I couldn't agree with you more on this. The foundation rests on the earliest source of the Christian writings, and that came from the writings of Paul. He never mentions "Jesus of Nazareth", the town of Nazareth, or even Bethlehem. He makes no mention of any of the Gospel stories including the virgin birth or any of the miracles. He never even mentions the disciples and rarely mentions a Jesus Christ, preferring to use "Christ Jesus" or "Christ" which was a title used a hundred years earlier than the biblical Christ. In fact the Gospels may have been written as a response from Marcion's first Bible, written in the middle of the second century. Indeed, this is a very shaky foundation.Og3 wrote: ↑Tue May 07, 2019 7:37 am
Part 2 of Many
The Foundation as a Proof of the House:
As anyone in the building trades will tell you, a bad foundation is a certain sign of a bad house. If the foundation is poorly laid, the concrete uncertain, the soil too loose – any of these can lead to disaster.
Whose an anti-theist? Some of my best friends are Christians and believing Muslims, as I am sure is true for the other atheists here.We have a biblical remark on this subject, from the mouth of none other than Jesus Himself, but to provide it here will do nothing for our purpose except send to the anti-theists into a seething rage.
No probs there.Let us then begin by examining the foundation that Carrier lays for his argument. He starts by introducing Bayes Theorem. He even provides it, at great length, in the form of an equation. He then proposes that by examining prior probabilities as modified by new evidence, he will be able to analyze the likelihood that Jesus of Nazareth was a real person. He makes a few obvious observations, such as that “Christ” is a title, and that the first century was a time rife with Messianic pretensions.
We could learn as much from the gospels themselves. When Peter calls Jesus “The Christ, the Son of the Living God,” we should get a clue from the definite article preceding Christ, among many similar references.
It doesn't sound very historical of an Earthly man does it? Peter and Paul don't ever refer to Jesus as being in any location on Earth, but as a spirit.
Why not the son of Joseph?Jesus himself cites David, in Psalm 110:3, and then asks the scribes and pharisees how it can be that the Christ will be both David’s son and David’s Lord.
Carrier is writing for the layman and for the serious scholars, I don't think you are seeing this very well.We also see references to uprisings that occurred during this time. Among other references, a Roman official asks Paul, in Acts 21:38, if he is not a certain revolutionary who led a murderous rebellion some years prior. These are nothing new to the dialog, but Carrier reveals them as if he expects his audience to be ignorant of such details. This fact reveals something to us about the foundation of the argument to follow.
Carrier himself was raised as a nominal Christian. That is to say, he was an attender of church, and heard the messages taught therein, but paid them little attention. He states that by comparison with his secular reading, he found the New Testament dry and boring. He also states that his parents showed no particular devotion to the church or to its teachings.
I don't know why you imagine that he was surprised to discover that it was a title, he's an ancient historian with many years experience and qualifications. I think you are jumping the gun with Chrestus. That certainly isn't a given to most scholars. According to Wiki:We can imagine then that he was himself surprised to discover that Christ is a title; the Anglicized form of the Latinized Christus or Chrestus, meaning “Anointed one.”
Edwin M. Yamauchi states that "A growing number of scholars, however, have accepted the argument that the "Chrestus" mentioned in Suetonius was simply a Jewish agitator with a common name, and that he had no association with Christianity
Now you are imagining "a bit breathlessly, it seems to the reader" This imagination of yours is similar to your hero, Lewis.This is a translation of the Aramaic and Hebrew Maschiah. Carrier correctly points out – a bit breathlessly, it seems to the reader – that “Anointed” merely meant someone who had had oil poured on his head by a priest! Why, that could be anyone, but still, the title came to be attached to Jesus.
He must be out of breath now, lol!He also points out – again, a bit two breathlessly – that Jesus, which like Joshua derives from the Hebrew name Y’shua (YHWH Saves), was a very common name.
This is a blatant mis-characterisation of Carrier, have you read his bio?Now, to a 20th century American with only a nominal understanding of the New Testament, one can imagine such a revelation coming as a lightning bolt. But not to anyone familiar with the New Testament outside of Sunday School.
There were lots of Jesus's around that time and location as well:Will Durant, in Volume III of his Story of Civilization, titled “Caesar and Christ,” remarks that at one point in the Roman Empire, there may have been as few as six given names. He attributes to this lack of nomenclative imagination the fact that five names are required to distinguish two heroes of the Punic Wars, Scipio Marius Africanus Majorus, and his grandson, Scipio Marius Amellianus Africanus Minorus. That it should be no different in Judea seems not at all surprising.
Jesus ben Phiabi, Jesus ben Sec, Jesus ben Damneus, Jesus ben Gamaliel, Jesus ben Sirach, Jesus ben Pandira, Jesus ben Ananias, Jesus ben Saphat, Jesus ben Gamala, and Jesus ben Thebuth. The "ben" means "son of", so you would expect that Jesus of Nazareth had a moniker of Yeshua ben Josef or Jesus ben Joseph. Sadly, this is not the case.
Hardly. This is your imagination working overtime again.One need merely count the number of first century persons in the New Testament who are named Joseph, Joses, Hosea, or some other such variant in order to see the scope of the issue. But again, Carrier announces such things as if they were revelations.
Could you stick with the main issues and not go off making stuff up?I am reminded of a time in my teens, when the mother of a friend turned to me one day and began to lecture me on the fact that vanity means futility. She declared that she was shocked to learn this, and that it completely changed the meaning of Solomon’s declaration, “Vanity of Vanities.” I politely nodded and excused myself when I was able, and to this day, I cannot imagine why she suddenly chose to blurt such a thing at me. Had she perhaps previously thought that Solomon was speaking of a prized bit of furniture; a low dresser with a mirror?
Carrier has this same sort of approach: “Allow me to shock you with this fact,” he seems to be saying, while giving us facts that are not the least bit surprising.
In this, I see an issue with the foundation. This sort of thing seems to imply that either Carrier is not familiar with the Bible, or else expects his readers not to be familiar with the Bible. One expects something a bit different from a scholarly work. One expects a scholar to approach the subject expecting the reader to have some knowledge of what has gone before. But Carrier expects the reader to have as shallow an understanding as he had when he was a youth.
Where does it say that in his book? These ad Homs are making you look silly.This is only the first crack to note in the footings, and it by itself may not be fatal to the structure. But there are others. Carrier denigrates any disagreeing voice, shooting back at them before they can even challenge him.
Wrong. He only uses “Beyond any reasonable doubt” in Chapter 4 when he says at Element 11:He states that his conclusions are “Beyond any reasonable doubt” or “impossible to deny” “Beyond any reasonable possibility” “irrational to conclude [otherwise]” and “undeniable.”
...and then he lays out a very well argued case for it.The earliest known form of Christianity was a Judeo-Hellenistic mystery religion. This is also beyond any reasonable doubt
“impossible to deny” was used when he said
“Beyond any reasonable possibility” he writesIf we expand that definition to include a set of specific features held in common by all mystery religions of the early Roman era, then Christianity becomes even more demonstrably a mystery religion, so much so, in fact, that it is impossible to deny it was deliberately constructed as such
“irrational to conclude" was used here:Even the earliest discernible form of Christianity emulates numerous cultic features and concepts that were unique to the Hellenistic mystery cults that it is statistically beyond any reasonable possibility that they all found their way into Christianity.
They formed a coherent, logical and repeatedly replicated system of ideas in every other mystery cult. It would irrational to conclude the same wasn't so of Christianity.
He used "undeniable a few times throughout the book in a meaningful and correct way. The first instance was here;
What makes you think that it was not plausible?Whether you share that conclusoin or not, what is undeniable is that this text provides all the elements of a plausible theory.
Unsubstantiated polemic rhetoric doesn't advance your case.This kind of dogmatic declaration is, again, not the sort of thing one finds in scholarly histories; it is the sort of thing one finds in polemics and apologetics. It casts any dissenting voice as unreasonable and irrational. It is far more common for a historian to write that there may be a dissenting voice, but that he is confident of his facts, or that the mainstream view is such and so, or that there are few dissenters to this point. It is uncommon for a serious academic to implicitly call his detractors irrational and unreasonable.
Where does he say that? More lapses of imagination?A third crack in the foundation shows in how Carrier treats other historians and sources. In introducing his Bayesian approach, he implies or even outright states that the view of other historians are simple wrong and shortsighted;
Citation?they should all, long ago, have adopted his methods.
Nothing wrong with that. Ehrman makes errors and most of the time does some good work. I feel the same way about him.But despite lambasting men such as Ehrman in the beginning of his work, he uses Ehrman later to support his theory that most of the New Testament is inauthentic. He even goes so far as to adopt Ehrman’s list of “authentic” New Testament epistles as the only such reasonable list.
He is no kinder to the ancients. When Flavius Josephus disagrees with him, Josephus has been tampered with.
Most serious scholars don't doubt that Josephus has been fiddled with by Christians to suit their agendas.
I don't know what you mean here.When Josephus agrees with him, he cites him as a source. you should find this disquieting, were you hoping to find in Carrier a once-forever answer to those pesky Christians. Because these small cracks point to a serious instability.
Says the kettle to the pot!Carrier is writing a polemic.
He is mainly neutral, that's his job to be.The defender of Carrier will at this point jump to his defense by asking that we look at the introductory chapters, in which Carrier says that while the historicity of Jesus is important to the Christian worldview, it makes no difference to his own. This, the fan of Carrier will declare, shows that Carrier is neutral, and approaches the matter with no bias, as a historian rightly should.
Um, I am pretty sure that he is speaking of the early Christian version of the canon from 2 CE. Regarding the "Septuagint canon” Josephus claimed that all Jews everywhere have “only 22 books” (Ag. Ap. 1.37–42).But we should not shy away from what appears to be a large crack in the central pillar. There seems to be some poor scholarship. On page 88, Carrier declares that the sepaugint (a Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures) had no clear canon until the second century CE. This is absolutely incorrect. The Septaugint was translated in the BCE period no later than the beginning of the first century BCE, at least 300 years before Carrier’s date, and the given dates are ca. 240 BCE, some 450 years bfore Carrier’s date.
We find the following in the Wikipedia entry for the Septaugint:The full title in Ancient Greek: τν βδομήκοντα μετάφρασις, literally "The Translation of the Seventy", derives from the story recorded in the Letter of Aristeas that the Septuagint was translated at the request of Ptolemy II Philadelphus(285–247 BCE) by 70 Jewish scholars (or, according to later tradition, 72: six scholars from each of the Twelve Tribes of Israel) who independently produced identical translations.
Note the provenance that the septaugint was translated into Greek in the mid-third century BCE: Aristeas and Josephus say so directly; there are citations from the LXX as early as the second century BCE, and the LXX is written in Koine Greek, a form of Greek only coming into prominence in about the 2nd Century BCE.
But Carrier, on page 88., tells us that there was no such canon until the 2nd century CE. I read the paragraph three times to make certain that my eyes were no deceiving me. This is an error on the order of stating that Willem Janszoon first discovered Australia in 2006, instead of 1606. It is the sort of error that would have been immediately caught by editors or by peer-reviewers were this a scholarly work, or even a peer-reviewed work in a periodical.
Is this simply a typographical error? Did Carrier omit a B? No. The entire context in which we find this remark is a polemic concerning the alleged unreliability of the Jewish and therefore the Christian scripture. It is fodder for Carrier to claim that the Bible was “fixed” in later centuries, to comply with Christian expectations and doctrines. So, contextually, we must assume that Carrier truly wants us to believe that the Tanakh (those writings that Christians call the Old Testament) was not composed until nearly 500 years later than the true date.
This one fact undermines Carrier’s entire foundation, for the simple reason that we can no longer trust any of his dates, nor any of his other facts. He is not writing to reveal history, but to support his position, and he will, as demonstrated here, twist any source, any date, or any meaning to fit the bed of Procrustes that he has laid out.
Please note that I am not drawing things out of Carrier that he did not say. I am merely explaining why the things that he did say should make us fear for this foundation, and because of it, for the remainder of the house he has built.
P.S. Regarding your own scholarship Og, I wouldn't be spelling Septuagint as "Septaugint" in your new ecclesiastical role. Congrats btw (SEG hides face and cringes)