The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 9:52 pm
by manoj
Ehrman seems to be revisiting the "ill-tempered Richard Carrier's review".
http://ehrmanblog.org/attacks-from-the- ... carrier-2/

Ehrman revisits his point about not having any Roman references to Pontius Pilate. Here is what Ehrman actually wrote (on Huffington Post):
It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That should hardly count against his existence, however, since these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place. Not even the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, or even more notably, the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate.

However, in Ehrman's latest retelling of this spat, 'Roman sources" become "any (non-Christian/non-Jewish) pagan sources". He writes:
The following is in reference to my point that we do not have any references to Pontius Pilate in any (non-Christian/non-Jewish) pagan sources of the first century.

Ehrman seems to be forgetting that Carrier referenced this point when reviewing his Huffington Post article, not his book.

I am not a subscriber to Ehrman's blog. So, I have only read the teaser. Any subscribers care to share more details (or correct me)? ;)

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Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:49 pm
by stevencarrwork
'It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That should hardly count against his existence, however, since these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place. Not even the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, or even more notably, the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate.'

Ehrman lies as we have a contemparary inscription mentioning Pilate.

Unless, of course, Ehrman is the kind of historian who refuses to consider inscriptions as sources.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:17 pm
by pakeha
How strange.
Doesn't Philo's On the Embassy to Gaius count as a 1st century reference?

XXXVIII. (299)
... Pilate was one of the emperor's lieutenants, having been appointed governor of Judaea. He, not more with the object of doing honour to Tiberius than with that of vexing the multitude, dedicated some gilt shields in the palace of Herod, in the holy city; which had no form nor any other forbidden thing represented on them except some necessary inscription, which mentioned these two facts, the name of the person who had placed them there, and the person in whose honour they were so placed there. (300) But when the multitude heard what had been done, and when the circumstance became notorious, then the people, putting forward the four sons of the king, who were in no respect inferior to the kings themselves, in fortune or in rank, and his other descendants, and those magistrates who were among them at the time, entreated him to alter and to rectify the innovation which he had committed in respect of the shields; and not to make any alteration in their national customs, which had hitherto been preserved without any interruption, without being in the least degree changed by any king of emperor. (301) "But when he steadfastly refused this petition (for he was a man of a very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate), they cried out: 'Do not cause a sedition; do not make war upon us; do not destroy the peace which exists. The honour of the emperor is not identical with dishonour to the ancient laws; let it not be to you a pretence for heaping insult on our nation. Tiberius is not desirous that any of our laws or customs shall be destroyed. And if you yourself say that he is, show us either some command from him, or some letter, or something of the kind, that we, who have been sent to you as ambassadors, may cease to trouble you, and may address our supplications to your master.' (302) "But this last sentence exasperated him in the greatest possible degree, as he feared least they might in reality go on an embassy to the emperor, and might impeach him with respect to other particulars of his government, in respect of his corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity. (303) Therefore, being exceedingly angry, and being at all times a man of most ferocious passions, he was in great perplexity, neither venturing to take down what he had once set up, nor wishing to do any thing which could be acceptable to his subjects, and at the same time being sufficiently acquainted with the firmness of Tiberius on these points. And those who were in power in our nation, seeing this, and perceiving that he was inclined to change his mind as to what he had done, but that he was not willing to be thought to do so, wrote a most supplicatory letter to Tiberius. (304) And he, when he had read it, what did he say of Pilate, and what threats did he utter against him! ...


http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text ... ook40.html

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:48 pm
by stevencarrwork
Can't Ehrman get his graduate students to check his research? Are they too busy nowadays?

Of course, pointing out mistakes Ehrman makes, and then makes again, and then repeats years later counts as 'vitriol, hatred, and mean-spiritedness'?

No, Bart, just get the basic facts right....

Google is the friend of New Testament Professors, never forget....

I think Ehrman is hiding behind a claim that as we only find Jewish references to Pilate in Judea, so we shouldn't expect Jews to mention Jesus.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 2:08 am
by toejam
Ehrman does (briefly) discuss Philo's reference to Pilate and the Pilate Stone in DJE?. Check p.44. The Huffington Post article that stevencarrwork is quoting is a summary. So Ehrman makes a minor gaff in an edited newspaper article by failing to clarify that he's talking about scribal sources, not archeological ones - a mistake that he does not make in the book. So what? So we're going to drag him through the coals for that? Sheesh. This is such a minor point it's ridiculous. And does it really add anything to the mythicist hypothesis? Nope. Even if we didn't have Philo or the Pilate Stone, Pilate's governership would still be a safe historical bet, despite not being attested to by contemporaries. And the same goes for a historical Jesus.

Here's Ehrman on The Skeptical Fence podcast. He discusses mythicism and Carrier etc. in the last 10mins or so. He says he'd be happy to debate Robert Price and has no beef with him, but it seems his relationship with Carrier is beyond repair. Shame. I'm not a big Carrier fan. I also find him astonishinly arrogant. I also don't buy his mythicist hypothesis (I lean towards historicity, though without the conviction Ehrman has). But that said... Carrier's hypothesis is the best mythicist theory out there, whether he's a prick or not :lol:


Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:18 am
by stevencarrwork
So Ehrman writes a brand new article, just a few days ago, repeating his same errors, and slamming Carrier for pointing out the error in the first place, an error Ehrman has just repeated, and it is Carrier who is arrogant?

Ehrman's logic is that apart from all the sources which mention Pilate, we don't have any sources at all which mention Pilate, none whatever , which is why there is so little evidence for Jesus, so Jesus must have existed, because Pilate did.

You can't argue with that! Literally. Ehrman will call you a Holocaust-denier if you do.

I wonder why Ehrman himself never seems to think it was the editors of the Huffington Post who put in all the mistakes, not him. I guess he leaves that to his defenders, because if he said it himself, it would make him look ridiculous,

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 5:08 am
by Hawthorne
"Even if we didn't have Philo or the Pilate Stone, Pilate's governership would still be a safe historical bet, despite not being attested to by contemporaries. And the same goes for a historical Jesus."

If this is so, what sources would you rely on to establish the existence of Pilate? And how do those sources apply to "a historical Jesus."

What do you mean by "a historical Jesus," anyway? What I see is that demands that a historical Jesus be accepted use a very slippery definition of what that means or who that might have been. On this board, maryhelena offers what she refers to as a theory of euhemerism, that the character in the gospels was based on an actual human. Erich Segal based Oliver Barrett IV on Tommy Lee Jones, does that mean Ollie really existed in history (but he was just actually known as Tommy)? What does leaning toward historicity mean?

What is your methodology for sifting out true history in the Gospel stories? In a blog post, RJ Hoffmann makes the point that even though Shakespeare wrote the play Julius Caesar, that doesn't mean Caesar didn't exist. What Hoffmann doesn't seem to realize is that Caesar's weight in history is clearly felt in the writings of contemporaries, his own writings, archeological artifacts, etc. We do not rely on Shakespeare to establish that Caesar was a person in history. If the analogy were to hold, we would need some non-fictional sources (even if historical fiction) to establish both Pilate and Jesus. We do have that for Pilate (exactly the sources that do mention Pilate, Philo and Josephus, do not mention Jesus (at least not the Jesus that histoicists want to establish).

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:31 am
by GakuseiDon
pakeha wrote:Doesn't Philo's On the Embassy to Gaius count as a 1st century reference?

My guess is that Ehrman doesn't consider Philo as a "Roman source". Based on his statement, he appears to disregard Josephus also as a "Roman source", and Josephus actually lived in Rome and became a Roman citizen.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:53 am
by manoj
toejam wrote:Ehrman does (briefly) discuss Philo's reference to Pilate and the Pilate Stone in DJE?. Check p.44. The Huffington Post article that stevencarrwork is quoting is a summary. So Ehrman makes a minor gaff in an edited newspaper article by failing to clarify that he's talking about scribal sources, not archeological ones - a mistake that he does not make in the book. So what? So we're going to drag him through the coals for that? Sheesh.


Carrier made this point while reviewing the Huffington Post article.
http://freethoughtblogs.com/carrier/archives/667

After making mistakes, Ehrman is doubling (tripling?) down. And hiding behind calling Carrier, ill tempered. And seems to be forgetting where the review came from when he writes:
Read Carrier’s critique, and then read the statement beneath it taken straight from my book, Did Jesus Exist.


Yes, it is a minor point. Carrier's point is that Ehrman's Huff Post article (and his book) is littered with such mistakes. And he demonstrates these mistakes. And says,
This is simply not how to argue for historicity.


Shouldn't Ehrman accept his mistake(s) and move on? Sheesh! :)

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:08 am
by GakuseiDon
toejam wrote:Ehrman does (briefly) discuss Philo's reference to Pilate and the Pilate Stone in DJE?. Check p.44.

Looking at DJE?, I see that Ehrman has separate sections for "Jewish sources" and "Roman references". He places Philo and Josephus in the "Jewish sources" section. Tacitus and Pliny the Younger are in the "Roman" section.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:14 am
by stevencarrwork
GakuseiDon wrote:
pakeha wrote:Doesn't Philo's On the Embassy to Gaius count as a 1st century reference?

My guess is that Ehrman doesn't consider Philo as a "Roman source". Based on his statement, he appears to disregard Josephus also as a "Roman source", and Josephus actually lived in Rome and became a Roman citizen.

I was under the impression that Philo and Josephus were, or became, Roman citizens.

Of course, Ehrman is doing no more than saying that apart from the sources we do have for Pilate, we don't have any sources for Pilate.

Why not just admit there are no Roman writings about Jesus and that this is a tiny, tiny point in favour of mythicism?

Why the obstinate refusal to accept that there iseven one tiny data point in favour of mythicism?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:59 am
by steve43
Josephus trained as a Priest in the Second Temple, and probably knew Ananus, Caiaphas, and the whole bunch- though he was a generation or two younger.

And he wrote about Jewish history.

How does that NOT make him a Jewish historian?

But give Erdman credit. He gets paid.

How much money has Jenny McCarthy made slamming the science of virology and vaccines?

Does the Flat Earth society still exist?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:23 am
by stevencarrwork
steve43 wrote:Josephus trained as a Priest in the Second Temple, and probably knew Ananus, Caiaphas, and the whole bunch- though he was a generation or two younger.

And he wrote about Jewish history.

How does that NOT make him a Jewish historian?


I was under the impression that he was also a Roman citizen. I may be wrong.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:31 am
by Diogenes the Cynic
pakeha wrote:How strange.
Doesn't Philo's On the Embassy to Gaius count as a 1st century reference?

XXXVIII. (299)
... Pilate was one of the emperor's lieutenants, having been appointed governor of Judaea. He, not more with the object of doing honour to Tiberius than with that of vexing the multitude, dedicated some gilt shields in the palace of Herod, in the holy city; which had no form nor any other forbidden thing represented on them except some necessary inscription, which mentioned these two facts, the name of the person who had placed them there, and the person in whose honour they were so placed there. (300) But when the multitude heard what had been done, and when the circumstance became notorious, then the people, putting forward the four sons of the king, who were in no respect inferior to the kings themselves, in fortune or in rank, and his other descendants, and those magistrates who were among them at the time, entreated him to alter and to rectify the innovation which he had committed in respect of the shields; and not to make any alteration in their national customs, which had hitherto been preserved without any interruption, without being in the least degree changed by any king of emperor. (301) "But when he steadfastly refused this petition (for he was a man of a very inflexible disposition, and very merciless as well as very obstinate), they cried out: 'Do not cause a sedition; do not make war upon us; do not destroy the peace which exists. The honour of the emperor is not identical with dishonour to the ancient laws; let it not be to you a pretence for heaping insult on our nation. Tiberius is not desirous that any of our laws or customs shall be destroyed. And if you yourself say that he is, show us either some command from him, or some letter, or something of the kind, that we, who have been sent to you as ambassadors, may cease to trouble you, and may address our supplications to your master.' (302) "But this last sentence exasperated him in the greatest possible degree, as he feared least they might in reality go on an embassy to the emperor, and might impeach him with respect to other particulars of his government, in respect of his corruption, and his acts of insolence, and his rapine, and his habit of insulting people, and his cruelty, and his continual murders of people untried and uncondemned, and his never ending, and gratuitous, and most grievous inhumanity. (303) Therefore, being exceedingly angry, and being at all times a man of most ferocious passions, he was in great perplexity, neither venturing to take down what he had once set up, nor wishing to do any thing which could be acceptable to his subjects, and at the same time being sufficiently acquainted with the firmness of Tiberius on these points. And those who were in power in our nation, seeing this, and perceiving that he was inclined to change his mind as to what he had done, but that he was not willing to be thought to do so, wrote a most supplicatory letter to Tiberius. (304) And he, when he had read it, what did he say of Pilate, and what threats did he utter against him! ...


http://www.earlyjewishwritings.com/text ... ook40.html

Philo doesn't count as "non-Jewish,"

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:14 pm
by Roger Pearse
Hawthorne wrote:What Hoffmann doesn't seem to realize is that Caesar's weight in history is clearly felt in the writings of contemporaries, his own writings, archeological artifacts, etc.


I ought to point out that we have contemporaries, own writings and archaeology for a very tiny handful of people in antiquity (indeed to have all of those would probably apply to ... well, something like a dozen or two?). For the vast majority of people, we do not have any of this. Consequently we don't use that method to establish whether people existed.

All the best,

Roger Pearse

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:24 pm
by pakeha
Ah.
I see I missed "Roman" as a qualifier for the type of contemporary historical reference Erhman had in mind.
In any case, I understand that with the destruction of the Roman records in the fires of 64, 69 and 80 it's understandable there's so little by way of 1st century documentation that survived into the 2nd second century and beyond.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 3:41 pm
by neilgodfrey
Roger Pearse wrote:
Hawthorne wrote:What Hoffmann doesn't seem to realize is that Caesar's weight in history is clearly felt in the writings of contemporaries, his own writings, archeological artifacts, etc.


I ought to point out that we have contemporaries, own writings and archaeology for a very tiny handful of people in antiquity (indeed to have all of those would probably apply to ... well, something like a dozen or two?). For the vast majority of people, we do not have any of this. Consequently we don't use that method to establish whether people existed.


We don't use that method directly but indirectly it does factor in, even if it's something that's for so long been taken for granted with these sources that it hardly registers in our thinking.

We don't have any primary evidence for Publius Vinicius the Stammerer, but we do have knowledge of Seneca and archaeological evidence of someone he personally knew. That alone doesn't prove anything since we also have Greek novels that are evidently fictional tales that also include historical persons we can independently confirm existed, including by archaelogical records.

But when we see that that literary evidence is in the form of a genre that we know generally indicates an intent to report something "factual" however much else it also reports and however the facts are coloured. We assess the reliability of the literary evidence according to the extent its contents can be verified. So the writings of Cicero, Caesar, Tactitus, Suetonius, despite their vagaries, count far more than the Historia Augusta.

The more surely we can independently verify details in works of such genres the more our confidence in those works increases.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 8:45 pm
by outhouse
toejam wrote:. So what? So we're going to drag him through the coals for that? Sheesh. This is such a minor point it's ridiculous.



Exactly.

Its laughable the way people try and drag others to their level of misunderstanding.


I'm not a big Carrier fan.


I was at first.

As I learned more, I started poking rather large holes in his guesses. I wont even grant him the term hypothesis his case is so weak.


Carrier's hypothesis is the best mythicist theory out there



Im not sure about that.


None have even come close to being a decent replacement hypothesis. I do grant him the fact he tried.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 9:48 pm
by stevencarrwork
pakeha wrote:Ah.
I see I missed "Roman" as a qualifier for the type of contemporary historical reference Erhman had in mind.
In any case, I understand that with the destruction of the Roman records in the fires of 64, 69 and 80 it's understandable there's so little by way of 1st century documentation that survived into the 2nd second century and beyond.


You missed 'Roman' as a qualifier? But Ehrman knows perfectly well there is a Roman inscription.

I guess Ehrman is a really bad historian who doesn't count inscriptions as sources, and doesn't expect his defenders to count inscriptions as sources either.

Ehrman's point is that apart from all the sources we have for Pilate, we don't have any sources at all for Pilate.


So Jesus existed.

It's all so very simple.

No matter how patiently Ehrman explains the lack of evidence of the existence of Jesus, how we shouldn't even expect evidence of Jesus existing, people still wonder if there is evidence of the existence of Jesus.

Ehrman's comparison is with Pilate. Apart from the sources which mention for Pilate's existence, there are just no sources which mention Pilate. None whatever! And yet people don't doubt the existence of Pilate.

If only Carrier read Ehrman's latest book, where Ehrman points out the many parallels between Jesus and many other beings, most of whom where mythical.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:02 pm
by toejam
Hawthorne wrote:toejam said: "Even if we didn't have Philo or the Pilate Stone, Pilate's governership would still be a safe historical bet, despite not being attested to by contemporaries. And the same goes for a historical Jesus."

If this is so, what sources would you rely on to establish the existence of Pilate? And how do those sources apply to "a historical Jesus."


With no Philo or Pilate Stone, we would still have Josephus and the gospels to verify Pilate's existence beyond reasonable doubt, yet neither of those sources were contemporary.

What do you mean by "a historical Jesus," anyway?


Great question - and I agree that the term "historical Jesus" can be slippery and easily misunderstood. When I use the term, I am refering simply to a specific historical Jewish cult-leader figure named Jesus who was crucified under Pilate, from whom Christianity sprouted. Whether he was the Jesus of Ehrman, Crossan, Aslan, Morton Smith etc. is a different question, and one I feel even less confident about.

What does leaning toward historicity mean?


I think of it this way - If time-travel was possible, and my life depended on betting correctly whether there was or wasn't a historical Jesus, my money is going on the hypothesis that there was. So I'm not sure, or even confident. But after all the reading on the issue I've done, I think it's a more reasonable hypothesis of how Christianity started - that there was a historical crucified figure from whom the religion sprouted. That is what I mean by "leaning towards historicity". If you were forced to bet, where are you placing your chips?

What is your methodology for sifting out true history in the Gospel stories?


The same methodologies any of us use to try and estimate what most likely happened in the past - the principles of analogy. All credible historical methodologies boil down to this I think. What do the gospels more closely resemble? an exaggerated, bias account of an historical religious cult figure? or pure mythology/euhemerization? To me they seem more the former. The gospels remind me of how modern day scientologists write about L.Ron Hubbard (check the 'official' scientology biography - it's a laugh!) - full of bias, half-truths and lies, misunderstandings, a degree of developing unverified legend, exaggeration etc. ... but still based on a historical person who founded their cult.

Mark 1:14
Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near repent, and believe in the good news.”

Verses like this seem too strange to me if they were purely euhemerizations of a "heavenly being" or what-have-you.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:22 pm
by neilgodfrey
toejam wrote:
With no Philo or Pilate Stone, we would still have Josephus and the gospels to verify Pilate's existence beyond reasonable doubt, yet neither of those sources were contemporary.



If re Pilate all we had were Josephus we would have good grounds to consider Pilate historical for the following reasons:

  • Josephus is writing in a genre that is compatible with an author's intention to communicate what we think of as historical events of the past;
  • The contents of Josephus's writings can in key respects be confirmed by archaeology;
  • The contents of Josephus's writings are in key respects also confirmed by other independent writings;
  • We therefore (on the basis of the above three factors) can find reasonable grounds to place general trust in those details in Josephus that cannot be confirmed in the above ways;
  • Our trust in Josephus is always balanced against our knowledge that he was writing according to the norms of ancient historiography which did allow for myth at times to be considered valid historical past and especially relied upon what "seemed would naturally have happened" to justify a good story.

So yes, if we had only Josephus as testimony to Pilate we would have reasonable grounds for accepting Pilate as historical.

In the case of the gospels, however, none of the reasons we accept Pilate's existence from Josephus's writings apply.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2014 11:49 pm
by Roger Pearse
neilgodfrey wrote:We don't use that method directly but indirectly it does factor in...


I think this is discussing a different issue. The point being made, to which I responded, is that we must use contemporary and archaeological evidence as our criterion of whether people exist. This is mistaken. It doesn't advance that claim to point out that, if we have contemporary and archaeological evidence, we use it. Of course we do. But the appeal was to that as more or less exclusive, and to its absence as an argument.

We don't have any primary evidence for Publius Vinicius the Stammerer, ...


By "primary" we usually mean "ancient". I'm afraid I don't know who Publius Vinicius the Stammerer was - mentioned somewhere in Seneca? But if he was, as I think, perhaps someone otherwise unknown, then your point is that we accept the existence of people mentioned in "reliable" sources. Which sounds reasonable.

But ... I am rather wary of where this is going. Because ...

But when we see that that literary evidence is in the form of a genre that we know generally indicates an intent to report something "factual" however much else it also reports and however the facts are coloured. We assess the reliability of the literary evidence according to the extent its contents can be verified. So the writings of Cicero, Caesar, Tactitus, Suetonius, despite their vagaries, count far more than the Historia Augusta.


Although the only two writers in that group who are writing in the same genre are Suetonius and the Historia Augusta, tho. :-) And I sense the idea that "no testimony need be considered unless present in more than one source", which of course won't do.

While genre must be taken into account, appeals to genre are dangerous because they privilege a modern classification over ancient evidence. (The same applies to whether we consider an author "reliable" or not. If we are not careful, this allows us to ignore testimony by arbitarily marking it as "unreliable"; which is why much 19th century criticism is worthless). We would need to start with ancient testimony about forms of literature, and go from there. Thus we know that it was acceptable for dialogues to be written using the names of others in the recent past, because Cicero tells us so in his letters discussing the construction of his Tusculan Disputations. We know that it was acceptable to compose speeches in the body of histories, because the epitome of Pompeius Trogus preserved by Justinus tells us that Livy overdid it. That sounds objective to me, in a way that no modern opinions about the subject can be.

Unless, of course, someone finds it convenient to assert that that letter of Cicero was forged, and that Justinus is a later composition; in which case .... does that affect our argument? (Not to me it doesn't, since I privilege ancient data over theory; but consider whether it would affect it for you).

All the best,

Roger Pearse

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:05 am
by stevencarrwork
Roger Pearse wrote:I think this is discussing a different issue. The point being made, to which I responded, is that we must use contemporary and archaeological evidence as our criterion of whether people exist. This is mistaken. It doesn't advance that claim to point out that, if we have contemporary and archaeological evidence, we use it. Of course we do. But the appeal was to that as more or less exclusive, and to its absence as an argument.



I think Ehrman's claim is that we should accept that people exist, even if nobody ever said they existed.

And if nobody says somebody existed, that is not at all an argument for that person not having existed.

But perhaps I don't understand Ehrman's point , which seems to be that we don't have any sources at all for Pilate (if you discount the sources we do have) and we accept that Pilate existed, despite nobody ever mentioning him.

Of course, I am going by Ehrman's Huffington Post article , which apparently underwent a mysterious redaction by person or persons unknown, ruining the clear logic of Bart, by introducing all kinds of errors that he never made.but which appeared in the article.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:11 am
by stevencarrwork
manoj wrote:Ehrman seems to be forgetting that Carrier referenced this point when reviewing his Huffington Post article, not his book.


Ehrman quotes from Carrier's review of his Huffington Post article, and rebuts this review by pointing out what Bart wrote in his book 'Did Jesus Exist?' - a book which , of course, had not been shipped when Carrier wrote his review of the Huffington Post article.


Carrier had expressly written ' For now, I will address this brief article, not knowing how his book might yet rescue him from an epic fail.'


You may think this is somewhat naughty of Bart.

Still the people who pay to read Bart's thoughts probably won't notice this blatant switch. They will assume that Ehrman is honest.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 12:34 am
by neilgodfrey
Roger Pearse wrote:
neilgodfrey wrote:We don't use that method directly but indirectly it does factor in...


I think this is discussing a different issue. The point being made, to which I responded, is that we must use contemporary and archaeological evidence as our criterion of whether people exist. This is mistaken. It doesn't advance that claim to point out that, if we have contemporary and archaeological evidence, we use it. Of course we do. But the appeal was to that as more or less exclusive, and to its absence as an argument.


What interests me is what I would call the "sloppy" assumptions many biblical scholars seem to use to justify the "reliability" of their sources. Gospels are just assumed to have some historical intent. When pushed we find many of them have no clearer grasp of why we accept classical historians as reliable or otherwise.

Archaeology IS important as a control at some point to help us assess the validity of our written sources.

We don't have any primary evidence for Publius Vinicius the Stammerer, ...


By "primary" we usually mean "ancient". I'm afraid I don't know who Publius Vinicius the Stammerer was - mentioned somewhere in Seneca? But if he was, as I think, perhaps someone otherwise unknown, then your point is that we accept the existence of people mentioned in "reliable" sources. Which sounds reasonable.


I don't mind what terms we use so long as we agree on their meaning for the sake of communicating. My point is to think through how we come to conclude some sources are reliable and others not.

But ... I am rather wary of where this is going. Because ...

But when we see that that literary evidence is in the form of a genre that we know generally indicates an intent to report something "factual" however much else it also reports and however the facts are coloured. We assess the reliability of the literary evidence according to the extent its contents can be verified. So the writings of Cicero, Caesar, Tactitus, Suetonius, despite their vagaries, count far more than the Historia Augusta.


Although the only two writers in that group who are writing in the same genre are Suetonius and the Historia Augusta, tho. :-) And I sense the idea that "no testimony need be considered unless present in more than one source", which of course won't do.


My point is that we can't have one without the other. It's not either genre or archaeological testimony. My point is that Historia Augusta has pitifully little by way of independent supporting testimony. It has as much support, comparably, as an ancient Greek novel that also portrays historical persons in its plot. Suetonius does have more reliability because of a number of factors I covered, including -- ultimately at some point -- archaeology. We can't verify every detail but the more we can verify the more confidence we can have (making the allowances I mentioned) in its historical reliability.

While genre must be taken into account, appeals to genre are dangerous because they privilege a modern classification over ancient evidence.


Which is why it is important to understand how ancient historiography worked. Genre is not a black and white thing but authors sometimes mix genres, new ones emerge -- etc. I am not suggesting we believe something that looks to us like history -- my point is quite different.


(The same applies to whether we consider an author "reliable" or not. If we are not careful, this allows us to ignore testimony by arbitarily marking it as "unreliable"; which is why much 19th century criticism is worthless).


My point is that we rarely stop to think through the processes involved when we do make judgements about reliability. Your statement here is the one I am trying to pin down. We need some criterion, some "thing" to help us decide what is "reliable" or "unreliable". So many biblical scholars seem to me never to have thought this through and rarely questioned their assumptions about why they take some works as reliable and others not. (I'm thinking of conversations I've had with several as well as my readings of some of their published works.)

(We would need to start with ancient testimony about forms of literature, and go from there.


Exactly. But ultimately if all we have is literature and no external controls at some point then we have a problem. I don't know that this problem exists in pretty much any area of historical inquiry outside biblical studies.


Thus we know that it was acceptable for dialogues to be written using the names of others in the recent past, because Cicero tells us so in his letters discussing the construction of his Tusculan Disputations. We know that it was acceptable to compose speeches in the body of histories, because the epitome of Pompeius Trogus preserved by Justinus tells us that Livy overdid it. That sounds objective to me, in a way that no modern opinions about the subject can be.

Unless, of course, someone finds it convenient to assert that that letter of Cicero was forged, and that Justinus is a later composition; in which case .... does that affect our argument? (Not to me it doesn't, since I privilege ancient data over theory; but consider whether it would affect it for you).


And you trust Cicero in this because for a start you have some idea of who Cicero was. And that goes back to independent controls outside the writings of Cicero himself. And we know about some of the events, the circumstances, the persons, Cicero wrote about because of archaeology as well as independent literary works. I suspect much of this is taken for granted -- almost operates subliminally when we just "know" we can trust certain things said in the writings of Cicero.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:01 am
by toejam
stevencarrwork wrote:Of course, I am going by Ehrman's Huffington Post article , which apparently underwent a mysterious redaction by person or persons unknown, ruining the clear logic of Bart, by introducing all kinds of errors that he never made.but which appeared in the article.


There's nothing "mysterious" about it. The Huff Post article is an edit/summary of the book. So Ehrman made a minor gaff whilst putting it together. So? ... It's clear when you read the book that the point about the lack of sources for Pilate was in reference to Pagan literary sources, not archeological ones. He spends a separate paragraph discussing the Pilate Stone and Philo.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:07 am
by stevencarrwork
toejam wrote:
stevencarrwork wrote:Of course, I am going by Ehrman's Huffington Post article , which apparently underwent a mysterious redaction by person or persons unknown, ruining the clear logic of Bart, by introducing all kinds of errors that he never made.but which appeared in the article.


There's nothing "mysterious" about it. The Huff Post article is an edit/summary of the book. So Ehrman made a minor gaff whilst putting it together. So? ... It's clear when you read the book that the point about the lack of sources for Pilate was in reference to Pagan literary sources, not archeological ones. He spends a separate paragraph discussing the Pilate Stone and Philo.


So it was Ehrman who claimed there were no Roman sources for Pilate in the Huff Po article.

Had he not read his own book?

Did he not realise he was giving misleading information to tens of thousands of people?

Can't he get his graduate students to check what he writes?

And now he is slamming Carrier for pointing out a mistake in the Huff Po article, while pretending Carrier was reviewing the book.

Dishonest and slimey.

Why can't Ehrman just admit he made a mistake? Is they guy infallible? Can he not admit to one mistake ever,without accusing people of vitriol for pointing out his mistakes?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 1:57 am
by toejam
Wow. It seems you have some serious fire in the belly against Ehrman.

stevencarrwork wrote:Had he not read his own book?


Have you never stated/written something that you later realised didn't really reflect your view or point as well as you could have?

stevencarrwork wrote:Did he not realise he was giving misleading information to tens of thousands of people?


Obviously not if it's a mistake.

stevencarrwork wrote:Can't he get his graduate students to check what he writes?


Nothing substantial here. Just smear.

stevencarrwork wrote:And now he is slamming Carrier for pointing out a mistake in the Huff Po article, while pretending Carrier was reviewing the book.


Nope. He's not "pretending Carrier was reviewing the book".

From Ehrman's blogpost: "Now to be fair to Carrier, his comment was posted on his blog about a short piece that I wrote for the Huffington Post. In that (very!) condensed version of my views, I pointed out that Pontius Pilate is not mentioned in any “Roman sources of his day.” This sent Carrier ballistic: we have the inscription! We have Philo! We have Josephus! Ehrman is an idiot! But if he had simply waited to read my book before blasting off at me, he would have seen what I meant"


Ehrman's beef with Carrier is regarding his 'unprofessionalism' - an issue I don't give a toss about. That's between them.

stevencarrwork wrote:Dishonest and slimey.


I don't see that.

stevencarrwork wrote:Why can't Ehrman just admit he made a mistake? Is they guy infallible? Can he not admit to one mistake ever,without accusing people of vitriol for pointing out his mistakes?


As a subscriber to his blog, I can think of several times where he's admitted to making a mistake and/or changing his mind on issues.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 2:34 am
by stevencarrwork
toejam wrote:From Ehrman's blogpost: "Now to be fair to Carrier, his comment was posted on his blog about a short piece that I wrote for the Huffington Post. In that (very!) condensed version of my views, I pointed out that Pontius Pilate is not mentioned in any “Roman sources of his day.” This sent Carrier ballistic: we have the inscription! We have Philo! We have Josephus! Ehrman is an idiot! But if he had simply waited to read my book before blasting off at me, he would have seen what I meant"



I see.

So Ehrman makes a major, amateurish blunder and nobody is supposed to comment? We are all supposed to wait for the book to see 'what I meant'?

And Carrier expressly writes 'So stay tuned for my future review of his book. For now, I will address this brief article, not knowing how his book might yet rescue him from an epic fail.' and Ehrman fails to tell his readers that.


Ehrman's Huffington Post article starts off by comparing mythicists to Holocaust deniers, and we are all supposed to be ultra forgiving when Ehrman can't even summarise his own book without making major blunders? Can you imagine what Ehrman would say if Carrier summarised Ehrman's book by making the mistakes Ehrman himself made? I can't imagine either, but I bet Ehrman would have a few choice words to say if Carrier's review of Ehrman's book made such major mistakes as Ehrman's own summary did.


I take it that if all of us start saying that Professor Ehrman says there are no inscriptions which mention Pilate, this would be 'a minor gaffe' and perfectly forgivable :-) (and not at all a grave slur on Ehrman's reputation)


Ehrman's Huffington Post article also made the astonishing claim :-

'With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves).'

And Ehrman slams Carrier for 'unprofessionalism'? After Ehrman had made such a ludicrous statement as that?

And, of course, Ehrman's logic is still that if we ignore all the sources we do have for Pilate, we find that there are no sources which mention Pilate, not one single one, so why should we expect sources to mention Jesus?

Are we allowed to laugh yet?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:02 am
by toejam
Well, Ehrman calls it as he sees it. He wholly accepts the Q hypothesis. I lean towards the existence of some sort of Q also, but am not as convinced as he. But I agee that it is problematic to use a hypothetical source as "evidence". I agree with you on that one. But I think you have to read the Huff Post piece for what it is - an edit/summary of his views - the idea being that you read the book to find out how he comes to those conclusions. Whether you agree with him is a different issue. I agree with Ehrman on some things, and not on others. But I think these accusations of "slimey dishonesty" are uncalled for. As to the accusations of vitriol and unprofessionalism, it's like "Who shot first, Greedo or Hans?" ... I couldn't give a toss.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:08 am
by stevencarrwork
toejam wrote:Well, Ehrman calls it as he sees it. He wholly accepts the Q hypothesis. I lean towards the existence of some sort of Q also, but am not as convinced as he. But I agee that it is problematic to use a hypothetical source as "evidence". I agree with you on that one. But I think you have to read the Huff Post piece for what it is - an edit/summary of his views - the idea being that you read the book to find out how he comes to those conclusions. Whether you agree with him is a different issue. I agree with Ehrman on some things, and not on others. But I think these accusations of "slimey dishonesty" are uncalled for. As to the accusations of vitriol and unprofessionalism, it's like "Who shot first, Greedo or Hans?" ... I couldn't give a toss.


It is slimey dishonesty to say there are no sources which mention Pilate and that we have numerous Aramaic accounts of the life of Jesus, dated within a year or two of his life.

That is what Ehrman said, hence his belated claims that obviously he didn't mean what he wrote and anybody reading his article should have read the book to see that he just didn't mean what he said in his article.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:19 am
by toejam
^Would I be justified in accusing you of "slimey dishonesty" because in the process of summarising, you failed to mention that Ehrman said there were no "Roman" sources? You've just stated that Ehrman said there were "no sources" - that's not what he said - He said there were "no Roman sources" Are you being slimey and dishonest? You've just done exactly what I've been saying happened in the Huff Post article LOL.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:34 am
by stevencarrwork
Roger Pearse wrote:I ought to point out that we have contemporaries, own writings and archaeology for a very tiny handful of people in antiquity (indeed to have all of those would probably apply to ... well, something like a dozen or two?). For the vast majority of people, we do not have any of this. Consequently we don't use that method to establish whether people existed.


How do we establish whether or not Jesus's wife existed? (By seeing if people are silent about her?)

How do we establish whether or not Pilate's wife (Claudia Procula) existed?

Is the default position that men existed, but their wives did not?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:38 am
by stevencarrwork
toejam wrote:^Would I be justified in accusing you of "slimey dishonesty" because in the process of summarising, you failed to mention that Ehrman said there were no "Roman" sources? You've just stated that Ehrman said there were "no sources" - that's not what he said - He said there were "no Roman sources" Are you being slimey and dishonest? You've just done exactly what I've been saying happened in the Huff Post article LOL.


You would not be justified in accusing me of slimey dishonesty , because I only spent a minute on that post.

While Ehrman is probably regretting the 10 minutes he took writing that Huff Po article, he should be held to higher standards than a quick comment on an Internet forum.

To be honest, I just don't think Ehrman bothered too much when writing his Huff Po article. After all, mythicists are just like Holocaust deniers, they are not scholars, they won't know about this Pilate inscription - why bother fact checking?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 3:46 am
by toejam
I agree that Ehrman probably didn't spend much time on the Huff Post article. And I agree that I don't think it's fair to accuse mythicists as being in the similar category as Holocaust deniers (that said, some mythicist theories are trash). But making accusations of deceptive motive regarding the Pilate Stone issue is as uncalled for as me accusing you of deceptive motive because you failed to quote Ehrman correctly. So he rushed the Huff Post article and made a gaff... Again, what does this amount to?

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:41 am
by MrMacSon
[quote="toejam" failed to quote Ehrman correctly.

So he rushed the Huff Post article and made a gaff... Again, what does this amount to?[/quote]
Steve Carr did quote Ehrman correctly

'With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves).'

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bart-d-ehrman/did-jesus-exist_b_1349544.html


Ehrman had previous, in the same 2012 Huff Post article, said
It is true that Jesus is not mentioned in any Roman sources of his day. That should hardly count against his existence, however, since these same sources mention scarcely anyone from his time and place. Not even the famous Jewish historian, Josephus, or even more notably, the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate.


Ehrman also said this nonsense immediately after the first quote above
Historical sources like that are is pretty astounding for an ancient figure of any kind. Moreover, we have relatively extensive writings from one first-century author, Paul, who acquired his information within a couple of years of Jesus' life and who actually knew, first hand, Jesus' closest disciple Peter and his own brother James. If Jesus did not exist, you would think his brother would know it.

Ehrman has failed to justify his Aramaic sources assertion; and - in appealing to the writings of Paul - has failed to acknowledge disputes about Paul's writings, and has also failed to engage conclusions of the likes of AD Loman that the Pauline works were from a Gnostic-Messianic sect & the Gospels were, separately, Jewish-Messianic.
.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 4:59 am
by toejam
^MrMacSon, this is where I said Stevencarrwork misquoted Ehrman:

stevencarrwork wrote:It is slimey dishonesty to say there are no sources which mention Pilate...


The point I was getting at is that we all make such mistakes. When Stevencarrwork said this, he failed to quote Ehrman correctly. In the Huff Post article, Ehrman said there "[Pilate] is not mentioned in any Roman source of his day", not "there are no sources which mention Pilate". Stevencarrwork has apparently made the same mistake that Ehrman did in the Huff Post article, leaving out a crucial word in the hurried process of summarising his views. Stevencarrwork uses Ehrman's mistake to accuse him of being "deceptively slimey". My point is simply that not all mistakes should be rendered with such an accusation. Indeed, doing so would be as unfair as me accusing Stevencarrwork as being "deceptively slimey" when he misquotes Ehrman.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 5:54 am
by pakeha
stevencarrwork wrote:...Ehrman's Huffington Post article also made the astonishing claim :-

'With respect to Jesus, we have numerous, independent accounts of his life in the sources lying behind the Gospels (and the writings of Paul) -- sources that originated in Jesus' native tongue Aramaic and that can be dated to within just a year or two of his life (before the religion moved to convert pagans in droves).' ...


What are these "numerous, independent accounts of his [Jesus'] life?"

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 8:40 am
by stevencarrwork
toejam wrote:^MrMacSon, this is where I said Stevencarrwork misquoted Ehrman:

stevencarrwork wrote:It is slimey dishonesty to say there are no sources which mention Pilate...


The point I was getting at is that we all make such mistakes. When Stevencarrwork said this, he failed to quote Ehrman correctly. In the Huff Post article, Ehrman said there "[Pilate] is not mentioned in any Roman source of his day", not "there are no sources which mention Pilate". Stevencarrwork has apparently made the same mistake that Ehrman did in the Huff Post article, leaving out a crucial word in the hurried process of summarising his views. Stevencarrwork uses Ehrman's mistake to accuse him of being "deceptively slimey". My point is simply that not all mistakes should be rendered with such an accusation. Indeed, doing so would be as unfair as me accusing Stevencarrwork as being "deceptively slimey" when he misquotes Ehrman.


Ehrman is not admitting to any mistakes in his Huff Po article. He accuses people of vitriol for daring to suggest that he could not even summarise his own book.

Meanwhile, Toejam thinks a quick comment on an Internet forum should be held to the same standards as a Distinguished Professor attempting (unsuccessfully) to paraphrase his own arguments in his own book in a major article on a major web site.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:48 am
by manoj
toejam wrote:^MrMacSon, this is where I said Stevencarrwork misquoted Ehrman:

stevencarrwork wrote:It is slimey dishonesty to say there are no sources which mention Pilate...


The point I was getting at is that we all make such mistakes. When Stevencarrwork said this, he failed to quote Ehrman correctly. In the Huff Post article, Ehrman said there "[Pilate] is not mentioned in any Roman source of his day", not "there are no sources which mention Pilate". Stevencarrwork has apparently made the same mistake that Ehrman did in the Huff Post article, leaving out a crucial word in the hurried process of summarising his views. Stevencarrwork uses Ehrman's mistake to accuse him of being "deceptively slimey". My point is simply that not all mistakes should be rendered with such an accusation. Indeed, doing so would be as unfair as me accusing Stevencarrwork as being "deceptively slimey" when he misquotes Ehrman.


As far as I know, Steven had no issues admitting that this comment was not accurate.
Steven's comment was in a discussion thread where his previous comments are clear and hardly anyone here can claim to have been mislead.
Steven did not say you were ill tempered.

That Ehrman made a gaffe is not the issue. He got called out on it as he should be.
The problem is that he is shifting the argument and framing it as a personal attack.
...Richard Carrier, the mythicist (i.e., one who does not believe that Jesus existed) who has shown more vitriol, hatred, and mean-spiritedness toward me than almost any of the fundamentalists who attack me from the other side.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 10:52 am
by manoj
toejam wrote:Nope. He's not "pretending Carrier was reviewing the book".

From Ehrman's blogpost: "Now to be fair to Carrier, his comment was posted on his blog about a short piece that I wrote for the Huffington Post. In that (very!) condensed version of my views, I pointed out that Pontius Pilate is not mentioned in any “Roman sources of his day.” This sent Carrier ballistic: we have the inscription! We have Philo! We have Josephus! Ehrman is an idiot! But if he had simply waited to read my book before blasting off at me, he would have seen what I meant"


Good to know. Thanks for passing this on.

Re: The Ehrman - Carrier Spat - Round 2?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 23, 2014 11:06 am
by MrMacSon
The primary issue is Ehrman's 'arguments' in Did Jesus Exist? are crap and his synopsis in that 2012 Huff Post article is also crap in relation to a reasonable pre-existing bodies of works on the historicity of Jesus; one of the most substantial being those of the Dutch Radicals.

Another of the problems^ Ehrman has created is "he is shifting the argument and framing it as a personal attack". In a May 2012 blog-post


Ehrman claimed to not know of mythicism:
Writing Did Jesus Exist was an interesting task. For one thing, before writing the book, like most New Testament scholars, I knew almost nothing about the mythicist movement ...

... What I was surprised to learn in doing my preparation for the book was just how extensive the research was that mythicists had done, how many arguments they had amassed, how many issues they addressed. Some of their works are voluminous.


Yet, he framed them as being frustrated by not being taken seriously, and presented a strawman red-herring of political motivation
I wonder if that is related at all to the culture wars going on right now over religion. As the “religious right” tries to assert itself increasingly in the public discourse and to foist its moral agendas on the rest of us, the “neo-atheists” have arisen issuing a serious challenge not just to the right but to religion itself. Are the mythicists gaining traction because of the reaction of the left against the right?

Ehrman has failed to engage mythicists arguments: he has, as manoj says, just gone ad hominem. Carrier has muddied the waters, and made a rod for his own back, too.

It is such a pity Ehrman has not engaged mythicists arguments in relation to his own previous good works; particularly those of the Dutch Radicals.

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