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.
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.
As McGrath says,
If mythicists are going to not take seriously the one individual with a PhD in history who supports mythicism, is it any surprise that mythicism is not taken seriously by others?
Oh, and yes… read the suggested articles…
- Probability and Interpretations (scientopia.org)
- Friends don’t let friends calculate p-values (without fully understanding them) (scottbot.net)
- Richard Carrier asks: “What Do Ron Lindsay and an Oklahoma Tornado Have in Common?” (jmpea81.wordpress.com)
- Coming Soon: Theoretical Probability (hamzaltd.wordpress.com)
- Subjective Versus Objective Bayes (Versus Frequentism): Part Final: Parameters! (wmbriggs.com)
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.
HT to someone on FB.
Found this humorous to say the least given the latest round of mythicist garbage… the use of a mathematical formula to disprove the Historical Jesus…
Dr. Mark Goodacre shares with us a recent program he was featured on. Give it a listen.
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.
In the meanwhile, Dick has responded to McGrath’s review of his latest comic book, in part, with:
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.
But ultimately I think the book is disingenuous. It doesn’t read as a mathematical treatment of the subject, and I can’t help but think that Carrier is using Bayes’s Theorem in much the same way that apologists such as William Lane Craig use it: to give their arguments a veneer of scientific rigour that they hope cannot be challenged by their generally more math-phobic peers. To enter an argument against the overwhelming scholarly consensus with “but I have math on my side, math that has been proven, proven!” seems transparent to me, more so when the quality of the math provided in no way matches the bombast.
Oh look… a real mathematician…
HT – JM < TS via FB
Poor little Dick. He actually thinks that he knows what he is talking about. I was going to leave this alone but the sycophants panted loud enough. Dick demeans actual scientists who use actual theories to establish realistic hypotheses. And, he does so while misconstruing what they said.
Scientists prove Beowulf and the Iliad are true stories
Really, Dick? I thought someone interested in literature would know how to read better. But his idea that they are not real scientists is laughable. That’s like Hambone saying that an evolutionary biologist is not a real biologist. Just for fun, check out Dr. Kenna. Compare his bona fides with Dick’s. I’ll wait… Do I need to say any more about who is real and who is not?
I like this statement by Dick:
Facebook is a real network.
Not really, Dick. It is a social network, a neologism meaning a network only available in cyberspace. It is a fake network. Kenna and Carron describe social networks better, more scientific, than we. Stick with them. Thanks.
The tale appears to be a Nordic (and possibly Christian-influenced) adaptation of Virgil’s Aeneid.
Oh? See, this is the problem with thinking that everything is intertextually related to another. By the way, your little “seems to be” way out is noticeable.
There was probably indeed a Trojan War
Anyway, if I had the time to go through all of Dick’s impotence, I would. For instance, his “scientists need to learn logic.” Wow. Said the man who does mind-bending flips to get away from logical conclusions. And, really? The result is useless in application? Said the guy who, when experts says Bayes’ Theorem could not be used to discover a historical Jesus, and with no actual background in the area, suggested that it can? Also, it is a shame that he doesn’t understand Game Theory (No, Dick, I’m not talking about Super Mario Brothers) and how this relates. Like a young earth creationist who doesn’t understand evolution, Dick assumes through ignorance that there is not a connection
Instead, I want to discuss the paper, something Dick didn’t do in his initial post. I didn’t read all the comments, and have no need to – that’s right, I don’t do Dick’s blog. So, let’s discuss the paper. First, Kenna and his partner builds upon the previous research (see Kenna’s page) in statistical physics (really, really advanced Math, something Bayes attempts to be). Using universality, complexity (this is where Game Theory actually comes in – the organization of simple to complex groups. Duh.), and qualitative research, the researchers attempt to find “distinguishing quantitative features.”
Beginning with some semblance of literary criticism (monomyth), Kenna and Carron move into exploring the super-structure with the added individual components. This does not mean that the Anglo-Saxon poem made use of Homer, but that corporate memory as well as genographic theory helps to explain why we have a certain myth found in many cultures. (I mean, unless carrier is that fundamentalist and believed in Noah’s Ark.) What the individual components add is the touch of the real. For example, we have a myth of a returning king. We find this myth in England with King Arthur and even in South American with the white god. That is the imaginary, but the individuality provides something tangible. We would then begin to look not at the origin of the myth because we have already recognized that it is a monomyth, but at the origins of an ancient king.
Social networks are defined by the authors of the paper to be highly clustered but small groups (read complex systems). They establish a certain perimeter, that of the comic book universe. This is imaginary, and any social construction is recognized as artificial. This is, in my opinion, what has made Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy so powerful, is that it removed the artificiality of the social networks (think of Alfred and Bruce’s evolving relationship).
They examine Beowulf, the Iliad, and the Tain. (By the way, Dick shows his “learning” by suggesting that Beowulf has Christian or Homeric origins). Beowulf has archaeological evidence to support a hidden structure, as does the Iliad. They start with an analysis of the characters and begin to build diagrams of relationships.
Page 3 provides a substantial, um, node. When you begin to remove the mythos, you are left with actual identifiable networks that exist outside the myth. That is important. What is important for Gospel criticism is the use of friendly v. hostile networks. Of the twelve+ disciples, only three really occupy a close network with Jesus, but that is for another time. Anyway, what is discovered is that their is an actual underlying network that exists without the myth attached to it, based on normative methods of describing social networks. How is this possible? Well, using actual science, they give you a few reasons why in their conclusions. First, social networks supply the structure of the story can are identifiable. However, they do not survive challenges if the story is completely fictional. Perhaps the most relevant to our other studies is the use of Tolkien, but again, wait for later. These challenged include known constants. Note, the researchers didn’t say that the myth was real, only that the networked society reflects what we find in society. This is based on the human characters of the stories.
You will have to read the paper to understand it, but that actually requires reading.
Dick proves that regardless of evidences, he will only accept his box, even if his box is judged poorly used by those who daily toy with the box, such as the scientists in the paper.
Poor little Dick.
sorry for the short Dick response, but I am busy editing and writing and the such. The paper is fantastic, but should have been placed better into Game Theory (complexity). Over all, though, it is understandable by lay readers, except for, it seems, Dick.
Before I was invested so heavily with Mark, I was a huge fan of the Wisdom of Solomon. Reading through Thom’s article, I noticed something that I wanted to pay more attention too:
We have no reason to believe that they read the Suffering Servant song as eschatological at all. The Suffering Servant doesn’t feature here or anywhere else in the Qumran corpus. Perhaps they saw themselves as a Suffering Servant, their own suffering cleansing them as in Wisdom of Solomon 2-3, where the righteous ones’ suffering and death is “like a sacrificial burnt offering” for their own individual sins. Or perhaps they read it historically as the suffering of Israel. Anything we posit will be merely speculative, since nowhere in the Qumran corpus do they discuss the Suffering Servant. I’ll repeat: nowhere.
A couple of things. First, I don’t want to call Wisdom (of Solomon) a midrash on Isaiah, but it is more than intertextuality and may fall into the realm of rewritten Scripture. [1. Cheon, Samuel. Exodus Story in the Wisdom of Solomon: A Study in Biblical Interpretation. Sheffield Academic Press, 1997.]
Now, what does Wisdom have to do with Isaiah? The first part of Wisdom is rewriting the Servant’s Song in Isaiah 52-53 to once again represent Israel during an oppressive stage in their history. Israel is the righteous man. It is not about eschatological hopes but about vindication. Luke recognized these terms when he worked to expand Matthew’s Gospel by including several references to the book of Wisdom as a contextualizing force throughout Luke-Acts. There is no notion of atonement in Wisdom, except for individual purging, much as we see in the Psalms of Solomon, another pre-Jesus textual tradition that does not expect a dying and atoning messiah.
In Matthew 8.17, the one time a post-Jesus author could have really elaborated on the connection between Isaiah 52-53 and Jesus, the author chose not to and instead once again proof-texted his contextualization of the ministry of Jesus as one that brought to completion the Jewish Scriptures. This is really no different than what many do today with various leaders from Europe whom they claim to be the mythical anti-christ. Acts makes a connection with the Eunach, but this is after much theological reflection. I have to laugh at the use the Old Testament or other writings to prove the historical Jesus – given that these things were used to contextual the memory of the Historical Jesus.
Now, about the idea of a dying and raising messiah… Nope. What about a heavenly messiah, the so-called mythical Jesus. Nope. One of the central issues with this is that Carrier and others seem to be missing one huge part when they argue for heavenly beings rather than early ones.
I find it rather odd that Carrier sees Isaiah 53 like contemporary evangelicals, but I digress.
I tend to agree with Casey regarding the ransom motif in Mark, and more, the idea that a ransom/sacrifice can be identified with a people, object or city is not uncommon and should be paid more attention too. Israel, however, is the righteous man of Wisdom and the Suffering Servant of Isaiah. It was only after a generation of reflection and an impetus of crisis that the original community began to explore the teachings of Jesus and the being of Jesus in a different light. There is a rather huge difference in the use of Scripture in Mark and Matthew, which should signal to us the leap forward in contextualizing Jesus that happened between the two authors.
Anyway… read Thom’s article.
This second part of my response to Richard Carrier will deal essentially with the interpretation of three texts: Daniel 9:24-27, Isaiah 52:7-53:12, and 11QMelchizedek. I will spend the bulk of my time responding point by point to Carrier’s claims, before concluding with a fresh interpretation of 11QMelch, based on new research. I’ve changed my mind back and forth on various questions regarding 11QMelch, but never have I found Carrier’s claims to accord with the data we have. He constantly misreads the texts; he makes contradictory claims about the nature of pesher, as he thinks it suits his purposes, and ultimately fails on virtually every point. The one point he has made that forced me to look closer at the scroll is that it follows the same timeline as Daniel in terms of a ten jubilee cycle. I was of course, with all scholars, already aware of this, but his insistence on the central significance of this point drove me to closer examination of the scroll. Not surprisingly, as it turns out and as I will show, Carrier’s understanding of the timeline of events between Daniel 9 and 11QMelch is incorrect, but I owe to his insistence on this question the clarity I now have about what 11QMelch is saying about the last days.
As always, Thom is well supported by scholarship – actual scholarship, like even from his own field. Give it a good read.
Neil complains that I haven’t drawn attention to his main focus which he claims is the question of Christian origins. I was drawing attention to his misuse of Schweitzer as an atheist blogger in my essay which is about flawed methodology among people who reject critical evidence and argument for historicity. The point is that Vridar’s questioning of Christian origins involves contradicting and misrepresenting scholarship and a high degree of manipulating evidence out of context. While he expresses dismay that I haven’t discussed him in depth in my essay, he is ultimately irrelevant and not its subject. He is merely an example of an atheist blogger demonstrating mad method and incompetence.
Neil claims I say historical arguments can’t be summarized honestly which is of course, misrepresenting what I’ve said. It is Neil I have criticised for misrepresenting historical arguments. His comment on James Crossley was: “Any one of these arguments, Crossley admits, may not be persuasive for all readers, but together they become an argument of “cumulative weight” and therefore much stronger. The maths proves it: 0+0+0=3.” This is obviously not a summary of anything which James ever wrote, but a deliberate attempt to make him look stupid. This is basically what is wrong with Godfrey’s summaries. The problem with summaries in general is only that they are summaries and can never be proofs. Godfrey does not seem to understand that difference either. None of us has every suggested that no-one should summarise arguments accurately, or that even an accurate argument is a substititute for a learned proof. Neil is incapable of summarising historical arguments with conclusions he disagrees with. He merely mocks and invents silly analogies and misrepresents. And now he misrepresents me on his blog post and claims I never demonstrated his misrepresentations. But then he has denied that all along the way despite evidence to the contrary.
Neil says ‘I have pointed out on numerous occasions that the very reason I quote Schweitzer’s statement on historical methodology is BECAUSE he is a “historicist” and “not a mythicist”. His words would hardly have any force for my own particular point, otherwise. Stephanie is simply flat wrong when she says I am “oblivious to the fact that nobody suggests that mythicists pretend Schweitzer was a mythicist”.’
Yet Neil just confirms what I said. Yes indeed Neil, nobody is accusing you or other mythtics of pretending Schweitzer was a mythicist. We know you know he believed in a historical figure. I can’t believe Neil’s failure to comprehend something so simple, and quote it and still interpret it as the opposite to what it says. So yes we all agree that Schweitzer did believe in a Jesus who was historical, and he followed Weiss, as I pointed out in my essay: Schweitzer was a committed German Lutheran Christian. What mythicists don’t understand is that Schweitzer like Weiss DID think we could use historical methodology to demonstrate it in historical terms because they quote him out of his own historical context and I pointed this out in my essay which Neil fails to comprehend. As such, Schweitzer believed that salvation was by faith, not by works, and historical research was merely a ‘work’.
This is what he considered ‘uncertain’ about all historical research. It has nothing to do with what decent present-day historians or incompetent bloggers mean when they think that something is ‘historically uncertain’, which normally indicates that it may or may not have happened. It is well known that Schweitzer followed Weiss in supposing that Jesus expected the kingdom of God to come in his own time, and was mistaken. He commented,
His Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, published in 1892, is in its own way as important as Strauss’s first Life of Jesus. He lays down the third great alternative which the study of the life of Jesus had to meet….either eschatological or non-eschatological!….The general conception of the kingdom was first grasped by Johannes Weiss. All modern ideas, he insists…must be eliminated from it; when this is done, we arrive at a kingdom of God which is wholly future….He exercises no ‘messianic functions’, but waits, like others, for God to bring about the coming of the kingdom by supernatural means….But it was not as near as Jesus thought. The impenitence and hardness of heart of a great part of the people, and the implacable enmity of his opponents, at length convinced him that the establishment of the kingdom of God could not yet take place….It becomes clear to him that his own death must be the ransom price….
The setting up of the kingdom was to be preceded by the day of judgement. In describing the messianic glory Jesus makes use of the traditional picture, but he does so with modesty, restraint and sobriety. Therein consists his greatness….
The ministry of Jesus is therefore not in principle different from that of John the Baptist….What distinguishes the work of Jesus from that of the Baptist is only his consciousness of being the Messiah. He awoke to this consciousness at his baptism. But the messiahship which he claims is not a present office; its exercise belongs to the future….
…Reimarus…was the first, and indeed before Johannes Weiss, the only writer to recognise and point out that the teaching of Jesus was purely eschatological….But Weiss places the assertion on an unassailable scholarly basis.
Now where has all the supposedly historical uncertainty gone? It was never there! In this second passage, Schweitzer was discussing what really happened, and he had no doubts about that at all. His apparent doubts in the much quoted passage above are not historical doubts, as Neil understands them, at all. They are entirely due to his German Lutheran conviction that salvation is by faith, not works, and historical research is a ‘work’ which does not bring salvation. Neil says, ‘I have always in discussions stressed that the methodological principle is NOT an argument for mythicism. It is an argument for an understanding of what constitutes a valid historical methodology.’
Once again, Neil misses the point and has taken Schweitzer out of his historical context, and deliberately persistently fails to acknowledge it, to make him sound like people he had never heard of him. Moreover, the whole idea that the judgement of anyone more than a century ago can be treated as if it were a judgement on the work of Sanders, Vermes and competent scholars who have written since then shows a total lack of historical sense.
For all Neil’s trumpeting of holding a degree which includes modern history, he failed to learn something we all learned in stage one if we weren’t already aware of it. He fails to put people in their own modern historical context. He does this with Fredriksen’s regrettably unhelpful analogy which he took out of historical context and applied to ancient history which is a clear abuse of her demonstration. No he is not implying that “Fredriksen’s point meant that Jesus was a myth.” I never said that he implied that. He is abusing her analogy out of context. Neil does not understand context and the implications of context. Neil also refers to Fredriksen as “a naughty schoolgirl who has no interest in the content of the lesson, believing the teacher to be a real dolt, and who accordingly seeks to impress her giggly “know-it-all” classmates by interjecting the teacher with smart alec rejoinders at any opportunity” and me as “a vampire declaring an outrage if someone shows it the sign of the cross” and biblical scholars as “silly detectives” etc: all completely ludicrous.
As for identification of Neil as an ‘atheist’ blogger: Neil wonders why I haven’t called him a “Caucasian licensed automobile driver Neil Godfrey” or “Bushwalker and blues-lover heterosexual Neil Godfrey”. Obviously the ‘atheist’ epithet is significant in view of ‘Christian origins’ and his bias, just as he would refer to a Christian scholar or atheist scholar etc. I never identify people by their race or sexual orientation like Roo Buckaroo. It’s irrelevant here or anywhere. Does Neil regularly identify people like that?
As to his final sentence in his post, I can’t resist repeating it because it is a clear example of his malice and spite ‘But if “The Jesus Process (c)” aspires to make a serious contribution to the “required debunking” of the Christ-Myth it is going to have to refrain from diluting their efforts with the uncomprehending Stephanie Louise Fisher.’ Neil has already pronounced that the copyright symbol is “unnecessary but pretentious,” demonstrating his ignorance of the necessity of litigation processes, and now, in addition to his malice and spite, he demonstrates a complete lack of comprehension of the purpose and aims of the Jesus Process.
I suspect Neil has found criticisms of me while gazing at himself in the mirror.
To analyze earthquake activity in the region, geologist Jefferson Williams of Supersonic Geophysical and colleagues Markus Schwab and Achim Brauer of the German Research Center for Geosciences studied three cores from the beach of the Ein Gedi Spa adjacent to the Dead Sea.
Varves, which are annual layers of deposition in the sediments, reveal that at least two major earthquakes affected the core: a widespread earthquake in 31 B.C. and an early first century seismic event that happened sometime between 26 A.D. and 36 A.D.