Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Historicity in Calgary

We finally have a venue for this Thursday (Jan. 28): at 6pm (running until 8:30pm or so) I will be giving a talk on the historicity of Jesus and taking Q&A at the Calgary public library (Meeting Room 1, lower level; address: 616 Macleod Trail SE). And if I have any books left from the previous day's debate (quite possibly I won't, it appears that venue may be packed), I'll be selling and signing them there as well. For full details see the CFI Calgary website.


Bernard said...

I attended Dr Richard Carrier's talk on Did Jesus Even Exist. The small crowd was mainly atheist but I noticed some were highly skeptical about his hypothesis.

Here are some of my remarks:
First, RC started to comment on Mark15:6-15, Mark4:11-34, and other NT passages. He found there some mythological themes and proof Christianity started as a mystery religion. I certainly would object about his interpretations. For example, there is more direct, pragmatic, historical way to outguess “Mark” about his use of Barabbas: essentially, the Jews of Jerusalem chose to save an (generic & fictitious) insurrectionist (a reference to the Zealots to come, who will precipitate the destruction of the city by the Romans) rather than Jesus. Therefore that explains why those Jews will be punished in 70CE. The same theme is also obvious toward the ending of the parable of the tenants (12:6-9,12). Needless to say I do not buy his quasi systematic mythological interpretations. I think the gospelers had more urgent purposes for their writing: address disturbing contemporary events, answer doubts, disbeliefs, problems in their community, bolster faith, keep their congregation together, etc.

Later, RC will make a comparaison about the Cleopas passage in gLuke (24:13-23,25-33) and a certain piece of Roman mythology. RC claims both deal with a 14 miles trip (Jerusalem to Emmaus & Alba Longa to Rome, both between mountain and valley). However, for whatever reason, Luke shortened the distance Jerusalem-Emmaus to 7 miles (24:13) and Cleopas does the trip both way! Here goes his theory. And then RC talked about the meaning of the word Cleopas, which he think Mark invented by combining two words, cleo & pas. But according to Wikipedia, “Cleopas' name is an abbreviated form of Cleopatros, a common Hellenistic name”.
Here ends my comments for a section called “We Cannot Assess Sources Until We Fully Understand Them” on his handout. I do not think RC understand them (sometimes not even read them properly) and is prone to rush into dubious mythological interpretations in order to serve his agenda.

The next thing discussed was, as called in his handout, “Basic “Jesus Myth” Theory”
This is exposed in 7 parts, a sequence of time period from 20AD to 325AD. The chronology is close to what a majority of critical scholars have proposed. Of course, I would object with some statements, such as between 30 & 70+, Jesus goes from fully mythical to, at a time, a real person. For me, the opposite happened: from a real person to mainly mythical. This is shown in the earliest Christian texts we know of: Paul's seven deemed authentic epistles, where Paul wrote about Jesus (little on earth but already pre-existent & post-existent as a heavenly deity for Paul) who, from "Israelites, ... whose [are] the fathers, and of whom [is] the Christ, according to the flesh ..." (Ro9:4-5 YLT) and "come of a woman, come under law" (Gal4:4 YLT), "found in appearance as a man" (Php2:8) "in the likeness of sinful flesh" (Ro8:3), "the one man, Jesus Christ" (Ro5:15) (who had brothers (1Co9:5), one of them called "James", whom Paul met (Gal1:19)), "humbled himself" (Php2:8) in "poverty" (2Co8:9) as "servant/minister of the Jews" (Ro15:8) and, after "the night in which he was delivered up" (1Co11:23 Darby), "was crucified in weakness" (2Co13:4) in "Zion" (Ro9:31-33 & Ro15:26-27). Furthermore, Jesus is described as a descendant of Abraham (Gal3:16), Jesse (Ro15:12) & David (Ro1:3).
That did not prevent Paul to glorify & divinize the Jesus/Christ/Lord in his pre-existent and post-existent (mythical) phases. And later the gospelers had no other choice than to beef up the real person to be more like the heavenly extensions preached by Paul & others, at a time when all witnesses had died. That certainly would explain the existence of a crucified Jew called Jesus in the earliest Christian texts.
To be continued ...

Bernard said...

Continuation 1:
In the period (95-115AD), RC has on his handout “No references to a historical Jesus exist before this time”. What about gMark, the Pauline epistles, and gMatthew which RC (and myself) thinks were written earlier?
Now let's go back to the first part, the 20 – 40 AD period, where “Jesus' incarnation, death and resurrection (were) believed to take place in heaven ...”. Where is the evidence? There are no Christian texts from that period. However RC had something on the screen, an interpretation relative to the crucifixion in heaven, drawn mainly from 1Corinthians 2:8 with a modification from Ephesians 2:2, “The demons ('archons') crucified Jesus in the air ('aion')”. But 'archons', used two other times by Paul (1Cor2:6-7 & Rom13:3-6), is never identified as demons. But in Romans, 'archons' mean Roman officials and they are good:
NKJV "For rulers ['archons'] are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.”
Finally, from Ephesians 2:2, which does not address the crucifixion, and NOT written by Paul (both RC & I agree on this), RC imports “air” = 'aer' to replace 'aion' (= “ages”/“world”) in 1Corinthians 2:8. That's very interesting cut & paste. With that method (which the early Christians practiced a lot), you can demonstrate anything!

I think I heard a reference from RC about Adams buried in space (explaining why Jesus did not have to be buried on earth). After some research, the only ancient textual reference on where Adams was thought to be buried is in the book of Jubilees, a fairly well known Jewish text written in 2nd century BC: 4:29 “Adam died, and all his sons buried him in the land of his creation, and he was the first to be buried in the earth.”

And RC main argument for putting Galatians 4:4 “God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law” in the mythological category is because, no less than 20 verses later (4:24-31), Paul made an allegory from what two biblical women did. That happens before these two are introduced (4:22-23), with Abraham and his two sons, as written (in Genesis, and certainly as human & earthly). What methodology is that?

And RC affirmed that “brother(s) OF the Lord”, as in Galatians 1:19 “But I saw none of the other apostles except James, the brother OF the Lord”, is found in Paul's epistles to indicate fellow Christians. It is not true.
“brothers OF the Lord” is part of 1Cor9:5, but here there is no indication those are Christians. However Paul used “IN the Lord” for fellow Christians as in Rom16:8,11. Paul also used “brothers IN the Lord” in Philippians 1:4 to describe Christian preachers. IN and OF are not the same.
Note: Paul never wrote the members of the Church of Jerusalem were "IN Christ" or "IN the Lord", as himself & other Christians:
1Th2:14;3:8;4:16;5:12; 1Co3:1,4:15,17;9:1-2;15:18,58;16:19,24; 2Co1:21;2:14,17;12:2; Php1:14;3:1;4:1-2,4,10,21; Phm1:6,8,16,20,23; Gal1:22;3:14;3:26,28;5:10; Ro8:1;12:5;16:3,7-13,22
And in his letters, Paul had the opportunity to call the members of the Church of Jerusalem "IN Christ" or "IN the Lord" (but did not!):
1Co16:1,3; 2Co8:4,13-15;9:1,12-15; Gal2:1-10; Ro15:25-26,31
That would have been most advantageous for Paul, more so because those were considered "saints" (= God's people): 1Co16:1,2; Co8:4;9:1,12; Ro15:25,26,3
To be continued

Bernard said...

Continuation 2:
RC made a point, that after chapter 1, there is no reference in “Acts” of Jesus the man, or other principals in the gospel, such as Pilate or Herod (Antipas). RC takes chapter 1 out of the equation, because, according to him, it was not part of the history of the early Church. Really, did RC asked Luke? It seems to me Luke wanted the first chapter, with the (alleged) election of Matthias, to be a part of this history. OK, that's a small detail. But what about the other chapters: well, Jesus as a man appears in 2:22 (Jesus the Nazorean), 2:36 (Jesus crucified by Jews), 3:13 (Jesus, delivered by God and denied in the presence of Pilate), 4:10 (Jesus the Nazorean, crucified by people of Israel), 4:27 (Herod (Antipas), Pilate, Gentiles and Jews conspired in Jerusalem against Jesus), etc ...
Obviously more research needs to be done. And then, why expect many references to man Jesus in Acts. Luke covered already that in the gospel. The sequel is about after he went to heaven (allegedly).
To be continued

Bernard said...

Continuation 3:

Raglan hero's scale: RC said Jesus scores very high, 20 out of 22, which would make him totally mythical.
Let's see that, with my score after the numbers.
1.0.25 The hero's mother is a royal virgin
2.0.25 His father is a king and
3.0.00 often a near relative of the mother, but
4.0.50 the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
5.1.00 he is also reputed to be the son of a god
6.0.25 at birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but
7.0.50 He is spirited away, and
8.0.25 Reared by foster-parents in a far country
9.0.75 We are told nothing of his childhood, but
10. 0.00 On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom.
11. 0.50 After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast
12. 0.00 He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
13. 0.25 becomes king
14. 0.00 For a time he reigns uneventfully and
15. 0.50 Prescribes laws but
16. 0.50 later loses favour with the gods and or his people and
17. 0.00 Is driven from from the throne and the city after which
18. 0.00 He meets with a mysterious death
19. 1.00 often at the top of a hill.
20. 0.00 his children, if any, do not succeed him.
21. 0.00 his body is not buried, but nevertheless
22. 0.50 he has one or more holy sepulchres.

See Continuation 4 for explanation of scores.

Bernard said...

Continuation 4:
My total score is 7. For 1., I took in account that Mary is never said to be royal (I could have justified a 0 because of that). But two gospels has her as a virgin. However earlier, Paul wrote Jesus was a descendant of Abraham, Jesse, David, Israelites, which implies a human father. So I think 0.25 is fair.
For 2. Joseph, the apparent father, was not a king. Paul and two gospels have Jesus a descendant of David but that does not make him the son of a king. Regardless, I put 0.25, because two gospels has God as the biological father, and God is sometimes considered the King.
For 3. it is obvious, so the 0. For 4. two gospels came up with the holy conception, but Paul, again, suggested a normal conception. I put 0.5. For 5. it is undeniable, so the 1. For 6. the attempt to kill baby Jesus is in gMatthew only. gLuke, who covered the days after the birth, makes no mention of that. And the attempt is not by any of his relatives. I put 0.25. For 7. only gMatthew has the flight to Egypt. gLuke again does not have that. So the 0.5 score. For 8. I took in account that two gospels have Joseph as not the true biological father, therefore making him a foster parent. However earlier Paul indicated a normal human father for Jesus. Score 0.25. For 9. a few bits from gLuke, so the reduced 1 to 0.75. For 10. Jesus has returned or gone to Nazareth, the home where he grows up, well before becoming adult. And no kingdom is sight yet. So the 0. For 11. I suppose Jesus resisting the temptation of the Devil (the Dragon?) in gMatthew and gLuke can be considered a victory of sort. I reluctantly give 0.5 score on that one. For 12. it's a 0. Sure Jesus/Lamb marries the heavenly Jerusalem in Revelation, but it is after the human phase on earth. Raglan's hero is earthly and should be rated according to what he/she did there between birth and death on earth. For 13. Jesus is acclaimed as king in his last days but never is a king then. So 0.25 is fair. For 14. as I said, Jesus never reigns, so the 0. For 15. I give 0.50 because, in the gospels, Jesus teaches a few things, including commands, even as not as a king. For 16. after being acclaimed king by some (but never ruling) the Jews send him to the cross, so the 0.5. 17. No throne but possibly the cross was outside the city walls (as in Hebrews13:12). 0.25 on this one. For 18. public crucifixion is not mysterious. I score 0. For 19. crucifixion on a high point is most likely: better view for the public, and easier to defend for the guards. And then the “place of the skull”. I give 1. For 20. no children, so a 0. For 21. there is full agreement about a burial. Therefore 0. For 22. we have the empty tomb, but not a permanent sepulchre, so 0.5.
Of course if I would be more strict, I would have scored more zeros. Like for 1. or 11.
But for a score of 20 or 19, you have to show a lot of bias.
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

Another day, another blog entry.
Under the headline (from the handout) “The Evidence is More Likely on Ahistoricity than Historicity”
RC has “Strange Silences of Paul”; that can be easily explained by Paul focusing on the heavenly Jesus (as he was believed to be then, in Paul present) and his gospel (one among others) in his epistles. All he needed was the Crucifixion as Christ (“chosen one”) of Jesus (with a heavy dose of OT & alleged revelations & Holy Spirit input!). Regardless, there is some details which crop up in his letters, as I exposed earlier: Jesus was a man, in sinful flesh, born normally as a Jew, humble, not showing he was divine, preaching to Jews, had a brother called James, was delivered at night before being crucified in weakness in the Jewish heartland, Zion (the later deducted from Rom9:31-33 & Rom11:26-27). What's missing is Jesus as a healer, but Paul (and also RC) was not too high on healers (see 1Cor12:28). Of course, the epistles were just propaganda tools in order to expound a particular message. The believers were likely to have gleaned more details about that man Jesus orally, from Paul himself or other preachers. Actually, this is suggested in a passage of 2 Corinthians:
5:14a-17 Darby "... that if one [Christ] died for all, then all have died; and he died for all, that they who live should no longer live to themselves, but to him [Christ] who died for them [for atonement of sins] and has been raised.
So that we henceforth know ['eido' (see, regard, perceive)] no one according to the flesh [from a worldly viewpoint],
and even if *we* have known
['ginosko' (come to know, understand), Greek perfect indicative: at some time in the past]
` Christ according to the flesh,
[reference to some worldly (& possibly unChristian?) knowledge/understanding about Jesus (told by others; see 1Co1:11b-12 below)]
` yet now we know ['ginosko'] [him thus] no longer.
So if any one [be] in Christ, [there is] a new creation; the old things have passed away; behold all things have become new"
1Co1:11b-12 Darby "... there are strifes among you. But I speak of this, that each of you says, *I* am of Paul, and *I* of Apollos, and *I* of Cephas [Aramaic for Peter] ..."

Bernard said...

Continuation again:
Another comment related to (from the handout) “The Evidence is More Likely on Ahistoricity than Historicity”
RC notes that Paul wrote about false gospels of other preachers in his time. Well, no one like competition on in own turf and therefore Paul's reaction is very normal. But with so many gospels (and apostles) around, and with Paul himself acknowledging a human Jesus (crucified in weakness as the chosen one), there is a good chance that some of these gospels were much closer to Jesus the man than Paul's own (as shown in my previous post).

I want to finish here by some general remarks about the meeting.
There are many points I would agree with Carrier, like the influence of Philo of Alexandria's books on the making of Christian beliefs.
But I did not feel Carrier was comfortable about the subject of a mythical Jesus. At several times, he said it was just a hypothesis. He also said that “Jesus the nobody” was also another valid hypothesis. He confided most books on the subject were BS (except a few and, of course, his own book, still to come, now more than one year late). His handout lists ten books “that are actually worth reading”, five defending historicity, five (including Doherty's) against it.

Best regards, Bernard

Shawn said...

Funny Bernard but I was at the same lecture and the fully packed hall was far from skeptical about what was being talked about. This was obvious at the Q&A portion which was far more focused on an understanding of the material and not at all challenging the premise. Your first complaint that Dr. Carrier was too eagerly seeking "mythological interpretations" seems to ignore that, at the time in question, many stories were told in allegory. It's hardly grasping when you suspect a piece of literature to be following the commonly practiced form of writing from the time. Many biblical scholars attest to the Old Testament being one long allegory.

Your comment that Cleopas is a short form of Cleopatros is no way takes away from it's ability to represent something else. Your Wikipedia mention seems to miss out on the unusual omission of the name anywhere else in the New Testament except in this one occasion. This helps to strengthen the myth connection. I guess you just missed that part. Perhaps it's time to update your own “We Cannot Assess Sources Until We Fully Understand Them”.

Funny you should mention the Epistles of Paul. With so many of the them publicly accepted as forgeries one really does wonder why this was deemed necessary and it certainly removes the fallacy that the bible is the infallible word of god.

"RC has on his handout “No references to a historical Jesus exist before this time”. What about gMark..." There are no independent accounts of his existence. Not his life, death, resurrection nor the rather obvious sun going out for three hours which didn't seem to alarm anyone, anywhere enough to record. Mark rambling from information gathered through 'revelation' is not historical information. Try asking a judge if the testimony of someone getting information from the voices in his head is considered good evidence of anything other than a delusional witness.

You seem to be really reaching in your attack on the Raglan Hero Scale by trying to weasel out that Joseph was the Father and Mary the un-royal Virgin Mother. If he is the decendant of Abraham and if Mary is the Virgin mother then she must be related to Abraham. This easily fits her into the 'royal' category though I think the Virgin theme is the far more important part of it. By implying Joseph is the Father and not God you are pretty much just making Jesus an ordinary mortal person. That is more likely but it brings to a close the idea that he is the son of any god. And you list his conception as not unusual? Are you serious? Ducking a roman infanticide to be born in a cave visited by three wisemen bearing expensive gifts.....your absolutely right. That happens all the time. The rest continue with you making weak excuse after weak excuse. Funny that so many other's who use the scale find it obvious that Jesus lands between 19 and 21.

"At several times, he said it was just a hypothesis." I would suggest perhaps looking up the word. Just a suggestion.

Bernard said...

Hello Shawn,
The hall was packed but it was small. I said SOME were highly sceptical, because, from where I stood, that was the extent of what I noticed. Well, some biblical scholars might say what they want, the truth is the OT, writing by writing, verse by verse, can be anything, including allegories. I hate oversimplified generalizations saying the OT or NT is all that, or all this. As far as strengthening the myth connection, even if RC read the mind of “Luke” correctly (I doubt it), that would only prove there are myths in gLuke (I agree with that), but not that gLuke is all about myths. I can isolate a few true historical bits in the same gospel, but certainly I would never say gLuke is all about history (BTW, I think it is not, by a huge lot).
I stand with the Wikipedia entry on “Cleopas”. Did you check the whole Ancient Greek Corpus in order to determine “Cleopas” is rare or unique to gLuke? Anyway, Cleopas as an abbreviation of Cleopatros makes a lot of (natural) sense.
Richard Carrier (so far) thinks that seven Pauline epistles are authentic (so do I). So my cross- examination on that Pauline Corpus is warranted. I know many, maybe most mythicists, now reject Paul (as a second century fabrication). And in my view, they have to. Because Paul mentioned a very human & earthly-like Jesus several times in his epistles. I know that fact first hand due to my dealing, years ago, with Hermann Detering. He read my critique on Doherty's Jesus' Puzzle and agreed with me that Paul's letters have a human/earthly Jesus in them. A few months later, Hermann came out with his “Fabricated Paul”. A coincidence? As far as forgeries, the OT and NT are full of them. And I personally came up with 'all Ignatius Corpus is a forgery'. I was not the first one to say that, but I started a trend (Detering, after complimenting me on my essay, adopted my views. Then many mythicists, as witnessed from internet forums, followed him on that).
You said, “fallacy that the bible is the infallible word of god”. Of course, your are right, the bible is not about the word of God, but about words of many human authors, many of whom pretending to have communication to/from above.
To be continued ...

Bernard said...

Continuation for Shawn ...
For your remark on “No references to a historical Jesus exist before this time”, my comment is legitimate: RC never mentioned here early Christian writings should not be considered. Maybe that's what he meant, I can agree with that, but that's not what I read. And “Mark” never wrote what he put in his gospel is through revelation, certainly not all through revelation. Once again I would refrain from generalizations. Some others said gMark is all about Midrash, or Mythology. The truth, as I found it, is “Mark”, verse by verse can be that, or this, or combination of many things. “Mark” was not playing on one note only.
I think my scoring on Raglan's hero is as fair as possible. I took in consideration that Joseph was not the true father of Jesus in two gospels but, in the other hand, Mary is never considered “royal”. In the canonical writings, Mary is never the Mother (notice the capital M), just a mother. Even if Mary is a descendant of Abraham, that does not make her “royal” (almost all Jews claim to be descendant of Abraham but they do not say that entails royal descent). The same goes for Joseph (even as a descendant of David). And yes, you are right to say if Joseph is the true father, then that would make Jesus an ordinary mortal. Paul, even if, early on, has Jesus as pre-existent, wrote that Abraham, Jesse, David & Israelites are among Jesus' ancestors. gJohn has Jesus' contemporaries considering Joseph as the father of Jesus. That has to be taken in account.
I put a 1 (which goes against my case that Jesus is not fully mythical), for Jesus as the son of God (or a god), either through pre-existence, godly conception or adoption, because it is in many early Christian writings (including the 4 gospels and Paul).
I consider the godly conception as very unusual indeed, but again, I had to take in account Paul, who earlier suggested a normal father for Jesus. Also gMark & gJohn not mentioning anything unusual. I put 0.5 on that one. And the Magii and Herod (not Roman BTW) infanticide is not part of the conception, but technically of the birth narratives. For 6. I gave only 0.25, because the attempt of killing Jesus appears in one gospel only, gLuke who covered the days after the birth does not mention it and the attempt is not made by relatives of Jesus.
Finally, in order to score 19, 20 or 21, you have to put a 1 for almost anyone of the 22 points. And you can only do that if you consider that, at least, a trace of Raglan's description can be found in these points (like Mary is a descendant of Abraham, so she is royal). I confess, I do not do that. But, as I said, if someone is very strict, my score of 7 can be much lower.
I took your suggestion for “hypothesis” and I read from my Collins dictionary (Canadian Edition): “suggested explanation of something; assumption as basis of reasoning”
Best regards, Bernard

Unknown said...


Concerning the Raglan scale, I think there is something that needs to be addressed: Does the scale allow for partial points?

In my reading of the original use of the Raglan hero scale, the points are given for each feature completely or not at all; there are no partials given. Moreover, a point scored is not diminished if other sources do not mention a certain detail. For example, Oedipus is said to have been born with various attributes noted by Raglan; however, the birth of Oedipus is not mentioned in the plays of Sophocles; this does not diminish the value, as Raglan does not see this as a problem at all.

Further, in the study of folklore, one does not go by any one source, but the entire collection. There are many Arthurian legends, and the tales grow; one does not say that there were not fictional tales of Arthur because they are only mentioned by one author and not another. The point of folklore is to investigate what all folks were saying about individuals. The folk tradition of Washington chopping cherry trees was hardly in the daily paper, but the folklorist must consider beyond this.

I bring this up in particular with the discussion of the Raglan hero pattern as used by the folklorist Alan Dundes. For example, Dundes considers giving Jesus credit for fighting dragons because of events that happen in the gospel of pseudo-Matthew. Moreover, Dundes, like Carrier, gives Jesus a very high score on the hero patter, around 19 if memory serves me, and gives full points for things like (1) even if Mary was not said to be royal in Matthew's gospel. It seems hard to declare that Dundes, a Berkeley professor of folklore, doesn't know how to apply folklore patters.

Further, each point on the scale is not written in such a way as to be hyper-strict. For example, Raglan gives point (1) to Moses because of his mother's decent, even though she was not a queen; similarly for Sampson. In the system provided, each word of the pattern is not as restrictive as you wish to make it. Besides, the sense of regal women was their worth; Mary is made a worthy lady by God.

So, for comparison, high scores are assigned to Jesus by the folklorist Dundes as well as Prof. Thomas J. Sienkewicz as seen here:
And again, no one gives partial points. If someone seems to fit it mostly, they get the point, and if it is found in most any source; the value is not decreased with number of sources. What you propose is not mainstream.


Unknown said...

Moreover, your low scores are hard to believe in some cases. For example, you say there was nothing mysterious about his death. So the sun not giving its light, earthquakes and the temple veil ripping, zombies walking through Jerusalem, all at the time Jesus is put to death, an event so shocking even a Roman soldier is convinced of the divinity of the man he killed. Nothing mysterious? Nothing unusual? And lest we forget, the manner of his death was supposed to be prophetically foretold, and it happened faster than Pilate expected. How you say it was not mysterious is hard to fathom.

It is also strange that you even change the pattern to lower the score. For example, (22) says he has one of more holy sepulchers, but you say that because it is not a "permanent" sepulcher it doesn't count equally. By first taking a strict reading of the pattern, and now by adding additional limitations to the pattern's points you are trying to play it both ways.

You also don't care that Jesus does fulfill certain parts of the pattern. For example, Jesus does go to his future kingdom, both the one on Earth (Jerusalem) and the one in the Heaven. Jesus certainly fits point (10). But because he didn't do that at some specific time means it doesn't count? Come on!

Sorry, but I have to go with the consensus of folklorists here. Perhaps they do have axes to grind, and perhaps the ways they use the hero pattern is not the best way. But Bernard, that is what you have to argue against, the very pattern itself as used by folklorists, not its results. Perhaps you are correct, and the folklorists are simply finding patterns that they are creating, but that is another discussion that is not about RC's bias.

Unknown said...

Let's also look at some of what you say shows that Paul said Jesus was human-born.

In particular, let's look at Gal 3:16. It seems to say that Jesus was of the seed of Abraham. However, Paul also says in Gal 3:29 that anyone that is "in Christ" is of the seed of Abraham. Does Paul say that everyone is a blood relative to Abraham because they are Christians? Not likely. So this word "seed" may be taking a special meaning.

It is also odd that the promise is not made to Abraham's decendents, according to Gal 3:16. Paul explains it was not to a plurality as most would have thought, but to an individual. Paul is reinterpreting scripture here away from blood relationships into something else. The passage also in Paul's reading suggests the promise being made to the Seed, Jesus, at the same time as Abraham, which is only possible for a pre-existent Jesus. Are we to think that Paul believed Jesus was both a human decendent of Abraham and a pre-existent being at the same time as Abraham? Such contradiction is hard to fathom, and a more economic answer presents itself.

The Seed of Abraham, according to Paul, was an encoded word. Once reinterpreted, Paul saw the Seed as Jesus whom God promised would come to act as the new covenant between God and humanity. Before his arrival, angels and the law had to mediate between God and humans (Gal 3:19). There is a metaphor, an interpretation on the part of Paul here. He is not giving a genealogy lesson here, but comparing the covenant between God and Abraham and the covenant between God and all humanity through Jesus.

With Paul, one must be careful not to read any verse without the surrounding context. Paul is a very gifted but difficult to interpret author. Without caution, he can cause major headaches.

This metaphor of seed, women, and so on, is continued through chapter 4 of Galatians, so the "born of woman" (4:4) must also be approached carefully. (There is also the consideration of interpolation here, as Marcion's version did not have this part of the verse.) As the woman is explained in this same chapter of Galatians, and its setup is established in the previous chapter, we see that Paul is creating a very interesting narrative, weaving together much interpretation, not literal history. In this context, Paul may not be speaking of Jesus as a regular Joe at all, especially since you agree that Paul saw Jesus as pre-existent.

Bernard said...

To Gilgamesh,
“Paul also says in Gal 3:29 that anyone that is "in Christ" is of the seed of Abraham.” Yes, but isn't Paul considering those “in Christ” as human and earthly? Can you find occurrences anywhere where somebody of the seed of Abraham, or Jesse, or David, or Israelites has not been human and earthly? However I agree than in the context of Galatians3-4, the “seed” in Gal 3:29 is not about blood relation, but about honorary relation to Abraham (see also Romans4). My guess is those Judaizers were preaching you have to be a Jew (a descendant of Abraham) in order to be “in Christ” and heirs of the Kingdom. Paul tried to counteract that by a long & dubious argument that his Galatian Christians, even if they are Gentile (and probably Gallic in origin) are also Abraham's seed.
Paul used the word “seed” ('sperma') to declare he is a descendant of Abraham:
Rom 11:1 "I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I [Paul] also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin."
2Cor 11:22 "Are they Hebrews? So [am] I [Paul]. Are they Israelites? So [am] I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So [am] I."

“Are we to think that Paul believed Jesus was both a human descendant of Abraham and a pre-existent being at the same time as Abraham?”: the descendance from Abraham (and Jesse, and David, and Israelites, and as born from a woman) is obviously after the pre-existence. As in:
Gal 4:4 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,"
Rom 8:3 “... God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh ...”
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

To Gilgamesh,
It is your interpretation, not mine, which caused me headaches. Here is my take on Gal3:7-4:7:
Paul started by making a claim: "But to Abraham were the promises addressed, and to his seed: he does not say, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed; which is Christ."(3:16 Darby)
That seems to refer to Genesis17-22 but it is never specified here according to Paul's words. Anyway, the promise is about inheritance (3:18) for all (Gentiles and Jews --3:8,14,28-29) but that is put on hold by the Law "until the seed [Christ] came to whom the promise was made" (3:16,19). Then everyone would be liberated from the Law by Christ (3:13,22-25) & his crucifixion (3:13) and "the promise, on the principle of faith of Jesus Christ, should be given to those that believe." (3:22), allowing Paul's Galatians to be God's sons & heirs and (honorary) seed of Abraham (3:7,29,4:7).
What remains is for the Son/Christ to come as the seed of Abraham, that is as a Jew and earthly human (as other seeds of Abraham, like Paul, as previously discussed), in order to enable the promise. So we have:
Gal4:4-7 Darby "but when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, come of woman [as an earthly human], come under law [as a Jew], that he might redeem those under law, that we might receive sonship. But because you are [Greek present tense] sons ... So you are [present again] no longer bondman, but son ..."

You wrote: “This metaphor of seed, women, and so on, is continued through chapter 4 of Galatians”: I am not too sure about “metaphor” and there in no woman/women in Galatians up to Gal4:4 “born of a woman”.
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

To Gilgamesh, this is from
See my comments on THE MOST OUTRAGEOUS SCORES: His mother, Mary, is (1) a royal virgin (descendant of King David) [FROM WHERE DID HE GET THAT?], and his father is (2) Joseph, who is (3) her close relative [JOSEPH IS NOT A KING & NOT A CLOSE RELATIVE OF MARY. SAME QUESTION]. but on reaching manhood he begins to enter (10) his future kingdom [THAT'S A LOT TO SWALLOW HERE: NAZARETH, CAPERNAUM, JERUSALEM WERE NOT PART OF HIS KINGDOM]. His body is (21) not buried [ACTUALLY HE IS BURIED]
Does the scale allow for partial points? Why not? That would certainly be more accurate. If it does not, then point 1. has to be scored a 0, because Mary is never said to be from royal descent in the NT. If I have to score 1 or 0, and considering my initial scoring, converting 0.5, 0.75 & 1 to 1 and 0 & 0.25 to 0, I get 9. If I convert 0.5 to 0 instead of 1, then the total score becomes 3. The average is 6.
I agree we should go through the whole collection, but I am not interested about legends added on from early 2nd century up to today (that is post-canonical gospels era). They are not representative of how the earthly Jesus was initially described. The trend is obvious that the earlier is the text, the least legends it contains. Look at gMark and the other canonical gospels written later, for example. And it is my right to look at conflicting data, such as Paul wrote about a normal conception but two later gospels disagree, and attach more importance to earlier texts than later. It seems the main rule for those scoring high is to find any excuse to justify a 1 for each 22 points.
Best regards, Bernard

Unknown said...


You agree with me that "seed" in Gal 3:29 is not blood-related, but "honorary". When why not in Gal 3:16? Moreover, the text Paul interprets has the promise given to Abraham and his seed at the same time; Jesus cannot be existent and the seed of Abraham at the same time if he is not born for centuries. Further, Abraham had more than one decedent, so Paul's reinterpretation of the story cannot be so simple; he has redefined seed to refer to his pre-existing Christ. Your literal reading of Gal 3 is problematic.

As for the woman, she is mentioned Gal 4:22f. She was a woman of Abraham. So ch. 3 is looking forward to ch. 4 with its seed speak; the metaphor of the seed of Abraham is continued to this point. Further, one son of Abraham was not born "according to the flesh" but "according to the promise". And then Paul says specifically these women are allegorical (Gal 4:24). The woman who gives birth through the promise is Jerusalem above. How then is the woman of Gal 4:4 also not allegorical, especially with Paul's odd verb choice?

The theme of birth by woman, as a seed of Abraham, as the promise of God made centuries before Paul's time: all this is under one theme, and you cannot just read on verse in isolation from the narrative Paul is creating. He is reinterpreting the very pillars of Judaism and his new context for the scriptures has to be appreciated and understood.

As for those "in Christ" being earthly, not only is that a red herring that does nothing to support your case, there is 1 Cor 15:18 speaks of those who had died "in Christ". One is not very earthly when dead, especially if eternal life is given to those "in Christ" (Rom 6:23). One is reborn "in Christ" (2 Cor 5:17) to become something beyond the flesh. So being "in Christ" need not mean being stuck on earth as flesh and blood.

Bernard said...

To Gilgamesh:
You wrote: “you say there was nothing mysterious about his death.” You raise a good point here. Yes, I did not think about the details attached to the crucifixion. Replace the 0 by a 1 on that one, and my total scoring becomes 8.
You wrote: “Jesus does go to his future kingdom, both the one on Earth (Jerusalem) and the one in the Heaven. Jesus certainly fits point (10). But because he didn't do that at some specific time means it doesn't count?”
No Jerusalem is not Jesus' Kingdom when he goes there, and he does not go to any of his alleged kingdom right after he reaches manhood. I am not fussy or hyper-strict on that matter. It's like somebody would ask me “did you go to your country China in 2000? According to you, I should say yes, even if I went there 26 years ago and China was not my country then (and now).
Best regards, Bernard

Unknown said...

For the Raglan scoring:
why not change the point counting system? That's changing the burden. You are going against the folklorists' use of the pattern. You explain why they are wrong.

Also by focusing only on the New Testament you miss much of the folklore. A good folklorist does not just look at one part of the literature about heroic figures; they look at all of them. Mary was considered a descendant of David by the 2nd century, she was definitely a descendant of a Jewish tribe, and she was a virgin. Without being arbitrary, she fits the bill, especially since the point of regality and virginity was purity; virtuous women produce virtuous sons--that's the point. As for kingship of Jesus' father: it's God after all, the King of the Universe! Joseph is also of royal decent, so he is a king in exile. As for relationship between Mary and Joseph, if one takes the legend that both Mary and Joseph were descendants of David, they are more closely related that otherwise. Jesus does go to his kingdom (Heaven), not to mention his kingdom on earth is to come, and Jerusalem is the capital of the kingdom on earth the Messiah would rule from. Also, Jesus was declared King of the Jews by the Magi, thus declaring the throne of Herod as actually belonging to Jesus. We may also point out that the ultimate kingdom is this world, ruled by powers invisible, which Jesus defeats by dying and rising.

Jesus was placed in a tomb for burial, but remember he got back up. He didn't remain buried, and that is the point. Somehow the hero does not remain amongst us in any bodily form, and all we are left with are his memorials--for examples, Romulus, Hercules. Further, like Moses, some versions of the Jesus story have it so he is not entombed but goes to heaven--i.e. Gnostic and Islamic stories of Jesus.

If you have a problem with the Raglan hero pattern or how its used concerning Jesus by actual folklorists, show them that they are wrong, especially when they use the same pattern for other heroes just as liberally (I gave examples above for Moses and Sampson).

Unknown said...

I think it's also worth pointing out that the Raglan scale was not some document that ancients adhered to such that is their hero didn't fit a point exactly someone would through a temper tantrum that their guy wasn't living up to the standard. If we forced the rigidness as Bernard is supporting then it would become an almost useless pattern because it comes from Oedipus and not everyone does everything like Oedipus. It's like music: not everyone has a piece progress like Mozart, but that doesn't make it noise. Unless the criteria of the pattern are understood as not unshakable word or rigid in definition as a physical law, then it becomes nearly inapplicable.

Bernard said...

To Gilgamesh:
You wrote “You agree with me that "seed" in Gal 3:29 is not blood-related, but "honorary". When why not in Gal 3:16?”
Because, in Paul's epistles, Jesus/Christ is said to be a descendant of Israelites, Jesse & David (all of them descendants of Abraham). Paul made a point in Gal3:16 because “seed” is in the singular in the LXX, therefore he conveniently assumed it means Christ (rather than all Abraham's descendants). And I do not think Paul was ultra-strict & hyper-accurate on religious matter. For Paul, seed (Gal3:16) = Christ = Jesus. In 1Cor8:6, “Lord Jesus Christ” is said to be the co-creator of the world (as the Word of Philo of Alexandria).
You wrote “How then is the woman of Gal 4:4 also not allegorical ...?” I explained that already. I also want to remind you that before Paul starts his allegory at Gal4:22, he presented the two women, Abraham and his two sons as biblical figures (in the two preceding verses), where they are described as historical human beings. The two women of Gal4:22-23 are not allegorical here. Only later some of their deeds will be used by Paul in his allegory. There is a big difference here.
In 1Cor15:18, “in Christ” means “as Christian”, like it does in other places in Paul's epistles (Rom8:1,16:7,9,10; 1Cor3:1, etc.,). So Paul refers to the ones who died as Christians, that's it. And people who died as Christians remain Christians when “asleep”, up to they are resurrected for that eternal life in heaven.
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

Gilgamesh wrote:
“by focusing only on the New Testament you miss much of the folklore”. Why should I care about the late folklore? I am only interested on how much of a folk hero Jesus was described early one, up to one century later. From that period, we got already many texts about him.
“virtuous women produce virtuous sons”. Did you take in account her illegitimate affair with Pandera, from Jewish sources. That's would be part of the folklore, with the infancy gospel of Jesus (2nd century), which would render a 1 as 0 in a point on Raglan's list? And what does virtuousness have to do with royal descent? Or descendant of a Jewish tribe, or even David (who lived 1000 years earlier)? And virginity = regality? Isn't stretching a lot? And Joseph a king in exile? Really? And, accepting that both Mary and Joseph are descendant of David, does that make them close relatives? And Jesus was buried, even if it was for a few days.
Best regards, Bernard

Unknown said...


unless your understanding of the verses of Paul about Jesus as descending from David and Jesse is correct, things will get circular. We will have "Paul says Jesus was descended from Abraham because he said so."

The mention of Jesus as from Jesse is in Romans 15:12 when Paul sights the Old Testament. Notice he is not using recent history or genetics, but his own exegesis of the OT. Next, Paul says in Rom 1:3 that Jesus was descendant of David "in his human nature". What does this mean? Again, Paul indicates this is the dogma based on a reading of scripture.

Paul seems to get most of his info about Jesus via revelation or scripture (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-4). If the OT is his source for the lineage of Jesus, is he really talking about recent historical facts or something else? If Paul can read Genesis to mean that Jesus was the single seed of Abraham, against the OT's clearer meaning of actual multiple human descendants, then more cautions in Paul's presentation is needed.

Again, Gal 3:16 has Jesus as the Seed of Abraham centuries before Jesus was supposed to be in this world. Jesus cannot be a later descendant of Abraham and his Seed in Abraham's time at the same time. Such a logical impossibility suggests a different reading is needed. Since Paul is rereading the OT into something that is hardly literal, then the same should be said for the other details that Paul knows about Jesus, including the descendancy from David.

You already agree that the death-resurrection stuff isn't history, but for Paul it is known because of scriptural exegesis (1 Cor 15:3-4). If Paul knows Jesus is resurrected because of the OT, then he knows Jesus is of David just as much. Similarly, Gal 1:12 says his gospel doesn't come from humans but his revelation, which would include his interpretation of the OT. His knowledge doesn't come from apostles or human history, but scripture. Hence his understandings of scripture are what is important, and then we realize Paul is not telling us about historical facts but OT inspirations.

When Paul wants to prove a point, he does not point to eye-witnessing, but to scripture and other people's visions like his own (see 1 Cor 15). We have to work through his allegorization of the OT, which includes the verses we have been arguing. Unless you can show that Paul is not doing what I have been suggesting, your jump to other passages about David and Jesse will become circular. We need to read Gal 3-4 as they stand without bringing in our presuppositions form other parts of Paul's letters.

And all this discussion may be made moot if some scholars are correct and Gal 4:4 and Rom 1:3f are interpolated.

Unknown said...

By ignoring everyone outside the NT, you miss the entire point of doing a folklore study. You are biasing the sampling, not to mention we hardly have great testimony for the earliest days of Christianity, and the dating of the gospels is hard to pin down; restricting a time from when you will consider the folklore can only bias the results.

As for the Pandera thing with Mary, that was a tale amongst Jews who did not see Jesus as a hero. Remember, we are looking at the Raglan HERO pattern, not the villain pattern; illegitimacy actually would fit a villain patter, wouldn't it? Sounds like Jesus becomes what the authors want him to be. Doesn't sound like history, does it?

I never said regality=virginity. My point was that heroes come from virtuous women in folklore, and queens and virgins are epitomized as virtuous more often than not, especially virgins. One needs to ask an important question about the characteristics in these patterns: why are they there? Because such features were important to people and it tells us what values they wanted in their heroes. One of them was purity, and royal virgins fit that need to a T. And so does a virgin chosen by God, especially as she is declared blameless in 2nd century works.

Also, if one is of descent of kings, does that not make that person of royal blood? I don't understand your objection, and apparently neither do scholars. Besides, if the Davidic lineage didn't really matter to kingliness, why would the Christians make a big deal about Joseph or Mary being descended from David?

You need to see how folklorists actually use the hero pattern, and you will see that the use here with Jesus is hardly illegitimate. If you haven't already done so, get the edited-together book by Dundes which includes Rank and Raglan; then you can compare how the pattern is used with other figures, not to mention Dundes' treatment of Jesus. Otherwise you may just end up barking up the wrong tree. I'm not saying I'm an expert, but the points I have made are also to be found in the literature of folklorists. Ignore it at your own peril.

Loren said...

I myself have done a lot of Lord Raglan scoring -

I don't want to quibble about partial scores, because I've done that myself. However, I wish to note that Lord Raglan generally uses the most mythical variant. If Bernard was to score some other legendary heroes the way he's scored Jesus Christ, they'd likely come out rather low.

My own scoring for JC is 18.5

The Gospels individually:
Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 16, John 12

I've seen the argument that one of Matthew's and Luke's Joseph genealogies is for Mary. That will make JC's total score go up to 19. Setting his learn-nothing-about-childhood score to 0 would make it go down to 18.5 again.

Some other scores of mine:

Krishna - 17, the Buddha - 13, Moses - 15, Zeus - 14.5 of 16, Hercules - 15, Perseus - 17, Oedipus - 13, Romulus - 19, Alexander the Great - 9, Julius Caesar - 10.5, Augustus Caesar - 10, Napoleon Bonaparte - 8, Abraham Lincoln - 6, Charles Darwin - 5, Winston Churchill - 5, Adolf Hitler - 4, John Fitzgerald Kennedy - 8 (with conspiracy theories: 9), Anakin Skywalker - 10.5, Luke Skywalker and Leia Organa - 10 of 15, Harry Potter - 12 of 15.

There are lots of interesting differences between well-documented people and legendary heroes.

Well-documented people often have very obscure origins, and nobody ever tries to kill them in their infancy. No Southern plantation owners tried to kill the baby Abe Lincoln, no fundies tried to kill the baby Charles Darwin, no Jews tried to kill the baby Adolf Hitler, no psychiatrists tried to kill the baby L. Ron Hubbard, etc.

At the other end of their lives, well-documented people often end their lives greatly honored by their admirers. In contrary cases, like Napoleon and Hitler, their followers only desert them when threatened by crushing defeat, and sometimes not even then.

Lord Raglan did not address the question of child-prodigy stories, especially cases of unusual or miraculous ability. Jesus Christ and Augustus Caesar were both described as child prodigies.

Someone would score zero there if their childhood was relatively normal or at least not grotesquely above average, like Charles Darwin.

He also did not address the question of prophecy fulfillment. Numerous legendary heroes fulfill various prophecies, often despite efforts to thwart them: Krishna, the Buddha, Jesus Christ, Zeus, Oedipus, Perseus, Romulus, King Arthur, Alexander the Great, Augustus Caesar, Anakin Skywalker, Harry Potter.

By comparison, well-documented people have no prophecies of them and their careers. Nobody had even the slightest hint that they were coming.

Bernard said...

To Loren,
A few (disorganized) comments and remarks:
1. I am not surprised Raglan (and others) used the most mythical variants. However, it seems another rule is: if you find something in the Jesus' legends which has some resemblance with a part of one of the 22 points, the score is 1 for that point. That I do not accept. For example, for 2., you have Joseph as an uncrowned king (really): score 1. David and royal successors of the Davidian dynasty had many wives and concubines each, so we would have many descendants of David during Joseph's times, therefore many uncrowned kings! And even if someone can claim to be a descendant of Charlemagne, would that make him an uncrowned king? For 13., where does Jesus called himself “King of the Jews”? And in 15. you confided some of your methodology: “one must not be too literal-minded about Lord Raglan's profile”.
2. Fractional scoring is more accurate than an unconditional YES (1) or NO (0).
3. The more ancient is the entity, the more likely its mythological baggage will be heavy.
4. Initially well-documented historic figures are less likely to attract mythological additions, but regardless they do, in small quantity.
5. If an entity is central to widely accepted religious/cultic beliefs, we can expect a lot of myths in it.
6. Anakin Skywalker scores no higher than Julius Caesar! Luke Skywalker scores less than Julius Caesar!
7. Overall, Raglan's scale can only tell us how much a figure has been mythologized through times, but little about the origin (a real person or none).
In my view, the progressive mythological additions of Jesus are because: a) being a figure from antiquity, who are generally less initially documented than modern figures (more so if Jesus was a mediocre/lower_class man with a 15 minutes fame at the end of his life). That allowed some early Christian writers to fill up the blanks to their satisfaction (and many times differently!).
b) He became the focus of a religion (after his death). His earthly life was extended into pre-existence and post-existence. Also the same earthly life (c/w conception, birth and death), or rather its last year, had to be laced with (extraordinary or not) fiction (also because man Jesus was used as a vehicle for the gospelers' messages).
Best regards, Bernard
To be continued

Bernard said...

To Loren,
8. You make a big point about the attempt to kill baby Jesus. But:
a) that comes from only one gospel. Another one (gLuke), which cover the same time period, ignores it.
b) that can be very much explained by "Matthew" obvious coloring (Jesus<->Moses). In other words, the "attempt to kill" was added for theological reasons (like most fiction in the gospels), not to stick still another myth to Jesus. Raglan's scale does not distinguish myths added to make the story more interesting, or myths added for theological reasons (however I agree this difference should not be considered when using Raglan's scale).
9.You wrote, “The Gospels individually: Matthew 19, Mark 10, Luke 16, John 12”. I find this very interesting: gMark, generally accepted as the earliest gospel, has the lowest score. In my view, most of gJohn was written earlier than gMatthew & gLuke, and when the author knew about gMark; so I am not surprised about the relative low score of gJohn, as compared with the later Synoptics. That would show the mythological additions were progressive. And if we would consider the human-like & earthly- like bits on Jesus in Paul's seven epistles, the score according to Raglan, would be very low, certainly lower than for gMark.
10. I agree that if the other heros would be scored the same way I did for Jesus Christ, their scores would be lower. By how much I do not know. Anyway I do not think Raglan's scale has much value about determining if the hero had a human origin or not, more so for religious figure in a far away past, more so for someone who had been described by Paul as a humble & slave-like Jew.
Best regard, Bernard

Pikemann Urge said...

The conversation between Bernard and Gilgamesh, apart from the arguement about the Raglan scale, is interesting. Good work, the both of you, for challenging each other.

Bernard, in the case of the Raglan scale, you have misunderstood it. Partial scoring is irrelevant. It is not a maths test. The criterea are not meant to be treated as literal truth. They don't have to be. Details may differ between Heroes, but they always will, due to culture and other contexts.

Loren, that's very interesting stuff you posted there, especially scoring the Gospels individually.

Loren said...

Thanx, Pikemann Urge.

I think that Bernard's points 3, 4, and 5 are not some problem with Lord Raglan's profile; LR scores are a good illustration of it.

As to Julius Caesar scoring around the Skywalkers' scores, some overlap is perhaps not surprising. Furthermore, the story of Luke and Leia cuts off when they are in comfortable middle age, helping to rebuild the Jedi Order and the Republic. The stories of Zeus and Harry Potter also cut off there. So one must take that into account.

As to what the original was like, LR scores can hint as to how much was fact and how much fiction in surviving accounts.

The differences between the scores for Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are mostly for the early part of Jesus Christ's life. Mark gives almost no details about that, Matthew and Luke go into some detail, while John skips over a human early life to his divine origins.

But the progression from Mark to the other three canonical Gospels does suggest a story that grows in the telling.

BTW, I found a mistake and bumped JFK's scores down by 1 (7 with conspiracies making 8). I also decided to bump Julius Caesar's score down by 1 from 10.5 to 9.5. I think that it's fair to say that different assessments are likely to differ by about 1 or 2.

Richard Carrier said...

I find Bernard to be rather wastefully longwinded here. In my talk I began and ended emphatically contextualizing the whole content as presenting merely a hypothesis and the case to be made for it. Obviously there are countless different ways to interpret the same evidence. That's actually the problem: there are a dozen different "historical Jesus" interpretations as well. And a dozen different "mythical Jesus" interpretations, too--I ended with the point that only one of them is plausible, the one I presented, but as I also said, plausible does not mean proven.

Somehow Bernard cannot grasp anything but a black and white perception of reality. Either I adamantly back the myth theory, or adamantly reject it. He cannot comprehend anything in the middle. Yet the middle is where I am. I lean strongly now toward myth. But I by no means consider the question settled. Nor do I consider any of the evidence to be clear cut. I fully recognize it can all be interpreted multiple ways, and that this makes any argument, for or against historicity, complicated and uncertain. Such honest doubt is alien to Bernard's mind. He is always absolutely certain he is right, and assumes everyone else is absolutely certain of what they argue, too. That's just weird.

In the end, Bernard is welcome to publish his alternate theory of the evidence and see how it survives peer review. That's exactly what I will be doing. But here is not the place for him to do this.

I'll only survey a few specific examples illustrating why I see no point in further engaging with Bernard...

Richard Carrier said...

As to specific issues: the Rank-Raglan scale will be thoroughly analyzed in my book and its application explained there, much more rigorously than I could cover in so brief a talk. It's rather ridiculous to respond to a summary with elaborate arguments responding to material that wasn't even presented.

As to his discussion of the timeline: read the handout--that is the proposed sequence of events according to the hypothesis, not a pre-hypothetical statement of the evidence. In other words, it does not state each line as a fact, but as what the hypothesis proposes. For example, with regard to earliest references to a historical Jesus, the hypothesis proposes all earlier supposed references are instead mytho-allegorical. That does not mean that interpretation is proved, only that it is proposed. I then proceeded to present the best case for that proposal (albeit only in summary). Bernard is thus confusing hypotheses with claims to fact, and much of his critique is thus besides the point.

Likewise much of his critique either misses things I actually said, or glosses over pertinent facts, or even pretends I didn't answer them in Q&A. The rest will be addressed in my book (as every detail could not have been addressed in such a summary speech).

In addition to having a hard time with ambiguity and shades of gray, I find Bernard to have a confused grasp of reality. At the event he kept insisting in Q&A that Paul repeatedly used the phrase "brother in the Lord" which I strongly doubted, and he kept shaking his head with the certainty of a fanatic that I was wrong. Now he brings this up again, yet none of his examples contains that phrase, just as I had said in Q&A--except one (which he incorrectly identified): Philippians 1:14. Once is not 'repeatedly'.

And that once is in fact not what he claims, since the Greek says "most of the brethren having confidence in the lord because of my bonds more abundantly dare to speak the word of the Lord without fear." Most modern Bibles conceal the fact that "in the Lord" is here the prepositional object of the participle of "have confidence" and not an identifier ("my bonds" being a causal clause, i.e. the cause of the confidence, not the object of "have confidence"). In other words, Paul is not calling Christians "brothers in the Lord" here at all. He is saying the brothers have confidence in the Lord. See the RSV translation for a more accurate rendering of the meaning of the Greek. All other uses of "in the Lord" do not accompany "brother," just as I said, and all have the specific meaning I explained in Q&A (and which he now ignores).

Bernard also has a strangely erroneous memory. I actually said in the talk itself that the historical Jesus was mentioned in the later street sermons in Acts (and I discussed the significance of this). I instead argued he was absent from the trial accounts. And that certain plot elements that should have been present in the whole narrative were missing, that his family vanished, and so on. Bernard failed to understand any of this.

As to the mythic Levitical meaning of the Barabbas narrative, if Bernard doesn't see it, he must be blind. The evidence and argument for it are fairly decisive, IMO. And if he doesn't buy that, then he won't buy any reasonable argument whatsoever. So just as I've found in the past, it's a waste of time to argue with him. His fanaticism and inability to grasp the logic of arguments have been exposed in earlier threads here. I see no point in engaging him anymore.

Bernard said...

To Loren,
I did the Raglan test on Hercules, Romulus and Jesus -through only gMark-
1.The hero's mother is a royal virgin 1/ 0.75/ 0
2.His father is a king and 1/ 1/ 0
3.often a near relative of the mother, but 0/ 0/ 0
4.the circumstances of his conception are unusual, and 1/ 1/ 0
5.he is also reputed to be the son of a god 1/ 1/ 1 birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or maternal grandfather, to kill him, but 1/ 1/ 0
7.He is spirited away, and 1/ 1/ 0
8.Reared by foster-parents in a far country 1/ 1/ 0
9.We are told nothing of his childhood, but 0.5/ 0.5/ 1
10.On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future kingdom. 0/ 1/ 0
11.After a victory over the king and or giant, dragon, or wild beast 0.5/ 0.5/ 0.5
12.He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and 1/ 0/ 0
13.becomes king 0/ 1/ 0.5
14.For a time he reigns uneventfully and 0/ 1/ 0
15.Prescribes laws but 0/ 1/ 0.5
16.later loses favor with the gods and or his people and 0.5/ 0/ 1
17.Is driven from from the throne and the city after which 0.5/ 0/ 0.5
18.He meets with a mysterious death 1/ 1/ 0.5
19.often at the top of a hill. 1/ 0/ 1
20.his children, if any, do not succeed him. 1/ 1/ 0
21.his body is not buried, but nevertheless 1/ 1/ 0
22.he has one or more holy sepulchres. 0/ 1/ 0
The overall results are: 14 (Hercules)/ 15.25 (Romulus)/ 6.5 (Jesus through gMark)
I do not claim to be an expert on Hercules and Romulus, and my main reference here is Wikipedia. I noticed that for Hercules and Romulus, many points in Raglan's profile fit well into their respective legend, but it is rarely the case for Jesus' one (whole or by gMark only), which makes its scoring difficult & debatable.
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

To Richard,
I was travelling, so my silence so far.
You wrote “I ended with the point that only one of them [hypothesis] is plausible, the one I presented,”
Congratulations, you are the N author on the subject to have thought like that, and still counting. But if you did say that at the meeting, why did you give a list of ten books by different authors “that are actually worth reading”, 5 of them about a historical Jesus. If your hypothesis is the only one plausible (but not necessarily proven, according to your words), that's would be a waste of time to read those books, each of them about a non-plausible hypothesis. Maybe there are some nuances I miss. I also have difficulty to understand that an unproven hypothesis would be the only one plausible.
You wrote “Either I adamantly back the myth theory, or adamantly reject it. He cannot comprehend anything in the middle. Yet the middle is where I am. I lean strongly now toward myth.”.
What kind of middle is that? It's like a politician saying: I am a centrist and I lean strongly now towards the left.
And I also lean strongly toward myth, but that does not take away the existence of a “nobody” Jesus with a 15 minutes local fame. And that's certainly a lot more documented (starting from Paul's epistles) than his alleged non-existence.
As far as publishing, let's be clear about it. My website has been on the internet for many years. It is available for all, worldwide and for free. In other words, it is fully published. What about your book: for now way late and still unpublished. I welcome peers review, but that does not mean those in their ivory tower will look at me. That would be too undignified and detrimental to their career. And they can only read words on the product derived from cut trees ... The field is still at a medieval stage and for the exclusive benefit of haughty scholars. And we know, many scholars later, where we are at: a total mess.
Best regards, Bernard

Bernard said...

To Richard,
On the few specific points, I am sure that I did not say that Paul repeatedly used the expression “brother(s) in the Lord”. I thought then it only appears in Philippians 1:14. And I was wrong at that: despite the many translations, the Greek does not say that, as you pointed out. But Paul never called the members of the Church of Jerusalem “brothers” or “in Christ” or “in the Lord”.
Well, now we can agree there are references to an earthly Jesus in several chapters of Acts. That would defused your argument about some of the silence of Acts. About Jesus' family, there is a reference to it in 1:14. Later in 12:17, 15:13, 21:18, there are mention of a James, who, through cross-referencing with Galatians, can only be “the brother of the Lord”. Of course you will object to that as meaning blood brother of Jesus, as also specified in gMark, gMatthew, and Josephus' Antiquities.
Best regards, Bernard

Pikemann Urge said...

Bernard: "What kind of middle is that?"

'Middle' does not mean 'permanently fixed somewhere between two or more extremes'. As far as Richard is concerned, the probability of finding a knowable, historical Jesus are low. I think I am a little more centred than that, but it's never so simple.

"And we know, many scholars later, where we are at: a total mess."

You and Richard are in good company! He will agree 100% with you on this point. I'm referring to his piece, 'The Ignatian Vexation'. So far I think Richard is spot-on, and that many scholars, particularly religious ones, overestimate how sure they can be of certain facts such as Gospel dating etc.