I blogged a short time ago to alert readers about this book. Maurice Casey was a New Testament scholar and Aramaic specialist. He was also nowhere close to being a “Bible believer” – the sort of people that Jesus mythicists love to mock. It’s Casey doing the mocking here. All the familiar mythers (e.g., Acharya S) are in the cross-hairs and fare rather poorly.
Dr. James McGrath recently reviewed Casey’s book. The review (and of course the book) tracks through all the well-worn bogus methods and argumentation made by the tiny-but-vocal Jesus mythicist clique (think the Zeitgeist nonsense). Here’s one of McGrath’s concluding paragraphs:
I suspect that many will find the tone of Casey’s volume rather too acerbic—especially if they have never had to deal with online mythicists themselves. One must keep in mind the risks that were involved in writing a book like this. As scientists and historians who have tackled pseudoscholarship of other sorts have often learned, the very act of engaging proponents of these views, even in the interests of debunking them, can seem to add credibility to their claims, since they are being deemed “worthy of engaging with.” It seems to me that Casey’s approach, while not above criticism, strikes an important balance. He took the highly problematic character of mythicism seriously enough that he thought it worth showing unambiguously why it does not deserve to be taken seriously. Casey shows in detail the ways in which mythicism is not merely wrong in the ways that scholars are often wrong but rather grossly incompetent, shoddily argued and evidenced, utterly lacking in plausibility, and often seeming to willfully distort the evidence, all while its proponents maliciously malign mainstream scholars.
Amen. Been there many times.
McGrath’s review is an excellent overview of the book, which is must reading for anyone who’s been annoyed or disturbed by the claims of those who insist Jesus never existed.
Show me a contemporary copy of his birth certificate – or anything else contemporary with his supposed life that acknowleges him.
You’ll have to read the source material that plenty of others have pointed to. If you’re too lazy to do that, then so be it.
I have read it – there is nothing contemporary for evidence of Jesus’ existence.
Define contemporary. And then explain why proof has to come from the same precise lifespan years (presuming that’s what you mean by contemporary). If the net is wider, you’d simply be wrong.
The “must be something from the same life span” basically rules out the historicity of most of the billions of people who’ve lived on the planet. That’s hardly coherent.
Providing proof of the existence of a Jesus Christ, is pretty well impossible. Imagine that there was proof encoded, thus hidden, within the bible itself. Well tough luck, because it would be crucified via the sheer stupidity of mankind.
Here is how you do it.
First of all, the information would be encoded within the bible via a “specific” and precise code language.
But there is no problem at all in getting rid of it, because people are stupid. Just keep the minds away from such specificness. What you would do instead is introduce the world to what you claim are “Bible Codes”. In other words, ignore the subject of “code languages” altogether, and just keep the idiotic minds focused upon the “Bible Code” phenomena itself.
Then you would introduce an absolutely 100% trash method of finding hidden information within the bible, a method that is so trashy that you can in the end find whatever it is that you want to find. Then, over some time, allow the world to acquire an interest in these so called bible codes.
Next, bring in the Ph.D. guys and have them analyze and prove that these so called bible codes are bogus indeed. OK, we are almost done now, but here comes the big mind blower. Now have the Ph.D. guys state that based upon their studies, they have therefore concluded that the “Bible Code” phenomena, is a farce.
It’s that easy.
Even though nothing has happened, other than trash be identified as trash, the fact that only 1 code language has been examined, 1 code language of an infinite number of possible code languages that can exist, the entire “Bible Code” phenomena ends up being rejected, despite the absolute stupidity of such an act.
I know, I know, you would think that no one could be that stupid, but it’s true, people really are that stupid.
For instance, verbal communication can be done via many different “languages”. However, if the German language is said to be too brutal a language for opera, does that mean that in the opera world the entire concept of verbal communication itself should be abolished? Obviously not. But in the bible code world, via the rejection of just 1 code language, the entire concept of bible codes was abolished, and of course this is an act of absolute insanity.
no idea where this came from; the post has nothing to do with Bible codes, which are nonsense.
Go to http://goo.gl/38qhp ,click on the yellow flashing words “Watch/Listen”, then sit back and enjoy the show. It’s over in just 10 minutes. Be sure that your audio is enabled.
At least to some, this removes the idea that no higher power is at work.
Why would you need a higher power for historicity?
As always..thank you Dr. Mike. I have listened to Richard Carrier in a minor
debate and was thoroughly underwhelmed. Robert Price is equally exciting.
The “Mythicists” are a very curious lot…certainly on the “fringe”.
The best mythicist I know of is Thomas L. Thompson, so his case is the most pertinent to address. In his The Messiah Myth c. 2005 he gives his position that “Twentieth century scholarship , with its faith in history, assumed a historical Jesus as its starting point.” – page 7 & “That the stories of the gospels are about a historical person is a difficult assumption.” -page 8 & “…cracks begin to appear in the confidence that a Jesus we know only from the gospels can be reduced to human proportions and reflect a historically plausible figure of the first century.” -page 13 & “The problem of the quest for the historical Jesus…is rather that the gospels are not about such a person…” page 14
And also his “Is This Not The Carpenter?” gives his position on the New Testament that “there is significant need… to doubt the historicity of its figures.” page 11 & “the only known Jesus, the mythic one of our texts.” page 8
I certainly am confident that Jesus did not originate as an historical person who was deified as a euhemerism. He seems clearly to have been an historicized god.
I think this idea is utterly bogus. There are a multitude of disconnects in this regard. Funny how the gospels are a priori disregarded as a source. On what basis? The writers express religious beliefs about their subject? I guess we can throw out all ancient historical texts then.
As in the quote I gave, Thompson relates that the gospels were a priori accepted as a source.He certainly does not a priori disregard them as a source. The Messiah Myth discusses at length the problems with the gospels as a source for the historicity of Jesus. If the idea is bogus, Thomas Thompson is not bogus. He is a very highly regarded, influential and sophisticated scholar. In fact, it seems to me that, with his case against the historical Jesus, we have the beginning of the end of the belief in a historical Jesus. This will not be like when George Albert Wells was defeated in his arguments against an historical Jesus.
And so on what basis are the gospel accounts denied?.
You should know that Thompson has a lot of critics with respect to his historical method. In fact, I’m a friend of someone who got his PhD in the Copenhagen school in Israelite historiography and basically debunks it (in an academic vein). See:
And yes, Kofoed embraces a historical Jesus.
So you’ll have to come up with something more coherent than name dropping Thompson.
Of course ancient authors did not compartmentalize their thoughts as much as modern authors tend to do. The gospels do resemble ancient biography but not
modern biography and ancient biographies sometimes dealt with entirely fictitious or mythical persons. So their is no need to despair about all ancient texts.
From your link on Kofoed: “Kofoed argues modestly that ‘it is indeed possible that historical information was handed down orally in a reliable way in ancient Israel,’ so that the person on the street probably could know what happened hundreds of years earlier.” I certainly agree with this. In my opinion, so far as the Garden of Eden refers to history on earth, as I think it partly does, it constitutes a memory of foraging times as far preferable to the toil of agriculture. One of my interests is in the historiography of the Bible. Thompson does allow that there is philosophy of history in it. In fact, I think that the Old Testament at least was their ancient idea of
history, even if modern historians find little to meet their standards.
You ask on what basis he “denies” the accounts, when the fact is that he interprets them differently from you. They are not denied. They are theological texts. Haven’t you read his books? I have not name dropped but your site is ignoring the best proponent of the mythicist view. Does Maurice Casey discuss Thompson? Are you denying that “Twentieth century scholarship , with its faith in history, assumed a historical Jesus as its starting point.”
Thank you for the link. Obviously, he would have a lot of critics. There are also a lot of critics of the methods of modern geology among persons who
think the earth is young.
A lot is at stake because any ethical or moral teacher must put his teachings into practice setting an example for others to follow. If Jesus did not live he did not do that. In any case, as Thomas Jefferson said, Christianity does not have even one redeeming feature. Did he mean Jesus was a fictional character? To understand this I believe one must
take him to have meant “unique to itself.” For example, the golden rule is a redeeming teaching already well known and practiced long before Jesus. If Jesus did not put the highest moral and ethical precepts into action (because he did not exist) in an exemplary way, many others have, including Musonius Rufus.
I’d suggest it’s neither possible nor even sane to “interpret” the four gospels as aligning with the view that Jesus didn’t exist.
Thomas Jefferson: “I have examined all the known superstitions of the world, and I do not find in our particular superstition of Christianity one redeeming feature.” [http://www.monticello.org/site/jefferson/superstition-christianity-quotation
If Jefferson thought there was an historical Redeemer, then how could he have said this?
Jefferson wasn’t a NT scholar. Who cares what he said. Why would I look to Jefferson for biblical scholarship or even historiography of biblical material?
For you atheists out there, this would be like me quoting Isaac Newton in favor of creationism. Yes, Newton believed in a creator, but it’s too easy to say he lived in an era that didn’t offer him the data that are discussed now, or that he lacked specific scientific knowledge that might prompt him to conclude otherwise.
In other words, this anachronistic illustration isn’t at all relevant or helpful.
Evidently, George Albert Wells was refuted by means of the a priori assumption of an historical Jesus.
This doesn’t address why the claims of the gospels should be disregarded as testimony.
If they are testimony, it isn’t an priori assumption. Earlier you said they should be counted as testimony, but then we’re back to my earlier comment: it’s a bit hypocritical to say they count as a source and then turn around and reject what they say (on every page).
If the gospels are to be counted as historical sources, the debate is over. Jesus existed. If they aren’t to be counted, then WHY (and how is their inauthenticity NOT a priori reasoning)?
This isn’t a blog about the historical Jesus, and it won’t become one. I’ve blogged about scholars who specialize in that field (some of whom are friends of mine). those interested can consult the work of people like Mark Allan Powell:
Those interested in the overall historical reliability of all four gospels can read Craig Blomberg’s books:
I not only brought up Thompson, but also have quoted a number of his arguments. You have not deigned to answer any of them. Are you saying there is no significant need to doubt the historicity of the New Testament figures? How is he better understood as an euhemerism than as an historicized god?
Because others have. And you/he haven’t addressed why the claims of the gospels should be disregarded as testimony. They clearly have Jesus existing. So it’s a bit hypocritical to say they count as a source and then turn around and reject what they say (on every page).