So, I found Dick saying this about my thesis, without reading the book of course:
I always find it amusing when someone attempts what is a nakedly probability-dependent argument (like that Mark was influenced by and/or emulating Lucan) and then insists no one can apply maths to history. They are only refuting themselves.
Umm… Not sure I did a “probability dependent argument” (Carried still thinks he’s into math and deep theory… mainly just deep… well, you know).
What I did was to lay out a model of education in ancient Rome. Then, I showed what Lucan did, briefly. Then… I suggest we examine Mark in the same manner, giving something of a rhythm to Mark if Lucan is used. Finally, I also gave a reading of Mark by Lucan.
This is not flipping a coin, or trying to gauge decisions in the future, gents, but examining a book in close proximity, with nearly the same cognitive environment, including crisis, with the hopes of establishing a similar viewpoint and perimeter in hopes of identifying a better interpretative stance. Instead of forward (dependability), this is more like establishing an evolving style of imitatio.
This is nothing more than Carrier throwing around concepts he does not understand… again. If he needs help with probability and dependency, he may want to try here.
Two events are dependent if the outcome or occurrence of the first affects the outcome or occurrence of the second so that the probability is changed.
In those disciplines where most researchers do not master mathematics, the use of mathematics may be held in too much awe. To demonstrate this I conducted an online experiment with 200 participants, all of which had experience of reading research reports and a postgraduate degree (in any subject). Participants were presented with the abstracts from two published papers (one in evolutionary anthropology and one in sociology). Based on these abstracts, participants were asked to judge the quality of the research. Either one or the other of the two abstracts was manipulated through the inclusion of an extra sentence taken from a completely unrelated paper and presenting an equation that made no sense in the context. The abstract that included the meaningless mathematics tended to be judged of higher quality. However, this “nonsense math effect” was not found among participants with degrees in mathematics, science, technology or medicine.
Richard Carrier is the world’s foremost proponent of the “mythicist” view of Jesus – that he never actually existed as a historical person. He explains his theory that St. Paul only ever spoke of Jesus in the spiritual realm and that the Gospels are “extended parables”. Mark Goodacre is NT professor at Duke University. He contends that Carrier’s mythicist view is extrememly far fetched and the evidence for the historical Jesus is beyond reasonable doubt.
First, this post sparked a delightful commentary/discussion/popcorn feast for Jim West on my Facebook wall – a discussion I was unable to join as I was at a finance committee meeting.
Mythicists like Earl Doherty will accept the existence of Q – a hypothetical source the existence of which is deduced from the common material shared between Matthew and Luke – and even the even more hypothetical stratification of this source into layers by scholars like John Kloppenborg.
McGrath is correct – they are somewhat hypocritical with their selection of evidences and theories to pin their conspiracies on. By the way, I deny Q. It is as real as the mythicists’ historical expertise.
The question indeed is precisely what McGrath describes: what best explains the evidence (all the evidence) we have, that an actually executed man inspired it all (as the canonical Gospels claim), or revelations of a self-sacrificing archangel inspired it all (as Hebrews 9 and the earliest credible redaction of the Ascension of Isaiah claim)? That cannot be answered from the armchair, much less with dogmatic assumptions about the ideological bullheadedness of Jews, who (I guess we’re supposed to believe) could never innovate their way out of a paper bag, much less a real socio-theological crisis like the Roman occupation.
First, Hebrews 9 is set with a larger work called the Epistle to the Hebrews (perhaps Dick as head of it, but doubtful). It begins by referring to a son who follows the prophets, and while using Wisdom-mystical language, it still nevertheless grounds the argument in Platonic thought of pre-existence, contrary to Jewish ideal pre-existence, on the lines of the Psalms of Solomon. In badly using Hebrews 9 out of context, Dick attempts to present a choice of either/or. For instance, he supposes only two lexicons, “Thus, there were two systems of vocabulary in antiquity, and when translating from Jewish to pagan thought-concepts…”. Of course, anyone who has actually studied the historical reality understand the problems with the limitation of the Jewish and pagan concepts into two lexicons, as if they were the only two in existence – and better, as if there was but one Jewish and one Pagan world co-existing. This false DICKotomy puts Carrier in a corner, all the while he attempts to put actual scholarship in a corner. A myriad of explanations exist as to the historical impetus of writing such works as Hebrews, as well as the canonical gospels, but Carrier is unable to make proper use of them, due to his insistence that only certain evidences matter. This evidences, ironically enough, are mythical and out of context.
Hebrews 9 is extremely Platonic – because it describes the breaking of the boundaries between the heavenly and the earthly. If you miss this key point, as well as the key point of Hebrews (including time and location of composition), you will come up with some the craziest ideas, such as heavenly archangel named Jesus.
For more on Hebrews and how it fits well into Platonic/Wisdom literature, see here.