Author Topic: On Mythicism vs Historicism  (Read 702 times)

Offline trdsf

On Mythicism vs Historicism
« on: August 14, 2018, 02:53:53 AM »
So I listened to the Bart Ehrman/Robert Price debate on whether Jesus was an actual historical figure or not.  I came into it as kind of an outsider, as I tend to consider historicity kind of beside the point β€” Christianity by and large follows Paul's writings rather more than the teachings attributed to Jeshua bar-Joseph β€” but there was probably some preacher making the rounds about that time whose activities got blown way out of proportion.

Price did not make the sale.  I am not convinced by the mythicists that there was no historical figure.

But wow, Ehrman was completely unconvincing β€” in that I was un-convinced by his presentation.  De-convinced might be a better way to put it; at best, I now think any historical Jeshua bar-Joseph might have been an amalgamation of several preachers making the rounds at that time, not one particular person.  The practical upshot of Ehrman's entire case seemed to be "We have all this writing, it has to be about someone!" which seems a weak argument on the face of it, especially given the lack of corroborative writings outside the new Testament.  Nor do I recall him addressing the completely different Jeshuas presented by the Gospels and by Paul, who seemed to be writing about someone else entirely, and which seems to lend a little support for the amalgamation proposal.  Ehrman of course rightly dismisses the miraculous actions... but when you no longer have the miraculous acts, why is there any longer a need for an actor?

Furthermore, we also have the Iliad and the Odyssey, Hesiod's Theogony, and countless other works from classical Greece referencing the actions of their gods.  To apply Ehrman's standards is to say that the Greek gods were based on real-world individuals because we have "all this writing".  I hope he has taken that stance, actually: I think it's necessary for consistency.


Anyway, here's the debate, moderated by Matt Dillahunty, for your own thoughts:

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Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2018, 04:50:23 AM »
This was addressed by the ancients ... an author back then attributed all the pagan gods to exaggerations of stories about past people.  And the idea reoccurs threw history.

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Both myth and history are story telling.  We actually don't know what happened in the past, because the dead can't be cross-examined (sarc).

But both forms of story telling are important.  Sophisticated people (aka Sophists) poo poo the childishness of mythology, of course.  And mythicists say that historians are bad story tellers.  Mostly history is about politics, and so it is primarily a form of political propaganda (the winner writes the history).

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If you are a materialist, then the Resurrection has to be read as a zombie story.  If you are a mystic, you see it as something quite different.  I know.

Ehrman tries to bring moderns the topical-ness of what ancient people thought ... and what I mean by demi-god.  Ehrman takes Christology bottom up (heterodoxy) in his new book.  But it can of course be taken top down (orthodoxy).  A Buddhist would respond that it is both and neither.

The problem with the historical Jesus, and the Jesus Seminar ... is that isn't what has motivated 2 billion people for 2000 years.  Literalists and materialists don't like that fact.  And of course the mythical Jesus is nonsense (as Paul and Tertullian admitted).
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 05:01:02 AM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
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Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2018, 02:03:56 PM »
There were lots of guys back in those days that went by the name of Jesus (or Yeshua, or Joshua, etc,), and Josephus mentions, I think, six different guys of that name. I think and "historical" Jesus was indeed an amalgamation of a whole crowd of guys, but "Jesus of Nazareth" never existed.

I even think it's possible that it was Josephus himself who wrote the gospel of Mark. I'm not sure I could argue for it though, since the idea is nebulous in my mind.
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"Thinking, analyzing, inventing are not anomalous acts; they are the normal respiration of the intelligence."
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Online Hydra009

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2018, 03:33:14 PM »
It doesn't matter to me one whit if Jesus did or did not exist.

If we were to hop in a time machine and checked it out personally, I guarantee you it would a very mundane, very boring day in Jerusalem.

What is interesting to me is why people believe otherwise and how they seek to justify these beliefs.  And like you point out, we're treated to some incredibly weak arguments, arguments that these people would derisively laugh at if they were about Odysseus or Heracles or Beowulf.  The near-complete abandonment of rationality to suit once's pre-existing beliefs - that's important.  That may lead to a truly interesting day for mankind, and not in a good way.

Offline trdsf

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2018, 03:46:06 PM »
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If we were to hop in a time machine and checked it out personally, I guarantee you it would a very mundane, very boring day in Jerusalem.
Michael Moorcock wrote a fascinating novella (later expanded into a novel) on someone You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login...
Sir Terry Pratchett, on being told about the theory that the universe is a computer simulation: "If we all get out and in again, would it start to work properly this time?"

Online Hydra009

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #5 on: August 14, 2018, 03:57:48 PM »
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Michael Moorcock wrote a fascinating novella (later expanded into a novel) on someone You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login...
Damn it.  All my ideas have already been done.  :'(

From the synopsis:

"When he finds Mary and Joseph, Mary turns out to be little more than a whore, and Joseph, a bitter old man, sneers openly at her claim to have been impregnated by an angel."  Lol, sounds about right.

"Worse, their child Jesus is a profoundly intellectually disabled hunchback who incessantly repeats the only word he knows: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Hodor?

Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #6 on: August 14, 2018, 06:38:00 PM »
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There were lots of guys back in those days that went by the name of Jesus (or Yeshua, or Joshua, etc,), and Josephus mentions, I think, six different guys of that name. I think and "historical" Jesus was indeed an amalgamation of a whole crowd of guys, but "Jesus of Nazareth" never existed.

I even think it's possible that it was Josephus himself who wrote the gospel of Mark. I'm not sure I could argue for it though, since the idea is nebulous in my mind.

What makes me a heretic?  What happened 2000 years ago, doesn't matter.  Even what happened in 2016 doesn't matter.  And yet the past is our most precious asset ... but it is an imagined thing, subjective by individual or by group.  It is our sense of individual and shared identity.  And that is why multiculturalism (aka imperialism) is crap.  It also doesn't matter who wrote the Gospels etc.  They don't matter either.  At any given point in time, what people thought Christianity was, that is what it was for them ... but it came out of the past, and proceeds into the future, a wave on a vast ocean of time.  Collective imagination in dialectic with individual imagination.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 06:48:37 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #7 on: August 14, 2018, 06:40:12 PM »
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Michael Moorcock wrote a fascinating novella (later expanded into a novel) on someone You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login...

Time travel is for scifi nerds.

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login ... wrote a series of "Joshua" novels, the first being made into a movie.  About Jesus in the present.

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Y'all don't have a place in the collective identity ... heterodox and heteroprax ... how could you?  Not that there is anything wrong with that.  Jesus wouldn't have it any other way.  Everyone works, knowing or not, to G-d's ends.  That is why you want to build a new idealistic identity, where you will fit in.  Like Vulcans on Mars.  But nobody else alive will ... by definition.  We aren't Vulcans, and this isn't Mars.
« Last Edit: August 14, 2018, 06:47:41 PM by Baruch »
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
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Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #8 on: August 14, 2018, 06:42:00 PM »
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Damn it.  All my ideas have already been done.  :'(

From the synopsis:

"When he finds Mary and Joseph, Mary turns out to be little more than a whore, and Joseph, a bitter old man, sneers openly at her claim to have been impregnated by an angel."  Lol, sounds about right.

"Worse, their child Jesus is a profoundly intellectually disabled hunchback who incessantly repeats the only word he knows: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus." Hodor?

Monty Python did it better ...

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Basically you are all cynics, in the modern sense, burnt out sophists who are wise in their own estimation.  Very Biblical actually.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
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Offline Shiranu

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #9 on: August 14, 2018, 07:13:41 PM »
Quote
If we were to hop in a time machine and checked it out personally, I guarantee you it would a very mundane, very boring day in Jerusalem.

IIRC, Jerusalem was actually a hotbed of dissident thought. I think a "mundane, boring day" for Jerusalem might actually be quite interesting.
"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle." - Rumi

Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #10 on: August 14, 2018, 07:26:15 PM »
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IIRC, Jerusalem was actually a hotbed of dissident thought. I think a "mundane, boring day" for Jerusalem might actually be quite interesting.

That is what Nikos Kazantzakis thought too ...

You are not allowed to view links. Register or Login ... basically Jesus as a G-d possessed maniac.

I made a personal pilgrimage to Nikos' grave in Heraklion, Crete when I went to Greece.  After reading Zorba The Greek on the way over.
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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
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Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #11 on: August 14, 2018, 07:48:49 PM »
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So I listened to the Bart Ehrman/Robert Price debate on whether Jesus was an actual historical figure or not.  I came into it as kind of an outsider, as I tend to consider historicity kind of beside the point β€” Christianity by and large follows Paul's writings rather more than the teachings attributed to Jeshua bar-Joseph β€” but there was probably some preacher making the rounds about that time whose activities got blown way out of proportion.

Price did not make the sale.  I am not convinced by the mythicists that there was no historical figure.

I used to be in your camp.  But taken collectively, Price, Daugherty, and Wells (and others), make a strong case for no historical jesus.  Add in Richard Carrier, and it looks to me as though it is a lock he never existed and is made up.  Basically, there is not one person who was alive when jesus is purported to to have been alive who wrote about him.  When one reads the bible and understands what jesus is supposed to have done and for nobody to have taken enough of an interest to write about it is beyond reason--at least for me. 

And just consider the name 'Jesus'--it means what Joshua means--savior.  What did the Jews of the first century want more than anything?  A savior.  After all Jesus (Joshua) lead the Jews out of the promised land and secured it for the Jews--he saved them.  Now they were looking for another Joshua--since most spoke Hebrew then and not Aramaic, a Jesus they wanted with all their hearts.  As I see it, just as god is an invention of mankind, so is jesus.
Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent,
Is he able but not willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able or willing?
Then why call him god?

Offline Baruch

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #12 on: August 14, 2018, 07:55:23 PM »
Jesus confronts Paul in an alternative story ...

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luu shalmaata luu balt’aata
May you be well, may you be healthy

Online Hydra009

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2018, 11:36:17 PM »
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IIRC, Jerusalem was actually a hotbed of dissident thought. I think a "mundane, boring day" for Jerusalem might actually be quite interesting.
Relative to the other days there, of course.  I'm not basing this on some absolute standard of boredom, though if I did I'd probably go with the Dutch Boredom Scale, DUBS for short, which uses a 5-point scale (this is a real thing, I am not making this up)

Offline Shiranu

Re: On Mythicism vs Historicism
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2018, 11:50:35 PM »
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...the Dutch Boredom Scale, DUBS for short, which uses a 5-point scale (this is a real thing, I am not making this up)

"Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle." - Rumi

 

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