Friday, January 09, 2009

Appearing at La Verne

I will be speaking on the historicity of Jesus at the University of La Verne in southern California in the Founders Hall Auditorium, which is next to the La Fetra Auditorium (1950 3rd St. in La Verne, California) the night of Monday, March 9 (7pm) 2009, for the campus Religion & Philosophy Club, aka The Most Greatest Club Ever. It's free and open to the public, and afterwards I'll be signing and selling my book Sense and Goodness without God (and possibly The Empty Tomb and remotely possibly a new book Not the Impossible Faith that updates and collects my work against J.P. Holding).

The talk will be "Why I Think Jesus Didn't Exist" and will essentially resemble my Stanford talk on that same subject in 2006, slightly updated in light of my current work On the Historicity of Jesus Christ (in progress). In a sense this will be a precis of the argument of that book, but greatly condensed and simplified. Per the official description, "Dr. Carrier will summarize some of the arguments of his forthcoming book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, suggesting there is a reasonable case to be made that Jesus might not have been a historical person, but was instead a mythical cosmic being who became ‘historicized’ over time like other Greco-Roman gods and heroes. Even if you disagree with the conclusion, you will likely find the evidence fascinating and thought-provoking."

Teaser: I will also be debating William Lane Craig (the topic is awaiting official approval but likely will be the Resurrection of Jesus) at Northwest Missouri State University on Wednesday, March 18 (2009). When all the details are finalized at NMSU I'll blog that event in detail.


David Fitzgerald said...

Hold on! A new book that updates and collects your work against J.P. Holding? Oh man, I can't wait for that! I'm so sick of that puffed-up poodle-walking ass-clown and all his lies and misrepresentations, his pathetic gender-bending sock-puppet shinanigans and his sheer asinine windbaggery!

Pikemann Urge said...

Windbag indeed. I don't see why Richard would give that douche* the credit. In other news, I think R. M. Price is publishing a response to Lee Strobel, called 'A Crock of Christ.' Gosh, Price is funny.

If you want to see classic 'kettle logic' in action, all you have to do is read Holding's work.

It doesn't matter to Holding that the resurrection accounts are different in many ways: that they tell the same story is enough.

But if there are so much as minor issues with comparing the Odyssey or other gods to the Gospels, he'll pick nits all day.

*He that serveth douche shall in return receiveth douche seventyfold.

AIGBusted said...


You should come to Alabama sometime. We are in need of rational thinkers. We have some, but spreading secularism down here would be a great idea.

Jay44 said...

I have it down that you and William Lane Craig are debating "Are moral facts evidence of God". Is there some discussion about changing this to the Resurrection? Well, it would seem better suited for the both of you to debate the Resurrection anyways.

Joseph Hinman (Metacrock) said...


John Dominic Crossan


The full review is at:

If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption.

I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.

It was, however, that hypothesis taken not as a settled conclusion, but as a simple question that was behind the first pages of BofC when I mentioned Josephus and Tacitus. I do not think that either of them checked out Jewish or Roman archival materials about Jesus. I think they were expressing the general public knowledge that "everyone" had about this weird group called Christians and their weird founder called Christ. The existence, not just of Christian materials, but of those other non-Christian sources, is enough to convince me that we are dealing with an historical individual. Furthermore, in all the many ways that opponents criticized earliest Christianity, nobody ever suggested that it was all made up. That in general, is quite enough for me.

There was one other point where I think Earl Doherty simply misstated what I did. In BofC, after the initial sections on materials and methods (1-235), I spent about equal time in Galilee (237-406) , or at least to the north, and in Jerusalem with pre-Pauline materials (407-573). I agree that if we had a totally different and irreconcilable vision/program between Paul and Q (just to take an example), it would require some very good explaining. Part of what I was doing, for example, in talking about the Common Meal Tradition was showing how even such utterly distinct eucharistic scenarios as Didache 9-10 and I Cor 11-12 have rather fascinating common elements behind and between them. It is a very different thing, in summary, for Paul to say that he is not interested in the historical Jesus (Jesus in the flesh) than to say that "no Galilee and no historical Jesus lie behind Paul."M


Crosson's Asnwer:I am not certain, Neil, that I have much to add to my previous post. I do not claim "ideological immunity" against the possibility that the historical Jesus never existed. That such a person existed is an historical conclusion for me, and neither a dogmatic postulate nor a theological presupposition. My very general arguments are: (1) that existence is given in Christian, pagan, and Jewish sources; (2) it is never negated by even the most hostile critics of early Christianity (Jesus is a bastard and a fool but never a myth or a fiction!); (3) there are no historical parallels that I know of from that time and period that help me understand such a total creation. There is, however, a fourth point that I touched on in BofC 403-406. It is crucially important for me that Jesus sent out companions and told them to do exactly what he was doing (not in his name, but as part of the Kingdom of God). The most basic continuity that I see between Jesus and those companions was, as I put it, not in mnemonics, but in mimetics. In other words, they were imitating his lifestyle and not just remembering his words. I find that emphasized in the Q Gospel’s indictment of those who talk, but do not do, and in the Didache’s emphasis on the ways (tropoi) of the Lord (not just words/logoi). When, therefore, I look at a phrase such as "blessed are the destitute," and am quite willing to argue that it comes from the historical Jesus, I am always at least as sure that it represents the accurate summary of an attitude as the accurate recall of a saying. For analogy: If Gandhi had developed a large movement after his death of people who are living in non-violent resistance to oppression, and one of them cited an aphorism of Gandhi, namely "if you do not stand on a small bug, why would you stand on a Big Bug," I would be more secure on the continuity in lifestyle than in memory and could work on that as basis.

Unknown said...

Do you know at what time you'll be debating Craig? Your fan club at MSU would almost certainly want to make the field trip.


AIGBusted said...

Any chance this lecture was recorded?

Richard Carrier said...

AIGBusted said... You should come to Alabama sometime.

Well, pay my expenses, and we'll talk. See my website for details.

[BTW, I've been to Alabama. I gave a 4th of July talk on miracles and historical method at Lake Hypatia many years ago.]

JT Eberhard said... Do you know at what time you'll be debating Craig?

I just blogged that event today. See here.

AIGBusted said... Any chance this lecture was recorded?

You mean "will be recorded?" (it hasn't happened yet, unless you're referring to the Stanford version, which was not recorded, but was reported on in the campus newspaper). I don't think the La Verne talk will be recorded, and I'd have to approve it if it were.

Richard Carrier said...

Actually, the La Verne talk might be recorded and possibly made available on YouTube some day. It depends on how the technical issues work out.

Anders Branderud said...

"Historical Jesus"?!?

Just using this contra-historical oxymoron (demonstrated by the eminent late Oxford historian, James Parkes, The Conflict of the Church and the Synagogue) exposes your Christian-blinkered agenda--dependent upon 4th-century, gentile, Hellenist sources.

While scholars debate the provenance of the original accounts upon which the earliest extant (4th century, even fragments are post-135 C.E.), Roman gentile, Hellenist-redacted versions were based, there is not one fragment, not even one letter of the NT that derives DIRECTLY from the 1st-century Pharisee Jews who followed the Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua.

Historians like Parkes, et al., have demonstrated incontestably that 4th-century Roman Christianity was the 180° polar antithesis of 1st-century Judaism of ALL Pharisee Ribis. The earliest (post-135 C.E.) true Christians were viciously antinomian (ANTI-Torah), claiming to supersede and displace Torah, Judaism and ("spiritual) Israel and Jews. In soberest terms, ORIGINAL Christianity was anti-Torah from the start while DSS (viz., 4Q MMT) and ALL other Judaic documentation PROVE that ALL 1st-century Pharisees were PRO-Torah.

There is a mountain of historical Judaic information Christians have refused to deal with, at: (see, especially, their History Museum pages beginning with "30-99 C.E.").

Original Christianity = ANTI-Torah. Ribi Yehoshua and his Netzarim, like all other Pharisees, were PRO-Torah. Intractable contradiction.

Building a Roman image from Hellenist hearsay accounts, decades after the death of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi, and after a forcible ouster, by Hellenist Roman gentiles, of his original Jewish followers (135 C.E., documented by Eusebius), based on writings of a Hellenist Jew excised as an apostate by the original Jewish followers (documented by Eusebius) is circular reasoning through gentile-Roman Hellenist lenses.

What the historical Pharisee Ribi taught is found not in the hearsay accounts of post-135 C.E. Hellenist Romans but, rather, in the Judaic descriptions of Pharisees and Pharisee Ribis of the period... in Dead Sea Scroll 4Q MMT (see Prof. Elisha Qimron), inter alia.

The question is, now that you've been informed, will you follow the authentic historical Pharisee Ribi? Or continue following the post-135 C.E. Roman-redacted antithesis—an idol?

Richard Carrier said...

Anders Branderud, your methodology is logically invalid. You expect evidence that no theory entails we should expect to have. But nevertheless, based on sounder methods, your conclusions are already embraced by a majority of mainstream scholars I know. Several respected books establish Jesus as nearly a Pharisee in his teachings, and at any rate rabbinical; the original Jewish sect of Christianity was eclipsed by the apostasizing Hellenists under Paul, already by the end of the second Jewish War, and already by then becoming rabidly anti-Jewish; etc. So I don't know why you are acting like some sort of rebel outsider for claiming these things. Most scholars already agree with you (minus the hyperbole).