2019-06-23

“I don’t find that argument persuasive”

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by Neil Godfrey

I intend to pause and try to analyse, in future, exactly what is going on when I read a scholar responding to an explanation, a hypothesis, an alternative viewpoint by saying “I don’t find that persuasive”. My reason for taking on this hope is partly the result of having begun to gain some notion of the main ideas that I first read in

(I further skimmed much of the book but have yet to read it thoroughly.)

Very often the “I don’t find it persuasive” is all that is said, apparently on the understanding that it is all that needs to be said, to not accept an argument or attempt at a different explanation for the evidence at hand.

What I am currently wondering is the extent to which the “not persuasive” retort may be derived from the need or desire to have a story, a narrative, that expands or builds one’s own larger story idea of how things are or should be. If the rejection of the new idea were based on a cold, hard study of the data then we would expect the response to be more along the lines of: “but how does your idea explain this or that?” and so forth. It would be a critical response with the data under review.

I said I am raising this question “partly as “the result” of reading Alex Rosenberg’s discussion of narrative and their place and function in human society. The other part of the reason is having begun a review of Vridar posts as I begin to recategorize, re-organize and re-label them. I am somehow gobsmacked at the amount of deplorable personal attacks, including outright misrepresentation and slander, that has characterized so many biblical scholars engagements not only against amateur outsiders who question their assumptions but even against each other when new paradigms or finds are introduced into the field. And above all, I find it depressing to be confronted in such a concentrated span of time and focus on the extent to which so many core arguments of too many (not all) biblical scholars are illogical, self-serving, contradictory, ill-thought-through, merely speculative, simply very bad. It is difficult to accept that so many of these particular scholars are actually employed as scholars in the first place. On the other hand, I need to add that there are also many excellent biblical scholars putting out very fine research. I find myself wishing that those latter would leave their faculties and departments of theology or biblical studies and apply to join the history and classics departments of their universities. Anyway, enough of the rant. Where was I?

Alex Rosenberg appears to be suggesting that narrative stories function to bind us into our preferred groups. They enable us to see ourselves as part of those stories and in the narratives with those we like or need to get along with. As such, they also have the yin side of their yang. They exclude others, they even have the power to cause us to denigrate and hate others, the outsiders, who take the adversarial role in our narratives. Strifes between races, tribes, countries, are fueled by narratives of the past that get in the way of simply getting together and addressing current needs and issues.

Scholarship at its best, when it’s working professionally as intended, works with ways to analyse the data, to make predictions and test them, etc. It is not narrative based in the same way as much of (by no means all) of biblical studies is. Take, for example, the view that the gospels, or even the historical books of the Hebrew Bible, are said to sourced via oral traditions. Really, that’s a narrative model. I think that a good number of biblical scholars (and this is understandable given the faith biases of many of them) see themselves as part of that same story, personally as part of that same story, that began with a “scientifically unexplainable” event that evolved into the “Easter myth” and was passed on through oral tradition . . .  until today, . . . — you get the picture.

That, I think, appears to be the framework through which a huge bulk of biblical scholars are working. They are, at bottom, finding ways to elaborate and discover more exciting details of that narrative. They approach their subjects of interest very like the way ancient historians (even Thucydides) approached their narrative histories, with mixes of myth and fact, and with even the facts being interpreted in ways to add to the story they wanted to tell either as a lesson for others or for their entertainment. Either way, the narrative histories functioned to help build or cement group bonds. “This is our history that tells us where we come from and where we fit in.”

Few of them approach the foundations of their field in the way critical scientists might start from scratch with the data and whose explanations are almost entirely critical-analytical as distinct from narrative story. Yes, of course, there is much critical-analytical study among most biblical scholars but I find myself thinking that most of that real scholarship functions to add new or revised details to the larger narrative that they are really endorsing.

I don’t believe one has to be religious to do this, either. Jesus is a cultural icon for Western societies generally and is not reserved only for his faithful devotees. Recall images of Che Guevara evocative of a passionate and suffering Jesus. John Lennon produced a hit The Ballad of John and Yoko with its unforgettable searing line, “Christ you know it ain’t easy, they’re gonna crucify me.” Even a contemporary atheist biblical scholar published a book with an image of a stereotypical Jesus’ face on the cover that looks very much like that scholars’ own image. (I should avoid embarrassing him with an identification in this context.) Jesus is not just for the religious. (Evangelical apologists narcissistically preach that “the whole world” is either “for or against” Jesus — simply on the grounds that everybody has reason to make some comment about one of several foundational cultural figures in our society and not, as the fundamentalists like to think, because they tremble and fear or tremble and love him.)

This post is only introducing an idea that has been playing around in the back of my head for at least 24 hours now. I hope I haven’t been too gauche in making this initial foray into jotting it down for future reference, elaboration, exploration.

 

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20 Comments

  • 2019-06-24 04:39:01 GMT+0000 - 04:39 | Permalink

    Interesting blog entry… quite vulnerable in my view and that is okay…

    I have found myself many times saying to this or that thing or that or this person…
    “I don’t find that persuasive.” It can be about many things… And then , I might want to put a caveat in there and say,,”at least for the moment”…

    And then see or await for what happens…in perhaps a Derridian moment of Parousia…. when the truth finally “comes” in!! None of us here will have the opportunity to know the final end of all our reasonings, guessings, etc, here, until the end.. …

    But there may be no end that we are ever conscious of…in our own end…I am finding more and more freedom in my heart and mind that the OT and the NT were not written to me…addressed to me as if by the particular god they portray…these ancient texts were not written to me historically or even theologically, etc. . Yet I may adopt these texts in some authoritative way and then end up a “convert” to the religions those texts espouse…

    Relying on some ancient text to get you out of your shit-hole of whatever kind is not the best way to live your life… you can learn some things from these texts and stories but do not base your life on them… you will hurt yourself and many others if you do…

    So when we say ” I am not persuaded by that or this “… it is okay to say that ,but perhaps we can say… “there may be something to what you are saying….”‘ but let’s not get too “open” where we give up things that are quite well-known at many levels of the cosmos… we are still in learning…

    Christian interpreters of the Jewish and Christian texts have formed a canon around what is from God and not from God , not just in texts but in experiences as well of perceived gods and influences.. It is so sad to see the fighting… it makes me sick… there is a part of me that would like to tell the fossilizers of the Christian tradition that they themselves may be nothing more than “fossils’ in the end of their apologetic endeavours..

    A lot of work goes into blogs like this… one can really tired of exploring such things further…but we must… go on… and leave lots of offspring who are true to the data and will give birth to further knowing…. I am not interested in furthering idiosyncratic beliefs……

    These days I have been telling those I meet at certain times that I am not compelled by their propagandist stuff they are trying to sell me…

    If the clause… ” I am not persuaded by your ideas , etc. ” comes out of mere laziness,,,simply to dismiss some real thoughtful idea to the contrary, then such a clause is simply a way to run away.

    It can be frustrating my friends…perhaps for both sides…

    the stuff we talk about here can be very “heady” , but often necessary..

    What a year this 2019 is! Whew!!

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-06-24 05:51:55 GMT+0000 - 05:51 | Permalink

      It is quite right not to find certain ideas or explanations persuasive. But usually, I can set out clear reasons and point to the data that speaks against what I am reading or hearing. I don’t mean to be critical of “not finding X persuasive” in that sense. Then again it’s surely just as important to be able to understand why we do find other messages to be definitely persuasive.

      So often, though, no such response is ever proposed and one wonders on what grounds a certain scholar (biblical scholar, usually, sorry) says X is not persuasive. It comes across to me more like a subjective gut feeling and the “not finding it persuasive” is used as a copout to avoid analytical engagement with the evidence presented.

      (Imagine scientists saying they don’t find the theory of relativity persuasive. That’s not how science is done. I myself don’t find the theory — or even the supposed recorded “observations” — that certain subatomic particles can be in two places at the same time is persuasive at all. No way. But I also know that is because of my own limitations in understanding.)

      This is a perspective I want to return to after I have read and read around Rosenberg’s book more thoroughy, which won’t be for some weeks given my other priorities.

  • Neil Godfrey
    2019-06-24 08:49:04 GMT+0000 - 08:49 | Permalink

    A stark illustration (not a very subtle one) of part of the point I was trying to get across and that appears to be central to Alex Rosenberg’s case is found in James McGrath’s recent blog post, What Jesus Learned from Mary of Bethany.

    The data is there for all to see: Lazarus, Bethany, Mary, Martha, Jesus teaching, etc. But the scholar then exercises his theory of mind and imputes into each of the main characters motives that he finds congenial to his own experiences and beliefs and personal identity. Someone else could as easily find alternative motives and intents for the various characters and produce a quite different message or meaning of the story.

    He will probably enjoy listening to other stories drawn from the same data even if he feels they are not for him personally. But take away through analysis the data’s justification for narrative creation and see how popular you are with him.

    • A Buddhist
      2019-06-24 12:25:33 GMT+0000 - 12:25 | Permalink

      From the Roman Catholic perspective, saying that Jesus had to learn anything is apparently a heresy.

  • Giuseppe
    2019-06-24 14:10:40 GMT+0000 - 14:10 | Permalink

    I have read and liked the previous Rosenberg’s book, The Atheist’s Guide to Reality. I like also this polemical review of that book.

    I would be curious to know about what he thinks on Jesus’s historicity, also, even if I fear that he is not interested about the question.

  • Steve Ruis
    2019-06-24 14:52:51 GMT+0000 - 14:52 | Permalink

    Re “Take, for example, the view that the gospels, or even the historical books of the Hebrew Bible, are said to sourced via oral traditions.” I find this attitude pervasive but I wonder … what need does scripture, which is divinely inspired (the word of God) need of historical narratives? Such narratives are like fishing stories, they get bigger with time. And if you lay out the four gospels on a time line they, like the fishing stories, get bigger and bigger with time.

    But if said god can make himself known to the likes of Paul (by knocking him on or off his ass), could not this god have put the words of the gospels into the heads of the writers with no effort whatsoever, bypassing the errors that get injected into oral narratives?

    This is part of the problem with “Biblical scholarship.” It works backward from what is believed to be true, looking for evidence to support it. Since God created the universe, He must have caused the Big Bang! If you look at the Big Bang (as poorly as we can even now) and ask yourself, “What sort of trigger is needed to get this puppy to blow?” you would not, in any way shape or form, come up with the Abrahamic god. What purpose would “all-loving” or “all-good” serve in such a “creator?” Why would it need to be “personal” or any of the other attributes claimed for such a being. And why would it need such a running start? 14.8 billion years seems a bit excessive for the time needed for such a creation by such a being. And, considering the size of that explosion/whatever, the singularity/whatever must have been extremely unstable to so explode. A butterfly’s fart could have set it off, no?

    And, as to being actual scholars, scholars are people who study things. Professional scholars are people who have gotten jobs doing “scholarship.” Historically, all such scholars were amateurs, not professionals, so please do keep challenging these people. Any who respond with credentials rather than arguments may be a professional scholar, but is also shown to be a lightweight. (“I do not find this persuasive” is not an argument unless it is supported.)

  • 2019-06-24 15:56:51 GMT+0000 - 15:56 | Permalink

    I’ve found the discussions with Dr Sarah somewhat instructive. Here we have a self-identified “skeptic”, and atheist, who still says stuff like, “I do not find this persuasive,” and who constantly says that the simplest explanation is that Jesus was just a guy who got deified after he died.

    Unfortunately she hasn’t been blogging much lately any only wrote one limited post on her review of my book, but I still find it instructive in addressing that mindset.

    But in a broader sense, I’ve learned that the so-called “experts” aren’t always so expert, especially when it comes to history. I don’t think we can view all fields the same. Some fields are more politicized than others, some fields have more cultural significance and baggage than others.

    I don’t think we can view all PhDs the same or all “experts” the same. And history is one of the most impacted by politics and cultural biases. We can’t pretend like history is math. And we need to acknowledge that in some cases, an “expert” is someone who is well versed not necessarily in thinking, but in “knowing”, and in many cases what is “known” is the accumulation of cultural biases. Certainly there were experts in Ptolemaic cosmology, there were experts in pre-Darwinian “naturalism”, etc.

    I’ve seen too many cases of experts being completely wrong about stuff. What is typically the case is that when experts are wrong they are catastrophically wrong, because they are using the wrong models. So what we have are situations were a given model becomes adopted by a field, and expertise develops around how to use that model to explain evidence.

    So when we see challenges to established expertise it typically comes in the form of challenges to the underlying models, it’s not a matter of correcting a mistaken use of a model.

    That’s what we had with Galileo, Darwin, Einstein, etc., etc. The issue we have today is that, I believe, there are a number of fields that are operating on incorrect models, the most prominent of which are economics and biblical studies IMO. Experts in these fields are operating on fundamentally wrong models.

    But convincing people that the underlying models used by mainstream experts are wrong is a significant challenge and it necessarily means that the world works in ways that are fundamentally different from how people think the world works, which is not any easy thing for many people to accept.

    And not by coincidence, economics and biblical studies are two of the most ideologically biased fields on study that exist. They are both totally caught up in politics and culture and people’s ways of life. These aren’t just abstract ideas about theoretical concepts. Changes to these models have vast real-world implications, and that is why there is so much opposition to challenges to these models.

    This is all complicated by conspiracy theorists and the opposition movement to conspiracy theorists and anti-scientific ideas, which has led to many so-called “rationalists” and “skeptics” taking the position that “the experts are always right” in reaction to things like the anti-vaccine movement, Creationist movement, Flat-Eartherism, historical White Supremacy denialism (Americans who claim slavery was not a big deal or driver of the Civil War, etc, or Australians who deny the aboriginal genocides and oppression, etc.), etc.

    So we’re in a time when challenges to the mainstream are being treated with extra skepticism due to there being so many irrational and un-academic challenges to mainstream scholarship. So yeah, its a challenge with no easy answers, but people like easy answers.

    • db
      2019-06-24 16:25:12 GMT+0000 - 16:25 | Permalink

      people like easy answers —to the wrong questions, I would add.

      Dr Sarah asks: “What precedent is there for anyone writing allegorical stories about a heavenly figure that are so detailed they mention fictitious family members and a place where he allegedly grew up? How often, in that culture, is that known to have happened? Based on that answer, what are the estimated chances that multiple different people in a relatively small sect would choose to do this about the same figure?”

      It’s the wrong question, of course. Per Carrier, this happened to many mythic heroes we have a full narrative of. Moses, Joseph, Romulus, etc. It doesn’t matter where the mythic hero came from (cosmos or mythic realms or wherever), they got the same fictional narrative (Jesus is a full Rank-Raglan hero, nearly all of whom were given these details). So we aren’t looking for which cosmic saviors historicized got the same incidental details when historicized; we are looking for what incidental details usually attached to the mythic type they were modeled after when they were historicized. Hence the point of finding the Rank-Raglan mythotype.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-06-25 14:52:43 GMT+0000 - 14:52 | Permalink

      Here we have a self-identified “skeptic”, and atheist, who still says stuff like, “I do not find this persuasive,” and who constantly says that the simplest explanation is that Jesus was just a guy who got deified after he died.

      My impression is that such statements come from people who have not investigated the problems with that narrative and have simply imbibed that narrative all their lives and see no reason to challenge it especially since a whole branch of respectable study in universities is dedicated to it. And of coure that branch includes atheists, etc. They are simply unaware of the complexities and are suspicious of anyone to tries to raise any. They must be conspiracy kooks or something, goes their reaction. Until they are mentally prepared to open to the possibility that there might seriously be a problem with their world view they are not likely to do anything but casually dismiss the naysayers. The Tim O’Neills are always going to sound far more plausible to them. They say things that concur with their narrative belief.

      • 2019-06-26 05:58:25 GMT+0000 - 05:58 | Permalink

        If one buys Walter’s Fisher’s concept that all argument is essentially storytelling/narrative, then another way to put this is “I don’t like the story you’re telling. It doesn’t agree with the story I’ve been telling myself for years. I prefer my story as it satisfies my emotional needs. So.” That’s part of what Kuhn means by incommensurable, though it’s not just a lack of communication as a lack of NEED for communication. If your theory/worldview works for you, why change?

        I’ve been a professor for 10 years now, and I have witnessed another professor say they were wrong about something of consequence in their field and that they had changed their mind a grand total of two (2) times. On both occasions I checked my phone to see if a third of the earth had burnt up while I hadn’t been paying attention.

        I like what I call “underdog” arguments because they can, if stated forcefully, make the ‘standard view’ declare some first principles, which is great for teaching the topic at hand in a discussion rather than lecture format.

      • db
        2019-06-29 03:52:28 GMT+0000 - 03:52 | Permalink

        The Tim O’Neills are always going to sound far more plausible to them.

        But without citing O’Neill.

        “Did a Historical Jesus Exist?”. YouTube. Suris. 25 June 2019.

        Special thanks to Biblical History Skeptics in helping research: youtube.com/channel .

        Sources referenced throughout:

        • REBUTTALS TO DYING-RISING GODS AND/OR THEIR RELATION TO JESUS:

        Jonathan Z. Smith, “Dying and Rising Gods,” in Lindsay Jones, ed, Encyclopedia of Religion (Detroit: Macmillan, 2005), 4:2535-4:2540 Mark S. Smith, “The Death of ‘Dying and Rising Gods’ in the Biblical World: An Update, With Special Reference to Baal in the Baal Cycle,” SJOT 12.2 (1998), pp. 257-313 Mark S. Smith, The Ugaritic Baal Cycle: Volume I. Introduction with Text, Translation and Commentary of KTU 1.1-1.2 (Leiden: Brill, 1994), pp. 58-75 Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2012), pp. 221-230 Paul Rhodes Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), pp. 142-146 John Dominic Crossan, “Response to Robert M. Price,” in Beilby and Eddy (2005), p. 85 Darrell Bock, “Response to Robert M. Price,” in Beilby and Eddy (2005), p. 102 Tryggve Mettinger, The Riddle of Resurrection Maurice Casey, Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths? (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), pp. 225-232 Burton Mack, Myth and the Christian Nation (Indonesia: Equinox, 2008), p. 109-117 David Marshall, Jesus is no Myth! (Kuai Mu Press, 2016), pp. 18-40 provides some criticism of the hypothesis of Dying-Rising and pagan Christ connections Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1979), pp. 199 Michael R. Licona, The Resurrection of Jesus (Downers Grove: Intervarsity Press Academic, 2010), pp. 536-537, 621-622 N. T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), pp. 80-81, 126-127 N. T. Wright, “Jesus’ Resurrection and Christian Origins” Willem Vorster, “The Religio-Historical Context of the Resurrection of Jesus and Resurrection Faith in the New Testament,” Neotestamentica 23.2 (1989), pp. 159-175 Stanley Porter and Stephen Bedard, Unmasking the Pagan Christ (Toronto: Clements Publishing, 2006), pp. 71-80

        • AGAINST THE MYTHICIST MISUSE OF PHILO OF ALEXANDRIA AND MISCONCEPTIONS:

        F. H. Colson (trans), Philo: In Ten Volumes (and two Supplementary Volumes), Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1932), p. 45 Joel Edmund Anderson, “Richard Carrier and the Mythical Jesus (Part 3): The Mythicist Argument–Welcome to Bizarro World (i.e. A Lesson on How Not To Interpret the Bible),” Resurrecting Orthodoxy, joeledmundanderson.com (03/13/2019) Larry Hurtado, “Gee, Dr. Carrier, You’re Really Upset!,” Larry Hurtado’s Blog, larryhurtado.wordpress.com (03/13/2019) David Runia, Philo in Early Christian Literature (Minneapolis: OTHER SOURCES WORTH YOUR TIME: Robert Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) Walter P. Weaver, The Historical Jesus in the Twentieth Century: 1900-1950 (Harrisburg: Trinity International Press, 1999) R. Joseph Hoffmann, Jesus in History and Myth (Amherst: Prometheus Books, 1984) Ian Wilson, Jesus The Evidence (Harper Collins, 1985) Leslie Houlden, Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture (ABC-CLIO, 2003) James D. G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus (Westminster Press, 1985) Craig Evans, Jesus and his World (Westminster John Knox Press, 2013) Craig Evans, Fabricating Jesus (Intervarsity Press, 2006) R. T. France, The Evidence for Jesus (Regent College Publishing, 1986)

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-06-25 14:54:12 GMT+0000 - 14:54 | Permalink

      Perhaps more thought needs to be given to how the question is raised with such people rather than diving straight in to the details.

      • db
        2019-07-01 03:29:41 GMT+0000 - 03:29 | Permalink

        Neil, please consider posting your own proposed article lede for a Wikipedia mythicism article.

        “Christ myth theory”. Wikipedia. 26 June 2019.

        The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism, or Jesus ahistoricity theory) is the view that “the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology”, possessing no “substantial claims to historical fact”. Alternatively, in terms given by Bart Ehrman paraphrasing Earl Doherty, “the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.”

        There are three strands of mythicism, including the view that there may have been a historical Jesus, who lived in a dimly remembered past, and was fused with the mythological Christ of Paul. A second stance is that there was never a historical Jesus, only a mythological character, later historicized in the Gospels. A third view is that no conclusion can be made about a historical Jesus, and if there was one, nothing can be known about him.

        Most Christ mythicists follow a threefold argument: they question the reliability of the Pauline epistles and the Gospels to establish the historicity of Jesus; they note the lack of information on Jesus in non-Christian sources from the first and early second centuries; and they argue that early Christianity had syncretistic and mythological origins, as reflected in both the Pauline epistles and the gospels. Therefore, Christianity was not founded on the shared memories of a man, but rather a shared mytheme.

        NB: RationalWiki is not an encyclopedia and discourage contributors from trying to make an article “overly” encyclopedic.

        “Jesus myth theory”. RationalWiki. 24 May 2019‎.

        The Jesus myth theory (also known as the Christ myth theory, Jesus mythicism and the nonexistence hypothesis, as well as Jesus ahistoricity) refers to several hypotheses that regard the New Testament accounts of the life of Jesus as so filled with myth and legend (as well as containing internal contradictions and historical irregularities) that at best one can extract no meaningful historical verification regarding Jesus of Nazareth (including his very existence) from them.

        Some academics have accepted the Jesus myth theory. As Archibald Robertson stated in his 1946 book, Jesus: Myth Or History, at least as far as John M. Robertson was concerned, the myth theory was not concerned with denying the possibility of a flesh-and-blood Jesus being involved in the Gospel account, but rather: “What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded”. In his 2012 book Did Jesus Exist?, Ehrman echoes this view when he states: “In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity”. In contrast, people who accept that Jesus was a flesh-and-blood man have been called Christ mythers. The most infamous of these was Sir James George Frazer (“My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth”), who along with John M. Robertson was grouped with those “who contested the historical existence of Jesus” by no less than Albert Schweitzer.

        Van Voorst 2000, p. 9. is outdated when attributing Bruno Bauer’s arguments to modern mythicism. Especially the cookie-cutter Christ parallelism with pagan gods that is used to describe modern mythicism. And Van Voorst does not account for the positive argument of modern mythicism.

        • Price, Robert M. (2011). The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems. American Atheist Press. p. 425. ISBN 978-1-57884-017-5.

        [T]he epistles, regardless of their dates as earlier or later than the gospels, seem to enshrine a different vein of early Christian faith which lacked an earthly Jesus, a Christianity that understood “Jesus” as an honorific throne-name bestowed on a spiritual savior who had been ambushed and killed by the Archons who rule the universe before he rose triumphant over them. Gnosticism, too, continued this tradition. But what we know as Christianity eventually rewrote Jesus into an historical incarnation who suffered at the hands of earthly institutions of religion and government.

        • Carrier, Richard (2014). “Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt: Should We Still Be Looking for a Historical Jesus?“. The Bible and Interpretation.

        Just as Satan was declared the Archon “of the powers of the air” (Eph. 2:2) and the God “of this Age” (2 Cor. 4:4), so when Jesus is said to have been crucified by the “Archons of this Age” (1 Cor. 2:8), we might be seeing what would later be described in the earliest redaction of the Ascension of Isaiah: a reference to Satan and his demons crucifying Jesus, not the Jews and Romans. And just as Adam was in some accounts buried in the heavens (as in chapter 40 of the Greek text of the Life of Adam and Eve), so possibly was Jesus imagined to have been. The incarnation, in a body of Davidic flesh, still would have been imagined as necessary to fulfill scripture. But as depicted in the Ascension of Isaiah, this would have happened in “the sky.”

        • db
          2019-07-01 04:43:53 GMT+0000 - 04:43 | Permalink

          “Robert M. Price & Christopher Hansen | Myth Jesus or Historical Jesus? 2019 GREAT INTERVIEW!”. YouTube. MythVision Podcast. 26 May 2019.

          [Robert M. Price @time 1 hour–46 minutes–30 seconds] Ultimately I don’t think the dying and rising god thing—though fascinating—really bears on mythicism, because Rudolf Bultmann and Joseph McCabe and various others have long said: “Yes, there were dying and rising God myths and they were among the resources early Christians used to mythologize the historical Jesus.” Bultman goes into all of this stuff,but he thinks there was a historical Jesus, it was just that Jesus was made over in this image, as he was a gnostic redeemer and the Jewish Messiah. If you could prove that there were dependencies (a genealogical relationship) that wouldn’t really reflect on mythicism and verses historicism anyway. So in a way it’s like a moot point.

        • Neil Godfrey
          2019-07-01 06:51:44 GMT+0000 - 06:51 | Permalink

          I am reluctant to do any editorial work on wikipedia articles that are in any way related to the topic of Jesus and mythicism given my experience a few years ago when I learned that some dedicated persons are alert to certain changes or additions made to certain articles and by certain persons and seem to make it their vocation to undo them on principle. I could get involved in disputes re neutrality but I really want to get on with other things with my time instead.

          • db
            2019-07-01 10:52:39 GMT+0000 - 10:52 | Permalink

            I meant, consider creating a blog post on Vridar to feature an article lede either in the style of Wikipedia of RationalWiki (your choice) that presents modern mythicism in the lede —better than said wikis.

  • Steve Pollard
    2019-06-25 20:27:37 GMT+0000 - 20:27 | Permalink

    I read McGrath’s article with some incredulity. He appears to take the entire confection as a literal account of an event that actually took place, and which we can trust from start to finish. What on earth is his evidence for this? To me (and I am not a Biblical expert) it just seems to be a made-up story. McGrath offers nothing except his own preconceptions to justify his interpretation.

    • Neil Godfrey
      2019-06-26 00:36:18 GMT+0000 - 00:36 | Permalink

      He regularly falls into his Sunday School preacher mode. His essay is exactly what we would expect to hear from a preacher in the pulpit expounding the lesson for today’s service from the holy book. It’s called biblical scholarship.

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