Subjecting Papias to external controls. A first step

This relates to my previous post on Bauckham’s chapter 16. I addressed the issue of “naive readings” of texts, explaining what I mean by that term. I won’t repeat the details here. (Any text can claim to be written by so and so and at a certain time. Scholars know that when it comes to … Continue reading “Subjecting Papias to external controls. A first step”


Historical Research: The Basics

Hello again everyone. It’s been too long since I’ve posted here. One of the reasons for my absence was that I have been working my way through several new works in other languages that I have had to scan and translate mostly “by machine” as I go. Reading one work led to several more and … Continue reading “Historical Research: The Basics”


How to Read Historical Evidence (and any other information) Critically

no claim is above the requirement of justification Anyone who reads widely about how historians work and how we can know anything about the past — as well as how to critically analyse news and media reports and any information at all — will likely at some point come across an interesting perspective in an … Continue reading “How to Read Historical Evidence (and any other information) Critically”


Once More: The Fictions of the Beloved Disciple and Johannine Community

Free for all who are interested: Sage publishers have made one of their recently published articles open access: Méndez, H. (2020). “Did the Johannine Community Exist?” Journal for the Study of the New Testament, 42(3), 350–374. https://doi.org/10.1177/0142064X19890490 Speaking of devils, the same themes of false (literary) communities and false witnesses (Beloved Disciple) have been addressed … Continue reading “Once More: The Fictions of the Beloved Disciple and Johannine Community”


Addressing James McGrath’s Arguments Against Mythicism — 1

I’m travelling again so am pulling out the occasional post I’ve had in store for such times. If circumstances do not permit some of my planned posts I’ll post another one of these. McGrath would appeal to the variables shaping “cultural memory” and theological tendentiousness and the tradition of Jewish authors rewriting “Old Testament” scriptures; … Continue reading “Addressing James McGrath’s Arguments Against Mythicism — 1”


An Ancient Historian on Historical Jesus Studies, — and on Ancient Sources Generally

What do ancient historians think of the efforts of biblical scholars to inquire into “the historical Jesus” and the origins of Christianity? M.I. Finley was an influential historian of ancient history who found time out from his studies on the classical (Greco-Roman) world and methodological problems in ancient history more generally to write a handful of … Continue reading “An Ancient Historian on Historical Jesus Studies, — and on Ancient Sources Generally”


Some Thoughts on the Nature of the Evidence and the Historicity of Jesus

You have the right to remain silent Over on The Bible and Interpretation web site, James McGrath once again takes up his jousting lance to do battle against the big, bad mythicists. He raises an interesting point: If we were to combine a number of recent and not-so-recent proposals related to Jesus, we could depict him … Continue reading “Some Thoughts on the Nature of the Evidence and the Historicity of Jesus”


Is the Criterion of Embarrassment an Embarrassment?

Dr McGrath posts a brief comment on the criterion of embarrassment at Is the Criterion of Embarrassment an Embarrassment? He makes the following statement that I believe strikes at the core of the methodological flaw in scholarly inquiries into the historical Jesus and Christian origins: As with a trial in a courtroom, the fact that … Continue reading “Is the Criterion of Embarrassment an Embarrassment?”


Introducing Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Reza Aslan’s book about Jesus, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth, opens its prologue like an historical novel: The war with Rome begins not with a clang of swords but with the lick of a dagger drawn from an assassin’s cloak. (p. 3) Addressing the reader in the second person Aslan draws … Continue reading “Introducing Reza Aslan’s Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth


The Making of a Mythicist, Act 1, Scene 1 (Thomas Brodie’s Odyssey)

Dominican priest Thomas Brodie has written an autobiographical narrative of how he came to the realization that the New Testament writings about Jesus, in particular the Gospels, do not derive from reports about the life and teachings of an historical person at all but are entirely sourced and re-created from other theological writings. The Jesus … Continue reading “The Making of a Mythicist, Act 1, Scene 1 (Thomas Brodie’s Odyssey)”


The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 3a: How One Popular Historian Follows Jesus to Scholarly Perdition (Part 1)

Sometimes when attempting to demolish the arguments of the Christ myth theory historical Jesus scholars point to a popular biography of Jesus, Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels, by a scholar situated well outside the faculties of theology or biblical studies, the classicist Michael Grant. The reason they point to Michael Grant’s book is … Continue reading “The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 3a: How One Popular Historian Follows Jesus to Scholarly Perdition (Part 1)”


That chart of mythical and historical persons — with explanations

I have added to my table some quick off-the-top-of-my-head references to the sources I was thinking of when I constructed my original table (see previous post). Some people on Jim McGrath’s site have chosen not to register any problems with my chart here, but have opted for a giggle-and-poke session on Jimmy’s blog and Doctor … Continue reading “That chart of mythical and historical persons — with explanations”


The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 2: The Overlooked Reasons We Know Certain Ancient Persons Existed

In the previous post in this series I concluded by pointing out the fundamental difference between the sources used by historians concerning nonbiblical historical figures such as Napoleon, Alexander or even Socrates, and those used by New Testament scholars for Jesus. In the former, the sources leave no doubt at all that certain individuals lived … Continue reading “The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 2: The Overlooked Reasons We Know Certain Ancient Persons Existed”


The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 1: What Has History To Do With The Facts?

There is something rotten in the state of historical Jesus studies. Ideology has long trumped inconvenient questioning. Postmodernist flim-flam has recently trumped any hope of sound methodology. Some on that side of New Testament studies have curiously accused me of being “a fact fundamentalist” or an antiquated positivist or one who has unrealistic demands for … Continue reading “The Historical Jesus and the Demise of History, 1: What Has History To Do With The Facts?”

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