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

Just a Head’s Up: The Salm-Carrier exchange (May 1-2, 2013)

I feel compelled to defend myself against a cavalier and condescending review by Richard Carrier on his blog. The review deals with the recently published book, Bart Ehrman and the Quest of the Historical Jesus of Nazareth, a collection of contributions from leading Jesus mythicists—including myself and Richard Carrier. Several bloggers have quickly commented, including Neil Godfrey who refers to Carrier’s “Salm-bashing.” Indeed, I find Carrier’s review unprofessional and unjustifiably offensive towards me (“One of the worst contributions is by Salm”…“disorganized argumentation against Nazareth”…“many errors of logic”…). But the main problem is not my work—over which I have no reservations—but Carrier’s penchant to throw stones without taking better aim. In fact (and this rather surprises me), he doesn’t seem to … Continue reading

“Jesus,” the rebel against Judaism

For the last several decades a wrong-headed and tiresome refrain has emanated from the theological podiums (or is it podia?) around the USA: “Jesus was a Torah-observant Jew.” So I myself learned on the first day of a New Testament course at the University of Oregon some years ago. The professor—Daniel Falk, a respected specialist in Qumran studies—quickly elaborated a little: Christianity was “a very significant modification of the religion of ancient Israel… It and Judaism are two offshoots of ancient Israel. Both came from rabbinic Judaism. Later, Christianity became a gentile religion.” The bottom line was clear: Jesus brought nothing radically new. He was in fact quite orthodox! What was “new” was Paul’s mis-interpretation of Jesus’ Jewish message…   … 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

80+ mythicist responses to B. Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?

A collection of links compiled by Dave Mack and René Salm. The articles below are listed alphabetically by last name. The number of entries are in brackets. Please report any broken links. Thank you! THOMAS L. BRODIE On his Vridar blog, Neil Godfrey offers a resumé of Brodie’s DJE? review, which appears as an epilogue in Brodie’s recent bookBeyond the Quest for the Historical Jesus (Sheffield Phoenix Press, Sept. 2012). RICHARD CARRIER Ehrman on Jesus: A Failure of Facts and Logic Ehrman Trashtalks Mythicism Ehrman’s Dubious Replies (Round One) Ehrman’s Dubious Replies (Round Two) [Carrier on the failure of methodology in Historical Jesus studies] JERRY A. COYNE Bart Ehrman says that Jesus existed. [Several additional entries] HERMANN DETERING Prof. “Errorman” … Continue reading

Frank Zindler

Biographical note Frank R. Zindler has been an Atheist activist since 1959 when he began publicly to defend the teaching of evolution and to criticize religious encroachments upon the public sphere. A professor of biology and geology at SUNY for almost twenty years, he was forced to give up teaching when he joined Madalyn Murray O’Hair in a lawsuit that attempted to remove “In God We Trust” from American currency. A linguist and editor of scientific literature, he is a former member of The Jesus Seminar and the current Jesus Project and is the author of The Jesus the Jews Never Knew: Sepher Toldoth Yeshu and the Quest of the Historical Jesus in Jewish Sources (2003). Zindler is a veteran … Continue reading

B. Ehrman’s “Misquoting Jesus”

A critique of Bart D. Ehrman’s Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (HarperOne 2005) Chapter Six: “Theologically Motivated Alterations of the Text” by René Salm Even the avid reader will have a hard time keeping up with Bart D. Ehrman. By my count he’s written twenty-three books and his next, “Did Jesus Exist?” (of particular interest to Jesus mythicists) appears this March. Yet, I have heard it declared that Ehrman has not written many books but has written one book many times. Perhaps I can be excused then for not having read all of his oeuvre, and for critiquing but one chapter of this book, with the modest hope that what I have to say … Continue reading

A short response to B. Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist?

By René Salm Some people have asked me why I have not offered a response to Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? My reply—a full (and probably long) chapter—will appear in the forthcoming book (edited by Frank Zindler) from American Atheist Press. In the deluge of responses to Ehrman (here), I felt it unnecessary to add a prompt rejoinder as so much of value has been supplied virtually on a daily basis. The following several paragraphs will perhaps suffice for now. To my knowledge, no one has specifically countered Ehrman regarding his pages 191–97, which deal with the existence of Nazareth at the turn of the era. I can say here that Ehrman is evasive, tendentious, and entirely wrong. He is … Continue reading