The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 6

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this series of posts I’ve tried to show that the Price-Ehrman debate suffered largely because the two principals play by vastly different ground rules. It’s hard to have a meaningful (much less an exciting) exchange of ideas if the assumptions, acknowledged experts, and evidence are so dissimilar. This reminds me of the global warming debate, or of the long-standing evolution-creationism debacle. In all these cases what seems obvious to the scientist is contested—inevitably because a very powerful anti-scientific agenda is in play. As James Crossley noted in the post-debate conversation,[minute 49] “Paul” is a case in point. For Ehrman and mainstream scholarship, the Apostle was real, a convert to Christianity only a few years after the … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 5

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In this post I’d like to comment on a few points in the Price-Ehrman debate that I found particularly important. The following discussions have reference especially to views I’ve presented elsewhere on this website and in the final chapter of my book NazarethGate. Where possible I link to relevant webpages. (a) Dating “Paul.” Ehrman dated Paul to the first century CE on the basis of the First Letter of Clement. However, the reference is invalid. We have recently noted on this website that 1 Clement mentions Paul several times: “It is traditionally attributed to Clement of Rome and dated somewhere between 81 and 98 CE. However, H. Detering (1994:75) has noted that the epistle knows 1 Corinthians … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 4

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar In the debate, Ehrman trumpeted numerous positions that are completely indefensible from an evidentiary standpoint. It is astonishing to me that these fractured positions (below)—like broken vertebrae on a decomposing skeleton—comprise what many New Testament professors still consider the backbone of ‘mainstream’ thought. It is as if mythicist scholarship over the last two centuries—from Bauer to Brodie—simply doesn’t exist. And indeed it doesn’t exist, for no lecture hall in Christendom today admits the works of Jesus mythicists. The contemporary situation in biblical studies resembles that of the evolution-creationism debate. Since the time of Darwin science has proven that God did not create the universe in six days. According to a 2014 Gallup poll, however, over 40% of … Continue reading

Ehrman and Nazareth archeology—1

Links:     YouTube     Cleeng (for those who already paid to view)     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar [Note: This post is also filed under the title “The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 3”.] Ehrman’s first order of business in the debate was to tackle the archeology of Nazareth. In the days since then he has also expressed himself more fully regarding Nazareth on his weblog. So, I will address Ehrman’s debate comments on Nazareth here, and his other comments on Nazareth in a separate post to follow this series. Without mentioning me by name, Ehrman asserted at the beginning of his opening statement: “One argument commonly found among mythicists is that since there was no Nazareth at the time of Jesus, it follows that Jesus of Nazareth could not have … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 2

Links:     YouTube     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar Mythicism is not “scholarly”? In the last post I mentioned that Jesus mythcists and historicists are talking past each other, and how I want to examine some underlying assumptions that may be the cause. So, here we’ll begin by looking at one little exchange that occurred in the debate. In the final cross-examination segment, Dillahunty asked “Why is mythicism not taken seriously?” Ehrman’s astonishing answer was simply an argumentum ad populum: “It’s not a question debated among scholars.” Wow. Of course, that has nothing to do with lack of evidence or even with history. The short exchange can be paraphrased like this: Dillahunty: Why is mythicism not taken seriously? Ehrman: Because it’s not [a question] taken seriously. … Continue reading

The Price-Ehrman debate—Pt. 1

Links:     YouTube     Cleeng (for those who already paid to view)     Post-debate discussion (audio)     Vridar      Note: This review is based on hand-written notes taken down quickly during the 3-hour debate hosted by Mythicist Milwaukee, before the debate went online (links above). Lacking time stamps, I have not rechecked quotations against the video. Hence, all quotes (even when quotation marks are used below) should be regarded as paraphrases, not as the exact renderings of words uttered. (Readers are welcome to email corrections, time stamps, and—as always—comments.)      A post-debate discussion among several scholars also took place. The audio of that secondary event is online, and I occasionally reference it (“Post-debate”) below with the applicable time stamp.      To date, Neil Godfrey (Vridar) has uploaded two posts regarding this … 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

Part 3—A revolution in the Synoptic Problem

[Note: This post has been substantially updated.] The so-called Synoptic Problem can be defined as the search for the literary and redactional relationship between the three (obviously) extensively related “synoptic” gospels—Mark, Matthew, and Luke. Majority opinion has long favored the “two source theory”: Matthew and Luke primarily drew on Mark, and they also drew on a saying source not available to Mark known as “Q” (German abbreviation for Quelle, “source”). However, ongoing disagreements among New Testament scholars show that the two source theory is not satisfactory to many. Perhaps the biggest sticking point is that the Q source is entirely hypothetical. Despite a veritable library that has now been written about it (e.g., see John Kloppenborg’s massive works), Q is … 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