Thursday, July 29, 2010

Book Updates


I've been very busy of late, almost underground working furiously away, but I finally found a hiatus to blog some news. I have a hodgepodge of things to mention. Two items today...

-:-

First big news is that Sense and Goodness Without God: A Defense of Metaphysical Naturalism is now available as an eBook. You can buy it in various places, but most obviously on Amazon.com (click for Kindle edition). Not the Impossible Faith has always been available as a PDF download and now is available in other formats, too (click for Lulu edition as a PDF download; and click here for Kindle edition). And The Christian Delusion: Why Faith Fails is also now available in e-format (click for Kindle edition), as is The Empty Tomb: Jesus Beyond The Grave (click for Kindle edition).

-:-

And second is a status update on my book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. Donors to the project have already received a full report, but for the general public the latest news is that I've solved the problem of cutting material down by seeking publication as two volumes, the first on method and the second on results, though the first volume includes one major section of results. That volume is completed. I am seeking a private peer review from a number of respected scholars, and shopping for a publisher. Meanwhile, I'm hard at work on volume two, some of which donors have already seen, but there's even better stuff to come.

The first volume has the current working title Bayes' Theorem and Historical Method: The Invalidity of Current Historicity Criteria in the Study of Jesus and Their Replacement. The subtitle actually isn't the controversial bit. I discuss all the leading scholarship on those criteria, and all of it comes to the same conclusion I do. The main title will actually be the controversial part, and the bulk of the book is devoted to answering all the arguments against applying Bayes' Theorem to history, while explaining in easy-to-understand terms what that theorem is, how it works, and how we can employ it as historians. Donors and scholars who have been reviewing the work up to this point have given me very valuable criticisms and advice that has made this volume into something I'm quite proud of. It rocks now. I'm confident the second volume will be as good.


46 comments:

Tom Verenna said...

Is this the official title? If so, I plan on citing it in the forthcoming volume with Thompson.

Richard Carrier said...

On the Historicity of Jesus Christ will be the title of the second volume. For the first volume, just drop the subtitle (I'm experimenting with different variants), the main title shouldn't change: Bayes' Theorem and Historical Method.

Will77 said...

Wow! This is great news! I can't wait. As always, Dr. Carrier's approach to the problem is brilliant. What a wonderful way to deal with the inevitable objections to Bayes methodology than to devote a complete volume to that! And, in his usual committment to scholarly excellence, it is great that he is putting the work through the rigors of peer review so as to maximize the quality! I predict that, taken together, these two works could very well shake the foundations of historical Jesus studies! just one question: will these two volumes be released simultaneously or in succession?

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

I predict the first volume will be as controversial as the second. Seems people have strong aversions to Bayes' theorem *and* mythicism. Why oh why did you have to combine them!?! haha, I'm kidding. Perhaps you could toss in some other aggravating element just for kicks?

Luke said...

Hells yes.

Richard Carrier said...

Ooooh! Yeah, great idea...liiike sayyyy....a chapter stuck in between there proving objective moral facts are empirically discoverable by science, and that the truth of this proposition proves Jesus was a douchebag as formally defined in the Urban Dictionary.

That should do it.

Richard Carrier said...

Will77: Together or in succession? In succession. Unless my publisher insists otherwise.

Richard Carrier said...

Update: I found out how to convert NIF to Kindle. Lulu doesn't do it. They tell authors to go do it themselves. So I did. The Kindle edition is in review at Amazon now and should be available by end of next week (but you'll have to look for it--since it isn't published by Lulu, it won't have an edition link on the regular Amazon page for NIF).

Josh said...

Hey Richard I know you're busy, but one scholar that has really been making an impression in the secular world when it comes to Jesus is Bart Ehrman. I would love to see your take on some of his work similar to what you've done with a few other authors (but not in such depth, since you're busy with these books).

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Yes!!!! That would be the rough naturalistic equivalent of opening up the ark of the covenant Raiders of the Lost Ark style. I can hear that sinister John Williams music playing now and see all the Christian apologists stop-motion heads explode.

Matthew said...

Richard,

I am pleased to know that you're still working on this project. I had a fear a while ago that maybe you had abandoned the project due to a lack of funding from donors. I was thinking that if this was the case, I would have to wait until the book Sources of the Jesus Tradition came out so I could read your chapter.

As far as shopping for a publisher goes, do you have a particular kind of publisher in mind? Are you looking for a university press to publish with? If not, I know of a book publishing company that would be delighted to publish your work. Have you heard of "Reasonable Press"?

I have become a bit acquainted with one of the editors so if you would like to publish with them, I can put you into contact with him and you two can work something out, that is, unless you already know him. If you are interested, let me know!

I am really looking forward to these books!

Matthew

Johnny P said...

hi richard,
i would ove to donate just a few quid to your cause. i am skint, but it's better than a hot poker up the arse. i am having a debate with someone about the priests in acts converting and joseph of arimathea. you state in your last book contra holding that J of A was unlikely to be in the jerusalem sanhedrin as a result of being from arimathea. this restricts any people movement and getting jobs elsewhere. do you have evidence of this? i am really interested in the historicity of j of a.

as for the priests converting in acts, in your talk with turek you talk of it as an assumption of luke. is there any evidence for this? how do you conclude its an assumption? (ie, is there any evidence for disbelieving luke here?)

i do not see j of a as a historic figure (there may have been someone, but with j of a fictitious overlays) and have perused as many essays as poss on this. i like the idea that he is similar to priam in homer, but is this stretching plausibility?

anyway, any feedback would be awesome - i know you are busy. keep it up!

johno

Johnny P said...

i've used some of your research in these videos. i hope that's ok!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qwcoWerYTCc

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2YV8H3RkXb0

Richard Carrier said...

Josh said... ...one scholar that has really been making an impression in the secular world when it comes to Jesus is Bart Ehrman. I would love to see your take on some of his work...

Everything of his I've read is spot on and superb. We don't always agree, but even where we don't I fully understand his position is reasonable from the information he has (and he is well aware that disagreements exist on such points, and thus doesn't even misrepresent that).

So I don't know what you would have me analyze. If it all passes, there are no marks to make.

Richard Carrier said...

Matthew said... I would have to wait until the book Sources of the Jesus Tradition came out so I could read your chapter.

That will still be out sooner, by far (it's supposed to be out before this October). My chapter in it already appeared in print in CAESAR, although I revised some of its terminology for the book, to align with my book forthcoming. Which will be ten times better than the short chapter in Sources, as far as introducing and explaining Bayes' Theorem and the faults in the methods of Jesus studies.

As far as shopping for a publisher goes, do you have a particular kind of publisher in mind?

I promised donors I would seek an academic press. I may have to pitch it to several before getting one, as they all have different commitments and can't take every book they get no matter how good it is. So this process can take a long time. But as soon as I have a contract I'll announce it.

Richard Carrier said...

Johnny P said... As for the priests converting in acts, in your talk with Turek you talk of it as an assumption of Luke. Is there any evidence for this? How do you conclude its an assumption? (i.e., Is there any evidence for disbelieving Luke here?)

I don't understand the question. I assume you are asking about the historicity of Acts 6:7. What did you take me as saying to Turek about that?

Richard Carrier said...

Johnny P said... You state in your last book contra holding that J of A was unlikely to be in the Jerusalem Sanhedrin as a result of being from Arimathea. This restricts any people movement and getting jobs elsewhere. Do you have evidence of this? I am really interested in the historicity of Joseph of Arimathea.

Then you'll want to read William John Lyons, "On the Life and Death of Joseph of Arimathea," Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus (January 2004) 2.1: 29-53. Though note he softened his conclusion by doubting his own methods in his follow-up article "The Hermeneutics of Fictional Black and Factual Red: The Markan Simon of Cyrene and the Quest for the Historical Jesus," Journal for the Study of the Historical Jesus 4.2 (June 2006): pp. 153-54.

On your specific question, I don't know what you are asking. You're referring to Not the Impossible Faith, pp. 194-95, where I only say it would be unusual, not impossible, and that Mark does not say he was on that council (rather than that of his own town) and he isn't depicted as present at that council anywhere in Mark, so it's an inference without specific support and against probability. That's not the same thing as saying he couldn't have been.

In general, though, you wouldn't usually be appointed an elder in a town if you weren't from there, e.g. there's no way a local native entitled to the position would just let himself get squeezed out by an immigrant; ancient families protected their interests; likewise, locals preferred their own, so an immigrant would have a hard time persuading locals to elect him. It's hard to believe Jerusalem would be so lacking in respected native elders it would have to fill spots with out-of-towners. Not impossible, but it would need evidence to believe it.

(You also needed citizenship in a town to be qualified for office--if the Jews ran things anything like the Greeks did, though I'm not sure of that, you'd have to check--at any rate you don't just walk into a town and buy a citizenship; it happened, but wasn't routine.)

Likewise, if someone says "X is a councilman from Y" that would normally mean a councilman at Y, not somewhere else (hence Mark says "Joseph a noble councilor from Arimathea" not "Joseph of Arimathea of the Jerusalem council"). Thus, it's only later authors who redacted the story to make him a Jerusalemite. Mark doesn't seem aware of it.

I do not see J of A as a historic figure (there may have been someone, but with J of A fictitiously overlays) and have perused as many essays as poss. on this. I like the idea that he is similar to Priam in Homer, but is this stretching plausibility?

Not at all. MacDonald makes a good case (as you know). It's not conclusive, but very plausible. It's not necessary, of course. In addition to what I say in NIF against his historicity, I find the name itself suspicious (Arimathea is unattested independently of Christian tradition, and means in Greek "the town of good doctrine"; for the former, check any standard scholarly reference; for the latter, Liddel and Scott lexicon for ari- and mathein, the -aia suffix commonly indicating township or place, e.g. regions like Peraia, Judaia, Galilaia; and actual towns: Dikaia (Justice Town), Drymaia (Thicket Town), or Gygaia (Gyges' Town)).

Regarding videos: as long as you represent what I've said accurately, no worries. Unfortunately there are so many vids now citing me I don't have time to check them all for accuracy.

Richard Carrier said...

Johnny P said... I would ove to donate just a few quid to your cause.

Donations are always welcome. They don't come with any benefits, though (I've closed the door on that). But if you just want to help me continue my work (and as an unemployed scholar that is always a kindness!), you can send me funds directly, or buy stuff. See my Support page for all the ways you can help.

Richard Carrier said...

Update: Not the Impossible Faith Kindle edition now available.

Johnny P said...

thanks a bundle for your feedback there, Richard,

on the priests converting issue, you mentioned in the talk with turek that you think that luke was assuming that priests HAD to have been converting, and that is why acts included the words: "7So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith." acts 6:7.

is there any hard evidence that you have good reasons to suppose this assumption? because christians will argue that this passage shows that there must have been good reasons for knowledgeable priests to convert in these early days. i know of the unverifiability of such accounts, and the fact that OTHER people didn't seem to check facts, but how can one be sure that these priests fall under the same category? (it was 7 minutes from the end of your talk).

Lastly, i have finally watched your debate with craig, as i was afraid to watch it since people said you took a beating. can i just say, in all attempted objectivity, you no way took a beating. i honestly think you had craig; that his answers to you were poor and unsubstantiated; that his tired arguments didn't feel as strong as usual; that basically, i think you won that debate. it was fascinating, and a culmination of much of your previous written work (obviously!). i was surprised you did not say anything about J of A since you were prompted a couple of times (time restraints?).

Anywho, thanks again.

johno

Richard Carrier said...

I don't recall my exact words in that debate, but I'm sure I said it's possible Luke was assuming (and therefore the premise is not established by his claim), not that we knew Luke was assuming. If not, I misspoke.

The burden of evidence is on Turek to verify that Luke's statement is true. And I know of no evidence of any priests becoming Christians, ever (in the whole of the first century), other than a throwaway remark in Luke-Acts that fails to name even a single person. That's simply not secure enough to rest an argument on.

Particularly as the conversion of priests (especially "a great many" of them) would be too remarkable not to have been more widely mentioned or have a greater impact on the movement (e.g. such men would socially outrank Paul and be no less educated--so it's strange Paul would never mention them, never have had to deal with them, and none of them ever wrote anything, while yet he did).

Likewise, Acts then entails an internal inconsistency: if the Christians had "a great many" advocates among the priesthood, why do none defend them, or ever even appear, at any trials or debates, never preach anything anywhere, never appear in any of the church councils or meetings narrated by Acts, in fact are never named and never even appear in any narrative at all? This is all the more remarkable as Paul is in the end tried for a crime committed in the Temple, on which these priests would have particular interest and qualifications to defend him, and could not fail to have been called as witnesses--or charged as co-conspirators.

(One might also wonder if priests merely using the power words of Christians to perform exorcisms were simply mistaken by Luke (or his sources) for converts: Acts 19:13-14)

But as to your particular concern...

Richard Carrier said...

...remember that educated men are not the issue. Paul is well educated, yet we plainly see no evidence he researched anything--he merely believed on a vision, and indeed adamantly refused to even talk to any witnesses for three whole years while preaching the Gospel in Arabia (and he says no one in Judea knew him by face--so he hadn't ever talked to any witnesses before, either).

The issue you are referring to would have to be of social class and values, not methods. Presumably priests would be near the established elite and thus have values and interests that would oppose an interest in becoming Christian, thereby requiring something to overcome that opposition. Acts does not tell us what that "something" was (so we can't presume it was "evidence" such as we would credit), even assuming the conversions happened.

Remember, Acts says thousands converted on the very first day just from hearing Peter tell a story none of whose relevant details anyone could verify, nor did anyone even ask to verify them. That's ridiculous. It creates a Catch-22: either it's false (as I'm sure it is) or it entails no one needed reliable evidence to convert (nor even asked for it); if it's false, the claim about priests is no more credible; if it's true, Luke may simply have assumed priests were among the thousands converting (since he doesn't name anyone, he evidently had no definite information). But even if both claims are true, we're still not told which priests converted (were they marginalized in the hierarchy, like Paul?) or why (did they think this was just another baptism such as John bestowed all Jews?).

I think what you have in mind is the specific category of the literary elite, of whom none converted that we know, other than persons whom we can verify were unempirical (like Paul). We can thus infer the same of priests, even presuming any converts from among them were of the literary elite (and Acts does not even claim they were).

In terms of social station, though, priests are not of highest station--i.e. they were not even of the decurion class (such as members of the Sanhedrin would be), much less equestrian or senatorial classes, and the elite whose values were most hostile to becoming Christian were the senatorial class.

Read carefully my discussions of class distinction in NIF: we can expect some marginalized equestrians and decurions to be interested in Christianity (as they are middle class), and as priests are of even lower rank, it would not be inherently surprising on the Malina hypothesis if some converted--except for the fact that, being priests, they were vested in the very system Christians denounced, which means on the Malina thesis, they would convert only if they were marginalized (i.e. not getting what they wanted out of the system they were in). Acts simply doesn't give us enough data to know, then, if the Malina thesis is contradicted (and only if it's contradicted could we argue that evidence must have swayed them, i.e. that it was reliable evidence that overcame all their values and interests to the contrary).

Which brings me back to the exorcists: why are a family of priests exorcising demons in Ephesus, hundreds of miles away from the Temple (indeed not even in the Holy Land at all)? This establishes that many priests were indeed marginalized: they weren't even awarded positions in the Temple (the only positions to be had by Jewish priests), and couldn't even make a living in the Holy Land (not even as priests, or anything else apparently).

This suggests large numbers of priestly families had been pushed out of power and were essentially aimless, not even able to exercise their filial right to be priests. That positions them right where the Malina thesis expects us to find converts to Christianity.

Bill said...

Hi Richard.

With regard to this argument:

[Remember, Acts says thousands converted on the very first day just from hearing Peter tell a story none of whose relevant details anyone could verify, nor did anyone even ask to verify them. That's ridiculous. It creates a Catch-22: either it's false (as I'm sure it is) or it entails no one needed reliable evidence to convert . . . .]

J. P. Holding wrote a response to this here:
http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?t=140359&page=3

(Scroll a few posts down.)

That came from his updated response to your NIF book (http://www.tektonics.org/ezine/carrierindex.html)

What do you think?

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

I hear they discovered some Atlantian scrolls that solve all the mysteries of the universe. The scrolls are blank of course, but if you understand that Atlantians had an absolutely high context scientific culture, it is really good evidence.

Johnny P said...

this is what holding says. my cosmos, he's a dolt:


Time for some more details now that I have a break.

Originally posted by LoloDoo
however, what we have in our earliest conversation accounts (mostly Acts), it seems like people converted rather quickly and easily, and it didn't take a whole lot of evidence like Holding said it did.
As noted, this argument was also used by Carrier, and it relies on a mistaken (indeed fundamentalist) reading of the text. Here is what I said in reply to Carrier on this point:

This is responded to in Ch. 7, to which Carrier here refers. In the main, however, Carrier's retort is to show that Acts provides evidence against the checking of facts by prospective converts; as he says, "Christian conversions never took place after days of careful research and investigation--much less weeks or months of correspondence and travel, as would have been required for most--but immediately, upon the direct witness of a missionary's words and deeds." In this and his further analysis, he commits a series of logical errors and bungles that lead to serious questions about his capabilities as a nascent scholar (as well as his honesty, since the cited answers I give are from Withergton's Acts commentary, which Carrier did consult at least once for his response).

A few words generally to begin. Carrier's use of Acts fails on the simple point that, in most of the settings he appeals to, the facts were likely already a foregone conclusion and all that was needed was some instruction on what to do. Fact checking was in the past or else no more needed than it would be needed to verify that Johnny Skeptic hired Carrier to write these articles. Let the evident hypocrisy of Carrier, moreover, speak for itself in that, after complaining of lack of evidence for investigation, he proceeds to argue without evidence that some of these converts may have later checked the facts and apostasized. If Carrier's special plea, "We have no evidence they didn't," is good enough to validate his argument, then so likewise for ours (differing in that they are at least backed by contextual factors).

Johnny P said...

(JPH)...

Several of Carrier's uses of Acts falls on this same point, and we are surprised Carrier doesn't complain that Acts also doesn't say what Peter ate for lunch and affirm that he didn't ingest any hallucinogenic substances (as if Carrier would find the record any more acceptable had it done so, since he also indicates he rejects Herodotus for reporting outrageous events, even though Herodotus shows all the signs of being a critical investigator that Carrier demands). Arguably the case improves as we get further from Jerusalem, but in fact it does not - the pilgrimage process here, within which Jews went back and forth to Jerusalem, gives us all the explanation we need of how Samaritans, the Ethiopian eunuch, and persons as far away as yes, even Athens, got the information they needed to make an informed decision, needing only a "what do I do now" answered, and perhaps (as in the case of Paulus and Paul) a kick in the pants (for Paul, for example, the data suggests that he already knew prior to the Damascus Road that Christian claims were true, and was taking desperate measures to counter the movement), or (as in the case of Judaized pagans, or Apollos' converts) verification of accord with the OT (quite necessary in light of ancient belief in "probabilities"), for a decision to be made.

Carrier's retort speaks for itself: Insults to the ancients as gullible, ignorant group thinkers obviously in assistance of a modern Skeptic's brain. His retort that to "claim they did such checking but that Acts simply doesn't say so, not even once, is circular reasoning" is absurdly hypocritical in light of his attempts to make e.g., Mark's passion narrative into a psychological drama with secret messages, and argue that Jesus survived the crucifixion; and here, to say that "justice and contentment" was the appeal of the Christian message, even though it appears nowhere in the kerygmatic proclamations. Either Carrier follows these standards or he doesn't, and if he does, then I am perfectly justified in arguing that checking and investigation as needed proceeded in the weeks prior to Pentecost and after the prior Passover (to say nothing of reaching back into the ministry of Jesus as relevant), especially given the social data I have provided. Thus Carrier's "same day conversion" bleat is yet another a red herring, a case of failing to think in more than one dimension.

Johnny P said...

(JPH)...
...In addition to the notes above, these points: Carrier is clearly either withholding, or ignorant of, information from Witherington. As that worthy notes, Luke's "many other words" (v. 40) reference is a "technical rhetorical device meant to convey the idea that the speaker had much more to say." [139n] (Emphasis added.) This by itself renders void all of Carrier's objections about lack of presentation of evidence in the speeches in Acts (logically, what is said in v. 40 carries over to other speeches, since Peter's is offered initially as exemplary). A further point can be made: It would absurd to expect detailed explications to be presented by Luke anyway, for two reasons. The first is his purpose. I consider most likely two particular theories of Luke's audience: Either as Mauck says, he was writing a defense brief for Paul for trial in Rome; or, he was writing to Christians. In both cases, the object is not to present an apologetic for the Christian faith, so that Luke is perfectly justified in presenting matters in summary. Second, whatever Luke's purpose, it stands to reason that more detailed presentations of evidence would be regulated by the nature of questions and objections presented by those who were listening. Thus Luke would sensibly include ONLY the basic truth claim ("this man was raised") and it is absurd to suppose that he would have to anticipate every reader's particular objection, or have room to present the full "Q and A" that was gone through! If Carrier is going to get this absurdly literalistic, why doesn't he next object to the unlikelihood of thousands of people saying in unison things like, "What are we to do, my brothers?" (v. 37) And beyond this: Since he accuses Luke of so much error, why doesn't he simply conclude that Luke wrongly presents conversions as "instant"?

Johnny P said...

(JPH)...

So again, in sum, it is a mistake to read these high-context documents as though they are presenting every detail. Rather, the accounts would be tailored to address particular questions that might be raised about Christianity; for Acts this is especially the case if Luke is presenting a sort of legal brief in defense of Paul.
or that one guy who was traveling through the land reading Isaiah 53. he converted on the spot, just because he was told jesus was the suferring servant! and he was from a very foreign land, so how he even knew about jesus in the first place is a mystery to me.
Passover pilgrim...nuff said.
and these resurrection appearance stories are obviosly fabrications, trying to buttress christian belief in the resurrection. why should i believe they are historical?
Any historical account could be said to be "trying to buttress" a belief in what it reports. Epistemologically, that reasoning is of no value.

i also find it weird how everyone makes a big deal that it was women who found the tomb, but its not. theres two very good options for why they included it.
None of that matters or changes how women were regarded as poor witnesses. Indeed each of those three points would raise no sympathy with a reader in this social setting. You seem to assume that they would be sympathetic with things like a "theme" of "downtrodden women." No, they would not be.
and people also always make a big deal about the gospels not having jesus talking about vital issues in the early church. but, uh, maybe that's because the gospels were written during that time???? maybe those problems were resolved by the time the gospels were written.
And what dates would those be, and what is your evidence for them being written those dates? Also, please give us your epistemology for dating ancient documents. Tell us for example why the Annals of Tacitus should be dated c. 116 AD.

You'll learn fast around here that you don't get away with unsupported speculation.

Richard Carrier said...

Bill: Regarding J.P. Holding: it's not even worth my time reading what he says anymore. I mean a high school freshman could be trained to notice that his argument constitutes the fallacy of special pleading. I already dispatch that argument in NIF (of course you won't know that from Holding; you have to actually read NIF). You can judge for yourself whose argument is sound and valid, and whose is simply the desperate attempt to claim evidence existed that we have no evidence of ever existing.

jules1 said...

Any updates on when the book will be released?

Vlastimil Vohánka said...

Dear Richard,

Congrats!

Indeed, a great issue, and one in need of a rigorous treatment. I can only recall R. G. Cavin's dissertation approaching the use of Bayes' Theorem in the given realm positively. I haven't seen your book, but I like the conclusion already: Bayes' Theorem can be applied to history.

I doubt we will agree when it comes to application to religious claims, but I will definitively buy you book (as I have The Christian Delusion recently to which you contributed).

Looking forward to comparing your analyses with Michael Liccona's new book.

Finally, I dare to recommed asking Tim McGrew for comments on your draft. In these problems, he's just the most competent (formally _and_ historically) one on the other side of the world-view divide.

Richard Carrier said...

"Any updates on when the book will be released?"

Volume 1 is still being shopped around. I have determined that several publishers have no slots for it (academic presses have limited tracks to assign books to and select which books even to look at based on their plans for subjects to cover and a predetermined list of priorities, so it's hard even to get them to look at a manuscript). But I have many more still to try. This is typical for any academic monograph.

Based on past examples, odds are volume 1 will be released by some publisher or other by the end of 2011. Volume 2 should appear shortly thereafter. It will certainly be completed before 2011, but then it must be shopped around itself, unless the publisher who accepts volume 1 also finds a slot for volume 2 and publishes them together or nearly together.

jules1 said...

Thanks for the update Richard. Have you thought of publishing the books yourself via Lulu? I'm guessing this won't carry much weight in academia though.

jules1 said...

I for one would be happy to pay for a pdf of the manuscript if it was made available before publication.

Richard Carrier said...

Donors already get advance looks at PDF drafts. I'm not taking new donors, though.

The final draft will have undergone peer review and thus will exhibit professional revisions (so it will be of greater value); and that I will be in contract with my publisher not to disseminate separately from their own electronic distribution channel.

As to self-publishing, I won't do that. At worst (and only with donor permission) I'll go with a mainstream publisher who is willing to arrange professional peer review. But I'm trying all the academic publishers first, since they already have the resources and experience for this. I just need to find one that has a slot for such an interdisciplinary work.

I'm having trouble convincing the humanities people to talk to the math-science people and vice versa. Sad, really. But surely it's not like this everywhere. Time will tell.

Raymond Briggs said...

My problem is why does Paul never say he met or even saw Jesus, yet (if the NT is correct), Paul must have been living in Jerusalem on the last week of Jesus' life. How could he have missed Jesus triumphant entry, the clearing of the temple, the trial and crucifixion? It seems to me that because he apparently never experienced these things they probably never happened.

Richard Carrier said...

Raymond Briggs said... My problem is why does Paul never say he met or even saw Jesus, yet (if the NT is correct), Paul must have been living in Jerusalem on the last week of Jesus' life. How could he have missed Jesus triumphant entry, the clearing of the temple, the trial and crucifixion? It seems to me that because he apparently never experienced these things they probably never happened.

First, your premise is false. Acts only places Paul in Jerusalem some months after Jesus died, with no indication of where he was before; and Paul himself contradicts Acts by firmly stating in his letter to the Galatians that he had never been to Judea (he says no one there had ever seen him before) until several years after Jesus is supposed to have died.

Second, your argument is a non sequitur. It does not follow merely from Paul's silence on such things that he did not see them. A valid argument from silence has to be much more robust and developed than that. Although perhaps one might develop a sound and valid argument of the type you suggest, since (as first noted) its premise is false anyway, there's no point in even trying.

Raymond Briggs said...

I think the following quote from Acts 22 shows that Paul probably lived in Jerusalem.
"I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today. I persecuted this Way up to the point of death by binding both men and women and putting them in prison, as the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I went there in order to bind those who were there and to bring them back to Jerusalem for punishment.

Considering that Acts also tells us he approved of the stoning of Stephen there is every reason to believe that Paul was working for the chief priest and a resident of Jerusalem during the last week of Jesus' life. Is it proven? Of course not. Nothing much can ever be proven about what was going on 2,000 years ago.

It is also known that the population of Jerusalem swelled incredibly during the Passover because Jews from far and wide came to the city at that time. Considering how Paul claims to have been so Zealous it is also logical to assume that he would have been there at the time of Passover.

In Galations Paul does not say he was unknown in Jerusalem, just that he was unknown to "the churches of Judea that are in Christ."

Considering these reasons for believing that Paul would have been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, and that he never says anything about it, that is good evidence that he never witnessed these holy week events because they probably never happened.

regards from a long time fan, Ray

Richard Carrier said...

Raymond Briggs said... I think the following quote from Acts 22 shows that Paul probably lived in Jerusalem. "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated strictly according to our ancestral law, being zealous for God, just as all of you are today.

First, as I said, Acts lies about Paul (Paul himself refutes the above claims). Second, even if Paul were educated or raised in Jerusalem (even though Paul himself never says this, nor mentions any connection with Gamaliel) that tells us nothing about where he was in the years before Jesus is supposed to have died. But Paul does tell us: he was in Damascus when Jesus appeared to him (not on a road to Damascus, but actually in it: see Gal. 1:17) and returned to Damascus after his first mission (the sort of thing one does if Damascus is where you live; hence Damascus is more likely to have been his actual home town and base of operations, see 2 Cor. 11:32), and no Christian in Judea had ever seen him before (Gal. 1:22-23), which entails he can't have been persecuting Christians there when, for instance, Stephen is killed, which refutes Acts claim that he was there. That's my point.

(I would also remind you that Paul himself mentions to connection to Tarsus, either. Paul shows no hint of the latter being his home when he mentions traveling to Cilicia in Gal. 1:21, for example, despite that being the province of Tarsus. A home in Tarsus appears to be another invention of Acts.)

In Galations Paul does not say he was unknown in Jerusalem, just that he was unknown to "the churches of Judea that are in Christ."

Indeed: which is impossible if what Acts said is true (where he is certainly present among and persecuting Christians in Jerusalem). In fact, Paul says in Galatians no Christian in Judea had ever seen him before, a more specific reference. He cannot have been in Judea during the early events of Christianity and been persecuting the church and yet never been seen by any Christian anywhere in the whole of Judea. Likewise, unlike Acts which invents a persecuting "trip" from Jerusalem to Damascus, Paul says he went back to Damascus three years after seeing Jesus, which means he saw Jesus in Damascus, not on a road to there.

We must conclude that Acts is wholly unreliable here and we cannot count anything it says about Paul to be factual. Indeed even if anything in there is true, we have no way to ascertain which thing that is. We already know almost everything it says is false.

Considering these reasons for believing that Paul would have been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, and that he never says anything about it, that is good evidence that he never witnessed these holy week events because they probably never happened.

That would only be "good" evidence if we had "good" evidence that Paul was in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified. But we have only very bad evidence of that, in fact almost fully discredited evidence. Therefore no good argument can be made of this now--even if Paul was indeed there.

Raymond Briggs said...

I agree that what Paul says often contradicts what Acts says about him. But then I also think the whole bible is in general unreliable. I should have made it more clear that I was posing a sort of gedanken approach where IF we assume the New Testament (including Acts) is the inerrant word of God, it is essentially a given that Paul would have been in Jerusalem during "holy" week. This because Acts (probably without justification) has Paul being brought up in Jerusalem, being a student of Gamaliel, witnessing the stoning of Stephen, and persecuting the churches of Judea. Acts even has him on a mission from the high priest to Damascus when we are told (in two contradictory versions) that he had the visions that were the reasons for his conversion. If we accept all of that and assume (as any fundamentalist would) that any contradictory information from Paul could be "harmonized" with Acts, we are left with the conclusion that Paul would almost certainly have been in Jerusalem during Passover and have witnessed the events so vividly described in the Gospels.

In that case, it is inconceivable that Paul would never have referred to any of these specific happenings. Yes, Paul says Jesus was crucified and resurrected but there is so little substance to these events in Paul that some scholars (as you well know) have been able to make a case (based on Paul's testimony) for the crucifixion having possibly taken place maybe a century or more before, or in one of the several "heavens" and not on this earth at all.

But IF we accept what Acts says, I think that the best explanation for Paul's not saying anything about these spectacular Gospel events of "holy" week is that they never happened and not that he was just uninterested in Jesus' life before crucifixion, as some apologists claim.

I can't argue with what is I think your explanation, and that because Acts is unreliable and Paul never claims to have been there, it is probable that Paul was not in Jerusalem at the time and therefore could not have witnessed them. My only point then is that you have to conclude that what Acts says about where Paul was and what he did was false and that was really my point.

regards, Ray

Richard Carrier said...

Raymond Briggs said... I should have made it more clear that I was posing a sort of gedanken approach where IF we assume the New Testament (including Acts) is the inerrant word of God...

Apart from the fact that such a mode of argument is inherently self-contradictory (if the Bible is the Inerrant Word of God then the probability Jesus existed historically is 100%, so you can never adopt that premise to argue against the existence of Jesus), it's also a straw man. One can easily show the Jesus as literally depicted in the Gospels never existed. But that's not a Jesus any actual scholar believes existed (apart from apologists). And that the Jesus as literally depicted in the Gospels never existed does not logically entail no Jesus existed. The only valid argument against the historicity of Jesus is an argument that is effective against ordinary Jesuses (those Jesuses whose existence does not require the NT to be 100% reliable, in other words the Jesuses actually proposed by mainstream scholars).

Thus your argument can do no work toward arguing against the historicity of Jesus.

Raymond Briggs said...

I never claimed that I was arguing against the historicity of Jesus. Even if I thought he was not an historical person. I will leave that argument to Doherty and Wells both of whom I have read and who know much more about it than I. My argument was very simple. I was just arguing that if Paul was in Jerusalem during "holy" week, it is inconceivable that he would not have told us of the things he saw that week. And if as I thought (and still do) that it was clear that Acts puts him there at that time, We must therefore either assume that Acts is false and Paul was not there or the things that we are told happened that week (in the Gospels) never happened, not that therefore Jesus never existed.

It was a very simple observation just one I had not seen discussed. I was hoping that you could enlighten me on the subject, but I did not expect to be whipped by a litany of logical errors you accused me of. Forget I ever mentioned it.
regards, Ray

Richard Carrier said...

Raymond Briggs said... We must therefore either assume that Acts is false and Paul was not there or the things that we are told happened that week (in the Gospels) never happened, not that therefore Jesus never existed.

Ah. Then you posted in the wrong forum. This is a thread about a book questioning the historicity of Jesus. Hence I assumed you were participating in this thread. If you have some other argument, you need to field it elsewhere.

But even as a mere questioning of Gospel details, I'm not sure what it even is you intend to prove by this. Paul does attest the crucifixion and burial of Jesus (that he doesn't place them in any specific place hardly matters to this point). And that's pretty much all that mainstream scholars agree happened. Everything else is already doubted or debated--without even needing an Argument from Silence based on the premise (which we cannot establish from any reliable source anyway) that Paul was then in Jerusalem. If your aim is to argue Acts cannot consistently be regarded as reliable, that is already better proved by the contradictions between Acts and Galatians. So I think there still isn't any traction to be gained here. But I leave that up to you to test it out in other forums and see if that dog hunts. I'm not interested in fringe speculations of this kind.

Raymond Briggs said...

I think you are right. I brought something in that I had wondered about but was really irrelevant to your purposes on this blog. I think the reason was I saw a chance to get someone of your stature to even comment on this particular issue, as I had not been able to get anyone else interested.

I felt a little put down by your dissection of my argument but I can understand that, it was certainly irrelevant given that it was already understood that Acts was unreliable.

I have always been impressed with your logic, especially about the empty tomb, and am still a big fan.

Thanks for even answering, Ray

Richard Carrier said...

Yes, I just misunderstood where you were going with your argument, because I was reading it in this context. But sounds like we've gotten all that sorted now. I apologize for my part in the confusion.

WAR_ON_ERROR said...

Awww... **group anti-jesus hug** hehe