Popular Nonsense About Jesus Can & Should Be Addressed!

I just got done interviewing Bart Ehrman about his newest book Did Jesus Exist?  It was a fascinating interview and I can’t wait to share it but until then think about getting the book.  It is an excellent summary of the academic consensus surrounding the historical Jesus and devastating response to the ‘mythicists.’ Over the course of the book you get to hear:

  • how a historian operates with all the evidence, data, & texts (confessional and not) to make claims about Jesus’ historicity and his place in 1st century Judaism
  • Ehrman’s compelling and concise account of the historical Jesus as an Apocalyptic Prophet
  • the history of the mythicist movement in scholarship print and culture
  • the mythicist thesis presented and then deconstructed like it was Harold Camping’s end times chart

Did Jesus Exist? The answer of the academic guild is YES and it takes Ehrman just a couple sentences to let you.  Like Dan Brown’s conspiracy in the Davinci Code or that weird notion that Jesus spent ‘the silent years’ in India studying with gurus, these type of non-academic and sensationalist stories passed off as history rarely get the attention of actual scholars.  The lack of attention is not because of a lack of answers but the sheer incomprehensibility of these ideas themselves and yet as a minister I constantly answer these questions over and over again.  I say Jesus did not go to India, Dan Brown is bad fiction and Non-fiction, and that Jesus most certainly existed.  In these conversations people end up asking how I know these things and where they can get some type of ‘evidence’ or a book I can point them too.  I use to just say “that question is so absurd no one who knows what we as the academic community knows would dignify it with a response.”  That use to be my answer but it isn’t any more and I am glad!

Thank you Bart for writing this book.

So if you were wondering….

  Are there reliable sources for the historical Jesus? The answer is YES.  There are actually more for him than Pilate! Isn’t the Jesus story an appropriation of other dying and rising God stories? The answer is NO.  There isn’t actually evidence of a dying and rising story for the early Christians to appropriate.  How can you be sure Jesus existed? First, if he didn’t his brother James (for whom there is plenty of evidence) would have known.   Secondly, the early church would have had no reason to construct the idea of a cross-dead but risen Messiah which did NOT exist prior to Jesus (who did exist…in history…but didn’t go to India or have a kid with Mary Magdalene).

 

Check out his personal webpage.

This is part of the blog-book tour.  The other stops are….

Tuesday, March 20th: Shuck and Jive

Monday, March 26th: Broken Teepee

Tuesday, March 27th: Homebrewed Christian

Wednesday, March 28th: Jeff Keuss

Thursday, March 29th: Life is Short. Read Fast. 

Tuesday, April 3rd: Crazy Liberals … and Conservatives

Wednesday, April 4th: The Liberal Spirit

Thursday, April 5th: Greg Laden’s Blog

Friday, April 6th: Butterflies and Wheels

Tuesday, April 10th: Fallen From Grace

Wednesday, April 11th: The Gods Are Bored

TBD: The X Blog

TBD: Richard Carrier Blogs

TBD: Exploring Our Matrix

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17 comments
Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

@Andrew thanks for saying all the things Bart says mythicists say. Now we have non-academic evidence that indeed this community of online activists repeat their story over and over to each other long enough to believe it...an enlightenment style myth!

Andrew
Andrew

"The Academic Community" of today sounds a lot like the heresiologists of olde. But then boldly declaring "we have the one and only true Christ and everybody else is wrong" is as old as Christianity itself, and why there exists (at last count) 38,000+ sects. We might as well include Academia among that number, too. "...[Ehrman explains] how a historian operates with all the evidence, data, & texts..." Yeah, well the problem is that the primary "evidence" for Jesus's existence are anonymous, unprovenanced, legendary narrative theology, not in Jesus's purported language, written by evangelists with a highly ideological agenda and dubious (mis)understanding of the Septuagint (i.e., not the Hebrew Bible). Not exactly the firmest foundation on which to conduct history. Theology is all it was, and all it ever will be.

trish
trish

I've heard the argument that Jesus didn't exist, so it's nice to see something that you can specifically point people to, especially one that is scientific and not faith based. Thanks for being on the tour!

Damien Parks
Damien Parks

sorry about the double post. not sure what happened with that. @dmf great response and thoughts. yeah it is an interesting situation. i loved your line... "we are more likely to get a full throated response from laity by changing the order of worship than we are by proclaiming the word." very true. thanks for this.

Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours
Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours

I'm glad that this book has given you something to recommend to people when they question you about the historicity of Jesus. Thanks for taking the time to read and review this one for the tour.

dmf
dmf

this "What does it look like to begin to wipe away the “nonsense” in order to begin to approach these ideas like it is the very first time we have read them?" is one of the central questions of worship these days and as much in relation to the bible as to this secular book, , Soren K tried several different modes of "indirect" communication to try and make the words on the page into living, and life altering, experiences but by and large failed, and I think that we are in the same boat where people are so ruled by their habits and predispositions/expectations that an actual gestalt change in their life orientation, like stPaul reports, is a foreign experience to modern churches, we are more likely to get a full throated response from laity by changing the order of worship than we are by proclaiming the word. I enjoy Erhman's work but am not sure that we are as well served by history lessons as we might hope when it comes to changing the habits of a lifetime.

Damien Parks
Damien Parks

would not consider myself a die-hard fan of Ehrman but i listen and read. BUT this book i am very excited about. i do have 1 worry about this book though... much like the title of this blog post "popular nonsense..." I have discovered that many peoples theology in the Christian faith is a rooted many things among them are bits of pieced together bad theology, life experiences, celebrity pastor's sermons, contemporary Christian music, church liturgy, fractured bible studies etc. Because lets just be honest... most are not academics. So people form opinions out of these and end with some screwed up random combination. It then generates assumptions. "Nonsense." I say all of this to say people approach Jesus, God, Bart Ehrman, and the bible, with all of these preconceived ideas. For me this is one of my battles. The people I want to read this book will refuse because of the author and all of the things they have heard about him. How can we learn to help clean the slate for others? What does it look like to begin to wipe away the "nonsense" in order to begin to approach these ideas like it is the very first time we have read them? just some random thoughts but aside from that... very excited for this book.

Damien Parks
Damien Parks

would not consider myself a die-hard fan of Ehrman but i listen and read. BUT this book i am very excited about. i do have 1 worry about this book though... much like the title of this blog post "popular nonsense..." I have discovered that many peoples theology in the Christian faith is a rooted many things among them are bits of pieced together bad theology, life experiences, celebrity pastor's sermons, contemporary Christian music, church liturgy, fractured bible studies etc. Because lets just be honest... most are not academics. So people form opinions out of these and end with some screwed up random combination. It then generates assumptions. "Nonsense." I say all of this to say people approach Jesus, God, Bart Erhman, and the bible, with all of these preconceived ideas. For me this is one of my battles. The people I want to read this book will refuse because of the author and all of the things they have heard about him. How can we learn to help clean the slate for others? What does it look like to begin to wipe away the "nonsense" in order to begin to approach these ideas like it is the very first time we have read them? just some random thoughts but aside from that... very excited for this book.

John Price
John Price

@dmf: "i’ve always been a fan of his idea that we can have a living relationship with the divine and not be dependent on second-hand/recorded accounts and or exhausted ritual of remembrance..." This is the founding principle of Quakerism. As to the Gospel of John, I've studied a lot with Paul Anderson (http://www.bibleinterp.com/articles/john1357917.shtml). My leanings are that John was written by someone much closer to Jesus than the writers of the other gospels. There are also some hints that this writer may have been a woman.

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

@dmf Soren has a similar idea about faith and a pretty cool bit about scripture as a love letter.

dmf
dmf

@TF, lot's of problems with old emerson but i've always been a fan of his idea that we can have a living relationship with the divine and not be dependent on second-hand/recorded accounts and or exhausted ritual of remembrance, reminds me of derrida's retelling of the myth of the creation of writing and how the recorded word replaced the authority of the living king...

Tripp Fuller
Tripp Fuller

@dmf....that's a good idea. I am much more interested in the Trinity than the Quatrain...(is that what the word would be?) @stephen....no time to debate a rather outlandish idea BUT the gospel of John is considered to be made up of multiple sources and has been by NT scholars for a long time. Sorry to inform you that when you assert stuff any intro to NT student would know is false it makes it difficult to take you seriously.

dmf
dmf

does anyone know of a good history book that explains not the writing and rewritings of the bible but of how the new testament effectively became a forth-person added to the trinity (and the go to source for most answers) for so many christians? i have always been struck that jesus said that he would leave his followers in the care of the spirit but never mentioned a new scripture and paul of course has little use for the life-accounts of jesus after he has his conversion experience, so when/how did it gains such author-ity?

Will
Will

Excited to read the book and listen to the podcast. I have a lot of respect for Bart, his books are always a fun but challenging read for me.

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