Carrier on Ehrman’s Response to Criticisms

Carrier took a moment out of his conference schedule to type a response to Ehrman.  It is as efficient as his others, meaning that he thoroughly shows the hubris of Ehrman’s latest foray (his book and his response to critics).  And let us not beat around the bush here, there is either dishonesty at work or Ehrman just isn’t doing his due diligence.   Carrier starts off by stating what many of us have already picked up on (emphasis added):

Bart Ehrman has finally composed an extensive response to my critical review of his book. But before that came out, he composed two briefer responses, one to my review of his Huffington Post article and another to my subsequent review of his book. He also briefly punted to another blogger, R.J. Hoffman. In this post I’ll address those latter items. Next I’ll reply to the longer piece (I’ve nearly finished my reply to that, but as I’m now at the  Madison Freethought Festival with tons of amazing speakers and excellent liquor, I won’t be able to proof that and post until Sunday evening).

The strangest thing about those latter items is not the alarming-enough fact that they ignore nearly every substantive point in what they are responding to, and focus each on only a single issue, and that one of the least importance (the Hoffman piece likewise doesn’t address anything I actually said). That is strange. But stranger still is that they do not look entirely honest to me. But I’ll just present the evidence and you can decide.

First up is the bizarre deflection of the issues in Ehrman’s response to Carrier’s very real criticisms.  These criticisms focused on the false claims made by Ehrman throughout his recent publicity articles and his book, all of which are completely bizarre and look like the claims made by rank amateurs :

  • The incorrect attribution to Pliny’s letters
  • The false claim that a statue (Priapus Bronze) does not exist.
  • The curios claim that Pilate was not a procurator, but only a governor (He was in fact both.  In the past, I actually made this false claim–but this was before I became a student; we should not expect this from a veteran scholar).
  • The outstandingly false claim that “we simply don’t have birth notices, trial records, death certificates—or other kinds of records that one has today” (yes he said that!)
  • The claim that no Classicist argues that the record of Christians and Jesus in Tacitus is an interpolation (there are at least six that Carrier lists)
  • The claim that no other scholar has proposed a different period for the death of Jesus and the rise of Christianity
  • Ehrman’s apparent ignorance of the Innana death and resurrection story and that of Romulus’ death and resurrection story.
  • The very false claim that we have no evidence of baptism in any mystery religions
  • The claim that no Jews thought the messiah would die or suffer
  • The rather hyperbolic claims that Carrier is somehow unqualified–with his three graduate degrees in relevant fields–to speak on the New Testament and Jesus studies
  • The claim that “not even … the most powerful and important figure of his day, Pontius Pilate” is “mentioned in any Roman sources of his day.”
  • That we have sources dated to within a year or two of Jesus’ death

Those are the patently FALSE claims made by Ehrman.  This doesn’t account for all of his errors either, since there are plenty more (which I cover in my forthcoming paper due out next week, with any luck); it also doesn’t account for Ehrman’s many misleading statements or contradictory statements made throughout the book (where he says one thing at one point and then contradicts himself at a later point).

And to which argument in Carrier’s arsenal of criticisms does Ehrman choose to respond?  That’s right–the Priapus statue (which oddly Ehrman thinks is the strongest one, which is just silly).  He doesn’t address any of the other more relevant and important matters of oversight or misstatements.  You can read my reply to Ehrman’s response here.  Carrier writes the following (snippet):

In his second reply he addressed one single point in my review. And here I believe there is reason to suspect he is lying about the Priapus statue. In my review of his book I called him out for saying (certainly very clearly implying) that Murdock “made up” the statue at the Vatican that she presents a drawing of and says is a symbol of Peter. He clearly did not call the Vatican about it or research the claim at all. Because if he had, he would have said what any responsible scholar would have said, which is that yes, the statue she depicts is real and the drawing she provides is reasonably accurate, but her argument that it symbolizes Peter is not credible. It’s just a pagan statue of the god Priapus.

Now in his reply on this point, in “Acharya S, Richard Carrier, and a Cocky Peter (Or: “A Cock and Bull Story”),” he claims I misread him, that he never denied the statue existed nor implied that Murdock made it up. Now let’s look at what he actually wrote in the book. You be the judge:

[Acharya says] “‘Peter’ is not only ‘the rock’ but also ‘the cock’, or penis, as the word is used as slang to this day.” Here Acharya shows (her own?) hand drawing of a man with a rooster head but with a large erect penis instead of a nose, with this description: “bronze sculpture hidden in the Vatican treasure of the Cock, symbol of St. Peter” (295). There is no penis-nosed statue of Peter the cock in the Vatican or anywhere else except in books like this, which love to make things up.

That’s the sum total of what he says about this. It is quite evident to me that when he wrote this, he doubted the drawing came from any source, and believed (and here implies to the reader) that she just made it up. There is no such statue. That is what he is saying. But you can judge that for yourself. Certainly, the one thing this paragraph doesn’t say is that the statue she references does exist, is (or at one time was) at the Vatican, and looks essentially just as her drawing depicts it. It also does not say that she is merely wrong to interpret this statue as being of Peter. To the contrary, all it says is that there is no such statue, she made this up. Which is false. And betrays his failure to even check.

But he now claims he did check. Sort of–he says he saw her citations and assumed there were priapic statues; he did not actually say he checked her sources, or contacted the Vatican.

Indeed. Ehrman is basically saying “I was never wrong. I’m just such a phenomenally lousy writer that things I wrote appear to say what they don’t, and everyone who reads this book will often be misled in result.” Others have noted the problem entailed by his repeatedly careless and irresponsible wording of things, which can completely mislead lay readers of his book. Ophelia Benson (Butterflies & Wheels), for example, found many problems with the way Ehrman’s choice of words misleads, as well as his questionable logic (see: What Ehrman Actually Says, The Unseen, A Small Town Guy).

But I fear it may be worse than that. Because I don’t actually believe him when he says he didn’t mean to say the statue didn’t exist. I suspect that is a post-hoc rationalization that he cooked up in an attempt to save face, after his careless and irresponsible scholarship on this matter was exposed. I suspect this not only because his excuse is implausible on its face (read his original paragraph again, and ask yourself how likely it is that someone who wanted to say “the statue she depicts does exist, but it’s not a statue of Peter” would say instead what he did), and not only because he still doesn’t claim to have researched her sources or contacted the Vatican (in other words, to do what he should have done), but also because, as several people have since pointed out to me, he said in a podcast (before my review and before Murdock herself exposed him on this) that the statue did not in any sense exist.

That’s right. On Homebrewed Christianity, April 3 (2012), “Bart Ehrman on Jesus’ Existence, Apocalypticism & Holy Week,” timestamp 20:30-21:10: at this point in that podcast, Ehrman says Acharya talks about Peter the cock and shows a drawing of a statue with a penis for a nose and claims this is in the Vatican museum, at which Ehrman declares, with laughter, “It’s just made up! There is no such s[tatue]… It’s just completely made up” (emphasis mine). In context it is certainly clear he is saying there is no such statue of any kind, that her drawing is not of any actual object. (Note that I put the word “statue” in partial brackets because he speaks so quickly he didn’t complete the word but started saying what is obviously the word “statue”; he doesn’t pause to correct himself, though, he just quickly segues to the next phrase in animated conversation.)

Now, I must leave it to you to decide what’s going on here. From both his own wording in the book and this podcast, it certainly seems that Ehrman had no idea the statue actually existed, until Murdock and I hammered him on it. Notably, I had emailed him about this weeks before my review, asking what his response to Murdock was, because I was concerned it didn’t look good. I had not yet read his book, so I didn’t know the whole thing would be a travesty of these kinds of errors. Ehrman never answered me (even though he has in the past). Only after my review did he come out with the explanation that he meant to say the statue existed but wasn’t connected to Peter. And on that point I suspect he is lying.

You’ll have to go to his site to read the rest of his response on this.  In fact go read the whole thing.

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18 Responses

  1. I did rather see this coming.

  2. [...] Ehrman of using rhetoric instead of argument (among other things), seemingly unaware of the irony. Tom Verenna unsurprisingly but disappointingly sides with Carrier on this.Jerry Coyne continues to pit dubious sources against dubious sources while failing to give [...]

  3. A couple more points:

    * “The claim that no Classicist argues that the record of Christians and Jesus in Tacitus is an interpolation (there are at least six that Carrier lists)”

    Having made the claim of ‘many classical scholars’ and ‘a lot of established scholarship’, Carrier presented only six scholars (since when was six ‘many classical scholars’, or ‘a lot of established scholarship’?), two of whom he misrepresented.

    According to to James Rives (UNC), quoted by Ehrman, one of the scholars Carrier cited (Saumagne), believed it was an ‘interpolation’ from one of Tacitus’ own works, so the words were still those of Tacitus, not a third party interpolater (as represented by Carrier), and another Carrier cited (Koestermann), ‘doesn’t say anything about the reference to Christ not having been written by Tacitus himself’. So we end up with four scholars which is supposed to be ‘many classical scholars’ and ‘a lot of established scholarship’, and two sources misrepresented by Carrier. We wouldn’t let Ehrman get away with this.

    * “The claim that no Jews thought the messiah would die or suffer”

    Thom Stark has replied to Carrier in detail on this point:

    http://religionatthemargins.com/2012/04/the-death-of-richard-carriers-dying-messiah/

  4. I believe Ehrman stumbled badly on the ‘Priapus statue’ and a number of other issues on which he was clearly wrong, but I didn’t think this response of Carrier’s was as good as the last one. Specific cases in point, quoting Carrier’s words first:

    * ‘Ehrman finally does what he should have done originally (take note of this trend: it confirms the entire point of my original critique), and asks an expert’: but since Carrier claims that what the expert says is wrong anyway, it’s clear that Ehrman consulting an expert was no guarantee that he would get the right answer in the first place, so Carrier’s objection here doesn’t carry much weight; if an expert in the field is getting this wrong, why would Ehrman be expected to get it right?

    * ‘Osiris is a dead god who still “lives again” and visits and converses with the living’: Carrier is now explicitly backing away from his original claim that Osiris was resurrected, resorting to more vague ‘lives again’ language (and I note he has shifted the discussion from its original topic, the gospel resurrection accounts, to Paul)

    * ‘Ehrman says his views are the standard in the field, but in defense of the claim he still only names one advocate (Smith)’: no Ehrman doesn’t name only one advocate, he cites Jonathan Smith and Mark Smith as being advocates; perhaps Carrier just read ‘Smith’ twice without noting the fact that Ehrman wrote ‘A second article, by Mark S. Smith, has been equally informative’

    * ‘he was “only” referring to the sources he had previously enumerated’: no, Ehrman was referring to the sources he was about to enumerate in the same paragraph as this sentence, not the sources he had enumerated nearly 200 pages ago; he goes on to identify the sources explicitly, “That Jesus lived recently is affirmed not only in all four of our canonical Gospels (where, for example, he is associated with John the Baptist and is said to have been born during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, under the rulership of the Jewish king Herod, and so on); it is also the view of all of the Gospel sources—Q (which associates Jesus with John the Baptist), M, L—and of the non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus (who both mention Pilate).” (note the complete absence there of any reference to the Talmudic passages)

    * ‘Here Ehrman agrees with everything I said and insists it was just a typo’: no, Ehrman did not say it was a typo, and Carrier certainly didn’t provide any evidence that Ehrman’s reference to Pliny was so bad that he obviously never read what Pliny wrote; Carrier faults him for connecting the two letters, even though he acknowledges this view is shared by scholars in the relevant field, which looks like Carrier is simply manufacturing fault for the sake of it

    * ‘Ehrman stated a blanket generalization that Doherty never says something that in fact he frequently says–even explicitly about the whole issue of whether any scholar he cites agrees with his overall thesis’: Ehrman made no such blanket generalization, and this claim of Carrier’s makes no sense when we look at Ehrman’s entire paragraph:

    “One of the staunchest defenders of a mythicist view of Christ, Earl Doherty, MAINTAINS THAT THE APOSTLE PAUL THINKS THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED, NOT HERE ON EARTH BY THE ROMANS, BUT IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM BY DEMONIC POWERS. IN ADVANCING THIS THESIS, Doherty places himself in an ironic position that characterizes many of his mythicist colleagues. He quotes professional scholars at length when their views prove useful for developing aspects of HIS ARGUMENT, but he fails to point out that not a single one of these scholars agrees with HIS OVERARCHING THESIS. THE IDEA THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM is not a view set forth by Paul. It is a view invented by Doherty.”

    This is explicitly NOT saying that Doherty cites scholars in supprot of his general MYTHERIST position without saying that they disagree with his entire MYTHERIST position, it is explicitly saying that Doherty cites scholars in support of his THESIS that Paul thought Jesus was crucified by demons in a spiritual realm, without saying that these scholars disagree with Doherty’s OVERARCHING THESIS that ‘Jesus was crucified in the spiritual realm’.

    And Doherty does do this. On page 89 he says this.

    “Perhaps Paul is using kata to refer to something like “in the sphere of the flesh” and “in the sphere of the spirit.” This is a suggestion put forward by C. K. Barrett.39 Such a translation is, in fact, quite useful and possibly accurate.”

    But what Doherty means by ‘in the sphere of the flesh’ is not what Barrett means by ‘in the sphere of the flesh’, and Doherty does not tell us that Barrett’s use of ‘in the sphere of the flesh’ has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Barrett does not hold this view.

    Again, on page 104:

    “As Morna Hooker puts it (“Philippians 2:6-11″ in Jesus undPaulus, p. 15If):

    Christ becomes what we are (likeness of flesh, suffering and death), so enabling us to become what he is (exalted to the heights).

    All this fits into that most fundamental of ancient concepts outlined earlier: the idea that earth was the mirror image of heaven, the product proceeding from the archetype, the visible material counterpart to the genuine spiritual reality above. Heavenly events determined earthly realities. It follows that in such a philosophical system, the determining acts of divine forces which conferred salvation WOULD OF NECESSITY BE LOCATED NOT ON EARTH BUT IN THAT HIGHER REALM.” (emphasis mine)

    Doherty does not tell us that Hooker’s statement has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’ (the suffering of Jesus Hooker is speaking of takes place, for Hooker, ON EARTH), nor that Hooker does not hold this view.

    And again, on pages 105-106:

    “S. G. F. Brandon (History, Time and Deity, p. 167) is one scholar who faces unflinchingly the conclusion that though Paul’s statement “may seem on cursory” of this age’ does not mean the Roman and Jewish authorities. Instead, it denotes the daemonic powers who were believed to inhabit the planets [the celestial
    spheres] and control the destinies of men.. ..Paul attributes the Crucifixion not to Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders, but to these planetary powers.” However, Brandon (like everyone else) fails to address the question of how Paul could have spoken in such terms if he knew the tradition of Jesus’ death in Judea, providing no qualification to this supernatural picture.”

    The take home message according to Doherty is that Brandon said ‘Paul attributes the Crucifixion not to Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders, but to these planetary powers’, and Doherty makes it clear that Brandon has no explanation for how Paul could have said this if he had known about ‘the tradition of Jesus’ death in Judea’. But Doherty does not tell us Brandon’s words were not intended to lend support to the thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Brandon does not hold this view.

    Yet again, on page 106:

    “Robert M. Grant (Gnosticism and Early Christianity, p. 176) compares Paul with the Gospel of John, noting: “In Paul’s mind Satan was the archon of this age; but for John he has become the archon of this world” Paul’s focus is on the larger cosmos where the archons operate, embracing spiritual realms; it is they who are the rulers of this age, and it is on this cosmic scene where the mythical Christ himself operates. In the Gospels, the focus has been reduced to the world of humans, now seen as Satan’s theater of operations. Christ, with the advent of the Gospels, is now on earth, and the focus shifts to that perspective.”

    It’s clear why Doherty quoted this, with helpful phrase such as ‘Paul’s focus is on the larger cosmos where the archons operate, embracing spiritual realms’, and ‘it is on this cosmic scene where the mythical Christ himself operates’. But Doherty does not tell us that Grant’s statement has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Grant does not hold this view.

  5. I’ve twice left comments on what you wrote here, and twice seen them waiting in the moderation queue, and twice seen them disappear completely within a day or two. I gather criticism of your observations on the Ehrman/Carrier discussion is not permitted here, and will not post it again.

  6. Fortigurn,

    I didn’t approve your comments because I don’t think they are useful here. You can post your opinions on Carrier, fine. But criticisms of his arguments should go to him directly. Have you considered posting these on Carrier’s blog?

  7. Well thanks for letting me know what you were doing at least. I have been in correspondence with Carrier for several days, presenting him with my criticism of his views. However, what I found here were your observations (in some cases your interpretation of what Carrier or Ehrman said, not always accurate), and I thought this was the logical place to comment on your observations.

    I would not expect Carrier to be delighted if I said ‘Hey Carrier, I’m going to leave my comments on Tom Verenna’s observations on your criticisms of Ehrman, on your blog’. You’re the one representing your views of which points Ehrman has failed over, and I’m responding to your views.

    Nevertheless, you seem to believe that here is the right place for a massive copy/paste of half of one of Carrier’s replies to Ehrman (in fact there’s about twice the amount of Carrier’s words here as there are of your own), so I don’t really see why other people can’t comment here on what you’ve copy/pasted.

  8. Fortigurn,

    Thanks for your reply. A few things.

    First, I was reporting on Carrier’s post. Yes I did include some commentary, but it wasn’t anything about which to wax lyrical. I report on lots of things in the same manner ( a few minutes browsing my blog would show you that). You will know the difference between reporting on something and an actual dedicated commentary.

    Second, I didn’t include a ‘massive copy/paste’ it was only about seven paragraphs. I would hardly call that sensational, considering Carrier’s post had 47 paragraphs, I didn’t even quote a full 1/4 of it.

    Third, your first massively long post had nothing to do with my commentary as you were engaging Carrier, not me. So again, I believe you should post that on Carrier’s blog and not mine since I was merely reporting on it. Your second (much) smaller post was almost irrelevant because they also refer back to Carrier’s position, not mine. With the exception of the dying heavenly messiah, which I am writing up a response to Stark (because I believe he overstates his position), you’ll want to take up your concerns with Carrier as I have already recommended.

  9. Actually this explains it all quite well.

    http://jameshannam.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=history&thread=934&page=18#11805

    I see there’s no room for criticism of your posts on this blog, so I’ll move elsewhere; I’ll post on Exploring Our Matrix making it clear why I wasn’t permitted to post here.

  10. I believe Ehrman stumbled badly on the ‘Priapus statue’ and a number of other issues on which he was clearly wrong, but I didn’t think this response of Carrier’s was as good as the last one. Specific cases in point, quoting Carrier’s words first:

    You may be right.

    * ‘Ehrman finally does what he should have done originally (take note of this trend: it confirms the entire point of my original critique), and asks an expert’: but since Carrier claims that what the expert says is wrong anyway, it’s clear that Ehrman consulting an expert was no guarantee that he would get the right answer in the first place, so Carrier’s objection here doesn’t carry much weight; if an expert in the field is getting this wrong, why would Ehrman be expected to get it right?

    Because Ehrman should not ever just consult one expert. When doing research, you never stop at one source. If you do, then you face the same criticism Carrier levels against Ehrman: that he didn’t do his due diligence. That is Carrier’s point, from what I understand of it. It is a valid criticism and a strong one.

    * ‘Osiris is a dead god who still “lives again” and visits and converses with the living’: Carrier is now explicitly backing away from his original claim that Osiris was resurrected, resorting to more vague ‘lives again’ language (and I note he has shifted the discussion from its original topic, the gospel resurrection accounts, to Paul)

    I don’t understand how you think this is somehow ‘backing away’. In what manner does a dead god who then ‘lives again’ not imply a resurrection? Either you are not aware of the definition of ‘resurrection’ as it related to ancient religions or you are misreading Carrier purposefully. If you think he needs to make his point more clear here, that is one thing–but it is something you need to take up with Carrier, not me.

    * ‘Ehrman says his views are the standard in the field, but in defense of the claim he still only names one advocate (Smith)’: no Ehrman doesn’t name only one advocate, he cites Jonathan Smith and Mark Smith as being advocates; perhaps Carrier just read ‘Smith’ twice without noting the fact that Ehrman wrote ‘A second article, by Mark S. Smith, has been equally informative’

    That may be. Again, I don’t know Carrier’s mind. Maybe he wasn’t being clear. Maybe he misread. I don’t know. Have you asked Carrier about this?

    * ‘he was “only” referring to the sources he had previously enumerated’: no, Ehrman was referring to the sources he was about to enumerate in the same paragraph as this sentence, not the sources he had enumerated nearly 200 pages ago; he goes on to identify the sources explicitly, “That Jesus lived recently is affirmed not only in all four of our canonical Gospels (where, for example, he is associated with John the Baptist and is said to have been born during the reign of the Roman emperor Augustus, under the rulership of the Jewish king Herod, and so on); it is also the view of all of the Gospel sources—Q (which associates Jesus with John the Baptist), M, L—and of the non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus (who both mention Pilate).” (note the complete absence there of any reference to the Talmudic passages)

    Again, this is something you should really be talking to Carrier about. You may be right, but Carrier can better defend his own words than I can defend his.

    * ‘Here Ehrman agrees with everything I said and insists it was just a typo’: no, Ehrman did not say it was a typo, and Carrier certainly didn’t provide any evidence that Ehrman’s reference to Pliny was so bad that he obviously never read what Pliny wrote; Carrier faults him for connecting the two letters, even though he acknowledges this view is shared by scholars in the relevant field, which looks like Carrier is simply manufacturing fault for the sake of it

    Actually he did. Did you read Ehrman’s book or are you merely presupposing Carrier is inventing this criticism? Ehrman does link both letters as one, anyone with even the slightest familiarity with Pliny’s Book 10 will tell you that there is several letters between the fire and the Christian correspondence (the fire at Nicomedia is at 10.33-34, the Christian discussion takes place in letter 10.96–a full 62 letters separate the two). That Ehrman not only mentions the letter as ‘Letter 10′ rather than ‘Book 10, letter 96′ tells me that he did not do a well enough job proofing his text or he is simply not familiar with it. That he connects the fire in Nicomedia with the Christian discussion between Pliny and Trajan is just more evidence of this.

    So to recap: either (1) Ehrman was not familiar with the text or (2) he just didn’t care enough to bother making his position clear and factually sound. I don’t believe there is any other way to honestly read this.

    * ‘Ehrman stated a blanket generalization that Doherty never says something that in fact he frequently says–even explicitly about the whole issue of whether any scholar he cites agrees with his overall thesis’: Ehrman made no such blanket generalization, and this claim of Carrier’s makes no sense when we look at Ehrman’s entire paragraph:

    “One of the staunchest defenders of a mythicist view of Christ, Earl Doherty, MAINTAINS THAT THE APOSTLE PAUL THINKS THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED, NOT HERE ON EARTH BY THE ROMANS, BUT IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM BY DEMONIC POWERS. IN ADVANCING THIS THESIS, Doherty places himself in an ironic position that characterizes many of his mythicist colleagues. He quotes professional scholars at length when their views prove useful for developing aspects of HIS ARGUMENT, but he fails to point out that not a single one of these scholars agrees with HIS OVERARCHING THESIS. THE IDEA THAT JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED IN THE SPIRITUAL REALM is not a view set forth by Paul. It is a view invented by Doherty.”

    This is explicitly NOT saying that Doherty cites scholars in supprot of his general MYTHERIST position without saying that they disagree with his entire MYTHERIST position, it is explicitly saying that Doherty cites scholars in support of his THESIS that Paul thought Jesus was crucified by demons in a spiritual realm, without saying that these scholars disagree with Doherty’s OVERARCHING THESIS that ‘Jesus was crucified in the spiritual realm’.

    And Doherty does do this. On page 89 he says this.

    “Perhaps Paul is using kata to refer to something like “in the sphere of the flesh” and “in the sphere of the spirit.” This is a suggestion put forward by C. K. Barrett.39 Such a translation is, in fact, quite useful and possibly accurate.”

    But what Doherty means by ‘in the sphere of the flesh’ is not what Barrett means by ‘in the sphere of the flesh’, and Doherty does not tell us that Barrett’s use of ‘in the sphere of the flesh’ has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Barrett does not hold this view.

    Again, on page 104:

    “As Morna Hooker puts it (“Philippians 2:6-11″ in Jesus undPaulus, p. 15If):

    Christ becomes what we are (likeness of flesh, suffering and death), so enabling us to become what he is (exalted to the heights).

    All this fits into that most fundamental of ancient concepts outlined earlier: the idea that earth was the mirror image of heaven, the product proceeding from the archetype, the visible material counterpart to the genuine spiritual reality above. Heavenly events determined earthly realities. It follows that in such a philosophical system, the determining acts of divine forces which conferred salvation WOULD OF NECESSITY BE LOCATED NOT ON EARTH BUT IN THAT HIGHER REALM.” (emphasis mine)

    Doherty does not tell us that Hooker’s statement has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’ (the suffering of Jesus Hooker is speaking of takes place, for Hooker, ON EARTH), nor that Hooker does not hold this view.

    And again, on pages 105-106:

    “S. G. F. Brandon (History, Time and Deity, p. 167) is one scholar who faces unflinchingly the conclusion that though Paul’s statement “may seem on cursory” of this age’ does not mean the Roman and Jewish authorities. Instead, it denotes the daemonic powers who were believed to inhabit the planets [the celestial
    spheres] and control the destinies of men.. ..Paul attributes the Crucifixion not to Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders, but to these planetary powers.” However, Brandon (like everyone else) fails to address the question of how Paul could have spoken in such terms if he knew the tradition of Jesus’ death in Judea, providing no qualification to this supernatural picture.”

    The take home message according to Doherty is that Brandon said ‘Paul attributes the Crucifixion not to Pontius Pilate and the Jewish leaders, but to these planetary powers’, and Doherty makes it clear that Brandon has no explanation for how Paul could have said this if he had known about ‘the tradition of Jesus’ death in Judea’. But Doherty does not tell us Brandon’s words were not intended to lend support to the thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Brandon does not hold this view.

    Yet again, on page 106:

    “Robert M. Grant (Gnosticism and Early Christianity, p. 176) compares Paul with the Gospel of John, noting: “In Paul’s mind Satan was the archon of this age; but for John he has become the archon of this world” Paul’s focus is on the larger cosmos where the archons operate, embracing spiritual realms; it is they who are the rulers of this age, and it is on this cosmic scene where the mythical Christ himself operates. In the Gospels, the focus has been reduced to the world of humans, now seen as Satan’s theater of operations. Christ, with the advent of the Gospels, is now on earth, and the focus shifts to that perspective.”

    It’s clear why Doherty quoted this, with helpful phrase such as ‘Paul’s focus is on the larger cosmos where the archons operate, embracing spiritual realms’, and ‘it is on this cosmic scene where the mythical Christ himself operates’. But Doherty does not tell us that Grant’s statement has nothing to do with Doherty’s thesis that Paul believed Jesus was ‘crucified by demons in a spiritual realm’, nor that Grant does not hold this view.

    Okay. I haven’t read Doherty’s new book, so I’m not sure I can comment with any significant input. If you have a concern about something Carrier said about this, again, you should really bring this to his attention.

  11. A couple more points:

    * “The claim that no Classicist argues that the record of Christians and Jesus in Tacitus is an interpolation (there are at least six that Carrier lists)”

    Having made the claim of ‘many classical scholars’ and ‘a lot of established scholarship’, Carrier presented only six scholars (since when was six ‘many classical scholars’, or ‘a lot of established scholarship’?), two of whom he misrepresented.

    According to to James Rives (UNC), quoted by Ehrman, one of the scholars Carrier cited (Saumagne), believed it was an ‘interpolation’ from one of Tacitus’ own works, so the words were still those of Tacitus, not a third party interpolater (as represented by Carrier), and another Carrier cited (Koestermann), ‘doesn’t say anything about the reference to Christ not having been written by Tacitus himself’. So we end up with four scholars which is supposed to be ‘many classical scholars’ and ‘a lot of established scholarship’, and two sources misrepresented by Carrier. We wouldn’t let Ehrman get away with this.

    An interpolation is still an interpolation. I don’t see how it being from Tacitus’ other works or from another individual’s works would make it any less of one. And I don’t at all find your point compelling. If something was added later to a text which was not there previously, it is an interpolation. If it is an interpolation (I do not believe it was), then clearly Tacitus did not want to include that information for some reason or he didn’t know about it (so he never included it for that reason). Those are the only two positions one can come to, if it were an interpolation.

    * “The claim that no Jews thought the messiah would die or suffer”

    Thom Stark has replied to Carrier in detail on this point:

    http://religionatthemargins.com/2012/04/the-death-of-richard-carriers-dying-messiah/

    And I am in the process of responding to Stark because I believe he overstates his evidence and doesn’t deal with some of the issues. But more on that when I complete my response.

  12. Actually this explains it all quite well.

    http://jameshannam.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=history&thread=934&page=18#11805

    The only thing that proves is that some people are not very good at letting go of the past and that would rather spend time digging up stalkers of mine from four years ago. If people have a problem with who I was, fine. I have a problem with who I was. Can’t change it, just have to move on. And I won’t be fettered by people with psychological predispositions to bully me because I made mistakes. Clear-minded people will judge a person by who they are and the choices they make. I’ve paid my dues. Anonymous fundamentalist Christian internet stalkers who host blogs full of libel, not so much. They can waste their time all they want. It is time they will never get back. I would rather spend it doing more useful things.

    I see there’s no room for criticism of your posts on this blog, so I’ll move elsewhere; I’ll post on Exploring Our Matrix making it clear why I wasn’t permitted to post here.

    Clearly you haven’t done the slightest amount of site research or you would know I openly allow criticism here. However, what you have posted isn’t directed criticism towards me. It is towards someone else. And I don’t know if you just have some sort of reading comprehension problem or you are looking for a way to trap me or maybe you really believe you are criticizing me here…but these sorts of criticisms should be directed at Carrier, not me. This is a blog, not a message board. I have permitted your comments and responded. But if you keep blogging criticisms of Carrier here rather on his blog, directly to him where they belong, I will not permit them through.

    If you want to discuss something I wrote, then by all means. Post it up and we’ll have a conversation.

  13. 1. When you say ‘let us not beat around the bush here, there is either dishonesty at work or Ehrman just isn’t doing his due diligence’, and ‘Those are the patently FALSE claims made by Ehrman’, those are your claims so I respond to you. I don’t go to Carrier saying ‘Thomas Verenna said…’. I’m responding to Carrier’s claims on his blog, to your claims on yours.

    2. Pilate, procurator: The fact is that you can consult several experts in this area, in books written as recently as 2008, and they say the same; either Tacitus made a mistake, or he was speaking proleptically.[1] [2] [3] [4] This is not a matter of only one source. If you had read Carrier’s paper (to which he linked), you will have found that the section to which he refers actually discusses whether procurators could be appointed prefects simultaneously, whereas the issue in question is whether or not Pilate was a prefect who was also appointed procurator. Carrier makes the argument that Tactius didn’t make a mistake, but that Pilate was a procurator as well as a Prefect. In support, he cites Philo and Josephus referring to Pilate as a procurator.

    But the fact is that standard scholarship on the subject understands Philo, Josephus, and Tacitus as adopting the new terminology established during the reign of Claudius after 41 CE, since all of them were writing after this date and since the only epigraphical evidence for Pilate (dated no later than 36 CE, before Claudius), identifies him as a prefect, but not as a procurator.[5] [6] Carrier does not mention any of this. Do you know how many scholars he cites as saying that Tacitus didn’t make a mistake and wasn’t writing proleptically? None. See for yourself; pages 33-36 of his own article.

    3. Osiris: Carrier’s original claim was made with regard to the GOSPEL accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, claiming that the Osiris myth was a counterpart of the GOSPEL resurrection accounts. His claim was ‘Plutarch attests that Osiris was believed to have died AND BEEN RETURNED TO EARTH’, specifically ‘he did indeed return to earth IN HIS RESURRECTED BODY’. Yes I am very aware of the various resurrection beliefs during the era in question, but you have missed the point that Carrier was originally addressing the GOSPEL accounts of Jesus’ resurrection, which describe one specific form of resurrection belief; that the body which DIED was the same body which was RAISED, and that the person returned to life IN THEIR ORIGINAL BODY. The gospels reinforce this repeatedly, referring to an EMPTY TOMB, referring to Jesus proving he had been raised in the SAME BODY which had died, and referring to Jesus DENYING he was a disembodied spirit.

    That is precisely why Carrier appealed to the Osiris myth in Plutarch, claiming that ‘Osiris was believed to have died AND BEEN RETURNED TO EARTH’, specifically ‘he did indeed return to earth IN HIS RESURRECTED BODY’. Ehrman has disproved this; Osiris did not return to earth IN HIS RESURRECTED BODY. Osiris’ body was dismembered and REMAINED IN PIECES, while his DISEMBODIED SOUL sometimes came to earth. Now that Ehrman has proved this, Carrier is retreating to more vague language, saying that Osiris still died and returned in some form. But his original point has been completely abandoned; he is no longer claiming that ‘Osiris was believed to have died AND BEEN RETURNED TO EARTH’, or that ‘he did indeed return to earth IN HIS RESURRECTED BODY’. He is now saying that Osiris died and his soul came back to visit occasionally as a ghost, which is nothing like what he said previously. Of course this fails to support his original claims about Osiris being a parallel to the gospel resurrection story.

    4. Carrier’s claim ‘Ehrman says his views are the standard in the field, but in defense of the claim he still only names one advocate (Smith)’: You previously claimed this was an error on Ehrman’s part, and now you’re saying you don’t know if Carrier is right about this. Clearly you didn’t stop to check Carrier’s claims, and clearly you didn’t even read Ehrman’s reply on this very point, in which he replies to Carrier in detail. Whatever happened to fact checking? You seem to just accept what Carrier says without even attempting to verify it.

    5. Carrier’s claim ‘he was “only” referring to the sources he had previously enumerated’: Again, although previously you dogmatically asserted that Ehrman was completely in error on this point and Carrier was right, but now you acknowledge ‘You may be right’. Once again it’s clear you didn’t check the facts. It seems you haven’t even read Ehrman’s book yourself. What were you saying before about due diligence?

    6. Just a typo: If you believe that Ehrman said it was just a typo, please quote him directly. On the contrary, Ehrman said it was simply a careless laps on his part. Of course it does not remotely diminish the argument he made; the fact that he said ‘letter 10′ and not ‘book 10, letter 96′ is completely inconsequential, and does not remotely prove that he hadn’t read the letter or wasn’t familiar with its contents. That Ehrman linked the letters is not in dispute, but as Carrier himself noted, standard scholarship on this subject also links these letters, so this is not an error on Ehrman’s part.
    7. Doherty quoting other scholars: Yet again, this was a point on which you stated dogmatically that Ehrman was wrong. But when faced with the evidence Ehrman is right, you say ‘I haven’t read Doherty’s new book, so I’m not sure I can comment with any significant input’. That’s interesting, because you were certainly sure you could comment dogmatically on it previously. You claimed explicitly and dogmatically that Ehrman was in error on this point. Now we discover you haven’t even read the book Ehrman was criticzing, and nor have you even checked Carrier’s claims concerning this point. What was it you were saying about due diligence?

    8. Interpolation in Tactus: Again you miss the point. Carrier claimed that ‘many classical scholars’ and ‘a lot of established scholarship’ believe that the text in question was interpolated by a third party and that TACITUS NEVER WROTE IT. But leaving aside the fact that six scholars from 40 years ago is not ‘many classical scholars’ or ‘a lot of established scholarship’, two of the scholars he cited did not even believe this. They believed that Tacitus HAD WRITTEN IT, and that a third party had simply transferred the text from one of Tacitus’ books into another book. There is a difference between saying that a third party made an interpolation by FABRICATING A STATEMENT BY TACITUS (Carrier’s original claim), and saying a third party made an interpolation by TRANSPOSING A STATEMENT BY TACITUS. Carrier misrepresented two of his sources as saying the first, when they said the second.

    9. Thom Stark: I look forward to reading your reply.

    ___________________________
    [1] ‘Certain minor imperial provinces had equestrian governors, who were known first as prefects but from the time of Claudius as procurators (e.g., Pontius Pilate in Judaea; 15.44.3). Claudius evidently assigned certain judicial functions too to procurators, but T.’s report is unclear (12.60).’, Woodman, ‘The Annals’, pp. 359-360 (2004).

    [2] ‘Pilate was appointed under Tiberius, and an inscription from Caesarea mentions his activities in regard to a Tiberieion (or imperial cult sanctuary to Tiberius). The text also gives his correct title as praefectus rather than procurator.’, Galinsky, ‘The Cambridge Companion To The Age Of Augustus’, p. 378 (2005).

    [3] ‘Since Coponius was apparently dispatched as a prefect (praefectus, eparxos), Josephus’ nomenclature here seems incorrect, though the same problem is found in Tacitus (e.g. Ann. 15.44 on Pilate.’, Mason & Chapman, ‘Flavius Josephus: Translation and Commentary. Judean war’, p. 80 (2008).

    [4] ‘Pilate actually held the lesser rank of prefect in Judea, something that Tacitus, who had access to the official records at Rome’s Tabularium and frequently quoted from them in his Annals, should have known.’, Dando-Collins, ‘The Great Fire of Rome: The Fall of the Emperor Nero and His City’, p. 8 ()2010.

    [5] ‘However, a fragment of a Latin inscription found in Caesarea gives Pilate the title “prefect”. This supports the deduction made from other evidence, most of it epigraphic, that up to the reign of Claudius, though the terminology was still fluid, the normal title for an equestrian provincial governor was “prefect”, and “procurator” must now ber reserved for the governors of Judaea after 44.’, Smallwood, ‘The Jews Under Roman Rule: From Pompey to Diocletian : A Study in Political Relations’, p. 145 (2001).

    [6] ‘This change in title under Claudius goes a long way in explaining the confusion of the principal literary texts here. Philo, Josephus, the NT and Tacitus refer to various governors as eparxos (praefectus), epitropos (procurator), and hegemwn (governor), apparently indiscriminately.’, Bond, ‘Pontius Pilate In History And Interpretation’, p. 12 (2004).

  14. Fortigurn,

    Thanks. You raise some good points but I won’t be able to address them anytime soon. Swamped at the moment. Also, I have been letting it go for a while not, but I have a comment policy to which I try to enforce. This policy is simple, but I do not often permit people to use pseudonyms here. If you plan on continuing to post, please be sure to either (a) use your real name or (b) send me your real name privately.

    I do this for specific reasons. I have no more respect for anonymity on the internet since it permits people to say whatever they want without any personal responsibility. If I gave up my pseudonym, put my real name out there, why should I permit others to post on my blog without taking responsibility for their own words? I sometimes permit it (as with the last few instances you posted here), but my generosity in this regard has its limitations.

    If you wish to continue to post here, and I hope you do, please respect this policy.

  15. I apologize, I didn’t mean to breach your policy. I thought my Gravatar profile would show my identity, as I have placed it there. My name is also on my two WordPress blogs, which should be visible through my profile.

  16. Oh good. Sorry I did not look. Thanks for the information.

  17. CARRIER
    This is important, because part of Ehrman’s argument is that mythicists are defying all established scholarship in suggesting this is an interpolation,….

    CARR
    Fortigum is splitting hairs at great and totally boring length by claiming that Carrier is bogus because, wait for it, , wait for it,it is not an interpolation if you copy it from one place and put it in another place.

    And Fortigum writes literally thousands of words on such hair-splitting things, while claiming that what he is writing is of importance to somebody (who?)

  18. “Fortigum is splitting hairs at great and totally boring length by claiming that Carrier is bogus because, wait for it, , wait for it,it is not an interpolation if you copy it from one place and put it in another place.”

    No I didn’t say that. When you know what I said, we can progress.

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