Appearing in Sacramento Area…with David Fitzgerald!

Next week I will be in a double header with David Fitzgerald discussing different aspects of the historicity of Jesus. The event is Thursday night, May 29 (2014), at UC Davis (in the Sacramento area, California), brought to you by the Agnostic & Atheist Student Association. We will also be selling our books and taking Q&A.

I am writing this from the jungles of Costa Rica, on an iPad, so with considerable difficulty the best I can do is just link you to the event’s Facebook page where you can get all the details: The Historicity of Jesus with Richard Carrier and David Fitzgerald. Please help them out and RSVP there if you will be going.

It will be entertaining!


    • says

      Yes, I was aware, but I am out of the country at the moment, and have more travel next week. I plan to blog it with a commentary in a couple of weeks.

  1. Giuseppe says

    Hi Richard,
    I have read the Amazing Colossal Apostle, of Robert Price, and my suspect is that the most of problems raised up from modern ”Paul”-mythicists (more correctly, proponents of the idea that was Marcion the first to write under the name of Paul, even if the real name of that man was Simon of Samaria), are true problems only for Jesus-historicists, but not for mythicists as Doherty or you (that believe to the authenticity of six, seven pauline epistles).
    Only to name some of these problems:
    1) The complexity and depth of the theology and ethics of Paul,
    2) The virulent advocacy and opposition of pauline doctrine,
    3) the pronounced post-Jewish Christianity of Paul enigmatic in a time pre-70,
    4) anachronism of concerns addressed (about celibate or criteria of true apostleship)
    5) post-apostolic gnosis.

    The points 1-5 are real problems only if I must imagine these relative aspects had to be occurred by time of only 10-15 years soon after the crucifixion of a real historical Jesus, but not if I assume that the Jewish misteric religion known as Christianity began already before that time, because of only visions and revelations from archangel Jesus, and was already plagued from irreducible contrasts in first times.

    Vice versa, other aspects are really problematic and pro forgery hypothesis of portions of epistles: for example, the improbable persecutions happened to Paul and the many dangers he faced (when he escaped from king Areta in a basket, for example, where the irony is that Paul was so ”little” to be escaped into a basket), and the catholicizing tone of some sentences.

    Do you think to write a review about this form of Paul-mythicism? Or there is some your comment where you write your view about it? Or do you think to investigate further the question in future (and then the question is still open for you)?

    Very Thanks,

    • says

      I find nothing in the seven authentic letters of Paul to be implausible in socio-historical context. Indeed, I find no indications or evidence in favor of those being later forgeries at all. I’ve commented on “Paul skepticism” here before.

      Items 1-5 are terrible reasoning, IMO. There is no reason Christian theology would not be well developed within years (or indeed less than even one), since it would have developed from an existing Jewish theology, and thus most of its complexity is simply a carry-over of that, with minor tweaks. There is nothing unusual at all about religious innovators being virulently contrary and forceful right out of the gate–in fact, that is historically typical. There is nothing even unique about the Torah-free Judaism Paul advocates. There were already pre-Christian sects experimenting with that. And it is clear from Paul it was new to Christianity, his innovation of it, and such an innovation could be made at any time in history. Indeed, it makes particular sense in Paul’s context, where Diaspora Judaism was becoming increasingly disconnected from Palestinian Judaism, and indeed increasingly compromised and embarrassed by it (temple nationalism was creating ill will toward Jews everywhere, and the “exclusivism” of Judaism was a constant cause of pagan anti-Semitism, and thus an obvious thing to get rid of, for anyone who wanted better pagan-Jewish integration). There is nothing anachronistic about Paul’s notions of celibacy or apostleship (if anything, Paul’s concepts make no sense in a post-Gospel Christianity, so there is no plausible way those letters were written after the Gospels became the frontline weaponry of inter-sectarian debate). And to suggest Paul’s ideas of gnosis are post-apostolic is to simply make a circular argument (one has to presume it’s post-apostolic, to declare it post-apostolic…because we have no other apostolic writings…period).

      Meanwhile, there are many reasons to affirm the contrary view of those seven letters, that they authentically represent someone named Paul writing in the 50s AD. Not only their manifest ignorance of the destruction of the temple cult and of Jerusalem and of the Gospels or anything in them, but also, for example, the evidence that those letters are pastiches of excerpts of other (now lost) letters. For example, Romans appears to contain the content of three different letters, edited and stitched together. You don’t do that if you are forging the letter. You do that only when you are trying to create a new letter out of material existing in old ones. The editor would not have been Paul, so the edit is dishonest and does not reflect exactly what Paul wrote originally. But that does not make the content a forgery. It is still what Paul wrote.