Forthcoming anthology: “Christianity in the Light of Science”

This is to alert readers to the upcoming anthology, “Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion” (Prometheus Books, Fall 2016), edited by John W. Loftus. One of the chapters is by yours truly. About a year ago John emailed me the following all-inclusive message: “I’m looking for authors to write chapters on cosmology, evolution, how evolution impacts Christianity, the scientific method, the Bethlehem star, biblical archeology, the existence of Nazareth at the time Jesus, the genetics of the virgin birth, biblical prophesy, the shroud of Turin, miracles and science, the existence of God and the task of science, the origins of the religious impulse…” My contributory chapter is now complete and delivered: “Pious Fraud at … Continue reading

Part 1—“Paul,” the improbable phantom

While Jesus mythicists have been focusing on the (a)historicity of Jesus of Nazareth, a related scholarly war has been raging behind the scenes, as it were: the (a)historicity of Paul of Tarsus—or, more precisely, the inauthenticity of his epistles. It is now becoming increasingly clear that the two issues are intimately linked. After all, if the Pauline epistles are inauthentic, then what basis remains to posit the historicity of their author? Other than the epistles, all that’s really left regarding the historical Paul is the notoriously contrived text known to us as the Acts of the Apostles. Of the thirteen letters ascribed to Paul in the New Testament (the Letter to the Hebrews is “anonymous”), six are considered even by … Continue reading

NazarethGate available at 20–37% discount

Hardcopies of NazarethGate are now shipping! NazarethGate: Quack Archeology, Holy Hoaxes, and the Invented Town of Jesus by René Salm (Paperback: 518 + 22 pages) “Thank you very much for sending your book, which arrived yesterday. Wow!”“What a massive amount of work went into the Nazareth book.”—Gregory L. Doudna, Ph.D, author of 4Q Pesher Nahum: A Critical Edition. Shipping to USA $21.75 USDCanada $26.00 USDMexico $31.00 USDOther countries $34.00 USD The above prices for NazarethGate include postage! (Compare to Amazon.com $23.95 + postage.) Author’s copies arrived from the printer in early December. Your copy will be mailed via USPS First Class mail within 48 hours of receipt of payment. Deep discounts of 20–37% are available only via this webpage. I … Continue reading

Mythicism on the cusp of history–Pt. 2

Scholars mentioned: R. Gmirkin, N. Lemche, J. Milik, J. Wesselius.      Astonishing theories have been recently postulated regarding the origins of Jewish scripture. They may seem quite far-fetched (see below), and the long-standing Documentary Hypothesis (DH) firmly remains majority opinion. But it may need tweaking, if not an overhaul. We recall that the DH (current since the late 19th century and also known as the Graf-Wellhausen theory) posits four major strands of literature in the Pentateuch: Yahwist, Elohist, Deuteronomist, and Priestly.      The DH offers explanations for differences in vocabulary, style, and point of view/content between various passages in the OT. It also goes a long way toward explaining outright contradictions, such as the two incompatible versions of the creation in Genesis … Continue reading

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

NazarethGate now available

ORDER HERE (click link) This explosive sequel to The Myth of Nazareth 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: 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. “Thank you very much for sending your book, which arrived yesterday. Wow!”“What a massive amount of work went into the Nazareth book.”—Gregory L. Doudna, Ph.D, author of 4Q Pesher Nahum: A Critical Edition.   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