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On The Historicity Of Jesus: Why We Might Have ... ^HOT^

But since this book intends only to begin, not end, a proper debate, I hope to see it carefully critiqued by experts in the field. I want to see a scholarly and constructive debate develop that will advance the entire discussion, resolving matters of methodology if nothing else (such a debate should already have begun over the release of Proving History), but hopefully also making a clear, objectively defensible case either for or against the historicity of Jesus, one that all reasonable experts can agree is sound. In his own excellent book on the origins of Christian myth traditions, Burton Mack provides a list of scholars and their recent diverse work that needs to be synthesized and applied to reconstructing the origins of Christianity, which provides a major example of the kind of work that really does need to be done. Like Mack, throughout this book I will cite many scholars whose work also needs to be synthesized and applied to the same result. Above all, historians need to apply serious energy to resolving the issues of dating and authorship surveyed in Chapter 7.

On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have ...

The argument of this book can be summarized as follows. A Bayesian argument requires attending to the question of applicable background knowledge, constructing therefrom a prior probability for all competing hypotheses, and then evaluating the consequent probabilities (the likelihoods) of all the evidence on each hypothesis. In accordance with this method, I must formally define the hypotheses to be compared: that of historicity (in Chapter 2) and that of myth (in Chapter 3). In each case I will define the simplest possible theory, which shall thus encompass all other more complex theories that have any claim to plausibility.

His recent books on the historicity of Jesus have established him as a leading supporter of the Christ myth theory,[2] which claims that neither the historical Jesus nor the biblical Jesus existed in reality. Carrier asserts that in the context of his Bayesian methodology,[3] the ahistoricity of Jesus[4] and his origin as a mythical deity are "true" (i.e. the "most probable" Bayesian conclusion),[5][6] arguing that the probability of Jesus' existence is somewhere in the range of 1/3 to 1/12000, depending on the estimates used for the computation.[7] Nearly all contemporary scholars of ancient history[8] and most biblical scholars have maintained that a historical Jesus did indeed exist [9][10]

Carrier was initially not interested in the question of the historicity of Jesus.[18] Like many others his first thought was that it was a fringe conspiracy topic not worthy of academic inquiry; however a number of different people requested that he investigate the subject and raised money for him to do so. Since then he has become a leading expert on the Jesus ahistoricity theory.[4][5][6] Other scholars who hold the "Jesus agnosticism" viewpoint or "Jesus atheism" viewpoint,[19] include; Arthur Droge, Kurt Noll, Thomas L. Brodie, Earl Doherty, Robert M. Price, Thomas L. Thompson, Raphael Lataster, Hector Avalos and still others like Philip R. Davies, who have opined that the viewpoint of Carrier et al. is respectable enough to deserve consideration.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]

Carrier has engaged in several formal debates, both online and in person, on a range of subjects including naturalism, natural explanations of early Christian resurrection accounts, the morality of abortion, and the general credibility of the Bible. He debated Michael R. Licona on the Resurrection of Jesus at the University of California, Los Angeles on April 19, 2004.[41] Carrier debated atheist Jennifer Roth online on the morality of abortion.[42] He has defended naturalism in formal debates with Tom Wanchick and Hassanain Rajabali. He has debated David Marshall on the general credibility of the New Testament.[43] His debates on the historicity of Jesus have included professor of religious studies Zeba A. Crook,[44][45][46][47] Christian scholars Dave Lehman and Doug Hamp.[48][49][50][51]

The October 25, 2014 debate Did Jesus Exist? with Trent Horn was held in San Diego, California and posted online by the "MABOOM Show" (YouTube channel). Per the Question and Answer session, Horn lists some of his recommended books for defending the historicity of Jesus. Horn notes works by ; Shirley Jackson Case,[55] Robert Van Voorst,[56] Paul Rhodes Eddy and Greg Boyd[57] and Bart D. Ehrman.[58] Per Ehrman's book, Horn states, "a good popular introduction might be Bart Ehrman's book Did Jesus Exist?. Unfortunately it is not a scholarly treatment like Dr. Carrier's [book]" and "there really is not a scholarly treatment of the issue from the historical view" (time 1:38:30).[59]

Carrier's methodology in his work on the historicity of Christ was reviewed by Aviezer Tucker, a prior advocate of using Bayesian techniques in history. Tucker expressed some sympathy for Carrier's view of the Gospels, stating: "The problem with the Synoptic Gospels as evidence for a historical Jesus from a Bayesian perspective is that the evidence that coheres does not seem to be independent, whereas the evidence that is independent does not seem to cohere." However, Tucker argued that historians have been able to use theories about the transmission and preservation of information to identify reliable parts of the Gospels. He said that "Carrier is too dismissive of such methods because he is focused on hypotheses about the historical Jesus rather than on the best explanations of the evidence."[107]

While there are sloppy mythicist arguments being passed around on the Internet, there are also many serious scholars who present a compelling case for mythicism. Over the past few years, a number of in-depth, well-researched books have come out arguing for mythicism. These include: On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt by Richard Carrier, Jesus: Mything in Action by David Fitzgerald, and The Christ-Myth Theory and Its Problems by Robert M. Price. The list of legitimate scholars who openly doubt the historicity of Jesus has grown rapidly during the past decade.

When Carrier recently debated Dennis R. MacDonald on the question of mythicism, no one in the comments section was laughing at Carrier (as Ehrman might have worried). Rather, I am seeing highly engaged comments that lean skeptically against historicity. For instance, a commentator named Doston Jones writes:

I would certainly agree that these early manuscripts provide us with a fairly good idea of what the original form of the New Testament writings might have looked like. Yet even if these second-century copies are accurate, all we then have are first-century writings that claim Jesus was raised from the dead. That in no way proves the historicity of the resurrection.

In response to Strobel, I would say that if he had asked scholars teaching at public universities, private colleges and universities (many of which have a religious affiliation) or denominational seminaries, he would get a much different verdict on the historicity of the resurrection.

Although Christian apologists have listed a number of ancient historians who allegedly were witnesses to the existence of Jesus, the only two that consistently are cited are Josephus, a Pharisee, and Tacitus, a pagan. Since Josephus was born in the year 37 CE, and Tacitus was born in 55, neither could have been an eye-witness of Jesus, who supposedly was crucified in 30 CE. So we could really end our article here. But someone might claim that these historians nevertheless had access to reliable sources, now lost, which recorded the existence and execution of our friend JC. So it is desirable that we take a look at these two supposed witnesses.

Things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Key historical events in the scriptures require historicity to give substance to our faith. Since the Enlightenment, however, some scholars have proclaimed that the scriptures lack historicity. In the face of these doubts, some have argued that historicity is not necessary for belief. Latter-day Saints should be wary of the misleading arguments of critics and of simplistic solutions to those arguments.

Because I am aware of the scriptural admonition to reason together (D&C 66:7; and 68:1), I have sought to understand and articulate to myself why critics, such as Thomas L. Thompson, are wrong when they contend that historicity is not necessary to develop scriptural faith, and why Latter-day Saints and others are right in insisting that the historicity of certain central, scriptural events is necessary for there to be substance to our faith. The conclusions I have reached, and the reasons for these conclusions, form the basis for this personal essay. While I am solely responsible for the content, I am greatly indebted to friends, colleagues, and former teachers who have planted ideas, patiently listened to my questions, and given me unfettered feedback. [7]

The third red herring would require us to accept or reject in its totality the historicity of all scripture. This either/or choice is a false dichotomy because there are other options. For example, there are scripture passages which presumably lack historicity (they may or may not be historical) but which are nevertheless normative. [14] The parables of the New Testament fall into this category because they often draw their efficacy from real-life experiences but do not necessarily claim to report historical events. Yet most Christians believe the parables to be normative. Therefore, the question for Latter-day Saints is not whether all scripture is historical or not, because parts of scripture lack historicity. The question is, rather, which parts of scripture require historicity in order to add content to our faith. Though there may never be complete unanimity among Latter-day Saints concerning which central events of our scriptures require historicity in order to give substance to our faith, I have suggested above a few scriptural events that Latter-day Saints should accept as historical. 041b061a72

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