2019-07-01

Definition of a Christ Mythicist

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by Neil Godfrey

A commenter suggested I post what I would consider an appropriate lede for a Wikipedia mythicism article. Here it is:

A Christ mythicist is one who believes the literal truth of the myth of Jesus Christ as set out in the epistles and gospels of the New Testament, or who believes that those myths, even if they have only limited or no historical foundation, nonetheless contain symbolic or spiritual value for those of the Christian faith.

 

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14 Comments

  • Giuseppe
    2019-07-01 13:38:52 GMT+0000 - 13:38 | Permalink

    I am surprised by this definition, really. Is there some irony in it?

    According to that definition (first part), all the Christians are mythicists insofar they believe in the essential deity (translated: “literal truth”) of their Jesus. Even so, I would place a Richard Carrier among who is qualified just by that first part of the definition. Despite of any my good intention, I can’t place him among “who believes that those myths, even if they have only limited or no historical foundation, nonetheless contain symbolic or spiritual value for those of the Christian faith”. He is not a Christianist (as Bob Price), after all.

  • 2019-07-01 14:28:41 GMT+0000 - 14:28 | Permalink

    I’m confused…

  • Neil Godfrey
    2019-07-01 14:55:19 GMT+0000 - 14:55 | Permalink

    Oh, how the irony is lost! No fun if I have to explain it. Okay, I should have added some quirky smileys or something.

    Yes, the definition brackets Ken Ham, James McGrath, Bart Ehrman and Thomas Brodie as mythicists. They believe in either the literal or symbolic truth of the myth of Jesus.

    A Christ mythologist on the other hand would refer to those who study the meaning, nature and origins of the Christ myth without any interest in its meaning for believers except in a research-academic sense. Included here are specialists in Christology (many theologians) and Earl Doherty.

    If we were to approach questions on what I think is a more strictly scholarly basis and attention to word meanings there should be little reason why scholars of christology should not be able to talk with people like Earl Doherty. McGrath and Brodie ought to be able to engage in a critical discussion of the meaning of Christ’s interactions with women, for example.

    All of that should be possible if it weren’t for the personal ideological commitments of the believers in the literal or symbolic meaning and/or relevance of the Christ myth. Schweitzer said the mythicists of his day were to blame for the poor tone of the debate. I think the believers in the myth of Jesus (literal or symbolic) have always been the ultimate stumbling block to a reasoned and calm and open discussion.

    • db
      2019-07-01 16:57:09 GMT+0000 - 16:57 | Permalink

      • Carrier opines that Erhman is trying to build history from a self created myth about evidence and that Erhman fully believes in this myth @time 38-minutes, 52-seconds.

      “Richard Carrier Vs Bart Erhman: Did Jesus Exist? (Re-edited)”. YouTube. MythVision Podcast. 24 November 2018. Original podcast: 6 October 2018

      • db
        2019-07-02 00:01:39 GMT+0000 - 00:01 | Permalink

        Carrier (1 July 2019) [NOW FORMATTED]. “Spencer Alexander McDaniel on the Historicity of Jesus”. Richard Carrier Blogs.

        [The fact that someone needs to say] that
        ‣ scant,
        ‣ weak,
        ‣ and insecure evidence

        • is “overwhelming” evidence—that they need to resort to such hyperbole contrary to any plain look at the facts, is damning.

        It implies a desperate emotional need rather than a sober examination of the case.

        • Christine
          2019-07-02 18:51:45 GMT+0000 - 18:51 | Permalink

          Everybody misses the point. Elaine Pagel said it well: “Something extraordinary happened in the first century.” Why can’t people just drop the myth/not myth arguments?

          The arguments shouldn’t be about whether he existed or not. He wasn’t well known so lack of information was supplemented, plus the reporters made up some of their own stories.

          He was person who was more intelligent than the average person, who had rediscovered a method of healing that wasn’t a gift from God and he wasn’t God incarnate. He was just a man.

          • db
            2019-07-02 19:04:10 GMT+0000 - 19:04 | Permalink

            He was person who was more intelligent than the average person, who had rediscovered a method of healing that wasn’t a gift from God and he wasn’t God incarnate. He was just a man. —And that man was Jesus ben Ananias—is that really so hard to believe?

            • Christine
              2019-07-03 08:06:46 GMT+0000 - 08:06 | Permalink

              Jesus ben Ananus? I don’t think so. He’d have to have been a known historical figure outside of his own group who had gained a following from several other religious sects, so as to be causing a problem (rousing people to action). A preacher who had a startling philosophy of life that survived due to its intelligence. A person who at the same time was not exaggerated but a normal, flesh and blood person. What we have now is an obvious constructed personality named Jesus. I wouldn’t vote for him. I’d vote for the person who had so much respect that his people wouldn’t question his advice, they’d just go and do it.

              If he said to them, “That guy over there is the Messiah, follow him,” and the next thing you know his people are all following Jesus, it seems to me that the one who directs the crowd is the one to watch, not the made up Jesus.

              There is another thing to consider. John the Baptist has descendants, the Mandaeans. They have alternative history of John the Baptist. I’ve read a few descriptions of the Mandaeans and there was a rhetorical question from them, really strange, “How does one pound light out of stone?” and instead of being baptized in the Jordan, they speak of being baptized in “rivers of light” which causes healing. Their emphasis is on light, not on God. Have scholars looked for Q in the Mandaean holy books? What if the Gospel of Thomas is John’s words, and not Jesus’. Why would anyone want to cover up a unique person and instead invent a fake Messiah?

              • db
                2019-07-03 12:44:32 GMT+0000 - 12:44 | Permalink

                Why would anyone want to cover up a unique person and instead invent a fake Messiah?

                That is a desirable feature for author(s) of Gospel According to Mark, not a bug. Writing post 100CE and given that Jesus ben Ananias was seventy years of age upon his death (thus being mooted as a prophet by some), author of gMark sources characters from a work of Josepus where a mis-compiled reference to a different priest becomes John the Baptist and Jesus ben Ananias becomes Iēsou Nazarēne. Now author of gMark can market a desired message which would not be possible using Jesus ben Ananias.

          • Robert Jase
            2019-07-02 21:32:56 GMT+0000 - 21:32 | Permalink

            A fictional man but still a man.

  • Robert Jase
    2019-07-01 16:06:40 GMT+0000 - 16:06 | Permalink

    Did you borrow Harvey Dent’s silver dollar for that definition?

  • MrHorse
    2019-07-01 21:26:13 GMT+0000 - 21:26 | Permalink

    Very clever (it emphasises the texts themselves portray a mythical ideal figure [albeit one portrayed as mostly human (in the gospels, at least) who had an effect on contporaneous humans].

  • Christine
    2019-07-01 21:51:46 GMT+0000 - 21:51 | Permalink

    Christ mythicist is an oxymoron. Those who wrote the gospels and epistles were trying to, and were successful in covering up the meaning of his teachings, so how could they be anything but false?

  • Attila Csanyi
    2019-07-02 17:32:30 GMT+0000 - 17:32 | Permalink

    That definition is the exact opposite of what “mythicist” is supposed to mean.

    Here is one definition: “myth-i-cist [mith-uh-sist]

    -noun

    a person who views various figures of antiquity, including both pagan gods and major biblical characters, as mythical.

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