neilgodfrey wrote: ↑
Mon Nov 09, 2020 1:50 am
Redirect me if this point has been previously addressed, but on page one of Quest of the Mythical Jesus Chris Hansen writes:
It is primarily relegated to atheists and antitheists (though there are some religious exceptions) who have made it a point to try and disprove Christianity with one argument to end all arguments: that the very savior that Christians around the world believe in never existed at all.
Can someone name for me those who have argued for the nonhistoricity of Jesus in order to "[make] it a point to try and disprove Christianity"? I can think of no worse way to "try and disprove Christianity" than by attempting to argue for the nonhistoricity of Jesus.
I can understand some people using certain mythicist arguments as part of their arsenal with which to attack Christianity, but there are enough people in the world to take up any idea or project imaginable.
I have certainly not read all mythicist works but I don't recall reading a single one that can be demonstrated to have as its "point" to "try and disprove Christianity with one argument to end all arguments".
So who are some names that could be cited to support Chris Hansen's sweeping characterization of Jesus mythicism?
I would rather you take what I say in context and not just snippet a quote, as I go on to qualify this, and in my demographics section of the book I specifically note there are religious, ideological, political, social, and academic reasons why mythicism is taken up as a position, often many intersecting and others not.
This debate has been rather prominent in modern literature, for a variety of reasons. It is primarily relegated to atheists and antitheists (though there are some religious exceptions) who have made it a point to try and disprove Christianity with one argument to end all arguments: that the very savior that Christians around the world believe in never existed at all. In this regard, some have taken the CMT to be nothing but that of radicals who have been polarized by religious upbringing and disillusionment from their former faith. In some cases, this can definitely be said to be the case, as David Fitzgerald’s bias about Christian scholars and biblical studies shows especially in the first volume of his series Jesus: Mything in Action. However, it is apparent that there are also academics who have taken it based on their own findings, not out of a desire to disprove their previously held religion, though they are still usually functioning under an atheist position and, often, publishing in atheist/secularist presses.
As you can see, I actually qualify this statement against
the likes of Casey and others that would simplify mythicism as purely taken up by those who argue for antichristian purposes.
That being said, I could easily provide a list of antichristian and antireligious academics and laity who have taken up mythicism primarily as a method of a scorched earth approach:
Vladimir Lenin and the Soviet Union largely followed this. Lenin's own philosophy of this debate (as outlined in "On the Significance of Militant Materialism" 1922) was that materialists should adopt the mythicist work of Arthur Drews because it helps them dismantle Christianity. He qualifies this by further noting that they should in turn also not use Drews' work uncritically, because of Drews' monist tendencies.
Arthur Drews himself was an antichristian, viewing Christianity as regressive. He was in good company in this, as he was a monist, and the entire German Monist League was largely of this opinion as well, viewing Christianity as detrimental to the progressive of society. Drews was specifically a mythicist in one regard because the concept of god becoming an incarnate man was completely and totally unable to be rectified with his Idealist Monism (see Garrish's paper, "Jesus, Myth, and History: Troeltsch's Stand in the "Christ-Myth" Debate" 1975 and the second part of Die Christusmythe
Fourth Edition, German, Eugen Diederichs Verlag).
Similarly, we can look at others like Robert Taylor, Richard Carlile, the early Deists in England and the Netherlands (i.e. the earliest evidence of mythicism that I have, dating back into the 1620's, see my book The Earliest Mythicist References
2020, Amazon KDP, where I have translated, compiled, and edited tons of early sources that indicate mythicism existed as early as the life of Grotius). Likewise, Chinese academia largely used mythicism as a counter narrative to Christianity until the 1980's, after the Open-Door policy and the opening of dialogue on the issue, which (like in the USSR following the Khrushchev Thaw) led to the position being largely abandoned.
Today, it is definitely the case that mythicism is used in antichristian tendencies, especially by places like American Atheist. I don't think this is in much dispute. Likewise, there are other parallels. For example, mythicist books tend to be either self-published, or very commonly shoved through secularist and atheist presses with a clear anti-conservative Christian agenda (Prometheus Books, American Atheist Press, Hypatia Press has one coming, Pitchstone Publishing) and this has actually been the most common space where they are published in fact. Hence, Watts & Co. (publisher for the Rationalist Association in England), Eugen Diederichs Verlag (an antichristian who later endorsed the Volkisch movements), Ateist (Soviet publisher in Moscow that was largely responsible for many mythicist works, disseminated primarily as propaganda), the secularist periodicals like Free Inquiry, The Republican, The Lion, The Isis, etc. I could go on and on.
Now by no means am I saying this is the only reason, nor would argue that scorched earth approaches can be generalized into the most common one, as I would argue that it is simply more complicated than that, especially because of ideological intersections. But frankly, I don't think it is much of a step nor even that absurd to think that many do take a scorched earth approach. Even Price does.
C. Dennis McKinsey, John Pickard, Raphael Lataster (who even includes mythicism as part of his case against Christianity, btw, see his dissertation), Hector Avalos (a noted anti-conservative Christian who has spent much effort attacking Christianity), and more I would all argue are coming at things at least in part from an anti-Christian agenda.
It doesn't have to be explicitly stated in the text for us to get that. After all, actions speak louder than words. And their actions note how anti-Christian they are. Plus, seldom in this world does anyone even write accurately of their own biases and assumptions in scholarship anymore. It is a point I find rather troubling, but I personally would like to have a time where every single person writes down in their work a list of their biases they think would affect what they are doing. In my own book I do this.