Facebook group: Historical Jesus and Higher Criticism

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by Neil Godfrey

If any readers here are members of the Facebook group Historical Jesus and Higher Criticism I would appreciate it if you could go to that group to see if I have been banned or somehow had my membership of that group deleted. I was in mid-conversation with someone there over whether Josephus depicts messianic movements in the first century CE and was taken aback to be met with a quite hostile response, laced with personal insults and put-downs, and suddenly, poof, I no longer have access. Maybe, hopefully, the hostile tone was only a coincidence and a passing thing and that my loss of access was nothing more than a technical hitch and we can resume cordial and civil discussion.

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Neil Godfrey

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15 thoughts on “Facebook group: Historical Jesus and Higher Criticism”

    1. It seems they won’t let me join if I will not affirm that I believe Jesus of Nazareth was a real person.

      If this group is OK with a required political “Litmus Test” for participation, ask them why they are not applying additional filters to ensure the “objectivity” of group members.

      For example, it is possible that a scholar may be contractually obliged to publicly reject Jesus ahistoricity theory.

      • Question: If this is true, for a scholar you cite, what is your position on the public condemnation of said scholar, would you denounce the scholar, the institution, and the enablers that are party to such a censorship of free thought?

      • Question: Do the scholars you cite have an on the record position, in clear and unambiguous language, without equivocation for the:
       ◦ Historicity of the Mosaic authorship of the Torah?
       ◦ Historicity of the resurrection of Jesus?

  1. It has been a strange experience. I was invited to join the group last year and accepted. I have only on odd occasions taken the time to visit and make a comment. I presume when I joined I said something neutral (at best) about my views on whether Jesus was historical or not (I simply cannot go beyond a neutral position if pushed to the limit). But I have since had feedback from several members of the group and have learned that all of my comments on the recent discussion have been deleted — along with the abusive and insulting comments of the administrator of the group, David Allen (contra his own rules for the group) — . . . .

    The point I was making in the discussion (in the midst of which I was removed from the group without warning, notice of any kind or explanation) was one I have expressed here several times, one based on the arguments of Josephus and Second Temple messiah specialists, Steve Mason, William Scott Green and others.

    I was accused of being a “Carrier fan” — as if that is some sort of insult — even though the point I was arguing was acknowledged to be opposed to anything Carrier has said. I was also accused of some sort of mythicist bias even though the topic of discussion has no relationship to mythicism — which I pointed out but which point was simply ignored.

    I was accused of spouting bullshit that no scholar would countenance even though I was attempting to repeat the very points of specialist scholars of Josephus and Second Temple messianic movements like Steve Mason, W.S. Green and T.L. Thompson have published. The administrator, Dave Allen, was also insulting despite the rules of the Group — and I at no time was insulting or abusive. I have since learned from several others that all my comments in the discussion have been deleted and that Dave, of course, has also removed his incriminating insults and abuse.

    I think that group could do with some seriously informed participation but I don’t see that happening under its present administrator.

  2. Curiouser and curiouser. When doing my application, I never clicked the “Submit” button, but I just got a notification that my application was accepted and I’m now free to post there.

    Might get interesting.

  3. Ok I’ve looked up the Steve Mason citations, none to support your position. Here are the findings:

    *So in his book, “Josephus and the New Testament” Mason adds that there was one messianic figure (not Jesus) executed by Pilate mentioned by Josephus, see p. 109

    He mentions that a revolt leader named Menaem was a Messiah figure (War of the Jews, Trans. and Com. p. 81)
    the only reference where he fights against messianism is specifically only in regards to the figure of Simon bar Giora.

    1. Oh my god, Dave. You have some gall coming here to carry on a discussion you locked me out of on your FB page. And then you do not engage in discussion or bother to ask about any of the sources I have cited but assume you know everything there is to know by referring back to older work of Mason and ignore his more recent book. You also bypass the other scholars I have mentioned making similar points.

      And you title your discussion group “higher criticism” even though it is evident you do not even know how to distinguish between data and interpretation of data, and rely on appeals to authority when someone does point out to you the difference.

      And you fail to respond to my criticism of your fallacy of bringing in Bar Kochba as of relevance to a Josephus discussion (I do NOT dispute the messianic associations of Bar Kochba).

      And you fail to apologize for your abusive insults and smears against me for daring to suggest — even as a mere aside — a view that you have obviously never heard of before. And you assume to be a fit person to run a History discussion forum!

      I expect a better response from you — and a serious engagement with persons who have different views from yours and who are evidently more widely read on the subject in question than you are.

    2. Re “the only reference where he* fights against messianism is specifically only in regards to the figure of Simon bar Giora.”

      who is ‘he’ ?? Menaem? Pilate? or Josephus?

    3. Other than Strawmanning Neil, some additional notes per Dave Allen:

      • Loves history and has a degree in Irish history.

      “Comment by Dave Allen”. de-de.facebook.com. Public group: Historical Jesus & Mythical Christ. 17 February 2020. [NOW FORMATTED]

      • Four hypothesis to best explain the ancient data [per Jesus].
      The mythicists and other skeptics have no good account of a motive; the mere quest for personal gain is highly dubious. The low chance of success, ( mainly as nobody had ever heard of a exclusively celestial Jesus, no evidence any such divine being had existed) combined with a high risk of imprisonment and/or execution, would more than offset any nebulous anticipated advantage.

      ◦ [plus the fact that there is no evidence of an exclusively celestial being named Jesus, makes if more unlikely that that is what Paul meant or invented].

      it’s not at all surprising that nothing remains of the evidence. In fact, first extra biblical evidence of Josephus in 93CE [ I suspect Josephus originally mentioned Jesus in a negative light] is exactly what we would expect.

      • Allen, Dave (2020). “An Original Negative Testimonium“. The Journal of Higher Criticism Volume 15 Number 1: 67–90. Amazon.

      • Allen (14 November 2019). “Messianic Leaders Very Like Jesus!”. Dave Allens blog.

      It seems to me to use the messianic hopefuls as reported in Josephus works as archetypes for Jesus.

      1. Historicist’s like Allen seem to hold variable views on the importance of extant material:

        • It is not at all surprising that almost nothing remains of the evidence for the historical Jesus.

        • There is no evidence of an exclusively celestial Jesus, thus it unlikely that that is what Paul meant or invented.

        Per an unrelated conversation with a different individual:

        [db:] Zeus was enamoured of Europa and decided to seduce her. Therefore he transformed/incarnated himself into a tame white bull. Did Paul believe in the historicity of this Taurus incarnation?
        • If not, then many other people did.

        [interlocutor:] The issue is not whether people believed in its historicity, but whether they believed that Zeus took on this physical [Taurus] form in heaven rather than on earth. Do we have evidence that it was widely believed that divine beings would take on physical flesh (animal, fish, or fowl) in heaven?

        • If not, then the fact that Paul believed that Jesus was incarnate at one point suggests that Paul had some awareness of Jesus having existed on Earth in the same fashion as did all the other gods who also became incarnate on Earth—with no attestation of it occurring elsewhere.

        all the other gods who also became incarnate on Earth—with no attestation of it occurring elsewhere.

        It is commonly held that the Hellenistic gods delighted in shape-shifting contests while not on Earth. However the original Greek sources are more vague as to the location and/or actual shape-shifting.

        Yes, I understand that arguably shape-shifting may not be the same as incarnation, but for the sake of argument let us agree it is for now.

        Does anyone know a Greek source (not interpreted as such) that clearly presents a god shape-shifting (i.e. becoming incarnate) while not on Earth?

        1. It is foolish to take Allen’s statements seriously. He has no evident wish to have them discussed critically but only evangelized. I ignore them.

  4. Dave Allen has just banned me a second time, would you believe! He kept insisting that some quote from Mason decade over-rode his complete revision in a 2016 book — without actually admitting he had read the newer work — and then kicked me out for insisting on verifications. He sent a message to me saying “nothing personal”. I think anything tainted with Dave Allen on a Facebook discussion group relating to the historicity of Jesus is worthless. He did apologize to me, though — by telling me I should “get over the butt hurt” from his initial insults. That’s Dave Allen for you.

      1. I’ve no idea and I’m not interested in returning there to see. (Though I assume he will have deleted or edited some of his own less than temperate remarks.) I thought it was a serious forum but Allen is so entrenched in his assumptions and beliefs that he cannot see them from a distance and subject them to review. His accusations against me make no sense whatever that I can see, and he contradicts himself when he makes some of them. It is evident that he has not read Mason’s 2016 book yet he insists I am twisting quotations from Mason and that parts I have quoted contradict my claim that Mason denies messianic movements as an explanation for the war. As far as I can see he is just digging in no matter what nonsense comes out in order to defend his core assumptions about Christian origins. And as you know, his other site discussing mythicism bizarrely misrepresents mythicism, so I can no longer take Allen seriously at all.

        (By the way, he attributes Christianity to the genius of Paul on the grounds that Paul was the first one to turn a dead messiah into a success story — unlike all other dead messiahs supposedly before him. He does not stop to think such scenarios through and notice any major problems with such an idea. My experience leads me to think it would be a total waste of time to attempt to discuss his views critically with him.)

  5. Meh. Fortunately this Dave Allen is more than balanced by the far greater comedian who took every opportunity to take the rise out of religion. Facebook, eh? Nowt like your very own bubble.

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