Fundamentals of historical research and the difficulties faced by historical Jesus studies

Some readers may have come across a very long list of ancient writers who “could or should” have made some mention of Jesus. That list surfaced in another forum discussion today and I found myself faithlessly writing a response to it there instead of spending my time on Vridar. To make amends, hoping Vridar will … Continue reading “Fundamentals of historical research and the difficulties faced by historical Jesus studies”


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”


Failure of the Logic of History in Christian Origins Studies

I have finally found two books on the practice of history, each by a scholar (other than Richard Carrier), that address the core questions I have often raised with respect to flawed methods of New Testament historians dealing with Christianity’s origins. Both works address historical studies in general and only one from time to time casts a glance at what … Continue reading “Failure of the Logic of History in Christian Origins Studies”


Maurice the Pedant Learns Five More Lessons — Tuesday

Maurice has handed in a problematic essay assignment. Continuing from after school Monday . . . . . Come in Maurice. Sit down here and we’ll continue to go through your essay and hopefully you’ll understand what you need to do for your next effort. Show me the work I set you to complete last … Continue reading “Maurice the Pedant Learns Five More Lessons — Tuesday”


What Happens to the Documentary Hypothesis if the Pentateuch was written 270 BCE?

What happens to the Documentary Hypothesis (DH) if, as outlined in recent posts, the Pentateuch was first written in the third century BCE? That’s the first question that comes to most of us when first hearing a thesis like this. This post outlines Russell Gmirkin’s chapter on the DH, and is thus a continuation of … Continue reading “What Happens to the Documentary Hypothesis if the Pentateuch was written 270 BCE?”


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”


Bart Ehrman’s Huffing and Posting Against Mythicism

Dr Bart Ehrman has written for the Huffington Post a quite a curious article attacking mythicism and advertising his new book which promises more of the same. It is a curious article because it leaves a reader who knows anything about mythicist arguments and historical Jesus scholarship with the impression that Ehrman knows very little … Continue reading “Bart Ehrman’s Huffing and Posting Against Mythicism”


Why and how I came to question the historicity of Jesus

This is a continuation from my previous “little bio” post. An earlier version was accidentally published about half an hour before I had completed it. This is the completed version. It never occurred to me that the historical existence of Jesus could be questioned until I came across Earl Doherty’s website. Till then I had … Continue reading “Why and how I came to question the historicity of Jesus”


Who says, “There is no evidence for the historical Jesus” ?

If you follow the “it is ignorant to say there is no evidence for the HJ” discussion on Debunking Christianity you have already read most of what I post here. John Loftus kicks things off with his OP in which he says: I want to put to rest the ignorant claim that “There is no … Continue reading “Who says, “There is no evidence for the historical Jesus” ?”


Finding Jesus Under the Stone: The Gospel of Thomas Guide to the Scholarly Search for the Historical Jesus

There is a passage in the Gospel of Thomas that would seem to encapsulate the historical methodology some scholars use to reconstruct the historical Jesus: 77 Jesus said, “I am the light that is over all things. I am all: from me all came forth, and to me all attained. Split a piece of wood; … Continue reading “Finding Jesus Under the Stone: The Gospel of Thomas Guide to the Scholarly Search for the Historical Jesus”


Response to McGrath’s circularity and avoidance of the methodological argument

In a “response” to a recent post of mine about historical method, James McGrath illustrates well the very problem and question-begging that my post was intended to highlight. McGrath’s opening statement affirms that he simply fails to grasp the argument I am presenting. [Neil Godfrey’s] post begins by stating and commenting on the principle which … Continue reading “Response to McGrath’s circularity and avoidance of the methodological argument”


Games Historical Jesus Scholars Play

A review of Dale Allison’s forthcoming book, Constructing Jesus: Memory, Imagination, and History, illustrates both in its post details and subsequent comments how far removed Historical Jesus studies are from the way history is practiced in other (nonbiblical) fields. These comments of mine on this review address starting assumptions of the reviewer problems left hanging … Continue reading “Games Historical Jesus Scholars Play”


Historical facts and the nature of history — exchange with Rick Sumner

Rick has posted an interesting discussion titled What is History? The Nature of “Facts” in response to my Historicist Hocus Pocus post. This follows a short exchange between us in the comments beneath my own post, and is an extension of earlier blog posts of his own on the same theme. I appreciate Rick’s response … Continue reading “Historical facts and the nature of history — exchange with Rick Sumner”


A Lewis Carroll satire on McGrath’s methods of historical enquiry

“Herald, read the accusation!” said the King.On this the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and then unrolled the parchment-scroll, and read as follows: “The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts And took them quite away!” “Consider your verdict,” … Continue reading “A Lewis Carroll satire on McGrath’s methods of historical enquiry”

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