Review, part 3a (Homer and the Gospels) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

M. David Litwa opens chapter 2, “A Theory of Comparisons”, of How the Gospels Became History: Jesus and Mediterranean Myths, with the following epigraph: The issue of difference has been all but forgotten. —Jonathan Z. Smith It is all too easy to overlook differences, agreed. I seem to recall drawing questionable conclusions about the world’s … Continue reading “Review, part 3a (Homer and the Gospels) : How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Two Ways of Defining Greco-Roman Historiography

141. The comparison concludes with the following exchange between Cicero and his brother Quintus (1.5): Q. ‘I understand that in your opinion different laws obtain in historiography and poetry’. M. ‘Yes. In history most things have their basis in veritas, whereas in poetry they have it in pleasure, although in both Herodotus, the father of … Continue reading “Two Ways of Defining Greco-Roman Historiography”


Three Lessons from Classics for Biblical Studies?

Some interesting points I came across while reading A. J. Woodman’s Rhetoric in Classical Historiography and some of his references: Initial eyewitness claims not followed up Earlier in this same chapter Thucydides drew a distinction between events which he experienced himself and those which were reported to him by others (22.2). Although  he never gives … Continue reading “Three Lessons from Classics for Biblical Studies?”


How Historiography Began, and What History Meant in the Greco-Roman World

Though we today see poetry, oratory and historiography as three separate genres, the ancients saw them as three different species of the same genus — rhetoric. All three types of activity aimed to elaborate certain data in such a way as to affect or persuade an audience or readership. — Woodman, p. 100 We often … Continue reading “How Historiography Began, and What History Meant in the Greco-Roman World”


Once More — Homer, History and the Gospels-Acts

I know some readers find it difficult to accept that our canonical gospels and Acts were seriously influenced by the epics of Homer, the Iliad and Odyssey. Here is something (two things, actually) to think about. We think of “history” as a genre of literature that is meant to convey the idea of facts, truth, … Continue reading “Once More — Homer, History and the Gospels-Acts”


Review, pt 1b: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa

In the first post we cited ancient authors on the meaning of myth.  Two more authors that M. David Litwa cites: A fable (mythos) is a fictitious story giving an image of truth . . . Aelius Theon, 1st C CE (Kennedy 2003. Progymnasmata) A myth aims at being a false tale, resembling a true … Continue reading “Review, pt 1b: How the Gospels Became History / Litwa”


Review part 9: Questioning the Historicity of Jesus / Lataster (Case for Mythicism – the Evidence)

The third part of Raphael Lataster’s Questioning the Historicity of Jesus is where he presents his case for mythicism, and since his case is essentially a review of Richard Carrier’s arguments in On the Historicity of Jesus, this post is a review of a review. Lataster has is differences from Carrier and several times points … Continue reading “Review part 9: Questioning the Historicity of Jesus / Lataster (Case for Mythicism – the Evidence)”


Why the Rabbis (and Gospel Authors, too) Wrote Fiction as “True History”

Chaim Milikowsky gives his answer to the question in the title, or at least he answers the question with respect to rabbinical literature. I have added the connection to our canonical four gospels, and I could with equal justice add Acts of the Apostles. I read CM’s answer in Ancient Fiction: The Matrix of Early … Continue reading “Why the Rabbis (and Gospel Authors, too) Wrote Fiction as “True History””


Lying Eyewitnesses — Always With Us

It ain’t necessarily so, the things that you’re liable to read in Bible, or in Der Spiegel, or in the ancient histories. Three weeks ago I posted “Now we know” — how ancient historians worked There I wrote: In 1935 the foreign correspondent of a certain English newspaper, finding himself without much material to report, … Continue reading “Lying Eyewitnesses — Always With Us”


A New Genre for the Gospels? It’s not so unusual. And Imitation and Intertextuality? A necessity!

Maybe it’s just me and the particular apologists I have encountered over the years, but I seem to have run into a claim that the authors of the canonical gospels found themselves moved to write about Jesus in a completely new literary genre that we call “the gospels”. The four gospels certainly are unlike other … Continue reading “A New Genre for the Gospels? It’s not so unusual. And Imitation and Intertextuality? A necessity!”


“Now we know” — how ancient historians worked

In 1935 the foreign correspondent of a certain English newspaper, finding himself without much material to report, despatched to England stories which supposedly dealt with the build-up to the Abyssinian war but which were in fact derived from an old colonel’s military reminiscences, published several years previously in a book entitled In the country of … Continue reading ““Now we know” — how ancient historians worked”


Telling lies for Jesus mythicism

“[Josephus] was employed to write the official history that we have. The other histories from this period have been destroyed ruthlessly by the Romans. Josephus tells us this in very chilling passages how the Romans exerted complete control of the literature of this period. There were alternative histories of the Jewish war written, while the … Continue reading “Telling lies for Jesus mythicism”


The evidence of ancient historians

Is it “hyper-critical” to approach ancient historians like Livy, Plutarch, …. with caution? In response to my previous post on why I do not think of myself as a “Jesus mythicist” one person insisted that we have every right to accept the words of Tacitus and Josephus about some incident that they say happened a couple … Continue reading “The evidence of ancient historians”


How Ancient Historians Constructed Dramatic Fiction: Thucydides and the Plague

The plague of Athens is one of the most detailed, vivid and life-like accounts of any event from ancient times. The historian who penned it (Thucydides) assures all readers that he relied upon eyewitness reports and that he personally investigated what had happened in order to be sure of leaving a record that would be … Continue reading “How Ancient Historians Constructed Dramatic Fiction: Thucydides and the Plague”