Second edition of "Jesus Hoax" by David Skrbina

Discussion about the New Testament, apocrypha, gnostics, church fathers, Christian origins, historical Jesus or otherwise, etc.
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Second edition of "Jesus Hoax" by David Skrbina

Post by Giuseppe »


There are new portions in this espanded version, where the author compares his own "Antagonism Thesis" with others, and surely one is the following (p. 151-152):

(16) "Paul believed in a 'celestial' Jesus, not an earthly one."

This idea is notably promoted by Jesus mythicist Richard Carrier, one of the more active and better-qualified skeptics. This is worth a bit of an elaboration; Carrier is largely on the right track in his writing, but, sadly, he always stops just short of drawing the logical conclusion. Let me start with what he gets right, in his book On the Historicity of Jesus (2014). He repeatedly observes, correctly, that there is extensive "fabrication," "inventing," and yes, "lying" going on with the NT writers:

"John has run wild with authorial gluttony, freely changing everything whatever he wants. By modern standards, je is lying" (p. 591) "John has clearly 'inserted' this figure into these stories... In plain terms, that's simply a lie." (p. 500) "The Gospels generally afford us no evidence whatever for discerning a historical Jesus. Because of their extensive use of fab-rication and literary invention...we cannot know if anything in them has any historical basis..." (p. 506) "[The Gospel writers] are mythographers; novelists; propagandists. They are deliberately inventing what they present in their texts." (p. 509)

All this is completely correct and well-said. But then when it comes to an explanation, a reason for all this, Carrier stumbles. He says that a given Gospel "becomes considerably more powerful and effective if it is also taken literally" (p. 507), and that "such historicizing also gave the church hierarchies more control over doctrine." But to what end? Was that the whole motive power and control, for its own sake? The Gospel writers "had a different agenda" (what?), for "preaching, teaching, and propaganda" (to what end?). The writers "are doing it for a reason (even if we can't always discern what that is)" (p. 509). Really? Why can't we discern this? With a knowledge of the history and conventional motives of Jewish action, at least one possibility becomes quite clear - a Jesus hoax.

But not for Carrier. The entire construction of the Jesus "lie" occurred "not as a result of any organized conspiracy, but simply from independent scribes and authors widely sharing similar assumptions and motives" (p. 609). Motives such as...what? And how can he be so sure that there was no "conspiracy"? Does he say this to avoid being called a "conspiracy theorist"?

Carrier furthermore denies the existence of even a historical Jesus, the ordinary rabbi. As he sees it, Paul hallucinated a "cosmic" or "celestial" Jesus-later to be called "Jesus in outer space." This accords with my Hallucination Thesis. But against this, Paul says, time and again, that his Jesus was a real, flesh-and-blood man, one who really lived and really died on the cross. Consider what Paul says in Galatians. Jesus was "raised from the dead" (and thus obviously was once alive); he was "crucified" and "died"; he was Abraham's "offspring", and indeed was "born of a woman" (4:4). All these can only apply to a physical human being. Or look at 1 Thessalonians, where Paul again says that Jesus was "raised from the dead," and that "the Jews killed Jesus" (2:15). Or in Romans, where Jesus "descended from David according to the flesh" (1:3). And again we find phrases like "raised from the dead," "by his blood," and "body of Christ"-all of which can only apply to a living, breathing human.

Thus, we see that it is unlikely that Jesus was merely a "celestial" being. But more to the point, even if he was, there was still a Jewish hoax-if not by Paul, who was mentally ill, then by his followers, who were not.

I think that he is on something in his criticism of Carrier: not about the historicizing bits of the epistles (that should be called catholicizing bits) but about the real absence of motives given by Carrier behind "Mark" for euhemerizing Jesus.

A void filled by the Marcionite priority?
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