Sunday, April 08, 2012

Ehrman calls Mythicists lunatics...

...and Mythicists accuse him of betraying their cause.

Bart Ehrman has a "damn by faint praise" essay in the Huffington Post allowing that the bad and biased evidence found in the New Testament and elsewhere establishes that Jesus existed as a matter of history:

Moreover, the claim that Jesus was simply made up falters on every ground. The alleged parallels between Jesus and the "pagan" savior-gods in most instances reside in the modern imagination: We do not have accounts of others who were born to virgin mothers and who died as an atonement for sin and then were raised from the dead (despite what the sensationalists claim ad nauseum in their propagandized versions).

Moreover, aspects of the Jesus story simply would not have been invented by anyone wanting to make up a new Savior. 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. Why did the Christians not do so? Because they believed specifically that Jesus was the Messiah. And they knew full well that he was crucified. The Christians did not invent Jesus. They invented the idea that the messiah had to be crucified.

One may well choose to resonate with the concerns of our modern and post-modern cultural despisers of established religion (or not). But surely the best way to promote any such agenda is not to deny what virtually every sane historian on the planet -- Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, agnostic, atheist, what have you -- has come to conclude based on a range of compelling historical evidence.

Whether we like it or not, Jesus certainly existed.

Ehrman has been treading into mythicist waters in his recent debates, particularly where he starts to argue that various stories about Jesus described in the Gospels parallel - according to him - various myths. To make these arguments, Ehrman has to act like a tin-eared mythicist reducing all of the actual detail of various myth into some kind of parallel to Christianity, such as claiming that Mithras was born of a version when there is not a scintilla of evidence for that claim. Likewise, Ehrman has been forced to imply to audiences - without ever saying it and being shown the door to academic disgrace - that Christians borrowed from myths that didn't exist until hundreds of years after Christ's crucifixion.

Ehrman is flogging his new book - Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. Given my distrust for Ehrman's scholarly chops these days, I'm giving it a pass.

Mythicist Richard Carrier, on the other hand, is offended - offended! - at what Ehrman has written and is throwing the book at Carrier's errors. You get the sense that Carrier was looking at Ehrman as an ally and is seeing this as a personal betrayal.

You have to wonder where Ehrman is coming from? Is he selling books where the audience is? Is he burnishing his anti-anti-mythicist credentials so that he can pose as an objective scholar? Is he honestly concerned about the zaniness of the mythicists? But if that was the case, why resort to their lame arguments in debates?

1 comment:

Lauran said...

The Song Remains the Same for these painfully dull atheists--is better to be thought fools than to open their mouths and remove all doubt.


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