Stephanie Fisher Responds to Neil Godfrey

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.

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