Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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rgprice
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Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by rgprice » Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:15 pm

Here's a prediction. One of these days Bart Ehrman is going to come out with a book in support of the mythicist position, it will be huge news, he'll sell millions of copies, and be all over the networks talking about it.

If he's smart that's what he'll do. It's one of those things where lots of people can come up with all the evidence but it doesn't matter, but when someone from "the other side" with a big name "switches teams" it will send a shockwave. He'll get all the glory of course.

IMO the writing is on the wall. The scholarship is heavily in favor of the mythicist position, and right now the traditionalists are just defending the fortress, but when it's beyond obvious that it's a losing position, which will happen, the "great defenders" will switch sides and get the accolades.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by GakuseiDon » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:01 pm

Hi RG, what is "the mythicist position" that scholarship will switch to? Do you mean Jesus ahistoricity (that is, we don't have reasonable evidence either for or against historicity), or an actual position related to how Christianity started?
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

Martin Klatt
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by Martin Klatt » Sun Sep 23, 2018 1:41 am

_-_
Last edited by Martin Klatt on Wed Sep 26, 2018 1:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
What I have written, I have written........., but it ain't necessarily so.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:00 pm

rgprice wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:15 pm
Here's a prediction. One of these days Bart Ehrman is going to come out with a book in support of the mythicist position, it will be huge news, he'll sell millions of copies, and be all over the networks talking about it.

If he's smart that's what he'll do. It's one of those things where lots of people can come up with all the evidence but it doesn't matter, but when someone from "the other side" with a big name "switches teams" it will send a shockwave. He'll get all the glory of course.

IMO the writing is on the wall. The scholarship is heavily in favor of the mythicist position, and right now the traditionalists are just defending the fortress, but when it's beyond obvious that it's a losing position, which will happen, the "great defenders" will switch sides and get the accolades.
While Ehrman does seem to be trolling the traditionalists/orthodox, occasionally, at least, it will be interesting to see if he does go further. I wonder if he's covertly challenging others to do it while maintaining a high and likely prosperous profile. His books are largely narratives in which he touches on events and aspects of the cultures of antiquity but with little if any reference to scholars of aspects of antiquity.

In the beginning of How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee, 2014, her starts with an account of Apollonius that makes him sound like Jesus, and then compares them.

Then, in a subsection titled 'Gods Who Temporarily Become Human', he talks about how in the ancient world it was possible to believe in a number of ways that a human was divine. He recites the tale of Ovid (43 bce to 17 AD/CE) about the gods Jupiter and Mercury travelling Phyrgia as mortals and their interactions with two elderly peasants, Philemon and Baucis, and how they feed the gods and the gods response by ensuring the wine never runs out and granting Philemon and Baucis eternal life as lesser divine beings (as trees) guarding a/the gods’ shrine.

Ehrman relates the tale of Philemon & Baucis and "the divine realm had numerous strata" to a tale to Paul & Barnabas in Acts -

... Some gods were greater, one might say “more divine,” than others, and humans sometimes could be elevated to the ranks of those gods. Moreover, the gods themselves could and occasionally did come down to spend time with us mere mortals. When they did so, it could lead to interesting or even disastrous consequences, as the inhospitable inhabitants of Phrygia learned to their great discomfort.

The lesson was not lost on later inhabitants of the region, as we learn from the pages of the New Testament itself. In the book of Acts we have an account of the Apostle Paul on a missionary journey with his companion Barnabas in this same region, visiting the town of Lystra (Acts 14:8–18). Paul sees a man who is crippled, and through the power of God he heals him. The crowds who have seen this miracle draw what for them is the natural conclusion: “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men” (Acts 14:11). It is striking that they call Barnabas Zeus and Paul—the one who has been doing all the talking—Hermes. These identifications are no accident. Zeus was the Greek counterpart of the Roman Jupiter, and Hermes was the counterpart of Mercury. The people in Lystra know the tale of Philemon and Baucis and think that the two gods have appeared once again in their midst. So convinced are they of this that the local priest of Zeus brings out oxen and garlands to offer sacrifices to the two apostles, who have a very difficult time persuading everyone that they are only human, “of like nature with you.” Paul uses the occasion, as was his wont, to preach his gospel message in order to convert the people. Even so, not everyone was convinced: “With these words they scarcely restrained the people from offering sacrifice to them” (14:18).

... Whether the story in Acts is a historical recollection of Paul’s missionary activities or simply an intriguing legend that sprang up in later times (like the story of Philemon and Baucis itself) is immaterial for our consideration here: in the Roman world it was widely thought that gods could take on human guise, such that some of the people one might meet on occasion may well indeed be divine ...

Ehrman, Bart D. (2014) How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (Kindle Locations 346-364). Harper.One.


To outline 'Divine Beings Born of a God and a Mortal' he recounts the Roman comic playwright Plautus' work Amphytrion, about the mythical Amphytrion, a military general of Thebes, his pregnant wife Alcmena, and how Jupiter seduces her and impregnates her again, so she has twins; one the divine Hercules, son of Jupiter, and the other the mortal Iphicles, son of Amphytrion.

In discussing 'A Human Who Becomes Divine' Ehrman recounts the account of Romulus by Livy (59 BCE–17 CE) who, in one place, states the opinion that Romulus was a “god born of a god” [to a virginal human mother] (History of Rome 1.16).

But -

it was Romulus’s disappearance from life that was even more astonishing. According to Livy, by the end of Romulus’s life Rome had been established, the Roman government had been formed with the Senate in place and Romulus as king, the army was fully functioning, and everything was well positioned for the beginnings of the greatest city in history. During the final episode of his life, Romulus had gathered with members of the Senate to review the military troops at the Campus Martius. Suddenly a huge thunderstorm arose. After major claps of thunder, Romulus was enveloped by fog. When the fog lifted, he was nowhere to be seen.

Ehrman's theses are that a Christian text such as the Gospel of Mark understands Jesus in the first way, as a human who came to be made divine, while the Gospel of John understands him in the second way, as a divine being who became human i.e. both of them see Jesus as divine, but in different ways.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:11 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:01 pm
... Do you mean Jesus ahistoricity (that is, we don't have reasonable evidence either for or against historicity), or an actual position related to how Christianity started?
Jesus ahistoricity would seem to align with absence of historicity, rather than being 'agnostic about historicity' which 'we don't have reasonable evidence either for or against historicity' implies.

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GakuseiDon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:10 pm

MrMacSon wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 6:11 pm
Jesus ahistoricity would seem to align with absence of historicity, rather than being 'agnostic about historicity' which 'we don't have reasonable evidence either for or against historicity' implies.
Fair point.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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MrMacSon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:19 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Mon Sep 24, 2018 8:10 pm
Fair point.
I'm starting to think the term 'historical Jesus' should apply to the Jesus in the NT, and other terminology should be used to describe whether he was or is perceived to have been fully human (cf. propositions that he was/is 'mythical'). I guess low Christology is one way of describing the former, as would reference to a human Jesus or a human Jesus adopted or co-opted as a god.

I guess it would be too hard to get something like that to be taken up ('adopted') universally, even if [some] people here took it up.

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MrMacSon
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Re: Prediction...(Bart Ehrman)

Post by MrMacSon » Mon Sep 24, 2018 11:33 pm

Another interesting aspect to Bart Ehrman's writings and comments, particularly in relation to his previously expressed surprise there was a view that Jesus might have been mythical, is the fact the CV page on his website says he teaches about 'Jesus in Myth, Tradition, and History' -

UNDERGRADUATE COURSES TAUGHT
New Testament Introduction; Jesus in Myth, Tradition, and History; The Birth of Christianity; Apocalypse Now and Then; Heresy and Orthodoxy in Early Christianity; Jesus in Scholarship and Film; The Life and Letters of Paul; Jesus and the Synoptic Gospels; The Gospel and Letters of John; The Problem of Suffering in the Biblical Traditions; Introduction to Hebrew Bible.

GRADUATE COURSES TAUGHT
Problems and Methods in New Testament Studies; Early Christian Apocrypha; The Apostolic Fathers; Literary Forgery in the Early Christian Tradition; The Greek Apologists; Heresy and Orthodoxy in Early Christianity; Christianity in the Early Roman Empire; Readings in the Greco-Roman Religions; New Testament Textual Criticism; New Testament Greek and Exegesis. https://www.bartdehrman.com/curriculum-vitae/

I wonder whether he has engaged with (i) scholarship on the Gnostics etc. by, say, April D deConick and David Brakke, and (ii) the recent publications of Joseph B Tyson, Jason Beduhn, Markus Vinzent, and Matthias Klinghardt, and, if he has, what he thinks about them.

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