Defining Mythicism: Explaining ‘Jesus Possibilianism’

Recently I have become acquainted with the concept of Possibilianism (and I think it best represents what I am now).  But not only does it fit me epistemologically, but I think it fits my position on the figure of Jesus as well.  Steven Carr has asked (I think, since at times it is difficult to get at his meaning) about my agnosticism, as if I am suggesting I sort of just sit on the fence about it.  And that isn’t necessarily my position at all, as I do not just throw my hands up in the air and say, sighing, “Well, I guess my job is done now since I don’t have a specific definitive position on historicity.”  But I was wont to explain it in more detail as I hadn’t quite had an opportunity to weigh out what exactly my position was.  Thankfully, it seems Possibilianism has proven to be quite useful.  I’d like then to propose a new term for your consideration and one I’d like to become accepted within the community, Jesus Possibilianism.  Essentially, as it should be defined:

Jesus Possibilianism: (noun) The position that, while not accepting current trends in mythicism (or as I call it, Zeitgeist Mythicism) nor aligning oneself with the theistic epistemological positions on Jesus, refuses to take any hardline approach on historicity (that is, not accepting nor denying affirmitively historicity) while actively engaging in attempting to discover (through academic pursuits) the reality of the multiple positions on the figure of Jesus as they are today, were in the past (both distant and near), and will be in the future (through meme theory).

That is to say, while I doubt historicity, I still seek to determine the value of historicity and do not refuse the possibility, as I recognize the limitations of the evidence and the differences in interpretation which can be as valid (or more valid, in some instances) as those produced by those who call themselves mythicists.

 

Hot off the Press: Biblioblog Reference Library Updates!

According to Steve Caruso, the Biblioblog Reference Library has some exciting updates ahead.  First the announcement of a new version (Beta 3) going live:

Once this goes live, you will have the ability to create a Library ID, which opens up a large number of new features, among them being:

  • The ability to build a public profile for yourself and your academic work.
  • Link that profile to author names and blogs in the archive by claiming them.
  • Customize what claimed blogs and author accounts display on their information pages and how often the Archivist software checks for updates.
  • Create, organize, and share lists of posts (“portals”) of your own.
  • Contribute to specific portals by setting up unique tags.

It’s going to be awesome, and I hope to have it up to use by the end of this month, and fully functional by the end of September.

The Biblioblog Reference Library | Biblioblog Library Anouncements: New Version, New Journal, New Press.

Then the announcement comes after a long wait: The Ephemeris Bibliablogarum! What is this you ask?  It’s the new Biblioblog Journal!  The first of its kind–that I know if–for an online Blog community.

With all of the well-written articles and so much talk about a journal over the past number of years, we’re actually going to do it. The peer review system is going to be fully integrated with Beta 3 of the Library, and will have a bunch of spiffy features that will be revealed over the next month as well, so keep watching this space. It will be published in both traditional paper and digital open-access (via a special section of the website).

And last but not least, a Biblioblog publishing house to look after the Journal!

With a journal, there should be a publishing house to look after it, and The Biblioblog Reference Library Press will fill that role. With a strong peer review and editing process, the Press will publish titles in the Humanities that fall in and around Biblical Studies as a field in both traditional paper and digital formats (Kindle, Nook, iBooks, etc.).

Not everyone in the community will approve, some may worry, others may ponder the implications (as I have done in the past), but none the less, I will be participating.  This is quite exciting news indeed.

Alert the Press! Real Academics Don’t use Facebook or Blog!

According to Elkington (bold and italicized), who we all know is the erudite, scholarly fellow (/sarcasm):

Regarding the omission of academic postings on this site, it was set up to release news into the public sphere (due to significant demand) and not as an academic forum (real academics tend not to use Facebook and are not bloggers! – They respectably keep their counsel, which is why they haven’t participated directly on this site, although they support it).

Someone better alert Bob Cargill, James Crossley, Jim West, Dan McClellan, David Meadows, James McGrath, James Tabor, Mark Goodacre, and many, many others (too many to list)!  Apparently, Elkington feels that Real Academics™ are defined as those people who make sweeping claims and broad accusations behind a pseudonym on a Facebook page (which is exactly what he’s been doing).  This is just as classic as the time he said that Thonemann wasn’t a real Biblical scholar!  He continues on with his ignorant comment:

It takes numerous top level academics to arrive at a reasonable conclusion: not only to translate the text, but to put it into contextual meaning, taking into consideration the cultural, theological and political situation of the time. Some of the direct translation that has already been done would be very open to literalists to have a field day; however, when put into proper context, is exciting, as it largely supports the gospels (what has been translated and contextualized thus far, which isn’t a huge amount – this will take years of study). As you have probably seen from the widespread criticism out there – based on VERY LITTLE information, you can imagine the furore if we let any Tom, Dick or Harry offer their opinion. Of course everyone has a right to their views and opinions; however, we believe that it is the responsible thing to do to let the appropriately skilled individuals put their research out there first – we owe it to the public. Most of what has been published out there by the bloggers has been way off the mark and based on so little given out.

Spoken like a truly naive person.  Of course those who are criticizing the validity and authenticity of these codices are those who have backgrounds in the subject are also top notch scholars (I am not sure what ‘top level academics’ are–does Elkington think this is a game of WoW?  What an absolutely ludicrous thing to say).  Even those who used to initially accept them as ancient have since turned their backs on the idea, or at least expressed a large amount of skepticism towards their antiquity, like Philip Davies.  Like a child pouting in the corner when given a time-out, Elkington is showing everyone his last-ditch effort to establish credibility by stomping is foot, whining, and making faces at his critics rather than engaging them intellectually.

H/T to Dan McClellan for alerting me to this.

Lead Codices Updates: Evidence of Lifted Script from coins and Additional Updates from Dan McClellan

Steve Caruso made a breakthrough today with this image:

He writes:

Going on the coin inscription lead, I came across a sequence of characters lifted nonsensically from the prutot of John Hyrcanus I (135-104 BC).

via The Aramaic Blog: Lead Codices: Sequence Lifted From John Hyrcanus I Prutah.

Also Dan McClellan made this note as well:

It reads as follows with the Facebook admin’s reading:

. . . לגלשאגתלאלגלגבשאגתל . . .
. . . מבתבלאגתלגשבתבלאגתבב . . .
. . . מסרשאלגבבמסרשאלגת . . .

A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!).

via A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan.

He also notes earlier today of the dishonesty of the Elkingtons on their Facebook page:

The admin in charge of the Jordan Codices Facebook group has posted four pictures from what it claims are forensic tests of the codices. He states:

This set of photographs are some examples we took during our forensic work on the codices.

It’s my contention that the photos show no such thing. These are publicity photos taken by Elkington himself (or associates) and passed off as scientific.

In the first photo, the vast majority of the codex has been obscured by the portion of torn-off loose leaf notebook paper. What value does this photo have for a researcher? Absolutely none. In the lower picture a smaller piece of loose leaf notebook paper has been torn off to allow for the visibility of the tree image (and the numbering system is different). This is simply not how artifacts are photographed by professionals. Elkington is obscuring those parts of the codices that have text on them so that people who have the ability to analyze the texts for themselves cannot do so. He wants you to see the tree, though, since it’s pretty and it cannot be shown to be unintelligible.

If there is anyone out there who believes these to be authentic or genuinely ancient, they are either deluding themselves or in on the scam.

A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan

Dan McClellan offers us a very important clue in the discussion of the lead codices.  Here is a snippet:

A small collection of letters are simply being nonsensically repeated (with the occasional accidental word appearing). It is difficult to make out in the photo above because of the blurring, but the first roughly half of the bottom three lines are repeated in exactly the same shape and orientation in the second half of the text. Whatever mold or die was used to create the first half of each of the three lines was simply used again for the second half. Philip Davies’ recent PEQ editorial, available for free here, mentions this repetition and calls the lettering “mostly purely decorative.” This rather conflicts with Elkington’s claim to have the world’s top paleo-Hebrew mind reaching a breakthrough in translation (unless, of course, Elkington doesn’t think Davies is one of the five who can read it!).

via A Preliminary Translation of the Jordan Codices is Offered « Daniel O. McClellan.

Evolution: The Threat to Christianity

I can understand this journalist’s perspective.  I thought this was a very astute observation:

So-called “reality TV” has done the world a grave disservice. I don’t just mean because the vast majority of such programs are mind-numbingly tedious, but because they have given people the idea that reality is something that can be decided by popular vote.

And again:

Evolution poses a further threat to Christianity, though, a threat that goes to the very heart of Christian teaching. Evolution means that the creation accounts in the first two chapters of Genesis are wrong. That’s not how humans came into being, nor the cattle, nor the creeping things, nor the beasts of the earth, nor the fowl of the air. Evolution could not have produced a single mother and father of all future humans, so there was no Adam and no Eve. No Adam and Eve: no fall. No fall: no need for redemption. No need for redemption: no need for a redeemer. No need for a redeemer: no need for the crucifixion or the resurrection, and no need to believe in that redeemer in order to gain eternal life. And not the slightest reason to believe in eternal life in the first place.

via Evolution threatens Christianity – On Faith – The Washington Post.

I think overall her article was snarky; there are more cordial ways of getting your point across.  Still, the article is interesting and should be read.  You are welcome to disagree, but she is correct that evolution is indeed a fact.  It’s a shame that so many people have been duped by creationists and certain evangelical apologists into believing otherwise.  But belief alone does not make it so.  Evidence is the key.  And evidence is what we have.  Tons of it, in point of fact.  To say otherwise is to show ignorance.  And as the journalist remarks:

Remember that ‘ignorance’ is not an insult, but merely a term for ‘lack of knowledge’. Many of the people who protest so vociferously against the teaching of evolution do not understand how overwhelmingly strong the evidence for it is; and many of those who proclaim “But it’s only a theory” do not understand that the scientific and everyday usages of the word ‘theory’ are very different.

Everyone is welcome to their own opinion, but don’t assume that your opinion will dislodge fact.  Believe what you want, though, because that is also a choice you make, and you are welcome to believe or accept whatever you want.  Just don’t pretend to be able to influence our education system to fit your ignorant opinions.  There is a definite correlation between the 62% of people in this country who do not accept Evolution as it is and the failures of science education in our country.  I don’t allow people who believe in elves to demand changes to our commerce laws to account for the needs of elves; don’t think for a second I’m going to allow your belief in a fictional (but theologically rich) creation story to mess with the education system.

Searching for Muses: VA Earthquake a Biblical Sign

Yes, someone searched for this earlier:

is virginia earthquake a biblical sign

O ye dilettantes!  No, no the VA earthquake is not a Biblical sign.  Please, for the love of Pete, stop thinking that everything that happens to the planet is a Biblical sign.  It isn’t.

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