Skip to: Site Menu | Main content


Is This Not the Carpenter’s Son?1
A Response to Bart Ehrman




Ehrman pompously ignores my considerable analytical discussion, which was rooted in a wide-ranging, comparative literary classification and analysis of the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern inscriptions. Apparently to him, the more than 40 years I have devoted to research in my study of the primary fields of Old Testament exegesis, ancient Near Eastern literature and ancient history—not least in regards to questions of historicity’leaves me unqualified and lacking the essential competence to address such questions because they also come to include a comparison of such an analysis with these same stereotypical literary tropes as they occur in the Gospels.



See Also:

Your Mother was a Hittite and Your Father an Amorite

On the Problem of Critical Scholarship: A Memoire

Creating Biblical Figures

A View from Copenhagen: Israel and the History of Palestine



By Thomas L. Thompson
Professor Emeritus
University of Copenhagen
July 2012


Bart Ehrman has recently dismissed what he calls mythicist scholarship, my Messiah Myth2 from 2005 among them, as anti-religious motivated denials of a historical Jesus and has attributed to my book arguments and principles which I had never presented, certainly not that Jesus had never existed.3 Rather than dealing with the historicity of the figure of Jesus, my book had argued a considerably different issue, which, however, might well raise problems for many American New Testament scholars who historicize what was better understood as allegorical. Rather than a book on historicity, my The Messiah Myth offered an analysis of the thematic elements and motifs of a particular myth, which had a history of at least 2000 years. This included a discussion of the Synoptic Gospels’ theological reiteration that Samaritan and Jewish scriptures had their roots in an allegorically driven discourse on a large number of dominant ancient Near Eastern literary themes and concerns, most of which were tied to ancient royal ideology. Ehrman pompously ignores my considerable analytical discussion, which was rooted in a wide-ranging, comparative literary classification and analysis of the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern inscriptions. Apparently to him, the more than 40 years I have devoted to research in my study of the primary fields of Old Testament exegesis, ancient Near Eastern literature and ancient history—not least in regards to questions of historicity—leaves me unqualified and lacking the essential competence to address such questions because they also come to include a comparison of such an analysis with these same stereotypical literary tropes as they occur in the Gospels. I can understand that Ehrman may have some disagreement with my analysis and my conclusions. My introduction takes up the notoriously stereotypical figure of Jesus as (mistaken) eschatological prophet, which Ehrman—himself reiterating Schweitzer—asserts as, somehow, obviously historical. His lack of reflection on ancient forms of allegory, such as that reflected by Qohelet’s—and indeed Philo’s—principle that—in their world of theologically driven literature—there is little new under the sun, certainly provides adequate grounds for considerable disagreement, which I welcome. It is puzzling, however, that he seems sincerely unaware of the Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern thematic elements which are comparable to those of the Gospels: pivotal motifs such as “the one chosen by god,” the “inaugural announcement of the divine kingdom,” and “the good news” of that kingdom’s saving reversals, which offer a utopian hope to the poor and oppressed, the widow and the orphan. He even seems to ignore the stereotypical implications of the royal figure of a conquering messiah—which historical kings have indeed used in their “biographies.” Such an ancient theme as “life’s victory over death” gets its first treatment in the Gospels in a reiteration of the stories of Elisha. Surely, this is not news to him—anymore than he can be unaware of the Gospel reiterations of the “eternal need to crush the head of the evil one,” so central to the St. George myth—though no less central to an understanding of Jesus in the Gospels. Such narratively embraced themes can hardly be understood as providing historical evidence for any figure of the ancient world; this has always been the stuff other than the historical. Why has he written such a diatribe as Did Jesus Exist? And having decided to write it: why didn’t he take his title seriously and attempt to give a reasonable argument concerning his conviction that he did?

I think a less polemically minded Bart Ehrman would recognize that this project on reiterated narrative, based in an analysis of comparative literature, can only be furthered by one who is familiar with Old Testament and ancient Near Eastern literature.4 Nevertheless, his crude dismissal of the relevance of inter-disciplinary perspectives undermines my confidence that he understands the problems related to the historicity of a literary figure, except from a historicist—even fundamentalist—perspective. Although the irritation provoked by his misreading of my work, which I had published—fully aware that I was entering territory not my own—in “fear and trembling” at the prospect of detailed objections from just such a Brahmin of New Testament studies. At the same time, I must admit that I am pleased that such a well-known scholar has so clearly demonstrated, for all to see, the need—and therefore justification—for Tom Verenna’s and my little volume of essays, which will appear in the coming week or two, which deals with the very issue of the historicity of the New Testament figure of Jesus, which Bart Ehrman so thoroughly has misunderstood. This new book does deal with historicity: what we know about a historical Jesus and what we do not. The volume tries to make a virtue of the interdisciplinary approach and some of the contributions are written by quite well known, but interesting and well qualified historians and exegetes on the question of evidence and historical warrant for which Ehrman and some of his colleagues have taken for granted, assuring us that they possess more than what is adequate in the Albrightean “top drawers of their writing desks.” The book includes a discussion of the basis for our knowing or not knowing that this figure of New Testament literature had, in fact, lived in a historical Palestine of the first century, CE. It also includes essays dealing with the various possibilities of evidence for Jesus’ existence which may be implied in Paul’s writings, as well as, other, differently nuanced questions which scholars are asking today, including, alternative avenues for exploring the New Testament literature and its historicity. All of these articles, I believe, impinge closely on the nature of first and second century Samaritanism and Judaism, and, with that, its influence on the historical origins of Christianity.

Ehrman has asserted that the present state of New Testament scholarship is such that an established scholar should present his Life of Jesus, without considering whether this figure, in fact, lived as a historical person. The assumptions implied reflect a serious problem regarding the historical quality of scholarship in biblical studies—not least that which presents itself as self-evidently historical-critical. I wrote my monograph of 2005 in an effort to explore the continuity of a limited number of themes which were rooted in ancient Near Eastern royal ideology5 —an issue which is not only marginally related to questions of historicity, but one which also has much to say about the perception of history and historical method among modern scholars. I am, accordingly, very pleased that Thomas Verenna and I can offer this response to Ehrman’s unconscionable attack on critical scholarship in so timely a manner. It is a small book, and its ambitions are few: hardly more than to point out that our warrant for assuming the existence of a historical Jesus has important limits. In the course of that statement, I hope that readers will find some very interesting, new avenues of research being explored.



Notes

1 I respond here to B. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazereth (New York: Harper and Collins, 2012), with reference to the forthcoming: T. L. Thompson and T. S. Verenna (eds.), Is This Not the Carpenter? through the Copenhagen International Seminar (Sheffield: Equinox, July, 2012).

2 T. L. Thompson, The Messiah Myth: The Ancient Near Eastern Background of David and Jesus (New York: Basic Books/ London: Jonathan Cape/ Pimlico, 2005/2006).

3 Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? 336-37.

4 This is not quite as foreign to mainstream New Testament scholarship as Ehrman asserts in his book. See, for example, the discussion and bibliography in T. L. Brodie, The Birthing of the New Testament: The Intertextual Development of the New Testament Writings (Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix, 2004).

5 T. L. Thompson, “Kingship and the Wrath of God: Or Teaching Humility,” Revue Biblique 109 (2002), 161-196; idem, “Historiography in the Pentateuch: 25 Years after Historicity,” Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13 (1999), 258-83.





Comments (30)


I'm starting to think all this discourse in the biblical field is really just marketing driven polemics designed to sale books.
#1 - Jordan Wilson - 07/06/2012 - 00:30



What exactly is the point at issue between you and Ehrman?
#2 - Martin - 07/08/2012 - 15:44



In referring to the existence of a historical figure of Jesus of Nazareth as an "assumption" rather than a historical conclusion, Thompson is either siding with the mythicists, or trying to have his cake and eat it too, or ignoring what Ehrman wrote, or some combination of the above. In writing about this topic, Thompson had a wonderful opportunity to clarify his own position and distance himself from those internet crackpots sometimes referred to as "mythicist" who comment on matters of history about which they are inadequately informed, engage in extremes of parallelomania which seem like a parody of the worst examples of scholarship from a bygone era, and in other ways do something that would be helpful in relation to this subject. That opportunity seems to me to have been squandered.
#3 - James F. McGrath - 07/09/2012 - 22:50



Dear James McGrath,
In an article ('The Historiography of the Pentateuch: 25 Years after Historicity' Scandinavian Journal of the Old Testament 13, 1999, 258-283) I have discussed why I think it is very difficult to establish the historicity of figures in biblical narrative, as the issue rather relates to the quality of texts one is dealing with. I work further on this issue in my Messiah Myth of 2005. Here I argue that the synoptic gospels can hardly be used to establish the historicity of the figure of Jesus; for both the episodes and sayings with which the figure of Jesus is presented are stereotypical and have a history that reaches centuries earlier. I have hardly shown that Jesus did not exist and did not claim to. Rather, I compared our knowledge about Jesus to our knowledge of figures like Homer. As soon as we try to identify such an historical figure, we find ourselves talking about the thematic elements of stories.
I do not distance myself from 'mythicists' as I do not see this term as referring to any scholars I know.
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#4 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/10/2012 - 05:11



Logicians say that 'existence is not a predicate' - a point that comes up in certain discussions of God's existence. An existence claim seems to depend for its meaning on the descriptions attached to the whatever (whoever) is said to exist. At that rate 'X existed' would mean that a substantial number of the things said about 'X' were true of the same person. 'X existed' is thus a rather weak or slight claim, since we may not be at all sure which of the things said were true and will be aware that there could be very significant omissions, exaggerations and falsehoods mixed in with the true statements. The very fact that the claim that 'Jesus existed' is by itself so slight makes me think that it's not worth very much dispute and might as well be assumed for the purposes of a discussion about what we can with good reason assert about Jesus. There's nothing wrong with assumptions, ie points for which one does not for the moment argue.
#5 - Martin - 07/10/2012 - 08:50



Thomas, I am happy to hear that you do not place any scholarly views, including your own, into the category of the internet-based and self-published mythicists, and likewise do not consider the views of the latter scholarship.

You perhaps do not recall us having a conversation on a list-serv about the differences between the New Testament and the Hebrew Bible when it comes to matters of history and oral tradition. The amount of time that passed between when the events allegedly took place and their first being mentioned in writing is much shorter in the New Testament than in the case of the Hebrew Bible. Already in Paul's letters, we learn that he had met Jesus' brother and was aware of at least some key details about him - that he was Jewish (born of a woman, like all other human beings, and born under the Law), that he was crucified, bled and died, and was buried. We do not have a comparable situation with respect to the Hebrew Bible, in which we have good reason to conclude that an author was in contact with a relative of a key figure within a decade of his death, do we?

The point I took away from your book is that Jesus is presented through the lens of and in stereotypes derived from the already-existing mythology related to the Davidic anointed one. No mainstream historian should deny that, and to my knowledge none of them do. But this point seems to me relevant to the present discussion precisely because one of the major reasons that for thinking that there was a historical Jesus, other than those I've already mentioned, is the fact that those sources which narrate stories about him contain things which it is hard to imagine anyone concocting if their aim was to tell a story of someone who fit the expectations about precisely such a Davidic anointed one.
#6 - James F. McGrath - 07/10/2012 - 11:19



Well, dear McGrath,

years ago with my students in Damascus, we were paid a visit by a so-called liberal imam. He had been member of a commitee for twenty years discussing whether the Quran was the work of man or the word of God. Surprise, they came out with the result that it was the word of God because no human person could invent such stories. Your last argument only says that you cannot imagine something. Don't make biblical authors your hostages.

This does not mean that I say that Jesus never existed. Why not "the carpenter's son". But stories told about him belongs, as Tom correctly states, among literary tropes found in many other ANE texts, for not to speak of also classical literature.

The time where we normally put Jesus was infested by a long series of Messiahs. Monty Pyton got it right in Life of Brian: The holy sandal! Acts also has a list of such messiah's. Maybe Jesus was somebody who was selected by a certain Jewish messianic movement and made into their Messiah! (meaning that Jesus did not have the Christian party book number one).

NPLemche
#7 - Niels Peter Lemche - 07/10/2012 - 12:34



Dear Martin,
What you argue here is very close to what I concluded when I decided to write the article I referred to in 1999. The issue of a narrative figure's historicity does not do very much and is in the end not so important. For instance, if one reads the Gilgamesh epic, one really does not learn very much about the one-time king of Uruk. Nor does recognizing that this figure may have been historical help us to understand the figure of Gilgamesh in his story. For me, the question of Jesus' historicity does not help me understand the New Testament and its significance any better. Quite the contrary, as long as I am taken up with that question, I find I cannot understand what the gospels are about. As my first interests as an exegete are to understand the texts we have, I find the question of historicity a hindrance to a sincerely critical understanding.

One might well, as you say, just as well assume that the figure of the gospels may be historical. However, I hardly see any warrant for doing so and the stories we have about this figure clearly do not tell us anything that happened in history, such an assumption simply guarantees that we misunderstand the texts we read.

Sincerely,
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#8 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/10/2012 - 14:42



Dear James McGrath,
You misuse my remarks about your presentation of mysticism. I do not deal with it--and am neither negative nor positive about it. Normally, I work with what is going in biblical scholarship and generally do not have any opinion about bloggers--whether or not you disagree with them.
You are quite right that I do not recall our previous discussion, but I am aware of the difference of such a question in regard to the New Testament and it is therefore that I have been involved in publishing the book with Thomas Verenna Is This Not the Carpenter? which takes up the issues you refer to.
In choosing elements which might deal well with questions of whether the narratives reflect historical realities, I purposely chose elements which New Testament scholars saw as unequivocally historical--taking up the Jesus seminar's certain ipsissima verba of Jesus. I think I have shown that they are obviously not what these scholars have claimed.

Now you suggest that there may be other things. Please give me references and the publication references for your discussion.

Thomas
Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#9 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/10/2012 - 15:01



Dr. Thompson:

Thanks for your in effect it seems, critique of the Criterion of Embarrassment; the idea that if we cannot imagine how something fits our expected models, it must be true. Which I add in effect on McGrath's blog, deifies or enshrines ignorance itself.

McGrath seems rather polite here. But in his blog he conforms to more rough-and-insulting format of the Internet. Referring to your blogpost here as a sort of rant or "diatribe":

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/exploringourmatrix/2012/07/an-odd-diatribe-from-thomas-l-thompson.html#disqus_thread

I often wonder whether religious scholars don't confess to outright Mythicism or atheism or agnosticism, just to avoid the traditional abuse by zealots.

Thanks in any case for your very calm and reasoned response.
#10 - Brettongarcia - 07/10/2012 - 16:05



Dr. Thompson is correct in noting the gospels are not very useful for telling us about Jesus the person. He may overstate the case, though; as I find that legendary, material often says a lot about the reality that inspired them. Thompson should not take too much offense at Ehrman’s comments on him. Thompson does seem sympathetic to the notion Jesus did not exist and so his assumption is understandable, and he doesn’t so much dispute the idea the gospels are derived from earlier material, but simply doubts, as dose Thompson apparently, that they relate to the question of whether Jesus was inspired by a man named Jesus or if he is a pure invention. I think the rest of Ehrman’s book should convince Thompson of the soundness of the hypothesis that Jesus of the gospels was based on a preacher named Jesus.
#11 - michael Wilson - 07/11/2012 - 02:05



Dear Mr.Brettongarcia,

Thanks much for your note. I found the address you kindly attached a bit unstable. I think part of the problem is that direct questions about the historicity of a person who may have lived in the ancient world are quite problematic. On the one hand, we know of any given person of such a distant past only through sources; so that if our question is to be asked systematically, it needs to question the historicity of whatever sources we might have: a formidable question when it deals with a figure of traditional narrative, transmitted from the past. A conclusion that we are warranted in judging such a figure as historical is no stronger than the sources it is based on. A negative statement, however, that such a figure did not exist, cannot be reached: only that we have no warrant for making such a figure part of our history.
Criteria such as 'multiple attestation', 'embarrassment' or the assertion of sources we do not have and can not examine, such as 'Q' or oral tradition are hardly legitimate historical criteria. Proper historical argument must begin in an acknowledgment of what we don't know about the past. Only then can we begin to explore what we really do know.
My own interests in the figure of Jesus centers in the literature in which this figure appears and how it functions within the structure of comparative literature. I am of course aware that many scholars are directly interested in issues of the historicity of this figure,within the context of Roman period Judaism or the historical beginnings of Christianity, but my Messiah Myth is only tangential to such questions; namely in its interest in how the figure of Jesus reiterates ancient Near Eastern thematic elements of the good king.
Though not directly related to the historicity of the figure of Jesus, this research does affect how we understand the construct of such an historical Jesus--the concern for orphans and widows and the lame and the blind, for example.

Sincerely,
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#12 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/11/2012 - 04:37



Dear colleagues,
Tomorrow morning I travel to Erfurt for the Society of Samaritan Studies congress and thereafter to Amsterdam for the EABS and SBL congresses--altogether some 2 1/2 weeks. I will try to follow with any discussions, but please have patience.
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#13 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/11/2012 - 15:01



It is heartening to see in the discussion above Thomas L Thompson getting to what is surely the core of the historical enterprise itself -- i.e. understanding and explaining the evidence as we have it rather than trying to argue for or against the historicity of a person behind a literary figure within that evidence.

First understand the nature of what we are reading, and how this evidence we have helps us understand Christian origins.

The question of whether Jesus is an historical figure or not is surely a secondary one and can only be validly approached after we fully grasp the nature of our evidence.

But so much historical Jesus scholarship appears to have plunged into the question of Jesus with untested assumptions that the evidence must necessarily be a gateway to such a figure. To an outsider like me it appears that NT scholars are not always talking to one another. Those that are specializing in explaining the sorts of documents the gospels are so often appear to get only half a nod among those who are confidently using them as source material for constructs external to their narratives.
#14 - Neil Godfrey - 07/11/2012 - 23:49



I think it is important to note that a principled historical agnosticism - saying that given the evidence, there is little if anything that we can be certain about, rather like other comparable figures such as Socrates or John the Baptist or Hillel - is something that most historians can understand, even if they consider it likely that there was a historical Jesus. This is a very different stance than the mythicists who are the focus of Bart Ehrman's book, and who consider that it is more likely that Jesus did not exist, and who make claims that simply do not fit the evidence, such as that Paul believed that Jesus had been born of a woman, crucified and buried in a celestial realm.
#15 - James F. McGrath - 07/13/2012 - 00:01



"I think it is important to note that a principled historical agnosticism... is something that most historians can understand, even if they consider it likely that there was a historical Jesus. This is a very different stance than the mythicists who are the focus of Bart Ehrman's book..."

This line of thinking is very reminiscent of the preacher who says that he can respect the position of the agnostic toward God, even if he considers it likely there is a God (his). But this, the preacher imagines, is a very different thing from the atheist who says there's no evidence for God. But the only real difference is that he perceives no threat to his faith by agnostics.

Being agnostic toward the historical Jesus includes the possibility that he was a mythical figure by definition, just as agnosticism toward God includes the possibility that God does not exist.
#16 - Blood - 07/13/2012 - 22:01



Too be sure, countless scholars have properly seen Christianity as partially rooted in Judaism ... but then departing from it in significant ways too. In particular, many see Christianity developing, distinguishing itself to some degree from Judaism, in especially Hellenisitic, dualistic Platonistic ways. Christianity adding to Judaism, strong elements of the Platonistic idea that material realities were unimportant; and that only mental or "spiritual" things, spiritual ideals, were important.

These spiritual, non-material elemeents y Plato and others exist traditionally, in the form of "Ideals" or "Ideas" - "models" as Paul said - in "Heaven." Or as Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism proper eventually said, in the "celestial" realm.

Christianity was largely rooted in Judaism. But eventually it broke away from it, to become what most would see as a different religion. Interestingly to be sure, the Platonistic/cosmic side of Christianity, ight be seen as some as perhaps its most significant departure from traditional Judaism.

So that many might see the condemnation of Platonistic/Gnostic over-spirituality, to be a way of returning more to Jewish roots. And repairing the old rift between Judaism, and Christianity.
#17 - Woodbridge Goodman - 07/14/2012 - 04:42



Sorry, what was traditional Judaism around 30-40 CE? If you intend to say Rabbinic Judaism as it evolved after 70 CE, it may make sense, but not a generation before where there were several versions of Judaism around. Jesus from Nazareth was certainly not the only who was claimed to be Messiah. Eschatology abounded and other funny things. The last Jewish Messiah was probably Bar Kochba. After him I guess that Jewish Gelehrter decided to skip this idea about messianism and similar phenomena. That's why--as I understand it--some scholars are discussion the possibility of the place of Daniel in the LXX as the original one, but later, in the HB, this book was placed among the Ketuvim. It would make sense.

But is is definitely true that Christianity had some ideas that could not be part of Judaism in any form. My favorite is the Eucharist: We eat God and drink his blood!

NPLemche
#18 - Niels Peter Lemche - 07/14/2012 - 12:40



Dear Godfrey,
I apologize for the long silence, but I am just today back from the EABS congress in Amsterdam. While I was there, I had no time to check for responses. I wholeheartedly agree with you that when our questions are about texts, our first and necessary question is about what they mean and what their literary function is. Ín this regard, I am uncertain that the gospels really tell us of Christian origins. Paul does, I think, but, literarily, his theological tracts are not so close to the gospels that we can speak of them as creative of this particular mythic narrative. No sustained tradition of scholarship has yet successfully argued that the gospels are
dependent on Paul.

Origin traditions are hardly historical--if for no other reason that if one really wishes to speak of the origins of a people or something so comprehensive as Christianity or Judaism, one must begin to discuss historical realities which are not yet Christian or Jewish. Our question is not like the question of the origins of Mormonism.

Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#19 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/28/2012 - 15:30



Dear James McGrath,
I am not sure why you wrote your comment, as I an not a principled historical agnostic nor a mythicist, though perhaps you and Bart Ehrman think so. I am an historian and am quite certain about many things. I find it both amusing and puzzling that you think biblical texts are so easy to understand. Please tell me why you think me a mythicist.
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen


I think it is important to note that a principled historical agnosticism - saying that given the evidence, there is little if anything that we can be certain about, rather like other comparable figures such as Socrates or John the Baptist or Hillel - is something that most historians can understand, even if they consider it likely that there was a historical Jesus. This is a very different stance than the mythicists who are the focus of Bart Ehrman's book, and who consider that it is more likely that Jesus did not exist, and who make claims that simply do not fit the evidence, such as that Paul believed that Jesus had been born of a woman, crucified and buried in a celestial realm.
#20 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/28/2012 - 16:00



Dear Goodman Woodbridge,
I do not see Judaism of the first and early second century as essentially different from Judaism. At the same time I see both of these Jewish traditions as separating from each other in the course of the 2nd century.

Thomas
¨
Thomas L. Thompson
professor emeritus University of Copenhagen
#21 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/28/2012 - 16:09



Thomas, Thank you for the clarification. It is unfortunate that the frequent quotation of your work by mythicists has led to your being thought of as somehow of the same viewpoint as theirs. Those of us who know mythicist tactics should know better than to conclude that the way mythicists portray a scholar's work bears any true resemblance to what that scholar argues. I do apologize if at any point I made the error of giving them any credence, when I really ought to know better by now!

Best wishes,

James
#22 - James F. McGrath - 07/28/2012 - 16:46



Dear Mr. McGrath,
I know nothing of the abuse of my work by what you call "mythicists". The abuse I objected to in my remarks on Bible and Interpretation was entirely Bart Ehrman's. I do not understand why you wish to demonize individuals by this term "mythicists". It is not only misleading, but surely you well know that they do not have a singular understanding of our problems on the historicity of the figure of Jesus. They are individuals and their ideas should be given with citations or references to what they in fact variously have concluded or argued.
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#23 - Thomas L. Thompson - 07/29/2012 - 18:09



Please let me correct myself. I wrote to Goodman Woodbridge: "I do not see Judaism of the first and early second century as essentially different from Judaism. At the same time I see both of these Jewish traditions as separating from each other in the course of the 2nd century." Indeed I intended to write: "I do not see Judaism of the first and early second century as essentially different from Judaism, etc,"

I apologize if I have caused any confusion or misunderstanding.-
Thomas

Thomas L. Thompson
Professor emeritus, University of Copenhagen
#24 - Thomas L. Thompson - 08/03/2012 - 12:06



Thomas, since the vast majority of mythicists are not scholars, there really are no works I can refer to, but for the most part blogs and what may or may not be pseudonyms. The exception is Robert Price, who has not really offered anything other than parallelomania as a means of drawing mythicist conclusions. But were you to take a look at mythicist blogs, you would find references to your work which you might or might not find objectionable.

At any rate, the term "mythicist" seems to me necessary, since otherwise one has no way of addressing en masse that collection of armchair critics of the academy whose only common feature seems to be certainty or belief in the likelihood that there was no historical Jesus whatsoever behind the myths and legends that grew up about that figure.
#25 - James F. McGrath - 08/08/2012 - 00:03



Dear James,
Then they have no place in a scholarly discussion and neither Bart Ehrman or you should have brought them in.

Thomas
Thomas L. Thoompson,
#26 - Thomas L. Thompson - 08/10/2012 - 14:46



" ... the term "mythicist" seems to me necessary, since otherwise one has no way of addressing en masse that collection of armchair critics of the academy whose only common feature seems to be certainty or belief in the likelihood that there was no historical Jesus whatsoever behind the myths and legends that grew up about that figure."
#25 - James F. McGrath - 08/08/2012 - 00:03

Here, James McGrath confirms that myths and legends grew up around a Jesus figure.

That raises an important question: how much of what is in the initial records is myth and legend, and how much isn't?
#27 - Craig Mac - 09/04/2012 - 19:08



So Mr McGrath in your "scholarly" opinion those of us who do not have fancy degrees are not qualified to comment on any of this jesus myth stuff. Is that what your saying? Well contrary to your "scholarly" opinion we can read same as you. No I do not think it's so much the "Mythicists" part that ticks you people off I think it's the fact that since the invention of the internet you can no longer hide this stuff from the general public. Are you threatened by Mythicists?
#28 - Phil - 11/25/2012 - 20:05



Gal 1:19 and 1 Cor 9:5 seem to me to be eloguent and virtualy certain statements of the reality of the historical Jesus. How else are we to understand adelphos/adelphoi other than meaning "sibling?" The economy of these statement should in no way vitiate the weight of this evidence. To the contrary, the meanings here appear to be unequivocal and for that reason attribute to them such weighty evidence. Nor is there any reason to think that these verses are later additions. They permit no escape. It is vitually certain from these two innocent statments that the historicity of one Jesus is virtually certain and render the mythicist position virtually impossible.

Yet it equally virtually certain that the figure of Jesus has been portrayed in terms of legend and myth, and so it is entirely appropriate to elucidate embellishments have been applied to this historical figure. Indeed, the literature about Jesus is by far, if not exclusively, portraying a mythic Jesus and was hardly written to adovcate his historicity, with the exception of Luke, whose prologue wishes us to believe that he drew upon the most impeccable and carefully perserved historical "facts" about Jesus. But then again, it seems to me, he protests too much and could not expect that someday people would think that his gospel is composed, as many now think, of Q, Mark and his L.
#29 - LM Barré - 01/04/2013 - 08:15



Greetings,

The textual discrepancies, inconsistencies, and/or contradictions found between various early manuscripts does not immediately translate into errors, unintentional omissions, or manipulative politics. Just because certain 'errors' or changes in the wording occurs, errors or contradictions that cannot be explained in a conventional manner, does not mean that there isn't another overlooked explanation. The method in which the biblical writers used to abundantly convey their thoughts, including Jesus himself, allowed them to write or speak verses, and even entire stories, with completely different imagery, but still maintain an intended 'hidden' meaning. There is a very real possibility that modern interpretation of the scriptures has veered completely off the original path. In the attempt to sterilize ancient manuscripts, modern 'scholars' may be doing more harm than good by falsely assuming that changes of the wording are deleterious errors.
Anyone ever consider this?

John W. Kelly
www.themysteryofgod.org
#30 - John W. Kelly - 03/04/2013 - 14:35






Use the form below to submit a new comment. Comments are moderated
and logged, and may be edited. You must provide your full name.
Inappropriate material will not be posted.

Name
E-mail (Will not appear online)
Comment