Notes & Interviews

Just some random stuff today:

  • I’ve lost track of all the many pods and vids in which I’m interviewed or featured. But I shall try to link to more of them in notes like this as they come up. Anyone who knows of others from this year, please add them in comments.
  • Kim Ellington conducted a great interview with me on my historicity of Jesus research, and a little on the intersection of history, philosophy, methodology, and epistemology, for The Humanist Hour (Episode 161).
  • Related to that and expanding on it is my interview by a renowned Jewish creationist and biblical literalist, Nehemia Gordon, in episode 13 of his show Hebrew Voices. I help him “sort out the genuine pagan influences on Christmas, from modern-day myths” that often stem from “dodgy scholarship.” We touch on Tammuz & Inanna, Isis & Osiris, Mithra, and discuss ancient comments by Philo, Justin, Plutarch, Euhemerus, Plato and more.
  • I spoke at a rally on the capitol steps of Boise, Idaho for this year’s National Day of Reason, on behalf of the Treasure Valley Coalition of Reason. The video is now available (and I have provided a rough transcript here). My speech is an amusing and rousing demonstration that our Christian legislators are simultaneously trying to outlaw Sharia Law and enact Sharia Law—and don’t know how democracy works, or the point of the Constitution, or that what they are doing is precisely what the Founding Fathers feared and denounced.
  • It’s well known that Luke used Josephus as a color source for his Gospel and Acts (see bibliography in OHJ, pp. 267, n. 26; and my summary of only some of the evidence here). In a new article, Lena Einhorn extensively collects even more evidence & bibliography on this (so those interested in that subject will find a lot of use there). But she discusses it in the context of her defense of a separate thesis: that Jesus was actually crucified under Claudius in the 40s, not under Tiberius in the 30s. This will be of interest to those who noticed that I document that there actually were early Christians who thought that (OHJ, Ch. 8.1). Of course, Einhorn’s thesis doesn’t argue for an actual crucifixion (she is presuming that it was an actual event), and as such it just as well supports the fact of Christian disagreement over when to place that event (and possibly the existence of lost Gospels that did).

Three New Videos

The three best new videos of me of late are: (1) my talk at the Madison Freethought Festival: So…if Jesus Didn’t Exist, Where Did He Come from Then? (you can also view a PDF of the slideshow, lacking the animations); (2) my talk the year before for Wichita Rapture Day: You’re All Gonna Die!! How the Jews Kept Failing to Predict Doomsday and Caused Christianity Instead (you can also view a PDF of the slideshow, lacking the animations); and (3) my interview for WorldviewNaturalism.com (on how I came to naturalism and what it means for moral theory and the scientific advancement of moral knowledge). That latter site has several other interesting new resources, including interviews with several others and an extensive online catalog of debates.

My Madison talk is essentially a brief précis of what I believe to be the most defensible Jesus myth theory and why it probably better explains the origins of Christianity than traditional theories do. Obviously it’s not a proof against all objections, just a quick first glance at what it is and how a defense of it would most likely proceed. My Rapture Day talk, by contrast, operates on the assumption of historicity (sticking to my methodological position that we should assume historicity until a significant segment of the expert community is on board with any alternative, while treating the Jesus myth theory as only a hypothesis, still in need of proper review). However, its analysis would apply equally to a Jesus myth model (with suitable adaptation). I just don’t discuss that there.

The Dying Messiah Redux

The following article has been revised and corrected, with appreciation to the critiques and analyses of Thom Stark. Revisions may continue so as to perfect the content and make this article of greatest utility. Latest revision: June 29 (2012).

Last year I made the case that the idea of a “dying messiah” was not wholly anathema to Jews and even already imagined by some before Christianity made a lot of hay out of the idea. I made small revisions to that article (The Dying Messiah) to make its claims and evidence clearer. This year, Thom Stark (a seminary graduate) wrote a response (The Death of Richard Carrier’s Dying Messiah) and discussion on his blog has continued since (culminating in It Is Finished for Richard Carrier’s Dying Messiah). His analysis has changed my opinions and conclusions on several matters, and identified several errors in my original analysis (now corrected or removed), but does not change the overall thesis. Some of his replies also get wrong what I said or quote me out of context or go off on irrelevant digressions, but I won’t waste words on that. I’ll just cut to the chase and deal with the relevant evidence and argument. [Read more…]