Earl Doherty’s response to James McGrath‘s “review” of JNGNM & other criticisms (& misc)

Some of the following posts are my comparisons of James McGrath’s criticisms and Earl Doherty’s original arguments. Others are by Doherty himself.


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9 thoughts on “Earl Doherty’s response to James McGrath‘s “review” of JNGNM & other criticisms (& misc)”

  1. As a Christian (Catholic) convinced of mythicism I yearn to find discussion of the implications for faith and the implications for the legitimacy, or otherwise, of Christian institutions. Where can I find it?

    1. I presume you know of Thomas Brodie, correct? Or Thomas L. Thompson?

      I suggest trying to contact Thomas Brodie or one of his colleagues/students and/or perhaps even Thomas L. Thompson. Brodie’s publisher will probably be willing to forward your contact details to Brodie for him to contact you.

      TLT is at Copenhagen University and I only know he has described himself as a Roman Catholic and appears to be at least open to the question of mythicism.

    2. Julie:

      There are many fascinating approaches that suggest that if Christianity is myth, then it shares the power and romance after all, of other myths.

      I know I’ve seen some of these. But can’t quite recall specifics. Often TV/video shows cover myths spectacularly, and with lots of emotion.. While faintly hinting at haunting similarities with Christianity. Due to problems with Christian dogmatists though, such things were often only very, very elusively hinted at.

      Maybe someone like Joseph Campbell, talking on heroes, etc.? If you want to feel the emotions in such mythic connections.

      You might though, in your own, read Bullfinch’s account of the burning of Hercules; and on your own, compare it to Paul’s Marcionist idea. Of the flesh being burned away, to leave the immortal soul triumphant.

    3. Hermann Detering felt that Christianity was better off with a mythical Jesus, as that liberates it from the burden of historical contingencies. See Falsche Zeugen (no English translation yet).

    1. I have begun to read the article and so far (at page 6 only) I find the argument both circular and guilty of confirmation bias. Further, I notice the article uses the word “intersection” in support of various parallels, yet Sandmel wrote an article suggesting “parallelomania” was the preferred word to apply to such contexts.

      I may post a response — but I have so many other posts I want to do but am finding too little time for lately.

      (One far simpler explanation for the data, of course, is that Mark knew and used Paul’s epistles, as has been argued by others. Unfortunately McGrath does not appear to consider any ways to test his theory — something that can well be done and that I’d like to expand upon in a future post.)

      Terrible– I’m adding more to this comment as I read more: McG writes, “The story of Gethsemane predates not only these texts, but the theological systems of their authors.” That statement alone is pure faith and theology. He assumes that the Gospel of Mark’s Gethsemane story is historical. No evidence, just assumption — despite other scholarly (and even public sceptical) criticism pointing out that no-one could have known what Jesus prayed in Gethsemane because the only potential witnesses were said to be asleep! Historians need reasons to justify accepting a narrative as historical. They have reasons in the case of narratives found in works by Livy, Polybius, Tacitus, Thucydides, etc etc etc — but none of the justifications for any of the narratives in those authors apply to the accounts in the gospels. I don’t think enough theologians are generally aware of how historical knowledge is tested among the better historians.

      Added still later, after reading page 11…

      Boy oh boy — this article reminds me of the worst aspects of Bauckham’s “Eyewitnesses” book. Entirely ad hoc. Similarities are seen as evidence for indebtedness to an otherwise unevidenced tradition. So what do we do with the data that contradicts the point of these similarities? They, too, testify to indebtedness to a common tradition. The argument can’t lose. Everything supports the theory, no matter how internally inconsistent and contradictory “everything” is.

      Added even later….

      I need a break. I feel I am wasting my time reading ad hoc, tendentious, circular arguments . . . . I have to stop after skipping to page 19 and go and do something productive. I’ll try to finish this later (perhaps).

  2. Paul met James, the brother of the Lord, only 20 years or so after the beginning of the Jesus movement, who was one of the pillars of the Jerusalem Church. So the ‘myth’ of Jesus would have had to include the ‘myth’ that James was the brother or kinsmen of this mythical person, and James himself would have had to participate in this mass delusion that Jesus was not only an actual living human being, but that he, James, was himself one of Jesus’ kinsmen. But even though John records that the brethren of Jesus did not accept him during his lifetime – this should be part of the ‘myth’ – James at some point after Jesus’ mythical passing decides to participate in this mythic cult which describes him as being one of the mythical brethren of the mythical Jesus. What a load of horse hockey Doherty is trying to sell to us!

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