New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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GakuseiDon
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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by GakuseiDon » Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:35 pm

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:20 pm
I believe your M/H key is too rough (or is it Carrier’s or Doherty’s key you use?), in two ways:
The key is based on Dr Carrier's conclusions as much as possible. I use M? and H? because Carrier is sometimes unsure himself. I'm happy to correct the chart if I've misread Carrier anywhere, as Giuseppe pointed out I did earlier in this thread.
FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:20 pm
1. It considers texts as a whole, while we should look at smaller units.
The whole point of the OP is to consider the texts as a whole. That to me is important, just as looking at smaller units is important.
FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:20 pm
In the discussion about historicity or mythicism, IMO opinion we should at least distinguish between the following types of text:
Oh I agree, but those are questions for another time. I agree that there are all sorts of different ways to analyse the texts. My one here is specific to looking at the texts as a whole, to examine how 'H' texts differ from 'M' texts with regards to vagueness of language around the early church and beliefs.
FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 2:20 pm
As apocalyptic writings provide historical information, I suggest you add the Didache to your list, especially the apocalyptic last (16th) chapter, which gives encrypted historical information in line with Revelation and the synoptic Apocalypse.
I thought of adding texts that almost became canon, like Didache, 1 Clement, Shepherd of Hermas and Barnabas. Since from memory Carrier doesn't really analyse those, I'd use Doherty who did. But I thought I'd start with the NT canon, which presumably was selected by H Christians.

(ETA) Let me include them anyway. You'll see that they fit the same pattern as Carrier's NT texts.

Doherty's thoughts on those books in his "Jesus: Neither God Nor Man":

Didache:

The Didache, though the product of a community which had obvious affiliations with the Galilean Tradition,, nevertheless shows no sign of a founder Jesus (see Appendix 8 [p.681]). Not even the Baptist puts in an appearance... (p 395)

At several points we encounter a silence in the Didache about an historical Jesus... In fact, the Didache as a whole has nothing to say about a death and resurrection... The Didache community had, like the early stages of Q, no human founder or source for its teachings. (p 685)

1 Clement:

It is often claimed that the epistle known as 1 Clement, traditionally dated to the 90s of the 1 st century, refers obliquely to the Neronian persecution... This is woolly language which fails to speak explicitly of death and execution. But it follows on similar language which has been applied even to Peter and Paul.

While chapter 5 is often appealed to as early evidence of those apostles' martyrdoms in Rome, the text actually does anything but tell us that. Verse 4, for example, is frustratingly vague...

The writer of 1 Clement also deals with the theme of jealousy, but to his list of Old Testament figures who suffered at the hands of jealous men, he fails to add Jesus himself, betrayed by the perfidious apostle in his own company...

A dozen years earlier than Pliny writes, Clement's community in Rome seems to have had no historical figure in its background.

Shepherd of Hermas:

Add to this the wider record of contrasting and often incompatible views about the cultic Jesus, the different concepts of a divine figure in Paul, in Hebrews and other epistles, in secondary documents like the Odes of Solomon and the Shepherd of Hermas, none of which are associated with an historical Jesus of Nazareth...

For all its length, the names of Jesus and Christ are never used... The writer refers to a "Son of God" who is a highly mystical figure devoid of human features. Sometimes the Son is equated with the Holy Spirit or the Jewish Law. There is no sense of a Son with a distinct personality, biography or role separate from longstanding ways of thinking about God's dealings with the world.

Barnabas:

The Epistle of Barnabas has been dated anywhere between 90 and 125. Like Polycarp and Clement, 'Barnabas' has no documents or traditions to draw upon when he wishes to describe Jesus' passion (5:2, 5:12, 13). He, too, has recourse to Isaiah (50 and 53) and the Psalms (22 and 119). While Barnabas has a greater sense than any of the other early Fathers that Jesus had been on earth (5:8-11), he has little of substance to say about that incarnation. He speaks of Jesus as teaching the people of Israel, his miracles and wonders, but he fails to itemize any of those teachings or miracles. The latter were expected of the Messiah, so the writer may simply be assuming that such things had happened...

Thus Barnabas' concept of Jesus as a teacher would seem to be a theoretical one, not grounded in actual historical memory or a record of sayings...

So:

Didache = M?
1 Clement = H?, but includes "woolly language" and is "frustratingly vague" in parts.
Shepherd of Hermas = M
Barnabas = H, but "little to say on the incarnation" and "fails to itemize any of Jesus's teachings or miracles".

So the H texts fit the same pattern as the NT: vague statements around historicity, and removing just a couple of passages would more than likely turn them into M or M? texts.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by FransJVermeiren » Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:31 pm

GakuseiDon wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 4:35 pm

So the H texts fit the same pattern as the NT: vague statements around historicity, and removing just a couple of passages would more than likely turn them into M or M? texts.
Thank you for your extensive reply.

'Removing just a couple of passages' to get texts in the desired category seems to be a doubtful method.

The epistle of Barnabas (for example XII:5), 1 Clement 56 and, as already mentioned, the last chapter of the Didache give invaluable though encrypted information on the historical Jesus who did not die on the cross but survived his execution.

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:57 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:31 pm
'Removing just a couple of passages' to get texts in the desired category seems to be a doubtful method.
It's not a method but an observation. There is very little difference between the H and M texts in style and content: i.e. the lack of clear details about almost everything, much less details about a historical Jesus. This is true regardless of how you see Christianity originated. The significance of it though depends on the particular H or M model being pushed.
FransJVermeiren wrote:
Mon Dec 03, 2018 11:31 pm
The epistle of Barnabas (for example XII:5), 1 Clement 56 and, as already mentioned, the last chapter of the Didache give invaluable though encrypted information on the historical Jesus who did not die on the cross but survived his execution.
Out of interest, why do you believe the information was encrypted? Why not give clear details?
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by FransJVermeiren » Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:18 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:57 am
Out of interest, why do you believe the information was encrypted? Why not give clear details?
The information was encrypted because the authors wanted their message - and themselves - to survive in a hostile Roman environment. The Essene messianic movement was extremely anti-Roman, they fought not only for their liberty but also for world dominion under their messiah as successors of the Romans. Producing and distributing a profoundly anti-Roman message would be suicidal, the more since the position of the Jews in the empire had become still more precarious after the lost war. Their overt core message would be ‘One of our leaders in the war against you has survived although you thought you had killed him. Therefore we see him as our supreme ruler instead of the Roman emperor and this is what we are going to propagate throughout the whole empire’.
That’s why the author of the gospel of Mark made something more acceptable out of it: he antedated the story, wiped out the war circumstances and invented a passion narrative in which the contribution of the Jews to Jesus’ fate was raised and that of the Romans diminished, meanwhile changing the earthly (though spectacular) suffering/surviving sequence into a supernatural suffering/death/resurrection sequence.

One example. In fact its message is hardly encrypted, but it has been defused through a dubious translation. I believe Barnabas XII:5 should be translated like this (there is strong support for this translation elsewhere in the same writing): Again Moses makes a representation of Jesus, showing that he must suffer, and shall himself stay alive, though they will believe that he has been put to death, by the sign given when Israel was falling.

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:08 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:57 am
.There is very little difference between the H and M texts in style and content: i.e. the lack of clear details about almost everything, much less details about a historical Jesus. This is true regardless of how you see Christianity originated. The significance of it though depends on the particular H or M model being pushed.
GDon, I remember that Carrier gave indirectly a comment about this strange fact ("very little difference between the H and M texts in style and content").

Someone raised the question:
For arguments sake, if the Pauline epistles are from the 2nd century, can’t the cosmic Christ that is seen in it be one of the many variants of Christ that people believed in, in the 2nd century and can not be used to argue the Christ myth theory?

And Carrier said:

One would then be burdened with explaining how or why Christ would become de-historicized that way. It is actually historically easier to see a mythical person historicized than a historical person removed from history and placed in outer space (in fact I cannot think of a single precedent for that, although if anyone knows one I’m interested in seeing it). But more problematic is the fact that Paul’s letters show no awareness of the alternative, e.g. they never once struggle to argue against a prevailing historicizing view, contain no reference to anyone believing or preaching such a thing, and so on (and indeed no knowledge of the Gospels or anything in them, with the possible exception of the eucharist, which one could argue reverse causation for), which is always improbable unless there was none. Thus even late letters would not entail a low P(myth).

This is all academic, however, since I have yet to see any sound argument that P(letters late) is anywhere high enough to matter.

https://www.richardcarrier.info/archive ... mment-6262

So the difference exists between M and H texts even assuming that the M texts are H texts. See my bold above in the quote.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by Peter Kirby » Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:48 am

GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:57 am
It's not a method but an observation. There is very little difference between the H and M texts in style and content: i.e. the lack of clear details about almost everything, much less details about a historical Jesus. This is true regardless of how you see Christianity originated.
I've been saying this for years. It is clever, though, to use texts from the early Christian centuries as the basis of pointing this out, with reference to the texts that are accepted as "historicist" (regarding Jesus as a literal human on earth in the recent past) by prominent mythicists. It's a gambit that had not occurred to me.

In the past, since I tried to illustrate this obvious point with texts that weren't very early Christian texts (which seemed appropriate to me since they'd be less the subject of controversy over whether they were "historicist" or not), people generally wanted to wriggle out of it with an extremely hand-wavy appeal to different times and contexts.

Someone feeling ultra-confident in their mythicism and not very charitable could push back by saying that they're all mythicist, right? They could then shift to their other foot and say that later texts that do the same belong to different times and contexts. This seems to be the orthodox village mythicist approach.
"... almost every critical biblical position was earlier advanced by skeptics." - Raymond Brown

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:31 am

FransJVermeiren wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 2:18 am
The information was encrypted because the authors wanted their message - and themselves - to survive in a hostile Roman environment...
Thanks for your response, but it seems to be a can of worms best left unopened! Still, it's an interesting perspective.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:38 am

Giuseppe wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 4:08 am
So the difference exists between M and H texts even assuming that the M texts are H texts. See my bold above in the quote.
Well, it's based on a hypothetical case where Paul's letters were written in the Second Century. The analysis in my OP is based on Dr Carrier's conclusions with regards to Paul's letters being First Century.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by GakuseiDon » Tue Dec 04, 2018 11:52 am

Peter Kirby wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:48 am
GakuseiDon wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:57 am
It's not a method but an observation. There is very little difference between the H and M texts in style and content: i.e. the lack of clear details about almost everything, much less details about a historical Jesus. This is true regardless of how you see Christianity originated.
I've been saying this for years. It is clever, though, to use texts from the early Christian centuries as the basis of pointing this out, with reference to the texts that are accepted as "historicist" (regarding Jesus as a literal human on earth in the recent past) by prominent mythicists. It's a gambit that had not occurred to me.
Thank you. It really occurred to me when I first started delving into Doherty's ideas around the Second Century apologists to the pagans, whom Doherty regarded as non-historicists. There was a pattern there, a 'style' in the vagueness on clear historical details (not just about Jesus, but about anything) that became obvious after rereading those texts many times. It wasn't long before I saw the same thing in the First Century writings, including the Gospel of Mark. Dr Carrier really confirms this IMO.
Peter Kirby wrote:
Tue Dec 04, 2018 10:48 am
In the past, since I tried to illustrate this obvious point with texts that weren't very early Christian texts (which seemed appropriate to me since they'd be less the subject of controversy over whether they were "historicist" or not), people generally wanted to wriggle out of it with an extremely hand-wavy appeal to different times and contexts.
When GA Wells made the same point about a strange silence about historical details of Jesus in NT epistles 30 years ago, biblical scholar Graham Stanton responded that this is not just something unique to Christian writings, but that also '[p]recise historical and chronological references are few and far between in the numerous Jewish writings discovered in the caves around the Dead Sea near Qumran'. (Stanton, Graham. The Gospels and Jesus, Second Edition, Oxford Bible Series, 2002, page 144) So the pattern can be seen in First and Second Century Christian writings, and also contemporary Jewish writings.
It is really important, in life, to concentrate our minds on our enthusiasms, not on our dislikes. -- Roger Pearse

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Re: New Testament -- which are the mythicist texts? Analysis of Carrier OHJ

Post by Giuseppe » Tue Dec 04, 2018 12:01 pm

Sincerely it escapes me which is your precise anti-mythicist argument, beyond the your (our common) observation. Ok, only a phrase may do the difference about a text, if it is M or H. I have quoted Carrier above as example of the fact that he sees a difference between H and M even if he had to assume M as H. That difference is precisely what would make these texts as probably M (=as better explained as M). So the distinction is not subjective.
Nihil enim in speciem fallacius est quam prava religio. -Liv. xxxix. 16.

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