Bart Ehrman Just Can’t Do Truth or Logic

Bart Ehrman was again asked what evidence there is that Jesus existed this February 18, 2016, at Fresno City College. See the video here (he begins his answer at timestamp 23:18). First he says this:

I don’t think there is any doubt that Jesus existed. There are a couple of scholars who’ve argued he didn’t exist. There are a lot of voices out there saying that he didn’t exist. But they’re not by scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines. There are voices on the internet. But there are voices on the internet for all sorts of things. Scholars who study this stuff really, there isn’t any, it’s not a question that’s debated among my colleagues. It is not debated. Because the evidence is so overwhelming.

This is not a very truthful statement.

  • There are seven fully qualified scholars on the record who doubt the historicity of Jesus. Not “a couple.”
  • We are not “internet voices.” I have a peer reviewed academic monograph from a mainstream biblical studies press on this question.
  • Ehrman even appears to be saying that we are not “scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines.” Because he leaves out any mention of the fact that this isn’t just “internet voices” but also published scholarship by his expert peers and recognized by his expert peers.
  • He fails to make clear that there are “scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines” who have expressed their doubts. Again so far, seven of us.
  • And contrary to his last sentence, we are “scholars who study this stuff.” We are his colleagues (fully his peers in respect to credentials—some of us even better trained and more qualified in the subject of history than he is; so this looks a lot like he is lying about our credentials again).
  • And this question is debated by his colleagues. Not only by the seven of us so far who doubt historicity, but a lot of his colleagues have debated me. Including Zeba Crook, Trent Horn, Kenneth Waters, and (now) Craig Evans. One of those debates was even sponsored by the Society of Biblical Literature. So the claim that it is “not debated” among his colleagues is false.

The evidence is not, of course, overwhelming. It’s not even whelming. But you can see that for yourself. IMO, the fact that this is what he thinks, discredits his opinion. Because there is no way in the universe any historian in any other field would call the evidence for the historicity of Jesus “overwhelming.” Maybe Ehrman just doesn’t know what overwhelming evidence looks like. But since he can’t even be honest about how many fully qualified colleagues of his doubt the historicity of Jesus, he can’t even honestly tell an audience that a mainstream peer reviewed academic monograph exists questioning historicity, and he can’t even honestly tell an audience that it is being debated by many of his colleagues, we shouldn’t expect him to honestly use the word “overwhelming” either.

Just watch the Carrier-Crook debate for the best defense of historicity you can expect to hear (the only debate on record so far with a professor of New Testament studies who doesn’t devolve into Christian apologetics). And ask yourself if the evidence presented there looks “overwhelming” by any credible definition of the word. Then watch the Carrier-Evans debate (which I’ll blog a commentary on as soon as I find the time) and ask yourself if anything he argued was even logical, much less weighty. This is historicity dying before your eyes. They have garbage for arguments, yet are manically certain it’s overwhelming. That’s why Evans leaned repeatedly on the fallacy of Argument from Authority: the authorities have no arguments; so their agreement is all the argument he can muster. His second crutch, which he also leaned on repeatedly, was his illogical claim that the authors of the Gospels knew Judean geography and customs, therefore Jesus existed. Wrap your head around that non sequitur. This is what they think is “overwhelming.” Which calls their judgment in this matter deeply into question.

Ehrman gives us yet another example of the unreliability of his judgment in his Fresno rant…

Getting the Thesis Wrong. And Hosing Logic and Facts.

Ehrman went on to say this (before turning to why he thinks his apocalyptic prophet hypothesis is the most likely theory of Jesus, which I agree is most likely true if the core Doherty thesis is false, so I see no need to critique him on that):

The specific evidence is a little bit hard to explain in two minutes. … [but] I’ll give you one argument. … [which], you have to understand, is not the only argument …

You can read all his arguments in DJE. Compare them with the arguments in OHJ. This is the best they’ve got. And apparently Ehrman agrees that’s enough for you to judge for yourself. So I recommend you compare them. And state what you think. Anyway, he goes on…

The people who are called mythicists argue that Jesus was invented, that he’s a myth, that was made up, that there never was an actual man Jesus.

Not quite. We argue that the Gospel Jesus was made up. A conclusion even Bart Ehrman largely agrees with. He seems to be confused as to what the mythicist thesis actually is (as will become evident below). The peer reviewed mythicist thesis is that the first Christians genuinely believed there was an archangel named Jesus who underwent a cosmic ordeal to fix the universe using standard Jewish atonement magic (OHJ Chapters 3 and 4). They “met” this Jesus in visions and “discovered” what he said and what happened to him by finding hidden messages in the Old Testament (this is not conjecture; we know it for a fact: OHJ, Chapter 12.3-4).

So they didn’t make him up, in the sense Ehrman means (they might have, but it’s not necessary to assume they did: see OHJ, Chapter 4, Element 15). What a later generation of Christians did (not the first Christians, nor anyone who ever met any of the first Christians so far as we can tell) is make up the version of Jesus that had him tromping around earth interacting with historical figures. The distinction is crucial. Yet Ehrman conflates the two. And with this conflation he proceeds…

Here’s one reason for thinking that’s wrong. The early Christians—whether or not Jesus existed—the early Christians said that Jesus was the messiah, and they said he was crucified. That would be a nonsensical statement for people in antiquity, that the messiah got crucified. The messiah was not supposed to suffer and die.

This is false. The Talmudic Jews preached that the messiah would suffer and die. So it clearly was not nonsensical. Even the Old Testament said the messiah would die. More on that in a moment. But the Talmud is clear on the matter (OHJ, pp. 73-75). There is in fact no evidence of any Jew ever finding this notion nonsensical. Many found it not to their preference. But it still made sense (as Hebrews 9 makes clear; see also OHJ, Chapter 4, Element 18, and Chapter 5, Elements 31 and 43). Especially since he wasn’t defeated in this account, but gained the power from it that he would use upon his return. Thus, a dying messiah is also a militarily victorious messiah. He just has to get resurrected.

Now Christians today typically say … that you have a prediction of a suffering messiah in the Old Testament. If you actually read the Old Testament, there is no passage in the Old Testament that talks about the messiah, that says anything about the messiah suffering. There are passages in the Old Testament that talk about somebody suffering, but they are never talking about the messiah. There are other passages that talk about the messiah, and they don’t talk about the messiah suffering. These were two incommensurate categories.

This is false. Daniel 9 says the messiah will die. Explicitly. And Isaiah 53 says so as well—using the word “Chosen One,” which Ehrman has otherwise agreed is a term used in the OT for the messiah (How Jesus Became God, p. 66). And Talmudic Rabbis agreed this was about the messiah. Even Psalms 89:32-52 says the messiah will be abandoned by God and suffer at his enemies’ hands (before being redeemed). And that is explicit that this is what will happen to the messiah. So Ehrman remains very truth challenged. Compare the evidence in OHJ, Chapter 4, Element 5.

So for Ehrman to keep repeating this claim, as if none of the above evidence existed, is simply dishonest.

Because the messiah was supposed to be the great king of Israel who overthrew the enemy, and set up God’s kingdom in Jerusalem. He was to be the great political, military leader of the Jews, who destroyed the enemy. That’s what the messiah was expected to be.

Not by everyone (Dan. 9; Is. 53; Ps. 89; the Talmud). Everyone expected that ultimately that would happen (as even the Christians still preached it would). But many did imagine there would be some suffering and possibly a brief death on the way. Moreover, Ehrman agrees we can’t claim to know what all Jews expected, so we can’t argue from what no Jews would have expected. Ehrman himself has said this explicitly: “saying what Jews thought is itself highly problematic, since lots of different Jews thought lots of different things. It would be like asking what Christians think today” (HJBG, p. 50) and “how would we know [what] ‘every’ early Christian [thought], unless all of them left us writings and told us everything they knew and did?” (DJE, p. 193), which is even more true of the Jews, who were even more divided into varying sects than the early Christians were, and about whom we know even less. So once again he is not telling his audience the truth. (He has lied about all of this before).

Ehrman then wraps up with a series of non sequiturs…

So, if you’re going to invent a Jesus who’s the messiah in fulfillment of expectation, what would that person be like? He’d be the king of Jerusalem! But they didn’t invent that Jesus. They invented—allegedly—they invented a Jesus who got crucified, a Christ that got crucified, but nobody expected a Christ to be crucified. So if you’re inventing somebody in order to meet some kind of public demand for a messiah figure, instead of a messiah who is a great military leader—you invent somebody who is squashed by the enemy, who’s tortured to death—that it was such a problematic category that most Jews absolutely rejected it as a ludicrous idea. So why would you invent a ludicrous idea, if you wanted to convince people? Wouldn’t you invent an idea that made sense to people? Why didn’t they invent the idea that Jesus was a messiah who was a king of Jerusalem? Because everybody knew he wasn’t the king of Jerusalem! There’s no Jesus who was the king of Jerusalem! Why did they invent the idea that the messiah got crucified? Because they knew that Jesus got crucified! They thought he was the messiah; and the big task for them is going ‘How can he be the messiah!?’ if he got crucified. And so, they had to explain that, and Paul, the Apostle Paul, our first author, says it’s the major stumbling block for the Jews. That Jesus got crucified.

That’s not an argument. That’s a hypothesis. A common logical error he and many historians make is to say “My theory explains the evidence, therefore my theory is true!” They forget to ask if an alternative explanation also explains the same evidence just as well (or even better). See OHJ, pp. 512-14. And here, Ehrman isn’t even testing the mythicist thesis. He doesn’t even seem to know what the mythicist explanation of this fact is. And someone who is wholly ignorant of the thesis they are rejecting, is not qualified to have an opinion on that thesis.

Ehrman also is betraying his incompetence as a historian by falsely thinking religions never make up scandalous, ludicrous, difficult-to-believe ideas. In fact, religions routinely do that. Why would Attis cult invent a castrated savior? Why would Romans invent and revere a mythical founder who murdered his own brother? Why would the Nicene council back the wildly illogical Trinitarian creed? How are the seer stone and golden plates of Joseph Smith anything but ludicrous? And why would Mormons advocate polygamy even though it brought severe and constant persecution upon them? Ehrman is a lousy historian if he doesn’t even know that the ludicrous is what religions specialize in. See OHJ, pp. 613-16 (and PH, pp. 124-69).

And yet it wasn’t even all that ludicrous. Human sacrifice as heroic and potent was revered, not laughed at (OHJ, Chapter 5, Element 43; Chapter 4, Element 18). Dying-then-triumphant heroes were ubiquitous among the very savior cults of the time that Christianity most resembled (OHJ, Chapter 4, Elements 13 and 14, and Chapter 5, Element 31). And the scriptures already said there would be a murdered messiah. And the Talmudic Jews agreed the scriptures already said there would be a murdered messiah. So evidently, it wasn’t ludicrous to even Rabbinical Jews, much less to a counter-cultural anti-Rabbinical fringe sect such as Christianity. What was ludicrous was that Christians could claim to know that a celestial archangel had performed this sacrifice (Hebrews 9), when there hadn’t been the public signs expected (OHJ, pp. 613-15). Paul does not say the crucifixion was turning the Jews off. He explicitly said it was the lack of signs confirming it that was turning the Jews off (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). Quoting verses out of context is what Christian apologists do; not what a secular scholar like Bart Ehrman should be doing. That’s pseudo-scholarship.

And on top of that, apart from being hopelessly fact-challenged, Ehrman’s entire point is illogical. As I’ve pointed out before, his question, “Why would you invent” anything other than a victorious king “if you wanted to convince people?” answers itself. Obviously you can’t invent a military victor when no such person exists! So the only messiah anyone could invent was one whose victory was invisible (to all but the revelators announcing it). Thus, Ehrman’s claim that “if” someone invented a messiah, they would have invented a “king of Jerusalem” is false. And it is not merely false; it is false because it is logically impossible. So his argument makes zero sense.

A better question is “Why did they invent the idea that the messiah got crucified?” Because they needed one, is the mythicist answer. It accomplished what they needed: the elimination of dependence on the Jewish temple cult and its Jewish leadership. It also created a plausible Jewish variant of a massively popular fashion among salvation cults at the time. Yet Ehrman does not show any sign of knowing what the mythicist answer to that question is. Because he provides no rebuttal to it. Yet he cannot argue for “a crucified messiah was more likely to be real than a revelation” without rebutting why it made sense as a revelation (OHJ, Chapter 4, Elements 16-18, and Chapter 5, Elements 23-31).

So Ehrman has no logically coherent argument here. And no facts to rest it on. This is not evidence for a historical Jesus. At all. Much less “overwhelmingly.” It’s just as likely that a radical sect like Christianity would invent a celestial sacrificial deity as that they would try selling an actual man as having been one. The odds of either are the same. The odds of either succeeding are the same. This makes the evidential weight of the fact zero.

Conclusion

Because Ehrman continues to ignore, and never honestly conveys (much less ever rebuts), what peer reviewed mythicism actually says, he has no valid opinion in this debate. He is stalwartly avoiding telling the truth about what our thesis is, and what are arguments for it are. Just as he continues to lie about our qualifications, our numbers, and our work having been formally peer reviewed and formally debated by his colleagues. And just as he continues to lie about what the Bible and Talmudic Jews actually say.

It now seems clear. Historicity can only be defended with lies.

 

54 comments

  1. Just a minor nitpick. Trent Horn is an awesome guy and did a really good job in his debate with you (he clearly had read relevant material), but I don’t he would be considered “a colleague” of any expert in the field, which implies he’s a historian or biblical scholar of some kind. He has a Master’s in Theology and is a Catholic apologist.

    Reply
    1. Ironically, that’s true.

      And yet Horn’s end of that debate was far more scholarly and expert than that of Kenneth Waters, who ranted inexpertly like a pulpit preacher, and that even as the SBL’s chosen man.

      So I included Horn because there is no one Ehrman can point to whom he would call a colleague who has done any better at debating this question (apart from Crook; but even Evans tanked).

      Reply
    1. Losing his job is not at all likely. But he may be under other forms of perceived or actual peer pressure. And he might not even be consciously aware of how that is affecting him.

      Reply
    1. I am fairly certain not. He was given an advance draft. And he knows it was published by Sheffield-Phoenix. But nothing he has said since has indicated an awareness of its contents, its thesis, its arguments, or its evidence.

      Reply
  2. Ron Lewis April 25, 2016, 7:24 pm

    Another minor nitpick. It looks to me like “But they’re not by scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines” refers to the previous sentence, “There are a lot of voices out there saying that he didn’t exist”. It doesn’t look like a comment on any scholar’s credentials. There is some ambiguity there, but that’s to be expected for an off-the-cuff answer (would be less forgivable in print).

    If one wanted to hold to the moral high ground and assume good faith (I understand how difficult that might be, while discussing Ehrman), one might argue that “There are a couple of scholars who’ve argued he didn’t exist” means “a comparatively small number of scholars”, and not literally “two scholars”.

    Reply
    1. It’s possible he started out thinking maybe he’d admit that. But he concluded his argument on ‘it’s just internet voices’ and ‘no scholars take this seriously’, with no qualifiers.

      So though he may have started by considering admitting the truth, he ended his statement by never admitting the truth and even erasing it (with the “no colleagues” point, which entails he does not regard me or any of the six others as a colleague or peer; and not mentioning there is one major non-internet-voice: a peer reviewed academic book published by a mainstream biblical studies press). Likewise his “couple of” point is not only a deliberate diminishment (over a handful is not “a couple,” esp. when five of them are sitting professors and emeritus professors), but also a repeat of the same lie he said before and that I called him out on then and had called him out on even before that. So he is not even repentant in correcting his lies. He had been corrected on this twice, and yet still uses the same misleading wording and erasing of the facts.

      This makes the third time I’ve corrected him. I don’t expect he’ll suddenly start telling the truth. History does not bear that prediction out.

      This is exactly like William Lane Craig: even after being corrected on his scientific facts repeatedly, he keeps telling the exact same lie as if he had never been corrected. Which eventually bit him in the ass when Sean Carroll finally called him out on this in a live debate with photos of the experts he was misrepresenting holding up signs saying he was wrong; Stenger had called him out on this in a live debate before that, but didn’t have the zinger of the photos, and Carroll I believe was well aware of Stenger having been ignored and thus prepped the photos to finally shut that shit down, though I’ll bet Craig will just continue repeating the same lies, as he kept doing before.

      Reply
  3. Dave Huntsman April 25, 2016, 7:43 pm

    Out of the several books each of both Ehrman and Crossan I’ve read over the years, I was still left with an empty feeling; since neither of them convincingly (to me) answered the basic question: Did a historical Jesus really most likely exist? I had the opportunity to ask both in person, within a 12-month period (one was in Cleveland, the other Columbus) several years ago. I think I told you over dinner when you were here last year in northeast Ohio, Richard, that, 12-months apart, I got the exact same answer from both: Each, with a wave of their hands, dismissed the seriousness of the question, stating: We know that he existed as much as we know anything for certain. (!) Both scholars considered that an acceptable answer.

    Ehrman went on with a similar question I had about Nazareth; i.e, when I asked, do we know that Nazareth existed as an early first-century village in the Galilee? His answer: It had to – because why would anyone mention a one-mule town like Nazareth if it weren’t real? (In my opinion, while that sort of answer could conceivably lead one to investigate further, it hardly constitutes hard evidence for existence).

    We ‘know’ that certain human beings, by certain names, existed, in the decades and even centuries before the common era (e.g., Julius Caesar, Alexander). One would think that if they maintain that a person more recent than them actually existed in history, that they would want to apply the same rigorous standards to that person, wouldn’t they?

    Reply
    1. Nazareth I’m more sympathetic on.

      It’s very unlikely Nazareth wasn’t a town (and it certainly was a town as of the time the Gospels were written). Though they could at least admit it’s possible it didn’t exist (our certainty is not as good on that as for most other ancient abodes), or give a good reason why it’s unlikely that it didn’t exist (e.g. it’s unlikely that a town that was only founded just years before the Jewish War had become in so short a time large and prestigious enough to be considered as a settlement point for the newly homeless temple priests, men of rather high social station; and arguments from silence to the contrary are all invalid, even the archaeological one). So to just wave it off is a bit unprofessional, IMO.

      Although I do find it amusing, if Ehrman really did argue “why would anyone mention a one-mule town like Nazareth if it weren’t real?” That’s another example of his not doing logic well. If the town didn’t exist, who would think it a one-mule town? It’s self-contradictory to say Nazareth was a one-mule town, so why would anyone invent it, when the people inventing it never said anything about it being a one-mule town. So why are we assuming anyone would think it was? (If we grant that it didn’t exist.) Ehrman can’t even deduce the predictions of a hypothesis correctly.

      The first we hear of it not being prestigious is in the Gospel of John, eighty plus years after the fact…and, incidentally, almost a lifetime since it certainly existed, when John would have known it took in dispossessed priests after the War, so even he did not mean it was a one-mule town (it was clearly a town of some wealth), but merely that it wasn’t a glorious one (it didn’t feature in the Patriarchal narratives, for example). And John only had the Pharisees say that to establish their elitism. John is trying to characterize the Pharisees as elitist assholes, and posing Nicodemus as the heroic voice against them (see NIF, pp. 66-70), so that they would think Nazareth not prestigious may have been even more of a biting point had Nazareth not been a one-mule town. So it probably wasn’t. (There is no other evidence anywhere that it was.) So understanding the literary context is again something Ehrman sucks at; he treats the Gospels like fundamentalists do, as literal journalistic reporting that has no “point” coloring what is being made to be said and why. “John said Nazareth was lame, so it definitely was, we know that for certain!” is basically exemplifying the failure mode for the function “scholar.”

      Anyway, I think Nazareth did exist. But no one said Jesus came from there until Mark, who was reifying the prophecy mentioned by Matthew (see PH, index “Nazareth”). And it wouldn’t have been a polis, i.e. a city with stone architecture, public library, etc., which elitists considered the only “towns” worth living in. But there was a large continuum between that and being merely a “one-mule town.”

      Reply
    2. Dave Barnard April 26, 2016, 5:57 pm

      I’m convinced Erhman is doing this whole charade for maximum financial gain.

      Search on Google ” Bart Erhman books”. Sort by year oldest to latest. Note that the Da Vinci code was written in 2003. Now notice how many books Erhman wrote from 2003 onwards vs what happened before.

      That’s called capitalising on a market of Christians who were feeling ” can I really trust the Bible completely”

      That broad market still exists. Erhman has to keep Jesus as a real man who existed otherwise he will lose his target audience.

      Reply
      1. There may be financial motive (even unconsciously). But Ehrman could certainly make bank on a book coming out mythicist. I doubt it would hurt his bottom line on the publishing market.

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  4. Kingasaurus April 25, 2016, 8:21 pm

    —” It’s just as likely that a radical sect like Christianity would invent a celestial sacrificial deity as that they would try selling an actual man as having been one.”—-
    .

    Could you argue that inventing the celestial figure is easier, since you can just make up any details or attributes you’d prefer about him? You can certainly invent false stories involving a recently-deceased man also, but I’m just wondering if the former is more attractive simply because you have nothing at all tethering you to actual earthly events.

    Reply
  5. Richard Moore April 25, 2016, 9:41 pm

    Thanks for the comments. I attended this lecture at FCC, and was disappointed when Dr. Ehrman responded to the mythicist question with a couple of obvious logical fallacies (one does not even have to have any background knowledge in the subject to see his response is fallacious). I would think at this point, since Dr. Ehrman is asked this question a lot, he would have a very precise and well-argued response.

    I also did not appreciate his “poisoning the well” with his preface that no one really believes or discusses the mythicist hypothesis: it insults the intelligence of the audience, as every major paradigm shift always initially exists in such of state of disbelief by the “experts”, but that disbelief does not affect the eventual truth value of the hypothesis. Only objective evidence can do that. I am sure that Dr. Ehrman himself considers as “proven” an number of hypotheses that at one time were roundly rejected, or ignored.

    Reply
    1. Indeed, he was even more explicit in insulting the audience the previous time he did this.

      And this reflects his elitism, IMO. He regards amateurs with disdain. And thus, actually, regards his audience and his readers with disdain. He would not think he does. But these kinds of remarks expose his haughtiness and his contempt for “the ignorant masses.”

      This same elitist mindset is IMO why he never develops good arguments to answer these questions with, and why he will never debate me and has never and will never read my book: he is so arrogantly certain he is right, he doesn’t need to read my book, and he doesn’t need to develop better arguments or even pay any attention to what he is arguing against (as would be required to actually work up a good argument against it); it’s all just “obviously false,” so who needs to think about it?

      Craig Evans did the same thing when he kept just insisting in our debate that things were “obvious” that not only weren’t obvious, but arguably weren’t even true. Even after I pressed him repeatedly to explain why things were obvious, what actual thing made them obvious, he did not answer, he just kept repeating “it’s just obvious” (as in “it just is; why are you still talking?”).

      Likewise, Ehrman won’t debate me because I’m too “mean,” which actually means because I use the language of the common people (words like “sucks”) and I document his errors and lies (which is considered gauche among the more elitist of scholars, and their fans). Ehrman prefers polite, highbrowly-worded lies to blunt, colloquially-worded truths. The latter makes me “despicable,” while the former makes him better than me. Such an attitude betrays a fundamental disdain for the truth, and a disturbingly excessive value placed on social status.

      Reply
  6. Ehrman is so likeable for the most part except for this ONE FUCKING ISSUE. Argh. “Overwhelming evidence” is a phrase he just doesn’t use, except here where there clearly is so little evidence that…argh.

    Still, the trend is towards mythicism, which might even fan the flames of the faithful even more since they’d have to work so much harder to stay in the same spot.

    Reply
  7. gshelley April 26, 2016, 7:43 am

    But they’re not by scholars who are actually trained in any historical disciplines.

    Does Bart Ehrman have training in History? He has a current post on “Being qualified to write a scholarly book” but most of it is in the pay section. I’d imagine he argues you don’t need a PhD in the specific subject, but having one in general is essential, given that he has just written a book about the role of memory, something he is no expert in, in the transmission of stories about Jesus, but who knows, he certainly has previously argued for the need for very specific qualifications.

    His degrees seem to be in religion/theology/divinity, but that doesn’t necessarily tell us much, as the general are amay just reflect which department grants it, not the actual content of the degree, and from reading “Does Jesus exist”, it seems he doesn’t understand how the historical process works outside the Jesus field, but again, I think anyone who has read the book that has any sort of background knowledge in the subject would have to accept that any exertise he does have is lost beneath his desperate need to rationalise away his own beliefs.

    Reply
    1. I’d imagine he argues you don’t need a PhD in the specific subject

      No. Ironically, Ehrman has in fact argued the exact opposite: that only persons with hyper-specifically exactly the right Ph.D. are qualified to discuss this!

      So yes, the fact that he lacks even an undergraduate degree in history (his Ph.D. is in theology; all his others are in divinity and ministry) is sadly ironic for someone who would argue such an absurd thing. He has even complained about me making this an issue of qualifications, which galled the fuck out of me because he was the one who did that, forcing me to respond. Rather like someone who hits you in the face, and then when you hit back they complain about you starting a fistfight. (He has done things like that several times, e.g. here.)

      Reply
  8. gshelley April 26, 2016, 7:49 am

    So, if you’re going to invent a Jesus who’s the messiah in fulfillment of expectation, what would that person be like? He’d be the king of Jerusalem! But they didn’t invent that Jesus.

    OK, I had intended just one brief comment, but this struck me.

    How does Ehrman think they would have invented this Jesus? I can accept that some of the Gospels show an odd understanding of customs and geography, and may have been written for an audience well away from the physical area, but surely if there was a gospel telling of how Jesus led the Jews to a successful revolt against the Romans and was now ruling as king in Jerusalem, someone would have noticed this was not the case

    Reply
  9. Alex N April 26, 2016, 9:27 am

    Very interesting how much Ehrman imports these kinds of traditional apologetics into his views.

    But just one thing, how can one say that:

    “Paul does not say the crucifixion was turning the Jews off. He explicitly said it was the lack of signs confirming it that was turning the Jews off (1 Corinthians 2:22-24). ”

    Doesn’t this passage specifically say that “Christ crucified” is a “stumbling block (or scandal) for Jews?

    Thx

    Reply
    1. Click the link and read the passage in context.

      It’s a stumbling block because “the Jews seek signs” (and it is “foolishness” because the Greeks “seek wisdom,” i.e. rational philosophical arguments, not bible codes and spirit communications, vis-a-vis Romans 16:25-26).

      Meaning, the Jews won’t accept the gospel’s claims without sufficient divine signs that those claimed events occurred.

      But even insofar as the crucifixion is perplexing, it’s equally perplexing for a sage as for an angel. And Paul and the first Christians were already preaching that Jesus was an angel. Which evidently never was a stumbling block. Which is telling. It would evoke even more skepticism to try and convince Jews a recent historical man was an angel (as surely he’d have proven such an astonishing thing himself) than it would to convince them his death had atoning powers (a concept already well established in Jewish thinking, e.g. it was taught reverently of the Maccabean Martyrs, so it wasn’t ever a stumbling block for Jews—the Jews had already invented the idea!).

      Reply
  10. Dave Barnard April 26, 2016, 5:27 pm

    Richard – Bart Erhman is trying to make lots of money selling books and giving talks.

    The majority of his audience are not “hardcore” atheists like you and me athey are probably some Joe or Mary who has stopped going to church and now questions god….

    If you sat Bart Erhman in a chair with a lie detector attached to his body which is connected to a shot gun pint at his head and you had to ask him whether HE thought Jess ever existed he would answer “NO”.

    It’s just that it’s not good business in the USA to be a “Jesus denyer” because how can you ever be then saved by something you believe is a myth.

    I’m sorry to say this Richard but because you openly state WHAT YOU BELIEVE is true based on evidence it limits you to how much money you can really make.

    Look at all the top evangelists in the US . Do you think Creflo Dollar ever saw an amputees legs grow back . What about Joyce Myers ? What about all the muti millionaire evangelicals out there. None of them have seen it. Surely they must be questioning *WHY*…… but they are not — because they are running a business as a former of entertainment. That’s was Erhmans books and views are — they’re showbiz — to rack in the dollar signs baby.

    Reply
    1. Dave Barnard April 27, 2016, 11:21 am

      I Erhman said ” Jesus never existed” and sold that as a book , yes the book would sell VERY well. Why? Because it’s the end of the tale.

      Erhman knows that. Look , I just want to commend you on being an honest person . I’m not a theologian or a pastor . I’m just your average run of the mill USCPA. I was born into a religious family . I loved Christmas and I loved easter .

      Unfortunately , the fairytale ended there.

      Carrier , you are a legend my friend and if I ever meet you , a bottle of Glen Morangie is on me.

      BTW – screw the cheap ass shit – I buying you a bottle of Laphroaig 10 year old. That’s the good shit right there . You can thank me later.

      Reply
      1. That’s not true. If Jesus didn’t exist, everything about Christian history has to be rethought and rewritten. That’s thousands of potential future monographs. On the origins of Christianity. On the development of its historicizing legends. On the original intent and meaning of every Gospel pericope. On the role of the Jewish War in transforming how Christians decided to package and market their mythology. On whether hints of the original sect’s views can be found within the evolved teachings of “heretical” sects as can be discerned from surviving fragments and polemics (in OHJ I point out areas of needed study in the Ascension of Isaiah, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Hegesippus, etc.).

        There is endless book potential in this.

        So I think rather, insofar as financials have any pressure on him, it has more to do with his family and peers and social status and impact on his university’s funding, than with whether he can retool his own publishing agenda.

        Reply
  11. I was so pissed off at the debate you had with Evans. Evans is a respected scholar who really knows his stuff and I was seriously looking forward to someone who actually took your arguments seriously and studied your relevant material to give good criticism and rebuttal. We didn’t get any of that. I’m guessing Evans thought you were about as loony as Acharya S and that you believed in the ridiculous parallel-mania. After your first presentation I bet he was completely thrown off lol. I’m not trying to hate on Craig Evans here but damn was I disappointed. All he did the whole time was appeal to the consensus and hypocritically use special pleading the whole time, “Oh no that is ridiculous”, or “Nobody thinks this is true”. Richard do you know if he actually read any of your books or at least OHJ? I’m a junior in high school and I’ve read your book four times and could probably give you a better debate lol. I don’t say that to imply Craig is stupid! I say it to imply that it seems he really could’ve cared less to actually take you serious.

    Reply
  12. Ben H April 27, 2016, 1:21 am

    Why do you think scholars don’t see (or admit) the force of Daniel 9? They always respond with “that passage isn’t about the messiah, but about the Maccabean crisis,etc..”. But, its original meaning is irrelevant (to this argument). Who cares if its about Antiochus et al?! The only thing that matters is that it says a messiah will die. End of story. Obviously, Jews reading after the time of the Maccabees still regard the book of Daniel as scripture. Do these scholars forget how prophecy works? Scholars have no problem seeing how a Jew (e.g. Matthew) could read Micah or Exodus or whatever, and take a passage out of context, and apply it to Jesus in his own time. But then when it comes to Daniel, they say “No way! There’s no way a first century Jew might’ve taken one of the most confusing, weirdly worded predictions in the entire bible, and recalculated the mysterious timeline it gives. There’s no way they could’ve taken a line about a messiah dying, to mean the messiah would die.” What blinds them to this?

    Reply
    1. It makes no sense, indeed. Because Ehrman actually agrees with what you just said; as I wrote before:

      Ehrman has confusingly tried to dismiss that … by claiming that Daniel 9 was about a past figure, but that is moot: by the dawn of the first century, few Jews were seeing it that way, but regarding Daniel as an as-yet-unfulfilled scripture, and therefore not about a past figure (it is actually undeniable that the Melchizedek scroll sees it that way, and Josephus attests to others who did as well). And Ehrman is perfectly capable of understanding this. Because he says exactly the same thing of Daniel 7: “However one interprets Daniel in its original second-century BCE context, what is clear is that eventually in some Jewish circles it came to be thought that” it was referring to a “future deliverer” ([How Jesus Became God] p. 65). As for Daniel 7, so for Daniel 9. For the exact same reasons. Ehrman thus doesn’t even follow his own advice. Once again, much like a Christian apologist.

      This looks like lying. Ehrman knows the principle he cites in dismissing Dan. 9 is false. He has even denounced that principle himself. Yet he cites it anyway. We call that two-faced. That’s a dirty, dishonest, Christian apologetics tactic. It’s even more disgusting seeing a secular scholar use it.

      Reply
  13. Alif April 27, 2016, 8:56 am

    Dr Carrier:

    In a slide in the Evans debate you mention’d Galatians 4.14 where Paul understands Christ as being an angel.
    There is a parallelism there ὡς ἄγγελον Θεοῦ ἐδέξασθέ με ὡς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν
    – does the parallelism nesasrily intail identity?

    elsewhere it mightn’t: “Unless the Lord Almighty had left us descendants, we would have become as [ὡς] Sodom, we would have been as [ὡς] Gomorrah.” Romans 9.29; Isaiah 1.19

    Reply
  14. booker April 27, 2016, 2:43 pm

    It’s the “Jesus when?” question that I come back to. Yes, there could have been an historical man that was killed that his followers began to see in visions, either giving rise to the belief of a sacrificed messiah or in accordance with an already present expectation of such. And this could have happened contemporaneously or they could have been interpreting scripture to identify this with someone who died previously. But if there was really a man, then he would have really died (and earlier been born) in a certain year, and you would think that would be relatively fixed. Yet we have only an approximate year of his death from the Gospels that could be one of several years, along with the others placing his death under different periods as much as a century earlier or a few decades later (not to mention the discrepancies in dating his birth from Matthew and Luke). It seems like if there really was a man this would be more fixed, yet if there wasn’t we can expect that it would be all over the place, as it is. But also considering the emphasis Paul places on scripture and revelation in learning about Jesus, and that the mystery was there all along but only now is revealed, if he was a real man, then why does Paul need to go to Old Testament scripture to find out about him? It gets to a point where squeezing a man in just seems to complicate things.

    One other comment. Bart Ehrman often makes the claim, and it was one that Craig Evans threw out in your recent debate, that “historicity is the best explanation we have” for the rise of Christianity. Which obviously ignores what OHJ has to say about this. So perhaps what is now needed, after having established “why we might have reason for doubt” in regard to Jesus’ existence, is a book offering a clean, chronological narrative explaining the development of Christianity without an earthly Jesus (and from what I’ve seen on youtube, you’re already doing a little of this with your presentations). Starting with the apocalyptic prophecies of Jeremiah, Daniel, etc., leading to development of the Septuagint and its role, to the development of the early Christian gospel as pulled from scripture, to the onset of personal revelation (Cephas, etc.) and the foundation of the Jerusalem church, to the letters of Paul, to the “void,” to the creation of the Gospels, etc. Perhaps if it was spelled out as such it would be harder for them to ignore.

    Reply
    1. That actually already exists in OHJ. Chapter 12.4, with back-references (to e.g. the numbered section discussing the Jeremiah-Daniel-DSS-Christianity causal timeline, the numbered section on the void, etc.).

      Experts in this field really shouldn’t require more hand-holding than that. It’s kind of sad if they do, though.

      Reply
  15. Has Erhman commented on Lataster’s peer reviewed paper and presentation on why New Testament historians aren’t doing good history?

    I watched the Evans debate the other day and would love to recommend it but sadly I cant.

    Evans was terrible.

    If anyone wants a condensed version of his argument, I’d recommend the 14 minutes of “questions to the other debater” section.

    Evans was offered the first chance to ask Dr Carrier a question, but after 3 or 4 minutes of “no one serious seriously believes this stuff” the moderator has to interrupt him to ask if he actually has a question to put. Evans claims he does and immediately turns to the audience and starts preaching again.

    Dr Carrier then asks Evans what is the evidence that the “James the brother of Jesus” (his most compelling HJ argument) is reference to a sibling rather than a bro? Evans actually says “because its written there, in the book”, with the implication “period” (or “full stop” for us Brits).

    I assume that as the event was co-sponsored the audience was at least 50% christian, but I wasn’t seeing much love for Evans by the end of it.

    Reply
    1. No, indeed, it was very weak tea and I think most of the audience pretty much concurred.

      Meanwhile, Ehrman won’t address mythicists. He is adamant that he won’t debate us, or read anything we write under peer review, or respond to it. Kind of like a child. He only agreed to debate Price because it got $5000 for his favorite charity (whatever that will turn out to be), and Price hasn’t criticized Ehrman in any significant way (so he probably thinks he’ll be a pushover).

      Reply
    2. MrHorse April 27, 2016, 9:07 pm

      Yes, the “14 minutes of ‘questions to the other debater’ section” at the end is very telling, both in the way Evans appeals to tradition (and some nebulous ‘authority’), as well as how well Richard addresses various issues.

      Reply
  16. John MacDonald April 28, 2016, 2:01 pm

    It may not even matter whether the Jews of the Old Testament thought the messiah would suffer or not, because Jesus is portrayed as specifically thinking this of himself. Mark affirms the atoning death when he writes “For even the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, (Mark 10:45).” And Jesus further affirms that this is God’s plan in Mark in the Garden of Gethsemane when in agony Jesus petitions God to no make him have to go though with the atoning deatt: “If there be any other way, let this cup pass.”

    Reply
  17. cameronenglish April 28, 2016, 9:04 pm

    The Talmudic Jews preached that the messiah would suffer and die. So it clearly was not nonsensical. Even the Old Testament said the messiah would die. More on that in a moment. But the Talmud is clear on the matter …

    The Talmud is too late to be relevant, though. You frequently argue, for example, that the Synoptics are too late to tell us much about the earliest Christians, so how can you rely on Jewish texts that were produced hundreds of years after the fact to make your case for a suffering messiah?

    There is in fact no evidence of any Jew ever finding this notion nonsensical. Many found it not to their preference. But it still made sense (as Hebrews 9 makes clear; see also OHJ, Chapter 4, Element 18, and Chapter 5, Elements 31 and 43). Especially since he wasn’t defeated in this account, but gained the power from it that he would use upon his return. Thus, a dying messiah is also a militarily victorious messiah. He just has to get resurrected.

    This proves the point you were trying to refute in Not The Impossible Faith. It took belief in the resurrection, whether it happened or not, to vindicate a crucified messiah, because no one anticipated him to die such a shameful death.

    Moreover, these interpretations of the Old Testament verses you cite come only after Jesus’ death. You need evidence that some Jews found your interpretation reasonable before the crucifixion; you can’t just claim that they wouldn’t have found it nonsensical, then fall back on diversity of belief among Jews of the period.

    A better question is “Why did they invent the idea that the messiah got crucified?” Because they needed one, is the mythicist answer. It accomplished what they needed: the elimination of dependence on the Jewish temple cult and its Jewish leadership.

    Why did they have to invent either? The Old Testament is filled with examples of the Hebrews defeating superior enemies, so Jews of the first century very likely thought someone would eventually defeat Rome, too. They didn’t have to invent this figure because real leaders, Bar Kokhba for example, actually tried.

    Reply
    1. The Talmud is too late to be relevant, though.

      No, it isn’t. Even late, it disproves the claim (that Jews would never countenance a dying or suffering messiah, or regard Isaiah 53 as about the messiah). And it is not likely to be a late development that it records, as I explain in Ch. 4 of OHJ, Element 5 (indeed those are even less likely to have developed within mainstream Judaism after Christianity started making those claims). And it is verified by Isaiah, Daniel, Psalms, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Which all predate Christianity.

      Moreover, given that we have no Jewish sources saying the contrary, and we know countless Jewish sects existed from whom we don’t get to read their views on this matter at all, Ehrman cannot make the claim he does. It stands on no evidence. And is contradicted by all the evidence we do happen to have.

      This proves the point you were trying to refute in Not The Impossible Faith. It took belief in the resurrection, whether it happened or not, to vindicate a crucified messiah, because no one anticipated him to die such a shameful death.

      That doesn’t answer any point I make in NIF. Obviously they needed Jesus to be resurrected and not stay dead. That is never challenged anywhere in NIF.

      That they needed this has no bearing at all as to whether they had evidence he did. To the contrary, their need to believe it, already affords adequate reason to. This is a point I have been making for over a decade (e.g. in The Empty Tomb, esp. chs. on Burial and Theft). I even make this very point in NIF. E.g….

      …it is certainly true—and I consistently concede the point throughout my critique—that Christians still had to offer some evidence that Jesus was the one raised. But the issue is whether they needed “irrefutable” evidence. (p. 43)

      And…

      …the Gospel did not really preach a god crucified. No one converted thinking they were worshipping a defeated, disgraced god. To the contrary, from the very beginning the Gospel preached a God crucified and raised to glory. Many a potential convert could find that attractive. Christ was a victorious god receiving the ultimate honor, not a god defeated in humiliation. His crucifixion was only a temporary defeat. The god actually being worshipped, therefore, was not defeated at all—he lived, and sat on the ultimate heavenly throne, his power attested on earth in the charisma, conviction, and “miracles” that belief in him inspired (more on that point in Chapter 13). Not everyone bought it, of course. But many would have. And many did. (p. 31)

      So, you clearly didn’t read NIF. You should make sure you know what you are talking about before making assertions from the armchair. Because the latter will only embarrass you. As I just did.

      Moreover, these interpretations of the Old Testament verses you cite come only after Jesus’ death. You need evidence that some Jews found your interpretation reasonable before the crucifixion; you can’t just claim that they wouldn’t have found it nonsensical, then fall back on diversity of belief among Jews of the period.

      To the contrary. Ehrman needs evidence that these verses weren’t interpreted as plainly written. He is the one making an assertion about what Jews believed. An assertion with no evidence. The fact that we don’t know what all various Jews thought is pointing this out: Ehrman has no evidence for his claim.

      Indeed even his only argument (that the verses were written originally about past people) he himself has refuted (by admitting that Jews did not read these prophecies as about past people anymore, but future people). And this is directly confirmed, not only for the prophets in general, but for both Daniel 9 and Isaiah 53 specifically, in the Dead Sea Scrolls, which are pre-Christian Jewish documents. See OHJ, Element 5.

      Why did they have to invent either?

      Read the sections I cite on the point in OHJ. That’s why I cited them. That’s where the answer is laid out and documented.

      The Old Testament is filled with examples of the Hebrews defeating superior enemies, so Jews of the first century very likely thought someone would eventually defeat Rome, too. They didn’t have to invent this figure because real leaders, Bar Kokhba for example, actually tried.

      Wrong century.

      But that’s not the point. A Jesus did not conquer the world. So no one could have after the fact “invented” a Jesus who did. Everyone would know no such Jesus existed or did any such thing. That is why no such Jesus could be invented.

      If you are inventing a messiah in past history, the only kind of messiah you can invent is one whose triumph was invisible.

      While some Jews were busy trying to invent future messiahs, the Christians invented a past one. That is the datum we have to explain. Even Ehrman must do so, because if Jesus existed, he existed in the past when the Christian movement started.

      On mythicism the historical Jesus was not invented until long after the movement had started. So when they invented that Jesus, they couldn’t invent a world conqueror.

      Meanwhile, when the movement started, the “gospel and preaching of Jesus Christ” was only known “according to the revelation” and “by the scriptures of the prophets” (Rom. 16:25-26), so the messiah’s entire existence, not just his triumph, was invisible to all but the apostles to whom it was revealed, and those who “discovered” it in the Christian pesherim.

      Why that was a move that made sense at the time, is explained in OHJ. That is, indeed, pretty much the main point of the whole book.

      Reply
  18. cameronenglish April 29, 2016, 6:19 am

    Even late, it disproves the claim (that Jews would never countenance a dying or suffering messiah, or regard Isaiah 53 as about the messiah). And it is not likely to be a late development that it records,

    Timing is everything, and you know that. Texts written centuries after the events you’re discussing simply can’t be the basis for your argument. That the Talmudic authors are describing much earlier beliefs about a suffering messiah is pure conjecture on your part.

    Moreover, given that we have no Jewish sources saying the contrary, and we know countless Jewish sects existed from whom we don’t get to read their views on this matter at all, Ehrman cannot make the claim he does.

    I’ve seen you use the same reasoning in debates, too . You point to the gaps in our knowledge and then argue from silence that your thesis is probable. In this case, Ehrman is an idiot because perhaps there were pre-Christian Jews somewhere who were looking out for a crucified messiah. I mean, there’s no evidence that they weren’t expecting him! Ridiculous. Ehrman’s point (And Stark’s and McGrath’s and Wright’s etc.) is based on what we actually know about Judaism in antiquity.

    So, you clearly didn’t read NIF. You should make sure you know what you are talking about before making assertions from the armchair. Because the latter will only embarrass you. As I just did.

    I did read it; I’ll quote it to you in a minute. But you’re missing the point. Ehrman said Jews wouldn’t have made up a crucified deity because it would have been outrageous. You countered that they would have in order to break away from the temple cult, but they could only have converted people if they had evidence that Jesus was vindicated–which was Holding’s original claim.

    At the same time, however, you argue that Jesus was just the Jewish version of the pagan savior deities who were all the rage at the time, comparable to mythical figures like Inanna, and “… there was no more evidence that Inanna was ‘really vindicated’ by resurrection than Jesus was,” to quote you in NIF.

    I understand that “the only kind of messiah you can invent is one whose triumph was invisible” under your hypothesis, but people still would have needed a convincing reason to convert, and you say in NIF that there was no such evidence. And the data Holding presents you dismiss as exaggerated or entirely fabricated, which the ancients were too dumb to investigate.

    Wrong century. But that’s not the point.

    There are earlier examples, and that’s exactly the point. Plenty of other candidates fit the messianic bill better than Jesus, so there was simply no need to invent such a figure, at any point in history. You literally had to write an alternative history of Christianity to sidestep the significance of basic facts like this one.

    Reply
    1. I’m in transit presently, so I’ll answer in more depth in a couple of days. But you are not paying attention to my arguments in OHJ (e.g. several paragraphs of arguments is not “mere conjecture,” but arguments, which you are ignoring). If you can’t respond to my actual arguments, except to pretend I didn’t make any, you’ve already lost this debate.

      Reply
  19. Vance Grey April 30, 2016, 8:50 pm

    Do you count only US philosophers? Anthony Grayling in the UK has written much about religion. I recently read his book “The God Argument” but have read other works by Grayling and find myself in general agreement with what he says. What do you think of him?

    Reply
  20. Paul K. May 1, 2016, 3:46 am

    Dr. Carrier, you may have addressed this in your book, but I’m not sure: why the cross? Why the Roman crucifixion as a method of the heavenly Jesus’ execution? Unlike earthly Jesus, the heavenly Jesus could have been executed by any method available to the demons, so why would 1st century Jewish originators have chosen the method that was specifically used by the earthly Romans (and not Jewish authorities)?

    Reply
    1. Actually, Paul never says it was a Roman crucifixion. He only ever uses the same words used of all crucifixions, including the Sanhedrin’s method described in the Mishnah and the Septuagint (so indeed, it is also descriptive of Jewish techniques), which latter also uses it of the methods of more ancient Jews and Assyrians (and being Biblical, explains its inference from a pesher). See the definitions section in Chapter 4 of OHJ, and the scholarship cited there on this.

      Reply
  21. Mikael Smith May 1, 2016, 10:29 am

    Hey,

    I have been wondering if there were Jews that waited Messiah to suffer and die, then why the Gospels potray the disciples as a way that they do not wait their Master to die? In Gospels, Jesus’s death is considered as defeat by the disciples. If that wasn’t necessary or useful, then why that kind of story is there? The big picture gives us an idea that disciples didn’t even wait that Jesus would return from death.

    Reply
    1. The Gospels are writing fiction. They are mimicking the way the Jewish followers of Moses behaved (and also the crew of Odysseus) in order to market a point (similar to when preachers claim to have once been foolish sinners and atheists and now see the light and therefore this proves how honest and right they must be now). Details are discussed in Chapter 10 of OHJ.

      Reply
  22. Giuseppe May 1, 2016, 12:42 pm

    I would have a question about the Ascension of Isaiah.

    Do you think that this list reflects better your view about the descend and death of the Son in that text?

    (Seventh Heaven)
    10:16 These commands I heard the Great Glory giving to my Lord.
    10:17 And so I saw my Lord go forth from the seventh heaven into the sixth heaven

    (Sixth Heaven)
    10:19 And I saw, and when the angels saw Him, thereupon those in the sixth heaven praised and lauded Him; for He had not been transformed after the shape of the angels there, and they praised Him and I also praised with them.

    (Fifth Heaven)
    10:20 And I saw when He descended into the fifth heaven, that in the fifth heaven He made Himself like unto the form of the angels there, and they did not praise Him (nor worship Him); for His form was like unto theirs.

    (Forth Heaven)
    10:21 And then He descended into the forth heaven, and made Himself like unto the form of the angels there.

    (Third Heaven)
    10:23 And again I saw when He descended into the third heaven, and He made Himself like unto the form of the angels in the third heaven.

    (Second Heaven)
    10:26 And I saw when He made Himself like unto the form of the angels in the second heaven, and they saw Him and they did not praise Him; for His form was like unto their form.

    (First Heaven)
    10:27 And again I saw when He descended into the first heaven, and there also He gave the password to those who kept the gate, and He made Himself like unto the form of the angels who were on the left of that throne, and they neither praised nor lauded Him; for His form was like unto their form.

    (Firmament)
    10:29 And again He descended into the firmament where dwelleth the ruler of this world, and He gave the password to those on the left, and His form was like theirs, and they did not praise Him there; but they were envying one another and fighting; for here there is a power of evil and envying about trifles.

    (Air = the lower part of the Firmament)
    10:30 And I saw when He descended and made Himself like unto the angels of the air, and He was like one of them.

    (Air = the lower part of the Firmament = where the Beloved is killed)
    8:10 Undergoing (successive) transformation until He resembles your form and likeness. , 8:26 Not (yet) hath been manifested he shall be in the corruptible world and the garments, and the thrones, and the crowns which are laid up for the righteous, for those who trust in that Lord who will descend in your form.
    9:13 Nevertheless they see and know whose will be thrones, and whose the crowns when He has descended and been made in your form, and they will think that He is flesh and is a man.
    9:14 And the god of that world will stretch forth his hand against the Son, and they will crucify Him on a tree, and will slay Him not knowing who He is.

    (Sheol)
    10:10 And thou wilt be careful to become like the form of the angels of the firmament and the angels also who are in Sheol.

    Ascend starts:

    Firmament (more precisely, upper part of the Firmament)
    11:23 And I saw Him, and He was in the firmament, but He had not changed Himself into their form, and all the angels of the firmament and the Satans saw Him and they worshipped.

    Thanks for any correction,
    Giuseppe

    Reply
    1. I’m not sure, because it would take too long to vet your translation and assembly of passages. Just rely on my treatment in Chapter 3.1. That tells you what I think and why, and what translations I employ. So if you want to know what my take is, that’s what that section was written to tell you.

      Reply
  23. John MacDonald October 10, 2017, 10:07 pm

    Even if we assume historicism, I would say there is really less good hermeneutic ground to claim Jesus was an apocalyptic thinker than Dr. Ehrman allows. Paul says Jesus was the “First fruits (1 Corinthians 15:23).” of the general resurrection of souls at the end of days, but all this means is that Jesus was being interpreted by some after his death in an apocalyptic way, which would speak to Paul’s apocalyptic ideology, not necessarily Jesus’. As for the Gospel of Mark, the apocalyptic presentation of Jesus there may just reflect Mark’s desire to invent material to present Jesus as greater than John the Baptist and his apocalyptic message, in the same way Matthew invents material to make Jesus appear as The New Moses. Or Mark may have just been providing a narrative framework for the apocalyptic message he found in Paul’s letters. As for later gospels, those writers may just have been transmitting and inventing apocalyptic material based on what they had heard in their communities and in their travels – or from Mark. In short, there seems to be less ground on which to stand and call the historical Jesus an apocalyptic prophet than Dr. Ehrman realizes.  At least that’s what I think.

    Reply
    1. John MacDonald October 10, 2017, 10:31 pm

      And is there any reason to suppose Jesus’ apocalyptic message simply from Q, when the apocalyptic message there may simply reflect familiarity with Paul, or just an apocalyptic interpretation of Jesus spreading around after Jesus died?

      Reply

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