Sunday, March 8, 2015

Follow up - more of the same

Spent pretty much all day reading, practically against my will, about the Mythicism. The strange thing is that it brings me into sympathy with Bart Ehrman, an agnositic NT scholar who nevertheless argues Jesus was a historical figure - one who just a few months ago was my worst enemy for introducing me the seriousness of the Problem of Evil. Going back and forth between Ehrman and this so-and-so (I'mma try to to stoop to his level) who is nevertheless one of the more credible voices for Mythicism, actually having a degree with history instead of Educational studies, like this guy and his pal Widowfield, who studied I know not what. The main mark of Mythicism seems to be a rather derisive attititude toward NT scholars, who they rightfully point out are mostly Christians trained in divinity schools, even if many of them went on to study the New Testament (if you were wondering what that acronym meant) as a historical document. They don't, they say, use the same methods for establishing evidence that real historians use. Here's a taste:
I began this post with a claim that these methods are unlike those used by historians of other ancient peoples and topics. I will need to address that more specifically in a future post again, too, though I have posted several times on it already.
In brief, the first thing historians generally establish is the nature of the evidence they are working with to determine the most appropriate way to understand its contents. This means literary and textual criticism of some sort must be applied first before assuming any historical intent at all in its contents or any core historical event at its base. It also means the importance of external (independent) attestation for the provenance, nature and/or contents of the text. These concerns are generally taken for granted in studies of, say, Julius Caesar, Hadrian, Justinian, even Socrates. Casey follows pretty much most historical Jesus scholars in overlooking these  practices that are standard in scholarly studies of ancient persons outside the Bible.
Which sounds all well and good. But one problem, as far as I can tell, is that if NT scholars don't follow the rules of historical analysis, then why is it that, instead of, you know, real historians pointing this out, we get the Mythicists, none of whom have real academic chops in history. The only one who even comes close is Richard Carrier (So-and-So from above) and he only has a few articles in legitimate (i.e. non Skeptical Inquiry) journals, and he was never even an adjunct (though I imagine he would claim that's because of the prejudice of his NT scholars against Mythicism that has nothing to do with his inability to publish much of anything on other topics).

Oh, not to mention, dying-and-rising gods of Frazer are not accepted as, like, a thing anymore, and this isn't by NT scholars but people working in comparative religion and specializing not in Christianity but Hellenic religions. Even Tryggve Mettinger who has tried to resurrect (no pun intended) Frazer's view admits the consensus it that it's bogus.

But what do I know? Maybe the Mythicists will win the day, and as one of their ranks claimed, "Within 5 years it will be widely accepted in the West that Jesus never existed." Maybe.

Ack. The worst part is that, caught up in my obsession, I basically consciously missed Mass. I want to say I can't stop myself, but I could have. That's what really gets me. Why can't I just let these things go? Why am I so worried about what other people think? Why can't I just live the way I think is right without having to refute, in explicit detail, every possible objection.

Also, yesterday, when I was working the basketball game, being disappointed they weren't giving out free brats, I snuck into one of the open suites and purloined some of these tiny burgers. A lady saw me through the window. I didn't make out what she said but I think it was something like, "We need to close the doors to the suites" or "You need to stay out of the suites". I was all like "I'm really sorry, it'll never happen again [please don't report me]" but she just kept walking.

I'm really just the worst.

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