• Mythicism from Around the Web

    * Blogger Natural Reason is doing his own series about Carrier’s new book. Looks great so far! He’s discussing things that I did not (I only discussed portions of the book that I was interested in) and providing good food for thought.

    * I found an old blog post on Vridar discussing the Ascension of Isaiah. While I feel unsure about many of the author’s speculations, I think his arguments for a radically early dating of “The Vision of Isaiah” are fair, and innovative. If he is correct that the Vision dates to the 30’s or 40’s CE, this will stand as a near conclusive piece of evidence for mythicism (Carrier argues that the Vision depicts a Jesus who was crucified in the lower heavens by Satan and his angels, see especially pp.41-42 in On the Historicity).

    * The Podcast Reasonable Doubts just did an interview with Bart Ehrman on his latest book, How Jesus Became God.

    * Be sure and check out Aeon Bytes Gnostic Radio. Lots of great interviews relating to ancient history / Jesus mythicism. I especially liked the interview with Acharya S when she discusses some of the founding fathers and other historical figures who endorsed mythicism.

    That’s all for now.

    Category: Uncategorized

    Article by: Nicholas Covington

    I used to blog at Answers in Genesis BUSTED! I took the creationist organization Answers in Genesis to pieces. I am the author of Atheism and Naturalism and Extraordinary Claims, Extraordinary Evidence, and the Resurrection of Jesus. I am an armchair philosopher with interests in Ethics, Epistemology (that's philosophy of knowledge), Philosophy of Religion, and Skepticism in general.


    1. I think that Vince (alias Natural Reason) is in error about ehat he wrote on Epiphanius.

      In the Talmud the canonical date is apparently unknown. The Talmudists know only a certain Jesus, but that Jesus is a Christ Janneus.

      How to explain this enigma?

      Vince fails to explain this fact. His only excuse is a minimization of the Talmud.

      To explain all the evidence means to explain even the Talmud. Why do Jews believe in a Christ Ianneus? Why Toledoth Jeschu in particular makes it the creed of the Nazarenes? To say, according the Talmud, that Jesus was the son of Panthera, that same Panthera ”Roman soldier and rapist of that whore of Mary”, I agree, is a pure defamation and slander. But there is nothing bad and desparaging to say that Jesus had lived under Jannaeus. Where is the defamation? I do not see it. So if Vince thinks that the Jews speak of Christ Ianneus to defame him, you are biased against talmudist Jews when displaying an opinion absolutely trivial in itself (that Jesus is died under Jannaeus).

      So Vince is wrong when he says that if Epiphanius is responding to the Jews, then he is not responding to the Nazarenes. Because if the Jews in question speak of a Christ Jannaeus and if that is not a defamation – and in fact it is not a defamation – (how could it be?), then those Jews which Epiphanius argues against are actually mentioning the creed of the only Christians they know: if we are to believe to Toledoth Jeschu, those Christians are the Nazarenes.

      So far this is pure logic.

      If you use the prophecy of the 62 and 7 weeks mentioned in Daniel 9:25,

      “Know and understand this: From the time the word goes out to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble.

      where 62 weeks correspond to 434 years for the Consensus,

      and … if you count from the decree of Cyrus the Great, who ordered the rebuilding of the Temple (538 EC), we get that the week in which the Messiah will arrive is the time interval:

      538-434 = 104 BC (or AEC).

      So 100 years before Pilate, the Messiah is killed, according to the prophecy.

      By this simple calculation done by taking on the letter the danielic prophecy I can easily explain why someone, the Jews of the Talmud or the Nazarenes (Christians fled to East of the Roman Empire) for them (but more probably the latter), thought it best to place Jesus the Messiah, Jesus the Christ, in the time of Alexander Jannaeus, who ruled during 103-76 AEC.

      Then Vince is right that the Scripture-based logic described by Epiphanius to explain the birth under Ianneus etc. is the logic of Epiphanius and not that of Nazarenes (the logic of Nazarenes is another). But that logic Epiphanius uses to explain (in a way fit to his theological purposes) the belief of Nazarenes in a Christ Ianneus and his same canonical date (in which Epiphanius believes).

      What do you think?

      Very Thanks for any reply,


      1. Jefferey Querner (19 January 2014). “Jesus Mythicism: The Final Response”. The Lost History Blog. @ http://bahumuth.bitfreedom.com/jesus-mythicism-the-final-response

        The expected answer to “You Jews crucified our Lord” should be “No we didn’t. A few unnamed Pharisees had the Romans crucify Jesus for disrupting the legitimate Temple service during Passover and we had nothing to do with that.” Instead, the Talmudic answer is “We executed Yeshu according to the law because he was a magician and were in a bloody conflict with his followers long before the first century A.D.” Why make that up?

        Jefferey Querner (10 January 2014). “Jesus Mythicism: Response^3”. The Lost History Blog. @ http://bahumuth.bitfreedom.com/jesus-mythicism-response3

        [Per the Toledot Yeshu] the immediate response I always get. “It’s medieval and too late to be relevant.” Here is why that presumption is wrong: [see the following seven points]

        1. Thanks for introducing me to Jeff’s blog. Ive been reading some of his articles and really dig the arguments he makes for a 1st century BC Jesus.

          1. Jefferey Querner (17 March 2015). “The Dying and Rising Gods”. The Lost History Blog.

            I have posted the introduction [http://lost-history.com/introduction.php] to what is going to be a glossary of the Dying-and-Rising Gods. It takes a serious look at the Talmud, the Toledot Yeshu, and the history of the Onias dynasty as legitimate sources for the construction of the historical Jesus.

            see: LOST-HISTORY.COM @ http://lost-history.com/
            •The Dying-and-Rising Gods: A Glossary
            •The Lost History of Christianity
            •A New Quest for the Historical Jesus
            •Apocrypha: The Sumerians and Akkadians

        2. Schäfer, Peter (2009). Jesus in the Talmud. Princeton University Press. p. 66. ISBN 1-4008-2761-2. @ https://books.google.com/books?id=IxIv_zqQx9kC&pg=PA66

          [Per a halakhic discourse] some details of Jesus’ condemnation and execution are reported: […] Jesus was executed because he practiced sorcery and enticed Israel into idolatry.
          Several of these details can be easily explained against the background of the relevant Mishna in tractate Sanhedrin. There, the standard procedure according to the rabbinic law is explained as follows:

          All who are stoned are also hanged (nitlin) [afterwards] [on a tree]: (these are) the words of R. Eliezer.
          However the Sages said: only the blasphemer (ha-megaddef) and the idolater (ha-‘oved avodah zarah) are hanged.

          References to “Idolatry” may imply “Astrolatry”;
          The Hebrew Bible contains repeated reference to astrolatry. Thus, Deuteronomy 4:19, 17:3 contains a stern warning against worshiping the sun, moon, stars or any of the heavenly host. Relapse into worshiping the host of heaven, i.e. the kokabim (stars), is said to have been the cause of the fall of the kingdom of Judah in 2 Kings 17:16. King Josiah in 621 BCE is recorded as having abolished all kinds of idolatry in Judah, but astrolatry was continued in private (Zeph. 1:5; Jer. 8:2, 19:13).

        3. Ilan, Tal (2013). “Jesus and Joshua ben Perahiah: A Jewish-Christian Dialogue on Magic in Babylonia”. In Boustan, Ra’anan S.; et al. Envisioning Judaism: Studies in Honor of Peter Schäfer on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday. 2. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. pp. 985–995. ISBN 978-3-16-152227-7.

          The rabbis, as many others in the Hellenistic-Roman world, believed that Egypt was the seat of all magic. They routinely mention Egypt as the site of sorcery, witchcraft, and its attendant evils (e. g. Avot de Rabbi Nathan B, 48).
          [Per the Nippur incantation bowls] What these bowls suggest is that there existed a competition between Babylonian amulet writers who used the name of Joshua ben Perahiah and others, who used the name of Jesus. What they also show is that it was not at all clear at the time who was winning. Some Christians became convinced of the efficacy of Joshua ben Perahiah, and some Jews were convinced that the name of Jesus worked.

      2. Vince (23 August 2014). “OHJ – Carrier’s Response on Epiphanius and Adam”. Natural Reason. @ http://naturalreason.revolvingplanet.net/ohj-carriers-response-on-epiphanius-and-adam/

        The passage Richard quotes in the book does not say anywhere that it is describing the views of the Nazorians. Neither does any other portion of Chapter 29 of the Panarion. Richard cites no scholarship in support of his claim nor does he advance any argument whatsoever in its favor.

        Carrier (18 June 2014). “List of Responses to Defenders of the Historicity of Jesus – Richard Carrier”. Richard Carrier Blogs. @ https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5730#comment-15696

        [comment: Richard Carrier August 14, 2014, 11:47 am] Epiphanius is obviously explaining the logic of the Nazorians (that Jesus had to live and die as the last Jewish king, without interruption, therefore, since Jannaeus was the last Jewish king, Jesus had to live and die then). He is certainly not explaining his own logic. In the other passages this critic [Vince] cites, Epiphanius isn’t talking about Nazorian belief, but his own. This critic [Vince] is conflating the two. Bad historian.

        1. Saint Epiphanius (Bishop of Constantia in Cyprus) (2009) [now bolded]. “29. Against Nazoraeans”. The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: Book I (sects 1-46). Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 63. Trans. Frank Williams (Revised and Expanded, 2 ed.). Brill. p. 130. ISBN 90-04-17017-0. @ https://archive.org/stream/ThePanarionOfEpiphaniusOfSalamis_201603/the%20panarion%20of%20epiphanius%20of%20salamis#page/n172/mode/1up

          9,1 In this Sect too, my brief discussion will be sufficient. People of their kind are refutable at once and easy to detect and, rather (than being heretical Christians), are Jews and nothing else.
          9,4 They have the Gospel according to Matthew in its entirety in Hebrew. For it is clear that they still preserve this as it was originally written, in the Hebrew alphabet. But I do not know whether they have also excised the genealogies from Abraham till Christ.
          9,5 But now that we have also detected this sect — like a stinging insect that is small, and yet causes pain with its poison — and have squashed it with the words of the truth, let us go on to the next, beloved, praying for help from God.

          The note about “genealogies from Abraham till Christ” supports Carrier’s claim.

    2. Amusing video to watch;
      Ehrman, Bart D. (2000). “Lecture 10. The historical Jesus, sources and problems”. The New Testament. Teaching Company. ISBN 9781565855823. @ YouTube: https://youtu.be/21MmJhJgmZY

      Ehrman, Bart D. (20 March 2012). Did Jesus Exist?: The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. pp. 43, 46, 49, 72.:

      No Greek or Roman author from the first-century mentions Jesus. […] we do not have a single reference to Jesus by anyone—pagan, Jew, or Christian—who was a contemporary eyewitness […] the Gospels of the New Testament are not eyewitness accounts of the life of Jesus. […] The Gospel writers (anonymous Greek-speaking Christians living thirty-five to sixty-five years after the traditional date of Jesus’s death) were simply writing down episodes that they had heard from the life of Jesus.

      Lataster, Raphael (2016). “Review Essay: Bart Ehrman and the Elusive Historical Jesus”. Literature & Aesthetics. 26 (1): 181–192. ISSN 2200-0437. @ https://openjournals.library.sydney.edu.au/index.php/LA/article/view/11431/10834

      [Paul refers to] divine revelations from a Celestial Jesus (who seems eerily similar to pre-Christian Jewish—and non-existent—figures like the Son of Man and the Logos) […] Historicists and mythicists both posit a different form of Jesus that preceded the Gospel’s version of Jesus. Unfortunately for the historicist, there is not a single piece of evidence, pre-New Testament, for the mundane Historical Jesus. This is not the case with the Celestial Messiah, who some pre-Christian Jews did honour, as even [Bart] Ehrman now acknowledges. —( pp. 182, 184, §. Ehrman on Angelic/Angelomorphic Christology)

      Hurtado, Larry (2 December 2017). “Why the ‘Mythical Jesus’ Claim Has No Traction with Scholars”. Larry Hurtado’s Blog :

      First, Paul never refers to Jesus as an angel or archangel. ([…] Cf. Bart D. Ehrman, How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2014), e.g., 250-51, who gives a confused representation of matters.)

      1. Aune, David E., Word Biblical Commentary (WBC), 3 volumes: Revelation 1—5, Revelation 6—16, and Revelation 17—22.:
        “It is striking that Revelation does not reflect more specifically the cosmology typical of the Hellenistic and Roman period, in which the cosmos was thought to consist of seven heavens.  Paul’s account of his own ascent to the third heaven reflects a cosmology of at least three heavens (2 Cor 12:1-5). John knows only a single heaven as the dwelling place of God and his angels. This older cosmology consisted of a three-tiered universe consisting of heaven above, earth in the middle, and the underworld beneath (the three-tiered universe is also reflected in several apocalypses, including the five apocalypses that constitute 1 Enoch, the Testament of Abraham, and the Apocalypse of Ezra . . . .)  The earth itself was thought to be a flat disk surrounded on all sides by water. Below the earth was the underworld, which was the realm of the dead, called Sheol by the Israelites but Hades by the Greeks.  Above the earth was the vault of heaven containing the heavenly bodies and, in the highest place, God and his angelic entourage. The new cosmology that developed during the Hellenistic period, and quickly displaced older cosmologies, regarded the earth as a sphere . . . .  The earth was thought to be a stationary center surrounded by seven planets (including the sun and moon), each of which moved in its own sphere . . . .  The earth was at the same time the ‘innermost’ as well as the ‘lowest’ part of the cosmos . . . .  God was thought to dwell in the highest heaven or sphere, usually the seventh or eighth heaven (Corpus Hermeticum 1.26), with various supernatural beings located at various levels below him. (David Aune, Revelation 1—5, 318).”

      2. Stephen L. Huebscher (28 July 2017) [now bolded]. “Heavenly Worship in Second Temple Judaism, Early Christianity, and Gnostic Sects: Part 2”. Dr. Michael Heiser. @ http://drmsh.com/heavenly-worship-in-second-temple-judaism-early-christianity-and-gnostic-sects-part-2/

        [Per Second Temple Judaism] The variety of groups and beliefs at this time was reflected in the variety of sacred texts used. It was common to believe in joint human/angelic worship. “The notion that the community in its prayer life participated in some way in the liturgy of the angels is well attested in first-century Judaism, and will later emerge as an element in Christian liturgical practice,” (Attridge 51). Also within this mix it is becoming more apparent to scholars that it was acceptable for Jews to believe in a “second power” in heaven who was worshiped along with Yahweh.
        Harold Attridge, Hebrews (Minneapolis: Fortress Press).

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