James has graciously posted up a response of sorts to my blog post here. He writes:
But precisely for this reason, the comparison between the two possible mythicisms can be instructive, because if someone could deny the existence of someone like Julius Caesar using the same sorts of tactics and approach as are used by Jesus mythicists, would this not constitute an adequate demonstration that the approach of Jesus mythicists is problematic?
And to clarify, on my blog James writes:
I don’t actually disagree that the comparison is problematic – but precisely because we can reasonably expect stronger evidence for the existence of Julius Caesar, and yet could cast doubt on his existence using the methods employed by Earl Doherty, to say nothing of Dorothy Murdoch, that suggests that the approach of the Jesus-mythicists is methodologically flawed.
I haven’t read his new book, but I don’t believe Earl Doherty employees a ‘deny all evidence’ methodology, which is what James is sort of suggesting. This concerns me a great deal. It suggests that James really doesn’t recognize where Doherty engages the evidence, rather than simply dismissing it. If we were to employ the methods that Neil Godfrey has suggested, while they are not realistic and could not fully be used–at least without many caveats–to determine the historicity of most figures, one would have to, in fact, draw the conclusion Caesar was real. After all, Godfrey and Doherty have argued that contemporary silence is a main weapon against the historicity of the figure of Jesus, and contemporary silence is something we don’t have for the historical Caesar. So once again, James’ analogy is false and inappropriate. If James wants to make a case that Doherty or Godfrey are just dismissive of all evidence, he needs to express that clearly and with statements from them to support it. I am not aware of any.
Further, I do not believe James has really produced an instructive analogy, either. Where has he stated the methods mythicists used which can be used by others? I believe it is a little unfair to provide an ‘instructive’ blog where people can just make up methods they presume a mythicist would use rather than actually providing his readers with actual methods which Doherty or Godfrey have laid out. Indeed, since James has only provided one method–that is, the method of just being dismissive–many might actually fall prey into the thought that mythicists are just dismissive. This is hardly the case.
I should clarify my own position as well, if only to avoid confusion. I don’t mind at all James’ instructive blogs, and I think James is onto something here by turning the methods of mythicists over to other sorts of figures. But again, I stress that he needs to do so in a manner that is responsible. If he refuses to create fair, more appropriate analogies with figures which are more comparative to the figure of Jesus (as far as the evidence goes), then he should at least be considerate enough to utilize the methods Doherty actually employs, instead of fabricating a method which he doesn’t at all use. I have no doubt that James can find an actual method utilized by Doherty in his new book which will make his case in the same way, without inventing new ones, especially if Doherty makes as many poor arguments as James claims. Again, I haven’t read the book, so I cannot say whether he does or doesn’t.
Addendum: I do believe dismissive behavior is seen in Zeitgeist mythicists however, and those that follow Dorothy Murdock. Through correspondence with those sorts of mythicists, I have to agree that they care little about evidence and only for the fancies of what their Archarya S provides them.