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Mar 19 2013

Status Report

Two notes today, one to readers of my blog and another to the donors who funded Proving History and On the Historicity of Jesus Christ:

(1) Today I shall begin recording in studio for the audiobook edition of Not the Impossible Faith. Two other books have already been done and are available on Audible now (Why I Am Not a Christian and Sense and Goodness without God), and NIF will be the last of my own books to be turned into audio (though we will try to get audio rights for Proving History, too). That project will occupy me most of this week, in fact, leaving me little time to manage my blog. Then, next week, is the American Atheists convention, for which preparation, travel and attendance will again keep me too busy to do much else. So my blog will likely be on hiatus and comment moderation greatly delayed over the next two weeks. Just so you know. (Although I have one post already completed that I might throw up at some point amidst all that, and if I do find time I might do more.)

(2) I have sent an email today to all the donors to my historicity project. If you are an official donor to that project and did not receive that email, please email me right away so I can update my contact information for you. Then I can also send you that same email, which offers an advance look at the current draft of On the Historicity of Jesus Christ (which will differ from the published text, since it will likely be revised on advice from peer reviewers and editors before publication, but it will likely not differ in any radical way).

To everyone else who may be interested, note that OHJC has now entered the stage of peer review and contract negotiation, after which will be the publisher’s official editing and production phase (which can itself take many months). I am hoping peer review can be completed by July, which will likely mean an October or November publication–depending on how much revision needs to be done; if very little, it’s possible the book will be out even sooner. My ultimate target is to have copies for sale at this year’s Skepticon. Donors of course will eventually receive free copies by post just as with Proving History (except any who opt out of that benefit).

 

19 comments

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  1. 1
    Ben Schuldt

    I don’t even remember when this started. April of 2008? Five years ago. Geez… How am I even supposed to remember how biased I was back then for or against the conclusion of ahistority to know if I got my money’s worth? haha

  2. 2
    Drew

    Dr. Carrier,

    I look forward to listening to the books you’ve been able to get in the can, as they say. I find myself so busy in the last few years that I’ve taken to listening to audio books as often as I can (I am able to listen to books while at work which allows me to access content of books that I do not have time to read).

    I’ve not yet listened to any of your books (I’ve been on a bit of a fantasy kick lately), but I do look forward to listening to them in the future.

    I am greatly anticipating OTHOJC and I do hope that you can get it in audio form as well. I’ll be picking up the printed version and reading it regardless but I would love to be able to also listen to it.

    1. 2.1
      Richard Carrier

      The downside to an audio version of a book like OHJC is that it has to be abridged (lacking the endnotes and references) and thus is of little use for research purposes. The same will be true of NIF and Proving History (if I ever get the audio rights to that settled). That’s unfortunate, but there’s just no financially or marketably sound way to include that material. So to get that by audio one still would have to get an e-version and run text-to-speech on it (to find where the notes are, and then to read the notes). Although I guess that’s more an inconvenience to the visually impaired than to people who can use both the audio and the print versions with equal facility. But for the visually impaired I haven’t really worked out a practical solution to this problem.

  3. 3
    brian bishop

    appreciate your scholarship. can you share who you believe jesus Christ was and why you have come to that conclusion?
    thanks

    1. 3.1
      Richard Carrier

      For a brief summary of why, see my Madison talk on the subject. For the full caboodle, you’ll have to wait for my book On the Historicity of Jesus Christ.

  4. 4
    Jacob Aliet

    I have been a supporter and even though I am not a ‘donor’, I believe I can make useful comments. may i suggest you make me an exception?
    Otherwise, all the best. Looking forward to the finished material.
    Regards,
    Jacob

    1. 4.1
      Richard Carrier

      No, unfortunately, I can only trust people who undertook real financial investment in me before I had any product for them. They’ve proven their reliability not only by that fact, but also in numerous previous cases in which I’ve given then advance looks at my work in progress (including Proving History before it came out). I mean no offense, but beyond that and personal friends and long-term colleagues and established professionals, I don’t really know enough about anyone else, even if I like them from what I do know of them. So I have to limit my risk in this case to a higher circle of certainty than most any other matter.

  5. 5
    lpetrich

    Anything on your book on science in the Roman Empire? How close to publication has it been getting?

    Also, David Marshall has started to make a transcript of his recent debate with you. He posted the first installment on his blog not very long ago.

    1. 5.1
      Richard Carrier

      (a) My two science books have been languishing in peer review for ages. I will check back in on that as soon as I’ve got OHJC off my desk (since I wouldn’t have time to do revisions or anything on the other books until then anyway).

      (b) There is supposed to be a video of that debate. If Marshall is doing a transcript, he must have video. Can anyone find that video online?

    2. Richard Carrier

      Someone asked separately from this thread if “my two science books have been languishing in peer review for ages” means they were being rejected. No. They were submitted to peer review ages ago by a major academic publisher who had high hopes for them, and I just haven’t heard anything since. Usually a rejection comes with a rejection letter. And these should be good enough not to be rejected but at worst receive a revision requirements list instead, which is typical. I just don’t have time to work up such revisions right now–nor to resubmit the manuscript elsewhere if for some reason either book is rejected for some odd reason–so I won’t bother looking into what’s going on with them until I have the time to deal with whatever the answer is; which means, after I’ve done all the principal editing, proofing and revising on OHJC.

    3. 5.2
      lpetrich

      UAH Non-Theists – Home now has an audio recording of that debate: Dropbox – CarrierMarshallDebate2-9-2013.mp3

    4. Richard Carrier

      Thanks!

      I’ve cross-posted this in that debate thread as well. I’ll wait and see if video goes up and then blog it one way or another.

  6. 6
    Neil Johnson

    Richard,

    For the OHJC and/or your other texts being reviewed, consider adding Mark S. Burrows (Ph.D. Christian Historian) to you list of reviewers. A number of years ago, I attended a talk he gave with a title of something like “Proving the Gospels are works of fiction”. The funny thing is Mark is still a devout christian apologist. His faith is based on “conviction” if I remember correctly.

    I’ve recently discovered you blog. Looking forward to reading your books. Me, I’ve always believed in Metaphysical Naturalism. That’s how my parents raised me in the 60s. We didn’t have a name for it back then. The only thing my parents got wrong is they told me Jesus was historical (only because I asked). Credit to goes to “Atheist Manifesto” by Michel Onfray for setting me straight on this. Hopefully your scholarly text on this topic will be the final nail in the coffin.

  7. 7
    William Kemp

    Dr. Carrier,

    I heard your podcast on the Thinking Atheist yesterday. Seth asked if you believed that Jesus the man existed and you answered that you thought he probably did not exist.

    I have always assumed that a perfectly human Jesus existed. It seems to me that Occam’s razor would suggest that it is more likely that there is some basis in reality for the Jesus story as opposed to the notion that the story was completely fabricated (even if the empirical evidence is lacking).

    And a follow up question, why and how was the Jesus story fabricated?

    I am admittedly a layperson in these matters however so it’s possible I’m missing something. Thanks and I appreciate all of your talks!

    1. 7.1
      Richard Carrier

      Those are all legitimate prima facie questions, and were the same ones I was asking when I (even as a professional historian) was certain Jesus existed in at least some mundane sense.

      For the whole response you’ll have to await my book (On the Historicity of Jesus Christ, for the status of which see here). In the meantime, there is a short video summary of its thesis (20 mins) and now a longer version (c. 40 mins). I will blog about the latter in a few weeks (just have so much to do this week, as I’m in studio recording audio still for Not the Impossible Faith).

  8. 8
    Rolv

    Hi Richard Carrier! A major problem when working on a project during several years, is that the result easily could become obsolete when it is finally published.

    Regarding the non-Christian “testimonies” to Jesus – an important question for many Christians claiming that the Gospel story is duly verified – there has been some development during the last few years, which in my opinion it would be unsuitable to miss when discussing the evidence. I therefore ask: Will you, in your book, discuss new scholarship dealing with the non-Christian “testimonies” for Jesus, like

    - Marian Hillar’s Flavius Josephus and His Testimony Concerning the Historical Jesus (2005); http://www.socinian.org/files/TestimoniumFlavianum.pdf

    - Your own article on Josephus and the possibility of an accidental interpolation of the James sentence (2012)

    - Erik Zara’s The Chrestianos Issue in Tacitus Reinvestigated (2009); http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zaratacituschrestianos.pdf on the Chrestianos/Christianos issue in the earliest Tacitus MS, confirming the old notion that the original word in fact was Chrestianos (apparently spawned by a suggestion by you, that the old “truth” was incorrect)

    - The same author’s A Minor Compilation of Readings of Suetonius’ Nero 16.2 (2011);
    http://www.textexcavation.com/documents/zarasuetoniuschristiani.pdf on the manuscripts of Suetonius’ Christiani passage, confirming that Christiani is the original spelling attested to in the manuscripts themselves

    - Earl Doherty’s Jesus: Neither God Nor Man (2009), on the non-Christian witnesses, in which the possibility of interpolation is discussed in (almost) every single case of non-Christian testimonia

    - Bart Ehrman’s Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (Harper 2012), in which he seems to think that Josephus’ Testimonium Flavianum would not prove Jesus’ existence even if genuine

    - Jobjorn Boman’s Inpulsore Cherestro? Suetonius’ Divus Claudius 25.4 in Sources and Manuscripts. Liber Annuus 61 (2011) 355-376 (published 2012), on the readings of the Suetonius’ Chrestus passage (confirming that the original reading was Chresto, not Christo, but correcting earlier scholarly errors)

    - The same author’s Comments on Carrier: Is Thallus Actually Quoted by Eusebius?, Liber Annuus 62 (2012), Jerusalem 2013, pp. 319-25, mainly about Thallus (and Phlegon), but in note 26 the author also importantly remarks that Suetonius’ sentence about Christians is not quoted (except in editions and manuscripts of Suetonius’ Vita) until 1595(!) (but cf. K. R. Bradley, “Suetonius, Nero 16.2: ‘afflicti suppliciis christian’”, The Classical Review 22, 1972, p. 10, on Orosius’ purported knowledge of the passage)

    - Your own article on Thallus, (Phlegon,) and Eusebius (2012)

    - Your own article on an interpolation in Tacitus’s Annales (2012), which I once saw you announce on this blog, but haven’t seen published yet. Are you perhaps proposing a marginal gloss of the Christus sentence, like Dr. A Pihl did in 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/glosstacitus)?

    - Hermann Detering’s Falsche Zeugen: Außerchristliche Jesuszeugnisse auf dem Prüfstand von Hermann Detering (2011), on the non-Christian “testimonies”

    ?

    Sincerely yours,
    Rolv

    1. 8.1
      Richard Carrier

      Most of that is unnecessary (and what’s necessary is cited in my book, e.g. my work and Boman’s and Zara’s and Doherty’s).

      One need only cite a few essential items on each piece of evidence, especially survey articles that cover all angles, and only when it’s relevant. It is not possible nor desirable to address every single possible angle or discussion of every single possible piece of evidence. Books have a physical limit not just on their word count but in respect to the readers’ patience.

      Your own article on an interpolation in Tacitus’s Annales (2012), which I once saw you announce on this blog, but haven’t seen published yet. Are you perhaps proposing a marginal gloss of the Christus sentence, like Dr. A Pihl did in 2010 (http://tinyurl.com/glosstacitus)?

      Yes. My paper on that has passed peer review and will be published by Vigiliae Christianae later this year or early next. And I do reference it in my book.

      Hermann Detering’s Falsche Zeugen: Außerchristliche Jesuszeugnisse auf dem Prüfstand von Hermann Detering (2011), on the non-Christian “testimonies”

      Is there an English translation of that yet? It’s of limited use to most people until then. Even beyond that, its hyper-skepticality limits its utility. We should not have to argue such extreme views to come to the conclusion of probable ahistoricity. I will not be making arguments that have any need of Detering for support.

  9. 9
    Rolv

    It is not possible nor desirable to address every single possible angle or discussion of every single possible piece of evidence. Books have a physical limit not just on their word count but in respect to the readers’ patience.

    Doherty seems to “address every single possible angle or discussion of every single possible piece of evidence” nevertheless, in his 2009 book. If the book should be usable as a “dictionary” for mythicists wanting to counter common Christian claims that there are “ancient non-Christian sources [who] helps corroborate our knowledge of Jesus from the gospels” (so Michael Gleghorn), the non-Christian sources need to be examined at length. Liberal scholars like Ehrman of course focus on the Christian sources, but conservatives not seldom claim that the non-Christian evidence for Jesus is vast and undisputable.

    Is there an English translation of that yet? It’s of limited use to most people until then.

    I don’t think there is.

    1. 9.1
      Richard Carrier

      Doherty certainly does not address everything in his book (maybe all the things you asked about, but one can add to that everyone else’s list of things to talk about, and the sum total would far exceed anything Doherty has ever written).

      We have to make strategic decisions as to what is more important to fill space first. One of my main criticisms of Doherty’s second book is precisely that he doesn’t do that. His first book is far better because it engages far fewer digressions and is much clearer as to its line of argument and engages in far fewer speculations and unresolved queries and focuses more on essentials. The second book has value mainly as simply a really long appendix to the first. But had it been his first, his theory might not have gained any attention at all.

      My book will be large, but I have put in it only what is most essential. If I were to add any more, it would become an intolerable read, and all but impossible to publish. Maybe I will discuss other issues in future work. But that’s another matter.

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