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 Post subject: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 9:23 am 
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Saw these images floating around social media (Facebook) from a page called 'Inspiring Philosophy' with the following information:

Quote:
A follower of mine emailed a few scholars to ask them of Carrier's arguments:

Image

Image


Clicking the images will take you off site to view the screen shots. Sorry about that, I've gotten rid of all my accounts associated with image hosting so that is the best I can do with at the moment. Perhaps some helpful soul could transcribe the brief e-mails for readers here.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:05 am 
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Bart Ehrman wrote:
Yes, the Josephus passage has been debated for many years. Most scholars still think that the bulk of it goes back to Josephus.

Carrier is no less "fringe" than Price - neither one of them is taken seriously by professional scholars of the New Testament and/or early Christianity. All best, Bart Ehrman


N T Wright wrote:
Thank you, XXXX. I think the answer is that Price and Carrier are not well qualified New Testament scholars; and Hopper too. I have actually never heard of any of them. But in any case the evidence for Jesus is much wider than the Josephus passage. Jesus is as well established a figure of history as is, say, the emperor Caligula, his near-contemporary. It is frustrating when people write rubbish and 'ordinary folk' are deceived, but this happens all the time and one cannot always be correcting bad history (though I have done a fair amount of that).

Where are you from?

Warm greetings
Tom Wright

Prof N T Wright
St Andrews


There you go, a transcription. I have bolded the part that is rubbish. The idea that Jesus is "as well established a figure of history as is, say, the emperor Caligula, his near-contemporary," is absolute balderdash. Any person who could say such a thing may well be a scholar in his discipline but should not present himself as a historian.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:20 am 
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Is Jesus as well established a historical figure as Caligula?

Let's consider the evidence that we have:

The Gospels, authors of unknown identity, dating at the absolute earliest 2 decades after the death of Jesus.

None of the epistles of the New Testament can be confidently attributed to an author who knew Jesus.

The Testimonium Flavianum in Josephus may contain a genuine kernel of an independent historical testimony of Jesus, but it has to some degree been altered.

Suetonius and Tacitus provide early second century witnesses to Jesus, but they may rely, at least partly, on Christian sources.

The historical solidity of Pontius Pilate, attested by Josephus, Philo, and in epigraphic evidence, is the strongest piece of evidence going for the reliability of the Gospels, in my view.

To be continued . . . .


Last edited by Kishkumen on Sat Apr 21, 2018 1:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:12 am 
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Kishkumen wrote:
There you go, a transcription.


Too kind Reverend.

N T Wright wrote:
I think the answer is that Price and Carrier are not well qualified New Testament scholars; and Hopper too. I have actually never heard of any of them.


I really liked this. "I don't think they are qualified and I've never heard of them"

lol


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:36 am 
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Let's consider the sources for Caligula. You see, my problem with Wright's statement is not that he believes that the evidence points toward the existence of Jesus. I think he is correct there. I agree with him. Where he gets into trouble is in this hyperbole regarding the strength of the case. Anyone with a passing knowledge of ancient history should find his hyperbole absurd in the extreme. To say that Jesus is as well established a historical figure as Caligula, one would suppose that he was saying that the evidence for the historical Jesus reaches a certain volume, range, and quality comparable with the Roman emperor.

We would have to assume that we have evidence of the quantity, kind, and quality for Jesus that is comparable to:

Ancient coins bearing the titulature and image of the emperor in multiple denominations from multiple mints.

Image

Have a look at what some coin shops have on offer:

https://www.ma-shops.com/roman-empire/caligula/?curr=USD

http://www.wildwinds.com/coins/ric/caligula/i.html

To that we would have to add the numerous inscriptions, including those intended for public display on important buildings, those on statues, and those on incidental items such as, say, the pipes on Caligula's ships:

https://jcreliefs22.wordpress.com/2011/03/24/caligula-inscription-on-lead-pipe-from-nemi-ship-joe-geranio/

Quote:
But the precise dating of the Nemi Ships based on the name of Caligula (37 to 41 A.D.) has been established by the for fistulae found three inside the first ship and the fourth nearby with their seal G. CAESARIS AVG GERMANIC all stamped with the same die (evidenced by the imperfect impression of the C on the various pieces of pipe)… The valve found on board is according to the standards a vicenaria in perfect working condition…


We have inscriptions (actually existing!) attesting to the oath of loyalty that was sworn to Caligula found in both sides of the empire.

Here is the one (IAssos 26= IMT 573) from ancient Assos in Turkey:

Quote:
We swear to Zeus Soter, god Caesar Augustus, and the ancestral holy Maiden to have good will towards Gaius Caesar Augustus and his whole household and to consider as friends whomever he may choose as friends and to consider as enemies whomever he accuses. If we swear truly, may it go well for us, but if we swear falsely, the opposite will happen.


Here is another one (ILS 190) from ancient Aritium in Spain:

Quote:
On my conscience, I shall be an enemy of those persons whom I know to be enemies of Gaius Caesar Germanicus, and if anyone imperils or shall imperil him or his safety by arms or by civil war I shall not cease to hunt him down by land or by sea, until he pays the penalty to Caesar in full. I shall not hold myself or my children dearer than his safety and I shall consider as my enemies those persons who are hostile to him . . . .


Not to mention the many statues and busts bearing Caligula's image.

Image

And the things that Caligula built or erected in the city of Rome, such as the Vatican Obelisk, which still stands today!

Image

And, of course, we have the testimonies of the many historians who wrote about him, historians whose identities are well established, whose narratives place Caligula within a web of evidences regarding other historical figures and events that is so dense as to preclude the slightest possibility that someone made Caligula up.

Among these, perhaps the most valuable witness is Philo of Alexandria, who took part in a Jewish embassy to Rome that met and conversed with Caligula in person. Philo recounts this in his De Legatione.

Philo, Embassy to Gaius 44 wrote:
But we, as soon as we were introduced into his presence, the moment that we saw him, bent to the ground with all imaginable respect and adoration, and saluted him calling him the emperor Augustus; and he replied to us in such a gentle and courteous and humane manner that we not only despaired of attaining our object, but even of preserving our lives; (353) for, said he, "You are haters of God, inasmuch as you do not think that I am a god, I who am already confessed to be a god by every other nation, but who am refused that appellation by you." And then, stretching up his hands to heaven, he uttered an ejaculation which it was impious to hear, much more would it be so to repeat it literally. (354) And immediately all the ambassadors of the opposite portion were filled with all imaginable joy, thinking that their embassy was already successful, on account of the first words uttered by Gaius, and so they clapped their hands and danced for joy, and called him by every title which is applicable to any one of the gods.


How any historian in his right mind could compare such evidence to the evidence supporting the existence of Jesus is beyond me. The two cases are so far apart as to be practically cosmic in metaphorical distance. I hope I live to see the day when these completely daft and irresponsible pseudo-comparisons are no longer blithely made by otherwise sober and accomplished scholars of the New Testament and Early Christianity. Such statements do these scholars no credit.

So, where are the Jesus coins?

Where are the statues honoring Jesus in his own lifetime?

Where are the inscriptions bearing the name of Jesus?

Where are the indisputably eyewitness accounts of Jesus' life written by known ancient authors?

I am not saying that we need such evidence to establish Jesus' historical existence. I am saying we would need such evidence before we could say that the evidence for the historical Jesus was truly comparable to the evidence for the emperor Caligula.

To N T Wright and other scholars of the New Testament and Early Christianity, please stop this nonsense. It is unnecessary and actually undermines your case.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 2:08 pm 
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That is a mountain of evidence for Caligula, professor. Very interesting, I would never have thought about coins, but some of that stuff should be pretty obvious for a historian.

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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 3:20 pm 
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This is why I don’t have much confidence in New Testament scholars being good historians. This isn’t the first time I’ve read exaggerated claims about the strength of the evidence for Jesus.

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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:25 pm 
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As someone who does ancient history as a profession, I am shocked to read New Testament and EC scholars who erroneously—and how!—claim that the evidence for the historical Jesus is as good as that for Alexander the Great or, in this case, Caligula!?!?!?!!!

What are these people smoking? It has to be a meme that has been passed down more or less unthinkingly for some time now. And yet it so preposterous that I can’t believe my eyes each time I see a new example. I recall DCP repeating it, but then he found it in the writings of some Christian apologist, I believe.

Really, it has to stop. How can these scholars blame the ‘average person’ for having a faulty sense of history when they themselves trot out unfathomable garbage like this?


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:39 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
Image


Here's another statue of Caligula:

Image

- Doc


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:41 pm 
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Aren't new testament scholars overwhelmingly from religious institutions that contractually bind them to support Jesus as a historical figure? Could their influence be what's pushing the narrative?

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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:42 pm 
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Here is DCP completely misrepresenting ancient historiography:

Quote:
Hitchens seems to be under the impression that we are simply awash in ancient documents that were written by eyewitnesses to many of the events that we talk about in ancient history. But this is not so. The earliest surviving biography of Alexander the Great, by Diodorus, dates to nearly three centuries after Alexander’s death in 323 bc. Livy’s account of the campaigns of Hannibal was written over a century and a half after the death of that general in 182 bc. Tacitus wrote his annals about ad 115, yet they cover imperial Roman history from ad 14 to 68, meaning that he wrote about fifty to one hundred years after the events he describes. Suetonius wrote his history of the Caesars in the early second century. His biography of Julius Caesar thus written more than a century and a half after Caesar’s death. The point should be clear: by the standards of the ancient world and of the study of ancient history, the Gospels are amazingly close to the events they narrate, even if you give them a fairly late date. Herodotus
wrote non-eyewitness accounts of the Persian Wars, and his treatment was written up to half a century after the dates he describes. Our major
surviving source for the lives and teachings of most ancient philosophers is Diogenes Laertius, who wrote centuries after many of the men whose lives he records. Plutarch’s famous biographies, Plutarch’s Lives, are likewise often centuries after the fact. Hitchens clearly has no understanding of ancient historiography.


Right back at ya, pard.

What he fails to mention, if he understands the point at all--and frankly, I think he does--is that these writers he is talking about rely on earlier sources, some of whom we know by name. Let's take his ill-advised discussion of Suetonius, for example. If the question is what our evidence for the historicity of Caesar is, then one only need point to the huge pile of evidence, quite similar to the evidence adduced above for Caligula. What should we say about all Cicero had to say about his contemporary Caesar? Was he not an eyewitness to Caesar's life? Did he not know and interact with Caesar personally? Are there not many archaeological evidences for the life of Caesar, including the coins, buildings, statues, etc.?

So, no, neither Suetonius, nor we, rely upon Suetonius alone for evidence of Caesar's life. There are multiple authors, some of whom were Caesar's contemporaries: Augustus, Oppius, Cicero, Sallust, Catullus, etc. Really, this is terribly embarrassing stuff DCP has written. Why and how this is allowed to pass for educational for the saints is beyond me. It is the opposite of educational. It frustrates the project of human knowledge, in fact.

If anything a person writes has the net effect of making people stupider, any organization that touts itself as ennobling humankind should consign that writing to the circular file. This DCP article on Hitchens is a great example.

Here is Peterson's original article, which should be edited or removed altogether:

See https://publications.mi.BYU.edu/publications/review/19/2/S00001-5176a65449d0e1Peterson.pdf


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:48 pm 
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Wrights comment certainly comes across as careless. I suspect he means that he is convinced of the existence of both Jesus and Caligula.

Perhaps in thinking of the amount of evidence he has adjusted somewhat in accordance to what might be expected for an emperor and an obscure itinerant preacher.

Or perhaps as evidence for Jesus he is willing to include the amount of discussion, books , churches, art produced about him by all of his followers in the subsequent centuries who did not appear from nowhere discussing nothing.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 4:50 pm 
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huckelberry wrote:
Wrights comment certainly comes across as careless. I suspect he means that he is convinced of the existence of both Jesus and Caligula.

Perhaps in thinking of the amount of evidence he has adjusted somewhat in accordance to what might be expected for an emperor and an obscure itinerant preacher.

Or perhaps as evidence for Jesus he is willing to include the amount of discussion, books , churches, art produced about him by all of his followers in the subsequent centuries who did not appear from nowhere discussing nothing.


Yeah, I'm sorry, huckleberry, but I am not buying your excuses. What we are seeing is a well-worn saw of the Christian scholars of the New Testament and EC. They are used to saying this, and unfortunately they give the matter too little thought. I respect N.T. Wright, but he should know better than this, and he should stop saying this kind of crap.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:01 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
huckelberry wrote:
Wrights comment certainly comes across as careless. I suspect he means that he is convinced of the existence of both Jesus and Caligula.

Perhaps in thinking of the amount of evidence he has adjusted somewhat in accordance to what might be expected for an emperor and an obscure itinerant preacher.

Or perhaps as evidence for Jesus he is willing to include the amount of discussion, books , churches, art produced about him by all of his followers in the subsequent centuries who did not appear from nowhere discussing nothing.


Yeah, I'm sorry, huckleberry, but I am not buying your excuses. What we are seeing is a well-worn saw of the Christian scholars of the New Testament and EC. They are used to saying this, and unfortunately they give the matter too little thought. I respect N.T. Wright, but he should know better than this, and he should stop saying this kind of crap.


Kishkumen, largely I agree with you.

I do think Jesus myth supporters can sound like there should be the sort of evidence for an obscure itinerant preacher as for the emperor and as a result reject evidence from later followers of Jesus.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:33 pm 
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huckelberry wrote:
Kishkumen, largely I agree with you.

I do think Jesus myth supporters can sound like there should be the sort of evidence for an obscure itinerant preacher as for the emperor and as a result reject evidence from later followers of Jesus.


Yes!

And so the antidote to the problem is to overstate the case so far in the other direction that their credibility is sacrificed?

I understand their frustration, but this misrepresentation of the strength of the case for Jesus is counterproductive.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 5:41 pm 
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Exiled wrote:
Aren't new testament scholars overwhelmingly from religious institutions that contractually bind them to support Jesus as a historical figure? Could their influence be what's pushing the narrative?


Some do have jobs that require their support of a certain view of Jesus. That’s one reason references to percentages and consensus require appropriate qualification.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:13 pm 
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Kishkumen wrote:
huckelberry wrote:
Kishkumen, largely I agree with you.

I do think Jesus myth supporters can sound like there should be the sort of evidence for an obscure itinerant preacher as for the emperor and as a result reject evidence from later followers of Jesus.


Yes!

And so the antidote to the problem is to overstate the case so far in the other direction that their credibility is sacrificed?

I understand their frustration, but this misrepresentation of the strength of the case for Jesus is counterproductive.


Kishkumen, I doubt there is escape from the accuracy of your observation here. You are referring to deep habits of Christian apologetic which I think muddy efforts to understand.

I am disappointed by the New Testament Wright comment because he has placed some real effort in making review of Jesus as a historical question. He has also engaged in interesting thought about the meaning of those historical considerations.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 6:29 pm 
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DCP wrote:
Hitchens seems to be under the impression that we are simply awash in ancient documents that were written by eyewitnesses to many of the events that we talk about in ancient history. But this is not so. The earliest surviving biography of Alexander the Great, by Diodorus, dates to nearly three centuries after Alexander’s death in 323 bc. Livy’s account of the campaigns of Hannibal was written over a century and a half after the death of that general in 182 bc. Tacitus wrote his annals about ad 115, yet they cover imperial Roman history from ad 14 to 68, meaning that he wrote about fifty to one hundred years after the events he describes. Suetonius wrote his history of the Caesars in the early second century. His biography of Julius Caesar thus written more than a century and a half after Caesar’s death. The point should be clear: by the standards of the ancient world and of the study of ancient history, the Gospels are amazingly close to the events they narrate, even if you give them a fairly late date. Herodotus
wrote non-eyewitness accounts of the Persian Wars, and his treatment was written up to half a century after the dates he describes. Our major
surviving source for the lives and teachings of most ancient philosophers is Diogenes Laertius, who wrote centuries after many of the men whose lives he records. Plutarch’s famous biographies, Plutarch’s Lives, are likewise often centuries after the fact. Hitchens clearly has no understanding of ancient historiography.



Image


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:03 pm 
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Reverend,

According to the Internet, Suetonius' history of the Caesars is greatly informed by the Imperial Archives. Would you mind offering us a summary of the history of the Imperial Archives themselves? How did these archives originate, what kind of documents, what happened to them -- that sort of thing.

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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 10:26 pm 
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Anybody thought of writing to Tom Wright and asking for a clarification? It appears that he will answer any random Joe's email questions. I can see him giving a couple of defenses.

First would be something like: "I got this in between teaching a class and having to take a ____. I dashed it off real quick on the way to the toilet. Of course you are reading too much into this."

Second would be something like: "Even though I wrote this on the way to taking a ____, I was still careful enough. I said, 'Jesus is as well established a figure of history as is, say, the emperor Caligula, his near-contemporary.' Notice that I didn't say, 'There is as much empirical evidence for the existence of the one as there is for the other."

The second one would basically be like me saying that I my existences is as well established as is Barack Obama's, but there is a hell of a lot more empirical evidence for Obama than there is for me. Establishment has diminishing returns. Once you get above a certain point, further evidence doesn't establish existence any more. Both Obama and I have birth certificates and social security numbers, which establishes us both. That there is video evidence of Obama's existence (and not mine) doesn't grant some uber establishment of the existence of Obama.

But in any case I think we can all infer that Wright was on the way to take a ____, at least that's how I read it. :razz:

Jury is still out on whether or not Ehrman was on his way to take ____.

I would be genuinely curious to read any clarification he might make. However, I don't care enough to ask myself. I'm currently on my way to also take a ____.


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 Post subject: Re: Price, Carrier, Ehrman, Wright: Jesus Mythicism Again
PostPosted: Sat Apr 21, 2018 11:25 pm 
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Wright's statement does seem over the top.

I might take seriously his implication that the mythicists are fringe figures because even without being any kind of historical scholar the idea that Jesus of Nazareth never existed just seems bizarre. On the one hand we all know many historical examples of charismatic founders of new religious movements, from Rajneesh through L. Ron Hubbard and Joseph Smith back to Muhammed at least. So there's just nothing at all implausible about a guy like Jesus existing. Rising from the dead and walking on water are another story, of course, but his mere existence is easy to buy.

And on the other hand how many examples are there of a large social movement getting launched by unknown figures in the name of a mythical figurehead? I can think of the Church of the Sub-Genius, I guess, with Bob Dobbs. That's all I've got on this, and it's not really a movement, let alone a large one. Even Dudeism has Jeff Bridges.

So it seems to me, as a lay person in this field, that the mythicists are the ones who are advancing an unprecedented claim without evidence, while the people who think there was a historical Jesus are merely offering the obvious default explanation for the existence of Christianity, namely a charismatic founder like Bahá'u'lláh or Helena Blavatsky. Even if there were no historical evidence for Jesus at all, his real existence would be a far more likely hypothesis than the myth scenario, just on the basis of historical precedent.


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