My Review of “Did Jesus Exist?” Part 3

Orpheus Becomes a Bacchoi

In the last post of my review of “Did Jesus Exist?”, we saw Ehrman tried to claim that the church fathers were lying when they claimed that they knew of elements of the mysteries of the dying-and-rising gods. So, for example, when Justin the Martyr said, “The devils, accordingly, when they heard these prophetic words, said that Bacchus was the son of Jupiter, and gave out that he was the discoverer of the vine, and they number wine [or, the ass] among his mysteries; and they taught that, having been torn in pieces, he ascended into heaven,” this excuse for why pagan resurrection predated the resurrection of Jesus was completely unnecessary. Of course, one is apt to ask how we could possibly know about pagan resurrection if people from their own time didn’t know? Well, it turns out, Ehrman tells us that we actually don’t know if there was any pagan resurrection. Thus, as is so well put in this response to Ehrman from Doherty: “Not only must any dependence on the mystery cults be refuted on Christianity’s own turf, the war has been carried further afield in an attempt to eliminate even the alleged sources. Thus, the armies of Christian independence are dispatched to the enemy’s home territory, there to destroy its own precepts.” But why would mythicists just take unsupported evidence and come up with the exact same conclusion about dying-and-rising gods that the second century apologists happened to take? Apparently, much like Justin’s devils, who supposedly took the idea of Perseus being born of a virgin from Isaiah (despite Isaiah not mentioning a virgin), mythicists have stolen obscure passages from the Old Testament and perverted them so as to create false gods for the sole purpose of mocking Christianity. In our final part of this review, Ehrman dons his crusader helmet and does battle in pagan territory against the virgin birth, atonement, and resurrection:

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My Review of “Did Jesus Exist?” Part 2

Ehrman

Last time, we saw how Ehrman started off his book with five chapters of ignoring mythicists, or what Ehrman calls “mounting the positive argument.” This consisted mostly of citing canonical books and hypothetical sources as independent witnesses for the historicity of Jesus as if mythicists were unaware of these things called gospels, and of alternatively labeling the Testimonium Flavian both “neutral” and “negative,” not that Ehrman says there was anything Josephus would necessarily be critical of Jesus about. From here, Ehrman moves on to actual mythicist arguments. “I will not try to refute every single point made by every single author,” warns Ehrman, since that would require “an enormous book, and trust me, it would not be a pleasant read.” Instead, Ehrman devotes a whole two chapters to “The Mythicists’ Claims” in his book on mythicists:

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My Review of “Did Jesus Exist?” Part 1

Did Jesus Exist?

After far too many years, finally a book has come out by a worthwhile Biblical scholar that attempts to address the Christ-Myth hypothesis that the gospels are actually a fictional narrative and that a first century Jesus did not actually exist. Bart Ehrman’s “Did Jesus Exist?” is credited as a “master explainer with deep knowledge of the field” who “methodically demolishes both the scholarly and popular “mythicist” arguments against he existence of Jesus” according to the jacket. Many other mythicist critics have taken up a retort to this book, but when I finally got a hold of it myself (thanks, Niels), I knew I had to go through it myself and show exactly how “deep” his knowledge really is. Although I consider myself a mythicist, I do believe there was a historical Jesus, though I believe he lived in the first century B.C. However, I usually very much enjoy reading books by Biblical scholars who argue for the first century Jesus and definitely believe they typically offer far better commentary on the origin of Christian literature. I also have another book of Ehrman’s, Lost Christianities, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I sometimes read things I disagree with but I typically find them to entirely reasonable nevertheless. Very rarely have I encountered even one “howler” that just completely misses the mark altogether. Not so with this book. Every page in this book is filled with errors, misconceptions, and straw men arguments. If it wasn’t for his characteristic tendency of lionizing Biblical scholars who pour over details with all-important linguistic “tools” unavailable to the amateur, it would be hard to believe the same person wrote this book. It definitely has the feel of a book being written quickly. Here is much of what he wrote:

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Books That I’m Reading

Secrets of the FBI

The Secrets of the FBI, by Ronald Kessler: Although rather defensive over some the FBI’s mistakes, it starts with Hoover and goes over some of the good and bad points of each director peppered with many humorous anecdotal tales of FBI break-ins gone wrong, like when a cat escaped and they sent agents with night vision out to recapture it, threw it back in the house and wondered why the dog was flipping out over the cat only to find out the next day that it was the wrong cat. Or the time a bus was parked in front of a house to give agents cover for a target house they broke into, after which everyone piled in the bus and drove off, only to find two freaked out pedestrian passengers who boarded without anyone noticing and was now ringing the bus stop bell to be let off the bus filled with black-suited men bearing weapons.

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