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  1. I am not a mythicist, as I clearly state in the paper. I don’t claim the miracles “disprove” Jesus’ existence, either. You are attacking a straw man.

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  2. Most mythtics explain they aren’t really mythtics. They just believe Jesus probably didn’t exist or would like to deny him (especially former fundamentalists). Carrier has it on a probability rating of 4 chances in 5 using his exceptional mathematical skills which also enable him (combined with his expertise on food science, animal psychology and ethics) to pronounce with authority, that all vegetarians are deluded. Some people are genuinely agnostic on the historicity of Jesus. Agnosticism and skepticism are honest positions to hold particularly when one isn’t a specialist in the field of the history of religion and cannot devote their life to evaluating all the arguments and evidence. I am agnostic and skeptical about everything except that I am now convinced there is no good reason to doubt the existence of Jesus. Evidence and argument leads me to be convinced that he existed and that we can learn things about him by continuing to evaluate new evidence and argument in recent critical scholarship and research, despite having disagreements and feeling skeptical in regard to minor issues. However, to try to defend agnosticism by inventing abstract philosophical arguments, is irrelevant and flawed.

    One of the major problems of mythtic arguments is that they’re actually completely out of date with recent critical scholarship, appealing to imaginary concensus despite the fact that the majority of NT ‘mainstream’ scholarship is conservative Christian, and they don’t engage with recent critical arguments that diverge from consensus views and new critical method. Generally they dismiss ‘historical method’ as if it’s a homogenous whole rather than a complex evolving web of different approaches.

    The mythtics are not trained in the area (except Robert Price who has abused his training with is flawed and unconvincing mythtic theory based on alot of mishandled evidence – to be discussed in Casey, forthcoming) and have no necessary expertise and knowledge. I’m hardly likely to take much notice of a biblical scholar on neuroscience or an anthropologist on the weather. I am skeptical enough of the flooded field of neuroscience itself and the weather is a tricky one. Neuroscience has its quacks, the field of religion has its apologists, and the weather… well, it’s raining cats and dogs. And neuroscientists and philosophers, anthropologists and meteorologists, don’t have the appropriate training and knowledge to analyse composite historical religious texts. Abstract philosophical approaches and mathematical formulae applied to composite historical religious texts fail to recognise the difference between primary, and secondary tradition, which is legendary and myth mixed accretion. Consequently they are not equipped to say anything useful about history because they can’t see it through the myth.

    So when Law says ‘the gospels’ are early, does he include the hypothetical saying source ‘Q’ (which never existed anyway) and Thomas which the crackpot Jesus seminar slot in early, or is he referring to Mark, or even Matthew and has he perhaps read Crossley’s doctoral thesis. Having made a tangled web of unqualified assumptions, he applies his abstract philosophical approach, imposing a twenty first century analogy on first century culture with no apparent understanding of the nature of ancient documents and their transmission and general oblivion to first century culture, language and context. Also when critical historical scholars propose dates for gospels, they aren’t just guesses but conclusions on the basis of argument and evidence. Law appears not to have taken this into account as the arguments and evidence are of no consequence to his argument which is built on convenient cherry picked conclusions which fit his assumptions.

    Naturally as a busy philosopher, Law can’t be expected to know all the scholarship relevant to early Christian documents so his ability to handle the evidence is crippled. Making up silly analogies in a twenty first century context and assuming their similarity to all the complexities of first century culture (of which Law is unlearned), made very little sense and is anachronistic. The pity is, that he has a delighted lay audience only to keen to embrace a theory uncritically which supports their convictions.

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    1. steph

      It’s a pity we can’t hand them all the years of accumulated research, evidence and argument on one conveniently simple little entree dish at dinner.

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