Robert M. Price

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For other people named Robert Price, see Robert Price.
Robert M. Price
Robert M. Price 1.jpg
Born Robert McNair Price
(1954-07-07) July 7, 1954 (age 62)
Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.[1]
Residence North Carolina
Alma mater Montclair State University
(BA, 1976)
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
(MTS, 1978)
Drew University
(PhD in Systematic Theology (1981);
PhD in New Testament (1993)[1])
Occupation Theologian
Employer Professor of biblical criticism for the Council for Secular Humanism's Center for Inquiry Institute[2]
Known for Views on the historicity of Jesus
Spouse(s) Carol Selby Price[3]
Children Victoria and Veronica[1]

Robert McNair Price (born July 7, 1954) is an American theologian and writer,[4] known for arguing against the existence of a historical Jesus (the Christ myth theory). He teaches philosophy and religion at the Johnnie Colemon Theological Seminary,[5] is professor of biblical criticism at the Center for Inquiry Institute, and the author of a number of books on theology and the historicity of Jesus.

A former Baptist minister, he was the editor of the Journal of Higher Criticism from 1994 until it ceased publication in 2003. He has also written extensively about the Cthulhu Mythos, a "shared universe" created by the writer H. P. Lovecraft.[6] He also co-wrote a book with his wife, Carol Selby Price, Mystic Rhythms: The Philosophical Vision of Rush (1999), on the rock band Rush.

Price is a fellow of the Jesus Seminar, a group of 150 writers and scholars who study the historicity of Jesus, the organizer of a Web community for those interested in the history of Christianity,[7] and sits on the advisory board of the Secular Student Alliance.[3] He is a religious skeptic, especially of orthodox Christian beliefs, occasionally describing himself as a Christian atheist.


Price was formerly a Baptist minister in New Jersey, with doctorates in theology (Drew University 1981), and New Testament (Drew 1993).[8]

Religious writings[edit]

In books like The Incredible Shrinking Son of Man and Deconstructing Jesus, Price challenges biblical literalism and argues for a more skeptical and humanistic approach to Christianity.

He views Jesus of Nazareth as an invented figure conforming to the Mythic Hero Archetype. [9] In the documentary The God Who Wasn't There, Price supports a version of the Jesus myth hypothesis, suggesting that the early Christians adopted the model for the figure of Jesus from the popular Mediterranean dying-rising saviour myths of the time, such as that of Dionysus. He argues that the comparisons were known at the time, as early church father, Justin Martyr had admitted the similarities. Price suggests that Christianity simply adopted themes from the dying-rising god stories of the day and supplemented them with themes (escaping crosses, empty tombs, children being persecuted by tyrants, etc.) from the popular stories of the day in order to come up with the narratives about Christ.[citation needed] He has argued that there was an almost complete fleshing out of the details of the gospels by a Midrash (haggadah) rewriting of the Septuagint, Homer, Euripides' Bacchae, and Josephus.[10] At the same time, Price cautiously concludes that "a genuine historical figure" ultimately lies at the root of the Christian religion.[11] Because that figure (about whom no mundane, secular information seems to have survived) was eventually made into God, Price describes his view on Jesus as "euhemerist," namely, the view that a mythical figure is placed into history. But Price admits uncertainty in this regard. He writes at the conclusion of his 2000 book Deconstructing Jesus: "There may have been a real figure there, but there is simply no longer any way of being sure."[12]

H. P. Lovecraft scholarship[edit]

As editor of the journal Crypt of Cthulhu[13] (published by Necronomicon Press) and of a series of Cthulhu Mythos anthologies,[14][15][16] Price has been a major figure in H. P. Lovecraft scholarship and fandom for many years.[17] In essays that introduce the anthologies and the individual stories, Price traces the origins of Lovecraft's entities, motifs, and literary style. The Cthulhu Cycle, for example, saw the origins of the octopoid entity in Alfred Lord Tennyson's "The Kraken" and particular passages from Lord Dunsany, while The Dunwich Cycle points to the influence of Arthur Machen on Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror."

Price's religious background often informs his Mythos criticism, seeing gnostic themes in Lovecraft's fictional god Azathoth[18] and interpreting "The Shadow Over Innsmouth" as a kind of initiation ritual.[19]

Most of the early Cthulhu books by Chaosium were overseen by Price; his first book was The Hastur Cycle (1993), an anthology of short stories which traced the development of a single Lovecraftian element, and this was followed by Mysteries of the Worm (1993), a collection of Robert Bloch's Mythos fiction.[20]

Other works[edit]

Price runs The Bible Geek, a broadcast show where Price answers listeners' questions.[21] In 2010 he became one of three new hosts on Point of Inquiry (the Center for Inquiry's podcast), following the retirement of host D. J. Grothe from the show. Having appeared on the show twice before as a guest (see external links below), he hosted until 2012.[22]

In 2005, he appeared in Brian Flemming's documentary film The God Who Wasn't There, and is the subject of the documentary "The Gospel According to Price" by writer/director Joseph Nanni.


In 1999, he debated William Lane Craig, arguing against the historicity of Jesus' resurrection.[23] In 2010, he debated James White, arguing against the reliability of the Bible. He is set to debate New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman on the historicity of Jesus in October, 2016.


On religion

On the Cthulhu Mythos (as editor or author)

Note: many of Price's Cthulhu Mythos anthologies have appeared in French and Spanish editions (some unauthorised).


Editor of Midnight Shambler and Crypt of Cthulhu.


  1. ^ a b c Robert M. Price, The Jesus Project, Center for Inquiry.
  2. ^ Robert M. Price, Westar Institute; Advisory Board Secular Student Alliance, accessed April 15, 2010.
  3. ^ a b Advisory Board Secular Student Alliance, accessed April 15, 2010.
  4. ^ Maurice Casey, Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2014: "ROBERT M. PRICE," pp. 23–24.
  5. ^ online courses
  6. ^ Journal of Higher Criticism, accessed April 9, 2010; Joshi, S T. and Schultz, David E. An H.P. Lovecraft Encyclopedia. Hippocampus Press, p. 217. ISBN 0-9748789-1-X
  7. ^ Tokasz, Jay. Scholars to explore existence of Jesus, The Buffalo News, November 30, 2008, accessed February 22, 2009.
  8. ^ Brief Biography of Robert M. Price
  9. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 250. ISBN 1-57392-758-9. 
  10. ^ Price, Robert M. (2005). "New Testament narrative as Old Testament midrash". In Jacob Neusner and Alan J. Avery-Peck. Encyclopaedia of Midrash: Biblical Interpretation in Formative Judaism. Leiden: Brill. ISBN 90-04-14166-9. 
  11. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 250. ISBN 1-57392-758-9. 
  12. ^ Price, Robert. Deconstructing Jesus. Prometheus Books. p. 261. ISBN 1-57392-758-9. 
  13. ^ Harms, Daniel. The Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia. Elder Signs Press. p. XV. ISBN 1-934501-05-0. 
  14. ^ Shannon Appelcline, A Brief History of Game #3: Chaosium: 1975-present on
  15. ^ Joshi, S.T. Icons of Horror and the Supernatural: An Encyclopedia of Our Worst Nightmares. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 126. ISBN 0-313-33780-2. The Cthulhu Mythos remains a popular venue in literature and the media. Since the 1980s Robert M. Price has been a kind of August Derleth redivivus in publishing a dozen or more anthologies of Cthulhu Mythos tales by writers old and new 
  16. ^ Mitchell, Charles P. The Complete H.P. Lovecraft Filmography. Greenwood Press. p. 6. ISBN 0-313-31641-4. 
  17. ^ Hite, Kenneth (2008). Tour De Lovecraft: The Tales. Atomic Overmind Press. p. xiii. Joshi's only rival for eminence in the field during the 1980s and 1990s was Robert M. Price 
  18. ^ Price, Robert M. "Introduction". The Azathoth Cycle. Chaosium. ISBN 1-56882-040-2. 
  19. ^ Hite, Kenneth (2008). Tour De Lovecraft: The Tales. Atomic Overmind Press. p. 84. Equally importantly and convincingly, Price analyses the tale as a vision-quest, a coming-of-age ordeal ritual, which I have to say is pretty dead-on. 
  20. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  21. ^ The Bible Geek
  22. ^ "Center for Inquiry Announces Three New Hosts for its Popular Podcast, 'Point of Inquiry'". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 2010-02-14. 
  23. ^ Video on YouTube

External links[edit]