H. Detering confronts R. Carrier—Pt. 1

Paul, Mark, and other substitutions: Richard Carrier on The Fabricated Paul by Dr. Hermann Detering Edited and translated by René Salm For some time now friends have asked me to respond to a certain blog entry by Dr. Richard Carrier, one entitled “The Historicity of Paul the Apostle” (dated June 6, 2015), in which the author expresses himself regarding my book The Fabricated Paul. My response has been delayed due to more pressing work, and also to my natural aversion towards engaging in a confrontation that includes a degree of unpleasantness. Being reminded by some, however, that Carrier’s statements cannot go without rebuttal, I have now acquiesced to the task. From the natural philosophy of the Early Roman Empire to … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 2

René: There was a claim of a house from the time of Jesus… Brian: Yeah, in 2009, I believe. René: I devote a long chapter [in the book NazarethGate] to that. Actually, it’s a wine-making installation. Very clear… There’s no doubt about it.      [This might be a good time to] address a common criticism: that I’m not an archeologist. You know, people say, “Well, René, how can you have an opinion?” And what I say is that I don’t have an opinion. I don’t make any judgments myself. I am scrupulously careful to quote the opinions of the experts, of the archeologists who have studied the stone vessels, who have studied the oil lamps, who have studied the pottery, who … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 1

“Don’t miss this incredible interview!”—Mythicist Milwaukee      The recent Mythicist Milwaukee podcast (April 12, 2016) covered a surprising number of important topics: a review of the term “mythicism”; the recent emergence of Jesus mythicists within the academy (T. Brodie, and several teaching scholars known to me who resist public acknowledgment of their position); the gospels’ incompatibility with Nazareth archeology; Marcion as a formative influence on the canonical gospels; the term “Nazarene”; my views regarding Yeshu ha-Notsri (early first century BCE) as the real prophet underlying the Christian religion; and the remarkable resemblance of sayings and parables in the gospels with Buddhism, especially as regards the common doctrine known as “karma.” I decided to transcribe and upload the interview to this website … Continue reading

Closed and open minds

Provocative work by fully credentialed specialists in New Testament studies is now quietly being conducted ‘behind the scenes’—that is, out of the general view of the public. An increasing portion of this work is supportive of Jesus mythicism, and a partial list of names quickly comes to mind: Thomas Brodie (recently), Hermann Detering, Matthias Klinghardt, Dennis MacDonald, Robert Price, Markus Vinzent… The historicity of Jesus is now seriously being undermined by these and other fully-accredited scholars. However, one wouldn’t suspect this by reading popularizing literature emanating from the pens of noted scholars such as Bart Ehrman. For that academic, the case is not merely closed—it was never open. Ehrman now has come out with yet another potboiler directed at the … 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

J.P. Holding is sued for libel, and the increasing polarization of biblical studies—Pt. 1

The recent lawsuit against the rather notorious Christian apologist J.P. Holding (aka Robert Turkel)—whose tone and language have been anything but “Christian”—gives me an opportunity to invoke a little Buddhist ethics by applauding this recent manifestation of the mighty law of karma: what goes around comes around or, if you prefer, ‘as you do unto others, so also it will be done to you’ (cf. Mt 7:12 etc). It appears that Holding has been rather egregiously abusing the Golden Rule since the inception of his “Tekton Ministries” (a play on the Greek for “carpenter”?), and that the spiritual law of karma—more subtle than air and more predictable (IMHO) than the law of gravity—suddenly struck. As a result, the Tekton Apologetics … Continue reading

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

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

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