The Jesus Process: Maurice Casey

Mythicism: A Story of Bias, Incompetence and Falsehood

Copyright (c) 2012, Maurice Casey

One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist. This view, unknown in the ancient world, became respectable during the formative period of critical scholarship in the nineteenth century, when it was no longer possible for recent Christian opinions to be taken for granted among educated European scholars. Because of its scholarly presentation, with as much evidence and argument as could reasonably be expected at that time, this view was much discussed by other learned people. In the later twentieth century, competent New Testament scholars believed that it had been decisively refuted in a small number of readily available books, supported in scholarly research by commentaries and many occasional comments in scholarly books.[1]

The presentation of this view has changed radically in recent years, led by hopelessly unlearned people. It has two major features. One is rebellion against traditional Christianity, especially in the form of fundamentalism. The second is the massive contribution of the internet. Unlike published scholarly work, the internet is uncontrolled and apparently uncontrollable. Two of the most influential writers of published work advocating the mythicist view, that is, the view that Jesus was not a historical figure, but rather a myth, appeal directly to an audience on the internet.

In Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, Earl Doherty, one of most influential of these mythicists, has commented:

The advent of the Internet has introduced an unprecedented “lay” element of scholarship to the field….the absence of peer pressure and constraints of academic tenure, has meant that the study of Christian origins is undergoing a quantum leap in the hands of a much wider constituency than traditional academia…

Commenting further on his website and his previous book, he added,

The primary purpose of both site and book was to reach the open-minded ‘lay’ audience…[2]

This is as inaccurate as possible. The internet audience is ‘lay’, but it is not open-minded. It has both ‘Christian apologists’, whom mythicists love to hate, and atheists who are determinedly anti-Christian. Both groups consist largely of people with closed minds who are impervious to evidence and argument, a quite different world from the critical scholars among whom I am happy to have spent most of my life, whether they were Christian, Jewish or irreligious. We were not concerned by ‘peer pressure’ or the ‘constraints of academic tenure’, except that we were united by an absolute determination to oppose any threat to the academic freedom of people in our universities, regardless of status, colour, race, religion or creed.

Doherty was born in Canada in 1941. He was brought up as a Catholic.  He comments, ‘I became an atheist at the age of 19…’. Doherty claims to hold a B.A. with distinction in Ancient History and Classical Languages, but he does not say at what institution he obtained it, and his ability to read texts accurately seems very limited. When he has read any critical scholarship, Doherty is hopelessly out of date. For example he announces that Mark contains ‘many anachronisms. It is generally agreed, for example, that there is no evidence for synagogues (in which Jesus is regularly said to preach) in Galilee forty years prior to the Jewish War….’[3] This relies on out of date scholarship, which Sanders saw straight through, and which critical scholars no longer believer in.[4] By 2009, Doherty should have known better, including the archaeological remains of synagogues at Gamla, Herodium and Masada, and the Theodotus inscription (CIJ ii, 1404) which records the building of a synagogue in Jerusalem.

Doherty nonetheless repeatedly depends on later Christian traditions. For example, he comments firstly on the epistles, ‘important fundamentals of doctrine and background, which almost two millennia of Christian tradition would lead us to expect, are entirely missing.’[5] This ‘finding’ is clearly contrary to the nature of historical research. The last thing we should expect to find in first century documents is the deposit of centuries of later Christian tradition.

Doherty discusses passages which he cannot imagine Luke omitting if he knew them. The appropriate setting for this is not critical, as is obvious when Doherty quotes R. H. Stein, Senior Professor of New Testament Interpretation at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary:

Why would Luke have omitted such material as the coming of the wise men? Would not the presence of such Gentiles at the birth of Jesus have been meaningful for Luke’s Gentile-oriented Gospel? Why would he have omitted the flight to Egypt and return to Nazareth; the story of the guards at the tomb and their report; the unique Matthean material concerning the resurrection; and so on? Added to this is the observation that if Luke had before him Matthew’s birth account and genealogy, one wonders if he would not have sought in some way to ‘harmonize’ the one we have in his Gospel with the Matthean version.[6]

This is fundamentalism, or simply amateur forensics, not critical scholarship or historical research. Luke was a highly educated Greek Christian. He did not read about ‘wise men’ being ‘Gentiles’ at the birth of Jesus. He read about ‘magoi from the East’ (Mt. 2.1). From his point of view they were something like magicians or astrologers, and the notion that ‘we saw his star in the East’ (Mt. 2.2) probably seemed silly enough, before he got to ‘Behold, the star which they saw in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the child was’ (Mt. 2.9). Luke will have known perfectly well that not only did such things not happen, but magicians/astrologers told untrue stories in which such things did happen. He was writing for churches in the Greco-Roman world, and he will have known that starting like that would not have been attractive to the sort of people he knew well.

The most chronic comment is the last one. It is fundamentalists who ‘harmonize’ their sacred texts. Luke had good reason not to believe that an ‘angel of the Lord’ appeared to Joseph and not to Mary! What’s more, Joseph found out that she was pregnant and needed the vision to stop him divorcing her (Mt. 1.18-25).  Matthew’s gospel was not scripture in a canonical New Testament and lacking such authority, why would the need for harmonisation have arisen at all? It was a Gospel written by one of ‘many (people)’ who ‘set their hand to compiling an orderly account concerning the events which have been fulfilled among us’ (Lk. 1.1), and one which was too Jewish for Luke. Why ‘harmonize’ it with anything? Why not prefer a different story or write his own? The result is infinitely better for educated Greek Christian readers. There are no astrologers, and no doubt by Joseph about Mary’s pregnancy, let alone a threat to divorce her. Instead, we have the birth of John the Baptist as well as Jesus, with the angel of the Lord appearing to John’s father as well as to Mary, the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis. Why harmonize that with Matthew when it is far better on its own!

Doherty uncritically follows Kloppenborg on what some scholars call ‘Q’. Some scholars now regard his view that this was a single Greek document as the dominant theory.[7] The mainstream version of this view has one general problem, namely that the disappearance of ‘Q’ is difficult to explain. Other scholars believe that the ‘Q’ material was not source material used independently by Matthew and Luke, but that Luke copied parts of Matthew, editing as he went along. This is the hypothesis of Goodacre and others which Doherty was so concerned to criticize, because it would leave him without a document from which major aspects of the life and teaching of Jesus were missing. A third view has been widespread among the very small proportion of New Testament scholars who can read Aramaic, the language which Jesus spoke. I call this a ‘chaotic’ hypothesis, because it supposes that the synoptic Gospels had several different sources, some of which were in Aramaic not Greek, and I carried it further myself in a book published in 2002.[8] Doherty shows no sign of having grappled with this work, which issues in results he cannot even contemplate, especially that some traditions in the synoptic Gospels are perfectly accurate. He therefore omits everything of this kind.

Doherty’s ‘original’ work on Paul is equally frightful. In accordance with a regrettable lack of information about conventional scholarship, he shows no knowledge of the fundamental work of the anthropologist E.T. Hall, who introduced the terms ‘high context culture’ and ‘low context culture’ into scholarship.[9] Paul’s epistles were written in a high context culture, which was homogeneous enough for people not to have to repeat everything all the time, whereas American, European and many other scholars belong to a low context culture, which gives them quite unrealistic expectations of what the authors of the epistles ought to have written. This is one basic reason why Paul says so little about the life and teaching of Jesus. To some extent, his Gentile Christians had been taught about Jesus already, so he could take such knowledge for granted. He therefore had no reason to mention places such as Nazareth, or the site of the crucifixion, nor to remind his congregations that Jesus was crucified on earth recently.

Doherty’s examples are especially chronic. One is ‘Calvary’. He makes up a fictional conversation between Paul and his converts. It includes a comment from ‘Julia’ who says how Paul had been to Jerusalem and ‘could stand on the very spot where Jesus was crucified’. He has Paul reply, ‘My dear lady, I’ve never been to Calvary…it’s only a little hill after all.’ Again, on the text of Gal. 4.4f, which is important for establishing that Paul knew perfectly well that Jesus was a historical not a mythical figure, he suggests that Paul somehow should have said ‘God sent his son to die on Calvary and rise from the tomb’.[10]

The English term ‘Calvary’ is a translation, or rather virtually a transliteration, of the Latin calvaria, and would therefore not have been used by Paul either in conversation with his Greek-speaking converts or in a Greek epistle. The Latin calvaria means ‘skull’, so Doherty has Paul say in effect, partly in the wrong language, ‘I’ve never been to Skull’, and supposes that he should have written, again partly in the wrong language, ‘God sent his son to die on Skull and rise from the tomb’. This illustrates how ignorant Doherty is. The Latin calvaria is first recorded as used as a translation of Golgotha by the Latin father Tertullian (Against Marcion, III, 198). Our oldest source says that they, probably a whole cohort, ‘took Jesus to the Golgotha place, which is in translation, “place of skull”’ (Mk 15.22). An Aramaic word of the approximate form gōlgōlthā meant ‘skull’. The idea of it being ‘a little hill’ is not known until the Bordeaux pilgrim imagined it was the place she visited in 333 CE, so this would not be known to Paul either. It is likely to have been called ‘the gōlgōlthā place’ because it was strewn with the skulls of executed people.[11] Why should Paul want to visit such a revolting place? If he went at the wrong time, such as Passover, he might well find not only a site of previous executions, but people screaming in pain as they were crucified too. Pilgrimages to such sites, and the idea they were sacred, appear to date from the time of Constantine onwards, when people were no longer crucified there.

Another astonishing example is Doherty imagining that Paul should have behaved like much later Christians seeking relics. He asks ‘What about the relics? Jesus’ clothes, the things he used in his everyday life, the things he touched?….If the Gospel accounts have any basis we would expect to find mention of all sorts of relics, genuine or fake: cups from the Last Supper, nails bearing Jesus’ flesh, thorns from the bloody crown, the centurion’s spear, pieces of cloth from the garments gambled for by the soldiers at the foot of the cross―indeed, just as we find a host of relics all through the Middle Ages…’[12] This is an extraordinary muddle which has just one point right: relics were characteristic of Christian piety much later. Otherwise, it seeks to impose upon Pauline Christianity the mediaeval Catholic religion which Doherty is supposed to have left.

Furthermore, Doherty cannot understand why relics of Jesus, pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and shrines there did not begin until the fourth century, and he declares, ‘The total absence of such things in the first hundred years of Christian correspondence is perhaps the single strongest argument for regarding the entire Gospel account of Jesus’ life and death as nothing but literary fabrication.’[13] Firstly, Doherty does not understand early Christian piety, which had no need of shrines or relics. Secondly, Doherty ignores the political situation. Until the fourth century, Christians were members of a persecuted religion, and neither major pilgrimages nor the foundation of shrines and churches in Israel were practical. In the fourth century, however, the emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. Then his mother, the empress Helena, made the first major Christian pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where she founded the first churches and shrines. It was she who guessed at what became the traditional sites of Golgotha and of Jesus’ tomb, and it was her son the emperor Constantine who ordered the building of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre over both of them.

Doherty’s attempts to understand what Paul did say are equally incompetent. Jesus’ death by crucifixion was historically straightforward, in the sense that crucifixion was a very common penalty inflicted by Roman authorities on slaves and provincials. It was well known as a very cruel form of death. It was a regrettably well known Roman penalty in Palestine. For example, after Herod the Great’s death in 4 BCE, there were a lot of rebellious upsets in Israel, and Publius Quinctilius Varus, the Roman governor of Syria, brought three legions down to Israel. After sacking Sepphoris, he went on to Jerusalem, where he crucified no less than 2,000 people (Jos. War. II, 75//Ant. XVII, 295). It was obvious to everyone that these events took place on earth.

Following his arrest, Jesus was handed over to the Roman governor, Pontius Pilatus, who condemned him to death by this standard penalty of crucifixion. The titulus on his cross said he was ‘king of the Jews’, Pilate’s term for a bandit, and he was crucified between two other men whom Pilate also condemned to crucifixion as bandits.[14] This is the story which would be well known in the Pauline churches, and which Doherty is determined to omit when considering how to interpret Paul’s epistles. In its place, he has a story in which Jesus was mythically ‘crucified’ by evil powers in the sublunar realm.

For this story, Doherty draws on ideas some of which are found in some Neoplatonic texts, but not in the New Testament nor in the Judaism from which early Christianity emerged. For example, Xenocrates (ca. 396-314 B.C.) already divided the universe into the realm above the moon (the supra-lunar) and the realm below the moon (the sub-lunar), and he believed that the sub-lunar realm was occupied by daemons. Scholars generally consider the Middle Platonic period to have begun c. 90 BCE with the work of Antiochus of Ascalon (c. 125–68 BCE). Following Xenocrates, Antiochus also expressed a belief in daemons, which inhabit the sub-lunar realm (the supra-lunar realm being reserved for the divine celestial bodies). There is however no evidence that such ideas were known in Judaism in Israel, the main source of Paul’s ideas, or that they were widespread enough to be generally known to his Gentile converts. Accordingly, it is of central importance that at this point Doherty reverses one of his major points of method. Having argued up to this point that Paul did not believe anything that he does not mention, he imagines that he could take for granted this mythical realm and the quite unparalleled notion of a spiritual crucifixion up there, without mentioning anything of the kind.

Doherty tries to produce evidence which he imagines makes the crucifixion of Jesus in the sublunar realm plausible. The first document which he mentions in this context is The Hypostasis of the Archons, a Gnostic work of the third century CE, which survives only in one Coptic ms from Nag Hammadi, though it is often assumed to have been originally written in Greek.[15] This refers to Paul as ‘the father of truth, the great apostle’, and at 87, 24 it does refer to the rulers (archontes). Doherty uses it to claim that ‘considering that the roots of Gnosticism go back before the establishment of an historical Jesus in the Gospels, we are once again witnessing an understanding of archontic rulers as spirit demons unassociated with any earthly princes, and thus a pointer to the older understanding in the time of Paul.’[16] This predating of selected parts of a text from the third century CE shows a total lack of historical sense. This document also has Adam created by ‘the rulers (archontes)’ (87, 25ff), and in typical late Gnostic fashion, it has the being who declared himself the one God be a blind being who was sinful, and it does not present the death of Jesus at all. It should be obvious that this source is too late and unPauline to be used to interpret the historical Paul.

Doherty correctly notes that evil spirits come into their own in the apocrypha and pseudepigrapha. He correctly refers to 1 Enoch, which was written well before the time of Paul. Next he refers confidently to the ‘1st century Testament of Solomon’.[17] This is much too early a date. Schürer-Vermes-Millar, in a section primarily the responsibility of Vermes, note correctly that its ‘complex textual history naturally makes it difficult to date.’ There is however good reason to think that ‘it was current in some form around A. D. 400’; further, ‘the archetype of all the full versions (incorporating the demonology) cannot have been put together before the early third century A. D.’[18] This means that it is quite ludicrous of Doherty to conclude on the basis of this evidence that ‘by Paul’s time they [i.e. the demons] have become vast powers that infest the heavens.’[19] There is no such idea in 1 Enoch, and the Testament of Solomon shows only that such ideas were believed by some people some 200 years after Paul’s time.

In addition to the Testament of Solomon, Doherty turns to the Questions of Ezra (Recension B). This is an even later document. It survives only in Armenian. The earliest surviving ms is dated to 1208 CE. This has been labelled recension A, and Recension B is known only from the seventeenth century. Stone was unable to determine whether it was originally composed in Armenian, which would certainly mean a very late date, or translated into Armenian from another language.[20] It is not however known anywhere outside the Armenian church. It is evident that it was not written until centuries after Paul’s life and death, so once again this is the wrong cultural background for understanding anything that Paul wrote or might have believed.

The next document to which Doherty turns is the Ascension of Isaiah. This is a composite work. In its present form it is a Christian work, which appears to have been written in Greek, only fragments of which survive. It utilised an older Jewish work, The Martyrdom of Isaiah, which was still known to Origen and the Apostolic Constitutions, but which has not survived except as used in the Christian Ascension of Isaiah. The whole text of this composite work survives only in Ethiopic. This translation was probably made sometime in the 4th-6th centuries. The oldest ms is however from the 15th century. A similar textual tradition is found in the first Latin translation, which survives only in fragments. A different textual tradition is found in the second Latin translation and in the Slavonic version, which contain only chs 6–11, generally known as the Vision of Isaiah, so they attest to its independent existence. The second Latin translation was first published in 1522, on the basis of a ms which is no longer known. The Slavonic translation exists in two forms, of which the second is a shorter version of the first. The earliest ms of the first version dates from the 12th century, and the translation was apparently made in the tenth or eleventh century.

It should be obvious from this that the date of anything resembling the text of what we can now read is difficult to determine. Knibb makes the entirely reasonable suggestion that the Vision of Isaiah ‘comes from the second century CE’, and gives correct reasons for disputing attempts to date it any earlier. Schürer-Vermes-Millar, in a section primarily the responsibility of Vermes, likewise suggest that ‘the Vision of Isaiah belongs probably to the second century A.D.’, while Charlesworth puts it ‘around the end of the second century A.D.’.[21] This document too is therefore too late in date to form evidence of the cultural environment in which Paul wrote to his converts. Doherty, however, simply announces that a community wrote this ‘vision’ ‘probably towards the end of the 1st century CE’.[22] There is no excuse for dating it so early, and it would still be too late for Paul.

I hope it is clear from this brief account that Doherty, despite being thought of as one of the most important of the mythicists, is unqualified, incompetent and hopelessly biased.

Dorothy Murdock, who writes also under the name of Acharya Sanning, has a significant following too. As well as her books, she has a blog. This includes “Who is Acharya S?”.[23] Here, describing herself with typical mythicist modesty as ‘the coolest chick on the planet’, she claims to have a BA degree in Classics, Greek Civilization, from Franklin and Marshall College, after which she completed postgraduate studies at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens. Nonetheless, when she gets to dating the Gospels, Murdock declares that ‘all of the canonical gospels seem to emerge at the same time – first receiving their names and number by Irenaeus around 180 AD/CE….If the canonical texts as we have them existed anywhere previously, they were unknown, which makes it likely that they were not composed until that time or shortly before, based on earlier texts.’[24] The criterion of not being mentioned in other texts is an important mythicist weapon. It embodies the fundamentalist assumption that the Gospels should have become sacred texts immediately, and therefore quoted by all extant Christian authors as fundamentalists quote the New Testament.

Fundamentalist belief is expressed for example by someone who calls themselves Paul Timothy, ‘The Holy Spirit has given to us four witnesses to The Holy Spirit has given to us four witnesses to the Life and teachings of Jesus: Mark, Matthew, Luke and John, the compilers and writers of the four Gospels. Each of the four Gospel writers lived while Jesus was on earth. Three of them knew him well, and Luke investigated the facts about Jesus (Luke 1:1-3). Thus, the four gospels are ‘eye-witness’ accounts, the strongest kind. All four writers included in their Gospel some of the same accounts about Jesus, and each one adds some accounts that the others left out.  Yet all agree; the four Gospels form a single true story.’[25]

This is fundamentalist falsehood from beginning to end. The Gospels are not eyewitness accounts. Moreover, they are not quoted as such in the relatively few Christian documents surviving from before the time of Irenaeus, whereas the Old Testament is, from which mythicists draw their conclusion that the canonical Gospels were unknown. Justin Martyr, however, writing in the middle of the second century, refers not to the Gospel according to Mark, but to the apomnēmoneumata of Peter. The Greek word apomnēmoneumata is usually translated ‘memoirs’ in Justin, whether or not they are said to be ‘of Peter’, ‘of the apostles’, or ‘of his apostles and their followers’. It has however a somewhat wider range of meaning, and does not necessarily carry the connotation of the person having written the apomnēmoneumata himself. One reference to Peter’s ‘memoirs’ has the sons of Zebedee called ‘Boanerges, which is “sons of thunder”’ (Dial. 106). The word ‘Boanerges’ is otherwise known only from Mk 3.17, where Mark says that Jesus gave Jacob and John, the sons of Zebedee, ‘the name “Boanērges”, which is “sons of thunder”’. This reference is not merely unique. The term ‘Boanerges’ is a mistaken attempt to transliterate into Greek letters the Aramaic words benē re‘em, which mean ‘sons of thunder’.  The possibility that two independent sources made almost identical mistakes in the transliteration of these words is negligible. It follows that by ‘the memoirs of Peter’ Justin meant something at least very like what we call the Gospel of Mark.

Mythicists also presuppose that the attestation of the Gospels somehow ought to be similar to the attestation of modern documents written in cultures where writing is normal, and books are printed. This is why, as mythicists try to date the Gospels as late as possible, one of the reasons they use is the date of surviving manuscripts. In doing this, however, they show no understanding of the nature of ancient documents and their transmission, which was very different from the writing of books in the modern world.[26]

There are in fact far more copies of the Gospels surviving from relatively soon after they were written than is the case of most works from the Greco-Roman world, or ancient Judaism. The reasons why fewer survive than might have done in the stories which mythicists invent are twofold: relatively few copies were made of any writing before the invention of printing in the mediaeval period, and there were a number of disasters in the destruction of books when libraries were destroyed, and in the Christian case, in persecutions by the Roman state.

For example, Eusebius helped to build up an excellent library in Caesarea.[27] Eusebius had there a copy of the work of Papias, Bishop of  Hierapolis in the early second century, An Exposition of the Lord’s Oracles (Logia), and he quotes important information from it (Eus., H.E. III, 39, 1-7, 14-17). The library was however destroyed. The last reliable mention of it is by Jerome, though it may not have been destroyed until the Arab invasion in the seventh century. In a world where there were not many copies of old books, this destruction was a major disaster, and there should be no doubt that many Christian books were lost in this way. We should contrast the creative fiction of Acharya, who comments on the disappearance of Papias’ work: ‘It is inexplicable that such a monumental work by an early Christian father was “lost”, except that it had to be destroyed because it revealed the Savior as absolutely non-historical.’[28] This comment has no connection with the reality of the ancient world, and Acharya’s ‘reason’ for its destruction is nothing better than malicious invention.

Another mythicist is Canadian journalist Tom Harpur (1929- ), who says with more mythicist modesty that his ‘books, videos and columns have made him a compelling spiritual leader for every generation and all faiths.’[29] He was brought up as a fundamentalist Christian, and ordained priest in the Anglican Church of Canada in 1956, in accordance with his father’s wishes and demands. As a journalist on the Toronto Star (1954-84), he did not have to verify everything as scholars do, and he has ended up never offering evidence for what he chooses to believe. He does however pay tribute to his main sources: Gerald Massey (1828-1907), and Alvin Boyd Kuhn (1880-1963). Massey was a second-rate English poet who also became an amateur Egyptologist. Kuhn was a theosophist who therefore held large-scale false beliefs about the modern value of supposedly ancient traditions, many of which were not ancient at all.

Among his many mistakes, Harpur comments, ‘Significantly, both Massey and Kuhn – and other authorities–testify that the surface of the coffin lid of the mummified Osiris (every deceased person was referred to as the Osiris) constituted the table of the Egyptian’s cult’s Last Supper or Eucharist. It was the board on which the mortuary meals were served. The coffin bore the hieroglyphic equivalent for KRST. Massey connects KRST with the Greek word Christos, messiah, or Christ.He says, “Say what you will or believe what you may, there is no other origin for Christ the anointed than ‘Horus the Karast’, or ‘anointed son of God the Father.’” Nonetheless, he notes correctly that ‘Modern Egyptologists dispute this’, which was already true when he wrote it, and instead of giving a good reason for following a scholar who was incompetent when he wrote before the advent of modern critical scholarship and is now hopelessly out of date as well, HarpurHhh quotes his authority as if it were decisive, just like a fundamentalist Christian quoting scripture.[30] Nor is there any excuse for describing Massey and Kuhn as ‘authorities’.

The American Christian scholar Ward Gasque consulted a number of modern Egyptologists, and discovered that the Egyptian KRST is the word for “burial”, so it is a very appropriate word to turn up on Egyptian coffins, and has no connection with the Jewish and Christian term ‘Christ’.[31] This is another illustration of the complete incompetence of both Massey and Kuhn, and of Harpur’s total lack of any sense of reality in what he has taken over from them.

Harpur gives some indication of what he felt he had found in these writers when he comments, ‘Massey’s books and Kuhn’s four chief works….held me spellbound….the more I read, the more I was convinced that what these men were saying had the ring of truth…[32] This appears to be part of Harpur’s conversion process, since he gives nothing approaching evidence supported with argument. When he does quote someone with expertise, he ignores the date of the relevant sources. For example, he quotes the Egyptologist Eric Hornung for the Egyptian fathers, followed in due course by other Christians, taking over imagery of Isis, Osiris and Horus.[33] They did, but this was a real fact centuries after the time of the historical Jesus, not evidence that he did not exist in the first century CE.

This is only one of myriad examples of mythicists creating havoc with supposed ‘parallels’. Murdock put the central point in a nutshell without realising that from a scholarly point of view, it is not merely sinful, but a mortal sin rather than a peccadillo. Commenting on the notion that Horus was ‘baptised’ by Anup/Inpu, she notes that the comparison ‘between Anup and John has been extrapolated for a variety of reasons’, and adds that ‘“Christian” terminology has been utilized to describe what was found in the ancient Egyptian texts and monuments, as well as elsewhere around the Roman empire during the era.’[34] This is central to the way in which most of the so-called parallels to the life and teaching of Jesus have been manufactured by mythicists. In actuality, Horus was not thought to have been baptised by Anup/Inpu, who was supposed to have been a jackal-headed Egyptian deity, not a Jewish man, and Inpu was not beheaded either.

Murdock also discusses pre-Christian use of the Greek words baptō and baptizō. They both meant ‘dip’, but not in any meaningful sense ‘baptise’, as Murdock alleges. She quotes a passage of Nicander, which is about pickling vegetables, and has nothing to do with baptism, to which it is accordingly irrelevant. She even discusses ‘the act of baptizing the vegetable’ which is as ridiculous as any ‘parallel’ I have come across.[35] Then, as now, people did not baptize vegetables, but they did wash, boil, and immerse them. Nicander was really discussing boiling vegetables and then immersing them in vinegar, to do what we call ‘pickle’ them. This is a striking example of the inappropriate use of Christian terminology to describe all sorts of things, in spurious attempts to make them sound more alike.

The internet, for which these pseudo-scholars write, has become a home of mendacity, including many outpourings of hatred for scholars. One example is blogger Neil Godfrey, an Australian who was a baptised member of the Worldwide Church of God for 22 years, so he belonged to a hopelessly fundamentalist organisation which holds critical scholarship in contempt.  He converted to ‘atheism’ later, so he has had two conversion experiences, and this means that his contempt for evidence and argument as means of reaching decisions about important matters is doubly central to his life.

Godfrey claims to have ‘a BA and post graduate Bachelor of Educational Studies, both at the University of Queensland, and a post graduate Diploma in Arts (Library and Information Science) from Charles Sturt University near Canberra, Australia’.[36] He has worked as a librarian. It is extraordinary, therefore, that he seems to be quite incapable of presenting information accurately. One of his statements followed on a shocking earthquake in New Zealand: ‘I’m a librarian, but I never see or touch a book’.[37] Perhaps this is why he seems incapable of gathering information available in books with any semblance of accuracy.

Godfrey condemns biblical scholars as no better than ‘silly detectives’. In a post headed ‘Biblical historians make detectives look silly’[38], he did not give proper references, and referred back later to his post like this: ‘Biblical historians who research the foundations of Christianity in the Gospels have sometimes compared their “historical research” work with that of detectives or criminal investigators….. Only by lazy assumptions about their sources can biblical “historians” declare Jesus’ crucifixion a “fact of history”….In other words, Paula Fredriksen is but one of a host of biblical “historians” who “do history” according to the analogy of the silly detectives in my earlier post’ [23rd November, 2010].

Godfrey’s earlier post said that Fredriksen ‘is one scholar who did “respond” to something Doherty had written, but her response demonstrated that she at no point attempted to read Doherty’s piece seriously. One might even compare her responses to those of a naughty schoolgirl who has no interest in the content of the lesson, believing the teacher to be a real dolt, and who accordingly seeks to impress her giggly “know-it-all” classmates by interjecting the teacher with smart alec rejoinders at any opportunity.’ Godfrey seems to have no idea that his gross personal rudeness is no substitute for a scholarly response, which is what anyone seriously interested in truth would have provided.

One blogger cited by both Doherty and Acharya is Steven Carr. Doherty cites him to dispose of the evidence that Josephus mentions Jesus at Ant. XX, 200, where he describes Jacob as ‘the brother of Jesus called Christ, Jacob his name’, which is as clear as could be. Mythicists, however, do not wish to believe this.[39] Similarly, Murdock noticed that the mss of the New Testament are not inerrant, as every critical scholar knows. Neither she nor Carr, however, offers a proper critical discussion.[40]

I am well known to some people for my work on Aramaic sources behind the synoptic Gospels, for careful scholarship, and for always telling the truth as I see it.[41] On the internet, however, I have been accused by Blogger Godfrey, Blogger Carr and others of total incompetence, omitting main points and telling lies. For example, Blogger Godfrey, in a blog entitled with his customary politesse, Roll over Maurice Casey: Latin, not Aramaic, explains Mark’s bad Greek, not only drew attention to a certain proportion of these ‘Latinisms’, which would have been reasonable, but also declared that they nullified the evidence of Aramaic influence on Mark.[42] This is quite incompetent, which is why, as far as I know, it had not previously been suggested. Nor is Greek which contains Latin loanwords for Roman objects ‘bad’ Greek, any more than we speak ‘bad’ English when we say we went to a restaurant. Mark’s Latinisms, including loanwords, in no way undermine the importance of Mark’s Aramaisms, which Blogger Godfrey is not learned enough to see, and determined to ignore.

Blogger Godfrey does not refer to any learned scholarship, but to an elementary piece from a second-rate and very conservative American Christian college, formerly Atlantic Baptist College, then (1996) Atlantic Baptist University, now named Crandall University.  It does not have any outstanding New Testament scholars on its staff. This is yet another piece of evidence that Blogger Godfrey is quite incapable of leaving his fundamentalist Christian background behind, in spite of his conversion to an equally dogmatic form of atheism. The list of Latinisms provided by Crandall ‘University’ includes loanwords, by which standard it is incomplete, but otherwise satisfactory. They are all included in the more extensive list provided by Gundry in his standard conservative commentary.[43]

Blogger Godfrey does not mention that the Introduction from which he quotes also argues that Mark’s first language was Aramaic. Blogger Carr commented,

‘Casey, of course, knows perfectly well that there are Latin loan words in ‘Mark’….Naturally, he is a True Biblical Scholar so does not inform his readers that there are any Latin loan words in ‘Mark’…As it would detract from the idea that there were Aramaic sources for Greek, detectable by the bad Greek, Casey does not even mention the prescence (sic!) of Latin loan words….A real scholar mentions facts which might seem to other scholars to put his work into question, and attempts to answer those questions…This is what I am used to when I see scientists writing. I naively took it for granted that all scholars in all fields had the same sorts of standards as the lowliest scientific researcher into the memory of mice…. I now have entered a world where True Bible Scholars simply ignore whatever does not fit their ideas.’[44]

Everything is wrong with this. It is not true that I did not even mention the presence of Latin loanwords. I discussed the ones which I thought were of genuine historical significance, and I gave a significant amount of Roman background to some of these, where I thought this was of historical significance. I therefore discussed legiōn and Hērōdianoi at some length, as well as, more briefly, denarius, and centurion.[45]

Blogger Carr’s comments on scholarly practice are irrelevant too, apart from his crude and misleading use of the term ‘bad’ Greek. The idea that Mark’s Latinisms, understood broadly to include his Latin loanwords, somehow negate the evidence of his use of Aramaic sources is not a theory put forward by reputable scholars: it is a mistake by blogger Godfrey. Learned articles on the memory of mice or anything else do not discuss the outpourings of incompetent bloggers. Nor can they discuss anything suggested after their articles were published: blogger Godfrey’s notion that ‘Latin, not Aramaic, explains Mark’s bad Greek’ was not available to me when I wrote, precisely because no-one else had been incompetent and foolish enough to suggest it.

I hope this is sufficient to indicate that the mythicist view is based on ineducable ignorance, prejudice and absolute contempt for anything like learned scholarship.

The only reasonably qualified scholar to become a mythicist is Robert M. Price. Price was born in Mississippi in 1954. After early involvement in a fundamentalist Baptist church, he went on to become a leader in the Montclair State College chapter of the Inter-Varsity Christian Fellowship. He was trained at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary. Its statement of faith includes the following: ‘The sixty-six canonical books of the Bible as originally written were inspired of God, hence free from error….’ Its Mission Statement begins, ‘To encourage students to become knowledgeable of God’s inerrant Word, competent in its interpretation, proclamation and application in the contemporary world.’

It follows that after a fundamentalist upbringing, Price was also processed in a fundamentalist institution where critical scholarship was held in contempt. He went on to do a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey. This was awarded in 1981. He also read Ph.D. in New Testament at Drew University, which was awarded in 1993. He was listed as professor of theology and scriptural studies at Coleman Theological Seminary and professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, as well as a fellow of the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion and the Jesus Seminar.

Price is alone among mythicists in that there is no doubt that he was a qualified New Testament scholar. He therefore bears a most heavy responsibility for the falsehoods which he has promoted. Perhaps his most important book is The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man.[46] What is important about it is that it lends an assumption of scholarship to outpourings of falsehood. These include hopelessly late dates for the Gospels, with Mark being pushed into the second century. Price first declares that it must have been written after 70 CE, on the false assumption that apocalypses, which most of it is not, are always written after the events which they are supposed to predict. Mark’s predictions are not however accurate enough to have been written after the event.[47] Price subsequently relied on Detering, who, continuing with the assumption that there cannot be any predictions in the Gospels, noticed that Mark 13 is not accurate enough to have been a prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE after the event, and claimed that Hadrian setting up his statue in the Temple was the reason for the ‘prediction’ of the Abomination of Desolation (Matt. 24.15//Mk. 13.14).[48]

Price’s treatment of New Testament narratives has two other major features conventional among mythicists. One is to continue with conservative or even fundamentalist exegesis. For example, he discusses Mark 9.1: ‘Amen I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God come in power.’ Price declares that ‘all interpreters admit that this prediction must have the Parousia in mind.’ All interpreters have not adopted this incorrect exegesis for the very good reason that the saying mentions the kingdom of God, an important feature of the teaching of Jesus, whereas belief in the Parousia was created by the early church after Jesus’ death.[49]

Another major feature of mythicism is to make fun of New Testament stories which they used to believe in, and still take literally. For example, Price discusses the story of Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist. On that occasion, Jesus heard a voice which he believed came from God, ‘You are my beloved Son, in you I am well pleased’ (Mk 1.11). Price follows the received text, ‘in whom’, rather than ‘in you’, which assimilated to Matthew, but which is not, as he claims, the reading of Luke. He then declares that it is ‘cobbled together from three Old Testament passages’, as if a major prophet could not imagine a heavenly voice speaking in scriptural terms. Price’s scriptural passages, however, are firstly Ps. 2.7, which says ‘My son thou’, the form in which Jesus would have known the text, translated into Greek in the LXX as ‘My son art thou’, as the text would have been known to anyone writing creatively in Greek. Price’s second passage is Isa. 42.1, which says ‘Behold, my servant, I uphold him, my chosen, my soul delights in him’, for which the LXX has ‘Jacob my servant, I come to his aid, Israel my chosen, my soul received him’. Price’s third passage is Gen. 22.12, which has nothing more than God referring to Isaac as ‘your son, your beloved’. He therefore heads firstly for LXX, which is on the same lines, and simply has God say to Abraham about Isaac, ‘You did not spare your beloved son because of me’. Price therefore heads for what he incompetently calls ‘the Targums’, according to which, when Isaac looked up into an open heaven, a voice said ‘Behold, two chosen ones’. Price does not however quote any Targums, but only an essay in English by Stegner![50]

Price then concludes that Mark’s voice is ‘not historical, unless one wishes to imagine God sitting with his Hebrew Psalter, Greek Septuagint, and Aramaic Targum in front of him, deciding what to crib. Only then does it come to seem ridiculous’. Indeed, but as I commented before, ‘It is Price who has manipulated it to make it seem ridiculous.’ He has not written serious scholarship at all.[51]

It follows that Price has not made good or reasonable use of the New Testament qualifications which he once obtained. The results of his work are no better than those of more obviously ignorant mythicists.

***

The third and last essay in this series has been written by Stephanie Louise Fisher. Steph came here as an outstanding mature student from the University of Victoria, New Zealand, where she obtained exceptionally brilliant first class degrees including study in history, anthropology, sociology, classics as well as music and other things reflecting her eclectic interests and lateral mind.  She worked as a research fellow to Jim Veitch in the history of the Lloyd Geering heresy trial. While in my opinion there was never any question of her not obtaining one, she won the fiercely competitive overseas research scholarship and was offered the Commonwealth Scholarship twice.  While she could have chosen to go to any first class independent university on earth, she chose to come to England because of her specialist focus on the Double Tradition.  Thus James Crossley, Steph, and I have worked well together, and we have had many debates, while becoming genuine friends over the past few years.

While Steph has been here, she has effectively worked as my research assistant too, without being in any sense subordinate to me. She has been wonderful working both on my last book, Jesus of Nazareth, and on material about mythicists. She is, as the above comments indicate, a scholar with very broad interests, and she works on many projects simultaneously. We do have reputable publishers already interested in her work on the Double Tradition, so we look forward to this task being completed, because New Testament scholarship needs it so much, and she is the only person known to me who can complete it.

Maurice Casey, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Studies, University of Nottingham.


[1] The major generally available books were S. J. Case, The Historicity of Jesus: A Criticism of the Contention that Jesus Never Lived, a Statement of the Evidence for His Existence, an Estimate of His Relation to Christianity (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1912; 2nd edn, 1928); M. Goguel, Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History? (1925. Trans. F. Stevens. London/New York: Unwin/Appleton, 1926. With a new introduction by R. Joseph Hoffmann, Amherst, New York: Prometheus, 2006).

[2] E. Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor ManThe Case for a Mythical Jesus (Ottawa: Age of Reason, 2009), pp. vii, viii, referring back to http://jesuspuzzle.humanists.net/Critiquesrefut1.htm, which I can no longer access, and E. Doherty, The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin with a Mythical Christ? (Ottawa: Canadian Humanist Publications, 1999).

[3] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, p. 413.

[4] For a summary of the debate, with bibliography, e.g. J. S. Kloppenborg, ‘The Theodotos Synagogue Inscription and the Problem of First-Century Synagogue Buildings’ in J. H. Charlesworth (ed.), Jesus and Archaeology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), pp. 236-82; and for his immediate reaction, Sanders, Jewish Law From Jesus to the Mishnah, pp. 341-3, nn. 28-9.

[5] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, p. 15.

[6] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, pp. 316-7, quoting R. H. Stein, The Synoptic Problem: an Introduction (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1984), p. 102.  I have not otherwise noted a copy published before 1987: there was a second edn. in 2001.

[7] J. S. Kloppenborg, The Formation of Q. Trajectories in Ancient Wisdom (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987); J. S. Kloppenborg Verbin, Excavating Q. The History and Setting of the Sayings Gospel (Minneapolis/Edinburgh: Fortress/T&T Clark, 2000).

[8] P. M. Casey, An Aramaic Approach to Q: Sources for the Gospels of Matthew and Luke (SNTSMS 122. Cambridge: CUP, 2002).

[9] Hall, E.T. Beyond Culture (New York: Doubleday 1976).

[10] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, pp. 664, 198: cf. further below.

[11] Cf. now Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 445–6.

[12] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, pp. 80, 82 (my italics).

[13] Doherty, Jesus Neither God nor Man, p. 82.

[14] For a historical account for the general reader, see Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 425-48.

[15] For an English Translation by Bentley Layton, with a very brief introduction by R. A. Bullard, see J. M. Robinson (general ed.) and Members of the Coptic Gnostic Library Project of the Institute for Antiquity and Christianity, Claremont, California, The Nag Hammadi Library in English (4th edn. Leiden: Brill, 1996), pp. 161-9.

[16] Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, p. 109.

[17] Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, p. 109.

[18] Schürer-Vermes-Millar, vol. III.1, p. 373.

[19] Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, p. 109.

[20] M.E. Stone, in Charlesworth (ed.), Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol I, p. 592.

[21] M.A. Knibb, in Charlesworth (ed.), Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, vol 2, pp. 149–50; Schürer-Vermes-Millar, vol. III.1, p. 338 n.8; Charlesworth, Pseudepigrapha and Modern Research, p. 125.

[22] Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, p. 119.

[24] Murdock, Who was Jesus? p. 82.

[26] See especially H.Y. Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts (New Haven: Yale Univ., 1995); A. R. Millard, Reading and Writing in the Time of Jesus (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic, 2000).

[27] See Gamble, Books and Readers in the Early Church, pp. 155-60.

[28] Acharya, Christ Conspiracy, (Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999) p. 227.

[30] Harpur, Pagan Christ, (Thomas Allen and Son Ltd, 2005) p. 101, with p. 224, n.6, again without any proper detailed reference to the work of Massey: see the regrettable comments of Massey, Ancient Egypt, pp. 186-248. The quotation is from p. 219.

[32] T. Harpur, Born Again: My Journey from Fundamentalism to Freedom (Toronto: Thomas Allen, 2011), p. 214.

[33] Harpur, Born Again, p. 215.

[34] Murdock, Christ in Egypt, (Stellar House Publishing, 2009) p. 233.

[35] Murdock, Christ in Egypt, p. 245 n. 2.

[39] Doherty, Jesus: Neither God Nor Man p. 571 with p. 771 n. 221, referring to Carr commenting on Josephus.

[40] D. M. Murdock, Who was Jesus?: Fingerprints of the Christ (Seattle: Stellar House Publishing, 2007), p. 224, with p. 268, referring to Carr, ‘Textual Reliability of the New Testament’, on Carr at http://www.bowness.demon.co.uk/reli2.htm.

[41] Cf. James G. Crossley (ed.), Judaism, Jewish Identities and the Gospel Tradition: Essays in Honour of Maurice Casey, (London: Equinox, 2010).

[42] http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010.12/06/roll-over-maurice-casey-latin-not-aramaic-explains-marks-bad-greek/

[43] R.H. Gundry, Mark: A Commentary on His Apology for the Cross (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), pp. 1043-5.[1]

[44]  http://vridar.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/roll-over-maurice-casey-latin-not-aramaic-explains-marks-bad-greek/#comment-13040

[45] Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 242-3, 341, 422-3, 450.

[46] R. M. Price, The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable is the Gospel Tradition?

(Amherst, New York: Prometheus, 2003).

[47] Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 69-71.

[48] H. Detering, ‘The Synoptic Apocalypse (Mark 13 par): A Document from the Time of Bar Kochba’, Journal of Higher Criticism 7 (2000), pp. 161-200: cf. Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 33-5.

[49] Price, Shrinking Son of Man, p. 32; see Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 34, 212-6, 219-21, 374-7, 384, 389, 484.

[50] Price, Shrinking Son of Man, p. 120-21; see Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 36-7.

[51] See further, Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 35-8.

236 thoughts on “The Jesus Process: Maurice Casey

  1. Pingback: THE JESUS PROCESS (c) « The New Oxonian

  2. Maurice does indeed talk about Latin loanwords, claiming they were already in Mark’s Aramaic source (!) (Jesus of Nazareth , page 341)

    So Maurice never lets his readers know that Mark might have used Latin loanwords himself, rather than copying them from these mythical Aramaic sources.

    Instead, he claims that Latin loan words mean….. wait for it, an Aramaic source!

    • “mythical Aramaic sources” is a bit of a hoot: it goes to your contention that Mark was a stylist of such ingenuity that he could invent both a provenance and a few botched Aramaisms to lend his gospel a kind of Palestinian verisimilitude whilst betraying his real identity by leaving crumbs of Latin behind. A stunning idea!

      • Oh my goodness! “Botched Aramaisms”? Or Aramaisms adapted for the Greek text? If you care to actually look at the posts Casey refers to you will see what I mean. But why bother to check on Casey’s sources? Casey is an honourable man and would never misrepresent (lie about) anyone’s argument even if it exposed the fatuousness of his own.

        Palestinian verisimilitude? When his geographic knowledge of Galilee has more in common with Isaiah’s prophetic ramblings than with Pausanius it is a bit of a stretch to use any word prefixed with “veri” — especially when archaeological and other sources inform us that synagogues and abundance of Pharisees were anachronisms in this gospel.

        There is a much, much simpler explanation, you know. But if anyone has locked himself in with Casey for the sake of spiting mythicists he has fallen out with personally, well, . . . .

    • Casey wrote:
      blogger Godfrey’s notion that ‘Latin, not Aramaic, explains Mark’s bad Greek’ was not available to me when I wrote, precisely because no-one else had been incompetent and foolish enough to suggest it.

      May I recommend P. L. Couchoud’s book: “L’Evangile de Marc a été écrit en Latin”(1930). The original French version, my German translation and an English summary are to be found on scholar Dr. Hermann Detering’s homepage ww.hermann-detering.de
      Click on ‘Klassiker’ and scroll down.

      • @ Fabri: Couchoud was roundly thrashed by Maurice Goguel in Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History; see my introd. to the reprint of the English (Stephens) translation. Goguel’s arguments remain the classic rebuttal of mythicism. As I recall, Couchoud had no qualifications in ancient Hebrew or Greek or Biblical studies but was a fair poet and also a physician. I can’t imagine what his work would contribute to discussion of Professor Casey’ expert evaluation. I am sure however that your German translation on Hermann Detering’s site is a fine one.

      • RJH: “Gouguel’s [sic] arguments remain the classic rebuttal of mythicism.”

        I don’t think so. (And if nothing better than something written in the 1920s has since appeared, the historicist response has been anything but dynamic.) Let me quote from my website article “Alleged Refutations of Jesus Mythicism” which surveys that response across the 20th century (at . I suggest anyone here read that 3-part article to see what the pathetic state of rebuttals to mythicism has really been. (Note below Goguel’s personal ad hominem against mythicists which makes them out to have an agenda against religion.) And nothing has changed with Bart Ehrman’s new book….

        Couchoud’s case, as excellently summarized by Goguel, makes eminent sense, and Goguel has a task ahead of him to discredit it. And yet at the outset, Goguel declares that he is not going to directly address it. He essentially labels [p.29] the mythicist case in general as “interpretations” upon “facts,” as though the record itself could be labeled the latter in the absence of any interpretation….Goguel proposes adopting the principle that

        “we consent to admit as the first premises of every religious philosophy…that it is not the facts which must be adapted to our theories [i.e., religious beliefs], but rather it is our theories [beliefs] which must, if necessary, be corrected and rectified to put them in harmony with the facts.”

        A worthy and ambitious principle indeed—essentially the adoption of the scientific method—and one which religion in general has rarely if ever followed. But will Goguel objectively evaluate the arguments and evidence of the mythicists?

        “It is a question of fact which is before us: Are there historical proofs of value for the actual existence of Jesus? We shall therefore leave on one side the discussion of the more or less complicated theories offered to explain (other than by the existence and activity of Jesus) the appearance and development of Christianity. It would be easy to show how much there enters of the conjectural, of superficial resemblances, of debatable interpretation into the systems of the Drews, the Robertsons, the W. B. Smiths, the Couchouds, or the Stahls. We shall not linger on the way to do it. We shall not discuss theories which to a more or less extent are inspired by considerations depending neither on history nor on criticism, but upon religious philosophy.” [p.30-31]

        Goguel simply makes a sweeping and disdainful dismissal of anything the mythicists have put forward. Discrediting them would be “easy,” but he won’t bother to do it. They are conjectural, motivated by prejudice, outside the pale of legitimate history and criticism. For him what matters—the “facts”—are the historical proofs for the existence of Jesus. He goes on to say that if these are shown to be “sufficient,” then any theory about the origins of Christianity “should accommodate itself to them.” He has prejudged the entire field of evidence, closed his mind to the possibility of contrary interpretations, and refused to address the mythicist case itself. (He does, as it turns out, address several elements of the mythicist position, particularly the “pre-Christian cult” proposal, but most of this is done within the presentation of his “sufficient proofs” for Jesus’ existence in the Christian and non-Christian record.)

        Thus Goguel has made a mockery of his ideal principle of letting the facts govern his theories. Regrettably, little has changed since Goguel’s time.

        (This constitutes a “classic rebuttal”? Actually, it does, if by classic one means the traditional approach. Goguel’s “rebuttal” is shot through with classic fallacy, bias, and questionable methodology.)

      • @Earl Doherty: Thanks for catching the typo. So your adequate response to Goguel is to say he got it wrong whilst the poet got it right? The fact is, Goguel did not close his mind, as you suggest; he was part of a generation of skeptical critical scholars, with Loisy and Guignebert, who looked as impartially and squarely at evidence as any trained experts have ever done–and with piercing honesty. Why is it that when critical experts look at the evidence and come to a different conclusion the mythtics always appeal to fairness? I also think Goguel’s tone towards Couchoud was completely gentlemanly–as differences of opinion tended to be before the Internet food fest made reflection and due consideration impossible. I have deliberately refrained from discussing Ehrman’s book because I think it is essentially a commercial venture–doubtless a successful one, as his others have been. And I would welcome a truly first-class study on the mythicist position that does not simply rehash the familiar and discredited postures of the last century and a half. As someone who knows the field of myth studies and mainstream biblical and early church studies pretty well–I am shocked at what you are missing that might be exploited. But it’s not my job to show you how. I think it’s that task, and not this war-game of words with a little new, inapplicable algebra in the form of “Bayes’s Theorem”, that should occupy those of you who cling to the non-historicity thesis.

      • “precisely because no-one else had been incompetent and foolish enough to suggest it” …
        My posting was only about the above remark by M. Casey. Thrashed by Goguel or not, there had been someone who “had been incompetent and foolish enough to suggest it”. In my incompetent opinion, Couchoud showed quite a bit of knowledge of Greek and Latin, the most important languages needed to defend his thesis.
        And since I’m not a scholar don’t ask me to prove or disprove it. If I can get a copy of Goguel’s I’ll certainly read it.

      • Febri:

        “May I recommend P. L. Couchoud’s book: “L’Evangile de Marc a été écrit en Latin”(1930). The original French version, my German translation and an English summary are to be found on scholar Dr. Hermann Detering’s homepage ww.hermann-detering.de
        Click on ‘Klassiker’ and scroll down.”

        At first I assumed this was a joke, a la Umberto Eco. Apparently not.

        Doherty:

        “Goguel simply makes a sweeping and disdainful dismissal of anything the mythicists have put forward. Discrediting them would be “easy,” but he won’t bother to do it.”

        It’s all very familiar, isn’t it?

        Oh, and while I have your attention — possibly. I realize I’m chiming in after some time has passed — what do you, as a prominent mythicist, think of the term mythicist? Do you apply it to yourself? Would you not agree that it has been applied by historicists to many people simply because they wish to explore the question of Jesus’ historicity, and are not sufficiently ready humbly to accept the historicists’ disdain and dismissal nor attach the proper weight to historicist credentials? (As an autodidact I’m perhaps oversensitive on this subject of credentials.)

        I definitely see two very distinct groups here. I just don’t know whether I agree that they should be called mythicists and historicists. The major difference I see is that one group wants to discuss Jesus’ historicty, and the other group wants them to shut up.

      • As a term, it (mythicist) may be shorthand for “Christ myth theory,” but I do not regard its semantic lode dependent on when it was first used. It’s not very good as a substitute for the German word Mythiker which is used to refer to the proposal that evangelists were myth-writers during the Strauss dust up, because Strauss’s proposal was complex and wouldn’t cause the liberal German theology of Bultmann’s day to raise and eyebrow. “Historicist” is a silly term because its use outside this relatively limited controversy is so wide and well established in relation to postmodernism that it is bound to be misunderstood in relation to Jesus. I think a lot of theologians and NT scholars are “mythicists” if we mean, simply, Are the gospels a factual history of the life of Jesus? I’m happy to line up on the side of myth (two of my teachers were Bultmann’s pupils, Helmut Koester and Dieter Georgi, so I am beyond redemption anyway). But we are not “historicists” just because we say that the story probably does not originate in myth and is not reducible to any single or composite or analogous myth. I don’t know what “historicist credentials” would be. There is a meandering dog’s breakfast essay on the topic on WIKI at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_myth_theory which cites my Jesus agnosticism in the 2009 essay “Threnody: Rethinking the Thinking behind The Jesus Project”, bibleinterp.com, October 2009, written at the abortive end of the Jesus project.

        I call your attention however to what looks like a clear pattern of degradation in the theory, from its theoretical beginnings in the 19th century in Germany, Holland and France to its exploitation by “fans”, amateurs and conspiracy theorists in the late 20th and 21st. It seems to me there is a clear separation between radical NT criticism, which was a distinct movement in the academic study of the canon, and sensationalists, who are largely internet propogaters of uncontrolled speculation that suits their theological or atheological taste. I suggest they have made it far more difficult for the theory to get a fair hearing than any single group opposed to them. I have said repeatedly that the last learned champion of the myth theory is Geroge Wells. I will also say, just to throw a bit of kerosense on the fire, and now that I have had a chance to review it, that Bart Ehrman’s book on the historicity of Jesus is entirely inadequate as a defense. Both sides need to do much better, and I am still skeptical given the talent available on the issue, combined with an enormous indifference on the part of most bibliclal scholars, that they can. That is what the Jesus Process is all about.

      • To: Stevenbollinger

        “Febri” is in fact Frans-Joris Fabri, the same “Fabri” who translated the French text of Couchoud’s book on the Mark Gospel. It’s rather ironic that you would recommend the book to the very guy who translated it.
        I didn’t understand clearly what you meant by the use of the word “mythicist.”

        It seems that “Mythicist” is an Imprecise and confusing journalistic label. It seems that A.D. Howell Smith and Archibald Robertson popularized the coinage “mythicist” in their books (1942 and 1946). Mythicism was later derived from that label and took off as a convenient, but imprecise journalistic concept of a fictitious “movement”.

        For Arthur Drews, a professional philosopher, Jesus historicity was the thesis, always affirmed first, and Jesus historicity denial was the antithesis in a Hegelian sense, always coming in second position, after the positive thesis.

        Same thing with Albert Schweitzer, who, in the rebuttals to the Christ Myth in the 2d edition of the Quest, only speaks of Bestreiter der Geschichtlikchkeit Jesu, or Verneiner i.e. challengers, or deniers of the historicity of Jesus.

        “Mythicism”, as an abstraction, per se does not of course exist. Only individual “deniers” exist, each with different interpretations. The Denial of Jesus Historicity is not a Movement, nor a “party”.

        Schweitzer never attacks an abstract anonymous doctrine. As an honest historian, he always addresses the arguments of targeted scholars and writers, avoiding weasel expressions and specifically “naming names”.

      • To Earl Doherty:

        Maurice Goguel never speaks of “mythicism”. Neither in French nor in the English translation by Frederick Stephens. He only speaks of “the historical character of Jesus”, the “theory of Non-Historicity”, “Nonhistorical theories” or “thesis”.

        The journalistic lingo which has now come into vogue was never used by any of the pioneers of the historicity versus non-historicity debate.

        They all had their Ph.D.s and they all were versed in the traditional European classics of Greek and Latin. They were too high-minded grand-bourgeois Victorians to use journalists’ jargon. They all had what was called class and style.

      • @ rjosephhoffmann: Thank you for your reply, Dr Hoffmann. The term “dog’s breakfast” was new to me. I like it. And if you think that Wiki article was a long rambling mess, cast a shuddering gaze at this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Drews

        If you like, you may strike the phrase “historicist credentials” and replace it with “the academic credentials of some of mythicism’s harshest critics.” (Let me take the opportunity to underscore that I am a layman, watching two sides argue about things like competency in fields in which I am not competent. I’m still just working on my Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic, for example, and so I can’t judge for myself disputes about insights and mistakes alleged to have been made in interpreting many relevant texts. I’m just a tourist here, a humble farmer and Switzerland.) I don’t like it when I’m too hastily categorized, and I have no wish to do the same to others. Don’t call me a mythicist and I won’t call you an historicist. It seems you agree with me that both terms leave much to be desired.

        “I call your attention however to what looks like a clear pattern of degradation in the theory, from its theoretical beginnings in the 19th century in Germany, Holland and France to its exploitation by “fans”, amateurs and conspiracy theorists in the late 20th and 21st.”

        You certainly do, often, and emphatically. And I agree with you on certain topics, such as a currently-fashionable misuse of Bayes’ theorem, and a widespread us-or-them, point-scoring and point-counting mentality in some atheist communities. And I no longer confuse you, as many do, with those who call Jesus’ historicity certain — such as Ehrman, such as Crossan — although I continue to wonder whether you share with them an overly-hasty dismissal of non-academics weighing in on the topic. Surely you must see that there are reasons — justified or not — no: some justified, some not — for mistrust of Biblical scholars and theologians among people who are up-to-date in other fields such as meteorology and 20th-century history and biology. Layman who entertain doubts about Jesus’ historicity generally do not entertain doubts that man-made global warming is occurring, or that the Holocaust happened, or that biological organisms evolve. When theologians and Biblical scholars lump them all together as nuts and conspiracy theorists and so forth, it’s bound to alienate some people.

      • Steven,

        The suggestion that the Christ myth theory today demonstrates “a clear pattern of degradation in the theory, from its theoretical beginnings in the 19th century in Germany, Holland and France to its exploitation by “fans”, amateurs and conspiracy theorists in the late 20th and 21st” is a general conclusion on the basis of many years of involvement and continuous research, critical assessment and discussion, following the debates. I don’t think it equates with “an overly-hasty dismissal of non-academics weighing in on the topic” such as that comparable to some non-academics who over hastily dismiss all biblical scholars, who are persuaded that the story probably does not originate in myth and is not reducible to any single or composite or analogous myth, as fundamentalists.

        As I sit here at my desk stuck in the suburbs in the middle of a city too large and loud and a country too cluttered and claustraphobic, farming in Switzerland sounds perfectly idyllic!

      • Hello steph. If all mythicists called everyone who disagreed with them a fundamentalist, then, indeed, that would be very bad. Implying that every mythicist after Wells is biased or incompetent, as Casey seems to do above, may not be quite as bad, but it’s not particularly good either, in my humble opinion.

        Then again, to be perfectly honest, I’m new at this, and I haven’t yet read a book by a mythicist younger than Wells who really impressed me. (I haven’t read an entire book by Doherty or Price yet, and no offense meant to your mentor, but I don’t think I’ll make up my mind about either of them before I do.) And I find Wells’ theory of the creation of Jesus interesting, but not yet really convincing.

        But Wells argues his case much better than those, such as Crossan and Ehrman, who state that it’s certain Jesus existed. And certainly much better than John Hick, as I recently said in this very annoyed and possibly slightly unfair blog post: http://thewrongmonkey.blogspot.com/2012/07/i-mean-this-in-friendliest-possible-way.html I’m neither an historicist nor a mythicist, and I find closedminded positions on either side quite unconvincing.

      • Steven,

        My response to you was in regard to your suggestion to Joe that he might be dismissing the myth theory too quickly. Maurice Casey is not my ‘mentor’. He is a colleague and a friend, as is Joe Hoffmann, and we have worked together and independently on several different projects. I did not accuse ‘all mythicists’ of dismissing biblical scholars as fundamentalists. I implied that ‘some’ non-academics over hastily dismiss all biblical scholars, who are persuaded that the story probably does not originate in myth and is not reducible to any single or composite or analogous myth, as fundamentalists, in the same way that scholars like Ehrman dismiss things they have not properly researched. Neither I nor Casey nor Hoffmann are closed minded on matters of historical investigation and ‘historicist’ is a meaningless and silly term which is inappropriate and misleading.
        .

  3. Pingback: The Jesus Process on The New Oxonian | Γεγραμμένα

  4. ‘Incompetently called ‘the Targums”?

    After a 10 second Internet search I found: “The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel” at page:

    http://targum.info/targumic-texts/pentateuchal-targumim/

    Moreover, the Targum that Price mentions does seem to contain the material he says it contains as shown here (in essay form):

    http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/books/?bookid=48&chapid=292

    And I might add that since Targum are not actually scripture, quoting them directly might be misleading since they were never considered the word of God.

    What do you say to that?

    • What precisely is the point of your point: רגום‎, plural: targumim, lit. “translation, interpretation”–do you mean they are non-canonical? Everyone knows this; or are you talking about the use of the false plural (targums); I am not sure how this relates to Fisher’s wider point Price.

  5. The internet audience is ‘lay’, but it is not open-minded. It has both ‘Christian apologists’, whom mythicists love to hate, and atheists who are determinedly anti-Christian.

    There are more things between web sites and blogs, Maurice, Than are dreamed of in your story of bias, incompetence and falsehood………………..

    Luke 11:52

    • Ananda: Casey is referring specifically to Doherty’s targeted internet audience in that contexts, not the whole world of internet users.

  6. Maurice Casey wrote:
    “One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist.”

    Thank you Maurice. I am going to exchange one name, in this sentence, and ask if you have considered how intelligent, well educated people, living two thousand years ago, might have reacted, upon reading your same sentence, with this one substitution:

    One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Heracles, in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist.

    Now, unlike Jesus, Maurice, we know that Heracles was “an important historical figure”, because Philo of Alexandria describes his accomplishments, because of the enormous stone temples (for example, in Syria), constructed in honor of his numerous supernatural attributes, and because of the famous city in Italy, near Mount Vesuvius, site of the death of Pliny the Elder, who died in vain, as commander of the fleet, attempting to rescue those fleeing the volcanic eruption in 79CE. The library at Herculaneum was the foremost in the world, Maurice, when Vesuvius erupted. Why?

    Why was the single most important intellectual resource in the world, named in honor of Heracles, Maurice? How is it possible that folks today have forgotten just how crucial the worship of Heracles was, in those days, a mere two thousand years ago?

    So, Maurice, do those numerous temples, and the famous library in the city named for him, and the description of Heracles in Philo’s texts, provide the substrate necessary to conclude that Heracles was indeed a genuine human, son of an ordinary human mother, but with a supernatural deity, Zeus, providing the paternal DNA, precisely as written in the Byzantine version of Mark 1:1, Maurice?

    If Heracles, Maurice, was not a real human person, but rather, simply a Greek fictional creation, a myth, in other words, then, so too, was jesus, or, as I would call him, Heracles, part deux.

    You are barking up the wrong tree, Maurice. The cat is in the bushes, hiding in plain sight: Read about Heracles, and you will understand why the nonsense in the gospels is simply Greek literature.

    tanya

    • @ Tanya: This is a silly comment. Maurice will doubtless speak for himself, but it’s clear that Tanya is not reading the full Monty. Herakles is one of the bead strung analogies that mythicizers have pointed to since before van Eysinga. The remedy for this is to go and read Seneca’s Hercules Oetaeus (Furens) and then read the crucifixion story in Mark. See any differences? Similarities? What? This is just another bead strung analogy, not an argument–and you don’t need to reach into the realm of improbable heroes being “real” since founders, generals, and emperors had miraculous births and performed miracles. A casual browse shows that the Atheists of Silicon Valley and a number of freethought sites like the Hercules analogy, so I am guessing you got it from there and not from actually reading anything. Trust me: It is a terrible analogy.

    • One other thing @ Tanya: Not only is your comment off the mark, but Maurice’s point cautions precisely against using the artifacts of later periods to establish the significance of Jesus–indeed accuses Doherty of this kind of slipshod anachronism. Your critique therefore gets a D for reading comprehension as well as for logic.

      • Thank you professor Hoffman, for taking the time and trouble, to respond. I note your dissatisfaction, in the previous comment, and I share your low opinion of my contribution, it is indeed, as you have written, “a silly comment”.

        You will forgive me, if I seem a bit slow, in comprehension, I note that on other forums, I do seem to be a day late and a dollar short, on certain topics.

        I would like to sound a note of caution, however, in dismissing my criticism of Maurice Casey. You have noted, cher professor Hoffman, my garnering a “D for reading comprehension as well as for logic.”

        I earned this D from you, (not my first in academia, as I am certain you will have anticipated), as a consequence of replying to Mr. Casey’s FIRST sentence, not his entire analysis. I was indeed, confining my remarks to that first sentence. So, I am not quite persuaded by your criticism of my effort, since it appears to me, that you have misunderstood the scope of my travail.

        With regard to logic, a subject near and dear to my heart, may I humbly suggest that you endeavor to locate any sentence in my reply to Maurice Casey’s first sentence, which you find “illogical”. I will respond in kind to your criticism, by pointing out, what seems to me, to be an excellent illustration of your own illogical thinking:

        “…Maurice’s point cautions precisely against using the artifacts of later periods….”

        Later periods?

        Which later periods would that be Professor Hoffman? My reply to Maurice focused on three points:

        a. Temples constructed throughout the Roman Empire, before Constantine–and none, after his proclamation elevating Christianity to the status of the official religion of the Empire, in essence disembowling Hercules;

        b. Philo’s writings, from before 50 CE;

        c. Herculaneum, destroyed by eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79CE.

        Which “later periods” are you referring to?

        “This is a silly comment”. Really? What makes it “silly”? Here is something that I find “silly” :

        “…so I am guessing you got it from there and not from actually reading anything.”

        I have done a bit of reading in my life here on planet earth, and some of it is even pertinent to the discussion at hand….

        I have, on the other hand, absolutely no idea of who is living in Silicon Valley, though I acknowledge having confronted Steve Wozniak in 1980, at a conference on 6502 programming…Does that count?

        “A casual browse shows that the Atheists of Silicon Valley and a number of freethought sites like the Hercules analogy, so I am guessing you got it from there and not from actually reading anything. Trust me: It is a terrible analogy.”

        I know of no such site, and would profit from your offering a link to them, so that I may search out kindred spirits….

        I would like to trust you, or someone, but, problem is, I have a terrible relationship with authoritarian figures, who write:
        “trust me…..” I explained it to Steve as well: it isn’t a 32 bit architecture, doesn’t matter how fast the central clock operates….

        I don’t have faith. I need evidence. Do you have some evidence to share with me, to explain why Mark 1:1 is not related to the Hercules story, or do you simply wish to emphatically proclaim “the truth”, based upon your undoubted wisdom, superior academic preparation, agile linguistic facility, and supreme confidence as one who is nearly omniscient.

        I don’t offer Heracles as “analogy”. It is Greek myth, and served, in my opinion, as progenitor of Mark’s description of the Jesus myth, another Greek fairy tale. What both stories share in common, is paternal DNA that is non-human, belonging to the most powerful deity. I deny that the Jesus story is analogous to the Heracles story. It is part deux of the trilogy…..(Mormonism)

        tanya

      • Tanya queries:

        “I don’t have faith. I need evidence. Do you have some evidence to share with me, to explain why Mark 1:1 is not related to the Hercules story, or do you simply wish to emphatically proclaim “the truth”, based upon your undoubted wisdom, superior academic preparation, agile linguistic facility, and supreme confidence as one who is nearly omniscient.”

        Let’s do this slowly, Tanya:

        Why should anyone need to “prove” that Mark (?) is not related to Hercules? What version of the Hercules story do you have in mind? What other than a terribly vague resemblance between the “passions” of Herakles as narrated by Seneca (not even in Euripides) and Jesus would even suggest the comparison? How would Mark have known the drama? Not saying he didn’t; I am asking you how you think he did since there are no textual echoes or quotations of it in the gospel, any gospel. In Hercules on Oeta the dying Hercules declares (line 1472): Habet, peractum est, fata se nostra explicant. It is death, i.e. it has been completed, my fate unfolds itself. Seneca loved the word “peractum” as a kind of melodramatic flourish. No denying that there isn’t melodrama in the crucifixion, but even when translated into Latin from Greek in the Vulgate, the word of choice is not “peractum”. (Clytemnestra in a rage in Seneca’s Agamemnon grabs an axe and strikes at his neck exclaiming (line 901), Habet, peractum est–It [the blow] got him, it has been completed.) All this shows is that ancient writers liked to draw lines under conclusions in the same way classical composers liked conclusory finishes to their compositions. Ta da. Consummatum est.

        The idea of the effects of Jesus’ death are standard in classical literature and not limited to Seneca and his Hercules on Oeta: Vergil in his Georgics (I 466-488)( just fyi: http://www.theoi.com/Text/VirgilGeorgics1.html) lists the portents that accompanied Caesar’s murder: the darkening of the sun, plun­ging the world into night;the sea and land are in turmoil, with Mt. Etna erupting and the Alps shaking; rivers halt and chasms form in the earth–ghosts appear; and finally, in temples “the ivory weeps in sorrow and bronzes sweat.” Sound familiar?–earthquakes normally happen when great men die. Except they probably don’t. And Julius Caesar was as far as we know historical, so the convention of earthquakes and disasters cannot be used to suggest that Jesus is simply an echo of the Herakles story.

        You say you look for evidence not faith; then you ask specifically “why Mark 1.1 is not related to the Hercules story.” Here is some evidence for you: The Greek of Mark 1.1 is as follows:
        Ἀρχὴ τοῦ εὐαγγελίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ [υἱοῦ θεοῦ]. You will notice that the phrase “son of God” is in brackets. It is in brackets because while some texts of Mark 1:1 including the 4th-century Codex Vaticanus, have the text “son of God” the three most important manuscripts do not. Those three are: Codex Sinaiticus (01, א; dated 4th century), Codex Koridethi (038, Θ; 9th century), and the text called Minuscule 28 (11th century). It is probable that the phrase “son of God” has been added to the titulus of the book at a later date, reflecting a compositor’s or copyists conclusion about Jesus. As if this is not enough physical evidence, it’s pretty clear that Mark internally steers clear of the phrase son of God, with the exception of some words assigned to a centurion om Mark 15.39. It’s often pointed out as well that the phrase at least in its Greek form requires the translation ‘a son of God” rather than “the” son of God, which is a circumlocution for “innocent.” The phrase is used more directly in the epiphany stories in Mark 1.11 and 9.17, and by demons who seem to recognize Jesus in 3.11 and 5.7. I see no echoes of the Herakles myth there either; but you only asked about 1.1 and not the other uses.

        I don’t think any of this makes me omniscient. But it might suggestthat I try to go beyond vague notions and raw analogies to what you are invoking as “evidence.”

      • RJosephHoffmann wrote: “Grog: your point seems to be an orphan. What do you think Tanya’s “point” is?”

        Hmmm. Apparently, my message has been lost, perhaps the victim of too much accompanying verbiage.

        Let me try again.

        Maurice wrote, in his first sentence (and my comments address ONLY his first sentence, nothing more…)
        “…a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist….”
        Maurice thus alerts the reader, in his very first sentence, that Jesus is an historical character.

        I deny this notion.

        I claim, contrarily that:
        a. there is zero evidence that Jesus ever existed;
        b. that contrarily there is evidence that Herakles did exist, though we know he did not;
        c. the Jesus fable is simply another Greek myth, modeled after Herakles.

        You, professor Hoffman, misunderstood my initial rejoinder on this forum, going off on a wild tangent about Silicon Valley, and writing nonsense about “…artifacts of later periods”, as if, I had written, in rebuttal to Maurice, something pointing to some aspect of human civilization occuring in latter centuries, i.e. long after Christianity had emerged as a force to be reckoned with, i.e. post Nicea.

        I then sought, apparently unsuccessfully, to reiterate that my claim that the Jesus story is simply a rehash of the ancient story of Herakles, by challenging you, professor Hoffman, to demonstrate why Mark 1:1 should not be considered Herakles part deux. Your response, was, again, wide of the mark.

        You quote, improperly, from Seneca. Why is that useless? Herakles was a GREEK, not a Roman hero. The Romans adopted him, yes, no doubt, but if you seek to demonstrate an error in my logic, as you have asserted, then, you need to cite a GREEK, not a Roman source from Antiquity. That source needs to DENY that Herakles was the son of a human mother, with a divine source of paternal DNA, not just any divine source, but the ultimate power among the Greek gods: Zeus.

        My “point” then, is that like Herakles, the Jesus demigod, also had a human mother, with a paternal source of DNA coming from “god”, i.e. YHWH, the top deity in Judaism. There is nothing in Jewish lore, to explain this nonsense. There is, however, ample evidence of this tradition in Greek mythology.

        Yes, I am very much aware of the distinction in the three versions of Mark 1:1. Codex Sinaiticus does not even use Iesous Christous, but rather, I.C.

        Since you make a fuss, Professor Hoffmann, about “the” versus “a” son of God, allow me to include Mark 1:11 in this discussion, I hope this puts to rest that particular objection to my contention:

        και φωνη εγενετο εκ των ουρανων συ ει ο υιος μου ο αγαπητος εν ω ευδοκησα

        Do you see the little “o”, professor?

        With regard to Philo’s contributions, I make two points:

        a. He regards Herakles as having been a living, breathing, demigod, who had performed miracles, including saving mankind;

        b. He writes bupkis about I.C.

        Philo of Alexandria, circa 40CE

        http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/yonge/book40.html

        “And yet why, O Gaius! did you think yourself in need of spurious honours, such as the temples and statues of the beings above-mentioned are often filled with? You ought rather to have imitated their virtues. Hercules purified both the earth and the sea, performing labours of the greatest possible importance and of the highest benefit to all mankind, in order to eradicate all that was mischievous and calculated to injure the nature of each of the elements.”

        I am going to repeat myself, here, for I believe that some folks don’t understand me:

        I dispute the veracity of Dr. Casey’s first sentence. To me, he may as well be writing in favor of geocentrism.

        His first sentence is absurd, nonsensical, unproven whimsical musings, not fit to be published, even on the internet.

        You may wish to identify my statement here, as “silly”. I find his first sentence utterly banal, useless, and trivial.

        That Jesus is not a genuine human is derived from the gospels which portray him, as with Herakles, as demigod, who will save, or who has already saved, mankind, just as Philo wrote about Herakles.

        Tanya

      • Tanya says “His first sentence is absurd, nonsensical, unproven whimsical musings, not fit to be published, even on the internet.”

        Maurice Casey’s career has been devoted to detailed research, following the evidence and demonstrating the existence of a historical figure with cautious and careful argument and meticulous detail, culminating in the publication of meticulously and carefully argued monographs, conveniently summarised for general readers in a one volume ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ (T&T Clark, 2010). His first sentence is not “absurd, nonsensical, unproven whimsical musings, not fit to be published, even on the internet” – on the contrary – yours is Tanya.

        Tanya says “I claim, contrarily that:
        a. there is zero evidence that Jesus ever existed;
        b. that contrarily there is evidence that Herakles did exist, though we know he did not;
        c. the Jesus fable is simply another Greek myth, modeled after Herakles.”

        You have expressed your own convictions without providing evidence. Your convictions are contrary to evidence and argument in published work and elsewhere. Your musings about Hercules are no more than anachronistic fantasy infected with parallellomania. Your musings are a regrettably familiar feature of the flood of meandering drivel emanating from others who like you, are overwhelmed with a burning desire to deny Jesus as a historical figure, and ignore inconvenient evidence and create their own fantasy.

      • Steph wrote:
        “You have expressed your own convictions without providing evidence.”
        I furnished both a web site with the English translation of Philo, and an excerpt from his tract.
        Photographs of the huge stone temples constructed in dedication to Herakles can be observed on the internet by use of a search engine.
        Regarding the tradition that Herakles paternal DNA was derived from Zeus, I do not think any evidence can be furnished….That his genetic inheritance was believed to have been from Zeus, is widely reported, even at Wikipedia.
        Regarding Herculaneum, and its role as repository/gathering place for the loftiest intellectuals of that era, one can read about the newest computer imaging techniques employed to reveal the ink beneath the carbonized papyrus scrolls….

        I have encountered nothing even remotely similar in the case of the supposed historical existence of Jesus. A fake letter from Tacitus, single copy, from an Italian monastery, containing an obvious forgery within it, doesn’t cut it. The supposed exchange between Seneca and “Paul”/Saul, is another fraud. Josephus’ TF, another fraud…..Pliny the younger’s two sentences about chrestians, isn’t a reference to Jesus. Irenaeus’ fake history, claiming Jesus was executed at age 50, sounds absurd.

        There is no objective evidence for an historical Jesus. There is only conviction that he lived. Folks 2000 years ago, shared those same convictions about Herakles. Where are those convictions, today? Why does no one accept, today, the obvious fact, that Herakles had been a living breathing human, (“born in accordance with the law”)? Why do we reject Herakles’ historical existence, notwithstanding so much genuine evidence to the contrary?

        The evidence for Herakle’s existence, although very thorough, detailed, adequately descriptive, and impressive–huge stone temples–nevertheless, fails to explain the central fact: divine paternal DNA is utter nonsense. So long as humans accept supernatural explanations, instead of rational, empirical elaborations, there can be no genuine understanding of history.

        Tanya

      • @Tanya: “The evidence for Herakle’s [sicut] existence, although very thorough, detailed, adequately descriptive, and impressive–huge stone temples–nevertheless, fails to explain the central fact: divine paternal DNA is utter nonsense. So long as humans accept supernatural explanations, instead of rational, empirical elaborations, there can be no genuine understanding of history.” Can you name one instance where a Church is used as evidence for the historical Jesus? The two you are likeliest to point to–the Church of the Nativity and the shrine of the Holy Sepulchre were both built as tributes to legends during the shrine-building fever after the Edict of Milan; most contemporary Christians—-apart from a few retired evangelical teachers on bus tours–don’t take them seriously, and no biblical archaeologist would use them as “evidence” of anything. Your last sentence is more vexing: “So long as humans accept supernatural explanations, instead of rational, empirical elaborations, there can be no genuine understanding of history….” What is empirically unsatisfying about the idea that a preacher named Jesus (no surnames, no miracles–please) existed? Are you going to point to those darned temples and Herakles again? Why do you think your highly improbable analogies are empirical?

      • Tanya, I’m really impressed. Have you had your furnished site peer reviewed? Not that it matters these days and who would the peers be – everything flows. But we’re obviously barking at the wrong man – you’ve persuasively demonstrated with detailed objective argument and evidence, that the Jesus tradition is all lies, frauds, fakes and forgeries. Bother. But with the massive evidence for these temples, you may effectively save the Process if we can resurrect it and make an announcement “The Birth of the Hercules Process”. Would that make you happy?

      • R.Joseph Hoffman wrote:
        “What is empirically unsatisfying about the idea that a preacher named Jesus (no surnames, no miracles–please) existed?”

        Thank you for this well phrased question, which addresses, eloquently, the issue I sought, so unsuccessfully, to elaborate, in explaining why I disputed the first sentence of Maurice’s essay.

        We have empirical data to support Aristarchus’ theory of helioocentrism, though we no longer possess any of his writings. We have evidence that those writings did exist in the beginning of the 16th century, when Copernicus saw them.

        Today, we rely on faith, not empiricism, to explain how the head librarian in Alexandria, 2300 years ago, had been able to contradict Plato and Aristotle. Our faith is justified, because contemporary empirical data agree with our conviction about Aristarchus’ research, and our belief that his accomplishments were copied accurately, and those copies transported from Constantinople, in the mid fifteenth century, to Italy, where Columbus and Copernicus both saw them.

        There is nothing comparable for Jesus, a preacher, living 2000 years ago. No written documents from him, no stone monuments, no contemporary accounts, no coins, no cities named in his honor.

        Everything we possess today, about Jesus, is derived from documents written decades, or centuries, after this fictional character’s demise. Many of those documents are contradictory about his life, his origins, his death, and his accomplishments. Many of them demonstrate evidence of forgery, and fraud. Unlike Aristarchus, we have no single issue, upon which we can agree, to assert that a genuine human, not a character from a novel, taught doctrine xyz.

        tanya

      • @Tanya: Some interesting points, and you have moved from Herakles (good choice) to Aristarchus and then the Library of Alexandria (how was that destroyed again, and by whom, and when?) and Columbus (was he really a Jew: a lot of Jews were escaping from Spain the day he sailed). The issue remains: one swallow does not make a spring. And not all biography is autobiography. And you aren’t showing that you have come to grips with the legend-riddled historiography of the ancient world. I’ll have to see if there are no towns or cities named after Jesus. Surely there must be an Emmanuel,Tennessee or something. I think there’s a Trinity, Texas. Will that count as 1/3rd of a proof. But I jest, and I wish you were as well.

    • There’s a world of difference between a figure who existed at a vaguely defined time in the past, before there was much writing, who wasn’t written about for centuries after his supposed death and one who was in a real historical place, is reported to have interacted with real people, lived at a specific, known time, during a period of relatively wide literacy, and who was written about within decades of his life. If you’re really going to follow this line of argument, please at least try to find a more relevant figure for comparison.

      • There’s a world of difference between a figure who existed at a vaguely defined time in the past, before there was much writing, who wasn’t written about for centuries after his supposed death

        @ Dustin. Your premise is solid, but who in the world are you talking about, and have you ever taken a class in history?

      • Sorry, I put that rather poorly. Let me try this again:

        Herakles is a figure who was said to have lived before the Trojan War, which was traditionally said to have happened centuries before the composition of the oldest literary reference to him that I’m aware of. There wasn’t even a writing system in Greece to have captured any early references to him until the 8th century (Linear B having died out in the 12 century and as far as I know, was never used for literary or historical purposes), so it’s not like anyone could have had any Greek written source with any connection to anyone who could have interacted with Herakles, even if he existed. For that reason alone, it seems absurd to lump him together with Jesus, a man who is said to have lived in a period where documentation was possible, interacted with confirmed historical figures like Pontius Pilate, and to have been written about within decades of his death.

        Better?

  7. ‎”The primary purpose of both site and book was to reach the open-minded ‘lay’ audience…

    This is as inaccurate as possible. The internet audience is ‘lay’, but it is not open-minded. It has both ‘Christian apologists’, whom mythicists love to hate, and atheists who are determinedly anti-Christian. Both groups consist largely of people with closed minds who are impervious to evidence and argument, a quite different world from the critical scholars among whom I am happy to have spent most of my life, whether they were Christian, Jewish or irreligious. We were not concerned by ‘peer pressure’ or the ‘constraints of academic tenure’, except that we were united by an absolute determination to oppose any threat to the academic freedom of people in our universities, regardless of status, colour, race, religion or creed.”

    Talk about cognitive dissonance. Saying that you want to reach an “open-minded ‘lay’ audience” is somehow the same as saying that the “internet audience is… open-minded?” How the hell can you even read that sentence and make a declaration that is completely opposed to what you just wrote? As for Christian Apologists, well Hoffman, apparently you don’t remember that their are plenty of non-mythacists out there that despise Christian Apologists. In fact awhile back I decided to e-mail various academics in the field of Biblical Scholarship (not a single one of them were mythacists) on what they thought of Christian Apologetics and why. Almost all of them replied back stating they despised Christian Apologetics because their very writings and representation of the facts is at times a misrepresentation or a complete fabrication of evidence all to prop their faith. Anyone who seeks the truth learns to despise Christian Apologists very fast, at least those who are open minded and who research what they read. As for academic peer pressure being non-existent? What? Do you have selective memory or something? You do realize that awhile back Ehrman posted his Huffpost piece that did exactly this. Hell Carrier in his response basically stated that their were academics whom he talked to that confessed they were afraid to go against the grain of historical Jesus studies.

    “This is fundamentalism, or simply amateur forensics, not critical scholarship or historical research. Luke was a highly educated Greek Christian. He did not read about ‘wise men’ being ‘Gentiles’ at the birth of Jesus. He read about ‘magoi from the East’ (Mt. 2.1). From his point of view they were something like magicians or astrologers, and the notion that ‘we saw his star in the East’ (Mt. 2.2) probably seemed silly enough, before he got to ‘Behold, the star which they saw in the East, went before them, until it came and stood over the place where the child was’ (Mt. 2.9). Luke will have known perfectly well that not only did such things not happen, but magicians/astrologers told untrue stories in which such things did happen. He was writing for churches in the Greco-Roman world, and he will have known that starting like that would not have been attractive to the sort of people he knew well.”

    Um… what? By the very context you give that Luke is writing for a Christian audience in in the Greco-Roman world, you are disqualifying your own polemic. The Greco-Roman world was just as obsessed with the phenomenon of stars and and prophecies as the rest of the world. I’d advise you to actually pick up a damn book on Greco-Roman astrology before making that claim. Also, saying Luke would have known anything explains absolutely nothing. You have to have enough background about the author, information about his life, correspondents and the attitudes he held to certain groups in order to make such a distinction about the knowledge of an author for whom we know absolutely nothing about other than what he wrote as a Gospel, and this hardly tells us anything. I mean just because he omits something found in another Gospel, does not indicate he was prejudice against the Gospel. Their are time constraints when writing a book, especially in the ancient world and you cannot include everything you want to because of the audience and time-span you are writing. Also, it could be argued with much more evidence than you have given (which is zero evidence) that Luke omitted it because it was already widely known and so why write about something that was already known by Christians of the time and probably accepted by the group he was writing it for. I mean he does mention other accounts doesn’t he?

    “The most chronic comment is the last one. It is fundamentalists who ‘harmonize’ their sacred texts. Luke had good reason not to believe that an ‘angel of the Lord’ appeared to Joseph and not to Mary!”

    Really? And that reasoning being… wait a second, you don’t give any evidence for this and you move onto the next issue… so I guess I can equally dismiss your claim without evidence as you give none. Also, somehow the reference towards modern day Christian extremists is applicable to the Gospel writers? How the hell do you even make that leap in logic?

    That is all I really have to say in this post. Suffice it to say though, you do open up areas of scholarship that I think are very fascinating and I can find convincing depending on the evidence they present and the arguments therein, however; most of your article just seems more like an Apologetic piece than one of an actual scholar.

    • I took a class few semesters ago about pseudo-science and other bizarre beliefs and I thought I was gipped. He spent most of the class on logic puzzles, like if x therefore y and that sort of thing. I didn’t think those would be that helpful for the questions that our text addressed, like why do people believe in UFO’s and 9/11 conspiracies. As Steph discusses with Bayes theorem, history is too complex for these sorts of equations to work. Noam Chomsky had a good insight on this when he said that there is a progression of complexity in sciences with physicist studying the simplest systems and historians the most complex. The physicist has like a handful of particles and forces, the chemist thousands of combinations of those particles, the biologist even more, then the psychiatrist, and finally the historian who is studying the actions of billions of minds made of countless chemical reactions and so on

      Here Doherty and “Voice of Reason” would like us to turn our backs on reliable and reasonable ways of discerning good ideas from bad and just believe them on faith. Voice of reason believes that we should employ in our institutions of higher learning people whose ideas are considered hogwash by all accredited scholars in relevant fields. This is good news for creation “scientist” and racist. Perhaps he feels that teaching positions should be given out by lottery or trial by combat. People of course complain that liberals are keeping conservatives out of the humanities departments, but there are Republicans teaching literature. A fellow that was mentioned favorably in the articles here, Morton Smith, hypothesized that Jesus corn-holed the apostles, and yet he is still well regarded and was allowed to keep on teaching. Yet mythicist would have us believe that it is Christian conspiracy that keeps all these alleged supporters of Jesus myth in the closet and Price and Carrier working the carnival circuit.

  8. I see Casey’s basic ‘arguments’ against mythicism, and me in particular, as:

    - More unworkable reasoning to justify why Paul and all the other epistle writers have nothing to say about an historical Jesus. Casey thinks we should not expect to find “later Christian tradition” in the writings of Paul, ‘later tradition’ like the fact that Jesus was crucified on earth, by Pilate, that he taught anything about loving one another or any of the ethical teachings of the Gospel (not even inauthentic ones), that he performed miracles, prophesied the End-time, and so on. Boy, what an HJ that leaves to champion! Imagine devoting one’s professional life to protecting the existence of such an undetectable mundane figure, no matter what the cost in surrendering one’s scholarly principles!

    - Of course, in a “high context culture” no one, not a single writer of the non-Gospel/Acts New Testament and several non-canonical ones, felt the slightest urge to mention anything that was said or done by Jesus on earth, even in support of key arguments and debates they were engaged in, even when describing the genesis and ongoing forces within their movement. They so lacked such an urge that they routinely speak of that genesis and ongoing force in ways which exclude such a figure. All their readership and audience were so “high context” that they never expected, let alone demanded, any reference to the words and deeds of the historical figure they believed in and regarded as Deity incarnate. I guess mythicists, in their misguided expectations, are all of us “low culture” idiots.

    - Absolutely everything in the Gospels (even the titulus on the cross!) was so thoroughly known to all of Paul’s and other epistle writers’ readers, in every corner from Galatia to Rome, that it would have been a sin and an insult to even mention a single one of them.

    - Doherty uses documents to bolster his ‘heavenly Christ’ theory whose manuscripts are very late (apparently the dating of the extant manuscript is paramount) or whose dating has been placed by some scholars (the competent ones, of course) as too late to reflect Paul’s views. (I wonder why Casey didn’t appeal to Yonge’s dating of the Similitudes of Enoch to the late 2nd century as an example of lasting competence. If the once highly regarded Yonge is now out of date, what guarantee is there that the most recent views represent eternal reliability?) Casey allows no consideration about the actual content of the text, or its layered nature, to indicate an alignment with earlier periods, such as I provide, for example, in regard to the Apocalypse of Elijah and the Vision of Isaiah. (For the latter, Casey admits dating “is difficult to determine,” yet Knibb’s dating in the 2nd century is “reasonable” whereas my dating to “the end of the first century” is not, even though I do indeed give reasons for so doing and dispute Knibb’s arguments for not so doing.)

    - Casey also admits that the Platonic division of the universe and its related characteristics were known centuries before Christianity, yet somehow such things remained unfamiliar in Jewish society (despite being for centuries under the yolk of Hellenistic cultures, and despite several Jewish sectarian writings which reflect such a familiarity and adoption for their own purposes. If Casey doesn’t like my dating of the Ascension of Isaiah, how about the Wisdom of Solomon for an example of Jewish absorption of pagan philosophy? Is he going to date that into the 2nd or 3rd century? Or Philo?). Moreover, such ideas were unfamiliar to Paul’s gentile readers! What convenient (if ludicrous) isolationism, making every epistle writer’s readership needing the repeated spelling out of where Christ had been crucified or by whom. (But wait, Paul actually does tell them in 1 Cor. 2:8 that it was the demon spirits, which ancient commentators–no doubt now to be regarded as out of date by modern scholars like Casey–interpreted as such.)

    - Casey also fails to perceive any difference between needing to repeat to a congregation that the Jesus myth (like the myths of the mystery cults) took place in a mythical setting: between that and feeling an urge to call upon the words and deeds of Jesus to (a) reflect their faith and interest in such a person and his doings, (b) to support the points they were arguing and promoting, and (c) to avoid putting things in such a way that they conveyed the very opposite: that there was no HJ in their own movement’s background. (Casey, of course, did not take the trouble to try to discredit any argument in that direction based on the texts themselves.)

    - A woeful lack of a sense of humor which leads Casey to seriously criticize every word I used in my intentionally light and humorous conversation between Paul and some new converts. What a fraud Doherty is, since Paul would never have used the word “Calvary/Golgotha” in conversation since it means “skull”! Let’s give a round of applause for that profound piece of scholarship and discreditation!

    - Casey shows a very unsympathetic personal attitude toward the existence of “what some scholars call Q” (obviously those as incompetent as myself) and thus my entire case falls apart since it is partly based on an analysis of Q. He includes a very dubious defence of why Luke would not have taken anything from Matthew’s Nativity story if he was using Matthew. Shades of Goodacre, and no more effective or free of problematic claims. And Casey’s knock-down argument against Q and those like Kloppenborg who support it is that “the disappearance of Q is difficult to explain”? That’s nonsense, and I’ve given very reasonable explanations for such a situation.

    - In his defence of Paula Fredriksen, Casey falls into her same illogicality. We don’t see any interest in things like relics of Jesus, or in visiting the sites of salvation, because those interests did not arise until the 4th century! Hmmm, I wonder why. Apparently Casey, like Fredriksen, does NOT wonder why. Oh yes, they couldn’t bring themselves to visit the site of their Lord’s death because other screams were in the air! Talk about weak constitutions! Funny, there were no screams at the tomb, but Christians show no sign of wanting to visit that either. And if it was supposedly too dangerous to visit such sites en masse, or too impractical to create cultic occasions there while being persecuted, could Paul at least not have snuck off to the “Skull” on his own to absorb his Lord’s recent presence there? Could not a single epistle writer even have referred to such sites as the earthly setting for the death of their Lord? No danger there. And were Christians so weak-kneed–didn’t they avoid martyrdom at all costs?–that they could not bring themselves to visit such sites surreptitiously or even view them from afar? (This sort of argumentation by Casey is far more lame and ridiculous that anything mythicists have been accused of being guilty of.)

    - Oh yes, I forgot. Casey says that “early Christian piety did not require shrines or relics.” How do we know this? Obviously, because the early Christian documents do not show an interest in shrines or relics. This is clearly not because they didn’t know of such things, but knowing them, had no interest in them. Why? Because that was the nature of early Christian piety. Am I the only one getting dizzy from such ‘scholarly’ circular argumentation? This points up Casey’s competence as against mythicist incompetence?

    - And I am further incompetent because I have not “grappled with” Casey’s own work on the rich Aramaic sources of the Gospels, something for which he enjoys less support from his own ranks than I do for my own work?

    Oh, my! This is a demolition of mythicism? Of me? This justifies the extreme vitriol and smug conviction of his own superiority over an ignoramus like myself? Nothing has changed, boys. This is the traditional attitude of historicist scholarship toward mythicism since time immemorial, and it will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. It’s a scandal in any discipline claiming to be scholarly and open-minded. But I am not going to lose any sleep over it, and I will continue to defend myself and mythicism against it. (Right now, the bulk of my attention and energy is being devoted to my detailed rebuttal to Ehrman’s new book, being serialized on the Vridar blog.)

    By the way, note that one of Casey’s main arguments against us is our lack of proper credentials, which explains why we get everything so woefully wrong. But wait. Robert Price is the one mythicist in Casey’s view who does possess the proper credentials and background. But wait. He’s as wrong-headed as the rest of us. So I guess credentials really have nothing to do with it. The bottom line is that mythicism itself is regarded as so reprehensible, so wacko an idea, that anyone championing it, from the heydey of mythicists like J.M. Robertson to that quack Earl Doherty, has to be suffering from either dementia or an anti-Christian agenda blindly devoted to destroying Christianity (which evidently Casey, Ehrman & Co. do not even claim membership in).

    The other bottom line for Casey (as with Ehrman) is that the Internet is a hotbed of anti-Christian terrorists. How dare I say that I’m writing for “open-minded laypeople” reachable through the web? None of them are even remotely open-minded–as compared, say, to the open-minded establishment academia represented by Casey and Ehrman (and Hoffmann), who preface all their rants against mythicism by pointing out that we are inherently morons and charlatans, advocating a theory which is as obviously ridiculous as solar-centrism and the movement of tectonic plates…. Oh, wait….

    • Doherty: You’re not a “moron,” just out of your depth. Treat yourself to a little skepticism of your own skepticism, and you’d be miles ahead.

      You mention the alleged fact that outside of “The Gospels / Acts:”

      “Not a single writer of the non-Gospel/Acts New Testament and several non-canonical ones, felt the slightest urge to mention anything that was said or done by Jesus on earth.”

      This is, of course, not true, if I follow what you mean, here. (The syntax could be clearer — to which side of the / does “and several non-canonical ones” refer?) Thomas, for instance, mentions many things Jesus said, citing the genuine gospels. Paul seems to cite quite a bit of Jesus’ teaching, as has frequently been argued.

      But the odd thing is that you seem to include Acts in with the Gospels. Why is that? They are the only historical narratives in the NT, most of the rest of the NT is letters. Yet actually, there is very little about Jesus’ life in Acts, either. Why is that? Is it because Luke didn’t know much about Jesus’ life? Obviously not — he’d just written a book on the subject. Rather, it’s because he knew how to stick to his subject. Your Argument from Silence is useless, if people in the ancient world had that capacity.

      To give another example, how often does Aristotle mention the life and works of his great teacher, Plato, in his main didactic writings? Surprisingly seldom. Is that because Plato was another historical mirage? A few handy quotes from Plato might be very persuasive! Or anecdotes about Socrates?

      So I don’t see that your mainstay “argument from silence” carries any weight at all.

      • Sorry, but nowhere does Paul gives us a teaching of Jesus on earth. Those paltry little directives in 1 Cor. 7 & 9 are regarded even by many mainstream scholars as communications he believes he has received from Christ in heaven (his “words of the Lord”), and the language bears them out. Even 1 Cor. 11:23 is introduced by Paul saying that this is something he has “received from the Lord” which alerts us that this is by personal revelation.

        Historicist scholars can knock themselves out ‘identifying’ all the “echoes” of Jesus’ teachings found in Paul, but they still can’t point to a single identification of such teachings as the product of Jesus on earth. I guess they have to be put in the same pot as all the “echoes” of Jesus’ teachings in, say, the epistle of James, not one of which is identified as coming from Jesus, whether earthly or heavenly.

        But wait. Silly me. These are yet other examples of the “high context” situation. Everyone already knew that every single one of these was the product of Jesus, so neither Paul nor James had to specify, and didn’t dare choose to do so anyway.

        Gee, then I wonder why Paul in 1 Thess. 4:9 says: “You are taught by God to love one another”? Come to think of it, I wonder why the epistle of Barnabas, in his Two Ways section, gives us a pile of Jesus’-sounding teachings and then says (2:1) that these are the product of God? I wonder why Hebrews can say that in the present time God is speaking through the Son and then fail to give us not a single word of Jesus spoken on earth, not even when he wants to demonstrate that Jesus regards his believers as brothers, but simply quotes the ‘voice of the Son’ in scripture? And on and on.

        Sorry, David, I don’t feel out of my depth at all. The problem is, you and others like you here have failed to plumb the depths of the texts themselves in anything but the most superficial manner, entirely governed by your importation of the Gospels into them. This is scholarship?

        I’m reminded of one commentator I read many years ago–darn, my memory fails me as to her name–who after analyzing the epistle of James gave the reader this nugget: The epistle of James demonstrates another way of preserving the teachings of Jesus, by placing them without identification in the common body of moral maxims of the time! (Or words to that effect–digging them out of my notes from many years ago would be a chore.) What is this? Preservation by burial?!! It is a prime example of the double-think which historicist scholars regularly engage in to keep their heads above water. Casey and yourself are only doing more of the same.

        Now back to Ehrman…

        Earl Doherty

        Earl Doherty

      • It is clear that ED has read Casey’s article. Equally clear that he has not read mine, which is effectively about why Paul’s silence betokens nothing about the historical Jesus but does try to account for the silence. I am not the least interested about pratter concerning echoes of the historical Jesus in Paul. I am interested in trying to understand why a Paul who does seem to have regarded Jesus as some sort of “event” in history does not say very much, if anything about him. In the long run, this is not about authority but what you read, how you read, and what you make of what you have read. My worry about Doherty’s response is that it doesn’t speak very highly for his curiosity, and something a scholar must be–especially in this area– is curious.

      • Hi David,

        Are you familiar with nomina sacra especially concerning the above reference to Jesus name in The Gospel of Thomas which will make historical bridging troublesome especially considering Gnostic use of mystery teaching in gematria?

      • Earl: I believe you when you say you don’t feel out of your depth, though hardly find that subjective report conclusive. Why don’t you get a doctorate in this subject? If you think you can make an earth-shaking case for the ahistoricity of Jesus that will stand up, why prattle on in popular books or on the Web, when you can put your argument in a dissertation, and underscore your competence and perspecuity? Carrier and Price look pretty lonely right now, I imagine they’d welcome the company.

        You ignore all my points but one, and interpret that in a somewhat off-center manner. I know you don’t think Paul mentioned or cited the historical Jesus. Lots of scholars think he did, repeatedly, as do I. But even supposing he didn’t much — one can’t really pretend he didn’t at all — there remains the question of why that is supposed to matter as much as the price of kumquats in Argentina. I’ve given several reasons why it shouldn’t, which you have ignored.

      • At 70 years old, David, I’m not about to embark on a Doctorate. But this sort of thing is beside the point. It wouldn’t matter what my education was, all that matters is the quality of my argumentation. Whether I had a PhD after my name or not, you wouldn’t give my case the time of day. So let’s let that red herring go, shall we?

        I responded to the main thrust of your posting, that Paul cited Jesus frequently, and included examples from similar claims about other epistles, and showed that the claim was all wet. How about YOU responding to my counter-arguments in that regard?

        Let me cover a couple of other of your points: You say “Thomas, for instance, mentions many things Jesus said, citing the genuine gospels.” So a document you suggest is dependent on the Gospels constitutes some kind of independent proof of the authenticity of those sayings and the one alleged to have said them? Some logical deficiency there. Besides, do you actually subscribe to the view that Thomas is dependent on the Gospels, rather than constituting an alleged independent source (in its “wisdom” stratum)? Most critical scholars disagree. (Personally, and some agree with me, I see those sayings in Thomas as dependent on an early form of Q.)

        Do you honestly think that the mere appearance of “Jesus said”s attached to each of the sayings is ironclad proof that we can be sure that these sayings really go back to a Jesus, especially when the earliest date that scholars have placed the surviving version (from the 4th c) is acknowledged to be the mid-2nd century, especially when we have early documents showing all sorts of teachings (such as in the epistle of James or all those unattributed “echoes” of Jesus in Paul) which only later show up in Jesus’ mouth in the Gospels? I’d call that naive. I’d call that *extremely* naive. And I’d call it naive to even think of saying that in public. I’d say you were out of your depth, David.

        And I’m glad you pointed out that Acts knew how to stick to its subject, namely the account of the development of the early Christian movement supposedly following the death of Jesus, with a focus on Paul. And in what way would that subject lead us to expect discussion of the life of Jesus? This, I would vehture to say, is why we see very little about that life in Acts–though it is undeniable that we find all over the place references TO the life recently lived by an historical man and his death.

        Whereas the epistles of Paul and others have as their subject, in very great part, the gospel they are preaching ABOUT the Christ. As well, we find the subject of various disputes and urgings toward behavior which appeals to the life, teachings and deeds of the man they supposedly worship would very much be helpful and a propos. Yet we do not find such references, not even the basic reference found in Acts that he was a recent historical man who lived and died on earth.

        If you can’t see how the epistles are a very different animal from Acts, and how the argument from silence applies to them in quite different ways, then you REALLY are out of your depth.

        Earl Doherty

      • Earl: I did give your argument the time of day. I bought, and read, your book, The Jesus Puzzle. Having given it the time of day, I explained why I found it unconvincing, in an Amazon review, many years ago. Have you done as much, with any of my books? To give you credit, at least you’re not Acharya S, or even Freke & Gandy: you seem sincere, and genial enough.

        I didn’t say Thomas is an independent source for Jesus. I cited Thomas to rebut your apparent claim that there is no such material outside of 4G + Acts, that’s all. (Q dependency is also highly dubious, but that’s another issue.)

        It’s too bad that you spend so much time attacking a position I didn’t take, and then cite that straw man to say I’m “out of my depth.”

        Your after-the-fact attempt to explain away why Acts doesn’t say much about Jesus’ life, is unconvincing. One can be sure that if we didn’t have Luke, you’d use Acts to make the same argument. Of course there are many times the preachers in Acts could have mentioned details about Jesus’ life, and chose not to, and one could make hay of them all, as you do with Paul’s writings. It’s a silly game. You’re not the only one to play it, so I’m not saying that makes you a silly person. But it seems entirely subjective, speculative, and almost auto-hypnotic,

        My own view lies towards the other side of the spectrum. I think Ehrman, Pagels, and the Jesus Seminar are far too skeptical of the Gospels, explaining why, in Why the Jesus Seminar can’t find Jesus, then again in The Truth about Jesus and the “Lost Gospels.” I may have missed it, but I don’t see that any of the mythicists even engage with most of the evidence in the Gospels I and others describe, for the essential historicity of the earliest Christian records. Thus the title of my Amazon review of your book, “Twelve Infallible Proofs that the Moon is Square.”

        If it’s any consolation, of the hundreds of Amazon reviews I’ve posted, that one has among the most negative reviews. Obviously you have a lot of fans.

        Best wishes.

      • And you missed my basic point. You implied that the Gospel of Thomas was dependent on the Gospels (you said something like it “cited the genuine gospels”). Did I misinterpret that? If a document cites the Gospels then they are in the Gospels & Acts camp because they are derived from them. I would have thought my point was clear, that any source outside the Gospels & Acts, and not dependent on them, fails to back up the Gospel presentation of sayings by Jesus on earth.

        The trouble with Thomas is that it is simply a collection of sayings, which could have been imputed to anyone originally, or to a ‘no-body’ like personified Wisdom or a general Cynic source. In it we don’t have the voice of a writer telling us a story or writing about his faith movement in which we could judge whether we are getting references to an HJ or not in that kind of context. So it cannot rank with the Gospels/Acts or the epistles. By the way, I do address the ‘silence’ in Acts in my new book Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. You should have a look at it. Lots of new material over The Jesus Puzzle.

        Actually, I don’t remember your Amazon review. There have been 117 of them, most by reviewers who *were* persuaded by my arguments. Sorry that you weren’t.

        Earl Doherty

    • “By the way, note that one of Casey’s main arguments against us is our lack of proper credentials, which explains why we get everything so woefully wrong. But wait. Robert Price is the one mythicist in Casey’s view who does possess the proper credentials and background. But wait. He’s as wrong-headed as the rest of us. So I guess credentials really have nothing to do with it.”

      Doherty feels that that the main argument made against him is his lack of credentials. I don’t see that to be the case nor does it seem that that Ehrman, Casey or Hoffman prefaces their arguments with his being inherently a moron. In fact Ehrman had nice things to say about Doherty, and really it is his argument that is moronic, as they have shown and as I have seen. It should be relevant though to those who are not experts (experts can weigh Doherty’s case on its merits and they overwhelmingly reject it) that Doherty has no credentials to qualify him to speak on the subject so his opinion on should matter less than someone who has some sort of relevant training. If you take Doherty at his word that he understands history and Greek better than the collective credentialed scholarly community then how could you reject any ones opinion? What if I said butter makes a good foundation for a house against the objection of masons and engineers? If you believe Doherty you would be terribly simple and closed minded to believe them over me without at least building a butter house.

      Regarding Price, again, the argument is not that everyone with the right credentials makes is right or does good work. Don’t be foolish Doherty, price’s arguments and all other mythicist have been shown to be baseless on account of the evidence,. You can pretend that you haven’t’ seen it but most people aren’t as dull as Steve Carr or Godfrey and for that reason your idea will never catch on even when all the world has forgotten about Christianity.

      • Well, I know it won’t catch on with you, Mike. But it’s nice to see you again. However, I don’t think you’re any more amenable to reasoned argument now than you were when we tangled on the Matrix, so you’ll pardon me if I pass by your postings, particularly when they have nothing substantive to say by way of counter-argument to anything.

        And when did I say that I understood history and Greek better than collective academia? What I have pointed out is that the latter’s understanding of the origins of Christianity and its reading of certain Greek passages can sometimes be erroneous, whether through using faulty methodology or bringing favored assumptions to them. Don’t members of that august community regularly say things like that of their own fellow-members? Or have I missed the all the consensus exegesis put forward over the years.

        ‘Agreeing that Jesus existed’ may be a consensus of sorts, but it’s hardly based on a consensus of exegesis, let alone a demonstrated scholarly discrediting of the mythicist case. Bart Ehrman’s latest book is proof of that. By the way, have you checked out my rebuttal series to him on Vridar? Some interesting material currently being discussed, namely the NT epistles and others like Ignatius and 1 Clement, Papias and Barnabas. Coming up: don’t miss my two installments on the Epistle to the Hebrews (my favorite!), and the two smoking guns in it (8:4 and 10:37). No “high context” stuff there!

        Earl Doherty

    • Earl rightly points out that sometimes very good theories are overlooked or criticised by the academic community. Unfortunately, he neglects to mention that utterly ridiculous theories are also overlooked and criticised by the academic community, for very good reasons. The problem is how we tell the difference.

      Can Earl give me a good reason to think that Historical Jesus Denial is more like plate tectonics than it is like – say – young earth creationism?

      From an non-academic’s perspective, HJDers look much more like creationists (i.e. a bunch of people drawn from a very narrow range of theological perspectives, who mostly lack advanced qualifications relevant to the topics they write about and who would struggle to get their work published via recognised academic channels) than they do the developers of plate tectonics, who were highly qualified scientists who largely worked from within the academic community.

      Do any of the current crop of Historical Jesus Deniers have the kind of academic credentials of figures like Holmes, Wegener, or Hess? I think not.

      • So it all boils down to an appeal to authority. Only those with proper credentials need apply. The most pathetic thing about this is that you don’t even recognize how pathetic it is. And how unscholarly. But I realize it is par for the course in historicist circles.

        Earl Doherty

      • Hello Earl,

        If you’re going to draw grandiose comparisons between Historical Jesus Denial and plate tectonics, don’t be too surprised if others point out that your analogy has a few problems with it. If you have a serious argument to make as to why I should treast HJD differently from fringe positions such as Young Earth Creationism, then please make it. But please spare me the stroppy teenage histrionics.

        By the way, pointing out that the consensus position of appropriately qualified experts is that a historical Jesus existed, and that Historical Jesus Denial is largely proposed by an ideologically homogenous group lacking relevant training or qualifications is *not* a fallacious appeal to authority OK? It’s just not.

        It’s no more a appeal to authority than pointing out the similar distinction that exists between the experts and amateurs who respectively support and deny evolution or HIV as a cause of AIDS. And of course, just because evolution or HIV deniers lack the academic qualifications or specialist training of those they oppose that doesn’t *necessarily* mean that their views are wrong. But it does give us a pretty good indication of where and why they might have gone wrong.

        Of course, if you disagree, then next time you need dental work done why not give me a call? I’ve got no relevant training whatever, but hey what’s a piece of paper? I know you won’t be all “appeally to authority” about it.

      • PS – Reading that back, there should really be a comma after the first ‘evolution’ in paragraph three. At the minute it reads a bit like I’m saying that experts are divided as to whether it’s HIV or belief in evolution that causes AIDS. Possibly the view of a few on the religious right, but not quite what I meant!

    • Doherty’s first point has all the malice and spite now to be expected of mythicists. According to him, I think we should not expect to find ‘later Christian tradition’ in the writings of Paul. What I actually wrote was, ‘The last thing we should expect to find in first century documents is the deposit of centuries of later Christian tradition.’ In the context of Doherty’s book as a whole, ‘centuries of’ is important, but Doherty replaces this with ‘”later tradition” like the fact that Jesus was crucified on earth as crucified on earth, by Pilate, that he taught anything about loving one another or any of the ethical teachings of the Gospel (not even inauthentic ones), that he performed miracles, prophesied the End-time, and so on. Boy, what an HJ that leaves to champion! Imagine devoting one’s professional life to protecting the existence of such an undetectable mundane figure, no matter what the cost in surrendering one’s scholarly principles!
      There are two central points wrong here. One is the replacement of everything I have written with this incompetent summary. I defended the historicity of parts of Mark’s passion narrative in a scholarly work which Doherty is not learned enough to read (Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel CUP, 1998, summarised for the general reader in Jesus of Nazareth T & T Clark/Continuum, 2010, pp. 429-53), I discussed what are often called ‘miracles’ in the light of the most recent and competent secondary literature (Jesus of Nazareth, ch.7), and I wrote about his ethics as well (Jesus of Nazareth, ch 8). I have not for one moment suggested that this is ‘later tradition’, let alone ‘centuries of later tradition’. But the misrepresentation, malice and spite reach a climax in the final sentence. I have not proposed that Jesus was an ‘undetectable mundane figure’, and ‘no matter what the cost in surrendering one’s scholarly principles!’ is a quite mendacious attack on my scholarly integrity, which no-one properly familiar with me or my work has made.
      Doherty then misrepresents the effects of my comments on ‘high context’ and ‘low context’ cultures. He interprets this to mean that ‘no one….felt the slightest urge to mention anything that was said or done by Jesus on earth.’ This misses all the main points, one of which is that some people, including Paul, did mention what they needed (e.g. the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus at 1 Cor 15.3-8). The second is that they did not need the main points of the historic ministry of Jesus to be constantly repeated in the writing of occasional letters which were basically about problems in the Pauline churches. Despite grave temptation, I have never described mythicists as ‘“low culture” idiots’, but I did make the important point that they all belong to a low context culture, and consequently have unrealistic expectations of what Paul needed to mention in his epistles. I also noted that these problems will have been exacerbated by the problems of writing at all, which Doherty does not mention.
      Another major point is the late date of documents used by Doherty. He refers without reference to the dating of the Similitudes of Enoch by ‘the once highly regarded Yonge’. However, in accordance with his customary lack of learning, he gives no reference. Does he really mean C.D. Yonge (1821-91), who translated the works of Philo in the middle of the nineteenth century, on the basis of a pre-critical text? Of course all such works are now long out of date.

  9. Pingback: Neil Godfrey’s response 1 to Maurice Casey and Stephanie Fisher « Vridar

  10. Anyway, the most striking passage, for me, remains the neat invocation of the distinction between “high context culture” and “low context culture”, as “anthropological” constructs that are given force of a law of nature. And the high-handed decision that the Roman Empire universe was a “high context culture”.

    Key is the “ knowledge of the fundamental work of the anthropologist E.T. Hall, who introduced the terms ‘high context culture’ and ‘low context culture’ into scholarship.[9] Paul’s epistles were written in a high context culture, which was homogeneous enough for people not to have to repeat everything all the time, whereas American, European and many other scholars belong to a low context culture, which gives them quite unrealistic expectations of what the authors of the epistles ought to have written. This is one basic reason why Paul says so little about the life and teaching of Jesus. To some extent, his Gentile Christians had been taught about Jesus already, so he could take such knowledge for granted. He therefore had no reason to mention places such as Nazareth, or the site of the crucifixion, nor to remind his congregations that Jesus was crucified on earth recently.”

    Nothing is more problematic and questionable than the rationalization of facts taken from ancient or primitive cultures into the neat abstract concepts formulated in modern English by anthropologists. There is an inherent deception in the use of abstract concepts to explain social events, especially of distant and less know cultures, ancient or primitive. Anthropologists are eager to ferret out abstract principles to bring order to a variety of facts and incidents (translated from poorly understood primitive or distant languages), but such concepts, neat and tidy, too often sound like their personal inventions aiming at providing an air of profundity and universality to their classifications.

    This “anthropological” distinction of ‘high context culture’ versus ‘low context culture’ is then used by Casey as the tool to dismiss all the silence in Paul’s epistles as just routine for the times of the first and early second centuries, and perfectly reasonable. And certainly not worth all the hullabaloo made by the long line of scholars who have seen in Paul’s silence about Jesus’s biographical details (miracles, preaching, incidents, trial, Pilate, etc…) a fundamental problem in the NT.

    All the facts of Jesus’s biography are thus supposed to have already circulated all around the Mediterranean, at a time when most ordinary people were illiterate, and means of transportation excruciatingly slow and dangerous, and communication required the dispatching of personal messengers by land or boat.
    How then was this communication of such vital biographical details about Jesus broadcast over such an immense territory, to so many separated communities and cities, in such a narrow time? It is simply miraculous and unexplained, and the invocation of “high context culture” does nothing to explain it.

    The fundamental conclusion remains that Paul knew nothing of the Gospels, and that they were created quite a while after Paul’s epistles were disseminated. No amount of linguistic “explanations”, with or without “anthropological” concepts, can finesse this basic conundrum.

    The assumption that the wide diversity of cultures in the Greco-Roman world was so “homogeneous” that a basic knowledge of the Jesus drama was already in place, universally known and taken for granted, strikes many scholars as not in the realm of probability and a product of pure fiction.
    Using such ad hoc “anthropological” concepts as if they described an inherent structural law of the Roman Empire world, just to explain a most mysterious phenomenon, is pure legerdemain by Casey. His assumption is improbable and unbelievable. And no additional language by Casey will make it less so.

    • This criticism strikes me as extremely relevant. Early Christians were proselytizing to Jews and Gentiles who would have had a quite disparate knowledge of the story of Jesus’s life – in some cases they would have known nothing or next to nothing, in other cases they would have known the broad details but with varying inaccuracies, in other cases (the rarest?) they would have pretty well informed (excepting their ‘noobs’ or prospects for conversion). This seems like an inescapable fact of life – people have different levels of knowledge about all subjects, so the earliest (*especially* the earliest?) Christian community can’t possibly have been all equally well-informed and educated about the highly important ‘historical’ aspects of Jesus’s life – highly important because these aspects all have theological meaning (or did they have no theological aspect back then, and only acquire it later?).

      Plus, it seems contradictory to apply this ‘high-context culture’ thought-tool in order to clean up the mess here, and yet not to apply it when denying that there is any significant Hellenistic influence on the early Christian community, despite the fact that many (?) early Christian converts would have been Greek themselves. Is there a particular historical basis for this? There doesn’t appear to be a logical one, and it appears to provide an illustration of the criticism that NT scholarship lacks or falls short of sound logical principles/methodology. But I am admittedly confused. (The more I follow this HJ/MJ debate, the more I see that, for a nonexpert such as myself, the field of biblical studies is a minefield overlaid onto a morass.)

  11. Roo: You overlook both the facts I mentioned to Doherty. First, in fact Paul does mention some things about Jesus’ life, and seems to recapitulate much of his teaching contained in the later gospels.

    And second, in fact ancient authors often did just what you claim is so improbable. You can search long stretches of the works of Aristotle, without finding biographical descriptions of Plato, Aristotle’s esteemed teacher, or even of Socrates, guru to the ancient world. I would venture to say, much longer than all the writings of Paul and Hebrews together.

    Plus, Acts is historical narrative, like the Gospels, yet contains almost nothing about Jesus’ earthly life. Is that because Luke didn’t know about it? But he had just written the Gospel of Luke.

    It is not just invalid, it is rather absurd, to argue from the relative silence of Paul’s letters, to the ahistoricity of Jesus.

    Especially in the face of a wealth of positive evidence, as I describe in Why the Jesus Seminar can’t find Jesus.

    • The distinction used by Casey as a major axiom is borrowed from the 1976 book “Beyond Culture” by Edward T. Hall, especially ch. 6, 7, and 8. http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Culture-Edward-T-Hall/

      A good overview of Hall’s fascinating career and production can be seen at
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_T._Hall

      No pages from the relevant chapters are shown on the Amazon display of the book, but quite a few pages from the first chapters, enough to get an idea of the way these ideas are presented: as insightful and valuable generalizations of specific experiences, but in no way as absolute natural laws of civilizations. Hall was too conscious of the tentative character of any anthropological generalizations to be fooled by his own ideas.

      The dogmatic use made by Casey of Hall’s concepts is unwarranted, and unscientific. I was willing to give an open ear to his argumentation, but when he pulled these rabbits out of his hat to solve one of the fundamental problems of the NT, pretending to see in those phenomenological concepts an inherent law of the Roman Empire civilization, I lost all my trust in his honesty.

      Casey may be reliable and trustworthy in some specific aspects of his research (his vaunted fluency in Aramaic?), but when he starts waving such “anthropological” concepts, which are no more than interesting, but hypothetical, phenomenological, distinctions, as universal laws of such an immense and complex word as the Roman Empire, one is forced to conclude that he is abusing his reputation in areas where he is no authority whatsoever.

      Same unjustified extended use of reputation is practiced by many experts. For example, by Wallis Budge in Egyptology, when he used his skills as a translator of hieroglyphs to start proposing far-flung theories on Egyptian religion and its sources. It is too easy for an acknowledged expert in one area to start sounding off like a pundit in other fields, making high-sounding pronouncements which are at best personal guesses. Casey is certainly a victim of this self-delusion when it comes to his use of “anthropological” tools.
      An utter joke. Again, as John McEnroe used to scream at Wimbledon, “You cannot be serious!”

      Comment by ROO BOOKAROO — 2012/05/24

      • John McEnroe was a spoiled brat. Best not take him as our role model.

        Casey seems to me a sidelight. The central point is that the Argument From Silence does not work here. Both Luke and Aristotle plainly do what Doherty assumes ancient writers would not do: go on for chapter after chapter, in which anecdotes from their guru’s life might come in handy, without relating those anecdotes.

  12. “Some ideas are so stupid only an intellectual would believe them”
    George Orwell

    You are more than welcome to come on Aeon Byte for a rebuttal. I have had all the main mythicists of today, and even the honor of having Dr. Ehrman and even Dr. Peter Jones, the fundamentalist exemplar and enemy of any secular or Gnostic narrative. All guests are treated with the utmost courtesy and without any confrontation. The floor is theirs. Richard Carrier comes on in two weeks. It would certainly be another honor to have someone of your caliber on. The quote was simply my tongue and cheek way to say we shouldn’t dismiss those outside of academia, although I usually defer to anyone with a PHD. You paid your dues, you have the meta-cognition, and you often are what keeps freedom alive in our culture. But dialogue is our God, whether lay or scholarly.

    http://www.aeonbytegnosticradio.com/

  13. I’m not sure why some messages here don’t have a Reply function at the end.

    RJH suggested I was not “curious.” He speaks of an apparent view by Paul about Jesus as an “historical event” which governs his own curiosity and search for an explanation for things like Paul’s silence on teachings of Jesus on earth.

    But this is adopting an unnecessary assumption which I do not. I see virtually nothing in Paul that requires he have an historical event in mind. I see quite the opposite. This means I do not have to ‘explain’ (i.e., explain away) the silence. And not just silence, but his description of so much which implicitly or explicitly excludes an historical Jesus. These things are there in the texts because for him and other epistle writers there is no historical Jesus or event. In other words, I don’t have to invent all sorts of counters to what the text says or does not say, I don’t have to twist meanings, I don’t have to indulge in the vast ‘reading into’ exercise which historicist scholars do. Life becomes much simpler.

    My “curiosity” is directed at why historicism claims to have such a solid case in the face of so much evidence to the contrary.

    “Brother of the Lord”? Despite Ehrman, there is absolutely no necessity to take this as meaning sibling.

    “Of David’s seed”? Paul tells us right there he got this from scripture. He is simply applying prophetic passages about the Messiah to his own spiritual Messiah. And he uses “seed” elsewhere in a mystical, non-physical sense, so why not here, especially given a mythicist context..

    “Born of woman, born under the Law”? This is the only potentially problematic passage in the entire epistolary literature, and even this is not insurmountable, thanks in some part to Bart Ehrman who showed us that this phrase was the object of much alteration, suggesting it could have been inserted in the first place for the same sort of reason, and that it does not show up in Marcion’s version, to judge by Tertullian. I devote an entire chapter to discussing it from both the authentic and inauthentic points of view in my Jesus; Neither God Nor Man. If anyone here expects me to discuss it, you’ll first have to read that chapter. Otherwise, I’m not going to bother wasting time.

    In the face of everything in the epistles which points away from an historical Jesus, to place all one’s historicist eggs in one (or even two) frail baskets is just asking for broken eggs.

    Earl Doherty

  14. “It follows that Price has not made good or reasonable use of the New Testament qualifications which he once obtained. The results of his work are no better than those of more obviously ignorant mythicists.”

    So New Testament PhD credentials aren’t relevant after all; that is, if they stray too far from the Status Quo. Price has written a couple of thousand pages exploring the vicissitudes of the Christ Myth theory. If you think you can dismiss that huge and significant body of work in two or three paragraphs, I can dispatch yours with even less effort.

  15. Pingback: The Jesus myth wars heat up | Is there a god?

    • @Carr: You point to Harding, who writes, “Thus when the relevant material is taken into account, and when the various extant MSS and papyri have been considered, a sixth century date for the Ur-Text of the Testament would seem to make good sense. However, to say that such a date makes sense is not to say that the Testament of Solomon was written in any form in the sixth century. This does seem to be the most likely date, but our evidence is ambiguous enough to preclude any possibility of certainty.” Of those who who have looked at the material, only Conybeare is cited as contemplating a 1st century date, and his reasons for thinking so are usually thought to be risible, especially looking at the MS tradition.

      • I agree with Carr. Duling’s discussion of the dating of the Testament of Solomon in Charlesworth’s Old Test. Pseud. I, 940f, sounds anything but risible to me. Duling tells us that the Testament in some kind of developed form has a ‘consensus’ dating of early 3rd century (not the 6th), but a lot of strata are involved in this particular document. He summarizes (as partly quoted by Carr already, to which you made no response):

        “An exception to this trend [dating to 3rd c.] is the recognized authority on the magical papyri, K. Preisendanz, who suggested that the original was from the first or second century A.D. Whether one follows McCown’s early third-century dating or Preisendanz’s earlier one, there is general agreement that much of the testament reflects first-century Judaism in Palestine.”

        Nothing to laugh about I can see there in claiming evidence in the ToS for views about demons in the first century.

        Anyway, this whole objection to my use of the ToS on yours and Casey’s part is a red herring. I used it to back up my contention about belief in demons in the time of Paul. But we really don’t need any more than the witness of the Gospels to tell us that demons were seen as a force to be reckoned with, and let’s not overlook Ephesians 6:12 from the later first century to see that there was a fixation with “our fight …against cosmic powers, against the authorities and potentates of this dark world, against the superhuman forces of evil in the heavens.” What else do you need?

        Bringing up my alleged ‘illegitimate’ dating of ToS as a supposed discrediting of Paul & Co.’s belief in demons without acknowledging that we have all the evidence we need right in the Gospels and epistles (which surely neither of you are ignorant of) is typical historicist misleading tactics. Ehrman indulges in them too, which covers none of you with honor.

        Earl Doherty

      • I love this preposterous pejorative use of the word “historicist” Apparently its opposite is someone who can reject historical and physical evidence out of hand, rely on expert opinion that has been discredited when convenient and reject it as an appeal to authority otherwise. In any case, I quite agree that ToS is irrelevant. The clearest reference to demons in “Paul” is in Ephesians anyway and he didn’t write it.

  16. So suddenly, only a decade or so after Paul’s death, the Pauline school developed a new and unprecedented belief in and fear of demons, one which Paul did not share in. Even though “rulers of this age” points very much in that direction, clearly or not.

    The word “historicist” was not in itself pejorative. The word “misleading” was. Historicist simply identified the scholars who are being misleading. What other “preposterous” way would you have me identify them? Are you not “historicists”?

    And talk about the pot calling the kettle black!

      • I guess, then, that you must have missed Casey’s point:

        “There is however good reason to think that ‘it [Test. of Solomon] was current in some form around A. D. 400’; further, ‘the archetype of all the full versions (incorporating the demonology) cannot have been put together before the early third century A. D.’[18] This means that it is quite ludicrous of Doherty to conclude on the basis of this evidence that ‘by Paul’s time they [i.e. the demons] have become vast powers that infest the heavens.’[19] There is no such idea in 1 Enoch, and the Testament of Solomon shows only that such ideas were believed by some people some 200 years after Paul’s time.”

        So Casey is denying (at least, it comes across that way) that in Paul’s time the demons were any concern for Christians or people in general, and implies I’m an idiot for calling on the Test. of Solomon to back that bogus claim. Steven Carr was pointing out that some scholars date the ToS as possibly as early as the late 1st c. and that in any case it probably reflects views in first century Judaism. You threw cold water over that, on what basis I’m not quite sure I understood, and I merely backed up Carr and the OTPseud source he used.

        Considering that, IIRC, you backed up Casey, how can you now say

        “No one is arguing against the belief in demons, are they?”

        when that is exactly how all this started, with both you a Casey ignoring the clear evidence in Gospels and epistles, making the contorted fuss over ToS irrelevant and misleading (as often indulged in by historicists).

        Is that how you conduct your debates?

        Earl Doherty

      • ED: I think MC’s point goes to the heart of what is genetically wrong with the mythtic position. Why would anyone use a–let’s call it 4th century, or possibly 6th-certainly not 1st century!!–source to sketch in the details of an early to mid-first century Anatolian belief that probably resembled more the “archontic” hierarchy of the gnostics, or was close to it, in Paul’s case. Does Paul name demons? Are you thinking of the very vague “spiritual warfare” of Romans 8.38? Are you sure those are the same critters that are named in ToS? I can’t see the echo.The deuteropauline tradition salutes them at Eph. 6:12 & Col. 1:16; but still, not a good parallel. Does Paul establish named hierarchies in the demon infested heavens? True, Acts 19 talks about demons (no names) being cast out in the name of Jesus–and Paul!, but that doesn’t tell us very much about the heavenly conspiracy against the elect, does it, and it isn’t even good history. Or do you want to construe his silence in a way more congenial to your suppositions? Those principalities and powers, those princes of the powers of the air had evolving personalities; why would you stretch to ToS when gnostic sources, more proximate to Paul, make the case far better? I happen to think the ToS is very late indeed; that it oozes strong Christian (read: scribal) influences & is totally useless for understanding it as a help or a guide to anything Paul might have thought that its use in connection to him, or as amplification of anything Paul himself thought about the archons is simply wrong. Maurice is getting it right; this is a growling, hulk of an anachronism. It is the kind of thing we find in the mythtic position again and again. You are using a category called “demons” and then piling anything you can find into it as an aid to interpretation. IMHO as bloggers like to say, this is the kind of thing that we would give a graduate student in Christian origins a C for coming up with.

        Further thought: I regard the suggestion that ToS reflects the views of first century Judaism concerning Judaism as insupportable. Except for the fake Jewish overlay, where is the Judaism? What about it can confidently be said to reflect 1st century Jewish demonology?

      • Does it matter whether Paul named demons? Does it matter that the full demonology of ToS doesn’t go back to the first century? Do we have to identify Paul’s concept of demon “rulers of this age” as fully in keeping with all the particulars of Jewish demonology? The Vision of Isaiah speaks of the descending Son’s hanging on a tree by Satan and his minions in the firmament. That’s Jewish sectarian enough, though the Platonic ingredient is also pretty clear in that document, and it’s far from anywhere near late as the 6th century.

        And I didn’t “stretch” to the Testament of Solomon. I accepted some perfectly legitimate scholarly opinions that some of the ideas in it reached back into the first century. Just because you would like to dismiss those opinions as unfavorable to your anti-mythicist zealotry doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, or that I am a wretched graduate student for adding them to the pile (though thanks for not giving me a failing grade).

        The only “pile” here is your red herrings which amount to no more than bluster to cover up the fact that you are unable to discount the Gospels and Ephesians 6:12 alone (with 1 Cor. 2:8 as a strong indicator) as giving us enough to postulate the concept of demon forces in the first century as guilty of the crucifixion of Christ in the heavens. The Vision of Isaiah provides an actual picture of that concept. As for its date, what group, even Jewish-Christian, is going to present a picture like that at a time after the Gospels have disseminated their own picture of the incarnated Son being crucified on earth by Pilate? Even the ‘Gospel’ interpolation of chapter 11 is so crude and undeveloped that the Vision can’t possibly be dated later than the early 2nd century. It’s ridiculously primitive Nativity scene cannot possibly postdate Matthew or Luke. The interpolator can’t even bring himself to identify the ‘ruler’ who killed the Son on earth as Pilate. (Of course, Knibb is good enough to supply us with his identity, courtesy of the Gospels.)

      • This is pure muddle. “Does it matter whether Paul named demons? Does it matter that the full demonology of ToS doesn’t go back to the first century? Do we have to identify Paul’s concept of demon “rulers of this age” as fully in keeping with all the particulars of Jewish demonology? The Vision of Isaiah speaks of the descending Son’s hanging on a tree by Satan and his minions in the firmament. That’s Jewish sectarian enough, though the Platonic ingredient is also pretty clear in that document, and it’s far from anywhere near late as the 6th century.” I cannot supply the classes that would have saved you from these errors anymore than I can give young earth creationists a boost in the error of their ways. OF COURSE it matters that Paul does not name demons if a putatively later source is far more explicit and medieval in tone and Christian specificity than an early source. This is pure pretense: How can you develop the chronology apart from the indicators???? If you go by MS eviden alone, as I do not: it is a 6th century document of unarguably (Carrier’s favourite word) Christian provenance. If you cannot answer this query, I see no reason why you should be party to the conversation.

      • I think there is some difference between “by Paul’s time they [i.e. the demons] have become vast powers that infest the heavens” and “in Paul’s time the demons were any concern for Christians or people in general” just as there is between “Brother of the Lord”? Despite Ehrman, there is absolutely no necessity to take this as meaning sibling” and the position that it is likely that a relation other than sibling is meant. This reminds me of the Therefore Aliens joke that has been going around http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/ancient-aliens
        There is also quite a jump between some people believing in some sort of grand demonologies to assuming Paul did to assuming Paul’s Christ was a spirit being crucified by demons in in some spirit world. Casey is quite correct in his observation, “Having argued up to this point that Paul did not believe anything that he does not mention, he imagines that he could take for granted this mythical realm and the quite unparalleled notion of a spiritual crucifixion up there, without mentioning anything of the kind.” Doherty’s theory isn’t impossible; there just isn’t any evidence to support it.

      • I don’t understand how an incidental reference to a document whose earliest layers some scholars assess as as indicative of first century beliefs can be interpreted as “using a category called “demons” and then piling anything you can find into it as an aid to interpretation.”

      • @Godfrey: Precisely–you do not understand. Moreover, this is not primarily about Doherty’s single wowser of a poor choice of source but about rather larger issues. Why not deal with those? They are cumulative and form a pattern. Persuade me that mythicists have a case, outside the club, based on methods that competent scholars recognize.

      • RJT: I would like to see you address the key point that has been repeatedly made (and that you have repeatedly avoided), and most recently found worded thus:

        “I accepted some perfectly legitimate scholarly opinions that some of the ideas in it reached back into the first century. Just because you would like to dismiss those opinions as unfavorable to your anti-mythicist zealotry doesn’t mean that they’re wrong, or that I am a wretched graduate student for adding them to the pile. . .”

        Or can you explain why you don’t think this point is worth addressing?

      • I have no anti-mythicist zealotry to start. I think most people know that. I would love to see a case made competently by someone who knew the literature well enough to avoid the nonsense that charactererises this position at the present time. The fact that you “accepted some perfectly legitimate scholarly opinions that some of the ideas in it reached back into the first century” nags at the question of what opinion you relied on. I think even Conybeare admitted he was stretching when he said 100 CE, and he was seduced by the idea that it might have contained some authentically Jewish elements. No one of any importance thinks that any longer.
        It is truly amazing to me that you want to see a document as obviously spurious as this as somehow authentic to your purposes and the gospels as a tissue of myth and falsehood. If you want to know what 1st entury Palestine Jews thought about demons, look at the gospel of Mark and Jesus the exorcist. Your entire line of inquiry shows repeatedly a lack of perception and a glaring deficiency in the skills that would entitle you to choose between sources. But my central point you do not come near to: It isn’t me avoiding it is you asserting: WHAT POSSIBLE RELEVANCE DOES A 4th-6Th century document have for deciding what Paul may or may not have thought about demons? A word, btw he does not use except in connection with idolatry and their influence (1 Cor 8.4-6; 10.20f?). He thinks their reign is at an end (a conclusion he probably derives from the narrative tradition about Jesus). I suggest you spend more time trying to grapple with the totality of Paul’s thought in its historical context and less time trying to cherry pick passages that you imagine are useful for your theory.

      • Hi RJT,

        I am catching up with your response made on 24th May to a comment of mine the same day.

        You appear to have misread my query. Note that I was quoting another commenter’s question that had been posed to you several times and asking why you had failed to address it.

        Your reply was primarily directed at what you mistakenly presumed were my own thoughts and methods and state of knowledge instead of at answering the question as asked.

        The point is surely clear enough (is this the problem for you?) and you appear to be doing all you can to avoid it. The point is this:

        We have several strands of information that testify to an understanding X in time period Y. One of those several strands is a document that a number of scholars believe includes information that points to an understanding X in time period Y. Is it by definition illegitimate to mention this document as one of a number of strands of information that testifies to our particular point?

        Just shouting out in caps that many scholars believe that the document itself is not from that period Y does not address that point.

      • Oh my, Ahrrr Joe, so it’s come to this? You simply exert your power to deny my comments the light of day when your massive brain threatening to break through its shiny pink forehead is piqued? So, I guess I will have to expose your ways on another web/blogsite instead, yes?

  17. Pingback: The Jesus Process: Maurice Casey: Mythicism: A Story of Bias, Incompetence and Falsehood « Ratio Christi-At The Ohio State University

    • Don´t know where you got the idea that Maurice Casey is an “evangelical writer”. He not a Christian. I think he would dub himself an atheist or agnostic.

      • Ha – you saw that too. He certainly isn’t a Christian! He drifted away from the church in 1962 during his first degree in theology at Durham. He would have joined the BHA in the 80s but decided against it because there were too many aggressive atheists. Although the late great Michael Goulder, a friend and colleague, belonged, but he carefully described himself as “a non aggressive atheist”. Maurice would not define himself as an atheist or agnostic, but rather as ‘not Christian’. He prefers humanist. He’s just unbelieved what he believed.

  18. Maurice Casey says:

    “Another astonishing example is Doherty imagining that Paul should have behaved like much later Christians seeking relics. He asks ‘What about the relics? Jesus’ clothes, the things he used in his everyday life, the things he touched?….If the Gospel accounts have any basis we would expect to find mention of all sorts of relics, genuine or fake: cups from the Last Supper, nails bearing Jesus’ flesh, thorns from the bloody crown, the centurion’s spear, pieces of cloth from the garments gambled for by the soldiers at the foot of the cross―indeed, just as we find a host of relics all through the Middle Ages…’[12] This is an extraordinary muddle which has just one point right: relics were characteristic of Christian piety much later. Otherwise, it seeks to impose upon Pauline Christianity the mediaeval Catholic religion which Doherty is supposed to have left.”

    While it is certainly preposterous to EXPECT of the early Christians a basic veneration of relics as a criterion for their belief in the historicity of the man Jesus, it seems a little extreme to allocate the concept of “relic” and the veneration thereof to the Medieval era and then accuse those who use said concept for earlier time periods of anachronism.

    How do we explain texts like Acts 19:11-12 or Mk.5:27, both of which convey the idea that the power of men of God can be transferred to their personal possessions and re-discovered by faith? Is this not, essentially, the very germ of the idea of a relic? And do we not have far more complex examples of this germ further back in Jewish history, such as the case of the bronze snake becoming an idol, the bones of Elisha bringing life to a dead man (2 Kgs.13:21), not to mention a whole host of cases of articles belonging to prophets seeming to carry a supernatural power of their own?

    It would be edifying to conduct an intense historical survey of Medieval relic-enthusiasm, anatomically separating its grandiose complexity and function in juxtaposition to earlier periods of time. My hunch, following Casey, is that we may read too much Medieval relicism into the texts I just cited. But I also suspect that the very nature of the Medieval relic owes much of its nature to having conducted an honest read of “the scriptures,” discovering in them the raison d’etre for what later became an economy of sensationalism.

    At any rate, this was a marvelous essay to read! The upholding of the mythicist project is by no means the reason for my post.

    • Marc: Maurice will doubtless answer, but the general point is to do with Jewish aversion to corpses, the dead and squeamishness about anything to do with bodily parts and bones in the 1st century CE. It was associated with foreign sorcery and Egyptian magic by the time of Jesus–it’s often been pointed out for example that the ritual for burial described in Mark 16.1 is out of keeping with Jewish custom and may reflect a doublet of the pre-anointing at Bethany in Mk 14. Whatever the case, the aversion was real enough. The veneration of bones arises specifically in connection with the cult of the martyrs and miracles attributed to their “intercession,” and this funereal focus is actually why the great churches of Christendom 9think St peter’s and St Paul’s outside the Vatican walls) are named after gravesites associated with burial places. as always, Maurice is being true to the data we know.

      • Correct me if im wrong but there doesn’t seem to be any interest in relics not only in the New Testament period, but also the early church fathers, whom we know clearly thought Jesus was a historical person as per the Gospels. The desire for relics does not seem to be universally important concern of religions. It seems so out of step with Paul’s focus and message to expect him to address some curious disciples desire to see Jesus’ sandals or to write instructions on how to get to Jerusalem.

      • @ Mike: Maurice was making a point counter to a question posed by Doherty regarding another e silentio sort of case against Jesus: If Jesus existed (etc.) why not an interest in preserving cups, thorns, robes, nails, and objects associated with his historical existence. I think there are two answers to this: one is as I already said, the Jewish aversion to corpses and bones which is so pronounced. Relics of the “first class” as the church would later define them were essentially body parts, especially bones of the martyrs, but in the case of Jesus (for obvious reasons) relics of this type would have been embarrassing. That leaves 2nd and 3rd class relics–things belonging to or touched by a martyr. Relics were not prized as evidence but for healing power; while not very early, Acts 19 refers to a cloth used by Paul as having healing power, and the earliest clear refernce to an interest in relics as objects of veneration is the martyrdom of Polycarp from about 160 or so CE. By the late second century, the earlier aversion to bones and graves seems to have been supplanted by the belief that imitating Christ through death made objects associated with martyrs especially important. No surprise then that the interest in “especially venerable” objects–the “true cross,” “Veronica’s Veil” — the hand of John the Baptist(!), the nails of the cross, finally the shroud, become a sort of cottage industry of the early medieval period. This I take to be Casey’s point contra Doherty: the aversion to such objects was gradually overcome by the perqs of the cult of the martyrs and saints, and the physical growth of the church, such that by 787 the second council of Nicaea decreed that every Christian house of worship must possess a relic (of the saints). Clearly as well, the “objects” associated with Jesus from the fourth cnetury onward were far too late to have any evidentiary significance. And the answer to the mythtics is that with typical anachronistic aplomb they are assuming as an incredible lack of evidence what could not have arisen as evidence. And by the way: 2 Kings 13.20f is about a posthumous miracle performed by Elijah, not about a century Jewish burial practice!

  19. Thank you for your reply Mr. Hoffman,

    What you have said would certainly furnish strong counter-evidence against Mr. Doherty’s demand for the preservation of relics centering around Jesus’ death (with respct to 1st century jewish christians, at least). However, as per the quote in my prevous post, Mr. Doherty does not limit himself to Jesus’ death, but asks after relics pertaining to “his everyday life including “clothing” and things that Jesus touched.

    I am not convinced that it is a construct of “later Christian piety,” particularly that of “the Medieval catholic religion” which would have us conceive of 1st century Christians esteeming both as precious and supernaturally powerful items belonging to Jesus or his disciples.

    I do agree, though, that this question is beside the point in considering Jesus’ historical existence.

    • ! Marc: I answer this question above in reply to another relic inquiry, but the bottom line is that the growth in interest and use of relics is not based on an interest in evidence but the popularity of miracles and increases dramatically during sporadic periods of persecution. Thus the Jewish prohibitions would have been decisive until these periods erupted in a more systematic way in the late second century, which as it happens is our first clear evidence that bone relics were used (about 160)CE. As to second class relics, these become popular much later and Casey is right that most of them are very late ancient and medieval in provenance: everything from the “chalice” to the nails of the cross, doubtless all manufactured–but not as evidence, as objects of veneration associated with miraculous healings. But let me give you an axiom of church history as that’s what I do–church history, not axioms :) — History does not answer questions about why something did not or does not happen except in very indirect ways. It tries to discover what did happen and the reasons for it. The corrollary is that what did not happen cannot be used “adjudicatively” to determine what did. The reason why we have no first class relics of the scenes of the gospel stories, from a time when they might have “proved” the existence of Jesus– e.g.. the “Last Supper”– is probably as ordinary as why you you don’t own the cup your grandfather took his last sip from and why we don’t own the cradle rocked by Alexander’s (the Great’s) nurse. In other words, you are retrojecting the significance of a long period of interpretation into events “as they happened” and then asking why these events were not recognized as earth shattering at the moment they occurred. Second: Most relics are frauds and forgeries. But not all history is fraudelent.

  20. I found the following comments from another poster interesting and M. Casey may be interested in responding to them:
    “…the so-called transliteration that is βοανεργες argues against the gospel writer’s knowledge of the language[Aramaic]. Casey just doesn’t handle the indicator meaningfully, for he has no way of explaining the diphthong in the first syllable.
    …invent[ing] excuses for why βοανεργες was not the work of the writer of the gospel, .. is …ad hoc and untestable. Casey’s case is flimsy at best and his inability to make sense of βοανεργες in his scheme simply undercuts him. He doesn’t pay any attention to the Latinisms in Mark because he is falling all over himself to sell his Aramaic story. Your trick is to farm out the explanations for a Latin Greek audience is to shove them off to a scribe or some other later hand. Convenient, but uninspiring.

    There has to be some Aramaic connection, given that the religion is based on a perversion of the Jewish religion and a strong knowledge of that religion is evinced in the gospel, but there is no evidence that the writer of the gospel knows Aramaic. βοανεργες points against it. His only Aramaic transliterations are so trivial that they appear to be abracadabra words, ie giving a sense of genuineness of obscurity to an ignorant audience, trivialities “little girl, get up” and “be opened” or cultic words like “corban”. The translation of talitha kumi is actually given in the Greek as “little girl, I say to you, get up”, but what that “I say to you” is doing there has nothing to do with the Aramaic and suggests that the writer wasn’t working from Aramaic at all, but like βοανεργες he got it from a chain of transmission that garbled it. His lack of geographical understanding speaks against his being from Judea/Galilee and thus not being directly familiar with its languages.

    In short, no-one is doubting an Aramaic connection with Mark, but Casey is unable explain the evidence meaningfully. In fact the evidence suggests that the writing wasn’t by any native speaker of Aramaic. This is only strengthened by the Latinisms through the text (“but they were by a late hand” is your shot in the dark), not the loanwords so much as the loan translations and grammatical structures. And these Casey is totally silent about. In fact one of Casey’s Aramaic explanations is seen by others as a Latin loan translation (οδον ποιειν in 2:23, iter facere). If you got this far, you can now happily ignore the above as has been your wont.

  21. This ignores most of what Casey has written. In Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel, he gave abundant evidence that Mark knew Aramaic, but that he was a bilingual translator who made the sort of mistakes which are typical of bilingual translators. This commenter ignores all such features, which include ‘I say to you’, which is the sort of thing which bilingual translators do sometimes put in. We know the Aramaic for ‘sons of thunder’. What Mark was not very good at was transliteration, a normal fault in bilingual translators who have no modern training. It is very regrettable that Casey’s massive arguments of cumulative weight for Mark not only knowing Aramaic, but making large numbers of comments which reflect Aramaic sources, keep being ignored by people who are not Aramaists and have convictions that Mark was not using any Aramaic sources, and who consequently ignore arguments to the contrary. It is not true that Casey ignored features of Latin: he discussed legion, centurion, Herodianoi and denarion, probably the most important from a historical perspective.

    • Steph, you can say anything that you didn’t find mentioned in the excerpt of my response to someone else “ignores most of what Casey has written”, but that is just your unfounded assumption, based on the excerpt.

      Casey is probably correct about his Aramaic source for ‘sons of thunder’, given that it is basically what is given in the Peshitta. But we do know that βοανηργες is unexplainable as a transliteration. Try it: explain how one could get from an Aramaic source to the diphthong /οα/ in the one step of transliteration. It’s as much a transliteration as “compound” is from Malay kαmpαŋ, ie it is not. It is distanced from its source by a chain of transmission, for either the user of βοανηργες knew enough about the source language he was using and therefore would have been unlikely to have made such a blunder or he didn’t know the language. The diphthong in βοανηργες argues against Casey’s thesis.

      My original post contained these sentences regarding Casey:

      “He then attacks the Latin influence on the gospel of Mark, content to package the issue merely as loanwords, when obviously he should know better. The loanwords are merely the easiest indicators to point to, though more persuasive are the loan translations and the Latin syntactic forms”.

      Individual lexical items can be brushed aside as Casey does, though his treatment of Herodianoi is worth noting:

      “We should infer that it was used in the Aramaic source as well, hence הרודיאני, because this explains the behaviour of the translator.”

      ie it fulfills Casey’s presupposition. He doesn’t deal with it significantly at all. And incidentally the Peshitta translator knew nothing of Casey’s conjectured Aramaic source, preferring to use בית הרודס, the “house of Herod”. (Try to posit a reasonable context in which a Latin suffix, such as -ian-, is used to construct a neologism outside a Latin speaking context, when there are ordinary resources in the target language that do the same thing.) The best thing about Casey’s הרודיאני is that it is unfalsifiable.

      However, it is the other Latin influences that are omitted in Casey’s work. Consider for example the Latinism ο εστιν, used like the Latin hoc est, to give an explanation, though not usual in Greek. (And some of those explanations are aimed specifically toward a Roman audience, “two lepta, that is a quadrans” or “a hall, that is a praetorium”.) While it is transparent enough to see Latin as a source, but what about Aramaic? The Peshitta gives a declined form depending on that being explained (3:17, 12:42, 15:42). Latin is the most likely source for this use of ο εστιν. There are issues of Latin favoured syntax with accusatives and datives before the verb, or the use of ινα with verbs of speaking, comparable with a similar use of ut in Latin. (Details on request.) And why are there so many Latin idioms found translated in Mark?

      A Semitic influence is easy enough to understand given the source of the traditions used in Mark, but there are very few ways to explain the weight of Latin influence in the Greek text of Mark. The most convincing is that the text was written in a Latin speaking context with Greek as a lingua franca, probably Rome, which would supply the Latin substratum for the Greek. This gives a meaningful linguistic context for constructions such as ηρωδιανοι and συροφοινισσα (7:26)–this latter implying a Roman perspective which saw both Syrophoenicians and Libophoenicians, ie Carthaginians. Does anyone have a more function explanation for all the Latin influence?

      • @Spin: “A Semitic influence is easy enough to understand given the source of the traditions used in Mark, but there are very few ways to explain the weight of Latin influence in the Greek text of Mark.” Interesting; I am sure Maurice will reply to this!

  22. Mr. Hoffman,

    My point was only that the idea of a relic seems perfectly intelligible for the 1st century world and earlier, Jewish or otherwise. It makes no difference to me whether there is documentation of any in the case of Jesus, for the very reasons you described. I’m not taking doherty’s side here. Thank you nonetheless.

    • “the idea of a relic seems perfectly intelligible for the 1st century world and earlier, Jewish or otherwise/” –Except the way you have generalized this, it doesn’t make sense at all, especially in Judaism.

  23. For me, Doherty’s strangest use of the Arguing from Silence is his analysis of Second Century apologists. Doherty concludes that the following apologists believed in “a Platonic religious philosophy grounded in Hellenistic Judaism which failed to include any historical Jesus”:

    * Tatian (when writing his “Address to the Greeks”)
    * Theophilus of Antioch
    * Athenagoras
    * Minucius Felix
    * The author of ‘Epistle of Diognetus’, and even Justin Martyr (initially).
    * Justin Martyr (initially)

    So all the above, writing in the second half of the Second Century, did not believe in a historical Jesus, according to Doherty! But it is Doherty’s views on Justin that are

    Doherty believes that Justin’s “Dialogue with Trypho” records the nature of the Christianity Justin joined into before later coming to believe that there was a historical Jesus. Doherty believes Justin converted from paganism into a “Platonic” Christianity that had no historical Jesus. Doherty bases this partly on Justin’s account of his conversion, where the “Old Man” philosopher who convinced Justin “has not a word to say about Jesus of Nazareth, nor about any incarnation of the Son.” The fact that Justin then actually goes on to talk about those things is not relevant to Doherty.

    So it isn’t even silence in a whole letter that Doherty finds significant: even silence in just a few paragraphs (where the author is not silent elsewhere) is enough! This is not logic, nor scholarship. It is as bad as any bad apologetic argument you can find among fundamentalists.

    • @Don: Interesting list of SS’s — silent sources. Amazing, truly amazing, especially of course the discussion of Justin–unfathomable. Btw, my grandfather, who was German, did not mention Hitler. Do you think Hitler existed?

      • RJH, if your German grandfather did not mention Hitler, then that is evidence that Hitler either lived his life in some celestial realm, or was some obscure figure that nobody knew about. Nothing allowed in between!

        Doherty’s examination of Justin’s views is laughably bad. Doherty takes Justin’s Trypho character’s comment that “And you, having accepted a groundless report, invent a Christ for yourselves” to suggest that it is “a current accusation by some Jews that ‘You have invented your Messiah,’ lock, stock and humanity.”

        While Doherty doesn’t insist on it, it is a bizarre reading in context to the rest of Justin’s “Trypho” letter. His views on the other Second Century apologists like Tatian and the others are just as weird, and dependent on viewing Second Century high context culture writings from a 21st Century low context culture perspective.

      • @Don: I agree. Justin uses the dialogue style as a pedagogical tool and as someone who was “classically” trained (meaning in context, educated) is able to use the device with great effect. There is so much one could say about the use of historical sources in the hands of untrained amateurs—-a bit like giving a scalpel to a 12 year old really with instructions to remove an appendix–but the most obvious thing is: Why would a Justin who was naive about the history of Jesus choose to have his discussion with a Jew? What is especially amusing is the way some mythicists can use arguments from silence to double effect: For example, Justin can be used by Doherty to suggest that the Jesus story he knew must have been close to Paul’s idea of a celestial saviour or a neoplatonic myth; an especially dotty mythtic takes this one step further by saying “Rather more pertinent than the ethereal Clement is the testimony of Justin Martyr, who, in the mid-2nd century, discussed the apostolic mission to the Gentiles at length. Yet Justin not once mentioned Paul or his epistles, not even when arguing the point so crucial to Paul’s heart, that “circumcision was unnecessary”! Nor is there any reference to Paul in the fragments that we have of the work of Hegesippus (?110-180), a contemporary of Justin and himself a Jew.” You won’t be surprised to learn that the writer of this, a guy named Kenneth Humphrey, also pronounces the Pauline correspondence a fraud and Paul a cipher: http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/epistles2.htm

    • No, Don. It’s called allowing yourself to think outside the box and letting the texts lead you where they may, always within the larger picture which the full record provides. You should try it sometime. Quite exhilarating and astonishingly fruitful. It gets you out of a lot of ruts. The process is quite unlike anything that your average “apologist” indulges in.

      I’m surprised you didn’t bring up your ‘comparison’ with Tertullian’s Ad Nationes. I guess it’s because I’ve demolished it I don’t know how many times.

      When you can actually ‘demolish’ my analysis of Tatian, and especially of the “crucified man” passage in Minucius Felix (you never have addressed my Appendix 10 on it in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man, rather than just heap scorn on me ad nauseum and think that that’s all it takes, maybe then you’ll have something to crow about.

      Earl Doherty

      • As to Hitler or Wells’s analogies from silence (he once used the building of the London subway system as an analogy in my presence): My point was to be ironic and you took the bait: alas! There would be no comparison between Hitler 1933 and Jesus 33 CE. A single event like my grandfather not mentioning Hitler would be dispositive of nothing except perhaps he was out of touch with reality. A failure for Roman records and historians to mention an inconspicuous Palestinian rebel of no importance to anyone that mattered outside a single unruly Roman province is dispositive of nothing. (Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence applies in spades). The literary artifacts surviving from this movement, and their historical and cultural fit to other popular movements of the era attested in both Jewish and Latin literature, on the other hand, are dispositive.

      • @Earl. If I am ‘in the box’, I am in good company. I have GA Wells and Richard Carrier in here with me. Carrier (even though a mythicist himself) describes your views on Second Century apologists as one of your “wilder flights of fancy”.

        So who do you have with you outside the box? Seriously: does ANYONE support you on this? On Justin? On Tatian? On the rest of those Second Century apologists?

        Fortunately Justin Martyr’s “Dialogue with Trypho” is freely available on-line, and people can check for themselves to see if it supports the “wild flight of fancy” idea that it holds some secret code indicating that Justin originally converted to a non-HJ Christianity. And I urge readers here to do that very thing, and then come back here to tell us whether they agree or not.

        One thing worth mentioning: Justin writes that “When he [the Old Man] had spoken these and many other things, which there is no time for mentioning at present, he went away, bidding me attend to them.” I pointed this out to you, Earl, suggesting that this indicated that Justin was telling us he got many of the other things he included in the same letter from the Old Man; a view you rejected, explaining (IIRC) that Justin would have had the Old Man spell it out right there and then. To me, this is a good example of “high context culture vs low context culture”.

        To be clear: “HC culture vs LC culture” is not something that was created for biblical studies. It is part of sociology studies, as any Westerner working for a multinational company who has been posted to China, Japan (me!) or the Middle-East can tell you. Yet AFAIK you don’t even touch on this subject in your books.

        Do you think that, when examining early Christian writings, we need to take “high context culture vs low context culture” into consideration when setting expectations about what we find?

    • And you’re also off base on Diognetus, Don. It is akin to the Pauline cult in that it has a sacrificial Son but no life on earth in view (and belongs to the first half of the 2nd century), but you’re right, no HJ. And if you’ll check out my Appendix 11, you’ll find that Aristides also likely did not have an HJ originally. Scoff all you like in principle, but until you actually rebut the case I make in regard to any or all of these, you’re just blowing wind. And that goes for anyone else here whose idea of counter-argument seems to be the same: scorn is all it takes.

      By the way, not mentioning Hitler might indeed prove he didn’t exist, if that lack of mention came in a whole bunch of documents and correspondence talking about and even giving a “full and minute” account of the history of the Nazi party in the 1930s and 40s, while a separate body of stories about the Nazis which was the only testimony to a Hitler turned out to constitute midrash on the First World War.

      Earl Doherty

      • @Earl, on the Epistle to Diognetus, I’ll leave the burden of proof on you. AFAICS, there is nothing in “Diognetus” to support you, other than what YOU expect the author should have written.

        Am I right in assuming that you have not taking high context cultures into account in your analysis? And that no scholar takes the same view as you on the author of “Diognetus” not believing in a historical Jesus? And that the letter seems to be expressing Christian views that are consistent with the views of proto-orthodox Christians of the same period? Am I not correct on all three points above?

  24. To: GakuseiDon

    “RJH, if your German grandfather did not mention Hitler, then that is evidence that Hitler either lived his life in some celestial realm, or was some obscure figure that nobody knew about. Nothing allowed in between!”

    All very cute. But the question you never ask, but that G. A. Wells and Alvar Ellegard kept asking:
    “How come Hoffmann speaks of Hitler since he had no input from his grandfather? The grandfather never mentioned it, so where did Hoffmann get the idea of a Hitler from? How did the concept of Hitler ever enter Hoffmann’s consciousness to be able to use this name of Hitler allowing him to describe his grandfather’s ignorance? Where did the knowledge of the name Hitler come from for Hoffmann to use it in a story about his grandfather? Without the grandfather’s input, this becomes a real mystery.”

    But Hoffmann has enough erudition and Biblical references to ferret out some that may explain how the concept and name of Hitler came to be used by him. Perhaps the grandfather was not the only possible source?
    Then Hoffmann’s conclusion is a farce, a rip-off, an act of Jesuitical casuistry, no? Was Hoffmann initially trained by the Jesuits?
    This would explain the value of the grandfather argument.

    • @Roo: There are some very obvious answers to these Wells’s-derived queries, which I’m sure being a clever clogs you can figure out for yourself. Btw, historians do sometimes argue very tentatively from silence in collating textual sources and establishing MS priorities and groups, dates and attestations for example. They know when they do this they are on very thin ice. The most thunderous exception to doing anything like this in the case of the gospels would be the physical evidence of the gospels themselves and not when they were first quoted by “reliably datable authors,” though I have often been amused at the bowling alley attempts of mythtics like Humphrey who, when confronted with additional obstacles, simply say that the reliably dated authors aren’t dated reliably. Take the case of a claim made by C P Thiede that P. Magd. Gr. 17 = P64, the Magdalen-Oxford papyrus of a section of the gospel of Mathew, dated from the last part of the first century based on a distinctive script that was common in extant 1st century Greek MSS but unattested in MSS after the first century. You will be interested in the following discussion of the process here, since you claim to know what it is that biblical scholars do when they apply established method: http://www.tyndale.cam.ac.uk/Tyndale/staff/Head/P64TB.htm But even if you find that heavy slogging, the best reason for saying that the mythtic version of arguments from silence doesn’t work is that there is much less silence now than there was in 1900 when the main works still being used by modern mythtics like Doherty were fashionable–especially concerning the trajectories we can now identify in the rapid spread of early Christianity. Mythicism, at least the kind that fills in the silence with its own contrivances and conspiracy theories, is quickly becoming an antiquarian’s pastime and is making the non-existence thesis increasingly unsupportable.

    • Oh Roo… it’s ironic that you posted on Vridar what you described as “A comment by Jacob Aliet disputing some of Maurice Casey’s assumptions about Mark’s origins being in an Aramaic source”. It’s ironic because you cut and pasted it after I had responded to it without acknowledging my refutation which seems a little dishonest don’t you think Roo. Mind you, it’s no worse than an invisible dummy aka earl doherty, posting all his comments as a post on Vridar and failing to acknowledge the many rebuttals of those comments on this post, including many incisive rebuttals by RJH and one by Casey.

      You have also completely misrepresented Casey. He does not make ‘assumptions’. He provides arguments and evidence in meticulously detailed and careful monographs. You also misrepresent Casey in suggesting his thesis is a demonstration of ‘an Aramaic source’. It is no such thing. He provides evidence and argument for a chaotic model with mixed source material, all of which Jacob’s comment and you, ignore.

      By the way your little parody, a flight into ridiculous fantasy, was almost amusing. You have an keen sense of mockery and imagination and should write more fiction and call it such. At least it had a hint of art as opposed to the extraordinary leaps in reality made by other comments on Vridar, drawing from my criticism of Cohn, a criticism of all Jewish scholars. This is quite frankly ludicrous considering the round table discussions we have frequently which naturally involve Jewish scholars as well as scholars of no faith or other faith. It also deliberately ignores my direct references to Fredriksen, Amy-Jill Levine, and Vermes.

      • Do not worry. All readers at Vridar are now fully aware of the shenanigans happening here and are eager to come and visit for fear of missing the fun. I simply reconfirmed the link that was requested in a most civil fashion.

        And no, since Maurice Casey pulled that white rabbit of “high-context” culture to dismiss the major conundrum of the original spread of Christianity — the 17 early documents of the first century by 9 different authors, including Paul, which show total silence on a historical Jesus; and further, 21 separate documents of the first half of the 2d century by about 13 independent authors, which show only mere allusions to Jesus’s biographical details — I must confess that I lost my trust in his own reliability as a scholar. He may brandish and mutter as much Aramaic as he wants, this will not restore my confidence after such a trick.

        As for your outbursts, the only thing that comes to my mind is not puzzlement at your remarkable and superior honesty, or stupefaction at your amazing pretensions at being an arbiter of taste and scholarship, but my fond memories of those lovely performances of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew” in Central Park by a luminous summer evening. One play that you may have great fun seeing some day.

      • @Buckaroo: “The 17 early documents of the first century by 9 different authors, including Paul, which show total silence on a historical Jesus; and further…” I don’t know these documents. Where can I find them. They will change…everything.

      • Extraordinary Roo. What makes you think I haven’t read all of Shakespeare’s plays, played in them, worked on their stage productions, and watched many different companies perform them from the north to south pole? Your behaviour here makes it quite transparent why The Taming of the Shrew particularly appeals to you. You remind me not just of the rest of the mythers who, like you, consistently misrepresent scholarship, but of Kanga’s Roo. Not the real AA Milne Roo but Walt Disney’s hijack – the pseudo Roo.

      • It may not be so transparent to someone less familiar with The Taming of the Shrew, but this Roo the Buckaroo will no doubt be enraptured by this wonderful play because it is the most deliberately misogynistic of all Shakespeare’s plays and will give this Roo the Buckaroo all the positive reinforcement he could wish for.

    • Funny that you mention the late Alvar Ellegård. I had a public debate with him at the Göteborg Book Fair about ten years ago in conjuction with the publication of his book Jesus – one hundred years before Christ. I argued that that a Jewish healer and preacher named Jesus existed at about the the time and place the gospels claim. Ellegård argued that the Jesus of the gospels was almost a total phantasy – Jesus had actually been the Teacher of Righteousness at Qumran and lived about a 100 years before he
      was transformed into Jesus of Nazareth. The late Ellegård, may he
      rest in peace, was just as much an incompetent in
      historical methodlogy as Doherty and Carrier. As I pointed out to
      Ellegård – you really need a lot of imagination to get from the
      Teacher of Righteousness to Jesus from Nazareth, two figures
      who basically stood at opposite poles of Judaism of the times.

      • @Antonio. I don’t actually blame Ellegard r.i.p. exclusively for the error –there are many nincompoops out there as this discussion is proving minute by minute. The mythtics think parsimony is a vegetable and need to have Morton Smith’s caution about inventing myths to explain myths emblazoned on their foreheads. The amazing thing is, when challenged to name a respected scholar who supports the views of the Drivel whoops Vridar Club, they seem to suggest that all “respected scholars” are also myths. Perhaps they have gone to Mars where they will meet Erich van Daniken, who will explain everything to them.

    • Joseph,
      Alvar Ellegård actually held a professorship in English here at Göteborg University. I suppose that he was good in that subject, although when it came to doing history he was totally out of depth. His two books on Jesus are so badly researched and argued that I suppose that he would have got thrown out any history department of repute if he had been a mere student. The few places where you can get away with intellectual acrobatics like this is usually among Jesus mythicists and Evangelical “scholars” tied to Evangelical or Fundamentalist biblical seminaries.

  25. Referring to Initial comment by Doherty above
    Maurice Casey responds:
    Doherty’s first point has all the malice and spite now to be expected of mythicists. According to him, I think we should not expect to find ‘later Christian tradition’ in the writings of Paul. What I actually wrote was, ‘The last thing we should expect to find in first century documents is the deposit of centuries of later Christian tradition.’ In the context of Doherty’s book as a whole, ‘centuries of’ is important, but Doherty replaces this with ‘”later tradition” like the fact that Jesus was crucified on earth as crucified on earth, by Pilate, that he taught anything about loving one another or any of the ethical teachings of the Gospel (not even inauthentic ones), that he performed miracles, prophesied the End-time, and so on. Boy, what an HJ that leaves to champion! Imagine devoting one’s professional life to protecting the existence of such an undetectable mundane figure, no matter what the cost in surrendering one’s scholarly principles!
    There are two central points wrong here. One is the replacement of everything I have written with this incompetent summary. I defended the historicity of parts of Mark’s passion narrative in a scholarly work which Doherty is not learned enough to read (Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel CUP, 1998, summarised for the general reader in Jesus of Nazareth T & T Clark/Continuum, 2010, pp. 429-53), I discussed what are often called ‘miracles’ in the light of the most recent and competent secondary literature (Jesus of Nazareth, ch.7), and I wrote about his ethics as well (Jesus of Nazareth, ch 8). I have not for one moment suggested that this is ‘later tradition’, let alone ‘centuries of later tradition’. But the misrepresentation, malice and spite reach a climax in the final sentence. I have not proposed that Jesus was an ‘undetectable mundane figure’, and ‘no matter what the cost in surrendering one’s scholarly principles!’ is a quite mendacious attack on my scholarly integrity, which no-one properly familiar with me or my work has made.
    Doherty then misrepresents the effects of my comments on ‘high context’ and ‘low context’ cultures. He interprets this to mean that ‘no one….felt the slightest urge to mention anything that was said or done by Jesus on earth.’ This misses all the main points, one of which is that some people, including Paul, did mention what they needed (e.g. the death, burial and Resurrection of Jesus at 1 Cor 15.3-8). The second is that they did not need the main points of the historic ministry of Jesus to be constantly repeated in the writing of occasional letters which were basically about problems in the Pauline churches. Despite grave temptation, I have never described mythicists as ‘“low culture” idiots’, but I did make the important point that they all belong to a low context culture, and consequently have unrealistic expectations of what Paul needed to mention in his epistles. I also noted that these problems will have been exacerbated by the problems of writing at all, which Doherty does not mention.
    Another major point is the late date of documents used by Doherty. He refers without reference to the dating of the Similitudes of Enoch by ‘the once highly regarded Yonge’. However, in accordance with his customary lack of learning, he gives no reference. Does he really mean C.D. Yonge (1821-91), who translated the works of Philo in the middle of the nineteenth century, on the basis of a pre-critical text? Of course all such works are now long out of date.

    Doherty then comments on the dates of the Apocalypse of Elijah and the Vision of Isaiah. As usual, he gives no proper references. In Jesus, Neither God nor Man, p. 164, he simply quotes from the translation of the Apocalypse of Elijah by Wintermute (Charlesworth, OT Pseudepigrapha¸ p. 736) of the text, which survives only in Coptic. The mss date from the 4th century onwards. Wintermute suggests a date for the original Greek in the third century, albeit with significant uncertainty, as is appropriate for a text which survives only in Coptic from the fourth century onwards. Schürer-Vermes-Millar vol III, pp. 799-803, which was revised jointly by Vermes and Goodman, date the Coptic work to the second half of the third century CE, but comment that ‘Whatever Jewish ingredients it may contain are likely to go back to the previous century at least.’ They do not however say which elements these might be. Doherty notes that I make the (blindingly obvious and therefore universally agreed point that) the date of these documents is ‘difficult to determine’, but omits the reasons why no-one else dates it as early as the end of the first century, ‘even though I do indeed give reasons for so doing and dispute Knibb’s arguments for not doing so’ Doherty’s so-called ‘reasons’ are quite unreasonable because, unlike Knibb, he does not take seriously the date and provenance of the manuscripts of this work, nor its lack of a reasonable setting in anything like a Pauline environment.
    Doherty makes unsatisfactory comments on my supposedly ‘unsympathetic personal attitude toward the existence of “what some scholars call Q” (obviously those as incompetent as myself)’. I never have, and never would, accuse scholars such as Kloppenborg and Tuckett of being as incompetent as Doherty. I do of course have reasons not to agree with them. I expressed the most important in An Aramaic Approach to ‘Q’ (MSSNTS 122. CUP, 2002), and I was very glad to have fruitful discussions with each of them at the Oxford Conference on the Synoptic Problem. However, it is disappointing that they continue the regrettable tradition of New Testament scholars not being properly competent in Aramaic. My reasons for believing in a chaotic model of the Double Tradition are of course the scholarly ones which I presented at some length in Aramaic approach to ‘Q’, and summarised for the general reader in Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 78-86, not some mysterious ‘unsympathetic personal attitude’. Doherty, however, is not competent to read Aramaic Approach to ‘Q’. This entails his total inability to see why I have a chaotic model of the Double Tradition, which he ignores with the ignorance characteristic of mythicists.
    Doherty announces that I include ‘a very dubious defence of why Luke would not have taken anything from Matthew’s nativity story if he was using Matthew. Shades of Goodacre…’ Of course there are shades of Goodacre, because Goodacre has provided the best recent defence of the whole idea that Luke knew and used Matthew. Doherty cannot however defend his position effectively: I pointed out in my essay that he is dependent on the work of a fundamentalist Baptist Christian, R.H. Stein at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. No decently educated person should take that seriously, and Doherty gives no answer to my detailed arguments, which do indeed follow from those of Goulder and Goodacre.
    Doherty then comments on my point, often made by others, that if you believe in too strong a version of ‘Q’, ‘the disappearance of Q is difficult to explain. Doherty, who, let us remember, could not and naturally therefore did not read my book on the double tradition, simply declares, ‘That’s nonsense, and I’ve given very reasonable explanations for such a situation’. As usual, he gives no references, and I know of nothing of the kind.
    I noted that early Christian piety did not require shrines or relics. Doherty’s comments on this are completely inaccurate, and misrepresent my comments as usual. The main points are the ones which I have made more than once before. Firstly, Doherty inherited an interest in relics from the Catholic faith in which he was brought up, and read it back into early Christianity because that suits his fantasy world. There is no sign of any Christian interest in relics before Constantine’s mother Helena visited Israel/Palestine in the fourth century CE. The documentation of the church fathers, which is quite considerable by the time we get to Eusebius, mentions no such veneration, and there are no relics surviving from that period either.
    Finally the main point is that Doherty, and his followers, are drastically incompetent, and quite incapable of following evidence or argument. I was sorry to have to comment in my essay, ‘I hope this is sufficient to indicate that the mythicist view is based on ineducable ignorance, prejudice and absolute contempt for anything like learned scholarship.’ I regret to say that this has been abundantly confirmed by the comments on the essays of Stephanie and myself. They also attribute to both of us an astonishing degree of incompetence and insincerity to find which they must have gazed into their mirrors.

    Maurice Casey

  26. I hope Casey will be responding to the linguistic arguments about Aramaics and the word βοανηργες. Especially the post by spin.

    • Was my reply insufficient Jacob? He has ‘responded’ in his work which you have ignored. You say he has not ‘explained’ or ‘provided evidence’ when he has in his meticulously detailed monographs and articles. Let me repeat your mistakes for you: Your comment ignores most of what Casey has written. In Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel, he gave abundant evidence that Mark knew Aramaic, but that he was a bilingual translator who made the sort of mistakes which are typical of bilingual translators. You ignored all such features, which include ‘I say to you’, which is the sort of thing which bilingual translators do sometimes put in. We know the Aramaic for ‘sons of thunder’. What Mark was not very good at was transliteration, a normal fault in bilingual translators who have no modern training. It is very regrettable that Casey’s massive arguments of cumulative weight for Mark not only knowing Aramaic, but making large numbers of comments which reflect Aramaic sources, keep being ignored by people who are not Aramaists and have convictions that Mark was not using any Aramaic sources, and who consequently ignore arguments to the contrary. It is not true that Casey ignored features of Latin: he discussed legion, centurion, Herodianoi and denarion, probably the most important from a historical perspective.

      Have you read his monographs on Aramaic? His argument and evidence is there. I don’t see why you think he should respond to a comment that ignores most of what he has written.

      This is from Maurice Casey to you: “Your comment is hopeless. This response is absolutely fine. I would have said nothing more. You have made up a silly story and ignored all the things I have written as Steph has made clear.”

  27. Steph,
    I have no training in Aramaic, leave alone Biblical studies. And I haven’t read Casey’s book. But I can read arguments made in Endlish and follow them clearly. You keep regurgitating the same content-free response that I ignore most of what Casey has written. As spin has pointed out, that is just your unfounded assumption. And Casey has shamelessly failed to deal with the detailed arguments that spin has presented above (on May 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm) yet he has the gall to say that my “comment is hopeless”! How irresponsible is that? Is this what scholarship is?
    Your kind of response, and Casey’s is what is called weaseling. And it wont fly.
    In the first place, you claim Mark knew Aramaic. This is your central argument.
    But the text exposes several errors and latinisms and even ignorance of the geography of Judea.
    So what do you do so rescue your case in the face of these difficulties? You claim that Casey has “massive arguments” and “abundant evidence”. If you had it, you could have presented it. Plain and simple. You have nothing.
    So you resort to inventing excuses and claim that Mark was a poor bilingual translator whose transliterations sucked. This weaseling from ignorance to incompetence doesn’t help your case because ignorance breeds incompetence so it is reasonable to infer from his incompetence that he was not an Aramaic speaker.

    Casey doesn’t explain the dipthong in the first syllable of βοανεργες, which speaks against the writers knowledge of Aramaic. Because he cannot do this, spin argues, Casey claims that βοανεργες was not the work of the writer of the gospel. This is ad hoc and untestable.
    Spin also argues that Mark’s only Aramaic transliterations are so trivial and are not sufficient to suggest that the writer wasn’t working from Aramaic at all. Latinisms in the text further strengthen this view. In defense, Casey and you claim that Mark was not very good at transliteration, a ‘normal’ (supply the statistics please) fault in bilingual translators.
    In addition, his lack of geographical understanding speaks against his being from Judea/Galilee and thus not being directly familiar with its languages.
    You can clear the egg from your face by responding spins post of May 26.

    • Just for the sake of astonishment as I am sure MC will respond, but why in the world are you seeking clarification of a technical point like this when you yourself claim you can’t read or understand the proof? It would be like me asking Andrew Wiles to suss out the fine points of his proof of Fermat’s Theorem.

      • Maurice / Joseph: I’m not sure I want to right now, other languages being in line already, and life drawing on, but how would one go about learning the relevant dialect of Aramaic, if one wanted to? I taught myself Koine Greek (to some extent) by simply reading the NT, looking up vocab from two dictionaries (one on-line), plus a little grammar from a textbook or two. The same basic method worked, more or less (I did have an excellent teacher at one point) for classical Chinese, for which the Chinese Text Project is an invaluable on-line source. Are there analogous texts / on-line dictionaries / alphabet and grammar guides available for learning 1st Century Aramaic? (I assume the stuff a few people speak nowadays has evolved out of recognition?) Thanks.

    • “I have no training in Aramaic, leave alone Biblical studies. And I haven’t read Casey’s book” but you claim to know that he hasn’t explained or provided evidence and argument in work you haven’t read and you what to know intricate details about a language you don’t understand. Simply amazing. Professor Casey will respond to your arrogance anon. Eggs? Spin? The irony.

  28. An example of an unsupported claim by Jacob reflecting his oblivion to the work he is attempting without knoweldge to ‘demolish’: “Casey doesn’t explain the dipthong in the first syllable of βοανεργες, which speaks against the writers knowledge of Aramaic.” There is no dipthong – this is an example of a mistake of reading it as though it is English. It is an example of two attempts by a translator to create a shewa in Greek, a point which is explained in an argument several pages long in ‘Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel’ which you have not read.

    • “It is an example of two attempts by a translator to create a shewa in Greek”! Inventive, but no prize. You don’t conjecture novel means of representing something without support evidence. That’s just ad hoc. Whether you like to admit it or not, the Greek /οα/ is a diphthong to anyone reading the text. It may have come directly from a shewa, but then why don’t we see any other such transliteration? The treatment of the shewa in λαμα should disavow you of your conjecture. Randall Buth (JSNT, 1981, p.29) says “Among the possibilities are both βανε- and βονε-. Either a or o can transliterate a shva; the problem is that οα, together as in βοανε-, is not a possibility.”

      This is what Casey says: “Either a or o was possible, but both together are ludicrous.” He’s right (as was Buth 30 years earlier), but unlike Buth, Casey thinks it is still derived directly from the original, yet gives no credible trajectory for the /οα/. And there is no reason for one to blame bilingual inadequacy for the diphthong, when there is nothing to suggest the specific blunder from the rest of the text. The ayin/ghayin divide is quite reasonable as would be the word final mem/samek confusion, if it reflected the scripts of the time (but look for example at Cross, FM, “The Development of Jewish Scripts”, in The Bible & the ANE, ed GE Wright, p.190 script 6 and p.209 script 3). If the mem/samek confusion were true, it argues against Casey’s claim. How was this bilingual able to get the notion of thunder from רעס? The claim that the writer translated the text from Aramaic doesn’t account for the form of βοανηργες from an original בני רעמא. (And isn’t רעמא the Aramaic form? If so, the mem is not word final and the samek confusion is not likely.)

      There seems to me more trouble attempting to derive βοανηργες directly from the Aramaic than the theory can handle.

  29. From Maurice Casey to Jacob Aliet

    Firstly, this illustrates perfectly the sort of audience in the especially internet-based attempts to promote mythicist arguments. It is essentially amateur. It has both ‘Christian apologists’, whom mythicists love to hate, and atheists who are determinedly anti-Christian. Both groups consist largely of people with closed minds who are impervious to evidence and argument, a quite different world from the critical scholars among whom I am happy to have spent most of my life, whether they were Christian, Jewish or irreligious.

    Aliet’s post, and that of the appropriately named ‘Spin’, whom he follows, illustrate this perfectly with their determined ignorance. Both are also perfectly rude, which used not to be a feature of scholarship. In particular, it should be noted that Stephanie made the main point correctly, commenting above,

    ‘An example of an unsupported claim by Jacob reflecting his oblivion to the work he is attempting without knowledge to ‘demolish’: “Casey doesn’t explain the dipthong in the first syllable of βοανεργες, which speaks against the writers knowledge of Aramaic.” There is no dipthong – this is an example of a mistake of reading it as though it is English. It is an example of two attempts by a translator to create a shewa in Greek, a point which is explained in an argument several pages long in ‘Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel’ which you have not read.’

    One of the most important points is at the beginning of Aliet’s comment:

    ‘I have no training in Aramaic, leave alone Biblical studies. And I haven’t read Casey’s book. But I can read arguments made in English and follow them clearly.’

    One main point here is that Mark did not write in English, and Aliet and Spin discuss him as if he did. Another main point is that I have answered all of Aliet and Spin’s points at great length in published work which they have not read. This confident ignorance is at the centre of the mythicist case.

    I explained at very great length in books which could not possibly be repeated in our essays, that Mark really was in difficulties trying to transliterate shewas from Aramaic into Greek. Both α and ε were normal, but having been obviously told this, Mark did both. He did not like this, so the next time he did neither. This is perfectly normal in an untrained ancient translator.

    My book An Aramaic Approach to Mark (SNTS monographs 102. CUP, 1998), summarised in parts of Jesus of Nazareth (T & T Clark/Continuum, 2010) is only one place where I have made this case clearly and at length. The idea that Stephanie could have repeated more than one book in a single essay is quite ludicrous. Nor can I do so here. Anyone genuinely interested in this material should read my books before spinning out more codswallop.

  30. There is actually nothing in this post by Casey that requires a response, except briefly “Both α and ε were normal, but having been obviously told this, Mark did both” which is simply unhelpful for his claim that the writer of Mark derived the /οα/ from a shewa. This is followed by an unfalsifiable claim: “He did not like this, so the next time he did neither. This is perfectly normal in an untrained ancient translator.” We are supposed to be doing philology, not mindreading.

    • Have you spent years researching ancient texts that have been translated? Casey gave basic bibliographies to the study of the Septuagint and translation studies. How on earth do you think you can comment on translations without taking into account what happens to bilinguals who translate? Do you really love learning? I think not.

      • You can certainly answer your irrelevant questions and the answers would be foregone. Seriously, little girl, do you really love learning? Have you come to this? Casey has not justified his apparently absurd handling of βοανηργες. He’s got an unexplainable treatment of the shewa, a phonological explanation for the ayin to gamma, and an orthographic explanation for the the mem to sigma. If this mix and match approach is credible to you, perhaps I could interest you in a lucrative land deal.

  31. Thanks for your response M Casey, so other than the content-free tangential diatribe about internet-based this and that and atheism and imperviousness and confident ignorance and repeating the ad hoc, untestable claim that Mark was incompetent, your basic response is “go read my book.” This is a very convincing response. When you say the title is An Aramaic Approach to Mark do you mean Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel? I openly admit that I am not trained in these languages and that I have not read your book. It is because I know the importance of that admission. But it does not mean the same case applies to spin. For you and Steph to repeat to me the very same thing I have said does not reflect very well on yourselves. What is important is for you and every other responsible person in this discussion is to clarify matters, not to spend time attacking me and what you imagine I am about.

    • The point of reading Maurice’s book is that the argument and evidence is laid out in brief and it takes a whole book to do it. You are perfectly welcome to read the whole book and ask questions as a result of your reading. You will obviously have questions about Aramaic but there is no point discussing anything when you don’t read the arguments he has written in his book and its not helpful that you can’t read any Aramaic. I don’t think your comment with your unwillingness to do this, reflects well on yourself.

  32. Further on the mem/samek issue Casey says lies behind βοανηργες, he writes of his Marcan writer: “He then misread the final ם [mem] as ס [samek]. The orthography of the Dead Sea scrolls makes this a perfectly intelligible misreading.” (Aramaic sources of Mark’s Gospel, p.198) However, if one peruses the Aramaic texts among the DSS we find a different story. Neither mem looks like a samek. For example, in 4Q156 (4QtgLev) frag.1 line 6, קדם כסיא, no-one could confuse the final mem with the samek, which looks a bit like an Irish harp lying on its left side and incidentally is above the bottom horizontal stroke of the kaf, while the final mem descends rather far in a large rectangular loop. They are unmistakably different. In 4Q197 (4QTobit b ar) frag.4 col.1 line 12 & 14 there are both sameks and mems (including finals) מה סם, again unmistakable. If Casey actually looked at specific DSS to check his claim, I’d love to know which.

    • “If Casey actually looked at specific DSS to check his claim, I’d love to know which.” This is hilarious. How do you think Casey has become an expert on Aramaic? Don’t you think perhaps that it has been the publication of the Dead Sea Scrolls which has given us evidence to further advance knowledge into the language and how it was used? Do you realise we have bookshelves lined with the texts of the Dead Sea Scrolls which Casey has been reading for years to acquire his expertise in Aramaic? Certainly we can find other confusions of a mem looking like a samek. How many mems do you think there were – two? You seem to presuppose that Hebrew orthography is different from Aramaic. It’s not.

  33. Spin(!)

    In lama at Mk 15.34, the second a is of course a genuine one. The first one has a multitude of ms variations, to the point where it is very difficult to know what Mark wrote. Moreover, what he wrote at 15.34 cannot control what he may have written at 3.17.

    Mark did not of course get ‘sons of thunder’ from the Aramaic – this was the meaning transmitted to him, in Greek.

    The orthography of Hebrew and Aramaic are the same and there are many examples of mems and sameks in the DSSs. Maurice Casey has spent years going through them all. I don’t see the point in spending a couple of weeks going through them again for you – do you?

    Incidentally Buth believes Jesus spoke all his parables in Hebrew. He belongs to the Jerusalem Synoptic School who follow the teachings of a particular rabbi… and all the rabbinic parables, ironically, were in Hebrew, so… And Cross wrote an excellent book in 1965, before most of the DSSs were available.

    “There seems to me more trouble attempting to derive βοανηργες directly from the Aramaic than the theory can handle.” There is no ‘attempt to derive’ from Aramaic. The evidence is in the text. The argument is laid out in the book. Parsimony does not reflect historical realities.

  34. If “Mark did not of course get ‘sons of thunder’ from the Aramaic”, which was after all just a straight translation of בני רעם (isn’t it?), then perhaps he didn’t get βοανηργες directly from Aramaic either. As I said in my first post here (May 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm), it seems to have come from a chain of transmission. In fn. 8 on page 198 of AsMG Casey says, of Strabo’s Μοασαδα, “this shows that Strabo could not transliterate very well either.” How absurd to think that Strabo got Μοασαδα from a written Semitic source. Strabo seems not to have visited Palestine and relied on outdated sources (Menachem Stern, “Greek and Latin Sources on Jews and Judaism”, 1974, p.262f). This is another example of a transmission problem. Strabo, like the Marcan writer, received a mediated form. (Incidentally, the May 26 post has not received a response. It puts forward the notion that Casey hasn’t considered the Latin influences evinced in Mark at all seriously. Mentioning a few lexical items is missing the forest for a few trees.)

    You should know that Cross was part of the international team of scholars working directly on the source documents from the beginning: he had acess to everything, so there is no ducking from his scripts. We need to have a responsible explanation for Casey’s claim that the “orthography of the Dead Sea scrolls makes this a perfectly intelligible misreading.” A confusion between final mem and samek just doesn’t jump out as probable, but only appears to be Casey fudging his data.

    His approach to the literature he is trying to retrofit Aramaic to seems to be extremely uncritical. Take for instance his treatment of “rabbi”. He “infers” because it is found four times in Mark that it “was already a natural address for a teacher” (p.198-9). I guess given the rabbinical evidence for a late start for the use of the term and the fact that the parable of the bad tenants implies a date well after the fall of Jerusalem and thus the overthrow of the Jews was evident (as also indicated by the rent temple curtain), that maybe “rabbi” was already a natural address. But I don’t think that Casey would accept such a late date: it wouldn’t be very helpful for his Aramaic original, would it? He is just not approaching his material with sufficient caution. This statement “Given their position among the twelve, Jacob and John must surely have sat on his right and left from time to time” (p.199) makes me wonder if the book weren’t written seventy years ago with such a naive literalist approach to the material.

    And I’m sure you are Casey’s crowning glory, but Casey has some explaining to do.

    • ‘Spin’, offers another mistake about Strabo’s Moasada, which is the same mistake in transliteration, but ‘spin’ announces ‘How absurd to suppose that Strabo got Moasada from a written Aramaic source.’ It does not matter whether Strabo got this from a written Aramaic source or not: we don’t know where he got it from. The main point is that someone made the same mistake as Mark, for reasons which are perfectly easy to understand, and Strabo produced or reproduced this. ‘Spin’, does not tell us who he is but stupidly attempts to belittle me by calling me “little girl”. He could be related to Buckaroo Roo or is this just a common feature of his ilk? It is astonishing that both ‘spin’ and Roo seem not to have evolved since the nineteenth century, and joined the modern convention of addressing human beings equally without being sexually discriminating and derogatory. Of course I know who Cross is. Perhaps ‘spin’ doesn’t understand what scholarship is. By 1965 Cross had done excellent work from which a lot has been learned and much progress has been made. Since 1965 the DSSs have become more widely available and scholarship has advanced in knowledge since Cross and the team began working things out in the early years. Half a century is a long time in scholarship – more than a generation, ‘spin’. As to ‘spin’s’ extraordinary rudeness, arrogance and ridiculous assumptions regarding Professor Casey, ‘spin’ deserve no serious reply from him at all. Casey has spent many years researching and writing up evidence and arguments in work ‘spin’ is unwilling to read. In regard to ‘spin’s’ persistent demands that a comment has not been responded to, I scrolled up this overlong thread and did indeed find a comment dated 26th May preceding one dated 25th. I will answer tomorrow. Yes, ‘spin’ has made a lot of mistakes. I’m also beginning to suspect that ‘spin’ hasn’t even grasped Casey’s basic thesis as several times ‘spin’ refers to ‘Mark’s Aramaic source’ in a way that suggests Mark had a single written Aramaic source, which does not reflect Casey’s chaotic hypothesis at all. The trouble with anonymous identities cruising loose in the free world of the live internet, is that it give these anons the courage to make up and say anything they like, like a myth.

      • Well, “steph”, when a person uses such ridiculous rhetoric as “Do you really love learning? I think not”, you really can’t wonder why they get treated with such distain. Overburdening arrogance such as yours is not a sign of scholarship, but of untrained youthful exuberance. I see little sign of you having opened a book. Perhaps you don’t need to.

        I also realized that there could be a quibble about the “*written* Aramaic source”, when “Aramaic source” was sufficient, but it was too late after it had been posted. Still, you claim, “The main point is that someone made the same mistake as Mark”, which you cannot say meaningfully. You just don’t know that the writer of Mark made such a mistake, just as no-one can know that Strabo did. They both appear to be tradents and not themselves responsible for the forms they pass on. The problem of the ridiculous claim regarding the Greek /οα/ remains despite your obfuscation of the matter. Casey simply hasn’t provided a coherent or credible analysis of how βοανηργες was derived.

        You persist in demonstrating that the DSS are not part of your competence. Cross has been the doyen of Qumran palaeography for much of the last sixty years. When he wrote the palaeography article for Schiffman and VanderKam’s Encyclopedia of the DSS (Oxford, 2000), Cross of course had no trouble whatsoever citing the article I mentioned. He also contributed an article to DSS after 50 Years on the subject. Casey’s book had already been written before these. Cross is the backbone of DSS palaeography and a scholar’s dog would know that. To quote Chris Rollston (BASOR 335, 2004, p.107), “It is noteworthy that although much has been written about the Jewish scripts since Cross’s seminal article, four decades later it still remains the single most authoritative treatment of the script of the Dead Sea Scrolls.” “…single most authoritative…” Have you got the message yet?

        Perhaps you can now actually look at the DSS I pointed you to regarding exemplars of final mem and samek. I can give you lots of them if you need, but you’d have to look. While it may be quite easy to confuse resh and dalet or yod and waw, it’s not the case with final mem and samek.

        Your groupie defence of Casey is admirable but unconstructive. That’s the keyword for your latest post: “unconstructive”. It has little content, so I guess I’ll have to wait with bated breath to see you handle the Latinisms in Mark (beside the few lexical items) that Casey avoided, as you handled Cross. I really have no interest in your musing about internet identities, they just distract you from being substantive. And the audacity of you talking about my “extraordinary rudeness, arrogance and ridiculous assumptions” is pure noise: you need to remove the mote in your eye before attempting to point out the speck in another’s. So, if we can dispense with the pleasantries, perhaps you can actually get on to saying something tangible and I won’t have to ridicule you.

        And if Casey doesn’t want to defend his statements, then that’s fine. Just save readers from another of your underwhelming broadsides.

  35. Well, whoever you are, it appears you can hide behind unacademic anonymity and be as rude as you like. You mentioned philology which as you know etymologically is the love of learning. To accuse me of “untrained youthful exuberance. I see little sign of you having opened a book” and “overburdening arrogance” with “ridiculous rhetoric” is extraordinarily rude and hypocritical. Have you opened the work you are attempting to demolish? Thank you for the youthful exuberance. Excuse me but where were you ‘trained’?

    Casey does not argue for an Aramaic source. It is more than a ‘quibble’. Your misrepresentation of his work is a demonstration that you haven’t read it.

    “Groupie defence” is pathetic and nothing to do with defending what he has written against misrepresentation which is quite a different thing. You bossy demands and assumptions that I don’t read the DSSs let alone anything else are appalling. Technical questions require technical answers from fragmentary documents and take time to answer unless you’d prefer me to be inaccurate like yourself, whoever you are. You still haven’t got the message of what happens in fifty years of scholarship. Perhaps you haven’t moved ahead yourself in fifty years, still preferring to stick to what is now outdated scholarship and ideas.

    Casey discusses his work abundantly with real people who have actually really read it. Carrion being as rude as you like, it appears to give you confidence to continually make mistakes. Your cowardly over confidence is astonishing.

  36. Replying to a comment dated May 26th by one ‘spin’ who cowers behind anonymity. One of ‘spin’s’ assumptions is that Mark’s Latinisms, which Casey has not needed to discuss very often, somehow mean his Aramaisms are not there. This is not so, and had it been so, Csaey would have discussed them at length. He had no reason in previously published work to discuss most of them, however defined. The most striking are the two genuine examples of Latin idiom duly catalogued by Blass-Debrunner-Funk (A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, F. BLASS AND A. DEBRUNNER A Translation and Revision of the ninth-tenth German edition incorporating supplementary notes of A. Debrunner, by ROBERT W. FUNK (Cambridge/Chicago: CUP/ Univ. of Chicago,1961), pp. 3-6.) Their examples include to hikanon poiein (Mk 15.15) = satisfacere, from the account of Pilate releasing Barabbas; and tithenai ta gonata = genua ponere (Mk 15.19), from the account of Roman soldiers mocking Jesus. There is no suggestion here that Mark’s Latinisms in any way undermine the importance of his Semitisms, which they could not possibly do. Moreover, in many cases, including both of these, the expressions occur in Greek elsewhere, so it is not always clear that they would be perceived as Latinisms when they were spoken. In these two cases, however, it is likely that Mark’s informants were Latin-speaking, even if they spoke to Mark in Greek, so it would be natural for their Greek to include more Latinisms than the language of most speakers of Greek.

    This does nothing to remove Aramaisms elsewhere in Mark. As is well known, these include occasional Aramaic words, such as talitha qum in the authentic story of the restoration of a synagogue leader’s daughter, whom some people had taken to be dead (Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 268-9), as well as idioms such as the ‘son of man’ saying at Mark 14.21, and ‘we will not add to drink’ (Mark 14.25) (Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 432, 435). No amount of Latinisms, whether lexical or idiomatic, can remove the large quantity of evidence of this kind. Casey included those which he thought were of genuine historical importance, legiōn, Hērōdianoi, denarius, and centurion (Casey, Jesus of Nazareth, pp. 242-3, 341, 422-3, 450).

    ‘Spin’ also turns down Casey’s explanation of βοανηργες as an attempt to transliterate the Aramaic bĕnē rĕ‘em because he reads it as if it were a diphthong, which is how it could reasonably be understood if it were written in English. In fact, however, the author of Mark tells us that it means ‘sons of thunder’ (Mk 3.17). This is what makes it reasonable to see it as a transliteration of the Aramaic bĕnē rĕ‘em, albeit a faulty one, which is normal in bilingual translators. In a subsequent post, ‘spin’, offers another mistake about Strabo’s Moasada, which is the same mistake in transliteration, but ‘Spin’ announces ‘How absurd to suppose that Strabo got Moasada from a written Aramaic source.’ It does not matter whether Strabo got this from a written Aramaic source or not. The main point is that someone made the same mistake as Mark, for reasons which are perfectly easy to understand, and Strabo produced or reproduced this. Like many fundamentalists, and consequently mythicists, ‘spin’ does not seem to be properly capable of coming to terms with mistakes in the texts which we read.

    Well, whoever you are, it appears you can hide behind unacademic anonymity and be as rude as you like. Casey does not argue for an Aramaic source. It is more than a ‘quibble’. ‘Spin’s’ misrepresentation of Casey’s chaotic hypothesis, which argues for several sources for some of Mark, is a demonstration that ‘spin’ hasn’t read it. Casey discusses his work abundantly with people who have read it.

    ADDITIONAL COMMENT PASTED FROM MAURICE CASEY

    Stephanie’s response here is perfectly competent, accurate and appropriate. ‘Spin’ again fails to tell us who he is. This is completely dishonest, and consequently he cannot reasonably be regarded as a proper scholar. He has also written another quite unscholarly piece, in which he completely misrepresents my work, to the point where he cannot have read it with any semblance of care or understanding. The first book in which I discussed some passages of Mark’s Gospel in detail was Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel (MSSNTS 102. CUP 1998). The title alone should have told him that I found reasons to believe in more than one Aramaic source for some of Mark’s gospel. This was worked out in detail, with appropriate bibliography to Septuagintal studies and Translation Studies. I published an updated summary for the general reader in Jesus of Nazareth.

    Finally, hiding behind his pseudonym, ‘Spin’ is appallingly rude about Stephanie, the last doctoral student to work with me. She did not offer a ‘groupie defence of Casey’, she pointed out some misrepresentations of me. Moreover, when dealing with normal people, she is unfailingly polite, but ‘Spin’ and people like him are very trying, unlike most of the people with whom she has had to deal at international conferences.

    It is to be hoped that too many people will not take anyone as deceitful as ‘Spin’ too seriously.

  37. A fundamental statement over against the legitimacy of mythicism: from Earl Doherty’s Neither God Nor Man, “The advent of the Internet has introduced an unprecedented “lay” element of scholarship in the field . . . has meant that the study of Christians origins is undergoing a quantum leap in the hands of a much wider consistency than traditional academia.” As nonsensical as saying: “The advent of a recent phenomenon has introduced an unprecedented “lay” element of scholarship in the field . . . has meant that the study of origins of the Universe is undergoing a quantum leap in the hands of a much wider consistency than traditional academia of Quantum Relativity Physics.”)
    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 to Jesus, 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 the writings of the NT does 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 (hence to orthodox 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 excess 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 thought sufficient to lend historical credence to their Pauline Christ of faith myth). – - from these texts his original teaching can neither be reconstructed nor abstracted in its entirety.” This calls for a new reconstruction of post-execution Jesus traditions. Ed Jones Dialogue -Vridar is such an attempt.

    • Hi Ed: Nice to hear from you. Yes, Betz has good reason to think that, and Ed Sanders’s view that the attack on the temple cult is also hard core, Mark 11.15-19 & pars + Jn 2.13-16 (dislocated) — though no doubt the appeal to Ps 69.9, added by John, is a christological point. Schubert Ogden’s point, “from these texts his original teaching can neither be reconstructed nor abstracted in its entirety” also connotes the reason why they cannot be used against his historicity. If that sounds confusing, I’d be happy to ramble on.

  38. Started off well, “steph”. Here’s your false claim: “One of ‘spin’s’ assumptions is that Mark’s Latinisms, which Casey has not needed to discuss very often, somehow mean his Aramaisms are not there.” Here’s what I said in the post you claim to be responding to: “A Semitic influence is easy enough to understand given the source of the traditions used in Mark, but there are very few ways to explain the weight of Latin influence in the Greek text of Mark.” Does a “Semitic influence is easy enough to understand given the source of the traditions used in Mark” equate to somehow meaning “his Aramaisms are not there”? You get a fail for reading comprehension. I have no doubt that there is an Aramaic component behind the gospel. You are functionally the one in denial.

    Now we get you finally opening a book (Brass, Debrunner & Funk) and cherrypicking two well-known Latin idioms translated into Greek. Well done, though you did breeze past several others. But these translated idioms were not what I commented on, though I did mention one idiom:

    ‘Consider for example the Latinism ο εστιν, used like the Latin hoc est, to give an explanation, though not usual in Greek. (And some of those explanations are aimed specifically toward a Roman audience, “two lepta, that is a quadrans” or “a hall, that is a praetorium”.)’

    ο εστιν is used nine times through the gospel to give explanations, including those two specifically giving Roman cultural equivalents. Not strangely Matt only has two exemplars and Luke has none. It wasn’t acceptable Greek. Six times in Mark it is used with a translation of an Aramaic source (including βοανηργες) to help the reading audience, an audience unaware of Jewish customs and that favored Roman explanations given with a Latin idiomatic structure. The Aramaic influence is easy enough to understand, but all I got was silence from you regarding this Latinism.

    Another Latinism I mentioned in the post you are supposed to be responding to regarded “the use of ινα with verbs of speaking, comparable with a similar use of ut in Latin.” You’ll find this structure used 31 times in Mark, though many fewer times in the other synoptics, eg 5:43 (cf. Lk 8:56), 6:8 & 7:32. The Aramaic influence is easy enough to understand, but all I got was silence from you regarding this Latinism.

    Yet another Latinism untouched by you in that post regards “Latin favoured syntax with accusatives and datives before the verb”. Aramaic comes from a language family that was VSO, though there was a drift towards SVO. In Greek accusative and dative generally follow the verb, but in Latin the verb is routinely placed last. When the object and/or indirect object precede the verb we look not to Greek or Aramaic here, but to Latin. See eg 3:10, 3:11, 5:10, 8:22, 9:18, 9:37, etc.

    So, not only are there straight transliterations of Latin lexical items and translations of Latin idioms, but we have indications of grammatical and syntactical influence from Latin in the gospel of Mark. Most of the Aramaic items are translated or explained for the reading audience, yet the Latinisms stand. While you here, “steph”, are acting as Casey’s front person and saying “Latin influence? what Latin influence?”

    Nobody’s denying that there is an Aramaic component in the composition of Mark and there is no reason for you to have thought such a thing, except through not reading what was said, but there needs to be a serious treatment of the Latin influence in the text for, as I said, “A Semitic influence is easy enough to understand given the source of the traditions used in Mark, but there are very few ways to explain the weight of Latin influence in the Greek text of Mark.” Casey’s treatment of ηρωδιανοι was mere assertion, showing a disinterest in the fact that Greek and Aramaic both have ways to construct such gentilics and that the use of bound morphemes tend to reflect the language whose morpheme it is, ie as -ιαν- is Latin, the fact tends to reflect a Latin context for it. You don’t really have to worry about the Aramaic in Mark, as it is only to be expected, you (and Casey) have to face the Latin. He has strenuously and unjustifiably minimized its significance, apparently because he is too enamored with his approach to the more easily justifiable Aramaic. You need to think of the Latin evidence as analogous to a lectio difficilior: it requires you to give it a good explanation.

    It was a good move to drop your misguided attempts to take Cross out of the picture. DSS scholarship clearly shows you wrong. Cross’s sequences attest to the difficulty of confusing final mems with sameks, as do a large number of DSS themselves, so Casey’s approach to the sigma in βοανηργες gets no support from the writing of the era. The manifestation of the ghayin allophone of ayin requires a native speaker with a dialect that has the allophone. (How else can one explain Gomorrah, Gaza, Fogwr [Peor], or Segwr [Zoar] in the LXX?) A native speaker would not foul up the pronunciation of the first syllable and there should be no reason for a transcriber to use two vowel letters to represent a single sound from the pronounced shewa. Perhaps you can provide another example of a pure vowel indicated by two different Greek vowel letters together, otherwise the claim seems sorely ad hoc.

    Do give my regards to Casey and tell him his addendum was a hoot.

    • @Spin: I will post this and then ask for a reply. I am not an Aramaic specialist so the answer will eventually have to come from Professor Casey, who is. It does however seem especially curious to harp on Casey’s “strenuously and unjustifiably minimizing its [Latin's] significance” when the whole purpose of his study is to focus on Aramaic constructions. Perhaps you can refer us directly to your articles and monographs on the subject so that we can savour your argument in its entirety? As it is we are just getting disconnected snapshots of your objections. Is there some reason you have not shared this information with readers?

      The moderation rules for the site in any event require moderation when an exchange becomes merely argumentative and this achieved that a few posts ago. On the other hand, I would have to say that you have demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt how the technical procedures of Biblical scholarship make the use of anything as facile as Bayes Theorem completely risible, in any connection. So thank you for graphic [sic] and (what may be) inadvertent corroboration. Not that that has been your primary purpose.

    • You have an interestingly broad definition of Latinisms which doesn’t seem to take into account the evolution of language from Hellenistic Greek and the Latin speaking world of the Roman Empire. But Maurice Casey will respond to your “extraordinarily rude and erroneous comment” in a while. I didn’t ‘drop’ Cross at all. I had disputed your dependence on his 1965 book and not contradicted his later scholarship at all. In fact in my second to last comment I suggested that your dependence on 1965 scholarship perhaps meant you haven’t moved ahead yourself in fifty years, still preferring to stick to what is now outdated scholarship and ideas. I did not say Cross had not made progress since. Now, whoever you are, it’s interesting that you did not contradict what I wrote about Randall Buth. It is also interesting that you haven’t engaged with Maurice Casey’s essay but instead, seem to have found this as an opportunity to use an anonymous identity to attack him personally. I say personally because you don’t represent his work at all or show signs of having opened his books and read them. I was wondering therefore whether you might in fact be Randall Buth who belongs to the Jerusalem Synoptic School and who has “led a life dedicated to the study of God’s word”? Whoever you are, don’t you think it would be more honest to engage with your true identity? And there is no need to attempt to deride me by placing my name in inverted commas. I am not hiding behind anonymity.

      • MAURICE CASEY SAYS:

        Stephanie has responded above and I will include a short reply too. This is another shockingly rude piece by a pseudo-scholar. He does not even seem to realise that his failure to say who he is is sufficient to mean that he is not a decent honest scholar. Lack of honesty is sufficient to mean that a person is not a proper scholar. His attacks on Stephanie are especially rude and inaccurate.

        I do not propose to answer all his points. I have had endless debates with honest scholars with whom I have disagreed, but anyone who needs to hide under a cloak of anonymity should not be taken seriously. It is blindingly obvious to anyone fully competent in Hellenistic Greek that it absorbed a lot of expressions from Latin, the lingua franca of the Roman empire.

        Again, ‘we get you to finally opening a book’. This is a specious insult under a cloak of anonymity. That anyone ‘finally opening a book’ would start with Blass-Debrunner-Funk is very silly, as only learned people can read it. ‘Spin’ then accuses her of ‘cherry-picking two well-known Latin idioms translated into Greek’. They were however the two most obvious Latin expressions which might have been transmitted to Mark in Latin, which he may perfectly well have spoken – neither of us has suggested otherwise, but it is so well known that it is not what I have previously needed to write. ‘Spin’ also has a very general conception of what ‘Latinisms’ are, as if none of us have come across them, simply because it happens to have been more important for us to write about Aramaisms, which have not been so well known, because so many Aramaic sources have become available relatively recently.

        He ends, ‘Do give my regards to Casey, and tell him his addendum was a hoot.’ My addendum was this:
        Finally, hiding behind his pseudonym, ‘Spin’ is appallingly rude about Stephanie, the last doctoral student to work with me. She did not offer a ‘groupie defence of Casey’, she pointed out some misrepresentations of me. Moreover, when dealing with normal people, she is unfailingly polite, but ‘Spin’ and his ilk are very trying, unlike most of the people with whom she has had to deal at international conferences.
        To what sort of dishonest pseudo-scholar is that a ‘hoot’? It underlines that fact that ‘Spin’ is dishonest, and has never taken even the most basically scholarly step of identifying himself.

        Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey.

  39. From the arguments made, there are four problems that confront Maurice Casey’s theory. Please allow me to explain this as simply as a layreader like myself can.
    This is how I understand the argument:
    Casey argues that passages in Mark indicate that the author of Mark derived them from an Aramaic source and the Author also was an Aramaic speaker – and thus a native of Galilee/Judea. The four problems are as follows:
    1. The (transliterated) Aramaic words in the (selected) passages question (Talitha cumi, Abba, Ephphatha, Eloi Eloi…etc) are largely ornamental and trivial and are not sufficient to argue that the original text was written in Aramaic or that the author of Mark knew Aramaic any less than finding terms like mutatis mutandis, prima facie and habeas corpus in an English text prove that the author knows Latin.
    That is problem number one. Insufficiency of the case.
    2. Problem number two is that the author of Mark shows ignorance of the Geography of Judea. This argues against his likelihood of being a native of Judea.
    3. Problem number three is that some of the passages in mark have Greek translations that betray a possible garbled second or third hand transmission – for this argument, spin has provided examples of talitha kumi and βοανεργες (which is unexplainable as a transliteration – spin details the argument above – spin readily rebutted the conjecture presented by steph that that was “an example of a mistake of reading it as though it is English. It is an example of two attempts by a translator to create a shewa in Greek” so this problem stands and its weight alone begins to crumble Casey’s argument). This argues against the author of Mark necesarily using an Aramaic source (an original Aramaic source). Casey does not handle this possibility cogently and in an ad hoc fashion, posits that it is Mark who was a lousy bilingual translator who made mistakes. Casey uses this same (contradictory) excuse to argue that as a result Mark was a poor untrained transliterator. Talk about eating your cake and having it.
    4. Problem number four are the Latinisims in Mark. As spin argues, some of Casey’s Aramaic explanations are seen by others as Latin loan translations. For example (οδον ποιειν in 2:23, iter facere). Casey deals with these by claiming they were already in Mark’s Aramaic source (Jesus of Nazareth , page 341) as Carr points out above. This is so arbitrary it is dizzying. This renders Casey’s case unfalsifiable and lacking in any disciplined methodology. The upshot of this is that Casey’s theory cannot be relied on as providing a correct interpretation of the (arti) facts.
    The words that are unmistakably derived from a Latin source like (a) ο εστιν and (b) “the use of ινα with verbs of speaking, comparable with a similar use of ut in Latin. You’ll find this structure used 31 times in Mark, though many fewer times in the other synoptics, eg 5:43 (cf. Lk 8:56), 6:8 & 7:32.” and (c) “Latin favoured syntax with accusatives and datives before the verb.” (spin) These “indications of grammatical and syntactical influence from Latin in the gospel of Mark” argue against Casey’s proposal.
    A more parsimonious explanation suggested by spin that deals with all the above difficulties that confront Casey’s theory, is “that the text was written in a Latin speaking context with Greek as a lingua franca, probably Rome, which would supply the Latin substratum for the Greek. This gives a meaningful linguistic context for constructions such as ηρωδιανοι and συροφοινισσα (7:26)–this latter implying a Roman perspective which saw both Syrophoenicians and Libophoenicians, ie Carthaginians.”

    That is how I understand the argument as it is. Over to you steph/Maurice. And, oh, please feel free to fault my lack of instruction in Aramaic if you think it is the cause of my failure to understand any of these points.

    • @Jacob: Where can I find the source for this information; if as you say you are a lay reader it does not come from your head because you are clearly relying on what you assume to be expert testimony. If these have been published, we would all be interested to know where. Something else confuses me as to “Boanerges,” however: I think it is generally acknowledged that “Mark” was working in a trilingual context where Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic competed with koine and Latin in everyday discourse. ‘rğaš’ (‘tumult’) Aramaic (רגיש), or ‘rğaz’ (‘anger’) Aramaic (רגז) and misreading (or mishearing) the word for thunder, ‘r`am’ seem plausible to me, though I think it is true that thunder is the likeliest. not least because that is what the writer provides as a translation, and it seems to me that this is in general keeping with Mark’s style. You apparently do not. Why? I would personally be hard-pressed to decide the provenance of Mark on linguistic grounds alone, but Rome would not be ruled out because of Aramaisms and a Palestinian origins cannot be ruled out because of Latinisms and Aramaisms. Especially if the provenance is Jerusalem-Judaen. Do you dispute this solely because there are geographical details Mark gets wrong? Kümmel [Kumm.Int, 97] accuses Mark of “numerous” geographical errors. He names three: Mark 5:1 (the Gerasene swine), 7:31 (Tyre in relation to Sidon and the Decapolis), and 10:1. What sort of detailed map would Mark be working from, or do you attribute an eidetic memory to him. I myself would be hard pressed to get from where I am sitting in Ithaca to Utica (good classical names by the way: do you think I’m somewhere in the Med?) without a GPS.

      • Jacob: Casey does not argue that the author of Mark was a Aramaic speaker or a native of Galilee. This is a misrepresentation of his work. On point 1, Casey has written books discussing idioms in Mark’s gospel. On point 2, we all know perfectly well that Mark shows ignorance of the geography of Judea and he doesn’t come from Judea. On point 3, the notion that the author of Mark is a ‘lousy’ bilingual or ‘poor’ translator belongs to the world of people who know nothing about translators. Modern translation experts not only know that people trying to translate and transliterate make mistakes, but they make the same mistakes, and can be classified. See Casey’s bibliography on translation studies and pp.55 f. On point 4, we all know that there are two possible explanations of Mark 2.23 taken on its own. And as Joe says it is very important that the author of Mark was at least working in a trilingual context.

      • The geographical argument, or variations I have seen of it, strike me as absurd, on many levels. First of all, having spent years on the road, I have long since given up expecting natives to get all their minor geographical details right. A quick skim of Mark turns up 40 or so fairly specific geographical references; if he got three wrong, I actually don’t think that would be so bad. Second, it’s hard for me to see what could even potentially be wrong about 10:1: the sequence of events is vague. and what is supposed to be wrong with crossing the Jordan with Judea as either starting point or destination? Third, the questions of exactly where Jesus is reported to have cast the demons out, outside of (how far outside of) which “chora” or “polis,” whether there is any conflict at all between the different reports, and what towns Mark would have expected his audience to recognize, seem rather complicated. Certainly this is not the sort of blunder, if it is a blunder at all, or even an imprecision, that would disqualify Mark as a native, even a native who loved maps.

        I don’t see that this argument has any force, at all, at least not in that direction.

  40. @Joe

    Unfortunately, as you can see, despite my efforts to show evidence of a substratum of Latin in the language of the writer of Mark, nothing is forthcoming from “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey”, who is too busy talking about dishonesty and showing no balanced analysis of my interactions with “steph”. (I use the quotes with names for the same courtesy they’ve shown to me.) I have maintained an online presence for the last ten years or more and that presence is under the name of spin. I keep my net life separate from my daily life. I can understand that for “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” this may be difficult or somehow not kosher, but it is all irrelevance if we are dealing with evidence and argument based on it. I don’t know either of these people from a bar of soap, but have only received incredible rudeness from them both.

    My last post here was an attempt to get back to the basic issue of the language of Mark and the place of Latin in it. If there is more than trivial evidence of a Latin substratum, one should expect someone advocating Aramaic sources behind the traditions preserved in Mark needs to treat the issue of Latinisms with due consideration. The most revealing thing to come from “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” is that I am supposed to have “a very general conception of what ‘Latinisms’ are”, because I necessarily consider a wide range of indications of Latin influence. Lexis alone is certainly insufficient as evidence for a language substratum, though not insignificant. Loan translations may not be sufficient, for they may represent new concepts borrowed from the language of the source notion and are thus needed to convey the notions, but the exemplars that can be indicated in Mark don’t reflect particularly novel notions, so the Latin idioms translated into Greek are weighty enough to require consideration when trying to decide about the composition of the traditions in Mark. But Latin syntactic traces, if that’s what they really are, cannot be explained away with the sort of casual wave of the hand that “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” gave with the few transliterated lexical items he looked at in his 1999 book. The only way I can think of to explain this Latin influence is that it is part of the writer’s normal language habits. You usually know when a person is communicating in a second language by the syntactic and grammatical awkwardness they manifest. As a few modern indicators, an Arab speaker of English may easily have trouble with verb tenses; a Turk may have troubles with articles; an Italian may prefer all adverbs immediately after verbs or adjectives after nouns; and so one. Lexical items are only the tip of the iceberg.

    Now “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” makes a case (p.122) for οτι the first time used in Mk 9:11, to ask a direct question, is an Aramaism. The conjunction is used 92 times in Mark, but how many times is it used to indicate a direct question? The word ινα, used a total of 59 times in Mark, when found with verbs of communication thus paralleling Latin ut in similar context, is found 31 times (Adam Winn, “The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel”, Mohr Siebeck 2008, p.82). What has “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” actually shown with his lone exemplar of οτι? Of course, his objective was not specifically to individuate this use of οτι as an Aramaism but to explain the significance of a difficult verse. We know that the writer’s command of Greek is not strong, given the limited expressiveness available to him, plus those Latinisms I’ve already mentioned and noting the stylistic improvements of the gospel writers who used Mark. It should be no surprise that he reproduces the linguistic problems of the tradents who provided him material.

    Mark is a repository of traditions, shaped and elaborated on by a writer who is himself a tradent, receiving traditions and passing them of through a text. As I’ve said from the start, Aramaic can only be expected in a collection of traditions centering on a religion that sprang out of Judaism. But how much Aramaic source material is there in the gospel?

    Now can we say that the writer of Mark “was working in a trilingual context where Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic competed with koine and Latin in everyday discourse”? If we go on the Latinisms, Mark seems to have been written in a location such as Rome, where there was a large Greek speaking community, but where Latin was strong enough to have the effect that has been left on the gospel. If that is the case, then the context was bilingual, Greek and Latin. Stories circulated across the Mediterranean, perhaps carried by the sorts of itinerant preachers warned about in the Didache 12.

    Now “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” makes a case (p.122) for οτι the first time used in Mk 9:11, to ask a direct question, is an Aramaism. The conjunction is used 92 times in Mark, but how many times is it used to indicate a direct question? The word ινα, used a total of 59 times in Mark, when found with verbs of communication thus paralleling Latin ut in similar context, is found 31 times (Adam Winn, “The Purpose of Mark’s Gospel”, Mohr Siebeck 2008, p.82). What has “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” actually shown with his lone exemplar of οτι? Of course, his objective was not specifically to individuate this use of οτι as an Aramaism but to explain the significance of a difficult verse. We know that the writer’s command of Greek is not strong, given the limited expressiveness available to him, plus those Latinisms I’ve already mentioned and noting the stylistic improvements of the gospel writers who used Mark. It should be no surprise that he reproduces the linguistic problems of the tradents who provided him material.

    Mark is a repository of traditions, shaped and elaborated on by a writer who is himself a tradent, receiving traditions and passing them of through a text. As I’ve said from the start, Aramaic can only be expected in a collection of traditions centering on a religion that sprang out of Judaism. But how much Aramaic source material is there in the gospel?

    Now can we say that the writer of Mark “was working in a trilingual context where Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic competed with koine and Latin in everyday discourse”? If we go on the Latinisms, Mark seems to have been written in a location such as Rome, where there was a large Greek speaking community, but where Latin was strong enough to have the effect that has been left on the gospel. If that is the case, then the context was bilingual, Greek and Latin. Stories circulated across the Mediterranean, perhaps carried by the sorts of itinerant preachers warned about in the Didache 12.

    You mentioned “‘rğaš’ (‘tumult’) Aramaic (רגיש), or ‘rğaz’ (‘anger’) Aramaic (רגז) and misreading (or mishearing) the word for thunder, ‘r`am’ seem plausible to me, though I think it is true that thunder is the likeliest.” But was it misheard or misread? If the original was רעם then it needed to be both: it had to be misread so that a final mem could become a sigma and misheard so that an ayin could become a gamma. Then we get the mystery of the “ridiculous” non-diphthong /οα/. Together these indications suggest that things were garbled in transmission. Our writer was not responsible for the form he received, nor was the initial transmitter. But then, Boanerges is only a tangent from “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey”‘s argument.

      • Once again you have misrepresented Casey’s arguments. For example, Casey argues on p.122 that οτι is “an example of interference in a bilingual translator” and you claim he makes a case for an “Aramaism”. This is not the same thing, he is not making a case for an Aramaism. You are not being truthful when you say ‘I don’t know either of these people from a bar of soap’. There are several books to tell you who Casey is and he has identified me. We are not hiding dishonestly behind anonymity. You, whoever you are, use the internet to cower behind a pseudonym ‘spin’ to make rude personal attacks. You hijack this site and have failed to engage with either of our essays, to engage with, to attack Casey personally. Your sanctimonious assumption that your anonymity be respected when you have shown Maurice Casey and I nothing but disrespect and insult is hypocritical and appalling. If you are HONEST about your identity perhaps your ideas will be engaged with by Maurice Casey but your failure to acknowledge your identity and recognise academic dishonesty so far, Maurice Casey says is sufficient to disqualify you. It appears you can be as rude as you like to me so I will not waste my time and be exposed here to your ‘mockery’.

  41. Hi David Marshall:

    Firstly I wouldn’t apply this concept of ‘natives’, as it’s not appropriate to Mark. Secondly most geographical references in Mark probably came from sources, and that there is nothing detectably wrong with e.g. the reference to Capernaum at Mark 9.35 does not tell us anything about where Mark came from. Consequently, counting the references which are not wrong does not tell us where he was from either. And third, it isn’t appropriate to use modern day analogies for first century culture. Most people living in Galilee or Jerusalem would have known the distance between them in terms of days’ journeys.

    The three references usually considered problematic are 5.1, with 5.13; 7.31; and 10.1. At 5.1, they are supposed to have gone to ‘the country of the Gerasenes’ (the variant readings are surely due to the following problem). There Jesus dealt with a demoniac who called himself ‘legion…because we are many’.When Jesus granted his/their request to be sent into a herd of pigs, ‘the herd rushed down the steep slope into the sea, about 2,000 (of them) and drowned in the sea’. The story has no hope of being literally true, and the author, who must have had in mind Legio Decem Fretensis with its symbol of a boar, and which was stationed miles to the north, is just oblivious of the fact that it was 33 miles from Gerasa to the nearest sea/lake (Galilee).

    At 7.31, Jesus ‘went out from the borders of Tyre through Sidon into the sea of Galilee through the region of Decapolis.’ Sidon is to the north of Tyre, so a rather peculiar way to go to Galilee, nor would one go through the Decapolis to get to the sea/lake of Galilee.

    At 10.1, Jesus went ‘into the regions of Judea beyond the Jordan’. There are variant readings due to the obvious fact that none of Judea was beyond the Jordan.

    It is not surprising that this has caused some scholars to think that Mark came from outside Israel, given that he knew Aramaic, was well informed about many aspects of the life and teaching of Jesus, and did not finish his Gospel. It is also not surprising that some scholars have adhered to late Christian tradition which claims the author wrote in Rome.

  42. I think we can all see below what happens when one lets others defend their own work.
    rjhoffman asks: Jacob: Where can I find the source for this information?
    What information? A lot has been said both by myself and spin. Several secondary sources have been mentioned. Several primary sources have also been cited. I am sorry if you are not more specific, I may not be able to point you to the “source.” If you imply that since we have not published a rebuttal of Casey’s “approach” in a scholarly journal then we should not attempt to critique it, that would defeat the very purpose of what you call the Consortium of the Jesus Process, now, wouldn’t it?
    After all, Mythicism: A Story of Bias, Incompetence and Falsehood has not been published in any respectable scientific journal. So we are just treating it in kind. On the basis of the Aramaicisms, Casey argues (above) “that some traditions in the synoptic Gospels are perfectly accurate.” How he links Aramaicism to historical accuracy is unclear though but this foothold is clearly loose and can’t support the historical weight he would like to place on it. Appeal to Aramaicism as a historical criterion needs to be presented clearly and not implied.

    rjhoffman states: “I would personally be hard-pressed to decide the provenance of Mark on linguistic grounds alone”
    This is for Casey to respond to. As for “‘rğaš’ (‘tumult’) Aramaic (רגיש), or ‘rğaz’ (‘anger’), spin has responded above.

    rjhoffman states: “I think it is generally acknowledged that “Mark” was working in a trilingual context where Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic competed with koine and Latin in everyday discourse.”
    Please cite your sources for this “trilingual context” for Mark Professor. Casey may need to deal with this because it does have implications on his theory. A trilingual translator surely would do a work that is different from a cackhanded bilingual translator, no? In any case, if you want to open the door of trilingualism, we might as well open the door of quadrilingualism. Turner argues that the linguistic milieu of the first century Palestine was quadrilingual and that Jesus could have spoken four languages: that language contact due to bilingualism in Aramaic and Greek led to Semitized Greek (i.e. Jewish Greek) and Hellenistic Greek (Nigel Turner, ‘The Language of Jesus and his Disciples’ in Grammatical Insights into the NT,1965) p.182. Where would that leave us? More importantly, where would that leave Caseys theory?
    You said it: in trouble.

    steph says: “Casey does not argue that the author of Mark was a Aramaic speaker or a native of Galilee. This is a misrepresentation of his work. ”
    Not true. He says AMark was a bilingual translator: he (the author of Mark) spoke Aramaic because it was the lingua franca in Judea and could speak Greek because it was the language of commerce in Judea. Are you with me so far? That is the starting point.
    In addition, Casey’s assumes that the sayings and narratives he handles were “collected” in the early Christian context (pg.41 of AA of Q). What early Christian context or Sitz im Leben could this have been other than Judea? In any case, NT scholars generally argue that Mark has a semitic flavour to it and it has been said that there are semitic syntactical features that influence the form of the Greek used by Mark. It is also argued that the Aramaicisms in Mark indicate it was written for an Aramaic audience.

    steph notes: “On point 1, Casey has written books discussing idioms in Mark’s gospel.”
    Yes, it is his books are that are being challenged here. Are you capable of addressing the issues raised or would you like Casey to respond himself?

    Steph continues: “On point 2, we all know perfectly well that Mark shows ignorance of the geography of Judea and he doesn’t come from Judea.”
    It would be good to get this admission from Casey himself because it has implications about his theory. And I hope rjhoffman and Marshall can agree with you on this matter of ignorance about the geography of Judea. Would the consortium like to take a moment and agree on a common position on this?

    Steph adds: “Modern translation experts not only know that people trying to translate and transliterate make mistakes, but they make the same mistakes, and can be classified. ”
    If we grant this, doesn’t it render Casey’s theory (of Aramaic sources for Mark) unfalsifiable? Yes or no?

    Steph concludes: “On point 4, we all know that there are two possible explanations of Mark 2.23 taken on its own. And as Joe says it is very important that the author of Mark was at least working in a trilingual context.”
    No, we don’t know this (that the author of Mark was at least working in a trilingual context). Do you have any sources for this claim? Is this consistent with Casey’s supposition that AMark was a bilingual translator?

    • Your sources? The ones you must be using if your are not making it up in your head. I have no problem with quadrilingualism; a little time in Lebanon and Israel will expose the same phenomenon today–French, Hebrew, Arabic, English, Armenian, a little German tossed in on the side, though Greek–not so much. And the translations! Oh my goodness. Why would you suppose a phenomenon that has remained virtually constant in the Middle East since the time of Alexander, beyond the Crusades and to the present day was not working to confound us in the first century. However, you may be saying something quite different and if you are give me your thesis about Mark in 50 words or less. As to the geography of Mark: I actually think this is now a parlour game–interesting when NT scholars were beating themselves over the head trying to collate what Papias is supposed to have said with what Mark actually did–but practically of no value in this discussion. Maybe we can pour it all into the Bayes Grinder and come up with some probabilities, or more sausage. (Professor of Civilisation Studies, American University of Beirut, 1999-2003, just felt like tossing that in)

    • Jacob:

      Casey does not argue that the author of Mark was a native of Galilee. This is a misrepresentation of his work. He argues that Mark was at the very least a bilingual and he argues that it is most probable that the author wrote outside Israel within the Roman Empire. He argues against the tradition of Rome given the early Christian ideological commitment by the second century. There is no ‘supposition’ that Mark was bilingual. It’s extraordinary that a scholar can write whole books and have his conclusions taken out of context of argument and evidence and branded as ‘supposition’.

      Casey does not ‘link Aramaicism to historical accuracy’ and neither does he ‘imply Aramaicism as a historical criterion’. Casey has devoted books to arguing historicity of some narratives which contain Aramaisms. He has also argued his methodology and demonstrated clearly that the criterion is not enough on its own at all and thus it is never appealed to on its own. On your point 1, read his books. Arguing that the author of Mark was at least bilingual, Casey argues that the sayings were collected in an early Christian context so of course they could have been collected in Israel and passed on at festivals in Judea. Modern translation experts not only know that people trying to translate and transliterate make mistakes, but they make the same mistakes, which can be classified. No it doesn’t make Casey’s hypothesis falsifiable at all and I can’t imagine why you think it should. Casey does not discuss a trilingual context but it is clear throughout his work that the author of Mark was working in an environment with more than two languages. You demonstrate complete lack of understanding and sympathy for multilingual translators but hopefully Joe’s clear and incisive description has enlightened you.

      By the way, it’s often an advantage to spell names accurately and Hoffmann, has two enns.

      • Hahahaha: It’s very funny isn’t it: we can argue over transcriptional errors and diphthongs—yods und gimmels–from 2500 years ago and no one thinks a second n in Hoffmann matters–though it spells the difference between Germany and Holland (or Sweden), and often enough between Jews and “Gentiles”; very funny!

      • Verily, lack of attention to detail, accuracy, historical and cultural context, can get you into all sorts of ‘trouble’. This reminds me of the good old American Herr Wernher von Braun – learning Chinese.

  43. This is all very sad really. The dynamic duo had the opportunity to deal with something a bit more tangible than their rather down market slagging of mythicism. Instead of taking that opportunity, “Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey” fell at the first hurdle mumbling incoherently about dishonesty and other tangents, while slandering “steph” spent several posts producing nothing but raucous noise. Let’s call it “Aramaic Folly: A Story of Incompetence, Bias and Ego”. I’m sure your readers will be impressed. It has been revealing and entertaining.

    And you anecdotal experiences from Lebanon! They really consolidated the notion that the writer of Mark “was working in a trilingual context where Mishnaic Hebrew and Aramaic competed with koine and Latin in everyday discourse.” With anecdotes like that who needs evidence?

    The Jesus Process has got off to quite a train wreck. You certainly got good value for money.

    • Thanks, Dr Spin: Scholarship proceeds from taking seriously the inexpert comments of anonymous drive-by snipers like you, and your named cohort–Godfrey, Carrier, and Doherty–who can only harp on what they can’t understand or invent preposterous defenses for a discredited and yellowing thesis about the existence of Jesus, the crumbling pillars of which have been reduced to powder through this debate. I gather that this valedictory acknowledges that you cannot plug your diphthong into Bayes and get a satisfactory answer? You have been unable to produce one whit of evidence to refute Professor Casey, preferring instead to put a respectable title in scare quotes, on the order of what a Vridar aficinado (whose name and qualifications escape me) had done with “pure mathematics” thinking perhaps it was a heretofore unheard of term. –And you are the folk who are defending statistics? I fail to see how a reference to Lebanon and Israel (that’s the region we are discussing one way or the other, isn’t it: look at the map) which I venture to say are just faraway places for you is not relevant to linguistic contexts, and for just the reasons I said, though I did not say that an allusion to context constitutes evidence of anything.

      Train wreck? Aunt Sally’s corset! Look you lot: You have had Paul’s silence explained to you in detail that you have yet to acknowledge or understand; had a plausible explanation given for the Aramaic under-pinnnings of Mark’s gospel, lost the battle over the identity of James, been made aware of the more serious factual errors in mythicist writings, reminded that the naive historiographical tendencies and legend/fact mixture of the gospels also appears in Roman historical writing, and challenged to produce serious counterarguments–which you have failed to do. I suppose Doherty has come off worst because along with Acharya S. (Dorothy) he holds the most stubbornly troglodyte ideas about myth, and seems to have retired to a friendly corner hoping that this will all die down. It won’t. There may yet be some life in the Carrier pitch, but it has been fatally wounded by the laws of inapplicability and parsimony. It is a pre-dead horse that won’t lie down.

      It would be one thing if this conversation were being carried on by scholars with real points of view and not just evidence-deniers who enjoy being bad boys(and girls) by testing the teacher’s patience. It is cute. Merely cute. And I suppose it keeps Vridar’s numbers up and his fans (and the Carrierites) happy, which is the name of the game, right? That is the travesty really, because many of your ilk profess to value evidence, and science, and reason but are quite boneheaded about assessing anything except the myth of Christian origins that you have invented for yourself. Please–by all means–ignore my irrelevant anecdotes and read for edification Morton Smith’s concise and withering assessment of mythicism in Jesus in History and Myth. But in case you can’t find the time offline the gist is this. Jesus fits not the pattern of a hero or a god but a job description that was common in Hellenistic Palestine–or rather several non mutually-exclusive job descriptions. The god-stuff (pardon my language) is what happens to this pattern post-resurrection (event). You do not have to be a NT scholar to see the pattern. But you do have to be able to read a gospel for what it says and not for what you think is broiling under the surface. In Mark alone, you will find a magician, a healer, an enthusiast, an end-time prophet, and an outlaw. These are not job descriptions from the 19th or 12th or even the 8th century, but they are for the Hellenistic Jewish world. And while you read Smith, lose your attire: older men don’t look good in diphthongs.

      • RJH writes: “preferring instead to put a respectable title in scare quotes, on the order of what a Vridar aficinado [sic] (whose name and qualifications escape me) had done with “pure mathematics” thinking perhaps it was a heretofore unheard of term.”

        Presumably at the time RJH wrote this he had not read Tim Widowfield’s post addressing the sad results of RJH’s dabbling with the paranormal (professing to read thoughts) http://vridar.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/hoffmann-serf-reviews-my-bayes-theorem-post-proving-this/

      • I did read Mr Widowfield’s post and actually used the comments of one of his respondents to draw out the analogy between Jesus denial and a law case. I didn’t see anything especially redeeming about it; he says he knows the difference between pure and applied mathematics and we must take him at his word. I have no idea why he then alludes to the practice in American universities of combining the fields as Cambridge isn’t an American university, but I take him at his word on that as well. More troubling is his attempt to weasel out of his putative error by saying that he was of the opinion that statistics was included under applied mathematics (which I had never mentioned). Statistics is the applied spawn of probability theory which belongs to pure mathematics: Huygens, Gauss, et al., but I think gambling and games of chance have been used as a source of examples for a long time, and if the implication is that Bayes’s theorem belongs to the level of doing card tricks at a party, I am with him. Btw, look up the definition of the word “screed” before you deprive it of all meaning.)

    • I haven’t had time to answer Hoffman yet; I don’t entirely agree with his points about Mark.

      But let me address both sides in this tiff over Aramaic vs. Latin, first.

      I’m an outsider to this specific debate — I come to NT studies from the perspective of comparative religion, or theology of religions more precisely. I read some koine Greek, but neither Latin nor Aramaic. But I’ve read (and written) enough in the general field to follow the argument with interest and a reasonable degree of understanding.

      Internet debates go the way of the devil, more often than not, as water pours down when it reaches the lip of a dam. But perhaps a couple comments from one not yet too near that lip might (who knows?) help.

      My impression is that both sides have made some interesting comments, and know enough to belong in the debate.

      It also seems that there has been some misreading, some misunderstanding, perhaps culpable to some slight degree, on both sides.

      The issue appears to be not whether Mark had a Latin background — that seems to be accepted all around — but whether he also had an Aramic background, or whether his Aramaic renderings were mere “borrowed tradition.” This latter strikes me as a worthy question, and the discussion has made me more interested in pursuing it some time.

      I would think that not only specificly linguistic questions about Aramaic leavings in Mark or elsewhere would be relevant to deciding that issue, but also “how translators work” in general, as well as in the specific social-historical-lingual context in which Mark found himself. I gather Casey has touched on all these issues in his work.

      Specifically, I am wondering if one can find examples of Romans borrowing as much as Mark does, either from Aramaic, or some other provincial language, just to add “local color” or because their source passed it along? Maybe this question is naive, and a positive answer wouldn’t undermine any evidence of seat-of-the-pants translations from Aramaic in Mark. But I hope the debate doesn’t descend into a content-free mud-flinging free-for-all, less because I’m innocent of ever enaging in those myself, than because a lot has been interesting so far, and the outstanding questions are more interesting than the mere fisticuffs.

      • @David: “Specifically, I am wondering if one can find examples of Romans borrowing as much as Mark does, either from Aramaic, or some other provincial language, just to add “local color” or because their source passed it along?” This is a brilliant question. First because with all the chat about influences we forget that Mark’s gospel is written in everyday Greek, not Latin; that Latin in the Augustan age was at its most complex and this is not a Latin Mark would have handled terribly well (try a few lines of Vergil) and that the cultural interplay usually dictated that writers would aspire to be proficient in the language of their colonial masters–e.g., Josephus’s Greek, which is prety good–rather than trying to emulate folk traditions by importing the odd word or phrase from the provinces. You may however be missing (or mything) the hidden question here: because the moment you concede that Mark’s Aramaism is “natural” rather than contrived, you lose the game of believing that the Gospel of Mark (apud Bauer and boys) was a forgery perpetrated in Latin and clevery disguiied in “ordinary” Greek with sprinklings of badly formed Aramaic thrown in for good good measure. What do ya get? Jesus. Unfortunately we are missing a modus operandi for this forgery: to start the Christian church so that it might grow strong, overthrow the Roman order and kill Jews? Most of the reasons for holding this conspiracy theory, which is a sub-genre of mythicism, are simply bilious. .

      • David wrote ‘I gather Casey has touched on all these issues in his work.’ He has dealt with them at some length as well as providing bibliographies to scholarship in other fields…. and there is still a mything enn… Perhaps it’s an example of cultural interference in translation.

  44. I reproduce below the substantive portion of Jacob Aliet (aka “Dr Spin”‘s) last comment, an attempt to double sum up his case against Casey. It was, indeed, a very good game as Jacky Spin says, but its only point is to cling to the last gasp mythicist hope that there is no Aramaic source for Mark or else you lose (yet another) pillar in your decrepit argument. [yr 'humble moderator J. Hoffmann]

    Alright, lets sum this up…
    I stated four problems for Casey’s theory that the author of Mark (hereafter AMark) was (a bilingual) translator who wrote the gospel by translating from Aramaic source….

    For all these three, I and spin have provided specific examples and expected specific answers…

    I rest my case. Thanks for playing.

    You are most welcome Jacky Spin. Thanks for being played.

    Jacob Aliet O. Agwa

    Born: 1976

    Profession: Computer Programmer (Microsoft Certified Solution Developer)

    Degrees:

    Currently pursuing an M.B.A. at Nairobi University, Kenya (expected completion in 2007).
    B.Sc. Information Technology, Moi University, 2001.
    Internat’l Diploma, Institute for the Management of Information Systems, 1997.
    Affiliations:

    Member, Institute for the Management of Information Systems
    Publications:

    “Globalization–Not Counter-Penetration and Domestication: A Response to Prof. Ali Mazrui.” Alternatives: Turkish Journal of International Relations Vol. 6, No. 1/2 (Spring/Summer 2007).
    Personal: I am a metaphysical naturalist with interests in science, history, Greek, biblical and ancient Near East studies, literary theory, and philosophy.

  45. Finally? As long as we are all now making attempts to discover the real names, the real personalities behind the verbiage, we might as well recall the reason for all this interest in Aramaic behind/within the Greek of the New Testament. Remember that the reason for all this discussion, the hope of many recently, has been that we might begin to see the outline of the original, perhaps Aramaic-(proto-Persian/Arabic) speaking authors of the New Testament. In fact? Many people think that Jesus himself spoke Aramaic. And so? If we look at the traces of that language, influencing the Greek of the Old Testament? The hope (and in Ehrmann, the near-assertion?), is that we can begin to see or hear the outline, the voice, of Jesus himself.

    But is it true? By looking at traces of Aramaic in the Greek of the New Testament, are we getting closer to seeing the outline of Jesus himself? It may be that if we find traces of Aramaic in the Greek of the Gospel of Mark say, there is no more or less there, however, than the traces of Latin influences. While Latinisms in the Greek of Mark,would might lead one to suspect a Roman church of writing much of the New Testament. And lead us not to Jesus, but to Rome. (Assuming Jesus himself had no roman influences).

    While for that matter? It may be that Aramaic influences within the Greek of the NT, might merely indicate/forward, longstanding influences in Hebrew and Greek after all; parts of the Old Testament, the Book of Daniel, were written in Aramaic.

    Or? Even if we find the outline,the traces of a possibly Hellenized Jewish author, or a Judaised Greek, in the occasional mashup of Greek and Aramaic? That might be simply yet another ecclesiastical author or editor in the Eastern Med.

    Or finally, I suggest here? No doubt there were many Aramaic influences in the Greek of Palestine, c. 400 BC-200 AD; many “borrowings” or “loanwords” and so forth, as semanticists call them. And those multi-cultural borrowings are moreoever, not peculiar to a single individual; but are common to the language used by many resistents of Jerusalem, Palestine, in this era.

    So that? Regarding the reason for all this; regarding the key attempt to reconstruct or hypothesize, the outline of a single person – perhaps Jesus himself – from these various Aramaic influences? Might not quite work. Culling out Aramaic influences from the New Testament, MIGHT or might not, outline an originary individual. Indeed, if such borrowings were widespread, then any attempt to reconstruct an individual speaker, from these borrowings, would amount to nothing much more or less than …. the over-reification of a linguistic stratum; the over personification or anthropomorphization, of a cultural melding. To create a false “individual.” A “person” that we might call, say, “Mr. Loadwords QBorrowing Q. Loanwords.”

    • @Garcia: Using the kind of CSC that precedes any theory: (1) What is your first order explanation of why there are Aramaic loan words transliterated (some badly) in the gospel attributed to Mark? (2) Why are there so few of them?

  46. Joe Hoffmann et alia.:

    Lacob Aliet (Dr spin?) above, seems to have articulated a few good, now-standard responses to the argument here. In his 3- or 4-point objection on June 3, and in his summary.

    One major objection? Is that in the gospels, the use of Aramaic – and or loanwords, garbled transliterations – is so spare, as to be “oramental.”

    A key case in point, that was perhaps not fully articulated above? Is the last prounouncement of Jesus on the cross, which is often offered in Aramaic. In Mat. 27.46 (and Mark 15.34): “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eli, Eli, lamasabach-thani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast hou forsaken me?” (KJV).

    Here, someone might suggest that “El” has long since become a standard name for God, in Hebrew it seems? (Cf. Aramaic, Arabic).

    More importantly? Note that this whole Aramaic speech, as it is often presented, is extremely rare. (t is itself highly questionable, and highly likely to be ornamental. (All the more so if it is clumsy, or merely transliterated. Some scholars today suggest that other scholars not too long ago, put it into Aramaic, to make it look authentic?)

    In any case though, this particular Aramaic phrase is problematic in many other ways. Though here many are looking just at linguistic evidence, it is also extremely important to consider the theological context of this particular remark, especially. Namely: Jesus is here on the cross, uttering a sentence wherein he clearly assumes, that he himself, Jesus, has been abandoned by God.

    Incredibly, Jesus is here saying he had been abandoned by God. Which leads us quickly to a profound theological problem: logically, either 1) Jesus is right – and Jesus was abandoned by God. In which case, Jesus could not be God. Or 2) Jesus is wrong, and he had not been abandoned. But? Being wrong … he therefore could not be the Son of God. (While the apologetic defense that Jesus is just quoting the Old Testament, does not hold: since in a sense, the whole NT is a “quote” of the Old; and those quotes are meant to be relevant to the new situation on hand, not just the old).

    The above Aramic pronouncement of Jesus is perhaps the most famous example of Aramaic in the New Testament. But it is is in fact, very, very highly problematic in two ways – both linguistically, and theologically – for many traditionalist believers. Theologically … since it does not lend support to the idea of Jesus was the Son of God. Indeed, it does not even support the idea that God supported Jesus in any way. (And for that matter, it does not lend Bultmannian support to the Jesus of “Faith” either. Since here, Jesus himself “doubts” as many note; and does not deserve our faith in him, either, it would seem).

    Possibly to be sure, even that conclusion is acceptable for Jesus Historicists? Since, if we ignore all these problems, it DOES furnish some evidence for the thesis that in fact, there might have been an historical Jesus; but this very traditional also noted that the real Jesus himself did not regard himself as being closely related to, or favored by, God. (“El”).

  47. In general? I regard the attempt to reconstruct a Aramaic Jesus, or an early Aramaic author of the gospel, to be essentially prone to simply reifying or personifying a linguistic stratum that had been found in both Greek and Hebrew, for hundreds of years by the time of Jesus. Such reification merely produces the false image of a false “person”; that is best called, parodically, “Mr. Loanword Q. Borrowing.”

    That is my main objection to such current efforts and hints at an “Aramaic” voice in the New Testament, found here and elsewhere in remarks by Ehrman and others. But in addition, Lacob Aliet (“Dr spin”?) above, seems to also have articulated a few current, emerging objections to the argument claiming a clear Aramaic personality behind the gospels. Objections articulated in his 3- or 4-point objection on June 3, and in his summary.

    One major objection? Is that in the gospels, the use of Aramaic – and/or garbled transliterations – is so spare, as to be “ornamental.”
    A key case in point, that was perhaps not fully articulated above? Is the last pronouncement of Jesus on the cross, which is often offered in Aramaic. In Mat. 27.46 (and Mark 15.34): “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying Eli, Eli, lamasabach-thani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (KJV).

    Here, someone might suggest that “El” or “Eli” has long since become a standard name for God, in Hebrew it seems? (Cf. Aramaic, Arabic). So that we see interchange between Hebrew, and Aramaic, going back perhaps quite some time before the time of Jesus.

    More importantly? Note that the whole Aramaic speech on the cross, as it is often presented, is extremely rare, in being presented in our English bibles in apparent, rough Aramaic. (Rare as it is, it is itself highly questionable, and highly likely to be ornamental. All the more so if it is clumsy, or merely transliterated. Some scholars today suggest that other, earlier scholars, simply put it into Aramaic, to make it look authentic?)

    In any case though, if it is not ornamental, this particular Aramaic phrase is extremely problematic in another way, than just linguistic. Though here many are looking here just at linguistic evidence, in regarding the apparent Aramaic phrase on the cross, it also extremely important to consider the theological context of this particular remark, especially. Namely: here, Jesus is on the cross, uttering a sentence wherein he clearly assumes, that he himself, Jesus, has been abandoned by God.
    Incredibly, Jesus in the Aramaic phrase on the cross – as narrated in Mat. 27.46 (and Mark 15.34) – is implying that he had been abandoned by God. Which quickly leads us to a profound theological problem: logically, either 1) Jesus is right – and Jesus was abandoned by God. In which case, Jesus could not be God. Or 2) Jesus is wrong, and he had not been abandoned. But? Being wrong … he therefore could not be the Son of God. (While the common apologetic defense, that Jesus is just quoting the Old Testament, does not hold: since in a sense, the whole NT is a “quote” of the Old; and those quotes are meant to be relevant to whatever new situation is on hand, not just to idly invoke the old. Suggesting that Jesus himself felt abandoned).

    The above Aramaic pronouncement of Jesus is perhaps the most famous example of Aramaic in the New Testament. But it is very, very highly problematic in two ways – both linguistically, and theologically – for many traditionalist believers. Theologically it is problematic… since, incredibly, it does not lend support to the idea of Jesus was the Son of God. Indeed, it does not even support the idea that God supported Jesus, in any way. As it has Jesus himself telling us that God has “abandoned” him. (While for that matter, it does not lend Bultmann-ian support to the Jesus of “Faith” either. Since here, Jesus himself “doubts” as many note; and does not deserve our faith in him either, it would seem).

    Possibly to be sure, even that theological or Christological conclusion is acceptable for Jesus Historicists? Since, if we ignore all these problems with this theology for conventional Christianity, the Aramaic phrase DOES furnish some evidence for the Historicist thesis. That in fact there might have been an historical Jesus; but this very Aramaic tradition also noted that the real Jesus himself, did not regard himself as being closely related to, or favored by, God. Jesus here is finally, just a rather ordinary human person. With no particularly strong tie to God or ultimate truth, after all.

    • You seem very muddled BG. Why don’t you try reading the recent secondary literature on Aramaisms in Mark? Jesus’ cry on the cross in Mark is not problematical for critical scholars. It is only problematical for orthodox Christians and the early Church which is why the later gospel authors changed it.

      • To the extent that Jesus’ “doubt” as it is called, remains a part of the Bible – and one conflicting, by your own account, with later parts? It remains a theological problem for say, believers today.

        Unfortunately, I do not presently have access to a scholarly database; would you care to briefly explain why Jesus’ doubt, is not longer a problem for scholars? For those of us without access to a scholarly library, if you would present the substance of scholarly arguments, rather than summary judgements, would be better.

      • @Garcia: Maybe you mean to refer to the “agony” in the garden? I know some exegetes who see this as an expression of doubt. You can see an appeal to this idea as theology at http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/audiences/alpha/data/aud19881130en.html the Vatica website. Ps 22 is much on the mind of the authors of the passion narrative:
        Tehillim 22:17 כי סבבוני כלבים עדת מרעים הקיפוני כארי ידי ורגלי
        According to the Jewish Publication Society Bible the verse is translated:
        Psalms 22:16 (22:17) For dogs have encompassed me; a company of evil-doers have enclosed me; like a lion, they are at my hands and my feet.” (JPS)

        כארי = Like (a) lion. According to the King James Version bible the verse is translated:
        Psalms 22:16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. But ‘pierced’ seems to me an overstatement for dug, though Gk for pierced is already present in the LXX.

        Anyway, whilst you ponder that: Ps 22 was not considered a declaration of despair; read it. Its attribution to Jesus is typical as it was one of the usual “prayers before death” spoken by most Jews on the point of dying–nothing unusual about it. ‘Mark quotes the words in Aramaic. One may suppose that the cry appeared so characteristic that the witnesses who heard it, when later recounting the drama of Calvary, deemed it opportune to repeat the very words of Jesus in Aramaic’. Try reading this: http://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/Ted_Hildebrandt/OTeSources/19-Psalms/Text/Articles/Heinemann-Ps22-BS.pdf

      • You ask me why Jesus’ doubt is no longer a problem for scholars and assume it requires a small essay to enlighten you. It has never been a problem for critical scholars who may be liberal believers or not religious at all. You are still very muddled between orthodox believers and critical scholarship. The Jesus of history is not the Jesus of dogma. Schweitzer identified Jesus as a mistaken prophet and scholars have known this for over a hundred years. Ever since biblical scholarship identified the differences between the gospels when viewed synoptically by Lessing, Holtzmann and others after the Enlightenment, one of the pieces of evidence for the priority of Mark’s gospel has been the doubt expressed in it by Jesus on the cross and the glossing over by later evangelists, evidence of their later redaction. For critical scholars the ‘problem’ is determining the method of applying criteria to evidence in order to be as accurate as possible with history. No problem exists for critical scholars in what we will find. We have found an observant human Jew who lived in the first century and was crucified, not a divine man. This is the “the substance of scholarly arguments” and not “summary judgements”. Critical scholarship is about following the evidence where it leads. You are determined to identify critical scholars as some sort of fundamentalists. You really are confused, but should not project your inability to understand simple logic and accuse me of insubstantial arguments when answers are clear and simple.

  48. Boanerges, seems to me, to be more likely a transliteration of the Aramaic bnai regesh (sons of rage). Thoughts anyone?

    • Older scholarship advocated this trying to transliterate βοανηργες back into Aramaic, and this led to the invention of an Aramaic word regaš. This scholarship has since been refuted and regaš shown not to exist. H.P. Rueger, ‘Die lexikalischen Aramaismen im Markusevangelium’, in H. Cancik (ed), ‘Markus-Philologie: Historische, literargeschichtliche und stilistische Untersuchungen zum zweiten Evangelelium’ (WUNT 33. Tuebingen, 1984), p. 77, proposed to believe in an Aramaic regaš on the basis of Tg. 1 Ks 18.41; Tg. Isa. 17.12f., in neither of which it means ‘thunder’, and undated and uncited sources from an unmentioned Arabic dictionary. We should not proceed like this.

      • Hi Steph, long before “older scholarship” advocated that βοανηργες should be bnai regesh, it had already been done many many centuries before. Whoever produced the syriac peshitta quite comfortably saw βοανηργες as bnai regesh.
        Were they “inventing” a word too?

      • Scare quotes????? Older scholarship is simply not recent more advanced scholarship, Mick. Is that clear? And yes, Spin, the Peshitta was translated many many years after the New Testament writings were canonised. J.Aliet: that’s what happens when culture interferes with translators. “Quite comfortably”?!! The irony is so ghastly. The consequence is the invention of new words which could be misappropriated as evidence for earlier Aramaic, such as is the case with Rueger.

      • Steph, I dont know when the peshitta was produced I know Metzger acknowleded that Voorbus demonstrated that it predated rabbula of Edessa.
        My point is only that if whoever produced the syriac peshitta saw βοανηργες as bnai regesh, and bnai regesh transliterates quite easily, then , to me it is a better fit.
        Obviously the word regesh did exist, its just that it didn’t literally mean thunder, but rather tulmut or commotion or something similar.
        I’m not trying to be argumentative, just to voice my opinion. Can you explain what you mean when you say regas has been shown not to exist?

      • Checking on CAL I see that regesh does not mean tulmut but, rage (amongst other things). rg$ V
        011 Syr to rage
        012 Syr to stir oneself
        013 Syr to sense
        014 JBA to feel
        041 Syr to rage
        042 Syr to be moved
        043 Syr to sense
        031 passim to sense
        032 Syr to make to sense
        033 BibArDan to gather together urgently
        034 Syr,JBA to stir up
        033 Syr meTul to inform
        061 Syr to sense
        LS2 713

      • The original transliterator was so incompetent that they transliterated בני רעם, ‘sons of thunder’, as βοανηργες (Mark 3.17). By the fifth century the Peshitta transliterator had done their best to produce a Syriac version of what was regarded as a sacred Greek text, containing βοανηργες, an error. They produced what they did on the assumption that the words in the text in front of them did exist, whether they were previously normal Aramaic, or not. The point is not that regaš did not exist, but that it did not mean ‘thunder’ in anything like the Aramaic of Jesus’ time (no independent attestation) which you acknowledge, whereas רעם does. Jerome noticed a mistake, though he did not explain it. In commenting on the names at Dan. 1.7, he added, ‘filii Zebedaei appellati sunt filii “tonitrui”, quod non, ut plerique putant, “boanerges” sed emendatius legitur “banereem”’. Jerome’s ‘a’ then ‘e’ for the two shewas will be noted. For the text, see F. Glorie (ed.), S. Hieronymi Presbyteri Opera. Pars I. Opera Exegetica. 5. Commentariorum in Danielem Libri III (IV) CChR.SL LXXVA (Turnhout: Brepols, 1964).

  49. Casey wrote an essay which is published here on New Oxonian. Casey does not indulge mythicists, who cower behind multiple identities, in on-line debate. He does not oblige those who hijack this site to attack his work which they have not understood or read but are determined to misrepresent. But Jacob Aliet, pretending not to be ‘spin’, has found a new preaching podium for falsehoods and other incompetencies, on Richard Carrier’s atheist ‘freethought’ blog. It’s a shame he cut and pasted so much because among other things, he perpetuates his inaccurate spelling which is merely a demonstration of his inattention to accuracy, detail and context.

    ‘Spin’ cited two pages, available on google, from one book by Casey. This is not evidence of having read his work or even one book. Furthermore, misrepresenting what he cites (eg Casey was not making a case for an Aramaism) is more evidence he has failed to understand Casey’s arguments or accurately represent them. In fact, consistently misrepresenting his arguments and failure to demonstrate comprehension of his arguments at all, is evidence of his incompetence. It is also blindingly ‘unarguable’ evidence that he has not read his work. There is further evidence of not having read his work with his claim that Casey’s case rests on four reconstructed passages when Casey has published much since ‘Aramaic Sources of Mark’s Gospel’ and reconstructed many more passages. Furthermore he persistently talks about Casey’s translation studies when I quite clearly said Casey had listed relevant literature in his bibliographies of translation studies and work in other fields.

    There are not the problems for Casey’s thesis that ‘spin’ (aka Jacob Aliet) claims. Neither are Casey’s arguments dependent on a Galilean origin and failure to understand why is more evidence of not having read his work. ‘Spin’ (aka Jacob Aliet) has failed to understand the problems of translators, and his convictions about implications of geographical inaccuracies, his convictions about Rome (the centre of myth? hallelujah) and Latinisms are not a ‘rational response’ and have been refuted on the essay thread. It’s all a game to him and his target is Casey because he is compelled by his mythicist bias to reject all arguments for Aramaic. The problem is he is too incompetent to understand Casey’s arguments and he lost the game he invented. Complaining about his anonymous identity being compared to other mythicists who apply similar ‘tactics’ when his specialty is vitriol, repetition of mistakes, persistent lack of comprehension, “feeble” untruths (Steph didn’t promise Casey would respond one day and Hoffmann didn’t admit not understanding any arguments etc etc etc) and cowardice (further dishonesty) with anonymous identities, is the real irony.

  50. Pingback: Blogger Godfrey’s Reply (1) to Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey of the The Jesus Process ©®™ « Vridar

    • Entertaining psychological assessment of Emeritus Professor Maurice Casey by ‘Dr’ Blogger Godfrey, if not irrelevant and littered with falshoods. For example, Doherty observes that “it is generally agreed” among the scholarly community that there is no evidence for Galilean synagogues in the time of Jesus. Naturally Casey does in fact deny that this is generally agreed among his peers, contrary to Godfrey’s assertion. Casey argues there were places where people met regularly for worship and other things, but that we just don’t know whether they were separate buildings. Again, contrary to Godfrey’s assertion that he does not address it. It’s ironic Godfrey takes such objection to what he describes as Maurice’s elitist attitude, when Maurice has never encountered this reaction from colleagues students and friends, until he became a focus of mythtics. Godfrey can’t cope with The Jesus Process at all. I wonder why he is so afraid, poor dear.

      • Hi Steph,

        I would appreciate your itemizing what you see as any “falshoods” in my post since I do try to be accurate and honest in what I write. Corrections are always welcome, though it would be even nicer if they were offered with an understanding that I may have unintentionally committed errors.

        But I fail to see how the one example you provide is actually a falsehood. Casey is clearly disputing what he sees as the presence of synagogues in Galilee and not — at least not in the way he has expressed himself in his essay — Doherty’s claim about what “is the general view among his peers”. The “general view” is at no point discussed by Casey.

        And yes, I think we all know about the hypothesis that synagogues were not separate buildings (our culture is not that “low context”) but surely Casey is addressing — as is Doherty — the clear understanding of the term as found in the gospels. And Casey confirms this by concluding with references to archaeological sites of synagogue buildings.

        That is all clear enough to me and is how I have interpreted Casey in good faith according to his own words — and by reference to the sources he cited.

        Again, you fault my identifying what I see as the elitism of Casey by countering that Casey is not elitist in person. I am quite sure you are right and Casey is always a gentlemen with people he meets. But again, i am analysing the words of his essay, his thoughts expressed about “internet audiences” in his post. Now I fail to see anything positive in any of his words applied to “internet audiences”.

        Perhaps Blogger Casey might like to publish a clarification and qualify his original claims if you do not believe he has expressed himself accurately.

      • “I do try to be accurate and honest in what I write. Corrections are always welcome…………”

        That’s interesting. Ironic.

        Maurice Casey is finishing writing a book which will go to press at the end of July.

    • Steph, have you actually read Schweitzer’s chapter from which I quoted? Have you read what he says about Christianity needing to ground itself in a metaphysic and not on an historical event? I ask because what you say here is in conflict with his words as translated into English in 2000. I have little to dispute with other points you have made about Schweitzer but I do think you are ignoring another facet of his thought as expressed in the chapter from which I quoted.

      But again, the bigger question is, do you fault the logic of S’s words that I quoted? Do you dispute that the logic of his words is relevant to historical methods today?

    • What a ridiculous question. I notice another extraordinary fiction in which you imply Casey has not read Doherty or Malina, part of the Context Group. I wonder what all these assumptions reflect. Perhaps therefore the question is whether you read the whole book (preferably in German for ‘his words’) and how many, if any, of his other works you have read. Obviously it is your interpretation of Schweitzer, not Schweitzer, even in translation, that has failed. And you constantly misinterpret him and fail to understand historical context as you demonstrate again. Most Christians’ faith has always been based on a metaphysic, and critical historical scholars’ view of Jesus, like Schweitzer’s own view of Jesus, is based on, historical methodology. What Christians believe should have no influence in how academic enquiry is pursued and personal mythtic or religious views are nothing to do with critical scholarship. Therefore your comment which I quoted above is irrelevant and misleading.

    • Steph, it is not “an extraordinary question” but a very sincere one that arises from your repeated failure to address the actual quotation of S’s that I used, and from your statements on what you think S said about the needed future grounding for Christianity that contradict what S wrote in chapter 23. Instead of scoffing that I should ask the question, why not answer it with a simple and polite Yes or No?

      If you read what I wrote you would see that I was raising the possibility that Blogger Casey had not read Doherty’s “whole book” for himself because he says things about it that I cannot understand if he had read it. It would actually be in his favour if he had not read it whole since one would not want to accuse him of knowingly lying or lacking the most elementary reading comprehension.

      • It is an extraordinarily impertinent question Neil because it is you who perpetually and arrogantly fail to recognise or just ignore your error. Of course I have read Schweitzer’s whole book and the German edition too. I keep quoting Albert Schweitzer, and asking you to see him in his historical context as a committed German Lutheran who wrote long before the current stage of the Quest of the Historical Jesus, as it has been called since this was the title of an English translation, also a long time ago. It is quite ludicrous to imagine that I could do this without reading his book in the first place. I have also read much of his other work on ethics and theology including his autobiography. I’ve even looked into his musical composition and performance. Your insistence that others should believe as you do is distorting your ability to be self-critical and compromising logical comprehension.

        Why is it I wonder that mythtics, hearing their faults critiqued, can only throw back their own inadequacies critiqued, verbatim from the critique, and accuse those who have described them with exactly the same description? Perhaps it’s something to do with dependence. And attempting to apparently ‘criticise’ Casey by identifying him inaccurately is facile and petty. He wrote one essay for publication here. Blogger is an identifier for purposes of clarity. It is not a derogatory label. He speaks favourably of many blogs in his forthcoming book. He devotes a section “in order not to cast any aspersions on excellent scholarly blogs. Some scholarly blogs are very helpful to scholars and students, because of the large amount of useful information which they provide.” He lists and describes various blogs from Goodacre, NT Wrong, Sheffield and Dunedin School to New Oxonian. Your excruciating pretence at politeness here is quite a contrast from your blogs and comments at Vridar isn’t it.

      • You have overlooked my other question, too: Do you fault the logic of S’s words that I quoted? Do you dispute that the logic of his words is relevant to historical methods today?

        Would you like to answer this directly, without shouting out about a lot of stuff we both know and understand about Schweitzer but that has no bearing on the point raised here.

      • I thought the answer was implicit. I’ll clarify: no, and yes, other than for historical value. And obviously ‘the stuff we both know’ is why. ppp.

  51. Pingback: Blogger Godfrey’s Blog Reply (2) to Blogger Casey’s Blog Post on the Internet « Vridar

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  53. Godfrey makes things up, and malicious best describes them. Appealing to Buckaroo who is still fixated on my sexuality, Godfrey misrepresents the Jesus Process with his neurotic symbol obsession and erroneously claims I ‘feed’ Casey my ‘grievances’ which he will ‘spew’ out in his book. This is ridiculous and a malicious falsehood. When I mentioned Casey’s forthcoming book with the implication that all necessary response will be published in it, Godfrey claims I made an ‘implied threat’. Does Godfrey pretend he knew nothing about the book he’s known about for over a year? He inaccurately claims ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ received a ‘lukewarm response’. He claims superior knowledge to Hoffmann. He knows nothing about Hoffmann and inaccurately assumes things of him which are untrue. I think the rants belong to Godfrey. Casey is not a blogger – that is an inaccurate label in a misguided attempt to insult. Casey is not an apologist, and does not ‘follow Holding’ another falsehood and attempt to insult. However Holding is indeed a Christian apologist and it appears that Godfrey must be doing mythtic apologetics.

    Godfrey expects us all to quote Malina as if he’s an unbiased authority. We do indeed, from necessity, keep up with scholarship published by the ‘Context Group’ but see Crossley, and especially Crossley in ‘Jesus in an Age of Terror’ pp. 119-34 etc, for substantial critique of Malina et als regarding the so-called ‘Arab mind’ etc. Godfrey complains that Casey does not mention that Conybeare dated the Testament of Solomon in the first century CE when he wrote in 1899, before even a decent text and translation were available. It should be obvious that his work is out of date. He made more appropriately, careful reference to Schürer-Vermes-Millar. Schürer-Vermes-Millar, in a section primarily the responsibility of Vermes, note correctly that its ‘complex textual history naturally makes it difficult to date.’ There is however good reason to think that ‘it was current in some form around A. D. 400’; further, ‘the archetype of all the full versions (incorporating the demonology) cannot have been put together before the early third century A. D.’ This means that it is quite ludicrous of Doherty to conclude on the basis of this evidence that ‘by Paul’s time they [i.e. the demons] have become vast powers that infest the heavens.’ There is no such idea in 1 Enoch, and the Testament of Solomon shows only that such ideas were believed by some people some 200 years after Paul’s time. But Godfrey’s bias defends Doherty uncritically here.

    His final sentence is ludicrous psychological projection. I won’t address all the silly mistakes and falsehoods I see in Godfrey’s posts because Casey can do that himself, without anyone ‘feeding’ him grievances. Godfrey gives him plenty of those. Poor dear – he describes me and Casey as a ‘dangerous pair’. Be afraid, very afraid of being exposed, poor dear. (ppp).

  54. Godfrey makes things up, and malicious best describes them. Appealing to Buckaroo who is still fixated on my sexuality, Godfrey misrepresents the Jesus Process with his neurotic symbol obsession and erroneously claims I ‘feed’ Casey my ‘grievances’ which he will ‘spew’ out in his book. This is ridiculous and a malicious falsehood. When I mentioned Casey’s forthcoming book with the implication that all necessary response will be published in it, Godfrey claims I made an ‘implied threat’. Does Godfrey pretend he knew nothing about the book he’s known about for over a year? He inaccurately claims ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ received a ‘lukewarm response’. He claims superior knowledge to Hoffmann. He knows nothing about Hoffmann and inaccurately assumes things of him which are untrue. I think the rants belong to Godfrey. Casey is not a blogger – that is an inaccurate label in a misguided attempt to insult. Casey is not an apologist, and does not ‘follow Holding’ another falsehood and attempt to insult. However Holding is indeed a Christian apologist and it appears that Godfrey must be doing mythtic apologetics.

    Godfrey expects us all to quote Malina as if he’s an unbiased authority. We do indeed, from necessity, keep up with scholarship published by the ‘Context Group’ but see Crossley, and especially Crossley in ‘Jesus in an Age of Terror’ pp. 119-34 etc, for substantial critique of Malina et als regarding the so-called ‘Arab mind’ etc. Godfrey complains that Casey does not mention that Conybeare dated the Testament of Solomon in the first century CE when he wrote in 1899, before even a decent text and translation were available. It should be obvious that his work is out of date. He made more appropriately, careful reference to Schürer-Vermes-Millar. Schürer-Vermes-Millar, in a section primarily the responsibility of Vermes, note correctly that its ‘complex textual history naturally makes it difficult to date.’ There is however good reason to think that ‘it was current in some form around A. D. 400’; further, ‘the archetype of all the full versions (incorporating the demonology) cannot have been put together before the early third century A. D.’ This means that it is quite ludicrous of Doherty to conclude on the basis of this evidence that ‘by Paul’s time they [i.e. the demons] have become vast powers that infest the heavens.’ There is no such idea in 1 Enoch, and the Testament of Solomon shows only that such ideas were believed by some people some 200 years after Paul’s time. But Godfrey’s bias defends Doherty uncritically here.

    His final sentence is ludicrous psychological projection. I won’t address all the silly mistakes and falsehoods I see in Godfrey’s posts because Casey can do that himself, without anyone ‘feeding’ him grievances. Godfrey gives him plenty of those. Poor dear – he describes me and Casey as a ‘dangerous pair’. Be afraid, very afraid of being exposed, poor dear. (ppp).

  55. Pingback: Concluding Response of Blogger Neil Godfrey to Blogger Maurice Casey of TJP®©™ « Vridar

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  61. I really don’t know what to make of all of this.

    Casey writes: “the view that [Jesus] did not even exist. This view, unknown in the ancient world, became respectable during the formative period of critical scholarship in the nineteenth century”

    I’ve heard another story: that this view has never been widely respected in academia, that the first academics to suggest that Jesus’ historicity was not certain tended to get fired for their trouble, and that to this day some theologians, clergypeople and scholars of the Bible and ancient history who aren’t entirely certain are under great peer pressure to keep it to themselves. Is all of that just more mythicist myth?

    If it’s not entirely myth, if there is in fact a systemic tendency to discourage discussion of the question and to disparage people who do — or, if they are academics, to claim that they don’t exist. I know it always annoys me when someone claims I don’t exist — then that would fly in the face of Casey’s assertion that the academic authorities on the historical Jesus are all just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people, as open-minded and intellectually curious and unbiased as can be.

    And speaking of authority, I don’t know of another area of inquiry than that of the historical Jesus where non-academics are so frequently attacked for being non-academics. If someone’s arguments are unsound, fine, attack her arguments. But to disparage her lack of a PhD before even addressing her arguments makes one guilty of the fallacy of appeal to authority. You don’t need a PhD to know that. You don’t necessarily even need to take an introductory course in formal logic to know that.

    But Casey goes further in this particular fallacy, when he says that Doherty, Murdock and Godfrey all “claim” to have certain degrees from certain institutions. What is the reader to make of this? Is he imply that they have lied about their formal educations? if so, why doesn’t he come right out and accuse them? Does he mean to be witty here? Is this business about “claiming” to have degrees an inside joke of some sort?

    For my own part, I am not at all impressed when someone goes on at such length about their opponents’ lack of Doctorates. Address what your opponents actually say. And if there is something to these allegations of systemic bias, it shouldn’t surprise anyone if there are people with open minds on one side, and with thorough training on the other, and relatively few with both.

    Of course, Casey does eventually get around to commenting on what Doherty, Murdock, Godfrey and other mythicists have actually said. Let’s say for the sake of argument that their work really is as inept as he claims — would that in itself prove anything about the existence of Jesus? No.

    And by the way, Casey does not even mention G A Wells, who has addressed those early-twentieth-century works by Smith et al which, according to academic orthodoxy, laid the whole matter to rest.

    I know that I do not know nearly enough about Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic to have an independent opinion on Jesus’ historicity. I’m just taking other people’s word for a lot of things. And I see abundant reason to mistrust just about everyone weighing in on the matter.

    • Steven – you quoted a little bit in which Casey pointed out that the view that Jesus did not even exist was unknown in the ancient world, and became respectable during the formative period of critical scholarship in the nineteenth century. You say you have heard another story, with which you don’t show a lot of concern for dates or cultural context. You say for example that the first academics to suggest that Jesus’ historicity was not certain tended to get fired for their trouble. This was true in the nineteenth century, and has nothing to do with modern scholars to whom Casey has made favourable reference. You continue that to this day some theologians, clergy people and scholars of the Bible and ancient history who aren’t entirely certain are under great peer pressure to keep it to themselves. Is all of that just more mythicist myth? No, but it has nothing to do with the scholars to whom Casey referred, and is entirely consistent with perfectly plausible gossip about people employed in American theological seminaries, and there is increasingly plausible gossip that it has become true in the UK, due to the employment of Americans from conservative theological seminaries. It is extremely difficult to check up on all this now, but it has nothing to do with other people with whom we work with in independent British universities. You misrepresent all this too, commenting on Casey’s assertion that the academic authorities on the historical Jesus are all just wonderful, wonderful, wonderful people, as open-minded and intellectually curious and unbiased as can be.
      He never made any such assertion. What he referred to in a very short article was the critical scholars among whom he has been happy to have spent most of his life, whether they were Christian, Jewish or irreligious. They were not concerned by ‘peer pressure’ or the ‘constraints of academic tenure’, except that they were united by an absolute determination to oppose any threat to the academic freedom of people in universities, regardless of status, colour, race, religion or creed. I think Casey would stand by that, provided that it is understood to the critical scholars to whom he referred, not to anyone who can be referred to as academic authorities on the historical Jesus.

      He does discuss Wells in his forthcoming book. By the way, Joseph Hoffmann has written an excellent foreword to George Wells, ‘The Jesus Legend’. http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Legend-George-Albert-Wells/dp/0812693345

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