Season 2 Supplemental: Jesus Mythicism Refuted (Part 1)- Evaluating the Evidence from Non-Christian Ancient Historians

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Enjoy the show;

Anchor Audio Link = https://anchor.fm/skeptics-and-seekers/episodes/S2-Supplemental-Jesus-Mythicism-Refuted-Part-1–Evaluating-Non-Christian-Ancient-Historian-Sources-e4quoo .

DALE’S POSITIVE CLAIM (FOR ENTIRE SERIES OVERALL): A “Minimal Historical Jesus” (MHJ) existed as a historical figure, whereby “MHJ” is defined by the following;
“MINIMALLY”, we can prove on a balance of probabilities that there lived an historical Jewish man (possibly named Jesus- optional requirement) who served as the foundational basis for at least some of the later and subsequent orthodox Christian beliefs and practices as outlined in the NT literature (of course realize this definition is a minimal one and can thus be expanded to include any non-contradictory additional details which can be established via the secular historical method or any other reliable method as well)”.

 

INTRODUCTION:
With Season 2 of Skeptics and Seekers getting ready to come back in the Fall, I (Dale the Christian), wanted to start a new solo series on the subject of Jesus Mythicism. Many of the skeptical listeners of S&S appear to be Jesus Mythicists and my skeptical co-host David Johnson himself is also a “Jesus Myther”. As such, I wanted to tackle the issue head on via a series on the topic, showing why the vast majority of ancient historians and scholars (secular, Christian or otherwise) all attest that there was in fact an historical Jesus figure.
The episodes will be posted on an ad hoc basis whenever I have the spare time given my busy schedule but wanted to spend some time to kick off the series with Part 1 now. In this episode, we will be evaluating the positive evidence for the existence of a “Minimal Historical Jesus” via looking at some of the extrabiblical non-Christian sources that mention him, specifically we will be looking at the non-Christian source category of evidence from ancient historians who mention Jesus; have a listen and find out how I make the claim that it is 77.63% Proven that a “MHJ” did in fact exist!

 

The ancient historians I evaluated include the following 4-5 sources;
a) After the 5 min Introduction, we get 2 sources for the price of 1, as we assess the Greek/Hellenistic ancient historians Thallus and Phelgon– starting around the 5 mins; 50 seconds mark and ending around the 37 mins; 20 seconds mark (Approx. 32 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence fails on a balance of probabilities to prove that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (less than 50% proven).

 

b) Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus– the “greatest historian” of ancient Rome- starting at the 37 mins; 20 seconds mark and ending around the 1 hour; 53 mins; 20 seconds mark (Approx. 1 hour and 16 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence is successful on a balance of probabilities in proving that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (59.05% PROVEN TRUE).

 

c) Roman historian Suetonius– starting around the 1 hour; 53 mins; 20 seconds mark and ending around the 2 hours; 8 mins; 50 seconds mark (Approx. 15-16 mins long).

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence fails on a balance of probabilities to prove that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (less than 50% proven).

 

d) Jewish historian Josephus- starting around the 2 hours; 8 mins; 50 seconds mark and ending around the 3 hours; 27 mins; 40 seconds mark (Approx. 1 hour 20 mins long). The remaining 13 mins of the Part 1 Podcast includes the overall closing synopsis and remarks.

Conclusion Reached: This line of evidence is successful on a balance of probabilities in proving that a “Minimal Historical Jesus” did in fact exist (70.65% PROVEN TRUE).

 

Recommended Sources (for further study):

0) Attachment– Updated and Corrected Math Number Values and Calculations for the Historical Evidence Evaluated in this Podcast.

Please note that given my need to make a math correction on Josephus, I took the liberty to re-evaluate all my % value assessments to see if I came out roughly the same and as such you will notice some slight differences in the number values I assigned in the document compared to the audio but nothing substantive. The % values in the attached document are indeed my final values, see here = JESUS EXISTED- TOTAL MATH CALCULATION (PART 1)

 

*** Just wanted to make a special mention to the following great sources on Mysticism (Pro-Historicity side) who have been kind enough to mention or refer people my S&S Show on their own websites 🙂 ***  

See;

i) Roger Pearse’s excellent article here = https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2017/02/22/words-words-words-a-response-to-richard-carrier-on-feldman-and-eusebius/comment-page-1/ 

ii) Tim O’Neill’s (an Atheist) great website with multiple sources on Mythicism here = https://historyforatheists.com/jesus-mythicism/ 

 

 

 

a) General Sources:
See a short 10 min Gary Habermas video to get the general claims of Christian apologists about the historical evidence for the existence of a historical Jesus(including from secular non-Christian sources) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxvQePW6FsU . Also *HIGHLY RECOMMEND* a source by Dr. Paul Maier on the evidence for the Real historical Jesus (he has a humorous presentation style) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAN3kQHTKWI (he covers all the evidence in 1 hour including Josephus, Suetonius and Tacitus and other historical evidences.

Also, check out- http://www.bede.org.uk/jesusindex.htm ; http://www.doxa.ws/Jesus_pages/HistJesus_index2.html ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexisthub.html ; https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/ ; finally, Atheist historian Dr. Dale Martin of Yale proves historical Jesus did probably exist (1 hour video) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d_dOhg-Fpu0 .
A Scholarly article = https://www.academia.edu/10779624/The_Historicity_of_Jesus (Be sure to check out the “Related Papers” section on the right hand side for other scholarly papers on Josephus and Jesus and other historicity of Jesus issues). Another source is an article by up and coming scholar who Carrier says does good work in general here = http://talesoftimesforgotten.com/2018/03/10/despite-what-the-internet-conspiracy-theorists-keep-telling-you-jesus-was-a-historical-figure/ (and see Carrier’s reply to this article here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/15563 ).  A good video source with all the non-Christian sources is here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRwr9f5h1Qw (35 mins).

Skeptical/Mythicist Sources include = https://www.richardcarrier.info/jesus.html (in particular see the many replies he gives to historicist proponents of Jesus here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/5730 ). Bob Price’s (mythicist) main website with access to his blogs and publications on various subjects (including Mythicism) = https://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/ ; 2-part 1.5 hour video of Mythicists Richard Carrier, Bob Price and David Fitzgerald discussing Mythicism = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPZ39rqaIZ0 . Finally, multiple articles from skeptics and infidels on the Historicity of Jesus from = https://infidels.org/library/modern/theism/christianity/historicity.html .  Also, http://www.jesusneverexisted.com/ (Mythicist Kenneth Humphrey’s site).

 

b) Thallus and Phlegon Sources:
A Couple Pro-Historicist Sources- http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/thallus.php ; http://christianthinktank.com/jrthal.html (this source has good info about Julius Africanus and what we know of his background and reliability).

Mythicist/Skeptical sources- https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/thallus.html ; Textual translations, quotes or versions of the texts here = https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/jacoby.html ; and/or a more recent scholarly treatment here = https://www.academia.edu/2211991/Thallus_and_the_Darkness_at_Christ_s_Death (also check out some of the scholarly related article links called “Related Papers” section on the right hand side).

c) Cornelius Tacitus Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/tacitus.html = Works of Tacitus and General info about him.

Pro-History side sources- http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/tacitus.php ; http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/tacitus/index.htm (great source for information on the textual manuscript evidence we have of Tacitus’ writings) ; a good Unbelievable? debate between JP Holding (tectonics website guy) vs. radical Mythicist Ken Humphrey’s here = https://www.premierchristianradio.com/Shows/Saturday/Unbelievable/Episodes/2-May-2009-Did-Jesus-exist (Tacitus part of debate starts around the 30 min mark or so) ; Also bran new website on pro-side on Tacitus here = = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/the-testimony-of-tacitus and/or a series of 4 short 2-10 min videos on Tacitus here = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/videos-on-tacitus ; https://reformbaptist.com/2018/03/07/suetonius-and-tacitus-christians-or-chrestians/ ; https://historyforatheists.com/2017/09/jesus-mythicism-1-the-tacitus-reference-to-jesus/ .

 

Finally on the pro-History side, in the conclusion of the Podcast, I reference a dispute between atheist scholar Dr. Bart Ehrman (pro-history) vs. mythicist Dr. Richard Carrier on the Tacitus question, see Bart’s blog here = https://ehrmanblog.org/fuller-reply-to-richard-carrier/ – HIGHLY RECOMMEND YOU GIVE THIS A READ!!!

 

Skeptical Mythicist side sources- Richard Carrier replies to the Reform Baptist source on Tacitus above = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14643 ; Carrier’s Tacitus page with all article on Tacitus (though there is only one article posted so far) = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/category/tacitus ; https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/132 (this has the quote where Carrier backs up Christians in saying “procurator” title does not disprove historical authenticity ; 3 article source of back and forth between Carrier and a Historicist Eric Laupot = https://infidels.org/library/modern/eric_laupot/nazoreans.html , then Carrier replies to this article = https://infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/laupot.html, then Eric rebuts Carrier back = https://infidels.org/library/modern/eric_laupot/re-carrier.htm .

d) Suetonius Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/suetonius.html = See Suetonius writing and general info about him.
http://christianthinktank.com/jesusref.html (General source referencing Suetonius and others) ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/suey.php . Also the same Pro source mentioned above on Tacitus and Mythicist Carrier’s reply : https://reformbaptist.com/2018/03/07/suetonius-and-tacitus-christians-or-chrestians/ (pro Suetonius talking about Christians not Chrestians slave revolt or something like Carrier says)- Carrier replies to this = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/14643

 

e) Josephus Sources:
http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/josephus.html = Access to his written works and General info about him, and links, etc. Also see a good neutral (though leans toward being a skeptical conclusion but is fair) see Peter Kirby summary of both Josephus passages summary of arguments for and against = http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/testimonium.html .

Pro Sources source = JP HOLDING NEW SITE ARTICLE ON JOSEPHUS = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/the-testimony-of-josephus & 7 short 2-10 min VIDEOS = https://www.jesusalwaysexisted.com/secular-references/videos-on-josephus ; http://www.tektonics.org/jesusexist/josephus.php & ALSO = http://www.bede.org.uk/Josephus.htm ; https://truthinmydays.com/the-testimony-of-josephus-powerful-evidence-for-the-truth-of-christianity-or-an-interpolated-fraud/#Argument_2_No_Church_Father_prior_to_Eusebius_Appealed_to_the_Testimonium_Flavianum (answers to various Mythicist objections) ; https://www.academia.edu/35501066/Josephus_on_Jesus ; https://www.academia.edu/33468117/Investigating_the_Existence_of_Jesus_of_Nazareth_using_Non-Christian_Sources ; https://www.academia.edu/3106799/The_Historicity_of_Jesus_of_Nazareth ; Paul Maier video around 30 min mark = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAN3kQHTKWI ; Dr. Robert Van Voorst = https://www.academia.edu/38305205/JESUS_OUTSIDE_THE_NEW_TESTAMENT . Dr. Chris Forbes video = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f9J599VBEZI ; http://www.tertullian.org/rpearse/josephus/josephus.htm ; http://www.ccel.org/ccel/josephus/complete.html ; http://armariummagnus.blogspot.com/2011/05/nailed-ten-christian-myths-that-show.html (Refutes Mythicist David Fitzgerald) ; Good Critical Carrier Reviews = https://www.roger-pearse.com/weblog/2017/02/22/words-words-words-a-response-to-richard-carrier-on-feldman-and-eusebius/ &

Skeptical sources =
https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/category/josephus & https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/7437 & https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12085 (The article by Carrier called “End of Arabic Testimony”- refutes the Arabic manuscript by Schlomo Pine evidence) ; https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/12071 (the last source here mentions some of the updates that have happened in Josephus scholarship since 2008 onwards); ; Jefferey Jay Lowder evaluates AND REVIEWS Josh McDowell’s arguments for Jesus including the Josephus evidence see here = https://infidels.org/library/modern/jeff_lowder/jury/chap5.html ; https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/c812/d3cca71eb6e57692ed9c60f01b2862a71ead.pdf (40 pages pdf on Josephus manuscripts including assessing the Slavonic or Old Russian manuscript whole-sale interpolation evidence) ; https://www.academia.edu/10463098/Josephus_s_Testimonium_Flavianum_Examined_Linguistically_Greek_Analysis_Demonstrates_the_Passage_a_Forgery_In_Toto ; https://www.academia.edu/8139663/_Was_the_Hypothetical_Vorlage_of_the_Testimonium_Flavianum_a_Neutral_Text_Challenging_the_Common_Wisdom_on_Antiquitates_Judaicae_18.63-64_Journal_for_the_Study_of_Judaism_45_2014_326-365 .

*HIGHLY RECOMMEND:* http://gettingtothetruthofthings.blogspot.com/2015/10/a-response-to-richard-carriers-work-on.html (this is the critical review of Carrier by Colin Green about Origen and ben Damneus ideas, etc. that I mentioned was part of the lost recording, strongly shows Carrier’s fallacious reasoning in making his arguments against the Josephus’ James reference).

To be fair Carrier did reply to this critical review and thus we give him the final say, though I think you can assess for yourselves who has the more solid grasp on truth here and who is just desperately grasping at straws to dismiss the powerful evidence from Josephus here for the historical Jesus, see Carrier response blog here = https://www.richardcarrier.info/archives/15203 .

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85 thoughts on “Season 2 Supplemental: Jesus Mythicism Refuted (Part 1)- Evaluating the Evidence from Non-Christian Ancient Historians

  1. My apologies for the minor obvious mistakes I make throughout, they are annoying and when I listen back to them, I always wonder what happened when I said it (same deal with every show I do).

    Anyways, the substantive points are still sound and thus, its not a big deal, but I’m always annoyed by the minor little slips I make in what I say- please ignore them if you can, I’m well aware of them, but it seems it is a feature of my Podcasting in a rush and the disorganized nature of my notes (of which I was scrolling back and forth through websites, books and about 400+ pages of my own personal notes on this); so that’ probably why those occasional annoying slip that I know better on come up on these.

    Enjoy the show 🙂

    EDIT- As an example of what I’m talking about I said there are 9-12 (or up to 18) secular non-Christian sources mentioning Jesus; that is secular non-Biblical sources and includes Christian and non-Christian extra-biblical sources- why did I say it wrong? I don’t know, just one of those things I accidentally say in recording for some reason.

    Like

  2. Hey everyone,

    Just wanted to share some knowledge from a great supporting comment I received from Nixak (a non-Christian) about the show and the sources I address in it, as I think they can be helpful for people to see on here as well;

    Nixak said;

    “} The historicity of Jesus is the question if Jesus of Nazareth can be regarded as a historical figure. Nearly all New Testament scholars and Near East historians, applying the standard criteria of historical-critical investigation, find that the historicity of Jesus is effectively certain, although they differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the gospels.

    – While scholars have criticized Jesus scholarship for religious bias and lack of methodological soundness, with very few exceptions such critics generally do support the historicity of Jesus and reject the Christ myth theory that Jesus never existed.

    – In Books 18 and 20 of Antiquities of the Jews, written around AD 93 to 94, Josephus twice refers to the biblical Jesus. The general scholarly view holds that the longer passage, known as the Testimonium Flavianum, most likely consists of an authentic nucleus that was subjected to later Christian ‘interpolation’… On the other hand, Josephus scholar Louis H. Feldman states that “few have doubted the genuineness” of the reference found in Antiquities 20, 9, 1 to “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James”.

    – Tacitus, in his Annals (written c. AD 115), book 15, chapter 44, describes Nero’s scapegoating of the Christians following the Fire of Rome. He writes that founder of the sect was named Christus (the Christian title for Jesus); that he was executed under Pontius Pilate; and that the movement, initially checked, broke out again in Judea and even in Rome itself. {

    I did NOT know of Suetonius, but he seems to be a key early supplemental back-up who supports what Tacitus [& even Josephus] wrote about Yeshua.”

    I replied acccordingly;

    “Well said Nixak, I reference the specific items you mention as well as quote Dr.Louis Feldman in support of the Josephus passages and also quote secular Roman historians and Tacitean scholars such as Dr. Ronald Syme to back Tacitus’ passage as well.

    With Suetonius, I conclude that I don’t think it can be used as provable evidence in its own right but could be useful in providing supporting evidence for Tacitus as you say. I found that there was a mixture in the scholarship on Suetonius myself and that’s why I opted to say that his evidence is unsuccessful in proving a “Minimal Historical Jesus” as I define it in the blog under the Claim part.

    Did you have anything to say on the Thallus and Phlegon evidence or just pretty much agree with my take on them?”

    Nixak was kind enough to get back to me again to answer my question;

    “IMO Thallus is a bit ambiguous, but Phlegon’s account of ‘Darkness at Noon-Day’ in combo w an earth-quake in the Mediterranean region during Tiberius’ reign, is certainly of interest.”

    I gave my final take as follows;

    “Cool thanks, yeah I think you are right about the distinction, I was persuaded that Phlegon does mention Jesus although ify he connects the earth-quake, eclipse, etc to Jesus or if early Christians made that connection themselves as the location in the early quotes does seem to be in Bythinia and Nicea Turkey rather than Jerusalem/Judea.

    Also, I decided against using Phlegon as he is rather late (around 140 A.D.) and was prone to fantastical tales so its possible he was relying on Christian hearsay and/or even literature to some extent. But yeah, he is of interest for sure- agreed 🙂

    With Thallus, I don’t think we can prove that he himself wrote of Jesus at all vs. just mentioning the natural disasters taking place in the year that Jesus was crucified without him mentioning Jesus or linking the events to Jesus’ crucifixion himself.

    But yeah, appreciate your helpful and supportive thoughts there :)”

    Like

  3. Evidence needs to have three parts in order to be considered evidence.

    1. It should be a demonstrable fact of reality. If you can’t demonstrate that what you are using for evidence is actually true, then you don’t have evidence, you just have a claim of having evidence.

    2. It should be consistent with the proposition.

    3. It should be inconsistent with any opposing propositions. Any “evidence” that is consistent with all propositions, even those that are diametrically opposed to the one you are trying to prove, is not evidence. It does nothing to provide support to one proposition over another.

    Matt Dillahunty goes into the details of why this criterion is important: https://youtu.be/wLfSa0w1vV8

    How do we test to see if the evidence presented for the proposition “A Minimal Historical Jesus (MHJ) existed as a historical figure.” is actually evidence?

    The easiest way to do this will be to make two propositions. We will examine the proposed evidence and see if the entries point to one proposition over the other. If they don’t, then we can say that the entry is not evidence for the proposition that a MHJ existed.

    Proposition 1: A Minimal Historical Jesus (MHJ) existed as a historical figure.

    Proposition 2: Paul created Christianity. Jesus and the stories surrounding him were created by Paul.

    Why Proposition 2?

    Personally, I don’t know if Jesus was a real person (or multiple real persons), nor do I particularly care. There is still no way to go from Jesus existing to magic existing, so the question is more academic than anything else. I do however think that the idea of Paul making the whole thing up out of whole cloth is the strongest Mythisist position, and I have yet to find anyone that can show it is false. All the information we think we have about Christianity before Paul, comes from Paul. So there is no way to show he wasn’t making it all up.

    On top of that, we actually have two excellent examples of people making up a religion and then getting millions of people to join that religion. Mormonism and Scientology.

    Mormonism is an especially excellent example since we know that Joseph Smith was a convicted con man, he and his disciples were persecuted for their faith and there is even a sect of Mormonism that believes Joseph Smith bodily ascended, even though they can go see his remains if they really wanted to.

    So we know for a fact that people can make up a religion and get millions of people to follow them, even through persecution.

    What are the Minimal Facts for the proposition that Paul created Jesus?

    1. We have no writings of Jesus or Christianity that can be verified to be older than Paul’s writings.

    2. We have no reason to think Paul was an honest person. So it shouldn’t just be assumed.

    3. All of the Gospels are Greek manuscripts that came out of the same part of the world where Paul was creating his churches. All of them are dated to after Paul started creating his churches.

    4. None of the extrabiblical non-christian sources were contemporary to Jesus They only show up after Paul starts creating churches.

    5. All of the extrabiblical non-christian sources that were contemporary to Jesus, the ones that wrote about this sort of thing, are all completely silent when it comes to Jesus.

    Why should we not care that historians agree that Jesus was a historical figure?

    The reason that historians think that Jesus was a historical figure. He was mentioned in the bible. That is it. That is the entire reason for saying he was a historical figure. There is nothing else to it. His name showed up in the bible.

    The effort made to make sure the bible was accurate in this statement? None.

    By using this standard we could also say that Zeus and Spiderman are historical figures. Any standard that allows you to say that Zeus and Spiderman are historical figures is not a reliable standard and should not be taken seriously.

    Thallus and Phelgon

    Neither “sources” fit the definition of Evidence. There is just too much speculation. We can’t demonstrate that any of the speculations are accurate.

    0% Proven True.

    Cornelius Tacitus

    Born 56 CE, Died 120 CE. We know that Paul had already created churches by 49 CE, which means that Tacitus wasn’t even born until after Paul had already created his churches and the Christian religion had already been spreading.

    The Annals, where Tacitus mentions Christ, was written around 116 CE.

    Mark, the first Gospel), is thought to have been written around 55 to 73 CE. Mathew and Luke are thought to have been written around 80 – 90 BC and John is thought to have been written around 90 to 110 CE

    He was also born and raised in the same area as the churches as well as the same area that gospels were written So he would have been very familiar with the stories being told.

    The primary passage:

    “But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judæa, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind.”

    The question becomes, could that passage have been written if Paul had created Christianity? The obvious answer is yes.

    A little known fact about Tacitus is that he tended to take stories at face value and assume they were true. You can see this in his writings when he is talking about Romulus, Remus, and Hercules So, would it be any surprise that he would read the stories of the Christians and then accept them at face value?

    Tacitus was born and raised in the same area as the location of the Christian churches, he would have been aware of one or more of the Christian gospels and he was perfectly fine taking the stories he read at face value.

    Conclusion Reached: We cannot claim Tacitus as evidence for the proposition that Jesus actually existed. The paragraph he wrote is completely compatible with either proposition and does nothing to rule out one or the other. (0% Proven True)

    Josephus

    Born 37 CE, Died 100 CE. We know that Paul had already created churches by 49 CE, which means that Josephus around 10 years old when Paul started creating his churches.

    The Antiquities of the Jews, where the contested passages that mention Christ, was written around 94 CE.

    Mark, the first Gospel), is thought to have been written around 55 to 73 CE. Mathew and Luke are thought to have been written around 80 – 90 BC and John is thought to have been written around 90 to 110 CE

    He was born and raised in Jerusalem but was kept as a roman slave in the same area as the churches as well as the same area that gospels were written So he would have been very familiar with the stories being told.

    It’s also worth noting that Josephus didn’t consider Jesus to be the son of god. Even though he was born in Jerusalem only about 4 years after Jesus is thought to have been killed and all the miraculous things supposedly happened. Yet, assuming any of the stories were even told in Jerusalem, he wasn’t convinced they actually happened.

    Another thing to point out, Josephus never gives any indication in his writings that he has heard of Jesus prior to going to Rome.

    Another little known fact of Josephus, he also wrote about Hercules working him into Jewish lore.

    The two passages:

    “About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who performed surprising deeds and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the Messiah. And when, upon the accusation of the principal men among us, Pilate had condemned him to a cross, those who had first come to love him did not cease. He appeared to them spending a third day restored to life, for the prophets of God had foretold these things and a thousand other marvels about him. And the tribe of the Christians, so called after him, has still to this day not disappeared.”

    And

    “But the younger Ananus who, as we said, received the high priesthood, was of a bold disposition and exceptionally daring; he followed the party of the Sadducees, who are severe in judgment above all the Jews, as we have already shown. As therefore Ananus was of such a disposition, he thought he had now a good opportunity, as Festus was now dead, and Albinus was still on the road; so he assembled a council of judges, and brought before it the brother of Jesus the so-called Christ, whose name was James, together with some others, and having accused them as lawbreakers, he delivered them over to be stoned.”

    The biggest problem with the first passage is that we know for sure that at least part of it was added by Christian at a later date. The second problem it faces is that the text reads smoother and more consistently if that passage is completely taken out of the text.

    That doesn’t really matter because the question before us is, could that passage have been written had Paul made up Christianity? Again we are left with an obvious Yes.

    Josephus was kept as a slave in Rome at the time of Pauls churches having told their stories for decades already. The Gospels were already written at the time, so there is no reason to think that Josephus got his information from any other source than the Christians in his area.

    The biggest problem with the second passage is the first passage. We already know that Christians have changed the text to make it more Jesus friendly. That and early church fathers, when writing about it, go out of there way to complain about no references to Jesus. Even when we know they had access to Josephus.

    But again it doesn’t really matter because the question before us is, could that passage have been written had Paul made up Christianity? And again we are left with another yes.

    Conclusion Reached: We cannot claim Josephus as evidence for the proposition that Jesus actually existed. The paragraphs he wrote are completely compatible with either proposition and does nothing to rule out one or the other. (0% Proven True)

    As we can see, this podcast episode has not presented any evidence to support the claim that Jesus was a historical figure, since the references provided would have been the same had Jesus been real or not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Darren,

      I know we’ve had our issues in the past, but let me just say that I actually appreciated your comment here as it does seem you have taken some time to consider my position before rejecting it and I also like a good Dillahunty video myself (one of the sources I used but didn’t include was a video whereby Dillahunty challenges the Mythicist David Fitzgerald for example).

      That said, I haven’t read everything here yet and so if the answers to my question are in the comment, you can just tell me to read the rest of it, but I wonder how you see the claim that Paul created Christianity as being an equivalent or “equally possible” explanation given Josephus probably having access to reliable sources including probable eyewitnesses of Jesus from Jerusalem and also Tacitus probably using reliable official records of some kind to research into the minimal facts of his execution (his two interests and access not just to imperial archives but the Senate as well which included letters and memoirs back and forth from the Senate and the governors like Pilate?

      I tried to address this issue via showing their sources would have represented accurate data whereas I don’t think what I presented seems to be as likely a scenario on the hypothesis that Paul invented Christianity (there are also many other reasons to reject that notion but I’m just saying based on what I presented here in Part 1, I still think I gave enough to rule out that option as improbable).

      A good source addressing the Paul thing in general in the context of Muslims who make this claim is here = http://christianthinktank.com/muslix.html or http://christianthinktank.com/musly1.html#crux that kind of touch on it to some extent (again the context is Muslims and so they don’t deny Jesus altogether but does go some way to speaking to this without giving the game away for any future Podcasts I do on this).

      Anyways, yeah, if you wanted to just let me know if you feel I just didn’t even provide anything to privilege my claim vs. your counter-Paul claim or if you think I did do so but you just found my reasons unconvincing or something- sincere question so I won’t be critiquing or arguing with what you say, but just curious what your honest take is for my own information.

      Take care,

      Dale

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      1. That said, I haven’t read everything here yet and so if the answers to my question are in the comment, you can just tell me to read the rest of it, but I wonder how you see the claim that Paul created Christianity as being an equivalent or “equally possible” explanation given Josephus probably having access to reliable sources including probable eyewitnesses of Jesus from Jerusalem

        It partly addressed in the post, but a more direct answer would be: If you want to make this claim, you would have to demonstrate it is true. Speculation is not evidence. And the idea that Josephus had special sources that no one else seemed to know about is pure speculation.

        ….and also Tacitus probably using reliable official records of some kind to research into the minimal facts of his execution..

        Again, you would have to present more than just speculation.

        ….I still think I gave enough to rule out that option as improbable).

        And I don’t think that presenting speculation supports your position.

        Anyways, yeah, if you wanted to just let me know if you feel I just didn’t even provide anything to privilege my claim vs. your counter-Paul claim or if you think I did do so but you just found my reasons unconvincing or something- sincere question so I won’t be critiquing or arguing with what you say, but just curious what your honest take is for my own information.

        As I mentioned above, speculation is not evidence. Speculation doesn’t privilege your position over anyone else’s since they can speculate about their position just as much as you can yours.

        For every specualtion you provide about Josephus and Tacitus having privileged information, I can do just as much speculation that they didn’t. Without the evidence, there really is no case to be made.

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        1. OK thanks for clarifying and I will take the time to read your post in detail after tomorrow as I have two Podcasts to record (hopefully).

          That said, I promised not to critique your feedback and so I just wanted to say that I hear your issue seems to be primarily can I prove the sources of Josephus and Tacitus were reliable/accurate- but just so you know, its not actually sheer speculation on my part that Josephus would have had access to eyewitness testimony in Jerusalem and that Tacitus was able to consult official records; this much is confirmed historically.

          Obviously, that alone doesn’t mean that they used such sources for the Jesus relevant passages and that’s where I made the arguments based on what we know about them historically to make my case, but yeah you’re right that its not 100% on that front for sure, nothing in ancient history ever is and so if that’s what you mean by speculation then that’s cool.

          P.S.- I was also thinking about your Paul hypothesis, perhaps I will address it in a future Podcast where I discuss Paul’s evidence- you don’t claim that Paul was the true/initial founder of the Christian faith do you? If so, how do you explain Paul’s known apostolic authority controversies in the early decades of the church whereby many Jewish Christians questioned and challenged his authority in favour of Peter and James, etc.?

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          1. That said, I promised not to critique your feedback and so I just wanted to say that I hear your issue seems to be primarily can I prove the sources of Josephus and Tacitus were reliable/accurate-

            There is that too, but you might want to start with existed in the first place (existed, they knew about them, the provided the info you are claiming, etc.) for the special sources that you are claiming they had access to.

            …but just so you know, its not actually sheer speculation on my part that Josephus would have had access to eyewitness testimony in Jerusalem and that Tacitus was able to consult official records; this much is confirmed historically.

            Sadly it isn’t. Though I do understand that it is a common Christian talking point. If, however, you would like to support your claim that it is established history and that the history is accurate, then by all means.

            ….but yeah you’re right that its not 100% on that front for sure, nothing in ancient history ever is and so if that’s what you mean by speculation then that’s cool.

            Not that it just isn’t 100%, it’s not 10% or 5% or even 1%. It truly is pure speculation.

            ….you don’t claim that Paul was the true/initial founder of the Christian faith do you?

            For the sake of this argument that is the counter-proposal to test the proposed evidences.

            If so, how do you explain Paul’s known apostolic authority controversies in the early decades of the church whereby many Jewish Christians questioned and challenged his authority in favour of Peter and James, etc.?

            Why would that need to be explained? It would be the same controversy if Paul had made up the religion.

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            1. Gottcha, alright well I will try to remember to include the Paul Invention hypothesis in my show where I address the Pauline evidence then.

              Hopefully you don’t see this slight push back as contravening my promise not to reply as I really do want to honour that when I ask people for the sincere opinions but just in case you might find it helpful in terms of your question- “how do we know that Tacitus used the Imperial and Senatorial archives”, its because he tells he did in his own writings (in the Histories for example)- no one with a PhD denies this, not even Mythicists like Carrier or Bob Price- they deny this was the case for the Jesus passage in particular of course, but not the general claim that he did so.

              So, it’s 99.99%-100% proven that he did consult such sources in general- nothing to do with a Christian talking point at all, as most Christian apologists are only concerned about the controversial denial that he used them with regard to the Jesus passage; no one denies he used them in general though, literally no one, not Matt Dillahunty, Carrier, Price or anyone that I’m aware of, I’m surprised you are denying it actually.

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              1. “how do we know that Tacitus used the Imperial and Senatorial archives”, its because he tells he did in his own writings (in the Histories for example)-

                And the pure speculation comes in when you say that there was information on Jesus there.

                …I’m surprised you are denying it actually.

                I’m not, I’m pointing out that this is not the same as saying there existed any evidence for his claims. Or that he used that access to gain any special knowledge.

                Assuming that he used that access to get information for his claims about Jesus is pure speculation. And doesn’t change the fact that what he actually wrote on the subject doesn’t rule out that idea that Paul made up the religion.

                After all, why would he need to go look when he thinks he already knows the answer?

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              2. So, it’s 99.99%-100% proven that he did consult such sources in general…

                It’s also worth keeping in mind that these sources had suffered two fires between the time of Jesus and Tacitus. And he only included information that was in the Christian’s teachings.

                Given that only included a couple of paragraphs, it is not probable at all that he would spend weeks going digging through old memos that may or not exist after two fires and a few decades, just to repeat the general gossip going around at the time.

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                1. That’s an interesting point but from what I’ve seen the relevant records were preserved and quoted by Roman historians, so they weren’t destroyed in the fires- they even have accurate speeches which we have confirmed archaeologically were said essentially the same. So the needed records were preserved despite the Great Fire of Rome.

                  Also, well that wasn’t it, it was probably also in his Annals during the dates of 29-33 A.D. which have not survived- this is sheer speculation on my part but as a defense, I could just say that it was probably there in more detail. Tacitus was motivated to look into the origin of Christianity specifically because it involved what he called “pretender” (claimant who raised from the dead) which was a personal passion of his and the Roman Emperor’s niece had converted to it causing scandal in the Imperial household. So given that he mentions him as an off-the-cuff comment where its not the direct focus in his passage cutting up Nero, its a good bet there was a more detailed write ups of it in the now lost sections that cover the years of Jesus death specifically, though yeah that is just an educated guess on my part as those sections don’t exist and we can’t prove for sure apart from inferring as I have.

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                  1. That’s an interesting point but from what I’ve seen the relevant records were preserved and quoted by Roman historians, so they weren’t destroyed in the fires-

                    We already know that can’t be shown to be true. If that was the case people wouldn’t be bringing up Tacitus as the best evidence they have for Jesus existing, they would be quoting the relevant Roman Historians instead.

                    So given that he mentions him as an off-the-cuff comment where its not the direct focus in his passage cutting up Nero, its a good bet there was a more detailed write ups of it in the now lost sections that cover the years of Jesus death specifically, though yeah that is just an educated guess on my part as those sections don’t exist and we can’t prove for sure apart from inferring as I have.

                    As soon as you can demonstrate your speculation is accurate, it can become evidence. Until then it is just speculation.

                    And, just to point out the obvious. Even if such a thing did exist, that doesn’t mean he was correct or that he had any evidence to support his claims. He could still write a book like that while at the same time it being true that Paul made up the religion.

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                    1. Oh yeah ,well that is correct of course, those works are lost now, they don’t exist anymore but they did at the time Tacitus wrote and he tells us he uses them directly in his works as do all other historians of the time. But yes, you are correct that much of that is lost, heck even the full works of Tacitus are not available today but that isn’t relevant to the issue though since we know that they were available in Tacitus’ day- he tells they were and that’s why everyone with a PhD. agrees with me on this specific point that Tacitus had access to official records.

                      Here is a list of what we know from Tacitus’ writings that he had access to according to Tacitus himself and these quotes come from secular Tacitean scholars (not Christian apologists but the world’s experts in Tacitus);

                      Tacitean scholars agree that the historian did indeed access governmental and public records, and did indeed consult original documents as per the following list (note these don’t even include his access to various high-ranking government officials like Pliny, the Emperor and the Imperial Archives):

                      “Speeches of the emperor are discussed also in (Annals) 1.81, obviously as accessible. Of letters sent to Tiberius and of others attacking Nero and Agrippina he speaks (5.16 and 5.3) as though they might still be consulted. This is certainly true of the one to Tiberius” [Mende.Tac, 204]. In Annals 15.74, Tacitus cites the records of the Roman Senate from Nero’s time [ibid., 21] and cites Senate records elsewhere (5.4) [ibid., 212]. The Acta Senatus included letters from emperors, governors of provinces (like Pilate!), allies, and client kings.
                      Tacitus also probably made use of Rome’s public libraries [Dud.Tac, 28].

                      Tacitus also consulted the Acta Diurna, a daily public gazette (3.3, 12,24, 13.31, 16.22), and private journals and memoirs, which presumably “were preserved in large numbers, especially in the older aristocratic families” [Mende.Tac, 212].

                      Syme [Sym.Tac, 278] writes: “The straight path of inquiry leads to the archives of the Senate…the first hexad of Annales (which is not where the Jesus passage is) contains an abundance of information patently deriving from the official protocol, and only there to be discovered.”
                      Regarding an incident in Africa: “That Tacitus consulted the Senate archives is proved by the character of the material, by its distribution…” (ibid., 281). Relative to Book 4 of Tacitus’ Historiae: “required constant access to the register of the Senate” (ibid.).

                      Mellor [Mell.Tac, 19-20] says of the Histories that Tacitus “used the records of the Senate for detailed accounts of speeches and debates…” as well as the works of earlier historians. He consulted “reminisces, biographies, autobiographies, letters, and speeches of the time, as well as…the Acts of the Senate.” (ibid., 33).

                      Mellor adds that Tacitus’ “archival research is especially notable in the early books of the Annals” (not where the Jesus cite is) and may have been innovative for his time.”

                      Benario [Benar.Tac, 80-7] highlights Tacitus’ use of the works of previous historians (including some otherwise unknown to us), private records, the acta senatus, and the acta diurna. He observes that Tacitus, by his own accounting, was “heavily involved in research” and that he “sought out material which others, perhaps, had ignored or of which they were unaware.” (Note: that Benario is the same expert that Richard Carrier cited in his spat with Bart Ehrman to try and say that Ehrman had no clue what he was talking about when he said that every Roman historian in world believes the Tacitus quote of Jesus is authentic, we found out how that turned out in Bart Erhman’s favour).

                      Momigliano [Momig.CFou, 110-1] asserts that Tacitus made wide use of Senate records for the period of Domitian, and lesser use of them for the time from Tiberius to Titus; for that era, Momigliano tells us, Tacitus probably used the works of Senate historians more often.

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                    2. …he tells they were and that’s why everyone with a PhD. agrees with me on this specific point that Tacitus had access to official records.

                      Which doesn’t really matter because this doesn’t demonstrate that any evidence for Jesus existed.

                      Any claim that Tacitus got his information about Jesus from the archives is complete speculation that is completely unjustified. The question is about whether Jesus actually existed. You can’t just assume that Jesus existed and there were records of him, to prove that Jesus existed. Claiming there were records, when you can’t demonstrate they existed, doesn’t add anything to the argument that Tacitus was able to find anything about Jesus there.

                      Claiming that Tacitus used Roman records in no way disproves the idea that Paul invented the religion. It also doesn’t make Jesus historicity any more probable because you can’t demonstrate that their records ever contained anything about Jesus or that Tacitus used anything other than the stories that the Christians were telling him.

                      So, as I have been saying. It doesn’t matter that PhD’s agree with you on that specific point, because I was not disputing that specific point.

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                    3. Gottcha cool, well thanks for answering my questions and letting me probe a little back and forth.

                      My final remarks in this pleasant convo is;

                      I understand your view there and yeah I agree that simply proving there were records (as per the practice of Romans at that time- detailed records were kept) and Tacitus used them doesn’t prove that he used them for everything he wrote (he didn’t) and doesn’t prove that he used them for his passage on Jesus specifically as you say- hence that’s where my argumentation comes into play based on saying its more probable that he would have and didn’t identify the Jesus passage as a mere rumour as was his practice (without exception) according to those same experts I just cited (I quote some of them to that effect in the show in fact).

                      That said, we know that they did record things like Jesus crucifixion as the Governors of provinces had to send reports on things like that to Rome and thus would have been preserved in the Senate and Imperial archives, etc (you accepted this much via the experts saying they did meticulously record this kind of thing so making an exception for Jesus would be special pleading) Plus, we know from later historians that there was in fact Acts of Pilate records of Jesus trial that were referenced and available for consultation at that time at least even if lost now.

                      Further, if they did take such records and Tacitus used them, then this would speak against the Paul interpretation because the quote he gives would be inconsistent with Paul inventing a mythical Jesus who was not crucified by Pilate.

                      Promise the last word can be yours as I don’t want to ruin what was otherwise a decent and substantive convo 🙂

                      Thanks again,

                      Dale

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                    4. That said, we know that they did record things like Jesus crucifixion…

                      Sure, but if Jesus never existed, there would be no record. Which is the point. You can’t just assume a record existed to prove that Jesus was historical. You have to actually demonstrate that the record, in fact, did exist. Not in theory, but in actuality. You are assuming facts, not in evidence.

                      Plus, we know from later historians that there was in fact Acts of Pilate records of Jesus trial that were referenced and available for consultation at that time at least even if lost now.

                      Actually, you don’t know this. Because you don’t know if the later historians were referencing the actual roman records or the Christians story and just assuming they are in the Roman records. After all, that is all you are doing here. You are assuming that Jesus is historical and then just assuming the records would be in the Roman records. That is the main reason your historicity argument doesn’t work.

                      Further, if they did take such records and Tacitus used them, then this would speak against the Paul interpretation because the quote he gives would be inconsistent with Paul inventing a mythical Jesus who was not crucified by Pilate.

                      Sure, now you just have to show that they did take such records and Tacitus used them. That is the whole point of this particular objection. Saying they took the records and Tacitus used them is pure speculation with no evidence to support it.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    5. Cool, thanks for keeping things cordial and indulging me here, it was awesome to have a substantive convo without any issues- I hope we can both keep that up going forward in other shows for Season 2 🙂

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  4. Hey everyone,

    So one of our Mythicist listeners got in touch with me and asked an excellent question, I wanted to inlcude that on here for people’s edification and clarification as to what my overall 77.63 % value means.

    Tyler B. asked;

    “So you are saying there is a 22.37% probability that Jesus didn’t exist?- I would say that is reasonable doubt (so you haven’t proven beyond reasonable doubt that Jesus existed)”

    I responded thus,

    “Well Tyler, you caught me- anyways yes of course you are quite correct but I would just say that my previous claims about Jesus being proven “beyond reasonable doubt” was a claim based on all the evidence cumulatively (all the positive and negative evidence combined) whereas my claim about 77.63% is only the cumulative probability based on those 4-5 ancient historian positive evidences that I assessed in Part 1.

    So obviously as I do Part 2 onwards, I will be adding in other factors into the calculation (other positive evidences that will make it go up and possibly negative evidences that will bring the calculation down). So this number is only where I am at so far based on these specific evidences from Tacitus and Josephus (the only two successful evidences in the “non-Christian ancient historian” category of evidence that I studied).”

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  5. Another positive comment from a Mythicist Chris posted elsewhere and transferred here for good measure;

    Chris said;

    “Hey you’ve put a lot of work into that collection of links. Well done!”

    I replied;

    “Yes, I did work hard on those sources for sure and also trying to be fair to both sides in being consistent to my goal of getting people to look at both sides in making their decision; glad that you appreciate them and I do suggest you check em out as the minor mistakes I make in the Podcast can easily be discovered via checking them out :)”

    P.S.- Just as a note on this, after some time I do plan on doing another Round 2 analysis (I usually try to do 3 rounds with the last being the most rigorous) going over some of the successful evidences here and on other Mythicism shows I do in the future to give you guys any updates as I re-evaluate the sources and evidences again in more detail and will report on any changes or updates that come up in a “Summary/Re-cap show” or something like that. But yeah, I only spent about a month intensely studying the Part 1 evidences for example, which is inadequate on this issue so yeah this was sufficient for a Round 1 assessment on my end as although I’ve looked at the non-Christian sources evidences before, I’ve never sat down and tried to evaluate them critically as I have now- essentially my knowledge of the historical Jesus was based entirely on other grounds and so this non-Christian evidence just convinces me even further in that regard, its icing on the cake so to speak 🙂

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  6. “I do however think that the idea of Paul making the whole thing up out of whole cloth is the strongest Mythisist position, and I have yet to find anyone that can show it is false.”

    It’s pretty easily shown to be incoherent, simply referring to what Paul himself tells us:

    Paul says he got teachings from other Jesus sect members who were “apostles before before I was” (Gal 1:17). He also says he persecuted the Jesus sect before he joined it (1Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13 and Phil 3:6). And he says he met Jesus’ friend Peter and his brother James (Gal 1:18-19). So how could he have made Jesus up if all these other people had already been part of Jesus’ sect *before* Paul? And how could Jesus have a brother who Paul met if he didn’t exist?

    I’m afraid the “Paul made it all up” idea never gets off the ground. Which is why no leading Mythicist argues this line – it just doesn’t make sense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment response here Tim and for linking to it on your own website, I really appreciate your and Roger doing that and for sharing your extensive knowledge on this topic in general- your work was a valued resource in my study and showed me just how much there is to learn on this topic 🙂

      Regardless of Carrier’s characterization of you (won’t use that kind of language on here), just wanted to say I’m honoured to have you interact with some of the skeptics on here- welcome to S&S 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s pretty easily shown to be incoherent, simply referring to what Paul himself tells us:

      If Paul is making it up, then you can’t go to what Paul said. After all, the entire conceit of the argument is that Paul is making up what he is claiming to be true, so you can’t rely on him accurately reporting what actually happened.

      Paul says he got teachings from other Jesus sect members who were “apostles before before I was” (Gal 1:17).

      Yes, he does say that. Now you just have to demonstrate that he wasn’t making these other apostles up out of whole cloth. It reminds me of that guy in high school who said, Yeah I have a girlfriend. You’ve never met her because she lives in Canada, but she totally agrees with me.

      Now all you have to do is demonstrate he was being honest when he made the claim of other apostles, and that he wasn’t just trying to bolster his claims by making up people that agreed with him.

      He also says he persecuted the Jesus sect before he joined it (1Cor 15:9; Gal 1:13 and Phil 3:6).

      Yep. He totally says that too. Have you ever noticed that the preachers that have claimed to convert or that claim to have persecuted Christians before converting over get the most devout adherants following them? Christians absolutely love a conversion story.

      Now all you have to do is demonstrate he was being honest when he made the claim that he was persecuting Christians before he had this magic vision.

      And he says he met Jesus’ friend Peter and his brother James (Gal 1:18-19).

      Yep, he totally does say that as well.

      Now all you have to do is demonstrate he was being honest when he made the claim that he met Jesus’ friend and brother.

      So how could he have made Jesus up if all these other people had already been part of Jesus’ sect *before* Paul?

      The same way Joseph Smith made up entire groups of people that came over from the middle east to be the native Americans I would imagine.

      And how could Jesus have a brother who Paul met if he didn’t exist?

      And why should we believe that Jesus had a brother who Paul met? At what point did you demonstrate that Paul was being honest about what happened?

      I’m afraid the “Paul made it all up” idea never gets off the ground. Which is why no leading Mythicist argues this line – it just doesn’t make sense.

      Maybe, but it is still an argument that no one has been able to demonstrate is actually false. Dale has to speculate about evidence existing that he can’t demonstrate actually exists, and you are going to things Paul said, without being able to demonstrate that Paul wasn’t lying when he made the claims he was making.

      So far, neither one of you has shown that it isn’t a valid theory that explains all the claims made in the bible.

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      1. “If Paul is making it up, then you can’t go to what Paul said. After all, the entire conceit of the argument is that Paul is making up what he is claiming to be true”

        Sorry, that doesn’t work. The clear implied context of his letter to Galatia shows that the Galatian community had been visited or contacted by the Christians in Jerusalem and told he was subordinate to these earlier apostles. Paul is countering that claim. So both he and his audience are aware that these other apostles exist and Paul is simply arguing that his relationship with them is not what his detractors had claimed. He is not just making them up. What you are saying makes no sense.

        “Now all you have to do is demonstrate he was being honest when he made the claim of other apostles, and that he wasn’t just trying to bolster his claims by making up people that agreed with him.”

        Try actually reading the text. He is talking about people who he disagrees with – Galatians 2 talks about the disputes he had with them. Why would he make them up? Again, this makes no sense.

        And why should we believe that Jesus had a brother who Paul met? At what point did you demonstrate that Paul was being honest about what happened?

        Read the text. Paul is desperately trying to argue that he is not subordinate to these earlier apostles and did not get his teaching from them. But then he has to hurriedly admit that he did talk to Peter and James, Jesus’ brother, but insists he didn’t talk to anyone else during his visit to the Jerusalem community after his conversion. So this admission undercuts the argument he’s trying to make. That does not make sense if he is making all of this up. Your hypothesis is nonsense.

        it is still an argument that no one has been able to demonstrate is actually false.

        Garbage. It’s total gibberish. Again – ask yourself why no Mythicist theorist will touch it.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sorry, that doesn’t work.

          You have yet to demonstrate it doesn’t work.

          The clear implied context of his letter to Galatia shows that the Galatian community had been visited or contacted by the Christians in Jerusalem and told he was subordinate to these earlier apostles. Paul is countering that claim.

          And what verses do you feel make this case? From what I read it is just a matter of other people teaching other things about the stories, long after Paul had already started circling the stories. The same way that Christianity has thousands of denominations today, Paul was just trying to keep his claim to his version of Christianity.

          Try actually reading the text.

          Try not being an ass.

          He is talking about people who he disagrees with – Galatians 2 talks about the disputes he had with them. Why would he make them up? Again, this makes no sense.

          How exactly did you determine that the story Paul tells in Galations 2 actually happened? It basically reads like a story where he shows off how great he is and how so many people agree with him.

          Garbage. It’s total gibberish. Again –

          And sadly this is actually the best anyone has against the argument. You can’t demonstrate that it doesn’t work, and all you have left is to just dismiss it out of hand.

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          1. From what I read it is just a matter of other people teaching other things about the stories

            That makes no sense as a reading of Galatians 1-2. Look at the text. Explain what Paul is saying if he is NOT saying he didn’t get his teachings from “those who were apostles before me”, while admitting that he DID talk to Peter and James. Give us a detailed reading of those two chapters supporting your “he just made them all up” idea and show us how this idea makes more sense as a reading of the text.

            Try not being an ass.

            See above. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to present your hypothesis with reference to the texts. You haven’t done this. Try doing so now. Requiring you to do this is not “being an ass”. Dodging that requirement via glib assertions and general hand-flapping, however, is.

            How exactly did you determine that the story Paul tells in Galations 2 actually happened? It basically reads like a story where he shows off how great he is and how so many people agree with him.How exactly did you determine that the story Paul tells in Galations 2 actually happened? It basically reads like a story where he shows off how great he is and how so many people agree with him.

            That makes no sense at all as a reading of a text that is about people disagreeing with him. If you are going to keep responding to me, I suggest you stop making broad asserting that make no sense as readings of the text and actually engage with the text. That’s how this analysis is done.

            You can’t demonstrate that it doesn’t work, and all you have left is to just dismiss it out of hand.

            And repeating that isn’t going to help you either. I’ve noted elements in the text that show that Paul is countering claims about people he and his audience know existed. You need to present a more parsimonious reading that shows that he actually just making all these people up. You keep dodging that requirement. Stop dodging and make your case with detailed reference to the text. Over to you.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. That makes no sense as a reading of Galatians 1-2.

              Actually, it does.

              Look at the text. Explain what Paul is saying if he is NOT saying he didn’t get his teachings from “those who were apostles before me”,

              Why do you keep assuming Paul was being honest? He is telling people lies about how he got his information so that they would believe the stories he is creating. That is the whole point of the argument being made. You can’t reference what Paul is saying to show that Paul is being honest about what he is saying. You have to actually demonstrate that Paul is being honest.

              Others are coming along and adding things to his stories that he doesn’t like so he has to describe how awesome he is and how the authorities far away, which no one would ever be able to verify, fully support what he is doing.

              If you want to be taken seriously, you need to present your hypothesis with reference to the texts.

              Why is that? The entire point of the argument is that Paul is LYING about what actually happened. How exactly would referencing the lies Paul is telling be of any use at all?

              Do you actually understand the argument that is being put forth when it is said that Paul was making up the religion? I know you understand the words. But have you actually sat down, thought about what the ramifications would be and how your arguments will have to change in order to show that Paul was being honest?

              You can’t just start out assuming that Paul is being honest. Or that anything he says is accurate. It has to be demonstrated, not just asserted.

              That makes no sense at all as a reading of a text that is about people disagreeing with him.

              “9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”

              So, exactly how is that about people disagreeing with him?

              I’ve noted elements in the text that show that Paul is countering claims about people he and his audience know existed.

              Yes, people that are never referred to as apostles, from a text that makes it sounds like others are trying to add to his stories, so he has to make up another story about people in authority that agree with him so that the people in his churches know that he is the guy with the goods, not those other people that are apparently calling him a liar, and possibly a con man.

              You need to present a more parsimonious reading that shows that he actually just making all these people up. You keep dodging that requirement. Stop dodging and make your case with detailed reference to the text. Over to you.

              Ok. We know for a fact that con men exist and makeup religions all the time. No one has ever been able to demonstrate that magic or gods exist.

              Reading the text of someone you can’t demonstrate is being honest is not going to tell you one way or the other about whether they are actually being honest.

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              1. Why do you keep assuming Paul was being honest?

                I’m not “assuming” that. I’m concluding it, because it makes most sense as a reading of what Paul is saying. If you believe the text can be read some other way, you need to go through what he says point by point and actually argue that.

                “So, exactly how is that about people disagreeing with him?”

                Read the rest of the chapter. He goes on to talk about how they then went back on this agreement they had previously made. He then calls them hypocrites and says that others, including his friend Barnabas, were “led astray” by them. He talks about how he angrily confronted Peter about this and goes on (Gal 3:1) to ask the Galatians why they too have been “bewtiched” turned against Paul. You need to explain how all this conflict makes any sense if Paul is making it all up and all the people he mentions (“those who were already apostles before me”, Peter, James, John, Barnabas) are all fictions.

                “people that are never referred to as apostles

                Wrong. He makes it clear that Peter was an apostle in his reference in 1Cor 9:3-6 and the Greek only makes sense in Gal 1:18-19 if both Peter and James were apostles. You clearly aren’t bothering to look at the text.

                it sounds like others are trying to add to his stories, so he has to make up another story about people in authority that agree with him

                That is not remotely close to what the text says and makes no sense as a reading of it. He is saying people are trying to say he got his teaching from “those who were already apostles before [him]” and he is trying to deny this by saying he didn’t meet with them after his conversion. But then he has to undercut this argument by admitting that actually he did meet with two of them – Peter and James. Then he argues that three of them – Peter, James and John – gave him his authority to preach to gentiles. But then angrily condemns them for hypocrisy for contradicting this and disagreeing with what he was preaching. Then he talks about how he condemned Peter for doing this. Your “reading” of the text does not reflect what he is saying at all and makes no sense.

                Reading the text of someone you can’t demonstrate is being honest is not going to tell you one way or the other about whether they are actually being honest.

                Utter gibberish. We have two proposed readings of the text. Mine shows that he is clearly talking about disputes with people who his audience know exist and disagreements with these people. Admitting he met with them, that they were apostles before him and that they had authority undercuts what he is trying to say, but he has to do this. Why? Because he can’t pretend these things aren’t true, so he has to put his spin and counter-arguments forward to deal with these awkward facts. That only makes sense if all these people existed and were known to exist. Your alternative makes no sense at all.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. I’m not “assuming” that. I’m concluding it, because it makes most sense as a reading of what Paul is saying.

                  Except you keep assuming that paul is being honest about what he did. Why do you keep assuming he is being honest?

                  If you believe the text can be read some other way, you need to go through what he says point by point and actually argue that.

                  I’ve already explained several times why that would be pointless.

                  I won’t respond to the rest of this, basically because you don’t actually understand what the “Paul made it up” argument actually is. So you are arguing against some other argument rather than the one being presented.

                  When you figure it out, feel free to get back to me.

                  Like

                  1. Except you keep assuming that paul is being honest about what he did. Why do you keep assuming he is being honest?

                    This is getting surreal. I CONCLUDE that he is not making this up for all the reasons I have already explained in some detail. You need to present a similarly detailed analysis of the text that shows why we should not conclude this, that shows it it is more likely he was simply making up all of the people and disputes he refers to and shows why he would do this and why all this makes more sense as a reading of the text. You keep failing to do this.

                    I won’t respond to the rest of this, basically because you don’t actually understand what the “Paul made it up” argument actually is.

                    What?

                    So you are arguing against some other argument rather than the one being presented.

                    So what should I be arguing against? And why are you so strangely reluctant to detail your argument?

                    When you figure it out, feel free to get back to me.

                    Translation: “I’ve painted myself into a corner and am clearly way out of my depth, so I need to find a way to retreat while pretending I haven’t bungled this completely.” Silly boy.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. Translation: “I’ve painted myself into a corner and am clearly way out of my depth, so I need to find a way to retreat while pretending I haven’t bungled this completely.” Silly boy.

                      I was going to go back and respond to everything, but the reality is I already have already, repeatedly. If you aren’t going to figure it out from what I already wrote, my typing more isn’t going to help any.

                      But I am ok with this. Christianity is dying in the US, and one of the major reasons is apologetics and people like you. Rather than actually interacting with the argument, you decide you already know what the argument is, and then get it totally wrong. And then refuse to be corrected about the argument when you are talking to someone about it.

                      So I am happy to leave you to figure this out yourself. You might want to try to go back and re-read what I have already written. It is all there. You just have to take it in. You seem like an intelligent person. I have complete faith that you will figure it out, and when you do I will be here to continue the conversation.

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                    2. the reality is I already have already, repeatedly.

                      Then this “reality” must be in some alternative universe, because no-one here in ours can see anything other than dodging and evasion from you.

                      you decide you already know what the argument is, and then get it totally wrong

                      Yet you still don’t bother to explain what this elusive “argument” I can see you making actually is. Gosh – it’s almost as though this is another attempt to dodge.

                      I have complete faith that you will figure it out, and when you do I will be here to continue the conversation.

                      Pathetic.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    3. “Pathetic.”

                      And then you become an ass rather than produce a good argument. I see why Dale likes you so much.

                      Like

  7. Me: Produce your argument.
    You: I have!
    Me: Where?
    You: If you can’t see it then I won’t show it to you, so there!
    Me: That is absolutely pathetic.
    You: Now you’re being a big poopyhead!

    I suspect I’m dealing with a small child.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “I suspect I’m dealing with a small child.”

      Yep, I can see exactly why Dale likes you so much now. Why actually go up into the thread and read what I have already written when you can act like that instead?

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      1. I have responded to EVERYTHING you’ve already written. It doesn’t make sense and none of it is the detailed point by point analysis of the aspects of Galatians 1-2, showing how this (vague) idea that Paul “made it all up” makes sense in the light of the details I highlight in that text. And no, telling me that you’ve made your case (you haven’t), that I’m misunderstand your argument (you’ve never articulated it) and you’ve done what is required (nonsense) is not going to cut it. Put up or shut up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “Put up or shut up.”

          That was very tough of you. I’m sure everyone was very impressed.

          I’ve repeatedly explained all of this to you throughout the thread and detailed the argument in my very first post on the subject. I can’t be held responsible if you are unable to comprehend. Trying to explain it to you, yet again, isn’t going to be a good use of my time.

          Other people reading this thread will get it and see that you don’t have any sort of argument against the “Paul made it up” argument. They will even see why your counter-arguments don’t actually work. If they don’t get it and want further clarification, I would be happy to respond to them.

          When you go back and figure out why I don’t accept your argument as being valid and can repeat it to me in a way that I would agree with it, I will continue the conversation. Until then, repeating the same things, yet again, isn’t going to push the conversation forward.

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          1. I’ve repeatedly explained all of this to you throughout the thread and detailed the argument in my very first post on the subject.

            You haven’t “explained” how your weak “he made it up” idea accounts for all the elements in Gal 1-2 that I’ve highlighted in my detailed counterargument. And your ridiculous dodging of that is becoming more and more pathetic every time you do it.

            Other people reading this thread will get it and see that you don’t have any sort of argument against the “Paul made it up” argument.

            The elements in Gal 1-2 that you keep dodging are a powerful argument against it. Which is why you keep dodging them.

            If they don’t get it and want further clarification, I would be happy to respond to them.

            Try responding to me on Gal 1-2. Your weak hand-flapping on those points didn’t work. Thus all the dodging.

            repeating the same things, yet again, isn’t going to push the conversation forward.

            Stop dodging and either do what you have failed to do or admit you can’t. But this feeble bluster where you pretend you’ve answered me is fooling no-one and isn’t going to work. And I can keep this up longer than you can, I can assure you. Put up or shut up.

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      2. Hey Darren,

        I’m not trying to interrupt your convo with Tim or gang up on you at all here, but you do bring me up and so hopefully you won’t mind if I just say that it has been fascinating sort of watching someone (not a Christian but an Atheist, see Tim’s bio here = https://historyforatheists.com/about-the-author-and-a-faq/ ) share some of the same frustrations that I’ve encountered in interacting with you.

        As such I just wanted to sincerely see if I could help clarify as I really do see things the same way Tim does, he has presented reasons as to why its unlikely that Paul would be “just making things up”- making up disputes with other apostles or challenges to his apostolic authority for example are cases in point that make it more likely to us that there is some truth that Paul was not the original found of the Jesus movement, so Tim has been giving reasons for his position.

        That said, same question I gave before and then will let you and Tim continue, but it does feel like you totally miss what your opponent is doing or saying at times and then you claim they’ve presented nothing but assumptions when they’ve actually presented reasons/arguments to you whereas it really does seem that all you do is offer non-evidenced assertions in return. Anyways my hopefully helpful questions are;

        1. Do you honestly believe Tim has offered no relevant arguments to address your Paul lies theory or do you think he has tried to do so but you just find those reasons unconvincing for some reason?

        2. Do you feel you have provided positive reasons (not just claims or assertions but actual arguments/reasons) for your hypothesis about Paul just making it up (the true founder of Christianity)- ones that you think Tim has totally missed or evaded in your eyes and if so, would you mind sort of laying out in list format what those arguments are and maybe Tim can try respond directly to those?

        Hope it helps re-focus the convo as its interesting being an outsider and having Tim go through the same sort of experience I’ve had at times (and by the way, you also apparently seem to feel the same dealing with Tim as you do to me at times)- so maybe these questions for you can kind of get things back on track to see if any progress can be made but if not, no worries just wanted to throw in my 2 cents 🙂

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        1. …has been fascinating sort of watching someone … share some of the same frustrations that I’ve encountered in interacting with you.

          He shares a lot of the same problems I have with you, so I suppose it is to be expected.

          As such I just wanted to sincerely see if I could help clarify as I really do see things the same way Tim does, he has presented reasons as to why its unlikely that Paul would be “just making things up”-

          And I’ve pointed out why the reasons presented don’t actually address the argument.

          .. making up disputes with other apostles or challenges to his apostolic authority for example are cases in point that make it more likely to us that there is some truth that Paul was not the original found of the Jesus movement, …

          Really? Can we test that idea? What is more impressive?

          #1 – Something is true because I say it is.
          #2 – A story showing off how epic I am where I go to the authorities and show how right I am even though they disagree, and then they come around to finally declare how awesome I am.

          Seriously. Which would you find more impressive? Your question already indicates that you feel it is an impressive story, and I am assuming I am correct in saying you find it so impressive that you have never even considered trying to verify the story actually happened.

          1. Do you honestly believe Tim has offered no relevant arguments to address your Paul lies theory or do you think he has tried to do so but you just find those reasons unconvincing for some reason?

          If you say that Jim is lying about flying to the moon, and I say, but Jim wrote down he flew to the moon. Would you think that I offered no relevant arguments? Or would you just say that I tried but you don’t find it convincing for some reason?

          The same with Paul. If the theory being presented is that Paul was making up stories, and you say that Paul isn’t because he wrote down a story that says he did something, do you truly feel that is relevant to the question about whether the stories he wrote down are true and accurate?

          2. Do you feel you have provided positive reasons (not just claims or assertions but actual arguments/reasons) for your hypothesis about Paul just making it up (the true founder of Christianity)-

          No, though I did put forward facts that are consistent with the idea. That was never the point of this thread. The point was to demonstrate that the items you put into the podcast as evidence wasn’t evidence because your proposed evidence would be the exact same had Paul made up the religion. The items you put forward don’t indicate historicity because it doesn’t discriminate against actually happened and Paul made it up.

          Tim then claimed he could disprove the theory. Which as shown in this thread he wasn’t able to do. Repeating the stories that are in contention as to their accuracy, just doesn’t demonstrate the theory is false.

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          1. #1 – Something is true because I say it is.
            #2 – A story showing off how epic I am where I go to the authorities and show how right I am even though they disagree, and then they come around to finally declare how awesome I am.

            That silly exercise in strawmanning is indicative of why people find you annoying. Firstly, no-one is has said that that what Paul says is true “because I say it is”. I have shown you, in detail, elements that don’t make sense if Paul was just making all these people, situations and disputes up and challenged you to present an alternative that shows how these elements somehow do make sense in that scenario. You’ve failed to do so. And your summary above where Paul is supposedly just going to the authorities and showing how right he is etc does not do the job.

            Try this: you’ve claimed that what you’re proposing has analogies with known religious scammers, e.g. Joseph Smith. But it doesn’t. In those cases the scammer always sets himself up as the sole great prophet and the single source of the mystic knowledge. Show us an analogous example where the scammer, for some strange reason, invents other, earlier mystic leaders, puts himself in opposition to these fictional superiors and invents a story where he previously persecuted their fictional sect. Explain why Paul would argue that he didn’t meet with these fictional people “who were apostles before me”, but then undercut this by admitting that he actually did meet with two of them. And detail the scenario whereby he is writing to communities of Jews throughout the eastern Mediterranean – communities which had family, commercial and religious ties to Jerusalem – and yet somehow no-one was ever going to work out that none of the fictional people back in Jerusalem actually existed.

            This is the dumbest, most incoherent and ineffective scam ever conceived of. Or it isn’t a scam at all and Paul did join an established sect.

            I realise you’ve backed yourself into a corner with this silly idea. And it seems you’re one of those people who not only can’t admit they’ve bungled things, but have to try to bluster that they are right. But try to tune out your silly ego for a second and apply Occam’s Razor. Your scenario is just nonsense.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “That silly exercise in strawmanning is indicative of why people find you annoying. Firstly, no-one is has said that that what Paul says is true “because I say it is”.”

              Do you even understand how to read? This is not even remotely close to what I said. No wonder you aren’t able to comprehend the actual problem with your responses.

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              1. And, again, you scrabble for any excuse to not actually meet my challenges and present a coherent version of your incoherent and patently silly idea.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. “And, again, you scrabble for any excuse to not actually meet my challenges and present a coherent version of your incoherent and patently silly idea.”

                  Sure. That’s it. You keep going with that idea. Just ignore the fact that you have exhibited 0 reading comprehension skills throughout this whole thread.

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                  1. Try this: you’ve claimed that what you’re proposing has analogies with known religious scammers, e.g. Joseph Smith. But it doesn’t. In those cases the scammer always sets himself up as the sole great prophet and the single source of the mystic knowledge. Show us an analogous example where the scammer, for some strange reason, invents other, earlier mystic leaders, puts himself in opposition to these fictional superiors and invents a story where he previously persecuted their fictional sect. Explain why Paul would argue that he didn’t meet with these fictional people “who were apostles before me”, but then undercut this by admitting that he actually did meet with two of them. And detail the scenario whereby he is writing to communities of Jews throughout the eastern Mediterranean – communities which had family, commercial and religious ties to Jerusalem – and yet somehow no-one was ever going to work out that none of the fictional people back in Jerusalem actually existed.

                    Answer this. And try to make some sense. Another dodge will be taken as an admission of defeat, so make it good.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. ‘Answer this. And try to make some sense. Another dodge will be taken as an admission of defeat, so make it good.’

                      You can take it however you want. That doesn’t mean this conclusion is any less delusional than any other you have provided so far in this thread.

                      “Try this: you’ve claimed that what you’re proposing has analogies with known religious scammers, e.g. Joseph Smith. But it doesn’t. In those cases the scammer always sets himself up as the sole great prophet and the single source of the mystic knowledge.”

                      So you can only scam if you are setting yourself up as the sole great prophet? Is there a law of physics I am unaware of that prevents scammers from using different stories than just that one?

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                    2. Hey Darren,

                      Once again sorry to interrupt the flow between you and Tim as I think Tim is doing a phenomenal job showing the folly of your notions about Paul- many of the sound reasoning included points I would have made, especially the comparison argument- other cult leaders simply do not “make up” controversies or challenges to their leadership, they censor that kind of thing totally, so it truly makes no sense for someone to invent other apostles that were seen as superior to them, the historical hypothesis that Paul was indeed a persecutor and then late convert (1 Corinthians 15) makes more sense of the data we have.

                      But again, Tim has already made such arguments and I get that you don’t find them convincing or think he is “just making things up/assuming” things (as baffling as that is to me), but let me try an appeal to enemy attestation- literally no scholar in the world believes your thoery anymore, there was a time when they did- Paul inventing Christianity was believed in the 19th century and early-mid 20th century by some but has now been totally abandoned by scholarship and this includes by Mythicsts themselves, none of them advocate for what you are here. For example Carrier knows enough not to deny Paul’s testimony on his conversion story or his disputes with other perceived “superior” apostles like Peter or James, he would laugh at you for advocating this idea of yours.

                      Anyways my point is not to bully you or appeal to authority here but I just want to maybe get you to pause and think for a moment with a serious and sincere question- why do you think scholars (including Mythicists) have completely abandoned this idea, I mean surely you don’t think someone like Carrier is trying to be kind to Christians and grant them something that isn’t warranted, he takes issue with every single possible thing that he can when he finds Christians making what he deems to be “unwarranted” claims (just see his review of Tim on his website for example), so the fact that Mythicists accept that Paul was not the original inventor of Christianity, don’t you think there must be good reasons that force them to this conclusion, or do you honestly think you know better than literally every scholar in the world including Richard Carrier, Bob Price, etc.?

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                    3. Once again sorry to interrupt the flow between you and Tim as I think Tim is doing a phenomenal job showing the folly of your notions about Paul-

                      I would expect nothing less from you. If I said the sky was blue you would think the same thing about anyone who was claiming it was green and that I was a fool.

                      …especially the comparison argument- other cult leaders simply do not “make up” controversies or challenges to their leadership,

                      Maybe they should. More would probably be more successful if they followed Paul’s lead.

                      …so it truly makes no sense for someone to invent other apostles that were seen as superior to them, the historical hypothesis that Paul was indeed a persecutor and then late convert (1 Corinthians 15) makes more sense of the data we have.

                      Yes, all that data you have, which is what exactly? Ah right. Pauls stories. That is all the data you have. Which you then have to assume he was being honest about in order to get to the idea that he was a persecutor and then later converted. The problem, of course, is you can’t demonstrate that those assumptions are accurate.

                      But again, Tim has already made such arguments and I get that you don’t find them convincing or think he is “just making things up/assuming” things (as baffling as that is to me),

                      No. Again I wish you both would stop making up positions for me to hold. It would make having conversations with you both a lot easier.

                      literally no scholar in the world believes your thoery anymore,

                      Given that I have looked extensively into what Christian scholars call scholarship, I can’t tell you how little that matters to me.

                      For example Carrier knows enough not to deny Paul’s testimony on his conversion story or his disputes with other perceived “superior” apostles like Peter or James, he would laugh at you for advocating this idea of yours.

                      Ok. How is that relevant? It doesn’t actually prove that your position about the argument is sound.

                      … so the fact that Mythicists accept that Paul was not the original inventor of Christianity, don’t you think there must be good reasons that force them to this conclusion, or do you honestly think you know better than literally every scholar in the world including Richard Carrier, Bob Price, etc.?

                      I don’t know if they have a good reason or not, I’ve never talked to them. What I can say is that neither you nor Tim has good reasons. You have to invent evidence that doesn’t exist and Tim has to assume that Paul was being honest when he claimed to have met Jesus’ brother and other apostles.

                      Neither one of you can demonstrate that your assumptions are actually true. Which means you have no evidence that the theory is incorrect. You just have assumptions and baseless claims.

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                    4. Gottcha, OK I understand what you think then even if I think its baffling. The Mythicists I mention employ the same sound reasoning that me and Tim make on this front by the way (just FYI).

                      But yeah, thanks for your take, I really did just want chime in and see if it might give you pause for thought that literally no scholars thinks what you do about Paul today and I think it is at least important to recognize that this is the case to keep things in perspective and maybe allow you to seriously consider what Tim is saying rather than simply dismissing his logic outright 🙂

                      Take care

                      Dale

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  8. Is there a law of physics I am unaware of that prevents scammers from using different stories than just that one?

    The principle of parsimony is a tool historians use all the time. You can flap your hands around and say “he just made it all up”, but you can’t explain why this thing he made up would have the weird elements we find in what Paul says. And you can’t show any analogies of other religious scammers making something up that have these strange, awkward and inconvenient elements. So Occam’s Razor says he didn’t make it up – he says what he says because he did join an established sect that did have prior authorities and he did struggle to defend his own authority as a result.

    Either you present a more parsimonious explanation of all those strange elements and produce some analogous examples, or your silly scenario is just too unlikely and incoherent to be persuasive.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The principle of parsimony is a tool historians use all the time.

      It is, which is why tales of magic and gods are discounted out of hand. Its also why Pauls stories of magic visions and gods that ascend to heaven are discounted out of hand. So obviously the most parsimonious explanation for someone who claims he was talked to directly from god is that he is an honest person, you know rather than a scam artist that we have literally thousands of examples of.

      You can flap your hands around and say “he just made it all up”, but you can’t explain why this thing he made up would have the weird elements we find in what Paul says.

      Since I have already done so in this thread, you are just demonstrably wrong here.

      And you can’t show any analogies of other religious scammers making something up that have these strange, awkward and inconvenient elements.

      Sure they have all their own strange, awkward and inconvenient elements. Its almost like every religion is its own thing and not a carbon copy of the others. Who would have thunk?

      So Occam’s Razor says he didn’t make it up – he says what he says because he did join an established sect that did have prior authorities and he did struggle to defend his own authority as a result.

      Well, I suppose that is one way to demonstrate you don’t actually understand what Occam’s Razor says.

      Either you present a more parsimonious explanation of all those strange elements and produce some analogous examples, or your silly scenario is just too unlikely and incoherent to be persuasive.

      I already have in this thread. Your limited comprehension skills aren’t my problem. They are yours.

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      1. So obviously the most parsimonious explanation for someone who claims he was talked to directly from god is that he is an honest person, you know rather than a scam artist that we have literally thousands of examples of.

        Nonsense. We have plenty of examples of people who convince themselves they have seen visions and are genuinely misguided. So clearly not everyone who reports such a thing is a scam artist. And visions were considered normal in the ancient world and people saw them regularly. You’re claiming they were ALL lying scammers? AAgain, this makes no sense.

        Since I have already done so in this thread

        Where? Quote where you do this. Stop this crap and put up or shut up.

        Sure they have all their own strange, awkward and inconvenient elements.

        Really? Okay, so you should have no trouble finding some that are analogous to Paul’s then. Strange that you can’t. Explain why on earth he would invent prior leaders who are superior to him. Explain why he would defend himself by saying he didn’t meet these people and then undercut this by admitting that, actually, he met two of them – thus weakening his own argument. Explain why he would invent this conflict with these superiors and then end the story not with him triumphing over them and being acknowledged by them, but by them contradicting him and him denouncing them and still trying to convince the Galatians he was in the right. None of this makes any sense as stuff he just “made up”. It is far more parsimonious that he presents all these awkward elements and leaves things unresolved because all this happened.

        I already have in this thread.

        Then produce the quotes of you doing so. Do you really think you’re kidding anyone with this weak gambit? I really don’t understand people like you. Just give up.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “You’re claiming they were ALL lying scammers?”

          Again, this is not even remotely close to what I actually said. I tell you what, when you can demonstrate you can be honest about what I am saying, then we continue. Until then, don’t bother.

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          1. Again, this is not even remotely close to what I actually said.

            You’re trying to argue that if someone claims they have seen visions of gods etc then we have only two alternatives: (i) he is a liar and scammer or (ii) he really did see magical visions. And this is ignoring the third and most likely alternative – that he lived in a culture where visions were considered natural if rare and so genuinely thought he saw visions. That is actually the most likely scenario, but you skip over it.

            Just as you’ve skipped over the rest of my challenges to you above. Here they are again:

            Explain why on earth he would invent prior leaders who are superior to him. Explain why he would defend himself by saying he didn’t meet these people and then undercut this by admitting that, actually, he met two of them – thus weakening his own argument. Explain why he would invent this conflict with these superiors and then end the story not with him triumphing over them and being acknowledged by them, but by them contradicting him and him denouncing them and still trying to convince the Galatians he was in the right. None of this makes any sense as stuff he just “made up”. It is far more parsimonious that he presents all these awkward elements and leaves things unresolved because all this happened.

            I already have in this thread.

            Then produce the quotes of you doing so.

            Get to work.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “You’re trying to argue that if someone claims they have seen visions of gods etc then we have only two alternatives: (i) he is a liar and scammer or (ii) he really did see magical visions. ”

              No, I’m not. That isn’t even close to what I said. Dale does this shit all the time. He will make up a position for you to hold and then beat you around the head with it even when you said the exact opposite in the post he is responding to. So I have absolutely zero tolerance for it now. You can thank Dale the next time you talk to him.

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              1. No, I’m not. That isn’t even close to what I said.

                When I find someone is mistating or misunderstanding what I’ve said, I explain it to them again so they understand and can engage with my actual argument. You don’t do this. Try it now.

                Then there is the rest of your homework. Do that. Get to work. Stop the pathetic dodging tactics.

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                1. “You don’t do this. Try it now.”

                  No, I don’t. If you can’t be bothered to actually ask what my position is before making up a position for me to hold, I’m not going to spend the next 5 emails trying to convince you that isn’t my position. It just isn’t worth the effort. Again, you can thank Dale for that. If you are curious you will ask. If not, then you aren’t my problem anymore.

                  “Then there is the rest of your homework. Do that. Get to work. Stop the pathetic dodging tactics.”

                  Especially when they then go on to say dumb shit like this.

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                  1. If you can’t be bothered to actually ask what my position is before making up a position for me to hold, I’m not going to spend the next 5 emails trying to convince you that isn’t my position

                    Another dodge. You keep saying “that’s not my position”, but failing to say what your position IS. That’s not the behaviour of someone who genuinely thinks their position is being misunderstood and wants it to be understood and engaged with. That’s the behaviour of a weak dodger. Your total failure here is obvious to everyone.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. “Your total failure here is obvious to everyone.”

                      Sure, sure. If you said it, it must be true.

                      Like

                2. “Then there is the rest of your homework. Do that.”

                  In fact, let me make this easy for you. I’ve already answered all your questions. Do your own damn homework. Everything you want to know is on this board. Why don’t you try a bit of reading comprehension for a change.

                  Like

                  1. Everything you want to know is on this board.

                    Okay – where? Quote it. Show us. Again, this is the evasion tactic of a weak dodger who knows they have failed.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. “Again, this is the evasion tactic of a weak dodger who knows they have failed.”

                      Sure, sure. Whatever you say. Because you have demonstrated such great reading comprehension so far.

                      Like

  9. Sure, sure. Whatever you say. Because you have demonstrated such great reading comprehension so far.

    More dodging tactics. “Oh, I WOULD explain if I thought you’d UNDERSTAND”. Stop dodging. I’ve misunderstood your argument? Okay – explain it. That’s what a normal person who genuinely wanted to be understood would do. You’ve already answered all my points? Okay – where? Quote these answers. That’s what a normal person who wanted to show the strength of their position would do.

    But you never do. You just dodge. Over and over and over and over. Who do you think you’re fooling?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “More dodging tactics. “Oh, I WOULD explain if I thought you’d UNDERSTAND”.”

      Well, thanks for proving my point. As I’ve already said, everything you want to know has already been posted. Do your own homework. You have given me absolutely no reason to do your job for you. You have been nothing but an ass. If you actually care you will go back and do the actual work to have a real conversation. If not, then why should I care or do your work for you?

      Like

      1. As I’ve already said, everything you want to know has already been posted.

        Again – where? Quote it. If it’s so clear and I’ve somehow missed it, why can’t you produce it? Dodge, dodge, dodge, dodge. The more you do this the more you emphasise your defeat.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “Again – where? Quote it.”

          If you aren’t willing to do your own work, why would I be interested in doing it?

          Like

          1. If you aren’t willing to do your own work, why would I be interested in doing it?

            If you thought this supposed “work” would stand up to scrutiny then you would produce it and rub my nose in it. But all you have is … dodging. Keep it up. All you’re doing is proving you’ve got nothing. Every dodge makes that more and more clear.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. “If you thought this supposed “work” would stand up to scrutiny then you would produce it and rub my nose in it.”

              No. I’m not a child like you are. But sure, feel free to make more things up about me. I’m sure everyone is very impressed.

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              1. Can anyone else here see this “work” that supposedly answers all the problems I’ve noted with this weird child’s failed hypothesis? If it’s so clear, we should see lots of people say “yes” and quote it at me.

                Let’s see …

                Liked by 1 person

                1. “Let’s see …”

                  Yes because other people will want to go through 60 some posts just because you are too lazy to do it yourself. If anyone else is still following at this point I would be surprised.

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                2. I sure couldn’t see it Tim 🙂

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  10. Yeah that is an option Darren, but in all sincerity we do, do this.

    That you think this is true is probably the biggest problem.

    Tim certainly did until he realized it was a lost cause and same deal with me for months.

    I’m gald you think it is ok to start abusing your listeners once you realize that your bad arguments aren’t going to persuade them.

    I do have a question though. Why exactly do you think, “I can’t imagine why Paul would make it up, therefore he didn’t.” Is a good or reasoned argument? Since when did personal incredulity or lack of imagination become an argument?

    …we did provide exactly what you are asking for but then you don’t recognize it and then cause the convos to devolve. You called Tim dishonest at one point as well as other names.

    Sure, we will just ignore yours and Tim’s behavior that leads to that. This type of thing is why it devolves. You complete lack of self-awareness and taking responsibility for your own behavior.

    So, I its frustrating when we do actually provide “reasoned and intelligent conversation”…

    Well, I’m sorry if I don’t think making things up, speculation and personal incredulity is a “reasoned and intelligent conversation”.

    …but you are just not informed or reasonable enough to recognize it as such…

    Sure, because it isn’t your bad arguments that are the problem, it is that the people that don’t agree with you that are stupid and unreasonable.

    Do you see the problem now? Do you see how your base attitude towards other people cause the problems you are complaining about? An attitude I might add that Tim shares and started out the conversation from his first post with.

    For example, one of the reasons or points that we said made your Paul proposal improbable a priori is the simple fact that there are no other examples in human history of a cult leader “making up” whole cloth things that would cause followers to question or challenge his authority….

    And anyone that actually understood reason and logic would understand how truly idiotic this line of reasoning is.

    …such as making up the fact that Peter and James knew Jesus while he was alive and had more authority than him in the eyes of the early church to the point where you needed to defend yourself and say “No, I know I didn’t know Jesus but still I saw him Resurrected therefore I have equal authority”- no one would or has ever make/made this kind of stuff up- its very implausible to imagine.

    So he makes up Peter and James and says they knew Jesus whom he also made up. How exactly is that hard to imagine? They are the vector he is using to give himself authority in other peoples eyes.

    Since when is your lack of imagination evidence?

    On this front, Tim asked a simple quesiton, can you point to any such examples that may increase the prior prob plausibility of such a scenario.

    Yes, Joseph Smith. He made up angels that provided the vector with which he was granted apostolic authority. You can look at the Egyptian religions that also made up people to give themselves authority, and I’m pretty sure if you looked at the Hindu religion you would find the same thing.

    This is just one of the well-reasoned and intelligible points he raised-

    That you think that is true is part of the problem.

    argue that we ought not to expect other examples for some reason (i.e. Paul’s case would be expected to be unique in this regard somehow).

    Yes, just because there are no other examples doesn’t mean that your claim is true or carries any more weight. It is basic logic.

    ….all I know is examples of cult founders wanting to be #1 top dog which since they make up their claims, of course they ensure that they and they alone are seen that way and any opposition is quickly censored in one way or another.

    Which is exactly what Paul is trying to do his first letter. “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse!”

    Inventing such disputes are not good story telling and run counter-productive to what we would expect the Paul of your “invention hypothesis” to do.

    Take a writing class some time. Or even a sociology class. They will explain it to you. Conflict and overcoming that conflict are always more engaging and more believable to people than “Because I said so”. That is why modern preachers use the same tactic and why the persecution narrative is so popular among Christians.

    ….but no one ever says that Paul invented everything including Peter and the other apostles out of whole-cloth as though literally everything he tells us in his letters are complete lies in everything they report like you do.

    So? At one point no one argued that Moses was most likely a fiction invented out of whole cloth, and now it is the majority opinion in old testament scholarship. At one point everyone argued the earth was flat, and now very few people argue that it is flat.

    Is this part of your “intelligent and reasoned” argumentation?

    …you just don’t know how to respond and counter the reason we give, so you simply deny it and pretend like we misunderstood or evaded your point when we haven’t.

    I gave the “I can’t imagine it, therefore it is false” argument the exact amount of response it was due. I explained why it doesn’t work to disprove the theory. When repeated I dismissed it since I already explained why it didn’t work.

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    1. …maybe when you get your PhD in history and start publishing in peer-reviewed articles then you can teach them how its done or something lol.

      Sure, because this attitude and commentary are conducive towards ressoned discussion. Does this mean I get to completely dismiss all of your arguments because you don’t have a PhD in history either?

      Or, maybe I can just dismiss all of your philosophical arguments because you don’t have a PhD in philosophy and the vast majority of the field think your arguments are a joke.

      Anyways, though as I mentioned I really am trying to make things better in Season 2 and so I will open it up to you is there perhaps 1-2 small things that you think I could do to make things a little better on my end in the comments-

      I have a very long list.

      – Don’t pretend you know what the other person is thinking.
      – Don’t make up a position for another person to hold. A good tactic for this is to ask the question, Would I be correct in assuming this is your position? And then actually listen to what they say.
      – Avoid paragraphs like the very first one in this post.
      – Avoid letting your attitude of anyone that doesn’t agree with you is stupid and uniformed leak into your posts.
      – Learn the difference between speculation and evidence.
      – Recognize that speculation is not support for your position.
      – Recognize that just because you can’t imagine something doesn’t mean that what you can imagine is more probable.
      – If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.
      – Try to stay away from the passive-aggressive digs at people.
      – Come to the conversation as if you hadn’t heard the argument before. Ask for clarification if you need it.
      – Don’t pretend to know what the other person’s position is. Is this a duplicate? I guess it is that important.
      – Don’t assume anything that hasn’t been explicitly stated. If you can’t quote it, then don’t assume it. And if you can quote it, then do so.

      …don’t just say something vague where you know we disagree like saying “Yeah make good arguments or intelligent arguments”…

      Well, that would help too.

      I came up a small helpful idea whereby we can identify upfront in our intros and blogs exactly who is making what claims or not for the shows so that way everyone can keep track-

      That’s a good idea. You should add this to your interactions in the comments. Clarify exactly what the claim that is being made, and stay on topic.

      Like

  11. No rebuke for Tim’s performance?

    “Rebuke”? For what?

    Rhetoric like his you lashed out at Darren for for months

    “Rhetoric”? Pardon? I simply tried to get that guy to respond to the many problems with his idea and he refused to and just dodged. Repeatedly. So, what “rhetoric”?

    you and Tim both missed his point entirely

    Really? Okay, so what exactly was this “point” that we “missed”? Because I can’t see it, though I can see him refusing to respond to critiques of what he said. So if you can see this elusive “point”, perhaps you can elucidate, because – strangely – he refuses to do so.

    He could have re-posted it but chose not to.

    Yes, which is bizarre if he genuinely wanted to be understood and was actually prepared to argue his case in good faith. The only conclusion I can draw from this weird behaviour is that he has no interest in arguing the point because he knows his position makes no sense and doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Thus all the dodging.

    Tim’s follow on posts were infantile and uncalled for.

    Dodging while loftily declaring victory and engaging in “I could tell you but I won’t” tactics is, actually, infantile. All I did was rub his nose in the fact that he was resorting to that weak tactic because he knew he couldn’t actually sustain his argument.

    But since you’ve sprung to his defence, perhaps you could tell us what this “point” that we “missed” was. Or will we now see a round of infantile dodging from you too?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. … proving Bryan’s point.

      And what “point” would that be? No wait – you will now go on an endless childish round of “I could tell you but if you missed it then there’s no point in explaining it, so there”? I’m getting dizzying deja vu here …

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hey Tim,

        I’m tired of the childish antics of these hyper-skeptical Mythers and instead, I wanted to ask you a quick question related to the actual topic of Jesus Mythicism and the specific sources I talked about on the show.

        One skeptic/Myther asked me about the lack of mention in Seneca as a means to discredit the Tacitus quote and asked me to respond, I didn’t really look at Seneca too much in my research personally and was wondering if you might have any substantive or helpful thoughts on the issue?

        Here is the part they asked me about;

        “Turning next to another stalwart in the anemic apologist arsenal, Tacitus, sufficient reason is uncovered to doubt this Roman author’s value in proving an “historical” Jesus. In his Annals, supposedly written around 117 CE, Tacitus purportedly related that the Emperor Nero (37-68) blamed the burning of Rome during his reign on “those people who were abhorred for their crimes and commonly called Christians.” Since the fire evidently broke out in the poor quarter where fanatic, agitating Messianic Jews allegedly jumped for joy, thinking the conflagration represented the eschatological development that would bring about the Messianic reign, it would not be unreasonable for authorities to blame the fire on them. However, it is clear that these Messianic Jews were not (yet) called “Christiani.” In support of this contention, Nero’s famed minister, Seneca (5?-65), whose writings evidently provided much fuel for the incipient Christian ideology, has not a word about these “most-hated” sectarians”.

        Did you have anything to respond to this skeptical objection?

        Thanks and kind regards,

        Dale

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        1. One skeptic/Myther asked me about the lack of mention in Seneca as a means to discredit the Tacitus quote and asked me to respond, I didn’t really look at Seneca too much in my research personally and was wondering if you might have any substantive or helpful thoughts on the issue?

          I cover that and similar arguments here – Jesus Mythicism 3: “No Contemporary References to Jesus””. It has a whole section on the Mythicist claims about why Seneca “should” have mentioned Jesus and why they don’t work. Essentially, unless the writer in question mentions other first century Jewish preachers, prophets or Messianic claimants or otherwise shows some interest in Jewish sectarian affairs, any argument they “should” have mentioned this backwater peasant preacher has no force. Seneca makes no mention of any other such figures, so it is hard to see why he would mention this one. The fragments we have of his few mentions of Judaism give no indication he was even aware of any variant sects within the Jewish tradition, let alone that he discussed them in any detail or showed any interest in individual teachers and their small sects.

          ““Turning next to another stalwart in the anemic apologist arsenal, Tacitus, sufficient reason is uncovered to doubt this Roman author’s value in proving an “historical” Jesus. In his Annals, supposedly written around 117 CE, Tacitus purportedly related that the Emperor Nero (37-68) blamed the burning of Rome during his reign on “those people who were abhorred for their crimes and commonly called Christians.” Since the fire evidently broke out in the poor quarter where fanatic, agitating Messianic Jews allegedly jumped for joy, thinking the conflagration represented the eschatological development that would bring about the Messianic reign, it would not be unreasonable for authorities to blame the fire on them. However, it is clear that these Messianic Jews were not (yet) called “Christiani.””

          Ugh. That is from an online article by the New Ager who called herself “Acharya S”. He main talents were making bad arguments and getting things wrong. It is not in any way “clear” that the Jesus Sect was “not (yet) called ‘Christiani.'”. Tacitus says what he says – that this sect was called this and this was because it was founded by a certain “Christus” (the Latin form of Χριστός, which is the Greek for “Messiah”) who had been executed by Pilate in Judea during the reign of Tiberius. So, guess who. To pretend he was referring to some other group of Messianic Jews is simply nonsense.

          “In support of this contention, Nero’s famed minister, Seneca (5?-65), whose writings evidently provided much fuel for the incipient Christian ideology, has not a word about these “most-hated” sectarians”.”

          And this is the typical failed attempt at an argument from silence. It is not enough to note that Seneca didn’t mention Jesus or Christians. To make this argument, you have to show where and why this writer should have done so. I’m pretty familiar with Seneca’s stuff, given that I am quite a fan of Stoic philosophy generally, but I can’t see any context in which this lofty nobleman in far off Rome would mention this Jewish peasant or his small sect of peasants, foreigners and slaves.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Awesome, thanks so much Tim, I would have answered much the same way but as I didn’t research it for this part, I didn’t want to speak on it in case there was something specifically that I might not know to mention in rebutting it. Thanks again for giving your take and your link for people to check out- I notice you also have a bit on the lack of mention of the darkness which relates to Thallus as well- which tektonics has an article on as well.

            As to where this Myther (it was my co-host David J. by the way) got the info, he didn’t tell me that much, but if it is from Archarya S. (alias D. M. Murdock) from the that horrible Zeitgeist video from years back- I share your sentiment of “Ugh”, I’m almost ashamed I quoted her to you. Nonetheless, it was good to confirm your answer was more or less what I would have said on the matter and I wasn’t missing anything and also to get your link where you discuss it- I think people will benefit from it 🙂

            For those interested in truth who are reading the comments, I will be addressing this kind of thing in an upcoming episode (in the Negative evidences), but just right here and now- here are a couple other sources on the out right lunacy of Acharya S. = http://www.tektonics.org/TK-S.php or Mike Licona’s devastating Part 1 critique here = https://www.risenjesus.com/a-refutation-of-acharya-ss-book-the-christ-conspiracy#comment-267 and Part 2 here = https://www.risenjesus.com/licona-replies-to-acharya-part-2#comment-272 .

            Thanks again for your helpful answer Tim- its refreshing to get back to discussing something on topic.

            Like

            1. As to where this Myther (it was my co-host David J. by the way) got the info, he didn’t tell me that much, but if it is from Archarya S. (alias D. M. Murdock) from the that horrible Zeitgeist video from years back- I share your sentiment of “Ugh”, I’m almost ashamed I quoted her to you.

              It’s ironic that people who claim to be rationalists and sceptics quote “Acharya S”, given the lunatic stuff she believed. She believed in a lost ancient continent like Atlantis that was the home of a civilisation of technologically advanced pygmies. claimed the Great Pyramid was never a tomb but was used to teach the “higher mysteries” of death and served as a celestial computer. Furthermore, it was probably not built by Egyptians but by her Atlantis pygmies. And she cited David Hatcher Childress (from Ancient Aliens) and a bunch of nineteenth century occultists as her sources for this. She said Augustine had been a Mandaean until his conversion at the Council of Nicea. This is despite the fact Augustine was born in 354 AD, a full 29 years after the Council was held – perhaps he borrowed an Atlantean pygmy time machine. And she said that her crazy ideas were widely rejected by pretty much all scholars because they were part of a Masonic conspiracy against her led by the secret Grand Master of the Freemason, who was none other than the Pope. Seriously.

              Yet this woman’s crazy ramblings are supposed to be something we can take seriously as rationalists. Or something. Hilarious.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Tim,

                Yeah, it is a shame that people out there actually find anything she says convincing; that said my partner did reach out in good faith asking about it and that was the one thing in the article he sent me that I hadn’t already addressed in the show or provided direct sources for, so I wanted to ensure that it was answered seriously out of respect for him asking sincerely and respectfully.

                But yeah, the Zeitgeist thing and Archarya S. have been refuted time and time again, even by Mythicists like Richard Carrier, all calling her work “terrible”.

                Like

      2. Tim, you really want to defend calling people names because they won’t repeat themselves when the words are RIGHT THERE ON THE PAGE. I said it would have been better for him to comply but your behavior was ridiculous when he didn’t.

        And you preemptively ascribe motives and positions to me I don’t hold because I call you out on that. I’m sensing a pattern here…

        Like

        1. the words are RIGHT THERE ON THE PAGE

          So you and your friend keep saying. Yet when asked to quote these words that are, allegedly, “right there on the page”, he dodges and refuses. Over and over again. Now you seem to be doing the same. Why? He’s answered my detailed objections to his idea? Okay – where? I’ve read this discussion from top to bottom twice to make sure I haven’t missed this refutation. It isn’t “right there on the page”. So please quote it for us. And don’t dodge or we will conclude you are doing what he is doing – trying to bluff past the fact he hasn’t</b? answered my points because he can’t. So, over to you. It’s “right there on the page”, apparently, so you should have no problem quoting it.

          I said it would have been better for him to comply but your behavior was ridiculous when he didn’t.

          My “behaviour” when he didn’t was simply to highlight what he was doing – pathetic dodging. But yes, it would have “been better” for him to produce … well, something. Given you acknowledge this – it’s time for you to do so now. Let’s see where it is “right there in the page”. Finally.

          Liked by 1 person

  12. It seems neither Darren nor Bryan are going to respond to my challenge to actually quote Darren’s counter arguments to my objections, despite them allegedly being “right here on the page”. I’m not interested in the rest of the psycho-drama here, so if they do actually do this Dale, feel free to let me know via the “Contact the Author” link on my blog. I know they won’t, so I’m going to chalk this weird exchange up as more evidence that supposed “sceptics” often get completely irrational and bizarrely emotional when it comes to critiques of Mythicism and move on. Sad really.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will Tim and I’m sorry that you have to witness the childishness, this is what I have to put up with week after week from these people and quite frankly its embarrassing to have sincere interlocutors like yourself come on willing to discuss the substantive issues, but get caught up in this non-nonsensical drama, for what its worth I tried my best to keep things focused when I noticed Darren starting up his usual insulting routine with you but as you saw to no avail unfortunately.

      If you like, before you head out, I did receive some more questions on the Tacitus quote via my co-host David, its from the same article by Acharya S. unfortunately, but at least you can give your take on something that matters to the topic of the show. If not, no worries, but I do really appreciate the cordial manner and informative comments you left on here in Part 1 (I hope as I do future Mythicist shows, you will stop by and leave your two cents on them as well just in case any sincere skeptics want to interact on it).

      Anyways, here is the rest of the objections my skeptical co-host sent me if you wish to give your final take on it;

      “…the Tacitean passage next states that these fire-setting agitators were followers of “Christus” (Christos), who, in the reign of Tiberius, “was put to death as a criminal by the procurator Pontius Pilate.” The passage also recounts that the Christians, who constituted a “vast multitude at Rome,” were then sought after and executed in ghastly manners, including by crucifixion. However, the date that a “vast multitude” of Christians was discovered and executed would be around 64 CE, and it is evident that there was no “vast multitude” of Christians at Rome by this time, as there were not even a multitude of them in Judea. Oddly, this brief mention of Christians is all there is in the voluminous works of Tacitus regarding this extraordinary movement, which allegedly possessed such power as to be able to burn Rome.

      Also, the Neronian persecution of Christians is unrecorded by any other historian of the day and supposedly took place at the very time when Paul was purportedly freely preaching at Rome (Acts 28:30-31), facts that cast strong doubt on whether or not it actually happened. Drews concludes that the Neronian persecution is likely “nothing but the product of a Christian’s imagination in the fifth century.” Eusebius, in discussing this persecution, does not avail himself of the Tacitean passage, which he surely would have done had it existed at the time. Eusebius’s discussion is very short, indicating he was lacking source material; the passage in Tacitus would have provided him a very valuable resource.

      Even conservative writers such as James Still have problems with the authenticity of the Tacitus passage: For one, Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as “Christ.” Also, Pilate was not a “procurator” but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known. Nevertheless, not willing to throw out the entire passage, some researchers have concluded that Tacitus “was merely repeating a story told to him by contemporary Christians.”

      Based on these and other facts, several scholars have argued that, even if the Annals themselves were genuine, the passage regarding Jesus was spurious. One of these authorities was Rev. Taylor, who suspected the passage to be a forgery because it too is not quoted by any of the Christian fathers, including Tertullian, who read and quoted Tacitus extensively. Nor did Clement of Alexandria notice this passage in any of Tacitus’s works, even though one of this Church father’s main missions was to scour the works of Pagan writers in order to find validity for Christianity. As noted, the Church historian Eusebius, who likely forged the Testimonium Flavianum, does not relate this Tacitus passage in his abundant writings. Indeed, no mention is made of this passage in any known text prior to the 15th century.

      The tone and style of the passage are unlike the writing of Tacitus, and the text “bears a character of exaggeration, and trenches on the laws of rational probability, which the writings of Tacitus are rarely found to do.” Taylor further remarks upon the absence in any of Tacitus’s other writings of “the least allusion to Christ or Christians.” In his well-known Histories, for example, Tacitus never refers to Christ, Christianity or Christians. Furthermore, even the Annals themselves have come under suspicion, as they themselves had never been mentioned by any ancient author….

      In any event, even if the Annals were genuine, the pertinent passage itself could easily be an interpolation, based on the abundant precedents and on the fact that the only manuscript was in the possession of one person, de Spire. In reality, “none of the works of Tacitus have come down to us without interpolations.”

      Regarding Christian desperation for evidence of the existence of Christ, Dupuis comments that true believers are “reduced to look, nearly a hundred years after, for a passage in Tacitus” that does not even provide information other than “the etymology of the word Christian,” or they are compelled “to interpolate, by pious fraud, a passage in Josephus.” Neither passage, Dupuis concludes, is sufficient to establish the existence of such a remarkable legislator and philosopher, much less a “notorious impostor.”

      It is evident that Tacitus’s remark is nothing more than what is said in the Apostle’s Creed—to have the authenticity of the mighty Christian religion rest upon this Pagan author’s scanty and likely forged comment is preposterous. Even if the passage in Tacitus were genuine, it would be too late and is not from an eyewitness, such that it is valueless in establishing an “historical” Jesus, representing merely a recital of decades-old Christian tradition.

      Christians were chronic forgers, interpolators, and exaggerators. They were desperate, and played fast and loose with the written word. That said, I don’t need this passage to be a forgery to reject it as insignificant.

      I do a lot of writing about Christianity. As you know, I’m an unwilling mythicist. But I write as if Jesus were a real person. It is easier that way. I’ve written a whole book about the sayings of Jesus. Yet I do not believe he actually said a single word of it.

      My point is that Ancient opponents of Christianity could have done the same thing. Someone reading my writings 2,000 years from now would conclude that I definitely thought Jesus was a real person. But they would be wrong. We make far too much of tiny mentions like the one from Tacitus. It looks desperate.

      On a different point, I find it suspicious that all these references consist of no more than a sentence or two without calling him by the only name he had. These crumbs don’t even constitute a full bite. They tell us nothing that wouldn’t have been common lore propagated by Christian cultists of the day. They do not show any unique knowledge of the man. Surely, these mentions are unsatisfying to you at some level”.

      Like

      1. More bad arguments, though considering the source, that’s not surprising:

        it is evident that there was no “vast multitude” of Christians at Rome by this time

        Says who? And exactly how big is a “multitude” anyway? Tacitus is no fan of the Julio-Claudian emperors and, as the last and the worst of them and the man who was overthrown by Tacitus’ patrons, the Flavians, he is keen to put Nero in the worst possible light. So obviously it is worse if this monster executes a lot of these Christians to deflect the blame for the fire from himself. But the word in question – multitudo – simply means “many”. How many? A hundred? Dozens? Who knows? All Tacitus is saying is Nero executed “many” Christians. We have other references to Christians in Rome in this period – from Tacitus, from Paul’s epistles and from Acts. And there were enough of them for Paul to write to them from Greece to say he was coming to visit them. So to take one vague word and try to pretend this somehow casts doubt in Tacitus’ whole account is pretty stupid.

        Oddly, this brief mention of Christians is all there is in the voluminous works of Tacitus regarding this extraordinary movement

        This isn’t “odd” because this was not an “extraordinary movement”. It was a tiny sect and of no interest at all to a pagan aristocrat like Tacitus, except as a by-note in a story about Nero. Where else would we expect him to mention Christians? I’ve read all of the surviving works of Tacitus and can think of no context in which we would expect this. Especially since he called this sect “a most mischievous superstition …. evil …. hideous and shameful …. [with a] hatred against mankind”. It’s not like he was a fan.

        Also, the Neronian persecution of Christians is unrecorded by any other historian of the day

        Wrong. It is clearly recorded by Suetonius (Nero, XXXVIII). Tertullian also holds up the persecution of his sect by Nero as a badge of honour, since by his time Nero was regarded as a tyrant and a monster. He says to his pagan opponents “study your records: there you will find that Nero was the first to persecute this teaching [Christianity]” This challenge would make no sense unless the persecution of Christianity was not, quite literally, a matter of public record.

        Eusebius, in discussing this persecution, does not avail himself of the Tacitean passage

        Eusebius doesn’t refer to a passage that calls his faith “a most mischievous superstition …. evil …. hideous and shameful …. [with a] hatred against mankind”? And this is surprising somehow?

        Tacitus was an imperial writer, and no imperial document would ever refer to Jesus as “Christ.”

        More nonsense. Tacitus is making an aside to explain why this sect persecuted by Nero was called “Christians” and does so by reference to the title of its founder – “Christus”. That’s just the Latin form of the Hebrew word meaning “Messiah” and we know Jesus was widely referred to by this title which is how his sect got its name. The context shows why Tacitus refers to this title – you just have bother reading what he says.

        Pilate was not a “procurator” but a prefect, which Tacitus would have known.

        Roman titles were not as precise as this argument tries to pretend and even arch-Mythicist Richard Carrier notes that the roles of these subaltern regional officials were fluid, as were their titles. He argues that Pilate was actually both a Prefect and a Procurator, having the powers of both. Tacitus was also not precise in the way he used titles and sometimes used them anachronistically.

        some researchers have concluded that Tacitus “was merely repeating a story told to him by contemporary Christians.”

        Except there is absolutely nothing in the passage that indicates this. Leaving aside the issue of what the hell a Roman aristocrat of consular rank would be doing talking to the kind of peasants, slaves and foreign scum that made up Christianity in this period, what Tacitus says contains nothing that indicates a Christian origin – no mention of Jesus’ teachings, nothing about alleged miracles, not even the guy’s personal name. Instead it is a bare who, what, when and where focused on him being a troublemaker who was executed. That indicates a non-Christian origin. And it’s not like Tacitus had any shortage of obvious trusted sources of information about a Jewish preacher and a Jewish sect – the Flavian court was full of aristocratic Jewish exiles who Tacitus could have turned to for information. These included Herod Agrippa’s daughter, the Princess Berenice, and none other than the historian Josephus. The idea that Tacitus would be chatting to members of a sect he regarded as “most mischievous superstition” down in the slums of the Aventine when he had learned and noble Jews to talk to about this stuff makes no sense at all.

        several scholars have argued that, even if the Annals themselves were genuine, the passage regarding Jesus was spurious. One of these authorities was Rev. Taylor …

        No modern Tacitus scholar does. Who the hell “Rev. Taylor” might be I have no idea, but “Acharya S” usually just cherry picked whatever she could find to support her case, mostly from crappy nineteenth century sources.

        The tone and style of the passage are unlike the writing of Tacitus

        That is total garbage. In fact, the tone, style and language are so distinctively Tacitean that this is a key reason modern scholars reject the idea this is not genuine passage. The idea that a fourth century forger could fake his terse, Silver Age Latin is absurd.

        In his well-known Histories, for example, Tacitus never refers to Christ, Christianity or Christians.

        Why would they? They cover the years 69-96 AD and concentrate on Imperial politics. Where would they need to mention Christians, let alone the founder that died 35 years before this time period?

        I find it suspicious that all these references consist of no more than a sentence or two

        I’d find it vastly more suspicious if they consisted of anything more – Christianity was a tiny sect of nobodies.

        Again, we get a string of bad arguments, factual errors and overstated claims based on faulty premises. And then these people wonder why no-one who actually knows the material takes them seriously. Mythicism is a feeble thesis – always has been and always will be.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Wonderful thanks Tim 🙂 I wish I had other substantive skeptical feedback for you to interact with but that was literally everything I received. If more comes up in Part 1 and/or future shows in the series, I will definitely notify you so you can interact on the substantive points.

          Til then all the best 🙂

          Dale

          Like

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