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Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument For Jesus Of Nazareth


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Thanks for reporting this. Ehrman is one of my favorites and I will get it.

 

BTW, he is incredibly accessible with questions. I and a couple of others I am aware of have written him with questions and gotten very quick and pertinent responses.

 

George

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George,

 

I read one of his books. I don't remember which but it is the one with the Afterword in which Ehrman says he is now agnostic.

 

Combative with a little arrogance is how I would describe his posture. If I remember correctly, "they" were hiding information that Bart would now reveal.

 

I am a man of first impression judgments often never revisited.

 

Dutch

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Dutch,

 

He is a confessing agnostic. I have read several of his books and haven't noticed any combativeness or arrogance. I have started this book and find it remarkably respectful of the Bible (so far).

 

I think that agnosticism may benefit biblical scholarship as the scholar doesn't have a dog in the fight (on either side) and can be more objective.

 

George

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This book is just out, I think. Bart is not my favorite author so I am looking for any knowledgeable comments before I am seduced into a "one-click" purchase.

 

http://www.amazon.co...t/dp/0062204602

 

Dutch

 

Dutch,

 

I would highly recommend this book.

 

When I was a practicing Christian, I would often turn to his scholarly works even though I knew he was an agnostic. He is a gifted writer with a talent for explaining complex and often counter-intuitive narratives concisely and expertly so that anyone can understand it.

 

He manages to deftly dance around the cow-patties without soiling his pant cuffs.

 

NORM

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I am a man of first impression judgments often never revisited.

 

I resemble that statement!

 

My wife, however, managed to convince me to rise above those first impressions and discover all the gold I've overlooked because I couldn't get past the tattered containers.

 

NORM

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It's not arrogance; it's the truth that the church throughout history has tried to hide criticism of the bible from its flock through censorship and fear mongering and have discouraged Christians from reading anything not written by a bible believing Christian. In one of his books, Ehrman relates a story about a lady at a church he gave a lecture at once and the lady told Ehrman she was upset not by what Ehrman said but she was upset that the church never told her anything about mainstream biblical scholarship. Bishop Spong has described encountering this problem of ignorance among the flock in several of his books. In any case, Bishop Spong has given his support of Ehrman and his books but some people think any non-believer challening the church is being "arrogant" no matter how mild their critique is.

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I am in the middle of this book now and find it very interesting and an easy read. The case he makes is open and shut - Jesus was a historical person, period. However, all of the background information to support this is worthwhile reading for anyone interested in early Christian history.

 

One interesting thing I had not previously encountered is why Paul was persecuting Christians before his conversion . Ehrman suggests it has to do with the Messiah claim being made by Christians and the passage in Deuteronomy (21:23), "Everyone who hangs on a tree is cursed." His crucifixion would have been considered a curse by an avid, observant Jew. And, then to claim to be the Messiah - oh my goodness.

 

George

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Does Ehrman address the Christ myth arguments of Robert Price in his new book, George? Although I don't agree with his conclusions, I have a great deal of respect for Robert Price and his vast amount of knowledge about the bible and I think he's the only one who's made the most convincing argument in favor of the Christ Myth theory. But I think his argument still has some flaws in it and I would be curious to see what Ehrman thinks of Robert Price and his multiple messiah hypothesis.

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Does Ehrman address the Christ myth arguments of Robert Price in his new book, George? \

 

Absolutely (64 times according to a Kindle search), and he shoots holes through his arguments. He does say that Price is the single, trained scholar of the NT that he knows who is a mythicist.

 

I really don't know what Price, or any other individual mythicist's, motivation might be. But, I suspect that fundamentalist Christians generally would argue in favor of a historical Jesus because without this, their theology would collapse. And, I suspect that some of the mythicists argue against it for the same reason; it would undermine traditional Christianity.

 

Ehrman says that he anticipates much disapproval of his book from both sides. The Fundamentalists will be pleased with his conclusions, but unhappy with much of what he says about the historical person. The mythicists, of course, will not be happy with his conclusion or evidence.

 

George

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I thoght Richard Carrier was also a trained scholar and mythicist?

 

Yes, but not in the New Testament. Ehrman says, "Carrier, who along with Price is the only mythicist to my knowledge with graduate training in a relevant field (PhD in classics from Columbia University)." (underlining mine).

 

He is mentioned 11 times in the book.

 

George

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Okay, I finished Erhman’s book and have few comments.

 

First, Dutch, thanks for bringing this to the forum’s attention. I had not previously been aware of it.

 

I think anyone interested in the historical person and the gospel traditions would find it an interesting read even if they already think Jesus existed as a historical person. Anyone who thinks otherwise really should read this book. The case is not just plausible, it is overwhelming. He deals directly with the ‘mythicist’ claims – the couple who are qualified scholars as well as those who don’t know what they don’t know, or are just making things up.

 

There are also interesting discussions of the methods that historians use to determine what is likely true or untrue.

 

It is clear from the evidence that Jesus was a Jew, born and raised in Nazareth, preached in the Galilee, was associated with John the Baptist, went to Jerusalem and was crucified by Pilate.

 

Ehrman also has a chapter on what Jesus may have believed and preached. The case for this is compelling, but less conclusive. He thinks that Jesus was essentially an apocalyptic preacher who sincerely believed that the end of times was imminent and a new world order (“the Kingdom of God”) would soon come.

 

Ehrman also thinks that Jesus was an ethical teacher, but not for the reasons many of today would advocate. Jesus, in Ehrman’s opinion, thought that this is what the Torah taught and those who followed it would be rewarded in the coming apocalypse. Jesus believed firmly in the Law of Moses, but not as interpreted by the Pharisees and other Jewish groups.

 

The book is an easy read and not very technical. It is not very tightly edited. There tends to be quite a bit of repetition that could have been squeezed out. But, it isn’t distracting or annoying.

 

George

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I guess I want to read the look.

 

I think you will like it. Those with an open mind on the question will appreciate it. As Ehrman says, his book will disappoint many people. Fundamentalist Christians will like that he demonstrates that Jesus was a historical person, but will not like some of what he says about the NT and the person.

 

Radical atheists will dislike it because it counters a "theological" argument against the historicity of the person. The non-existence of the person who is central to Christianity is important in discrediting religion generally and Christianity specifically. But, as Ehrman says, the existence or non-existence of God is independent of a historical or ahistorical Jesus.

 

George

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  • 1 month later...

I really don't know what Price, or any other individual mythicist's, motivation might be. But, I suspect that fundamentalist Christians generally would argue in favor of a historical Jesus because without this, their theology would collapse. And, I suspect that some of the mythicists argue against it for the same reason; it would undermine traditional Christianity.

I have to admit I have done very little research on this topic for a few reasons, but my take on this subject is Jesus was real, but Christ the myth has built up around him.

 

Now that may have sounded derogatory, it certainly was not meant that way. Because in some sense myth should be held in higher esteem than history. I'm not sure I have explained myself well, but I'm happy to elaborate if required.

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I have to admit I have done very little research on this topic for a few reasons, but my take on this subject is Jesus was real, but Christ the myth has built up around him.

 

Now that may have sounded derogatory, it certainly was not meant that way. Because in some sense myth should be held in higher esteem than history. I'm not sure I have explained myself well, but I'm happy to elaborate if required.

 

I don't think your statement is derogatory and it would be in accord with Ehrman. He claims that there is more than enough evidence of a historical person, but not everything reported in the New Testament is historically correct.

 

Often in casual speech 'myth' is used to mean 'untrue.' However, biblical scholars use the word differently. Here is how Harris and Platzner (The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) define it: The term denotes a narrative expressing a profound psychological or religious truth that cannot be verified by historical inquiry or other scientific means."

 

George

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Romansh/George,

 

I like the way the Indian storyteller says it in the tale - "Now I don’t know if it happened this way or not, but I know this story is true."

 

Paul

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Romansh/George,

I like the way the Indian storyteller says it in the tale - "Now I don’t know if it happened this way or not, but I know this story is true."

Paul

Art is lies that tell the truth. Picasso

And what is myth, but an art?

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And what is myth, but an art?

 

Hmm. I don't think an acknowledged fiction would be considered myth although it could be art. Stories about the future would probably not be described as myth. I think 'myth' is limited to ostensibly historical events, but as Harris & Platzner's definition suggests, it expresses some truth.

 

George

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Hmm. I don't think an acknowledged fiction would be considered myth although it could be art. Stories about the future would probably not be described as myth. I think 'myth' is limited to ostensibly historical events, but as Harris & Platzner's definition suggests, it expresses some truth.

 

George

 

However, biblical scholars use the word differently. Here is how Harris and Platzner (The Old Testament: An Introduction to the Hebrew Bible) define it: The term denotes a narrative expressing a profound psychological or religious truth that cannot be verified by historical inquiry or other scientific means."

Does not art (at least good art) express a profound psychological truth?

I'm not referring to Dan Brown's latest thriller.

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Some art becomes myth but not all. I thing myth involves group consciousness. If art participates in that then it is myth. Perhaps more often it participates in the myth rather than being the myth. I think Star Wars is like that. And Prince of Egypt. Andy Warhol. Duchamp's urinal.

 

Dutch

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Some art becomes myth but not all. I thing myth involves group consciousness. If art participates in that then it is myth. Perhaps more often it participates in the myth rather than being the myth. I think Star Wars is like that. And Prince of Egypt. Andy Warhol. Duchamp's urinal.

Dutch

 

I can't speak to the influences of your latter three and their consequences. In some sense it could be said they have not taken hold.

 

But to Lucas's Star Wars it was definitely influenced by the works of Joseph Campbell - eg Hero with a thousand faces.

And the myth of Star Wars is being concretized as we deliberate.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jediism

Edited by romansh
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