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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:29 pm 
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Great discussion.

Re the Greek/Latin comment of Earl's, he's probably saying that in order to provide the proofs that others can reliably trust who do not know these languages, we need to present philological evidence. That's surely correct, in that we must be able to compare the ancient texts in order to determine possible comparisons and derivations.

I would add that we must also have abilities in Hebrew, Aramaic, Egyptian, Coptic, Sanskrit and other languages from antiquity. But, for the average person to "grok" the Christ myth, based on such evidence/proof, it may take only a split-second epiphany. I know people who have "gotten it" just from reading the back cover of my first book The Christ Conspiracy. Although they understand the underlying concept perfectly fine, they don't have the background to provide the evidences when challenged, so they steer the objectors to me.

A case in point here is my current deconstructing of Ehrman's "Aramaic Jesus," whom he is creating out of a handful of real and hypothesized Aramaic words and phrases/sayings in the New Testament. In order to address this particular contention, we need to be able to read ancient languages, in this case, Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek, which I am currently doing. I will show that none of these Aramaic terms indicates a "real person"; rather, they represent Old Testament/Targum sayings, along with and Aramaic and possibly Buddhist magical spells that preceded Christianity by centuries. They have been put into the mouth of the fictional savior/healer archetype/figurehead "Jesus Christ" character in the New Testament because they were apparently used by Buddhistic "medical monks" and healers, e.g., Therapeuts.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:55 pm 
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Hi Acharya, thanks. No question, philology is central. But the implication of Earl's remark is that only those such as yourself who do the primary philology can call themselves mythicists. It is rather like asking if philosophy of science should be restricted to physicists. Yes physics is central, but others can take on board philosophical comments from physicists and understand them.

I've just had an exchange at Earl's Vridar blog with the charming "Roo Buckaroo", who I suspect you may have previously encountered. Roo provided the following reply to my comment



Roo Buckaroo wrote:
Does anybody understand this comment? What about Neil Godfrey? Or Earl Doherty?

There are bits of clear English language when it comes to describing Bart Ehrman, all of them disparaging or deprecating adjectives: ““emotional, disturbing, unbalanced, superficial, ignorant, clownish, vile, strange subconscious, absurd, small-minded, desperate, collapsing.”

Then there’s a barely veiled attack on Richard Carrier: ” A trained historian” “narrow assumptions”. “distort [his] perspective”, “credentialism”, “a form of bigotry”, “closes off dialogue” “relevant subject areas,” including… “even cosmology”.

In plain English a history PhD such as Carrier’s is handicapped by his credentials, and a lack of a degree in a complementary “subject” such as… astrotheology.
However, we are all rescued by “ontology… indispensable to engage with Christology in any meaningful way”, whatever that means.

Does you head spin? Are we still in the paradigm shift of normality?This comment seems to be just another plug to defend the books of “High Reverend” priestess Dorothy M.Murdock/Acharya S.

Richard Dawkins somewhere explained that he is not willing to waste his time debating theology with any cleric who is not at least a bishop or a cardinal. There is wisdom in this kind of “bigotry” and “credentialism”. Carrier has said something to the same effect.

Comment by ROO BOOKAROO — 2012/04/11 @ 10:39 pm | Reply


To which my reply

Robert Tulip wrote:
Hello Roo, I have seen some of your comments before, and your empty polemic here is no surprise. Yes ontology is essential. Ontology asks what exists. The discussion is about whether Jesus existed. It is not primarily a question for history, but one for philosophy, given that Christians assert that someone existed for whom they have no evidence. At base, the christological question of the relation between the Christ of faith and the Jesus of history is an ontological question, because it turns on existential views about the meaning of being as a whole, and cannot be answered just as a historical question.

Ehrman and Carrier’s defamation of Murdock is indefensible, and illustrates their failure to engage with philosophical dialogue, as does your astounding advocacy of bigotry. But thank you for being honest.

Regards

Robert Tulip

Comment by Robert Tulip — 2012/04/12 @ 6:13 am | Reply


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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:11 pm 
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Thanks, Robert. That depraved "Roo" person has been cyberstalking me with his vile misogynistic remarks. Here's just one example, from my video, Are the New Testament gospels history?:

Quote:
Why is her face all brownish, and not feminine pink? Bart Ehrman, Robert Price show pink skins in their videos.

Why is the background all in dark shadow, and not lit?

Why is the right side of her face buried in that shadow?

Why are her eyelids always drooped, and the eyes only half open?

Why is she tilting her head sideways, never holding it straight?

Why is she giving the impression of being in a trance or lost in a dream?

Is it to build up the image of an Acharya-guru immersed in a mystery?

roobookaroo 1 month ago

A bizarre person, to say the least. I'm sorry that he is now infecting other blogs with his grotesqueness, but thanks for the defense. The fallacious and sleazy attacks never end, eh?

In any event, I would be quite surprised if Earl is saying that only those who can read ancient languages can be deemed "mythicists." That would be a ludicrous assessment, in my opinion. I don't think that Earl himself can read all the languages I'm working in on a regular basis, so that would preclude his participation as well. That makes no sense to me.

Robert Tulip wrote:
Hi Acharya, thanks. No question, philology is central. But the implication of Earl's remark is that only those such as yourself who do the primary philology can call themselves mythicists. It is rather like asking if philosophy of science should be restricted to physicists. Yes physics is central, but others can take on board philosophical comments from physicists and understand them.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 1:15 pm 
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Here's another deconstruction of Ehrman's book, this time from an ex-minister. There are also several comments that might be of interest.

Quote:
Did Jesus Exist?

The existence or non-existence of Jesus is not an issue with me, and I still find it hard to understand why it should be an issue with anyone else. I spent years talking about the Jesus of the gospels, his teachings, his life and death, and, believe it or not, his resurrection — which was the hardest part of all — and for a while Robert Funk and his Jesus Seminar interested me strangely, and I attempted to understand the basis upon which the Fellows of the Seminar distinguished between the actual words of Jesus from words put in his mouth by later myth-making and tradition. Of course, the latter exercise has to presuppose Jesus’ real existence as an historical person who not only said things of interest and importance, but whose actual words can be distinguished from sayings that are not reliably attested and cannot be ascribed to the apocalyptic preacher from Galilee.

But still this didn’t lead me to wonder whether Bart Ehrman’s HuffPo article “Did Jesus Exist?” had anything of importance to say. If there is no god, and it makes no sense to speak of god in the absence of its existence — contrary to people like Don Cupitt and Jack Spong — then Jesus, whether as an historical or a mythical figure, must lose traction in the mind of anyone who has said farewell to god. So, when Ophelia Benson, Jerry Coyne (here and here) and Richard Carrier showed such keen interest I was mystified, and, I suppose, I still am. After all, if there is no god, then, whatever can be said about Jesus, there could not have been a Jesus who was more than an apocalyptic prophet who carried on a ministry of some kind in Palestine, and who anchored a number of mythological beliefs which are not directly related to anything that he said and did. Anything else, besides the sheer humanity of the man, and his wit and wisdom, if any, must be a mythological construction — must be, because there can be no sons of god if there are no gods. The most that the gospels can be is special pleading either for a mythological figure at the centre of a new religious movement, or the myth-making writings of people whose real human leader either died by crucifixion as a pretended messiah figure or even royal pretender, about whom stories were composed that supposedly reflected not only his wisdom, but his wonder-working powers and divine transcendence.

Ehrman seems to think that his having been a lowly figure, who is supposed to have been executed as a criminal, is evidence that the story has an historical kernel. As he says in his HuffPo piece:

The earliest followers of Jesus declared that he was a crucified messiah. But prior to Christianity, there were no Jews at all, of any kind whatsoever, who thought that there would be a future crucified messiah. The messiah was to be a figure of grandeur and power who overthrew the enemy. Anyone who wanted to make up a messiah would make him like that.

However, as Ehrman would surely be the first to acknowledge, there was no other kind of messiah figure available. Messiahs are mythical beings. As I shall suggest below, there is reason to think that Christianity was given a fillip by the defeat of the Jews in the First Jewish War (66-72 CE), and the destruction of the Temple. But long before that there were lots of pretended messiahs, as the historical record indicates. Modern Jerusalem is not the only time this supposedly sacred place has been a magnet for messianic pretenders, all of whom, in the past, if not dismissed with contempt, were dispatched peremptorily by the authorities, who did not want riots over mythical beings at the holy seasons. So, if there was to be a messiah, the only available candidates would have had to have been contemptible (in social terms), people who would have been most likely to have run afoul of the law, as Richard Carrier points out. Making a virtue of necessity in this way is precisely what new religious movements are adept at. Explaining away the obvious objections is just what creating a myth of a lowly messiah would need to do, and that would simply stoke the fires of imagination. A figure of grandeur and military power and nobility would be the unlikeliest of figures to be a messiah, no matter what prophecies may say. Generals and Tyrants do not, after all, usually go into business for the sake of raising up the lowly or fulfilling ends dreamed in desperation. Even Ehrman would have to acknowledge that. A crucified messiah is just the ticket, and since it is a good guess that there were a number of such figures from which to choose, it wouldn’t be hard to develop a myth around the type of messiah which the myth invoked.

What is decisive, to my mind, against the existence of a single figure around which the Christian myth crystallised, is the fact that the gospel narratives are so conflicting, especially when it comes to the mythical parts, but the teaching conflicts too, and no one person is plausible as the speaker of all the words uttered by the gospel Jesus. The birth narratives in Matthew and Luke are entirely incompatible, and the resurrection narratives are no better; and in neither case are the disagreements such as might be expected from witnesses whose testimony is not entirely consistent. Perfect consistency almost always points to collusion, but differing about where Jesus would and did appear — whether in Jerusalem or Galilee — is simply too big of a mistake to support belief that the resurrection narratives are the result of eyewitness testimony.

What might give historical weight to the narratives is something about which they agree, where agreement is unexpected and unlikely. This may be the case in the birth narratives, present only in Matthew and Luke. The birth narratives in these two gospels conflict at almost every point. The only common features seem to be Nazareth and Bethlehem, though for different reasons. Does this limited agreement point to a historical core? Since Bethlehem and Nazareth are used for entirely different reasons in the two gospels, I judge the coincidence to be more likely the result of a common myth-making activity, in which it was believed, for prophetic reasons, that the messiah should be related to these places; but since there is no prophetic evidence for the messianic importance of either Bethlehem or Nazareth, the agreement is probably related to a common myth-making activity, than it is to the existence of an historical person who was born in Bethlehem and grew up in Nazareth. And while it is difficult to exclude the strongly Galilean aspects of the story, it should also be remarked that, though Galilee was a highly urbanised, pagan region, the gospels seem profoundly ignorant of this fact. There is very little sense of geographical place in the gospels, and though some of the parables do evoke familiarity with some features of Judaea, these are incidental features which would have been familiar to most country places in the region — birds, lilies, fishing, stony ground, weeds, vineyards, etc.

In his book Who Killed Jesus? Dominic Crossan gives a very vivid appreciation of how mythmaking, and the historicisation of prophecy, probably took place in relation to the crucifixion (or passion)-resurrection narratives. If we think of the passion-resurrection narratives as prophecy historicised, as Crossan suggests we do, it becomes clear why there are so many glaring disagreements amongst the gospels. It would indicate that there were probably centres of Christian activity both in Jerusalem and in Galilee, and possibly elsewhere, and that their testimony did not agree — that it was based, not on events that actually occurred, but on the diverse creative activities of different myth-making groups of believers, possibly refugees from a messianic attempt to bring about a supernatural transformation in Jerusalem. Perhaps it even resulted in the death by crucifixion of the leader, and he was not likely the first to suffer such a fate. Having fled, they began, separately, to mythicise and historicise both the life of the leader as well as the supposed prophecies that were thought relevant to his failed attempt to bring about God’s decisive action to redeem his people. There may have been several such messianic leaders who attracted many of the same followers, so there may well have been a tradition of attempts to make sense of an ongoing process of challenging the existing authorities, failing, and then trying again. This would have been related, but not identical to, the many revolutionary attempts to break Roman dominance in Palestine. All this is consistent with what we know of the Essenes, as well as the Sicarii and other revolutionaries, movements which came to a head in 70 CE, with the destruction of the Temple, as well as in 132-26 CE, with the Bar Kokhba insurrection. Remembering that the gospels were almost certainly written after the 66-72 CE insurrection and the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 CE, there were no doubt many such mythmaking, prophecy-historicising exercises underway in the region. What is remarkable is that the exercise which resulted in Christianity, and the one that issued in Rabbinic Judaism, flourished at the same time, that there are signs that they were related, and that both were based on processes of scriptural exegesis, and myth-making based on tragic and far-reaching historical failure.

I guess my point in all this is that I cannot see in the Christian tradition any reason to believe in the existence of an overpowering, supernatural figure such as Jesus became in the years following the disasters of the First Jewish War, which ended with the conquest of Masada and the suicide of all its defenders and their families in 72 CE. These were, for the people engaged in them, cataclysmic events of almost cosmic proportions. Without them, it is doubtful that the Jesus movement would have developed at all. It was one Jewish response to the events of the defeat of the rebellion, and the destruction of the Temple, just as Rabbinic Judaism was another. The Jesus movement became much more syncretistic than Rabbinic Judaism, and thus incorporated elements of pagan mythology, especially beliefs having to do with divine visitations and epiphanies, redemption myths and rites of purification. Much of this took place with the help of Paul, who mythicised not only the supposed saviour at the centre of Christianity, but also mythicised himself, and his mission. He pictures himself as an opponent and then as a disciple, an apostle, equal in dignity to the twelve, who were themselves in the process of mythicisation, a process in full tilt in the sequel to Luke, the Acts of the Apostles.

I do find it a bit dismaying that Bart Ehrman, who has taken a lead in showing the gospel stories to be an unreliable basis upon which the build a faith, should so strongly condemn others who are working the same seam, trying to show that the Christian scriptures as we have them cannot be taken as evidence for the existence of the man described so fulsomely therein. That there never was a man who is plausibly described as the gospels describe Jesus goes, I think, without saying. The stories are obviously heavily worked over pieces of religious fiction, a way of turning defeat into victory. Whether there was an historical person around whom these stories crystallised in the first place seems to be a question without a reliable answer. However, contrary to Ehrman, I do not think we have sources close to the time of Jesus that can corroborate any parts of the story. Ophelia quotes from the book which Ehrman is touting in his HuffPo piece to this effect:

The view that Jesus existed is found in multiple independent sources that must have been circulating throughout various regions of the Roman Empire in the decades before the Gospels that survive were produced. [my italics]

That ‘must’ is a conjectural must, and so far as I know there is no evidence for it, and Ehrman’s unlovely parti pris about academic expertise, though distracting, does not produce any. I certainly do not put myself forward as a scholarly expert in these matters, yet I think it is much more likely that Jesus is a compilation fashioned within exiled messianic communities which had known (and possibly also followed) a number of messianic pretenders, until, after their final defeat in the Jewish War, by reworking their myths they came to the “realisation” that their real vindication had already come and they had not recognised it. Their failure to respond (in this reworked message of messianic figures) is represented, in the gospels, by Peter’s denial, and the flight of the disciples. Many Christian apologists use these accounts as proof that the resurrection took place as an historical event, since men who had fled in fear now are ready to declare courageously that “this Jesus, whom you crucified, God has made both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2.36) These events in the gospel narrative should be seen as representing the long history of failure to recognise their god working in ways simply misunderstood over many years and many failures. By then it was clear that Roman arms would not be overcome by the power of god. Other forms of faithfulness were required. These problems of life in the absence of the old Isaianic hope of Jerusalem as a beacon to the nations had to be resolved by redirecting religious energies in different directions. An unexpected outcome was the growth of two religions, which would, in time, become fratricidal, as each condemned the other. Neither can securely anchor their beliefs in history. They are simply different ways of understanding how life will go well on the basis of belief in a being imagined thousands of years before as one who would be faithful in his own way to his covenanted people.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:01 am 
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Ehrman's assistants read the books

Entirely confirming what I have previously suggested several times, I received the following message - I cannot reveal the source (yet):

Quote:
********** spoke with one of [Ehrman's] grad assistants who told him [Ehrman] did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on! This guy is quickly sinking to the same circle of hell as Wm Lane Craig in my estimation.

I figured as much, since Ehrman didn't even know there was a citation to the phallic Savior of the World image in my book.

One wonders why he would make such a definitive (and erroneous) statement as that this artifact doesn't exist and isn't in the Vatican, without doing any research whatsoever, especially if he's got assistants. And shouldn't they have read the relevant parts in his book to see if he may have made a mistake concerning what they had read in the mythicist books in question, such as confirming material in the rest of the book?

Are other professional scholars engaging in the same kind of behavior? If the quote above is any indication, apparently William Lane Craig has done likewise?

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:24 am 
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Acharya wrote:
Ehrman's assistants read the books

Entirely confirming what I have previously suggested several times, I received the following message - I cannot reveal the source (yet):

Quote:
********** spoke with one of [Ehrman's] grad assistants who told him [Ehrman] did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on! This guy is quickly sinking to the same circle of hell as Wm Lane Craig in my estimation.

I figured as much, since Ehrman didn't even know there was a citation to the phallic Savior of the World image in my book.

One wonders why he would make such a definitive (and erroneous) statement as that this artifact doesn't exist and isn't in the Vatican, without doing any research whatsoever, especially if he's got assistants. And shouldn't they have read the relevant parts in his book to see if he may have made a mistake concerning what they had read in the mythicist books in question, such as confirming material in the rest of the book?

Are other professional scholars engaging in the same kind of behavior? If the quote above is any indication, apparently William Lane Craig has done likewise?


I just want to make sure I've got this straight. This student of Ehrman's means to tell us that Ehrman essentially had his students do his research for him (as concerns mythicist literature) instead of reading the books for himself?

If that is true, then all I can say is... wow. Just wow.

And if Ehrman, or anyone on his behalf, retorts by claiming that this is not an uncommon practice among professors, then all I can say is... double wow.


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 12:53 pm 
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Yep, apparently so, as I correctly surmised weeks ago. On April 2nd, for example, I wrote in my blog post "Bart Ehrman: 'Mythicists' arguments are fairly plausible'":

Quote:
I have been wondering in this regard and others, such as the phallic bronze brouhaha, whether or not Ehrman simply received "Cliff Notes" of my book from an intern/assistant.

I made the same analysis elsewhere before that. It was obvious from the fact that he did not even know that I had cited the bronze cock and that he was unaware of the supportive evidence in the rest of the book for many of my other contentions that he cited as "howlers." I have repeatedly stated that Ehrman's knowledge of the subject of mythicism is shallow and hasty.

GodAlmighty wrote:
Acharya wrote:
Ehrman's assistants read the books

Entirely confirming what I have previously suggested several times, I received the following message - I cannot reveal the source (yet):

Quote:
********** spoke with one of [Ehrman's] grad assistants who told him [Ehrman] did not even read the Mythicist books but farmed them out to his grad students to read and report on! This guy is quickly sinking to the same circle of hell as Wm Lane Craig in my estimation.

I figured as much, since Ehrman didn't even know there was a citation to the phallic Savior of the World image in my book.

One wonders why he would make such a definitive (and erroneous) statement as that this artifact doesn't exist and isn't in the Vatican, without doing any research whatsoever, especially if he's got assistants. And shouldn't they have read the relevant parts in his book to see if he may have made a mistake concerning what they had read in the mythicist books in question, such as confirming material in the rest of the book?

Are other professional scholars engaging in the same kind of behavior? If the quote above is any indication, apparently William Lane Craig has done likewise?


I just want to make sure I've got this straight. This student of Ehrman's means to tell us that Ehrman essentially had his students do his research for him (as concerns mythicist literature) instead of reading the books for himself?

If that is true, then all I can say is... wow. Just wow.

And if Ehrman, or anyone on his behalf, retorts by claiming that this is not an uncommon practice among professors, then all I can say is... double wow.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2012 4:18 pm 
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(Satire)
Office Memorandum
From: Dr Herr Professor Barf Errman, Infullible Chair of Anti Mythicism
To: Research Assistant

Hi, I am going to have to get you to skim Murdock for me. Every time I read anything she writes it makes me wonder if I am right, and that is not the point of this book sale exercise. I managed a few pages of The Christ Conspiracy and that was enough to make me white knuckle furious. Gakusei Don and Roo Bookaroo have already done my thinking for me on this one.

2. What we want is to avoid any engagement with logic or evidence. The whole point is to cherrypick any ideas from Murdock that we can manipulate to make her look stupid. It all has to be suitable for readers with about a Grade 8 Level. We are about creating myths here, not explaining them. Don't let the facts get in the way of a good story.

3. Don't worry about sources or citations. This is a political project, and our audience is swayed by emotion, not reason. If we get too much into the scholarly detail we will lose the audience. They want the big picture, reinforcing what they already know, nothing down in the weeds. If you want further detail on effective methods we can use then look up Answers in Genesis.

4. Get back by COB Tuesday. We are on a tight deadline.

Thanks Again

Dr Barf


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:07 am 
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I did a google search on Ehrman's new book, and one of the first hits that I received was:

Code:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/04/review-of-bart-ehrman-did-jesus-exist-part-one.html


I decided to post a quick reply:

Quote:
Ehrman would have few people to sell his books to, if he claimed Jesus never existed... And that should give everyone pause as they read his books.

Jesus ben Pandira was hung on a tree at the end of Passover -- about 100 years prior to the time of the Jesus of the Bible. Coincidence? I don't think so...


I received an almost immediate and unexpected reply from the owner of the Blog, James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature, who replied (to my reply):

Quote:
So the late Rabbinic sources that mention Jesus ben Pandera are completely accurate, while early Christian sources are completely false? Unfortunately for mythicism, historians have to evaluate all the relevant evidence, and cannot expect to get away with simply trusting late sources while ignoring early ones.


To which I replied:

Quote:
James,

It seems to me more reasonable that the figure we have before us in the Bible is a composite figure -- made up of multiple Jesus figures. And, logically speaking, a composite figure made up of multiple figures is NO ONE.


To which he replied:

Quote:
What is your evidence that the earliest Christians were confused about which Joshua they were talking about? Are you confused about which James you were addressing, just because I am not the only person of that name? This is a common viewpoint among mythicists, but it doesn't seem to me to make much sense, at least as usually stated.


I have not replied back, because I am confessedly stuck. What constitutes 'evidence' for this? How do I prove any sort of 'confusion'?

Feel free to reply here, or there.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 10:32 am 
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FYI, Ehrman posted this on Facebook late last night:

Quote:
Friends and fans. I have received a lot of emails asking me to respond to the criticisms (well, going-for-the-jugular-attacks!) I have received from mythicists who, well, understandably do not like or appreciate my book (or, from what I can tell, me....). Writing this book has put me into an interesting situation: readers who normally see me as the enemy (well, the Devil Incarnate), i.e., evangelical Christians, see me suddenly as on "their side" with this issue; and readers who normally have seen me as their ally (agnostics, atheists, humanists, general-opponents-of-conservative-evangelicals) are (not all of them, but some of them) seeing me as a turncoat! I am not planning on addressing the criticisms here on this facebook page. My view is that people can read what I have to say, read what my opponents have to say, read again what I have to say, and see who has the better argument. I'm pretty confident that anyone who does this dispassionately won't need additional convincing from me. But I *do* want to say that I will soon -- maybe by the end of this week -- have my new Blog up and running, at www.ehrmanblog.org , where one of my pages will involve postings that answer my various critics, from all sides. I hope you can join the Blog. More information on it is soon to come.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 11:19 am 
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Epinoia wrote:
I did a google search on Ehrman's new book, and one of the first hits that I received was:

Code:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/04/review-of-bart-ehrman-did-jesus-exist-part-one.html


I decided to post a quick reply:

Quote:
Ehrman would have few people to sell his books to, if he claimed Jesus never existed... And that should give everyone pause as they read his books.

Jesus ben Pandira was hung on a tree at the end of Passover -- about 100 years prior to the time of the Jesus of the Bible. Coincidence? I don't think so...


I received an almost immediate and unexpected reply from the owner of the Blog, James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature, who replied (to my reply):

Quote:
So the late Rabbinic sources that mention Jesus ben Pandera are completely accurate, while early Christian sources are completely false? Unfortunately for mythicism, historians have to evaluate all the relevant evidence, and cannot expect to get away with simply trusting late sources while ignoring early ones.


To which I replied:

Quote:
James,

It seems to me more reasonable that the figure we have before us in the Bible is a composite figure -- made up of multiple Jesus figures. And, logically speaking, a composite figure made up of multiple figures is NO ONE.


To which he replied:

Quote:
What is your evidence that the earliest Christians were confused about which Joshua they were talking about? Are you confused about which James you were addressing, just because I am not the only person of that name? This is a common viewpoint among mythicists, but it doesn't seem to me to make much sense, at least as usually stated.


I have not replied back, because I am confessedly stuck. What constitutes 'evidence' for this? How do I prove any sort of 'confusion'?

Feel free to reply here, or there.


He pulled a swerve on you there by steering the discussion into a point about "confusion". You never claimed they were confused, and you need to call him on that.

Confusion is not the only cause for the formulation of composite characters. The ancient world was saturated with syncretism. That was the nature of the culture that Christianity arose out of. I know Mr. McGrath here is approaching this purely historically, or at least presenting himself as such, so this might not be of any significance to him, but even Christianity inadvertently admits that Jesus is a literary composite.

By means of their doctrine of prophetic typology, that Jesus was foreshadowed in the Old Testament, they admit that the stories of Jesus are a composite of earlier stories.
We mythicists make more or less the same confession, but we simply do not limit the earlier sources to just the Old Testament alone.

Even the New Testament authors themselves demonstrate this borrowing almost explicitly. Especially the author of Matthew.
He admits to getting the virgin birth from (his interpretation of) the birth of Immanuel in Isaiah 7.
He admits to getting the flight to Egypt from (his interpretation of) Hosea 11:1.
Christians admit to the parallel between the infanticide by Herod and the infanticide by Pharaoh in Exodus.
They admit to the parallel between Jesus spending 40 days in solitude in the wilderness and Moses spending 40 days in solitude on Sinai.
The Jesus character himself points out the parallel between his 3 day burial and the 3 days Jonah was in the whale.
The character likewise tries to make a parallel between Moses hanging the bronze serpent on a pole and himself being hung on the cross.
Paul pointed out the parallel of the Old Testament law of hanging a condemned sinner on a tree until sunset and the hanging of Jesus on a tree (which also lasted until almost sunset).
Paul likens baptism to Israel crossing the Red Sea.
The 12 apostles are repeatedly contrasted with the 12 tribes or 12 patriarchs.
Etc. and so on. There's too many parallels to go into.
And is not the beast of Revelation 13 a composite of the four beasts of Daniel 7? That right there shows that at least one author of the New Testament has no problem creating new characters by conflating what were distinct characters of previous literature. He wasn't "confused" about which beast of Daniel 7 he was referring to. Yet the parallel is too conspicuous to be dismissed as coincidence.

And as I said, the parallels don't stop with the Old Testament either.
There's numerous ones with heathen myths and religions as well.
And as you tried pointing out, there are parallels to previous historical people and events as well.

So when we strip away everything that either blatantly is, or very likely is, based upon earlier stories and literature, what do we have left? What is the profile of this alleged historical Jesus that makes him unique wherewith we might be able to distinguish him from the rest of the characters that his life story is obviously conflated with?

Assuming that Jesus was not a historical figure, the first person to write of him did not have to be "confusing" a bunch of different other characters. He/she could be deliberately fabricating Jesus. Or he/she could simply have been Docetic and believed that Jesus was an apparition, a spirit, or whatever. After all, the earliest author in the New Testament, Paul, in the works considered authentic to him, he says he learned of Jesus not from any flesh and blood, i.e. no human taught him about Jesus. He learned of his Jesus through personal revelation.
"To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me;"- Galatians 1:16-17.
Perhaps the revelation he was getting of his Jesus had the characteristics they did because of the influence of Paul's own life and education.
I know in my own experience, sometimes dreams I have involve people who do not exist in real life, but have attributes of people and/or fictional characters that I do know of in real life.
So there doesn't need to be a deliberate fabrication either.
The authors who followed after Paul, like the authors of the canonical gospels, simply may not have understood that Jesus was just an apparition of Paul's mind (assuming that's even what happened).

As for your appeal to the rabbinical Ben Pandera/Stada, I have to partially agree with McGrath, you probably shouldn't have taken that route since you would find it difficult to impossible to try and prove that such stories can be traced back to a time pre-dating the New Testament.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:43 pm 
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A confusion of Jesuses

Re McGrath's confused response, in the first place he's adhering to the a priori assumption that Jesus existed, at the time when he was supposed to have "walked the Earth." Recall that McGrath is a fervent believer in Christianity and in Jesus Christ as the supernatural miracle-working son of God. So, he assumes the history and then proceeds from there.

If we look at the non-biblical evidence, however, we discover no trace of this purported "history." What we discover is that Christianity really starts to appear in the second century, with an enormous confusion of ideas concerning the "real" Christ, or Chrest as the case may be. In fact, we find these two battling dynamics in the first place: Followers of "Jesus the Christ" and of "Jesus the Chrest."

In addition to those two factions are others that posit a variety of Jesuses within Gnosticism and orthodox Christianity. The Gnostics themselves were not of one mind as to Jesus's true nature; on the contrary. Nor were the early Church fathers agreed on Jesus's nature and biography. It took centuries of councils and oft-violent battling to establish Jesus's "true nature."

The confusion in the early Church is well known, so McGrath is being disingenuous here, as he is elsewhere. What else can you do when you passionately believe an absurd and culturally biased fairytale with no evidence for it having taken place in history?

Even in the New Testament itself we find warring factions, such as between Peter and Paul, as well as between those healing in the name of Jesus who were not part of Christ's following (Mark 9:38). The evidence points to the name "Jesus" as a pre-Christian spell used by healers, et al., as well as the Greek name of the Old Testament Joshua of Nun, who brought the Israelites into the Promised Land and was therefore a type of messiah or christ. In fact, the early Church fathers repeatedly contend that Joshua ("Jesus" in the Greek OT or Septuagint) was a "type of" Christ, foreshadowing the "real" Jesus's alleged advent.

In Joshua we thus have yet another figure "confused" in the fictional composite of "Jesus Christ" in the NT. As you stated in your paraphrase of one my favorite Massey quotes, a composite of 20 people is no one.

The Book of Enoch

We mythicists have continually worked to show all the layers of that composite - here's another one: Take a look at the non-canonical Jewish apocryphal text the Book of Enoch or 1 Enoch. In it, you will find elements of a blueprint for the creation of Christianity, including a discussion of "the conversion of Gentiles and the coming of the messiah, the 'Son of man,'" which are "obvious examples of the continuation in the New Testament of intertestamental Jewish notions..." (Barnstone, The Other Bible (1984), 486)

Imagine that someone took elements from this book, 1 Enoch - which was evidently composed largely between the third and first centuries BCE and which was very popular in pre-Christian and Christian times - and combined them with the numerous "messianic prophecies" of the Old Testament (as discussed by GA above), along with elements from other pre-Christian apocryphal texts that discuss the coming messiah, etc., in order to create the ultimate "midrash" or interpretation of what the messiah would be like.

It should also be kept in mind that 1 Enoch is given scriptural authority (although not necessarily canonicity) in the epistle of Jude (1:14-15), which quotes the book. It is further suggested that the writers of the canonical gospels were very familiar with Enoch, and the book clearly influenced the writer of Revelation. Such being the case, why would we not suspect that elements of the gospel story which are "foreshadowed" in Enoch were actually taken from that text and subsequently had other elements, both mythical and historical, added to this messianic framework? Early Christian fathers such as Tertullian (c. 200) felt the correspondences between Enoch's messiah and Jesus Christ were so striking that these similarities served as "prophecies" of Christ's advent. How about the logical view, which is that these "prophecies" were in reality blueprints used to create the fictional Christ centuries later?

1 Enoch alone shows that there were individuals in the Jewish community actively working to describe this long-awaited messiah(s). The creators of Christianity did much the same thing, again called "midrash," as Jews had been doing for many centuries. These creators of the fictional character of "Jesus Christ" took this pre-Christian messianic framework and added whatever other elements they needed, over a period of decades, including motifs from Pagan mythology and the texts of other religions, such as Buddhism.

We see the confused struggle over this effort not only in pre-Christian times in the battles between Jewish factions who all claimed to be following the "correct" path and who raised up many previous individuals as "messiahs" and "christs," but also in later times, during the second century, when numerous groups are fighting over whose Jesus was the "right" one. Let us not forget that there were many other Jesuses running about Judea during the centuries before and into the common era, some 20 of whom are discussed in Josephus.

Epinoia wrote:
I did a google search on Ehrman's new book, and one of the first hits that I received was:

Code:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/04/review-of-bart-ehrman-did-jesus-exist-part-one.html


I decided to post a quick reply:

Quote:
Ehrman would have few people to sell his books to, if he claimed Jesus never existed... And that should give everyone pause as they read his books.

Jesus ben Pandira was hung on a tree at the end of Passover -- about 100 years prior to the time of the Jesus of the Bible. Coincidence? I don't think so...


I received an almost immediate and unexpected reply from the owner of the Blog, James F. McGrath, Clarence L. Goodwin Chair in New Testament Language and Literature, who replied (to my reply):

Quote:
So the late Rabbinic sources that mention Jesus ben Pandera are completely accurate, while early Christian sources are completely false? Unfortunately for mythicism, historians have to evaluate all the relevant evidence, and cannot expect to get away with simply trusting late sources while ignoring early ones.


To which I replied:

Quote:
James,

It seems to me more reasonable that the figure we have before us in the Bible is a composite figure -- made up of multiple Jesus figures. And, logically speaking, a composite figure made up of multiple figures is NO ONE.


To which he replied:

Quote:
What is your evidence that the earliest Christians were confused about which Joshua they were talking about? Are you confused about which James you were addressing, just because I am not the only person of that name? This is a common viewpoint among mythicists, but it doesn't seem to me to make much sense, at least as usually stated.


I have not replied back, because I am confessedly stuck. What constitutes 'evidence' for this? How do I prove any sort of 'confusion'?

Feel free to reply here, or there.

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 4:51 pm 
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A World Full of Gods: The Strange Triumph of Christianity [Hardcover]

by Professor Keith Morris Hopkins (20 June 1934 – 8 March 2004).

Quote:
He was professor of ancient history at the University of Cambridge from 1985 to 2000.
In 1985 he was elected to the Cambridge chair in ancient history.[2] The fullest account of his career and significance as an ancient historian is in his British Academy necrology (W.V. Harris, Proceedings of the British Academy 130 (2005), 3-27).


[above is edited from amazon.com] plus see below for scan from book jacket.

Exhibit A - Picture of Bust [Pictures Sections]

The Phallic Savior of the World Hidden in the Vatican


Exhibit B - Credits [Back of Book]

The Phallic Savior of the World Hidden in the Vatican

R.P Knight, A Discourse on the Worship of Priapus(London, 1865), plate 2.3, for plate 23

Exhibit C - Illustration [Front of Book]

The Phallic Savior of the World Hidden in the Vatican

23. Human bust, with cock's face and beak as erect penis, labeled in Greek "Savior of the World" (Vatican, Roman period)

Exhibit D - Author Information [Jacket]

The Phallic Savior of the World Hidden in the Vatican

Also see:
The Phallic Savior of the World Hidden in the Vatican


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:24 pm 
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A transcript of Dr. Price's remarks at around 4 minutes from his April 12th Bible Geek podcast:

Quote:
"Now here's something before we get the questions. You know we've had a lot of discussion here on the Bible Geek and there's been a lot on the Bible Geek listener's page about the Bart Ehrman book Did Jesus Exist?. I and others have expressed that while we are not at all surprised that New Testament scholars don't buy the Christ Myth hypothesis for various reasons, we're pretty surprised reading this book at the, I guess I have to say, the poor quality of it, the blatant and systematic misrepresentation of Earl Doherty and Acharya and some others, and utter failure to come to grips or even to understand certain theories and arguments by myself, by Frank Zindler and G. A. Wells and others, where you wonder how can this guy who is so astute, as he shows in so many of his writings, do such a superficial and unfair hack-job here. I'm sorry to say that. Let's be blunt, though.

Well, I think I found out today just how this anomaly developed . A bible geek who shall remain nameless, just so he doesn't get into as much trouble as I'm about to do, though he can come forward and verify it if he wishes, was talking to one of the graduate assistants or students of professor Ehrman at Chapel Hill. What do you know?! He did even read the damn books, he just farmed them out to students who did reports on them, on the basis of which he leveled his criticisms. Now I get it. I guess this doesn't merit an appendix in the book Forged because it's not exactly a forgery, but you can see why that would occur to me. So I'm telling you, you can't even do your own homework. I mean, that's pretty much Josh McDowell's level of scholarship. I wish he would actually read the books and then do another stab at a particular Christ Myth theory. Then it would be worth reading."

- April 12th Bible Geek podcast

In his April 16th Bible Geek podcast Dr. Price claims, at around 28 minutes, that Ehrman has responded that it is common procedure to get graduate students to read the books and not necessarily read them himself:

Quote:
"Now he defends his not having read them because it has got out that he had his graduate students read the books and report to him. Well, he says, “Oh, that’s common procedure.” Bullgeschichte! If I assigned a paper and found that a student had had his team of people do the research for him he’d get an F. You can’t pretend to evaluate complex scholarly works based on the Monarch Notes provided by your students. Well he had them to show him the parts of the books he needed to read. Well I’m sorry but you’ve got to read my whole damn book if you’re going to evaluate it as I would read all of yours. You can’t leave it to other people. It’s disgraceful, really, really disgusting. This guy is sinking in my estimation to the level of William Lane Craig."

- April 16th Bible Geek podcast

The Bible Geek Podcast with Dr. Robert Price

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 17, 2012 5:31 pm 
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GodAlmighty wrote:
And if Ehrman, or anyone on his behalf, retorts by claiming that this is not an uncommon practice among professors, then all I can say is... double wow.


Freethinkaluva22 wrote:
Dr. Price claims, at around 28 minutes, that Ehrman has responded that it is common procedure to get graduate students to read the books and not necessarily read them himself.


DOUBLE.
WOW.
:shock:


Acharya wrote:
Yep, apparently so, as I correctly surmised weeks ago. On April 2nd, for example, I wrote in my blog post "Bart Ehrman: 'Mythicists' arguments are fairly plausible'":

Quote:
I have been wondering in this regard and others, such as the phallic bronze brouhaha, whether or not Ehrman simply received "Cliff Notes" of my book from an intern/assistant.



How prescient.

So Ehrman confesses to employing such a practice, and indeed used the excuse we knew he would, i.e., it's a common thing to do.

Well, regardless of how common it is, it is still apparently not the most efficient and accurate way to go about your research.


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