Mythicism on the cusp of history–Pt. 1

Scholars mentioned: T. Brodie, H. Detering, E. Doherty, N. Lemche, D. MacDonald, R. Price, R. Salm, T. Thompson.      Readers of this blog recognize its dedication to mythicism—as in ‘Jesus mythicism’—the conviction that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as an historical figure. However, at this time in history when pressure is rapidly building in support of the Christian mythicist position, a different (yet equally important) kind of mythicism is also gaining ground… We can term it Jewish mythicism—the conviction that assumptions about Judaism’s past are (also) mythological.      Only the most naive today maintain the historicity of the patriarchs from Abraham to Moses. Major biblical figures and entities associated with “Ancient Israel” (i.e., the Iron Age, c. 1200–c. 600 BCE) are … Continue reading

Publication date: November 30, 2015!

The much-anticipated 541-page book is now at the printer (Nov. 16)! This explosive sequel to The Myth of Nazareth (2008) documents astonishing scandals on the ground and a desperate race to create evidence for the nonexistent hometown of Jesus. With a bonus final chapter addressing the question: Since there was no ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ was ANY prophet at the source of Christianity?   In softcover and Kindle editions from American Atheist Press by René Salm with a Foreword by Frank R. Zindler.   From the back cover:

Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 4

Deception and power      Dykstra writes that the canonical gospels are “scriptural historiography… The narrative is anchored to known historical facts, it is written to achieve a practical political or religious purpose, and in the furtherance of that purpose the author is free to invent whatever does not unreasonably transgress the bounds of plausibility” (p. 198). Dykstra then flat-out states that the evangelist is “compelled to invent whatever is necessary to achieve his purpose.” Well, that about sums up the situation: the evangelists invented what suited their purposes and that they could get away with (which is another way of saying: “whatever does not unreasonably transgress the bounds of plausibility”).      The closest contemporary genre to the above is probably what we … Continue reading

Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 3

Chp. 5: Presenting Jesus as the Crucified One      Dykstra begins this chapter with an important observation: “Another theme unique to Paul is his emphasis on the cross, or more specifically on the crucified Christ over the resurrected Christ” (p. 93). The terminology “crucified Christ” vs. “resurrected Christ” mirrors the two great models of salvation fighting one another for hegemony in the first century: salvation through faith (the “cross”) vs. salvation through gnosis (spiritual “resurrection”). In Pauline thought, salvation in “Jesus” is through faith in his atoning death on the physical cross. In gnostic thought, salvation in “Jesus” is through the acquisition of spiritual gnosis. These are two different religions and two different Jesuses—one material, one spiritual. Paul’s disputes with both … Continue reading

Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 2

Chp. 3: The Chimera of Oral Tradition      Like the Aramaic substratum thesis (Casey et al) the poor oral tradition has really been taking a beating lately and seems to be going the way of the dodo. I have no problem dispensing with the oral tradition theory and so skipped this long chapter on the first run-through. Dykstra asks (41): “How can a narrative written 30-plus years after the events that it records include such vivid detail..?” And: “How is it that Mark’s elaborate narrative appeared suddenly out of nowhere after three decades?” Whoah. This dating is increasingly passé. Accumulating data are showing that the Gospel of Mark probably dates to the second century CE, not the first (hence GMt and … Continue reading

Book Review: “Mark, Canonizer of Paul” by Tom Dykstra (2012) — Pt. 1

I recently finished an excellent book by Tom Dykstra, a virtually unknown American writer whose work deserves a careful read by those interested in Christian origins. The title, Mark, Canonizer of Paul: A New Look at Intertextuality in Mark’s Gospel (OCABS PRESS, 2012) won’t raise many eyebrows. After all, no one questions that the Gospel of Mark postdates Paul. And most would also agree that Markan theology and Pauline theology are in virtual lock-step: salvation comes through belief that we have been saved by the atoning death of Jesus on the cross. That is the so-called Pauline kerygma. Stated baldly, salvation comes through belief (in salvation). Christianity has managed to flourish for two thousand years based on this circular proposition. … Continue reading

New translation of Georges Ory book available

The Analysis of Christian Origins (“Analyse des origines chrétiennes”) by Georges Ory has recently been translated into English by Paul Davidson. Thank you, Paul! This is a major work by Ory and runs to 92 pages in the original French edition of 1963, published by the Cercle Ernest Renan of Paris. Ory was at one time president of the CER. Three links are provided below. The first two are to Davidson’s translation. The third is the original French edition (all PDFs). Thanks also to John Felix and Neil Godfrey for facilitating this communication. I will not have time to either read or provide a review of this work until my book NazarethGate is completed this summer. Anyone who reads Ory’s work and cares to submit a review for … Continue reading

Folly 4/2: The Churches, U.S. Government, and Land—Pt. 2

[The following radio talk is excerpted with permission from the book, Atheist Heroes and Heroines by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.]      What do you suppose land is worth in New Jersey these days? Camp Kilmer had 2.87 acres and 2 buildings which had been acquired for $76,555. The government devalued this to $29,300 and then sold it to the Christian School Association of North Central New Jersey, at an 80% discount. That is, for the sum total of $586.      Aha! I see more Texas here. It appears that the Jesuit Fathers of Houston, Inc., knew that there were buildings at Ellington Air Force Base and that three of those buildings would be just dan-dan-dandy for the use of the good fathers. They … Continue reading

Folly 4/1: The Churches, U.S. Government, and Land—Pt. 1

[The following radio talk is excerpted with permission from the book, Atheist Heroes and Heroines by Madalyn Murray O’Hair.]      Good evening. This is Madalyn O’Hair, American Atheist, back to talk with you again. I try to keep current with all the land and buildings which the United States government gives away to churches—in defiance of the Constitution of the United States, of course—but I just can’t do it. The federal government can give this away faster than just one little old American Atheist Center can keep up with the records of what is happening.      The reason that I say this is unconstitutional is that I rely on one of the men who was there when the First Amendment was drafted … Continue reading

Folly 3: Bakunin on “God”

[In the early 1970s Madalyn Murray O’Hair, the late founder of American Atheists, instituted a series of talks on the American Atheist Radio Series. One of the talks dealt with the anarchist Bakunin and became a chapter in O’Hair’s subsequent compilation book, Atheist Heroes and Heroines. The text is reprinted here by permission.—R.S.] Good evening,      This is Madalyn O’Hair, American Atheist, back to talk with you again.      I have been trying for some time to get some of the works of the anarchists, for this was a group of persons absolutely dedicated to Atheism.      In America we have the unusual phenomenon of the largest anarchist group being Roman Catholic. Headed by Dorothy Day and putting out a small newspaper, this … Continue reading