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Jan 02 2013

I’m Back, Now Help Ed Brayton!

I know fans will want to hear my news, but I want you to give someone else a hand, it’s way more important, so please read on.

Yesterday I finished the principal draft of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ. Today I’m taking a trip to the library to double check some essentials, and that will continue for some weeks. But this book is twice as long as Proving History, so to jump start it in the pipeline, I’ll begin the peer review, submission, and production process next week. The book could go to press even in its current state (it’s a polished and complete manuscript). I just want to make sure every i is dotted and every t is crossed, so now I begin clearing through my “check this to be sure” pile of books and articles.

Picture of Ed Brayton and FTB bioI was so close to getting to that point that I have been doing nothing but writing, nosing the grindstone, for the last three weeks and neglecting the outside world, including my blog and email. When I swam back to the surface I found that (as many of you may already know; I’m way behind) Ed Brayton, one of the founders of the Freethought Blogs network and a great blogger on American law and politics from an atheist perspective that I read regularly here (Dispatches from the Culture Wars), had a severe emergency leading to open heart surgery.

Ed’s in good condition, but as we all know, medical insurance doesn’t really pay your medical bills (much less your lost wages), it just “softens the blow” so to speak. If you have anything to spare and want to help out someone who does good work informing the community and who was instrumental in creating and running this blog network, head on over and put something in his tip jar, or even just subscribe to his blog (the plan is to let you view it from then on without any annoying ads, but I don’t know if that’s been implemented yet or if it can be done; for now it’s just to show continuing support for a blogger you like).

See How You Can Help on how to help, and to read more about what happened see Ed’s Not So Excellent Adventure and Merry Christmas.

And welcome all to the new year! We all survived the collision with Nibiru, I think partly due to the galactic realignment canceling it out. Or it hit Jesus on his way to kill us. Two birds, you know. Anyway, whew. That was a close one.

11 comments

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  1. 1
    Elle87

    It looks like Hoffmann is about to come out with a book supporting historicity.

    http://rjosephhoffmann.wordpress.com/2012/12/29/jesus-the-outline/

    Do you think it will be better argued than Ehrman’s latest book? What do you think of the points he makes?

    1. 1.1
      Richard Carrier

      Will a book by him on this be any good? No idea. But his recently bizarre behavior is not encouraging on that point.

      As to the points in that blog, there is no argument there. He just says what he thinks is true about Jesus. He doesn’t say why or by what method he could confirm any of it or how his theory explains the evidence in the Epistles or why his view is any better than any of the dozens of other contradictory conclusions historians have come to. In short, it simply ignores the whole point I make in chapter 1 of Proving History. Presumably in a book he would fill in those blanks. But I can’t evaluate a book that doesn’t yet exist.

  2. 2
    Nikos Apostolakis

    And welcome all to the new year! We all survived the collision with Nibiru, I think partly due to the galactic realignment canceling it out. Or it hit Jesus on his way to kill us. Two birds, you know. Anyway, whew. That was a close one.

    Actually the Doctor dit it. He saved us.

    http://stupidevilbastard.com/2012/12/a-plan-for-december-22nd/

    1. 2.1
      Richard Carrier

      Yay!

  3. 3
    Coffin

    I hope Ed really gets all the help possible. On a different note, Im a big fan of your work on the real origins of christianity and the bible and all that, but Im wondering who out there is doing the same or similar work on islam for example? Because I have started studying asian sciences at Bonn university and there is also a study of islam sciences there, so I tend to get into alot of arguments with people (for some reason ;))

    1. 3.1
      Richard Carrier

      I’m not the one to ask. But Heina Dadabhoy is writing an “Islam 101″ book for skeptics that might provide guidance. I’ll blog it when it’s out.

      Meanwhile, the Secular Web has a booklist and additional articles. Ibn Warraq is the best known skeptical author on Islamic history. But I don’t know the quality of his work.

    2. 3.2
      Coffin

      Thank you for the quick answer, I will look into all of it once I find the time. In german, I found the books by Hamed Abd-el Samad to be most interesting. I can’t find any infos on english translations though. It’s too bad really, I honestly think there are alot of german language books that would deserve a proper outing in the english speaking world, like books by Michael Schmidt-Salomon, Karl-Heinz Deschner, Hans Albert and the like.

    3. Richard Carrier

      I’ve noted the same thing in my primary field, ancient science and technology: several books are practically required reading that are only available in German. For example, Peter Rosumek’s Technischer Fortschritt und Rationalisierung im antiken Bergbau (1982) and Astrid Schürmann’s Griechische Mechanik und antike Gesellschaft: Studien zur staatlichen Förderung einer technischen Wissenschaft (1991). Translation, especially of technical works, is very expensive and not at all profitable, so that’s probably why. There would have to be an educational charity that just does that, with no expectation of return. Otherwise, great work is going to be lost to the English speaking world.

    4. 3.3
      Richard Martin

      Check out “Did Muhammad Exist?” by Robert Spencer: http://www.amazon.com/Did-Muhammad-Exist-Inquiry-Obscure/dp/161017061X/ref=la_B001JPACI0_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1357343716&sr=1-2

      I think he’s a Christian with an ax to grind against Islam, but he basically questions the existence of Muhammad. I read it last summer and it seems to be based on academic scholarship. In particular, it is interesting to see how the hadiths, the traditional commentaries and attributions to Muhammad are basically all made up by interested parties. This is the basis for most of the standard ‘history’ of Muhammad. The bibliography and references in that book also would be a good place to start one’s own research. There is also a German scholar of Syro-Aramaic who writes under the pseudonym of Christoph Luxenberg.

      You could also check out “In the Shadow of the Sword” by Tom Holland: http://www.amazon.com/In-Shadow-Sword-Global-Empire/dp/0385531354/ref=tmm_hrd_title_0

      He’s a historian of antiquity and he goes into a considerable amount of detail about the fall of the Roman Empire and the transition to the Islamic Empire. He takes the existence of Muhammad seriously but not much else that is traditionally attributed to him, so it’s fairly skeptical in that regard.

      I also recommend “The Faith Instinct” by Nicholas Wade: http://www.amazon.com/Faith-Instinct-Religion-Evolved-Endures/dp/B003B3NVZY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1357344269&sr=1-1&keywords=the+faith+instinct

      He has some discussion on the birth of Islam based on Luxenberg and others.

      Hope that helps.

      Richard Martin

    5. Richard Carrier

      Richard Martin’s helpful list reminds me to mention that a chapter on the Hadith by Robert Price is also in Sources of the Jesus Tradition (pp. 109ff.; endnotes pp. 277ff.), although he is mainly using it as a comparand for Jesus tradition, he also cites Islamic scholarship in his endnotes that can be useful.

  4. 4
    Matt Wolff

    I’m really looking forward to seeing your perspective. I’ve just finished Mr. Ehrman’s book and found his reasoning rather convincing.

    I, for one, rather like (and find compelling) the Christ Myth idea and can’t wait to read your contribution to the subject.

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