ABOUT VRIDAR: Authors’ profiles (updated 14th March 2019)

14th March 2019: New post covering the professional side of my life as a librarian: On Being a Librarian

Since I wrote the following spiel — in late February 2012 to be more precise — Tim Widowfield has joined me as a regular co-contributor to this blog. The closest piece to a little “bio” of himself I have been able to persuade Tim to produce is in his post How I Escaped Fundamentalism: 5 Myths About Ex-Fundies.

More recent still: Atheism, Vridar and Blogging Research in Religion, History, Politics, Science. . . . addresses the origin of the name Vridar and its relevance to the themes covered here.

Tim has let slip more of his personal background in a comment that I reproduce, in part, here:

I lost faith in God and left Fundamentalism when I was about 15 years old. I took my first university course in New Testament Studies three years later. It was in that class, which I enjoyed immensely (because I was still fascinated by the Bible and likely always will be), where I first learned about source criticism, form criticism, and the basic history of Christian theology.

When the professor first went over the Two-Source Hypothesis, it was an exhilarating experience. Eureka! I drank it all in and loved every drop.

From the age of 15 until my mid-40s, I accepted the “failed apocalyptic prophet” theory of the historical Jesus, and didn’t think very much about it. In fact, I didn’t know that mythicism was even an option until a few years ago. And I’m still not convinced by it.

For me, it’s similar to Marxism. Marx’s critique of capitalism is devastating. But Marx’s replacement leaves me unconvinced. In the same way, Price’s, Doherty’s, and Carrier’s critique of historical Jesus scholarship has revealed the naked emperor. But I still can’t justify moving from my agnostic position. . . . .

Finally, as Neil said, we’re just hobbyists here, but we take it seriously. I don’t have to worry about making friends or influencing people. I’m not jockeying for a better parking space in the faculty lot. I don’t worry about tenure. So I’m free to speak my mind. And you can damned well bet that I’ll continue to do so.


Vridar is my doppelganger. The name comes from Vardis Fisher’s fictionalized biographical two-part novel “The Orphans in Gethsemane” and is a near-anagram of the author’s own name. To read this novel, or even his 1939 Harper prize winning “Children of God”, is to read my life too. Everything from boyhood, religion, women, fatherhood, personal growth to atheism is there. For info on who Vardis Fisher is check out Vardis Fisher (American Atheists site), Vardis Fisher (VardisFisher.com) and Vardis Fisher (wikipedia article). But if you’re really wanting to know where I’m coming from it might be easier to simply read my own odyssey from heavenly thrones down to earth.

My background (chronologically) is in

  • secondary school history teaching (ancient and modern history),
  • postgraduate educational studies and information science,
  • academic librarianship,
  • being the metadata specialist with a project building regional university repositories in Australia and New Zealand,
  • digital repository management,
  • two years as a Principal Librarian and Bibliographic Consultant with National Library Board, Singapore,
  • coordinating the digitisation, repository services and digital collections in Australian universities — University of Southern Queensland, RUBRIC Project, Murdoch University, Deakin University, . . . . The most exciting project I am involved with here is a national government funded project to digitize, collate and make available for preservation, research and cultural purposes aboriginal languages resource materials,
  • and most recently — research data management.

Specifically, my formal educational qualifications are a BA and post graduate Bachelor of Educational Studies, both at the University of Queensland, and a post graduate Diploma in Arts (Library and Information Science) from Charles Sturt University near Canberra, Australia. I am an associate of the professional library and information services organization of Australia.

But “librarian” means little as a job label nowadays. I actually never see or deal with books at work. My business cards say things like “metadata specialist” and (currently) “digital collections coordinator”. I work with computer programmers, academics and research bodies as well as librarians. Job titles and labels are as fluid as my responsibilities. My job is to assist with applications of new technologies and metadata schema and ontologies to enhance the accessibility of cultural resources and research data online and to help coordinate systems that enhance the availability of academic research publications and datasets as well as coordinating the development of research data management across CDU. I am also on two national metadata advisory committees (RIF-CS and MACAR). Perhaps “information specialist” is a more accurate term for my profession than “librarian”.

For the benefit of those who are curious about internet claims that I am someone else I invite them to read the Synapse Newsletter volum3 2011, page 7.

My informal education is somewhat reflected in my personal library collection, LibraryThing.

So the biblical studies interest is a hobby, although a serious one. I do like to check out the foundations of significant beliefs as thoroughly as my real-life commitments will allow.

Since some people have wrongly imputed to me some sort of vitriolic anti-Christian vendetta, I have posted the reasons for my Vridar blog under Why I’m doing this, Vridar is not an anti-Christian blog (which includes a link or two to posts by fellow atheists expressing the most humane indulgence towards religious viewpoints!), and Hoo boy, I have a headache. A more recent “autobiographical” post is I left the cult and met the enemy. (I do criticize religion at times, but sometimes I also say nice things about it. But where there is damage done by certain aspects of Christianity then I sometimes think I am not being critical often enough and I should post more about that. But I know others do a good job of this anyway.)

My views on biblical studies are very much in line with those of “minimalists” such as Philip R. Davies, Niels Peter Lemche and Thomas L. Thompson. I have attempted to apply some of the relevant principles of scholars such as these to New Testament studies as well.

Most of my posts relate to New Testament studies, and my primary interest is in sharing new ideas, in particular those that explore the New Testament writings from the perspective of literary analysis. One will see many of the scholars whose works I have blogged about — with a view to sharing new ideas into biblical and Christian origins, or simply sharing certain scholarly ideas that would not otherwise be readily accessible to the wider public — in my Categories list under “Book reviews and comments”.

While my posts on mythicism sometimes attract more than average attention, I do not post on that topic very often at all. I have attempted a number of times to clarify that this blog is exactly what I have said it is: a sharing of the lesser known biblical scholarship with a wider audience and an exploration into Christian origins with a focus on the more liberal or radical interpretations emanating from biblical scholars. See, for example, my post Vridar is not a mythicist blog but a blog about Christian origins and evidence . . . . The topics that interest me the most are about scholarly insights into new understandings of biblical origins, writings, etc. Sometimes I will certainly draw conclusions from these that do not agree with the majority of scholars, but I always make my own views clearly distinct from others I am discussing.

I am also very interested in other topics (politics, human nature) but don’t post as often on those anymore, partly because I feel I have more “amateur expertise” in biblical studies and know others are doing an excellent job in those other areas.

One reason I believe some tend to brand this blog as a mythicist blog is the implications of my posts about methodology, in particular methodology in historical studies. Just as the so-called “minimalists” embraced normative historical methodology and applied it to the study of the Old Testament, and just as the conclusions of that methodological inquiry led to a re-evaluation of the historicity of many OT biblical persons, so I have attempted to apply the same methodology to NT studies. And yes, this method does indeed open the door to the possibility of Jesus never having been a historical person at all. But intellectual integrity means we must follow wherever the valid methods lead. On the other hand, much of what passes for NT historical studies is subjective and fallacious, and I take little pity on unscholarly remarks and even outright intellectual dishonesty where I see them — especially if I see evidence that such shoddy methods are from those who have a wide public influence. Public intellectuals have a public responsibility for how they lead society and I have little sympathy for them when they fail to promote intellectual integrity.

Another reason this is incorrectly seen as a mythicist blog is probably my record of challenging attacks on certain mythicist authors that are clearly ignorant of their arguments or grossly misrepresenting them. It should be obvious that one does not have to agree with all the arguments of everyone one defends in such situations.

I was quite surprised when I read others saying that my blog was for a mythicist audience so I set up a poll to ask where readers stand on this question, and I am very grateful to see that is clear that most are not mythicists.

Politically I am very much on the Left-ish and/or Green-ish (in some areas anarchistic “black-ish”) side of things. I see myself as a humanist-activist whenever given half a chance.

Since writing the above a number of critic have attempted to characterize me as “once a fundamentalist always a fundamentalist” on the strength of their awareness of my cult background. In response I wrote another post, A Little Biographical Footnote.

My other blog is Metalogger. [No longer active: 14/03/2019]

& my personal library collection is at LibraryThing.

Email: neilgodfrey1 [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Also contactable on Facebook (though not often — I am spending less and less time there all the time, now)

Neil Godfrey

Temporarily defunct blog is Sweetreason (for real life, philosophical and activist issues) — simply could not keep up with so many blogs. Most sweetreason things fill up my time in real life anyway. Blogging seems superfluous. But add from time to time to my Vridar blog what would once have been a Sweetreason post.

15th May 2008, have just noticed that some users are copying posts of mine without attribution and also in contexts I am not comfortable with. That’s the internet I guess, but I’d prefer anyone wishing to copy to abide by the terms of the Creative Commons licence I have just taken out for this site:

Creative Commons

Creative Commons License

Vridar by Neil Godfrey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Based on a work at vridar.wordpress.com.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at /permissions/.

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Neil Godfrey

Neil is the author of this post. To read more about Neil, see our About page.

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49 thoughts on “ABOUT VRIDAR: Authors’ profiles (updated 14th March 2019)”

  1. Hi Neil,

    Liked your Justin Martyr’s Gospel Narrative chart, but wondered what it would look like if you could see the whole thing on one screen. Made a graphic (98×579) that shows how events from the chart cluster together. If your interested and will send be an email address that can accept attachments, I send you a copy of it.

    Terry Fuller

  2. I do like the idea of a single image, Terry. I’m happy to add it with attribution of course. Can you tell me a bit more about it, though. I don’t understand such images — I have come across them once before and what I saw seemed too small — but I would not doubt there is something I am missing or don’t understand. Let me know.

  3. Hello Neil,
    I was having another look at your site and noticed you are in Toowoomba. You probably know that I lived in Brisbane for years. Anyway i thought that was interesting and wanted to say hi. I haven’t been back to Oz for a long time and would love to – perhaps we can meet some day when I figure it out.

    Meanwhile I’m involved in the discussion about this shooting at the church in Colorado – on the media because we communicated online back in May when the gunman was posting very anguished posts on a website and I was invited by the moderator to offer some help.

    Must go. Stay in touch. keep up the good work. We are starting a new website with resources listed, so I will include you. http://www.recoveryfromreligion.org

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Neil,

      Just reading your blog (Very nicely put together.) when I came across a reference to Toowoomba and USQ, and then the penny dropped. You probably have no reason to remember Morry Lee at USQ, but I worked for the Student Guild, (95-2001) and formerly attended the Gipps street Church of Christ in the 80’s. I left that sect in 1993 and began studying apocalyptic stuff in relation to Josephus Wars.

      After USQ I lived and taught in Korea for 12 years. I now live in South Brisbane.

      Delightful to recall the memory.

      Kindest regards
      Morry Lee

  4. Hi Marlene,

    I chanced to hear you interviewed by Rachel Kohn on Radio National’s Spirit of Things when driving home for lunch one day. I missed your name and had to phone the radio station to get contact details. That’s when I picked up your “Leaving the Fold” and may have spoken to you on the phone a couple of times — you were in Brisbane but I had recently moved to Toowoomba and unable to meet up.

    Good to “catch up” again,

  5. Conspicuously absent from your list of book reviews on Religion and Christian origins is Rodney Stark. I recommend _The Rise of Christianity_.

    And _Cities of God_.

    Also, Stark and Finke’s _Acts of Faith_ represents a paradigm shift in the sociology of religion. It’s no longer Weber and Durkheim. These guys do real science.

    I would love to know your thoughts on this new market-based, rational-choice theory, social scientific way of explaining religious behavior.

  6. I haven’t read Stark, but I’d appreciate any summaries and/or snippets of her/his ideas — feel free to fill me in here. Any elaboration might tempt me to buy a copy sooner than otherwise.

    As for “market-based” theory, I am not up to date with that sort of thing as such in the literature, but it sounds a bit like some of the articles cited in a recent National Radio program bibliography I included here:

    Do let me know more.

  7. Welcome to the club! It was Earl Doherty who introduced me to Vardis Fisher and I’ve been grateful ever since. I zapped up VF’s Testament of Man series and The Children of God and the odd article available on the net and have found myself forever referring back to something he has written. Maybe he is the paradigm for anyone who has struggled to think their way honestly out of a cultic fundamentalist belief system? Yes?

  8. Neil, while I’m still learning a lot about your views and your site, I can go ahead and say that I really appreciate the substance of your efforts toward examining Christian orgins. We may view Christian origins differently (and I’m still in the process of learning precisely what those differences might be), but there’s no doubt that you provide your reader’s thoughtful and extensive expositions of your views as well as the views of others.

      1. Hi Neil.
        I recently found this blog and have been enjoying it, but also wondered where I could ask a question..maybe my browser isn’t bring up the contacts?
        I was looking for a chronology on the Bauer translations so I could try and read them in the order he wrote them. I know a lot of textual critics develop their idea’s over time so I wanted to try and ‘flow’ with the development in order of composition…I went to Wikipedia but they don’t seem to be in chronological order there and the titles are in German (which I don’t read)…any pointers would be appreciated. BTW…great work here!

        1. Glad you find something useful here, Marc. I listed the translations in chronological order but to make that clear, in response to your request, I have added the dates of the original publication against each one. You can check these dates by clicking on the links to the source texts I used each time — there you will see the original publication dates on the covers or title pages.


  9. Hi just wanted to say thanks for this blog.

    I have only recently come across it and have been impressed by what I have read thus far. I had been a person with an active involvement in the Christian Church but now have serious doubts about that faith. What I really want to do is to find the truth, if Christianity is false I would rather know than delude myself.

    I am finding your site very helpful to me in examining the issues. Dare I say it is confirming what I feel in my heart.

    My message to God (if you are there) is ‘why are you making it so hard to believe’?

  10. My last prayer “to God” went something like this: If you are going to send me to hell for being as honest as know how to be with the evidence then I can have no respect for you and would rather that than to spend time with you.

    I had a lot of deprogramming to do but found a number of books, especially Marlene Winell’s “Leaving the Fold”, a great help. (Also Vardis Fisher’s books — hence my little logo at the top of the page.) I even had the opportunity to thank Bishop Spong personally for helping me on my path towards atheism and tell him how much more relaxed and mature I felt as a person now. I think he winced a bit but did concede that so many religious people do have an up-tightness about them. Living a life of put-on (putting on the godly man, etc) is not the healthiest way to live.

  11. Neil, you have sometimes posted on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. These posts of yours seem to really cause offense to some. Of late I have been watching documentaries. One has to be very skeptical of any these of course.

    First i would recommend the site:


    The following are recommended for your viewing:

    The Killing Zone

    Witness To Israeli War Crimes

    The War You Don’t See

    Occupation 101: Voices of the Silenced Majority

    Though they point to vimeo they are on the topdocumentary site

    A last one is the following:

    Enemy Image



    I sincerely hope you find the time to view these and possibly comment on them


  12. Hi Tim and Neil,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Vridar has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 30 Atheist Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 30 Atheist Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.


  13. Hi Neil,

    I just discovered this blogsite after it being referenced in David Fitzgeralds’s new book “Jesus Mything in Action” and look forward to looking around more. I am fascinated by the mythicist theory–after reading DF’s book and Richard Carrier’s “On the Historisity of Jesus”, mythicism makes a lot of sense.

    However, after quickly reading your above blog, I was unable to determine where you fall on the spectrum of historicity vs mythicism. Im sure you clearly state it somewhere that I just haven’t found. I, myself, am agnostic on the issue but leaning towards mythicism especially after digesting the evidence presented by Fitzgarald and Carrier. Perhaps agnostic is the best we can be.

    Looking forward to further coorespondence.


  14. “Public intellectuals have a public responsibility for how they lead society and I have little sympathy for them when they fail to promote intellectual integrity.”
    Here here!

  15. I’ll keep it short. The monotheistic faiths are a scam selling the delusion of salvation, resurrection and afterlife (whatever that is). It is the after birth that is important. if you are lucky! If miracles are longed for, try life on earth. And if a God is needed, it is the Sun which makes all of this possible. GROG

  16. Just discovered your blog and really loving the open, honest analysis, of the New Testament canon from a unique or novel perspectives. I recently left religious fundamentalism because I prefer truth over superstitions. However, I don’t think that the first Christians risked their lives for superstitions so something changed between Paul’s time and the imposition of orthodoxy (the literalization of myths into historical accounts) upon the world in the 4th century. I believe the original Christianity was gnostic and Paul was its leader who expounded the “true substance” from the myths. Thanks for keeping it real.

  17. Merry Christmas.
    Thanks for the reminding of “4000”Great Year meaning in Thomas L.Thompson, The Bible in History; hm, only such “small, weak”sources (Pseudo Philo, Testament of Moses: then,i.e.earlier than 164 B.C?).
    I look for “details” on the subject; well, I support G.Miller and J.A.Fitzmayer’s view about 1Cor 2:6-8. Why? The historical person of Jesus and the time of occupation by Rome and Cesar makes all the N.TEstamant very anti-Cesar, especially Paul’s Phil2:11 as an anti-Cesar statement, Jesus is Lord (and not Cesar!); also John 20:28, “the theology from above”, is just a mocking of Cesar Domitian because anywhere in NT Jest not call (a)God (ex. Mk 10:18).
    ps. What do you think: 8 December 1991 is the formal destruction of Red Devil Empire, so called Bialoviezha Accord by just only 3 leaders of Russia(Yeltcyn) plus Ukraine ana Bialorus; the rest still was afraid to be sent to Gulag or executed (by I Secr. of Communist Party, Cesar M.Gorbachev. I think you still remember the pre-1989 Wall of Berlin collapse the West-Left at Akademia excuse;”better be read than dead”! To remind, 8 Dec-a Feast of Immaculata in RCC. A question: was such Event an accident or the plan of the hidden cause called in the Bible, “I am” (Exodus 3:14)?

  18. Hi Neil, I have read through some of your writings. My personal experience is I grew up with not one drop of religion at all, None. I was living a very successful life and esteemed by the masses for many years. I found life with the Lord through a supernatural experience I wasn’t looking for. I think it can be so very easy to confuse religion with a spiritual reality with God through Jesus. I am so sad this has seem to happen to you. I will be praying the Lord will make Himself Known to you through His Spirit.
    I agree Church can be controlling and filled with the mindset of mere men. Doctrine’s of men mingled with a tiny sprinkle of truth. However that is the great deceptive twisting of darkness and the delight of the the devil and all his luciferian followers. There is truth! There is a spiritual realm.
    I looked you up because I am studying the Pharez line and the Zerah line from Judah and Tamar, thank you for your historical work.

    Praying Fathers love and grace abound upon you and you are restored to the great work you were called to before the foundations of the earth when you were in Father.
    Ter Copley

  19. This is superb work, Neil, and reminds me of Albert Schweitzer’s work from a century ago. Schweitzer was also a fan of Bruno Bauer once upon a time.

    I commend you for being the first to even TRY to translate Bruno Bauer’s brilliant Kritik der Evangelien und Geschichte ihres Ursprungs, which is now more than 150 years old.

    It is because Bauer was a genius greater than the famous David Strauss that your work is historical, since history has so far treated Bauer as a forgettable writer.

    Anyway — I noticed that you never finished (or started) Chapter 6, Book 5 section 2. Or did you simply forget to post it?

    Thank you for your historic effort.
    –Paul Trejo, M.A.
    Editor, An English Edition of Bruno Bauer’s 1843 Christianity Exposed: A Recollection of the 18th Century and a Contribution to the Crisis of the 19th (2002)

    1. Thanks for the appreciation, Paul. I haven’t forgotten the work. It’s just that so many other more urgent priorities have overtaken me and I am very determined to get back to completing the translation as soon as I can, however many more weeks that may be.

  20. Hi there Neil 🙂 I find this is really a piece of luck to find a page written in English about one of Bernard Barc’s books : “Simeon The Just”. I have not read it though. Well, I have as yet not read anything by him. I have tried drawing the attention of Dan Barker to Bernard Barc, but to the best of my knowledge, not any book by Barc has yet been translated into English. There is obviously the question of copyrights and beneficiaries. Do you think anybody in the U.S. would task him/herself with this promethean undertaking? What if I sent a copy of “Les arpenteurs du temps” to the Freedom from Religion Foundation?.
    Friendly greetings from the French side of Lake Geneva.

  21. Dear Neil, I ran across your post on Pharisees in Galilee from about 11 years ago. I have been doing some pin-pointed primary source research (grateful for the wonders of word searches), map drawing, lots of blogging for 15 years.

    I recently published a blog post highlighting the presence of a Pharisee, Yohanan b. Zakkai, in Galilee, in a city called ‘Arav, for eighteen years, from around around 18 CE to 36 CE. ‘Arav was 17.4 miles southwest of Bethsaida, a journey of 1-3 days, depending on whether you were walking or going by horse.

    In case you’re not familiar with R. Yohanan, after the Roman defeat of Judea’s civil war factions, he went on to become the “founder” of Rabbinic Judaism. So he’s a pretty famous person.

    I believe that R. Yohanan b. Zakkai is the “well known” Pharisee mentioned in Luke 7, as well as the chief witness against the Historical Jesus at the actual trials. The historical Jesus is one of the four defendants mentioned in Luke 17:34-35.


    In academia, searching directly for who the man Jesus may have been based on has proven to be a failing approach. Without intending to, I stumbled across the HJ, not by looking for him directly, but by happening across a critical piece of evidence and finding an unrecognized trial, which turned out to be the actual Jesus trial.

  22. Hi Niel,

    I’m a fan of Bruno Bauer as well. I recently OCRed ProtoChristianity by Bauer and machine translated it.

    I’ve got the text files for ProtoChristianity(1874) and the google trans translation at


    On this page there is a link whereby you can download the text files with the OCRed text of the 1874 book.
    You’re welcome to obtain the text files and then fix up the german text (due to antique fonts) and then get a better google translate.

    Thanks for your attention to Bauer. I think he did have some things to say about early Christianity and he isn’t translated much into English.

    I also have the English translatiion of Christ and the Caesars by Bauer. The translaton was done by a Frank Schacht, who has since died. I can give you the wife of the publisher and maybe she can sign off the rights to the translation. It’s better than google translate.

    The ProtoChristianity machine translation is readable but definitely not publishable.

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