Blog on furlough…

I’ve decided to use 2017 as an opportunity–long overdue–to actually read the scores of books in my library that are still unread, and also to cross-reference the hundreds of articles in my bulging file cabinets. All this is preparatory to formulating a (hopefully) comprehensive view of Christian beginnings, a view I’ve been tentatively working towards for years. Eventually, I hope to write a long-envisioned book, “A New Account of Christian Origins.” Being almost 65 years old, little precious time may be left to waste… Stepping back like this feels surprisingly good, and it may also be a natural development of the changed political climate that is taking up so much of our attention these days. I’ve given up the Internet … Continue reading

Ehrman and Nazareth archeology—2

In a prior post I discussed Bart Ehrman’s comments on Nazareth archeology made during the Price-Ehrman debate. Here I rebut a number of Ehrman’s errors regarding Nazareth expressed recently on his semi-private weblog. General considerations I’ve often wondered why Bart Ehrman expresses any opinion at all on the archeology of Nazareth. After almost a decade (my first book came out in 2008) he obviously has not taken the time to acquaint himself with my work or with the subject. And yet he expresses himself on both counts with ill-founded confidence. His training was “in the study of the Greek manuscript tradition of the New Testament” under Bruce Metzger, among others. There is nothing in Ehrman’s background, training, or personal study … Continue reading

Christianity in the Light of Science—Book announcement

A couple of days ago I received my author’s copies of the forthcoming anthology of essays, Christianity in the Light of Science: Critically Examining the World’s Largest Religion (Prometheus Books, 399 pp, US $19). The book goes on sale July 26, 2016, and it is available at pre-order discount on The volume should also be available soon through Prometheus Books (whose website is currently in upgrade mode) and, of course, via your favorite local bookstore. My contribution is Chapter 12 (of fifteen), entitled “Pious Fraud at Nazareth.” Christianity in the Light of Science is edited by John Loftus (his fourth such anthology) and has a Foreword by Frank Zindler. It is dedicated to the late Victor Stenger, whose New … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 4

Brian: One more question on the archeology itself… Do the different sects of Christianity agree on a location for Nazareth? Because you have the traditional Catholics, the Eastern Orthodox, the Armenian Church all existing there at the same time. Was there any scuttlebutt between them? René: [There has been much dispute in Nazareth itself over what took place where, who lived where, etc. Regarding the location of the town itself, however, there has been no dispute.—RS] No, no. I think everybody agrees… There’s been no discussion to my knowledge of any other Nazareth. I discuss this a little in my books. It would not fly at all… If somebody said that Nazareth was really somewhere else, then you’d have ancient … Continue reading

“Jesus has a Nazareth problem” (interview transcript)—Pt. 3

The Nazarene is “the enlightened one” (See also here.) René: …Everything is showing that Marcion’s was in fact the first gospel and that Capernaum was the original hometown of Jesus.      The reason “Nazareth” was invented—that would be by Matthew, now, and taken up by Luke—is to change “the Nazarene,” because “Nazarene” was objectionable to the Catholic Church. “Nazarene” had some strong religious and theological meanings at the time, and it would be very valuable if scholarship looked seriously at this question, because this brings us to the heart of the issue: What does “Nazarene” mean? René: Jesus in the earliest gospels is called “Jesus the Nazarene.” But nobody seems to know what that meant. Now, “Nazarene” means the enlightened person, … 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

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

The book NazarethGate

Please click here to order. 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.   From the back cover: