Catchup — for you latecomers the history-basics lecture

Just for the record and for easy future reference I want to post here two more points Leopold von Ranke is famous or infamous for as the “father of modern history”. Not that this is some mere antiquarian interest on my part; my real interest is in the way historical studies are practised in biblical … Continue reading “Catchup — for you latecomers the history-basics lecture”


The Basics of History — They’re Still the Basics

Postmodernism has been making its inroads into historical Jesus studies with what I think are most convenient results. This post is a plug for the old-fashioned rules for the proper way to do history. We can’t get any more old-fashioned than the nineteenth century founder of modern history, Leopold von Ranke, who has become a … Continue reading “The Basics of History — They’re Still the Basics”


Truth and History

Come on, Bart. You can do better than this. Think through this postmodernist jargon. In my recent post in which I made a paean to memory – which will be the way I end my current book dealing with memory and the historical Jesus — I said the following. MY REMARK:  “The comment that I … Continue reading “Truth and History”


Understanding Denialism

What is a denialist? I have heard the term used to describe Holocaust deniers, creationists (the young-earth kind), climate change sceptics, anti-vaxxers, and probably some others that don’t come to mind right now. (Oh yes, now I remember. Some people apply the term to those who are not convinced that Jesus was a historical figure.) … Continue reading “Understanding Denialism”


What Is a Historical Fact? – How Historians Decide

When I was an undergraduate history student the one book anyone doing the honours course was required to address was What Is History? by the renowned “red” historian of Soviet Russia, Edward Hallet Carr. One claim Carr made in the book was particularly controversial. It was his idea of what counted as a “historical fact”. For … Continue reading “What Is a Historical Fact? – How Historians Decide”


Biblical Scholars Reacting to Public Interest in Mythicism: Part 1

Biblical scholars are reacting uncomfortably to signs of public interest in the view that Jesus did not exist. Not all biblical scholars, though. A tiny few do publicly welcome and accommodate this mythicist view of Jesus with their Christian faith and others who have confessed to being open-minded on the question. (For details see Who’s Who: Mythicists and … Continue reading “Biblical Scholars Reacting to Public Interest in Mythicism: Part 1”


“Common Sense” Ways to tell (Historical) Fact from Fiction

In the real world we know the importance of confirming the truth of important information. Does it come from a source we have good reasons to trust? Can we find independent verification? Someone recently asked me if I could recommend readings that address the point I have made about how we (or historians) decide some … Continue reading ““Common Sense” Ways to tell (Historical) Fact from Fiction”


A Secular Approach to Christian Origins Compromised by Faith and Theology

. This post concludes my series on Crossley’s Why Christianity Happened: A Sociohistorical Account of Christian Origins (26-50 CE). The previous post is here.  All posts on this book, both the recent ones from 2014 and those from 2010-11, are archived here. . Misguided equivalence How is one meant to respond to the words of … Continue reading “A Secular Approach to Christian Origins Compromised by Faith and Theology”


The Secular Approach to Christian Origins, #3 (Bias)

The previous two posts in this series: Why Christianity Happened — Toward a Secular Approach to Christian Origins Why Christianity Happened – The Secular Approach, 2 The Necessity and Problem of Bias in Christian Origins Studies James Crossley (Why Christianity Happened: A Sociological Account of Christian Origins (26-50 CE)) examines the role of bias in … Continue reading “The Secular Approach to Christian Origins, #3 (Bias)”