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Jun 27 2014

On the Historicity of Jesus Now Officially Available in Print

Cover of Richard Carrier's book On the Historicity of Jesus. Medieval icon image of Jesus holding a codex, on a plain brown background, title above in white text, author below in white text.Many already know, but for those who still haven’t heard, it’s no longer on pre-order: you can now buy On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt, either direct from the publisher or (often at a discount) through Amazon (and other booksellers, so if you want to support your local bookstore, you can place an order with them). I get an additional commission if you buy through my Amazon store (which has many other recommended titles as well).

I’ll announce ebook and audio editions as they come, but expect that to be many months from now. I am negotiating deals for both. But with that and production, I hope to have the ebook edition out by the end of this year, and the audiobook by then or early next year. Eventually I will list all options here.

I will also compile responses to critics here as time goes on. And I will be teaching online classes each year using this book as a course text. The first of those will be this August (so if you want to take that, order the book now so you will get it in time), with a preparatory course on historical methods preceding that (so, this July, and that begins next week as of this posting).

28 comments

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  1. 1
    ncovington89

    Hey Rick,

    Congratulations on publishing the book! I imagine quite a few apologists will fall out of their seats when they see “published by Sheffield Phoenix” lol.

    Anyway, I got my copy this past Tuesday and I have been blogging the book as I go along. Here’s the first installment:
    http://www.skepticink.com/humesapprentice/2014/06/26/on-the-historicity-of-jesus-part-1/

  2. 2
    gingerbaker

    Seconding congratulations! Ordering a copy. :)

  3. 3
    CJO

    Woot!

  4. 4
    beauquilter

    As you compile responses to critics, be sure to include a compilation of positive critical responses. It’s good to know your supporters as well as your detractors.

    1. 4.1
      Richard Carrier

      Actually, most are so far, even the ones that are critical. I will address the criticisms (because that’s necessary for advancing the debate), but also mention if they have an overall positive take.

  5. 5
    Tod

    Hi Richard!

    Big fan from over here in the UK, loved your previous work so just bought this book for my birthday :), along with the Bart Ehrman book I often see you recommend in interviews as showing the default position regarding authenticity in the Gospels… (as well as Horus Heresy treat hehe)

    I just wanted to say how classy that is of you, as I know you’ve had differences of opinion and also how fantastic it is to hear you rationally standing up for feminism and LGBT rights…

    As an article in one of the broadsheets over here said recently “you might not be a feminist, you may have other priorities, but that shouldn’t stop you being at least pro-feminist” (paraphrased I’m afraid..)

    Anyway, thank you for the rational compassionate thinking as always!

    1. 5.1
      Richard Carrier

      I appreciate that.

  6. 6
    gingerbaker

    Purchased through your web store for the same price as buying through Amazon. Fulfilled almost instantly – it wings its way to my door within two days with free shipping (Amazon prime member) :)

  7. 7
    Andrew Brown

    The apologists will simply move the goalposts from saying, “No mythicist book has been published by an academic press” to “Sheffield-Phoenix is a liberal press, so of course that doesn’t count.”

    1. 7.1
      Richard Carrier

      Which of course will be amusing. Once they have to argue “no publisher dogmatically set against the thesis has published a defense of the thesis” they will have given the game away: they are the creationists, we are the evolutionary biologists.

  8. 8
    Bryan

    Looking forward to buying this eventually. I can’t wait to see you go toe to toe with JP Holding and the likes.

    1. 8.1
      Richard Carrier

      IMO, Holding is too dishonest and poorly informed to get a worthwhile debate out of.

  9. 9
    Taino

    Richard: The links to your responses to critics of your latest book are broken. I only get error messages. Please fix this; I (and probably many others) am very interested in reading them. Thanks a lot.

    1. 9.1
      Richard Carrier

      Read the asterisked note.

  10. 10
    John MacDonald

    I just finished reading “On The HIstoricity of Jesus.” The amount of research you did is amazing (the bibliography is massive).

    My favorite argument is your comment on Phil. 2.5-11 where you write “Key things to notice here are that again no mention is made of Jesus having a ministry, teaching anything or performing any miracles. To the contrary, having ‘emptied’ himself of all he was and ‘humbling’ himself completely to the status of a ‘slave’ imply he would have had no supernatural powers at all” (OHJ, 535).

    The book is an excellent effort all around and I can’t wait for the course in August

  11. 11
    Bruce Grubb

    On the Raglan hero’s scale I have seen Nicholas II get a 14 on it and was wondering if it was due to fudging:

    1. . Hero’s mother is a royal virgin;
    First son of Empress Maria Fyodorovna. +1

    2. His father is a king, and
    Eldest son of Emperor Alexander III. +1

    3. Often a near relative of his mother, but
    Probably not.

    4. The circumstances of his conception are unusual, and
    No.

    5. He is also reputed to be the son of a god.
    The Romanov dynasty was, to some extent, worshipped, but not as gods.

    6. At birth an attempt is made, usually by his father or his maternal grand father to kill him, but
    No.

    7. he is spirited away, and
    “As Tsarevich, Nicholas did a fair amount of traveling, including a notable trip to the Empire of Japan which left him with a scar in his forehead. A Japanese anarchist had nearly killed him, but Nicholas was saved by the quick action of his cousin, Prince George of Greece.” – Wikipedia +1

    8. Reared by foster-parents in a far country.
    No.

    9. We are told nothing of his childhood, but
    No.

    10. On reaching manhood he returns or goes to his future Kingdom.
    Yes; returned to Russia after the trip to Japan. +1

    11. After a victory over the king and/or a giant, dragon, or wild beast.
    No.

    12. He marries a princess, often the daughter of his predecessor and
    Nicholas married Princess Alix of Hesse. +1

    13. And becomes king.
    Nicholas succeeded Alexander III in 1894. +1

    14. For a time he reigns uneventfully and
    Although Nicholas initially had a good relationship with his relatively liberal prime minister, Sergei Witte, Alexandra (his wife) distrusted him. +1

    15. Prescribes laws, but
    As the political situation deteriorated, Nicholas dissolved the Duma.
    +1

    16. Later he loses favor with the gods and/or his subjects, and

    Prime minister Pyotr Stolypin and the Emperor were barely on speaking terms, and the Emperor’s fall was “widely foreseen”. From there, things went downhill. First WWI, then the Bolshevik Revolution. +1

    17. Is driven from the throne and city, after which
    Led the Russian Army from the German front, without much success.
    Abdicated in 1917. +1

    18. He meets with a mysterious death
    Executed by firing squad in a basement. +1

    19. Often at the top of a hill,
    No.

    20. His children, if any do not succeed him.
    He was the last Tsar. +1

    21. His body is not buried, but nevertheless
    “The bodies of Nicholas and his family were long believed to have been disposed of down a mineshaft at a site called the Four Brothers. Initially, this was true — they had indeed been disposed of there on the night of July 17. The following morning —when rumors spread in Yekaterinburg regarding the disposal site —Yurovsky removed the bodies and concealed them elsewhere. When the vehicle carrying the bodies broke down on the way to the next chosen site, Yurovsky made new arrangements, and buried most of
    the bodies in a sealed and concealed pit on Koptyaki Road, a cart track (now abandoned) 12 miles north of Yekaterinburg. Their remains were later found in 1991 and reburied by the Russian government.” — Wikipedia +1

    22. He has one or more holy sepulchres.
    Canonized by the Russian Orthodox Church in 2000.
    Imperial Fyodorovski Cathedral might qualify. +1

    1. 11.1
      Richard Carrier

      Modern Russian history is not my field, so I can’t help you with this. Nor would it be relevant (the historical context is too different).

  12. 12
    Jeremy L

    FYI Richard (and anyone who pre-ordered in the UK from the publisher): There appears to have been a mix-up with the timing of the printing – but the good news is that the UK copies are apparently in the post. Can’t wait to receive it…!

    ——————–
    Email from Sheffield Phoenix:
    Many thanks for your email, your order shipped yesterday and should be with you any day. I am sorry that we were not able to ship it sooner but we were waiting for the OK from the author on his advance copies and our printer should have held production until that time but we have since discovered that they did not and this enabled Amazon etc to receive copies sooner than they should have.

    I hope this will not cause you too much inconvenience.

    With best wishes

    Ailsa Parkin
    ——————
    Hi,

    I pre-ordered “On the Historicity of Jesus” on 29th May, and several people have now received it from Amazon and posted reviews. Could you please let me know when I am likely to receive it?

    Thanks,

    1. 12.1
      Richard Carrier

      No, I don’t know. But it should be soon. Amazon bought and sold hundreds of defective copies–although by “defective” I mean something trivially aesthetic that most readers won’t even notice. As to how long it takes the publisher to fulfill orders of the revised typeset, I have no idea. They should have been rolling off the presses by now.

  13. 13
    Antonio

    Slightly off-topic: I mentioned your book in a discussion with others, and one of them suggested that Paul himself might be considered non-historical. The argument here basically is “If many pauline letters are known forgeries, why should we consider the other letters historical?” In itself, this is a non-sequitur, since the motivation behind writing texts in the name of an authoritative person is different from the motivation to invent a rather unremarkable human preacher who at the time of invention is unknown has no established authority yet.

    Are you aware of any respectable arguments and/or books in favor of that claim, or is this probably bunk?

    1. 13.1
      Richard Carrier

      Bunk. Although Detering’s and Brodie’s attempts to argue it is respectable in the sense of being serious and informed, it’s nevertheless multiply-fallacious. It fails to move the marker from possible to probable. There is no plausible explanation for the existence, content, or construction of the authentic Paulines without a historical Paul (except I think there might be a case that Philemon is a forgery). They were clearly not written (not even if forged) by anyone alive after or even during the Jewish War or at all aware of the Gospels, and the letters we have are stitches of several other, probably smaller letters (and one does not compose forgeries that way; one uses an authentic dossier that way, dropping the bits you don’t want and mashing the rest together). The name is also unusual for a Jew writing in Greek (Paul is a Roman name) and his position not enviable for a forger (who would sooner forge a dossier by Peter than by some outsider like Paul), requiring the ancillary assumption that the letters were forged after the character of Paul was invented in Acts, which means (a) after several Gospels were circulating and well enough known to be multiply redacted and (b) well after the Jewish War and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple cult. But the letters betray no knowledge of the Jewish War or the destruction of the Jerusalem temple cult, or of the Gospels. This contradiction cannot be reconciled. The letters clearly pre-date the War. Yet they can only have been forged decades after that War. Either way you slice it, the “ahistorical Paul” thesis has no legs.

  14. 14
    Michael Ramey

    Hi Richard!

    I am doing a paper for school about radical ideas that have surfaced in regard to the historical Jesus. I am choosing you! The thing is, I was really hoping for a new, fresh idea about Jesus of Nazareth but this falls short in that regard.

    Is all the celebration about the book being published by Sheffield Phoenix?

    The question I have for you is: why did you write this book? What was your motivation behind it?

    Thank you for you time!

    1. 14.1
      Richard Carrier

      Your question is answered in the book.

      Since academic ethics require you to read it before writing a paper on it, you may as well get your answer there.

  15. 15
    Iris Wong

    I am enjoying it tremendously and learning a very great deal. The only downside is the cover. It’s led to two rather awkward conversations with strangers so far and the second would have been rather more awkward if I hadn’t told an artful lie about what the word “historicity” means. At least Brodie kept it vague. :-P

    I have some advice for prospective readers, especially relatively uninformed amateurs like myself: this is not a mystery novel. When Richard writes something like, “A means B, as I will show in chapter 7,” you should probably skip ahead and read the relevant passage. Certain sets of related facts have a bearing on multiple truth-claims but can only be explicated once. Also, at least glance at every footnote: there’s a LOT in them beyond source citations. Looking forward to the class- cheers!

  16. 16
    KT

    Hi,

    This probably isn’t the best place to address this but I don’t know another good way to contact someone. I consider myself newly atheist after years of being a Christian. As such I’m hungry for information. I’m unfortunately broke so can’t buy many books. So I marched to my local library hoping to find research info there. As long as you want confirmation of Christianity my library carries plenty ( I live in the bible belt). Approximately 3 rows of bookshelves with everything you could ever hope for to confirm your faith. However, not a single book by anyone about atheism. Not by you, Ehrman, Baker, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris… anyone. The only thing I could find about evolution was to tear it apart. I’ll be happy to post a link to my library so you can check their catalog yourself. I asked about it and they won’t purchase from my single request. Is there any chance of anyone out there donating a copy of any relevant books to my local library? I’d love to read this book as all your blog info has been great. Thanks for taking the time to listen.

    1. 16.1
      Richard Carrier

      You can put your library’s link here, so anyone who does read this and is keen can send something. (Although be aware that in very conservative areas, they still might not add a book even when it’s free; they’ll throw it away, give it to a used bookstore, or sell it; so you might want to make sure they’ll even actually accept specific donated books into the collection.)

      In the meantime, use InterLibrary Loan. This is usually free or for a nominal fee (of a couple bucks). Just ask the reference librarian at your public library how to put in an ILL request.

  17. 17
    grumpyoldfart

    I’ve just ordered the book and it will be here by the end of the month. I can hardly wait.

    After more than sixty years of declaring that Jesus probably didn’t exist, I will at last be able to quote a peer reviewed book written by an expert in the field. I’m excited.

  18. 18
    grumpyoldfart

    It got here on July 25. I’m even more excited.

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