Talk:Christ myth theory/Archive 21

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Straw poll on lede

Discussions are bogged down--we were working towards a merger proposal, and have been diverted by discussions about the lede. My feeling is that the current lede is pretty awful stylistically. So I propose that we use the first two paragraphs of the older version as the lede, and go back to the merger discussions. Working the remainder of the information back into other sections of the article would be fine. So I propose that the lede be:

The Jesus myth theory (also known as the Christ myth theory and the nonexistence hypothesis) is a term that has been applied to several theories that at their heart have one common concept: the New Testament account of the life of Jesus is so filled with myth and legend as well as internal contradictions and historical irregularities that at best no meaningful verification regarding Jesus of Nazareth (including his very existence) can be extracted from them.[1] Not all versions of the Jesus myth theory deny the possibility of a flesh and blood Jesus being involved in the Gospel account but rather as with J. M. Robertson's version "(w)hat the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded."[2]
The term does not have an exact and agreed-upon meaning, but has been used to describe various related concepts such as Jesus originally being an allegoric myth to which historical details possibly including an actual obscure 1st century teacher of the same name were added later,[3][4][5] a c100 BCE Jesus being made to seem to be of the 1st century through legendary processes,[6][7] the Gospel Jesus being a composite character formed out of both mythic and historical elements that may or may not include an actual 1st century teacher named Jesus,[8][9] and has even been applied to people who held that there was indeed a 1st century teacher named Jesus but that the New Testament accounts tell us little to nothing about the man.[10][11]

Obviously, I support this as nominator. Thoughts? --Nuujinn (talk) 23:37, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

Amending Another option has been suggested, using this version from March. --Nuujinn (talk) 12:48, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Weak support Ideally, I'd like to see a source that explicitly ties the terms "Jesus myth theory", "Christ myth theory", and "nonexistence hypothesis" together in the way described in the first sentence. Perhaps Eddy and Boyd (your first source) does; I haven't read it. At any rate, your proposal seems fairly reasonable. The statement that begins "The term does not have an exact and agreed-upon meaning..." looks perilously close to an original synthesis to me, but I can live with it. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 02:39, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Just to be clear, neither the prose nor the sources are mine, and I concur with your assessment that this all borders on OR (I rather think it crosses that border myself). This is the first part of what was there just before BruceGrubb converted the lede to bullet style, and I'm suggesting this as a compromise measure for the time being so we can get back to the merger issues. It is something I can live with, as you say, not something I'm particularly happy with. --Nuujinn (talk) 07:04, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose The current lead contains everything the old one did but structures it better: it is a lot easier for the reader to see the different definitions and spot problems with them as bullet points then as a wall of text. Regarding the explicitly tying together of "Jesus myth theory", "Christ myth theory", and "nonexistence hypothesis" no source does this...not even Eddy and Boyd. In fact, Eddy and Boyd use a whole new term they call "mythic-Jesus thesis" and define it in such a way it would exclude Robertson, Mead and, Ellegård even though other sources expressly call them mythists or list them as such. That point is why many editors (including myself) felt this entire article was WP:SYN--the connections and classifications are textbook "A and B together to imply a conclusion C" under the guise of 'there is a concept here'.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:18, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose Better than what is currently there but misses the important point of the lack of external verification despite the excellent records being kept at the time by various sources. The first two sections of this article now look like they were written so you never bother to go any further to the referenced history below. It's a mess! Sophia 07:43, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Any suggestions on how to proceed? I'm looking for improvement, and there's more than one way to float a cat. --Nuujinn (talk) 09:47, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  • If the options are "support" or "oppose", then I'm going to support; but I think a better option would be to go to an even older version of the lede (present in the version of March 31 2011, I'm not sure when it changed), whose first sentence was "The Jesus myth theory (also known as the Christ myth theory and the nonexistence hypothesis) is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not a historical person, but is a fictional or mythological character created by the early Christian community." That's much clearer and more succinct than the present version or the text than Nuujinn is proposing to go back to.
I am going to reiterate (for the millionth time) that editors are getting too wrapped up in the terms "Christ myth", "Jesus myth", "nonexistence hypothesis", and so forth ("Jesus mythicism" is another one that ought to be added, and seems to be the most common term these days). Wikipedia is not a dictionary. To quote the appropriate policy page, "Encyclopedia articles are about a person, or a group, a concept, a place, a thing, an event, etc. In some cases, a word or phrase itself may be an encyclopedic subject, such as Macedonia (terminology) or truthiness. However, articles rarely, if ever, contain more than one distinct definition or usage of the article's title." In other words, this is not an article about the meaning of "Christ myth", "Jesus myth", "nonexistence hypothesis", or "Jesus mythicism". It's an article about an idea (or group of ideas) about the non-historicity of Jesus. And, as I always say, there are scholarly sources who treat this topic. For instance, Robert Van Voorst's entry on the "nonexistence hypothesis" in Jesus in history, thought, and culture: an encyclopedia, ed. Houlden, starts off: "The argument that Jesus never existed, but was invented by the Christian movement around the year 100, goes back to Enlightenment times, when the historical-critical study of the past was born." The entry then goes on to discuss Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and some of the other figures covered in this article. There are other sources that define the subject in a similar way and cover the same writers.
Also, I think Sophia raises a point about the lack of records of Jesus' life that has been raised by many of the sources used in this article; definitely worth including in the lede. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:29, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
But as I have pointed out before all these definitions are vague to the point of useless. Non-historicity of which Jesus? The son of God who performed miracles, a 1st century philosopher who was later deified, the Gospel Jesus, etc.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:04, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Strangely, the reliable sources that treat this topic do not share your confusion. Sure, there's a huge variety of portraits of the historical Jesus. This is, in fact, a talking point of some proponents of the non-historical theory, and those who use it go on to say that all portraits of the historical Jesus are mistaken, because there wasn't one. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:10, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Yes they do per Eddy Boyd's classification of Wells' Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth as "mythic-Jesus thesis" books. If Eddy Boyd misclassified these two books as Wells has claimed then they were indeed confused but if they are not confused then these books are examples of the "mythic-Jesus thesis" and they do indeed included a historical Jesus. You can't have it both ways.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:25, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Support, but an even stronger support for the March version that Akhilleus links to above. Vesal (talk) 12:26, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
  • I've amended the proposal to add that option, and I support either option. --Nuujinn (talk) 12:48, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

What is the desired topic (again)? Staw poll

As Nuujinn noted above, we're getting bogged down. I think part of what's bogging us down is unnecessary agonizing over minutae. For example, a good lede is essential, but we shouldn't be composing a lede until we agree on what topic this article is actually about. We obviously don't agree on that yet. Here are a number of possible topics (all of which have been mentioned at some point in the above discussions):

  1. the hypothesis that "Jesus never existed" (whatever that means)
  2. the hypothesis that the Gospel accounts are not based on the life of a historical individual
  3. the content and historical development of the story of Christ as viewed from a mythographic or folkloristic perspective
  4. all theories that view the Gospel accounts largely as mythological accretions
  5. all (and only) theories which reliable sources refer to with expressions such as "Jesus myth theory" and "Christ myth theory"

(Please let me know if I missed a topic that was proposed above.)

As far as I can tell, the article currently corresponds most closely to topic 5. Topic 3 is arguably out of the question for this article, since it is already covered in Jesus Christ in comparative mythology. Topic 4 is vague and would probably produce a bigger OR hassle than what we currently have. Topic 1 is terribly unclear for reasons that Bruce has noted at length. By my lights, that leaves us with topic 2 and topic 5 as possible topics for this article.

I'm not an expert on historical-Jesus studies, but I assume that topic 2 does not need to involve OR, as long as we choose our sources carefully. If we do choose topic 2, then we may want to change the article's title, but that's a whole different can of worms.

So here's the question: what topic do we want this article to be about? Can we take a straw poll? Please vote for your favorite topic (or suggest it if I failed to list it above). --Phatius McBluff (talk) 17:04, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Weak support for topic 2 Let's face it: topic 2 is what people actually wanted to discuss when they started this article. Moreover, there are some sources that describe Jesus "mythicism" in precisely the terms of topic 2. For example, see this claim: "A position that appears to be growing in popularity in atheist and rationalist circles is known as ‘mythicism’. According to this position we have no adequate reason to believe that the gospels refer to a historical figure called Jesus at all. This position of strong scepticism holds that the gospels are entirely mythological texts and that we are mistaken in reading them as embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East around 2000 years ago."[1] (Of course, not all scholars who use the term "myth" in describing the Christ story believe this. So, as I said, we might want to change the article's title if we go with topic 2.) --Phatius McBluff (talk) 17:15, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose and Comment none of these really solve the problem this article has--mainly the vagueness of what people mean about myth, mythicism, historical, and fictional when it comes to idea regarding Jesus. For example, "Not all mythicists agree with each other about what they view as the correct explanation of the origin of Christianity and of the Jesus myth. (...) The mythicist denies the supernatural aspect of Jesus. He may also deny the "great moral teacher" aspect of Jesus. Some mythicists would also try to deny that even an ordinary man (a traveling magician, perhaps) existed and served as a basis for the myth that predated him and grew around him. Other mythicists would claim that whether a mere man named Jesus ever existed at the time then the Christian era began is an impossible thing to either prove of disprove today." Robertson, Mead and, Ellegård were all mythicists who excepted the possibility there was a flesh and blood person woven into the myth with Mead and Ellegård stating that the Gospel accounts were "based on the life of a historical individual" but one that lived c100 BCE. Furthermore Wells current position is that the Gospel Jesus is a composite character akin to Robin Hood and King Arthur which by definition would mean Jesus is NOT "based on the life of a historical individual" an idea that is effectively mainstream as Eddy and Boyd note. No matter what single definition you try to use there are exceptions and per NPOV they CANNOT be kept out. Again I suggest reading through Talk:Jesus myth theory/definition where this very issue was kicked around year in and year out at least as far back as August 2008 (if not further).--BruceGrubb (talk) 17:52, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Your points are well taken, but what do you propose we do? Your argument would seem to lend support to topic 5. If the scholars can't provide a single, coherent definition, then neither should we. We should start with an explicit, arbitrary list of phrases ("Jesus myth", "Christ myth", etc.) and write an article that cites only sources that use those phrases.
I'm not sure that I follow your NPOV concern. We're the encyclopedia writers; we're free to make the article's topic whatever we want. For example, suppose we chose topic 5. Further, suppose that Prof. X denies Jesus's historicity but doesn't refer to his theory as "Jesus myth" or "Christ myth". Okay, so Prof. X would be left out of the article. How is that a violation of NPOV? If the article is about topic 5, then Prof. X simply doesn't fall within the article's scope. Editors are perfectly free to discuss Mr. X (if he's notable) in other articles. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:06, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
Again I suggest you read through Talk:Jesus myth theory/definition as most of the answers to your questions are collected in that. The point there is that not every one uses the same term to describe a concept. Schweitzer for example never uses "Christ Myth" to denote a concept, only in reference to Drews book because that is the book's title but he also clearly puts Frazer in the same class as Drews, Robertson and others regarding their views.--BruceGrubb (talk) 18:11, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
I glanced at the talk page that you mentioned. My (admittedly brief) glance didn't provide me with any information (at least about your position) that I didn't already know.
I'm sorry, but I don't see the relevance of your remark that "not every one uses the same term to describe a concept". How is that supposed to count against topic 5? If anything, it seems to count in favor of it. So Schweitzer uses "Christ Myth" not to denote a concept but, rather, only in reference to Drews's book. So what? That doesn't produce any ambiguity as far as topic 5 is concerned: under topic 5, we can cite Schweitzer only for claims about Drews's book. Simple. I fail to see the problem.
If I remember correctly, you actually seemed supportive when I proposed something like topic 5 in an earlier section of this talk page. So I'm confused. Do you support topic 5 or not? If not, what approach to the article do you support? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 20:28, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
The "not every one uses the same term to describe a concept" is a rephrasing of Akhilleus' position.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:36, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Support for #2, and concur that we should reexamine the title. And we do not have to resolve differences in meaning or usage of myth, mythic, mythology--rather, we have only to report them. --Nuujinn (talk) 22:07, 21 October 2011 (UTC)
But the article currently does report the differences. Personally I say go with "Christ Myth" for the title, use Remsburg to set the definition as the Gospel Jesus being a myth with the range going from historical to philosophical myth, and see if we can determine which author is using "Christ Myth" in which way. For example, Wells has stated that even in his pre-Jesus Legend (1996) he was not arguing that Jesus didn't exist but that he actually belonged to a earlier time.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:23, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
  • No. 1 and No. 2 are the same thing. Consider the quote that Phatius McBluff gives us above: "A position that appears to be growing in popularity in atheist and rationalist circles is known as ‘mythicism’. According to this position we have no adequate reason to believe that the gospels refer to a historical figure called Jesus at all. This position of strong scepticism holds that the gospels are entirely mythological texts and that we are mistaken in reading them as embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East around 2000 years ago." This can be rephrased as position #1--Jesus never existed, because the Gospels are completely mythological, not embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East around 2000 years ago; or it can be rephrased as position #2--the Gospel accounts are not based on the life of a historical individual, because they are completely mythological, not embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East around 2000 years ago. #1 and #2 are, of course, the proper topic of this article, and many of the sources that use "Christ myth" and "Jesus myth" (and "nonexistence hypothesis" and "Jesus mythicism") are quite useful. Of course, some of the most important sources (such as Albert Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus) don't use these terms at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:14, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Again Akhilleus ignores the Christ Mythers that do hold the Gospels are "embellished accounts of a man who lived and preached in the Middle East" but put the man at c100 CE which shoots the whole 'Jesus didn't exist as a human being' definition down.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:36, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Nope, I've responded to this point multiple times (there are many examples of me doing so in the talk archives, but it's too time-consuming to chase them down right now). A man who lived and preached in the Middle East in 100 CE (although I think you mean 100 BCE, right?) isn't the historical Jesus, and such a theory would be classified as non-historical by most scholars. You don't provide a concrete example, but I'm guessing you're talking about Jesus ben Pandera, whom J.M. Robertson mentioned as a possible source for the Gospel Jesus. But of course scholars treat Robertson as someone who denied the historicity of Jesus, as I've mentioned several times in my posts today (see e.g. Van Voorst Jesus Outside the New Testament p. 12 for an example). --Akhilleus (talk) 04:06, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
As documented by Bennett several scholars have put Frazer in the people "who contested the historical existence of Jesus" category and the same was true of Wells long after he printed Jesus Legend (1996) a point repeated in Derek Murphy's Jesus Potter Harry Christ pg 54.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:13, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Akhilleus, nr 1 and nr 2 are not quite the same because denying the historicity of the Gospels does not immediately make you a mythicist. Thompson, for examples, writes that a historical Jesus is essential to understanding the emergence of Christianity, but not essential for the Gospels. Rejecting the existence of Jesus may (depending on how you want to classify Wells' revised position) include rejecting the gospel accounts, but it has to go further than; it has to reject any historical person whose earthly life and crucifixion was directly instrumental in the foundation of Christianity. Actually, the version of the lead you link to above makes this perfectly clear, so I will add my support for that version above. Vesal (talk) 12:22, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
According to Stein "The mythicist denies the supernatural aspect of Jesus" with some going as far as denying that there is a man behind the myth. Remsburg held "Jesus, if he existed, was a Jew, and his religion, with a few innovations, was Judaism. With his death, probably, his apotheosis began. During the first century the transformation was slow; but during the succeeding centuries rapid. The Judaic elements of his religion were, in time, nearly all eliminated, and the Pagan elements, one by one, were incorporated into the new faith."--BruceGrubb (talk) 18:02, 22 October 2011 (UTC)

Informal straw poll regarding lede

From the two sections above, it seems to me that there is some support for the lede version I proposed, but perhaps more support for this version. That also seems to fall in line with the a general leaning towards topic 2 above. Before we lose what momentum we have, who would oppose or support going back to this as the lede, with the understanding that we still have work to do and changes to make? --Nuujinn (talk) 06:37, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

  • Support, as nom. --Nuujinn (talk) 06:37, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
  • Oppose as the consensus over the years has been the article in general and the above lead in particular has major POV and SYN problems. As I pointed out before "the hypothesis that the Gospel accounts are not based on the life of a historical individual" has its own definition problems as it fails to separate historic myth from philosophical myth which is the biggest problem this article has had. Many scholars agree that the Gospel Jesus says and does things that the historical Jesus in all odds never said or did but might have been said and done by other people or came from mythology making the Gospel Jesus by definition a composite character as no one individual did or said everything the Gospel Jesus said and did. It also creates the headache of what to do with Mead and Ellegård as they do propose that the Gospels are mythical tales that are based on the life of a historical individual that the put c100 BCE. Remember Marshall's "the belief that the person call Jesus really existed, as opposed to the possibliity that there was no such person" definition of "historical Jesus" in contrast with his "the description of Jesus in the Gospel corresponds to what he was actually like" definition. I again point to Robin Hood who has had historical candidates over an 190 year period proposed. "His The Hero with a Thousand Faces (1949) advanced the theory that a single myth stands behind the stories of Krishna, Buddha, Apollonius of Tyana, Jesus and other hero stories." (Bennet pg 206) "It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles." (Campbell, John (1991) The masks of God: occidental mythology pg 362) create other problems if you use Welsh's or Dodd's definition of the myth coming first. Also I point to WP:!VOTE and say stop these nonsense polls as they really serve no purpose.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:33, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
They aren't votes, they are an attempt to feel out common ground. It's a common practice. --Nuujinn (talk) 23:06, 25 October 2011 (UTC)
You only need to go through Talk:Christ_myth_theory/definition to see the lack of a common ground (unless you count the CFORK idea). Never mind we have multiple straw polls for different ideas.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:20, 26 October 2011 (UTC)

Moving forward with Vasal's suggestion

A while ago Vasal felt we had three choices:

  1. Define it as non-historicity, following most secondary sources, and pretend there is no problem or confusion. (The approach taken a few years ago.)
  2. Define it as non-historicity, and then show how that many proponents do not completely deny historicity. (The current approach.)
  3. Define it as a theory on how belief in Christ emerged, based on those (few) sources that have a clue, and clarify stances on historicity for each author later.

Vasal said the article current state (option 2) was "huge improvement over option one" and in the interests of actual moving this article forward I going toward option 3. I've streamlined the lead so Nuujinn can stop obsessing over that and get to the issue of actual improving the body of the article which IMHO needs a mammoth overhaul especially in the Context section.--BruceGrubb (talk) 18:25, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

Good work, option 3 is by far superior. The new lead looks good, and is a good start towards Vasals suggestion.Beefcake6412 (talk) 22:40, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

Richard Dawkins

Dawkins is a biologist not a philosopher of religion or an historian. He is no authority on the topic. (talk) 23:59, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

I am not going to address the issue of whether Dawkins is a suitable source for this article, but after a quick read of the section mentioning Dawkins, I would say that the wording is a little unfortunate in that it could easily be interpreted as suggesting that Dawkins was advocating the "never existed" argument. That's quite wrong: Dawkins was writing (in The God Delusion) about the argument from scripture (that wording in the Bible proves the existence of God), and explained the unreliable basis of many accounts in the New Testament, saying "Nobody knows who the four evangelists were, but they almost certainly never met Jesus personally. ... It is even possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, historical case that Jesus never lived at all ... Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament ... as a reliable record of what actually happened in history...". I suppose (although it's not sourced) that the fact that Dawkins mentioned the issue sparked some interest in the topic of whether Jesus existed, but Dawkins was not advocating for that position. Johnuniq (talk) 01:05, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Since Dawkins is not arguing that Jesus was non-historical, the only reason to include him in this article is to show the prominence of the non-historicity thesis. I think this is unnecessary, as there's lots of other material that shows how prominent the idea is. Nor should the article imply that Dawkins holds positions that he doesn't. I think a suitable change might be taking Dawkins out of the lede (which could be read as saying that Dawkins argues for the non-historicity idea) and rewriting the mention of Dawkins lower down so it's clear that he thinks Jesus probably was historical. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:57, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Actually per Marshall, Dawkins is arguing that Jesus was non-historical if you take Marshall's 'The description of Jesus in the Gospel corresponds to what he was actually like' (I Believe in the Historical Jesus pg 27) position as defining "historical Jesus". Marshall himself stated "We shall land in considerable confusion if we embark on an inquiry about the historical Jesus if we do not pause to ask ourselves exactly what we are talking about" and in many cases the authors don't do that.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:46, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
If you find yourself talking nonsense, you should probably reevaluate what you're saying. When Dawkins says that "Jesus probably existed," he is obviously not arguing that Jesus was non-historical. The position that Jesus was historical only if "The description of Jesus in the Gospel corresponds to what he was actually like" is unreasonable, and is certainly not one used by mainstream scholarship. Most scholarly writing on the historical Jesus begins from the proposition that Jesus was no more divine than you or me—so he cannot have performed miracles or risen from the dead (although people back then might have believed he did these things)—this is obviously a deviation from the Gospel portrait. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:59, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
I think you should take your own advice as saying Jesus existing 100 BCE STILL SAYS JESUS EXISTED a position you keep arguing is mythist which makes only makes sense if you go the "The description of Jesus in the Gospel corresponds to what he was actually like" because Marshall other option is "the belief that the peason call Jesus really existed, as opposed to the possibliity that there was no such person" denying "the statement 'Jesus is a fictitious character like King Lear or Dr. Who'." Those are the two choices Marshall gives us.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:39, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Then Marshall isn't giving you enough options. Jesus of Nazareth or the historical Jesus are not just any guy named Jesus—he's a specific individual, in a specific time, who did specific things (most importantly, founded Christianity through his preaching). If you move him a century backwards or forwards in time, he's no longer the guy who was crucified during the rule of Pontius Pilate, nor is he the guy who founded Christianity. He's some other Jesus. If you move King Lear a century forward or backward, it doesn't matter, because he's a literary character with very little historical context; if you move Dr. Who backward or forward by a century, he's just twiddled some knobs on his TARDIS. On the other hand, if you move George Washington backward or forward by a century, he's no longer the first president of the United States or the father of our country; he'd be someone entirely different, even if he had the same name.
It can't be said enough: look at what reliable sources say about this topic. Come up with someone who says that there was a Jesus, but he lived ~100 BCE. How is that person treated in secondary sources? I've already mentioned J.M. Robertson, who thought that Jesus ben Pandera, who (maybe) lived ~100 BCE, was an inspiration for the Gospel Jesus. And reliable sources treat Robertson as someone who denied Jesus' historicity. In other words, I treat the "Jesus existed in 100 BCE" as a mythicist position precisely because the secondary sources I've read treat this as a mythicist position. So does this guy (not a reliable source, but then again, many of the sources used in the article right now don't meet WP:RS either). --Akhilleus (talk) 04:55, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
Sorry Akhilleus, but that is NOT how Marshall or Walsh define historical Jesus and Jesus Myth respectively and besides your argument falls to pieces when you consider Robin Hood and King Arthur who have similar problems. As Archibold Robertson stated "(John M.) Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus perhaps more than one having contributed something to the Gospel story. "A teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs" (of whom many are on record) may have uttered some of the sayings in the Gospels. (...) 2 An historical Jesus may have "preached a political doctrine subversive of the Roman rule, and . . . thereby met his death "; and Christian writers concerned to conciliate the Romans may have suppressed the facts.. This is very similar to what is thought to have happen to the Robin Hood myth which was moved from the time of a King "Edward" (1272-1377) to King Richard the Lion Hearted c1190; if you can move Robin Hood back as much as 187 years and still be talking about the same "historical" person then your argument falls apart like a cheap suit.
In fact, John M Robertson expressly states "If, taking him to be historical, we assume him to have preached a political doctrine subversive subversive of the Roman rule..."--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:59, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
You know, funny things happen when you go back to the sources. You're quoting Archibald (not "Archibold") Robertson's summary of J.M. Robertson's The Historical Jesus. Have you read the relevant part of J.M. Robertson's book (p. 56)? It says:

On this view the Founder was a Messiah of the ordinary Jewish type, aiming at the restoration of the Jewish State. But such a Jesus would not be the "Jesus of the Gospels" at all. He would merely be a personage of the same (common) name, who in no way answered to the Gospel figure, but had been wholly denaturalized to make him a cult-centre. On this hypothesis there has been no escape from the "myth-theory," but merely a restatement of it. A Jesus put to death by the Romans as a rebel Mahdi refuses to compose with the Teacher who sends out his apostles to preach his evangel ; who proclaims, if anything, a purely spiritual kingdom ; and who is put to death as seeking to subvert the Jewish faith, the Roman governor giving only a passive and reluctant assent. On the political hypothesis, as on the myth-theory here put, the whole Gospel narrative of the Tragedy which establishes the cult remains mythical.

So, J.M. Robertson says that one might hypothesize that there was a political revolutionary named Jesus in the 1st century CE, who "in no way answered to the Gospel figure", but somehow the facts of his life were completely suppressed and he was turned into the Gospel figure. This scenario seems just a bit improbable, hm? Notice it's not something that Robertson says he believes; this is, rather, an argument one could make, and if we make a certain series of assumptions, we end up with a Jesus that doesn't correspond to the Jesus of the Gospels at all. In other words, Robertson's political Jesus wouldn't be someone a scholar would recognize as the historical Jesus. So yes, in this speculative hypothesis (almost a thought experiment) that Robertson spends 2 pages on and does not endorse as something he believes, the only historical basis for the Gospels is a Jesus who isn't Jesus at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 16:43, 22 October 2011 (UTC)
You seem to be forgetting that Paul himself was Roman and would have certainly downplayed to the point of suppression any revolutionary claims Jesus made. Remember Crucifixion was a punishment used against slaves, pirates, and enemies of the state. Jesus by the Gospel account was a freeman and wasn't a pirate leaving enemy of the state as the reason for his crucifixion. I would also point out that Remsburg gives a range for historical myth: event may be but slightly colored and the narrative essentially true, or it may be distorted and numberless legends attached until but a small residuum of truth remains and the narrative is essentially false.
I would also again point to Walsh's and Dodd's definitions where the myth comes first and could include stories of a obscure teacher of the same name being plugged into it which is Wells current theory which he says is not Christ myth even though by Walsh's and Dodd's definitions it is.
As for the "he's no longer the guy who was crucified during the rule of Pontius Pilate" nonsense that applies to the Jesus Wells presents from Jesus Legend on which Voorst calls historical--YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. By your loopy logic a Jesus that was condemned be crucified under Claudius Caesar (41-54 CE) cannot be the historical Jesus because that is some five years after Pontius Pilate...oh wait a minute we have such a historical Jesus--presented by Irenaeus c180 CE in Demonstration (74).--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:59, 24 October 2011 (UTC)
You're focusing on minutiae and in the process missing the point. Wells (as you note) says he has moved away from the Christ myth theory; indeed, in his 2007 entry on "Jesus, historicity of" in the Encyclopedia of Unbelief he says that he has moved away from the denial of Jesus' historicity (though he still denies the historicity of parts of the Gospel story). Robertson, on the other hand, does not say that he's moved away from the myth theory. In fact, he says that his hypothetical revolutionary is "no escape from the 'myth-theory,' but merely a restatement of it." So let's respect what the sources say they're doing: Wells is moving away from the myth theory, Robertson isn't.
So the job is to understand why Wells and Robertson say these things, not to claim that they don't know what they're talking about. In Jesus Legend Wells has changed from his earlier position to say that the Gospels give us some information about a historical individual, though he doesn't allow that the Gospels give any accurate information about the crucifixion. Wells has a non-standard idea of when Jesus is crucified, but he's still saying that there was a historical Jesus—an actual person whose life and deeds are the basis of the Gospels (though of course a lot of other material could be mixed in there). Wells advances a portrait of what this historical Jesus might have been like. Robertson, on the other hand, says if there was some political revolutionary named Jesus connected with the founding of Christianity, he would not correspond to the Gospel portrait in any way. He would not then be the historical Jesus as the term is usually used, because his life and deeds would not be the basis of the Gospels in any way.
So there's no "having it both ways" here. All we need to do is pay attention to what the sources are telling us. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:43, 31 October 2011 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────"All we need to do is pay attention to what the sources are telling us."

"My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth". (James George Frazer 1913)

"I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus." (Schweitzer 1931)

THAT is an example of 'paying attention to what the sources are telling us' and something Akhilleus keeps refusing to actually do as he keeps ignoring Schweitzer's express and direct classification of Frazer.

"Jesus is a mythical figure in the tradition of pagan mythology and almost nothing in all of ancient literature would lead one to believe otherwise. Anyone wanting to believe Jesus lived and walked as a real live human being must do so despite the evidence, not because of it." (The Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy pg 108)

"When R. Bultmann and other scholars claim that we can know next to nothing about the historical Jesus, they are in effect saying that although Jesus really lived he is hardly a historical figure in the sense of a person who can be known by the historian or by the historian's readers." (I. Howard Marshall Why I am a Christian pg 34)--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:22, 2 November 2011 (UTC)

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Back to basics

In an effort to get some degree of sanity back in this article I have gone with Remsburg's definition of Jesus myth theory being the "the idea that the Gospel Jesus is a myth" while also explaining "there is a large variance regarding how the Gospel Jesus is a myth resulting in the term being used to describe various concepts:"

I would like to start out the article with a "Source of confusion" per User:BruceGrubb/Christ_Myth_theory tackling the Meaning of "myth" and "mythicist" (using Remsburg), Meaning of historical (using Marshall), and Meaning of fictional (using Price) issues.

The next issue would be to start hammering out what variance the terms have and looking before Drews we do find the term Christ Myth but how it is used is interesting:

"If no such person as Jesus Christ existed, or if He were historical, but in any way failed to conform to the character given to Him in the Gospels, the evolution of the Christ-myth in the first two centuries is the greatest miracle the world ever saw." (Berdoe, Edward (1896) Browning and the Christian faith)

"The Christ myth, from which Christianity claims its name, is proved fraudulent, like thousands of other false assumptions which surround the system." (Brown, George Washington (1891) Researches in oriental history" Page 254)

These and similar examples show that as Rembsurg stated "Christ myth" had a range going from the the story of the man (historical myth) to the man himself (philosophical myth) being a myth and that some today (such as Mack) still use the term to denote historical myth. In fact as late as 1934 you have this little gem:

"But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte leads colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." (Wood, Herbert George (1934) MacMillan (New York, Cambridge, [Eng.] : The University Press pg 40)

Wood clearly connects Christ-myth theories to the theories "that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure" fitting Remsburg's historical myth definition perfectly.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:48, 27 October 2011 (UTC)

this is too complicated, goes into too much detail, and is simply too much. We do not need to split hairs this finely for a good encyclopedia article, and insisting on this particular version is really bogging us down. Please reconsider. --Nuujinn (talk) 22:42, 27 October 2011 (UTC)
Again, this is information already in the article--this just reorganizes it a more coherent format that what currently exist. I again point to the Rorschach test article which addresses such fine hair splitting and that article has to meet the harder WP:MEDRS requirements.
Not all topics are going to be simple or easily explained (even the more clearly defined Creationism and New Chronology (Fomenko) articles are mammoth info dumps) and we have to hold to WP:NPOV as much as WP:V and keeping WP:NPOV without cherry picking sources or engaging in the SYN fest this article had in the past. As the above sources show "Christ Myth" had a different and broader meaning before Drews--a meaning that was kept as late as 1934. We owe it to our readers to try and explain why the term Christ Myth is such a disjointed mess with writers actually arguing different points. Remsburg, Marshall and Price give us the means to do that and this all goes back to Vasal's suggestion of "Define it as a theory on how belief in Christ emerged". We are going to have to address why the term is such a disjointed mess.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:00, 28 October 2011 (UTC)
this is information already in the article Yes, exactly, which is precisely why it need not be and indeed should not be in the lede. We owe it to our readers to try and explain why the term Christ Myth is such a disjointed mess with writers actually arguing different points. No, really, we don't, because we are writing an encyclopedia, not a scholarly work which sorts out the differences between various theorists. To do so treats the sources as primary sources and engage in our own analysis, and we should instead focus on presenting what the secondary sources say. You are correct that it is not a simple topic, but we are not in a position to tease out the fine points ourselves--for that we should rely on experts. --Nuujinn (talk) 10:49, 28 October 2011 (UTC)
I again point to the Rorschach test, Creationism and New Chronology (Fomenko) articles as counter examples and add in Vampire as yet another one. I also again point to WP:NPOV as the reason for the "We owe it to our readers to try and explain why the term Christ Myth is such a disjointed mess with writers actually arguing different points" comment. Finally I again point to MOS:LEAD which states: "The lead should be able to stand alone as a concise overview. It should define the topic, establish context, explain why the topic is interesting or notable, and summarize the most important points—including any prominent controversies." You focus on the concise overview part and forget the rest--I don't--BruceGrubb (talk) 17:19, 28 October 2011 (UTC)

I agree with many of the points Nuujinn makes in the post above—especially his last, that "we should rely on experts." BruceGrubb has been trying to split hairs to such a degree that he's seeing radical disagreements between sources where none exist. Furthermore, he's being extraordinarily selective in choosing sources. The writer he wants to rely on the most, Remsberg, was not a biblical scholar, and has had absolutely no impact upon academic literature. I see no reason why he should be used in this article at all, because there are better sources available. (The lengthy discussion at Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_19#Remsberg covers these points in depth.) There are many sources on this topic written by biblical scholars—e.g. Schweitzer, Shirley Jackson Case, Robert Van Voorst, just to name a few of those who go into great detail about this topic. BruceGrubb's preferred version(s) of the lead avoids citing these sources and goes with lower-quality ones—even the academic sources he's using are ones that are less detailed, and it's pretty clear he's emphasizing these because he believes they agree with his viewpoint.

Furthermore, we really don't "owe it to our readers to try and explain why the term Christ Myth is such a disjointed mess with writers actually arguing different points." There are no secondary sources which comment upon this supposed controversy, right? There are no sources (except Remsberg) that say that the definition of the phrase "Christ myth" is ambiguous, right? There are no sources that say that "myth", "historical", or "fiction" are ambiguous in relation to this particular topic. So the latter point is certainly original research. The "disjointed mess" that Bruce sees is original research also, since it's his inventive readings of the sources that have led him to see mass confusion, rather than concerns expressed by secondary sources themselves. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:39, 30 October 2011 (UTC)

If the Christ myth theory is mostly propounded by people who aren't biblical scholars, then I don't see any reason to prefer publications by biblical scholars as references. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:28, 30 October 2011 (UTC)
On any topic in the encyclopedia the highest quality sources should be sought. The topic of this article is (pretty obviously) within the subject of early Christianity—the highest quality sources are therefore going to be academic publications on this topic. This is a straightforward application of Wikipedia's content policies, not to mention common sense. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:12, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Of course, it should go without saying that the central sources for the article should be the proponents of the theory. So pride of place should be given to Bauer, Drews, Robertson, etc. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:14, 31 October 2011 (UTC)
Akhilleus by presenting Schweitzer is again ignoring the FACT that Schweitzer put a man who clearly and definitively stated "My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth" in with John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, and Arthur Drews. No amount of hemming and hawing is going to change that FACT.--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:38, 2 November 2011 (UTC)
Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd in "The Jesus Legend" pp. 24-27 define the legendary Jesus thesis and the mythical Jesus thesis. They say that the mythical Jesus thesis is the thesis that Jesus did not exist. The legendary Jesus thesis is an umbrella under which fall the mythical Jesus thesis, the Jesus existed but we cannot know anything about him thesis and the Jesus existed and we can know something about him, but he was not the same with the Christ of the Christian faith thesis (i.e. the Gospels have some historical information but also mythical information, such as the miracles and the divinity of Jesus). Those pages are available on Google Books. Tgeorgescu (talk) 00:20, 23 November 2011 (UTC)
Actually, Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd state "Jesus tradition is virtually--perhaps entirely--fictional nature ie legendary as we are using the term)" (sic) and specifically mention Wells Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth BOTH OF WHICH ACKNOWLEDGE A 1st CENTURY TEACHER NAMED JESUS AS EXISTING--ie Eddy and Boyd have the same problem with Wells that Schweitzer had with Frazer!--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:27, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
One of the treatments missing is, IMHO, the absence of any reference to the book "One Jesus Many Christs". The first two thirds of this book is a systematic proof that the story was invented in place and time. The references are good and the justification rational. Then about two-thirds of the way through the book, halfway through a paragraph, the author just drops in "so we should not be surprised that god chose to send jesus at this time (since the story was ready etc.)". That was the point in the book where I stopped reading since there was no foundation provided for that dropped-in assumption. That's the point where the "scholarly" part of the work suddenly fails. The citations from that book, up till that point, are quite good and could provide a good number of contextual references for this article. [e.g. while the book predicates an existentant jesus part-way through, the discussion of the context and the origin of each element of the jesus story is thurough and seems correct otherwise.] — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:24, 21 March 2012 (UTC)
Well One Jesus Many Christs is a Fortress Press publication (ISBN-10: 0800632427) so the 'where did this conclusion come from?' moment doesn't surprise me but to be fair this relates to the problem Remsburg said regarding historical myth: The event may be but slightly colored and the narrative essentially true, or it may be distorted and numberless legends attached until but a small residuum of truth remains and the narrative is essentially false.
As I said before (see Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_19) saying the story of a person is a piece of mythology is NOT the same as say the person themself didn't exist. The stories of George Washington and the Cherry Tree, Paul Reveres' famous ride via Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or the umteen dime novels of various 19th century people like Jessie James, Wild Bill Hickok who undeniable existed cases in point (George W. Chilcoat and Joan M. Gasperak (1984), Young Adult Literature: The Dime Novel or How to Vitalize American Literature Classes, National Council of Teachers of English clearly state that some of the early dime novels stories were in fact using real people and real events while not claiming to be real history).--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:59, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

Dawkins's view on Jesus

Dawkins's stance (The God Delusion, p. 97): "Although Jesus probably existed, reputable biblical scholars do not in general regard the New Testament (and obviously not the Old Testament) as a reliable record of what actually happened in history, and I shall not consider the Bible further as evidence for any kind of deity." So, he thinks that Jesus probably existed. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:49, 8 December 2011 (UTC)

Thanks for attempting to balance the comment about Dawkins, but it's not enough. I had forgotten about the issue, but I commented above (see #Richard Dawkins) that the text concerning Dawkins is completely wrong (my previous comment explained what Dawkins wrote). Currently, the article states that Dawkins wrote a book that questioned whether Jesus existed—that is total nonsense, and presumably was originally an attempt to show just how evil are those who question the existence of Jesus (because many reading an article like this would have been brainwashed into thinking that Dawkins = atheism = evil). Johnuniq (talk) 01:47, 9 December 2011 (UTC)
Far from it. The advocates for including Dawkins were generally the same individuals who attempt to present JMT in the most positive light, as the discussion you link to above clearly indicates. Paul B (talk) 19:27, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
Oh. That's even worse. I see that the issue was a "passing reference" at 13 January 2010, and appears to be been promoted to "questioned whether Jesus existed" at 14 August 2010. I would just remove or drastically prune mentions of Dawkins, but now I'm worried that the other related stuff may likewise be an overstatement of what the authors wrote. Johnuniq (talk) 03:33, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
It is not so much as presenting the JMT in the most positive light but a more balanced view. The fact that Schweitzer put Frazer ("My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth") in with Drews and Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd cite Wells Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth as example of their Mythic-Jesus theory even both books accept a historical Jesus as behind the proposed Q gospel show they are either mistaken or are using Marshall's far narrower 'The description of Jesus in the Gospel corresponds to what he was actually like' rather than his broader 'he existed in contrast to King Lear or Dr. Who'.
"But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte leads colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." (Wood, Herbert George (1934) MacMillan (New York, Cambridge, [Eng.] : The University Press pg 40)
Here a University Press book defines Christ-myth theory as among the "theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure" and NOT the didn't exist model some editors keep trying to push this article into. DEAL WITH IT.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:50, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
I believe you've made this assertion before, and I've replied to it before. Wood is an ok source, though he only mentions the Christ myth theory in passing in this book (there's a bit more in Belief and Unbelief Sice 1850, but not much, and his Did Christ Really Live?, which I haven't seen, has a more extensive treatment), so it's strange that you choose to emphasize his treatment over the much more detailed works of Schweitzer, Van Voorst, Bennett, et al.
Here's the thing: when Wood says "But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte lends colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure," the "and" indicates that two different categories are being joined (as in "A and B"). This does not mean that Christ-myth theories are included in theories that regard Jesus as historical but insignificant, it means that Formgeschichte lent support to both Christ-myth theories and theories that regard Jesus as historical but insignificant. The text that's currently in the article misrepresents what Wood says, and I'm going to take it out. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:44, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

Jesus myth theory?

Why put the word "theory" in the title?

We don't affix "theory" to the end of other myths. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:37, 9 December 2011 (UTC)

Because this isn't an article about the myth of Jesus. (For that, see here.) Rather, it's an article about a theory (or cluster of theories) whose proponents often refer to Jesus as a myth. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 16:04, 10 December 2011 (UTC)
I still argue the article should be titled "Christ Myth theory" as that better describes the topic.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:30, 11 December 2011 (UTC)
I agree with BruceGrubb. Why not take another vote? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 00:10, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

Proposal: rename article as Christ myth theory

As proposed by BruceGrubb and Bill the Cat in the section immediately above this one. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:50, 15 December 2011 (UTC)

  • Weak support "Christ myth" gets more Google Books hits than "Jesus myth". Also, not all theories that go by the name "Jesus myth" or "Christ myth" deny the existence of a historical Jesus, whereas they all question, to various degrees, the story of the Christ of Christianity. Depending on how broad the scope of this article is meant to be (this is still unclear to me), the aforementioned fact should count in favor of having "Christ" as opposed to "Jesus" in the title. --Phatius McBluff (talk) 18:50, 15 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Support - The best argument for "Christ myth theory" title is that many of the augments regarding the topic involve Drews' Die Christusmythe (Christ Myth). Ironically some of Drews own points are along Marshall's "Gospels accounts give a reasonable account of historical events" rather than the "Jesus no more existed then King Lear or Dr Who" so often given. Take these passages from Drews work for example: "In the meantime there are many voices which speak out against the existence of an historical Jesus. In wide circles the doubt grows as to the historical character of the picture of Christ given in the Gospels." (...) If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with, this can naturally not be opposed; but we know nothing of this Jesus". While piece like Old Protestantism and the New By Brian Gerrish (on page 230 and 232) explain that Drews is arguing for the Jesus being a historicized myth slant you still have Dodd and several other saying this historicization could have involved "(seizing) upon the report of an obscure Jewish holy-man bearing this name, and arbitrarily attached the "cult-myth" to him" which dovetails into Wells current theory.--BruceGrubb (talk) 02:24, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment I should mention that Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_40#RfC_to_move_Christ_myth_theory_to_Jesus_myth_theory shows that the argument for a name change had problems and seemed to have gone by a vote count rather than the strength of the arguments. Based on the arguments presented in Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_40#Threaded_discussion per WP:TITLECHANGES the name of the article should have never been changed form Christ Myth theory in the first place as there wasn't there wasn't a consensus (a simply majority vote is not a consensus, people). It certainly didn't help that people changed their votes and some support votes were based on erroneous information such as "Jesus makes it clear that what is involved is doubt that the human being existed" ignoring the fact that Christ Mythers like Mead, Robertson, Pre-Jesus Legend Wells, and Ellegård all accepted the existence of the human being...they just put him in a different time or did different things.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:36, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment How much longer should we wait before changing the title? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 01:14, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
  • Comment Unless someone objects I would say it would be a nice Jan 1 gift.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:43, 30 December 2011 (UTC)
    • It's well past Jan 1, and I for one do not object. Shall we rename the page? --Phatius McBluff (talk) 07:06, 20 January 2012 (UTC)
  • For future reference, given the history, this probably should have been done with an RM. But I don't have a view on the move. In ictu oculi (talk) 02:53, 21 January 2012 (UTC)
Not sure how you come to that conclusion since there was never consensus to change it in the first place (From Christ Myth to Jesus Myth) but there was consensus to change it back. The only time an RM is necessary is if it's controversial and I don't see any controversy. If people crawl out of the woodwork and start objecting then it can go to an RM. Mystylplx (talk) 15:04, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Comment -- I agree with Mystylplx and showed via Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_40#RfC_to_move_Christ_myth_theory_to_Jesus_myth_theory the name change (From Christ Myth to Jesus Myth) was wonky to begin with. At best it was a simple majority violating the consensus requirement of WP:TITLECHANGES and given the way some people changed their votes it was not clear if even a majority had been achieved.

As I said back in that RfC the only one reference to tot he article's original Jesus myth hypothesis (Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_20) title was to "Jesus myth" hypothesis (Turner, J.E. (1931) Revelation of Deity Macmillan company (Original from the University of California, originally from University of Liverpool) and as I pointed out back then what he was arguing is confusing as all get out.

"Christ Myth Theory" in many uses seems to be used as short hand for "Christ Myth by Drews Theory" ie a particular version of the theory just as "Theory of Evolution" has become shorthand for "Darwin's Theory of Evolution" even though there are other "Theories of Evolution" (such as Lamarckism and Punctuated equilibrium).

The reality is that there are many variations of the "Christ Myth" theory:

  • Jesus originally being an allegoric myth to which historical details possibly including an actual obscure 1st century teacher of the same name were added later (Dodd, Charles Harold (1938) History and the gospel University of Chicago pg 17; (1911) The Hibbert journal, Volume 9, Issues 3-4 pg 658; Robert M Price. "Response to James D. G Dunn," in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 230.)
  • Jesus began as at a Myth with historical trappings possibly including "reports of an obscure Jewish Holy man bearing this name" being being added later. (Walsh, George (1998) The Role of Religion in History Transaction Publishers pg 58)(one possible reading of Dodd, C.H. (1938) History and the Gospel under the heading Christ Myth Theory Manchester University Press pg 17)
  • Jesus was historical but lived c100 BCE (Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 65)
  • The Christ Myth may be a form of modern docetism (Grant, Michael. Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995; first published 1977, p. 199)
  • The Gospel Jesus is in essence a composite character and therefore non historical by definition.(Price, Robert M. (2000) Deconstructing Jesus Prometheus Books, pg 85)
  • The Christ-myth theory belongs to the group of "theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." (Wood, Herbert George (1934) MacMillan (New York, Cambridge, [Eng.] : The University Press pg 40)
  • Jesus Agnosticism: The Gospel story is so filled with myth and legend that nothing about it including the very existence of the Jesus described can be shown to be historical. (Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend Baker Academic, 2007. pg 24-25)
  • "This view (Christ Myth theory) states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J 1982 by Geoffrey W. Bromiley) The problem with this definition is it makes no distinction between historic myth (like the Trojan War) and philosophical myth (like Hades and Persephone). More over, Eusebius in Preparation of the Gospel [portrayed Heracles as a flesh and blood person who was later deified] and as late as 1919 it was stated "Osiris, Attis, Adonis were men. They died as men; they rose as gods" ("Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics" pg 646)

So depending on the author just what "the" Christ Myth theory even is varies. If there is a common thread in the myriad of versions it is that

  1. The Gospel Jesus is a myth
  2. Even if Jesus existed he was not the "founder" of Christianity

Those two points are about the only ones that seem common to all the versions we have found.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:35, 21 January 2012 (UTC)

Context and Counter-arguments section

The Context and counter arguments sections have problems as they don't really fit the broader NPOV definition that has been hammered out.

For example, L. Michael White's claim that BOTH the gospels of Matthew and Luke say Jesus was born a Jew during the reign of Herod the Great has serious problems--anyone who goes does any degree of work on Jesus knows about the Census of Quirinius problem in Luke. Luke 2:2 expressly states "And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria" and in 5:2 says that Mary was "great with child".

The counter argument section is even more of a mess as it only addresses some of the points raised by some versions of the Christ myth theory--they don't address all the other variants (like the story of Jesus being a fabrication "possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes" or the De-vinci code which can be traced back to Celsus c180CE)--BruceGrubb (talk) 05:43, 24 January 2012 (UTC)

The "broader NPOV definition that has been hammered out" is something that you've synthesized based on your interpretation of the sources (and for the most part you've ignored academic sources in favor of non-expert references). Never mind that the basic issue at hand in discussions of a "Jesus myth" theory or Jesus mythicism is whether the guy existed, as a cursory Google search makes crystal clear... --Akhilleus (talk) 05:20, 5 February 2012 (UTC)
Akhilleus, you have been claiming this as long as I have been on this article and the general consensus was that you and the handful that supported your position were wrong. In Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_40#Threaded_discussion I presented the many times that this article has been called a CFORK. Administrator User:SlimVirgin went as far as to say "(a) this article is a POV fork of Historicity of Jesus; and (b) that the Christ myth theory is that we're not in a position to say that Jesus existed, and we ought to stop being so certain about it. That's it." and later "There is no clean boundary between the Christ myth position and other minimalist positions, because they amount to the same thing depending on which words you stress. The search for a clean boundary is fruitless."
In the past Akhilleus has presented Schweitzer even though Schweitzer clearly put Frazer who clearly and definitively stated "My theory assumes the historical reality of Jesus of Nazareth" in with John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, and Arthur Drews a fact expressly and directly stated in the man's own 1931 autobiography. Furthermore Paul R. Eddy and Gregory A. Boyd in "The Jesus Legend" by presenting Wells Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth BOTH OF WHICH ACKNOWLEDGE A 1st CENTURY TEACHER NAMED JESUS AS EXISTING as examples of their mythical Jesus thesis have the same problem with Wells that Schweitzer had with Frazer.
Akhilleus' response regarding Marshal's either or regarding how Jesus could be historical (either unlike Dr Who or King Lear or unlike King Arthur) in Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_42#Richard_Dawkins IMHO shows a tendency to try and ignore factual points that upset his POV on this topic.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:09, 12 February 2012 (UTC)
If you follow the link to the archives that you posted, it should be clear that I responded in detail regarding Marshall's views. Feel free to disagree with what I said, but please don't characterize it as ignoring "factual points that upset his POV on this topic." My POV is simple—we should represent what reliable, academic sources say on this topic. There is a good amount of scholarly literature—from Bruno Bauer in the 19th century, to Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus in the early 20th, to works in the 21st century (, that treat the idea that there was no historical Jesus as a distinct and coherent topic.
Schweitzer devoted two chapters to the denial of Jesus' historicity in the second edition of Quest—obviously he was able to draw a clear boundary between this and other positions. Perhaps I've missed it, but I don't think he discuss Frazer in Quest of the Historical Jesus. So you're trying to invalidate Schweitzer's discussion in Quest by a passing remark he made about Frazer in another, later work, which seems a bit silly. You're also exaggerating the importance of this point—if Schweitzer made a mistake about Frazer, all this means is that he made a mistake about Frazer, not that he was wrong in seeing that there were a number of writers who said that Jesus was non-historical. Anyway, if you read Frazer's analysis of the crucifixion in early editions of the Golden Bough it's not hard to draw the conclusion that he was saying that Jesus was pure myth—certainly at the time people did, and that's why Frazer felt he had to explicitly affirm Jesus' historicity in a footnote to the 1913 edition. So Schweitzer missed this footnote—this is hardly an invalidation of his entire work. To reiterate, the important point is that Schweitzer deals with the "Jesus didn't exist" idea as a separate topic, worthy of two chapters in one of the most influential books on the historical Jesus ever. Attributing this view to Frazer (an understandable error which has [made by others]) doesn't alter the fact that Schweitzer treats the denial of Jesus' historicity as a distinct topic.
Eddy and Boyd also separate the non-historicity idea from other "minimalist" positions. How you're able to turn this into evidence that it's difficult to define the Christ-Myth theory, I don't understand. So Eddy/Boyd are wrong about Wells' position in Jesus Legend, etc.; so what? They made a mistake about this, but that doesn't invalidate everything they wrote. Wells himself is very clear that in his earlier works he denied Jesus' historicity, then he changed his mind; he clearly sees this as an important change in his work. In fact, Wells has often written about the history of the idea that there was no historical Jesus; he's even written an encyclopedia article about it (though he doesn't seem to like the term "Christ myth theory" all that much). So Wells, too, sees the "Jesus didn't exist" idea as a distinct topic, worthy of treating on its own.
As for what SlimVirgin, being an administrator doesn't give one any special privileges in a content dispute, so I don't understand why you mentioned this. As to her specific arguments, I think she's mistaken, precisely because of the treatment given to this subject in academic sources (not to mention other types of sources—if you Google "Jesus mythicism", you'll find that people are generally pretty clear about what this means). As for "general consensus", the sheer length of these talk archives demonstrates that it doesn't exist here. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:12, 12 March 2012 (UTC)
Akhilleus, this is your opinion. Woods clearly states "But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschichte leads colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." All your counters to that exact quote have IMHO been OR and you reference of all things another wikipedia article (which is not RS). The [Capital Community college] does say and can be uses this way--however is says it "frequently replaced by but in this usage". Doing this with the Wood quote above renders it nonsensical as well as awkward. In fact nearly every college level grammar book I have read rarely mentions and being used this way recommending words or phrases like instead, on the other hand, except, besides, nonetheless, otherwise, although, despite the fact, meanwhile or although instead of the more common but. This is supported by the Oxford online dictionary which defines the "indeed" after the and as:
  • used to emphasize a statement or response confirming something already suggested
  • used to emphasize a description
None of this supports your claim that Wood is contrasting the ideas.--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:19, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Excuse me? You're the one doing the OR here, not just with the Wood quote but in almost everything you've written about the alleged imprecision of the Christ-myth theory. Seriously, where is the secondary source that says that defining the Christ-myth theory is difficult? You've constructed this difficulty on your own interpretation of the sources. If you read the sources properly, with a reasonable background in the history of NT scholarship, the alleged difficulty disappears. Your argument about the meaning of "and", based on your reading of dictionary definitions and usage guides, is also OR.
Now, I was actually wrong about something in Wood—in that 1934 book, he mentions the Christ-myth theory in more than one place. It had been a couple of years since I looked at the book, so I went back to it, and found that Wood mentions the CMT in 3 places in Christianity and the Nature of History. On pp. xxxii-xxxiii, Wood writes that "Through Ogden and the Heretics I became interested in the Christ-myth controversy. Two features of the work of Arthur Drews arrested my attention. In the first place it was clear that his historical judgments were determined by his philosophy and not by a straightforward survey of the evidence. To his type of spiritual monism a faith which attaches value to historic events or persons is a kind of idolatry. I failed to see why the question of the historicity of Jesus should be determined in defiance of the principles of rational criticism, merely to bolster up the philosophic prejudices of Arthur Drews...Those who have not entered far into the laborious inquiry may pretend that the historicity of Jesus is an open question." So for Wood, the Christ-myth theory deals with Jesus' historicity (i.e., existence), and gives a negative answer.
On p. 54, Wood writes "St Augustine tells us that his doubts about Manichaeism began when he discovered the un-scientific character of their scriptural exegesis. No form of the Christ-myth theory can survive this test. As Dr Schweitzer observes, 'It is no hard matter to assert that Jesus never lived. The attempt to prove it, however, infallibly works round to produce the opposite conclusion'. This dialectic process whereby the Christ-myth theory discredits itself rests on the simple fact that you cannot attempt to prove the theory without mishandling the evidence." It should be apparent from this passage that Wood agrees with Schweitzer's characterization of the Christ-myth theory as one which "assert[s] that Jesus never lived." To say that another way, Wood writes that the Christ-myth theory says there was no historical Jesus.
On p. 40, as part of a discussion of Formgeschichte (usually known in English as Form criticism), Wood writes: "As I shall argue later, this new school of critical study does not justify a denial of the historicity of Jesus or his creative influence. But the sociological fashion reflected in the rise of Formgeschicte lends colour to Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories which regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure. The question raised by such theories and answered in the affirmative is this, May not the community be the real hero of the story?" The quote that you've been placing so much stress on is part of this passage; it is preceeded by a sentence that refers to the denial of the historicity of Jesus, and as we've already seen, for Wood, as for Schweitzer, that denial is the defining feature of the CMT. On the other hand, Wood refers to theories which make Jesus an insignificant historical figure (i.e., deny his historical influence), and for some pages after this quote, Wood discusses Karl Kautsky's Foundations of Christianity as an example of a work which acknowledges that Jesus was historical, but argues that he had little influence over the development of Christianity. Wood does not call Kautsky a Christ-myth theorist, but refers to Drews, J. M. Robertson, and Kalthoff as such. So if one bothers to read Wood's book, rather than focusing on one sentence, it is easy to see that he is talking about two different types of theories when he refers to "Christ-myth theories and indeed to all theories which regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." Of course, if one has some background knowledge of 20th-century scholarship on the historical Jesus, and one isn't determined to find ambiguity whereever possible, this would be clear simply from reading that single sentence.
Also, I'm a bit puzzled by your assertion that "you reference of all things another wikipedia article (which is not RS)." I don't think I did that in my last post, so what are you referring to? --Akhilleus (talk) 03:28, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────You forget that John Robertson is also in the "The Most Recent Disputing of the Historicity of Jesus" chapter of Schweitzer's Quest of the Historical Jesus from page 363 on even calling Robertson and Frazer Drews' masters on page 382. In fact the work referenced is the same one used by Archibald Robertson who demonstrated that as far as Robertson was concerned in 1900 "historicity" for him was along Marshall's "Gospels accounts give a reasonable account of historical events" rather than the "Jesus no more existed then King Lear or Dr Who" you are claiming.

As for my reference to using a wikipedia article as proof I refer to this little gem of yours:

"As for the quote from Wood, Bruce may find it instructive to read Grammatical conjunction and review the meaning of "and". It's not an equals sign." (sic) --Akhilleus (talk) 15:28, 12 January 2010 (UTC) (Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_27)

Never mind you use another wikipedia article (that Form criticism above) in THIS rebuttal as evidence.

So since Frazer and John Robertson have Jesuses who lived meaning Schweitzer's "assert[s] that Jesus never lived" more likely is along "assert[s] Jesus (of the Gospels) Jesus never lived" then the "assert[s] that Jesus never lived (as a flesh and blood man)" you keep claiming. There are two versions of the 1910 version of Christianity and mythology Internet Archive with the Wellesley College Library version having the better formatted full text (ie searchable without barfing all over the place). The 1912 version of Quest of Historical Jesus expressly mentions this version in the reference section on page 355 and this is also the version Archibald Robertson uses.

"All that can rationally be claimed is that a teacher or teachers named Jesus, or several differently named teachers called Messiahs, may have Messianically uttered some of these teachings at various periods, presumably after the writing of the Pauline epistles" - Robertson, John (1910) Christianity and mythology pg 125.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:50, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Wow. This is bizarre. In your post at 01:19, 15 March 2012, when you said "you reference of all things another wikipedia article (which is not RS)," you meant my link to grammatical conjunction in a post I made at 15:28, 12 January 2010? Do you think it's reasonable to expect me to remember a post from over 2 years ago without some kind of pointer? And anyway, now that you have told me what you were referring to, I wasn't using the wikipedia article as evidence—I was just trying to give you a helpful link. (And with the link to form criticism, same thing—just a helpful link if someone would like to find out what Formgeschichte refers to.) I suppose you're conceding now that your interpretation of Wood was incorrect, since you don't follow up on my points in my last post (you know, the one from 03:28, 16 March 2012, not the one from 2 years ago).
I don't understand why you keep bringing up Frazer. It's clear that he's not a Christ-myth theorist, although he might be worth mentioning in this article because the Golden Bough was an inspiration to many of the Christ-myth writers. When Schweitzer says Frazer was one of Drews' masters, he's referring to Drews' use of comparative mythology along the lines of Frazer.
And yeah, I've read John Robertson. Not everything—he wrote a lot about early Christianity—but he's a core writer on this topic, so I've looked at some of his work. More importantly, I've looked at secondary sources that discuss his work (since Wikipedia is supposed to be based on authoritative secondary sources), and these invariably say that J.M. Robertson denied the historicity of Jesus. Yes, it's true, Schweitzer classes Robertson among those who deny the historicity of Jesus. Schweitzer says this even though Robertson allows that some historical persons may have contributed to the Gospel portrait of Jesus. But these historical people aren't Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus ben Pandera is a different fellow, and a guy named Jesus who utters messianic teachings after the composition of the Pauline epistles isn't the historical Jesus either. He's somebody else. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:48, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
Again, we go back to Schweitzer's own autobiography which stated "I especially wanted to explain late Jewish eschatology more thoroughly and to discuss the works of John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, James George Frazer, Arthur Drews, and others, who contested the historical existence of Jesus." (Schweitzer (1931) Out of My Life and Thought) But Robertson didn't go so far as saying there wasn't a flesh and blood man behind the Jesus of the Gospels (he suggests and Frazer certainly didn't. Even Drews stated "If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with, this can naturally not be opposed; but we know nothing of this Jesus. Even in the representations of historical theology he is scarcely more than the shadow of a shadow." Of the four people Schweitzer expressly names in this passage only William Benjamin Smith seems to have gone the route there not being any flesh and blood man there at all.
Nevermind Drews comment agrees with my interpretation of what Woods is saying. Drews himself is stating that if one insists that Jesus was a historical flesh and blood person he was so insignificant formt he time he actually lived in that he effectively became a Tabula rasa. Robertson uses Schweitzer's own words to say much the same thing in his 1910 addendum. --BruceGrubb (talk) 07:32, 17 March 2012 (UTC)
Schweitzer's comment in his autobiography is immaterial here, for reasons I've already explained. And your interpretation of Robertson and Drews pales in comparison to what secondary sources say (remember that WP:V is a core policy)—that Robertson and Drews said that there was no historical Jesus, that he never lived. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:24, 19 March 2012 (UTC)
Schweitzer's comment about what his book was about is immaterial? SAY WHAT?!? By that loopy logic Wells comment one what Jesus Legend and Jesus Myth about is also immaterial even even though they accept a historical Jesus behind the hypothetical Q gospel the majority of scholars label those works as examples of the Christ Myth. The door swings both ways.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:04, 20 March 2012 (UTC)
Yes, it's immaterial (or more precisely, your efforts to magnify its importance far beyond what it will bear are immaterial). You're trying to use this passage to invalidate Schweitzer's work, and to make the case that the Christ myth theory is so hard to define this article needs a lead that is almost totally incoherent (and the first few subsections need to be incoherent as well). Never mind that the secondary sources on this topic are quite clear on the definition of the Christ myth theory (or as it's usually called in current writing, mythicism). In the process you've inserted a huge mass of editorializing into the article (also known as original research), and misrepresented the sources you cite.
As an example, here's a quote from the current version of the "meaning of the whole term" section (I assume that you wrote this text, please correct me if I'm wrong):

Sources that try to actually define the entire term "Christ Myth theory" and "Jesus Myth Theory" only add to the confusion. The 1988 edition of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia defines Christ Myth Theory thus: "(the) view states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes, and its basis is sought in the parallels, actual or legendary, to the Gospel records concerning Jesus", and then presents Lucian, G. A. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and P Graham as examples of this concept.[27] Lucian, however, never said that Jesus did not exist as a flesh and blood man, but rather mocked the story of Jesus and the belief of Christians;[28] Wells has stated, even in his pre-Jesus Legend works, that Paul's Jesus was mythical in the legendary sense of the word (ie historical myth);[29] and Russell and Graham both "left open the question of whether there was such a figure as Jesus of Nazareth as the Gospels portray Him."[27] Furthermore both Greek and Norse myths vary wildly on claims to historical fact with Heracles, Trojan War, and Yngvars saga víðförla falling into the historical myth (i.e. myths based on actual historical events) side of the arguments. This is therefore a definition that doesn't really define the term in a clear and meaningful way.

You quote a definition from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, then cite and interpret other sources to arrive at a novel conclusion that the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia's definition is unclear. This is obvious synthesis of published material that advances a position; it's against policy. It needs to go. (Never mind that it misrepresents what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says; it does not use Lucian, Russell, or Graham as examples of the Christ myth theory, as I explained back in March 2009, at Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_22#Bromiley. And yes, Bruce posted directly afterwards and ignored everything I said, which is sadly typical.) --Akhilleus (talk) 18:14, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As I pointed out way back with my 20 January 2009 comment (Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_19) "saying the story of a person is a piece of mythology is NOT the same as say the person themselves didn't exist. The stories of George Washington and the Cherry Tree, Paul Reveres' famous ride via Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, or the umteen dime novels of various 19th century people like Jessie James, Wild Bill Hickok who undeniable existed cases in point (George W. Chilcoat and Joan M. Gasperak (1984), Young Adult Literature: The Dime Novel or How to Vitalize American Literature Classes, National Council of Teachers of English clearly state that some of the early dime novels stories were in fact using real people and real events while not claiming to be real history) (sic)." I explained these problems in detail in Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_22#Bromiley and brought them up regarding Mythicist in Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_41#The_Mythicist_Position.

Per WP:NOTOR "Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources. If reliable references cannot be found to explain the apparent discrepancy, editors should resist the temptation to add their own explanation." The key word here is "explanation" As I pointed out in Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_37#What_is_the_real_difference_between_Christ_myth_theory_and_.27Jesus_existed_but_the_Gospel_Jesus_is_a_myth-fiction.27_Idea.3F citing Binford's "Archaeology as anthropology" (1962) American Antiquity 8, no 2, 217-225) article explications are what the things are while explanations are the how and why of things. I have no idea how or why Bromiley picked such poor examples as he and provide no explanation though I do provided explications regard his points--perfectly allowable.

I point to the story of Davy Crockett using bear grease to unfreeze the sun. We can all agree there was a real Davy Crockett and that this story of Davy Crockett "is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes" How we jump from the idea that story of someone has more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes to the idea that the person themself didn't exist is beyond me.

As I have stated before as late as 1919 it was stated "Osiris, Attis, Adonis were men. They died as men; they rose as gods" ("Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics" Charles Scribner's Sons pg 646; reprinted by Kessinger Publishing 2003 ISBN-13: 978-0766136984) Now look at Bromiley's list of deities: Attis, Adonis, Osiris, and Mithras. Only Mithras is not common to both sources so the old argument that Bromiley was arguing that Jesus didn't exist as a flesh and blood man falls apart. "Euhemerism. From Euhemerus (c.320 BCE), who argued that the gods developed out of elaborated legends concerned originally with historical people. Applied to Jesus, the question becomes, not cur Deus homo?, but cur homo Deus? Why (or how) was the man Jesus promoted to become the Son of God? The historical evidence supporting this interpretation of Jesus is negligible, not least since the letters of Paul, among the earliest writings of the New Testament, associate Jesus closely with God, with extremely high titles and claims." (BOWKER, John "Euhemerism." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. 28 Mar. 2012)

Bowker seems to forgotten the Trinity where Jesus is God as well as the Son of God, oops--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:47, 28 March 2012 (UTC)

All you're doing is adding more OR to the OR you've already produced. Do you have any secondary sources that comment directly upon the definition in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, and say that it's somehow problematic? If not, then this is all your own interpretation—and that's not supposed to be in the article. --Akhilleus (talk) 15:28, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
Do you deny the facts presented in the "Meaning of the whole term" section? Also keep WP:NOTOR in mind. Just claiming there is synthesis does not make it true.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:52, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
The problem is that "Meaning of the whole term" section begins with an assertion of opinion—"Sources that try to actually define the entire term 'Christ Myth theory' and 'Jesus Myth Theory' only add to the confusion." There's no secondary source that makes this exact point, is there? And non-factual, evaluative statements continue throughout the section, e.g. "As a result you get a definition that doesn't really define the term in a clear and meaningful way." The line of argument in the second paragraph is an interpretation of a passage from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, one which is not published in any secondary source but rather is your own opinion of the passage. Your interpretation is based on a faulty reading of the passage, as I have said before. For instance, the passage does not say that Lucian is an example of the Christ myth theory—it explicitly says that the Christ myth theory has been argued by writers of the "last two hundred years or so", but Lucian is from the 2nd century CE. Lucian is cited as a writer who argued that Jesus' story was paralleled by the pagan miracle-worker Apollonius; his argument is similar to Christ-myth theorists who say that Jesus' story is paralleled by pagan mythology, but that doesn't mean that the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is calling Lucian a Christ-myth theorist. This is just one of the interpretive errors you've made in this passage. The larger error is that the passage should not contain your interpretations of anything, unless they've already been made by reliable sources. And I don't think there's any reliable source that says that this passage of the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia is confusing, is there? --Akhilleus (talk) 01:21, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
By the way, if you look at the article in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia ([2]) you can read to the end and discover it's by R.P. Martin. I don't think I was able to see that page when I was reading the article on previous occasions, but it's there now, so we should be sure to refer to the author of this quote properly from now on—it's not Bromiley, it's R.P. Martin. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:27, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
We need sources to tell us that other sources are in conflict?!? THAT IS INSANE. We are not transcriptions monkeys. Do you deny there are stories of people who really lived that are pieces of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes (such as those around King Arthur and Robin Hood)?--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:11, 31 March 2012 (UTC)

Awkward introduction

The following seems totally out of place in the intro:

However, there is ambiguity in the meaning of the words:

  • myth
  • historical
  • fiction

This would only make sense if the preceding paragraph actually contained all three of the words (myth, historical, and fiction), which it does not at this time (it currently reads "The term Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus Myth, and Christ Myth) in its broadest context refers to the idea that the person named Jesus referred in the Gospels is a myth.").

(I don't see any issues with the remainder of the intro, and I think clarifying the different ways in which various scholars believe Jesus could be a myth is worthwhile.)

Should we drop or reword this bulleted list? (Not that I'm particularly pleased with the bulleted style here, but that's a minor quibble compared to the content question.) Note that the "Ambiguity in Definition" seems to have the same problem, since the definition (at least on this page) doesn't actually contain these terms. (Note, actual username BradC, problems logging in currently) (talk) 18:17, 27 February 2012 (UTC)

The reason for the awkward wording in the intro is that many people use "non-historical" or "fiction" as synonyms for "myth" ie 'Jesus is a myth', "Jesus is non-historical', and 'Jesus is a fiction' all meaning the same thing. So the minute someone see "myth" they see "non-historical" or "fiction" resulting in people like John M. Robertson, James Frazer, Remsburg, and Wells post-Jesus Legend being called Jesus mythers even though they accepted the possible existence of a Jesus in the first century. I've cleaned it up the intro a little but am still not happy with it but the problem goes back to the material which is really sloppy in how it uses the terms "myth", "historical", and "fiction".
I should point out that Biblical scholar I. Howard Marshall gave us TWO ways Jesus could be "historical": he existed as a flesh and blood man or the Gospel account is more or less historical accurate. Marshall's first definition (matching Welsh's definition of the man coming before the myth for historical Jesus) would put "Christ mythers" like Volney, Robertson, Mead, Wells pre-Jesus Legend, and Ellegård in the historical camp because they all said that Jesus was a flesh and blood man who had lived a century before the time the Gospel account puts him and was a dimly remember myth (ie legend) by the time Paul wrote something about him.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:49, 3 March 2012 (UTC)
Despite the name change, we still seem to have the same problem - defining what exactly the article is about. I can't believe the current intro is the best we can do. Perhaps we should change the name of the article a bit more dramatically, to remove the ambiguity altogether? How about changing it to the Non-divinity of Jesus Christ theory? Wdford (talk) 13:14, 13 March 2012 (UTC)
Changing the name to something else (especially a made-up phrase that doesn't appear in any secondary sources) isn't going to help.
Anyway, since most scholarship on the historical Jesus says he was a human being like you and me, not the divine being of Christian belief. The historical person cannot have performed miracles (though he may have done things that were perceived as such), didn't rise from the dead, etc. So most scholarship holds a "non-divinity of Jesus Christ theory." (There are some scholars who think they can establish the historicity of the miracles and even the resurrection, but they aren't a majority.) --Akhilleus (talk) 18:00, 13 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────Akhilleus is right that changing the name (especially to something that doesn't exist in the source material) is not going to help. The Talk:Christ_myth_theory/definition page collects the various arguments regarding the definition of the Christ Myth theory into one place and shows why the lead is so complex--there just isn't one definition for Christ Myth Theory other than "Jesus is a myth" but what that exactly means is a disjointed confusing mess due to each author having their own take on it. Much the same thing can be seen regarding the term "historical Jesus" which also varies from author to author.

Besides, Non-divinity of Jesus Christ theory does not really describe the core of the theories presented in the article. If there is a core to the theories as a whole it is that Christianity was a Great Moment rather than a Great Man event and therefore didn't need a flesh and blood man as a founder. Basically the theory as a whole is not so much Jesus didn't exist but that he doesn't need to have existed and that Christianity owed more to a slowly evolving mythology about a coming Christ and the work of Paul and those who came after him then to Jesus himself.

In fact, Remsburg the darling of seeming every armchair "expert" out there made quite clear what Christ he was talking about in the Preface to his book:

"By the Christ is understood the Jesus of the New Testament. The Jesus of the New Testament is the Christ of Christianity. The Jesus of the New Testament is a supernatural being. He is, like the Christ, a myth. He is the Christ myth." (The Christ, "Preface"

Later on he made it quite clear "Jesus of Nazareth, the Jesus of humanity, the pathetic story of whose humble life and tragic death has awakened the sympathies of millions, is a possible character and may have existed; but the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity, is an impossible character and does not exist." (The Christ,"Christ's Real Existence Impossible")

"That a man named Jesus, an obscure religious teacher, the basis of this fabulous Christ, lived in Palestine about nineteen hundred years ago, may be true. But of this man we know nothing. His biography has not been written." (The Christ,"Silence of Contemporary Writers"

Drews seems to have a similar bent:

"This work seeks to prove that more or less all the features of the picture of the historical Jesus, at any rate all those of any important religious significance, bear a purely mythical character, and no opening exists for seeking an historical figure behind the Christ myth. It is not the imagined historical Jesus but, if any one, Paul who is that " great personality " that called Christianity into life as a new religion, and by the speculative range of his intellect and the depth of his moral experience gave it the strength for its journey, the strength which bestowed upon it victory over the other competing religions. Without Jesus the rise of Christianity can be quite well understood, without Paul not so. If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with, this can naturally not be opposed ; but we know nothing of this Jesus. Even in the representations of historical theology he is scarcely more than the shadow of a shadow." (Drews The Christ Myth)

In short the argument of all the varied Christ Myth theories is not so much the man himself didn't exist (Remsburg's Jesus of Nazareth) but there is nothing to show that the Jesus described by the Gospels (Remsburg's Jesus of Bethlehem) actually existed. Price's comparison with King Arthur is interesting as one of the candidates for a "historical" Arthur is Lucius Artorius Castus who lived in the late 2nd to early 3rd century (as opposed to the 5th to 6th centuries Arthur is generally placed in) which again brings one back to the Jesus lived c100 BC as part of the Christ Myth theory and therefore "non-historical" problem.--BruceGrubb (talk) 00:51, 15 March 2012 (UTC)

I take your point, which is very well summarised. However the current intro cannot be left as is. Why not replace all those bullet points with a sentence along the lines of: "The argument of all the varied Christ Myth theories is not so much that the man himself didn't exist, but that there is nothing to show that he was the Divine Son of God as described by the Gospels." (Or something like that.) Wdford (talk) 10:39, 15 March 2012 (UTC)
Again, Wdford, most scholarship on the historical Jesus does not assume that he "was the Divine Son of God as described by the Gospels," so this would not be a good description of the subject of this article. The essential characteristic that separates the Christ myth theory from other ideas about Jesus is precisely the dispute about historicity. You're absolutely right that the bullet points can't be left that way, though. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:15, 16 March 2012 (UTC)
I have to agree with Akhilleus on this point. The Christ Myth theory is not just on the divinity of the Gospel Jesus but the entire story provided --where and how he was born, what he said and did, and how he died--doesn't seem to be historical verifiable. This is the key point where the Christ Myth theory deviates from mainstream (yes even after all this time I still say this thing even with the broad definition I am finding is fringe); at its core the Christ Myth theory argues the Gospels depict what is in essence a composite character that weave the actions, words, and fates of various would be Christs of different times along with some pre-existing Christ mythology into a single unified person who by definition can't be "historical" (unless you go the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and-or Joseph Bell are the "historical" Sherlock Holmes route)
Mainstream scholarship on the other hand says there is enough to show that there was some teacher-philosopher-would be messiah in Galilee named Jesus who was born c4 BCE and was executed for some state crime no later then c36 CE.
To use John Frum as an example the Christ myth theory is that an actual historical Jesus may have no connection to the Gospel Jesus other then the name:
John Frum of cult: Appeared in vision February 15, 1931; white literate US serviceman.
John Frum of history: illiterate Native originally named Manehivi is exiled off the island in 1941.
As you can see other than the name the connection between the John Frum of the religion and history other then the name is effectively nil and that is what the Christ Myth theory essentially is.
However that said when there was no bulleting there were complaints about the lead being "too complex" despite counterexamples like Rorschach test, Creationism, New Chronology (Fomenko) and Vampire being presented. The bullets came about due to other editors not taking the time to actually read and bringing up points that were already addressed in the lead they missed due to speed reading.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:07, 16 March 2012 (UTC)

Edit warring by Ddwiki50

Please no more inline comments and pov pushing. If you want to make a constructive contribution, why not propose a Bold edit, wait for someone to Revert and then Discuss on talk? Edit-warring doesn't help us and it usually ends in either the perpetrators changing their behaviour or being banned from editing. Martijn Meijering (talk) 21:43, 26 March 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. The claim "What follows is a biased article that is pro- "Christ myth theory."" has no merit. This article tries its best at explain all the facets that make up the many versions of what has been called "Christ myth theory" or some recognized synonym there of.
The reality is that there are many variations of the "Christ Myth" theory:
  • Jesus originally being an allegoric myth to which historical details possibly including an actual obscure 1st century teacher of the same name were added later (Dodd, Charles Harold (1938) History and the gospel University of Chicago pg 17; (1911) The Hibbert journal, Volume 9, Issues 3-4 pg 658; Robert M Price. "Response to James D. G Dunn," in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 230.; Walsh, George (1998) The Role of Religion in History Transaction Publishers pg 58)
  • Jesus was historical but lived c100 BCE (Price, Robert M. "Jesus at the Vanishing Point" in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 65)
  • The Christ Myth may be a form of modern docetism (Grant, Michael. Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels. Scribner, 1995; first published 1977, p. 199)
  • The Gospel Jesus is in essence a composite character and therefore non historical by definition.(Robertson, John M. (1900, 1910) Christianity and mythology the mythicist; Price, Robert M. (2000) Deconstructing Jesus Prometheus Books, pg 85)
  • The Christ-myth theory belongs to the group of "theories that regard Jesus as an historical but insignificant figure." (Wood, Herbert George (1934) MacMillan (New York, Cambridge, [Eng.] : The University Press pg 40)
  • Jesus Agnosticism: The Gospel story is so filled with myth and legend that nothing about it including the very existence of the Jesus described can be shown to be historical. (Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend Baker Academic, 2007. pg 24-25)
  • "This view (Christ Myth theory) states that the story of Jesus is a piece of mythology, possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes..." (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: E-J 1982 by Geoffrey W. Bromiley) The problem with this definition is it makes no distinction between historic myth (like the Trojan War) and philosophical myth (like Hades and Persephone). More over, Eusebius in Preparation of the Gospel [portrayed Heracles as a flesh and blood person who was later deified] and as late as 1919 it was stated "Osiris, Attis, Adonis were men. They died as men; they rose as gods" ("Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics" pg 646)
So depending on the author just what "the" Christ Myth theory even is varies. If there is a common thread in the myriad of versions it is that
  1. The Gospel Jesus is a myth
  2. The formation of Christianity was a great moment not requiring a flesh and blood founder
  3. Even if Christianity was a Great Man event it owes more to Paul as Jesus (if he did exist all) was so minor a person in his own time that no one noticed him.--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:48, 28 March 2012 (UTC)
If there's a common thread on this page, it's that BruceGrubb repeatedly spams the page with misunderstood quotations to push his opinion that the definition of Christ myth theory varies. --Akhilleus (talk) 15:45, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
No Akhilleus, if there is a common thread it was that this article at best was a CFORK of Historicity of Jesus with WP:SYN being used connect what author A said to author B. As is collected in Talk:Christ_myth_theory/definition#We_have_had_arguments_two_different_Noticeboards_as_to_what_Christ_Myth_theory_even_is.21 we have had several threads in two noticeboards as to what this article is even about:
And note Administrator SlimVirgin was involved in some of those.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:28, 29 March 2012 (UTC)
Again, being an administrator doesn't give anyone special authority in content disputes. I'm an administrator, have you noticed? Also, I know about those noticeboard threads—I started some of them, you know. And the idea that this article is a CFORK is ridiculous, because there are many secondary sources that treat the Christ myth theory as a notable, discrete topic. Just to name monographs, there's Shirley Jackson Case, The Historicity of Jesus: A Criticism of the Contention that Jesus Never Lived, a Statement of the Evidence for His Existence, an Estimate of His Relation to Christianity (1912), Maurice Goguel, Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History? (1926), Herbert Wood, Did Christ Really Live? (1938), and Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? (2012). That's four secondary sources about the subject of this article; on any other topic, that would be ample evidence to justify a Wikipedia article, and there are of course many book chapters and journal articles that treat the subject as well, not to mention the numerous books by proponents of the theory! If the article were actually written according to content policies and were based upon these secondary sources, there would be no problem here. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:52, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Then I am surprised you seem to have no understanding of either WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT and Wikipedia:Consensus. As I pointed out before the WP:CFork issue was brought up in 2007( Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_8) (back in 2007) showed a concern about this being a POV fork by Jim62sch. Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_9 have even more concerns with ThAtSo flat out calling this article a WP:CFORK. In Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_21 User:Dbachmann again raised this issue (2009) and I agreed with him in Feb of that year asking "why does so much of the material on BOTH sides of this issue have problems? As I said elsewhere Creationism and New Chronology get better treatment than this and they are even more off the wall." By Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_22 User:Dbachmann seems to be to the point where nuking the article from orbit seemed to be a good idea. Hans Adler in Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_24 brought up the WP:CFORK issue again, in Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_28 Ttiotsw brought up WP:COATRACK concerns, and then User:SlimVirgin came on board in Talk:Christ_myth_theory/Archive_30 with with their WP:CFORK concerns.
So the WP:CFORK issue has been around for five years. Furthermore, we editors are more than just transcription monkeys as a quick trip to Focal infection theory show. By the logic you have presented we would have to have a source that stated 2002 Ingle's Endodontics 5th edition, 2006 Carranza's clinical periodontology and the 2009 Textbook of Endodontology were in conflict to state they were in conflict. THAT IS INSANE! It is obvious there and here there is confusion regarding certain details. Per WP:NOTOR Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources."
Does Martin give us a clear definition? No. If anything the more you look the more vague the definition becomes. Heck, Celsus (c180) argued against the story of Jesus without arguing against the man himself existing.
Does Michael Grant's definition of 'Jesus not existing as a human being at all' conflict with others called Christ Mythers? Yes. Volney, Robertson, Mead, Ellegård, and Pre-Jesus Legend Wells all held there was a flesh and man involved in the story.
You are saying that we cannot present the fact there is a conflict unless there is a source that documented the conflict?!? SAY WHAT?!?--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:51, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
I am saying that you cannot insert sentences like "Sources that try to actually define the entire term "Christ Myth theory" and "Jesus Myth Theory" only add to the confusion" into Wikipedia articles unless you have reliable sources that say exactly that. (Oh, I see you've revised this to "Sources that try to actually define the entire term "Christ Myth theory" and "Jesus Myth Theory" only add to the confusion in that the supplied definitions are either vague or conflict with other equally reliable references.", which even more problematic.) Same thing goes for "As a result you get a definition that doesn't really define the term in a clear and meaningful way." Do you have any sources that explicitly state these things about the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia article? I haven't seen any. Do you have any sources that testify to a conflict or lack of clarity in Grant, Martin, et al.? I haven't seen you name any sources that say the definitions presented by these writers are unclear or in conflict. *You* think these writers contradict each other, are vague, etc., but this opinion does not appear to be one that's shared by reliable sources—otherwise you'd be able to give us some. Instead, you make arguments based on your own (faulty) interpretation of the sources. This is obvious WP:OR, and when you stitch together primary sources like Celsus and Lucian to support your opinion it's WP:SYNTH. I'm not the only person who thinks so—in the discussion at [3] several other editors find your text problematic.
In a situation like this it's probably a good idea to be a transcription monkey, since the alternative seems to be idiosyncratic and erroneous readings of the sources. You might start by fully transcribing some of the sources you listed above, since you've summarized/excerpted some of them in a misleading manner (e.g., why don't you quote Michael Grant saying "This sceptical way of thinking reached its culmination in the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth...from the eighteenth century onwards, there have been attempts to insist that Jesus did not even 'seem' to exist, and that all tales of his appearance upon the earth were pure fiction. In particular, his story was compared to the pagan mythologies inventing fictitious dying and rising gods.") --Akhilleus (talk) 17:39, 12 April 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── "In particular, his story was compared to the pagan mythologies inventing fictitious dying and rising gods." Grant is presenting a confusing argument here and we have argued about how to sum up this passage (see Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_39#Docetism. Since it first came up with regards to Docetism that is where the actual quote shows up (see Christ_myth_theory#Docetism section) though the point is referenced earlier.

Bulfinch Bulfinch's Mythology (1855-1863) documented Euhemerism as one of the many theories about how myths come to be and that no one theory explained all myths. This Historical interpretation/Euhemerism concept date all the way back to Herodotus the father of history (Honko, Lauri. "The Problem of Defining Myth". Sacred Narrative: Readings in the Theory of Myth. Ed. Alan Dundes. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984. 41-52.)

The "Osiris, Attis, Adonis were men. They died as men; they rose as gods" reference reflects the view that deities and possibly myths in general had flesh and blood people behind them--a view according to a University of California Press book was held by the "father" of history itself! Bulfinch held that the wind-god Aeolus was based on a flesh and blood king who had taught his people sailing and how to interpret winds.

While OR out the wazoo user:John Carter did a good sum up of the whole Docetism-Christ myth theory issue: "Docetism, as it was basically defined, was that Jesus was, effectively, a matter of mass hypnosis; in effect, that he was perceived as "real" by the observers, including the apostles, even if there was, basically, nothing real there. God was effectively hypnotising them."

If as Honko contends Euhemerism was the default view for history then the idea that Jesus was some form of philosophical myth would have likely never occurred to the people of 2nd through 4th centuries. At best (ala Census) you would have had that the man existed but the stories of that man are elaborate fictions argument.

If anything one could argue that Tall tales and Urban legends are modern myths running the entire gambit of "historical"; but the point is that a "fictitious" stories of a person != person didn't exist.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:55, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

No, Grant is making a very simple point. He says that both docetism and the CMT are instances of "the argument that Jesus as a human being never existed at all and is a myth", but he distinguishes between the two. He says that docetism is 1) ancient and 2) says that Jesus did not appear in the flesh, but only seemed to (i.e., he was a being of pure spirit that appeared on the earth and acted in history), but on the other hand he says that the CMT is 1) modern (eighteenth-century and later) and 2) says that Jesus was pure fiction (i.e. he didn't even "seem" to exist). So Grant makes a clear contrast between docetism and the CMT, but somehow you've twisted this into "The Christ Myth may be a form of modern docetism", which is a misrepresentation of what Grant says.
Honestly, if you find the sources this confusing, you should move on to a different article where you do understand the subject matter. It's time to stop making this article a record of the confusion and misunderstanding of a single editor, and instead make it represent what the sources actually say on the subject—which is in fact quite straightforward! --Akhilleus (talk) 13:53, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Neutrality Josephus section

I have tagged this section. I believe it should be balanced with some discussion of the authenticity of the first two statements of Josephus and the base authenticity of the third statement about the crucifixion. I was going to tag the historical Jesus section as well but thought perhaps it best to resolve one issue at a time. Let me say this article is on the myth of Jesus so the vast majority of the article should be about this. However, I think we should make an attempt to at least mention the opposing view briefly. I am not proposing this evolve into a religious debate about the historical Jesus as fact or fiction.Jobberone (talk) 05:18, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

I have removed the tag for Josephus. We have a Sunday School article on Josephus on Jesus that has been edited by Catholic Fundamentalists that nobody else is allowed to touch. The content in this article is comprised of material not allowed to be included on the Josephus on Jesus article. The Josephus section on this article contains citations. Since this article is entitled "Christ Myth Theory" the section therefore is written from that perspective. Lung salad (talk) 11:53, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I have digested this comment for awhile before responding again. Your comment about a Sunday School article you can't touch and the content in this article being comprised of material not allowed in the Josephus on Jesus article screams agenda. Balancing the article with the majority opinion that Josephus's three comments about the historicity of Jesus being authentic is not being agenda driven. Neither this article or one about Jesus should be written from a religious or nonreligious bent. This is an encyclopedia and should be written like one according to the general guidelines. Before anyone gets bent out of shape I have repeatedly said this article is about Jesus as Myth and as such the vast majority of this article needs to be about that....again in a neutral and balanced way. But omitting the overwhelming majorities' opinion over the centuries about Josephus is at the very least not encyclopedic and at the worst appears ideological. This article needs balance not fervent ideology from any side(s) and it does not need to be dominated by a few people.Jobberone (talk) 23:00, 12 April 2012 (UTC)
It can be additionally added that the Jesus article needs a POV tag, since essential information is missing from that article, and at this moment a churchgoing fundamentalist editor is attempting to erase a section on archaeological evidence on that article. The knowledge about Jesus is exclusively derived from Faith-based documents and Faith-based documents alone, that are treated in a unique and privileged way by those professional historians who who would never treat equivalent non-Christian documents in the same way. This basic fact is missing from the Jesus article. Lung salad (talk) 12:31, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
The entire point of the NPOV tag is for the community to resolve a perceived problem not for one person to unilaterally dismiss others opinions about the neutrality of the section. I've already stated this article is about Jesus as Myth and that I wasn't trying to inject religion into the article. However the weight given to the authenticity of those three statements does not reflect the entire community. Therefore the tag should remain until discussed appropriately. Please, follow the rules of Wikipedia and do not remove it because you disagree with the tag. Wait for the community to decide the section's neutrality. Furthermore if you feel another article on Wikipedia is not properly balanced then you should address your perception of the problem in that article. Editors should only provide the reader with the facts in a neutral and balanced way without injecting our personal feelings and opinions into Wikipedia. Cheers!Jobberone (talk) 14:10, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
Therefore the whole article is POV "Christ Myth Theory" if the Josephus section needs to be tagged. The whole article is not NPOV, according to your perspective. Lung salad (talk) 14:50, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I agree wholeheartedly the entire article is not one POV. The sections of persons espousing Christ as Myth should be about them and their ideas. It is not appropriate to find neutrality there but only to report what they said in a neutral, balanced and referenced way. OTOH, the credibility of Josephus has been hashed and rehashed for centuries. There are people whose OPINION is none of those statements are about a 'real' Jesus. There are many more persons in theology etc who feel the first two statements are credible and are about a real Jesus. Most feel the third statement is at its basis credible. That section lends no balance to that view and Josephus did not speak anywhere ever of Christ as Myth. That was the purpose of my tagging the section to be reviewed for neutrality.
It is not the purpose of Wikipedia to take sides in any controversy. As editors we are tasked with presenting all sides of a topic in a neutral and balanced way so that it reads as an encyclopedia should. I refer you here [[4]] for a review on neutrality.
Finally I asked you kindly to not remove the tag until the community had reviewed the section for neutrality as is the policy. I discussed the issue on the talk page before and after you removed the tag. There is nothing inherently threatening to asking people to review the section for neutrality. Since you seem so troubled by the tag perhaps we could leave a request for comment on neutrality??Jobberone (talk) 17:41, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
A tag is not a request for the community to review whether there is an NPOV issue. The person who inserts the tag has to point out what specifically is the problem. See WP:NPOV dispute. Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:26, 30 March 2012 (UTC)
I have described in the talk section what I consider to be a neutrality problem adequately and from the beginning. Here is the page on neutrality disputes.[[5]] However, as I've already said we can make a request for comments on neutrality. Do you object to this?Jobberone (talk) 18:54, 30 March 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The Josephus section is likely one of the most neutral sections in this article. It retains key points (the 62 vs 69 CE conflict ie the Josephus and Jerome vs Hegesippus, Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius of Caesarea, and Early Christian tradition conflict) that have been effectively suppressed in the main Josephus on Jesus article.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:34, 31 March 2012 (UTC)


Page fully protected for 3 days. Dougweller (talk) 17:51, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

Removal of synthesis tags

On March 26, I placed a {{synthesis}} tag in the "Meaning of the whole term" section ([6]), and explained why in this talkpage post. Discussion has followed, e.g. [7], but has shown very little understanding of the issues involved and no attempt at finding better text to place in the article. BruceGrubb has removed the tag twice: [8] and [9], the second removal coming after a discussion at Wikipedia:No original research/Noticeboard showed that several editors share my concern that BruceGrubb is placing OR in this article (see the discussion here, and note that one editor says that "Essentially Bruce has been pushing this claim that there is no clear meaning to Christ Myth theory for a long time. He drags quotations from sources out of context, sythesises arguments from multiple sources and essentially uses the full armoury of WP:OR to push this view, which simply undermines any attempt to give a serious and clear account of what is undeniably a distinct intellectual tradition.").

At the very least, there is an active dispute here, and BruceGrubb ought to refrain from removing the {{synthesis}} tag while it's ongoing. --Akhilleus (talk) 16:49, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

After I made the post above, BruceGrubb removed the tag once more: [10]. Disappointing, to say the least. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:32, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

You are the only one throwing in these tags and no one else seems to agree with your claims of OR. As Talk:Christ_myth_theory/definition shows I had plenty of other editors that agreed with my position to some degree including Taiwan boi (18 February 2009), davigoli (20 February 2009), Ludwigs2 (03:10, 21 February 2009), jbolden1517 (9 March 2009), Paul B (01:11, 4 January 2010), Bill the Cat 7 (02:23, 4 January 2010; 00:00, 25 April 2010), SlimVirgin (multiple times), ^^James^^ (01:16, 13 April 2010), Anthony (09:16, 23 April 2010), Vesal (21:33, 23 April 2010), Blueboar (00:43, 13 June 2010), Peregrine Fisher (04:44, 14 June 2010), DreamGuy (17:52, 5 September 2010), and so on all the way to In ictu oculi (05:00, 17 October 2011) with Vesal (19:46, 16 October 2011) who suggested the "Define it as a theory on how belief in Christ emerged, based on those (few) sources that have a clue, and clarify stances on historicity for each author later" idea that I took as a way to address the range of the Christ myth theory.--BruceGrubb (talk) 17:59, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Your response is a bit confusing. What do those users agree with? Why have you listed them with dates? Are you arguing that these users think that the text under dispute, i.e. the text in the "Meaning of the whole term" section, meets the guidelines of the No original research policy? Did these users comment on this specific dispute? It would be quite odd if they had, since the dates (whatever they're supposed to mean) precede this dispute, some of them by years. Do you have a time machine? --Akhilleus (talk) 18:35, 13 April 2012 (UTC)
Agree with Akhilleus here. The fact that an individual can produce a few others who have agreed with him, about 15 over three years, is not itself particularly significant. It is more than possible that at least some of those editors might be engaged in POV pushing. I also note that, as Akhilleus said, there is no clear evidence that they agree on this content dispute. I believe WP:BURDEN falls on BruceGubb here to provide substantial independent reliable sources to prove that synthesis is not taking place. John Carter (talk) 21:43, 13 April 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────The problem is that WP:BURDEN is NOT really the relevant policy here--WP:SYN and WP:NPOV and the related essay WP:NOTOR are what are really at issue. As I pointed way back on 20 February 2009 "We would have to throw out Mead, Ellegard, and Wells' current position as they do argue for a historical Jesus (abet in a different century for the first two and Wells for some form of composite person) but if scholars can find historical Robin Hoods a full century after the stories take place then these guys are basically arguing for a historical Jesus."

Now I know that Lucius Artorius Castus (who lived in 2nd to 3rd century) has been suggested as a possible "historical" King Arthur (portrayed as being part of the 5th to 6th century) the question comes up again but in a more relevant form--Robert M Price has repeatedly contrasted Jesus with King Arthur (Deconstructing Jesus; "Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled Reviewed by Dr. Robert M. Price" so how in this light is suggesting Jesus actually lived c100 BCE non-historical?

Remember Biblical Scholar I. Howard Marshall said there were TWO ways Jesus could be historical:

1) He was a actual flesh and blood man opposed to a totally fictional creation like King Lear or Dr. Who.

2) The Gospel accounts give a reasonable account of historical events, rather than being unverifiable legends such as those surrounding King Arthur

I. Howard Marshall expressly and directly states "We shall land in considerable confusion if we embark on an inquiry about the historical Jesus if we do not pause to ask ourselves exactly what we are talking about"

Even Drews stated that "If in spite of this any one thinks that besides the latter a Jesus also cannot be dispensed with, this can naturally not be opposed; but we know nothing of this Jesus. Even in the representations of historical theology he is scarcely more than the shadow of a shadow. Consequently it is self-deceit to make the figure of this "unique" and "mighty" personality, to which a man may believe he must on historical grounds hold fast, the central point of religious consciousness."

Resmburg in his "The Christ a Myth" chapter stated "While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination. After carefully weighing the evidence and arguments in support of each hypothesis the writer, while refraining from expressing a dogmatic affirmation regarding either, is compelled to accept the former as the more probable." The next three chapters after this one are "Sources of the Christ Myth: Ancient Religions", "Sources of the Christ Myth: Pagan Divinities", and "Sources of the Christ Myth: Conclusion"

Archibald Robertson clearly stated "(John) Robertson is prepared to concede the possibility of an historical Jesus perhaps more than one having contributed something to the Gospel story. (...) "The myth theory is not concerned to deny such a possibility (Jesus being a flesh and blood man). What the myth theory denies is that Christianity can be traced to a personal founder who taught as reported in the Gospels and was put to death in the circumstances there recorded."

"Even if there were a dozen or more historical Jesuses who had been sacred king sacrifices, it is not their biography being told in the gospel. The gospel tale represents a fictionalized, archetypical account of the ritual murder so commonly committed in the ancient world. (...) The case would be exactly analogous to that of King Arthur. There may have been a Romano-Celtic chieftain named Arthur whose name is preserved in the Round Table epics, but does that count as a historical King Arthur? There may have been a Celtic bard named Myrrdin, whose name was attached to Merlin the Magician, but would it be meaningful to call him the historical Merlin? Suppose I am watching the film Excalibur with my daughter, and we see Merlin summon up a supernatural fog, then change Uther's visage and cause his horse to ride upon the cloudbank to the castle of Cornwall, and my daughter asks me if Merlin really existed. To paraphrase a Unitarian minister of my acquaintance, I suppose I might answer my daughter, If you want the long answer, yes. If you want the short answer, no." (Robert M Price)

With all this (and more I have presented in the past) how can you rationally say BURDEN has not been met?--BruceGrubb (talk) 01:26, 14 April 2012 (UTC)

One, because one editor here has already multiple times been advised to adhere to WP:POV, specifically, you. WP:BURDEN is a policy. That policy indicates that individuals who seek to add or keep material are obligated to provide evidence to support their contentions. For this article to meet another policy, WP:NOTABILILTY, it is incumbent on those who wish to keep the article to provide evidence that multiple reliable sources have given this specific subject significant enough coverage to merit an article. I have seen, at best, a few shortish quotations provided by you to meet this requirement, and I do not believe that the clear notability of the topic of this particular article has yet been demonstrated to meet notability requirements. Also, as you have pointed out, there is another matter of synthesis as per WP:SYNTHESIS. For that guideline to be met, we will need to see specific sources which specifically refer to each of the theories to be included here as being examples of the "Christ myth theory" or equivalent phrasing. I do not yet see that evidence either. Please do us all the favor of readin all the relevant policies and guidelines and trying to ensure that this article meets them all. John Carter (talk) 15:07, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
I think the article is notable. One of the problems trying to critique this article and moving on is its a train wreck. It's hard to begin in one place. The other is because as soon as editors try to improve the article a few others 'edit' it right away. I'd like editors to comment on my suggestion to use a sandbox to improve the article. I'm uncertain if this approach will work any better than the customary way though esp in light of the current environment. I'm not in favor of the current status quo.Jobberone (talk) 22:55, 16 April 2012 (UTC)
I'm not opposed to using a sandbox to improve the article, but I'm not confident that it will help. The basic problem here is that BruceGrubb is firmly committed to the view that the topic of the article is indefinable—that it's simply impossible to say what the Christ myth theory is—and any article written with this view in mind is automatically going to be an incoherent mess. In other words, Bruce is determined that this article ought to be a train wreck. But compare the version from February 2011, that has a clear definition of the subject in the first sentence. It's more concise, more readable, less confusing, and lacks the OR-driven sections on the meaning of "myth" and the "meaning of the whole term". (I'm not saying that the Feb 2011 version is perfect—for instance, it lacks references to high-quality academic sources on this topic—but it's a lot better than the current version.)
The subject of the article is certainly notable; just last month Bart Ehrman, professor of religious studies at UNC Chapel Hill, published a book devoted to the topic—Did Jesus Exist?. He's less interested in covering the history of the Christ myth theory than in examining the arguments used by its proponents, but he does have a historical overview that makes it clear that he's talking about the line of thought developed by Bruno Bauer, J. M. Robertson, Arthur Drews, G. A. Wells, Robert Price, and Earl Doherty. (Ehrman doesn't use the phrase "Christ myth theory" but instead calls it "Jesus mythicism" or simply "mythicism", which is generally what this theory gets called in the voluminous discussions on the internet.) As far as I know, BruceGrubb has never questioned that this article is about the ideas of these writers, and there are many sources which discuss them as proponents of the idea that there was no historical Jesus.
But the turn this discussion has taken illustrates one of the most basic problems with working on this article. I initially placed the synthesis tag on one specific section of the article—the "meaning of the whole term" section. I think that it's a bad idea for a Wikipedia article to contain sentences like "Sources that try to actually define the entire term "Christ Myth theory" and "Jesus Myth Theory" only add to the confusion in that the supplied definitions are either vague or conflict with other equally reliable references" or, as a previous version said, "As a result you get a definition that doesn't really define the term in a clear and meaningful way." I was hoping for a discussion of a particular problem—is there synthesis in this section, and if so what should be done? Instead, we've got a discussion that's about the entire article. So maybe we can deal with a very specific and basic question: is there any secondary source that explicitly and directly supports the idea that "Sources that try to actually define the entire term 'Christ Myth theory' and 'Jesus Myth Theory' only add to the confusion in that the supplied definitions are either vague or conflict with other equally reliable references"? Is there any secondary source that actually tries to define "Christ myth theory" as a term or "Jesus myth theory" as a term, or is it that the sources that use this phrase are interested in the ideas of Bauer, Drews, Wells, et al.? --Akhilleus (talk) 03:00, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
I note further that above, Bruce quotes WP:NOTOR: "Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources. If reliable references cannot be found to explain the apparent discrepancy, editors should resist the temptation to add their own explanation." Bruce seems to believe that he has resisted the temptation to add his own explanation, but can he give us a reliable source that gives us a "characterization of the conflict" between the sources that he claims contradict each other? In other words, where is the source that says that the text from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia contradicts what some other writer says about the Christ myth theory? --Akhilleus (talk) 03:07, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────As I have pointed out before that I did not provide an explanation but rather an explication which is perfectly allowable.

Furthermore let's actually look at the February 2011 and see what is wrong with it:

The Jesus myth theory (also known as the Christ myth theory and the nonexistence hypothesis) is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not an historical person, but is a fictional or mythological character created by the early Christian community.

Biblical Scholar I. Howard Marshall said there were TWO ways Jesus could be historical:

1) He was a actual flesh and blood man opposed to a totally fictional creation like King Lear or Dr. Who.

2) The Gospel accounts give a reasonable account of historical events, rather than being unverifiable legends such as those surrounding King Arthur

A) Volney, Frazer, Remsburg, Robertson, Mead, Ellegård, and Wells, all accepted the possibility of a historical Jesus being involved in the myth but have been put into some form of the Christ Myth theory category. Per Marshall this deep sixes them denying option 1 (Jesus was a flesh and blood man) leaving us to say they are denying option 2 (the Gospels are reasonable accurate as historical documents).

B) Neither fictional or mythological really tells us anything. Shakespeare's Richard III is fictional but that doesn't mean there wasn't a real Richard III he was based on. Mythological has similar problems as explained by Remsburg and others.

I again point out that Remsburg who seems to be the darling of every amateur Christ Myth theorist out there did NOT say Jesus did not exist as a flesh and blood man (in fact he said odds were Jesus did exist) but rather that "the Jesus of Bethlehem, the Christ of Christianity (ie Gospel Jesus) is an impossible character and does not exist".

As I said before if there is any real common thread to all the varied ideas that have had the label "Christ myth theory" slapped on them it is not so much Jesus didn't exist but rather he didn't need to have existed ie the formation of Christianity was a Great Moment rather than a Great Man event. That Great Moment many have had a 1st century teacher named Jesus involved but he was not the founder of Christianity and his true biography is unknown. THAT in a nutshell is what the Christ Myth theory as whole is.--BruceGrubb (talk) 16:19, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

That's funny, I don't see anywhere in WP:NOTOR that "explication" is permitted whereas "explanation" is not. What I see is this: "Comparing and contrasting conflicting facts and opinion is not original research, as long as any characterization of the conflict is sourced to reliable sources." So where are the reliable sources that tell us different definitions of the Christ myth theory are in conflict? You aren't giving us any sources that characterize a conflict—you're using sources to create your own characterization of (what you see as) the conflict. Once again, where is the source that says that the text from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia contradicts what some other writer says about the Christ myth theory?
The problem here, I suppose, is that you think you've written straightforward interpretations of the sources, such that they aren't even interpretations, just summaries. But anytime you find yourself asserting in article text that a source has written something unclear or is internally contradictory, you are making an interpretation—that is, you're presenting your own explanation of the source. And to put that in the article, you need to support your explanation with a reliable source. And it's clear from what you've written on this talk page that you don't have a secondary source that backs up your explanation.
Also, is it really necessary to spam every section of this talk page with an essay about the "problems" of defining the Christ myth theory? You must have typed this out 50 times by now; or are you just copy-pasting? --Akhilleus (talk) 17:28, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
You have to admit when looked at from an objective point of view the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia definition doesn't really tell you what the Christ myth theory actually is. I have already pointed out several stories of people known to be historical (ala "Davy Crockett and the Frozen Dawn") that are "possessing no more substantial claims to historical fact than the old Greek or Norse stories of gods and heroes" (whatever the sam hill that means given the huge range of mythology) As I asked before why are Lucian, G. A. Wells, Bertrand Russell, and P Graham talked about rather than Dupuis, Drews, or William Benjamin Smith?
Part of my training as an anthropologist (museum focus) involved reading through Dunnel and Binford who debated in peer reviewed journals for 10 years if style had a function. Their arguments revolved around details and multiple interpretations of those details to avoid the theory wagging the data nonsense Miner had demonstrated with his famous 1955 article.
Also I see that you are dodging the Jesus not existing as a human being at all vs Volney, Robertson, Mead, Ellegård, and Pre-Jesus Legend Wells holding there was at least one flesh and blood man being involved issue. And before you go into the whole Jesus of Nazareth thing again I would like to point out that King Arthur Pendragon and Robin Hood Earl of Huntington are non historical mythical versions of possibly historical people.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:13, 17 April 2012 (UTC)
If the definition doesn't tell you what the term means, then it is a fairly clear violation of WP:SYNTH to say on the basis of the term that any specific instance of its use meets that definition. The only exception I can think of would be if there were some independent reliable source which specifically lists each and every listed theory as being, in some way, an example of the Christ myth theory. And academic training in an unrelated field is not particularly relevant, either. I was in the broad field of "history of religions", but you don't see me using that as a point in my favor. I still do not see how WP:BURDEN regarding the material in question has been met. And I find it amusing that one editor accuses another of "dodging" an issue when this thread is apparently about that editor "dodging" the requirements of policy and guidelines. Would it be asking too much of editors to limit their comments to those actually meeting the requirements, as opposed to engaging in off-topic discussion? John Carter (talk) 01:02, 18 April 2012 (UTC)
Way back on 23:46, 19 December 2008 (UTC) I stated:
"Actually this is not true as "Christ-myth theory" and "Jesus-myth theory" are NOT interchangeable though they tend to be used that way and there in is the real problem with this article. Strictly speaking a literally reading of "Christ-myth theory" would say that you are arguing about Christ being a myth; it doesn't make any evaluation regarding the person of Jesus as a myth which the "Jesus-myth theory" does. Take for example Thomas L. Thompson's The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David. Now no one can claim Thompson holds to the idea there was non-historical Jesus but that there are enough questions to wonder how much we have is accurate (if any of it). The removed Joseph Campbell quote ("It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles.") is not too different to what outer edge JMH are saying only they push it a little further and say Jesus was totally made up. The range is large and is is clear from the Van Voorst and Wells contradiction that just what "Jesus-myth theory" means tends to vary from scholar to scholar. Once you have shown that then you can cite quotes till cows come home but all the quotes show is that is that how that individual scholar defines "Jesus-myth theory". That is why John E. Remsberg is so important as he does NOT expressly define what "Christ-myth" means but gives a range as to its meaning."
"This whole article is borderline OR. The variety of terms used by various authors, along with imprecise definitions of these terms, makes it very difficult to pin down exactly how these authors are linked or what their primary tenets are, as anyone can see from this protracted discussion. It's extremely unfortunate that so-called scholars have used the terms "Jesus" and "Christ" interchangeably, and the use of the term "mythical" to supposedly indicate a negative historicity (a "could not have happened" as opposed to "may not have happened") is likewise misleading. Most of our problems here are sifting through contradictory usage, so if this article has any legs to stand on at all I'd like to see some serious scholarly work that clears the waters and addresses these terms and the authors in question, and not just opposition criticism." --[Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_19 davigoli (talk) 05:38, 2 January 2009 (UTC)]
"This is starting to get a little ridiculous. Any reasonable person that looks at even a small sampling of the literature can see that the terms "Jesus Myth" and "Christ myth" DO vary. Farmer, Jones, Horbury define it as saying Jesus NEVER existed (effectively throwing out the Jesus existed in an earlier century idea that even Akhilleus agrees is part of the concept), Dodd talks about "Alternatively, they seized on the reports of an obscure Jewish Holy man bearing this name and arbitrarily attached the "Cult-myth" to him." but nothing about if this man was contemporary to the Gospel Jesus or in a past century, and then you have Remsburg who defines "Christ-myth" as ranging from Jesus, a real person, being the foundation of the Gospel Jesus to both Jesus and Christ being total fictions.
It is NOT OR to show that the definition of what "Jesus Myth" and "Christ myth" even is varies. You cannot cherry pick sources and retain NPOV."--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:25, 31 December 2008 (UTC)
Given these and similar comments by myself and other editors I ask who is avoiding the real issue here?--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:14, 18 April 2012 (UTC)

Erroneous attribution of authorship to Bromiley

I've just made an edit to the "meaning of the whole term" section to make sure that a source is not attributed to the wrong author. The source in question is the entry on "Jesus Christ" in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia; prior to my edit, the article was crediting Geoffrey Bromiley as the author of this article, when in fact it should be R.P. Martin. I've already mentioned this already; it's disappointing to see that the error was still present. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:18, 17 April 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia:No original research Noticeboard comments

Just so everybody else knows Akhilleus started Wikipedia:No_original_research/Noticeboard#Christ_myth_theory back on 29 March 2012 without telling anyone here about it; a tactic he employed in Wikipedia:Fringe_theories/Noticeboard/Archive_11#Jesus_myth_hypothesis:

"From time to time Akhilleus comes to this notice board when he is having difficulties maintaining his editing goals for the Jesus myth hypothesis article. I would like him to explain how that differs from WP:Canvassing. I consider this all the more problematic because he never notifies other editors of the article what he has done, and that there is conversation about the article on this noticeboard." Malcolm Schosha (talk) 13:03, 1 January 2009 (UTC)

As an administrator he should know better then what IMHO is going behind the community's back to POV this article and skirts very close to Wikipedia:Canvassing

Oh for what it worth administrator User:Elen of the Roads is saying basically the same thing SlimVirgin did--this article is one big OR fest. If anything it was worse: "this mishmash is OR, if only because there is not one single notable "jesus is a myth" topic - there are hordes of the things. The coatrack inclusion here of every theory ever advanced makes it appear that there is such a thing, and that is by definition OR." (sic)--BruceGrubb (talk) 00:03, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Just so "everybody else knows", User:Malcolm Schosha was a sockpuppet of the banned User:Kwork. I think digging up comments made by banned users three years ago speaks for itself.
Also, BruceGrubb's summary of the thread at Wikipedia:No_original_research/Noticeboard#Christ_myth_theory is misleading. Elen of the Roads also mentioned that the entire first half of the lede of the article is OR, "Sources that try to ... equally reliable references" is clearly OR, and "It is unhelpful that breaking this spectrum down into categories tends to be dependent on the author in question" is OR. Which editor is responsible for the first half of the lede, BruceGrubb? Which editor composed the sentence that contains "Sources that try to ... equally reliable references"? Which editor wrote "It is unhelpful that breaking this spectrum down into categories tends to be dependent on the author in question"? Certainly wasn't me. Furthermore, it seems to me that Elen's comment that it might be a good idea to "retitle the article to Non-existence of historical Jesus theories", in response to Paul Barlow's comment [11], indicates there is a coherent topic here—but it's been obscured by the addition of masses of OR. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:56, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Elen of the Roads also stated "More significantly, since what is clear is that there isnt "a" christ myth theory, there are many of them, the article should focus on a run through the theories and their authors, not be containing sections such as that starting "There is no independent archaeological evidence to support the historical existence of Jesus Christ."" (I nuked that thing as there was nothing in the text body to justify its existence.)
Furthermore in the text you pulled out that nonexistent WP:WALLOFTEXT claim regarding I explain why this Non-existence of historical Jesus theories idea doesn't fix anything. Again, it goes back to Marshall's two ways Jesus could be "historical":
1) Jesus actually existed as human being rather than being a totally fictional creation like King Lear or Dr. Who
2) the Gospel accounts give a reasonable account of historical events, rather than being unverifiable legends such as those surrounding King Arthur.
Volney, Frazer, Remsburg, Robertson, Mead, Ellegård, and Wells have all accepted the possible existence of a historical Jesus being in the sense he was a human being rather a totally fictional creation. Problem is that they all have at one time or another been called Christ Mythers or were classified among those "who contested the historical existence of Jesus".--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:48, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Docetism etc.

Yesterday I removed the 2nd-17th centuries subsection, because the Christ myth theory is a modern phenomenon, only truly taking shape in the late 19th century. Docetism, on the other hand, is an ancient heresy, so it shouldn't get a long exposition here, and it certainly shouldn't be presented as if there's some seamless join with the ideas of Bauer, Drews, Robertson, Wells, et al.

BruceGrubb has tried to justify including docetism here on the grounds that there are some sources that say it's a version of the Christ myth theory. But the sources he claims say this don't in fact say this; the main source he's leaning on, Michael Grant, makes a clear distinction between docetism and the Christ myth theory ([12]). Bruce reverted my deletion of this material ([13]), and I've just deleted it again. I hope I don't get reverted this time.

To state it as simply as possible, the sources that discuss the history of this theory make it clear that it's a modern phenomenon. The entry on "Jesus Christ" from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia that Bruce has spent so much energy explicating says that the CMT is a modern theory. So does Ch. 1 of Van Voorst's Jesus Outside the New Testament. So do Bennett, Weaver, Hoffman, Wells, etc. This is an elementary fact about this subject that anyone who's looked at the sources should understand without any fuss. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:21, 24 April 2012 (UTC)

Sound judgement.Nishidani (talk) 17:17, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Indeed. Also, it's worth noting that docetism tends to presuppose that the Gospel account of the life of Jesus is accurate. It's just the guy was like a kind of hologram, not a flesh and blood person. In many ways it's the exact opposite of Christ Myth theory. Paul B (talk) 18:01, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Agreed. Docetism is completely different from a Christ Myth theory as the Docetists believed in Jesus as the Christ, whereas "Christ Mythers" are largely atheists. Then as today, there were lots of crazy offshoots from mainstream Christianity - doesn't mean they don't think of themselves as Christians. Ckruschke (talk) 18:34, 24 April 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke
I simply do not believe the Christ myth theory fights are still going on. Hasn't this been over 3 years of the same nonsense? With the same people (person?)? And still no topic-bans? I thought we were getting less tolerant of tendentious editing. Moreschi (talk) 20:01, 24 April 2012 (UTC)
Funny you should mention this as I was just thinking the same thing about tendentious editing. And I completely agree about Docetism which touted Jesus as not true flesh and blood but still the Christ. This entire article has been highjacked. It needs to be rewritten.Jobberone (talk) 02:05, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────How about looking at what the references I am providing actually say? "So far indeed has this gone that there has arisen a sort of modern docetism like that of Drews" The spiritual interpretation of history Shailer Mathews (1917) Page 37. "Some skeptics argue that Jesus was a myth. Ancient scholars named this theory "docetism," apparently because, to them, Jesus never actually came into the world as a flesh- and-blood man but only seemed to be here.." (1990)

Which is counterbalanced by

"The first part contains a denunciatory refutation of the Christ-Myth theory, which is quite wrongly described as "Docetism"" The Congregational quarterly Congregational Union of England and Wales (1934)

"Ignatius's account of Docetism Drews misunderstands Gnosticism teachers are denounced who declared that Jesus Christ had not come in the flesh, and taught that his flesh was only a blind." The historical Christ (1914) Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare pg 104.

As the time John Carter said "Now, docetism and the Jesus myth theory are seen as entirely separate things" Talk:Jesus_myth_theory/Archive_39#Docetism I didn't have the 1990 reference but now I do. It is clear that the Christ Myth theory has and to some degree still is connected to Docetism. Per WP:NPOV is should be addressed if only by the following:

The relationship between Docetism and the Christ myth theory has been debated ever since Drews' particular version was published in 1909. Some hold that the Christ myth theory is a variant of docetism[7][8] while others have argued that this connection is a misunderstanding of docetism.[9][10]--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:27, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

The "1990 reference" Bruce refers to is Crucify Him: A Lawyer Looks At the Trial of Jesus. The author, Dale Forman, is a lawyer, but has no apparent expertise in ancient history, ancient law, New Testament, etc. so this seems like a poor source to justify portraying the CMT as a species of docetism when every expert source who's commented on the matter sees them as different things. (I note also that the publisher of Crucify Him is Zondervan, an evangelical publishing house that states its mission as "To be the leader in Christian communications meeting the needs of people with resources that glorify Jesus Christ and promote biblical principles." I think it's perfectly possible for books published by Zondervan to be RSes worth using in this article, but in the past Bruce has argued against using books from Christian publishers—dig back far enough and you'll even find him saying "I should point out that Oxford University Press also publishes Bibles (especially the King James Bible which the Crown still owns the copyright as far as the UK goes) and that the UK only scraped its blasphemy laws in May 2008; so there are several problems Oxford University Press has with regards to the Jesus Myth issue (Cambridge University Press had and has much the same problems)." Consistency, much?)
At best, what these references justify is a sentence in the section on Drews saying that Drews claimed Docetism denied the historicity of Jesus, but Coneybeare said that Drews had entirely misunderstood docetism (Coneybeare actually writes "This is nonsense."). But even this is probably giving too much attention to a trivial matter.
By the way, there's something rather bizarre about a post that starts out "How about looking at what the references I am providing actually say?" and then provides what looks like a stream-of-consciousness "quote" from Coneybeare ("Ignatius's account of Docetism Drews misunderstands Gnosticism teachers are denounced who declared that Jesus Christ had not come in the flesh, and taught that his flesh was only a blind.") It turns out these are margin notes, not the main text, so I have to wonder how closely Bruce is reading his sources. If Bruce would read a bit more closely, it might become clear that Coneybeare does not think the subject of this article is ambiguous or difficult to describe: "The partizans, therefore, of the view that Jesus never lived deceive themselves when they appeal to the Docetes as witnesses on their side. The Docetes lend no colour to their thesis of the non-historicity of Jesus, but just the opposite." So yeah, Coneybeare writes about the view that Jesus never lived, the thesis of the non-historicity of Jesus. That's what this article is about. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:49, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Was editing and got distracted and got a conflict. This is in response to Bruce and not Akhilleus.
Good. Then you understand Docetism and Christ as Myth are totally different and as such doesn't deserve a big role in this article. I read it and get a headache. The theories of Christ as Myth are roughly two hundred years old and the article should read that way. Also the article needs to have some mention of Christ as Myth as a fringe movement or something along those lines. Right now the article is a propaganda piece. The section on Joseph should reflect the majority of religious scholars believe some authenticity of his three statements on early Christianity rather than the way it is currently written. And finally YOU need to stop dominating this article, cease immediately removing others edits, and follow the rules and etiquette of Wikipedia. If someone puts up a neutrality tag or whatever, you have no business removing it without the community discussing it first. When someone puts up a 'citation needed' then you don't need to immediately remove it without discussion. There is a reason this article has long suffered and the primary reason IMO is you are disrupting it too much. Find a way to contribute it a more compromising way if you please.Jobberone (talk) 16:39, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
God, that Josephus section truly is dire: a mishmash of garbled and marginal arguments that completely contradicts the main article on Josephus on Jesus, which gives a good clear overview of the scholarly consensus, not a jumble of fragmented, tendentious and self-contradicting chips of information. Paul B (talk) 17:26, 25 April 2012 (UTC)
Agree on the overall discussion. It's sad when one editor and his axe chooses to systematically revert every single constructive edit that the other editors have worked on. The page is a mess and is only getting worse. One glance at the page's History tells alot about the root cause of this... Ckruschke (talk) 18:27, 25 April 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke
I've reworked the Docetism article, and weeded out a lot of undocumented WP:OR, opinionizing, plus WP:Undue. Thrown out Freke and whoever, and Forman. Grant's text in a footnote, tolerantly, though it's not quite a field he's competent in (he always was a generalist) Historical articles should not tolerate blah-blah comments or sources.Nishidani (talk) 18:39, 25 April 2012 (UTC)

Just to let you all know

Well you knew this would happen. Akhilleus is trying to shut me up in what is IMHO a desperate bid to POV this article into something not supported by the material. Wikipedia:Administrators'_noticeboard#Requesting_a_topic_ban_for_User:BruceGrubb. Just thought you'd like know.--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:49, 2 May 2012 (UTC)

Oh, we know Bruce. And you have had it coming for a long time. You have utterly messed up this article and driven away competent editors. Let's be clear. You have been given more than enough rope to rig a ship of the line, but all you have created is an elaborate halter. Akhilleus can't censor you. If he succeeds it will be because THE COMMUNITY as a whole agrees that you are a liability. Paul B (talk) 22:55, 2 May 2012 (UTC)
And taking one look at the current dialogue on Talk:Josephus on Jesus, this isn't the only page Bruce has disrupted... Ckruschke (talk) 13:55, 3 May 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke
So can we start to rebuild the article? If so where do we start?  ????The beginning?Jobberone (talk) 18:57, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

How to rebuild this article?

The last comment above when I posted this is to my eyes a very relevant one. As we all know, one of the more, uh, problematic editors to this article has been banned from it. That being the case, we can probably get together to turn the article into something which might be able to get GA and maybe FA status, but first we might want to know just what exactly this article is supposed to cover, and, maybe, its "definition." Any specific ideas? John Carter (talk) 19:08, 6 May 2012 (UTC)

Yes, the opening is the initial problem. Bruce has used the variable meanings of the concept of "myth" to imply that the idea that JC's life is a symbolic narrative is "Christ myth theory" - but of course mainstream Christians entirely believe that it was a symbolic narrative. That's not what 'Christ myth theory' means. I think it should say that CMT is the belief that the basic outline of Jesus's life as given in the gospels is not true - that the person described is a fictional character - even when we disregard the claims about miracles. It might also add that a CMT model shades into an ultra-minimalist version of the "real Jesus" model which then has to explain where most of the story came from. Paul B (talk) 19:15, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I'd advocate reverting the lead and the "Context" section to an older version of the article, say 6 February 2011. The lead sentence reads "The Jesus myth theory (also known as the Christ myth theory and the nonexistence hypothesis) is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth was not an historical person, but is a fictional or mythological character created by the early Christian community" which is a fair representation of what reliable sources say. That lead is far from perfect, but it's much better than what we have now. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:22, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, that seems a fair starting point. It's worth nothing at there are good things about the correct structure of the article. There is a fairly sophisticated discussion of varieties of historicity, though it's clumsily presented. Paul B (talk) 19:42, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
Akhilleus' proposal sounds reasonable to me as well. Paul's point about the varieties of historicity is a good one, but I am not sure that this is necessarily the ideal place for content that might fit better in Historicity of Jesus. I wish I knew a reference work with an article on this topic, because I've been beating the drum about that idea for a while now in multiple venues, but none come to mind right now. John Carter (talk) 21:13, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Akhilleus's idea as well. It's a good starting point IMO.Jobberone (talk) 21:50, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
The article should include a very brief summary of the variety of historicity theories with special attention to the split between those that hold Jesus had apocalyptic beliefs (such as Albert Schweitzer and Bart Ehrman) and those who do not. Mythicist Robert Price has noted that this is the only historical reconstruction of Jesus that is embarassing to ALL theologies and vested interests (I believe in his book Deconstructing Jesus). It is somewhat but not entirely a split between Christian and secular historicists. Paula Fredriksen in a lecture I saw some years ago noted that the reconstructed historical Jesus of many in the Jesus seminar was effectively a 20th-century liberal Christian, whereas the historical Jesus of her books (and Bart Ehrman's) was thoroughly a 1st-century Jew (a distinction between different historical reconstructions of Jesus which IMO personally seems to me to be lost on some mythicists.)--WickerGuy (talk) 22:58, 6 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm all for improving the article but I hope we're not going to get all weird again.Jobberone (talk) 20:48, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

I've reverted the lead and the first section; this introduced all sorts of problems with the references, which I'll try to fix now. One thing people might want to think about is the best reference style to use; the one that's in place now is easy to break during a period of active editing.

The version prior to my revert is here; there may be valuable material from that version to draw on. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:33, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Immaculate nonsense

I removed this whole (uncited) passage that's recently induced a mini-edit war. What on earth does it mean anyway?: "still others pointed to the Essene custom of couples having sex in December so that the child would be born in September and that Mary's impregnation was in January to argue for a September to October birth month." The first bit about Essenes does not even correspond to the second half. Is there some reason why being born in September is auspicious? if so, that would seem to be the relevant issue. The having sex date is irrelevant unless one is arguing either that Jesus's parents were Essenes (!) or that God miraculously impregnated Mary in January to mirror Essene beliefs (or perhaps validate them in some way). As for "immaculate conception", that does seem to be an irrelevant and confusing concept to introduce here, and it does seem to be being confused with "miraculous". The IC specifically concerns the transmission of original sin. It is Mary who is immaculate (according to RC doctrine). Paul B (talk) 20:08, 7 May 2012 (UTC)

The only reason I can see it having been included were if it were some sort of attempt to link Mary and/or Jesus with the Essenes, and there have been quite a few of those. However, I have to agree that so far as I can see it does not even remotely address the subject of this article, although I suppose it might be relevant to some degree in some other article. John Carter (talk) 23:36, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Three pillars of the theory

There are two sections in the article. These need to be merged. Any volunteers?Jobberone (talk) 17:05, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

I removed the latter section and left the first one intact.Jobberone (talk) 19:15, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

Reverts & multiple myth theories

I haven't looked over all the material lost in the drastic revert, but the article needs to clearly assert that there are multiple mythicist theories. The arguments of Earl Doherty, George Wells, and Robert Price significantly diverge from each other. I added a section clarifying this that was lost with a bunch of other stuff in the recent drastic revert.--WickerGuy (talk) 18:47, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

I guess part of the question is about whether this is, effectively, a "List of Christ myth theories," or a discussion on the "Christ myth theories" or not. Personally, I think it would make sense to break them into similar theories if we have independent reliable sources (or, in some cases, maybe even the primary sources themselves) which specifically link them. But, if we don't have those sources, or if we want this to be a list of theories, then that probably wouldn't be the way we would want to go. John Carter (talk) 23:40, 8 May 2012 (UTC)

WickerGuy, I don't think your edit went through. I'm adding a paragraph on the variety of mythicist theories from the pre-revert version, please let me know if that isn't satisfactory.

John, secondary sources on this topic tend to take a chronological approach, so that Bauer, Drews, Robertson, Wells, etc. are all part of the history of a non-historical Jesus theory, but each with their own take on why Jesus didn't exist, and how Christianity arose without a historical founder figure. Some sources take a more argument-oriented approach—they present arguments that are typically used by mythicists, and then refute them. Bart Ehrman's recent book starts with a brief historical overview, spends a couple of chapters showing why scholars almost unanimously think the case for Jesus' existence is very strong, and then spends a few more chapters looking at arguments typically used by mythicists and showing why New Testament scholars don't find them compelling. I've thought for a long time that this article should take a historical approach—essentially the core of the article ought to be the "History of the concept" section. On Wikipedia, an article centered around argument and counter-argument will inevitably turn into a battleground. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:47, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Ok, I've added the lost "Varieties of Jesus myth theories" subsection back into the "Context" section ([14]), but I think a better place for this material, once it's cleaned up and sourced, may be the end of the lead. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:54, 9 May 2012 (UTC)

Pauline Epistles

The extensive presentation of the historicist argument here, in the context its provided, is strongly POV. It allows the historicist position to pre-emptively unload a full salvo at the mythicist position with no rebuttal presented or permitted. (And indeed, the material is variously dealt with by the different mythicists so no unified rebuttal is possible). However, the sense created is that the mythicists have no rebuttal to this rather specific list of supposed evidence, and thus, by implication, the mythicist position is fundamentally flawed. (Hence why the presentation is strongly POV). (And in at least one case the 'historicist argument' here is lent undo weight by the use of a term which is a poor translation of the actual greek 'original' (several copyists removed), eg, "betrayal" is not a good, much less best, translation of the referenced verse. "Delivering up" is the actual sense.)

It would be far better to be *less specific* with the historicist claims (to the effect of 'scholars cite passages of Paul as referring to the life of an historical figure, the existence of his disciples, and knowledge of his geneology'), and it is absolutely mandatory to follow that with a quick description of the types of arguments mythicists use to explain these passages (to the effect of 'mythicists point to the possibility of interpolation, unusual possibly allegorical or metaphorical language (eg, 'according to the flesh'), odd phraseology for reference to a confirmed historical event (eg, "we preach Christ crucified", 1 Cor 1:23), etc...).

However, it would probably be best to simply state something like 'Whether Paul contains information that supports the existence of an historical Jesus is vigorously disputed.' with extensive citations of authors who have argued for and against. And probably worth noting that there are scholars who doubt Paul wrote any of the epistles at all (eg, Detering). -- (talk) 02:02, 10 May 2012 (UTC)

Some good points here, but we need to also observe WP:UNDUE. While all the basic mythicist counter-arguments should indeed be presented, it must be noted that the mythicist position is marginal in (even secular) mainstream academia. There are some moderately respected mythicists (most notably Robert Price & George Wells), and others who are considered outright pseudo-historians (Freke & Ghandy/Acharya).
Price believes basically all the epistles are inauthentic (as did van Maanen et al), except perhaps for a few scraps of Romans. While this is a fringe position within scholarship as a whole, it's not a fringe opinion within mythicism. As for pseudo-historians, much of biblical scholarship is looked down upon by the hard sciences as unworthy of the word scientific, and some of it (including the claim by some scholars that they are historians) by historians and even biblical scholars themselves (including notable ones) as pseudo-history and disguised apologetics. Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:00, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Ultimately the core of ALL mythicist argument rests on the notion that Paul seems to have very little knowledge/understanding of any historical Jesus (as vigorously argued by historicist Gerd Ludemann in a recent book), while the historicist rebuttal is that Paul relates encounters with others (Peter, James) who in turn seem to have known Jesus.
Mythicists differ as to what Paul thought Jesus was. George Wells thinks the sources of the Jesus-myth are largely Judaic and that Paul thought of Jesus as someone who lived nearly a century ago, while Earl Doherty thinks the sources of the Jesus-myth are largely pagan and that Paul thought of Jesus as a semi-deity whose crucifixion took place in a "sub-lunar" realm above the clouds but below the moon. Earl Doherty's mythical theories are almost universally dismissed in mainstream academia.
Finally the scholars who doubt Paul wrote ANY of the epistles are a very tiny minority that arguably falls under WP:FRINGE. The general consensus is that if there are any rockbottom "facts" in the New Testament, they are Paul's account of his conversion, travel itinerary, missionary efforts, and meetings and personal conflicts with other early Christian leaders.
See the essay Wikipedia:Why Wikipedia cannot claim the earth is not flat on Wikipedia's general philosophy of academic conservatism, and WP: GREATWRONGS for Wikipedia policy on not using Wikipedia as a platform for advancing theories suppressed by the scholarly community!--WickerGuy (talk) 15:27, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
As this is a page *on* the mythicist position, it hardly seems undue to treat the mythicist position without rhetorically rendering it defeated before it can start. Eg, the current passage on the Pauline epistles is not fair *to the subject of the page*. The subject of the page is not the Pauline epistles, so while advancing a lengthy discussion of mythicist arguments about Paul may be UNDUE on pages about Paul, its hardly UNDUE on pages about Mythicism. The whole point is supposedly to discuss what mythicists argue, not let their critics lambast them without even getting to mount an argument.
Take-home: I hardly think its giving undue weight to state that how Paul is interpreted is heavily debated (since it is), and certainly it isn't giving undue weight to a position to explain *what its position is* on a page about it.
I'm totally in agreement that mythicists are not unified on how they handle Paul. Which is why I think the best way to handle it is just to acknowledge that interpreting Paul is an area of dispute (which it is, even among historicists themselves), rather than side with one particular *theologically orthodox* position.
I'm not convinced Detering is fringe. Unless you want to consign the entirety of Radical Critic thinking to Fringe, which seems rather extreme. And they aren't even the only ones - there isn't a single epistle that hasn't been challenged even ignoring them. The wikipedia page on the authorship of the Pauline epistles makes mention of challenges to his authorship for even the 'undisputed' ones - if a page about their authorship doesn't consider those claims Fringe, that would seem definitive.
I'm not saying the page should *advocate* mythicism, but rather it should discuss what mythicism is *before* it discusses criticism of the theory. Criticizing before you've even presented the theories arguments is *not* encyclopaedic.
-- (talk) 23:51, 10 May 2012 (UTC)
I may have overstated or unclearly stated what I am saying. Clearly, this article is a place to clearly present mythicist arguments. And I haven't really looked at what this article says about the Pauline epistles. And even fringe theories can be mentioned without giving them a lot of space. However, of the 13 epistles credited to Paul, there are generally seven usually considered authentic, and to my knowledge even very few of the mythicists have challenged that attribution.--WickerGuy (talk) 05:06, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Hmmmm. Two user contributions to Wikipedia by Both to this page only.Jobberone (talk) 13:52, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Do you have a point? I've contributed to wikipedia on other articles in the past, but as I don't care to be recognized for my contributions (defeats the point of a wiki imo), and thus don't have an account, and as my IP is dynamic and thus whenever i restart my computer I get a new one, then yes, with that IP address I've only edited wikipedia twice. Why not look at the content of what I wrote rather than who I am - that's the important thing isn't it? -- (talk) 22:27, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
I post from my home in China, my mother's home in China, my sister's home in China, my home in America, my sister's house in America, and....well you get the picture...and all over the world with my ID Jobberone. If you want to post anonymously go ahead but don't sell me the story you must post that way. However, if you're on the level let me apologize for offending you.
It might be. I note the IP is located in Chicago, FWIW. I think perhaps the only reason it was brought up in the first place was that an editor had recently been banned from this content, and then a few days later an IP editor who perhaps has similar views appears. Some might see it as perhaps an attempt to circumvent the block. John Carter (talk) 22:33, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Additionally, while the page is on mysticism it is not a forum espousing its virtues. We are here to merely present the facts giving it as well as the critiques and apologies their due weight. We are not apologists for any side. Can we return to rebuilding the article?Jobberone (talk) 14:39, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, indeed. I think you mean "mythicism" not "mysticism".--WickerGuy (talk) 15:06, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Yes, my spell checker did that and I just glossed over it. No Freudian slip.  :)Jobberone (talk) 20:33, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Not many people know Sigmund Freud wore a slip.--WickerGuy (talk) 20:44, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
If we're not apologists for any side, then why are we presenting a highly specific and theologically orthodox interpretation of what Paul says as if it were the word of God? (irony intended) P.S. That lengthy interpretation of what Paul says isn't in concordance with mainstream scholarship either, since, among other things, it cites passages the mainstream scholarship believes have been conclusively shown to be interpolations, ie, 1 Thess 2:15 -- (talk) 22:29, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
Regardless of the article's content, I am in no way saying what Paul says is the word of God. What I am saying is that there is a broad consensus among scholars that what Paul says about his own missionary efforts is reliable- possibly the single most reliable thing in the New Testament. (which on quite a few points directly contradicts the Acts of the Apostles- also in the New Testament.)
1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 is very controversial. On the one hand, it has content problems. On the other hand, there are no early manuscripts which omit it, nor is it notably stylistically different!! This makes it different from other passages definitively known to be interpolations. The concluding section Mark 16:9–20 is definitely missing from several early manuscripts- it meshes poorly with the rest and everyone agrees it is a later interpolation. Same goes for John 7:53-8:11- it doesn't even appear till the Middle Agess, and everyone agrees it is an interpolation. But 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 is not omitted from any known manuscript and the issue of whether it is authentic or not is a subject of quite a bit of dispute. Several scholars have attempted to make a case for its authenticity. For several examples see An Annotated Bibliography of 1 and 2 Thesselonians by Weima and Porter, as well as the recent Bart Ehrman book Did Jesus Exist?. They might be wrong but one cannot say "mainstream scholarship believes have been conclusively shown to be interpolations". In fact, its status is disputed!--WickerGuy (talk) 23:26, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
See this on my Google docs page [15]--WickerGuy (talk) 23:33, 11 May 2012 (UTC)
But yes the mythicist reading of Paul's epistles needs to be laid out here.--WickerGuy (talk) 23:35, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Lets be specific, here is the current offending passage:

Biblical scholar F. F. Bruce (1910–1990) writes that, according to Paul's letters, Jesus was an Israelite, descended from Abraham (Gal 3:16) and David (Rom. 1:3); who lived under Jewish law (Gal. 4:4); who was betrayed, and on the night of his betrayal instituted a memorial meal of bread and wine (I Cor. 11:23ff); who endured the Roman penalty of crucifixion (I Cor. 1:23; Gal. 3:1, 13, 6:14, etc.), although Jewish authorities were somehow involved in his death (I Thess. 2:15); who was buried, rose the third day and was thereafter seen alive, including on one occasion by over 500, of whom the majority were alive 25 years later (I Cor. 15:4ff).[14] The letters say that Paul knew of and had met important figures in Jesus's ministry, including the apostles Peter and John, as well as James the brother of Jesus, who is also allegedly mentioned in Josephus. In the letters, Paul on occasion alludes to and quotes the teachings of Jesus, and in 1 Corinthians 11 recounts the Last Supper.[14]
  • I Thess 2:15 is so widely regarded as an interpolation that literally 2/3 of the citations on the wikipedia page First Epistle to the Thessalonians are dedicated to documenting that, and not a single argument or citation is offered in contradiction. Ie, the position that Paul actuall wrote I Thess 2:13-16 is incredibly fringe.
  • Matthew and Luke both claim descent from David too, and neither mean it literally. (That is, in those Gospels Jesus is only symbolically and not literally the son of Joseph, and thus only symbolically descended from David). Since symbolic descent is already recognized in Christian traditions of the Christ's life, and since most apologists (which I'm assuming would include Bruce himself if we could ask him) would believe Paul means the same things as the Gospels here, then according to them Paul isn't claiming a literal descent from David either. So buh? Any theological position which claims literal descent from David is necessarily fringe, and I'm unsure even the critical scholarship features a non-Fringe position that Jesus is the son of Joseph. The Historical Jesus page seems to claim that his father being named Yosef is plausible, but descent from David is made-up messianic posturing - but neither claim is cited. If scholarship doesn't believe the messianic descent is real, then the passage can only be taken as symbolic metaphor and not 'proof of life'.
  • 'Night of his betrayal' is based on the uniformly bad translation of that line, which renders the greek for "delivering up" as 'betrayal'. I'm pretty sure scholars consider Judas an invention of Mark (since Judas is literally Judah as written in Greek), which makes the entire betrayal a likely fabrication, and thus the reading of that context into Paul problematic, especially when he *doesn't say it*. Anyway, if you doubt me, please read the passage in greek, which uses both paredoka (I delivered) and paredideto (mistranslated betrayal, clearly the same verb as the other), making the theologically loaded translation painfully obvious.
  • Paul certainly claims Christ was crucified, but he never says it was teh Romans who did it. Bruce certainly isn't engaging with the scriptures referenced critically, and definitively lying about the involvement of the Romans:
  • 1 Cor 1:23: ἡμεῖς δὲ κηρύσσομεν Χριστὸν ἐσταυρωμένον, Ἰουδαίοις μὲν σκάνδαλον, ἔθνεσιν δὲ μωρίαν,
  • "we however preach Christ crucified, to the jews indeed a stumbling block, to greeks moreover foolishness"
The point being that he's not referencing an historical event known to him or his audience, but believes it on faith. Believes the crucifixion itself is a matter of faith. And the non-christians even think the crucifixion itself is nonsense. He certainly hasn't mentioned Romans.
  • Gal 3:1: Ὡ ἀνόητοι Γαλάται, τίς ὑμᾶς ἐβάσκανεν, οἷς κατ’ ὀφθαλμοὺς Ἰησοῦς Χριστὸς προεγράφη ἐσταυρωμένος;
  • "O foolish Galatians! Who bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed crucified."
Portrayed, not witnessed. Gal 3:13 isn't even a direct mention of Christ's crucifixion at all, its quoting OT scripture "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree." Gal 6:14 is metaphorical language in which Paul claims 'the world has been crucified to me [Paul], and me to the world'. Anyway, the point is that none of these passages indict the Romans did it. Indeed, the only passage that gives an agent who crucified Christ is 1 Cor 2:8, which says that it was the "Rulers of the Age" (ton archonton tou aionos), which even Origen recognized as referring to some sort of non-physical demon spirits. A pro-mythicist point here is that Paul never refers to an historical event. But a more neutral and inarguable point is that Paul never ascribes the crucifixion to any human agency, much less the Romans, and so Bruce is horribly abusing his source.
  • 1 Cor 15:4 doesn't mention 500 people at all, nor does it mention when the crucifixion happened or that anyone he's writing to witnessed it. Rather Paul only claims it happened according to the scriptures. Given he's writing to the Church in Corinth, the idea that many of the people he's writing to would have *witnessed* the crucifixion is ludicrously fringe.
  • Paul mentions "James, the brother of the Lord", not Jesus. Which is an important linguistic distinction, as the accurate quote makes the meaning far more ambiguous as to meaning (and actively disputed by historicists, not just mythicists).
  • Finally, Paul does not recount 'the Last Supper', the Last Supper (which is a Gospel narrative) recounts Paul. (Logically necessary, if we assume a Pauline authorship, Paul wrote before the Gospels, and thus they must use him and not the reverse). Paul refers to it as the "Lord's Supper", and as he says he received it "from the Lord", and by his own admission never met Christ anywhere but in visions, he can hardly be referring to an historical event. There's something deeply ironic about needing to distrust what Paul says about where he got the information to get the 'truth' about Jesus's life out of Paul.

The point being, its painfully clear that Bruce is not a critical scholar, and his views are at least as fringe relative to the scholarship as the most vehement mythicists (like Doherty) if not more so. Extensively quoting him as an authority misrepresents the scholarship on the issue and is strongly POV in the context provided. Indeed, Bruce's views are so fringe he's probably not worth citing at all. Why he's gotten an entire paragraph summarizing him I cannot even imagine, its insane. -- (talk) 23:48, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

I agree that F.F. Bruce is not the best source to use. I have seen him referred to by more mainstream sources rather condescendingly (but what the heck) as the very best of the conservative evangelical Bible scholars, but it would be better to go with a more established mainstream source such as E.P. Sanders, Paula Fredriksen, Bart Ehrman, and so forth. FF Bruce is up to a point a critical scholar but in a boat similar to (loosely kinda sorta) conservative Christians who accept Darwin's theories of evolution like Francis Collins. However, I understand there are a lot of non-fringe scholars who accept the Thess passage and the WP article has neglected to observe them. Yes, there are a lot more scholars who consider Judas fictional than Jesus. Paul has no knowledge of a virgin birth of Jesus, so I wouldn't leap to any conclusions about how he understands descent from David on the basis of Matthew and Luke. I don't read Greek and am not able to fully comment on your other points.--WickerGuy (talk) 00:32, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
This talk page doesn't need an extensive debate on the authenticity of a passage in 1 Thessalonians. I think makes a good point that the "Pauline epistles" section "pre-rebuts" the mythicist position, and a quick solution might be to move that section to a later point in the article, so that the various myth theorists' positions come before it. Honestly, I'm not sure we need the "Pauline epistles" section at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:09, 12 May 2012 (UTC)
Mostly agree, but we need some section on Pauline epistles. Paul's lack of knowledge of details of the historical Jesus is noted even by historicists like Gerd Ludemann, and this is absolutely pivotal to multiple mythicist cases, especially that of Earl Doherty. The comments by FF Bruce largely stand as a rebuttal to Doherty's claims though currently they are not appropriately contextualized in this article.--WickerGuy (talk) 13:11, 12 May 2012 (UTC)


Hi guys, I notice that the term "apologists" is used repeatedly in the article, when really "historicists" would be a clearer description. An apologist is generally understood as someone defending traditional Christianity, while a historicist in this context would mean someone who accepts and/or defends the idea that Jesus was a historical person. This usage of "apologists" is at least confusing, perhaps even tendentious in implying that the only historicists are Christian apologists. I would recommend replacing with the term "historicists", except in places where apologist is actually meant (as where prefaced by "Christian"). --Pekoebrew (talk) 20:55, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

A better term would be mainstream secular Bible scholars.--WickerGuy (talk) 23:27, 11 May 2012 (UTC)

Problems and solutions

Now that the editorial landscape for this article has changed (following the exceitement at WP:AN) I thought I would look through it and make some comments. These are just comments and I did not edit the article, for there are enough editors now, I saw that it has been much improved, and one more cook will probably not help. So I will leave some of my comments here (and suggested solutions here), and leave it to you guys to decide how to proceed.

I have started Talk:Christ myth theory/testpage that includes suggested changes. Please take and use that material as appropriate.

Some key issues are:

  • WP:RS sources: There are still a good number of self-published and outdated sources in the article (almost 100 years old) as discussed on WP:AN. The text is still laden with references that are clearly not WP:RS. These need to be removed. Books such as Kania, Walter (2010) "A Credible Christianity" are listed without an ISBN or publisher, but are by Authorhouse and need to be deleted, as is the book "Jesus Myth" (2007) by RG Price which is used for a somewhat lengthy WP:OR self-published argument. The website is not WP:RS. Neither is just run by two self appointed webmasters. And and are not WP:RS either. But the winner of the most wayout website used is, of course, reference 141 "" - one is almost tempted to keep that one as a joke. But these sources do not an encyclopedia make. These all need to be deleted or changed to better sources to conform to WP:V. In the testpage I have not used any of these self-published items, as far as I know.
  • Logic: I think the basic elements of the myth theories need to be better clarified. There are those who think Jesus never existed at all, akin to Nicholas Bourbaki - my favorite invented character. Under that scenario the gospels were written the way Henri Cartan and his friends wrote the Bourbaki books to make fun of the French Academy. Then there are those who think Jesus existed at some point, but either lived long before Paul and his character was composed and his lifestory was exagerated and reconstructed based on various myths. The third group think that Jesus existed and lived at the beginning of the first century, but his lifestory as presented in the gospels is mostly fiction. These positions need to be better identified and separated.
  • Errors: A number of errors and inaccuracies still persist in the article. I will discuss some of them below.

As a final point, I think in the presentations here, scholars should be separated from non-scholars. Price and Carrier are "scholars in the field", Wells and Algard are scholars outside the field, teaching German and English. However, they are by and large scholars (professors) of one type or another. On the other hand, self-published authors such as Earl Doherty (he formed the publisher of his 3 books) are not scholars and do not have a track record of publishing in serious scholarly journals or teaching at top level universities. These need to be separated.

Existence and chronology

The article uses very few references to the existence or chronology of Jesus. There is a lot more scholarship there that needs to be referenced and explained, given the argument that Jesus may have lived 100 years before Paul. I have added some of that with references.

Arguments from silence

This section is needed in the article for these arguments are part of the myth theory presentations. However, some of the the material about Philo in that section was from the 100 year old Remsburg book and the largest portion of it from a self-published book by RG Price. That can not be used. I have corrected that and added a WP:RS sources. No arguments that explain the silence were presented, and I added those as well. Somehow Josephus was mentioned in that section. But Josephus was not silent and I moved him to another section.

Ancient sources

The presentation on Josephus was inadequate and there was no mention of Tacitus, etc. I have corrected that now and added more sources. Although Feldman is the leading Josephan scholar, he is not the only supporting scholar, and there many more, as noted in the Josephus article.

Solar diety

That section just referrs to the Vermes book without a page number. But the presentation is less than accurate in that the December 25th date gos back to Hippolytus of Rome (not just a decree), and by the 4th century it had become so popular that it was included in the Chronography of 354. I have corrected that. And there is no need for the discussion of Acharaya S. who has zero claim to scholarship.

Popular media and opinion

I separated the popular media (e.g. Hitchens) and opinion polls into a separate section and removed the Acharaya S. type non-scholarly references. The Hitchens book probably needs a small mention, but should not be mixed in with scholarship.

Finally, the summary in the sidebar was incorrect. I fixed it in the testpage.

I am not going to look on or comment here for a while. I think it is best that I leave the test page for you guys to look at, and decide how you want to use it. Thanks. History2007 (talk) 10:25, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Minor caveat
I believe that WP policy allows self-published sources if the same author has also published in peer-reviewed venues, which does in fact allow Robert Price's self-published stuff. The exact line in policy is "self-published material may be acceptable when produced by an established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications." I think that allows in Price's self-published material!
Earl Doherty is so prevalent in mythicist circles that some discussion of Doherty definitely needs to be here.
Some stuff that we would regard as reliable has taken the trouble to rebut Acharya, notably Bart Ehrman's recent book. What do we do with that?
Other than that onboard with all suggestions.--WickerGuy (talk) 13:48, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
Great job History. Played a little in the sandbox. Thanks again.Jobberone (talk) 17:04, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
The problem with insisting on a standard of 'peer-reviewed scholars' for this page is that the field is hostile to the very thesis, and will not peer-review their work on this topic. Even the acknowledged scholars like Carrier and Price haven't, to the best of my knowledge, had any mythicist papers or books peer-reviewed. Ehrman's recent comparison of mythicists to holocaust deniers makes the bias in the field appallingly clear. And Ehrman goes as far as to suggest that any New Testament Studies professional who tolerates a mythicist position will not keep their job.
In the face of such blatant hostility, the only legitimate means of determining what belongs on this page isn't mainstream scholarship (which is hostile to the page's very thesis), but notability. For example, Doherty is certainly a notable mythicist, even if his work has never been peer-reviewed in the field. (Although one could make an argument that things like Carrier's review ( of Doherty's book and Ehrman's taking the time to try to rebut Doherty (in Did Jesus Exist?) do constitute peer review).
-- (talk) 21:53, 13 May 2012 (UTC)
I'm not sure how narrowly Wikipedia defines peer-review. One of the criterion that is cited in WP:RS is that the work has "entered scholarly discourse" which up to a point Robert Price certainly has, although most disagree with his views. And Price has had proof-readers whom he acknowledges in his forwards. Ehrman did not say that New Testament pros who tolerate mythicism will lose their job. He said there are no mythicists actually teaching New Testament studies, and mythicists are unlikely to get such posts. Ehrman's comparison of mythicists to Holocaust deniers was uncharitable and I think a better comparison would be to those who believe the Earl of Oxford wrote Shakespeare's plays (it has absolutely no traction in mainstream scholarship but isn't as blatantly irrational as holocaust denial or Obama-birtherism). Doherty obviously needs to be discussed in this article because of his widespread presence and influence in mythicist circles. But I would be wary of postulating some come kind of "conspiracy" in academia, and we need to observe the principle that Wikipedia does not exist to right great wrongs WP:RIGHTWRONG as well as Wikipedia:Why Wikipedia cannot claim the earth is not flat. Price & Carrier may be the victim of the bad rep that a lot of patently silly mythicists (like Freke & Ghandy) have developed, and thus there is guilt by association. (If a lot of people come up with stupid arguments that Kennedy was not killed by Oswald, it makes it harder for a responsible argument to get taken seriously.) But a lot of unconventional hypotheses get put forward by reputable scholars who don't get fired just because they put forward views that hardly anyone else agrees with. This column about Mark Goodacre's belief in the non-existence of the Q document is a good example Mythicism and academic freedom. I cite the following quote

I can totally imagine a Mark Goodacre of mythicism. Someone who made the forceful, rational, detailed case. Someone who demonstrates their scholarly acumen doing important work outside of that one issue. I simply do not believe that such a person would get hounded out of the academy or systematically refused tenure.....What would it take for me to take mythicism seriously? For the academy to? For any scholar to? I think it would take a Mark Goodacre of mythicism. Simple as that. It would slip effortlessly out of being a ‘crackpot internet atheist thing’ to being a minority viewpoint among serious scholars: a point of valid disagreement. Until that particular unicorn arrives, let’s not be surprised that mythicism is being laughed out of the academy. The hypothesis simply isn’t being made in a credible way, by credible people with a credible track record.

--WickerGuy (talk) 22:59, 13 May 2012 (UTC)

Standards for inclusion

In the section just above there's some discussion of which mythicists should be included in this article, since works advocating the theory aren't published with academic presses and are sometimes self-published. I think the answer is to see which theorists have been discussed in academic literature. By that criterion, Volney, Dupuis, Bauer, J.M. Robertson, W.B. Smith, Arthur Drews, and G.A. Wells should all be covered here—they're mentioned by many academic treatments of this subject. Ehrman's recent book mentions all of these (except W.B. Smith, I think), and adds several modern writers—Earl Doherty, Frank Zindler, Thomas Thompson, Richard Carrier, Tom Harpur, and Archibald Robinson. Ehrman also mentions Acharya S and Freke/Gandy of examples of mythicist arguments that aren't worth taking seriously. I think getting coverage in Ehrman's book means that these writers have entered "scholarly discourse", at least in the sense that a scholar writing on the topic thinks these are notable mythicists (it definitely doesn't mean that mythicist arguments are gaining credibility in New Testament studies).

When WP:RS talks about peer review, it's talking about a process that happens prior to publication. If you submit an article for publication in an academic journal or a book for publication by an academic press, it is usually reviewed by experts in the subject before the journal or press decides to publish. As far as I know, commercial publishers, even well-respected ones, don't employ this process (but they can have very knowledgable editors who can serve some of the same purposes). As far as I know, no mythicist has published a peer-reviewed work in this sense in an academic journal devoted to the study of early Christianity, or with an academic press. The philosopher Stephen Law recently published a peer-reviewed article in the journal Faith and Philosophy that advocates a mythicist position (or more precisely says that we should be skeptical about Jesus' existence), but I would say that the article is philosophical rather than historical in orientation—e.g., it's not concerned with analyzing passages from the New Testament or proposing an alternative model of Christianity's origins. It's certainly worth covering in this article, but it's coming from a very different place than most mythicists. Aside from Law, I can't think of any mythicist work published with peer-review. But because certain mythicists have been discussed in scholarship, I don't see any problem with using their books as sources to explain their views. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:38, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Agreed. It appears notability and weight should be considered rather than inclusion in mainstream academic media or review. The fringe of the fringe probably doesn't need much weight though. I'd also like to pitch this article being readable by the masses while still retaining enough for the moderately literate on the subject. IMO it needs to be encyclopedic without being a dissertation on the subject. Or am I way off base here? Jobberone (talk) 04:09, 14 May 2012 (UTC)

Akenson Quote

In the "Historical Jesus Research & the Problem of Bias" section, there is a long citation citation from Akenson. Review of the actual source indicates that the last 3 sentences are not from the cited source, but from a polemic by Richard Dawkins who cites Akenson as his source. The specific sentences are:

“He [Akenson] says that the overwhelming majority of biblical scholars are employed in institutions whose roots are in religious beliefs. Because of this, more than any other group in present day academia, biblical historians are under immense pressure to theologize their historical work. It is only through considerable individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work.”

The last two sentences are not found in the reference: they are evidently Dawkins editorializing. The first sentence is a redacted (presumably by Dawkins) version of what Akenson does write, but in its form here, and removed from its context, it is misleading, irresponsible, and POV. Akenson states unequivocally, “The quest for the historical Yeshua is not a search for a non-existent being: Yeshua the man certainly existed.” (p. 540) I have consequently deleted all 3 sentences.

I think it's actually someone else posting on RD's site. This same position has been argued by Hector Avalos for real--WickerGuy (talk) 05:21, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
It's a paraphrase, but the original is in the source. I'll add it to the article. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:40, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
Read the source, I think you'll agree it is neither misleading, irresponsible nor POV. You may want to reflect whether you are perhaps projecting your own POV. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:42, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
On page 541 it says: "more than any other group in the present-day academy, biblical historians are under immense pressure - sometimes overt, sometimes subliminal, but virtually omnipresent - to adjust their scholarship, to theologize their historical work. The maintenance of scholarly integrity by so many of the biblical historians is the product of considerable individual heroism. The pressure they frequently experience helps to explain why one encounters so often in the literature appeals to consensus." Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:55, 9 June 2012 (UTC)
What does this quote have to do with the subject of this article? --Akhilleus (talk) 03:25, 10 June 2012 (UTC)
To expand a bit, it seems that the Akenson quote is relevant to Historical Jesus. But in this article, the matter at stake is whether Jesus existed—and Akenson's quote doesn't speak to that at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:29, 10 June 2012 (UTC)

Self-published sources

(Note: this is the last time, I promise. I double-added it once before, because I didn't think it went through the first time. Sorry about that.) I note that the article contains information about the "Remsberg list," which is probably fine, but includes at the end a list of self-published books im which it has appeared. I don't see how the inclusion of the list in the article necessarily requires the listing of SPS sources in which it has appeared, although I can see maybe, given her prominence, mention of Madelyn Murray O'Hair having used it. Do we really want to lend legitimacy to a number of books which may not meet wikipedia guidelines for inclusion by indicating them as points of substantiation for an idea which probably could be included in the article without them? Personally, I think that we would probably be able to have the article completely without such dubious SPS, even if it might be rather shorter. We don't need to make every article approach the limits of length, and I don't see that the article is necessarily improved by, basically, lowering wikipedia standards. John Carter (talk) 19:52, 11 June 2012 (UTC)

Problems of Bias

"It is only through considerable individual heroism that many biblical historians have managed to maintain the scholarly integrity of their work" I find it extremely ironic that this particular line is under the section covering "problems of bias" — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:17, 28 June 2012 (UTC)

It's a direct quote from Akenson. We've discussed this before. Martijn Meijering (talk) 08:11, 24 July 2012 (UTC)
It appears that the point being made is that there is pressure to put a theological gloss on Biblical research due to the religious roots of many academic institutions, and it is difficult to escape from the bias that confers. However, the sentence does not flow well with the remainder of the paragraph. Nonetheless, I am not entirely sure of the point being made you are making.--WickerGuy (talk) 00:38, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
I tend to agree with both points WickerGuy makes above. If the IP is intending to say that academics are pressured to conform with religious views, I think that the popular works of Bart Ehrman, James Tabor, and others can be seen as a serious counterindication of that point, considering their work sells quite well and in Ehrman's case is also rather highly respected by academics as well. John Carter (talk) 00:53, 29 June 2012 (UTC)
I understand the point that's being made. It's the use of the word "heroism" that I have trouble with. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:56, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

A major problem with this section is that none of the sources cited are talking about the "problem of bias" in relation to the subject of this article (the idea that Jesus was ahistorical). Instead, I see claims that historical Jesus scholarship is colored by theology, a subject which belongs at historical Jesus, not here. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:51, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Including JP Holding as a "see also" link

Wicker stated that JP Holding is a Christian apologist more than an apologist contrary to Jesus mythicism. While I agree that he is definitely a Christian apologist in a diverse number of field, Christ mythicism is a significant area, not to be discounted. He has written at least one book ("Shattering the Christ Myth") and several commentaries of popular Christ myth books. According to the webpage on his site, he has also debated Frank Zindler, head of American Atheists, and a fringe leader named Ken Humphreys on the issue.

Here is a list of his work in the field of Christ mythicism. I would like to petition him and similar scholars to be included as counterpoints for the sake of enriching readers' understanding of Christ mythicism, and also for the sake of neutrality.

thank you for your consideration, and God bless you all.

EDIT: Also, why is this called "Christ myth theory", as if it were a science, out of curiosity?

Chargee (talk) 06:06, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

I don't think theory means it has to do with science. I guess it's considered a theory because some people hold it to be true. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:40, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
The discussion is complicated because there are two camps opposed to Christ-mythicism. One is fairly conventional Christian believers who for obvious apologetic reasons oppose Christ-mythicism. The other is secular scholars who are not Christians but think Christ-mythicism is not well-grounded, of which the most prominent is Bart Ehrman.
Christ-mythicism peaked in academic credibility in the late 19th century, and the 2nd edition of Albert Schweitzer's Quest for the Historical Jesus (not translated into English until 2001) was considered a fairly strong rebuttal to it. Since then few secular scholars have directly addressed the existence issue until Bart Ehrman's book of just this past April, mainly because of the resurgence of mythicism in the 1990s within organized atheist activism (the main proponents of mythicism being George Wells, Robert Price, and Earl Doherty).
But Ehrman is no Christian as can easily be gleaned from the titles of other works of his like Misquoting Jesus and The Orthodox Corruption of Scripture. Ehrman does however represent the thinking of mainstream secular academia (which could be wrong, but which tends to be how Wikipedia presents things- Wikipedia is academically conservative- See WP:Why Wikipedia cannot claim the earth is not flat).
Insofar as a conservative Christian scholar accepts the methods of modern scholarship (say John Meier for example), Wikipedia would be glad to include that person as a source, however, Wikipedia would be a bit reluctant to include someone with overmuch of an agenda-driven ax to grind.--WickerGuy (talk) 15:01, 4 July 2012 (UTC)
Please also note that WP discusses Christ-mythicism in a separate article but in relatively few other New Testament articles, because it is already a "fringe" theory.
Finally, the issue is further complicated by the fact that some mythicists have a reputation as fairly responsible historians (notably George Wells) and other mythicists are clearly pseudo-scholars (Freke and Ghandy for example). Mythicists do not have a consistent alternative theory as to what the real origins of Christianity are.--WickerGuy (talk) 15:16, 4 July 2012 (UTC)

Note on recent edit-war

There is in fact an almost universal consensus among professional secular New Testament scholars that Jesus existed, and there is no credible reason to believe this is consciously theologically motivated.--WickerGuy (talk) 20:38, 23 July 2012 (UTC)

And what's more: you're not supposed to keep adding or deleting stuff repeatedly in the face of reverts by others. The rule is Bold, Revert, Discuss. Our anonymous editor made a bold edit, it was reverted, and now it needs to be discussed before it can be applied again. Martijn Meijering (talk) 08:04, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Note on recent reversion

I just removed the recently added text

"It should be noted, that this is not a conspiracy "theory" in the conventional sense, as there is no physical evidence supporting the idea that Jesus was in fact a historical figure. Christ as historical figure bears the burden of proof."

for being too POV.

Even if this belonged in Wikipedia, it would have made a lot more sense at the end of the 2nd paragraph (after the discussion of Hector Avalos) than the first. However, it is bad because this is not how most historians work. Most historians would say:

a) the fallback position is to be utterly agnostic on whether Jesus existed or not. For example, historians are very uncertain as to whether or not Robin Hood is a real figure or not (though we can fairly sure that Maid Marian and Friar Tuck are quite fictional- they are only in late versions of the story). Arguments can be made for or against a historical Robin Hood, but no one thinks that the burden of proof is to establish Robin Hood existed or that the fallback/default position is to assume non-existence. Contrast this to the fact that there is strong disconfirming existence against the Book of Mormon (Native Americans are descended from inhabitants of Mongolia and Siberia, not the lost tribes of Israel and they never used Iron Age tools like shovels before the arrival of Europeans to America contrary to the BofM's account). (There are also much stronger reasons to believe Moses is fictional than Jesus. King Arthur is at best a composite of multiple personalities, etc.)

b) At issue is not just the amount of evidence, but the most parsimonious interpretation of the relatively slim evidence that we have. The three leading mythicists have three different (and conflicting) explanations of the origins of Christianity, and at least one of them (Earl Doherty) has an explanation that involves so many wild speculative leaps it seems less probable than an existing Jesus. As the now defunct "" article put it "even the errors in the New Testament, such as those in the birth narratives, are far more consonant with a historical Jesus than with a mythical one. By contrast, to support a mythical Jesus requires more contorted explanations of the evidence.....Quite simply, Occam's Razor favors the existence of Jesus."--WickerGuy (talk) 20:47, 10 August 2012 (UTC)

Perplexed over the lead section

Shouldn't the lead section be devoted to a presentation of the subject matter, its substance, its appearance in history, its nature, its features, its arguments, etc...without a POV? Why include critiques and refutations of the theory in the lead section? Should it not be all gathered in another section, entitled "Critique of the Christ Myth Theory", or "Major opponents of the Theory in the Past?", or "in the present?" , "Key refutations of the Theory", etc...any variation is possible. But why in the lead section?

For instance, why are there three repeats of the same critique:

  • - "The Christ-myth theory took a severe hit in the second edition of Albert Schweitzer's book Quest of the Historical Jesus."
  • - "The second edition (not translated into English until 2001) included a strong rebuttal to the Jesus-myth theory."
  • - "Since the publication of the 2nd edition of Schweitzer's Quest for the Historical Jesus in 1926, virtually no major New Testament scholar had bothered with rebutting the Christ-myth hypothesis until the publication in 2012 of Bart Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth"

The same idea about Schweitzer's Quest is repeated three times in that lead section. And this idea is not related in any way to the description of any feature of the subject matter, ‘‘The Christ Myth Theory’’, but about the fact that this theory has been strongly rebutted by opponents, especially by Schweitzer, and since him, by Bart Ehrman. But that says absolutely nothing about the Christ Myth Theory itself, which should be the focus of the lead section, correct?

One point of menial detail: Schweitzer’s book is a bible for biblical scholars. We all know it by heart. The first edition dates to 1906, and it is a fact that the 2d edition dates to 1913. Then whence does the date mentioned above of 1926 come from? This raises, at the start of the article, quite a cloud of puzzlement. Any real historian in that group?

In terms of volume, the lead section contains 730 words. What's devoted to the substance of the theory, the subject matter, occupies 376 words. The balance, 354 words, is devoted to the critiques or refutations of the theory. The subject matter, the theory, receives only half the space of the lead section.

And that is including the paragraph on Dawkins/Onfray/Shermer, which is very marginal and tangential to the nature of the Theory. Without this paragraph, the text reserved for the subject matter itself is only 282 words, or 38.6 %, a little more than a third of the space. This is not "kosher" as we say in New York. All the text related to the critiques and refutations, and tangential influences, would be better handled and expanded if need be, when placed in separate sections, and probably re-organized and amplified.

The refutation of the theory accounts for more historical events than the theory itself and deserves special care in its organization.

The key passage explaining what the "Christ Myth Theory" is about is reduced to the following:

"Arguments used to support the theory emphasize the absence of extant reference to Jesus during his lifetime and the scarcity of non-Christian reference to him in the 1st century. Special attention has been drawn to the absence of any mention of Jesus in Philo's historical writings about Israel.
Some proponents contend that Christianity emerged organically from Hellenistic Judaism and draws on perceived parallels between the biography of Jesus and those of Greek, Egyptian, and other gods, especially those figuring in myths about dying and rising deities. Attention to such parallels was heavily influenced by James Frazer's multi-volume work The Golden Bough; the parallels have even been acknowledged by Christian apologists such as C.S. Lewis."

Again, a detail, but "some proponents", for such a well-known theory, is called a weasel expression by Wikipedia. These proponents are well-known and should be named.

This is down to 116 words, out of a total of 730 words. A meager, insubstantial exposition. How could such a "thin" idea provokes furious rebuttals over the centuries by an army of the most learned critics? Something here is out of kilter. For those who know the subject matter, it is clear that some key arguments are not even sketched, as for instance, the matter of the silence in the Pauline epistles and in the other 1st century texts. The subject matter is not given a fair shake, a scholarly presentation. Even a decent college senior might know more than shown here. A professional historian would present a much more substantial text.

By contrast, a lot of space is devoted to the "New Atheists" as being propagandists of the Theory. This too should be moved to a different section, about the contemporary sources of the diffusion of the Theory. Historically, the so-called New Atheists are given undue importance in the lead section, to the detriment of the presentation of the subject matter itself. The Theory was born and developed without any help from these New Atheists. Thomas Paine and Christopher Hitchens were both "historicists". The New Atheists are simply jumping in the bandwagon, riding on the coattails of the Theory proponents. They deserve a mention, but probably in their own section, not the spotlight in the lead section.

Wouldn't it be preferable and more meaningful to have a full description of what the Myth theory is about in the lead section, so that readers get a full picture of the theory, and postpone the matter of refutations and critique, which is extremely important, no doubt, and any other accessory stuff — historical, theological, or polemic — to their own sections? So as not to inject a POV in the lead section at least? --ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 23:24, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

All good points made at one of the busiest times of my entire year. So right now I'm just acknowledging that I have read it. The article does need a re-organization.--WickerGuy (talk) 17:15, 21 August 2012 (UTC)
The article did have part of this information (see [16]) but it was somewhat a cluttered disjointed mess--largely because both scholars and non scholars alike are a little too free with the "Christ myth" label and supposed synonyms and use it with regards to people who accept the existence of flesh and blood teacher in the first century named Jesus (Schweitzer regarding James George Frazer or Eddy and Boyd regarding Wells' Jesus Legend (1996) and Jesus myth (1999) are prime examples of this).
The Jesus myth theory article over at rationalwiki does a better explaining the idea then this article does but its main problem with that thing is some of the conclusions have no references backing them up.
Perhaps taking the better parts of that mess while using the rationalwiki article as exmaple of how to streamline it back into the article is in order.-- (talk) 06:39, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
The rationalwiki article edited by BruceGrubb, who is banned from Wikipedia? --Akhilleus (talk) 13:28, 5 September 2012 (UTC)
BruceGrubb was NOT "banned" but quit in disgust after the Conspiracy theory article mess [17] where works by Oxford University Press, Journal of Social Epistemology, Ashgate Publishing, Peter Lang, and Wiley-Blackwell were effectively declared "unreliable" by the community in an act of clear gaming by said community.-- (talk) 03:53, 6 September 2012 (UTC)
Wow! You sound awful bitter, "Anon", when talking about something that happened to a third party... Sock Puppet anyone? Ckruschke (talk) 17:37, 6 September 2012 (UTC)Ckruschke
Bruce was topic banned. He did not "quit". He was forced to go from here by the community. The nonsense spouted by the IP about OUP etc is a typical total misrepresentation of the facts. It's especially ludicrous given that Bruce himself tried to get OUP defined as an unreliable source! Paul B (talk) 15:38, 25 September 2012 (UTC)
You are, of course right. I had not even read that, but the "clear gaming" comment makes me ready to bet 3 to 1 that the IP is Bruce. Not that I can be bothered to go to SPI, but looks certain. History2007 (talk) 18:03, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

──────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────── IP is in New Mexico. Bruce was in ... You guessed it: New Mexico. History2007 (talk) 15:13, 25 September 2012 (UTC)

Just a note here that IP has been blocked for a year, after an SPI case. History2007 (talk) 15:58, 18 October 2012 (UTC)

One Statement in the Lead Section that is Particularly Puzzling

The Two Chapters Discussing the Christ Myth thesis in Schweitzer's 2d ed. of the Quest

Here is an assertion that must surprise many theologian historians familiar with the "historicity" versus "non-historicity" debate.

"The Christ-myth theory took a severe hit in the second edition of Albert Schweitzer's book Quest of the Historical Jesus."

If this "severe hit" was objective, it must have been acknowledged at least in Germany, since the 2d edition came out in 1913. And we can excuse non-German writers to have overlooked it, since this second edition, in German, remained unknown and ignored by British/American/French scholars, as it was not translated into English until 2001. But its impact should have been noticeable in Germany.

Why is this “hit” termed “severe”? In the sense that other theologians were so overwhelmed by the strength of Schweitzer’s arguments that they threw in the sponge about adding anything and retired to their University classes?

I have carefully read the two critical chapters of the 2d edition:

  • Ch. 22, (p. 451-499), "The New Denial of the Historicity of Jesus" (Die Neueste Bestreitung der Geschichtlichkeit Jesu)

Schweitzer analyzes Arthur Drews's thesis, plus eight writers in support of Drews's thesis about the non-existence of Jesus (John M. Roberston, Peter Jensen, Andrew Niemojewski, Christian Paul Fuhrmann, W.B. Smith, Thomas Whittaker, G.J.P.J. Bolland, Samuel Lublinski). Three of those supporters favor mythic-astral explanations: Peter Jensen, the famous orientalist expert of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which he has shown having influenced all religion stories of the Ancient Near East, Fuhrmann, and Niemojewski. The other support the same Christ Myth as Drews, and some are in fact his inspirations: Robertson, Smith, Whittaker, Bolland, Lublinski.

  • and Ch. 23 (p. 500-560), "The Debate About the Historicity of Jesus" (Die Diskussion über die Geschichtlichkeit Jesu).

Schweitzer reviews the publications of 40 theologians/scholars who have published refutations in response to Drews. He also mentions the participants in the Feb. 1910 public debate in Berlin.
Nearly all the publications are critical and negative. Schweitzer continues his systematic exposure of the problems and difficulties in the theories of those he calls Bestreiter ("challengers') and Verneiner ("deniers") — essentially the Dutch Radicals, and the three pillars of the Christ Myth thesis, Robertson, Smith and Drews.
Schweitzer also briefly discusses the questions of the authenticity of Paul's epistles and Paul's historicity as well.

In those two chapters, Schweiter, as usual in those high-minded Victorian times, runs a very polite and courteous discussion of all the arguments presented by the other parties. The style rests on a high ground of civility, with such lines as: “But this assumption (of the opponents) does not explain this…”, “but this leaves unclear the fact that…” “But then, how can you explain that…?”, or “There is nowhere the mention of that claimed influence…” “Where does this leave Paul’s assertion that…” etc...That is the way theological refutations are run.

It’s nearly impossible to deliver any “hit” of a knock-out impact in a theological discussion, conducted in such courteous fashion, because the interpretations rely on the opinions of an expert scholar, while his targets, opposing scholars, are not automatically "convinced". That is why the debate simply rebounds and still goes on.

Peter De Mey's Review of the Theology Debate Around the Christ Myth (in German, English, and French)

It so happens that the Belgian professor Peter De Mey, of the famous Catholic Un. of Leuven, in Belgium, has made a study of the refutations to the Christ Myth thesis over the 1909-1927 period, tabulating the responses from established “fundamental” theology academics, a total of 87 (without Drews): 83 for 1909-1927 + 4 odd listings.

Peter De Mey, "The Influence of Metaphysical and Epistemological Presuppositions on Jesus Research Then and Now: Reconsidering the Christ-Myth Debate", Cath. Un. Leuven, ca. 2004 (found on Google as a PDF, link not transferable in this post).

De Mey found 68 publications from 1909 to 1913 in refutation of the Christ Myth, when the second edition of the ‘‘Quest” appeared. (in German, English, and French).
From 1914 to 1927, De Mey found 15 important refutations. Of course, WWI changed the priority of attention, and the catastrophic and chaotic situation in Germany after 1918 considerably dampened the interest in discussing the existence or not of Jesus. The existence of Germany had become more of a priority.

But of those 15 refutations appearing from 1914 to 1927, 10 were published by Germans in Germany, who had access to the 2d. edition of the Quest. Whatever the “severe hit” was, it did not prevent other German theologians from continuing to publish their own rebuttals.
As a fact of history, Schweitzer’s book did not stop at all the publications of 10 additional German refutations (books and articles) in 1914-1927. The "hit" was not "severe" enough to be a real knock-out, persuading other theologians that the fight had been decisively won. The other five refutations were published in English, in England and America.

Here is the list of the 10 refutations produced by German theologians from 1914 to 1927

  • Goetz, K.G., 1914,
  • Graber, Oskar, 1927
  • Gröber, Konrad, 1923
  • Leipoldt, Johannes, 1920, 1923
  • Loofs, Friedrich, 1922
  • Mundle, W, 1921
  • Schmidt, F.W, 1921
  • Staab, K, 1922, 1924

Note that starting in 1925 (with Hitler's Munich coup) and even more so after 1927, Germany was engulfed in violently disruptive social conflicts and chaos that made the gentle pursuit of refuting the non-existence of Jesus look like a puerile occupation for academics.

Then, De Mey has found three more refutations by German theologians, appearing after 1927:

  • Herrmann, Wilhelm, 1967
  • Troeltsch, Ernst, 1969
  • Tillich, Paul, 1992

All those names are of reputed "fundamental" theologians, acknowledged by De Mey as top authorities in their field. Most of them are now unknown to us who have not done a special study. Still the names of Ernst Troeltsch and even more so Paul Tillich are well known to American/English students of theology.

If we switch to examining the stream of refutations following 1913 outside of Germany, it becomes clear that whatever "hit" was delivered by Schweitzer's 2d edition, it remained unknown. There certainly was a "hit", but every good refutation delivers a "hit". It seems that the perception of that "hit" by Schweitzer is now exaggerated because of the later fame attached to the name of Schweitzer.

Schweitzer (1875-1965) was only 38 in 1913, and he was considered as having produced a couple of good-quality books, but he was no higher authority than the more famous names of his time, like Julius Wellhausen, William Wrede, and Johannes Weiss. And as he was known to have abandoned theology for medicine, with no university appointment, his marginal status made him even less of an authority at that time.

When R. Joseph Hoffmann, one of the best-known specialists of Early Christianity history in the States, laid down his selection of the most important refutations of the Christ Myth Theory over the 100-year period of 1912-2012, he limited himself to 5 major names, passing over Schweitzer's 2d edition in silence. And although Hoffmann respects Schweitzer immensely, especially when valued retrospectively in the 2000s, he does not see, as an expert historian, any decisive "hit" affecting the scholars community then and now produced by the 2d edition of 1913.

--ROO BOOKAROO (talk) 01:14, 22 August 2012 (UTC)

  1. ^ Eddy, Paul R. and Boyd, Gregory A. The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition. Baker Academic, 2007, pp. 24–27.
  2. ^ Robertson, Archibald (1946) Jesus: Myth Or History
  3. ^ Dodd, Charles Harold (1938) History and the gospel University of Chicago pg 17
  4. ^ (1911) The Hibbert journal, Volume 9, Issues 3-4 pg 658
  5. ^ See Robert M Price. "Response to James D. G Dunn," in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy (eds.) The Historical Jesus: Five Views. InterVarsity, 2009, p. 230.
  6. ^ Mead, G. R. S. The Talmud 100 Years B.C. Story of Jesus", "Did Jesus Live 100 B.C.?", 1903.
  7. ^ (Ellegård, Alvar (2008) Theologians as historians Scientific Communication Lunds Universitet pg 171-172)
  8. ^ Robertson, Archibald (1946) Jesus: Myth Or History
  9. ^ Price, Robert M. "Of Myth and Men", Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 20, Number 1, accessed August 2, 2010.
  10. ^ Bennett, Clinton (2001) In search of Jesus: insider and outsider images page 205
  11. ^ Wells, G. A. "A Reply to J. P. Holding's 'Shattering' of My Views on Jesus and an Examination of the Early Pagan and Jewish References to Jesus", The Secular Web, 2000, accessed August 3, 2010.