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

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 3

(Published Easter Sunday) On this Easter Sunday, ‘year of our Lord’ 2013, we may note that Father Thomas Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus offers the world a closely reasoned analysis showing that “Jesus of Nazareth” is a fiction, a literary construct cunningly based on Jewish scripture. Brodie has done nothing less than deconstruct normative Christianity based on literary source criticism. Of course, Thomas Brodie is no Johnny come lately, no dillettante, no wild-eyed hater of Christianity… He is both a Dominican priest and a distinguished bible scholar with an extensive resumé of published work going back many decades. Throughout his academic career, Brodie’s specialization has been literary source criticism. In this domain, he is the expert. Brodie … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 2

Though himself a priest, Brodie is alive to the faults of the Church. He writes: [F]or many, the message about Jesus Christ is mired beneath layers of pain and anger, because, regardless of how you interpret the Christian vision, history is strewn with sickness, accidents and disasters; and the religious institution or its representatives have done harm: crusades; inquisitions; imperious use of authority; involvement with brutal regimes and conquests; mistreatment of people, of peoples, of women, of children, and of those who are different in some way; unduly black-and-white rulings on wrenching moral and medical issues; cover-ups; and thousands of diverse kinds of offenses committed by members and ministers of the church. How could anyone believe the message given by … Continue reading

Thomas Brodie, mythicist priest:
Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus—Pt. 1

I have just finished reading Thomas L. Brodie’s Beyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus: Memoir of a Discovery (Sheffield Phoenix, 2012). A friend gifted me his copy (thanks Alan) and that prompted me to immediately read this important monograph and to delay the rest of the “to read” pile on my desk. Being a painfully slow reader, I spent several weeks on the book and now offer my extended comments on this signal publication in the history of Jesus mythicism. Beyond the Quest is a mixture of two things: autobiography and historical-theological analysis, all (except chp. 7) written in an accessible style—like having an extended cup of coffee (p. xv). Jesus mythicists may not be that interested in the … Continue reading

Dr. Lena Einhorn’s “time shift” hypothesis

Lena Einhorn’s book The Jesus Mystery: Astonishing Clues to the True Identities of Jesus and Paul (2007) made two arguments: (1) the standard chronology of the New Testament is about twenty years too early (this is Einhorn’s “time shift” theory); and (2) that Jesus and Paul were one and the same person. I have not read the book, nor have I heard either of these theories before. But I have just finished reading Einhorn’s remarkable SBL paper regarding the first of the above theories. It is masterful. Not the typical New Testament scholar Lena Einhorn is a medical doctor with a PhD in Virology and Tumor Biology from the Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. In the 1980s she changed course and began … Continue reading

John was Jesus? (Price) Pt. 1

“Was Jesus John the Baptist Raised from the Dead?” by Robert M. Price, Ph.D. Being Chapter Seven of Jesus is Dead (American Atheist Press, 2007) Reproduced by permission, in three parts. With occasional added footnotes in green by R. Salm Part One There are several New Testament passages which over the years have struck me as being pregnant with implications far beyond those scholars usually reckon with. These texts seem to me to be held in check by the conventional ways in which we read the documents in which they occur. They are “anomalous data” (Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) which somehow seem “left over” in the context of the paradigms which seem to make such excellent … Continue reading

Joseph Turmel

Among the great French religious modernists of the twentieth century, Joseph Turmel was a native of Rennes. His family was both very large and very poor, his parents pious and unlettered. However, Joseph’s keen intelligence was noticed early. He entered the large Seminary of Rennes and subsequently studied theology at the University of Angers, was ordained priest in 1882 and immediately appointed professor of dogmatic theology at the Seminary of Rennes. Turmel’s faith was ardent, and he worked hard to defend the Church against the incredulous. However, he himself became subject to doubts with the appearance of Gesenius’ commentary on Isaiah. Despite Turmel’s attempts to convince himself of error, those doubts grew with his continued study of the Pentateuch. On … Continue reading

The Christ and Jesus (Ory)

Georges Ory The Christ and Jesus (pages 29–38) Éditions du Cercle d’Éducation Populaire Brussels, 1968 Translated from the French, with notes in green, by R. Salm Priority of “Chrestos” The most ancient inscription that we have from a church dates to 318 CE. It is from Lebaba, next to Damascus, and the church was Marcionite. The inscription addresses Chrestos (“the Good”) and not Christus (“the Anointed” or “the Messiah”). The Marcionites equally employed the word Agathos to designate the “Good God.” Innumerable Christian epitaphs carry the name Chrestos. These are often found in Phrygia and everywhere in catacombs. In Rome, some inscriptions translate the Greek word by its Latin equivalent Bonus, thus: Eugenii spiritus in Bono (“May the spirit of … Continue reading

John was Jesus (Ory) Pt. 2

Hypothesis regarding John the Baptist by Georges Ory Cahiers du Cercle Ernest Renan, no. 10 (1956) Translated by R. Salm (Note: Editorial additions are in brackets and/or are signed “RS”) Part Two Apollos and the baptism of John The accounts of the famous baptism are contradictory and incoherent. Moreover, that found in the Fourth Gospel is an interpolation from 1:29 (“Here is the lamb of God…”) to 1:36 (“here is the lamb of God”), the lamb having replaced God or the Son of God. According to Acts 18:24ff a certain Jew named Apollos arrived in Ephesus, a man well versed in the scriptures. He had been instructed into the Way of the Lord and taught with precision concerning Jesus, though … Continue reading