This is really old News. I dropped the ball a couple of months ago when this broke, other fish to fry. One of the darlings of atheist research, Bart Ehrman, considered almost a skeptic himself turning on the Jesus mythers and defending the existence of Jesus, not just defending it but being sort of nasty to the mythers. I predict the same fate for him that John Dominic Crosson suffered. He too was the Darling of atheist in the 90s until Urbild and I started pointing out that he's a believer and has his own form of faith, he also went up against the mythers. Then he was dropped like a hot rock.
The "Jesus was a myth" theory is important to atheist, even if they don't accept, it gives them an ace in the hole for a get of hell free card.
The Huffington Post
Posted: 04/ 3/2012 5:00 pm Updated: 04/ 3/2012 5:00 pm
In "Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth," Ehrman soundly refutes the arguments -- sometimes made by atheists, agnostics and humanists -- that early storytellers invented Jesus.
As Christians prepare to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus, Ehrman, an agnostic, convincingly demonstrates in clear, forceful prose that there was a historical Jesus, a Jewish teacher of the first century who was crucified by Pontius Pilate. As for the so-called "mythicists" who argue otherwise, Ehrman has some choice words: "sensationalist," "wrongheaded," and "amateurish."
"They're driven by an ideological agenda, which is, they find organized religion to be dangerous and harmful and the chief organized religion in their environment is Christianity," Ehrman said in an interview.
The fact that Ehrman is siding with Christians on the historical truth of Jesus does not indicate a change of heart, much less a conversion. Instead, he said, it's an attempt to say, "history matters."
They throw in this amazing line: "It eventually dawned on him that the Jesus deniers were the flip side of the Christian fundamentalists he had long ago foresworn. Both were using Jesus to justify their relationship to Christianity." Duh. Hate to burst his bubble that's pretty much true of all the Dawkamentalists or "new atheists."
Needless to say Richard Carrier doesn't like it.
March 21, 2012 at 3:07 pm Richard Carrier
I won’t address his appeal to the genetic fallacy (mythicists are all critics of religion, therefore their criticisms of a religion as myth can be dismissed) or his sniping at credentials (where he gets insanely and invalidly hyper-specific about what qualifies a person to speak on this subject [which as one reader pointed out is the no-true-Scottsman fallacy]), except to note that it’s false: mythicist Thomas Thompson meets every one of Ehrman’s criteria–excepting only one thing, he is an expert in Judaism rather than Christianity specifically. And I know Ehrman knows of him. So did he just “forget” when he says he knows of no one who meets his criteria? Or is he being hyper-hyper specific and not allowing even professors of Jewish studies to have a respectable opinion in this matter? As Thompson’s book The Messiah Myth introduces the subject, “the assumptions that the gospels are about a Jesus of history…are not justified.” He says (my emphasis) that “a historical Jesus might be essential to the origins of Christianity,” but is not essential to the construction of “the gospels” (p. 8), not even the sayings in them come from a historical Jesus (pp. 11-26).
He is hardly dismissing mythers becuase they are critics of religion. He's a critic of religion too. How quickly the myther forgets. Carrier more-so than most, when it suits him. What Eherman is really saying is that they are biased. So Carrier is covering for bias by asserting that when one criticizes the basis of mythers they are committing the genetic fallacy. That is not it. He allude to the atheist misuse of the no true Scotsman fallacy. It's a good thing to demand credentials of the Mythers because they have a habit of using old nineteenth century people who were dismissed in their day as crack pots. This is not eve similar to the atheist version of no true Scotsman which is not a valid use of that fallacy anyway. They will say "this si the NTSF" anytime yous ay "this is not real Christianity." That has no application to demanding credentials. Carrier defends Thompson as having scholarly credentials although he is an OT guy. The problem is he's not exactly unbiased. Despite his credentials he has certain view points that limit his fairness. Robert M. Prices has reviewed and criticized his works:
And then there is the uneasy implication of Thompson’s work that tends not only to dehistoricize the Old Testament but to de-Judaize it as well, as if the second-remove abstract, figurative reading to which Gentile God-fearers and Christians perforce resorted were really the ancient authors’ intention all along.Thompson simply dismisses the notion that the messianic motifs in which the gospels are steeped reflect the apocalyptic expectations either of early Christians or of contemporary Jews. No, they all “understood” the various prophecies and miracle stories of both Testaments as utopian fictions and allegories of piety. Thompson fairly sneers at the imagined bumbling of Albert Schweitzer, foolish enough to try to discern the outlines of an eschatologically deluded Jesus from Matthew and Mark. How could anyone, before modern numbskulls, have so grossly misread the biblical, messianic tradition as to imagine that the Kingdom of God might actually dawn in fury and blessing? No, surely they knew better than literalist moderns. And then along comes Simon bar-Kochba! He seems to have taken it all too literally! But why should we assume the train jumped the track with the Son of the Star? Rabbi Akiba certainly shared his perspective, and presumably he was a fairly sharp-eyed student of scripture—as traditionally read. And if Bar-Kochba believed in a literal messianism, starring himself, why cannot a historical Jesus have seen himself in the same light a century before? Not that he did, but it is not clear why we ought to rule out the possibility.
No one is perfect. All scholars can be criticized. Yet it's not totally beyond reason to question credentials and demand some sense of fairness and basic objectivity. The blog Relgion at the Margins has followed the machination of the terrible battle that has ensured between Ehrman and Carrier. Carrier's reputation grew as result of the fray but Ehrman has been assisted by other established scholars. James McGrath came to his aid, not once, but twice.
Thom Stark sides with Carrier and backs his argument that the Jews believed in dying messiah prior to Jesus. He admits this is indirect. I say it's piss poor. He explains the rationale:
if it can be shown that some Jews held a belief in a dying Messiah prior to Christianity, then it cannot be argued that the idea of a dying Messiah could only have come about if one who was believed to have been the Messiah actually died in history (as with Jesus of Nazareth). Thus, the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth is not inconsistent with the Jesus Myth hypothesis. I’ll look at two major pieces of evidence Carrier provides for his thesis and show why they really come to naught, when examined properly.
To that I say "so what?" I have argued that myself. In fact I said when I first discovered that around maybe 2001 that this might make a good skeptical argument (although not a myther argument). I must congratulate Carrier it only took him eleven years to think of it. I can't even remember what my response would have been back then. I know what it is now, don't argue that fact as a proof that Jesus was historical. We have much better arguments than that. I invite the reader to see my mythological Jesus pages. At the risk of arrogance I think these pages will beat up any mythicists arguemnts and especially Carriers. I debated Carrier way back when he was still a graduate student and he was posting on the secular web. I was not impressed then I see nothing now that constitutes a threat or that really gives me pause to think. Stork spends most of the artilce going over the evidence to prove the point that some Jews looked to a Messiah who would die. That's not hard to find. I've been documenting it for years. Its' documented by both major scholars Martinez who is a Dead Sea Scroll scholar and by others. it's found at Qumran. As a proof of mytherism they are really dragging eh bottom of the barrel. If this is the best they can to, to try and use one of major arguments that Jesus was messiah to disprove his historicity and all it really does is disprove one argument that's not even major, that's not much of an accomplishment.