Logical Fallacies of Historians: After A, therefore Because of A

A related informal fallacy is post hoc, ergo propter hoc (“after this, therefore because of this”) which holds that if one event follows another then the former must have caused the latter. (Similarly, cum hoc, ergo propter hoc involves the assertion “with this, therefore because of it.”) That Chamberlain’s government pursued a form of appeasement … Continue reading “Logical Fallacies of Historians: After A, therefore Because of A”


Logical Fallacies of Historians: the False Dilemma (Dichotomy)

A false dilemma is seen whenever only two possible options are given when there exist others. (This fallacy is also known as a false dichotomy). For example, a person might insist, “you’re either with me or against me” and hence force the listener to join forces or else be taken as an enemy. In general, … Continue reading “Logical Fallacies of Historians: the False Dilemma (Dichotomy)”


Logical Fallacies of Historians: Begging the Question

The fallacy of the circular proof is a species of a question-begging, which consists in assuming what is to be proved. . . . [I]t is exceedingly common in empirical scholarship. (Fischer, 49) (Note that this expression is different from its misuse elsewhere to mean “this raises [or suggests] the question . . .”; here … Continue reading “Logical Fallacies of Historians: Begging the Question”


Logical Fallacies of Historians: “If It Fits — Be Careful!”

If your theory explains the evidence does that mean it is probably correct? If “everything fits”, is your theory therefore surely right? There’s a problem with that way of thinking and it is taken head-on by Paul Newall in a chapter titled “Logical Fallacies of Historians” in Tucker and Kane’s A Companion to the Philosophy … Continue reading “Logical Fallacies of Historians: “If It Fits — Be Careful!””


Part 2 of Testing the Claim that Jesus Scholars Use the Methods of Other Historians

This post continues my assessment of the claims made in a doctoral dissertation by Michael Zolondek (supervised by Larry Hurtado and Helen Bond of the University of Edinburgh) that Jesus scholars use the same methods as historians of other fields. The sorts of methods he is addressing are specifically the “criteria of authenticity”. Though challenged … Continue reading “Part 2 of Testing the Claim that Jesus Scholars Use the Methods of Other Historians”


The Fallacy Few Historians Have Avoided

Many have attempted to establish a doubtful question by a phrase such as most historians agree . . . it is the consensus of scholarly opinion that . . . in the judgment of all serious students of this problem . . .  The fallacy of the prevalent proof makes mass opinion into a method … Continue reading “The Fallacy Few Historians Have Avoided”


Examining the Evidence for Jesus as an Apocalyptic Prophet

On History for Atheists Tim O’Neill has set out the standard reasons for the view that Jesus was an apocalyptic prophet. He concludes that this particular portrayal of Jesus stands against what conservative and liberal Christians, and even “fringe Jesus Mythicists”, and “many people” generally “would like Jesus to be.” Put that way, one wonders why anyone … Continue reading “Examining the Evidence for Jesus as an Apocalyptic Prophet”


An Embarrassing Fallacy in Many Historical Jesus Studies

Recently I was discussing some of the criteria of authenticity that have been used by historical Jesus scholars to supposedly sift the more likely historical events in the gospels from those that are pious fabrications. I was using David Hackett Fischer’s Historians’ Fallacies as my yardstick. One criterion I did not get to then was … Continue reading “An Embarrassing Fallacy in Many Historical Jesus Studies”


Reply to Larry Hurtado: “Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars”

One of the purposes of Vridar is to share what its authors have found of interest in biblical scholarship that unfortunately tends not to be easily accessible to the wider lay public. (Of course, our interests extend into political, science and other topics, too. For further background see the authors’ profiles and the explanations linked … Continue reading “Reply to Larry Hurtado: “Why the “Mythical Jesus” Claim Has No Traction with Scholars””


Theologians’ Miracle: Turning Fallacy into Proof

Professor of History, David Hackett Fischer, has long been known for his book, Historians’ Fallacies, in which he amasses copious examples of fallacious historical analysis and argument committed (at least on occasion) even by otherwise highly reputable historians. Unfortunately, critical fallacies that he identifies as periodic blights on the work of his peers are standard … Continue reading “Theologians’ Miracle: Turning Fallacy into Proof”


Carrier’s “Proving History”, Chapter 3(a) — Review

I have been studying the first half of Richard Carrier’s chapter 3, “Introducing Bayes’s Theorem”, in his recent book Proving History: Bayes’s Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus. I mean studying. I want to be sure I fully understand the argument before tackling the second half of the chapter, headed Mechanics of Bayes’s … Continue reading “Carrier’s “Proving History”, Chapter 3(a) — Review”


The fallacy of argument ad verecundiam (to modesty?)

The quaint Latin term might mean appeal to modesty but in plain English it refers to the fallacy of an appeal to authority. This form of error is an egregious but effective technique which puts an opponent in the awkward position of appearing to commit the sin of pride if he persists in his opposition. … Continue reading “The fallacy of argument ad verecundiam (to modesty?)”


The fallacy of the prevalent proof

David Hackett Fischer back in 1970 in his Historian’s Fallacies: Toward a Logic of Historical Thought, discussed this fallacy one sometimes encounters in discussions of the history of early Christian origins and biblical studies. It refers to using widespread opinion as a method of verification. Often I’ve noticed this coupled with an argument “from authority” … Continue reading “The fallacy of the prevalent proof”


Bauckham’s Jesus and the Eyewitnesses. Chapter 5b

Symbolic Status & Authoritative Status Having passed over any need to argue that the Twelve really were an entity selected by Jesus B proceeds to explain the symbolic and prophetic significance of this group, symbolic of the hope of restoration of an idealized Israel, and prophetic of what God was doing through Jesus.