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 pre-canonical religion: 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

The late second century and Paul

A New Account of Christian Origins / pt. 8 In the preceding post I introduced some evidence that Christianity in fact predated the turn of the era—such as that Philo (fl c. 20 CE) knew ‘Christian’ sectarians including the Sethians and Ophites, that his description of the Therapeutae was of an early Buddhist-Christian group on the outskirts of Alexandria, that ‘Apollos’ in the Acts of the Apostles already knew ‘Jesus’ but not ‘Jesus of Nazareth,’ etc. In this post I jump forward to the late second century CE—just when the New Testament canon was being formulated. The prevalent form of christology was still ‘Jesus is the indwelling spirit of God’s wisdom’—a christology that I have termed Stage II. I briefly discussed the … Continue reading

Book reviews

• Did Jesus Exist? (B. Ehrman, 2012)          80+ mythicist reviews   • The Myth of Nazareth      (R. Salm, 2008. Review by R. Price)   • Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus      (T. Brodie, 2012)     Pt. 1     Pt. 2     Pt. 3   • Mark, Canonizer of Paul (T. Dykstra, 2012)          Pt. 1     Pt. 2     Pt. 3     Pt. 4   • Berossus and Genesis, Manetho and Exodus          (R. Gmirkin, 2006)   • The Origin of the History of Israel      (J. W. Wesselius, 2002)   • Misquoting Jesus (B. Ehrman, 2005)   • The Hebrew Gospel (R. Edwards, 2009)          Pt. 1   Pt. 2   • The Mandeans and Christian Origins          (R. Stahl, 1930)   • A Shift in Time (L. Einhorn, 2016)          Pt. 1   Pt. 2   • Politics of Archaeology in Israel     (C. Purdue, 2005)   • Crux Ansata: An Indictment of the Roman Catholic Church (H. G. Wells, 1943) … Continue reading

H. Detering, “The Gnostic Meaning of the Exodus”—A commentary (Pt. 38)

→ Table of Contents Conclusions Dr. Detering’s overall conclusion                  [I translate his final section in toto below. Emphases are added.—R.S.] [Dr. Detering writes:] Beginning with the gnostic interpretation of the Exodus motif and the question of its origin, we have arrived at an element of critical importance: the metaphor of transcendence, expressed figuratively as [reaching] the “other shore”—which plays a central role in Indian/Buddhist spirituality. The question of where the two trajectories intersect—Jewish tradition/Hebrew Bible on the one hand, and Buddhist/Indian spirituality on the other—led us to the Therapeutae, about whom Philo of Alexandria reports in his De Vita Contemplativa. Once the Buddhist origin of the Therapeutae is seen as plausible, it can be shown that their central mystery consisted of … Continue reading

Brodie, McGrath, and the increasing polarization of biblical studies—Pt. 2

An age of seismic cultural shifts America is, apparently, reaching the acme of polarization in just about everything: politics, cultural values, distribution of wealth, opportunity for advancement… The current presidential election is a gut-wrenching, seismic shift, as an old paradigm of power gives way to something new and still uncertain. New, of course, can be good or bad—a Donald Trump, a Hillary Clinton, a Bernie Sanders, a Ted Cruz, a Marco Rubio—choose your poison/panacea… The pundits say the electorate is “angry.” That’s pretty obvious, and it must be because things just aren’t working for the vast majority of Americans. You’ve heard the list of complaints: long work hours, low wages, no raises in a decade, problematic health insurance (do you … 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


 ~ START HERE~   ★  A New Account of Christian Origins   Yeshu ha-Notsri ★  Index of 27 posts      Jesus the rebel against Judaism      John = Jesus (Yeshu) • Hypothesis regarding John the Baptist (G. Ory)      1. Birth narratives and baptism      2. Apollos and the baptism of John; the Mandeans      3. John was the Christ • John was Jesus? (R. Price)     1. Jesus before Easter     2. Twin resurrections     3. Shall we look for another? Jesus mythicism      Timeline      What is mythicism? ★ The current paradigm      Basic mythicist bibliography      A statement on mythicism (F. Zindler)      A. Drews (PDF 133 pp. [R. Bookaroo]) Contemporary commentary • The Price-Ehrman debate (Oct. 2016)      Pt. 1     Pt. 2     Pt. 3     Pt. 4     Pt. 5     Pt. 6      The impotence of biblical studies      Jesus mythicism on the upswing • Mythicism on … Continue reading