Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Important News

A brief report on four developments of note for all my fans and friends:

1. Blogger now lets me add a widget for Followers (a new feature explained here). I've added it down the right margin, just below the Subject Index. It will show the avatar and link to the profiles of anyone on Blogger who joins my "followers" list (which means people who follow my blog, not my international coven of cultists). Just click "Follow this blog" to join.

2. Since I have now graduated, my Columbia University home page will eventually cease to exist (as will my old CU email address). So I have bought my own domain and set up a permanent official website at www.richardcarrier.info. Some Canadian businessman owns the .com domain even though he isn't doing anything with it (at least not yet), and he never replied to my request to buy it from him (
and I have no international coven of cultists to cast dark magicks on him). But no matter. The new .info domain is fine. With a simple redesign, the new site is much updated from my old "Office" pages at CU. So go explore a bit if your keen. If you have any links to any of my personal pages, just replace the old domain www.columbia.edu/~rcc20 in the URL with www.richardcarrier.info, and leave any file names and subdirectories the same.

3. About a year ago I agreed to begin a formal online debate with theology scholar Jake O'Connell this very month. I'm behind in my other work so ordinarily I wouldn't undertake this or any other task, but this was a prior obligation that's been planned for some time (complete with genuine Ph.D.'s as official judges). In any event it should prove interesting. The topic is whether Paul believed Jesus rose from the dead by swapping bodies rather than rising in the same body he was buried in (the thesis of my most detailed chapter in The Empty Tomb). This debate repeats the format of my Carrier-Wanchick Debate (on naturalism vs. theism). Our joint statements are now up, along with our bios and those of the judges. Our opening statements will go up in a couple of weeks, then it will be 2-3 weeks between entries until we're done, then the judges will weigh in. I'll announce this debate on my blog again when the whole thing is completed. But you can take a look now at: On Paul's Theory of Resurrection: The Carrier-O'Connell Debate (2008).

4. My book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ is making exciting progress (I'm very happy with it so far--it will be unlike any book you've read on the subject before), but taking longer than I predicted. I will produce a formal progress report for all donors who asked to receive a pre-publication draft (which they will also get later) and email that before the end of this month, so you can see what I've done so far and what's ahead. This will be for your eyes only, a privilege for donating to the work. But I'll also blog some highlights for everyone around the same time, even if only to share my grief. New Testament studies is in a worse state than I thought, a fact that standard references often whitewash (out of their own desperation, I suspect), and trying to untangle that mess is what's slowed me down.

Ironically, though, I already have too much and not enough--I've accumulated these past months more material than I can use for the book, yet important gaps remain in specific places where further fact-checking is needed, so I have to accumulate yet more, while cutting the fat from the rest. It's that fact-checking, though, that's uncovered some messy skeletons in the closet of New Testament studies, and I'm buried in skeletons enough as it is. But I'll say more in my next report.


17 comments:

Loren said...

Thanx a lot, Richard Carrier.

I like your new site - it's nicely designed with everything laid out and accessible in only a few levels of linkage.

And I appreciate your putting up a nicely-formatted version of your master's thesis on attitudes toward eclipses. It's such a nice illustration of culture clashes about science.

And as to historical-Jesus research, could some of the difficulties be due to doctrinal commitments getting in the way? Or isolation from much of the rest of the academic-historian community?

James F. McGrath said...

Thanks for the update about your new web site and other activities. I appreciated your treatment of Paul's view of the resurrection (and really found yours to be one of the very small number of contributions to that volume that really used the historical critical method as typically employed by scholars of the Bible in a serious and consistent fashion).

I've recently had a book of my own published, entitled The Burial of Jesus: History and Faith. Although I'm sure there are a number of things in it that you would disagree with, I think you might find my case for Jesus having been buried dishonorably, and consideration of how that might have influenced the rise of Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection, interesting and worth interacting with.

Hallq said...

...I think I missed the graduation announcement. I knew you were very close, but I don't think you mentioned the event itself on your blog until now. Congrats, Dr. Carrier.

Keith said...

Thanks for the update on your progress on On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. I've been wondering how it was going. I'm eager to read my copy.

James said...

Hi Richard,

Very many congratulations on getting your PhD and welcome to the ranks of non-medical doctors. I'm looking forward to the book of your thesis when you get time to get it published. Also looking forward to the Jesus book.

Best wishes

James Hannam

http://jameshannam.com

Stargazer said...

Just adding my congratulations to those already mentioned; and thanks for the update regarding the new book. I'm really looking forward to seeing the progress report! Appreciate also the debate-related links. Sounds like you are keeping busy.

Peace, Valerie Daly

AIGBusted said...

I can't wait for your book Richard! It wouldn't surprise me one bit if biblical scholars have glossed over or ignored problems that atheists would take seriously (Like the things that Bart Ehrman revealed in "Misquoting Jesus" or even worse!).

Allen said...

Someone is mutilating the Metaphysical Naturalism Wikipedia page that you played a significant part in starting. He is deleting large portions of it because there are no referenced sources. So, my question is, is your book the source for the material originally posted to the Wikipedia page? In any case, the source or sources for the material needs to be noted in the article NOW before nothing is left!!

Richard Carrier said...

Loren said... ...as to historical-Jesus research, could some of the difficulties be due to doctrinal commitments getting in the way? Or isolation from much of the rest of the academic-historian community?

I'm not sure. I do see dogmatic commitments infecting the scholarship, but I've seen that in other fields as well (an example I'm particularly familiar with is the intensely heated debate between minimalists and maximalists in the study of the ancient Roman economy, where the minimalists correspond to the fundamentalists, or at least have the worst command of the facts yet also have the strongest passions, the worst combination). And I know a lot of scholars in biblical studies are agnostics and thus hardly dogmatically biased.

Isolation could also be a factor, but I've seen that in other fields, too (for example, medievalists writing on ancient science and technology demonstrate their isolation from ancient studies by getting nearly everything wrong), and biblical studies is not without sound methods in other respects, so it's not like isolation from other fields should matter, and I'm also sure several scholars in the field have interdisciplinary interests (e.g. many are familiar with sociology or anthropology or cross-specialize in epigraphy, etc.), and thus aren't isolated.

Richard Carrier said...

James F. McGrath said... I think you might find my case for Jesus having been buried dishonorably, and consideration of how that might have influenced the rise of Christian belief in Jesus' resurrection, interesting and worth interacting with.

Almost certainly. I already tip my hat to that thesis (as advanced by Byron McCane) in The Empty Tomb in my own chapter on the burial. Even if all my other conclusions about the origins of Christianity were successfully refuted, the McCane thesis (or perhaps now the McCane-McGrath thesis) would remain hard to challenge.

I've added your book to my Wishlist at Amazon. If you would like to send me a copy, you can purchase it from that list and have it sent to my wishlist address. You can also have your publisher do this as a review copy. Though I can make no promises, and I won't have time for many months, if a copy is sent to me I may eventually blog a review of it (though usually I have to either love it or hate it to devote the time).

Richard Carrier said...

Hallq: ...I think I missed the graduation announcement.

Oh! Since I had mentioned it was coming, I considered the present entry to be sufficient final announcement. I could have given it more fanfare. I guess since the degree was already inevitable as of that last post, getting it didn't seem like news anymore. Anyway, thanks!

And thanks to everyone else who sent their congratulations. I appreciate it!

Richard Carrier said...

Allen said... Someone is mutilating the Metaphysical Naturalism Wikipedia page that you played a significant part in starting. He is deleting large portions of it because there are no referenced sources. So, my question is, is your book the source for the material originally posted to the Wikipedia page? In any case, the source or sources for the material needs to be noted in the article NOW before nothing is left!!

This is off topic here, but it's too important to drop, so I'll respond:

I've long been aware of this problem but haven't time to deal with it. Someone who has the time and knows what to do needs to get in there and fight to get the correct material up (it will be a continual battle, since any changes you make will be changed back and you may have to eventually start filing formal complaints). That page is essentially being hacked by religious opponents (e.g. who delete the "arguments for" section while leaving the "arguments against" section, even though neither was any less sourced than the other).

As far as sourcing goes, my book indeed should suffice for many elements (it is, after all, a published book that actually explains and defends metaphysical naturalism), but I originally listed numerous other books, and numerous articles as well (you can look at the original article in the history tab). Still, in general, it's fine to let an unsourced claim get deleted. I have no problem with a shorter article. But what bothers me is that even the sourced claims are getting deleted. And the article can always benefit from volunteers adding sources to expand it with. I just don't have the time anymore to be that guy.

I recommend finding several naturalists who are willing (even if they don't know wiki, anyone who is smart with computers can learn quickly), and have them as a team monitor and improve the article. Wiki standards do urge that each claim be specifically sourced, so there was work to do even after I put up the initial article. But someone else will have to take up that task now.

James F. McGrath said...

I'll give other people looking for the perfect gift for you a chance to buy the new item at the top of your wish list first. If no one does so, I'll have a copy sent to you.

James F. McGrath said...

Am I wrong in thinking someone actually bought you the book? Or did you just decide it wasn't worthy of being on your wish list? Do let me know - if no one has got you a copy, there is a former student of mine who wanted to bring you one when you speak in Indianapolis (I can't make it, alas).

Anyway, I hope you love it - or hate it, either of the two reactions that might lead you to blog about it. :)

Apparently Jake O'Connell is also reading it...

Richard Carrier said...

I received two copies (so evidently there was a rush by two patrons simultaneously). I'll keep (and read) one and donate the other to the UC Berkeley Library (my alma mater).

James said...

I recently saw the press release from the Center for Inquiry about the Jesus Project and was surprised to not see you listed there. Or were you at the conference, but not listed on the press release?

Richard Carrier said...

Not listed. There were actually quite a few speakers not listed. I don't know who chose which ones to mention or how. The conference was fantastic, my talk was well received (as most were), and I learned a lot--so much so, in fact, I've been spending this whole week collating notes from the event and completing correspondence with the speakers. I plan to blog about the conference soon.