2019-05-07

Update to “Another Name to Add to the Who’s Who Page of Mythicists and Mythicist Agnostics”

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by Neil Godfrey

Many of you took special notice of my post (Another Name to Add to the Who’s Who Page of Mythicists and Mythicist Agnostics) about Narve Strand and his response to Bart Ehrman’s arguments for the historicity of Jesus.

Narve Strand has since uploaded a new version of that article, partly as a result of the Vridar discussion thread. He has added qualifiers to hopefully clarify some of the questions that arose over his presentation. He has also entered some new references and updated his CV.

So replace all your copies of the original with the new version:

 

 

 

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42 Comments

  • Pofarmer
    2019-05-07 12:20:38 GMT+0000 - 12:20 | Permalink

    So now I have to re read it? The horrors!

  • Pofarmer
    2019-05-07 13:44:44 GMT+0000 - 13:44 | Permalink

    So, a question. Is this paper peer reviewed?

    • Kelly D Wellington
      2019-05-07 14:24:35 GMT+0000 - 14:24 | Permalink

      Peer reviewed? By which set of ‘peers’?

      By historians, or by ‘biblical scholars’? If by the latter, which flavor?

  • shnarkle Von Barkle
    2019-05-07 15:02:23 GMT+0000 - 15:02 | Permalink

    I personally don’t see these as historical narratives, and I don’t see what real difference it makes to the message contained in them except that those who look at it historically tend to muddy the message.

    This guy seems to simply disregard any points that could be used to suggest any historical evidence, e.g.:

    “Yes, yes, it doesn’t logically entail they didn’t exist…Ehrman is too impressed with the amount of evidence for Jesus. The sheer quantity of sources is irrelevant”

    This doesn’t exactly sound like someone who has a real argument against a historical Jesus, does it?

    ” A prima facie, generally reliable historian like Herodotus, says: These are my sources. Here’s what I think they say. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself!”

    A generally reliable historian? What’s preventing anyone from making their own judgements with regards to New Testament authors as well?

    “None of the earliest sources speak of him as having a purely human birth or career, so how could he then have been a purely human prophet-teacher with biological brothers?”

    Isn’t this a non sequitur? Mark and Paul say absolutely nothing about his birth whatsoever. I’ve made no mention of my own birth. Could it be that I don’t exist either?

    “(Rom 1:3-4)
    That doesn’t sound like a purely human being who had a natural birth and human
    career at all. In fact, Paul goes out of his way to say Jesus wasn’t really a human being…the only thing Paul clearly isn’t talking about here is “a purely human being.” He even uses a special word “made” (genomenos) instead of the usual “born” (gennaô)(see also Gal 4:4; Rom 1:3) to mark off Jesus’ coming into the world. The word suggests direct manufacture (by God) as opposed to natural birth”

    This is bizarre. How is it that all of Christianity comes to the conclusion that Jesus was born of a woman then? He suggests we look in Galatians 4:4, where we read “made of a woman”. Does this guy now believe that God is a woman? Does he seriously think that the fact that “made” indicates Jesus is created (rather than Creator), indicate anything other than he’s created like all human beings? God creates Adam from the dirt and blows the breath of life into him. This doesn’t make Adam a god either. Far from distinguishing Jesus from us, it spotlights the similarities.

    He concludes with this: “the historicist doesn’t have real evidence that would make his purely human Jesus existing more probable than not.”

    And yet, he doesn’t have real evidence that denies his existence. Legends usually have some historical kernal as their origin.

    My favorite response to this same argument concerning Moses is that it may have been written by someone else, perhaps even someone with the same name. The point here is that it really doesn’t matter because the authors are pointing out something far greater than history or historical personages. They’re pointing out the importance of the truth.

    It’s ironic that the texts point this out, yet “believers” rely upon history rather than the content of their own texts. Is it any wonder they’re falling away from their faith?

    • Susej
      2019-05-07 16:47:51 GMT+0000 - 16:47 | Permalink

      “I personally don’t see these as historical narratives, and I don’t see what real difference it makes to the message contained in them except that those who look at it historically tend to muddy the message.”

      What useful message do you see in the Christian Bible? Personally, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a single unified message with all the contradictions within and between Bible books, but the idea that Christianity has a “deeper meaning” beyond the historical narratives and that transcend these historical narratives is a claim that I see more and more from sophisticated believers and those sympathetic to Christianity on ideological grounds (see Jordan Peterson.) So I reiterateL what is the “message” of the Bible that is so vitally important and that isn’t also expressed in other acclaimed works of literature that are acknowledged by all to be fictional or mythical? And who are you to say that these alleged deep allegorical messages are more important than the supposed historical reality of the resurrection which the vast majority of Christians see as the cornerstone of their religion?

      • shnarkle Von Barkle
        2019-05-07 17:50:50 GMT+0000 - 17:50 | Permalink

        One of the useful messages of the bible is in seeing that despite personal differences, people have incomprehensible value, and should be treated with dignity regardless of their lot in life, or whatever labels have been stamped upon them. The reason you’re so hard-pressed to find a single unified message is most likely due to relying upon the claims of people lacking rudimentary reading comprehension skills spouting nonsense from online sites, or butt hurt ex-Christians with an axe to grind against religion.

        Just because a work of literature is fictional doesn’t negate it’s truth claims, and there’s no reason for any single work to hold a monopoly on the truth. Just because Noah Joad never actually existed doesn’t negate the fact that he is a composite of many people who migrated west to California during the dust bowl days of the Great Depression.

        The reason the deeper meanings are more important than the physical resurrection of a corpse is in the teachings themselves which hold that self sacrifice liberates us from our self absorbed, self important, restrictive lives freeing us to live without any of these self-imposed demands, judgements, etc.. It’s the antidote to identity politics today. The fear of losing one’s identity today is no less horrific than a gruesome crucifixion. Only those who are able to get beyond their silly ideas of themselves can truly live a resurrected life of abundance.

        Placing one’s faith in a resurrection of one’s physical body is the antithesis of these narratives. They overwhelmingly reiterate that the body is nothing, and of no value. What is of value is how one uses their bodies, and by the looks of things most people aren’t taking care of their bodies, nor are they interested in helping others either.

        Those who do “get it” are not only adapted to survive, but to thrive. In a world of death and dying, it’s a message too many people can’t hear, probably because they’re so obsessed with irrelevant nonsense to hear the message. Christians believe their doctrines concerning the resurrection, but have lost sight of the central message of the gospel itself which is finding a way into the kingdom.

        These ideas only seem sophisticated to those who aren’t used to exercising critical thinking skills. Being spoon fed baseless assertions of non existent contradictions only lulls those who gobble up this stuff into a state of self-satisfied ignorance.

        • Susej
          2019-05-07 18:38:57 GMT+0000 - 18:38 | Permalink

          “One of the useful messages of the bible is in seeing that despite personal differences, people have incomprehensible value, and should be treated with dignity regardless of their lot in life, or whatever labels have been stamped upon them. The reason you’re so hard-pressed to find a single unified message is most likely due to relying upon the claims of people lacking rudimentary reading comprehension skills spouting nonsense from online sites, or butt hurt ex-Christians with an axe to grind against religion.”

          Justify your claim that the Bible states or implies unequivocally that “people have incomprehensible value.” I’m sure many people would disagree with that reading of the Bible, myself included, and I would also question, regardless of what the Bible says, whether or not the claim that “people have incomprehensible value” is anything but a vacuous platitude.

          “Just because a work of literature is fictional doesn’t negate it’s truth claims, and there’s no reason for any single work to hold a monopoly on the truth. Just because Noah Joad never actually existed doesn’t negate the fact that he is a composite of many people who migrated west to California during the dust bowl days of the Great Depression.”

          But Christianity isn’t and never has been, some book club for people who think the Bible has some really cool metaphors, so what is your point? And even if there are “good” messages in the Bible there are also “bad” messages as well which you gloss over because of your emotional attachment to the hoary old thing.

          “The reason the deeper meanings are more important than the physical resurrection of a corpse is in the teachings themselves which hold that self sacrifice liberates us from our self absorbed, self important, restrictive lives freeing us to live without any of these self-imposed demands, judgements, etc.. It’s the antidote to identity politics today. The fear of losing one’s identity today is no less horrific than a gruesome crucifixion. Only those who are able to get beyond their silly ideas of themselves can truly live a resurrected life of abundance.”

          Care to justify this completely ahistorical and fanciful interpretation of the New Testament with evidence?

          “Placing one’s faith in a resurrection of one’s physical body is the antithesis of these narratives. They overwhelmingly reiterate that the body is nothing, and of no value. What is of value is how one uses their bodies, and by the looks of things most people aren’t taking care of their bodies, nor are they interested in helping others either.”

          If the message of the Gospels is that “the body is nothing and of no value” that is enough to reject it.

          “To the despisers of the body will I speak my word. I wish them neither to learn afresh, nor teach anew, but only to bid farewell to their own bodies,—and thus be dumb.

          “Body am I, and soul”—so saith the child. And why should one not speak like children?

          But the awakened one, the knowing one, saith: “Body am I entirely, and nothing more; and soul is only the name of something in the body.””

          “These ideas only seem sophisticated to those who aren’t used to exercising critical thinking skills. Being spoon fed baseless assertions of non existent contradictions only lulls those who gobble up this stuff into a state of self-satisfied ignorance.”

          These ideas don’t seem sophisticated, just sophistical and embarrassingly pretentious.

          • shnarkle Von Barkle
            2019-05-07 19:29:18 GMT+0000 - 19:29 | Permalink

            “Christianity isn’t and never has been, some book club for people who think the Bible has some really cool metaphors, so what is your point?”

            What’s your point in presenting a non sequitur? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks due to the fact that your thoughts don’t change the veracity of the texts themselves. Where have I ever suggested that searching out the doctrines of Christianity would ever lead one to a proper understanding of these biblical texts? Perhaps a more pertinent point would be to point out that if you can’t comprehend what I’m posting, you will have no success whatever in deciphering the texts of people who lived half way around the world a few thousand years ago with a completely different culture from your own.

            “And even if there are “good” messages in the Bible there are also “bad” messages as well which you gloss over because of your emotional attachment to the hoary old thing.”

            I don’t recall characterizing the messages as “good” or “bad”. I simply pointed out that the message the authors conveyed is not one of obsessing over a dead corpse.

            “Care to justify this completely ahistorical and fanciful interpretation of the New Testament with evidence?”

            The historical evidence is quite pervasive with regards to people who have had dramatic transformations away from their dreary self centered lives. It isn’t a fanciful interpretation at all, but thanks for the compliment. What other sort of evidence would you like to see?

            “If the message of the Gospels is that “the body is nothing and of no value” that is enough to reject it.”

            And for those who are obsessed over their own body image, or the bodies of others, I would have to agree. It isn’t for everybody. It’s only for those who seek something more than bodily gratifications, sufferings, a slimmer waistline without any sacrifice to the dessert platter at the local scarf and barf cracker barrel etc. Again, this goes back to the issue of those who are self-satisfied in their own bloated opinion of themselves ( a compliment to their ever expanding and distended belly) as well as their willful ignorance of the texts.

            First you say these are the ideas of ” sophisticated believers “, then you claim
            “These ideas don’t seem sophisticated”. For those who are still wondering where the bible’s contradictions originate, we need look no further than those who can’t help but contradict themselves.

            https://ladygeekgirl.files.wordpress.com/2014/03/that-was-easy-button.png

            • Susej
              2019-05-07 19:50:02 GMT+0000 - 19:50 | Permalink

              “What’s your point in presenting a non sequitur? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks due to the fact that your thoughts don’t change the veracity of the texts themselves.[/quote]
              Just because you agree with a message that you incorrectly read into the Bible doesn’t mean that the Bible has any “veracity” even in a metaphorical sense.

              “Where have I ever suggested that searching out the doctrines of Christianity would ever lead one to a proper understanding of these biblical texts? Perhaps a more pertinent point would be to point out that if you can’t comprehend what I’m posting, you will have no success whatever in deciphering the texts of people who lived half way around the world a few thousand years ago with a completely different culture from your own.”
              I understand perfectly what you are saying: the Bible may not be historically reliable but it contains universal truths of human nature and this makes it okay for the Bible to construct a fictitious historical narrative that has contributed great suffering to the world. This is basically Jordan Peterson’s Christian Existentialist schtick.

              “I don’t recall characterizing the messages as “good” or “bad”. I simply pointed out that the message the authors conveyed is not one of obsessing over a dead corpse.”
              You’ve made it clear that you approve of the Bible as containing transcendent truths, and nobody would say that the core message of Christianity is obsession over a dead corpse, but the alleged resurrection of the corpse.

              “And for those who are obsessed over their own body image, or the bodies of others, I would have to agree. It isn’t for everybody. It’s only for those who seek something more than bodily gratifications, sufferings, a slimmer waistline without any sacrifice to the dessert platter at the local scarf and barf cracker barrel etc. Again, this goes back to the issue of those who are self-satisfied in their own bloated opinion of themselves ( a compliment to their ever expanding and distended belly) as well as their willful ignorance of the texts.”
              You present yourself as an astute hermeneutician and that’s what you manged to get out of the Nietzsche quote that I posted?

              “”First you say these are the ideas of ” sophisticated believers “, then you claim
              “These ideas don’t seem sophisticated”.”

              I’ll emend it to “pseudo-sophisticated.”

              “For those who are still wondering where the bible’s contradictions originate, we need look no further than those who can’t help but contradict themselves.””
              Complete non-sequitur.

              • shnarkle Von Barkle
                2019-05-07 20:48:25 GMT+0000 - 20:48 | Permalink

                “What’s your point in presenting a non sequitur? It doesn’t matter what anyone thinks due to the fact that your thoughts don’t change the veracity of the texts themselves.”

                “Just because you agree with a message that you incorrectly read into the Bible doesn’t mean that the Bible has any “veracity” even in a metaphorical sense.”

                You’re assuming a whole lot more than what I’m posting. I never said I agree with the intentions of the authors, nor have I ever claimed that my interpretations prove the veracity of the texts. Again, you’re just tossing straw, and none of it will ever stick.

                “Where have I ever suggested that searching out the doctrines of Christianity would ever lead one to a proper understanding of these biblical texts? Perhaps a more pertinent point would be to point out that if you can’t comprehend what I’m posting, you will have no success whatever in deciphering the texts of people who lived half way around the world a few thousand years ago with a completely different culture from your own.”
                “I understand perfectly what you are saying:”

                Says you.

                “… the Bible may not be historically reliable but it contains universal truths of human nature”

                So far, so good.

                “… and this makes it okay for the Bible to construct a fictitious historical narrative that has contributed great suffering to the world.”

                Pure nonsense. I’m not making any such claims whatsoever, and it doesn’t follow that just because a work of literature is blamed for suffering that it is responsible for suffering. People make the same claim to those who are atheists. They will say that atheists are responsible for countless deaths around the world so atheism is evil. It’s a blatant non sequitur. Do we blame Karl Marx for all the suffering in the world? How about Darwin for those who took what he wrote and came up with their doctrines of social Darwinism?

                ” This is basically Jordan Peterson’s Christian Existentialist schtick.”

                Sticking some label on it doesn’t advance an argument.

                “You’ve made it clear that you approve of the Bible as containing transcendent truths,”

                Where am I approving any of this? I can’t approve transcendence. By definition, it’s impossible to know anything transcendent.

                ” and nobody would say that the core message of Christianity is obsession over a dead corpse, but the alleged resurrection of the corpse.”

                A distinction with no effective difference. A resurrected corpse is an obsession because of one’s identity with their body.

                “You present yourself as an astute hermeneutician and that’s what you manged to get out of the Nietzsche quote that I posted?”

                I wasn’t responding to Nietzsche’s quote. I don’t have any qualms with his quote. It’s right in line with what I’m posting.

                “For those who are still wondering where the bible’s contradictions originate, we need look no further than those who can’t help but contradict themselves.””
                Complete non-sequitur.”

                Nah, it’s obvious when one can’t help but contradict themselves, they’re going to inevitably see contradictions everywhere; everywhere except where they originate which is in themselves. Perhaps if you weren’t so eager to point fingers at dead authors, and instead look at the message they presented, you might learn something about squinting at gnats and swallowing camels, or seeing specks in someone else’s eye without being able to remove a 2 x 4 from your own.

                Pretending that I’m some apologist for biblical Christianity only spotlights that you’re arguing with yourself, and losing.

            • Susej
              2019-05-07 19:57:04 GMT+0000 - 19:57 | Permalink

              “The historical evidence is quite pervasive with regards to people who have had dramatic transformations away from their dreary self centered lives. It isn’t a fanciful interpretation at all, but thanks for the compliment. What other sort of evidence would you like to see?”

              False, Christians tend to be the most self-centered (and hypocritical) people in existence.

              • shnarkle Von Barkle
                2019-05-07 21:11:24 GMT+0000 - 21:11 | Permalink

                “Christians tend to be the most self-centered (and hypocritical) people in existence.”

                Agreed. I wasn’t referring to Christians. Again, your arguments are with your imaginary foe.

    • Susej
      2019-05-07 17:08:44 GMT+0000 - 17:08 | Permalink

      ‘” A prima facie, generally reliable historian like Herodotus, says: These are my sources. Here’s what I think they say. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself!”
      A generally reliable historian? What’s preventing anyone from making their own judgements with regards to New Testament authors as well?’

      Whether or not a historian is reliable isn’t a subjective judgment but the internal consistency of the historian’s narrative and whether or not that historians claims are corroborated by sources that are external to and independent of that historians works (ie: works of other historians, the archaeological record). I can’t speak to Herodotus but by those standards the Bible is woefully lacking in credibility.

      ‘“None of the earliest sources speak of him as having a purely human birth or career, so how could he then have been a purely human prophet-teacher with biological brothers?”
      Isn’t this a non sequitur? Mark and Paul say absolutely nothing about his birth whatsoever. I’ve made no mention of my own birth. Could it be that I don’t exist either?’

      You don’t understand the argument. Mark and Paul don’t just “not say anything about his birth”: it is argued that they depict Jesus as a divine or angelic being whose biography was simply made up of references to various Bible passages that the authors believed prophesied the Jesus character who they saw in their visions and that this is inconsistent with the later tradition of Jesus being born of a woman and having flesh and blood brothers.

      ‘My favorite response to this same argument concerning Moses is that it may have been written by someone else, perhaps even someone with the same name. The point here is that it really doesn’t matter because the authors are pointing out something far greater than history or historical personages. They’re pointing out the importance of the truth.’

      Pointing out the importance of truth by inventing a fictional history…how does that work and what are you smoking?

      • shnarkle Von Barkle
        2019-05-07 18:29:00 GMT+0000 - 18:29 | Permalink

        “Whether or not a historian is reliable isn’t a subjective judgment but the internal consistency of the historian’s narrative and whether or not that historians claims are corroborated by sources that are external to and independent of that historians works (ie: works of other historians, the archaeological record). I can’t speak to Herodotus but by those standards the Bible is woefully lacking in credibility.”

        Well it seems that by your own logic, you really don’t have much more than a subjective judgment of the bible. As I’ve already pointed out, Herodotus and the bible corroborate each other. Then there are archeaological records as well. Most importantly is the fact that our author is using Herodotus as an example of a reliable historian, at least “generally reliable”. This is an historian who has documented that a military was disarmed by rodents. This is who is held up as the standard of credibility?

        “it is argued that they depict Jesus as a divine or angelic being whose biography was simply made up of references to various Bible passages that the authors believed prophesied the Jesus character who they saw in their visions and that this is inconsistent with the later tradition of Jesus being born of a woman and having flesh and blood brothers.”

        Yeah, and it’s a weak argument. A closer examination reveals that all four gospels reveal a Jesus who is not only quite human, but one who was completely unimpressive to most people he encountered. He had a message that was incredibly unpopular, and resulted in everyone abandoning him to die on a cross.

        “Pointing out the importance of truth by inventing a fictional history…how does that work and what are you smoking?”

        Not that I’m smoking anything, but it works quite well. Read some good fiction sometime, and you might see that timeless truths can be revealed in mythologies, legends, etc. Given an audience that is out herding sheep, planting crops, and engaging in quite mundane activities, it stands to reason that they’re not going to be all that interested in some intellectually stimulating Aristotelian search for truth. They’re a story telling people so they learn through these fictional stories, parables, etc.. It’s what they can relate to.

        One of the amazing things about these stories is that they can reveal the truth immediately bypassing the intellect altogether. One doesn’t have to think about it at all. It’s what some would call a ‘no-brainer’. These gospel narratives point out this phenomenon with tax collectors “immediately” leaving a pile of money to seek the truth.

        • Susej
          2019-05-07 19:05:51 GMT+0000 - 19:05 | Permalink

          “Well it seems that by your own logic, you really don’t have much more than a subjective judgment of the bible. As I’ve already pointed out, Herodotus and the bible corroborate each other. Then there are archeaological records as well. Most importantly is the fact that our author is using Herodotus as an example of a reliable historian, at least “generally reliable”. This is an historian who has documented that a military was disarmed by rodents. This is who is held up as the standard of credibility?”

          You haven’t mentioned anything at all about Herodotus and the Bible corroborating each other. As for my not having much more than a subjective judgment of the Bible by my own logic, you completely failed to make any case at all.

          “Yeah, and it’s a weak argument. A closer examination reveals that all four gospels reveal a Jesus who is not only quite human, but one who was completely unimpressive to most people he encountered. He had a message that was incredibly unpopular, and resulted in everyone abandoning him to die on a cross.”
          The Gospels are not independent sources though. We know that Matthew and Luke copied from Mark. We also know that John was written way after the supposed death of Jesus, and all four Gospels came after the letters of Paul which know nothing of the Earthly Jesus depicted in the Gospels.

          “Not that I’m smoking anything, but it works quite well. Read some good fiction sometime, and you might see that timeless truths can be revealed in mythologies, legends, etc. Given an audience that is out herding sheep, planting crops, and engaging in quite mundane activities, it stands to reason that they’re not going to be all that interested in some intellectually stimulating Aristotelian search for truth. They’re a story telling people so they learn through these fictional stories, parables, etc.. It’s what they can relate to.”
          This is an equivocation fallacy based upon an ambiguous usage of the word truth. Just because a document contains insights into human nature shouldn’t give it cart blanche to misrepresent history .

          “One of the amazing things about these stories is that they can reveal the truth immediately bypassing the intellect altogether. One doesn’t have to think about it at all. It’s what some would call a ‘no-brainer’. These gospel narratives point out this phenomenon with tax collectors “immediately” leaving a pile of money to seek the truth”

          You’re taking for granted that the Gospel obly contains “good” messages however many would argue that the Bible has had a terrible influence on humanity.

          • shnarkle Von Barkle
            2019-05-07 20:23:22 GMT+0000 - 20:23 | Permalink

            Re: “You haven’t mentioned anything at all about Herodotus and the Bible corroborating each other.”

            Sorry, my bad. I should have known you probably just jumped into this discussion without reading any of the comments, or the original article. Here are my relavent comments:

            shnarkle Von Barkle
            2019-05-03 12:06:03 GMT+0000 – 12:06 | Permalink

            I hate to break this to you, but this author isn’t putting his best foot forward with this gem:
            “A reliable historian like Herodotus says:”
            Herodotus is not the go-to person for accurate historical accounts. The Hebrew scriptures give an account that claims the Holy Spirit went out and fought for Israel. This is why they won the battle. We can toss that version in the trash without a thought. Herodotus supplies us with his version of the exact same battle, and claims that the reason for their loss was due to rodents eating their quivers. Do rodents do such a thing? Not only do rodents not eat quivers, but no one in their right mind is going to look at someone who reports this as credible in the first place. Herododus is the father of “fake news”.

            shnarkle Von Barkle
            2019-05-04 12:13:26 GMT+0000 – 12:13 | Permalink

            In Herodotus’ account,these field mice supposedly invaded the Assyrian camp and gnawed the quivers, bow strings, and leather shield handles, which completely disarmed them. (ii.141). Sure it’s possible, but if you’re going to go that route, then you’re going to have to grant the same possibilities to the biblical accounts.

            Given that there seems to be some who are willing to give Herodotus credibility here, it seems only fair to look at some of his other accounts which just so happen to verify biblical prophecy as well.

            There are several prophecies which indicate that God would overthrow the “golden city” by his “shepherd,” his “anointed one,” Cyrus, king of Persia (Isaiah 44:28; 45:1), who would “dry up” Babylon’s water (Isaiah 44:27; Jeremiah 50:38; 51:36).

            Herodotus claims that Cyrus diverted the river, but that the Babylonians could have defended the city, except for the fact that in their confidence they “were engaged in a festival”, and were taken by surprise (i.191).

            Jeremiah prophesied the city would be feasting and drunken (51:39, 57), and thus captured unaware (50:24). Jeremiah gave these prophecies about fifty-six years before the fall of Babylon (cf. 51:59), and about 150 years before Herodotus.

            Isaiah prophetically states: “Come now, and sit in the dust, O virgin daughter of Babylon, sit on the ground” (47:1). Virgin is of course a reference to the fact that the mighty city had never been ravished before.

            Herodotus describes the assault of Cyrus as “the first taking of Babylon” (i.191).

            You can find these posts under the original post. Here’s the link:

            https://vridar.org/2019/04/30/another-name-to-add-to-the-whos-who-page-of-mythicists-and-mythicist-agnostics/

            “The Gospels are not independent sources though.”

            They are completely separate church communities composed of quite different people with differing cultural and religious interests, goals, etc.

            “Just because a document contains insights into human nature shouldn’t give it cart blanche to misrepresent history.”

            Straw man argument. I’m not claiming it represents or misrepresents history. I’m pointing out that they aren’t historical narratives at all. They’re liturgical narratives, and if you were familiar with the Jewish liturgical calendar, you would see that they match like a hand into a glove.

            There may be aspects of the narratives that give us a glimpse into history, but these authors do not intend their narratives to be used as a glimpse into history. They are providing us with historically accurate elements just as liturgies today provide us with glimpses of historical and cultural aspects of church communities around the world.

            This is why historians are able to prove that these narratives couldn’t be referring to events during Jesus’ life, but were more in line with the events occurring around these church communities decades later. They do this by corroborating these events with other historical accounts. They use history to prove that it isn’t a historical account of Palestine circa AD 30.

            “You’re taking for granted that the Gospel obly contains “good” messages”

            Not at all. In fact, I’ve never posted anything to suggest such nonsense. You’re projecting.

            “… however many would argue that the Bible has had a terrible influence on humanity.”

            I would simply argue that terrible people will use anything to justify their depravity; the bible included. No doubt there are people who go completely insane at the mere mention of the book. Read a few passages to some, and they see only red. The examples are endless. So what? The texts themselves point out as much. They even have Jesus pointing out that he speaks in parables expressely so people won’t be able to understand him. It isn’t for everyone.

            The “good news” isn’t “good” for those who don’t have “the ears to hear” it. It’s inherently and intentionally divisive especially for those who are deaf to its message. For them, it’s all about “good” and “evil”. They’re still stuck in the muck of Adam’s fall for knowledge of good and evil. The gospel writers point out that Christ shows the reality of good and evil, rather than engaging in some intellectual exercise. In other words, knowledge of good and evil is not actually good and evil. Paradoxically, whatever one manifests in word or deed is what is in one’s heart. Blaming books for offensive or inhumane behavior is like blaming fictitious characters like the devil.

            • Susej
              2019-05-07 21:14:08 GMT+0000 - 21:14 | Permalink

              “Sorry, my bad. I should have known you probably just jumped into this discussion without reading any of the comments, or the original article. Here are my relavent comments:
              shnarkle Von Barkle
              2019-05-03 12:06:03 GMT+0000 – 12:06 | Permalink
              I hate to break this to you, but this author isn’t putting his best foot forward with this gem:
              “A reliable historian like Herodotus says:”
              Herodotus is not the go-to person for accurate historical accounts. The Hebrew scriptures give an account that claims the Holy Spirit went out and fought for Israel. This is why they won the battle. We can toss that version in the trash without a thought. Herodotus supplies us with his version of the exact same battle, and claims that the reason for their loss was due to rodents eating their quivers. Do rodents do such a thing? Not only do rodents not eat quivers, but no one in their right mind is going to look at someone who reports this as credible in the first place. Herododus is the father of “fake news”.”

              So I was supposed to be aware of a comment that you made on a different thread?

              “In Herodotus’ account,these field mice supposedly invaded the Assyrian camp and gnawed the quivers, bow strings, and leather shield handles, which completely disarmed them. (ii.141). Sure it’s possible, but if you’re going to go that route, then you’re going to have to grant the same possibilities to the biblical accounts.”

              Not really. Natural accounts>Supernatural accounts

              “Straw man argument. I’m not claiming it represents or misrepresents history. I’m pointing out that they aren’t historical narratives at all. They’re liturgical narratives, and if you were familiar with the Jewish liturgical calendar, you would see that they match like a hand into a glove.”

              No straw man, just poor reading comprehension on your part. I realize you are trying to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not the Bible is historically accurate because it contains “higher truths”, and I am disagreeing with your belief on that matter.

              “There may be aspects of the narratives that give us a glimpse into history, but these authors do not intend their narratives to be used as a glimpse into history. They are providing us with historically accurate elements just as liturgies today provide us with glimpses of historical and cultural aspects of church communities around the world.”

              What is your basis for the claim that the authors of the Bible did not intend for their readers to interpret their stories as historical narratives. I agree their are parables and and metaphors in the Bible but the claim that say, the Exodus narrative, was not intended to be accepted as having actually occurred in history is dubious.

              “I would simply argue that terrible people will use anything to justify their depravity; the bible included. No doubt there are people who go completely insane at the mere mention of the book. Read a few passages to some, and they see only red. The examples are endless. So what? ”

              The Bible literally justifies genocide and slavery.

              “The texts themselves point out as much. They even have Jesus pointing out that he speaks in parables expressely so people won’t be able to understand him. It isn’t for everyone.”

              Which is ironic because the import of the parables is almost always extremely transparent.

              “The “good news” isn’t “good” for those who don’t have “the ears to hear” it. It’s inherently and intentionally divisive especially for those who are deaf to its message. For them, it’s all about “good” and “evil”. They’re still stuck in the muck of Adam’s fall for knowledge of good and evil. ”

              I know you think you are some great sage who has all the answers but your blatant lack of reading comprehension and constant use of non-sequitur arguments gives me some doubts.

              “Paradoxically, whatever one manifests in word or deed is what is in one’s heart. Blaming books for offensive or inhumane behavior is like blaming fictitious characters like the devil.”

              The idiocy and barbarism in the hearts of the primitives who wrote the Bible manifested itself in the deed of writing the drivel.

              • shnarkle Von Barkle
                2019-05-07 23:16:55 GMT+0000 - 23:16 | Permalink

                “you’re going to have to grant the same possibilities to the biblical accounts.”
                “Not really. Natural accounts>Supernatural accounts”

                Hezekiah praying isn’t supernatural, and just because you don’t have any way to verify what happened in the biblical account doesn’t disprove the biblical account. Concluding that rodents disarmed a country’s military doesn’t sound like a natural occurance either.

                “I realize you are trying to say that it doesn’t matter whether or not the Bible is historically accurate because it contains “higher truths”, and I am disagreeing with your belief on that matter.”

                You’re disagreeing with a position you can’t even articulate. Historians have looked at the gospel narratives and seen evidence suggesting the accounts reflect what was going on in these communities decades after Jesus was supposed to have lived and died. They aren’t basing these conclusions on ‘higher truths’, but upon historical evidence that agrees with the settings in the narratives.

                “What is your basis for the claim that the authors of the Bible did not intend for their readers to interpret their stories as historical narratives.”

                Because they weren’t historians, and they weren’t writing history. The gospels are liturgical interpretations of the Jewish feast days. Unless you think it is just a mere coincidence that each and every story in the gospel narratives follows the Jewish calendar, the historical approach simply doesn’t work. This doesn’t mean that we can’t discover historical evidence for the early church as well as what the early church was going through. Thus it is quite valuable to historians; just not for discovering the historical Jesus.

                ” the claim that say, the Exodus narrative, was not intended to be accepted as having actually occurred in history is dubious.”

                Why do you say that? All observant Jews are taught to see themselves in these narratives as if they actually happened to them personally. Paul even points out that these stories are to teach us as if they’re object lessons. So those who are the closest to these stories will readily point out that it really doesn’t matter if any of this ever happened literally because the lessons they teach are what is important. It is the stories and narratives themselves and how they’re presented that holds the lessons. Google the Babylonian Talmud and take a peek at it, and you might get an idea of what’s really going on. The lessons are in the telling, or as Paul says, it comes “by hearing”.

                ” The Bible literally justifies genocide and slavery.”

                Could you site an example of this justification? While I don’t disagree that there is plenty of genocide and slavery in the pages of the bible, I’m not so sure that the bible presents any arguments justifying them. More importantly, I don’t know that the authors are presenting some statement suggesting they condone genocide beyond their fictional accounts. For example, they present a people who are “continually evil” as prime candidates for a wholesale genocide. I can’t think of any good defense for letting them remain continually evil. It seems the most merciful thing for them. It doesn’t then follow that genocide is the go-to method to deal with other people.

                The biblical authors didn’t invent slavery, but they were a pagan’s best bet for freedom if they were lucky enough to be bought by an observant Jew. The regulations concerning slavery in the Mosaic law are by far the most humane of any found in antiquity. They provide better care for their slaves than most employers do for their employees in any first world country today.

                ” the import of the parables is almost always extremely transparent.”

                Not really. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man is a prime example of how most people haven’t got a clue what’s really going on. Most people will readily spout off that Jesus is providing a teaching on where people go when they die, but the context reveals a completely different interpretation. The history, culture, and the context all disprove the readily transparent interpretations.

                “I know you think you are some great sage who has all the answers but your blatant lack of reading comprehension and constant use of non-sequitur arguments gives me some doubts.”

                Again, you’re just projecting. My superior grasp of these texts obviously is a put off to your profound ignorance. The fact that it bothers you enough to resort to ad hominem only spotlights this fact.

                “The idiocy and barbarism in the hearts of the primitives who wrote the Bible manifested itself in the deed of writing the drivel.”

                And yet whenever someone writes a top selling book, they compare it to the bible. Go figure. Works of literature which stand the test of time, and are copied repeatedly into numerous languages tend to have some literary value. The bible just so happens to be the standard by which great works of literature are graded.

                Your characterization only spotlights your own ignorance of the subject. Renowned scholars don’t write volumes on drivel. Literary geniuses don’t make numerous allusions to works of drivel. They refer to the bible because their audiences tend to be well educated, and familiar with great works of literature. Even an imbecile like Richard Dawkins has enough sense to admit it’s literary value.

            • nightshadetwine
              2019-05-08 02:30:23 GMT+0000 - 02:30 | Permalink

              “The regulations concerning slavery in the Mosaic law are by far the most humane of any found in antiquity.”

              Can you provide a source for this?

              • shnarkle Von Barkle
                2019-05-08 04:04:28 GMT+0000 - 04:04 | Permalink

                The Talmud. The Sages of Judaism go into incredible detail explaining the entire Mosaic law, and the regulations dealing with all aspects of slavery are no exception. Too many people simply look at the regulations and assume the worst without ever delving into slavery in the ancient world.

              • Ken
                2019-05-16 02:45:29 GMT+0000 - 02:45 | Permalink

                Paul Copan tried to make the case that Israelite slavery was more humane than other cultures of the time and he was thoroughly demolished by Thom Stark.

                Starks critique is quite long and I don’t have the desire at the moment to wade through it in order to find that specific subject, but the table of contents for his review should be helpful, and the entire critique was fascinating reading to me.

                https://thomstark.net/copan/stark_copan-review.pdf

    • MrHorse
      2019-05-07 21:27:36 GMT+0000 - 21:27 | Permalink

      How is it that all of Christianity comes to the conclusion that Jesus was born of a woman then?

      Because hardly a Christian has delved into it, or would want to question it.

      But now some people are, eg. –

      a. https://dmspence.com/2019/05/02/born-of-a-woman-analysing-galatians-44-in-context/

      b. https://dmspence.com/2019/05/05/born-of-a-woman-the-literary-context-of-galatians-44/

      What started Spence off was Tim O’Neill:

      x. https://dmspence.com/2019/04/28/history-for-atheists-or-pandering-to-theists-the-difference-between-fact-and-interpretation/

      y. https://dmspence.com/2019/04/29/lazy-historiography-by-tim-oneill-say-what-you-mean-and-mean-what-you-say/

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-08 01:17:44 GMT+0000 - 01:17 | Permalink

      “Yes, yes, it doesn’t logically entail they didn’t exist…Ehrman is too impressed with the amount of evidence for Jesus. The sheer quantity of sources is irrelevant”

      This doesn’t exactly sound like someone who has a real argument against a historical Jesus, does it?

      It sounds like someone who understands the difference between quantity and quality of evidence. The same objection goes back to Albert Schweitzer who, though he believed in the historicity of Jesus, also acknowledged that he could not “prove” it by the strictly rational standards of historical research.

      ” A prima facie, generally reliable historian like Herodotus, says: These are my sources. Here’s what I think they say. Don’t take my word for it, judge for yourself!”

      A generally reliable historian? What’s preventing anyone from making their own judgements with regards to New Testament authors as well?

      You appear to have misread the original. “Reliable” does not mean what he says is true; it means that the historian gives the reasons he is writing something and allows his readers to make up their own minds if it is likely true or false. That’s what Herodotus did. The reader has some confidence in the “reliability” of Herodotus because Herodotus explains his sources and gives readers a chance to evaluate the truth of the story for themselves. (There is much more to what Herodotus was doing but basically that’s how he comes across to readers.) The gospels, of course, do no such thing by comparison.

      “None of the earliest sources speak of him as having a purely human birth or career, so how could he then have been a purely human prophet-teacher with biological brothers?”

      Isn’t this a non sequitur? Mark and Paul say absolutely nothing about his birth whatsoever. I’ve made no mention of my own birth. Could it be that I don’t exist either?

      I think you are mischievously misreading the argument, here. 🙂 You have read over the previous sentence! Narve is saying that none of the earliest sources speak of Jesus as “a purely human being”. That is the argument.

      “(Rom 1:3-4)
      That doesn’t sound like a purely human being who had a natural birth and human
      career at all. In fact, Paul goes out of his way to say Jesus wasn’t really a human being…the only thing Paul clearly isn’t talking about here is “a purely human being.” He even uses a special word “made” (genomenos) instead of the usual “born” (gennaô)(see also Gal 4:4; Rom 1:3) to mark off Jesus’ coming into the world. The word suggests direct manufacture (by God) as opposed to natural birth”

      This is bizarre. How is it that all of Christianity comes to the conclusion that Jesus was born of a woman then? He suggests we look in Galatians 4:4, where we read “made of a woman”. Does this guy now believe that God is a woman? Does he seriously think that the fact that “made” indicates Jesus is created (rather than Creator), indicate anything other than he’s created like all human beings? God creates Adam from the dirt and blows the breath of life into him. This doesn’t make Adam a god either. Far from distinguishing Jesus from us, it spotlights the similarities.

      No, it the word “made” is unexpected. If the passage were describing a normal human birth from the woman we would expect the normal word “born” to be used. But strangely the text says that God “built/constructed/made” Jesus from the woman. That tells us it was not a normal birth. And some of the earliest accounts of Jesus’ “birth” demonstrate that, too. One account has Jesus simply appearing beside Mary who is suddenly no longer pregnant — without any normal birth process. Paul appears to be referring to some such narrative in Galatians.

      He concludes with this: “the historicist doesn’t have real evidence that would make his purely human Jesus existing more probable than not.”

      And yet, he doesn’t have real evidence that denies his existence. Legends usually have some historical kernal as their origin.

      The Jesus story is not a legend. There is nothing “legendary” about it.

      My favorite response to this same argument concerning Moses is that it may have been written by someone else, perhaps even someone with the same name. The point here is that it really doesn’t matter because the authors are pointing out something far greater than history or historical personages. They’re pointing out the importance of the truth.

      It’s ironic that the texts point this out, yet “believers” rely upon history rather than the content of their own texts. Is it any wonder they’re falling away from their faith?

      You have just undercut your own argument here by declaring that your interest is not objectively historical but a desire to prove the truth of your faith.

      • shnarkle Von Barkle
        2019-05-08 03:59:12 GMT+0000 - 03:59 | Permalink

        Greetings Neil,

        “Yes, yes, it doesn’t logically entail they didn’t exist…Ehrman is too impressed with the amount of evidence for Jesus. The sheer quantity of sources is irrelevant”

        “It sounds like someone who understands the difference between quantity and quality of evidence.”

        It isn’t just that he understands the difference between quantity and quality. He believes the quantity of evidence is irrelevant, and perhaps it is. Let’s see how this works with proving who you think you are. I suspect there may be quite a lot of evidence, but the quality of evidence will be no better than what the gospel narratives provide.

        How does one go about proving who they are? Don’t we supply those inquiring with documentation? Identification? So your identity is established through identification, but as closely related as identification is to identity, identification is not identity.

        Official papers establishing name, date of birth, sex, etc. establishes an identity, but associating that identity with a physical body doesn’t actually tell us who you are. It just identifies an identity with a physical body, and identities are not physical bodies. They’re abstract constructions of the mind. An abstract construction of the mind is nothing more than a concept. Are you a concept?

        It is developed over time during infancy, but is it who you are? How do you know it’s who you are? What criteria do you have to prove that it isn’t just an arbitrary identity that masks who you really are?

        People will tend to point to themselves as if their body is who they are, but it isn’t even grammatically correct to equate the verb to be with the genitive of possession. You can’t be what you have. Are you the physical body, or is it your body?

        Taking a name such as “Yahweh” or the title “God”, and pointing out that there is no referent may not disprove God’s existence, but the fact remains that there is no way to identify God, or even begin to prove God’s existence without a referent. Even with a referent, have we really proven God’s existence, or just identified an idea with a referent?

        Taking an arbitrarily established identity and identifying it with a body doesn’t prove who you are, it masks who you are. It’s just you, whoever you think you are; claiming an identity you literally made up when you were an infant, and if a few thousand people go along with that, it still doesn’t negate the fact that you made it up a few months after you were born.

        This persona is what you present to the world, and it’s nothing but a mask, and a mask doesn’t tell us who you are, it conceals the fact. It doesn’t take a genius to figure this out, but a genius will still be hard pressed to articulate exactly what’s going on because our language is incapable of pulling it off.

        “Reliable” does not mean what he says is true;”

        I was noting the author’s use of “generally reliable”. Herodotus is reporting what he’s been told; it’s hearsay, and it’s generally about as believable as the accounts in the bible. When I see rodents disarm a military, then I’ll believe it’s possible for snakes to talk.

        “None of the earliest sources speak of him as having a purely human birth or career,…” Narve is saying that none of the earliest sources speak of Jesus as “a purely human being”. That is the argument.

        It’s a weak argument. It assumes that no human being could believe in a world where God’s will is manifest through them. There are countless stories of people who live similar lives, and most intelligent people wouldn’t view them as anything other than realized human beings, and realized beings are purely human beings; perhaps one could say they are pure human beings.

        “the text says that God “built/constructed/made” Jesus from the woman. That tells us it was not a normal birth….The Jesus story is not a legend. There is nothing “legendary” about it.”

        Legends tend to be abnormal, no? So which is it? Was his birth the things legends are made of, e.g. demigods, or was it normal?

        “believers” rely upon history rather than the content of their own texts. Is it any wonder they’re falling away from their faith?”
        “You have just undercut your own argument here by declaring that your interest is not objectively historical but a desire to prove the truth of your faith.”

        Well, not exactly. I see the historical value of the texts. Historians can look at historical accounts and see parallels to ascertain when these texts probably were written, and even tell that the events reflect the historical events of the church decades after Jesus supposedely lived and died.

        I’m not presenting a desire to prove the truth of my faith at all. I simply pointed out that people who study a text that explicitly points out that the truth is what sets one free might consider that preferable to basing their faith on history, especially when they don’t believe in the historial Jesus anyways. Christians believe in a Christ that is based upon theology, not history, yet their “faith” is grounded in their belief in historical events. When it is discovered that these events have no historical basis, their “faith” vanishes. Again, this is why it is so much more important to study the content of these narratives rather than viewing them as literal historical narratives. This isn’t something that requires faith to begin with.

        The confessions of the fathers of their faith have accreted over the centuries into dogmatic assertions of faith. I don’t ascribe to any of that rot so you also seem to be assuming just because someone sees value in these texts, they must be exercising faith, or hooked into some devotional approach to it.

        I can assure you that despite the fact that I have a few tattered bibles, it is in no way a sign of piety. I am basically a modern day Pharisee. A hypocrite, but alas admitting this fact paradoxically absolves me of my sin. It should go without saying, that no Christian church in the world would ever entertain the thought of admitting me as one of their members. This doesn’t prevent me from being admitted to their services which are in most cases better than a Vegas show.

        In other words, my interest isn’t as any ground for faith, but in its entertainment value.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-05-08 04:18:51 GMT+0000 - 04:18 | Permalink

          Your first part of the comment about identity has nothing to do with historical methods and how a historian establishes the existence of a past person or event. We are not talking about personal identity in a phenomenological sense but whether such and such a person existed as per certain stories from the past. There are well understood methods for establishing historicity that are used all the time. See, for example, https://vridar.org/historical-method-and-the-question-of-christian-origins/

          As for your comment about Herodotus and what Narve Strand meant by “reliable” and what I also explained, I am sorry but you are just being ignorant and totally ignoring what we mean. Reliable does not mean “it is true” but we can have confidence in what we are told and the reasons we are being told it — that’s a reliable telling of an event. A reliable witness says that he believes X happened because he saw Y, and that enables you to make up your own mind. That’s clearly what Strand says and means so you need to deal with his argument and stop playing word games.

          If you don’t like an argument because it clashes with your faith then fine, just ignore it and continue in your faith. But if you want to discuss historical evidence according to the norms of rational inquiry then you have to play by the rules. You just can’t decide to bring in God whenever the rules of the game catch you out.

          Of course you are following your faith and letting that lead your interpretation. As soon as logic and evidence defeats you, you cry “unfair” and say we need to consider God or something. Your personal hypocrisy is irrelevant to the rules of historical inquiry.

          • shnarkle Von Barkle
            2019-05-08 06:10:04 GMT+0000 - 06:10 | Permalink

            “Your first part of the comment about identity has nothing to do with historical methods and how a historian establishes the existence of a past person or event.”

            From what I’ve read so far, it’s beginning to look as if historians establish the existence of past persons or events exclusively by faith.

            “We are not talking about personal identity in a phenomenological sense but whether such and such a person existed as per certain stories from the past.”

            You and your history buffs may not, but that doesn’t mean Paul isn’t. Paul explicitly points out that he has lost his identity in Christ. The authors of the gospel narratives point out that one must ‘deny yourself’. What does a historian have worth contributing to a narrative that they’ve already admitted isn’t presenting historical personages or events?

            “Reliable does not mean “it is true” but we can have confidence in what we are told and the reasons we are being told it — that’s a reliable telling of an event.”

            So reliable telling of events don’t mean they’re true. Got it. I know people who can reliably reconstruct whole passage of the bible, this doesn’t make it history, right? I don’t see this extremely fine distinction you’re making. Pointing out that your source is reliable in conveying lies doesn’t sound like a glowing testimonial for historians or historical methods either.

            “A reliable witness says that he believes X happened because he saw Y, and that enables you to make up your own mind. That’s clearly what Strand says and means so you need to deal with his argument and stop playing word games.”

            What word games? So let’s plug into your formula and see what we get. “A reliable witness(i.e. a liar) says that he believes Jesus rose from the dead because he saw the risen Christ, and that enables you to make up your own mind”. So is that history, or not? For some insane reason, you seem to think I’m making an argument for the historocity of the gospel narratives or Paul’s letters when I’ve done nothing of the sort whatsoever. In fact, I know they’re not historical narratives of Christ’s life. There’s just too much evidence to the contrary. The authors weren’t presenting historical narratives of Christ’s life. Pretending that your historical expertise somehow enables you to conclude that I am injecting statements of faith into the discussion is pure nonsense.

            “If you don’t like an argument because it clashes with your faith then fine, just ignore it and continue in your faith.”

            What faith? Where am I professing any faith? You’re the one who seems to be getting bent over questions you can’t answer. You’re the one who is presenting your dogmatic claims, rules, and regulations ex cathedra, not me. My questions needn’t be viewed as an affont to your understanding of history or historical analysis Going off the deep end by accusing me of injecting faith into the discussion only makes you look like some petulent Torquemada.

            “You just can’t decide to bring in God whenever the rules of the game catch you out.”

            Where am I bringing in God??? God doesn’t exist, and logically can’t exist. I can even provide you passages from the bible to prove the authors are pointing this out themselves.

            “Of course you are following your faith and letting that lead your interpretation.”

            I have no faith to follow. You’re grasping at straws.

            “As soon as logic and evidence defeats you, you cry “unfair” and say we need to consider God or something.”

            Consider what God? Where am I suggesting we need to consider God? Where am I crying “unfair”? My reading of these texts indicates that there is no God, and logically can’t be. John’s introduction begins with “in the beginning was the word”. He doesn’t begin with “In the beginning was God” because there is no referent for the word “God”. “God” is the source of existence, and therefore can’t exist. Paul says as much in 1 Corinthians 8:6 where he distinguishes between God and Christ by pointing out that “God” is the origin (e.g. “of whom” all things exist) whereas Christ is the means by which everything comes into existence. Again, it logically follows that the origin of existence can’t exist without paradoxically negating itself into existence. The origin of being can’t exist without negating itself as the origin.

            Over and over again, the texts point out that God is “incomparable”; “there is none beside me”, etc. “God” is synonymous with transcendence, and there is no effective difference between transcendence and non-existence. If transcendence doesn’t transcend existence, then it isn’t transcendent. This isn’t faith, it’s simple logic.

            What you’re doing is assuming that just because I’m using these terms, I must somehow believe in the existence of God, or have some faith in God. A blatant non sequitur. You’re the one who can’t stop talking about God and faith, so by your logic you must be the Christian believer in this equation. You’re the one who is exercising your faith in these incoherant arguments that must rely upon me being some fanatic injecting my faith into the discussion. As much as you’d like to burn me at the stake as a historical heretic, your knee jerk Inquisition can’t even come up with a coherant accusation.

            You’re the one who is assuming that I’m using these terms with all their accumulated baggage; I’m not. I’m looking at the context as well as the usage of these terms throughout these texts; something I used to think historians or even amateur history buffs would have considered.

            The only thing more idiotic than belief in the existence of God is in asking for proof. After I point out the logical fallacy of God’s existence, you claim I’m injecting faith claims for God’s existence into the discussion. Go figure. For someone who believes in history and historical methods, you sure do talk about God a lot.

            • Neil Godfrey
              2019-05-08 06:18:00 GMT+0000 - 06:18 | Permalink

              From what I’ve read so far, it’s beginning to look as if historians establish the existence of past persons or events exclusively by faith.

              You obviously haven’t read anything about historical methods at all, not even the posts addressing those methods that I pointed you to. Trolling is not appreciated.

              If you don’t address that question seriously I’ll put the rest of your comments in spam. (I’ve struck out the bulk of your comment because it is clearly written for no reason other than to entertain yourself, as you hinted in your earlier comment. If you want to be serious then respond to my above request. Till then, you’re out of here.)

            • shnarkle Von Barkle
              2019-05-09 23:46:31 GMT+0000 - 23:46 | Permalink

              After reading the link you provided, I note that historians need to ” establish some fundamental facts”, but “gaps in our knowledge of the gospels ought to pull up every historian short and make them wonder if it is worth even continuing to work with these documents. Certainly any historian worth his or her salt will always be tentative about any conclusions and data taken from them.”

              Really? That’s quite an admission, and one that I couldn’t agree with more. More people might want to take into consideration before they come to their conclusions that anyone who disagrees with them is somehow exercising some antiquated superstitious faith, or trolling.

              ………….

              [Neil: I have deleted the remaining 795 words of “SVB”‘s comment]

              • Neil Godfrey
                2019-05-09 23:58:35 GMT+0000 - 23:58 | Permalink

                Your reading is very selective and deficient. You missed the thread of the argument and its conclusion.

                We place trust in the contents of documents to the extent that

                • what we know of their authorship and provenance gives us an understanding of what they are about and why they were written;
                • we know the genre of the documents — given that genre is a key to understanding the intent of the author;
                • (and this one is most important) . . . information in the documents can be independently verified.

                That is not faith. That is sound rational, evidence-based method.

                I deleted the rest of your comment because it is rambling off at a tangent and missing (or again misreading and failing to understand) the criticisms I have made of your earlier remarks. You appear to be determined not to understand another’s point of view and continue to repeat your own despite what anyone else is saying. That’s trolling. (For instance, I have discussed Herodotus on this blog several times and have demonstrated his falsehoods, myths, fantasies, and how they are often wrapped up in a veneer of “objective eye-witness reporting”. You have repeatedly failed to understand what Strand meant by “reliable” (and failed to acknowledge or try to deal with his own explanations) in the context of the point he was making.)

      • 2019-05-08 10:32:09 GMT+0000 - 10:32 | Permalink

        We can realize just how stupid all this squabbling over the about being born of a women is when we consider that dozens, if not hundreds, of mythical figures were said to be “born of a woman”, like Hercules, and even of course all the Patriarchs, none of whom existed either.

        The whole “born of a woman” discussion is irrelevant because Paul has no direct knowledge of Jesus, period, so it doesn’t matter much what he says. Add to that the fact that Paul clearly says he’s talking about allegorical women in this passage, so the whole thing is just a farce.

        At best Paul gives us hearsay. But Paul’s whole discussion about being “born of a woman” is entirely odd, even if we don’t conclude that he’s talking about allegorical women. What would anyone even say anything like that about a real person?

        I’m tired of these stupid Paul discussions. When you read all of the letters of Paul, it’s clear hes not talking about a real person. here are a handful of questionable passages like this one that give that impression, but he never talks about Jesus in normal way. There is only one passage that talks about Jesus like a real person and that’s the “brother of the Lord” passage. Of course the evidence is that James was not a literal brother of Jesus, but still, that’s the way one would expect people to talk about a real person (except he would have said Jesus instead of Lord).

        That Christians glom onto these obvious statements of faith is just laughable. Other than the brother of the Lord passage, every single other passage that purports to show Jesus is a person is a statement of faith (many of which appear to be later interpolations). He was “of David’s seed”, “born of a woman”, “took the form of flesh”, etc. These aren’t things you say about real people.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-05-08 10:42:29 GMT+0000 - 10:42 | Permalink

          They are not indeed (the sorts of things you say about real people). For some surely unjustifiable reason there seems to be some knee-jerk reaction of shock-horror-scandal whenever anyone suggests, even with evidence!, the possibility of “interpolation” — as if text corruptions and interpolations were unknown rather than being (as they were in fact) very, very common in the ancient world’s literature. Once again we come back to the “exceptional status” of Christian studies, so that Christian-related documents are assumed to be interpolation free unless the most stringent standards, viz actual manuscript testimonies, say otherwise, while the evidence for abundant interpolations in other non-Christian literature is considered irrelevant to even the suggestion of possibility of interpolation.

          • C.J. O'Brien
            2019-05-08 22:54:06 GMT+0000 - 22:54 | Permalink

            This irritates me too. The problem is that when you posit an interpolation, the knee jerk accusation is that you’re “making the text say what you want it to say”. For certain critics who see the entire project of interrogating the Historical Jesus hypotheses is hopelessly tendentious, of course they would see it that way. The actually cannot conceive of a good faith approach that wouldn’t immediately and firmly fall in line with the Scholarly ConsensusTM.

        • Pofarmer
          2019-05-08 12:58:15 GMT+0000 - 12:58 | Permalink

          The Last Supper passage in Corinthians is another instance where Paul seems ti be talking about a real, human Jesus. It also seems very likely to be an interpolation. Which is another huge problem with using the letters of Paul as evidence. We know they aren’t really reliable, even as to what Paul thinks 100%.

        • db
          2019-05-08 14:00:19 GMT+0000 - 14:00 | Permalink

          r.g.price, given the example of: “Plan S Open Letter” (sites.google.com) with signatories. You should post online what you just said with signatories.

          Cf. “Plan S”. Wikipedia.

  • Charles
    2019-05-07 16:32:02 GMT+0000 - 16:32 | Permalink

    Ehrman seems to have caught a lot of criticism over “Did Jesus Exist?” Especially from sites such as this one. How did the scholarly community respond to the book?

    • db
      2019-05-07 17:16:18 GMT+0000 - 17:16 | Permalink

      Per Ehrman’s book, Trent Horn states, “a good popular introduction might be Bart Ehrman’s book Did Jesus Exist?. Unfortunately it is not a scholarly treatment like Dr. Carrier’s [book]” and “there really is not a scholarly treatment of the issue from the historical view”.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-08 00:49:32 GMT+0000 - 00:49 | Permalink

      As db says, Ehrman’s book was not targeted at scholars but the general public. Scholars like James McGrath who have had an ongoing vendetta against mythicism, of course, loved Ehrman’s book — and blogged its praises.

  • Susej
    2019-05-08 00:06:48 GMT+0000 - 00:06 | Permalink

    I’ll leave Schnarkle this quotation from the great philosopher Feuerbach which I believe to be a far more astute and accurate assessment of the religion than his superficial attempt at a philosophical analysis:

    “Christianity set itself the goal of fulfilling man’s unattainable desires, but for that very reason ignored his attainable desires. By promising man eternal life, it deprived him of temporal life, by teaching him to trust in God’s help it took away his trust in his own powers; by giving him faith in a better life in heaven, it destroyed his faith in a better life on earth and his striving to attain such a life. Christianity gave man what his imagination desires, but for that very reason failed to give him what he really and truly desires. In his imagination, man yearns for heavenly, immoderate happiness; in reality, he desires earthly, moderate happiness. Earthly happiness, it is true, does not require wealth, luxury, splendor, glory, and empty display, but only the necessities, only the things without which man cannot carry on a human existence. But innumerable men still lack the barest necessities! For this reason the Christians call it blasphemous or inhuman to deny the existence of a hereafter and so deprive the unfortunate, the wretched of this earth, of their one consolation, the hope of a better world to come. Herein, they still believe, lies the moral significance of the hereafter, its unity with the divine; for without a hereafter there would be no retribution, no justice, no reparation in heaven for the misery of those who suffer on earth, or at least of those who suffer through no fault of their own.

    But this justification of the hereafter is a mere pretext, for it would justify a hereafter or immortality only for the unfortunate and not for those who have been lucky enough to satisfy their human needs and develop their human aptitudes on earth. The above-mentioned argument would make sense only if those who have already attained the goal of human desires ceased to be after death, or if they were worse off in the next world than in this, occupying in heaven the position that their brethren occupied in this. The Kamchadals actually do believe that those who have been poor on earth will be rich in the next world, whereas the rich will be poor, and that in this way a certain equality between the two classes is achieved. But this is not what the Christian gentlemen who champion the hereafter for the above-cited reason want or believe; they are determined to live just as well in the next world as the poor and unfortunate.

    […]

    What is truly negative is theism, the belief in God; it negates nature, the world and mankind: in the face of God, the world and man are nothing, God was before world and man were; He can exist without them; He is the nothingness of the world and of man; at least according to strict orthodox belief, God can make the world into nothingness at any moment. For the true theist the power and beauty of nature, the virtue of man, do not exist; a believer in God takes everything away from man and from nature in order to adorn and glorify his God. “Only God alone is to be loved,” says St. Augustine, for example, “this whole world [i. e. all sensuous things] is to be despised.” “God,” says Luther in a Latin letter, “wishes either to be the only friend or no friend at all.” “Faith, hope, and love,” he says in another letter, “are due to God alone, and that is why they are called the theological virtues.” Thus theism is “negative and destructive”; it builds its faith solely on the nullity of world and man, that is, of the real man.

    But God is nothing other than the abstracted, phantasmagoric essence of man and nature, hypostatised by the imagination; hence theism sacrifices the real life and nature of things and of men to a being who is a mere product of thought and imagination. Thus atheism is positive and affirmative; it gives back to nature and mankind the dignity of which theism has despoiled them; it restores life to nature and mankind, which theism had drained of their best powers. God, as we have seen, is jealous of nature and man; He wants man to honour, love, and serve Him alone; He wants everything else to be nothing and Himself alone to be something; in other words, theism is jealous of man and the world and begrudges them any good. Envy, ill will, and jealousy are destructive, negative passions. Atheism, on the other hand, is liberal, open-handed, open-minded; an atheist acknowledges every being’s will and talent; his heart delights in the beauty of nature and the virtue of man: joy and love do not destroy, they are life-giving, affirmative.

    • shnarkle Von Barkle
      2019-05-08 01:32:59 GMT+0000 - 01:32 | Permalink

      “I’ll leave Schnarkle this…assessment of the religion”

      Leave it to those incapable of even rudimentary reading comprehension skills to beat a dead horse. How does a philosopher comparing atheism to Christianity play into this article’s point of ascertaining the historocity of Jesus? How many times does one have to point out that I’m not defending Christianity? You’re ignorance is only exceeded by your incomprehensible irrelavence.

  • JBeers
    2019-05-08 10:27:05 GMT+0000 - 10:27 | Permalink

    Since crankiness and some tendency to go off on tangents seem to be temporarily in style here, please allow me to try to outdo everyone else, stomping my foot with a temper tantrum about something no one here can reasonably be expected to do much about.

    I really resent having to make the choice of not downloading the material (the choice I made) versus using the manipulative anti-privacy monopolies Google and Facebook (both of which many people prefer to boycott) or having to give out an email address yet one more time. (I do not know the author well enough to know whether he takes careful measures to keep his records from being hacked, and I am not competent enough to have set up enough dummy email accounts.)

    I resent the fact that there are not a lot of well known sites telling people uninterested in web and computer lore and jargon and uninterested in being patronized how in easy step-by-step instructions to set up their own websites so that the author could have set up his own website where people could have found the .pdf. I resent that many thousands of websites have not linked as a matter of routine to such presumably non-existent how-to-set-up-your-own-website-as-easily-as-possible websites so that the author would have known without effort where to find such websites.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-05-08 10:48:41 GMT+0000 - 10:48 | Permalink

      Sorry, JBeers, I’m a bit thick at the moment and not sure what the problem is that you are addressing. Do you want a copy of Narve Strand’s article without leaving behind any tell-tale privacy data along the way?

    • Tim Widowfield
      2019-05-08 13:44:08 GMT+0000 - 13:44 | Permalink

      JBeers, I believe you’re complaining about the paper being downloadable from academia.edu only after logging in. Academia.edu has been around a long time and a great many amateur and professional academics use it to share information.

      Have you thought about reading the paper online? You may have noticed that if you scroll down on the page you can read the entire paper right there. You may even be able to print the web page as a PDF.

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