Miscellaneous Catchup

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by Neil Godfrey

For those of us who like to examine questions of whether certain ancient persons really existed or not:


R. G. Price is already looking into questions beyond his book Deciphering Jesus:


And Vridar has another post now in Spanish



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Neil Godfrey

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  • 2018-12-22 00:43:25 GMT+0000 - 00:43 | Permalink

    Tim O’Neil’s new post on who the historical Jesus was is up today: https://historyforatheists.com/2018/12/jesus-the-apocalyptic-prophet/ . I would like to hear R. G. Price address how O’Neil addresses the meaning of “Gospel,” the “good news.”

    • Neil Godfrey
      2018-12-22 06:50:36 GMT+0000 - 06:50 | Permalink

      I have just finished reading his post. It is nothing except a summary of mainstream Christian scholarly views complete with all the methodological problems and fallacious assumptions and outright contradictions — all hidden beneath a wall of gish gallop to paper over all these flaws. I love the implicit conclusion that “the real Jesus” stands apart from both liberal and conservative Christians and mythicists. I guess finding such a stand-alone Jesus is a cool idea when you don’t want to be associated with certain atheists or Christians.

      • MrHorse
        2018-12-22 10:33:20 GMT+0000 - 10:33 | Permalink

        O’Neill opens with an indication he will be dealing with ‘a fundamental issue’ that ‘scholarship on the origins of Christianity has been dealing with’, yet, despite reference to ‘ongoing rear-guard actions’, he sidesteps these to deliver what seems to be a safe sermon.

        He either doesn’t have a clue ‘the last books of the Jewish Bible’ were being finalised in the first century AD or even into the second, or he thinks ‘the first texts that were to make up the Christian New Testament’ were much later than they really were.

        He uses depicted 13 times in relation to Jesus, and depiction [of Jesus] twice eg. the depiction of Jesus as a eschatological prophet of the coming apocalypse is at the core of the earliest gospels.

        Tim even supports mythicism with

        The idea of a coming Messiah develops in various directions out of a general concept of a future king who would restore the lost independence of Israel and taking on a wider, cosmic dimension – with the Messiah even pre-existing in the heavens …

    • 2018-12-22 12:53:58 GMT+0000 - 12:53 | Permalink

      I replied to that post, but I don’t know if it’s going to show up or not. It didn’t show up immediately, so I don’t how posts work on his site exactly.

      Here is what I posted though:

      The idea that Jesus was a mortal prophet is completely untenable when you actually look at the real facts.

      See my recent article here that directly addresses this issue: http://www.decipheringthegospels.com/beyond.html

      The case put forward here, like much of Bart Ehrman’s work, is essentially just a rehash of conservative Christian biblical assumptions. I always find it funny that Bart Ehrman uses methodologies that come straight out of divinity schools that are actuality much more conservative than even other Christians working in his field.

      1) There is nothing in the pre-Gospel writings that presents Jesus as a prophet or even as a person of any kind. At best there are a few vague statements such as him being “born of a woman” (which is clearly allegorical). But there is no description of Jesus as a person at all. And yet, there are dozens upon dozens of “teachings” presented in the pre-Gospel writings, without any of those teachings being attributed to Jesus.

      2) The idea that the Gospels represent any form of history is laughable. The Gospels are, in fact, some of the strongest evidence against the existence of Jesus (which is why my book is titled Deciphering the Gospels Proves Jesus Never Existed).

      Serious analysis of the Gospels plainly shows that the whole narrative is derived from literary references and was created after the war, and that every single story about Jesus is derived from the Gospel of Mark. Talk about “corroboration” between the Gospels is foolishness. It’s one story and multiple copies of it with doctrinal revisions. There is no corroboration, there is just copying of a single fictional narrative.

      And here I’ll use a specific example from your article, and even one that I don’t use in my book.

      You discuss the exhortation to “keep awake”:

      “‘Keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.’ (Matt 25:13)

      Then there is a similar exhortation in Luke 12:36”

      The scene about keeping awake originates in Mark:

      “Mark 13:
      32 ‘But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Beware, keep alert; for you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on the watch. 35 Therefore, keep awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn, 36 or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Keep awake.'”

      This scene in Mark is derived from the writings of Paul:

      “1 Thessalonians 5:
      1 Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you do not need to have anything written to you. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! 4 But you, brothers, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; 5 for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. 6 So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; 7 for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night.”

      The person who wrote the Gospel of Mark was a follower of Paul and was using Paul’s letters as the basis for the character and dialog of Jesus. The writer of Mark put Paul’s words into Jesus’ mouth. Everything else then copied from Mark. The “Keep Awake” scene is just one of dozens of examples like this. You state that there is a “similar exhortation” in Luke, well yes, because Luke is just another copy of the main narrative. In all we have the statement made in a teaching by Paul which is copied into Mark which is copied into Matthew and Luke. And what all of this shows is that the Gospel narrative is literary invention that was credulously copied by everyone else who ever wrote about Jesus because no one knew anything about Jesus other than what was written in Mark.

      • 2018-12-22 20:20:23 GMT+0000 - 20:20 | Permalink

        Well my reply went through and he replied to it. I replied to him. I’m curious to see that that goes through. Here is what my reply to him was:

        I notice that you didn’t address the concrete example I provided, which shows that what you labeled as “dialog of Jesus” is really a re-cast dialog of Paul, first put into narrative form in Mark then copied into Matthew and Luke. That’s a fact.

        Are you going to say that Mark Goodacre is “just some hack”? His case against Q, showing that the material of the synoptics is all derived from Mark is highly regarded: https://www.amazon.com/Case-Against-Studies-Priority-Synoptic/dp/1563383349

        The claim that the Gospel of John is independent is not even a majority position among Christian scholars. The idea that the “signs narrative” can be traced back to some early pre-war narrative is completely without evidence, it’s just wishful thinking and I provide a full case against it in my book, which is just one among many such cases by multiple scholars.

        But most of all, the idea that the Gospel of Mark is a post-war invention isn’t a fringe idea, its solidly supported by evidence for which many highly respected books have been published on the matter.

        Both of the following show that the dialogs of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are all derived from the letters of Paul:
        Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul: The Influence of the Epistles on the Synoptic Gospels; David Oliver Smith, 2011

        Mark, Canonizer of Paul: A New Look At Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel; Tom Dykstra, 2012

        The following show that the Gospel of Mark is a recasting of the Elijah / Elisha narrative:
        Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark; Wolfgang Roth, 1988

        Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative: Considering the Practice of Greco-Roman Imitation in the Search for Markan Source Material; Adam Winn, 2010

        Again, this isn’t fringe nonsense, these are respected works from credentialed, and in same cases Christian, scholars.

        I’m a data analyst with a background in text mining. What I show in my book is that there are even more literary references in the Gospel of Mark. I provide the literary references for essentially every single scene in the Gospel of Mark, showing that basically every scene is constructed from literary references. The literary references are real. If you would like to address them, please do.

        I provide an example on the book’s website here regarding the temple cleansing scene: http://www.decipheringthegospels.com/examples.html

        This shows that the temple cleansing scene is a completely fictitious literary concoction.

        If you want to address the real evidence, by all means please do.

        • MrHorse
          2018-12-22 21:08:27 GMT+0000 - 21:08 | Permalink

          Both of the following show that the dialogs of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark are all derived from the letters of Paul:

          Matthew, Mark, Luke, and Paul: The Influence of the Epistles on the Synoptic Gospels; David Oliver Smith, 2011

          Mark, Canonizer of Paul: A New Look At Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel; Tom Dykstra, 2012

          The following show that the Gospel of Mark is a recasting of the Elijah / Elisha narrative:

          Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark; Wolfgang Roth, 1988

          Mark and the Elijah-Elisha Narrative: Considering the Practice of Greco-Roman Imitation in the Search for Markan Source Material; Adam Winn, 2010

          Along with ‘Deciphering the Gospels’, these are all a good read.

          For posterity, here are a few more that Robert M Price has listed that may add more (I haven’t read them) –

          John Bowman, The Gospel of Mark: The New Christian Jewish Passover Haggadah. Studia Post-Biblica 8. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1965 

          J. Duncan M. Derrett, The Making of Mark: The Scriptural Bases of the Earliest Gospel. Volumes 1 and 2. Shipston-on-Stour, Warwickshire: P. Drinkwater, 1985

          Dale Miller and Patricia Miller. The Gospel of Mark as Midrash on Earlier Jewish and New Testament Literature. Studies in the Bible and Early Christianity 21. Lewiston/Queenston/Lampeter: Edwin Mellen Press  

          Wolfgang Roth, Hebrew Gospel: Cracking the Code of Mark. Oak Park: Meyer-Stone Books, 1988.

          William R. Stegner, “The Baptism of Jesus: A Story Modelled on the Binding of Isaac,” in Herschel Shanks (ed.), Abraham & Family: New Insights into the Patriarchal Narratives. Washington, D.C.: Biblical Archaeology Society, 2001. 

          Rikki E. Watts, Isaiah’s New Exodus and Mark. Wissenschaftliche Untersuchungen zum Neuen Testament 2. Reihe 88. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 1997.



          • Neil Godfrey
            2018-12-22 22:16:51 GMT+0000 - 22:16 | Permalink

            Thanks for that list. Three there I have not seen and am following up.

        • MrHorse
          2018-12-22 21:53:32 GMT+0000 - 21:53 | Permalink

          lol, O’Neill’s gone all ad hominem, as he often does. He either doesn’t know that Tom Dykstra has a Master of Divinity or doesn’t want to acknowledge it.

          At least he let your posts through.

          • Neil Godfrey
            2018-12-22 22:21:14 GMT+0000 - 22:21 | Permalink

            Knock me down with a feather! You don’t mean Tim is responding to critical engagement with insult, ridicule and abuse is he?!

          • 2018-12-23 00:19:24 GMT+0000 - 00:19 | Permalink

            And a PhD in history for that matter. And honestly, the PhD in History is worth 5 PhDs in divinity in my book. That’s part of the issue, people view degrees in divinity and theology as a relevant to assessing the historical validity of biblical texts, which is total nonsense.

            I mean Tom’s bio isn’t totally standard by any means, but he’s not just some guy of the street (like me 🙂


        • Neil Godfrey
          2018-12-22 22:18:54 GMT+0000 - 22:18 | Permalink
          • 2018-12-22 23:47:29 GMT+0000 - 23:47 | Permalink

            Thanks for that. I think I’ll stop where I’m at. The most frustrating thing is the echo chamber. It’s not logic, its not evidence, its just, “but the people with credentials disagree!” That’s what every argument comes down to. But I’ve read enough posts and discussions from Earl Doherty to see that this is how its been for 20 years and it shows very little sign of improvement.

            I honestly have never seen what I feel is an honest critique of Doherty’s work, and its been around for 20 years.

  • Malcolm Grant Hutton
    2018-12-22 02:07:52 GMT+0000 - 02:07 | Permalink

    Just study Ancient Egyptian and the texts and you will get all the answers, but they will be answers you as usual refuse to accept even though they are there in hard solid scripts.

  • 2018-12-22 03:55:56 GMT+0000 - 03:55 | Permalink

    This sort of fits in with Miscellaneous Catchup: I just found out I made it into the October Biblical Studies Carnival with my post on Religious Studies “Postmodernism and Hermeneutics”! Check it out:

  • Ross Cameron
    2018-12-24 23:21:31 GMT+0000 - 23:21 | Permalink

    More miscellaneous—Merry Xmas and All the Best for the New Year, Neil

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