Interesting New Book, “Questioning the Historicity of Jesus”

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by Neil Godfrey

No doubt of interest to some readers, a new title from Brill:

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9 thoughts on “Interesting New Book, “Questioning the Historicity of Jesus””

  1. Wow! The prefaction is written by James Crossley “in the flesh”. I believed that he had inherited by Maurice Casey a particular contempt against the mythicists. At contrary, can I conclude now that he is possibilist about the Jesus myth?

    1. I was fed various ideas about the views of Crossely and Davies by Stephanie Fisher, student and partner of Maurice Casey, when all of them evidently had a close collegial relationship. I never saw any independent confirmation of Fisher’s assertions from either Crossley or Davies themselves. In fact Davies a few years later made it clear that he believed New Testament scholars definitely should be open to the question of the historical existence of Jesus. So Davies flatly contradicted the impression Fisher was trying to pass on to me about his views. I have never hears anything from Crossley on the subject. Crossley states in the Foreword you are referring to:

      Unfortunately, we simply do not have sufficient independent evidence to make strong claims about who was the exact figure or figures responsible for producing such material, if that isn’t a too wooden way of understanding the situation. As is hopefully clear, this is not a mythicist position in the sense that it does not disprove Jesus’ existence (nor does it attempt to do so) but it is a position which acknowledges that we are severely restricted in what we can say about reconstructing the life of the historical Jesus. But this does not have to be a bad thing. Instead of relentlessly focusing on reconstructing an individual, and precise claims that cannot be proven, we might instead turn our focus to a history of ideas in Christian origins and provide a more solid grounding for scholarly claims. Around when did this or that idea about Jesus emerge? What sort of interests does this or that idea represent? What are the socioeconomic and historical changes that generate shifts in thinking? And if we cannot make precise claims about who was responsible for such an idea then so be it. So, instead of more polemical reactions on all sides of these debates about the historicity of Jesus, perhaps it would be more worthwhile to see what can be learned. In the case of Lataster’s book and the position it represents, scepticism about historicity is worth thinking about seriously . . .

  2. A 2019 journal article by Lataster:

    • Watson, Brenda (2018). “AN UNBELIEVABLE MYTH: THE INVENTION OF JESUS?”. Think. 17 (50): 51–56. doi:10.1017/S1477175618000209. “A response to Lataster’s article defending Jesus’ agnosticism in Think 43.”

    • Lataster, Raphael (2019). “DEFENDING JESUS AGNOSTICISM”. Think. 18 (51): 77–91. doi:10.1017/S1477175618000362. “[C]ritical scholars have responded to my recent work . . . I respond to them all here.”

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