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I personally think historians already have and use valid methods, and we have seen these applied to Old Testament studies by historians such as Thompson and Lemche and others. Why not apply the same methods to the question of Christian origins? If such a method leads us to explain Christian origins quite apart from any necessity for an historical Jesus then so be it. These include the need for historians to face up to the fact that a narrative about an event is not itself evidence for the event, but only evidence for the existence of a narrative.

He also does plenty of interpretation as well as explanation: I think what he tends to do in his recent writing is state the evidence e.

Quest for the Historical Jesus - Mind & Body - Utne Reader

So he is not ignoring the interpretative side, but I think integrating it into its proper place as a probabilistic theory about the meaning of the evidence. If the evidence is weak, if interpretations of that evidence are shaky, that will be factored into the equation and his conclusions will be correspondingly dubious. As for the evidence, I think you are being too pessimistic about how much relevant evidence there is.

We have quite a lot of fairly early texts to go on, which bear on early Xianity and Xian origins.


I think HJ will come to be seen as so unlikely, given the scriptural, allegorical and didactic sources, and its absence from so many early texts so unlikely if HJ is true, that HJ will fade out from the realm of probability. You just need to understand their worth in a quantitative as well as a logical way: e. That is probably the key point to be made to people who apply criteria to the Gospels, and which makes them totally invalid as currently used. The narrative could be evidence for an event, but as you say, it needs external corroboration.

A narrative about an event might only increase the probability of some hypothesis by only. If the presence of a narrative only increases the probability of some hypothesis by.

This is also the reason why, contrary to popular belief, absence of evidence could be evidence of absence. A mere narrative of and by itself is just that. We need other information before we can think it might be historical or not.

  • A Mathematical Review of “Proving History” by Richard Carrier | Irreducible Complexity.
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  • ...in Gods Flower Garden.

Is it valid to give everything a weight for or against? Does it surprise anyone that some, for whatever reason, think it is more likely that Jesus was a Historical person. Rather, I think it will mean Historians will attempt to prop up their conclusion with made up probabilities. From my own readings of Barts work, and what he has said in the vids i have seen on YouTube, sometimes i get the feeling that he knows the miraculous side of xianity is not true, but he still loves the warm and fuzzy Jesus like all xians do. By still believing in the man and not the god, he pays homage and perhaps is not the godless barstard most xians would think of scholars who think otherwise.

The Consequences of Failure

From what i have read of his latest book, he seems to be really saying its not unreasonable to ebleive the man existed. I think he is muddying the waters by acknowledging that the man is enuff to justify the name. By saying the name or man exists then he in effect gives life to the god man, which is dishonest in that is a totally different matter. The mere man should not be called Jesus as it is, because anyone who quotes Bart will always say see Jesus the Son of God existed. Its a simple as that.

Looks like an interesting read. That Bayes forces one to illuminate their own assumptions and preconceptions seems like a very good thing to me. Yes, you can load the theorem to reach the conclusion you wish, but spectators will clearly be able to see your ass when you do so. At least, it might help to keep the arguments honest. Sorry to bother you guys, but can you replace my above comment with this one? My favorite quote from Carrier is:.

This is a classic straw man. And as such, another lie. Just as Paul tells us. Our only eyewitness source. Of course, a case can be made for the apostles dying even for a hoax: all they needed was to believe that the teachings attached to their fabricated claim would make the world a better place, and that making the world a better place was worth dying for. Even godless Marxists voluntarily died by the millions for such a motive.

So the notion that no one would, is simply false. So, basically Carrier is saying: The most reasonable explanation for Christian origins is that it started out as people experiencing what they thought were revelatory experiences of the celestial Jesus. Carrier writes, for instance:. Just as distrust of government can foster conspiracy thinking in the political realm, an exaggerated distrust not just for religion, but for all people associated with it, can apparently render conspiracy thinking seemingly plausible in relation to early Christianity.

If McGrath said what you quoted in response to the Carrier sentence above then he was being mischievous. I see the answer to your question in Carrier quote you supplied. One explanation coheres with the common experience throughout history that people in religious or spiritual movements experience visions of the divine and the other is an explanation for which we have very few comparable examples in history.

I think we have better reason to believe that people who have visions are, in the main, sincerely of the belief that they are really from the divine world. People who sincerely believe their visions are real or those who conspire to pretend to have visions in order to start a new religion? Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Leave this field empty. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. It reflects well on you. I know of no other site which offers a wide range of topics related to careful critical analysis of historically and scripturally related issues.

Thank you for this careful and engaged reading of my work — much appreciated! This post is going straight to the March Biblical Studies Carnival. There are intelligent, thoughtful comments and commenters regularly offering productive discussion. Please carry on. But I have often been impressed with their grasp of logic and analysis of scholarship. This oversight has been corrected.

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Looking forward to more segments. Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. Email Address. Vridar Musings on biblical studies, politics, religion, ethics, human nature, tidbits from science. So that is where I am coming from. Chapter 1: The Problem Carrier begins with the failure of historical Jesus studies to make any advances in reaching agreement upon anything about this Jesus. The following two tabs change content below. Bio Latest Posts. In conclusion, while Mr. Carrier and I share many ideological beliefs, I believe Bayesian probability doesn't extend to everything meaning there are better methods to determine something like the probability of a historical Jesus hence Bayes Theorem is neither applicable nor effective in this context.

In short, too late , I feel applying Bayesian probability isnt needed and don't understand why Mr. Carrier felt the need to use this specifically to come to the point he did. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our User Agreement and Privacy Policy. All rights reserved. AskHistorians comments.

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  • Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus by Richard C. Carrier.
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No Tertiary Sources Like Wikipedia. Welcome to Reddit, the front page of the internet. Become a Redditor and join one of thousands of communities. If not, could you direct me to competing epistemological historical methodology. Want to add to the discussion?