News from the Freethought Ghetto

Over at the FTG, for anyone who missed it, Dick Carrier has written a flatulent fact-free reply to Bart Ehrman’s reply to him in which he alludes to something called Hoffman’s [sic] Madness.  If you don’t want to read all ten thousand words, here is the bottom line: (1) Ehrman pretending to be nice to him is an attempt–a “deflection tactic”–designed to hide his manifold errors (cf. Courtier’s Reply in the Atheist Sure Fire Response Manual) (2) Hoffmann is Crazy: I can prove it and Ehrman better keep his distance if he doesn’t want to catch it;  (3) I am going to write more about this but am hung over from a gig at the Madison Freethought Festival.

Carrier calls it “Round One” showing us that he is a scrappy guy and won’t let scholarship, civility or temperament keep him down for long.  You’re alright in my book, Dick. Carrier the Terrier.  Hey, in round two it won’t be the trouser leg he goes for:

Steph Fisher, a real New Testament scholar, has cited Carrier verbatim, though Carrier in his latest post professes not to have said any of the things he said: Carrier’s criticisms include “He [Ehrman] not only sucks as a writer but can’t even tell that he sucks as a writer”, “it [Ehrman's book] officially sucks”, “he screwed up”, “like some Christian apologist or the whackiest of mythers” “Ehrman’s book is so full of egregious factual errors demonstrating his ignorance, sloppiness, and incompetence in this matter, it really doesn’t even need a rebuttal. It can be thrown straight into the trash without any loss to scholarship or humanity. It is, quite simply, wholly unreliable”, “I have no choice but to condemn this thing as being nothing more than a sad murder of electrons and trees….”

This comes from a man who compares himself to Aristotle and Hume, thinks the scholarly establishment is out to get him, and that the whole discipline of New Testament scholarship, in his word, is “fucked.”  If you have never heard if him, this is what he writes about hiself on the basis of two never reviewed books, two vanity published:

Richard Carrier is the renowned author of Sense and Goodness without GodProving History, and Not the Impossible Faith, as well as numerous articles online and in print. His avid fans span the world from Hong Kong to Poland. With a Ph.D. in ancient history from Columbia University, he specializes in the modern philosophy of naturalism, the origins of Christianity, and the intellectual history of Greece and Rome, with particular expertise in ancient philosophy, science and technology. He has also become a noted defender of scientific and moral realism, Bayesian reasoning, and the epistemology of history. For more about him and his work visit www.richardcarrier.info.

–That and being Aristotle.

I would write more about my psychiatric state but as you can see from my picture (above) me and the Apostles have work to do in Jerusalem before I die.

[Since posting this, Carrier has entered round two.  I hope Ehrman won’t, but basically the gist is this: “Notice. I did not say he [Ehrman] was completely wrong, but that he was mostly right, and was only misleading readers by giving the impression that mythicists were on their own here. I also did not mean that this particular incident makes the book crap.”  Other things then?  because you did call it crap.  Actually this is a squirm, a niggle, a bad witness talking after his lawyer has said to shut up. ]

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57 thoughts on “News from the Freethought Ghetto

  1. Notice for Carrier. Ehrman wrote, quoting Carrier “Carrier says this is “crap,” “sloppy work,” and “irresponsible,” and indicates that if I had simply checked into the matter, I would see that I’m completely wrong.” Ehrman did not say Carrier said he was completely wrong so why does Carrier complain that he did? It is not in speech marks. The implication is that this is what Carrier meant when he combined crap, sloppy work and irresponsibility. These characteristics don’t generally describe accurate work, but generally describe inaccurate work (although they’re not used in academic conversation because they’re crass), that is, they describe work that is wrong. Carrier has no comprehension of implication.

      • The only Matthew I know is the lovely Matthew Malcolm who earned his PhD with Tony Thiselton in Nottingham and who is now teaching in Perth Australia. Are you he? :-)

  2. Carrier the knower, says “I do not believe he’s telling the truth here… Is Ehrman now lying about what he actually thought when writing the above? …Ehrman simply lies about this–or, again, is such a godawful writer…” I fear that Carrier is a neurotic ultracrepidarian with an obsessive psychological projection disorder.

  3. It is interesting that Carrier still hasn’t approved my comment April 28th (which I paste below) on his post. It grieves me to acknowledge that Carrier’s flatulent fact-free flight of fancy demonstrates that he is regrettably deluded and committed to a fantasy world which convinces him of his extraordinary and inflated importance. He has made unqualified psychological diagnoses of ‘lunacy’ on at least three occasions (links pasted here for ironic amusement), as if repetition makes something true. It is tragically no more than psychological projection. He appeals to his ‘evidence’ which naturally is not ‘evidence’. Instead it consists of a bitter rant about how he has been criticised by Hoffmann for academic incompetence. It is however tragic evidence that Carrier is quite unfit for normal intelligent society and taht he certainly shows no signs of ever being fit for academic posting. His incompetence is transparent and he shows no genuine desire or need to learn.

    It is worth noting that Aristotle aka Hume aka Carrier, the ultracrepidarian, is also an ‘expert’ on food science, animal psychology and ethics. He has announced with authority in this extraordinary piece of research and analysis, that all reasons for vegetarianism are ‘irrational’, all vegetarians are therefore ‘deluded’ and vegetarianism is a delusion. He sprinkles the eff word liberally throughout, but you know, he just got passionately worked up about it all.

    Thom recently demonstrated Carrier’s incompetence and his inablity to provide valid evidence: http://religionatthemargins.com/2012/04/the-death-of-richard-carriers-dying-messiah/

    and the ludicrous projections:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/greta/2012/01/03/on-accusations-of-fraud-and-making-weird-sexual-jokes/#comment-50556

    http://richardcarrier.blogspot.co.uk/2011/05/sources-of-jesus-tradition.html?showComment=1306873573247

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/1117

    My unapproved comment on Carrier’s tantrum or typical emotional outburst:

    Carrier’s post is full of despicable falsehoods and ridiculously bitter nonsense.

    Carrier’s claim is deluded and pathetic. There is absolutely no doubt that Hoffmann is completely sane. I didn’t realise Carrier was a qualified psychiatrist as well. He’s not. He does not have “evidence” – that is ridiculous and untrue from beginning to end. I wonder if he knows what evidence is given the quality of his analysis of historical evidence. He does however have an extraordinarily high opinion of himself as having a multitude of areas of expertise – just read his ‘profile’. This extraordinary sort of fantastical egotism is not normal in intelligent society. He’s just bitter that he has not been embraced by critical scholarship. Does he realise that without qualification to diagnose he is liable to be accused of libel? Does he realise that critical thinking people change their mind with critical argument and evidence? That’s how scholarship works. It’s called skepticism, and it’s about being self critical, something Carrier is not. Instead Carrier boasts “I am no less a philosopher than Aristotle or Hume. My knowledge, education, and qualifications are comparable to theirs in every relevant respect… For you cannot be successful in anything of importance if you have a poor or even incorrect grasp of yourself”. Does he have evidence of Hoffmann ‘praising and loving’ his work? As far as I am aware his book ‘Proving History’ was vanity published first and was advertised to be released by Prometheus in April. I received my copy which was supposed to be vanity published but it arrived as a Prometheus edition a couple of weeks ago. Hoffmann never claimed to have read Proving History. He never claimed to be responding to Carrier’s points directly – in fact quite the contrary which he makes clear in this comment thread. This post is an overall impression from his previous ‘work’ and posts on his atheist blog. Carrier’s inability to distinguish between an error and a lie is astonishing. It is unfortunate that he always finds it necessary to use such vile language and falsehoods to express himself publically, and I think it might be helpful to his credibility if he started being a little more careful and honest. Carrier’s ridiculous rant is full of falsehoods from beginning to end.

    Incidentally, Proving History was released earlier than advertised according to my copy (which with deep regret I read). However while the bookseller promised to send a vanity published copy, the copy which arrived has a publication page with ‘Prometheus’ printed on it. However the quality of print on this particular page is peculiar and I suspect it might be a facsimile. Proving History has not had an academic review to my knowledge although it has been endorsed by the notorious Hector Avalos and Malcolm Murray of the Atheist Primer. The epithet ‘renowned’ is egotistical nonsense.

    • Well, we can all now rest a little easier, because Carrier has approved comments, including Dr. Fisher’s. It seems to have made a big impact over at FTB.

      • That’s an extraordinarily silly little comment isn’t it Grog. Criticising his rudeness and inaccuracies only invites his ridiculous ad hominen attacks. It appears he can be as rude as he likes and consider himself professional. However when others critique his style and unwillingness or inablity to engage in academic dialogue, he condemns their critique as ‘a nice crazy rant’ or efforts to engage as ‘deflection tactic’ and calls them liars or insane or both. He gives the impression of being so unfamiliar with language that he hasn’t grasped the concept of ‘vanity publishing’. It is considered obsolete in the popular audience but it is a term perfectly alive in the publishing world, synonymous with the more common term ‘self publishing’. Amazon.com advertised the book as self published with the Prometheus edition not being available until later this year. The UK bookseller also advertised the book as self published. Carrier seems oblivious to this and can only say ‘liar’. Perhaps he should try to be better informed before he makes up his silly defensive blunders. The publication page in the copy that arrived had ‘Prometheus’ in a peculiar print which appears slightly smudged. The bookseller provided no explanation. As for quoting old emails completely out of context without links, he ought to know better than that. And only people with fundamentalist convictions are incapable of changing their minds. Not only that, but implied ‘evidence’ (completely out of context) of changing minds is not ‘evidence’ of lunacy, it is evidence of critical thinking and following evidence where it leads. I think it’s time to recognise that his slapping of abuse such as ‘liar’ and ‘insane’ on people is not just ridiculously laughable but libellous too, and I wonder if perhaps he doesn’t understand the meaning of any of those nouns, or perhaps he just calls others liars because he doesn’t like the truth. It’s truly astonishing he considers himself ‘professional’. I responded to his silliness and I expect he’ll only approve it if he has the audacity to repeat more pointless ad hominens.

      • Try someone who is not known for being conservative, Columbia’s Morton Smith, “The Historical Jesus,” in Jesus in History and Myth, ed. R.J. Hoffmann and G.A Larue (Amherst, 1986),47-48. who concluded that the myth theory is almost entirely an argument from silence, the purported silence of Paul especially. Smith points out that a fundamental flaw in Well’s approach is that in order to explain just what it was that Paul and other early Christians believed, he is forced to manufacture “unknown proto-Christians who build up an unattested myth . . . about an unspecified supernatural entity that at an indefinite time was sent by God into the world as a man to save mankind and was crucified.” You are quoting common tropes. motifs and analogies as if they are examples of twentieth century undergraduate plagiarism on the part of the gospel writers and stringing beads as though each one was pearl. It isn’t.

      • Carrier appears not to like the truth. Ben Schuldt, his loyal follower and regular ‘subscriber’ (troll?) here, appears not to like the truth either. Carrier has failed to approve my response to his flippant allegation of ‘liar’. Fact: his book was advertised as self published and this fact is inconvenient to Carrier. Ben ludicrously accuses Hoffmann of lying as well, merely demonstrating his inability to grasp reality. Neither Carrier nor Schuldt understand the concept of evolution, following evidence and changing ideas, and neither, regrettably have the remotest concept of actual context. Context context context, everything has context. Mythtics however live in their own self made fantasy world which has no historical context other than themselves.

      • “Wow, Steph, I think you might be even crazier than Hoffman. Still making stupid arguments, and still telling absurd lies …Either someone punked you (which is unlikely) or you are just making this shit up.”

        Punked? He really does not like the truth. His reaction is astonishing and laughably un ‘professional’. It is not an ‘argument’ to state how the book was advertised. It is an account. Maurice Casey is writing to the bookseller for written confirmation that Richard Carrier’s ‘Proving History’ was advertised as published by Richard Carrier. Who is “making shit up”? Perhaps it’s that “professional” chap who compares himself to Aristotle. I wonder if Ben and Grog, Carrier’s “shrill sycophants” are listening.

      • I am approving this comment reluctantly because someone whose comment I have not seen is being quoted, but it does violate moderation rules for this site, While I don’t mind sarcasm, irony and even occasional lapses of decorum,we haven’t yet resorted to winning arguments here by calling people crazy. I realize of course that Richard Carriers uses aspersion like that as part of his appeal to unreason, along with calling people liars. In any event, whoever and wherever the author of the above, please find happy grazing (or barn burning) on other blogs because you’re not welcome here.

      • BTW, while I am not anal about the second n in Hoffmann, I wonder how Carierr feels about it? I have always thought that good scholars pay attention to spelling.

      • Thanks for the clarification: My response below is not to Stephanie but to the “quoter”–it turns out that the quoter is…Richard Carrier using his normal midshipman vocabulary to call anyone who disagrees with him a jerk. (I think the Tea Party is missing a great opportunity here).

      • Correction “punked” should also be in quotation marks. It comes from Richard Carrier on the first link. It is not a term I am familiar with and I had to look it up in the urban dictionary of slang. Hence the question mark after my repetition of the word which should be in quotation marks. Carrier’s comparison of himself to Aristotle (and Hume) is here http://www.richardcarrier.info/contrawood.html#philosopher

      • Your comments too are published: here is one
        Reply
        1. Grog says:
        May 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm
        I’ve found if you can find some mean things to say about Carrier and then throw in some nice things about Hoffmann, he’ll allow the comment.

      • Yours too, Grog.
        Reply
        1. Grog says:
        May 2, 2012 at 9:35 pm
        I’ve found if you can find some mean things to say about Carrier and then throw in some nice things about Hoffmann, he’ll allow the comment.

  4. Well, I’m relieved as I thought I was being a bit arrogant by comparing myself to SpongeBob Squarepant; apparently I have nothing on Carrier…er..I mean Aristotle2.

  5. Factician Carrier, isn’t a classicist because that implies a love of language and literature, all a bit too arty farty, derogatory and unfactual. He claims this of his criticisms of Ehrman’s book: “in fact they were all professional in nature” Carrier’s criticisms include “he not only sucks as a writer but can’t even tell that he sucks as a writer”, “it officially sucks”, “he screwed up”, “like some Christian apologist or the whackiest of mythers” “Ehrman’s book is so full of egregious factual errors demonstrating his ignorance, sloppiness, and incompetence in this matter, it really doesn’t even need a rebuttal. It can be thrown straight into the trash without any loss to scholarship or humanity. It is, quite simply, wholly unreliable”, “I have no choice but to condemn this thing as being nothing more than a sad murder of electrons and trees”… I could go on but such repetition is just absurd. Carrier’s limited and unscholarly vocabulary does not represent professional critique or invitation to scholarly and intelligent conversation. His preposterous tone and attitude and regrettable hypocrisy, makes him unclear and renders all constructive engagement futile. I have read Ehrman’s book and have expressed my own criticisms of it privately. I look forward to a proper academic critical peer review which he deserves. Carrier’s meandering verbosity was just a fluster of self obsessed muddle and malicious madness.

    • Why not share those criticisms publicly? I agree with your take on Carrier’s review of Ehrman’s book, for the most part. He spends far too much time on trivial errors (or differences of opinion that Carrier holds to be errors, such as the “prefect” or “procurator” debate and far too little time on issue of substance, like uncritical citation of “Aramaic sources” or leaving the impression that scholarship only holds questionable the very last phrase of 1 Thess 2:13-16. Those criticisms are substantial and deserve a more thorough review.

      However, it is worth mentioning that your critique of Carrier is not substantive, but completely about his tone. Again, I agree with you. Not professional, not scholarly. But, unlike Ehrman, he is applying all of his comments to Ehrman’s work, in this case. Ehrman, on the other hand, paints all “mythicists” with the same brush–they are, in his view, on the same intellectual level as “Holocaust Deniers.” Interesting all this. Here we are on the blog of skeptic R. Joseph Hoffmann where Hoffmann defends Ehrman calling him a Holocaust Denier. You think I am wrong? Hoffmann is skeptical about the existence of Jesus. Ehrman is directly referring to skepticism on this point and comparing it to skepticism that the Holocaust occurred (or occurred to the extent that it did). There is a difference between skepticism about the existence of Jesus and the theories to explain the origins of Jesus without the man, Jesus of Nazareth.

      • “Here we are on the blog of skeptic R. Joseph Hoffmann where Hoffmann defends Ehrman calling him a Holocaust Denier.” And on the basis of this absurd extrapolation you talk about context? I said I do not equate skepticism towards the historical existence of Jesus to be in the same ball park with Holocaust denial; you parse this to mean, as Ehrman seems to have phrased it, that to say this is to call Ehrman a holocaust denier? Or is this just a tactic–in fact, I hope so, because as interpretation, to quote Mr Carrier out of context, it sucks.

      • I think it’s blatantly obvious that in this comment thread, my “critique of Carrier is not substantive, but completely about his tone”. That is because this is a comment thread and the main subject of this post is Carrier. Proper review of Carrier’s work demands at minimum an essay type format, and that is what I am currently working on. My concern is with Carrier, who is not a New Testament scholar, dabbling in an area of history in which he assumes authority and makes pronouncements. He applies irrelevant method without having the training or competence to engage with relevant and recent critical research, evidence and argument. Instead he is committed to defending a position of agnosticism at least, effectively denying the existence of Jesus of Nazareth. (However in his forthcoming book if all he denies is the ‘historicity of Jesus Christ’ as is implied in the title, I might at the least agree with his conclusion. The Christ title was applied post mortem according to recent critical scholarship. However I’m not sure he realises the implications of applying the Christ title).

        Here in this thread I am concerned with his lack of willingness to engage in academic conversation but in my essay I am particularly concerned with his ‘method’ and mistakes. I haven’t got time to give Ehrman the public review he deserves and my concern is not with his disappointing book. I think alot of Carrier’s comments are insinuations against Ehrman’s character – eg not telling the truth, and his criticisms are certainly not ‘professional’.

      • With Stephanie and other colleagues I am very interested to know what Carrier sees as the difference between (a) negative results (i.e., supporting the thesis that Jesus did not exist) and (b) positive results (the argument that Jesus was invented by the early Christian community from a smorgasbord of pre-existing tales and legends). Classical myth theories ran aground in coalescing the two purposes, with many arguing that if (a) is true, then (b) must also be true. This is not a valid argument. We’ll try to show how very soon.

      • Dr. Hoffman, I will be very interested in what you all come up with. I think you use some loaded language in ‘b,’ though, not that the observation is completely undeserved. This: “…the argument that Jesus was invented by the early Christian ” doesn’t cover the range of possibilities. It implies a creative hand (“invent”) and it also implies a group called “christians” on hand to invent it. There are theories out there like that, I don’t hold to them and I don’t think they are representative of what is referred to as “mythicism”–itself not a great descriptor. Your b) doesn’t cover the possibility of an organic evolution out of the pre-existing memes related to the suffering servant/messiah motifs that we know existed in pre-Christian Judea. “Christians” wouldn’t exist though they might worship a “Jesus Christ.” We might not have every stepping stone from Daniel’s “Son of Man” to Paul’s “Jesus Christ” but we do have some and they, for the most part, exhibit the transitional forms that one would expect from an evolution of a meme (rather than an invention, which I, for one, don’t accept).

        Now…I am not claiming that this theory is the case. I am claiming that there is evidence to support it and it ought to be examined, rather than dismissed out of hand. I fully recognize your a) and your b). But if you hold to a), you have to have some kind of b) or you are, as I said before, just a crank. I am skeptical, so I fall into a). I am not sure about that, but there is enough in the record to convince an amateur such as myself that one ought not accept the Jesus to Christ Hypothesis uncritically. So if I am going to entertain a), then I have to give consideration to the most plausible theories that are out there. For me, the most plausible is the evolution of the “Jesus Christ” meme. Certainly, that’s more plausible than accepting a magical being who came back to life.

        In my brief look at Ehrman’s book (Aramaic sources, threw me off, I admit and I returned it to the B&N shelf after a quick skim), I don’t think he addressed this sort of theory. I didn’t see much about Philo’s logos-belief, Qumranic messiah-belief, or anything much resembling that. Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance. Personally, I think there is a gold mine to look at in this area. Doherty has given a lot of attention to it, but, in my opinion, gets caught up in the layers of heaven bit. But who am I to say anything to Doherty?

        Reactions such as Dr. Fisher exhibits here on this site seem to be overly melodramatic. This is simply an alternative hypothesis for the origins of Christianity. It is, in my opinion, almost irrelevant to society today, even to current Jesus-belief. So this scramble to “prove” that Jesus existed seems overwrought and not a little like an overreactive circling of the wagons.

        Philo’s logos-belief,

      • For what it’s worth….
        “The early Christians found the Servant Songs, as well as certain Psalms, to be very useful in their efforts to solve their intellectual problems and promote their faith. Isaiah 53 was an important force in shaping the synoptic accounts of Jesus’ death. But the Servant in the Songs in not the Messiah. The Suffering Servant type of Messiah was not a concept in Judaism. Jewish Christians created it to help explain Jesus’ death and to justify their mission to the gentiles.”
        Howard M Teeple from ‘How Did Christianity Really Begin?”

      • Melodramatic? Scramble to ‘prove’ the existence of Jesus? It takes a bit of imagination and a large leap to describe highlighting incompetence and rudeness in a blogger as melodrama. And what ‘scramble’ to ‘prove’ the existence of Jesus? Most people, regrettably, are either apathetic about the existence issue or just accept it. There is an area of critical historical scholarship concerned with examining and evaluating evidence and argument and following where it leads, but no ‘scramble’ to ‘prove’ something of ancient history with modern historical criteria. This site, including the forthcoming essays, represents an effort to maintain accuracy, competence and honesty in scholarship, and the world.

      • Ken, I also value Teeple’s work. The Oral Tradition that Never Existed is an article you might be interested in. Notice though the contradiction here. Jews couldn’t think of a suffering servant messiah, but, then they did. If Jewish Christians could think of a suffering servant motif to explain the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth,the possibility exists that other events could also prompt the development of such a motif. Here is an example from Abegg (1995) that you also may find interesting:

        4Q458, Narrative, contains the provocative line (2 ii 6),
        “Messiah (or anointed) with the oil of kingship”…*9 The fragmentary context can only be suggestive. Line 3
        “he/they destroyed him and his strength”…, is
        reminiscent of 4Q285 5 4, “and he put him to death”…

      • I owe a great deal to Dr. Teeple. Both of his books, “The Historical Approach to the Bible”, and “How Did Christianity Really Begin” are wonderfully informative and balanced. I often wrote to him back in the 1980′s when he was the Executive Director of The Religion and Ethics Institute in Evanston. He kindly took the time to reply to my numerous questions by answering back in type written letters with footnotes. On the question of the historical Jesus, Teeple responds in the affirmative. In “How Did Christianity Really Begin”, he says the following….
        “If the Christians had created the person of Jesus out of thin air, their story of his life would not have included features that were contrary to Jewish expectations of the coming Messiah, features which early Christians tried desperately to explain in their efforts to persuade other, especially Jews, that Jesus was the Christ and fulfilled prophecy. A fictional Jesus would have conformed much better to the messianic hope and not have generated so many difficult problems for the early Christian communities.” I think he has in mind here certain Gospel accounts, such as doubts about the Davidic descent of Jesus, the strange birth narratives, the baptism of Jesus, and the fact that he was executed by his enemies rather than triumphing over them. And the belief in the second coming seems to show that early Christians must have been dismayed by the failure of Jesus to achieve what the Messiah was expected to accomplish, namely freeing the Jews and ushering in the kingdom, rather than suffering and dying. I have no credentials in the field, just a simple Philosophy degree from a Midwestern university, but I find these arguments quite persuasive.

  6. To be fair (fairness being in short supply at the New Oxonian), Hoffmann takes Carrier’s quote above out of context. Tsk tsk. Not the most honest thing to do. Carrier says (and originally did say) that he agrees with Ehrman that the Tacitus passage is authentic and not an interpolation (wait, I thought “mythicists” never came across an interpolation theory they didn’t love?!). He disagrees on the reason why he holds that position and claims Ehrman makes a mistake regarding the titles “prefect” and “procurator.”

    Also, I notice that Carrier hasn’t approved any comments on either of his last two blog posts, so Dr. Fisher’s insinuation that her rabid comment is being withheld from the minds of the captive Freethought Rabble is, in my opinion, a bit delusional. For the record, I believe Carrier was trying to be humorous when he “compared himself to Aristotle.” However, the mistake here is understandable because one does get the sense that Dr. Carrier does indeed hold himself in high esteem.

    • The quote ‘taken out of context’ is relevant regardless of the context because it highlights the point that Carrier has described the book as crap with occasional synonymous slang, all the way through despite agreement at times, in a very unacademic blog rant. What are readers to think with Carrier’s accumulated slang such as ‘sucks’, ‘crap’, etc to describe a book he concludes in his blog by saying “I have no choice but to condemn this thing as being nothing more than a sad murder of electrons and trees”? He is effectively condemning the book and telling people not to read it. I find it extraordinary that you need to defend Carrier on this and it makes you appear to squirm in a Carrion way.

      To say “It is interesting that Carrier still hasn’t approved my comment April 28th” is to say it is interesting. I wonder why. It’s curious isn’t it. Your projected insinuation is your fantasy, and it is not what I said. I am quite aware he has not posted any comments on either rant. Curious isn’t it, considering the amount of comments, mainly positive, which he normally receives. I don’t detect any humour in the Aristotle/Hume comparison. On the contrary, as you suggest, it is consistent with his constant self promotion and inflated ego. For example he considers himself as much an authority on Koine Greek as the apologist Craig, when all he has done is a couple of elementary courses. For the record? Perhaps all that Carrier writes is a failed attempt at humour. http://www.richardcarrier.info/contrawood.html#philosopher

  7. While I haven’t been fond of Carrier as of late, I am curious about the interview he quoted you from where it does indeed sound like you were in the mythicist camp from the bit I listened to. Was that an accurate representation of your opinion at the time? If not, what did you mean, and if so, what made you change your mind?

    • I’ve dealt with this fairly extensively both in this thread, in references to blogs and my articles and other forums as well. I have never been a mythtic–that is I do not believe the story of Jesus of Nazareth was a concoction of the early church. I believe historical tradition is suspect and raises the existence question for us, unavoidably, but that there may be no way to resolve it. I wouldn’t put too much stock in a Point of Inquiry interview, in any event, since I have been fairly public about the degree of my skepticism, but it is not as radical as it may have “sounded”: “The Jesus of Nazareth who came forward publicly as the Messiah, who preached the ethic of the kingdom of God, who founded the kingdom of heaven upon earth and died to give his work its final consecration never existed….” ch 20 of Albert Schweitzer’s Quest of the Historical Jesus. It doesn’t mean that Jesus did not exist but that the Jesus of Church teaching and doctrine did not exist. Sorry to disappoint you but there has been no game change or flip flop here. Just radical conclusions that have been around for more than a century.

      • How is this different than Jesus did not exist? His name was Jesus Goldstein and he lived in Jersey? If you are skeptical about a), then you need a theory to explain Christian origins. It’s not enough to say, “there was some guy” who died and then “some people just started to say”. His name might have been Jesus. Did he come from Nazareth? I mean, this hypothetical person shrouded in Jesus Myth started one of the world’s largest, most enduring, and influential religions. We just say “I dunno”? It’s a fine line.

  8. As an Evangelical Christian, there is nothing more satisfying than a good Atheist fight :) However, Carrier should know better than an Ad Hominem attack. Any argument against Ehrman’s book is diminished greatly by it.

  9. Dr H,

    I can see perfectly well how it is not possible to support both a and b, but I’ll wait to see how yourself and your colleagues argue the matter.

  10. For Grog: I just read Ehrman’s book. Your comment above that “Ehrman… paints all “mythicists” with the same brush–they are, in his view, on the same intellectual level as “Holocaust Deniers” is not remotely correct. Ehrman is clearly talking about those mythicists who promote a conspiracy theory version of mythicism, and he differentiates between them and the more scholarly ones. I’ve quoted Ehrman in a thread on FRDB here:

    http://www.freeratio.org/showthread.php?p=7156886#post7156886

    In fact, Carrier himself uses “tinfoil hat” and “unfriendly paranoia” when describing some mythicists, much harsher terms than used by Ehrman.

  11. A viable historical solution to the Jesus puzzle has taken place within the Guild of NT studies, the only discipline capable, not only of identifying our primary Scriptural source of apostolic witness, but of appropriately interpreting this source as well. However, “few are they who find it” even among well-known NT scholars. Finding it, this historical solution, is “a task to which specialized knowledge in the areas of philology, form and redaction criticism, literary criticism, history of religions, and New Testament theology necessarily applies.” (Hans Dieter Betz). “Over the last two centuries, there gradually emerged a new access to Jesus, made available through objective historical research.” (James M. Robinson). Under the force of present historical methods and knowledge this new access was brought to a highly creditable understanding during the 1980’s. Schubert Ogden: “We now know not only that none of the Old Testament writings is prophetic witness to (Jesus), but also that none of the writings of the New Testament is apostolic witness to Jesus as the early church itself understood apostolicity. The sufficient evidence for this point in the case of the New Testament writings is that all of them have been shown to depend on sources, written or oral, earlier than themselves, and hence not to be the original and originating witness that the early church mistook them to be in judging them to be apostolic. [“the sufficient evidence” without the agonizing detail of what they do contain which now supplies the grist for the blogosphere mythicists’ mill] – - the witness of the apostles is still rightly taken to be the real ‘Christian’ norm, even if we today have to locate this norm, not In the writings of the New Testament but in the earliest stratum of (Scriptural) witness accessible to us, given our own methods of historical analysis and reconstruction. Betz identifies this earliest stratum to be the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:3-7:27). “This source presents us with an early form – deriving from (the Jerusalem Jesus Movement) – which had direct links to the teaching the historical Jesus and thus constituted an alternative to Gentile Christianity as known above all from the letters of Paul and the Gospels, as well as the later writings of the New Testament. [All are written in the context of imaging the Christ of faith, not the man Jesus]. If the Sermon on the Mount represents a response to the teaching of Jesus critical of that of Gentile Christianity, then it serves unmistakably to underline the well-known fact of how little we know of Jesus and his teaching. The reasons for our lack of knowledge are of a hermeneutical sort and cannot be overcome by an access of good will (apologetics). The Gentile Christian authors of the Gospels transmitted to us only that part of the teaching of Jesus that they themselves understood, they handed on only that which they were able to translate into the thought categories of Gentile Christianity, and which they judged to be worthy of transmission.” (More to the point they included no more than they felt to be sufficient to lend historical credence to their Pauline Christ of faith myth). This calls for a new reconstruction of post death Jesus traditions. Ed Jones Dialogue – Vridar is such an attempt, it is in the form of a letter to R. Joseph Hoffmann about the now defunct Jesus Project. It is based largely on extracts from works of Ogden, Robinson and Betz.

  12. Pingback: I have a look at Ehrman’s new book on Jesus « Why Evolution Is True

      • “I Have Never Met a Poet Worth A Damn that was Not Irascible” Ezra Pound. I’m impressed that someone so inarticulate can actually recognise and appreciate your artistic talent. Irascibility is an essential component in any creative spirit.

  13. Joe: Thanks for the generous words. At my aged state (93) this comes with not a little emotion and a certain awe. I take it as a kind of ultimate statement.
    And Steph, bless you.

    • Ed, Always wishing you the best health, and bless you – or in te reo Maori, kia kaha, Mā te Atua koe e manaaki.

  14. self published: AuthorHouse

    self published: CreateSpace

    self published: Lulu
    Doctoral Thesis?? not published.

    We had great difficulty ordering the book through Amazon.com. We first looked sometime in January. The availability date did change and seem unable to make up its mind. It went from April to June and April again as far as we remember. When we tried ordering it at the end of March, Amazon.com said they would send it to the US, and the US would send it back for 30 pounds extra! But the publisher was Richard Carrier. Carrier’s other books are self published under usual self publishing names such as Lulu and AuthorHouse etc, so this wasn’t unexpected. A week later we managed to order it through the Book Depository, who are on Amazon.com’s list, who said it would arrive in a few days. All the trouble with Amazon.com just seemed like typically muddled bureaucracy. The copy that arrived in early April is perfect in every way but the title page with publisher, now clearly Prometheus, is odd. I described it as smudged but Professor Casey has suggested it’s more appropriately described as “a peculiar highlighting” behind the words ‘BAYES’S THEOREM and the Quest for the HISTORICAL JESUS.’ For all intents and purposes this could be an artistic intention, but it is just unexpected. Neither of us have ordered books from Prometheus before. We normally deal with well known academic publishers, but we often order from the Book Depository as they have been completely reliable so far.

    • Hmm – obviously I’m talking about ‘Proving History’ originally advertised on Amazon.com as published by Richard Carrier, and it is the subtitle that has the ‘peculiar highlighting’.

      • Although I have published with Prometheus myself and used to be their religious studies consultant, they have often taken subsidies to publish work. In my own comments I meant to suggest that I cannot name a single scholar who would promote himself as “renowned” on the basis of three vanity published, unreviewed books. I actually did not know that ALL Carrier’s work had been self-published and not peer reviewed, except perhaps the m,ost recent? So this is really about the propriety of promoting yourself to your “fans” as a renowned author when you are writing your own ticket. It does seem odd to me. It seems more Hollywood than anything else.

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