https://vridar.org/2019/02/08/imagine-n ... polations/
It takes the stance that its position is "not based on a handful of proof texts that can be supposedly met by setting up opposing proof texts." Instead they're "more complex, more sophisticated than that, and involve serious questions." Those questions are those of "a priori assumptions, logical validity and research methods." This is usually termed skepticism and, to be clear, since we're asking whether the proof texts would "remove any reason to question the assertion" of an HJ, all we're really asking is whether they overcome our skepticism or if skepticism remains, undisturbed.
What's odd about this, though, is that skepticism is not complex and not sophisticated. It's a very simple thing. We either have evidence that overcomes our doubt, to various degrees, or we don't. We're entirely / mostly / somewhat skeptical, as we acquire more evidence for something we move from a position of total skepticism to one of somewhat-grudging allowance for the strong plausibility to a somewhat-more-agreeable understanding that something is more probable than not.
We might be more stringent with the same set of facts, but stringency with the evidence isn't sophistication. It's more akin to curmudgeonry, more like a state of mind or predisposition than any particular font of insight.
Recall that this was the beginning of the meditation, notably these two points:
* Josephus wrote about Jesus in Ant 18 and Ant 20
* Paul wrote about the Jews killing Jesus
Regarding the Jewish historian Josephus on Jesus:
Regarding a first century apostle Paul on Jews killing Jesus:The Testimonium Flavianum does not appear until at least 64 years after the date usually assigned for the death of Jesus. Josephus does not tell us the source of his information. Now assess that fact in the context of what modern historians (I’m talking about professional historians in history departments, not in seminaries or departments of theology) grant as evidence that is strong enough to confirm the historicity of an event: see, for example, the discussions of Carr, Elton and Evans in my recent post on how historians decide or confirm the historicity of a reported event; another historian, Garraghan, would be even more strict with his criteria as discussed in a post with a title reference to Hiawatha.
How sophisticated is this, really? If you encountered someone who took these two points as reasonably well established -- not as a counterfactual, but as the state of the matter -- would you not actually be surprised if they still wanted to argue that the historicity of Jesus is in grave doubt?Then 2 [sic] Thessalonians 2:13-16 and the Jews in Judea killing Jesus would follow, if the AoI pocket gospel above or something similar to it had been known to Paul. That pocket gospel speaks of the demons stirring up envy among the Jews to kill Jesus, thus evidently holding the demons themselves, those “rulers of the age”, responsible. Among other beliefs that surfaced (and we don’t know when it started) was one that had Jesus being magically swapped for Simon Magus on his way to the cross. It is nonsense to suggest that any story with an earthly setting and human characters must by some default “hermeneutic of charity” be assumed historical until compelling evidence to the contrary arises.
And surprised in a bad way -- the kind of thing where you have to shake your head and wonder if a dog just has to chew that bone, come what may, because they've been chewing on it so long they've forgotten how good it might be just to dig their teeth into a steak of evidence right in front of them.
While positioned as scientific skepticism, there is also a tincture of anti-empiricism here, an elevation of the grand idea (the Jesus myth) over dirty details (proof texts, gross!).