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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The True Meaning of Christmas

St. Nicholas

December 25 is not Jesus’ birthday. Christmas is based on the winter solstice. In a great many religions from the Old World, the solstice marked the day that the vegetation god died, typically by being crucified on a tree, causing all the earth’s vegetation to die with him only to be reborn on the spring equinox. Thus the death and resurrection of the god symbolized the death and resurrection of vegetation throughout the year.

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Hitchens on Endless War

Hitchens in Syria

One thing I noticed about Hitchens that has completely confounded the Left is his so-called “conversion” from Liberal to Neo-Con, exemplified by his “betrayal” of Sidney Blumenthal to get at Clinton during his impeachment, and his support for the Iraq War.

Certainly it can be proved that, disregarding these two controversies, just about every position Hitchens has taken, including his approval of Sweden, can be placed on the Left side of the political axis. I think the problem with this is that almost everyone gets caught up in the Liberal vs. Neo-Con fight, it’s easy to forget that he was never very interested in the predominate cable news battles and typically limited himself to matters of foreign affairs. When the domestic agenda is one’s primary focus, it’s much easier to defend Clinton as a means of stopping a Republican takeover of politics.

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