Talk:Christ myth theory/Archive 25

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Appeal to compromise

It seems that we have a stalemate between those who want a broader definition (which would be too mainstream for some) and those who want it more narrow (which would be too extreme for some). Can I suggest a compromise meaning that debaters would both gain something and lose something?

  • I would agree to remove the unpopular "highly unlikely" wording that I have fought for all week.
  • WDworth would remove the POV tag.
  • Smeat75 would drop opposition to "Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels" which I believe was Ehrman's intention when summarizing Doherty's wording ("the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction").
  • WDworth and I would withdraw our request for a broader definition based on the definition found on other wiki sites or Doherty's.
  • We would keep Ehrman's definition (almost ver batim) along with a citation that includes Doherty's more complete definition (as we have now).
  • We would keep the second paragraph that summarizes the various views among different mythicists (as we have now).

Anyone who considers themselves "moderate" should see this as the equitable and encyclopedic solution to our impasse. I do not suggest we can get approval from all, but I hope we can reach a consensus among most. Radath (talk) 17:58, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

Proposal v9e: The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels did not exist, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.[1] Radath (talk) 18:21, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

I'm all for compromise, but I'd first want to make sure that we know exactly what the pain points are. I'll need some time to read the various posts more closely. Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:07, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
I can't quite follow the net effect of all those compromises, but whichever way we need to respect the Reliable Sources, and we cannot pretend that the narrow definition alone is the true definition. I therefore propose Proposition v16: "CMT is the proposition by some that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, and that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, while other proponents hold that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity." Wdford (talk) 18:12, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
Although Doherty does not have a scholarly background and is considered extreme by some CMT proponents, I could accept his definition as WDford has proposed, but I don't think that it is a compromise that the myth critics want. My v9e uses Ehrman's definition as they have asked for and removes my "very unlikely" modifier which they dislike in exchange for a gospel reference that WDford has asked for. Radath (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 18:35, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
Doherty is a leading authority on what Doherty thinks, and he is lauded by Ehrman as a "leading proponent" of the CMT, so he must surely be a RS on the subject of the CMT.
Please somebody tell me exactly where Ehrman made the statement that has been adopted into the lead, because I can't seem to see it in that cited passage, and I'm starting to wonder if it's perhaps a WP:OR abbreviation of Ehrman quoting Doherty.
Proposal v9f: "The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) encompasses the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels did not exist, as well as the proposition that a historical Jesus did exist but had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." More coherent, and much more accurate according to the reliable sources. Wdford (talk) 19:37, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
For v9f, are we saying that both those propositions have to be true (conjunction), or that only one of them has to be true (disjunction)? Either case would seem to be inaccurate: If it's a conjunction, then by that definition anyone who says that there was no historical Jesus would not be a mythicist by the definition. If it's a disjunction, then basically every mainstream scholar would be considered a mythicist (including Ehrman, Casey, etc.) --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:41, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
" basically every mainstream scholar would be considered a mythicist (including Ehrman, Casey, etc." exactly right Atethnekos and I have come to the conclusion that that is precisely the objective of Wdford's edits. Define CMT as "the position that the Jesus of the gospels (or Jesus as depicted in the NT, or the biblical Jesus) did not exist". Then point out that the "Jesus of the gospels" performed miracles. Go on to show that mainstream scholars such as Crossan, Ehrman, Casey, etc., do not believe Jesus performed miracles, and hey presto! they are all believers in the CMT and it is now mainstream!Smeat75 (talk) 21:03, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
Atethnekos lost me on the big words there, but the position FROM THE RELIABLE SOURCES is in fact both. Ehrman reports that one group of proponents claim that there was no historical Jesus "worthy of the name" because the gospels are fictitious. (Other proponents offer a much more narrow definition - that there simply never was a historical Jesus.) However a few paragraphs later Ehrman notes that another group, also labeled as mythicists, believes there was a historical Jesus but that he had little to do with Christianity. (This is of course unambiguous and very mainstream.) The reason for this wide definition is that the Christ Myth Theory has never been clearly defined, and this is what has been exercising editors here for years. However these two different definitions both come from Ehrman, a very WP:RS. It does imply that one extreme of the CMT overlaps with mainstream thought, as we are all well aware, but Ehrman is not guessing here - scholars such as Strauss and Wells and others really did hold that position and really were labeled as mythicists. Smeat75 and a few others are now trying to create an artificial definition of the CMT which excludes all mythicists who accept a historical Jesus, heedless of the sources, but although some proponents do offer that narrow definition, others do not. For compliance with NPOV we need to include both groups in the article definition, which certain editors refuse to accept. Certain editors also refuse to accept any mention of the gospels either. As can be seen in the post above, the reason is seemingly to maintain the claim that the CMT is fringe, regardless of what the sources say. Why this could be so important escapes me. Wdford (talk) 21:31, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
Yeah, sorry, the meaning behind the terminology is simple though: So the two propositions in v9f are: 1) "the proposition Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels did not exist", 2)"the proposition that a historical Jesus did exist but had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." Is the v9f definition that both of the propositions are true (proposition 1 and proposition 2), or is the definition that either of the propositions are true (proposition 1 or proposition 2). The problem with the first option (and), is that that means that mythicism asserts that the historical Jesus did exist, so that people like Carrier, Price etc. would not be mythicists. The problem with the second option (or) is that that means that pretty much every scholar would be a mythicist, including those who specifically decry mythicism (Ehrman, Casey, etc.), because pretty much every scholar asserts proposition 1. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 21:50, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

(edit conflict)Of course, Ehrman sums up what Wdford is calling "two different definitions" by saying: "“In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.”

Smeat75 has stated many times why "certain editors also refuse to accept any mention of the gospels either". Perhaps Wdford, or another editor who wants the first sentence of the lead to include the phrase "Jesus Christ as depicted in the gospels", could explain why they think it's a good idea to do so? --Akhilleus (talk) 21:54, 22 March 2014 (UTC)

Reply to Wdford above, I also got an edit conflict - I didn't say anything about "fringe", I don't find that a particularly useful term and I am not sure people other than WP editors even know what it means. What is important to get across in the article is that the CMT is overwhelmingly rejected by the majority of scholars. Regarding Radath's post at the top of this thread, it is not only me who has expressed opposition to defining CMT as the idea that the Jesus of the gospels/Biblical Jesus did not exist, but Akhilleus, Bill the cat 7, and others, so it is not up to me to accept this offer of a compromise or not. I don't believe in one person stubbornly opposing clear consensus on a WP article, if it were only me saying something and four or five others saying the opposite, I would drop my opposition, take some time to reflect, and probably do a little more reading and research on the subject.Smeat75 (talk) 22:05, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
As Smeat75 just wrote I'm opposed to describing the CMT as the idea that the Jesus of the Gospels didn't exist. But I think it would help if editors who are in favor of such a description could explain more fully why they support it--perhaps their concerns could be addressed in a subsequent section of the lead. After all, the article is more than one sentence long. --Akhilleus (talk) 22:12, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't know who Wdworth is. There is an editor called WDFord (a name presumably derived from W.D. Ford, one of the monikers of Wallace Fard Muhammad). Atethnekos's 1. and 2. options are a false dichotomy, and it's very disrressing when editors create transparently false oppositions like that. The fact is thst CMT is the theory that Jesus did not exist, and that his story is fundamentally a myth. It is not the theory that the Gospels are not 100% accurate, which is simply standard scholarship. It's the theory that "Jesus" is an essentially fictional/mythical character. Without the clariry of that definitio, CMT isn't even a meaningful term. Paul B (talk) 23:09, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
I had two options? I talked about the two propositions which WDFord gave in his v9f definition. What do you mean? --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 23:16, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
To respond to Akhilleus regarding mention of the gospels... Until yesterday, for a number of months, the opening sentence said "The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory orJesus mythicism) is the proposition that the Jesus of Nazareth as depicted in the gospels never existed, but was invented by the early Christian community. " For several day, we discussed finding a new definition to to be more clear, and so I suggested we use Ehrman's definition which was originally suggested by Atethnekos last month (08:47, 22 February 2014). I was able to get some reluctant agreement to use the modifier "highly unlikely" by Smeat75, Bill the Cat 7, Ckruschke and others. Essentially everyone got what they wanted but Wdford who wanted the gospel reference and a longer more inclusive opening paragraph, so he placed a POV tag. My argument to mention the gospels is that your average reader who won't get all the subtleties (I don't always get them either) will know what we mean by Jesus of the gospels (the Son of God who died on the cross, etc), and the second part of the sentence (that there may have been a Jesus-type guy who probably didn't die on the cross, etc.) will make more sense. I'm sure many Christians believe in the miracles as well, but we don't mention that mainstream scholarship doesn't go there. I am just trying to find a peaceful compromise, and if everyone gets a little and loses a little, we can move on. Radath (talk) 23:36, 22 March 2014 (UTC)
A guess a few things: I didn't suggest using Ehrman's definition, I just supplied the definition when John Carter asked about Ehrman's definition ([1]); I wouldn't object to using Ehrman's definition, though. Also, I said this above, but I went back a few months and sampled, and everything had just "...proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed but was invented by the Christian community." or thereabout e.g. [2] [3] [4], and did not have the gospels reference. From what I can tell, the recent use of the gospels reference started with the revision at [5]. Am I missing something? The problem I see with that definition (this is the same as that with the "or" interpretation of v9f), is that it makes it a sufficient condition for being a mythicist that one deny that the character of Jesus in the Gospels historically existed as such, when this is the view of people like Ehrman and Casey who explicitly decry mythicism. If our definition of mythicism includes the theories of Ehrman and Casey, then we obviously have the wrong definition of mythicism, since these are people who have published books against mythicism and have publicly dismissed mythicism in talks and interviews. I also wouldn't object to using "probably didn't exist" or "highly likely didn't exist" or thereabouts, because all historians establish things about the distant past on the basis of likelihoods, not deductions of a mathematical level of certainty. I respect others' objections to this usage of "probably" and "highly likely", but I just don't share their discomfort. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 00:38, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
If Atethnekos didn't suggest using Ehrman, he at least inspired the definition proposals which received broad support. As I said earlier, the main reason for mentioning the gospels is that I believe it was Ehrman's intention since he was trying to paraphrase Doherty's definition "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."Radath (talk) — Preceding undated comment added 00:57, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Right, but those conditions from Doherty are all united by an "and", not an "or". Doherty's definition doesn't list the condition "that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction" as a sufficient condition for being a mythicist. If you want to include a mention of the gospels in the current used definition in line with Doherty's description, I think you would have to write something like: "the proposition that it is highly unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels." I would not object to such a definition (I have a feeling others would disagree)!--Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 01:52, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Dr. Ehrman added the "or" . I would certainly support the additional wording from Atethnekos which I believe accurately sums up what mythicists like Price, Carrier and Harpur believe. For me personally, there may have been a Jesus-type figure (however doubtful), but I'm pretty sure he wasn't the Jesus described in the gospels (any and/or all of gospels). I realize this position is not "mainstream" and not the position of Ehrman who writes that "Jesus certainly existed" and that there is sufficient evidence he was baptized by John the Baptist and crucified by Pilate. If Ehrman, while trying to be succinct as possible, used the name Jesus, but was simply paraphrasing Doherty who was writing about the Jesus in the gospels, I really see no harm in adding a reference to the gospels in that first sentence, especially if it is enough for Wdford (who essentially got nothing of what he asked for) to remove the POV tag. I think we need to reach a compromise or his debate will go on forever. Radath (talk) 03:25, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Ehrman's "or" was in this: “In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist. Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity.” That's two propositions 1)The historical Jesus did not exist. 2) If the historical Jesus did exist, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. So, by Ehrman's paraphrase of Doherty's definition, a mythicist is any person who affirms proposition 1 or proposition 2. Ehrman doesn't add an "or" with the proposition "the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction". Neither proposition 1 nor proposition 2 is equivalent to that proposition. Doherty's definition does not say "Jesus in the gospels". He instead explicitly refers to a "historical Jesus": "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." The vast majority of scholars agree that the "historical Jesus" is not the same as the "Jesus in the gospels". To read Doherty's use of "historical Jesus" as equivalent to "Jesus in the gospels" would be to assume something like a fundamentalist understanding of what the term "historical Jesus" means. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 03:56, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

I really don't agree that anyone would seriously think that mainstream NT scholars believe that Jesus did not exist AND/OR had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. I think it becomes more confusing if we use a word like "historic Jesus" since all readers would need to agree what historic means, and becomes less confusing if we use "as depicted in the gospels" or Atethnekos' wording of "and accounts in the gospel" since there is a general understanding that we mean the figure depicted in "The Passion of the Christ". One would need to be a real literalist to think that a scholar who doubts the miracles or resurrection is a "mythicist" under any of these definitions, and Akhilleus went to great lengths the other day to prove why Strauss should be removed from the list of proponents. In my opinion, we do not include one more scholar in the mythicist camp if we use "as depicted in the gospels" because there is "almost universal assent" that Jesus was baptized and crucified by Pilate.

Smeat75 wrote "And Bart Ehrman is certainly an authority, it would be an excellent thing to have the definition as he defined it" (15:35, 18 March). If there is now some concern that Ehrman's view is too mainstream and that a NT scholar might get lumped in, we should just skip Ehrman and instead use Doherty's definition as suggested Martijn Meijering (19:54, 19 March) and Wdford, but my concerns are that Doherty does Jesus of Nazareth or a modifier like "highly unlikely" to be more inclusive of scholars like Price, Carrier, Harpur and Thompson who accept the possibility. (18:12, 22 March). Radath (talk) 09:05, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

The original chart below did not include the suggestion from Atethnekos (01:52, 23 March 2014) to mention the gospels in the second half of the sentence. I would strongly support either of these variations.

  • Proposal v9g: The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that it is highly unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. [2]
  • Proposal v9h: The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. [3] Radath (talk) 10:31, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

The chart also excluded a variation of Doherty's definition suggested by Wdford at 18:12, 22 March 2014 (Between 9e and 9f) that he called Proposition 1, which is confusing since we already had a Proposal 1, so I re-named it v16.Radath (talk) 11:27, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

  • Proposal 16: "CMT is the proposition by some that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, and that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, while other proponents hold that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity." (Originally signed by Wdford 18:12, 22 March 2014 (UTC) Radath (talk) 11:27, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

Table of positions

I made this table to catalogue positions on the different proposals. My idea is to write "Y" if you think the proposal is acceptable, and "N" if you think the proposal is unacceptable. I.e., you can still write "Y" even if it is not your favourite proposal, just as long as you don't find it objectionable. I couldn't find the text for v12, if there ever was one given. And I'm sorry if I missed a name. I filled in my own column, but I'll leave it to others to fill in whatever they want: --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 08:37, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

Users' position on proposals
Proposal/User Akhilleus Atethnekos Bill the Cat 7 bloodofox Ckruschke Mmeijeri Paul Barlow Radath Smeat75 Wdford
(v1) the proposition that Jesus did not exist, or if he did, he had little to do with the founding of Christianity. Y Y Y Y Y N Y N
(v2) the proposition that Jesus did not exist, or if he did, he was not the figure depicted in the gospels. N N N Y N Y N Y
(v3) the proposition that Jesus did not exist, or if he did, he was not the figure depicted in the gospels and had little to do with the founding of Christianity. N Y N Y N Y N Y
(v4) the proposition that the historical Jesus did not exist, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. Y Y Y Y Y N Y N
(v5) the proposition that the historical Jesus likely did not exist, or if there was a Jesus figure, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N Y N N Y N N N
(v6) the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as portrayed in any of the gospels, and that the historical Jesus had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N Y N Y N Y N Y
(v7) the proposition that it is doubtful if Jesus of Nazareth was a real person, and if a Jesus-like character did exist, he was likely not the fictional character described in the gospels. N N N N N Y N N
(v8) the proposition that most of what is written about the historical Jesus in the gospels of the New Testament is fictional. N N N Y N N N N
(v9) the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth probably did not exist, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N Y N N Y Y N N
(v10) the proposition that either there never was a historical Jesus Christ, or that there may have been a historical Jesus but most of what was written about him in the New Testament is fictional. N N N Y N N N N
(v11) CMT ... is the proposition that the Jesus of Nazareth as depicted in the gospels never existed. Some scholars concede the possibility that Jesus may have been a real person, but that the biblical accounts of him are untrue and are based on myths. Others believe in a spiritual Christ, but that he never lived as a man. Still others, including some atheists, believe Jesus was neither historical nor divine. N N N N N Y N N
(v13) CMT ... is the proposition that the Jesus Christ as depicted in the gospels never existed as such. Some scholars believe in a spiritual Christ, but that he never lived as a man. Others, including some atheists, believe Jesus was neither historical nor divine. N N N Y N Y N N
(v14) CMT ... is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed. Some past and present proponents of this theory state that it is probable that there never was such a person, others who put the theory forward state that Jesus definitely did not exist. Many proposers of the Christ Myth Theory suggest that even if there was such a person as Jesus, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. Y Y Y N Y N Y N
(v9b) CMT ... is the proposition that it is highly unlikely that the biblical Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N N N N N Y N N
(v9c CURRENTLY LIVE) The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory or Jesus mythicism) is the proposition that it is highly unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. Y Y Y N Y Y Y N
(v9d) The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory or Jesus mythicism) is a broad proposition which ranges from “A real Jesus-person existed but the gospel stories about him are largely mythical” to the view that “There never was any Jesus-person, and the entire Christ-concept has mythical roots." N N N Y N Y N Y
(v15) The Christ myth theory (also known as Jesus myth theory or Jesus mythicism) is an umbrella term that applies to a range of arguments that in one way or another question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth or the entirety of his life story as described in the Christian gospels. The most extreme versions of the myth theories contend that there was no real historical figure Jesus and that he was invented by early Christians. Other variants hold that there was a person called Jesus, but almost all teachings and miracles attributed to him were either invented or symbolic references, or that the Jesus portrayed in the New Testament is a composite character constructed from multiple people over a period of time. N N N Y Y Y N Y
(v9e) The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels did not exist, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N N N N N Y N Y
(v9f) The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) encompasses the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth as portrayed in the gospels did not exist, as well as the proposition that a historical Jesus did exist but had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. N N N Y Y Y N Y
(v9g) CMT ... is the proposition that it is highly unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. Y Y Y N Y Y Y N
(v9h) CMT .... is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. Y Y Y Y Y Y Y Y
(v16) CMT is the proposition by some that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, and that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, while other proponents hold that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity. N N N N Y Y N Y

More conversation

This was a good idea, Atethnekos, although a little challenging to complete. It also only used formal proposals and did not take into account all possibilities, and I voted for versions where the wording would need to be cleaned up. As a quick rundown, I voted yes for (A) versions that included a modifier like "probably" or "highly unlikely" (B) versions that mention the gospels, and (c) a number of versions that excluded the words "historical" which would need its own definition. In other words, to get my support, a comprehensive definition of CMT would need to include either of the first two elements, and only use historic Jesus if it is very clear what that means. Radath (talk) 10:45, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

My goodness, you have certainly gone to a lot of trouble here Atethnekos. I don't have time to fill in that chart right now but will attempt it later. It all seems so needlessly complicated, as -Akhilleus (talk) 17:49, 21 March 2014 wrote -"This is a simple theory to define... "Jesus...never existed as an historical figure" .Smeat75 (talk) 13:07, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Thank you Atethnekos, for what must have been a lot of work. My general voting pattern is that there must be acknowledgement that there are two different definitions of the CMT – “Type D Mythicists” (Doherty et al) which say essentially that the Jesus of the gospels is fiction, and there was no single underlying person behind it all, (but seemingly leave open the possibility that there may have been historical figures of some sort), and “Type W Mythicists” (Wells et al) which essentially say there was indeed a historical Jesus, but he was not involved in Christianity, and the origins of Christianity were mythical. Ehrman recognised both versions as being mythicists, in very plain language. There are obviously a lot of parallels between the two.
Ehrman then “simplified” the Doherty definition, but in the process Ehrman left out a few important clauses which change the sense of it all. We cannot have a critic of the theory summarizing the theory incorrectly and being allowed to over-rule the people whose theory it is, so we need to revert to the definition as given by the theorists themselves. As I have stated exhaustively above, the main problems I have with using Ehrman’s inaccurate summary are as follows:
Ehrman does not clarify that Doherty is refuting the Jesus of the gospels, and makes it sound like Doherty is shutting out any and all Jesus figures. Doherty says there was no Jesus “worthy of the name”, followed by the statement that the gospels are fiction, there was no single historical underlying figure, that the origin of Christianity was mythical etc. This all needs to be read together. Ehrman doesn't refute Doherty's summary - quiet the opposite (although he doesn't agree with Doherty's conclusions.) Ehrman summarizes this long definition as that “the historical Jesus” did not exist, and entirely leaves out the mention of fictitious gospels and mythical origins, although we know that Ehrman has issues with much of the gospels himself.
This “summary definition” does not include the Type W people, (Wells, Robertson, probably Strauss and Schweitzer too), which Ehrman only discusses a bit further down in that chapter.
In order to be accurate and NPOV, we must mention that there are two different camps of mythicists, who are similar but not the same. (This will mean admitting that some people labelled as mythicists are basically mainstream, but facts are facts, and Smeat75 must accept the sources.) We must also clarify that Doherty was not shutting out all Jesus-figures, but was pointing out that the Jesus of the gospels was fictitious. If we cannot agree on how to express that, then the easiest and best approach is to simply quote Doherty’s full definition. Ehrman was merely attempting to "simplify" Doherty's definition, not to substitute a competing definition of his own.
There are also other, more extreme definitions, which we have mentioned in the lead already, which I am happy to leave as is. Smeat75 professes to be primarily concerned with ensuring readers understand that "The CMT is refuted by almost all scholars", but that stance doesn’t take into account that the Type W Mythicists in particular are fairly close to being mainstream. That position has also been adequately worded in the lead already.
PS: I know nothing about Wallace Whatsisname. My own name is W.D. Ford. Wdford (talk) 14:21, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
Ah, now that is illuminating. It's clear enough that Wells' position differs significantly from that of both Ehrman and Price, and yet is also related to both. Is the complaint that Well's view was originally excluded from the definition and needs to be included in the new definition? I'm sympathetic to that, though I'd like to make sure that Wells does in fact still call himself a mythicist, rather than a former mythicist who still holds a view that differs from the mainstream view among biblical scholars. Does anyone know of citations to that effect? Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:34, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Reply to Martijn - you can read Wells' own words in an essay published in 2000 - [6] - "Now that I have allowed this [that elements in the gospels are arguably traceable to an actual Galilean preacher]] in my two most recent relevant books ... it will not do to dub me a "mythicist" tout court." He wrote that essay in protest at an online blog referring to him as a mythicist. "Tout court" means "without some qualification". Report from a talk Wells gave in 2003- [7]. "His talk offered us what is probably the final evolution of his views. These are no longer quite so extreme as in the past and he can no longer be classified as a 'Jesus Mythologist'" (some gospel material) "does, however, ecect the preaching of a real Galilean Jewish prophet of the first half of the first century." Wells was a mythicist but he changed his mind and came to find being termed as such offensive. Smeat75 (talk) 21:47, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Aha! An excellent article indeed – many thanks for bringing this to our attention! Apart from being an excellent source for the non-authenticity of Josephus on Jesus, the article exactly supports my argument. Please note that nowhere does Wells state that he is no longer a mythicist. He merely says that he should not be dubbed a mythicist without qualification, and Ehrman gives exactly that qualification in his definition that I have been citing all along – that Wells and his camp "present a slightly different view", and that they hold specifically that there was a historical Jesus, although not accepting him to have been the founder of Christianity. Wells goes on to repeatedly stress that this historical Jesus was not the Jesus of the New Testament – more support for my contention that the New Testament must be mentioned in the definition. Smeat75 concludes that Wells now considers the label of mythicist to be offensive – I see no such mention in either cited source? The second source is just a blog – it adds only the personal opinion of the writer. Wdford (talk) 17:48, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't know if Wells has changed his mind, but Ehrman notes that he is labeled a mythicist, so unless Wells has recanted publicly, it seems to me that his "brand" of mythicism (which he shares with others as Ehrman notes) needs to be mentioned in the definition too. We cannot have a definition saying that "CMT says Jesus never existed" and blocks all mention of the gospels, when the Doherty-camp accepts possible historical figures but refutes only the Jesus "worthy of the name" because the gospels are fiction, and the Wells-camp accepts a historical Jesus openly but refutes the supernatural acts which have been attributed to that man. We must still adhere to verifiability and neutrality. Wdford (talk) 19:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
'Smeat75 this...Smeat75 that"' Smeat75 professes to be primarily concerned with ensuring readers understand that "The CMT is refuted by almost all scholars", but that stance doesn’t take into account that the Type W Mythicists in particular are fairly close to being mainstream""Type W mythicists?????? I have no idea what you mean by that. I did not say "primarily" and although I will probably never manage to get you to understand what the Christ Myth Theory is, which is the idea that Jesus never existed, there is one thing that I insist you take in and that it is that it is NOT.ONLY.ME. that is disagreeing with you on this talk page about these issues, as far as I can see Bill the Cat 7 Akhilleus and I are in perfect agreement and I don't see anybody here agreeing with your twists and turns that arrive at a conclusion that says "the CMT is mainstream". Smeat75 (talk) 20:04, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
There is one thing that I insist you take in, Smeat75, and that it is that Ehrman clearly says that some of the mythicists (Wells etc) accept a historical Jesus but believe that the stories about him are mythical (on my electronic copy it comes nine pages after the Doherty quote - if you look it up this argument will soon be over.) Bill the Cat is not a reliable source, but Ehrman is, so your POV definition is only sort-of correct. To continually ignore the reliable sources which contradict your POV, even when they have been pointed out to you repeatedly, is tendentious. Wdford (talk) 22:28, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if you even looked at that list of more than 15 definitions of the CMT supplied by Bill the Cat 7 before you characterised it as "a list of critics of varying degrees of hysteria" and went into weird rants about Obama, Ukraine and toothpaste. If you had looked at it you would have seen "Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed', or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously. Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372. This is just a ridiculous conversation to be having, do you want me to count the number of people on this talk page who have said "The CMT is the idea that Jesus never existed?" You are the one out of step with everyone here, not me.Smeat75 (talk) 22:54, 23 March 2014 (UTC)
It's not just me, Smeat75, its me and Ehrman and Wells and Robinson and Strauss etc etc. Wiki-rules say that where there is a disagreement in the sources, the different positions must all be reported fairly, including in the lead. Why are you so obsessive about refusing to comply with the rules in this instance? Wdford (talk) 23:17, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

───────────────────────── I think I'm a bit confused about where the discussion is now. Wdford, are you saying that v9c, which is now the lead sentence of the article, and which is based on Ehrman, is inadequate to describe theorists that Ehrman discusses? --Akhilleus (talk) 23:34, 23 March 2014 (UTC)

YES, EXACTLY! Wdford (talk) 08:12, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Wdford, for Ehrman's latter example of one alternative mythicist view, he describes it as "that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents." (p. 16, Harper ebook version). Ehrman here is not saying that just anyone who says, "the historical Jesus existed and this person was not the founder of Christianity", is a mythicist: He is saying that anyone who says, "the historical Jesus existed and that this person was not the founder of Christianity, and Christianity is rooted in a mythical Christ-figure and this figure was invented by the original adherents of Christianity", is a mythicist. Leaving out Ehrman's other two conditions (mythical Christ figure; invented by the original Christians) is not a fair representation of Ehrman's words. There's no contradiction in believing that the (extant, ancient) "stories about him are mythical" as you say, and believing that the original adherents to Christianity invented absolutely nothing: Unless one also believes something like the view that some of those stories are by the original adherents. Which Ehrman and the vast majority of non-mythicists do not! They think the extant, ancient stories are third- or fourth-hand accounts. Only fundamentalists and a few others believe that sort of thing. We cannot rightly import a fundamentalist-style assumption and use that to reach a conclusion as to what Ehrman's words imply. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 00:21, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Fine, I agree. I am very happy to use the full definition, but was compromising for those who were concerned about brevity. I am more than happy to use the full definition - let's do that rather! PS: I don't think they are saying that the "original adherents" were the early Christians - I read it that the original adherents were somebody else, and that the early Christians adopted and modified the myths. Wdford (talk) 08:12, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
@Atethnekos: On reflection, it seems to me you saying that the only difference between the Wells-type mythicists and the mainstreamers is that: “The mythicists believe that there was a historical Jesus but the gospel stories about him are false because they are based on earlier myths”, while the mainstreamers believe “that there was a historical Jesus but the gospel stories about him are false due to fraud and error”? Am I reading you correctly here? Wdford (talk) 09:16, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Ehrman has the p. 12 definition and the p. 16 definition (Harper ebook version numbers). He accepts either as a good definition of some form of mythicism. So Ehrman's complete definition would be [(p. 12 definition) OR (p. 16 definition)]. That is, anyone who affirms that statement on p. 12 OR affirms the statement on p. 16 would be a mythicist by Ehrman's definition. So anyone who doesn't affirm the statement on p. 12 and also doesn't affirm the statement on p. 16, would be a non-mythicist. Compare that with that statement you just gave: "there was a historical Jesus but the gospel stories about him are false because they are based on earlier myths". Well, that's not equivalent to Ehrman's definition. Someone could affirm that statement but also deny Ehrman's complete definition without a logical contradiction. Ehrman's complete definition would be [(There was no historical Jesus, or the historical Jesus had virtually nothing to with the founding of Christianity) OR (the historical Jesus existed and he was not the founder of Christianity, and Christianity is rooted in a mythical Christ-figure and this figure was invented by the original adherents of Christianity)]. Now take a hypothetical person, this person believes that there was an historical Jesus, and also believes that the gospel stories are false because they are based on earlier myths. So she affirms the proposition you just gave. But she also affirms that Jesus had followers and this relationship was significant for the founding of Christianity. And further, she also affirms that these followers were the original adherents of Christianity and that they did not invent any figure. So she does not meet Ehrman's definition of a mythicist. So, no, by Ehrman's definition that is not the difference between any group of mythicists and non-mythicists. --Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 00:57, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Good points! I see the difference – one must also accept that not only are the gospels fiction, but also that any Jesus-figure that may have existed had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity. Accepted. That being the case, just out of curiosity, would you then accept that potentially some "mainstream scholars" would fit that definition too – by their accepting that a historical Jesus existed but assuming that he had virtually no part in founding Christianity? Or do virtually all "mainstream scholars" necessarily believe that the historical Jesus was involved in founding Christianity too? Wdford (talk) 18:05, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
Well, this is all just academic, but maybe I'm being helpful, I don't know. If you mean "mainstream" just in the normal sense, then yes, of course it is possible: The bulk of current scholars could change their minds and become mythicists. If by "mainstream" you mean non-mythicist, well then no, not by Ehrman's definition. By Ehrman's definition, if a person holds that view, then that person just is a mythicist. Ehrman does not say that mythicists are necessarily not mainstream. He says that that mythicists are not mainstream for a good reason in his mind, because, he says, any good historical method would conclude that a minimum portrait of Jesus (e.g., that he was crucified by Pilate) would likely be historically accurate. However, that's not to say that the mainstream would necessarily follow Ehrman's preferred historical methods, or that Ehrman is necessarily correct in his estimation! Remember the two facts of Jesus' life that have "almost universal assent" among scholars: baptism by John, and crucifixion by the Romans. Well, most people think that the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus are significant elements of Christianity. So none of that "almost universal" majority of scholars are mythicists, because (among other things) they think that Christianity derives at least a couple significant things from Jesus and they could not honestly say that he had "virtually nothing" to do with the founding of Christianity. Could they change their minds? Of course. We could wake up tomorrow and Ehrman and everyone else working in the field could write on their blogs that they now agree with Robert Price. It's possible!--Atethnekos (DiscussionContributions) 20:16, 25 March 2014 (UTC)
I want to thank Atethnekos for suggesting v9g which I STRONGLY SUPPORT as probably the simplest definitions of CMT I have seen and which I believe accurately represents the views of Price, Carrier, Doherty and Harpur, and is not what Ehrman would say about his own beliefs. I would like to also thank --Akhilleus for supporting this version even though I know he had reservations about the "highly unlikely" wording and was also opposed to reference to the the gospels. I see this as a real compromise. I hope I can count on now support from Smeat75 now that Bill the Cat 7 suggested "I would support something to the effect of "highly unlikely JC didn't exist". (17:39, 20 March 2014). I also hope Wdford will change his mind since this version mentions the gospels. I believe the broader views of various mythicists is represented in paragraph 2 of the lede which has been there for over a month without complaint from anyone. On that note, I would not want to see paragraph 2 merged into paragraph 1 since it would be to heavy and possibly confusing for a casual reader. We can add both Ehrman's and Doherty's definition within the citation. Let's compromise and commit to v9g so we can move on. Radath (talk) 02:23, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
You can see, Radath, that I "voted" to support v9g (even though for some reason I did not manage to get it to come out in red or green like everyone else did, oh well).Smeat75 (talk) 03:05, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Here is how the complete lede would look like if we use the first sentence from Atethnekos with the current live text (but removing reference to gospels in second sentence since it would now appear in the first). The citation for the first sentence would read < Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, "In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist . Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009, pp. vii-viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition.>

Proposal v9g (complete lede): The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the proposition that it is highly unlikely that Jesus of Nazareth existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. [4] Many proponents use a three-fold argument first developed in the 19th century that the New Testament have no historical value, there are no non-Christian references to Jesus Christ from the first century, and that Christianity had pagan and mythical roots.[5]
In recent years, there have been a number of books and documentaries on this controversial subject. Some "mythicists" concede the possibility that Jesus may have been a real person, but that the biblical accounts of him are almost entirely fictional.[6][7][8] Others believe in a spiritual Christ, but that he never lived.[9] Still others, including some atheist proponents, believe Jesus was neither historical nor divine.
Despite arguments put forward by authors who have questioned the existence of a historical Jesus, there remains a strong consensus agreement among historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived,[10][11][12][13][14][15][16] but they differ about the accuracy of the accounts of his life. The only two events subject to almost universal assent among biblical scholars are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[17][18][19][20] However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently made the case for "agnosticism" on the Jesus question as it is impossible to prove or disprove his existence, but that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic.[21][22]
I want to publicly thank Smeat75 for accepting v9g which I was pretty sure she would oppose. I think it represents a great compromise on her part, and the news literally made my night. I generally agree with Wdford on many of his arguments for a broader definition, but I think the full lede below, including reference to the gospels in the first sentence, the Doherty definition within the Ehrman citation, and the examples of differing views of various mythicists in paragraph 2 should be enough for him to compromise and remove his POV box. Radath (talk) 03:51, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Although we have yet to hear from the others, I recall all of them supported v9c which is quite similar to v9g except the new reference to the gospels which I don't think any of them opposed. As I am going away on a short vacation and would really like to see us move on, I have posted the change to the first sentence and the citation on the main article with hope that when I return, Wdford will have endorsed this consensus (in recognition of the compromises by contributors who are known to be CMT critics) by removing the POV tag. Radath (talk) 04:07, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Proposal v9g is certainly better than the original non-representative definition, but its not what the proponents are saying. Since there is so much bickering about how to summarize the definition, why must we upload an inaccurate quote with the full quote in the citation, why not just add a few more words and give the proper Doherty definition upfront? I therefore propose v9g2:
Proposal v9g2 (complete lede): The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition.” Many proponents use a three-fold argument first developed in the 19th century that the New Testament have no historical value, there are no non-Christian references to Jesus Christ from the first century, and that Christianity had pagan and mythical roots.[259]
Other writers who are often placed in the mythicist camp present a slightly different view, namely, that there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents. Other proponents believe in a spiritual Christ, but that he never lived, and still others believe Jesus was neither historical nor divine. In recent years, there have been a number of books and documentaries on this controversial subject.
There remains a strong consensus agreement among historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived,[3][4][5][6][7][264][265] but they differ about the accuracy of the accounts of his life. The only two events subject to almost universal assent among biblical scholars are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[8][9][10][11] However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently made the case for "agnosticism" on the Jesus question as it is impossible to prove or disprove his existence, but state that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic.[266][246]
See there, now its actually correct, its still quite readable, and there can be no confusion as the readers can see the true definition and make up their own minds. Wdford (talk) 08:20, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I'd like to get rid of the sentence about "universal assent", but maybe that's something we can get back to later. I'm fine with including the sentence, but not in the lede. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:57, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I does say "ALMOST universal assent." Are you unhappy with just that clause only, or are you suggesting we drop the entire sentence about how only two aspects of the gospels are almost accepted, in which case it starts to look like "the gospels are all true!" Wdford (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Up until a few days ago, the definition has read "CMT is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed and was invented by the early Christian community" For two months I have been working to improve the article, and the last few days I have been fighting to keep the definition broad (some wanted the definition to only include the first half of Ehrman's definition without mentioning the possibility of a Jesus figure), to add a modifier like "highly unlikely" (which many people disliked) and to mention the gospels (which was a deal breaker for some). The first sentence from Proposal v8g2 from Wdford is no different than what was presented earlier (he called it Proposition 1 and I re-named in v16 to avoid confusion when I add it to the bottom of the chart) which is getting mostly no votes. I voted yes on philosophical grounds, but frankly I think Doherty's definition is too long and complicated a first sentence for the average reader, and by the time I get to paragraph 2, even I'm confused about what myth proponents are supposed to believe. I propose we keep v9g for now, and wait and see if Carrier offers a better definition when his book comes out in another month or so. Until then, I please ask WDford to compromise, accept the small victory we have won, and to remove the POV tag that taints the entire article as biased just because of an opening sentence that ironically is much broader and more representative of mythicist views than what was there before. Radath (talk) 10:29, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Some people might well get confused, because the subject is actually confusing. However rather we give the full definition and let most readers sort it out, than give them an incorrect summary and mislead all of them. I can live with what is now in the lead, provided we drop the "unlikely", which is not really the CMT proposition per either the Wells camp or the Doherty camp, and use the gospels as the qualifier, which is what Doherty actually did. The gospels cannot be a deal-breaker for some, because Doherty - the leading proponent - mentions the gospels specifically as part of his definition. I am concerned that we are trying to fudge-up an artificial definition here for unsupportable reasons. The full quote says it properly, and using a misleading summary for the sake of saving a few words doesn't seem legitimate. I understand Radath is getting frustrated, but Radath mustn't allow himself to be frustrated into allowing a misleading definition stand in the article. Wdford (talk) 10:51, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Hey, why has the definition been changed when half of the Wikipedians here haven't filled out the table yet? Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:00, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

Beats me, seems like sometimes things just move along without our agreement. Wdford (talk) 11:06, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I must say I find this very annoying. I won't revert the changes for now, but I do not accept this version as the new consensus. I may change my mind, but reserve the right to revert to the status quo ante later unless we first reach a new consensus. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:08, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
My apologies. Please see my explanation above at 04:07. Radath (talk) 11:13, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I do not understand why Wdford did not have a POV tag all this time the opening sentence was the very narrow ""CMT is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed and was invented by the early Christian community" and only added it when the definition became more broad which has been his request. Those who adamantly refused to mention the gospels (people who I often disagree with) have compromised and accepted wording they did not want. I think everyone should follow their lead for the lede. Radath (talk) 11:28, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
All that was needed is to move the gospel mention ahead of the comma, as it stands now, and the job is done. Doherty mentioned the gospels explicitly as part of his definition, and there is no justification for censoring that out. I am sacrificing the entire Doherty definition (which I would much rather retain in full), for a definition that is incomplete but at least not misleading. I am happy to leave it as it stands now, despite its obvious shortcomings, and I have removed the POV tag accordingly. However if some editors can't accept this wording then I deeply question their motives. Wdford (talk) 12:46, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
I don't know if that last remark was aimed at me. I only made a procedural objection. I need to digest the various comments to decide where I stand. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:58, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
That last comment was aimed at anybody who is determined to keep the gospels out of the definition, despite it being a key part of Doherty's definition of the CMT. I didn't have you in mind. Personally I would have preferred that the discussion be completed before any new definitions were uploaded, but it wasn't to be. Wdford (talk) 13:11, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Wdford says :"the subject is actually confusing". Akhilleus says "This is a simple theory to define." There is only one person here who is confused and is on a mission to confuse others. After all these discussions, Wdford changed the first sentence to read CCMT "is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as described in the gospels". It is contemptuous behaviour towards his fellow editors and I believe it is reaching the level of being disruptive. You cannot edit WP like that, you have to listen to what other editors say and work towards consensus. You are the only person who wants it to read that way, and it took me some time to realise why, but now I see that you are pushing the idea that anyone who does not accept the literal truth of the gospels is a believer in the Christ Myth Theory. That is just inaccurate. Start your own blog and push that line, you cannot do it here.Smeat75 (talk) 13:18, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75 is crossing a civility line here, which is always the next step after POV pushers fail to get their way by mere frustration alone. I am not pushing any such thing, I am merely pointing out that the definition of CMT as per its leading proponents is multi-faceted, unlike the simplistic summary being pushed here by Smeat75 and Akhilleus. I have listened for years, I have worked slowly and constructively, I have compromised endlessly, and then the definition was changed anyway before consensus was reached. Doherty - the leading proponent of the CMT - makes it clear that he is refuting the existence of the Jesus who is described in the gospels, and that some historical figures may well have featured to an extent. Akhilleus, on the other hand, is not a reliable source. Smeat75 and her friends are adamant that the gospels are not to be mentioned in the definition, which falsifies the definition. An article based on a false definition is a false article. I again motivate to use the full Doherty definition, without any POV manipulation, so that the article follows the sources rather than a POV which has crippled this article for how many years already. Wdford (talk) 13:37, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Those participating in the discussion, including me, agreed to a definition that said " he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels." That mentions the gospels but doesn't say the CMT is the idea that the "Jesus of the gospels" did not exist. Apart from any question of content, you just ignore what everyone says but yourself, take absolutely no notice of long discussions, people filling in meticulously created charts, long lists of more than fifteen reliable sources, and re-write the article to suit yourself, it is disruptive editing, you must stop it.Smeat75 (talk) 13:47, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Well exactly, Doherty DOES say their problem is with the Jesus of the gospels. I took plenty of notice of the long discussions, and compromised far more than most in that process, as the record will show. I only modified the definition after it was changed by somebody else before consensus was reached, as the record will show. It is very clear that you have abandoned your attempt to frustrate me into accepting your POV, and that you are now on Phase 2 - creating the false impression that I am disruptive, while constantly keeping the discussion away from Doherty - the leading proponent of the CMT. I've seen it all before. Wdford (talk) 13:58, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
compromised far more than most in that process, as the record will show.??? You put the definition back to "Jesus of the gospels" didn't exist, exactly where this discussion started days ago. I don't feel there is any point in discussing content with you any further as you never pay any attention to what anyone says. Not only do you not understand the CMT you do not understand editing on WP either, please read WP:CON,WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT,WP:DE,WP:STICK.Smeat75 (talk) 14:22, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Smeat75, get off your high horse, take a break, and then please read "Did Jesus Exist?", by Bart Ehrman, Chapter 1, the sections headed "An Introduction to the Mythical View of Jesus" and "A brief History of Mythicism". This will give you a very good idea of how complex the CMT actually is, how many different definitions there are, and what those definitions actually say. You will see there that Ehrman lists Doherty as "one of the leading proponents" of the CMT, and you will see that Ehrman describes Doherty's definition as an "exhaustive elaboration of the position." If you read all of it, you will note that Doherty makes clear reference to the gospels here. I am not going to accept your POV that the gospels should not be mentioned in the definition, or should only be mentioned incorrectly, because the gospels feature clearly in the definition provided by "one of the leading proponents" of the CMT. I am not going to accept your POV that the definition of the CMT is simple, because a leading scholar in the field - and critic of the CMT - has taken the trouble to describe all the facets and complexities of the CMT in a published work. For as long as you and your friends continue to block out what the reliable sources actually say, the POV tag will stay on. Please also go read WP:POVPUSHERSCANNOTOUTVOTERELIABELSOURCES. Wdford (talk) 15:19, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

I clicked on that link WP:POVPUSHERSCANNOTOUTVOTERELIABELSOURCES but there is no such page. This is not a dispute about content anymore, but conduct. There is a clearly expressed consensus not to define the CMT as the idea that the "Jesus of the gospels" did not exist. You, and only you, refuse to accept it. You are being disruptive. WP:NOTGETTINGIT:In some cases, editors have perpetuated disputes by sticking to an allegation or viewpoint long after the consensus of the community has decided that moving on to other topics would be more productive. Such behavior is disruptive to Wikipedia. Believing that you have a valid point does not confer upon you the right to act as though your point must be accepted by the community when you have been told that it is not accepted.Smeat75 (talk) 15:33, 24 March 2014 (UTC)
Yup, exactly as predicted, the fight now moves firmly away from the sources and focuses on personal smear tactics instead. BTW the "community" here is still in the process of filling in the table, after which we fine-tune wording that is supported by reliable sources, after which we upload a definition. This is still very much a content dispute, despite your efforts to pretend otherwise. Please also read WP:V, which says that "When reliable sources disagree, present what the various sources say, give each side its due weight, and maintain a neutral point of view." PS: This is a "core content policy". Wdford (talk) 15:52, 24 March 2014 (UTC)

I like Proposal 15 because it mentions the miracles. "Miracles" is mentioned 45 times on this page (47 times now) but is only in one of the proposals. Raquel Baranow (talk) 05:39, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

"Jesus did not really perform miracles" is not the Christ myth theory, it is ordinary, mainstream Biblical scholarship. The Christ myth theory is that there was never such a person at all.Smeat75 (talk) 13:29, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Actually this is not at all true. The sources clearly show that there are two versions of the Christ Myth Theory. The main definition – articulated by Doherty and approved by Ehrman the critic – is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." Ehrman then acknowledges that another group of mythicists "present a slightly different view", namely that "there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents." Both groups clearly accept that there may have been a historical person or persons underlying the gospel stories - one group more confidently than the other - but both make it clear that he/they were not the “gospel Jesus”. All I have been asking for is that this reality is acknowledged in the definition as per the first sentence - the CMT does NOT say "there was no Jesus at all", it says "there was no Jesus as described in the gospels." If the POV editors cannot accept this wording, which stood for a long time while the lead was stable - then we need to use the full definitions and let the readers decide for themselves. However we cannot upload a misleading definition parroted by the critics of the CMT, which defines and then criticizes a theory which the proponents of the CMT do not espouse to begin with. Wdford (talk) 14:53, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
I notice an interesting thing about the chart that was painstakingly created and quite a few people went to the trouble to fill in, (v9h) of the proposed definition does not refer to "Jesus of the gospels" and green squares for "yes" run all the way across the chart, except for a couple of blank white spaces, until you get to the end, when one person, and only one, has voted "no". But apparently, according to the above post, all except this sole contributor are "POV editors". "Consensus" does not mean "one editor gets to decide what we 'cannot' do" against the expressed opinion of everyone else.Smeat75 (talk) 15:12, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Consensus also doesn't mean that a POV club can vote to ignore the sources, or to ignore WP:NPOV. It's always interesting how you try so very hard to avoid discussing the sources. Wdford (talk) 15:38, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
a POV club = everybody but you. I and others have not avoided discussing the sources, we have discussed them over and over, you do not pay any attention and just repeat what you have already said many times so it seems pointless discussing content with you any further, what you need to do now is acquaint yourself with WP policies and guidelines.Smeat75 (talk) 16:19, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
As for v9h, I have repeatedly stated that the wording of "CMT .... is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels" need only be altered slightly to read "CMT .... is the proposition that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as per the accounts in the gospels, or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity", and the definition would be acceptable. The current wording of v9h clearly speaks about the gospels, but Smeat75 is adamant that the gospels should not be mentioned in the first part of the definition, where Doherty intended it to stand, although she is willing to accept mention of the gospels in the second part of the definition. How come? How much would it hurt to move the gospel mention ahead of the comma, and thereby present an accurate picture of the CMT? Wdford (talk) 15:48, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Just for the record, and not that it makes any difference to anything, I don't know how this idea that I am female ever started, possibly because when I don't know what sex the poster I am talking to is, I write s/he. A now blocked user always used to refer to me as "she" or "her" and I never bothered to correct it, but I am a male.Smeat75 (talk) 16:27, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Do our sources disagree on the definition?

Starting a new section as its starting to get hard to see who said what in the previous section. If Wdford is right that Ehrman makes a distinction between two broad classes of CMT (and until recently I wasn't aware of this), then we need to figure out if other sources agree. If not, then we need to say that different sources hold to conflicting definitions. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:46, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

Robert Price replied to your e-mail "I'd say the CMT is the position that no historical Jesus existed" which is the same thing he has said in many published sources, easy to find. Ehrman adds a little more nuance CMT "is the proposition that Jesus did not exist, or if he did, he had little to do with the founding of Christianity" - "or if he did", that is referring to another group who might still be called "mythicists" who do not deny that it is not altogether impossible that the figure of Jesus may be very remotely related to some actual person who lived at some point. It isn't really a disagreement, more a question of adding nuance. Erhman and Price are both respected scholars who hold academic positions and have had numerous books by respected publishers produced. There is no reason to prefer the words of Earl Doherty, who is merely a blogger and self-published author and not even a very good one.Smeat75 (talk) 17:09, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
Wdford is indeed right that Ehrman makes a distinction between two broad classes of CMT. However in addition there are also other people who are described as mythicists, but who profess other variations of the theory, such as Price. We also need to distinguish between the definitions professed by the proponents, and the definitions professed by the critics, who state flatly that “CMT means there never was any Jesus”, although this is not what the two main groups of proponents say at all. Interesting that Smeat75 should prefer the summary of Ehrman over the full version from Doherty that Ehrman was summarising (inaccurately). Doherty is described by Ehrman as a leading proponent of the CMT, but I guess it’s no surprise that Smeat75 wants to undermine him. Wdford (talk) 17:15, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
See also v15. Wdford (talk) 17:24, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
I may be over-simplifying this, but are we sure we want to get into this now when this is essentially the root of the current DRN - especially when the first two commenters are essentially rehashing the previous thread that started the DRN? Ckruschke (talk) 18:05, 27 March 2014 (UTC)Ckruschke

I don't think it's quite right to say that "Ehrman makes a distinction between two broad classes of CMT." At least, not the way Wdford wants to interpret this. I think Smeat75 is right to say that Ehrman is adding nuance. Ehrman says (p. 36 in the ebook edition I have) "Other writers who are often placed in the mythicist camp present a slightly different view, namely, that there was a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents." The only writers Ehrman names as examples of this view are Archibald Robinson and George A. Wells. Since Ehrman says this view is "slightly different" I think it's an exaggeration to use what he says to drastically alter the definition--especially since the first sentence of the article is based closely on something Ehrman wrote, and includes the clause "or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels." Although I see the "or" at the beginning of that clause, which is very important, has been changed to "and", which alters the meaning of the sentence considerably. I hadn't noticed that change, but I'm pretty unhappy about it, since it is not something that a majority of editors here agreed to. --Akhilleus (talk) 21:12, 27 March 2014 (UTC)

I'd noticed that too, and 'and' is even logically contradictory. Martijn Meijering (talk) 21:44, 27 March 2014 (UTC)
I agree that the difference between the two main camps of mythicists is merely nuance. Both camps of mythicists agree that the gospels are largely fiction, and both agree that the historical Jesus-person/people did not found the Christian religion. The slight difference between the two is that the Doherty-camp profess that "no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed", and that "no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." However the Wells-camp accept that a historical Jesus existed, although again he was not as the gospels describe him. Ehrman again over-simplifies the definition of the Wells-camp as being that "there was indeed a historical Jesus but that he was not the founder of Christianity, a religion rooted in the mythical Christ-figure invented by its original adherents." Wells himself expresses it in a bit more detail here [8]– in his own words: "Some elements in the ministry of the gospel Jesus are arguably traceable to the activities of a Galilean preacher of the early first century, whose career (embellished and somewhat distorted) is documented in what is known as Q …. This Galilean Jesus was not crucified, and was not believed to have been resurrected after his death. The dying and rising Christ of the early epistles is a quite different figure, and must have a different origin. He may have been to some extent modelled on gods of pagan mystery religions who died and were resurrected, but he clearly owes much more to a particular early-Christian interpretation of Jewish Wisdom traditions. … My concern has been to counter the widespread belief that these non-Christian references establish beyond reasonable doubt the existence of a Jesus who lived and died as in the gospels and make any further discussion of the matter unnecessary." As you can see, like Doherty, Wells mentions the gospels explicitly, and accepts a historical human while rejecting the gospel claims of supernatural events, although Ehrman again "summarizes" that out of his sound-bite definition.
My concern is not with the differences between the two camps of mythicists, my concern is with the drastic difference between the two camps of mythicists vs the false definition offered by their critics. The CMT must be defined by its proponents not its critics, and if we are to honor the sources, we need to include in the definition the blatant fact that neither main camp of mythicists expressly rejects a historical Jesus, but that both main camps accept that the historical person/people were not as per the gospels. This was the stable definition for a long time, but is drastically different from the POV definition that currently stands in the article. Why is this so hard for some people to accept? Wdford (talk) 16:28, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
WP:TPG#YES - Avoid repeating your own lengthy posts: Readers can read your prior posts, and repeating them, especially lengthy posts, is strongly discouraged. In some cases, it may be interpreted as an unwillingness to let discussion progress in an orderly manner.Smeat75 (talk) 18:36, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
WDF said,
... my concern is with the drastic difference between the two camps of mythicists vs the false definition offered by their critics.
WDF, are you saying that all of these scholars are wrong? If so, then I don't think anything I have, or anyone has, to say will make a difference to you. I say to all of the recent contributors that it's time to take a vote. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 18:52, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
As I have explained many times, there are multiple versions of the CMT. Some proponents do indeed hold that there were zero historical humans underneath the myth, but many other leading proponents accept that there was or might have been a historical Jesus, although not as described in the gospels. Wiki-policy says that where there are multiple points of view they all have to be included, and yet you persist in pretending that the CMT is one-dimensional. Why is that please? Wdford (talk) 22:50, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

Perhaps Bill the Cat can add Doherty himself to that list. Wdford has focused on a particular passage from Doherty, which he's published in a couple of pages, including Jesus: Neither God nor Man, an expanded edition of The Jesus Puzzle. The passage Wdford focuses on appears on pp. vii-vii. Immediately afterward, Doherty writes: "There is one rebuke regularly leveled at the proponents of Jesus mythicism. This is the claim—a myth in itself—that mainstream scholarship (both the New Testament exegete and the general historian) has long since discredited the theory that Jesus never existed, and continues to do so." It seems that Doherty himself is happy to use "the theory that Jesus never existed" as a synonym for "Jesus mythicism." --Akhilleus (talk) 19:02, 28 March 2014 (UTC)

That is a very tenuous and POV interpretation. Instead of synthesizing dubious inferences, why don't we just use what Doherty actually said, in plain language, as quoted by Ehrman the critic? Surely that is the more encyclopedic approach? Wdford (talk) 22:50, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
Doherty actually said "the theory that Jesus never existed". So can we use that? --Akhilleus (talk) 22:53, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
I would also appreciate more explanation of how my comment is a "very tenuous and POV intrepretation." What do you think Doherty meant in the quote I gave above? --Akhilleus (talk) 22:56, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
As you admit, Doherty's own definition of the CMT is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition." That is Doherty's "official" definition, as quoted also by Ehrman. In the sentence you refer to, Doherty is clearly assuming that the reader will have just read his full definition, and thus he does not have to repeat the whole thing again to make himself understood. Instead of desperately scratching around for some throw-away comment to infer that Doherty doesn't actually mean what Doherty clearly says that he means, why don't you just accept that Doherty actually means what Doherty clearly says that he means? I know it's not ignorance, because I know that you have read the sources yourself. So then why? Wdford (talk) 23:31, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
I'm not "desperately scratching around" for anything, I'm quoting Doherty himself. He says "the theory that Jesus never existed". That seems pretty plain to me--for him, it's an acceptable way to refer to mythicism, and the shortest way to do so. What do you think Doherty meant by those words? --Akhilleus (talk) 23:40, 28 March 2014 (UTC)
That sentence was written in the context of that passage, and obviously must be read as such. I think it's therefore clear that he meant "refer to my long and exhaustive elaboration above, which would make this already-complicated sentence incoherent if I repeated it here again in full". Doherty must have proof-read that passage many times before it was published, so to assume Doherty polished a long and exhaustive elaboration of his position and then immediately contradicted himself would be suggesting that Doherty suffers from Dissociative identity disorder. I ask again - why don't you just accept that Doherty actually means what Doherty clearly says that he means? Wdford (talk) 00:20, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Accepting compromise

It amazes me that prominent proponents of a theory can be ignored in the very definition of their own theory without it constituting a contravention of WP:V or WP:NPOV, but so be it. I will accept Proposal v9h, as the least-wrong of the versions on offer. Wdford (talk) 20:52, 29 March 2014 (UTC)

Biblical Scholars vs Prominent Atheists

I'm a rabid fan of both Dawkins and Hitchens, but neither of them gained their notoriety for biblical scholarship. Are they here more to add recognizable names to a list of scholars in the driest of dry fields? Or is the view more that their opinions, being heard by bigger audiences, are more likely to be widely held?

I'm not disputing the relevance of their popularity to the salience of their opinions in themselves. Nor do I dispute the advantage of showing opinions that are themselves (possibly) widely held, but when you boil it right down, Hitchens wasn't and Dawkins isn't a biblical scholar.

Considering the previous discussion here, I could easily see not wanting to touch anything just to keep the peace; but if discussion here CAN be civil, I'd be interested in seeing a bit of it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by JasCollins (talkcontribs) 08:46, 25 April 2014 (UTC)

The Christ Myth Theory has hardly any support among biblical scholars. Not that it is clear to me that the views of biblical scholars rather than historians should carry special weight on this topic. Whether Jesus existed or not is a historical question, but for whatever reasons real historians rarely discuss it. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:14, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
I don't think Dawkins (who has said he thinks Jesus probably existed anyway) or Hitchens really belong in this article but others do and that is not something I feel strongly enough to fight about.Smeat75 (talk) 14:03, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
I think Dawkins is mostly relevant since he is a respected scientist who considers the CMT credible, i.e. not fringe science. Martijn Meijering (talk) 15:41, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
The only credibility Dawkins has is in biology. In philosophy and ancient history, he's out of his depth and, therefore, not a reliable source However, I don't really think it's a big deal to have Dawkins/Hitchens mentioned in the article. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:40, 25 April 2014 (UTC)
Thanks, all. I think Martijn Meijering's point is well made, and when (read if) I get some time, I'll try and find some more real historians with opinions--pro AND con. Ehrman and Carrier are both entertaining authors, but they they CAN'T be the only ones who have something to say. JasCollins (talk) 02:56, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

Thomas Verenna

I have deleted a sentence referring to Thomas Verenna because it is unreferenced and self promoting. It is referenced only by a self published PDF file which appears to be a university term paper or internet forum post to which the link is broken.Burdenedwithtruth (talk) 12:39, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Self-published material like this doesn't belong in the article. That applies to the includiong of Ralph Ellis, that I've reverted. Dougweller (talk) 13:19, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

What about Joe Atwill? He was promoted by Richard Dawkins recently and his work has been reviewed by other mythicists? It is an important theory. He is mentioned as a mythicist author and his works are self published. A lot of things are only on the internet these days, such as Wikipedia. Is this not being anachronistic? I think both Atwill and Ellis should be mentioned because of the potential importance of their theories.Burdenedwithtruth (talk) 03:29, 28 April 2014 (UTC)

"Key arguments" are sorely "lacking"

Reading both articles for Historicity and the degrading title "Christ Myth Theory" several things are made clear.

The very definition of CMT as it own category of a "Theory" is not only unnecessary, it is inherently biased, as it implies that it is some sort of unified movement of any kind. There is no reason why this article can't be named "arguments against the historicity of jesus" instead.

The "Key arguments" shouldn't be lumped under the perspective of a single historian from the 1800s as the very article shows several other perspectives, many of which are a lot more current.

It is necessary to mention in this section the following facts, which if ignored will make the article biased by omission.

Just by reading both articles it is evident that all arguments claiming Christs existence to be unquestionable are either based on "arguments from authority", "arguments from popularity" or a "Historian's Fallacy" which pressuposes past historians to have been unbiased on the very assumption of historicity.

So much substance in both articles is devoted to such fallacies as arguments that bad science is shown to be the norm on the subject matter and this fact merits its own mention.

A strong case for the argument from silence that can be made simply by the fact that the alleged consensus about the historicity of jesus is almost entirely built on claims of its imperviousness, than on actual evidence.

Young earth creationists are rightfully considered to be "extremists" precisely because there is an insurmountable amount of evidence for evolution and the age of the universe.

"Mythicists" on the other hand are only presented with the writings of Josephus and Tacitus as the indefinite proof.

Consequentially it becomes very important to also document the evidence for forgery in Josephus and Tacitus writings, which, if true, would show clearly that other than a "scholar consensus" about something that if questioned would "prevent employment", the actual demonstrable basis for historicity isn't even half as ironclad as both articles make them out to be.

Finally, the quote used in "criticism"

"If we apply to the New Testament, as we should, the same sort of criteria as we should apply to other ancient writings containing historical material, we can no more reject Jesus' existence than we can reject the existence of a mass of pagan personages whose reality as historical figures is never questioned."

Is not, in fact, criticism.

The emphasis should be on "as we should", which make it clear that "the same sort of criteria" should be applied, and the "existence of a mass of pagan personages as historical figures" should be questioned as well.

If there was an organized movement of "mythicists" they surely wouldn't object to implementing stronger criteria to the historicity of any "personages", those which questioned and manage to hold up to the criteria will remain historic and those that don't will not. That is actually the very definition of good science to begin with.

The two links below show excerpts from the book "Suns of God: Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled", which in turn offers a sourced compilation of evidence of forgery for both Josephus and Tacitus.

I am sure there must be other sources out there that are worth using as well. (talk) 00:38, 15 April 2014 (UTC)KKDragonLord

Why do critics of myth theory say there's tons of evidence Jesus existed, but can't name any of it? (talk) 14:47, 30 April 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia bias

why the hell is this an article when it's about a fringe theory? No serious historian actually believes Christ myth theory.-- (talk) 13:57, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia does cover fringe theories if they're notable, but is supposed to cover them as just that. Ian.thomson (talk) 15:36, 16 May 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the changes you have made in the article Ian, you are a brave man.Smeat75 (talk) 17:04, 16 May 2014 (UTC)

Recent changes reverted

An editor made quite a few changes without seeking consensus including removing the "fringe" category and changing the definition of the CMT, both of which have been discussed at great length (see archives) and have been the subject of dispute resolution. I have put the article back the way it was, any potentially contentious changes should be discussed on the talk page first.Smeat75 (talk) 11:52, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

The removal of "including some atheist proponents" from the lead was correct however, atheism has nothing to do with this issue and that statement was unsourced, so I have restored that removal.Smeat75 (talk) 12:33, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

DR/N request for Historicity of Jesus


The following message left on my talk page may be of interest to editors here too:

"This message is being sent to let you know of a discussion at the Wikipedia:Dispute resolution noticeboard regarding a content dispute discussion you may have participated in. Content disputes can hold up article development and make editing difficult for editors. You are not required to participate, but you are both invited and encouraged to help find a resolution. The thread is "Historicity of Jesus". Please join us to help form a consensus. Thank you! MrScorch6200 (talk | ctrb) 20:36, 3 August 2014 (UTC)"

Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:40, 4 August 2014 (UTC)

Historicity of Jesus

Additional eyes would be very welcome on the above article and its talk page John Carter (talk) 23:32, 21 August 2014 (UTC)

Article appears to be about multiple theories.

For instance, the hypothesis that no historic person existed on which the character of Jesus Christ is based is quite different from the hypothesis that there was such a person, but was not of divine origin and without divine attributes. The former hypothesis is a weak strawman and easily refuted; the latter isn't. Many of the cited counter-arguments against the "myth theory" are only effective against the strawman version, not against the collection of Christ myth theories as a whole, but the article doesn't make it clear.KazKylheku (talk) 19:48, 15 September 2014 (UTC)

The article is about a fringe theory...that jesus of Nazareth is fictional person. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 20:10, 15 September 2014 (UTC)
The content of the article indicates that it has had enough proponents for a long enough time with plausible material that puts it beyond a 'fringe theory'. The concern of KazKylheku is legitimate though, and the article would probably be best renamed Jesus myth theory. The primary focus of the theory is the minority view that Jesus—a normal human without magical powers—didn't exist. There is zero evidence for the magical (i.e. theological) claims about Jesus as 'Christ', which is merely a belief, and dismissing the magical stories as myth (and not even original myths) scarcely warrants being called only a 'theory'.--Jeffro77 (talk) 00:28, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Exactly, the idea that Jesus of Nazareth existed as a human being isn't part the Christ myth theory, it's merely secular history. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:31, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Apart from the word "Exactly", that post seems to actually contradict the previous one. HiLo48 (talk) 00:35, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
(In the middle of my weekly D&D game). The main thing that caught my eye was "The primary focus of the theory is the minority view that Jesus—a normal human without magical powers—didn't exist." Not believing that Jesus was divine amounts to merely secular history, not the fringe theory that this article describes, which is the impression I got from Jeffro's last line. Ian.thomson (talk) 00:43, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Ian.thomson has correctly understood what I said. The Jesus myth theory asserts that Jesus didn't exist at all. The view that Jesus was a historical person without magical powers or supernatural associations fits squarely within the purview of the historicity of Jesus. Therefore, calling the article Christ myth theory is misleading.--Jeffro77 (talk) 01:47, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
I agree that Jesus Myth Theory would be less misleading, but CMT is the name that is commonly used, so we can't just invent our own name for it. We had a lengthy discussion about the definition of the CMT a couple of months ago, and the suggestion to rename the article to JMT theory came up, but was not adopted. We could always reopen the discussion, but I don't think it looks very promising. Adding more clarifying material might be a better approach. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:37, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
The CMT covers many nuances - from that the gospels are entirely plagiarized pagan myth, all the way up to accepting that Jesus did exist but not as described in the gospels. The latter is standard history, so some wiki-editors here try really hard to make it sound like the CMT only addresses the former.
One day when I am really bored I am going to analyze all Bill the Cat's talk page posts, to see what percentage of his posts include the word "fringe". I am thinking it will be quite a large percentage. Wdford (talk) 16:51, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

───────────────────────── Doing a Google books search, I see that:

  • The Dictionary of Atheism, Skepticism, and Humanism defines the Christ Myth Theory as "The Theory that Jesus Christ never existed." This is a source that would be the most open to trying to defend the CMT as arguing that it's closer to standard history than affirming the non-plausibility of a historical Jesus, and yet it does not.
  • The Role of Religion in History also says "The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory."
  • The Historical Jesus, Five Views discusses Bauer's assertion that Jesus was entirely a myth, and not a mythicized man, as the Christ myth theory.
  • Deconstructing Jesus, by Robert Price, again describes the CMT as the idea "that there had never been a historical Jesus at the root of the full-blown mythological Christology." As with the Dictionary of Atheism, Price would be in the best position to try and pull mainstream historians on his side by arguing that the CMT extends to merely denying supernatural claims about Jesus, and yet he affirms elsewhere that the CMT is not mainstream.

I didn't find anything (except a self-published New Agey non-RS, and the few sources in our article) suggesting that the CMT is anything other than denying the plausibility of a historical Jesus of Nazareth (or, with the sources in the article, transubstantiating Russell's teapot such that history would have proceeded as it did with or without Jesus). The CMT's opposite is not the idea that Jesus was divine (as evidenced by Tom Harpur's continued career), but opposite of the Historical Jesus theory. While most of those who believe Jesus was divine also believe in a historical Jesus, part of the argument for the CMT is the claim that Christianity was originally Docetic, seeing Jesus as a Metatron-like purely-spiritual-being (see Price) whose existence was closer to the Australian Dreamtime than the historical chronology of our material world. Ian.thomson (talk) 17:30, 21 September 2014 (UTC)

I rest my case. You have cited above various works that agree with your POV, but you have ignored Wells and Doherty, who are both eminent mythicists and who both accept the possibility of a real human Jesus but reject the guy in the gospels. How did you manage to miss those two authors please? Wdford (talk) 20:43, 21 September 2014 (UTC)
Did I not say "with the sources in the article, transubstantiating Russell's teapot such that history would have proceeded as it did with or without Jesus"...? To be clearer, I mean that there are a few individuals identified with the CMT who who believe that while there may well have been a historical Jesus, Jesus's contributions were little more than some sayings paraphrased by the Early Christians, and that Christianity arose and largely developed with almost no influence from Jesus -- in other words Jesus would have been removed from the record that any material about Jesus may as well be about a non-existent person. G.A. Wells held that "the Jesus of the early Christians was a pure myth, derived from mystical speculations stemming from the Jewish Wisdom tradition, while the Gospels were subsequent works of historical fiction. According to this view, the earliest strata of the New Testament literature presented Jesus as "a basically supernatural personage only obscurely on Earth as a man at some unspecified period in the past"." His later works acknowledge the possibility that some sort of sage said some things that were later incorporated into the Q document, but in no way affirming that a historical Jesus was necessary for Christianity to have arisen. In what way is that affirming a historical Jesus?
Earl Doherty believes "that Jesus originated as a myth derived from Middle Platonism with some influence from Jewish mysticism, and that belief in a historical Jesus emerged only among Christian communities in the 2nd century." He does not affirm that there was a historical figure. How did you interpret him as claiming that there was a historical Jesus? Ian.thomson (talk) 03:01, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
Jeffro77 suggested “the article would probably be best renamed Jesus myth theory”. Mmeijeri noted that such a rename was suggested a number of months ago. For what it's worth, it seems that the question of the article title has a much longer history even than months ago — over the past several years the article has had both names, more than just once each, and the name has been changed in both directions. Past discussions include 2010 August, 2011 April, and two from 2011 December ––––– 2012 January (here and here).  Unician   04:24, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
While I agree in principle that renaming would be a good idea, Christ myth theory gets 193,000 results on Google Books and 250,000 results on Google scholar, and Jesus myth theory only gets 104,000 on Google books and 129,000 on Google scholar. It's close enough that I could see the ignoring that if we demonstrated that more sources refer to it as the Jesus myth theory, but per WP:COMMONNAME, we're stuck. Unless everyone wants to pretend that one of those few instances where invoking WP:IAR isn't just admitting that one cannot figure out a policy-based reason to do something, which I'm prepared to do so long as everyone's in on it. Ian.thomson (talk) 04:42, 22 September 2014 (UTC)
If CMT is the more common name (even though it's misleading), it's probably not worth renaming again, particularly if it's previously been the subject of article-name ping-pong.
I understand the contention made by Wdford about CMT including the idea that Jesus existed but not as described in the gospels, but I don't agree that there is any underhanded effort to "try really hard to make it sound like the CMT only addresses" the idea that Jesus didn't exist at all. The 'nuance' that Jesus existed but wasn't magical is covered within the historicity of Jesus, and in practical terms is outside the scope of this article because that aspect simply duplicates content of the other article. This article should briefly summarise the secular Jesus aspect and direct readers to the other article.--Jeffro77 (talk) 07:56, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Fact Substitutes Abound in Criticism Section

While the previous sections seem to have their claims cited, there is fact-substitute phrasing in the criticism section. For example, "Nevertheless, Christ Myth theories find very little support from scholars." is a claim without citation with rhetorical force. Though it is difficult to provide justification for a claim that there is a lack of scholarly support for an idea, that is what would be required to make this claim. The semantic content of the sentence, also, is of questionable scholarly value, considering the above sections provide precisely the support from scholars that the critical authors claim is lacking. The criticism section may be re-written in such a manner as to not rely so heavily on the claim that "most scholars don't take the Christ Myth Theory seriously". Rather than making indirect references to sources that allegedly prove the historicity of Jesus, why not reference them directly, with their dates of publication, as is usually expected of Wikipedia? (talk) 21:56, 22 September 2014 (UTC)

Yes the section seems to rely solely on an appeal to authority without any acknowledgement of actual refuting evidence for Christ Myth Theories. This leads to questioning of the entire legitimacy of scholarly refutation of Jesus mythicism.Direct arguments against the legitimacy of the theory should be inserted here not appeals to academic authority. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:16, 28 September 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. Richard Carrier points out there are two historical Jesus theories being argued in much of the material:

A Reductive theory where "Jesus was an ordinary but obscure individual who inspired a religious movement and copious legends about him"

A Triumphalist theory where "The Gospels are totally or almost totally true"

Carrier goes on to state "Either side of the historicity debate will at times engage in a fallacy here, citing evidence supporting the reductive theory in defense of the triumphalist theory (as if that was valid), or citing the absurdity of the triumphalist theory as if this refuted the reductive theory (as if that were valid)" (sic) (Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 26-30)

To simplify matters Carrier comes up with his own criteria for a minimal historical Jesus:

"1) An actual man at some point named Jesus acquired followers in life who continued as an an identifiable movement after his death

2) This is the same Jesus who was claimed by some of his followers to have been executed by the Jewish or Roman authorities

3) This is the same Jesus some of whose followers soon began worshiping as a living god (or demigod)

If any one of these premises is false, it can fairly be said there was no historical Jesus in any pertinent sense, And at least one of them must be false for any Jesus Myth theory to be true." (Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 34)

However Carrier actually spells out just what his three criteria for a minimal historical Jesus actually means:

"But notice that now we don't even require that is considered essential in many church creeds. For instance, it is not necessary that Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate. Maybe he was, But even if we proved he wasn't that still does not vindicate mysticism. Because the 'real' Jesus may have been executed by Herod Antipas (as the Gospel of Peter in fact claims) or by Roman authorities in an earlier or later decade then Pilate (as some early Christians really did think) Some scholars even argue for an earlier century (and have some real evidence to cite) ... My point at present is that even if we proved proved the founder of Christianity was executed by Herod the Great (not even by Romans, much less Pilate, and a whole forty years before the Gospels claim), as long as his name or nickname (whether assigned before or after his death) really was Jesus and his execution is the very thing spoken of as leading him to the status of the divine Christ venerated in the Epistles, I think it would be fair to say the mythicists are then simply wrong. I would say this even if Jesus was never really executed but only believed to have been because even then it's still the same historical man being spoken of and worshiped." (Carrier, Richard (2014) On the Historicity of Jesus Sheffield Phoenix Press ISBN 978-1-909697-49-2 pg 33) -- (talk) 02:16, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

New academic, peer reviewed work by historian Dr. Richard Carrier

Can one of you editors do something with this quote?

“In my estimation the odds Jesus existed are less than 1 in 12,000. Which to a historian is for all practical purposes a probability of zero For comparison, your lifetime probability of being struck by lighting is around 1 in 10,000. That Jesus existed is even less likely than that. Consequently, I am reasonably certain there was no historical Jesus… When I entertain the most generous estimates possible, I find I cannot by any stretch of the imagination put the probability Jesus existed is better than 1 in 3.” p. 600

Carrier, R. (2014). On the historicity of Jesus: Why we might have reason for doubt. Sheffield: Sheffield Phoenix Press. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 18:33, 29 September 2014 (UTC)

IMHO that one work could clean up much of this article. Carrier even goes into why much of the material regarding a historical Jesus on both sides has problems.-- (talk) 04:54, 1 October 2014 (UTC)
Before adding it we need to establish the degree to which it is accepted in reliable secondary sources. The Jesus actually lived theory is based on the fact that numerous of his followers in the century after his death wrote accounts of his life and even after he came to the attention of the non-Christian community, none of their opponents ever claimed he never lived. So while that is not conclusive proof he lived, it is circumstantial and opponents need to provide an explanation why his existence was widely accepted.
To most historians whether or not he lived is unimportant.
TFD (talk) 04:08, 6 October 2014 (UTC)
We only need to do that if we want to present his view in Wikipedia voice, which is not what is being proposed. I'd say that Richard Carrier is one of the most prominent CMT proponents, so we can certainly use the quote. However, it appears the information is already present in the section on Carrier. If the OP wants to make some changes, s/he is free to have a go at it. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:30, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

To Do List: Source Verification and Revisions

The following excerpt makes no sense:

"Myth proponents argue the gospels were written many decades or even a century after the death of Jesus by individuals who likely never met him"

If mythicists believe Jesus never existed, then how can they believe that the Gospels were written decades after his death? Answer: It is written with a pro-historical bias and needs to be rewritten in order to a reflect a true mythical point of view.

There is no historical bias, they're just stating that the gospels were written after the alleged lifetime of Jesus, which comes from the gospels themselves. They're point out an inconsistency saying, the documents suggest X happened between A and B, but the documents themselves were written well after A and B. (talk) 16:49, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

Francesco Carotta

User:Dukon has added a section on Francesco Carotta. No problem there, Carotta is of course not a WP:RS on ordinary articles under WP:FRINGE but definitely belongs here. Still, there were three problems I've edited out

  • We cannot claim Carotta is a "scholar". A scholar means somebody with some kind of formal competence (a PhD on the subject and/or doing academic research on the subject at some university or research centre). Carotta, as far as I know, have no higher degree the studies he has done have been in other subjects.
  • There were some peacock words, such as saying how 'exhaustively' Carotta has identified different things. We don't make evaluations like that.
  • The whole second paragraph has nothing to do with Carotta. It made a number of claims and its source was a good WP:RS academic book, but the book does not even mention Carotta. Trying to push the book as support for Carotta when the authors ignore him is WP:SYNTH.Jeppiz (talk) 19:23, 11 October 2014 (UTC)

Dukon (talk) 04:21, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for your corrections on these points. It helps me learn proper Wikipedia practice, which of course is much appreciated.

I had no idea that Carotta does not have a PhD. I would have thought he did but I actually do not know so if you have checked then you're right. Are you saying though that even if he has a PhD but it is not in the subject of this book here cited, that it is not a Wikipedia policy to be able to call him a Scholar? I think he really has been exhaustive in pointing out so many of these parallels and for seeing this in the first place he has to be scholarly to do so. But if the Wikipedia policy blocks his being called a scholar due to an other-topic-PhD then so be it.

I wanted to include the Cambridge History "emergence of the written record" reference not because it mentions Carotta which it doesn't you're correct to point out, but because it DOES refer to the existence of an Oral Tradition which preceded (obviously) the written record. SO I put that Chapter of the larger Cambridge volume in there to document the existence of a valid oral tradition, in addition to of course the Oral Tradition Wikipedia pages. Do you think if I worded the sentence which had the Cambridge citation in a way to better highlight that only the Oral tradition is corroborated by the Cambridge scholars that it would be acceptable to keep that citation as part of the contribution?

Thank you very much for your Wikiexpert input!

Dukon (talk) 04:21, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Unsubstantiated Assertion of Consensus

"Despite arguments put forward by authors who have questioned the existence of a historical Jesus, there remains a nearly universal consensus agreement among historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived,[7][8][9][10][11][12][13]"

Citing a few books (does that constitute peer reviewed scholarly work?) by a handful of authors does not constitute near universal consensus. For such a statement I would expect at the very least a poll, some sort of actual statistic that evaluates the group being identified as 'in consensus'. It seems fairly common in this article that books, the contents of which require purchase, are used as justification for the assertion of some sort of consensus. E.g also see:

"Ultimately, mainstream biblical scholars say there are historically verifiable events such as the baptism and crucifixion of Jesus,[27]"

Notice how that's a book by a single author somehow supposed to be representing the mainstream consensus of biblical scholars? Such 'citations' appear littered throughout the article. If it's going claim consensus it needs to demonstrate it, not cite a book by a single author. (talk) 16:58, 6 October 2014 (UTC)

The policy for using Wikipedia voice to assert there is a consensus among scholars in a field is WP:RS/AC: we need a reliable source to state there is a consensus, we are not supposed to conduct a poll ourselves. If another reliable source contradicts the first, then we report the controversy, as we always do when reliable sources disagree. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:42, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Popular authors vs academics

I'd like to propose grouping popular authors separately from academic authors. The CMT is mostly a popular phenomenon, at least nowadays, but it would be useful to make a clear distinction between the many popular and few academic authors that thave published on the subject. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:45, 12 October 2014 (UTC)

Michael Paulkovich

I think Michael Paulkovich should be added to this article because his book No Meek Messiah claims that Christ is a myth. (talk) 03:41, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

Degrading of Acharya S does not belong here

Acharya S has made it clear that she does not ever want any other names used besides Acharya S or D.M. Murdock as explained in these links:

and the comment: "revives the early 19th century theories of Godfrey Higgins and Robert Taylor" is false and should be removed as anybody who has actually read her work would know.

This comment is just a smear and does not belong anywhere at Wiki: "Her views have been challenged by other mythicists such as Richard Carrier." So what?, Carrier's criticisms of her work have been sloppy and egregiously in error as explained here:

This is another smear as even if true it has nothing to do with this article and should be removed: "Acharya has also been criticized by mainstream academics for concluding that Christ's crucifixion by Roman authorities is a repetition of Krishna being shot in the foot by a hunter or Odysseus tying himself to his ship mast to hear the sirens' song, and generally overreaching and relying on outdated scholarship.[194]

JoseAziz78 (talk) 18:56, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not:
Ian.thomson (talk) 19:15, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

The Mythicist position

Acharya S/DM Murdock created the first succinct and comprehensive position for mythicists in her book Christ in Egypt (2009)outlined in the video and link below and it should be properly worked into her section of this article:

The Mythicist Position:

"Mythicism represents the perspective that many gods, goddesses and other heroes and legendary figures said to possess extraordinary and/or supernatural attributes are not "real people" but are in fact mythological characters. Along with this view comes the recognition that many of these figures personify or symbolize natural phenomena, such as the sun, moon, stars, planets, constellations, etc., constituting what is called "astrotheology."

"As a major example of the mythicist position, various biblical characters such as Adam and Eve, Satan, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, King David, Solomon & Jesus Christ, among other figures, in reality represent mythological characters along the same lines as the Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian, Greek, Roman and other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths, rather than historical figures."

- Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection (2009), page 12

JoseAziz78 (talk) 18:39, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Wikipedia does not give undue weight to single authors, particularly when they are not mainstream. Ian.thomson (talk) 19:16, 29 October 2014 (UTC)

Citations Specifying the Narrow Definition of the CMT

section is for references only
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I'm creating a new section for reference purposes. Can someone make it collapsible so it doesn't clutter up the rest of this page? (I forgot how to do it and I don't have time to look it up.)

  • Defense of Biblical criticism was not helped by the revival at this time of the 'Christ-Myth' theory, suggesting that Jesus had never existed, a suggestion rebutted in England by the radical but independent F. C. Conybeare.
William Horbury, "The New Testament", in Ernest Nicholson, A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003) p. 55
  • Zindler depends on secondary works and writes with the aim of proving the Christ-Myth theory, namely, the theory that the Jesus of history never existed.
John T. Townsend, "Christianity in Rabbinic Literature", in Isaac Kalimi & Peter J. Haas, Biblical Interpretation in Judaism and Christianity (New York: T. & T. Clark, 2006) p. 150
  • The radical solution was to deny the possibility of reliable knowledge of Jesus, and out of this developed the Christ myth theory, according to which Jesus never existed as a historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community.
William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q", in Jacob Neusner, Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, 4 (Leiden: Brill, 1975) p. 43
  • Negative as these [hyper-minimalist] conclusions appear, they must be strictly distinguished from the theories of the mythologists. According to the critics whom we may term minimalists, Jesus did live, but his biography is almost totally unknown to us. The mythologists, on the other hand, declare that he never existed, and that his history, or more exactly the legend about him, is due to the working of various tendencies and events, such as the prophetic interpretation of Old Testament texts, visions, ecstasy, or the projection of the conditions under which the first group of Christians lived into the story of their reputed founder.
Maurice Goguel, "Recent French Discussion of the Historical Existence of Jesus Christ", Harvard Theological Review 19 (2), 1926, pp. 117–118
  • The Christ-Myth theory (that Jesus never lived) had a certain vogue at the beginning of this century but is not supported by contemporary scholarship.
Alan Richardson, The Political Christ (London: SCM, 1973) p. 113
  • If this account of the matter is correct, one can also see why it is that the 'Christ-myth' theory, to the effect that there was no historical Jesus at all, has seemed so plausible to many...
Hugo A. Meynell, An Introduction to the Philosophy of Bernard Lonergan (2nd ed.) (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1991) p. 166
  • [W]e have to explain the origin of Christianity, and in so doing we have to choose between two alternatives. One alternative is to say that it originated in a myth which was later dressed up as history. The other is to say that it originated with one historical individual who was later mythologized into a supernatural being. The theory that Jesus was originally a myth is called the Christ-myth theory, and the theory that he was an historical individual is called the historical Jesus theory.
George Walsh, The Role of Religion in History (New Brunswick: Transaction, 1998) p. 58
  • The Jesus-was-a-myth school... argue[s] that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed.
Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images (New York: Continuum, 2001) p. 202
  • Though [Charles Guignebert] could not accept either the Christ myth theory, which held that no historical Jesus existed, or the Dutch Radical denial that Paul authored any of the epistles, Guignebert took both quite seriously.
Robert M. Price, in Tom Flynn, The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2007) p. 372
  • As we have noted, some legendary-Jesus theorists argue that, while it is at least possible, if not likely, an actual historical person named Jesus existed, he is so shrouded in legendary material that we can know very little about him. Others (i.e, Christ myth theorists) argue that we have no good reason to believe there ever was an actual historical person behind the legend.
Paul R Eddy & Gregory A. Boyd, The Jesus Legend: a Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Jesus Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007) p. 165
  • Price uncritically embraces the dubious methods and results of the Jesus Seminar, adopts much of the (discredited) Christ-Myth theory from the nineteenth century (in which it was argued that Jesus never lived), and so on.
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2006) p. 25
  • For as "extreme" a critic as Rudolf Bultmann, the existence of the historical Jesus is a necessity; and if historical criticism could successfully establish the "Christ-myth" theory, viz., that Jesus never really lived, Bultmann’s enture theological structure would be shaken.
George Eldon Ladd, The New Testament and Criticism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1967) p. 15
  • And a recent attempt to revive the Christ myth theory (that Jesus was simply invented as a peg on which to hang the myth of a Savior God), hardly merits serious consideration.
Reginald H. Fuller & Pheme Perkins, Who Is This Christ?: Gospel Christology and Contemporary Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1983) p. 130
  • ...on the one hand, literal acceptance of everything in the New Testament as the veridical record of what happened, and, on the other, some form of Christ-myth theory which denies that there ever was a Jesus. But neither of these extreme positions stands up to scrutiny."
John Macquarrie, The Scope of Demythologizing: Bultmann and His Critics (London: SCM, 1960) p. 93
  • But in contrast to the Christ-myth theories which proliferated at an earlier time, it would seem that today almost all reputable scholars do accept that Jesus existed and that the basic facts about him are well established.
John Macquarrie, "The Humanity of Christ", in Theology, Vol. 74 (London: SPCK, 1971) p. 247
  • His published work on the Synoptic Problem had already contributed towards exploding the theory of the “Christ-myth”—that Jesus as a historical person never existed—by providing the two oldest records of His life to be genuine historical documents."
George Seaver, Albert Schweitzer: The Man and His Mind (New York: Harper, 1955) p. 45
  • In Germany, England, Holland, America, and France, a group of scholars developed the hypothesis that Christ had never lived at all, the Christ-myth theory.
Margaret Hope Bacon, Let This Life Speak: The Legacy of Henry Joel Cadbury‎ (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987) p. 22
  • There have even been learned and intelligent men who have denied that Jesus ever existed: the so-called "Christ-myth" theory.
Donald MacKenzie MacKinnon, Objections to Christian Belief (London: Constable, 1963) p. 67
The theory that Jesus Christ never existed.
Bill Cooke, Dictionary Of Atheism, Skepticism, & Humanism (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2005) p. 278

Mythicist arguments need to be summarized.

I find this page shockingly weak. Many of the entries seem to be biased toward the historicist position, and that is the least of its troubles. The actual points made by the mythicists are not summarized. For example, Richard Carrier does not just conclude that there was at most 1/3 chance of Jesus existing. He spent an entire book (Proving History) showing how all the arguments for historicity do not stand up to examination and logic. There are many specifics to his case that could be summarized here. He also presented a solid scientific approach to evaluating historical claims. In his next book (the one cited in the Wikipedia page), he then applied that method.

The criticism of the mythicists included on this page repeatedly centers around the opinion of the majority rather than what is confirmed by facts. For the few concrete criticisms, rebuttals from the mythicists are not included. I have not spent a lot of time looking at Biblical wiki pages, but it honestly shocks me to compare the quality of reportage on this page compared to, say, that on topics in physics.

Jojoblum (talk) 23:15, 15 November 2014 (UTC)Jo

Wikipedia does not give equal validity to positions that receive less academic support, which is determined by due weight from sources, rather than choosing one source and rejecting others. In other words, the conclusions of the majority trump the claims of the minority.
This is parallel to our article on Evolution: the majority in the field hold a particular position which we repeat, while we shuffle off the "alternative" to an article that's mostly criticism. To date, Carrier's work is the only peer-reviewed Mythicist work from an academic publisher, while there are plenty that (regardless of whether individual editors disagree or want to argue against it) take a Historicist position. Ian.thomson (talk) 23:37, 15 November 2014 (UTC)

Citations Specifying that the CMT is Fringe

section is for references only
The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it.

I'm creating a new section for reference purposes.


  • [T]he view that there was no historical Jesus, that his earthly existence is a fiction of earliest Christianity—a fiction only later made concrete by setting his life in the first century—is today almost totally rejected.
G. A. Wells, The Historical Evidence for Jesus (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1988) p. 218
  • It is customary today to dismiss with amused contempt the suggestion that Jesus never existed.
G. A. Wells, "The Historicity of Jesus," in Jesus and History and Myth, ed. R. Joseph Hoffman (Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books, 1986) p. 27
  • "New Testament criticism treated the Christ Myth Theory with universal disdain"
Robert M. Price, The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-Four Formative Texts (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2006) p. 1179
  • "Van Voorst is quite right in saying that 'mainstream scholarship today finds it unimportant' [to engage the Christ myth theory seriously]. Most of their comment (such as those quoted by Michael Grant) are limited to expressions of contempt."
Earl Doherty, "Responses to Critiques of the Mythicist Case: Alleged Scholarly Refutations of Jesus Mythicism, Part Three", The Jesus Puzzle: Was There No Historical Jesus?
  • Today, nearly all historians, whether Christians or not, accept that Jesus existed and that the gospels contain plenty of valuable evidence which has to be weighed and assessed critically. There is general agreement that, with the possible exception of Paul, we know far more about Jesus of Nazareth than about any first or second century Jewish or pagan religious teacher.
Graham Stanton, The Gospels and Jesus (2nd ed.), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) p. xxiii
  • In the last analysis, the whole Christ-myth theorizing is a glaring example of obscurantism, if the sin of obscurantism consists in the acceptance of bare possibilities in place of actual probabilities, and of pure surmise in defiance of existing evidence. Those who have not entered far into the laborious inquiry may pretend that the historicity of Jesus is an open question. For me to adopt such a pretence would be sheer intellectual dishonesty. I know I must, as an honest man, reckon with Jesus as a factor in history... 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.
Herbert George Wood, Christianity and the Nature of History (London: Cambridge University Press, 1934) pp. xxxiii & 54
  • The defectiveness of [the Christ myth theory's] treatment of the traditional evidence is perhaps not so patent in the case of the gospels as it is in the case of the Pauline epistles. Yet fundamentally it is the same. There is the same easy dismissal of all external testimony, the same disdain for the saner conclusions of modern criticism, the same inclination to attach most value to extremes of criticism, the same neglect of all the personal and natural features of the narrative, the same disposition to put skepticism forward in the garb of valid demonstration, and the same ever present predisposition against recognizing any evidence for Jesus' actual existence... The New Testament data are perfectly clear in their testimony to the reality of Jesus' earthly career and they come from a time when the possibility that the early framers of tradition should have been deceived upon this point is out of the question.
Shirley Jackson Case, The Historicity Of Jesus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1912) pp. 76-77 & 269
  • If one were able to survey the members of the major learned societies dealing with antiquity, it would be difficult to find more than a handful who believe that Jesus of Nazareth did not walk the dusty roads of Palestine in the first three decades of the Common Era. Evidence for Jesus as a historical personage is incontrovertible.
W. Ward Gasque, "The Leading Religion Writer in Canada... Does He Know What He's Talking About?", George Mason University's History News Network, 2004
  • [The non-Christian references to Jesus from the first two centuries] render highly implausible any farfetched theories that even Jesus' very existence was a Christian invention. The fact that Jesus existed, that he was crucified under Pontius Pilate (for whatever reason) and that he had a band of followers who continued to support his cause, seems to be the part of the bedrock of historical tradition. If nothing else, the non-Christian evidence can provide us with certainty on that score.
Christopher M. Tuckett, "Sources and Methods" in The Cambridge Companion to Jesus (London: Cambridge University Press, 2001) p. 124
  • [A]n attempt to show that Jesus never existed has been made in recent years by G. A. Wells, a Professor of German who has ventured into New Testament study and presents a case that the origins of Christianity can be explained without assuming that Jesus really lived. Earlier presentations of similar views at the turn of the century failed to make any impression on scholarly opinion, and it is certain that this latest presentation of the case will not fare any better. For of course the evidence is not confined to Tacitus; there are the New Testament documents themselves, nearly all of which must be dated in the first century, and behind which there lies a period of transmission of the story of Jesus which can be traced backwards to a date not far from that when Jesus is supposed to have lived. To explain the rise of this tradition without the hypothesis of Jesus is impossible.
I. Howard Marshall, I Believe in the Historical Jesus (rev. ed.) (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 2004) pp. 15–16
  • A phone call from the BBC’s flagship Today programme: would I go on air on Good Friday morning to debate with the aurthors of a new book, The Jesus Mysteries? The book claims (or so they told me) that everything in the Gospels reflects, because it was in fact borrowed from, much older pagan myths; that Jesus never existed; that the early church knew it was propagating a new version of an old myth, and that the developed church covered this up in the interests of its own power and control. The producer was friendly, and took my point when I said that this was like asking a professional astronomer to debate with the authors of a book claiming the moon was made of green cheese.
N. T. Wright, "Jesus' Self Understanding", in Stephen T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins, The Incarnation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004) p. 48
  • A school of thought popular with cranks on the Internet holds that Jesus didn’t actually exist.
Tom Breen, The Messiah Formerly Known as Jesus: Dispatches from the Intersection of Christianity and Pop Culture (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2008) p. 138
  • I feel that I ought almost to apologize to my readers for investigating at such length the hypothesis of a pre-Christian Jesus, son of a mythical Mary, and for exhibiting over so many pages its fantastic, baseless, and absurd character... We must [, according to Christ myth advocates,] perforce suppose that the Gospels were a covert tribute to the worth and value of Pagan mythology and religious dramas, to pagan art and statuary. If we adopt the mythico-symbolical method, they can have been nothing else. Its sponsors might surely condescend to explain the alchemy by which the ascertained rites and beliefs of early Christians were distilled from these antecedents. The effect and the cause are so entirely disparate, so devoid of any organic connection, that we would fain see the evolution worked out a little more clearly. At one end of it we have a hurly-burly of pagan myths, at the other an army of Christian apologists inveighing against everything pagan and martyred for doing so, all within a space of sixty or seventy years. I only hope the orthodox will be gratified to learn that their Scriptures are a thousandfold more wonderful and unique than they appeared to be when they were merely inspired by the Holy Spirit. For verbal inspiration is not, as regards its miraculous quality, in the same field with mythico-symbolism. Verily we have discovered a new literary genus, unexampled in the history of mankind, you rake together a thousand irrelevant thrums of mythology, picked up at random from every age, race, and clime; you get a "Christist" to throw them into a sack and shake them up; you open it, and out come the Gospels. In all the annals of the Bacon-Shakespeareans we have seen nothing like it.
Frederick Cornwallis Conybeare,The Historical Christ, or an Investigation of the Views of J. M. Robertson, A. Drews and W. B. Smith (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Library, 2009/1914) pp. 42 & 95
  • Today only an eccentric would claim that Jesus never existed.
Leander Keck, Who Is Jesus?: History in Perfect Tense (Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2000) p. 13
  • While The Christ Myth alarmed many who were innocent of learning, it evoked only Olympian scorn from the historical establishment, who were confident that Jesus had existed... The Christ-myth theory, then, won little support from the historical specialists. In their judgement, it sought to demonstrate a perverse thesis, and it preceded by drawing the most far-fetched, even bizarre connection between mythologies of very diverse origin. The importance of the theory lay, not in its persuasiveness to the historians (since it had none), but in the fact that it invited theologians to renewed reflection on the questions of faith and history.
Brian A. Gerrish, The Old Protestantism and the New: Essays on the Reformation Heritage (London: T. & T. Clark, 2004) pp. 231 & 233
  • It is certain, however, that Jesus was arrested while in Jerusalem for the Passover, probably in the year 30, and that he was cannot be doubted that Peter was a personal disciple of Jesus...
Helmut Koester, Introduction to the New Testament, 2 (2nd ed.) (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2000) pp. 80 & 166
  • We do not need to take seriously those writers who occasionally claim that Jesus never existed at all, for we have clear evidence to the contrary from a number of Jewish, Latin, and Islamic sources.
John Drane, "Introduction", in John Drane, The Great Sayings of Jesus: Proverbs, Parables and Prayers (New York: Palgrave Macmillian, 1999) p. 23
  • By no means are we at the mercy of those who doubt or deny that Jesus ever lived.
Rudolf Bultmann, "The Study of the Synoptic Gospels", Form Criticism: Two Essays on New Testament Research, Rudolf Bultmann & Karl Kundsin; translated by Frederick C. Grant (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1962) p. 62
  • Of course the doubt as to whether Jesus really existed is unfounded and not worth refutation. No sane person can doubt that Jesus stands as founder behind the historical movement whose first distinct stage is represented by the oldest Palestinian community.
Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus and the Word (New York: Scribner, 1958) p. introduction
  • It is the nature of historical work that we are always involved in probability judgments. Granted, some judgments are so probable as to be certain; for example, Jesus really existed and really was crucified, just as Julius Caeser really existed and was assassinated.
Marcus Borg, "A Vision of the Christian Life", The Meaning of Jesus: Two Visions, Marcus Borg & N. T. Wright (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2007) p. 236
  • To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars'. In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus'—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.
Michael Grant, Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels (New York: Scribner, 1995) p. 200
  • I think that there are hardly any historians today, in fact I don't know of any historians today, who doubt the existence of Jesus... So I think that question can be put to rest.
N. T. Wright, "The Self-Revelation of God in Human History: A Dialogue on Jesus with N. T. Wright", in Antony Flew & Roy Abraham Vargese, There is a God (New York: HarperOne, 2007) p. 188
  • Even the most critical historian can confidently assert that a Jew named Jesus worked as a teacher and wonder-worker in Palestine during the reign of Tiberius, was executed by crucifixion under the prefect Pontius Pilate, and continued to have followers after his death.
Luke Timothy Johnson, The Real Jesus (San Francisco: Harper, 1996) p. 121
  • The historical reality both of Buddha and of Christ has sometimes been doubted or denied. It would be just as reasonable to question the historical existence of Alexander the Great and Charlemagne on account of the legends which have gathered round them... The attempt to explain history without the influence of great men may flatter the vanity of the vulgar, but it will find no favour with the philosophic historian.
James Frazer, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, 7 (3rd ed.) (London: Macmillan, 1919) p. 311
  • We can be certain that Jesus really existed (despite a few highly motivated skeptics who refuse to be convinced), that he was a Jewish teacher in Galilee, and that he was crucified by the Roman government around 30 CE.
Robert J. Miller, The Jesus Seminar and Its Critics (Santa Rosa: Polebridge, 1999) p. 38
  • [T]here is substantial evidence that a person by the name of Jesus once existed.
Robert Funk, Honest to Jesus: Jesus for a New Millenium (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1997) p. 33
  • Despite the prejudices and theological preconceptions of the evangelists, they record many incidents that mere inventors would have concealed—the competition of the apostles for high places in the Kingdom, their flight after Jesus' arrest, Peter's denial, the failure of Christ to work miracles in Galilee, the references of some auditors to his possible insanity, his early uncertainty as to his mission, his confessions of ignorance as to the future, his moments of bitterness, his despairing cry on the cross; no one reading these scenes can doubt the reality of the figure behind them. That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospel.
Will Durant, Christ and Caesar, The Story of Civilization, 3 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1972) p. 557
  • There are no substantial doubts about the general course of Jesus’ life: when and where he lived, approximately when and where he died, and the sort of thing that he did during his public activity.
E. P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus (London: Allen Lane, 1993) p. 10
  • There are those who argue that Jesus is a figment of the Church’s imagination, that there never was a Jesus at all. I have to say that I do not know any respectable critical scholar who says that any more.
Richard A. Burridge, Jesus Now and Then (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) p. 34
  • Although Wells has been probably the most able advocate of the nonhistoricity theory, he has not been persuasive and is now almost a lone voice for it. The theory of Jesus' nonexistence is now effectively dead as a scholarly question... The nonhistoricity thesis has always been controversial, and it has consistently failed to convince scholars of many disciplines and religious creeds... Biblical scholars and classical historians now regard it as effectively refuted.
Robert E. Van Voorst, Jesus Outside the New Testament: An Introduction to the Ancient Evidence (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000) pp. 14 & 16
  • No reputable scholar today questions that a Jew named Jesus son of Joseph lived; most readily admit that we now know a considerable amount about his actions and his basic teachings.
James H. Charlesworth, "Preface", in James H. Charlesworth, Jesus and Archaeology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006) pp. xxi–xxv
  • [Robert] Price thinks the evidence is so weak for the historical Jesus that we cannot know anything certain or meaningful about him. He is even willing to entertain the possibility that there never was a historical Jesus. Is the evidence of Jesus really that thin? Virtually no scholar trained in history will agree with Price's negative conclusions... In my view Price's work in the gospels is overpowered by a philosophical mindset that is at odds with historical research—of any kind... What we see in Price is what we have seen before: a flight from fundamentalism.
Craig A. Evans, Fabricating Jesus: How Modern Scholars Distort the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2008) p. 25
  • The scholarly mainstream, in contrast to Bauer and company, never doubted the existence of Jesus or his relevance for the founding of the Church.
Craig A. Evans, "Life-of-Jesus Research and the Eclipse of Mythology", Theological Studies 54, 1993, p. 8
  • There's no serious question for historians that Jesus actually lived. There’s real issues about whether he is really the way the Bible described him. There’s real issues about particular incidents in his life. But no serious ancient historian doubts that Jesus was a real person, really living in Galilee in the first century.
Chris Forbes, interview with John Dickson, "Zeitgeist: Time to Discard the Christian Story?", Center for Public Christianity, 2009
  • I don't think there's any serious historian who doubts the existence of Jesus. There are a lot of people who want to write sensational books and make a lot of money who say Jesus didn't exist. But I don't know any serious scholar who doubts the existence of Jesus.
Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008
  • What about those writers like Acharya S (The Christ Conspiracy) and Timothy Freke & Peter Gandy (The Jesus Mysteries), who say that Jesus never existed, and that Christianity was an invented religion, the Jewish equivalent of the Greek mystery religions? This is an old argument, even though it shows up every 10 years or so. This current craze that Christianity was a mystery religion like these other mystery religions-the people who are saying this are almost always people who know nothing about the mystery religions; they've read a few popular books, but they're not scholars of mystery religions. The reality is, we know very little about mystery religions-the whole point of mystery religions is that they're secret! So I think it's crazy to build on ignorance in order to make a claim like this. I think the evidence is just so overwhelming that Jesus existed, that it's silly to talk about him not existing. I don't know anyone who is a responsible historian, who is actually trained in the historical method, or anybody who is a biblical scholar who does this for a living, who gives any credence at all to any of this.
Bart Ehrman, interview with David V. Barrett, "The Gospel According to Bart", Fortean Times (221), 2007
  • Richard [Carrier] takes the extremist position that Jesus of Nazareth never even existed, that there was no such person in history. This is a position that is so extreme that to call it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn’t even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship.
William Lane Craig, "Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?", debate with Richard Carrier, 2009
  • The alternative thesis... that within thirty years there had evolved such a coherent and consistent complex of traditions about a non-existent figure such as we have in the sources of the Gospels is just too implausible. It involves too many complex and speculative hypotheses, in contrast to the much simpler explanation that there was a Jesus who said and did more or less what the first three Gospels attribute to him.
James D. G. Dunn, The Evidence for Jesus (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1985) p. 29
  • This is always the fatal flaw of the 'Jesus myth' thesis: the improbability of the total invention of a figure who had purportedly lived within the generation of the inventors, or the imposition of such an elaborate myth on some minor figure from Galilee. [Robert] Price is content with the explanation that it all began 'with a more or less vague savior myth.' Sad, really.
James D. G. Dunn, "Response to Robert M. Price", in James K. Beilby & Paul Rhodes Eddy, The Historical Jesus: Five Views (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2009) p. 98
  • Since the Enlightenment, the Gospel stories about the life of Jesus have been in doubt. Intellectuals then as now asked: 'What makes the stories of the New Testament any more historically probable than Aesop's fables or Grimm's fairy tales?' The critics can be answered satisfactorily...For all the rigor of the standard it sets, the criterion [of embarrassment] demonstrates that Jesus existed.
Alan F. Segal, "Believe Only the Embarrassing", Slate, 2005
  • Some writers may toy with the fancy of a 'Christ-myth,' but they do not do so on the ground of historical evidence. The historicity of Christ is as axiomatic for an unbiased historian as the historicity of Julius Caesar. It is not historians who propagate the 'Christ-myth' theories.
F. F. Bruce, The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (6th ed.) (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003) p. 123
  • Jesus is in no danger of suffering Catherine [of Alexandria]'s fate as an unhistorical myth...
Dale Allison, The Historical Christ and the Theological Jesus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009) p. 37
  • An examination of the claims for and against the historicity of Jesus thus reveals that the difficulties faced by those undertaking to prove that he is not historical, in the fields both of the history of religion and the history of doctrine, and not least in the interpretation of the earliest tradition are far more numerous and profound than those which face their opponents. Seen in their totality, they must be considered as having no possible solution. Added to this, all hypotheses which have so far been put forward to the effect that Jesus never lived are in the strangest opposition to each other, both in their method of working and their interpretation of the Gospel reports, and thus merely cancel each other out. Hence we must conclude that the supposition that Jesus did exist is exceedingly likely, whereas its converse is exceedingly unlikely. This does not mean that the latter will not be proposed again from time to time, just as the romantic view of the life of Jesus is also destined for immortality. It is even able to dress itself up with certain scholarly technique, and with a little skillful manipulation can have much influence on the mass of people. But as soon as it does more than engage in noisy polemics with 'theology' and hazards an attempt to produce real evidence, it immediately reveals itself to be an implausible hypothesis.
Albert Schweitzer, The Quest of the Historical Jesus, translated by John Bowden et al. (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2001) pp. 435–436
  • In fact, there is more evidence that Jesus of Nazareth certainly lived than for most famous figures of the ancient past. This evidence is of two kinds: internal and external, or, if you will, sacred and secular. In both cases, the total evidence is so overpowering, so absolute that only the shallowest of intellects would dare to deny Jesus' existence. And yet this pathetic denial is still parroted by 'the village atheist,' bloggers on the internet, or such organizations as the Freedom from Religion Foundation.
Paul L. Maier, "Did Jesus Really Exist?",, 2007
  • The very logic that tells us there was no Jesus is the same logic that pleads that there was no Holocaust. On such logic, history is no longer possible. It is no surprise then that there is no New Testament scholar drawing pay from a post who doubts the existence of Jesus. I know not one. His birth, life, and death in first-century Palestine have never been subject to serious question and, in all likelihood, never will be among those who are experts in the field. The existence of Jesus is a given.
Nicholas Perrin, Lost in Transmission?: What We Can Know About the Words of Jesus (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007) p. 32
  • While we do not have the fullness of biographical detail and the wealth of firsthand accounts that are available for recent public figures, such as Winston Churchill or Mother Teresa, we nonetheless have much more data on Jesus than we do for such ancient figures as Alexander the Great... Along with the scholarly and popular works, there is a good deal of pseudoscholarship on Jesus that finds its way into print. During the last two centuries more than a hundred books and articles have denied the historical existence of Jesus. Today innumerable websites carry the same message... Most scholars regard the arguments for Jesus' non-existence as unworthy of any response—on a par with claims that the Jewish Holocaust never occurred or that the Apollo moon landing took place in a Hollywood studio.
Michael James McClymond, Familiar Stranger: An Introduction to Jesus of Nazareth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2004) pp. 8 & 23–24
  • You know that you can try to minimize your biases, but you can't eliminate them. That's why you have to put certain checks and balances in place… Under this approach, we only consider facts that meet two criteria. First, there must be very strong historical evidence supporting them. And secondly, the evidence must be so strong that the vast majority of today's scholars on the subject—including skeptical ones—accept these as historical facts. You're never going to get everyone to agree. There are always people who deny the Holocaust or question whether Jesus ever existed, but they're on the fringe.
Michael R. Licona, in Lee Strobel, The Case for the Real Jesus (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007) p. 112
  • If I understand what Earl Doherty is arguing, Neil, it is that Jesus of Nazareth never existed as an historical person, or, at least that historians, like myself, presume that he did and act on that fatally flawed presumption. I am not sure, as I said earlier, that one can persuade people that Jesus did exist as long as they are ready to explain the entire phenomenon of historical Jesus and earliest Christianity either as an evil trick or a holy parable. I had a friend in Ireland who did not believe that Americans had landed on the moon but that they had created the entire thing to bolster their cold-war image against the communists. I got nowhere with him. So I am not at all certain that I can prove that the historical Jesus existed against such an hypothesis and probably, to be honest, I am not even interested in trying.
John Dominic Crossan, "Historical Jesus: Materials and Methodology", XTalk, 2000
  • A hundred and fifty years ago a fairly well respected scholar named Bruno Bauer maintained that the historical person Jesus never existed. Anyone who says that today—in the academic world at least—gets grouped with the skinheads who say there was no Holocaust and the scientific holdouts who want to believe the world is flat.
Mark Allan Powell, Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1998) p. 168
  • When they say that Christian beliefs about Jesus are derived from pagan mythology, I think you should laugh. Then look at them wide-eyed and with a big grin, and exclaim, 'Do you really believe that?' Act as though you've just met a flat earther or Roswell conspirator.
William Lane Craig, "Question 90: Jesus and Pagan Mythology", Reasonable Faith, 2009
  • Finley: There are some people in the chat room disagreeing, of course, but they’re saying that there really isn’t any hardcore evidence, though, that… I mean… but there isn’t any… any evidence, really, that Jesus did exist except what people were saying about him. But… Ehrman: I think… I disagree with that. Finley: Really? Ehrman: I mean, what hardcore evidence is there that Julius Caesar existed? Finley: Well, this is… this is the same kind of argument that apologists use, by the way, for the existence of Jesus, by the way. They like to say the same thing you said just then about, well, what kind of evidence do you have for Jul… Ehrman: Well, I mean, it’s… but it’s just a typical… it’s just… It’s a historical point; I mean, how do you establish the historical existence of an individual from the past? Finley: I guess… I guess it depends on the claims… Right, it depends on the claims that people have made during that particular time about a particular person and their influence on society... Ehrman: It’s not just the claims. There are… One has to look at historical evidence. And if you… If you say that historical evidence doesn’t count, then I think you get into huge trouble. Because then, how do… I mean… then why not just deny the Holocaust?
Bart Ehrman, interview with Reginald V. Finley Sr., "Who Changed The New Testament and Why", The Infidel Guy Show, 2008
  • The denial that Christ was crucified is like the denial of the Holocaust. For some it's simply too horrific to affirm. For others it's an elaborate conspiracy to coerce religious sympathy. But the deniers live in a historical dreamworld.
John Piper, Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die (Wheaton: Crossway, 2006) pp. 14-15
  • I just finished reading, The Historical Jesus: Five Views. The first view was given by Robert Price, a leading Jesus myth proponent… The title of Price’s chapter is 'Jesus at the Vanishing Point.' I am convinced that if Price's total skepticism were applied fairly and consistently to other figures in ancient history (Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Cleopatra, Nero, etc.), they would all be reduced to 'the vanishing point.' Price's chapter is a perfect example of how someone can always, always find excuses to not believe something they don't want to believe, whether that be the existence of Jesus or the existence of the holocaust.
Dennis Ingolfsland, "Five views of the historical Jesus", The Recliner Commentaries, 2009
  • The Jesus mythers will continue to advance their thesis and complain of being kept outside of the arena of serious academic discussion. They carry their signs, 'Jesus Never Existed!' 'They won’t listen to me!' and label those inside the arena as 'Anti-Intellectuals,' 'Fundamentalists,' 'Misguided Liberals,' and 'Flat-Earthers.' Doherty & Associates are baffled that all but a few naïve onlookers pass them by quickly, wagging their heads and rolling their eyes. They never see that they have a fellow picketer less than a hundred yards away, a distinguished looking man from Iran. He too is frustrated and carries a sign that says 'The Holocaust Never Happened!'
Michael R. Licona, "Licona Replies to Doherty's Rebuttal", Answering Infidels, 2005
  • Frankly, I know of no ancient historian or biblical historian who would have a twinge of doubt about the existence of a Jesus Christ - the documentary evidence is simply overwhelming.
Graeme Clarke, quoted by John Dickson in "Facts and friction of Easter", The Sydney Morning Herald, March 21, 2008
  • An extreme instance of pseudo-history of this kind is the “explanation” of the whole story of Jesus as a myth.
Emil Brunner, The Mediator: A Study of the Central Doctrine of the Christian Faith (Cambridge: Lutterworth Press, 2002) p. 164
  • An extreme view along these lines is one which denies even the historical existence of Jesus Christ—a view which, one must admit, has not managed to establish itself among the educated, outside a little circle of amateurs and cranks, or to rise above the dignity of the Baconian theory of Shakespeare.
Edwyn Robert Bevan, Hellenism And Christianity (2nd ed.) (London: G. Allen and Unwin, 1930) p. 256
  • When all the evidence brought against Jesus' historicity is surveyed it is not found to contain any elements of strength.
Shirley Jackson Case, "The Historicity of Jesus: An Estimate of the Negative Argument", The American Journal of Theology, 1911, 15 (1)
  • It would be easy to show how much there enters of the conjectural, of superficial resemblances, of debatable interpretation into the systems of the Drews, the Robertsons, the W. B. Smiths, the Couchouds, or the Stahls... The historical reality of the personality of Jesus alone enables us to understand the birth and development of Christianity, which otherwise would remain an enigma, and in the proper sense of the word, a miracle.
Maurice Goguel, Jesus the Nazarene: Myth or History? (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1926) pp. 30 & 244
  • Anyone who talks about "reasonable faith" must say what he thinks about Jesus. And that would still be so even if, with one or two cranks, he believed that He never existed.
John W. C. Wand, The Old Faith and the New Age‎ (London: Skeffington & Son, 1933) p. 31
  • That both in the case of the Christians, and in the case of those who worshipped Zagreus or Osiris or Attis, the Divine Being was believed to have died and returned to life, would be a depreciation of Christianity only if it could be shown that the Christian belief was derived from the pagan one. But that can be supposed only by cranks for whom historical evidence is nothing.
Edwyn R. Bevan, in Thomas Samuel Kepler, Contemporary Thinking about Paul: An Anthology (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury, 1950) p. 44
  • The pseudoscholarship of the early twentieth century calling in question the historical reality of Jesus was an ingenuous attempt to argue a preconceived position.
Gerard Stephen Sloyan, The Crucifixion of Jesus: History, Myth, Faith (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1995) p. 9
  • Whatever else Jesus may or may not have done, he unquestionably* started the process that became Christianity…
UNQUESTIONABLY: The proposition has been questioned, but the alternative explanations proposed—the theories of the “Christ myth school,” etc.—have been thoroughly discredited.
Morton Smith, Jesus the Magician (New York: Harper & Row, 1978) pp. 5 & 166
  • One category of mythicists, like young-earth creationists, have no hesitation about offering their own explanation of who made up Christianity... Other mythicists, perhaps because they are aware that such a scenario makes little historical sense and yet have nothing better to offer in its place, resemble proponents of Intelligent Design who will say "the evidence points to this organism having been designed by an intelligence" and then insist that it would be inappropriate to discuss further who the designer might be or anything else other than the mere "fact" of design itself. They claim that the story of Jesus was invented, but do not ask the obvious historical questions of "when, where, and by whom" even though the stories are set in the authors' recent past and not in time immemorial, in which cases such questions obviously become meaningless... Thus far, I've only encountered two sorts of mythicism."
James F. McGrath, "Intelligently-Designed Narratives: Mythicism as History-Stopper", Exploring Our Matrix, 2010
  • In the academic mind, there can be no more doubt whatsoever that Jesus existed than did Augustus and Tiberius, the emperors of his lifetime. Even if we assume for a moment that the accounts of non-biblical authors who mention him - Flavius Josephus, Tacitus, Suetonius, Pliny the Younger and others - had not survived, the outstanding quality of the Gospels, Paul's letters and other New Testament writings is more than good enough for the historian.
Carsten Peter Thiede, Jesus, Man or Myth? (Oxford: Lion, 2005) p. 23
  • To describe Jesus' non-existence as "not widely supported" is an understatement. It would be akin to me saying, "It is possible to mount a serious, though not widely supported, scientific case that the 1969 lunar landing never happened." There are fringe conspiracy theorists who believe such things - but no expert does. Likewise with the Jesus question: his non-existence is not regarded even as a possibility in historical scholarship. Dismissing him from the ancient record would amount to a wholesale abandonment of the historical method.
John Dickson, Jesus: A Short Life (Oxford: Lion, 2008) 22-23.
  • When Professor Wells advances such an explanation of the gospel stories [i.e. the Christ myth theory] he presents us with a piece of private mythology that I find incredible beyond anything in the gospels.
Morton Smith, in R. Joseph Hoffman, Jesus in History and Myth (Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 1986) p. 48
  • Of course, there can be no toleration whatever of the idea that Jesus never existed and is only a concoction from these pagan stories about a god who was slain and rose again.
Joseph Klausner, From Jesus to Paul (New York: Menorah, 1943) p. 107
  • Virtually all biblical scholars acknowledge that there is enough information from ancient non-Christian sources to give the lie to the myth (still, however, widely believed in popular circles and by some scholars in other fields--see esp. G. A. Wells) which claims that Jesus never existed.
Craig L. Blomberg, "Gospels (Historical Reliability)", in Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight & I. Howard Marshall, Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1992) p. 292
  • In the 1910's a few scholars did argue that Jesus never existed and was simply the figment of speculative imagination. This denial of the historicity of Jesus does not commend itself to scholars, moderates or extremists, any more. ... The "Christ-myth" theories are not accepted or even discussed by scholars today.
Samuel Sandmel, A Jewish Understanding of the New Testament‎ (New York: Ktav, 1974) p. 196
  • Dr. Wells was there [I.e. a symposium at the University of Michigan] and he presened his radical thesis that maybe Jesus never existed. Virtually nobody holds this position today. It was reported that Dr. Morton Smith of Columbia University, even though he is a skeptic himself, responded that Dr. Wells's view was "absurd".
Gary Habermas, in Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?: The Resurrection Debate (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1989) p. 45
  • I.e. if we leave out of account the Christ-myth theories, which are hardly to be reckoned as within the range of serious criticism.
Alexander Roper Vidler, The Modernist Movement in the Roman Church (London: Cambridge University Press, 1934) p. 253
  • Such Christ-myth theories are not now advanced by serious opponents of Christianity—they have long been exploded ..."
Gilbert Cope, Symbolism in the Bible and the Church (London: SCM, 1959) p. 14
  • In the early years of this century, various theses were propounded which all assert that Jesus never lived, and that the story of Jesus is a myth or legend. These claims have long since been exposed as historical nonsense. There can be no reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth lived in Palestine in the first three decades of our era, probably from 6-7 BC to 30 AD. That is a fact.
Walter Kasper, Jesus the Christ (Mahwah, NJ: Paulist Press, 1976) p. 65
  • There is, lastly, a group of writers who endeavor to prove that Jesus never lived--that the story of his life is made up by mingling myths of heathen gods, Babylonian, Egyptian, Persian, Greek, etc. No real scholar regards the work of these men seriously. They lack the most elementary knowledge of historical research. Some of them are eminent scholars in other subjects, such as Assyriology and mathematics, but their writings about the life of Jesus have no more claim to be regarded as historical than Alice in Wonderland or the Adventures of Baron Munchausen.
George Aaron Barton, Jesus of Nazareth: A Biography (New York: Macmillan, 1922) p. x
  • The data we have are certainly adequate to confute the view that Jesus never lived, a view that no one holds in any case
Charles E. Carlston, in Bruce Chilton & Craig A. Evans (eds.) Studying the Historical Jesus: Evaluations of the State of Current Research (Leiden: Brill, 1998) p. 3
  • Although it is held by Marxist propaganda writers that Jesus never lived and that the Gospels are pure creations of the imagination, this is not the view of even the most radical Gospel critics.
Bernard L. Ramm, An Evangelical Christology: Ecumenic and Historic (Vancouver: Regent College Publishing, 1999) p. 159

Multiple Jesuses argument

OK, I have seen this topic introduced on this talk page and the Historicity of Jesus talk page, and still don't really know what it is about.

Is there now some proposal that there were multiple Jesuses whose story somehow got merged into one story? If so, exactly which independent reliable sources put forward this theory, and what exactly are the details of it? John Carter (talk) 18:22, 26 December 2014 (UTC)

I don't think any scholar believes there were multiple historical Jesuses in the flesh. What the phrase "a number of plausible Jesuses" (3rd par. 2nd sentence) refers to is the multiplicity of scholarly views regarding his basic nature. As I mentioned in the previous section, we have Jesus the militant revolutionary (Brandon), the cynic (Crossan, Mack), the Jew (Meier, Vermes, Sanders), the quasi-Buddhist (Borg), the healer (S. Davies), Jesus the humble king (N. T. Wright) etc. And those are all North American scholars. But the disagreement over the basic character of Jesus is universal, not restricted to Europe, so the words "particularly in Europe" should be removed, IMO. Also, the variety of views is not recent but goes back a long time. So, the word "recently" should be removed from the sentence.
I suspect the original author of the sentence meant to say something like this: that "certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently questioned the very existence of a historical Jesus." It's the existence of the historical Jesus which is (or should be) the focus of this article. That's the amendment I suggest. Even this proposed amendment is not absolutely true, because recently a number of American scholars have endorsed the CMT: Tom Harpur (Canada), Robt. Price, and R. Carrier (with Ph.D's). They augment the European scholars (G. Wells, Brodie, Ellegard, probably several minimalists and the Copenhagen school, etc.) The CMT actually goes back a long time in Europe (to Dupuis, B. Bauer, etc. See
So, I'd now propose the rewrite as follows: Scholars have long concluded that, while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which was the historical Jesus. However, certain scholars have questioned the very existence of a historical Jesus.
It's not that I find this sentence all that important. It's just that I want to improve the article and this is where I've started. That's all. But I don't like making unilateral changes without consensus. Hence, talking it out here first... ;-)Renejs (talk) 16:15, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I believe Robert Price considers an "amalgamated Jesus" a serious possibility. Specifically, I've heard him mention the theory that the narrative of the triumphal entry is based on a historical story about Simon bar Giora. Another of these merged historical figures may have been the Essene Teacher of Righteousness, as Ellegard believed. The Teacher himself may also be a composite of several historical characters. I'm not aware of anyone who specifically endorses the amalgamation theory as a probability rather than just a possibility. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:23, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
Would you include the "amalgamation" in the CMT? I mean, would this also fit into "Jesus mythicism"?Renejs (talk) 19:19, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I guess to me the line to cross would be if a specific form of amalgamation is in and of itself supported as an theory independent of other theories by perhaps more than one individual. We wouldn't want to violate WP:SYNTH by declaring things similar on our own, and it wouldn't be particularly useful to have a separate section indicating the variant ideas Martin indicates above, particularly if those are only elements of an individual scholar's broader thought on the matter. John Carter (talk) 20:07, 27 December 2014 (UTC)
I've added a couple of citations to the Robert Price section of this article in clarification of his position. Price indeed sees Jesus as an amalgamation, but holds out the possibility that one of those threads may be authentic. He writes about his view in the "Euhemerism" section of his 2000 book, "Deconstructing Jesus." In fact, on p. 250 he tends to the view that an original prophet underlay the Christian religion--but that prophet had nothing to do with "Jesus of Nazareth." Personally, I agree with this. This view has also been termed "semi-mythicism" ( (talk) 00:10, 29 December 2014 (UTC)
It should be noted that an amalgamation does NOT seem to fit Carrier's Minimal Mythical Jesus though it would qualify as not being a "historical Jesus in any pertinent sense". But note that if you compare Carrier's Minimal Mythical Jesus with his Minimal Historical Jesus there is a gap between the two. So while Carrier classified G. A. Wells' Jesus Legend as ahistoricitical it does NOT fit his criteria for Minimal Mythical Jesus and therefore not CMT as Carrier defines it.-- (talk) 07:46, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

Deletion of "scholars in Europe" sentence from 3rd paragraph

The sentence currently reads: However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently made the case that while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus, and that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic.[14][15]

If it were correct, the sentence would belong better in the Historicity of Jesus article (where it is also found). However, the idea that Europe especially fosters varying views on Jesus is indefensible. A quick review (off the top of my head) brings up the cynic Jesus (Crossan, Mack), the Jewish Jesus (Meier), the revolutionary Jesus (Brandon), the healing Jesus (S. Davies). . . These scholars are all North American and one could easily go on. It has often been noted (on both sides of the Atlantic) that every scholar seemingly has his own "Jesus"--a bedeviling aspect of the field. From the citation, it appears that the original author of the sentence was overly swayed by a recent compilation book ("Is This Not the Carpenter") which has chapters primarily by European scholars. The sentence's final clause is also inane: "there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic." This is what New Testament scholars do all the time. Barring some cogent objection, I will delete the sentence.Renejs (talk) 18:16, 20 December 2014 (UTC)

Support. I came to the talk page because of the very same sentence. There's no such thing as a 'European' perspective here, scholars everywhere almost unanimously reject the fringe theory that is the topic of this article. It does not have more (or less) scholarly support in Europe than elsewhere.Jeppiz (talk) 22:28, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
There is however a "Copenhagen school" which I believe is even notable in and of itself which seems to be among the primary supporters of the theory of the non-historicity of Jesus. I have found at least two articles on JSTOR which specifically relate to the Copenhagen school in the title. Also, there does seem to be some sort of more broad and I think maybe notable "German school" of history regarding this topic. While I agree the word "certain" probably does not belong here, I can see referencing maybe the two schools if content on them should ever be created. John Carter (talk) 22:34, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
The statement doesn't say that European scholars are more sympathetic to the CMT, it says (or rather suggests) that among those advocating a new examination of the evidence European scholars are prominent, which is not at all the same thing. I'm not sure that's true either, but if we're objecting to something let's make sure we do so for the right reasons, not out of some knee-jerk anti CMT sentiment. In any event, clearing up the wording might be an improvement. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:36, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
As John Carter says, there is a 'Copenhagen school', though its prominent spokesperson is American. If it's just the Copenhagen school we're referring to, we should say that, instead of a vague "European". Not sure what "knee-jerk anti CMT sentiment" Martijn Meijering is talking about and it does not appear to add to the discussion. The two problems with the sentence is (1) the term "European" which seems to be WP:OR and (2) portraying it as something new. The Copenhagen school has been around for many decades and always held the same views, while always been seen as fringe by others. In this article, I think mentioning the theories of the Copenhagen school is entirely appropriate, but we should not make it out to be a "European" view nor a "new" view when neither of those claims are correct.Jeppiz (talk) 22:50, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
The Copenhagen "School" is certainly notable enough, but I thought they were mainly concerned with OT studies, not NT studies. Martijn Meijering (talk) 23:21, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
At least one book of essays I recovered for either this or the Historicity of Jesus article was from the Copenhagen school and specifically dealt with the question of the historicity of Jesus or the possibility of his being some sort of myth. John Carter (talk) 23:35, 20 December 2014 (UTC)
I wonder if we (and the paragraph) are discussing apples and oranges. This article is supposedly about the CMT. But the paragraph under discussion is not about that. It's about the "nearly universal consensus in historical-critical biblical scholarship", "a number of plausible 'Jesuses' that could have existed", and "The two main events agreed upon by most biblical scholars." The thing is, the CMT doesn't espouse any Jesus.

I agree with John (above) in the sense that northern Europe, especially, has long been a bastion of the CMT. I write anecdotally now, but people have told me that the CMT is rampant in Scandinavia among commoners--and it has been so in Russia since their revolution. Thomas Thompson and Lemche (Copenhagen)--though their careers were formed in OT minimalism, are now taking interest in NT "minimalism" or (even) CMT. The minimalists are sympathetic--this includes Philip Davies in the U.K. However, these European minimalists don't seem to want the "mythicist" label (Thompson has strenuously objected to it).

Getting back to the article, though, I wonder if it's not best to just shorten the whole paragraph as follows: "Despite the nearly universal consensus agreement in historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived (see Historical Jesus),[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] this article is devoted to the Fringe theory that questions the existence of a historical Jesus." This doesn't get into the historicity issue of who believes in what Jesus, and where. It keeps the focus on the CMT which is a "fringe theory."Renejs (talk) 05:24, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Totally non-neutral, totally unacceptable. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:44, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Totally factual, totally acceptable. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 17:49, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
I would object to the phrasing as proposed, both because it prejudicially casts judgment on the topic and seems to cast at least all potential theories which might be discussed permanently in the "fringe" category. It is certainly possible, I haven't checked, that a theory that virtually all information about the subject could at least be potentially based on mythic sources, or reflect the content of pre-existing myths, is other than fringe. I am far from sure that such a contention is a fringe theory. Also, regarding the supporters, like I said, there seems to be or at least have been a "German school" associated with Bruno Bauer and others which raised these questions in historical times. While they may not be current, understandably, considering they the founders were basically 19th century individuals, I am far from sure that the theories at that time were fringe theories, and implying otherwise might be problematic. John Carter (talk) 18:10, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, yes, the word "fringe" definitely has a pejorative overtone, but also a scientific basis (ultimately on statistical grounds). We're obviously divided. Maybe one of you wants to submit this page to the Wiki Noticeboard ( for opinion. My main point, though, in editing this 3rd paragraph of the article is not the "fringe" aspect but to place focus of the page on the CMT--which is lost everywhere else.
If you look at the "Categories" at the bottom of the article, "Fringe theory", "Denialism", etc. are not there. So, maybe we should just keep it that way and leave "fringe" out.
But I suggest keeping the last sentence of par. 3 as it presently reads (about the baptism and Pilate). This in accordance with what the Wiki guidelines say: "Additionally, when the subject of an article is the minority viewpoint itself, the proper contextual relationship between minority and majority viewpoints must be clear" (
So, after all this, the following paragraph results: "The two main events agreed upon by most biblical scholars are that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate.[16][17][18][19] Despite the near universal consensus agreement in historical-critical biblical scholarship that Jesus lived, however (see Historical Jesus),[7][8][9][10][11][12][13] this article is devoted to the theory that questions the existence of a historical Jesus."
How's that?Renejs (talk) 06:29, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Looks better to me, but I don't think it's an improvement over what we have. The lede and the article itself already make it abundantly clear that this view is held only by a tiny minority of scholars and is strongly opposed by the vast majority. If the concern is over the phrase "particularly in Europe", why not just delete that then? It might actually be true however, so maybe it would be better to add a "citation needed" tag. Martijn Meijering (talk) 09:26, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Martin, did you miss my comment above? (See first entry in this section). This sentence has problems. It is inaccurate and the last part is inane. It does not add "context" like the one on John the Baptist/Pilate or the sentence on "near universal consensus." It seems to me like a historicist intrusion into this article.Renejs (talk) 13:14, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
We have previously concluded that the main proponents of the CMT don't all agree on what the CMT is, and some of the major positions do accept that a real human might have been the basis for the Jesus stories, so we need to tread carefully here. While people like Carrier are much different to the mainstream, many other CMT views are so close to the mainstream that they are hardly distinguishable. I would suggest that we only change the middle sentence, to read "However other scholars state that while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus." This is factually correct, neutral and simple, yes? Wdford (talk) 10:42, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
It's still not clear to me how that is an improvement. In fact, it leaves out the important point that a few scholars have called for a reexamination of the issue, so it looks like the opposite of an improvement to me. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:32, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
While nnot disagreeing that some scholars have called for a reexamination of the issue, unfortunately, that isn't that necessarily significant. Erich von Daniken in his early books made a point of having his primary statement be something along "these issues require further study". It's a fairly obvious and easy attempt at hedging, insinuation and misdirection, and has fairly regularly been used as a support of weak arguments . While I am not disagreeing that the issue might merit further study, because pretty much everything merits further study, it would be helpful if we were to say that to say specifically what they think most worthy and demanding of further study. John Carter (talk) 18:03, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, von Däniken isn't regarded as a serious scholar, and in the case of the CMT we have several respectable sources saying the idea deserves more attention, so the cases aren't identical. Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:39, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I agree with Martijn and find your sentence confusing. Are not the "other scholars" the same ones who maintain "a nearly universal consensus"?Renejs (talk) 13:14, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
It is a denialist fringe theory, that is about as mainstream in historical Jesus studies as young-earth creationism is in mainstream biology. Wikipedia's tone regarding both should be the same.--TMD Talk Page. 11:37, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
1) You don't get to make that call, several reliable sources take it seriously and say it deserves more scrutiny, 2) HJ studies is not the only relevant field as regards the CMT and 3) the field of HJ studies itself has been criticised for a lack of impartiality and a lack of proper scholarly methodology, as have the overlapping but distinct wider fields of theology and religious studies, so they do not deserve the deference we give to a hard scientific discipline like biology. Martijn Meijering (talk) 11:54, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I side with Martijn here. It doesn't matter how mainstream or not the CMT is, because this article is devoted to (and needs to be focused on) the CMT. That is not negotiable. And that gets back to removing the sentence about views on different sorts of Jesus. Let's face it, there are lots of those views everywhere.Renejs (talk) 13:14, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Yes, it certainly IS a denialist fringe theory (see the reference section below). The fact that there are a few RS's that claim the CMT requires more scrutiny is irrelevant to its fringe status. Even proponents of the CMT recognize that (once again, see reference section below). Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 13:31, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I find your comment irrelevant (and wrong). Once again, Wiki has an article on CMT, and that's not negociable. Like it or not, we're here to talk about the CMT. It's not good enough to slap labels on it, like "denialist" and "fringe." Besides, the former label is untenable. If you're familiar with the voluminous writings of many mythicists you know that they don't just deny but often carefully reason things out--sometimes quite meticulously.Renejs (talk) 13:56, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Did you read any of the citations below? Even proponents of the CMT recognize its fringe status. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 14:15, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

─────────────────────────Actually, Bill the Cat 7 is absolutely right. Not only can we describe CMT as a fringe theory, we must do it under Wikipedia's policies. Of course we should have this article, and nobody is contesting that. However, Wikipedia's policies are very clear: articles on fringe theories can exist, but must make clear that the theory in question is a fringe theory. Even in Scandinavia which, as said above, is probably the place where CMT is most popular, actual historians (as opposed to laymen) disregard it completely. Commenting on it quite recently, Professor Dick Harrison dismissed CMT as nothing but a "conspiracy theory". We should have this article, and any article of this kind must make clear that it deals with a fringe theory. It goes for holocaust denial and creationism and it goes for CMT as well. The fact that a rare academic can be found to lend some support to any of these theories does not change anything (and that, again, is Wikipedia policy, not my opinion).Jeppiz (talk) 18:24, 22 December 2014 (UTC)

Fringe is not the same as a minority view, even if it is held only by a tiny minority. Fringe is things like alien abductions etc. Harrison is an interesting find though, one of very few real historians who have commented on the issue, and I think we should cite his opinion. Nevertheless it remains his opinion, and several respectable sources disagree. We should therefore report the controversy, and not decide it for ourselves. We could add wording like "most scholars are dismissive of the CMT, some scathingly so. The historian Dick Harrison has dismissed the CMT as "nothing but a conspiracy theory". Others have recently have recently made the case that while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which Jesus was the historical Jesus, and that there should also be more scholarly research and debate on this topic." Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:39, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I've changed my mind on this. The Wikipedia category of Category:Fringe theory doesn't mean fringe in the pejorative alien abductions sense, it is a wider category that also includes views held only by a tiny minority of scholars. The page for the category makes this clear, and I've just made a Bold edit that makes it even clearer. There are subcategories for things like pseudoscience. I think it is clear that our article belongs in the fringe category, though not in the pseudoscience or pseudohistory subcategories. And even there we have to realise that some of the wilder theories proposed by some of the less serious authors probably do belong in those subcategories. Now, before anyone feels the urge to add the tag back in and thus continue the edit-war, let's remember that WP:BRD urges us to reach a WP:CONSENSUS first. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:43, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Once again, however, I regret the repetition of the claim that more research needs to be done without some sort of indication as to what that research and debate should be about. Like I said before, in virtually every field of history, there are those who disagree with the academic consensus. In most of those cases, they tend to say "we're right, they're wrong" and imply something to the effect of "if they just agreed with us, ..." which in academic language often gets translated to "there needs to be more research and debate." It would help a lot if there were some indication as to what sort of information that research and debate should be about. In an extreme, fictitious, example, where, for instance, we have one surviving signature attributed to a person, which 90% of academia agrees looks valid but 10% who say the person or event signed about didn't happen, there will also be claims that "there needs to be more research (or discovery of data) and debate." Unfortunately, in that example, the only thing to debate is the signature which might be considered reasonable by those who examined it. It would help a lot if, instead of just saying the dissidents say there needs to be more research and debate, we were able to point toward specific extant evidence or topics which they say most merits research and debate. Otherwise, like with the fictitious signature example, it can come across as just people saying "I know I'm right, the evidence to support it just hasn't appeared yet," which, basically, is the sort of thing the Lone Gunmen and similar real people have said, and it often gets perceived in much the same way as their claims. John Carter (talk) 19:33, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
How should it be described? Let's see how the RS's have desribed it.
  • With disdain
  • Totally rejected
  • Amused contempt
  • Equated with the moon being made of green cheese
  • Popular with cranks
  • Olympian scorn
  • Supported by non-respected scholars
  • Calling it marginal would be an understatement; it doesn’t even appear on the map of contemporary New Testament scholarship.
Conclusion? Indisputably, it's fringe. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:20, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
That does not necessarily mean that the words "fringe theory" must be used exactly. While I agree that the theory seems to be only currently supported by a very small minority, and even acknowledge the possibility/probability of it being today, in at least some cases, a form of "conspiracy theory" as per the above, I am much less sure that it has always been a fringe theory, as I indicated above, and I think RECENTISM or similar might come into play there. Saying it is a theory which has been supported by only a small minority, and/or rejected by the possibly overwhelming majority, would probably be more informative and thus more useful to the reader than the specific phrase "fringe theory" itself. Pseudohistory might, conceivably, be more useful, if the word or its effective equivalent has been verifiably used in this case, which I don't know one way or another. John Carter (talk) 18:30, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
I don't disagree that some, perhaps most, of the material written in support of the CMT qualifies as pseudohistory. However, the same is true of much of the stuff written on the historical Jesus, and we have reputable sources inside and outside biblical scholarship to that effect. In any event, in recent years the CMT has mostly been a phenomenon in the popular literature. Martijn Meijering (talk) 18:44, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Thanks for the comment John Carter, I was unclear. I'm not saying we must or should use the exact words "fringe theory" (accurate though they would be), just that we must make sure a reader of this article understands that this article is a fringe theory, meaning a theory that virtually all experts find erroneous. That can certainly be done without using the word "fringe".Jeppiz (talk) 18:34, 22 December 2014 (UTC)
Attempt #2 from the top. I started this talk section to address a sentence in the 3rd paragraph of the article, and plan to keep coming back to that until we actually get the job done--not necessarily my way, but in a way that some sort of consensus emerges on issues raised in the sentence. Hopefully, "fringe theory" won't hijack us again this time. . .
The sentence as it stands has lots of errors, and I'll mention just a few. First of all, the lack of certainty regarding which historical Jesus goes back a long time. It's not "recent." Secondly, that lack of certainty is not limited to "certain scholars" but is universal, as I already noted above in this discussion. Thirdly, I have to wonder what this sentence is doing in this article, an article which isn't about the variety of different proposed "Jesuses" but about non-belief in any historical Jesus at all.
The sentence would, in my opinion, read much more correctly if it were split into two, roughly as follows: "Scholars have long concluded that, while there are a number of plausible "Jesuses" that could have existed, there can be no certainty as to which was the historical Jesus. However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently questioned the very existence of a historical Jesus." This is now correct. Jesus mythicism is burgeoning in Northern Europe, Russia, and among the Dutch Radicals. A British New Testament scholar (the late Maurice Casey) wrote earlier this year: "One of the most remarkable features of public discussion of Jesus of Nazareth in the twenty-first century has been a massive upsurge in the view that this important historical figure did not even exist" ("Jesus: Evidence and Argument or Mythicist Myths?" 2014).
OK. I think the CMT sentence under discussion needs to reflect what Casey says. Remember, this isn't about "fringe theory." The proposed amendment above says simply: "However, certain scholars, particularly in Europe, have recently questioned the very existence of a historical Jesus." Is that simple statement too threatening for some of us?Renejs (talk) 01:42, 25 December 2014 (UTC)
My one real reservation is to the proposed first sentence of the proposed two sentences, as it is less than clear I think. "number of plausible Jesuses" is really less than clear language. I would think that maybe a more accurate and less possibly unintentionally leading statement might be something along the lines of the following, which is admittedly based on possibly flawed memory and error. But something along the lines of saying that the academic consensus is that Jesus was killed by crucifixion, and that's pretty much all they agree on, and that there are any number of possible theories as to what happened to make that happen, might be longer, but maybe a bit clearer. Also, the proposed first sentence seems to be to me anyway somewhat indicating that the following content would discuss the separate proposals as specific proposals, and I don't know that we want the article to do that. John Carter (talk) 18:01, 27 December 2014 (UTC)

Continued POV-pushing and edit-warring

Unfortunately Renejs and Gekritzl continue their relentless edit-warring and POV-pushing. Renejs at least has the decency to discuss, but is a dedicated WP:SPA who is on Wikipedia only to push their POV about CMT and even states openly they will continue to edit war regardless of consensus. Gekritzl is a disruptive user altogether who never engages in any discussion, but is relentless in edit-warring against consensus combined with active WP:CANVASSing [9], [10], [11], [12], showing beyond any doubt that the user is WP:NOTHERE to discuss and cooperate with others, but only to push their own POV by any means. This is really getting quite tiresome. If the two users cannot start to work with other users and insist on continuing to edit war to push their "truth" regardless of what most other users and the sources say, their is no way to move the article forward.Jeppiz (talk) 23:01, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

@Jeppiz: He might also have a Conflict of Interest. I read on his talk page that he appears to be Rene Salm (or something like that). @Mmeijeri: has warned him about that. Unfortunately, Rene has deleted his talk page and recreated it, so we'll need an Admin to look this up to determine if indeed there is a COI. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 23:14, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
What is POV about citing authors and using one's judgement to edit an article in good faith? "All encyclopedic content on Wikipedia must be written from a neutral point of view (NPOV), which means representing fairly, proportionately, and, as far as possible, without bias, all of the significant views that have been published by reliable sources on a topic." - from Wikipedia:Neutral_point_of_view. Tell me you have never used your own judgement in editing. You don't own that page, although it seems you would like to. There is almost zero evidence for this Jesus of Nazareth person outside of the Bible claims. And there are well over 100 authors who agree that Christ ACTUAL theory is fringe - nobody wrote of him outside of the Bible until 150 years after his supposed birth. But you know that.Geĸrίtzl (talk) 23:22, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Your comment sums up almost everything that is wrong with your edits.
  • You seem to think WP:NPOV means we should use "neutral" language. It doesn't, if you actually read it NPOV states we should make sure the article is as accurate as possible and reflect the scholarly consensus. Stating that CMT or Holocaust denial or creationism or similar "theories" are almost universally rejected is perfectly in line with NPOV.
  • You talk about "authors" but nobody cares one bit about "authors". Again you're unaware of Wikipedia policies and need to read WP:RS. If the author has a PhD and academic record in the field (and some CMT proponents do, as Renejs and Mmeijering have both pointed out), they should of course be mentioned. As for "authors", that's irrelevant.
  • You start ranting about the truth again, talking about whether Jesus existed or not. Actually, that's beside the point in the current discussion. What we're discussing is the scholarly consensus, not the WP:TRUTH. The scholarly consensus is that a person named Jesus existed (of course there is no scholarly consensus at all that this person was God or anything of the kind) and that the CMT is a fringe theory. Whether the scholarly consensus is right or wrong is irrelevant in this discussion, as the very same NPOV that you mention require us to qualify a theory as a fringe theory when that is the case.Jeppiz (talk) 23:32, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I'm surprised there's even a debate here. The overwhelming scholarly consensus is that there was a historical Jesus. This clearly places the CMT into fringe area. This isn't a concession of his divinity whatsoever. Many editors here seem unable to make that distinction. Removing that tag really appears to be a WP:POV conflict. I'm not sure it's fair to jump to a WP: NOTHERE claim though. Too many editors, and I've been guilty of it myself, are over zealous to keep religious POV out of articles here such as Young Earth Creationism and Evolution. To honestly consider yourself neutral requires analysis of available data/sources. In this case "fringe theory" is completely applicable. Zarcusian (talk) 23:49, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree with you and Jeppiz that the CMT is a fringe theory in the narrower non-pejorative sense (but not in the Grassy Knoll, alien abduction pseudo-science sense, at least not for the variants espoused by the few serious scholars that do support it), and to my mind that is made very clear by our article as it is now. I believe no reasonable person could read the article and come away with the impression the CMT is taken seriously by either historians or biblical scholars, and that is as it should be. Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:22, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Zarcusian, what I think you're failing to see (and what our article fails to report) is that we are dealing with an issue that only concerns a very narrow academic field. For that reason alone, it's not really appropriate to talk in terms of there being a "fringe" without contextualising. By "fridge theory", we normally think of something that appears to fly in the face of the evidence, or else interpret it in some sort of off-beat way. But that's not what we're talking about here, because there isn't any direct evidence for scholars to examine and differ over. What we are talking about is competing beliefs, one of which has the upper hand among Bible scholars, but none of which has a real empirical advantage (save, arguably, agnosticism on the whole question). NPOV requires us to report on, rather than engage in, the controversy. Putting "this is crap" stickers on the article doesn't really look like it complies with that. Formerip (talk) 00:17, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Formerip, I don't think you've looked at the other articles in the category fringe theory here at Wikipedia, they are exactly of this kind, several of them in the very same field. A fringe theory is a theory that is only held by a very limited number of scholars within the field, which is exactly what we're talking about here. As an alternative, we could go with Professor Dick Harrison who calls CMT a "conspiracy theory", which also seems suitable as most proponents of CMT (at least here at Wikipedia) seems convinced that there is some great "conspiration of Christians", almost exactly the same kind of conspirational thoughts Holocaust deniers engage in. However, 'conspiracy theory' really is pejorative (accurate as it may be) while 'fringe theory' is perfectly factual as well as supported by a large number of sources. WP:IDONTLIKEIT does not trump sources.Jeppiz (talk) 10:25, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
Formerip, I'm sorry, but that tag doesn't equate it to being a "pile of crap". It simply places it, correctly, as a minority view with very little credible support. It seems like anything short of DNA evidence won't be satisfactory here. You mention the limited scope of the field of academia that has actually invested time here. That's fine, it may be a narrow field, but within that group the overwhelming consensus is that he existed. In order to remain neutral that is what this article should reflect. Reading the sources for this as opposed to the summarized evidence here makes it even more clear. I'd understand a degree of frustration if a "Denialism" tag was added, but it wasn't at all. At present, the CMT is borderline, but not quite yet, the stuff of conspiracy. By deleting that tag we are, in fact, removing neutrality from this article and introducing a bias. Zarcusian (talk) 17:02, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

To Do List: Source Verification and Revisions

Use this section to report false, misquoted, and misrepresented citations, and to explain subsequent revisions.

Dougweller has deleted the paragraph on Ralph Ellis, citing 'self published'.

22:00, 13 December 2014‎ Dougweller (→‎Ralph Ellis: self-published fringe author, fails WP:SPS and WP:UNDUE)

However, I note that Atwill is mentioned on this Wiki page, as well as Acharya S. Atwill is self-published via Lightning Source, while Acharya is published through Adventures Unlimited, the same publisher that Ellis uses. Please see Amazon references below. Can we have some consistency in the application of these rules.

Tatelyle (talk) 13:48, 3 January 2015 (UTC)

     Please add new topics at the bottom of the page, not the top. And yes, you're right. A while ago, one WP:SPA decided to add more or less every person who every said something positive about CMT to this page, disregarding both WP:RS and WP:UNDUE. It's a bit of a tough call to decide whom to remove, though. I don't think we can argue that everybody who isn't a scholar should be removed, as some CMT proponents are notable even though not scholars. It would be wrong to include them on Jesus but they definitely have their place here. But authors who neither are scholars nor are notable could probably be removed. The idea of the article is to present CMT, not to be an advertising page for unknown self-published authors to push their books.Jeppiz (talk) 13:52, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
     I (and others with whom I have been communicating about this very biased article) am so sick of reading ad nauseam about how CMT is "fringe" (it was once, as Grant noted in 1977, but is no longer, IMO--read the forthcoming citations and decide for yourself), and the repeated false platitudes of "The overwhelming scholarly consensus is that there was a historical Jesus" (above)--as if there were no other side, or as if that side were not worth any attention at all (then why is there even this page about the CMT?). . .
     Actually, there IS another side, it IS "serious," and it IS endorsed by a growing number of bona fide Ph.D's, including at least half a dozen *in a relevant field* (see Carrier's quote from Aug. 2014). I mean, we do need to dot the i's and cross the t's, don't we, because the bar seems to be getting higher and higher for what "serious" means (sort of like moving the goal posts). . .
     So, I am uploading to this Talk page a list of CMT proponents, in precisely the same format that was done above in section 4. The list, incidentally, could be extended to much greater length. . . As a reminder--PRECISELY as with the section 4 above--it is "for reference only" and the warning at the top of the page specifies: "The following discussion has been closed. Please do not modify it." I trust *everyone* here will accord this list of additional information the very same 'hands off' attitude that I and others accord the list in section 4 above. Thank you.Renejs (talk) 07:25, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Rebuttal and reminder of WP:COI

As Renejs continue to push for how the article should look, I must emphasize what Martijn Meijering already said about WP:COI. There is a section about Rene in this article, and Rene publishes about CMT so portraying it as an established theory is in his interest. We are very far into WP:COI here.
As for the long list that Rene has posted, I must say it strikes me as very weak.

  • There are a large number of citations from scholars in the field who support CMT, sure, but they are almost all from the same person(s). Twelve(!!) of the quotes are from Robert M. Price. He's a serious scholar, as I think most people agree, but despite giving twelve different citations from him, he is still just one person. As Rene hints that the list is intended to show widespread support for CMT, I must remind him that making it longer by adding a large number of citations from the same persons does not make it more widespread.
  • There are a number of quotes from people who are indeed scholars, but in totally unrelated fields. We've been through this before, having a PhD does not make us universal experts. My own PhD and academic record may give me some credibility (I hope) when talking about my own field, but it gives me absolutely no extra credibility were I to talk about CMT, or Jesus, or religion or any other field unrelated to my own. The same applies to a number of the PhDs cited by Rene here. They are no doubt competent in their own field, but adding "PhD" or "scholar" to their names when they talk about fields outside their own is downright dishonest (WP:PEA).
  • Some of the citations by real scholars here acknowledge that CMT exists but without expressing any support for it. Nobody disputes that CMT exists, so I'm not sure what these citations are meant to do except trying to add length once again.
  • Quite a number are rather dated. Rene himself has argued above that we should disregard Grant as he wrote back in 1977 so it's surprising to see the large number of citations in this list coming from the 1940s, 1930s, even back to the 1880s.
  • Many citations are from people who "just" are laymen with opinions, and fail WP:RS.
  • To conclude, it's hard not to get the impression, even when assuming good faith, that the list is made to be "long and impressive" rather than accurate. The same lone scholar cited over and over again, a large number of citations from "people with opinions" failing WP:RS and a large number of very old sources. Personally, I think the strong weaknesses of this list confirms rather than contradicts that CMT is fringe. For any scholarly theory with even a little academic support, it would be enough to list scholars to support him, without having to resort to non-experts and to citations that are 80-130 years old.Jeppiz (talk) 10:33, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Give me a break, Jeppiz. You're POV pushing, as is the whole gist of this discussion. At least half of the citation in section 4 against the CMT should be deleted as being obsolete, rank falsehoods, and empty platitudes without foundation. That's POV pushing big time. STM that the comments by Jeppiz are also a laundry list of POV pushing coming from a hardly "neutral" angle. This can be proven by the simple inability to accept the facts NOW, in 2015. Example: Jeppiz mentions too many old citations in the pro-CMT list. Hey, the anti-CMT list has 12 citations before 1950! The pro-CMT list has only 3 (5 if you include Justin Martyr and Ignatius). Also, Jeppiz overlooks that the historicist list has NO current citations (it's last is 2010), while the pro-CMT list has 9! This reliance on old stuff ties in with the astonishing continued insistence on retaining Grant's "no serious scholar" assertion in the article--a benchmark falsehood which Jelamkorj has noted above: "Renejs has just touched on the obvious: Grant's comment (who, in fact, quotes somebody else) is simply obsolete." As for COI, that's a red herring--another excuse to kill the messenger instead of addressing the message. Personal expertise is welcome on Wikipedia.Renejs (talk) 20:11, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Actually no, I'm not giving you a break Rene. WP:COI is very clear. Your only activity on Wikipedia is pushing your own interests, so both WP:COI and WP:SPA apply. It's absolutely clear that you're not here to construct a Wikipedia, but only to push your own theory and perhaps help you sell your books. A few days ago, you even declared loudly that you'd continue to edit war rather than accept a consensus you don't agree with. That has nothing to do with your views, I'd tell Bart Ehrman exactly the same thing. (I'm a bit at a loss as to why you attack me over a list somebody else has posted and that I've never ever commented on, so I'm just ignoring that part). As for the actual topic, nothing has changed. We still have a situation in which almost every scholar in a related field rejects CMT and very little scholarly support for CMT. This is what the rules say, like it or not.
Proponents of fringe theories have in the past used Wikipedia as a forum for promoting their ideas. Existing policies discourage this type of behavior: if the only statements about a fringe theory come from the inventors or promoters of that theory, then various "What Wikipedia is not" rules come into play. Wikipedia is neither a publisher of original thought nor a soapbox for self-promotion and advertising. The notability of a fringe theory must be judged by statements from verifiable and reliable sources, not the proclamations of its adherents. Attempts by such inventors and adherents to artificially inflate the perceived renown of their fringe theories, such as sock puppetry in AfD discussions, is strongly discouraged. Efforts of fringe-theory inventors to shill on behalf of their theories, such as the offering of self-published material as references, are unacceptable
(For what it's worth, Rene, I personally disagree with WP:COI and agree with you that personal interest is welcome. That's why I'm discussing here rather than going to ANI. But given your heavy involvement, I think it's relevant to remind you of the policy. I don't make the rules, there are a number of Wikipedia rules I don't agree with but I still follow them. And this really is not personal, I find you rather agreeable and I enjoyed reading your book though it didn't persuade me.) Jeppiz (talk) 20:57, 4 January 2015 (UTC)

Grant 1977 assertion, edit warring, and refusal to accept up-to-date information

     It is becoming increasingly clear to me that some editors are not open to actual facts which conflict with a Jesus historicist agenda. The canary in the coal mine continues to be Grant's 1977 assertion at the bottom of the "Criticism" section of the article. Multiple editors have pointed out that the "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus" is unsustainable in 2015. This has now been amply shown by the uploading of numerous citations to this talk page by 'serious scholars' who endorse the CMT. Those (like Bill the Cat 7, apparently) who still claim that not a single serious scholar is cited on that pro-CMT list are now demonstrably POV pushing.
     Grant's provably obsolete assertion is a roadblock to NPOV because there are those who, relying on it, jump to all sorts of problematic conclusions--including that the CMT is "fringe." That is why Grant's assertion must be corrected or deleted before the "fringe" issue can be seen in proper context. Anyone, in short, who still endorses Grant's assertion is not even in the game--he shows himself not able to deal with the facts. So far, Bill the Cat 7 and T. M. Drew have placed themselves in this unfortunate category by reverting to Grant 1977.
     A possible resolution (please read this carefully): I have not insisted upon deletion of the Grant assertion. I have offered a compromise, namely, the addition of 'balancing' information which qualifies the 1977 statement: "Since then the New Testament scholars Rev. Tom Harpur and Fr. Thomas L. Brodie have endorsed the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as a person of flesh and blood. A number of other "Jesus mythicists" have also come forward." This is a middle ground, with something for both sides. I am willing to live with this compromise, and believe Gekritzl and others are too. However, Cat 7, Drew, Jeppiz, Taylor, and others must meet us half way.
     It is rare that a clearly false assertion is insisted upon by multiple Wiki editors. The assertion simply falls on its face before an impartial observer. . . If challenged, I am willing to stand by that assessment and request an impartial review if necessary. The course is clear: if Grant's 1977 assertion continues to be the subject of edit warring, then I will attempt to bring the following Wiki policy into play: "If, despite trying, one or more users fail to cease edit warring, refuse to work collaboratively or heed the information given to them, or do not move on to appropriate dispute resolution, then a request for administrative involvement via a report at the Edit war/3RR noticeboard is the norm" ( (talk) 00:38, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Fringe in the sense of the category tag merely means that only a tiny number of scholars support the theory, not that the work in question wasn't up to scholarly standards or that it is on the same level as alien abduction theories, though it allows for that possibility too. Do you disagree that only a tiny number of scholars (!= authors) support the CMT? I know only of one or two handfuls of scholars who support it. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:03, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
The problem--and it's huge--is that 'counting noses' is not at all adequate in this case. It ignores the enormous built-in bias AGAINST the CMT and in favor of the historicist position. Don't doubt it--scholars still routinely lose positions, employment, and reputation over this. . . Thomas Brodie--an extremely capable and well-published scholar--is only the most recent notable example. As soon as his 2012 book came out he was dismissed from all teaching duties and forbidden to publish further. Of course (like other 'mythicists') he waited until near retirement to publish this view. Ever wonder why Price and Carrier can't find jobs in academe? It's certainly not because of their impeccable credentials! There are MANY MORE closet mythicists out there than are willing to stand up and be counted--probably by a factor of 10 or more. So, today, we have a large number that are calling themselves (for safety) "agnostics"--like Avalos, Noll, Davies, Thompson, Lemche, Droge, etc. We all understand: these scholars have families to feed and reputations. Their list is growing by the day. So, it's not good enough to count only the few who have Ph.D's (not like Doherty and Zindler), and who are actually teaching professors (not like Carrier and Price), and who have the courage to openly endorse (in writing which also has been peer-reviewed) the mythicist position. All these 'requirements' reduce the number of actual Jesus mythicists to a point of invisibility. But those requirements are artificially high. The view is much greater.Renejs (talk) 18:59, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
That doesn't make a difference. Unless the tag is somehow against Wikipedia policy, it should be applied to the article because it doesn't care about scholars who might be hiding in the woodwork. It merely indicates there are very few serious scholars which openly support the theory. If you oppose the policy, go start a fundamental discussion on some appropriate Wikipedia policy forum, this is not the right place for such discussions. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:19, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
What are you talking about? The problem is Grant's 1977 statement: 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus.' It's false. Period.Renejs (talk) 19:42, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Such people (e.g., Thomas B) should lose their teaching positions, since taking such positions is the equivalent of young earth creationist teaching geology or biology. TB maintains that he has held such views for the last 35 or 40 years. If he really felt that way for so long, why did he remain a RC priest? Doesn't sound like a man of integrity. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:37, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
Thankfully, Bill, Wikipedia isn't a forum for benighted personal opinions. And, yes, Brodie is a man of integrity, If you take the time to read the last chapters of his Beyond you will see that he agonizes over remaining a priest while holding the opinions he has carefully come to know as correct. He does this by redefining "Christ" as an abstraction of perfection. And, by the way, you shouldn't judge people hastily, kiddo, because some day you might be confronted with a mirror...Renejs (talk) 19:52, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
That's right. It's not a forum for personal opinions. So take your ridiculous theories somewhere else. This is not a place to sell books. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:59, 5 January 2015 (UTC)
The fact that you think the CMT is "ridiculous" demonstrates your astounding POV and that you definitely shouldn't be editing this article.Renejs (talk) 01:17, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
"Astounding POV" is something you are guilty of. You are clearly clueless if you think that virtually all scholars don't think the CMT is pure fantasy. It is obvious that you have an overwhelming emotional, as well as a financially-driven, attachment to the CMT proposition, but that is not how Wikipedia works. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 02:29, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
About Brodie's integrity: there is nl:Klaas Hendrikse, a Dutch protestant pastor who is openly an atheist. The Dutch Protestant Church discussed his atheism, but he was allowed to preach further inside the church (there is a tradition of "Free-Thinking" Protestantism in the Netherlands). His thesis is that God does not exist, since only things (stuff) exist. He thinks of God as a process which happens through and among the believers. Tgeorgescu (talk) 02:32, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Bart Ehrman agrees in his book that there are several scholars who have defended the Christ Myth Theory (Price, Thompson, Carrier, Harpur and maybe Doherty and Wells, if they count as Bible scholars). See Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:01, 5 January 2015 (UTC)

Edit warring

Regardless of the merits of the case, decisions on Wikipedia are made by WP:CONSENSUS, which includes interpretation of the relevant policies by consensus as well. If editors feel a local consensus is misinterpreting policies or applying them incorrectly, there are several conflict resolution procedures. The one thing you're not supposed to do is to engage in edit-warring. Per WP:BRD, any Bold edit may be challenged and the WP:STATUSQUO should remain until a new consensus has been reached on the Talk page. Clearly no consensus has been reached in the case of Renejs's edit. Nevertheless he has at least six times reinserted his edits over the objections of others. This is totally unacceptable, regardless of the merits of his arguments. "But I am right" is not an excuse. You can appeal to a conflict resolution board, but you cannot make controversial changes unilaterally. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:56, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I think you need to revisit the Wikipedia philosophy on editing. The thesis of "change only by consensus" is not Wikipedia's but yours. If people waited for consensus on everything, hardly anything would happen and the resulting inertia of this encyclopedia would propel it into the digital (and conservative) Stone Age within a month!
     On the contrary, an editor is, according to Wikipedia guidelines, encouraged to be bold: "Wikipedia:Be bold (WP:BOLD) can be explained in three words: "Go for it". The Wikipedia community encourages users to be bold when updating the encyclopedia. Wikis like ours develop faster when everybody helps to fix problems, correct grammar, add facts, make sure wording is accurate, etc. We would like everyone to be bold and help make Wikipedia a better encyclopedia." And this addition: "Don't get upset if your bold edits get reverted."
     So, reversion is part of the process. Your attempt to specifically tag me with edit warring doesn't fly. . . It takes more than one editor to make a 'war'. My reverts were (in most cases) simply reversions of reverts by others--including YOURSELF, Bill the Cat, and Jeppiz (all three of whom have a goodly number of reverts to their names--check the history). And, by the way, I'm not the only one reverting these editors--Gekritzl also. I'm being unfairly singled out here.Renejs (talk) 18:54, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, Bold is an important part of the process, and nobody is criticising you for being bold. Bold is good. However, being Bold is only part of the process, other parts include Revert and Discuss, as per WP:BRD. You made a Bold edit, which is fine. Someone else objected and Reverted, which is also fine. Discussion then ensued which is also good. But until you obtain a new consensus, the WP:STATUSQUO should remain. You then made repeated attempts to insert your edits unilaterally, which is not fine at all. The other editors were totally justified in reverting your changes back to the status quo, and you were totally unjustified in repeating your controversial edits over the objections of others. Maybe others were guilty of some edit-warring too, but that doesn't justify your own edit-warring. As for Gekritzl specifically, he was reverting *to* the WP:STATUSQUO, rather than away from it as you are, which means he wasn't edit-warring. You could complain that he doesn't take part in discussions on the Talk page, but on the other hand, discussion is taking place without him, while you are clearly and blatantly violating the rules. And note that Gekritzl and I disagree on the tag. I think the tag is justified, but Gekritzl is right in insisting on a consensus before it is added back. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:07, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
     The status quo is not a safe haven when it is obviously and provably false. Such a false status quo can--and should--be reverted a million times if necessary. After all, what's the use of discussing statements which are "obviously and provably false"? No one in this discussion has offered support for the Grant statement--which would mean showing that Price, Brodie, Carrier, etc. are all not "serious scholars." Thus, Grant's statement needs deletion from this article. Period.Renejs (talk) 20:33, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes the edit warring was clearly disturbing. This page includes a lot of controversial material, and after a few years it was the first time that there was an edit war. Bladesmulti (talk) 17:00, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Where is the consensus on the Grant edit? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:04, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
     If you have some support to offer the Grant assertion, now is the time to speak up in the RfC section above. The lack of any voiced support is implied consensus, and an obviously and provably false statement cannot be retained in the article simply because one or two editors prefer it that way.
     Look, I recognize that this change represents a seismic shift in thinking for some of us. I am aware! Just the idea that a "serious scholar" could question the existence of Jesus of Nazareth is astonishing for most people and will be fought with every device by some who simply have no "room" for such a frightening concept in their worldview. This will take time. But the change has to happen--because it is now indeed the case, and has been for a few years. Folks, we are in a different world from Robert M. Grant in 1977! That is the colossal shift that we're dealing with here--and we are pioneers.Renejs (talk) 20:33, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

Wikipedia is also not a crystal ball: While currently accepted scientific paradigms may later be rejected, and hypotheses previously held to be controversial or incorrect sometimes become accepted by the scientific community (e.g., plate tectonics), it is not the place of Wikipedia to venture such projections. If the status of a given idea changes, then Wikipedia changes to reflect that change. Wikipedia primarily focuses on the state of knowledge today, documenting the past when appropriate (identifying it as such), and avoiding speculation about the future.

Quoted from WP:FRINGE. Tgeorgescu (talk) 21:02, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Thank you for this.Renejs (talk) 00:32, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

In a nutshell: This should move to ANI and Rene should be topic-banned from any article related to Jesus. Rene gladly and proudly breaks almost every rule there is (COI, 3RR, BRD etc) and is a heavily POV-pushing spa. We've tried to reason with him but he refuses to hear anyone who does not agree. We're not getting any further here.Jeppiz (talk) 22:15, 7 January 2015 (UTC)

I agree. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 14:05, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I'd prefer it if that weren't necessary. If Renejs reverts his controversial edit and promises to respect the rules, then he doesn't need to be blocked. Otherwise I'd argue for an administrator to revert his edit and block him for thirty days if he tries to reinsert it yet again without consensus, just to show that trying to break the rules is pointless. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:23, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I’m a little baffled here. The edit would be controversial if someone gave a *reason* for reinstatement of Grant’s 1977 “no serious scholar” assertion (my “controversial edit”). I’m bending over backwards to give everybody a place to voice a reason for keeping that statement--so that we can indeed put it back in IF THERE’S REASON TO DO SO. That’s actually why I started the RfC section (12) above--precisely to test for such support. But so far no one’s offered any. Thus there’s no controversy--only (I gather) intense grumbling. . . To call for my ‘ban,’ or for reversion to Grant 1977 without a reason is, ISTM, subverting the Wiki protocols. I’m very aware that, ironically, “I’m* the one being accused of such subversion when, ISTM, YOU are!
UPDATE ON THE RfC SECTION ABOVE: So far, the RfC section 12 has comments which can be summarized as follows:
- Jeppiz suggests that the statement ‘no serious scholar’ is “no longer true.”
- Martijn notes that Grant’s statement originally had the words “or at any rate very few [serious scholars]” (important words which, however, are *not* part of the ‘reverting to Status Quo’ wiki version)
- Renejs provides the full text of Grant’s passage, noting two even older ‘embedded’ quotes in it (as Jelamkorj also noted, citing Doherty above).
- John Carter explores the phrase “serious scholar.”
And that’s where we are. . . Nobody has said why we should keep Grant’s 1977 assertion or has even advocated for it. Everybody (tacitly, at least) seems agreed that it’s incorrect--that there is TODAY at least one “serious scholar” who questions the historicity of Jesus. If this is incorrect, please voice your view up in RfC section 12!Renejs (talk) 19:59, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Actually, no it isn't, and it is rather I think perhaps deliberately misrepresentative to say it is. There have been other things discussed as well, sometimes previously, which you have not addressed. In such cases, WP:IDHT might be seen to reasonably apply. I know that I had made a comment about how the source could still be used to indicate the then-current status at the time of that writing, but somehow it seems that discussion along only an either/or proposal is all you are interested in, at least in the RfC. One would expect better from an academic. John Carter (talk) 20:07, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I support adding a more precise quote, but not until there is a new consensus for it. My "vote" is in favour of that new consensus. Until then, the status quo version should be restored, just as with the fringe tag, which I also support. If there's a consensus, we can move really quickly. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:13, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Better organization needed

The current structure of the article is a mess, as it's basically just a long list of every person who ever said something that can be interpreted as support of CMT. This list includes everything from serious scholars making a clear case for CMT to self-published non-experts with hilarious conspiracy theories. Sorting them according to century, as we currently do, is hardly optimal. I would suggest that we should instead group them into serious scholars first and then the non-experts who are just laymen with opinion. Under WP:UNDUE and WP:RS, it's even doubtful if the latter group should be in here although some, such as Doherty, is sufficiently notable.Jeppiz (talk) 10:43, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

I've been meaning to suggest this too. What names should we give to the categories though? Literally naming them "serious scholars" and "conspiracy theorists" doesn't sound terribly neutral. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:15, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
That is true, would be terribly non-NPOV. Some cases are easy, Price could definitely be under "scholar" while many others could be under the neutral "non-scholars". The problem is those who are scholars but in entirely unrelated fields. Putting them under scholars would be misleading, but calling them non-scholars would not be correct either.Jeppiz (talk) 17:20, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
I think we could refer to people like Wells as academics/scholars from unrelated fields. It's still going to be difficult to come up with a clear delineation. Where do we put someone like Noll for instance? Non-scholars sounds a bit pejorative, I'd prefer something like popular authors. And if we are going to include any self-published authors, they should probably be identified as such. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:25, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't want to get drawn into the edit war here. However, my comments on the organization question are the following:
The list of proponents is fine as is - the article is about the CMT, so including the history of the theory is fine. Notability rules must still apply, like always. Putting them chronologically makes sense as is. Newer scholars taking the CMT position can always be added on the bottom.
The Criticism section needs re-organizing though - I think we should put them into chronological order as well, with emphasis on the most recent of the notable critics. There are scholars more recent than Grant, so we don't really need him - I think he was only added because he is considered to be a "non-Biblical Scholar" - or something.
Why is the list of books in bold - it really dominates the article - is this per a policy of some sort?
Wdford (talk) 17:38, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
As to your last question, Wdford, it might be because some CMT authors are heavily involved in editing the article and it's in their interest to make their books visible. That's one of the reasons I've brought up WP:COI a few times here.Jeppiz (talk) 19:59, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
As an outsider visiting this article, I found it to be preponderously long. I count 31 'notable proponents' of CMT give or take. Are they really all notable? Did they ALL make significant contributions to the theory, or have a significant impact? Many of them seem to just be saying the same things over and over, or being largely overshadowed or ignored in their time period. Honestly it feels like the length of the list is an effort by the CMT camp to claim relevance. I would suggest some heavy trimming, as having the whole list just bogs down the article, and feels WP:UNDUE. --Sennsationalist (talk) 09:53, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I could support some serious trimming myself. To the extent that some academics have basically produced variations on the same theory, it would to my eyes be reasonable to basically create a separate section for each theory and the individuals and/or works which have put that theory forward. Granted, in some cases, there is some serious overlap among multiple theories, but that concern can probably reasonably be dealt with in discussion. John Carter (talk) 14:01, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Are there any particular authors you'd like to propose for deletion? I'm not too worried about the length of the article, it seems to me that there's nothing wrong with an encyclopedic treatment in an encyclopedia. I do think it's important to categorise the various authors. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:34, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
I probably won't myself have access to Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? until at least next week, but if that, or any other overview-type sources on the subject, link authors together in their text indicating that the theories are similar, following their lead would be useful. John Carter (talk) 20:49, 8 January 2015 (UTC)

Christ Myth Theory vs Jesus Myth Theory

I'm starting a separate section on what the title of the page should be, because it has nothing to do with the fringe tag. Our article is about the idea that there was no historical Jesus at all in any meaningful sense, as opposed to the mainstream idea that there was a historical Jesus but the miracles didn't happen. The former is a fringe theory, in the non-pejorative sense, the latter isn't.

A decision on the fringe tag is independent of a decision on a potential name change, and therefore should not have to wait for its resolution. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:00, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

It absolutely relates to the fringe tag. Jesus myth theory is fringe. Christ myth theory is not. This distinction is especially important for balance because, as WP:BIAS states, "the average Wikipedian on the English Wikipedia is ... from a majority-Christian country".--Jeffro77 (talk) 13:21, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
No it doesn't, if the lede makes it clear what the article means by the term CMT. I'm saying no reader could take a glance at the article we have today and come away with the impression that the idea that the miracles didn't happen is a fringe theory. If you dispute that, you need to argue that in the subsection on clarity. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:32, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Again, an unambiguous lede that defines CMT as it is defined in academic literature (eg. that there was no historical figure called Jesus) should completely nullify your argument Jeffro. Your definitions of Jesus myth theory vs. Christ myth theory are not found elsewhere, and seem to just be your personal interpretations of those two phrases? As such, your argument that Christ myth theory is not fringe is neutralized by both a clear definition of the theory, and the non-existence of an alternate definition. The only problem I can see is perhaps a vague lede, and that can be fixed. --Sennsationalist (talk) 16:08, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Towards consensus on updating Grant's 1977 paragraph

In the last section (14) Martijn M. wrote: "I support adding a more precise quote, but not until there is a new consensus for it. My 'vote' is in favour of that new consensus. Until then, the status quo version should be restored, just as with the fringe tag, which I also support. If there's a consensus, we can move really quickly." I find this valuable and would like to concur. The "fringe" tag is a separate discussion. . . As for the "status quo" version of Grant's paragraph, we will have to first break it down into its several components (a lot of work, I'm afraid, but I think we're all capable of this).

The interesting Grant paragraph (at the end of the “Criticism” section of the CMT article) contains (or contained) five sweeping statements which I personally call ‘colossal assertions.’ Some of these assertions (which I’ve labeled [a] to [e] below for reference), are IMO still true today--but some are probably not. I think we need to give our input on these sweeping statements from 1977. Just so you know where I stand (as if you're actually interested ;-), I have added a plus (+) before any statement I think is STILL correct, and a minus (-) before the assertion I think is now false. I humbly invite you to do the same, per your own opinion. . . Grant’s assertions are:

- (a) Modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory [Umm. . . That’s a pretty major allegation.--Renejs]

-/+ (b) The CMT has again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars [“Answered” yes. But not “annihilated”.]

- (c) In recent years no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicy of Jesus [I think we’ve gone around this bush many times, and can now reject it.]

+ (d) or at any rate very few. [This is true. VERY FEW “serious scholars” openly advocate the CMT even today.]

-/+ (e) and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary. [The struggle is ongoing. . . The evidence for historicity is now “fragile,” as Prof. Philip Davies has noted--see section 9 above, citation 12.]

Final tally: Plus = 2; Minus = 3

Renejs (talk) 21:11, 8 January 2015 (UTC)
Cool. Renejs, please would you propose a reworded paragraph to cover the Grant contribution, so that we can discuss it and reach a consensus? Thanks Wdford (talk) 08:11, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
Thanks for the question. Personally, I would probably remove the Grant paragraph entirely, because I can't see anything in it worth retaining. However, if the consensus chooses to 'update' it, I would vote for the following paragraph which I believe is quite defensible today: "The CMT has been answered by first-rank scholars but not annihilated. Very few “serious scholars” advocate for the CMT today, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the evidence--however fragile--to the contrary."Renejs (talk) 00:19, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Whether Grant is right or not doesn't matter, what matters is that he is a reliable source expressing a notable (and widely shared) opinion. We're not reporting his statement in Wikipedia voice, we're reporting what his views were. Similarly, when we talk about Price's views, we don't present them as the truth but as Price's views. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:12, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
I've just checked, and you still haven't reverted your controversial edit, and are therefore still edit-warring. If you want to show you are sincere about wanting to reach a consensus, we need to start from the status quo text. Per Wikipedia policy we need to do that anyway. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:14, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

Clarity of the definition of the CMT in the lede

Again, another subsection so as not to distract discussion of the fringe tag or delay resolution of that discussion.

Does our definition make it sufficiently clear that we use the term CMT not for the mainstream idea that the miracles depicted in the gospels didn't happen, but only for the much more radical idea that the gospels do not even have a meaningful historical core? Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:03, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Martijn, we cannot make up our own definition of the CMT. We have to accept the way in which the CMT proponents define their own theory, and we need to accept that there are two different definitions - one of which accepts a historical figure but disputes most of what the gospels claim about him. Carrier et al claim there was zero Jesus, and are thus fringe, but Ehrman himself acknowledged the different definition of Wells and Doherty. Were it not for this dual interpretation, there would be little action on the article at all. Wdford (talk) 13:16, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Are you challenging the definition as we have it now? It does not encompass the mainstream position of a historical core with legendary supernatural accretions. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:20, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The statement "Some of these authors concede the possibility that Jesus may have been a real person, but that the biblical accounts of him are almost entirely fictional" does encompass the mainstream view.--Jeffro77 (talk) 13:22, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Can you name a single mainstream biblical scholar (who is not also a CMT proponent) who says the biblical accounts of Jesus are almost entirely fictional? Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:34, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The definition that we have now was a compromise, as you well remember. I accepted it as a compromise, so I will stick with it. However I emphasize that the mainstream view is not "a historical core with legendary supernatural accretions", as the mainstream view also disputes the historicity of other gospel-factoids as well. A better summation of the mainstream view would be "a historical person around whose simple life story a huge amount of fabrication has been accreted, for religious and political reasons." Wdford (talk) 13:30, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
That's still very different from saying there is no meaningful historical core. Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:34, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
OK. I don't think it's productive to debate the application of the fringe definition, when we can hardly agree on the CMT definition, and now we need to debate the definition of a "historical core"? Surely it would better serve the development of the encyclopedia to rather state, in plain English: "Modern scholars generally agree that a historical Jesus existed in some form, but they cannot agree on the correct "portrait" of the historical Jesus, and of all the gospel stories, they can only agree that he was baptized and that he was crucified by the Romans." How about that? Wdford (talk) 13:41, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
(edit conflict) Referring to a "meaningful historical core" is next to useless. It can be broadly interpreted from there was a Jew named Jesus who was executed right through to most of what the 'gospels' say is true. The subjective assertion of "almost entirely fictional" also isn't great. Most of the wording suggested by Wdford seems okay, but replace "the correct 'portrait' of the historical details, and of" with "most of the details. Of". Also delete the second instance of "that he".--Jeffro77 (talk) 13:52, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The proposed text strikes me as reasonable, but I don't understand what bearing it has on the subject of this subsection. Where do you want to insert it, and what else if anything would you like to remove? Martijn Meijering (talk) 13:59, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
He already said in a previous response that he's talking about the definition in the lead—the sentence that includes the wishy-washy "meaningful historical core".--Jeffro77 (talk) 14:02, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I propose to delete the sentence "The hypothesis goes beyond assuming the supernatural events described in the gospels are not historical, something which is the mainstream view in Historical Jesus research, it assumes that the gospels are based on no meaningful historical core," because we cannot agree on the interpretation of the term "supernatural events", and because the concept of a "historical core" is vague - how much detail would constitute a "core"? I would instead add in this proposed sentence - or something very similar - and then clean out a lot of the last paragraph, which would then be duplication. Wdford (talk) 14:10, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I propose trying to be BOLD. Feel free to make a change on the article page itself and let's see if we can make a series of small edits, each trying to improve on the previous one. At any time anyone can say, wait let's return to the status quo version (i.e. the one before my recent BOLD edits) and hammer this out on Talk first. I would suggest leaving redundant material like the final paragraph intact until after we've reached consensus on a new version. Deal? Martijn Meijering (talk) 14:15, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

The last time I tried being BOLD on a Jesus-related article, I was accused of vandalism and drowned in apoplectic atheists. Can we start by agreeing to remove the sentence "The hypothesis goes beyond assuming the supernatural events described in the gospels are not historical, something which is the mainstream view in Historical Jesus research, it assumes that the gospels are based on no meaningful historical core."?? That compromise definition can stand on its own, I think? Wdford (talk) 14:49, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

I only added that sentence today, as a bold attempt to clarify things. It seems not to have been successful in that :-). Per WP:BRD anyone is entitled to revert it, and I would certainly invite you to do so if you think it helps. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:44, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I could agree to removing sentence as it stands. Maybe some sort of revision to the effect of a multiple-sentence statement like "Modern scholarship in general believes many of the extraordinary statements and events in early Christian literature were later additions and are not necessarily related to the life of the historical Jesus. The CMT goes beyond that in arguing that the historical existence of anyone closely resembling the modern academic view of a historical Jesus ever existed." I acknowledge that is longer, a lot longer actually, but I think it helps define the intended scope of the article a bit better. John Carter (talk) 15:45, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I agree with most of what John proposes. However I don't think we should say "anyone closely resembling the modern academic view of a historical Jesus", because the modern academic view of Jesus is very far from the gospel version of Jesus. I think it would read more accurately if we state ""anyone closely resembling the biblical view of Jesus", which is much more what Doherty etc actually state. Wdford (talk) 16:13, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I have no problem with any of the proposed changes by Wdford or John Carter, and am heartened to see productive discussion occurring here. I propose a slight revision to John's suggestion, beginning the paragraph: "Christ Myth Theory is distinct from the mainstream theory that is supported by modern scholarship, namely that many of the extraordinary statements..." This would bring clarity to the concern that Jeffro has of his perception of CMT vs. JMT. If someone can find a more plain way to say what I've suggested, I'm all for it. --Sennsationalist (talk) 16:28, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Fine and good, but we would need to clarify exactly HOW the CMT differs from mainstream theory, and that is difficult because different CMT proponents have different views of what their theory actually is. By just adding that "Modern scholarship in general believes that a historical Jesus did exist but that many of the events in the gospels were later additions and are not necessarily related to the life of the historical Jesus", we can let the readers compare it to the already-stated broad definition of the CMT and draw their own conclusions. Much easier, yes? Wdford (talk) 16:34, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I think it is important to make it clear that the modern historical critical view of Jesus is that the gospels are based on a historical person, with a lot of legendary accretions, both in the form of miracles and other supernatural events, but also in some of the events that aren't physically or historically implausible but nevertheless not historical, and that some of the teachings attributed to Jesus are considered inauthentic as well. Roughly speaking I think the image is Mark + Q - miracles & other supernatural events - some teachings - a few plausible non-miraculous events. This way people won't confuse the historical critical view with the traditional religious view or mistakenly think only the miracles and other supernatural events are discounted by mainstream biblical scholars. They will then also not think that anyone who disputes something that's still historically plausible is automatically a CMT supporter. Martijn Meijering (talk) 16:55, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The real question is how to do that clearly and concisely in the lede.... That's a lot to cover, although I agree with you on its importance. For comparison, so far we have these two proposals. I've consolidated the proposed changes here as it helps me visualize what it will look like. My suggestion for "This is distinct from..." is first.

The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, that he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.[1] This is distinct from the mainstream theory that is supported by modern scholarship, namely that many of the extraordinary statements and events in early Christian literature were later additions and are not necessarily related to the life of the historical Jesus. The CMT goes beyond that in arguing against the historical existence of anyone closely resembling the modern biblical view of a historical Jesus.

Or the version leaving out my phrase.

The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, that he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels.[1] Modern scholarship in general believes many of the extraordinary statements and events in early Christian literature were later additions and are not necessarily related to the life of the historical Jesus. The CMT goes beyond that in arguing against the historical existence of anyone closely resembling the modern biblical view of a historical Jesus.

Either way, I think we are working forward from one of these. --Sennsationalist (talk) 17:21, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
I'd object to the words "modern biblical view of a historical Jesus", since it seems to confuse the historical critical with the traditional view. I think the defining difference is that the CMT assumes that very little if anything at all is historical, while the mainstream scholarly view is that while some of even the historically plausible events are fictional, there is still a substantial amount that is historical. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:31, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, I agree with Martijn here. So perhaps we could work from "The Christ myth theory (also known as the Jesus myth theory, Jesus mythicism or simply mythicism) is the hypothesis that Jesus of Nazareth never existed; or if he did, that he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity and the accounts in the gospels. CMT thus holds that very little if anything of the gospel stories is historical, while the mainstream scholarly view is that at least Jesus’ baptism and crucifixion were historical events." Simple and concise, but I think it covers all the bases. How about that? Wdford (talk) 17:53, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
(e-c) It might be possible to create a first section of the article, maybe "Scope of usage of the term" in some way, which indicates the equation Martin put forward above as being the basic range in which this term is used. Like I said over at the Historicity of Jesus talk page, there are both one recent encyclopedic reference work on the topic of the Historical Jesus and a recent lengthy 4 volume, 100+ article, 3000+ page handbook dealing with the study of the historical Jesus, and I would love to see them consulted by me or others to see what articles we need but do not yet have and provide at least a bit of a basis for them. FWIW, the list of articles in the encyclopedia can be found at Wikipedia:WikiProject Christianity/Jesus work group/Encyclopedic articles and pdfs of the table of contents of the handbook can be found here. I would certainly welcome any input, maybe at the Christianity noticeboard WT:X or elsewhere, which specific subjects related to this topic are our most pressing needs as is, so that we can maybe have some degree of concerted effort to develop the subject more fully. John Carter (talk) 17:57, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The sentence, "Modern scholarship in general believes many of the extraordinary statements and events in early Christian literature were later additions and are not necessarily related to the life of the historical Jesus". This suggests that modern scholarship generally believes that at least some of the "extraordinary statements and events" actually happened. Surely it would be more accurate to state that modern scholarship generally agrees that none of the "extraordinary statements and events" actually happened, since the only broad agreement in scholarship is that Jesus was baptised (a mundane religious rite without magical birds or voices) and was executed (a mundane event that didn't cause earthquakes or culminate in resurrection).--Jeffro77 (talk) 01:27, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I hadn't read Wdford's suggestion before my previous response. That wording is certainly better (but without the thus). There is still a risk that it implies that scholars accept the supernatural claims surrounding Jesus' baptism and execution. That might be within acceptable bounds for the scope of this article, though would probably be improved by adding something like "the mundane aspects of" after (or replacing) "at least".--Jeffro77 (talk) 01:40, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
I think part of the problem here is that, at least from what I can remember of stuff I first read decades ago, there is, or at least was at the time, strong reason to believe that some of the "cures" which Jesus, and maybe others at that time, executed were in one sense real cures, but of psychosomatic illnesses. SFAIR, that sort of thing was though to have occurred fairly frequently back then, at least related to strongly charismatic "healers". Obviously, I don't know, and rather doubt, that academia has said any individual "cures" were more likely than others, but at least at the time the idea of at least some of the healings being real, but of psychosomatic illnesses, was a real and prevalent one. John Carter (talk) 19:33, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
Probably. But psychosomatic cures aren't really that notable—especially not in a culture where mental illness was 'demonic possession' and disease is caused by 'sin'. I'm not aware of any evidence for any of the 'cures' presented in the gospels as being based on any verifiable events, psychosomatic or otherwise.--Jeffro77 (talk) 03:01, 12 January 2015 (UTC)

I think a Scope of the Term section would be counter-productive, because different proponents have different ideas about these terms. The best way is to list all the major interpretations by the various proponents, as we have already done, so that readers can see the full range of differing opinions. The definition in the opening sentence of the lead summarizes these various opinions pretty well, considering the wide range of those opinions. Wdford (talk) 18:23, 10 January 2015 (UTC)

Grant's views in 1977 are no longer true

The paragraph citing Robert Grant from 1977 is an obvious place where the CMT article needs *updating.* Grant's views have long been superseded, particularly his flat-out wrong assertion that "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus." This statement may (arguably) have been correct in 1977, but it is certainly not correct today. Given the more recent accession of Harpur, Brodie, Price, and Carrier (all Ph.D.'s in the field) to the CMT thesis, Grant's assertion is undeniably false--that is, "untenable." Wikipedia does not disseminate incorrect information. If someone wishes to defend Grant's 1977 view in 2014/15 please justify "why." Because it is now false, this old view must be deleted.     I am willing to live with Martijn's latest version of the paragraph. However, if someone's reversion retains this particularly false assertion of Grant, then I think we'll have legitimate questions regarding NPOV, objectivity, and will need an Administrator's opinion on what is true and what is false. This doesn't have anything to do with what is mentioned in the preceding section. It has to do with disseminating provably false information in the article.Renejs (talk) 00:30, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

I'd like to echo what John Carter said. We do not endorse Grant's view, either then or now, we merely report it. This is a fundamental Wikipedia policy that often surprises outsiders. We do not state the WP:TRUTH, we report what reliable sources have to say about it. This is necessary because Wikipedia is a) an encyclopedia and therefore doesn't publish original research and b) is edited by a group of both experts and non-experts, open to all. From your posting history, it appears that your edits have been mostly confined to areas related to the CMT and your book. This is what Wikipedia policy calls a single purpose account, which is allowed but discouraged. The reason it is discouraged is because it is easy for the goals of an SPA (generally advocacy) to conflict with those of Wikipedia. I think you will do all of us, yourself included, a favour if you read up on the relevant policies. Right now you are violating policy by engaging in edit warring, you have several times reinstated controversal edits over the objections of other editors. The recommended procedure is called Bold, Revert, Discuss. You made a Bold edit, which is fine, someone else Reverted it, which is also fine, and now we need to Discuss it first on this Talk page and try to reach a consensus. Unless and until you obtain a new consensus the status quo should remain. These are longstanding policies and breaking them is likely to lead to a swift block. If you revert your most recent reinsertion and stop edit-warring, I think you'll find people will be willing to work with you to address your concerns. I for one will certainly do so. I think we got off to a bad start, but I suspect that's mainly because you are insufficiently familiar with the relevant policies, and people are objecting both to your edits and your frankly rather flagrant if perhaps unwitting violations of longstanding policies. Martijn Meijering (talk) 22:03, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Actually, it doesn't have to be deleted. History of most topics is relevant to our articles. While it might be required to say that he said that in 1977, and that it could be used at least to source a statement regarding the then-current and previous status of the field. Also, regretably, the simple holding of Ph.D.'s does not in and of itself make someone a "serious" scholar. Lots of people have Ph.D.'s, even in their own fields, and are still counted as being less than serious. Rupert Sheldrake's theories of plants come to mind here. The real question here probably relates to something that would probably be best addressed, and possibly only addressed, by input of others. While saying nothing against any of the individuals involved, I don't know that the precise distinction between "fringe" and "minority" theories has ever been conclusively worked out here. Having some clear idea as to where to draw the line, particularly in application of policies and guidelines, might be useful. It also might never actually get done, and I tend to think personally the latter is more likely than the former, but requesting clarification on that point might be useful for this topic and maybe at least a few others as well. Also, for claims to be counted "provably" false, there really must be some sort of absolute "proof", and I hope no one takes it the wrong way if I say that the simple publication of something by people with doctorates in their fields "proves" that they are "serious" is logically problematic. John Carter (talk) 00:46, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
If Grant's view is demonstrably obsolete, then it should not be included in the article. But, Renejs, I think the onus is on you here to do the demonstrating. Could you please provide quotes from the scholars you mention which show that they "postulate the non-historicity of Jesus"? Could you also provide evidence that they are "serious scholars"? I don't think the benchmark needs to be particularly high, but John is correct that having a PhD is not enough in itself. Where have they been published? What posts have they held? How has their work been received? Price, for example, can be counted as a serious scholar, but I'm not sure it has ever been his position that Jesus did not exist. I could be wrong. Please show me that I am. Formerip (talk) 01:20, 31 December 2014 (UTC)


FormerIP: "If Grant's view is demonstrably obsolete, then it should not be included in the article."

Renejs: You said it. ;-)

FormerIP: "But, Renejs, I think the onus is on you here to do the demonstrating."

I don't see why the onus should be on me. But no problem. . .

FormerIP: Could you please provide quotes from the scholars you mention which show that they "postulate the non-historicity of Jesus"?

Renejs: Why not just read the Harpur section of the CMT article--right there? It reads: "According to Harpur, in the second or third centuries, the early church created the fictional impression of a literal and historic Jesus and then used forgery and violence to cover up the evidence. Having come to see the scriptures as symbolic allegory of a cosmic truth rather than as inconsistent history, Harpur concludes he has a greater internal connection with the spirit of Christ" (reference citation). If you doubt this is truly Harpur's position, I'm not the person you need to debate. :-) As for Thomas Brodie, he has written regarding Jesus that "He never existed" ("Beyond the Quest of the Historical Jesus", pp. 36, 41, and 198), and: "This shadowed living beauty that we call Jesus Christ is not a specific human being" (ibid. p. 218).

FormerIP: Could you also provide evidence that they are "serious scholars"?

Huh? You want proof that Harpur (Ph.D, former prof of New Testament, best selling Canadian relgious author) is a "serious scholar"? This is too funny. But, OK again. . . Please check the Tom Harpur page. You'll read that "From 1964 to 1971, Harpur was an assistant professor and then a full professor of New Testament and New Testament Greek at Wycliffe, and from 1984 to 1987 he was part-time lecturer on the Theology and Praxis of Mass Media course at the Toronto School of Theology in the University of Toronto." Then in the Journalism section of that article you'll read: "Harpur has also written a number of books on religion and theology, ten of which became Canadian bestsellers and two of which were made into TV series for VisionTV. For a time he had his own TV show, Harpur's Heaven and Hell, and has hosted a variety of radio and television programs on the topic of religion, particularly on VisionTV. He has, over the years, been a frequent commentator on religious news events for most of the Canadian networks, especially CBC. In 1996 his bestseller Life After Death about near-death experiences was turned into a 10-episode TV series hosted by Harpur himself. Harpur's 2004 book The Pagan Christ was named the Canadian non-fiction bestseller of the year by the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail." So, yes, I think we can agree that Harpur is a "serious scholar." As for Fr. Thomas Brodie, you could start by reading what's in the CMT article right above the section we're debating. I provide it here: "Irish Dominican priest and theologian Thomas L. Brodie (born 1943) earned his PhD at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome in 1988. He taught Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament in the United States, South Africa and Ireland, and is a co-founder and former director of the Dominican Biblical Institute in Limerick. His bibliography includes scholarly works on subjects such as the Gospel of John, Genesis and the Elijah and Elisha narratives, and his publishers have included Oxford University Press and Sheffield Phoenix Press." For more info, you might read his page (which could use some editing. . . ). Brodie's written about 25 books on the New Testament, and for decades was famous for spending 12+ hours a day at his desk. If he's not a "serious" scholar, then who *is,* pray tell?

FormerIP: "I don't think the benchmark needs to be particularly high, but John is correct that having a PhD is not enough in itself. Where have they been published? What posts have they held? How has their work been received?"

Right. Please see the above. . . ;-)

FormerIP: Price, for example, can be counted as a serious scholar, but I'm not sure it has ever been his position that Jesus did not exist.

Glad to hear you calling Price a "serious scholar," since he has two doctorates. The first sentence of the CMT Price section reads: "American New Testament scholar Robert McNair Price (born 1954) questions the historicity of Jesus in a series of books. . ." He's identified himself as a "Jesus mythicist" at least since the year 2000. So, yes, it has (for a long time) been his position that "Jesus did not exist."Renejs (talk) 03:48, 31 December 2014 (UTC)

I really find the absolute reliance on doctorates as being an indicator of someone being "serious" amusing, but believe that the question as to whether something is "serious" as opposed to controversial or sensationalist or something else is a real one. Carl Sagan was notoriously advocating for years the global cooling position, even though at the time the idea had little if any support beyond himself and a few marginal advocates. Also, it really is more than a bit excessive to reproduce comments made earlier in the thread to respond to them, and, honestly, just more or less takes up unnecessary space.And, regrettably, your rather obvious jump to conclusions regarding Price at the end of your comment above is not supported by the evidence. Questioning the historicity of something is not even remotely the same as actively saying something did not exist, and it is honestly hard for me to think anyone would say otherwise. Also, I think it is incumbent on you to perhaps more clearly acquaint yourself with some of our guidelines and policies, particularly including WP:SYNTH (regarding your conclusion about Price), WP:BURDEN (which indicates that the burden is one someone wishing to make changes, not anyone else), and, possibly, any of our other content policies and guidelines with which you may be less than familiar. John Carter (talk) 15:53, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Carter: Questioning the historicity of something is not even remotely the same as actively saying something did not exist, and it is honestly hard for me to think anyone would say otherwise.
Renejs: Maybe I'm too dense to understand this sentence. Would you mind explaining it, and how it weighs on the Grant matter which is the topic of this section?
Carter: Also, I think it is incumbent on you to perhaps more clearly acquaint yourself with some of our guidelines and policies, particularly including WP:SYNTH (regarding your conclusion about Price)
Renejs: You're tossing red herrings my way. It was Martijn Meijering who brought up Price! (Please check it out above before throwing further unconsidered accusations my way). Of course, this is a TALK page and I have the right to respond to what Martijn says--and anyone else--without being crucified. And I'm starting to feel like I'm being unfairly ganged up on here because I'm promoting an unpopular position.Renejs (talk) 20:18, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
There is a difference between "questioning" and "asserting", which I thought even most children would be able to understand, although, apparently, you are not. And it is frankly laughable to say that asking you to abide by policies and guidelines is inappapropriate. Once again, I very strongly suggest that you familiarize yourself with our policies and guidelines, including those I have linked to, as well as WP:AGF, WP:DE, WP:TE, and WP:IDHT. I regret to say that there is absolutely nothing in the above comment which gives me any reason to believe that you are familiar with them in any way, unfortunately. John Carter (talk) 20:34, 31 December 2014 (UTC)
Here's a second redirection for you, John: the topic of this section is "Grant's views in 1977 are no longer true"--not my (or anyone else's) Wiki familiarization. . .
Are you, T.M. Drew, the Cat 7, or anybody here actually claiming that Grant's 1977 statement of "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus" is true more than 35 years later? After Harpur, Brodie, Price, and Carrier have ALL declared publicly for the Jesus myth position? Is anyone of you really claiming THAT? John Carter? Martijn? Drew? Cat 7?
Are any of you really claiming that NOT A SINGLE ONE of those four is a "serious scholar"? Just checking to see where you're coming from. . . Because if you keep reverting, you'll eventually have to put put up the beef. I'm willing to sit back and watch you demonstrate that TODAY "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus." Go ahead. . . ;-) I don't think the Wiki administrators want YOU reverting material if you don't have the beef. And the beef is this: 4 serious scholars have now publicly stated that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as a person of flesh and blood. That means that Grant's statement of 1977 is NO LONGER TRUE. Simple. Hey, there are a lot more points to tackle in this article. I suggest we move on. . .Renejs (talk) 00:09, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
You are free to move on, in which case the article will stay as it is, without your changes. If you continue your edit-warring that is likely to lead to swift sanctions. The way to improve the article is through building consensus on the Talk page, and using conflict resolution procedures if necessary. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:37, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
I am claiming that no scholar has seriously suggested the Christ Myth theory since the early 20th century. Price and Carrier are regarded as fringe theorists, and do not teach at any university. Again, the Christ Myth theory is about as mainstream as young earth creationism is in biology. Of course one can list defenders of it, but any attempt to suggest its plausibility gives undue weight to it.--TMD Talk Page. 04:50, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
Several serious scholars have suggested it, or consider it a serious possibility: Ellegard, Wells (although he no longer subscribes to this view), Brodie, Dawkins and a few others. It is notable that none of these are historians, and perhaps notable that none of them are theologians or scholars of religion, but all of them are serious scholars. In that sense Grant's statement is false, but that doesn't matter since we do not state he is right, we merely state that that was his view, which is definitely correct. Note that comparing subjects of marginal academic respectability like theology and/or religious studies to a hard science like evolutionary biology is unjustified. The former do not deserve the deference we accord the latter. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:34, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
I disagree completely with any assertion that theology deserves any less deference than sciences like chemistry.--TMD Talk Page. 03:57, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I refer you to our article on Theology and specifically the sections Theology and religious studies and Critics of theology as an academic discipline. In addition, the subfield of historical Jesus research has been criticised severely for lack of impartiality and lack of methodological soundness by respected scholars both inside and outside the field. The field of historical Jesus studies arose from attempts to develop a Christology that was acceptable to a post Enlightenment society, which is a religious or ecclesiastical motivation, not a scientific one. The institutions at which it is studied retain strong institutional and financial links to various churches to this day. In my own home town of Leiden, home of the oldest university in the Netherlands, the faculty of Theology has ceased to exist. It was closed down after the newly merged Protestant Church in the Netherlands moved its ministerial training institute to the University of Amsterdam (or maybe the VU University Amsterdam, I'm not sure). After more than 500 years you can no longer study theology in Leiden. All that time it was the link with the church that propped it up. Such a discipline cannot be thought of as being on the same level as a hard science like chemistry. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:36, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

Renejs has asked me to comment here, but I'll be brief and a bit blunt. The main issue seems to be, I'm afraid, that Renejs is not aware of WP:OR. It's not for any of us to say that Grant or anyone else is obsolete. For the record, contemporary scholars make pretty much the same claims. Ehrman says that "virtually" no serious scholar believe in CMT, which is a modification of Grant. I'm also a bit worried that Martijn Meijering continues to beat the same dead horse over and over again by insisting on people like Ellegård (not Ellegard). Ellegård is not a serious scholar in this field, we have been through this time and time again Martijn Meijering and it's quite frankly starting to look like a severe case of refusing to WP:HEAR. It's all the more surprising as Martijn Meijering is in many ways an exemplary and careful user. Some basic Wikipedia rules:

  • Even in articles dealing with fringe theories like this article, the article should make it clear that the topic is fringe.
  • It's not for Wikipedia editors to name themselves experts and start drawing conclusions not found in sources.
  • An "serious scholar" in a field is a person who holds a PhD in that field, with peer-reviewed publications. It should be obvious (but apparently it isn't) that a professor with a PhD in Japanese history is a good source for Japanese history but that his PhD in Japanese history does not make him an expert on everything under the sun, he's no more an expert of nuclear fusion than any other person. Same thing here, having a PhD in an unrelated field does not make a person an expert on the historicity of Jesus.Jeppiz (talk) 23:36, 1 January 2015 (UTC)
You seem to have a nasty habit of wikilawyering. I hear you all right, I simply disagree with you and your opinion is not normative. Your personal opinion of Ellegard (I don't feel like typing diacritics everytime) doesn't trump that of the editors of scholarly journals, nor does your anecdotal evidence about what Swedish and Danish scholars think. I think your edits are coloured by a - no doubt unconscious - bias. The reason I bring Ellegard up is because of the claim that no serious scholar at all has proposed this, when in reality it's very few who have. It's notable that he isn't a historian, and I've said so many times, so there is no reason to remind me of that, or to pretend I'm not aware of it. I don't believe Ellegard was an authority on the historicity of Jesus, but he certainly was a serious (indeed distinguished) scholar, and his work on the CMT was discussed in scholarly journals. He doesn't seem to have persuaded many other serious scholars, but that is beside the point. I have no desire to overemphasise Ellegard or the CMT, I'm just annoyed by a constant bias against it, smearing the name of serious scholars and persistent inclination to be overly reverential towards a small group of North American scholars from an increasingly marginal discipline, as if they represented the voice of science. I've also never said the CMT was a widely held opinion, I have stated many times that it has very little scholarly support and is often dismissed in scathing terms. And for the record, I am not now nor have I ever been a believer of the CMT. And pray tell, what "field" concerns itself with the CMT? As for beating a dead horse, why don't you tell that to Bill the Cat, whose only contributions here seem to be saying "fringe!" and copy pasting a long list of scholars who oppose the CMT, something that no one here denies. Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:18, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
For the record, I agree with you on René's WP:OR, as was probably already clear from my earlier comments. Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:20, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
If I am "nasty Wikilawyering", it may be because of constant violations of rules. It does get a bit repetitive to have to repeat the same thing over and over again. My opinion is not normative, true enough. But as your opinion seems to be that any person with a PhD is an expert on any subject there is, no matter how unrelated to their area of expertise, the onus is very much on you to back up that rather un-orthodox view. Would you care to cite the Wikipedia policy you feel support that view? To the best of my knowledge (and I may be wrong, feel free to correct me), Ellegård never published anything in any ranked scholarly journal nor was his research any discussed in any ranked scholarly journal. An unranked Swedish journal gave Ellegård some space, but followed it up by statements from a number of people, anyone in a field even close to CMT commenting in that journal rejected Ellegård's hypothesis, and in the more than 20 years that have passed, nothing more has been heard of Ellegård or his idea in any scholarly context. This is beyond just fringe, it's well into raving conspiracy theories. Even "serious scholars" can go totally wrong when dabbing in areas they don't know.Jeppiz (talk) 08:54, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Serious scholars can certainly go wrong in areas outside their expertise. Indeed they can also go totally wrong in their own fields. It's not my view that anyone with a PhD is an expert on everything, nor even a reliable source on his own field. So we agree so far. It is also not my view that Ellegard was right, I merely object to the dismissive characterisation of people like Ellegard as not being serious scholars. If you actually read his theory, I think you'll see it is a serious contribution to the subject. A serious scholar proposed a radical thesis, and ended up not convincing other scholars. It happens all the time, it doesn't mean he wasn't a serious scholar or that his thesis was not a serious piece of scholarly work. It just didn't convince any people. Tough luck for Ellegard. The thing that makes it notable is that it caused a stir in Sweden, getting a lot of publicity in the popular press and a limited amount of attention in scholarly publications. Another thing that makes it notable is that Ellegard is one of very few serious CMT proponents (lots of cranks though). This makes it notable in the context of this page, the page on the Historicity of Jesus, and perhaps a few others, but not on pages about NT scholarship in general. There is no suggestion that Ellegard is a prominent NT scholar, or even a NT scholar at all. I'm not sufficiently familiar with journal ranking systems to say anything about the rankings of the publications in question, but I see no reason not to regard them as serious publications. If you want to disqualify them, I'd like to see some evidence and some Wikipedia policy that supports your position. You can't just invent your own criteria to dismiss people who say things you don't like (like Ellegard) or which might embarrass you or NT scholarship (like Akenson or Gary Habermas, each in their radically different ways). Anyway, my point is that we should report the controversy as it is, and not add pejorative qualifications of our own. As it happens, the controversy is very lop-sided already, so I don't understand why anyone still wants to pile on criticism. Saying the CMT has very little scholarly support and is routinely dismissed in scathing terms by serious scholars is fair and objective. Saying no serious scholar has proposed it is partisan sniping. That's all I'm saying. Do you disagree with that? Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:50, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
We agree on a number of things. I also think saying "no serious scholar" is wrong, and has never suggested it. While I think Price, for instance, is fringe (in the meaning "tiny minority", nothing pejorative), I think he's a serious scholar. I also agree we should not add pejorative qualifications on our own, but please keep in mind we should add no qualifications whatsoever. By calling Ellegård a "serious scholar", you add such a qualification. What is more, every reader who reads it will of course think that Ellegård was a serious scholar of the field in question, which isn't the case. "Serious scholar" isn't a title. My academic record is comparable to Ellegård's, but that does not make me an expert on this field nor on any other field outside my area of competence. The same applies to Ellegård and to any other scholar. Pointing out that somebody is a "serious scholar" in a field completely unrelated to their scholarship is misleading. Can I also say, as a Swede, that I'm a bit surprised by your claim that Ellegård caused a stir in Sweden and got lots of publicity in Swedish media. Even though I read the four major Swedish newspapers daily and have done so for close to 30 years, in addition to watching the Swedish news, I had never even heard of Ellegård before you dug him up. That's not to say there cannot have been an article sometimes, but the "stir" and "lot of publicity in the popular press" would seem to be your own additions, just like the "serious scholar" epithet.Jeppiz (talk) 12:18, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
OK, thank you for that clarification. I agree we shouldn't explicitly bestow the epithet serious scholar on Ellegard. Just as we shouldn't engage in partisan sniping, we shouldn't engage in handing out praise either. I merely meant we shouldn't say that no serious scholar has proposed the CMT. It appears we agree more than I thought! We could, and perhaps should, state that several scholars have dismissed the CMT as mainly the work of unserious scholars.
I take note of your report that Ellegard isn't all that well-known in Sweden. My stir comment was based on something I read, not my own interpretation, but I don't recall exactly where. I could try to dig it up, but I don't think it matters all that much. In any event, these were just talk page comments, I'm not proposing we add the word stir to the article itself, just explaining why I believe Ellegard's inclusion in the article is justified. Martijn Meijering (talk) 12:37, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Interesting discussion, and I seem to detect some movement. With surprise I find both Martijn and Jeppiz in agreement with me on the specific issue at hand: that Grant's "no serious scholar" statement is "wrong." In fact, that's ALL I'm saying here. Because Grant's 1977 statement is now wrong, it has no place in this 2015 article. I feel no choice but to continue to revert to the accepted limit of 3x per day until we either hash this out or resort to arbitration on this issue which is very clear to me.Renejs (talk) 18:29, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
You think you have no choice to revert? You are engaging in blatant edit-warring which is *forbidden* by Wikipedia policy. Specifically you have broken the three revert rule, which makes you liable to a direct block by any administrator. You are relying on the good will of editors here not to seek immediate action, and run the risk of an administrator acting of his own accord. If you want to prevent this, you should immediately self-revert and state your commitment to abide by the rules. It may not be enough to avoid a block, but it's the best course of action open to you now. Martijn Meijering (talk) 19:21, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

I am a very irregular reader of this page. Now I just feel like adding a remark, surely not planning to fight here for anything personally. I always felt that closing this article with this quote by Grant from 1977 is very inappropriate, already from a simple view of chronology. I fully understand people like Renejs who try to make the article more sensible (at least) in this respect.

I can add that as a wikipedia reader I would think that Grant had himself carefully explored the arguments of so called mythicists (until his time, which is almost forty years ago) and had demonstrated that their authors violate the standard scholarly methods or so ... But this impression seems misleading, as I judge from the below quote by Doherty (which I take from

Before giving the quote, I stress that I certainly do not suggest that the wiki-article should contain this quote by Doherty; I just stress that if somebody thinks that the quote by Grant belongs in the article, then (s)he should give enough context so that the reader is not mislead.

But the conviction continues that this work of refutation has long since been completed and scarcely needs revisiting.

A typical example is historian Michael Grant, who in Jesus: An Historian’s Review of the Gospels (1977), devotes a few paragraphs to the question in an Appendix. There [p.200], he says:

“To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has ‘again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars’. In recent years ‘no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus’—or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary.”

One will note that Grant’s statement about answering and annihilating, and the remark about serious scholars, are in quotes, and are in fact the opinions of previous writers. Clearly, Grant himself has not undertaken his own ‘answer’ to mythicists. Are those quoted writers themselves scholars who have undertaken such a task? In fact, they are not. One referenced writer, Rodney Dunkerley, in his Beyond the Gospels (1957, p.12), devotes a single paragraph to the “fantastic notion” that Jesus did not actually live; its exponents, he says, “have again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars,” but since he declares it “impossible to summarize those scholars’ case here,” he is not the source of Grant’s conviction. Nor can that be Oskar Betz, from whose What Do We Know About Jesus? (1968, p.9) Grant takes his second quote. Betz claims that since Wilhelm Bousset published an essay in 1904 exposing the ‘Christ myth’ as “a phantom,” “no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus.” This ignores many serious presentations of that very idea since Bousset, and evidently relies on defining “serious” as excluding anyone who would dare to undertake such a misguided task.

I wish good luck to all editors who try to give this article an impartial and sensible form.Jelamkorj (talk) 19:03, 2 January 2015 (UTC)

That's an interesting find. I agree more context is needed, or perhaps the way we quote Grant is necessary. But apart from that, I don't think it changes the essence, since Grant appears to be citing the older views approvingly. Martijn Meijering (talk) 00:28, 3 January 2015 (UTC)
See section 5 above for an abundant list of quotes specifying in no uncertain terms that the CMT is fringe. Some of the quotes are, in fact, from mythicists themselves. Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 19:17, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Of course, this has nothing to do with the discussion here, namely, Grant's 1977 statement that "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus." Please get beyond the "fringe" issue, Cat (which is an entirely different matter!) and focus on the specific statement under contention in this talk section.Renejs (talk) 21:29, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Are you aware that you have now officially made 4 reverts, which is breaking the 3RR? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 21:36, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
One additional comment, seeing Bill the Cat's remark. Wikipedia ( defines "A fringe theory is an idea or viewpoint held by a small group of supporters.... The term is commonly used in a narrower sense as a pejorative that is roughly synonymous with pseudo-scholarship. Precise definitions ... are difficult to construct ..." The article about CMT should surely make clear that it is a fringe theory in the sense that it is held by a small group of supporters. But it seems to me that some editors think that the article should also make an impression that any instance of the works that argue that CMT seems to fit best to the historical evidence we have (which includes the works of Price, Brodie, Carrier) should be taken in the above narrower sense. At least this is my impression when seeing that some people defend the idea that the article should close with a quote by Grant. Renejs has just touched on the obvious: Grant's comment (who, in fact, quotes somebody else) is simply obsolete.Jelamkorj (talk) 22:08, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
Yes, ending with Grant is not ideal, and a concluding paragraph could be good. The real problem right now, though, is the two SPAs who revert anything that doesn't suit them based solely on WP:IDONTLIKEIT. The latest edit war is a case in point. Even though we have a large number of sources for calling this fringe theory that (or even 'conspiracy theory' as some harsher historians call it), the SPAs keep edit-warring and insist oon this talk page to continue to edit-war.Jeppiz (talk) 22:28, 2 January 2015 (UTC)
I have to ask in the light of Carrier's 2014 peer reviewed scholarly published work On the Historicity of Jesus: Why We Might Have Reason for Doubt does Grant's now nearly 40 year old statement really have relevance? More over, there is no evidence Grant's original 1977 Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels Scribner was peer reviewed. Heck, we don't even know which division of Scribner even published it in 1977. Finally, given the level of prominence wikipedia gives to peer review scholarly published works shouldn't quotes form Carrier's work have a higher priority?-- (talk) 14:59, 15 January 2015 (UTC)
Grant was a much more prominent scholar than Carrier, and unlike Carrier he was not as far as I know a religious/atheist advocate, nor was he espousing a minority view. On the other hand, Carrier's work is more recent. But I don't think we have to choose between them, we should have both. The Grant quote is in the criticism section, and Carrier doesn't belong in that section. We cannot offer selective rebuttals to authors we don't like, and I don't think we shold have them at all in a criticism section. We could have a section dedicated to the debate to the degree there has been one, but we'd need reliable sources for that. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:15, 15 January 2015 (UTC)

RfC: Is the 1977 statement "no serious scholar..." by M. Grant in the "Criticism" section true today?

Should the 1977 statement 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus' remain since Tom Harpur Ph.D, Thomas L. Brodie Ph.D and other well-known scholars now publicly endorse the non-historicity of Jesus? Renejs (talk) 05:58, 6 January 2015 (UTC)

  • Comment It's verging on the hilarious that in an article filled with non-experts, the one statement we go after is this one. I think it's correct to say that the statement "no serious scholar" is no longer true. The same goes for old statements by at least 10-15 CMT proponents in the article as well. If we remove Grant (as we can certainly do), I suggest we remove every other dated statement that is not supported by modern scholarship as well.Jeppiz (talk) 10:38, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Jeppiz: If the Grant statement is no longer true, than why is it still there? no one--I repeat: no one--has actually said it's true. Bill the Cat, Drew, and Martijn just revert to it--without actually saying it's true. That means something's in play besides the facts. Very bad on Wikipedia. . .
     And, yes, there's tons of stuff to be removed from this article (not just CMT proponents). Look at the "Further Reading" section. Practically everything there is from before 1950. . . That really needs updating. Probably a merge with the "Books" section.
     To answer you question: The reason I go after Grant's "no serious scholar" assertion is because you start with the most obvious first. If we can't get THAT obvious humdinger deleted, then there is NO hope whatsoever for this article. I will continue to focus on that falsehood until it is removed permanently--regardless of how long it takes.Renejs (talk) 17:14, 6 January 2015 (UTC)
Solution: attribute the statement: In 1977, Grant wrote "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus". In 2012, Bart Ehrman counted at least two scholars (perhaps more) supporting CMT. []. Tgeorgescu (talk) 01:39, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
The statement is attributed already. However, we probably need to be more precise, as these appear to be quotes from earlier scholars, not Grant's own words. Also note that the quote actually says "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non historicity of Jesus' or at any rate very few". (emphasis added) Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:50, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
     You are correct. I have the book in front of me and cite the passage in full:
"To sum up, modern critical methods fail to support the Christ-myth theory. It has 'again and again been answered and annihilated by first-rank scholars.' In recent years 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicy of Jesus'--or at any rate very few, and they have not succeeded in disposing of the much stronger, indeed very abundant, evidence to the contrary" (p. 200).
     This is a real hornet's nest, with two embedded quotes. It is not entirely clear from Grant's footnote (no. 13, p. 235) where those two quotes come from, because he cites three authors and writes "etc." Are the authors he cites themselves "serious scholars"? They date (apparently) to 1957 and 1965/71. Do we want this old material now to be our deciding light in 2015?Renejs (talk) 21:43, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
     This is similar to the "compromise" solution I proposed recently, but it was reverted within hours: "Writing in 1977, Grant also asserted that 'no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus'.[ref] Since then the New Testament scholars Rev. Tom Harpur and Fr. Thomas L. Brodie have endorsed the thesis that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist as a person of flesh and blood. A number of other "Jesus mythicists" have also come forward (see preceding section)." What I like about these more detailed versions is that they direct the reader's attention to the change in the CMT which has taken place in the last four decades. In itself, that's a significant point.
     I'm not sure, though, that Bart Ehrman is the best source here. In his book DJE? (pp. 17–19) he notes Robert Price as "the one trained and certified scholar of New Testament that I know of who holds to a mythicist position." This statement was obsolete as soon as the book appeared, because Thomas Brodie also published his "Beyond" in 2012 which proclaims the mythicist position--and Brodie has an STD (Doctor of Sacred Theology) specializing in the New Testament. Also, Ehrman treats Carrier and Harpur in passing, perhaps because Carrier's Ph.D is in history (which some, however, would consider superior to a degree in theology/religious studies), while Harpur only attained an M.A. Going only by credentials, the most distinguished Jesus mythicists at this point in time would have to be Price, Brodie, and Carrier. I'm not sure, however, that credentials should be the only yardstick here. For example, Doherty and G. Wells did a good deal of groundbreaking work, and neither has a Ph.D "in the discipline."Renejs (talk) 04:36, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
How many CMT-promoting "scholars" teach New Testament at accredited universities? Bill the Cat 7 (talk) 12:32, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
Part of the problem lies with the fact that the proposed construction implicitly places the individuals involved as "serious scholars," and I'm not sure the evidence supports that passing description. What would be sought here I think to be described as "serious scholars" would be individuals who have attained a significant degree of academic achievement, either through recognized and well-regarded employment in a relevant academic field or through really consistently, if not uniformly, high regard to their works. I'm not at all sure based on what I've seen to date that any but Price necessarily qualify as such. Having degrees in and of itself does not make anyone a "serious scholar," unfortunately. It might be reasonable to include material describing the qualifications, such as degrees and fields of study for the individuals involved, particularly indicating in which cases the matter of biblical history or similar areas of history with rather poor levels of contemporary reliable history are on of the specific strengths of the individual, and their strengths and the specific, individual, response of other experts in the field, as such is known. Clearly, someone who might be a student of the JFK era, for instance, which has almost literally mountains of contemporary documentation available, might not be particularly in their field of strength when dealing with poorly documented earlier eras. John Carter (talk) 15:04, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
I think Bill the Cat's question ("How many") better belongs in a discussion on "fringe." Grant's categorical assertion is invalidated if even a single "serious scholar" espouses the Jesus myth position. Carter mentions Price, which (IMO) is correct, but neither of you mention Brodie. No one in the scholarly world (to my knowledge) has questioned his seriousness. Of course, he doesn't teach anymore (he was fired for his views), but he did found and, for many years, directed the Dominican Biblical Institute.
     Bill mentions "accredited universities," with the implication (I think) that if a scholar doesn't teach (now? in the past?) at such an institution then he's not "serious." I think this is a pretty weak distinction. The Dominican Bibl. Inst. is not such an institution. It's easy to be hyper-critical and keep adding qualifications (raising the bar) until all possible candidates vanish. But would that be NPOV?
     STM that impact in the field (often reflected by positive citations by other "serious scholars"), relevant degrees, and peer-reviewed publications are also factors to be considered regarding a "serious scholar." Price has more "relevant degrees" than practically everybody (in and outside academe), but Brodie has more peer-reviewed publications than Price. Renejs (talk) 18:43, 7 January 2015 (UTC)
-There has been no input to this section in several days, and I conclude that everyone has had ample opportunity to voice an opinion. Please be advised that I will remove the RfC ("Request for Comment") tag for this section in 24 hours, unless someone voices an objection.
-To review, no one has voiced support for retaining, in 2015, Grant's 1977 assertion that "no serious scholar has ventured to postulate the non-historicity of Jesus." Jeppiz voiced an opinion: "I think it's correct to say that the statement "no serious scholar" is no longer true." I concur with this opinion, which is clearly correct and easily demonstrated.
-John Carter raised a point about what constitutes a "serious scholar." No one, however, has suggested that neither Price, nor Brodie, nor Carrier (three CMT proponents with Ph.D's in the field) are not "serious scholars." Therefore Grant's 1977 statement immediately falls.
-It should be reiterated that the additional words "or at any rate very few [serious scholars]” (in Grant's original quote) are NOT in the version mirrored in this Wikipedia article. Thus, they are not the 'target of reversion,' the 'status quo,' nor germane to the topic of this specific section.
-It may also be noted that we are not talking here about retaining Grant's statement for retrospective, historical purposes. That would be a separate discussion.Renejs (talk) 23:49, 10 January 2015 (UTC)
The comment should obviously be retained (and corrected) and your blatant edit-warring is unacceptable. Whether Grant's statement is true is utterly irrelevant, just as it is when Robert Price says there probably wasn't a historical Jesus. We don't say either of them is right, we report their views neutrally. Martijn Meijering (talk) 08:39, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
If you think the article needs a correction of Grant's 1977 statement, why don't you simply propose such a correction? That might be very worthy. . . This is probably not the place to do that, since this section is *only* to determine whether Grant's statement (as carried by the CMT article in the past) is true or false today. It's evident from what you've written that you think it's false. If you feel so strongly about Grant's statement being salvaged, what's stopping you from submitting a "correction" for general discussion?Renejs (talk) 20:45, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
I don't feel strongly about Grant, though I do believe the quote should stay (but also be made more accurate). What I feel strongly about is your blatant edit-warring. If the quote had been removed according to a consensus, then that would have been something else entirely. But as it is, four or five editors oppose your change and I haven't seen anyone but you support it. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:52, 13 January 2015 (UTC)
RfC's are generally left open for at least 30 days and are then closed by an uninvolved editor or admin. Martijn Meijering (talk) 10:09, 11 January 2015 (UTC)
RfC is an informal process ( On terminating it, the guidelines state: "The default duration of an RfC is 30 days because the RFC bot automatically delists RfCs after this time. Editors may choose to end them earlier or extend them longer. Deciding how long to leave an RfC open depends on how much interest there is in the issue and whether editors are continuing to comment" (emphasis added).Renejs (talk) 20:56, 13 January 2015 (UTC)

Due to lack of continuing comment, RfC terminated by editor per protocol above.Renejs (talk) 04:36, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

'Criticism' section should be severely trimmed

I propose to trim the 'Criticism' section to about one paragraph. What's there now is badly written, anyway, the topic is already covered in the main article on the Historicity of Jesus. Darx9url (talk) 07:17, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

Thank you Darx9url. Please would you propose a suitably-worded paragraph on the talk page, so that we can discuss it and reach consensus? Wdford (talk) 08:13, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
We could definitely improve the section. Just keep in mind that as per WP:NPOV, for any minority viewpoint, such as CMT, we must make sure that even a casual reader of the article understands that mainstream scholarship categorically rejects CMT.Jeppiz (talk) 16:17, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

I just want to draw attention to the following: the criticism section should aim to summarize -scholarly arguments- against the methodology of the CMT proponents (like Price, Doherty, Carrier, Brodie).

The expressions like the quotes by Ehrman in the article (including the comment about "six-day creationist getting a job at an academic department of biology") are far from anything academic.

(Imagine that wikipedia would give in the young-earth creationism (YEC) criticism section the following as -arguments- of scholars: the YEC people do not get jobs in academia, some scholars say that YEC theory was annihilated long time ago by first-rank scholars, and that's why it is a fringe theory ... This would be a very strange arguing, wouldn't be.)

If there is a lack of real scholarly arguments against the methodology of CMT-proponents by which they arrive at their conclusions, then this lack should be not replaced in wikipedia by derogatory remarks presented as "voice of science".

As a non-native English speaker, I also do not quite understand the precise meaning of "fringe theory". It should be certainly made clear that CMT stands against the prevalent scholarly view, but the wiki-editors have hardly any substance from academia to try to convey to the casual reader an idea that Price, Doherty, Carrier, Brodie ... use some pseudo-scholarly methods or so for drawing their conclusions.

(Btw, Ehrman also says in his book: "Jesus existed, and those vocal persons who deny it do so not because they have considered the evidence with the dispassionate eye of the historian, but because they have some other agenda that this denial serves." Unfortunately, such remarks tell us something about Ehrman, they have nothing in common with dispassionate scholar arguing with the methodology of Price, Doherty, Carrier, Brodie ....)

I can only hope that dispassionate native-English wiki-editors will give the article a more decent form. Jelamkorj (talk) 20:04, 9 January 2015 (UTC)

As it has been categorized as fringe theory already, at least on the main page, which sort of criticism you would expect to be cleared out? I have always forgot to add one quotation from Voltaire. Bladesmulti (talk) 20:09, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
The fringe tag was disputed and removed pending a new consensus. Now that I know that the tag doesn't necessarily mean it's Grassy Knoll type nonsense, just that it has very little scholarly support, I have changed my mind. I now believe the tag should be added, but obviously not until we have a new consensus. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:12, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
What, you didn't know The Smoking Man was on the grassy knoll? ;) I agree that the term "fringe" might best be removed from the template in question, and maybe replaced with "minority theory" or something like that. Part of the problem, unfortunately, like I think I said before, I have no really clear idea where the line of differentiation between a "fringe" theory and a "minority" theory lies. John Carter (talk) 20:18, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
There's a subcategory for really nutty theories. When in doubt, you could always use the parent category. Martijn Meijering (talk) 20:20, 9 January 2015 (UTC)
The Criticism section now looks much better, IMO.
On the last paragraph of that section, the footnote (#212) comes after the words "extreme view" but I've checked Grant's 1977 book and can't find that. Anybody know? The rest of the quotes are on p. 200. So ISTM that the FN is in the wrong place and should be after the word "contrary" with the page number. Also, since the "extreme view" part is not found, maybe somebody can track that down or we should consider a cn tag there.Renejs (talk) 05:38, 18 January 2015 (UTC)

Carrier and Porter

I've removed the changes that were edit-warred into the article. Whoever is in favour of them can of course argue for them, but they should not be reinserted before there is a consensus on the new version. This is purely a procedural objection.

On a substantive note, the reference to Carrier and Porter does seem like a useful addition, but the criticism section is not the right place for it. We can't offer selective rebuttals, and counterarguments belong in a separate section on the debate between proponents and opponents, should we decide to have one. Martijn Meijering (talk) 17:34, 19 January 2015 (UTC)

  1. ^ Bart Ehrman, ,Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009), pp. vii-viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
  2. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009), pp. vii-viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
  3. ^ Bart Ehrman, ,Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009), pp. vii-viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
  4. ^ Bart Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? Harper Collins, 2012, p. 12, ""In simpler terms, the historical Jesus did not exist . Or if he did, he had virtually nothing to do with the founding of Christianity." further quoting as authoritative the fuller definition provided by Earl Doherty in Jesus: Neither God Nor Man. Age of Reason, 2009, pp. vii-viii: it is "the theory that no historical Jesus worthy of the name existed, that Christianity began with a belief in a spiritual, mythical figure, that the Gospels are essentially allegory and fiction, and that no single identifiable person lay at the root of the Galilean preaching tradition."
  5. ^ "Jesus Outside the New Testament" Robert E. Van Voorst, 2000, p=8-9
  6. ^ Richard Dawkins. The God Delusion. p. 122. ISBN 1-4303-1230-0.
  7. ^ God is Not Great, Christopher Hitchens, 2007, Chapter 8
  8. ^ "The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David" Thomas L. Thompson Basic Book Perseus Books' 2005
  9. ^ The Pagan Christ, Tom Harpur, 2004
  10. ^ Cite error: The named reference DunnPaul35 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  11. ^ Jesus Now and Then by Richard A. Burridge and Graham Gould (Apr 1, 2004) ISBN 0802809774 page 34
  12. ^ Jesus by Michael Grant 2004 ISBN 1898799881 page 200
  13. ^ The Gospels and Jesus by Graham Stanton, 1989 ISBN 0192132415 Oxford University Press, page 145
  14. ^ Cite error: The named reference voorst16 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  15. ^ Did Jesus Exist?:The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth. HarperCollins, USA. 2012. ISBN 978-0-06-220460-8.
  16. ^ B. Ehrman, 2011 Forged : writing in the name of God ISBN 978-0-06-207863-6. page 285
  17. ^ Jesus Remembered by James D. G. Dunn 2003 ISBN 0-8028-3931-2 page 339 states of baptism and crucifixion that these "two facts in the life of Jesus command almost universal assent".
  18. ^ Cite error: The named reference Hertzog1 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  19. ^ Crossan, John Dominic (1995). Jesus: A Revolutionary Biography. HarperOne. p. 145. ISBN 0-06-061662-8. That he was crucified is as sure as anything historical can ever be, since both Josephus and Tacitus ... agree with the Christian accounts on at least that basic fact.
  20. ^ Jesus as a Figure in History: How Modern Historians View the Man from Galilee by Mark Allan Powell 1998 ISBN 0-664-25703-8 pages 168–173
  21. ^ Is This Not the Carpenter?: The Question of the Historicity of the Figure of Jesus, Ed. By Thomas L. Thompson and Thomas S. Verenna, 2012
  22. ^ Davies' article Does Jesus Exist? at