talking about.

This is not, as Bill suggested, misreading the Pauline evidence through the
Gospels; it’s rather correlating the evidence of these two sets of sources,
which alike refer to an unmistakably human figure. I won’t treat the
missionary and parousia texts in the same detail to spare the reader’s
patience but the case can be extended to include them (as I will if pressed
to).

>> -He anticipated his death with a symbolic meal which he asked his followers
>> to observe (1 Cor 11:23-25)
>
>This definitely will not do. First of all, Mithras (and perhaps other gods),
>clearly not a historical figure, also had a sacred meal. In the Corinthian
>verses, Doherty points out that bibles often are translated with the word
>”betrayed” (“on the night he was betrayed”), which the text does not actually
>say. A classic case of translating with preconceptions in mind. Furthermore,
>the synoptics all say, after Jesus broke the bread, that he “gave it to them”
>or “gave it to his disciples”. Paul omits this key phrase. It’s a golden
>opportunity for Paul to show he’s talking about a historical human being, but
>he offers no clue.

It’s imprecise to say that “Mithras had a sacred meal” — rather, people
held sacred meals in honor of Mithras. The Pauline text says more: that
Christ took the elements of this meal in his hands and commanded his table
companions to keep an observance involving them. The actual meal context of
the account is suggested by the following details: (1) “evening,” i.e.,
mealtime; (2) “took a loaf”; (3) “giving thanks,” i.e., offered the table
blessing; (4) “broke [the aforementioned loaf]”; (5) “the cup”; (6) “after
supping”; and (7) the co-ordination of “this do” in 11:24, 25 with “as
often as you eat this loaf and drink the cup” in 11:26.

What kind of disembodied spirit breaks bread? Further, Paul describes the
cup as being shared “after supping,” and the grammatical construction
(articular aorist infinitive) suggests an action from which Jesus is not
excluded. What kind of disembodied divinity sups? Immediately thereafter
the reference to “the death of the Lord” proclaimed in the Supper (11:26)
clinches it; what sort of unincarnate deity dies?

>
>> -He exercised a ministry to Israel, which was continued in the mission to
>> Gentiles by Paul and others (Rom 15:8)
>
>Again, no. I fear that you are reading this with gospel preconceptions. That
>leaves:

The passage reads, “I say that Christ became [aor. infinitive,typically
describing action antecedent to that of its governing verb, so here roughly
= a past tense] a servant of the circumcision [i.e.,Israel] . . . that he
might confirm the promises of the fathers and that the Gentiles might
glorify God.” What other way can be found to construe Paul’s words than the
one I proposed, which Bill rejects without argument?

>
>> -Jesus was a Jew by birth (Gal 4:4) and of Davidic ancestry (Rom 1:3)
>
>For these two, I will refer you to Doherty’s main articles and to his
>supplementary article no. 8, where he deals with them more extensively. Here,
>I will only say that
>regarding the Davidic ancestry, bibles may again be poorly translated (mine,
>for example, says “who as to his human nature was a descendant of David”,
>which is inaccurate).

That’s not really a bad translation; KATA SARKA and KATA PNEUMA hAGIWSUNHS
are hard to translate in this passage (Eduard Schweizer suggested “in the
sphere of the flesh” and “in the sphere of the Spirit of holiness” some
years ago in an excellent article which unfortunately has never been
translated from German). And however KATA SARKA is rendered, TOU GENOMENOU
EK SPERMATOS DAYID unambiguously describes Jesus as David’s descendant,
hence a human being. Gal 4:4 also explicitly ascribes human birth to Jesus
in the phrase “born of a woman” (TON GENOMENON EK GYNAIKOS).
>
>> All this is preserved in the professional, semi-public correspondence of
>> one who was personally acquainted with members of Jesus’ family and most
>> prominent disciples.
>
>Do we have RELIABLE evidence (something other than the gospels and Acts) for
>the existence of these family members or disciples?

For the family, we have Paul’s references to the “brothers of the Lord” in
1 Cor 9:5 and Gal 1:19; for Peter/Kephas among the disciples, see 1 Cor
15:5 — “the twelve” as a group in existence at the time of Jesus’ death
and resurrection, with Peter their most prominent member, hence referred to
by name and before the group itself.

>
>> Given such evidence there is about as much historical
>> basis for disputing Jesus’ existence as that of Alexander the Great.
>
>Be careful about comparing Jesus with any non-religious figure. Religion is
>mythical in nature. There are many stories of gods who were said to have come
>to Earth at some time or another. These may be better comparisons for the
>Jesus of the gospels. Or perhaps there is no good comparison, religious or
>otherwise.

The sharp distinction between religion and politics, myth and history
doesn’t work when applied to antiquity, where historical events were
regarded as the will of the gods (or for Jews and then Christians, of God),
who worked through natural and political agents to achieve their/his
purposes. And Alexander wasn’t a non-religious figure to the ancients whom
he conquered but an object of fear and awe and veneration.

The real caution on this thread should be against forcing the evidence onto
a Procrustean bed which is found comfortable by not even a handful of
published scholars and which those recognized as most proficient in the
historical study of early Christianity have scarcely accounted as worth
dismantling (this includes scholars as profoundly alienated from
traditional Christianity as Morton Smith); Mark Goodacre has mentioned one
recent exception in Theissen and Metz, who take G. A. Wells’s version apart.

To recall this beginning of this too-long message: it’s a useful exercise
to rethink important questions from first principles, but we shouldn’t be
surprised if when the rethinking is done as often as not we end up more or
less at the point of departure.

Jeff

Antonio strong as ever with advice for Bill @ #4997

Re: A man or a myth?

Antonio Jerez
Feb 8, 1999

Bill Paulson wrote:

>Antonio, if you have something of value to offer the discussion, please offer
>it. But if your next message is like your last one, don’t be surprised if I
>don’t reply.
>
>Bill

Thank you very much. Then I promise to write many more
messages like the last one so we don’t have to hear the
parrots voice any more on the list. Go parott Earl Doherty’s
loony ideas on some other list and don’t waste our time.

Best wishes

Antonio

Antonio not finished yet, #4998

Re: A man or a myth? (Peterson)

Antonio Jerez
Feb 8, 1999
 
Jeff Peterson wrote:

>To recall this beginning of this too-long
message: it’s a useful exercise
>to rethink important questions from first
principles, but we shouldn’t be
>surprised if when the rethinking is done
as often as not we end up more or
>less at the point of
departure.

Yes I think some good has come out of this “Bill Paulson
affair”. At least we have sharpened our arguments.
But right now I am fed up with all the Wells’es, Alvar Ellegards
and Giovanni Hitchissini’s that obviously have got their academic
diplomas and professor’s hats in a Alice in Wonderland University.

Best wishes

Antonio

And Stevan, #4999

Re: A man or a bird?

Stevan Davies
Feb 8, 1999

> >and, generously, substantial textual reference that refutes the
> >thesis.

Ian:
> Sorry, Steve, but where’s the “substantial textual reference”? (And why
> “generously”?)

I always think a scholar acts generously when he provides the
evidence necessary to refute his own thesis. Some penuriously
suppress such evidence.

But not you.

Thesis:
Writers always use Lord univocally.

Evidence:
Paul does not use Lord univocally.

Conclusion:
Writers do not always use Lord univocally.

> >Hence the thesis is overthrown.
> >
> >> (I don’t consider Tony capable of passing a learned opinion even about the
> >> weather, so I’m not particularly worried about his rejection of the
> >> idea.)
> >
> >I’d sooner have his opinion about the most common dozen birds at
> >birdfeeders in Gotesburg. Really.
>
> My usual sort of comment to something like this is “Come again, toucan?”
> Just let me wonder what the informational content of this sentence is, ie
> whaddaya mean?

Birds. Tweeties. Little feathered things that fly. Not bats. Not big
bugs. What are names of same at feeders at Gotesborg during Feb?

> >What are they in Rome?
>
> I’ll tell ya when I get a translation of your previous statement!?

Good. Looking forward to finding out.

Steve

Jan Sammer, 4 days on, advising Antonio to “lighten up” … #5000

Jan Sammer
Feb 8, 1999
 
Jeff Peterson wrote:

>To recall this beginning of this too-long message: it’s a useful

exercise
>to rethink important questions from first principles, but we shouldn’t

be
>surprised if when the rethinking is done as often as not we end up more

or
>less at the point of departure.

Antonio:
Yes I think some good has come out of this “Bill Paulson
affair”. At least we have sharpened our arguments.

Jan:
The noise-to-signal ratio was woefully low and that didn’t need to be.
As much as I enjoy Antonio’s return from lurker status, I would hate to
speculate about what he eats for breakfast that’s made him so testy of late.
Lots of hot chilli peppers maybe? Or even university professors?
(“But right now I am fed up with all the Wells’es, Alvar Ellegards
and Giovanni Hitchissini’s ….”).

Lighten up, Antonio!

Regards,

Jan

Ian, #5002, again only for Tony

Re: A man or a myth? (Only for Tony)

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 8, 1999

>”. At least we have sharpened our arguments.
>But right now I am fed up with all the Wells’es, Alvar Ellegards
>and Giovanni Hitchissini’s that obviously have got their academic
>diplomas and professor’s hats in a Alice in Wonderland University.

Tony, Get real, or get a hysterectomy.

Ian

But not forgetting the others… #5003

Re: A man or a bird? (Look up in the air! Is it…)

Ian Hutchesson
Feb 8, 1999

At 17.53 08/02/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:
>
>> >and, generously, substantial textual reference that refutes the
>> >thesis.
>
>Ian:
>> Sorry, Steve, but where’s the “substantial textual reference”? (And why
>> “generously”?)
>
>I always think a scholar acts generously when he provides the
>evidence necessary to refute his own thesis. Some penuriously
>suppress such evidence.
>
>But not you.
>
>Thesis:
>Writers always use Lord univocally.
>
>Evidence:
>Paul does not use Lord univocally.
>
>Conclusion:
>Writers do not always use Lord univocally.
>
>> >Hence the thesis is overthrown.

If it were only that simple, Steve. But you know how things go in the world
of pure logic: they never cross the line into reality.

It is not particularly useful to ignore the fact that it was these examples
that were important. There was at least one other factor that needed to be
taken into consideration: context.

Take for instance 1Cor2:8a,

None of the rulers of this age understood this (ie that we impart a secret…)

1Cor2:8b,

For if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.

1Cor2:9,

But as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear has heard, nor the heart of man conceived,
what God has prepared for those who love him”

Now, one can see how v8b could follow from v8a, as could v9. Yet v8b has
nothing to do with the general context regarding the wisdom that God has
given. At the same time, while v9 does follow from v8a, v8b has cut v9 off
from its hook in v8a. Further, the expression “Lord of Glory” is not used
by Paul on any other occasion, though it not casual, as it is found in
James2:1.

We have some verses later an indication of how Paul usually uses “the Lord”:

“For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have
the mind of Christ.”

It is precisely those few examples of “the Lord” found in the Pauline
corpus referring to Jesus that are being examined. It makes no sense to
avoid the text by trying the big swifty response. It is the difficulty that
comes from the ambiguous usage of “the Lord” that opens the enquiry

It is not unheard of in the NT to find a gloss such as “the Lord”. GMatt
uses “the Lord” exclusively for God, yet there are a few manuscripts that
have “the Lord” inserted at 28:6 where the earliest versions simply have
“he” (“the place where he lay”). The Pauline corpus is older than the
gospels, yet the early layers of the gospels know nothing about “the Lord”
being used for Jesus. It is only in some of the uniquely Lucan passages in
the synoptics that show such a usage along with a few examples in GJohn.
This means that if “the Lord” was actually used for Jesus at the time of
Paul, it was stopped while the majority of the gospel material was written,
ie all but the most recent stuff.

A scenario to explain the evidence that we have is that while there was a
strong Jewish influence on the formation of materials, the use of kurios as
a name was reserved for God: Paul’s Galatians seem to have a good knowledge
of Jewish traditions and paul says to the Romans, “I am speaking to those
who know the law”. With the growth of the gentile influence, the gentile
use of kurios made its way into communal use. The textual confusion that
this may have caused would have been a string in the trinitarian’s bow.
(Would a Jew have found the gentile use of kurios acceptable, ie a normal
means of referring to God being used for someone else?)

>> >> (I don’t consider Tony capable of passing a learned opinion even

about the
>> >> weather, so I’m not particularly worried about his rejection of the
>> >> idea.)
>> >
>> >I’d sooner have his opinion about the most common dozen birds at
>> >birdfeeders in Gotesburg. Really.
>>
>> My usual sort of comment to something like this is “Come again, toucan?”
>> Just let me wonder what the informational content of this sentence is, ie
>> whaddaya mean?
>
>Birds. Tweeties. Little feathered things that fly. Not bats. Not big
>bugs. What are names of same at feeders at Gotesborg during Feb?

I actually understood the individual words in the sentence, except for the
expression “at birdfeeders” which was the one part you didn’t elucidate,
repeating “at feeders”!

There are actually no birds in the area in which I live. There are almost
no trees, though at the main station there are a number of trees that
attract seasonal migraters, so for a few weeks each year it’s a dangerous
area for clothing.

Ian

Time once more for Bill2200, #5004

Re: A man or a myth? (Jim)

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 8, 1999

From Jim West:

> bill, bill, bill…..
>
> You have yet to understand how it works. Yur the supporter of a view. It
> is your duty to present your case. If it is persuasive you will persuade-
> but if its not you wont.
>
> What you want is others to DISPROVE your case and you havent even stated it
> yet. Please present your case- and stop asking folk to do your work for

you.

I’ve been trying to ignore posts which offer nothing of value to the
discussion, but you have shown remarkable persistence!

I made my move and presented my case with my initial post. My move is: “Read
Earl Doherty’s work. I like it. Tell me what you think.” Now it’s your move.

In that initial post, I also supplied Doherty’s web site and a brief summary
of his work. Forgive me if I’m missing something obvious, but I’m really
uncertain what else you want me to do!

Bill

Twice, this time, but especially for Jon … #5005

Re: A man or myth? (Jon)

Bill2200@aol.com
Feb 9, 1999

From Jon Peter:

> I have tried hard and have always succeeded in not sinking into the

personal
> nastiness that is frequent on this list. However, you begin to inspire me!

I’m not certain if you are implying that I have been especially nasty. If not,
disregard this paragraph. If so, I will have to say in my defense that I have
been quite polite in my postings except to one person. And in the exchanges
with Antonio, I have taken considerably more abuse than I have dished out. If
you feel otherwise, please tell me. I want to know.

> Why oh why, Bill, are you so obtuse? Antonio’s obvious point is this: YOU
> say that Paul was writing about a mythological or non-physical Jesus. Yet
> Paul discusses Jesus’ crucifixion and other human attributes. This fact
> refutes you because obviously a physical body is required for such things

as
> puncturing and nativity.

Well, Paul does not give Jesus anything resembling a biography (if this is
what Antonio means by “bodily biography”; if he means bodily description, Paul
doesn’t do that either). He does not have Jesus crucified under Pilate. And
Paul certainly does not portray Jesus as being born in a humble family or
raised in an obscure Galilean village. And Antonio’s phrasing suggests that I
am saying these things should be provided. The posting as a whole reflected a
considerable degree of confusion and frustration. If Antonio’s point is
obvious, it has still gone right over my head.

Repeating from above:

> Paul discusses Jesus’ crucifixion and other human attributes. This fact
> refutes you because obviously a physical body is required for such things

as
> puncturing and nativity.

Yes, a body is required for these things. Even perhaps a physical body (in a
mythical sort of way)! But certainly not a HUMAN or EARTHLY body. You have to
remember that the polytheistic gods of long ago and the lesser gods (those
below the supreme being) during the days of early Christianity were not like
the all-powerful being most people are familiar with today. These gods were
born and they died (sometimes). And in between, they did things. They had
bodies. They had flesh. They could suffer. They could bleed. They were often
very human-like, but not on Earth. In the spiritual realm.

I am certainly not an authority on this matter, but Attis, Osiris, Dionysus
and Mithras are examples of this type of divine being. At least some of these
were, like Jesus, savior gods. Attis was castrated. Mithras slayed a bull.
None of these are historical events which happened on Earth.

Thus, when Paul and others speak of Jesus as a man or having flesh or
suffering, dying, being crucified, none of this means or even implies that
they are talking about something that happened to a human being on Earth.

> Perhaps it is *we* who are somehow dense and not understanding your point?
> If so, please be patient and re-explain everything.

I’m not sure if you’ve followed the discussion from the beginning. I will
write as if you haven’t. I started this off with a posting on Feb. 4. In it, I
referred people to Earl Doherty’s web site at:

http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus.html

And I summed up his position in a couple of paragraphs. It’s really the
responsibility of you and anyone else who responds to me to be familiar with
Doherty’s work so we can have an intelligent conversation. Perhaps a person
may feel that I should expand my summary of Doherty’s thesis with 10 or 20
paragraphs. It’s a matter of opinion. I think that’s excessive, since he’s
right here on the Web for everyone to see.

I will repeat a paragraph from that post:

> The basic argument, for those unfamiliar with it, is this: The NT epistles,
> all the other 1st century non-canonical Christian writings and most of the
> writings well into the 2nd century say nothing of an earthly Jesus: no
> ministry, miracles, holy places, Mary & Joseph, the trial, the passion,

etc.
> The most plausible explanation for this is that Jesus started out as an
> entirely divine entity, just like all the other gods in all the other
> religions of the day. The idea of a historical human founder was a later
> development in Christian mythology.

If a person wishes to discuss the matter without reading Doherty, that’s OK
too. I’m agreeable to it. But it’s really not fair for you and Jim West to say
that I haven’t made my case. I HAVE made my case.

Mr. Peterson, you may have noticed, is disputing the very premise of the case,
and I will respond to him later. (Thanks for the post, Jeff!)

> Here you have to realize that there are only two alternatives: either a
> founder-figure lived as a man, OR none did and INSTEAD a wild anomaly of
> human behavior somehow spawned a man-less hero cult.

Well, this wild anomaly of human behavior would be perfectly consistent with
all the other religions of the day, which worshipped non-human, divine beings.
The hypothesis is that Jesus began as a divine being and gradually evolved to
become the human Jesus of Nazareth we’re all familiar with.

Jon, most of the rest of your message is really quite rude and does not
reflect well on you at all. Your comments on my rebuttal style again lead me
to believe that you picked up on this somewhere in the middle and do not
realize that I have indeed presented my case.

I will only add that at this point, I consider Doherty’s assessment to be not
just a wild theory, not merely plausible, but BY FAR the most probable
scenario for early Christianity. It only remains to be seen (in my opinion) if
there is compelling evidence to the contrary. Thus if I “shoot down” Chrestus,
this is perfectly logical and reasonable. And I do consider all the evidence
as a whole. I weigh it on what I call the scale of significance. Doherty’s
Great Silence, in my opinion, weighs a ton in the direction of a myth.
Chrestus weighs maybe an ounce in favor of a man.

I entered this group to see what others, probably more knowledgeable than I,
have to say. If you have something to add, by all means, chip in. But please
be polite. And if I failed to address something in your post which is
important to you, let me know. It’s late as I type, and I’m getting tired.

Bill

Ian, to Bill, on his reception here: #5006

Re: A man or myth? (Bill)
Expand Messages
 
Ian Hutchesson
Feb 9, 1999
 
Bill wrote:

>I entered this group to see what others, probably more knowledgeable than I,
>have to say. If you have something to add, by all means, chip in. But please
>be polite.

Sorry, Bill, but your reception here is what you can expect from people who
may be reality challenged.

Tony, for example, has always had the habit of being outright rude to
anybody who doesn’t uphold his presuppositions. He does his best work on
the list either being quiet or rehashing someone else’s ideas (usually from
books). If you ask for independent thought however you will be shaking the
tree too hard.

Cheers,

Ian

Another take, as usual, from Jim. #5007

Re: A man or a myth? (Jim)

Jim West
Feb 8, 1999
 
At 01:43 AM 2/9/99 -0500, you wrote:

>I made my move and presented my case with my initial post. My move is: “Read
>Earl Doherty’s work. I like it. Tell me what you think.” Now it’s your move.

But Bill, it ISN’T your case! Thats just the point buddy. You are merely
pointing to someones work and saying- “prove ’em wrong”. Scholarship JUST
DOESN’T work that way. It doesnt.

>
>In that initial post, I also supplied Doherty’s web site and a brief summary
>of his work. Forgive me if I’m missing something obvious, but I’m really
>uncertain what else you want me to do!
>

I want ya to present YOUR views!

>Bill

best,

Jim

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Jim West, ThD
Quartz Hill School of Theology

From Tom, #5008

Re: A man or a bird? (Look up in the air! Is

Tom Simms
Feb 9, 1999
 
On Tue, 09 Feb 1999 07:24:28 +0100, mc2499@… writes:
>At 17.53 08/02/99 -0500, Stevan Davies wrote:

[… snip … noted …]

>It is not unheard of in the NT to find a gloss such as “the Lord”. GMatt
>uses “the Lord” exclusively for God, yet there are a few manuscripts that
>have “the Lord” inserted at 28:6 where the earliest versions simply have
>”he” (“the place where he lay”). The Pauline corpus is older than the
>gospels, yet the early layers of the gospels know nothing about “the Lord”
>being used for Jesus. It is only in some of the uniquely Lucan passages in
>the synoptics that show such a usage along with a few examples in GJohn.
>This means that if “the Lord” was actually used for Jesus at the time of
>Paul, it was stopped while the majority of the gospel material was written,
>ie all but the most recent stuff.
>
>A scenario to explain the evidence that we have is that while there was a
>strong Jewish influence on the formation of materials, the use of kurios as
>a name was reserved for God: Paul’s Galatians seem to have a good knowledge
>of Jewish traditions and paul says to the Romans, “I am speaking to those
>who know the law”. With the growth of the gentile influence, the gentile
>use of kurios made its way into communal use. The textual confusion that
>this may have caused would have been a string in the trinitarian’s bow.
>(Would a Jew have found the gentile use of kurios acceptable, ie a normal
>means of referring to God being used for someone else?)

Thanks, Ian, for putting this in front of us. As good an argu-
ment for the development ex nihilo of the doctrine of The Trinity
I’ve seen. I’ve always taken it to be a pagan influence, noting
that Egyptian divinities mostly came in threes. But then, Paul,
being from Tarsus, grew up in such a milieu and only when an
adult immersed himself in Judaic studies, so is told. Hence, he
might very well have found such use natural, for he was the first
to spiritualize Jesus’ presence.

[… Snip …]

>There are actually no birds in the area in which I live. There are almost
>no trees, though at the main station there are a number of trees that
>attract seasonal migraters, so for a few weeks each year it’s a dangerous
>area for clothing.

Vita dolce? What, no balconies, no pigeons?

>
>Ian
>

Tom Simms

At last…. Earl Doherty enters, message #5011, February 9th, a Tuesday, 1999

The Jesus Puzzle

Earl D
Feb 9, 1999

On the weekend, Bill told me that he had brought the Crosstalk list’s
attention to my web site (Earl Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle) and asked for
opinions. He sent me a selection of postings he had gotten in response. On
Monday morning, I resubscribed myself after an absence of a few months, and
read several more responses to Bill’s queries about my views and those of
other “mythicists”.

I was floored. Ridicule, outright insult, rude dismissal of any counter
argument, all delivered with an air of smug superiority that would do any
fundamentalist proud. Is this the discussion of reasonable and educated men
(I haven’t noticed any women yet), moving in the corridors of open-minded
investigation and an honest search for truth and understanding? Many of the
Crosstalkers identify themselves as members of university faculties, where
one assumes the standard is one of reasoned debate and basically courteous
discussion, even where contentious ideas are involved. Instead, the
reaction to Bill’s queries has been mostly that of snarling dogs incensed at
having their fireside chats disturbed by unorthodox inquiry. The ad hominem
attacks in several of those postings would be flattered by the word
“sophomoric”.

The theory that no Jesus of Nazareth existed at the beginning of the
Christian movement has been around for two centuries, championed by many
researchers in many countries over the years, some of them respected
scholars, long before Wells or myself. Outright “loony” ideas don’t usually
have that kind of shelf life. The myth theory is there, and refuses to go
away, and the fact that it exists in a charged field like religion does not
justify it being denied the respect it might deserve. After all, we would
surely condemn any physicist, any anthropologist, any linguist, any
mathematician, any scholar of any sort who professes to work in a field that
makes even a partial bow to principles of logic and scientific research who
insisted on ignoring, vilifing, condemning without examination a legitimate,
persistent theory in his or her own discipline. There are tremendous
problems in New Testament scholarship, problems that have been grappled with
for generations and show no sign of getting any closer to solution.
Agreement is lacking on countless topics, and yesterday’s theories are being
continually overturned. Scholarly commentaries are shot through with words
like “riddle”, “puzzling”, “insoluble.” Some documents are said to “lead to
despair.”

Sorry, I don’t mean to turn this into a lecture, but if any of you would
take an honest and open-minded look at some of my site you might find
material that would at least give some food for thought. Two members of the
Jesus Seminar, Darrell Doughty and Robert Price, were impressed enough with
it that they invited me to write an original article for their Journal of
Higher Criticism (out of Drew University). Both of them have brought up my
name and observations at Jesus Seminar meetings on a couple of occasions.
That Journal article appeared in the Fall 1997 issue, and is now reprinted
on my site. It would be a good intro to the essentials of the Jesus-as-myth
theory, particularly my own arguments for it, which differ substantially
from those of Wells in important respects. I’ll quote the direct URL for it
at the end of this.

I’ll also quote a couple of other articles on the site which I regard as
especially cogent. While I hardly claim to be an expert in every aspect of
biblical research (is there anyone here who would be that presumptuous?), I
would be willing to let a few of the efforts now on my site (my analysis of
Hebrews, for example, or my consideration of contemporary Platonism and
hellenistic mythological thinking (in Article 8) as it may shed light on
what Paul actually believed) stand beside anything produced in these
areas–always allowing for the fact that I’ve aimed partly for the
understanding of the general, uninitiated reader. Those of you who take the
trouble to look at them are certainly free to challenge me, hopefully with a
modicum of professionalism and common human decency.

One of the things that has struck me in reading responses to Bill is the
general lack of understanding even of the basic principles of the
non-existence of Jesus theory. This, of course, is due to the disdainful
and knee-jerk dismissal of the very idea which is commonly accorded it. It
seems to me that if you seriously want to cope with this stubborn theory
which refuses to go away and which is gaining wider currency even in the
general population (if you hadn’t noticed), you owe it to yourselves and
your discipline (I won’t say your confessional beliefs) to investigate the
matter a little more thorougly, so as to offer a more reasoned and effective
response to it.

What also surprised me was the rejection, or ignoring, by many of
well-established views within standard liberal scholarship, such as the
widespread rejection, or at least questioning, of the authenticity of 1
Thessalonians 2:15-16. Labelling this an interpolation is not exactly some
arbitrary crackpot idea of my own. Pearson is ably seconded by such as
Mack, Koester, Meeks and Brandon. One cannot simply ignore a body of voices
like that when seeking to heap scorn on myself. Another case is failing
even to acknowledge the view held by many (such as Norman Perrin, whom I
highly respect and regret the early death of) that Paul’s so-called “words
of the Lord” in 1 Corinthians are not a drawing on any body of Jesus’
earthly teaching in circulation, but are personal communications he believes
he has received from Christ in heaven, something postulated as a common
feature of the early prophetic movement. The same goes for the common
interpretation of 1 Cor. 2:8’s “rulers of this age” as referring to the
demon spirits (which is one of the cornerstones of my argument). Not even
to take such trends within one’s own discipline into account in one’s
arguments (even if you don’t agree with them) is hardly the mark of honest
and up-to-date investigation and debate.

Some of what was written by a couple of people against Bill was
unconscionable in a milieu that professes to be dedicated to reasoned and
scientific discussion of historical questions, and I am reminded of a
comparison I made to the fundamentalist J P Holding who attacked my views.
I called his attention to a short piece of music by the American composer
Charles Ives, called “The Unanswered Question.” Against a quiet orchestral
backdrop, a serene trumpet asks a musical question which a chorus of flutes
at first calmly and confidently answers, but when the questioner continues
to restate his query several times (evidently because the answer is
inadequate) the flute contingent gradually degenerates into nattering,
scoffing, sneering hyenas choking on their own scorn. (I recommend the
Leonard Bernstein performance.) I guess Ives’ flutes can be found just
about anywhere, and their snarling has often managed to drawn out many a
questioning voice.

Before they drown me out, on this listserver anyway, I’ll make a posting
or two in the next couple of days (nothing too long) to respond to a few
points raised by several of you. Jeff Peterson made the sole considered,
reasonable response, I think, and I’ll address him first, then add a few
things raised by others. I’m not overly determined to get into an extended
debate (especially on a daily basis), but if one develops I won’t engage in
anything which isn’t at least moderately polite. That doesn’t mean one
can’t be provocative and challenging, but some base level of decency and
respect can surely be expected and maintained.

And I hope Bill will continue to make his voice heard and give me some
support. It is sometimes an advantage to be outside a discipline and heavy
study in it, and evaluate something simply on the basis of one’s own
reasoning capacity and innate primal instinct.

Earl Doherty

The Jesus Puzzle: <http://www.magi.com/~oblio/jesus.html>
Article for the Journal of Higher Criticism: …/jesus/jhcjp.htm>
Article No. 3: Who Crucified Jesus? …/jesus/supp03.htm>
Article No. 6: The Source of Paul’s Gospel: …/jesus/supp06.htm>
Article No. 8: Christ as “Man”: Does Paul Speak of Jesus as an
Historical Person? …jesus/supp08.htm>

 

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24 Comments

  • 2018-12-02 12:51:37 UTC - 12:51 | Permalink

    Thank you so much for retrieving and posting this. I never bothered with CrossTalk – my interest in what is called “biblical studies” is low – so I never saw it. I appreciate the link also.

    Is Doherty still alive, do you know?

    • A Buddhist
      2018-12-02 16:27:23 UTC - 16:27 | Permalink

      May you realize that the god YHVH offers no salvation and realize that the wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is superior. I was appalled, in reading your most recent blog post about Earl Doherty, to see tha6t you were talking about his shorter book rather than his longer, more detailed account of his arguments.

      Have you considered becoming a Buddhist?

      • Neil Godfrey
        2018-12-03 23:34:53 UTC - 23:34 | Permalink

        Oi, Buddhist — behave. No proselytizing allowed here.

    • 2018-12-02 17:26:20 UTC - 17:26 | Permalink

      Is Doherty still alive, do you know?

      I don’t know, but if he isn’t, nobody has updated his Wikipedia entry yet.

  • Giuseppe
    2018-12-02 13:45:30 UTC - 13:45 | Permalink

    In the light of some unfortunate mischaracterizations of the tone of Earl’s engagement

    Neil, sincerely I (in the your place) would have used “more unfortunate” terms to define that particular mischaracterization, made by the same person who “read” the revenge of the his Jesus in the date of death of Acharya. So I wonder if the same person can read as well “something” in the date of the day when Earl Doherty made his first public apparition in a forum online: <b9th of February, 1999.

  • db
    2018-12-02 13:57:52 UTC - 13:57 | Permalink

    Doherty′s original publication:

    • “The Jesus Puzzle: Part One: A Conspiracy of Silence”. Humanist in Canada. 114: 20–24. Autumn 1995. Archived from the original on 1 September 1999.
    • “The Jesus Puzzle: Part Two: Who was Christ Jesus?”. Humanist in Canada. 115: 10–14, 31. Winter 1995–1996.
    • “The Jesus Puzzle: Part Three: The Evolution of Jesus of Nazareth”. Humanist in Canada. 116: 24–30, 38. Spring 1996.
    •”The Jesus Puzzle: Postscript”. Humanist in Canada. 117: 20–23, 38. Summer 1996.

    NB. Earl Doherty in 1996 reproduced his series “The Jesus Puzzle”—which appeared in issues of Humanist in Canada—on the website The Jesus Puzzle @ magi.com/~oblio/jesus.html

    • “The Jesus Puzzle: Pieces in a Puzzle of Christian Origins”. Journal of Higher Criticism. 4 (2): 68–102. Fall 1997.

  • 2018-12-02 17:58:09 UTC - 17:58 | Permalink

    Just some input from off the top of my head:
    No ante-Nicean father quoted from any of the 4 Gospels we have until about 150 CE (meaning the Gospels were 2nd Century creations) although they had already quoted virtually of the NT Epistles by this time.

    Re: Josephus. According to the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus spent the majority of his ministry in Galilee. Josephus was Governor of Galilee for about 10 years and he traveled all over Galilee recruiting fighters against Rome. But apparently he heard nothing about the Prophet from Nazareth. In fact, he doesn’t even record the existence of Nazareth in the 1st Century. Pretty curious, huh?

    I highly recommend Thomas L. Thompson’s book “The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David”.

    • 2018-12-02 18:38:23 UTC - 18:38 | Permalink

      “No ante-Nicean father quoted from any of the 4 Gospels we have until about 150 CE (meaning the Gospels were 2nd Century creations)”

      You might like to know that the “Apocriticus” of Macarius Magnes is only mentioned once, in the 16th century, before its discovery in the 1890s. It’s a 4th century work.

      99% of ancient literature is lost. The preservation of 2nd century apologies is down to an accident – that the Byzantine Archbishop Arethas of Caesarea happened to be interested, and a flatterer made a compilation for him which happens to have survived.

      The 1545 edition of the works of Tertullian prints several works for the first time from a Paris manuscript, the Agobardinus. Fortunately this manuscript has survived, so we can see that it also contains the “Ad Nationes”. For some reason the printer ignored it. If it had not survived, someone might have argued absence from 1545 edition meant non-existence.

      It is never safe to argue from what is not preserved. Never.

      • A Buddhist
        2018-12-02 19:52:11 UTC - 19:52 | Permalink

        Surely, the poor preservation of literature from antiquity in a strongly Christian environment is a double-edged sword, as it were. Namely, Christian copiers would preserve works that would be best presenting Christianity, while ignoring or destroying documents that would utterly pulverize the historical/metaphysical basis for Christianity.

        • 2018-12-02 21:36:34 UTC - 21:36 | Permalink

          “Christian copiers would preserve works that would be best presenting Christianity, while ignoring or destroying documents that would utterly pulverize the historical/metaphysical basis for Christianity.”

          How? It is remarkably difficult for any man to decide what gets transmitted to the future.

          In reality scribes copied what was of interest to them. There are works by Augustine that are lost; but heretical works that were copied and survive.

          • A Buddhist
            2018-12-02 23:10:56 UTC - 23:10 | Permalink

            “In reality scribes copied what was of interest to them.”
            And this is an answer, as I see it. With the Christianizatian of the Roman Empire, a growing number of scribes, being themselves Christians, would have been more interested in pro-Christian literature rather than anti-Christian tracts. A handful of exceptions does not necessarily disprove the average process according to which anti-Christian works would have not been copied at the expense of Christian literature.
            A similar phenomenon occurred with Buddhist literature in India. With the decline and destruction of Buddhism in most of India due to Hindu and Muslim conversions, Buddhist manuscripts simply were not copied in most of India, nor were the surviving Buddhist manuscripts treated as worthy of preservation. In order to find authentic Buddhist manuscripts that presented authentic Buddhist arguments (including arguments against all concepts of a Supreme Creator God – including the Christian god), scholars had to go to places where Buddhism was still embraced by the people (Nepal and Tibet) – meaning that there were libraries whose keepers had chosen to preserve Buddhist manuscript as important or sacred.
            Reasoning by analogy, one might say that if some portion of the Roman Empire had preserved a literate population of non-Christians to the present day, such an enclave would have preserved many anti-Christian tracts. But because the whole of the Roman Empire’s literate elites with power and access to such manuscripts was Christianized by the 6th century CE, the preservation of the anti-Christian corpus of arguments can be represented in micro-cosm by the fact that we have no surviving copy of Celsus’s criticism of Christianity – merely the Christian refutation of Celsus’s criticism of Christianity.
            Even the accident that you cite – that the Byzantine Archbishop Arethas of Caesarea happened to be interested in Second Century CE Christian apologists, and a flatterer made a compilation for him which happens to have survived – took place within a Christianized society in which Christian bishops were powerful figures whom it was good to flatter. Had events happened differently and Julian the Apostate’s Pagan reforms taken root, one could imagine a high-priest whose interest in Celsus could have led a flatterer to copy and preserve the Anti-Christian writings of Celsus.

            • 2018-12-03 01:04:29 UTC - 01:04 | Permalink

              It is certainly the case that the Christianization of society had consequences. The scribes were Christians. The best preserved Greek text is the bible, for the excellent reason that this was the text they wanted most. Next best preserved are the major Greek fathers read in the Byzantine world, such as Chrysostom (mostly; his De Severiano Recipiendis is preserved only as a summary in Latin).

              The same process produced the survival of the Greek classics used as school texts; the set collection of plays of Euripides etc. The works of Julian the Apostate were preserved as examples of Attic prose, which educated Byzantines sought to write. Indeed even in the 15th century the emperor and his court spoke in Attic Greek.

              Minor texts of any sort had to take their chance. It is idle to complain that men did not copy works which they did not need and found idiotic. Even today few do that.

              • A Buddhist
                2018-12-03 01:15:37 UTC - 01:15 | Permalink

                Just to clarify, I never claimed that Christianized scribes in the Roman Empire never bothered to copy any non-Christian works. We seem to be agreeing that with the Christianizatian of the Roman Empire, the preservation of anti-Christian literature became less important.

    • 2018-12-03 15:55:18 UTC - 15:55 | Permalink

      That we don’t have evidence of the Gospels being quoted until the mid 2nd isn’t evidence that they weren’t written until this time. There is no reason to fixate on late dating of the Gospels. It doesn’t matter when they were written really, as when they were written does nothing to increase or decrease their credibility. The credibility of the Gospels is evaluated on the basis of their content, not when they were written.

      Of course, in my book I make the case for early dating (as early as modern scholarship supports) and see the early writing of the Gospels as the explanation for where belief that Jesus was a person came from. It was the Gospel stories that cause belief in a human Jesus, thus the Gospels, or at least one of them, had to have been written before we have evidence of belief that Jesus was a person.

      It is also likely that at least the first Gospel was written long before it became widely known. The story could have gone largely unrecognized for centuries before it received much notice. I also think that while the Gospel of Mark was written first, it was the Gospel of Matthew that was the first version of the story to become popular.

      • 2018-12-03 19:07:57 UTC - 19:07 | Permalink

        “The credibility of the Gospels is evaluated on the basis of their content, not when they were written.” — Correct. These sorts of anti-historical claims bring those who make them into disrepute. There is no question about the historicity of L. Ron Hubbard; inventing such doubts would merely obscure the obviously fraudster that he was. Christianity may or may not be true, but it isn’t false because of contrived rubbish about its origins. Every such movement starts with a man with a beard on a soapbox saying “Follow me, guys”.

        • 2018-12-03 19:51:15 UTC - 19:51 | Permalink

          “Every such movement starts with a man with a beard on a soapbox saying “Follow me, guys”.”

          Yes, and in the case of Christianity, that man was Paul 🙂

        • A Buddhist
          2018-12-03 20:23:39 UTC - 20:23 | Permalink

          “These sorts of anti-historical claims bring those who make them into disrepute.” But the justification for such dis-repute is so often difficult to make out. So much bleating about scholarly consensus, abundance of witnesses, anti-Christian biases, conspiratorially minded thinking and possible mental illness almost completely drowns out dispassionate refutation of their claims.
          I mean, we Buddhists regard as nonsensical any claims that there are souls that are immortal and are created by an uncreated creator God, yet if all of of our rhetoric were as clumsily hostile as that advanced by the Japanese abbot who threatened to fatally impale with a spear a Jesuit missionary so that Catholics and Buddhists could determine whether a soul would leave the corpse, then one would not be surprised that no-one would be convinced about the non-existence of souls souls that are immortal. Thankfully, there are more dispassionate arguments against souls that are immortal from thinkers such as Vasubandhu. Yet the only defender of historical Jesus whom I am aware of who does not go much bleating about scholarly consensus, abundance of witnesses, anti-Christian biases, conspiratorially minded thinking and possible mental illness is the pseudonymous Gasukeidon.
          “There is no question about the historicity of L. Ron Hubbard; inventing such doubts would merely obscure the obviously fraudster that he was.”
          Adjusting these sentiments to Jesus, I find the fine idea that “There is no question about the historicity of Jesus; inventing such doubts would merely obscure the obviously violently abusive control freak whom he was.” The advantage of a mythical/heavenly Jesus is that one would not need to treat as literally true the Gospels’ Jesus, who attacks store keepers in their shops, engages in bizarre discussions that he admits are meant to not be understood by people because he wants them to be damned to Hell, and encourages people to hate their own families and abandon their jobs as part of following him. In contrast, a mythical/heavenly Jesus can be reduced to the roll of bestower of wisdom, saviour of people who believe in him, and exorcism-being against demons quite easily.

        • 2018-12-03 23:03:12 UTC - 23:03 | Permalink

          While I appreciate Robert’s caution about dating the Gospels, that wasn’t my purpose.

          As I see it, the confusion arises from the fact the Gospels were never meant as “historical documents’, even though that’s the way they are seen by most Christians. They are, rather, “literary commentaries” very similar to many other so-called “Jewish fictions” of the Hellenistic age. Like the Gospels, they are full of allusions to the Torah, to the prophets, to Moses, etc. and the many stories found in the Septuagint.

        • 2018-12-04 00:26:54 UTC - 00:26 | Permalink

          “it isn’t false because of contrived rubbish about its origins.”

          No, but if every ancient document claiming to report on its origins looks like contrived rubbish, that is grounds for reasonable doubt.

          • 2018-12-04 00:28:56 UTC - 00:28 | Permalink

            I am currently reading Thomas L. Thompson’s book “The Messiah Myth”. Although Thompson often forgets that his readers (or at least this one) are not as familiar with the Bible as he is, I am nonetheless starting to learn to appreciate the writings of the NT (and the OT) for the Hellenistic Literary works they are [full of allusions to themes and even phrases from the OT] rather than as “historical works” I was raised to believe they were.

            The problem is, we were taught growing up to see the Bible and especially the Gospels as “historical documents” rather than literary works similar to the Iliad or the stories of Hercules or the story of Oedipus. They are all quite similar to the so-called “Jewish fictions” of the Hellenistic period. That was the basic mistake from which much confusion has resulted.

            We humans love CHARACTERS. So we fixate on Heros like Moses, Jesus, King David, King Solomon and we FORGET these characters are all FICTIONAL. Their “purpose for being” is simply as a “vehicle” to move the themes important to the writer along.

            Who knows? Maybe one day someone will ask if Harry Potter was “real”.

            • Steven C Watson
              2018-12-10 06:30:34 UTC - 06:30 | Permalink

              It has already in print that Harry Potter is Jesus re-written. See ‘Jesus Potter, Harry Christ’. That’s a contribution to Jesus Mythicism that has headed off the possibility of arguing Potter could be “real” even before the idea had a chance to occur.

      • MrHorse
        2018-12-03 23:31:40 UTC - 23:31 | Permalink

        Yes, ‘the credibility of the Gospels [ought to be] evaluated on the basis of their content’ and, given that content, ‘it [generally] doesn’t matter when they were written really, as when they were written does nothing to increase or decrease their credibility’ other than the propositions of the likes of Hermann Detering that the Synoptic Apocalypse (Mark 13, etc) could be based on the bar Kokhba revolt of ~130-4 a.d. (the failure then could have motivated many to read the first Roman-Jewish war literature of Josephus (which might have motivated the writing of g.Mark).

        Joseph B Tyson, Jason BeDuhn, Markus Vinzent, and Matthias Klinghardt (+/- others) are pretty adamant the Gospel that Marcion ‘had’ had to have preceded g.Luke, at least (where Marcion got it from does not yet seem to be clear). A couple of these scholars thing Mark was written after ‘Marcion’s Gospel’ appeared on the scene: they may be wrong, of course.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2018-12-04 00:01:52 UTC - 00:01 | Permalink

      Posted here are a number of older posts on dating ancient works. Scroll through, perhaps the most comprehensive one is “8 tips for dating early Christian texts”.

  • 2018-12-03 16:01:10 UTC - 16:01 | Permalink

    Thanks for posting this. We can use this to memorialize Doherty in the future when we develop a religion around him. I once heard that he caused a theologian to spontaneously combust during a debate! I swear its true, and there were 500 of my brethren who witnessed it!

    But seriously, yeah. The saddest thing about this thread is how little has changed.

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