Talk:Christ myth theory/Archive 7

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Archive 6 Archive 7 Archive 8

Page is locked, locking horns won't help

The page is locked due to edit warring. The problem is that one side seems to want to use every stray paragraph to get in a dig against a scholarly hypothesis they disagree with and one side doesn't wnat that to happen. Based upon NPOV policy the article simply cannot be used as an attempt to advance certain editors' views in a slanted way. Simply stating that it's a minority viewpoint and having a section with criticism is all that's needed to accurately represent the criticism. Insisting that such criticism be more dramatic than that (trying to claim that no serious scholar believes it, presenting some author's opinions as if they were facts, etc.) is a violation of NPOV, and simply will not fly. It's not like one side is trying to use the article to push the view that this hypothesis is right, it's merely trying to have it explained objectively without people feeling the need to have the article insult it all the way through.

Right now, with the complete inability from one side to admit that they had any problems at all, when this page is unlocked I see no reason to think that it won't be back to edit warring again. At some point the side that wants it to be sure that people know it's a minority viewpoint is going to have to agree on a less severe way of doing so, without violating NPOV in the process and turning the article into their personal soapbox. So start hammering out the details on how to do that instead of just ignoring the other side completely so that you can try to get your POV into the article all over. DreamGuy (talk) 14:25, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree wholeheartedly with your comment, DreamGuy. Though I don't really ever edit Wikipedia, I read it often, and this is the one of the more non-NPOV articles I have seen in quite a while.
From the perspective of an outsider to the disputes contained herein, nearly every single paragraph seems to end with a refutation of the Jesus Myth hypothesis in some form or another. I understand the argument that this is because the Jesus Myth is not a widely accepted hypothesis among historians and/or theologians. But that alone does not justify such repetition as appears here. Sometimes the organization of information alone can detract from NPOV, and paragraph after paragraph of point+rebuttal makes this read like the closing statement of the defense in some landmark legal case regarding the existence of Jesus instead of an encyclopedia article.
At the very least, why doesn't someone regroup all criticism of the Jesus Myth hypothesis into one section, rather than scatter it liberally throughout the body of the article? I notice that despite two sections on proponents there is no section on opponents. Even an extremely long section of criticisms or views of opponents would be more NPOV than the current structure.
I also understand that there is, and will always be, a lack of consensus on what constitutes valid scholarship on this issue. So let's be honest with ourselves right now: it is senseless for Christians and non-Christians to argue over who is right, as nobody is ever going to be convinced of anything, especially on a Wikipedia talk page. Christians will think secular scholarship is biased against spirituality, and non-Christians will think Christian scholarship begs the question.
In light of this lack of consensus, might I humbly suggest that we divide this article into sections on the views of secular historians and Bible scholars on the Jesus Myth hypothesis? I suspect that these views will end up differing systematically, and their separation would in addition be convenient, as it would allow readers of the article to choose for themselves which sources they regard as credible or worthy of consideration. This, in my view, would be a superior form of organization of this article compared to the current chronological configuration. It might go: 1) Intro, 2) Specific arguments of the hypothesis, 3) Proponents' views, 4) Opponents views, etc.
Just my two cents. Thanks for listening, everyone! Indnwkybrd (talk) 16:45, 5 August 2008 (UTC) (edit: formatting)

The recent reverts focused on the lead and two sections of the article, so I'm a bit puzzled why DreamGuy is complaining about criticism in "every stray paragraph"--as far as I know, everything in the "specific arguments of the hypothesis" section has been there for awhile. I think there's consensus to remove criticisms from that section--I certainly wouldn't object. In fact, as I've said several times already, I think that entire section needs to go, and the article should adopt a chronological format, following the development of the theory from Bauer to Drews/Robinson/etc., and wind up with recent versions a la Wells and Doherty. With such a format, critical reaction to each author would be located in the appropriate section. There's a start of such a version at User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:39, 5 August 2008 (UTC)

Agree. Better than my idea.Indnwkybrd (talk) 18:05, 5 August 2008 (UTC)
When are we planning to exchange the draft for this article?
To be truthful, though, the best way to stop the edit warring would be for editors such as DreamGuy and BruceGrubb to stop crying "Conspiracy!" at every turn. Because honestly, DreamGuy, you are completely misrepresenting the editing dispute.Not even Mr. Lister's Koromon survived intact. 00:27, 8 August 2008 (UTC)
    • this isn't exactly a conflict between 'secular historians" and "Bible scholars" everyone else. True, it would be difficult to be a Christian in a traditional sense and subscribe to this hypothesis. But it is certainly possible to be a Bible scholar and not be a Christian--indeed, to be one and an atheist--indeed further, to be one and subscribe fully to this hypothesis. In the other direction, it is possible to be wholly secular and even an atheist--and even, conceivable, strongly anti-christian, and still not subscribe to it, and think the person existed and had an influence. Let's not over-simplify this, and turn it not a christian/secular controversy. Secular views of Jesus cover a very wide spectrum indeed. And their are many views on spirituality and even christian spirituality that are neither Biblical nor Secular. 01:25, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

We could be suspicious of the COI of Christians editing this page, as it may seem difficult to be a Christian in a traditional sense and subscribe to this hypothesis. But you can indeed even be Christian without subscribing to that the Gospels irrefutably prove the historicity of Jesus. Faith in Jesus is sufficient. Terjen (talk) 02:44, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

As DGG says, this isn't a conflict between Christians and atheists. The majority of mainstream historians, regardless of creed, regard the JMH as an strange idea (and we actually have sources saying this!). The constant insinuations of COI, against both Wikipedia editors and secondary sources, are a bit odd.
By the way, the article doesn't really cover it well, but some proponents of the non-historicity thesis were Christians, and hoped that seeing Christ as a non-historical figure would revitalize Christianity, or lead to a more vital form of religion. So it's certainly possible that one might be nominally a Christian and subscribe to the theory. --Akhilleus (talk) 02:53, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
There is however a quite possible conflict of interest if a Christian editor's religious beliefs rely on the Gospels as infallible and inerrant proof of Jesus historicity. Terjen (talk) 04:10, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
On that standard, there's a possibility of conflict of interest if an anti-Christian editor's non-religious beliefs lead him or her to think that (supposedly) Christian scholars aren't reliable sources. But I don't really think this is the kind of thing that the COI policy was created for: it's essentially to prevent corporate officers and PR people from spamming Wikipedia, to prevent authors from promoting their books, musicians from promoting their bands, etc. Most of the allegations of COI on this article are actually allegations of religious bias, and as far as I can see are simply veiled personal attacks. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:19, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Christians may easily be begging the question when it comes to the historicity of Jesus, which may cast doubts on theologians as reliable sources. Although that problem isn't limited to Christians in a culture in which Jesus historicity usually is taken for granted. A potential COI would be if a Christian edited for the purpose of furthering or defending christian beliefs rather than get the facts on the table in a NPOV manner, perhaps by presenting the Jesus myth in a manner that makes it look like a toothless or ridiculous challenge to historicity. Terjen (talk) 06:05, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
At some point, I hope that the editors working on this article will realize that not everyone who works on the history of Christianity is a theologian. People who write about the historical Jesus do so as historians. If I write a book about classical Greek religion, does that make me a pagan? Because by the logic that's employed by many editors here, writing about a religion must mean you're a believer in that religion (and are therefore automatically biased). --Akhilleus (talk) 14:30, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I do not mean to imply that everyone who works on the history of Christianity is a theologian. Obviously, some that work in the area are theologians, for which the last sentence in my comment is meant to apply. I do not disagree that many who write about the historical Jesus do so as historians. Terjen (talk) 14:41, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Great. Then we have no problem; Van Voorst, Stanton, Charlesworth, and the other scholars cited in the article and on this talk page are writing as historians, and your worries about theologians are not applicable in these cases. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:45, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Not disputed. Terjen (talk) 15:00, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
However some statements of Van Voorst can be shown to have logic holes lager enough to fly the Hindenburg through, Charlesworth's statement is simply an Ad hominem attack and therefore totally useless (not to mention borderline libel as it basically states that Robert M. Price (a Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies) but also Alvar Ellegard (former Dean of the Faculty of Art University of Goteborg, Sweden), Frank R. Zindler (a professor though admittedly of biology and geology), and Thomas "Tom" Harpur (former New Testament professor of University of Toronto) are not "reputable scholars"). Per the Biographies of living persons requirement ("Editors must take particular care adding biographical material about a living person to any Wikipedia page" [...] Editors should avoid repeating gossip. Ask yourself whether the source is reliable; whether the material is being presented as true; and whether, even if true, it is relevant to an encyclopedia article about the subject.) and Wikipedia:Libel requirements (The goal of Wikipedia is to create an encyclopedic information source adhering to a neutral point of view, with all information being referenced through the citation of reliable published sources, so as to maintain a standard of verifiability.) this quote is NOT usable especially as the source was edited by Charlesworth (ie self published), published by a firm with strong religions leanings (questionable source), and fails both the Biographies of living persons and Wikipedia:Libel requirements. Only Stanton is really useful in this regard.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:12, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
This is a remarkably uncompelling argument. Charlesworth is an expert in biblical archaeology, and much better qualified than any of us to say which opinions belong to reputable scholars and which don't. If readers want to decide that Charlesworth is wrong because Price and Ellegard have academic posts, that's fine, but that's not a reason to remove the quote. It certainly isn't a BLP violation. If you want more input on this, please take the matter to the BLP noticeboard rather than have an extended discussion here. --Akhilleus (talk) 16:38, 15 September 2008 (UTC)
Akhilleus, there is nothing on Charlesworth's own page at Princeton Theological Seminary that says he is an "expert in biblical archaeology". All it does say is that he is a "Professor of New Testament Language and Literature and director and editor of the Seminary’s Dead Sea Scrolls Project" NONE of which makes him an expert in ANY form of archaeology biblical or otherwise (now anthropology you might have a reasonable case). Then you find out he is "An ordained Methodist minister, he is active in the United Methodist Church Greek Orthodox and Methodist Symposia and directs the Syrus Sinaiticus Project at St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai." This page practically screams COI for this source; nevermind that not one single article by him or using his name can be found through the admittedly small journal list of anthrosource which does produce some 20 articles (including book reviews) regarding the Dead Sea Scrolls going all the way back to the 1960s.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:52, 17 September 2008 (UTC)


Is there still any will to switch this article over to the new article being developed at User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis? If so, when will it happen? I do think that the different format and tone do a decent job of circumventing some of these questions of legitimacy by presenting material more neutrally and letting the reader decide for himself what is theology and what is not, etc. 71.70.158.69 (talk) 18:46, 14 August 2008 (UTC)

I agree that the User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis article is far superior to what exists now though it stops around 1925. It goes into the history and avoids the issues that clutter up this article and the multiple sections each with it comment that this is a fringe theory.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:04, 15 August 2008 (UTC)


Assumptions vs Conclusions

I am concerned about the possibility of confusing the assumptions and conclusions of cited scholars supporting the historicity of Jesus. Specifically, some scholars may make the assumption that Jesus was a historical person, yet we may present it as their conclusion, or at least use it as part of the appeal to authority argument in defense of historicity. It's a reasonable assumption for a scholar in the Humanities to assume a priori that Jesus was a historical person (like we quote Frazer affirming) - they may do that with other characters in recorded history too. But that doesn't mean historicity is the scholars conclusion based on critical research. Although I have argued that Christians aren't strictly required to believe in historicity, it's likely that a theologian will assume historicity, making them less reliable as authoritative sources. Terjen (talk) 05:51, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

I think this is painting Theology with too broad a brush. For example, "Rebuting Missionaries" by Hayyim ben Yehoshua makes the claim "In the Far East where the major religions are Buddhism, Shinto, Taoism and Confucianism, Jesus is considered to be just another character in Western religious mythology, on a par with Thor, Zeus and Osiris. Most Hindus do not believe in Jesus, but those who do consider him to be one of the many avatars of the Hindu god Vishnu." If true this would put a Buddhist, Shinto, or Taoist theologian on a different level than a Christian theologian (On a side note, Confucianism strictly speaking is not a religion but a philosophy though Westerners sometimes forget that.)
That said I think the appeal to authority nonsense in this article is lessening. The one sentence Ad hominem blurbs by Grant and Campbell are now gone and things to some degree are improving.--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:23, 15 August 2008 (UTC)

"However, in anthropology the situation appears to be different..."

I've reverted this addition by BruceGrubb, where he cites an article by Roland Fischer, because it's not legitimate to conclude that the entire field of anthropology holds an opinion based on a single article in an out-of-the-way journal. On his talk page, Bruce indicates that this paper is not widely cited, which suggests that it's not a notable or influential contribution. Reading the article suggests that it never will be notable or influential: it's confusingly written, demonstrates very little familiarity with the literature on the historical Jesus, and on p. 17 appears to say something directly opposed to what Bruce thinks the article says:

Who was then "Jesus the Jew"? Was he a fiction that became flesh or was he of flesh and bones to become narrative fiction? Jesus, the Galilean Jew, was independent-minded, unscholarly (compared with Jerusalem Pharisees), "charismatic," a hasid, exorcist, healer, popular teacher--in short, a remarkable and in many ways admirable representative of a known type of first-century Judaism. It was a type not much approved of by official Judaism, and totally ignored by subsequent Christian dogmatism (Vermes 1983:15-29).

Note the citation to Vermes, a noted scholar on the historical Jesus--Fischer seems to endorse Vermes' picture of who the real Jesus was, which is pretty different than the claim that there's "not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived..."

Of course, given BruceGrubb's track record on this talk page, I believe we're entitled to wonder whether he read any of Fischer's article beyond the abstract. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:58, 22 August 2008 (UTC)

Considering YOUR track record regarding Grant quoting other authors I would not be the one to throw stones, Akhilleus. Furthermore you are misrepresenting what my talk pages says. I do NOT say the 'that this paper is not widely cited' but rather "Crosschecking via link anthrosource shows only one paper that uses a "Fischer, Roland" as a reference and than is Tara W. Lumpkin's 2001 "Perceptual Diversity: Is Polyphasic Consciousness Necessary for Global Survival?" which as the abstract shows deals with perceptual diversity beyond that through everyday waking reality." I make NO connection that this is the same Fischer, Roland that wrote the earlier paper nor do I state that this is the paper that is referenced. You are making claims about things that are not even stated to try and salvage your position.
Also I see you happily skipped the earlier part of the article which says "It is not possible to compare the above (several quotes regarding Jesus by several authors) with what we have, namely, that there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived." It then talks about the Testimonium Flavianum cutting off the public accessible part of the article just before it gets to the part where the forgery statement is cited. Now that certainly doesn't support the idea that Fischer supports the idea of a historical Jesus that is different than that of the Gospels. If Fischer was arguing along those lines why use the term 'historical' rather than 'Biblical'? To put it simply, your logic fall down and go boom.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:51, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Also we should note that one person does not represent the consensus in "anthropology", and his reliability depends on the relevance of his own expertise and of the journal. The fact that a journal is a reliable source for one topic does not meran that it is for another. The Journal of Consciousness is presumably of value for that topic, but not for ancient history, gardening tips or anything else. Paul B (talk) 15:26, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
Fischer, judging by his other publications, seems to be a psychologist who came to prominence in the 1960s, with an interest in psychedelic spirituality, altered states of consciousness etc and is linked to New Age writers. Paul B (talk) 15:37, 22 August 2008 (UTC)
All I see is an thinly disguised Ad hominem with more smoke and mirror than David Copperfield and nothing addressing the actual statement made in both the abstract and the body of the text available to any non-AAA member (that is American Anthropological Association not American Automobile Association) who doesn't want to cough up $12.00 to read the whole thing. I also see you have in some totally inconceivable way confused the Journal of Consciousness Studies (ie "Journal of Consciousness") with the Anthropology of Consciousness; these are totally different publications with the Anthropology of Consciousness being connected with the very prestigious American Anthropological Association. Regarding Roland Fisher, I tried to see if I could pull up anything about him before adding this and got over whelmed by the number of Roland Fishers I found: a businessman, Roland L. Fischer who published "A Palearctic Springtail, Lepidocyrtus paradoxus Uzel, Found in North America (Collembola: Mydontidae)" in 1964; a Roland L. Fisher PHd. who is a professor a Ohio State's College of Medicine and College of Optometry and Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, a German photographer of that name, a mathematician of that name whose lecture notes connection mathematics and anthropology may be online, one cited in the book The Anthropology of Experience from a 1971 paper, and well you get the point. There is nothing that connects these various people named Roland Fisher together other than their name. You may have found a Roland Fisher who published for the "Journal of Consciousness" (sic) but there NOTHING connecting him to the Roland Fisher I sited. The fact you can't even get the name of the publication right makes me suspect your research on this matter is next to nil.--BruceGrubb (talk) 09:51, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Bruce, you're not addressing many of my or Paul's points. Let's try again:
  • The journal is about the anthopology of consciousness, not the history of religion; the article might be an ok source for the psychology of religion, but the journal is not the kind of place you'd look for an article on the history of Christianity.
  • Fischer appears to have no particular expertise in the history of Christianity. For all your kvetching, Bruce, it looks like Paul has found the correct Roland Fischer, although he's was a experimental psychiatrist/pharmacologist (not a psychologist), and is certainly the person whose bio appears on this page (the address given in Mallorca is the same as that on the cited paper). Interesting career, but there's nothing there to suggest that Fischer is an expert on the history of religion.
  • Fischer's main argument "that there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived" is that the Testimonium Flavianum is a forgery. In support of this Fischer cites Emil Schürer's The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ, and notes that he's relying on the original German edition of 1890. Is it possible that someone's written on this topic since 1890?
  • Also note that Fischer provides no arguments of his own on the authenticity of the Testimonium, but relies on other sources. Hasn't this page been the site of interminable complaints about Michael Grant's (alleged) reliance on "statements that are not his own"? How is this different?
  • Fischer doesn't seem familiar with the vast amount of scholarship on the historical Jesus. His material on the Testimonium is one example, the fact that he only cites Vermes in answer to the question "Who was then 'Jesus the Jew'?" is another example.
  • On the other hand, Fischer cites Vermes in such a way that makes it look like there was a historical Jesus--I reproduced the quote above. This is a direct contradiction to what Bruce claims the article says. (I'm still wondering whether Bruce has read the full text of the article, or just the part that's accessible to non-subscribers.)
  • Ok, so I misunderstood what Bruce was saying on his talk page. That means we have no evidence that this article has been cited by subsequent scholarship, and no evidence that it's had any impact within the field of anthropology or anywhere else.
So, basically, this is an article written by a non-expert, that doesn't engage with most of the recent literature on the topic, that doesn't seem to have had a significant impact on the field, and that doesn't say what BruceGubb wants it to say anyway. I see no reason why we should use it. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:09, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
So, basically, you don't want to use it because it disagrees with the POV you've been clearly pushing in this article for ages now. You don't get to remove cites to reliable sources just because you disagree with them. DreamGuy (talk) 17:02, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Um, no, DreamGuy, that's not what I said. It would be nice if you read my post and bothered to respond to my arguments, instead of labeling me a POV-pusher. (What POV are you accusing me of, by the way?) --Akhilleus (talk) 19:00, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, Akhilleus that is what you are saying. There is no evidence that Charlesworth whose self-published comment in a book printed by a publisher with religions leaning out the wazoo you keep supporting even has a degree in archeology or anthropology (so he can hardly be called an "expert" in either of those fields) and yet you throw out peer reviewed journal article printed by the American Anthropological Association because of your claims the quote does not say what they say. Sorry, but that is not how Wikipedia works. DreamGuy is right, you do seem to have a POV ax to grind.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:41, 23 September 2008 (UTC)
Without particularly addressing the Fischer quote, historians and theologians aren't the only scholars relevant for the entry: anthropology is also an applicable field. We are thus not limited to quoting journals on the history of Christianity, and it is not reasonable to throw out the Fischer quote based on his article being published in a peer reviewed journal of anthropology. Terjen (talk) 22:36, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
I can't get to a library which carries Anthropology of Consciousness until next week, but if Fischer only cites the original edition of Schürer's History, that suggests he and his reviewers had very limited familiarity with the relevant literature. The 1973-1987 revised edition of the history, edited by Géza Vermes and Fergus Millar, argues that the Testimonium Flavianum is partly authentic and the later mention of Jesus in Antiquities 20.200 is entirely authentic (vol. 1, pp. 428-441). EALacey (talk) 18:00, 28 August 2008 (UTC)
Considering that Isaac Mayer Wise in 1868 (The Origin of Christianity), Richard M. Mitchell in 1893, and John E. Remsberg in 1909 (The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence) all argued 20.200 was a forgery inserted later (using vastly different reasons) with Richard M. Mitchell expressly stating and Remsberg hinting the James referred to was brother of Jesus, the son of Damneus who later became High Priest there would appear to be problems with an "entirely authentic" statement regarding 20.200. Of course it all has to do with the point the scholar is making there; I have journal articles from the mid 1980's citing stuff was early as 1880's but they tend to be regarding the history of a particular subfield. On an ironic note, Howard Carter never published his greatest discovery in a peer reviewed journal. Aside from the detailed notes Carter and his group made, all we have is the insanely huge three volume The Tomb of Tut-Ankh-Amen which is more along the lines of personal memoirs than a scholarly paper but all the main details are there. The problem is there is little real synthesis involved; it is almost like someone gave you the raw data on a dig and said have fun.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:36, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

I must say I endorse the removal of the quote. It is obviously a misplaced random soundbite that doesn't add any value whatsoever to a discussion of the "Jesus myth hypothesis". Also, no serious historian would subscribe to the wild comment that "there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived". Compare this to "there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character called Brian born next door to Jesus lived", which is a true statement to appreciate that we do indeed have such "shreds" for Jesus, even if they aren't beyond doubt. --dab (𒁳) 19:19, 24 August 2008 (UTC)

If the statement wasn't in a peer-reviewed journal you would have a point, BUT it does appear in a peer-reviewed journal which puts it at high man on Wiki's Reliable sources totem pole. I should add that comparing Fischer to Grant is apples to oranges. Fischer is making his statements using quotes to back them up in a peer review journal while Michael Grant's "quotes" were in a 1977 popular book published by Charles Scribner's Sons and Scribner for the 1995 edition and were really verbatim quotes of the conclusions of Otto Betz What do We Know about Jesus? which was published by S.C.M. Press--a religious book publisher, and Rodney Dunkerley Beyond the Gospels which was published by Pelican Book in 1957 and Penguin in 1961. The quotes attributed to Grant were in fact two other people using publishing houses that really didn't meet the wiki guildlines for reliable sources. In a nutshell the Grant quotes were an argument from authority using Grant's credentials and Scribner's reputation to foster on to us what were really the claims of two other authors who credentials were unknown and nobody knew how those authors got to their conclusions.
I should mention that by the logic you are presenting we should all believe there really was a John Frum who showed himself to the Vanuatu people in the 1930's because there are shreds of evidence to this effect. How about the shreds of evidence that Erich von Däniken produced that Earth was was visited by aliens? Better yet how about all the shreds of evidence that JKF was not killed by Lee Harvey Oswald but rather a) the Russians, b) the CIA, c) the Mob, d) Castro, or some mixture of a through d? The reductio ad absurdum of these positions should hammer home the idea that accepting "shreds of evidence" of questionable value is not good science regardless of it being physical or social. Miner demonstrated with his "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" that sometimes the very model you use to study something can have a profound effect on the interpretation you come out of the study with. Much the same thing happened with the African Kinship model being the model for all 'primitive' people; it turned out that many of the 'fits' were due to certain bias inherent in the model or in the anthropologists who tried to fit what they saw to the model. Let me say that no "serious" historian should accept any document as an historical record without evaluating it first but it seams everyone has their own idea on the quality of the Gospels (canonal and non canonal), who may have written them, when they were written, and so on. There are so many variables that it is not funny.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:07, 24 August 2008 (UTC)
For those who haven't followed the tedious and interminable complaints about Michael Grant (occupying major portions of archives 12-15), let me point out that BruceGrubb is seriously misrepresenting what Grant says, to the point where I have to assume that he hasn't read the quote in question, but is rather relying on this criticism by Earl Doherty. Despite what Bruce says, Grant makes substantive arguments against the JMH, in particular against Wells' version of it (see this post by EALacey). The quotes from Betz and Dunkerley are rhetorical coloring, not building blocks of the argument--his argument would be unaffected if the quotes were absent. The argument that Grant is merely parroting other sources is pure BS.
Also, Bruce's characterization of Betz and Dunkerley is wrong. Otto Betz was certainly an expert on early Christian history and theology, so anything he published on these subjects easily meets the standard for a reliable source. Of course, What do We Know about Jesus? was published by SCM Press, which Bruce characterizes as a "religious book publisher", but is probably better described as "the UK's best-known publisher of academic theology." SCM's website goes on to say: "Many 20th Century bestsellers carried the SCM name,as did the first English translations of pioneering continental theologians such as Barth, Bonhoeffer, Bultmann, Moltmann and Schillebeeck." This press is clearly of high quality, and its publications obviously satisfy our criteria for reliable sources and verifiability. (Of course, Betz's work was originally published in German, but I don't know which press.) As for Dunkerley, I can't find much information on his qualifications, but Penguin is a fine press, and Jesus Beyond the Gospels is widely cited in academic literature, so it's also a reliable source.
As for John Frum, who's of questionable relevance here, there almost certainly was no person named John Frum who manifested himself to the people of Tanna, but it seems like there was someone who claimed to be John Frum who was involved in the beginning of the cult (the Wikipedia article says it was a man named Manehevi). There's the distinction between the John Frum of faith and the John Frum of history, if you like... --Akhilleus (talk) 04:08, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
The actual quotes used in the wiki article were not Grant but rather than Grant quoting Betz and Dunkerley. The fact those quotes are no longer used in this article should tell you what the consensus on their quality was. If you google SCM books you get "SCM Press - buy religious books online" and "SCM Canterbury Press - buy religious books online; Religious Book Publishers" as your first hits and if you go to SCM Press' main web page and open the source for their web page you will see why Google is producing such wonky results: "meta name="description" content="Religious Book Publishers. Buy books now using our secure online ordering" In short, via the meta code that web browsers use as descriptors SCM press is presenting itself to John Q. Surfer as "Religious Book Publishers" not as 'academic theology'; never mind that "well-known" doesn't always translate to "scholarly'. Also, Akhilleus, cuts off his quote before it get to the kicker: "We are also keen to provide accessible and rigorous text books, reference books, and other high-quality resources for students and clergy alike. Furthermore, SCM Press' other imprints are Canterbury Press ("a fast-growing supplier of popular religious books, resources and gift stationery for the general, religious and church markets.", Epworth ("With roots in John Wesley's 'Christian Library', Epworth publishes 10-12 new titles a year on the Bible, worship, contemporary Christian issues and Methodism"), and REMP ("Books and resources for school Religious Education and Collective Worship." The COI SCM Press has regarding the Historical Jesus issue is clear to anyone who looks deep enough.
Let us not forget Dunkerley though in his effort to salvage Otto Betz and totally miss the point about John Frum Akhilleus seems to have. The key point is that in conflicts between Wikipedia:Verifiability and Wikipedia:Reliable sources the first takes precedence as explained on Verifiability: "For a guideline discussing the reliability of particular types of sources, see Wikipedia:Reliable sources (WP:RS). Because policies take precedence over guidelines, in the case of an inconsistency between this page and that one, this page has priority, and WP:RS should be updated accordingly." Furthermore, Verifiability states "In general, the most reliable sources are peer-reviewed journals and books published in university presses; usually followed by university-level textbooks; then by magazines, journals, and books published by respected publishing houses; then by mainstream newspapers. Special cases may arise; and editors should be careful not to exclude a point of view merely because it lacks academic credentials." (emphasis mine). Now notability only becomes an issue regarding self-published material which acceptable by established expert on the topic of the article whose work in the relevant field has previously been published by reliable third-party publications. (emphasis wiki's)--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:39, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

Good lord... Some editor is seriously trying to claim that "Also, no serious historian would subscribe to the wild comment that "there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived"" -- If you are so out of the loop that you not only don't realize serious historians HAVE and DO say this, then that's your bias coming through and nothing else. The quote is by a serious historian. If you choose to insist that the person isn't serious because you disagree, then you are setting yourself up as the be all and end all of what counts as serious or not. That's completely against about five different major Wikipedia policies right there. It's a reliable source saying something pertinent to the article. Whether you disagree with it or not doesn't matter. In fact WP:NPOV policy is quite clear on this. Your circular argument that no serious scholar says something and if someone says it they must not be a serious scholar is just an incredibly obvious logical flaw. An intellectual bias can't dictate the content of this article. DreamGuy (talk) 18:15, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

Good lord. If you really are so seriously out of the loop that you believe the JMT to be significant among historians then I suggest you read some literature on the topic. Are you also so seriously unware of the content of this debate that you think this individual is a historian? Raise this issue on the Reliable sources noticeboard if you wish, and check policy. A reliable source on one topic is not on another wholly unrelated one. Paul B (talk) 09:15, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
We would love to read some peer reviewed journal quality literature on the Pro Historical Jesus, Paul so why not provide some references of that type of literature that has been written in the last 20 years? --BruceGrubb (talk) 11:39, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Van Voorst, Charlesworth, Burridge, and Stanton are cited in the article, wrote in the last 20 years, and are experts in the field. I'm sure someone is going to complain that they didn't publish in peer-reviewed journals, but instead went with fly-by-night outfits like the Oxford University Press, W. B. Eerdmans. Apparently, there's some clause I missed in WP:V or WP:RS that says that academic monographs by well-known experts aren't as useful for us as articles in journals outside the subject. Was that in the fine print somewhere? --Akhilleus (talk) 14:11, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Paul please tell us just what part of peer reviewed journal quality literature didn't you get? By the kind of logic you and Akhilleus are presenting we should take Dr. E. Jerry Vardaman's claim's regarding micro lettering on a certain coin as the truth especially since John McRay uses it despite David Hendlin having wrote "Theory of Secret Inscriptions on Coins is Disputed," The Celator 5:3, March 1991, 28-32) which question the claims Vardaman was making and then Richard Carrier produced a picture of said coin in "Pseudohistory in Jerry Vardaman's magic coins: the nonsense of micro graphic letters - Critical Essay" in (of all things) the Skeptical Inquirer. Can't use David Hendlin because he isn't an expert in archaeology while Vardaman and McRay are experts in that field, can't use Richard Carrier either as he isn't a scholar and certainly because the only pictures are coming from Skeptical Inquirer and self published web page. Never mind that Vardaman never published a peer reviewed journal quality paper on his discovery. Anybody else see the apparent ridiculousness, utter insanity, and near Bermuda Triangle Planet Twilight Zone logic of this position? I should point out that Oxford University Press also publishes Bibles (especially the King James Bible which the Crown still owns the copyright as far as the UK goes) and that the UK only scraped its blasphemy laws in May 2008; so there are several problems Oxford University Press has with regards to the Jesus Myth issue (Cambridge University Press had and has much the same problems). Eerdmans Publishing Company's internet meta tags read "Publisher of religious books, from academic works in theology, biblical studies, religious history and reference to popular titles in spirituality, social and cultural criticism, and literature." so here again we have COI issues. Also the danger of using a publisher's own web page as criteria is seen by Prometheus Books who present themselves as "a leader in publishing books for the educational, scientific, professional, library, popular, and consumer markets since 1969. Prometheus is dedicated to providing consumers the opportunity to read thoughtful and authoritative books in a wide variety of categories." Why does this matter a hill of beans? Guess who printed G. A. Wells' The Historical Evidence for Jesus in 1988 and Robert M. Price's Incredible Shrinking Son of Man: How Reliable Is the Gospel Tradition? in 2003? Yep you guessed it: Prometheus Books.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:29, 27 August 2008 (UTC)
Just what part of peer reviewed journal quality literature didn't you get? As I say, we have a reliable sources noticeboard. Raise it there and see what short shrift you get. A journal of Nuclear Physics is not a reliable source on Ancient Egypt. Geddit? It's sources for courses. I advise you to take it to the board. Here is the link: Wikipedia:Reliable sources/Noticeboard‎. Paul B (talk) 23:44, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Typical strawman argument as I have already stated that when Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Verifiability come into conflict Wiki makes it quite clear Verifiability wins hands down. Also, the journal in question is Anthropology of Consciousness NOT "Journal of Consciousness" as you called it (which looks like a reference to the Journal of Consciousness Studies) so the relationship is a LOT CLOSER to the Jesus Myth than the strawman 'Nuclear Physics is not a reliable source on Ancient Egypt' you presented. It is even closer than the relevance of Geology on the age of the Sphinx. Finally, the term "Consciousness" is used outside the Anthropology of Consciousness in the journals American Anthropologist, American Ethnologist, and Cultural Anthropology as demonstrated by anybody who looks for the term in Anthrosource. So unless you are trying to say 'Consciousness' has become the new 'culture' in the field of anthropology (ie like Humpy Dumpty in In Through the Looking Glass meaning whatever we want it to mean to the point is has no meaning out of context) your argument has no relevance to the issue. I might add if you had bothered to read Miner, Cole, Dunnel, Kirch, Wenke, Charlton, Meltzer, Davis, Naroll, Simmons, and Schroder rather than accuse me of name dropping you might have a better understanding of the field of anthropology and how it all interconnects.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:59, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

"Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Verifiability come into conflict Wiki makes it quite clear Verifiability wins hands down." What utter baloney. This statement makes no sense whatsoever. An unreliable verifiable source is worthless. Cut the bombast and raise it on the board. Stop talkoing the talk and walk the walk. Paul B (talk) 10:11, 1 September 2008 (UTC)

"Wikipedia:Reliable sources and Wikipedia:Verifiability come into conflict Wiki makes it quite clear Verifiability wins hands down." What utter baloney. This statement makes no sense whatsoever." It is a restating of this: "Because policies take precedence over guidelines, in the case of an inconsistency between this page and that one, this page has priority, and WP:RS should be updated accordingly." Also, Verifiability has policies regarding both Reliable Sources and Questionable (ie unreliable) Sources. A peer reviewed journal like Anthropology of Consciousness published by the AAA is a Reliable Source while newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, blogs, knols, forum postings, self published works, and the like fall under Questionable (ie unreliable) Sources. Trying to say Anthropology of Consciousness is on par with the Star or National Enquirer is beyond insane and shows a clear POV attitude.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:39, 2 September 2008 (UTC)
I really can't understand how someone can be so, shall we say, naive, that they can't even understand that they are making a circular argument. The precedence of policy over giudelines is irrelevant. The verifiability policy asserts that the source has to be reliable. The guideline on reliable sources tell us what is reliable. So the guideline is by definition a necessary condition to follow the policy. You are presupposing the outcome by already assuming the reliability when the only way to determine reliability is to follow the guidelines! This should be obvious to anyone who is half awake. Paul B (talk) 14:01, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
"The precedence of policy over guidelines is irrelevant." Good grief do you even read what you write? Claiming this is totally nuts and proves you that have a POV ax to grind.--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:33, 22 September 2008 (UTC)

On the matter of sources, I note that a number of Websites have been added to the article for further reading, both 'Websites arguing for the Jesus myth' and 'Websites arguing for a historical Jesus'. SI understand that these can be self published works or personal Websites since they're not being used as references, but can we at least establish some kind of quality control? Gary Habermas and Christopher Price are good choices for pro side, and Doherty, Barker, and Carrier are good choices for the no side, but the almost completely unreferenced shriekings of 'www. jesus never existed .com' are embarrassing at best, and hysterical at worst. I also note that the number of 'Websites arguing for the Jesus myth' is more than double the number of 'Websites arguing for a historical Jesus'. There's a really sound and rational reason for this I suppose. What is it? --Taiwan boi (talk) 06:26, 3 September 2008 (UTC)

To be fair the pro Historical Jesus sites have their share of embarrassing and hysterical people; www. forerunner. com which has DVDs and a lot of youtube videos comes to mind as does the very sloppy work of Lee Strobel (leestrobel.com) and Josh McDowell (josh.org). Also, saying Kenneth Humphreys is doing "unreferenced shrieking" at his website does not take into account the audience. Carl Sagan's Demon Haunted World and Cosmos don't have references peppered throughout the text either but like Humphreys they do have source bibliographies broken down by chapter. Sure Humphreys does go a bit overboard at times but he is nothing like the borderline rabid ax-grinding you get from Joseph Wheless' Forgery In Christianity which tends to have more references in a chapter then most people put in their whole book.--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:19, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Grubb, you're off topic. I'm talking about the sites which are actually linked in the article under 'Websites arguing for a historical Jesus'. The 'forerunner' site is not one of them. The three links which are given are to Price, Habermas, and Craig. These are good quality links. There are no 'embarrassing and hysterical people' linked to in the section 'Websites arguing for a historical Jesus'. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for the 'Websites arguing for the Jesus myth' section. Humphreys certainly caters for the tin foil hat brigade, but this article should be above that. His 'bibliography' is useless since he doesn't actually use it properly (he lists books in it which he doesn't cite throughout, so you don't know what he took from them). He doesn't even cite properly, sometimes omitting dates or page references. Not to mention his hilarious way of mangling Bible quotes, taking them out of context or making them say things they don't say by pretending to quote them but actually removing parts of them without indicating the ellipsis. --Taiwan boi (talk) 06:18, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
No, I am on topic. Christopher Price is admitted amateur in history ("My formal training in historical studies is limited to a minor in that subject from the University of Houston. Hence my onscreen name of "Layman."") and Law is not history; never mind that bede already has had quality issue problems pointed out about it. Craig's claims are full of unproven assumptions. "The Gospel writers have a proven track record of historical reliability."; right, historical reliability that requires census that history does not record by a person who was fighting a war in what is modern day Turkey to get Luke and Matthew to agree. The fact Craig blows this point off just damages his credibility even further. Habermas brings out the 'usual suspects' that have been torn apart so many times that Scott M. Oser (a Associate Professor of Physics of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia) made a little FAQ about them. Never mind that Habermas hold that Jesus did die and was resurrected and debated Humphreys on this very issue so the reference I put forth before applies. If Humphreys is a flake then why did Habermas debate him regarding the resurrection being a historical event at Edinburgh University? Again your logic falls apart.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:27, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

books

Scholarly books from academic publishers have as high a standing as scholarly journals. The relative importance depends on the field. In religion, and for that matter in anthropology, and in the humanities and "soft" (i.e. non-mathematical) social sciences generally, truly major seminal works are usually published as books. OUP may make a good deal of its money from bibles, but has no religious bias for its academic books (which usually make very little money in any case). Eerdmans is primarily a religious publisher, but that does not mean the works lack scholarship. In general academic books from such publishers are published only after 3 or 4 positive peer-reviews, of at least equal rigour to that of journals. Prometheus is of course a POV publisher in the classic sense, but even that does not mean all its works are unreliable, just that reviews would need to be cited. Most denominational publishing houses similarly. DGG (talk) 21:03, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

You missed the point I was making about the COI problem OUP has. It not just that they make a lot of money from printing bibles but they make a lot money printing a specific kind of bible (KJV) whose copyright is held by the Crown and the blasphemy Law the UK had until May 2008. Wiki sums up the law as being "All blasphemies against God, including denying his/her/their being or providence, all contumelious reproaches of Jesus Christ, all profane scoffing at the Holy Scriptures, and exposing any part thereof to contempt or ridicule, were punishable by the temporal courts with fine, imprisonment, and corporal punishment." Given the law had been used (abet in a private case) as recently as 1977 the COI problems of a publishing company who has a lucrative contract with the Crown and such a law on the books should be obvious.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:42, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Grubb, are these posts of yours all some kind of laborious online joke? Are you seriously suggesting that OUP has a conflict of interest and therefore won't publish works critical or disparaging of Christianity? Can you provide any information on exactly how much money the OUP actually makes from printing the KJV? Given that a few years ago they discontinued one of the historically most popular editions of the KJV (the Oxford Wide Margin KJV), I doubt that they make any kind of significant money from printing the KJV at all. As for your point about blasphemy law, what are you trying to say? It's clear you have no idea of what constitutes peer reviewed literature, or what constitutes a genuine conflict of interest. --Taiwan boi (talk) 06:17, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Well in the Blasphemy Law has used to limit certain lines of questioning and portrayals of Jesus (from 1698 to as late as 1977 with an attempt as in 2005) so the idea of a printing company in such a country being being pro historical Jesus especially when they have a contract with the Crown to publish Authorized King James Version(latest printing April 17, 2008) is not that out in left field. I do know what constitutes peer reviewed literature (Miner, Cole, Dunnel, Kirch, Wenke, Charlton, Meltzer, Davis, Naroll, Simmons, and Schroder are all peer reviewed authors) and do know that COI can exist at the institutional level. Brigham Young University Press prints peer reviewed literature but wouldn't you wonder out them having COI issues regarding any of the pro-Morman books they have put out? I know I would.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:42, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Bruce, you do know, don't you, that the UK is one of the most unreligious countries in the world. See the statistics on religious belief in the UK. You cam buy any books you like on atheism, Jesus Myth etc. I don't see Richard Dawkins worrying about being prosecuted under the blasphemy law, which is almost never used, and only then for egregiously offensive publications. Paul B (talk) 10:30, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
"UK is one of the most unreligious countries in the world". You have GOT to be kidding. Why do you think part of the reason the mess in Northern Ireland has going on as long as it has? Religion. Another thing is not all religions are as 'my way or no way' as Christianity and Islam are (Taoism, Buddhism, and Shintoism are very 'open' religions). In fact, Carl Sagan quotes from a one of the Buddhist test which questions if the god really made the world or universe. Also the UK had been getting pressure to drop the blasphemy law as early as 1998 and considering the issues of how it was enforced when it was used there was obviously a pro-Christianity slant to the law.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:44, 5 September 2008 (UTC)
Bruce, I don't really understand why you're belaboring this point. It's clear that you're not convincing anyone else that the Oxford U. Press has "problems", and this no longer seems to relate to a specific content dispute in the article. So could we please end this discussion, since talk pages are not chat forums? If you have further questions/doubts about sources, please take Paul's advice at post at the reliable sources noticeboard. --Akhilleus (talk) 12:09, 3 September 2008 (UTC)
Grubb, once again your post doesn't address the issue. Reaching back to 1698 for examples of what the blasphemy law has been used for is completely irrelevant to the issue at hand. The issue at hand is whether or not the OUP has a conflict of interest when it comes to publishing on the topic of Jesus, because it publishes the KJV and because of the blasphemy law. That was your claim and to date you have provided absolutely no evidence for it. You have certainly provided absolutely no evidence that the OUP takes any notice of the blasphemy law, or that its actions are in any way constrained by it. You have also provided absolutely no evidence that the OUP's publication of the KJV has any effect whatever on its publishing decisions. And which 'peer reviewed literature' does Brigham Young University Press publish? If it published genuine peer reviewed literature, and some of it happened to be pro-Mormon, that would not be a conflict of interest, as long as it is genuinely peer reviewed. But of course, if it published genuine peer reviewed literature on the subject, it would also be publishing literature which was anti-Mormon. This shows again that you don't really understand what 'peer reviewed' means. It means that the literature is open to public review and criticism by all relevant professionals in the field, regardless of whether or not they have the same beliefs or hold the same position on the issue as the author. This is how the peer review process helps produce quality work and weeds out partisan literature. --Taiwan boi (talk) 06:32, 4 September 2008 (UTC)
You really don't get how a COI can taint the peer review process. Ironically OUP put out a book called Conflict of Interest in the Professions edited by by Michael Davis and Andrew Stark which shows how a COI can arise even amoung the best professionals. Again I must point back to the Miner article which was the first to demonstrate how the very model can influence the outcome of a study and the person using the model may not realize that the model itself creates the COI. Or do you believe that the USA is composed of a bunch of magic happy bone through their nose primitives?--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:44, 5 September 2008 (UTC)

What does Wells really say in Jesus Myth?

Looking around I have seen reviews of Jesus Myth that put a different slant on the quote by Van Voorst: "Far from being a radical, Wells is simply mainline scholarship taken to its ultimate limit, engaged in dialogue with his critics, and with copious references to topical writings. He accepts much that is normative in NT historical scholarship, and but for his "radical" view that Jesus is a composite figure, could easily be mistaken for another conservative apologist drone, grinding out defenses of the position that Paul's companion Luke authored Acts, or that the Tomb was really empty. Wells is the last in a long line of men like Robinson, Loisy, and Drews, scholars who trod the mainstream paths to show where the mainstream had gone wrong." (Turton, Michael (May 16, 2003) The Jesus Myth and Deconstructing Jesus) "Clearly seeking to provoke controversy, Wells (The Jesus Legend: What's in a Name?) contends that the accounts of Jesus in the canonical Gospels contradict not only one another but also the earliest Christian documents, which never present Jesus as an itinerant preacher, a miracle worker, born of a virgin or executed under Pilate. [...] The author also examines the letters of Paul and contends that Paul bases his portrait of Jesus on the Jewish figure of Wisdom, who sought acceptance on earth but was rejected and returned to heaven. In a detailed and convincing fashion, Wells argues that the Gospel stories of Jesus are myths composed to satisfy the religious longings of the Gospel writers' audiences." (Publishers Weekly 1998) "Because Wells wishes us to think that Paul knew almost nothing about the historical Jesus, and to have imagined that he had lived, unknown, in a different century!" D. M. Ohara "Dan O'Hara" review at Amazon.com).

With all this one has to ask what is Wells really saying in Jesus Myth? If as Turton claims Wells portrays Jesus as a "composite figure" then Wells certainly has NOT done an "about-face" as is claimed in the Van Voorst quote. Furthermore the "Jewish figure of Wisdom" by Publishers Weekly and "in a different century" by Dan O'Hara make it sound more like Wells is leaning more toward Mead's position. Does anyone have some actual quotes from Wells so we don't have to rely hearsay?--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:03, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

I have read a copy of Well's book and it clear from the summation he gives on page 244 that he has gone to something along the line of Mead saying that the Jesus that Paul talks about and the one the Gospels talk about are two different Jesus. In fact, Well states that the Gospel Jesus was based on this "earlier Jesus" and contained information unknown to earlier Christians. I am going to wait until I have the full quote ready (its about a paragraph) before changing this but this is a heads up that the Van Voorst quote seems to be spin doctoring what Wells is actually saying.
Also I have removed the Ad hominem quote by Charlesworth (which was promptly reinstated by Akhilleus as I was typing this); there is no evidence (and has been none provided by Akhilleus) that Charlesworth is an expert in archeology or even anthropology. As I noted before even his Princeton Seminary reference doesn't even say what his degree in Divinity or his Doctorate are in. All any of the biographies about him I could find say is he is a Professor of New Testament Language and Literature; a degree in Linguistics would not necessarily make him an expert in history, archeology, or anthropology. Sure, linguistics draws on those and other related fields but that doesn't not make one an expert in them anymore than being an expert in archeology would make one an expert in numismatistology, geology, language, or any other fields archeology relates to. A review by Jonathan Reed University of La Verne in Review of Biblical Literature 10/2007 stated: "One minor criticism must be raised: scattered throughout the book are numerous illustrations, mostly from Charlesworth’s collection, which, although at times helpful, at other times seem misplaced or could be replaced with something more appropriate. So we see, for example, a bichrome Canaanite decanter in Klassen’s article on Sidonian Greek-inscribed glass, or the excavations at Cana in Kloppenborg’s article, but none at all of the Theodotos inscription whose letters are analyzed in a way that is hard to visualize without a picture. Of course by using his own photos, Charlesworth was able to keep the cost down, so that at $50.00 for over seven hundred pages, we should be thankful." When an editor is given this kind of free reign one has a right to call the work "self published" especially when you have things like a Canaanite decanter picture being used in a Sidonian Greek-inscribed glass article. Good grief, that is insane as even a courtesy instigation by John Q Surfer shows the Canaanite culture extending a far greater range in both time and region than the Sidonian culture. That is almost akin to using a picture of an Olmec artifact in an article on the Zapotecs.
Furthermore, it has already been shown that Eerdmans publishing has potential COI problems given its strong religion leanings. Even the wikipedia article (admittedly useless as an article reference) states "Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company is a religious publishing house based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1911 and still independently owned, Eerdmans has long been known for publishing a wide range of Christian religious books, from academic works in Christian theology, biblical studies, religious history, and reference to popular titles in spirituality, social and cultural criticism, and literature." This is basically a slight reworking of the meta tag given to google: "Publisher of religious books, from academic works in theology, biblical studies, religious history and reference to popular titles in spirituality, social and cultural criticism, and literature." So we have an "expert" who we don't even know what his degrees are even in making a claim about fields he may not even have more than basic knowledge of in a book he himself edited showing that he doesn't seem to know the difference between the Canaanite and Sidonian cultures published by a publisher who has strong religions leanings and we are supposed to take this as a valid source?! There have got to be better quotes regarding the Pro Jesus position as others appear in the article. Stanton's quote is the kind we should have here not ad hominem attacks like Charlesworth.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:31, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
Charlesworth is a good source for this article (he's the editor of the Princeton Theological Seminary's Dead Sea Scrolls Project, among other things). Eerdmans is a reputable academic publisher. If you continue to believe that we shouldn't be using this source, I invite you to post at the reliable sources noticeboard to get some outside input--posting extended complaints about the alleged COI of Eerdmans, Oxford U. Press, etc. isn't leading to a productive discussion. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:21, 2 October 2008 (UTC)
As I said above linguistics expertise does not make Charlesworth an expert in the fields of history, archeology, or anthropology which he is commenting on. The point you don't seem to get and I keep bringing up is the quote is Ad hominem attack and essentially circular in logic ie anyone who supports this theory is not a "reputable scholar" because no "reputable scholar" would support this theory. I have also shown that Charlesworth's claim is questionable at best as it basically implies Robert M. Price (a Professor of Theology and Scriptural Studies), Alvar Ellegard (former Dean of the Faculty of Art University of Goteborg, Sweden), Frank R. Zindler (a professor though admittedly of biology and geology), and Thomas "Tom" Harpur (former New Testament professor of University of Toronto) are not "reputable scholars" simply because they support the Jesus Theory. Furthermore why would a "reputable academic publisher" allow picture of a bichrome Canaanite decanter be used in Klassen’s article on Sidonian Greek-inscribed glass? Last I checked reputable academic publishers didn't allow that type of insanity.--BruceGrubb (talk) 04:01, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Still no post to the reliable sources noticeboard? Why not? I'm not going to bother answering you, since you never seem to read my replies. --Akhilleus (talk) 16:36, 3 October 2008 (UTC)
Some of us have a life. Considering the way you handled Grant's quote I find your position laughable.--BruceGrubb (talk) 06:33, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Hm. I find the way you handled Grant's quote laughable. I've asked you this several times, but you've never answered: did you ever read the section of Jesus: An Historian's Review of the Gospels that Grant's quote came from, or did you base all of your complaints about it on Earl Doherty's website? Because as far as I can see you haven't read Grant; otherwise you wouldn't say the things you've been saying. If you've spent all this time complaining about something you haven't even read, that's worse than laughable. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:08, 5 October 2008 (UTC)
Considering the Grant quote in question is no longer anywhere in the article (even in the footnotes) it is clear the consensus was that the quote itself was of little worth. The reality was Michael Grant's "quotes" were in a 1977 popular book published by Charles Scribner's Sons and Scribner for the 1995 edition and were really verbatim quotes of the conclusions of Otto Betz What do We Know about Jesus? which was published in 1968 by S.C.M. Press--"Religious Book Publishers" (direct quote of their own meta tag which Google uses to display information on them), and Rodney Dunkerley Beyond the Gospels which was published by Pelican Book in 1957 and Penguin in 1961. Many challenges were made supporters of the quote to name even one of the "first-rank scholars" Dunkerley was thinking of and not one name has been produced. Compounding the matter is that according to Doherty "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." Also the fact that, Jesus Now and Then By Richard A. Burridge, Graham Gould published by Eerdmans Publishing makes a easily proven to be false statement ie "Jesus is also mentioned in the writings of the three main Roman historical writers from the end of the first century CE — Pliny, Tacitus, and Suetonus." (pg 37) shows that either Eerdmans doesn't do good fact checking or they were totally asleep at the switch on that one as neither Pliny or Suetonus use the name "Jesus". When claims are this poorly checked it brings into question the quality of allt he publishing house's works.--216.234.222.130 (talk) 11:32, 6 October 2008 (UTC)

Acharya S

The article on Acharya S was deleted following Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Acharya S (2nd nomination). Consensus in that discussion was that she did not satisfy Wikipedia's notability guidelines. So I'm surprised to see that three paragraphs with a detailed description of her work popped up here recently. If Acharya S is not notable enough to have her own article, she is not notable enough to be covered here either. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:00, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

An individual does not have to be notable enough to have an article in Wikipedia, to either be citable in an article in Wikipedia, or have a section of an article devoted to their theory. She is a minority opinion in a fringe hypothesis with very little academic respectability. The sections that cover her hypothesis need to be rewritten, not deleted.jonathon (talk) 03:30, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, but I can't agree with you. To me, this looks like an end-run around the AfD; the material couldn't be included in an article devoted to Acharya S, so someone wants to put it here instead. As you note, Acharya S is "a minority opinion in a fringe hypothesis"; a full accounting of the people who are well-known in this subject (Bauer, Drews, Robertson, Wells, et al.) will give us an article with plenty of material, in which there's no reason to include non-notable persons. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:39, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Technically, the article about her failed on WP:RS grounds, not WP:N. I've cut deleted most of the material about her. After I reread "The Greatest Story Ever Sold", I'll do a rewrite, with where she differs from the others in the field --- unless somebody else does the rewrite first.jonathon (talk) 04:19, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
And I've restored it. It's well cited, NPOV, and describes Acharya S's work rather than her as a person--The page failed WP:BIO and I really don't disagree with that outcome, just that her WP:FRINGE views have an appropriate place in the encyclopedia. Thus, I asked the closing administrator for help, and complied with his advice, eliminating the need to go to WP:DRV. If you're insinuating, Akhilleus, that Wikipedia censor all mentions of Acharya S, then your perspective on the deletion discussion differs markedly from mine. Jclemens (talk) 04:44, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Whee! Accusations of censorship. Will the speculations on my motives ever stop? If Acharya S fails WP:BIO, because there are not sufficient reliable sources to establish that she is notable as a person, how is it that her work has enough reliable sources to establish that it is notable? In comparison to figures like Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and George Wells, has she made significant contributions to the literature in this area? (Note: each of the figures I just named has their own Wikipedia article, because they meet the notability guidelines. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:51, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
(EC)If censorship wasn't your motive--and you did delete all the Acharya S mentions from this article prior to this discussion--please, feel free to state your actual motives. The fact that the people you cite have established articles is a good reason why their contributions should be listed in summary style, not one for throwing away perfectly good content. Please, read and compare the originally deleted article to what I inserted--the three paragraphs inserted are better sourced than the and fully 1/3 is devoted to people who criticize her writings. For discussion of RS v. FRINGE, see below EC comment:
(ECx2) Re: Acharya_S sourcing. Zeitgeist's official movie website is RS, just not independent, but the entire RS debate is somewhat misguided, because while it may be oft-cited, WP:RS is simply a guideline, on the same level as WP:FRINGE. In accordance with WP:FRINGE, I've described her statements from her perspective, and then provided criticism for them, per WP:PARITY. If this is too much information compared to the other proponents listed in the article, then I would encourage other editors to expand other proponents' sections accordingly. This is a de facto merge back of the "keepable" parts of the Acharya S article, which is always preferred to deleting content.
"I'm trying to grok how "been interviewed on ..." and "repeatedly criticized by..." add anything to her theory about the Jesus Myth Hypothesis, especially since the preceding paragraphs don't provide a synopsis of her theory. Whilst well referenced, they are meaningless unless her theory is described.jonathon (talk) 04:59, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I was trying to cut down on the article space given her. Prior criticisms had to do with sourcing, so I may have gone overboard on the sourcing to content ratio. Check out User talk:Jclemens/Acharya_S and User:Jclemens/Acharya_S if you'd like to help insert appropriate references to her particular theories. Jclemens (talk) 05:05, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

(undent) I have stated my "actual motives". Acharya S isn't notable, therefore there's no reason to include her in this article. The distinction between work and person is not convincing in this particular case because to the extent that Acharya S is known, it's as an author about the JMH--and her article was deleted, implying that her work is non-notable. The citations in the disputed material--to fine sources like bede.org, youtube, Mike Licona's website, the so-called Rational Response Squad, etc. don't exactly look like WP:RS to me. To think, there was a to-do about the "actively discussed on the internet" sentence, and then someone tries to include Acharya precisely because she's actively discussed on the internet. I really don't understand what's going on in this article, but I repeat: I don't think that Acharya S is notable, her article was deleted, which is a pretty strong indication that she's not notable, and I don't think that non-notable authors need to be included in this article, when we have a plethora of notable figures such as Bauer, Drews, Robertson, Wells, and so on. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:19, 11 August 2008 (UTC)

The "problem" with Archaya S, is that the major credibility she has, with the Internet crowd, and some of the proponents of The JMH. Her theory is discongruent with those of Bauer, Drews, etc. What this article should have, is a synopsis of her theory, and how it differs from Bauer, Drew, etc. All of those theories are refuted by Christian Apologists in the same manner, and using the same arguments.jonathon (talk) 05:49, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I completely disagree with the conclusion that because her article didn't meet WP:BIO that all mention of her should be excised from the article most relevant to the positions she advocates. WP:NNC would seem to agree with me. Thank you for your explanation of your motives; while I disagree with your interpretation, I agree that censorship is an inappropriate label for your efforts, and apologize for prematurely questioning whether that tag applied to your edits. Jclemens (talk) 05:58, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the pointer to WP:NNC, but I disagree with the conclusion you're drawing here. Acharya S' article was deleted, therefore we can conclude that she and her work are not notable (in the Wikipedia sense). To include her here is to include trivial, non-notable information. As I've already said, most, perhaps all, of the citations in that section fail WP:RS--which is not surprising, if there had been reliable sources about Acharya S, her article would have been kept. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:28, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I agree that she has pretty weak WP:RS support--but WP:FRINGE specifically exempts 'fringe' viewpoints, which I believe hers qualifies as, from needing to be represented by RS to be included. One of Sandstein's arguments in rejecting recreation of Acharya S as a separate article is that FRINGE is not a biographical standard, but a standard for reporting on non-mainstream views. If FRINGE doesn't apply to Acharya S's theories, to whose does it?
I think WP:RS ought to be more explicit that it isn't the only way to satisfy WP:N and WP:V, just the easiest. I'd like your specific comment on the Zeitgeist movie website. Granted that it's not independent, I still fail to see how an official movie website is not RS, even under WP:SPS, for the content of that movie. Jclemens (talk) 14:37, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm glad to see that you think WP:FRINGE is an appropriate guideline here. I agree that Zeitgeist's site is an RS, but its utility is very limited, in my opinion--basically, it's a good source for Zeitgeist, the Movie, but not for this article. It doesn't justify the 3 paragraph section that's currently here.
If Acharya S is a major part of Zeitgeist, the Movie, it seems like the best place for substantial coverage of her is in that article. I wouldn't be adverse to having one or two sentences in this article that say something like "Acharya S is a recent proponent and her views are featured in Zeitgeist, the Movie." Readers who are interested will then be able to find details at the movie's article, and presumably find their way to more information from there, if they desire it. --Akhilleus (talk) 14:56, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
Why make the article shorter? Is it too long as is? I'd rather see WP:SS used to include other proponents than her material be excised, and if the section gets too long it should be broken out into Jesus myth hypothesis proponents or something along those lines. Zeitgeist is simply the most notable contribution she's made--There's plenty of documentation of other presentations she's made to the black helicopter crowd. I just don't buy that she's completely non-notable, nor that anything not directly attributable to an RS needs to be excised. Jclemens (talk) 15:40, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
I'm still trying to condense her first book into one paragraph, that shows how she differs from the other JMH proponents. This article is about JMH, not black helicopter crowd issues. As such, mentions of the black helicopter crowd issues don't belong in this article.jonathon (talk) 21:01, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
They belong somewhere in Wikipedia and, differences with more traditional JMH proponents aside, this seems to me to be a better place than any other. Again, we can use WP:SS to break her stuff out if appropriate, but that raises potential WP:N issues again. Jclemens (talk) 21:08, 11 August 2008 (UTC)
The one problem I see with this line of reasoning is if you include Acharya S on the JMH side then you need to included people like Strobel and McDowell from the pro Historical Jesus side whose efforts to show every part of the Jesus story is historical results in works that are near self parodies of the whole Historical Jesus position. Never mind there is the portion of the JMH crowd who hold the the Jesus of the Bible is a fiction and has been so elaborated on that the connection to any historical person of that name is effectively nil.--BruceGrubb (talk) 03:43, 19 August 2008 (UTC)

<unindent> I have deleted the straight copy of Wiki-entry on A_S. No point in having 2 identical copies in 2 different places - defeats whole object of having a wiki in the first place! I am not sure the relevance of leaving the stub ref to A-S as "another proponent". Needs at least a relevant quote which sums up her position. I am also unsure as to her relevance as an authority to be cited. Mercury543210 (talk) 20:23, 25 August 2008 (UTC)

  • To respond to this specific content: The Acharya S article was both 1) a copy of the text from here, and 2) copied over a redirect to this article which was the result of a prior deletion discussion. It was deleted because the editor who did that did not pursue DRV. Jclemens (talk) 17:33, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
The article on Acharya S has been deleted. If she's not notable enough to have her own article, I don't see the reason to list her here as a "recent proponent". Also, very few of the sources in the section meet Wikipedia's guideline for a reliable source. Anything that can't be reliably sourced should be taken out. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:33, 25 August 2008 (UTC)
This has been covered above. Acharya S does not meet WP:BIO, because there are few to no sources about her life. Her work on the other hand, is fully supported here. Those who argue against her deletion from here need to deal with two issues:
1) WP:FRINGE which adds alternative notability guidelines for those not meeting WP:N. As the deleting admin pointed out, WP:FRINGE is not a biographical guideline, but a guideline for covering fringe theories in other articles, so it is directly applicable here.
2) WP:NNC Just because Acharya S's article was deleted, does not mean she has no place in this encyclopedia. WP:NNC is a subsection of WP:N, so if NNC is applicable (which it is), N is met. Jclemens (talk) 17:26, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Jclemens, you've already directed us to WP:FRINGE and WP:NNC before. Those guidelines might allow for the inclusion of the Acharya S material, but they do not mandate the inclusion. To include this stuff you need to get a consensus on the talk page, and right now, several editors have said that the material doesn't belong or should be drastically shortened.
Please also note that at User talk:Sandstein#Acharya_S_-_article_agreed_for_deletion.2C_now_back, the admin who closed Wikipedia:Articles for deletion/Acharya S (2nd nomination) says that what's happening here is "not usual". Normally when an article is deleted that means that the content is not suitable for inclusion in another article.
I'm having trouble seeing why you want this material in the article. All I can really see is that you think Acharya S is important for some reason--but the fact that she fails WP:BIO and that there are virtually no reliable sources that mention her indicates the opposite. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:39, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I agree that these arguments are sounding repetitive, but I don't think it's solely my fault. We disagree about notability, so when you restate your position, I restate mine. But since you asked about my motivation, I'll be happy to give it:
I think the Jesus Myth Hypothesis is entirely stupid and incredible (using that word in the technical, rather than common, sense). The idea that there was never anyone named Jesus of Nazareth is as silly as asserting that there was never anyone named "John" born in Portsmouth, NH between 1950 and 1970. There are far more compelling and intellectually honest arguments against Christianity.
However I fully believe that she, and the other JMH advocates, deserve fair, impartial, and proportionate coverage. The facts are that Acharya S has published books, albeit vanity ones, the first of which received at least one (scathing) review in an RS. Her writings were used in a movie, which again is documented in a reliable (albeit non-independent) source. She does appearances on YouTube and Internet radio, which anyone can download, and is refuted by those who seek to undermine the JMH, and attraction of rebuttals is called out by FRINGE as a hallmark of a potentially notable fringe theory.
The only reasons I can think of for not including her are 1) That she makes other JMH'ers look bad. Can't really help that one, or 2) that some anti-JMH folks would want to remove mention of her. In her own emails to me, she suspected a conspiracy of Hindus who disliked her nom de plume. Whatever.
So given that she's not got enough RS'ing for her own article, but can be included by consensus of editors in this article, on what basis do you believe she should be removed? Jclemens (talk) 18:01, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

<unindent> A-S is irrelevant. All the stuff cited is WP:SPS. This is completely sufficient to not include her. Mercury543210 (talk) 23:09, 26 August 2008 (UTC)

I'm sorry, but you're simply not correct. She wrote a scathing review of her own book? I think not. She owns the Zeitgeist: The Movie website? I'm thinking... no. Can you provide a factually accurate argument for keeping documentation of her out of this article? Jclemens (talk) 23:13, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Those were not counted as reliable sources in the deletion discussion, were they? At any rate, there are not enough reliable sources for her to pass WP:BIO, and I think that means that there are not enough reliable sources to give her coverage in this article either. Certainly there's not consensus to include the material right now. As I indicated earlier, I wouldn't object to a sentence or two about her, but the disputed material is too much. --Akhilleus (talk) 23:24, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
That's very WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT a response--WP:BIO is the threshold for a separate article, not for inclusion here. Regardless, please add back in whatever mention of Acharya S you deem reasonable... that would be a better starting point for discussion than complete censorship of her name. Jclemens (talk) 23:34, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
No, it's really not a WP:IDIDNTHEARTHAT response--it's a very simple point: if you can't find reliable sources for something, I don't think it should be in an article. I'm sorry to see you return to the allegations of censorship; this is, or at least should be, a discussion about whether a person's work is significant enough to be included in the article. The lack of reliable sources leads me to think that Acharya S' work isn't important in this context, compared to figures like Bruno Bauer, Arthur Drews, and G.A. Wells, all of whom have multiple independent reliable sources about their work. --Akhilleus (talk) 23:43, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Zeitgeist and Free Inquiry constitute multiple RS'es, and the latter unquestionably independent of her. Frankly, I find the assertion that Zeitgeist is not an independent RS spurious, but it is still disputed. Acharya S lacks more reliable suitcases because, in comparison to some of the other JMH supporters, I gather that she's considered a fruitcake among fruitcakes, hence my regularly invoking WP:FRINGE. I have no issue with someone else writing more about the others--rather, I'd encourage it. I'm not an Acharya S fanboy, I'm much better characterized as a mergeist. I find the anti-Acharya S arguments uncompelling. "Censorship" in the context I used it referred to the effect, rather than the goal. Unless there's been a new edit since I started composing this, there is no mention of her in the article at present: de facto censorship.
At any rate, I await your inclusion of a more modest mention of her. Failing that, I'll make my own tomorrow, lest it be considered a fourth revert.
And lest it get dropped by the wayside... I shared mine: what are your personal motivations? Jclemens (talk) 23:59, 26 August 2008 (UTC)
Since you haven't seen fit to include a more modest mention of Acharya S yet... I will. Jclemens (talk) 04:46, 28 August 2008 (UTC)

<unindent>A-S has been shown to be WP:SS and WP:NN. While she is perfectly entitled to her views, those views have no relevance in this encyclopaedia entry. Please stop pushing her. Mercury543210 (talk) 20:42, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

I think you meant to link to WP:SPS, right? She's not exactly self-published, though; it's that her works are published by a marginal press. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:45, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Of the three editors commenting on this, I advocate fuller treatment of her, Akhilleus advocated less emphasis and hasn't objected to the reduced section I reinserted. That means you are editing against consensus, Mercury543210. Your statement that her views have no relevance in this article is problematic. She's clearly a JMH advocate, and even if she's WP:NNC, (a position I disagree with since we have multiple WP:RS for her) that is no reason to include her. Jclemens (talk) 21:04, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Actually, Jclemens, I hadn't got around to it yet, but I think that the section you inserted still gives too much space to her. And of course, it's perfectly fine with me if she doesn't appear in the article at all. --Akhilleus (talk) 21:32, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
The offer, for you to insert a section that you believe isn't out of balance with the rest of the article, still stands. Feel free to do so any time, and we can use that as a basis of future discussion.
Perhaps weighing in late. A synopsis of The Christ Conspiracy should be in this article, as an example of one extreme end of the spectrum of beliefs about JMH. Zeitgesit is more about contemporary conspiracy theory, than JMH.jonathon (talk) 21:30, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I'd welcome such an inclusion. As is, there is at least one editor who objects to any mention of her whatsoever in the context of JMH. Jclemens (talk) 21:42, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
I think it is you are editing against the consensus: 1 For, 1 Against + 1 Abstention (update while I was writing this 1 For, 3 Against) does not give you a majority. The woman has no relevance and the extensive list of her involvement shows no evidence of a scholarly debate. To quote WP:SPS (thanks --Akhilleus for spotting my typo):"Anyone can create a website or pay to have a book published, then claim to be an expert in a certain field. [This is] largely not acceptable." This is my principle objection. She is irrelevant, shows has no relevant expertise in this field and so should not be included in this article. Mercury543210 (talk) 21:41, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Let's count accurately, shall we? You against, me for, and two who don't agree with either one of us completely.
As far as your substantive objection goes, you appear to believe that she should have to have some sort of an academic or scholarly background to assert that Jesus never existed? Is that correct? If not, please clarify. Jclemens (talk) 21:46, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

<unindent>And what other basis should we use? Mercury543210 (talk) 22:00, 30 August 2008 (UTC)

The five pillars, perhaps? Nothing in WP:5P demands or prefers that people be academics for their viewpoint to be valuable or included, just that it be documentable and documented. Specifically, WP:FRINGE, WP:SELFPUB, and WP:NNC make plenty of allowances for this sort of content. Nothing says she has to be a sane or rational proponent of JMH--as I've said above, I personally doubt that such exist. What is present in the summary I included in the article is an NPOV description of her work and an NPOV description of her critics. Why is that so bad? Will Wikipedia fall apart if we add a notable fruitcake to the article? What do we lose by including her? Seriously--why keep her out? Aside from all arguments that she doesn't meet some notability threshold, what is the fundamental reason you don't think she belongs here?
WP:RS Mercury543210 (talk) 22:48, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
As you wish. "Organizations and individuals that promote what are widely agreed to be fringe theories (that is, views held by a small minority, in direct contrast with the mainstream view in their field), such as revisionist history or pseudoscience, should only be used as sources about themselves or, if correctly attributed as being such, to detail the views of the proponents of that subject. Use of these sources must not obfuscate the description of the mainstream view, nor should these fringe sources be used to describe the mainstream view or the level of acceptance of the fringe theory. When using such sources, reliable mainstream sources must be found in order to allow the dispute to be characterized fairly, presenting the mainstream view as the mainstream, and the fringe theory as a minority fringe view." Jclemens (talk) 22:56, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
Jclemens, I think we all know that policy permits the use of non-reliable sources in articles on fringe theories. But policy doesn't require the use of non-reliable sources, and in the case of this article, we can get lots of material from sources that meet WP:RS. Therefore I see no reason to go for unreliable sources. --Akhilleus (talk) 22:59, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
--Akhilleus - exactly. Mercury543210 (talk) 23:02, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
(ec) That's not from WP:FRINGE, that's straight out of WP:RS. As far as replacing sources, be my guest--improve the sourcing of Acharya S, or propose particular parts of what's in there that should be removed. As long as you don't delete mention of her entirely, I don't have a problem with it. Removing her entirely is de facto censorship; anything else is perfectly open for discussion, as far as I'm concerned. Jclemens (talk) 23:09, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
There is no reason not to include material on Acharya S, but the section as included tells us absolutely nothing about her ideas, it simply tries to present her as distinguished by listing her consultancy on a film of no academic standing and her popularity of Youtube (!). It then claims that "christian apologists" criticise her (even though we haven't even learned what ideas she has), even though we all know that even JM proponents consider her to be far out. Paul B (talk) 23:51, 30 August 2008 (UTC)
... And I absolutely welcome such constructive criticism, that focuses on how to reference her, rather than simply trying to remove her. Feel free to review what's been assembled at User:Jclemens/Acharya S and take the most encyclopedic and appropriate parts from there. Jclemens (talk) 02:08, 31 August 2008 (UTC)

One major problem I see here concerning Acharya S is that nobody here seems to really know her work - and that ignorance is reflected in the comments here. Unlike others, I actually do know her work, and I have all of her books here. I'm also fully aware of the criticisms of her work and have Christian apologist JP Holding's new book "Shattering the Christ myth," which is all about criticizing the mythicist position especially concerning Jesus. Acharya is mentioned nearly 40 times across several chapters including the foreword and a several page section titled "Acharya S". Clearly she's notable or there would be no need to mention her and her work so many times. In fact, it's obvious that Acharya is one of the most famous mythicists. This long discussion here is evidence of her notability.

Here is a quote from Acharya S that should be included in her section here in the Jesus myth hypothesis article:

"...the most enduring and profound controversy in this subject is whether or not a person named Jesus Christ ever really existed...when one examines this issue closely, one will find a tremendous volume of literature that demonstrates, logically and intelligently, time and again that Jesus Christ is a mythological character along the same lines as the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Sumerian, Phoenician, Indian or other godmen, who are all presently accepted as myths rather than historical figures."

http://www.truthbeknown.com/origins.htm

Acharya S and her work are clearly notable - she should have her own wiki article. As anyone can see from this big battle here, Acharya S and her work are also controversial, which also makes her notable. It appears that one reason folks don't want her to have an article or even be mentioned at all seems to be due to biases and prejudice against her position as a mythicist. If you don't even know her work because you can't get beyond some personal bias, you shouldn't be making claims about it. How many of you have actually READ any of her work? Here's a good sampling:

http://www.truthbeknown.com/christconspiracy.html

When you've actually read some of her work, you might understand why she certainly is notable and why she should be included in not only this page but also others, and have her own Wiki page too - which she did for years before some fanatics deleted it for no real reason. --207.218.231.216 (talk) 19:15, 9 September 2008 (UTC)

Given the high sales rankings of her books, I see no reason it shouldn't be mentioned as part of a summary of contemporary advocates of the hypothesis. I've edited the sentence leading up to the blockquote to put Murdock as the name of the author, since that apparently is her actual name, along with a parenthetical note that she's written in part pseudonymously as Acharya S. And at least some of her work, including at least one book, explicitly has DM Murdock as the author. Either way, WP:Notability is not the correct standard for inclusion in an already existing article, so the recent deletion of the article on Acharya S, based upon that standard, is irrelevant to the issue whether her basic slant deserves mention in this article. As may be obvious to some, the Acharya S article has been recreated as a redirect to Jesus myth hypothesis#Recent_proponents... Kenosis (talk) 19:55, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Reply What references state that her books have high sales? So far we only know she wrote these books, where are the references that show them to be relevant such as reviews from reliable sources or a best seller list? Thanks. Ism schism (talk) 20:49, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
In a Google search, "acharya-s" (the hyphen links the two in the search) gets nearly 300,000 results, and "D.M.-Murdock" gets about 3,500. As to sales rankings specifically, see [1] (about 27,000 in rank, compared to many citations in WP that are over the million mark in Amazon sales ranking, if indeed they're ranked at all, which many are not, and which is not a requirement in order to be used as a WP citation); along with [2] (about 33,000 in rank); with [3] much farther down the rankings at about 250,000. This would indicate that these first two still sell at least a few copies a week on Amazon.com alone, not counting all other online booksellers and not counting any local book stores. Maybe I could put it this way: I'd sure like to be getting the royalties for those sales. While not exactly a "bestseller" of the kind that occasionally makes authors incalculably wealthy, it's an extremely competitive rate of sales. ... Kenosis (talk) 21:23, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Thank you for this explanation. Ism schism (talk) 21:53, 9 September 2008 (UTC)
Quite welcome. ... Kenosis (talk) 00:16, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

From the history page - Akhilleus "this blockquote adds nothing substantive. if Acharya S is to be covered here, someone should provide details of her arguments"

It did, the quote demonstrated her mythicist position and why. The link is an online article of hers explaining more detail of her position. To say it offers "nothing substantive" is just more denial demonstrating the level of bias here to censor anything by Acharya S. I find it dumbfounding how Akhilleus decides to completely undo the quote and link while knowing absolutely nothing about the work of Acharya S. It's clearly CENSORSHIP, bias and prejudice going on here. Rather than just remove the quote & link Akhilleus could've actually read the article to select "details of her arguments" to add.

On page 5 of the link to the article titled "Origins of Christianity" provided Acharya states:

The "Son" of God is the "Sun" of God

The reason why all these narratives are so similar, with a godman who is crucified and resurrected, who does miracles and has 12 disciples, is that these stories were based on the movements of the sun through the heavens, an astrotheological development that can be found throughout the planet because the sun and the 12 zodiac signs can be observed around the globe. In other words, Jesus Christ and all the others upon whom this character is predicated are personifications of the sun, and the Gospel fable is merely a rehash of a mythological formula (the "Mythos," as mentioned above) revolving around the movements of the sun through the heavens.68

For instance, many of the world's crucified godmen have their traditional birthday on December 25th ("Christmas"69). This is because the ancients recognized that (from an earthcentric perspective) the sun makes an annual descent southward until December 21st or 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops moving southerly for three days and then starts to move northward again. During this time, the ancients declared that "God's sun" had "died" for three days and was "born again" on December 25th. The ancients realized quite abundantly that they needed the sun to return every day and that they would be in big trouble if the sun continued to move southward and did not stop and reverse its direction. Thus, these many different cultures celebrated the "sun of God's" birthday on December 25th.70 The following are the characteristics of the "sun of God":

The sun "dies" for three days on December 22nd, the winter solstice, when it stops in its movement south, to be born again or resurrected on December 25th, when it resumes its movement north.

In some areas, the calendar originally began in the constellation of Virgo, and the sun would therefore be "born of a Virgin."

  • The sun is the "Light of the World."
  • The sun "cometh on clouds, and every eye shall see him."
  • The sun rising in the morning is the "Savior of mankind."
  • The sun wears a corona, "crown of thorns" or halo.71
  • The sun "walks on water."
  • The sun's "followers," "helpers" or "disciples" are the 12 months and the 12 signs of the zodiac or constellations, through which the sun must pass.
  • The sun at 12 noon is in the house or temple of the "Most High"; thus, "he" begins "his Father's work" at "age" 12.
  • The sun enters into each sign of the zodiac at 30°; hence, the "Sun of God" begins his ministry at "age" 30.
  • The sun is hung on a cross or "crucified," which represents its passing through the equinoxes, the vernal equinox being Easter, at which time it is then resurrected.72

Contrary to popular belief, the ancients were not an ignorant and superstitious lot who actually believed their deities to be literal characters. Indeed, this slanderous propaganda has been part of the conspiracy to make the ancients appear as if they were truly the dark and dumb rabble that was in need of the "light of Jesus."73 The reality is that the ancients were no less advanced in their morals and spiritual practices, and in many cases were far more advanced, than the Christians in their own supposed morality and ideology, which, in its very attempt at historicity, is in actuality a degradation of the ancient Mythos. Indeed, unlike the "superior" Christians, the true intelligentsia amongst the ancients were well aware that their gods were astronomical and atmospheric in nature. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle74 surely knew that Zeus, the sky god father figure who migrated to Greece from India and/or Egypt, was never a real person, despite the fact that the Greeks have designated on Crete both a birth cave and a death cave of Zeus. In addition, all over the world are to be found sites where this god or that allegedly was born, walked, suffered, died, etc., a common and unremarkable occurrence that is not monopolized by, and did not originate with, Christianity.

[4]

Or in her "Astrotheology of the Ancients" excerpt from "Suns of God" she says:

"As is evident, the study and reverence of the heavens goes back many millennia, and has constituted in large part the original religious concepts developed by humanity. As is also clear, the ancients were well aware that they were worshipping the sun, moon, stars and "all the host of heaven." Entire cultures were based upon astrotheology, and numerous magnificent edifices were constructed for its glorification. Indeed, the proscription by biblical writers shows how important and widespread was this worship of the cosmic bodies and natural phenomena. The Church fathers and other Christian writers also acknowledged this astrotheology and its antiquity, but denigrated it as much as possible. Why? What would a detailed investigation reveal about their own ideology? As demonstrated in The Christ Conspiracy and here, the knowledge about astrotheology would reveal the Christians' own religion to be Pagan in virtually every significant aspect, constituting a remake of the ancient religion. Yet, this astrotheology devised by our remote ancestors over a period of millennia was symbolically and allegorically a treasure-trove. Hence, the restoration of this knowledge is not to be despaired but rejoiced. (56-57)"

[5]

The quote and link should stand. Or if folks prefer other quotes, that's fine. Acharya S/D.M. Murdock should have her own Wiki article - as it shouldn't have been deleted in the first place. Her notability is more legit than most here are willing to concede as Kenosis mentioned, her book sales are still strong - even her first book came out nearly a decade ago. I have seen all of her books ranked under 10,000 at amazon over summer.

Anyone can goto Jclemens page to read the quite lengthy Curriculum Vitae rough draft by Acharya S to see that the "not notable" argument here is based on a house of cards -

[6]

Plus, she has a new book soon to be published: "Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection" —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.15.226.230 (talk) 18:12, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

If Acharya S / D.M. Murdock isn't notable then, what is this:

"On Thursday, July 31, 2008, an article appeared in the newspaper South Shields, England, called The Shields Gazette that highlighted my book The Christ Conspiracy: The Greatest Story Ever Sold.

The Shields Gazette apparently has a circulation of about 100,000 throughout the South Shields area in northeast England."

Now, this is significant given the fact that the book is nearly a decade old and having articles written about it. And occasionally ranks in the top 10,000 at Amazon etc. So do all of her other books too.

[7] —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.15.226.206 (talk) 19:24, 12 September 2008 (UTC)

Sigh. The blockquote in the article simply says that Acharya S thinks that Jesus is a mythical character similar to mythical characters found in a bunch of ancient cultures. Which tells us nothing more than she's a JMH proponent, so the blockquote is redundant. A succinct summation of the astrotheology stuff that's quoted above would be better, because this seems to set Ms. S apart from the other proponents covered in the article. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:33, 13 September 2008 (UTC)
To be frank, I think it's a relatively very minor issue, so long as the relevant article content is reasonably representative of the particular POV, is verified, and so long as its coverage in the article is not way out of proportion to the coverage afforded other "notable" POVs on the topic. Freke and Gandy, Doherty, Price, and Wells, for instances, are all mentioned multiple places in the article in terms of particular aspects of their argument. This, on the other hand, is plainly a summary of the POV, but doesn't seem at all out of bounds to me and appears to me to comply fully with all relevant WP editorial policies. Again, it seems to me it's a minor issue. ... Kenosis (talk) 20:44, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Okay, I organized this comment to consider for Acharya S:

Acharya S/ D.M. Murdock's position is that the canonical gospels represent a middle to late 2nd-century creation utilizing Old Testament "prophetic" scriptures as a blueprint, in combination with a collage of other, older Pagan and Jewish concepts, and that Christianity was thereby fabricated in order to compete with the other popular religions of the time.

Also, she is far more famously known as Acharya S - so I'd prefer to see it go back to the original version: "Acharya S is the pen name of D.M. Murdock" rather than, "D.M. Murdock (publishing in part pseudonymously as "Acharya S")" - it makes far more sense for those of us who actually know her work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 204.15.226.254 (talk) 17:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I think that's a more informative description than the blockquote. --Akhilleus (talk) 03:34, 18 September 2008 (UTC)

This is my first contribution of any sort to Wikipedia, please forgive my failings in style and format but I felt compelled to add a few comments to this discussion...I arrived at the JMH article specifically as a result of my recent exposure to Archarya S's claims and a desire to try and determine whether those claims are worthy of serious consideration. Frankly, I find all this debate as to Acharya's notability and thus the eligibility of her and her work for inclusion in Wikipedia articles to be preposterous. I've read through the guidelines for notability and saw nothing there that would merit the deletion or diminishment of information regarding her. Quite the contrary, all the evidence from my point of view indicates that she is one of - if not perhaps THE - most notable contemporary proponents of the JMH, at least in terms of the widespread presentation of her theories to the lay public. To delete references to her simply because she's considered a scholarly lightweight smacks of academic snobbery and completely overlooks the fact (?) that Wikipedia is primarily a reference source for the lay person who, like myself, will visit in hopes of finding a reasonably thorough and unbiased treatment of the topic under consideration. Archarya S has made numerous well-publicized statements which seem to be more-or-less original with her and some of these statements seem to push the boundaries of accepted scholarly thinking, but nothing I've seen on this or any other internet site so far has offered much in the way of substantive insights that will allow me to reach a well-informed conclusion as to the plausibility of her claims. I wish those of you carrying the anti-Acharya bias would try to understand that censorship does not help to advance knowledge (and your crying foul over use of the C word is certainly rather disingenuous). If the writers/editors of the JMH article have a genuine interest in it being a relevant and useful piece of reference work for the broadest possible audience, then I would urge you to include more about Acharya S and her theories, not less. Thank you. Pwfstranger (talk) 14:50, 24 November 2008 (UTC)

I only follow developments on this article occasionally because it is so frustrating, and I am not familiar with Acharya S. However, WP:notability and WP:reliable source are not the same thing, and there is no reason not to use a reliable source even if the source is not notable enough for a WP article. Malcolm Schosha (talk) 15:17, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
It is doubly frustrating when comments made by experts in books they themselves edited printed by publishers whose fact checking can be shown to iffy (Charlesworth's) are allowed in and comments from articles printed in peer reviewed journals published by respected academic publishers are not (Fischer's) especially when the comments kept in are against the theory and basically Ad hominem.--BruceGrubb (talk) 07:19, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

"...several Platonist who spoke out strongly..."

I feel, but not very strongly hence I haven't moved it yet, that this para really belongs in the "Early non-Christian references to Jesus" section. OK to shift? Mercury543210 (talk) 21:46, 4 September 2008 (UTC)

I've removed the paragraph along with another short paragraph from the section entitled "New Testament". The assertion appears to have little to do with the Jesus-myth hypothesis in the sense this article discusses the concept. The removed paragraph was as follows:

It should be noted that several Platonist who spoke out strongly against Christianity made claims that Jesus himself falsified his own birth story. Celsus 2nd Century A.D. ...[Celsus] accuses [Jesus] of having "invented his birth from a virgin," and upbraids Him with being "born in a certain Jewish village, of a poor woman of the country, who gained her subsistence by spinning, and who was turned out of doors by her husband, a carpenter by trade, because she was convicted of adultery; that after being driven away by her husband, and wandering about for a time, she disgracefully gave birth to Jesus, an illegitimate child, who having hired himself out as a servant in Egypt on account of his poverty, and having there acquired some miraculous powers, on which the Egyptians greatly pride themselves, returned to his own country, highly elated on account of them, and by means of these proclaimed himself a God."...

Additionally, it also needs a citation if it's to go anywhere in this article. ...Kenosis (talk) 19:28, 6 September 2008 (UTC)
This is the published source that I found [8] Malcolm Schosha (talk) 14:42, 19 October 2008 (UTC)

Article should represent the academic view, and should show why academics reject the jesus myth hypothesis

The article has been consistenly whitewashed by people who are trying to hide the fact, there is no evidence for jesus being copied from pagan gods. Amongst even the most radical Biblical critics, there is a concensus amongst them, that Jesus did in fact exist. This article should point why the argument is rejected by academica, and should look like the Evolution or Global warming articles, showing the academic position. --Aaa56514 (talk) 22:50, 14 September 2008 (UTC)

Please read WP:FRINGE. Just because we agree that the argument is absurd (and I share your perspective) doesn't mean we get to only present that side of the argument. Jclemens (talk) 23:59, 14 September 2008 (UTC)
There is no similarities between Jesus and Dionysus, Osirus, Horus, etc. I saw The God Who Wasn't There, it is lies from beginning to end, Holocaust Denial is more convincing to me --Aaa56514 (talk) 00:21, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

Read books on mythology and you'll see why the Jesus myth hypothesis is refuted. --Aaa56514 (talk) 00:29, 15 September 2008 (UTC)

I have read books on mythology and I can't see how that "refutes" the Jesus myth hypothesis; one only look as far as the modern John Frum myth to see how the Jesus myth hypothesis is plausible. As for comparing the Jesus Myth to Holocaust Denial that dog was formally trounced in Refuting Missionaries by Hayyim ben Yehoshua who rightly points out that there are mountains of primary evidence backing up the Holocaust as a historical event. Jesus on the other hand depends on sources that all have problems. The first problem is that the Jesus we know and the one 1st and 2nd century Christians knew were two vastly different people as there were many views regarding Jesus by various denominations (Paul admits this in Galatians 1:6). The Jesus we know is the one that one denomination a Roman Emperor adopted in the 4th century believed in. Any other versions of Jesus were quickly called heretical, their supporters persecuted, and all we know of these other Jesus are fragments. Second, comparing Jesus to any post 1500 person or event is insane as the printing press made it a lot harder to lose documents. Similarly comparing Jesus to someone like Julius Caesar is equally insane as there are tons of truly contemporary evidence regarding Julius Caesar including correspondence to, from, and about him. Nevermind all the coins and statues made during Julius Caesar's life time. For Jesus there is not one truly contemporary source; even conservatives put the Gospels years after his death and there is much debate on their actual dates and if they were even written by the people connected to them. The external evidence consists of a late 1st century document known to be tampered with, references to the Christian movement in the early 2nd century, a claim that one guy can't spell, a statement that could have just been a historian reporting what he had heard (the historian in question has been criticized about his accuracy regarding other events), and most laughable of all a 4th century Christian supposedly quoting a 3rd century person supposedly quoting a document by somebody else from the 2nd century. That in the nutshell is the evidence for the historical Jesus.
Regarding The God Who Wasn't There it certainly is NOT "lies from beginning to end". It is propagandist in nature which means like Frank Capra's Why We Fight series there is a good mixture of facts, half trusts, and out right falsehoods in it.--(talk) 10:36, 20 September 2008 (UTC)

This article has some real issues in terms of neutrality. There's nothing wrong with making it clear that the majority of scholars reject it, but the problem is that people have apparently decided that this means we need to slant the article. We shouldn't and don't. The evidence should be presented fairly and criticism should be applied appropriately. As is its pretty clear that the article is slanted towards convincing the reader that Jesus did exist, but this isn't what the article should do; the article shouldn't be convincing people of anything, but rather simply be presenting stuff. If Jesus exists, it should come out in the strength of the positions. Titanium Dragon (talk) 08:06, 24 October 2008 (UTC)

Certainly. But, you will notice, this article has 17 archived files, much of it arguing over that point. It is the view of many editors of this article that the Jesus myth hypothesis is not a minority view among scholars; but, rather a fringe theory, and has been discussed many times (inappropriately, I think) on the WP:Fringe theories/Noticeboard. This was, I think, the most recent such discussion [9]). Malcolm Schosha (talk) 11:55, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
By the way, guys, is there any reason John Shelby Spong [10] is not mentioned in the article? Malcolm Schosha (talk) 13:48, 24 October 2008 (UTC)
I read Jesus myth hypothesis, part 7295 and I don't see any agreement on the Jesus Myth theory as a whole being regarded as fringe. You mention Hyam Maccoby 'dening that the historical Jesus had any similarity to the Jesus of the Christian Bible' which again bring up the issue of just what does the Jesus Myth cover. Sure the extreme edge where Jesus is said to be a complete myth is discounted with scorn but what about the more middle of the road hypothesis that the Biblical Jesus is a composite character as Mead, Ellegard, Thompson, and now Wells contend?
I should mention that I found several sources that used "euhemerization" the way it was used in the article, a fact Akhilleus happily ignored in the talk you referenced (I still say he is confusing Euhemerism (the theory) with Euhemerization (the process of the theory) and the term has at best become like 'culture' in my field of anthropology--varying with the author's view of what it means) Also when quotes like "There is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived, to give an example, and Christianity is based on narrative fiction of high literary and cathartic quality. On the other hand Christianity is concerned with the narration of things that actually take place in human life." (abstract) "It is not possible to compare the above with what we have, namely, that there is not a shred of evidence that a historical character Jesus lived." (body text) (Fischer, Roland (1994) "On The Story-Telling Imperative That We Have In Mind" Anthropology of Consciousness. Dec 1994, Vol. 5, No. 4: 16) can't get in you start wondering if there is some POV pushing going on.
As for the structure of the article, like all controversial theory articles, I have to admit it is a mess. I think a total restructuring of the article is needed at this juncture with User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis as a starting point. We need to finish the history section EALacey presents past 1925 puling stuff from here, add in a main issues with commonly referenced sources, and finish with a scholarly response section. This refutation seemingly every third paragraph or so the article currently has is ridiculous.--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:52, 25 October 2008 (UTC)

What is this "majority of Scholar" anyway ? I would like to see a list sometime, including their fields of study and institutional affiliations. Being a scholar does not mean you are neutral or even more honest than the average human. Being a scholar means you belong to a certain sphere of human activity and therefore follow its rules. In academia, in order to exist and be accepted (not to mention being successful), you need to publish papers and attend conferences. Is it a good idea, in that perspective, to say that Jesus is a myth? Not really. If you belong to a theology department, you are going to offend your colleagues and it will be very hard for you to get your papers accepted and to get yourself invited to talks. If you belong to a social studies or history department, it is nearly impossible to make a career saying that something does not exist. Historians get to publish papers if they are able to quote sources. Saying that Jesus does not exist mostly involves saying there are no sources ... Etc Etc. To summarize, if you look at the matter closely, you will realize that it is impossible to be an academic and say that Jesus did not exist. Oddly enough, the academic institution as it functions today, with its left-wing bias and all, filters out the people who could qualify as a "scholar" and at the same time take a pro Jesus-as-myth position. Given this observation, I do not think that the "majority of scholars" issue should sway this article much either way. Fi11222 (talk) 18:31, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

Again, this goes back to what the Jesus myth hypothesis really is and what its arguments are. The biggest problem is that the idea that Jesus is an entirely made up person is only part of the Jesus myth hypothesis. There is also the part of the Jesus myth hypothesis that say Jesus is a composite character based on an earlier religious teacher. The composite character part of the Jesus myth hypothesis (suggested by Robertson, Mead, Ellegard, Thompson, and now Wells) holds that that the Biblical Jesus does have a historical foundation but it is not in the time period given by the Gospels (both canon and non canon) but rather far earlier (1st or even 2nd century BCE). It is far easier for the pro-Historical Jesus supporters to spin doctor this into support for a historical Jesus (as Van Voorst does with Wells' current position) then for them to prove this hypothetical earlier teacher did not exist.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:17, 29 October 2008 (UTC)


Stating that "Jesus" is myth is a little like stating that "Santa Claus" is a myth. I am fully aware of the fact that Saint Nicholas was probably a real person. But that in no way makes any part of the Santa Claus myth truthful. Sure, there may have been this charitable guy who lived in the 4th century CE who gave presents to children. But the story of Santa Claus that most kids are taught is a complete fabrication. It’s so far removed from reality it really doesn’t matter that the basis for the character was probably a real guy. In the same way, the character of "Jesus" found in the gospels may have been based on a real person. But this does not make the gospels "fact", nor does it "effectively refute" the position that some (or most) of the gospel tale which people are familiar with is mythical. Even if there is a kernel of truth in the myth, that doesn't mean that the mythical elements of the story still aren't mythical, and it doesn't prove that these mythical elements were not plagiarized from other myths. I agree that some of the arguments found in The God Who Was Not There are flawed, but you shouldn't turn it into a strawman to argue that the "Jesus" people worship is not mythical (Because he most certainly is). The article should point out flaws in the arguments made by the "mythers", but I think we should avoid blanket statements such as "effectively refuted", since that may lead some to believe that the magical flying Jesus they learn about in Sunday school was a real historical figure.-- Big Brother 1984 (talk) 01:29, 14 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree and pointed that out nearly a year ago when I made a comparison with King Arthur and Robin Hood. Sure you can find a 'historical' candidate like Riothamus or Sire Johannes d'Eyvile but when you look you realize that the relationship to the mythological character is basically nil because so much has been added. Sire Johannes d'Eyvile is an interesting case as he became outlaw under Henry III's reign-long after both King John Lackland and Richard I were dead and gone. Then you have the fact that like Jesus you have variants of the Robin Hood story that put him in different times frames than the 'canonal' stories and version we finally got was the sect that a Roman emperor choose to support in the 4th century thought was valid.
The biggest problem with this article is it is very excluded middle and any effort to address that is met with major struggle even when the point already existed in the body of the article. Note how James Patrick Holding (aka Robert Turkel) specifically calls G. R. S. Mead a "Christ-myther" in at least two articles at the tektonics.org site despite the fact Mead is actually saying the Jesus lived far earlier than the Gospels claimed and the stories in the Gospels were effectively Euhemarisms. This is a problem through out the Pro-Histocial Jesus literature--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:26, 18 November 2008 (UTC)
I would support and defend anyone who wishes to take upon themselves a rewrite of this article to give it a more moderate, unbiased tone; as many have already pointed out, it takes an extremely narrow straw-man definition of "Jesus-Myth" and knocks it down, while also ignoring other scholarship that should fit under this umbrella, including also Burton Mack, Karen Armstrong, Elaine Pagels, and so on. Any rewrite should introduce more modern scholarship and present a range of the nuances of "Jesus-Myth" concepts; there should be at most a single, brief section discussing the (now-discredited? in any case, extremely minority) view that there never was a historical Jesus, and much greater emphasis should be put on the mythological embellishments made to the Jesus persona. davigoli (talk) 19:39, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
This article is about the view that there was no historical Jesus. The idea that the Jesus of the Gospels is based on an earlier historical character is still an argument that there was no historical Jesus--that is, there was no Jesus living in the early decades of the 1st century CE whose career is reflected in the New Testament we had today. Instead, the Gospels are based on a figure of the early 1st century BCE (or earlier).
Mack, Armstrong, and Pagels should definitely be covered, but not in this article--not unless they said there was no historical Jesus. "Mythological embellishments made to the Jesus persona" sounds like a possibility for Jesus Christ in comparative mythology, or whatever that article is called now. --Akhilleus (talk) 21:09, 24 November 2008 (UTC)
No, Akhilleus, this article is about the Jesus Myth myth hypothesis which has been artificially narrowed to a strawman. Here is what Robert M. Price in his "Jesus: Fact or Fiction, A Dialogue With Dr. Robert Price and Rev. John Rankin" said regarding his position: "Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered. If there ever was a historical Jesus, there isn’t one any more." Basically Price fells that looking for a historical Jesus is like looking for a historical Robin Hood or King Arthur; sure you likely find somebody you can shoehorn into that position but at the end of the day their resemblance to the person you were looking for is next to nil because so much has been added that nothing of their true life remains. That is what the Jesus Myth myth hypothesis really is--the Jesus we have in our Gospels has had so much added that so little of the original man remains that he might as well not existed. The fact that Bishop Irenaeus, the first Churchman to extensively quote from the Gospels we take as canon, said Jesus was 50 years old when he died (Against Heresies 2:22:6) shows just how fluid the life of Jesus was even in the 2nd century. Bertrand Russell who is also presented in the article said the same thing ("we do not know anything about Him")--BruceGrubb (talk) 17:07, 25 November 2008 (UTC)
Agreed, to an extent - except that you can't have your cake and eat it too: the article cannot simultaneously exclude Bible-critical scholars whose views do fit within a narrow definition of the "hypothesis", and also claim to refute their softer claims re: the nonexistence of Jesus exactly as presented in the New Testament. For this reason, the end of the second paragraph is especially troubling: "However, [the Jesus Myth Hypothesis] is not supported by the majority of biblical historians and scholars." -- particularly since the 3 sources cited all refute the "strong" claim that "Jesus never existed", which is not really what the article should be about -- it should be talking mostly about the "weaker" claim that the claims made about Jesus in the Bible are not 100% historically accurate, a view which has a much broader base of scholarly support, and which would not allow the final "thesis" statement closing the second paragraph to stand. davigoli (talk) 01:42, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
The denial of Jesus' historicity (what Davigoli calls the "strong" claim) is a distinct and notable topic which deserves its own article--and that article happens to be this one. The idea "that the claims made about Jesus in the Bible are not 100% historically accurate" is something that the vast majority of scholars who study the historical Jesus would agree with, and there's an entire ecosystem of Wikipedia articles devoted to this topic--amusingly, historicity of Jesus and historical Jesus are separate articles. Mainstream scholarship goes there--this article is for the view that there never was a historical Jesus.
Even though the JMH is now a fringy idea, it has a long enough history, and enough notable proponents (Bauer, Drews, Robertson, Whittaker, Wells) that it deserves a separate article. Including Mack/Armstrong/Pagels in this article will conflate a minority idea with mainstream scholarship, making the JMH look more mainstream than it actually is. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:43, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I'll concede that the "strong" claim should have its own article, but then this article should not use the word "myth" in its title. "Myth" is a multivalent term that could denote any sort of mythological story. For the sake of clarity, it should not be used in this article, even if some proponents of the "strong" claim have used it. The article should in general be clearer about the exact claims that it's discussing. It is not clear from the present writing that the "strong" claim is being discussed, and indeed, many passages seem to take aim at weaker versions of the claim. davigoli (talk) 02:01, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
Indeed, statements in the current article like "a mythical composite character based on earlier historical persons" in the lead graf would seem to contradict the statement that this article is about the "strong" claim. If that is what this article is indeed about, they should be removed. davigoli (talk) 02:04, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
I vaguely remember something regarding changing the name of the article to better reflect what the Jesus myth hypothesis really was about 18 months ago but as with User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis efforts it got lost in all the other things going on in the talk page. That said the use of the type Myth does accurately reflect what the Jesus Myth Hypothesis is about. It is not just the idea that Jesus never existed but also that the Jesus of the Bible has been so mythologized that effectively nothing remains of the historical person (a position held by both Bertrand Russell and Richard M. Price). The fact that the Pro Historical Jesus experts go after the most extreme views only shows efforts to strawman the argument. To date not one expert addressing the more moderate positions in detail has been produced (a one sentence blurb by a book an expert does not count).--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:39, 26 November 2008 (UTC)
That sounds appropriate, but then we're back where we started: does this article talk only about the "strong" claim (as some above have maintained) -- namely, that there never was a historical Jesus figure -- or does it also discuss the "weak" claim, as you say -- that whatever historical Jesus there may have been has been obscured by mythologizing? It seems to me that it might be possible to have an article about the "strong" claim, but such an article would be much, much smaller and more precise than the present one, and would need to be renamed. A more useful, encyclopedic article named "Jesus Myth Hypothesis" would need to also embrace the "weak" argument and devote much less time to the "strong" one, as the "weak" claim is indeed more mainstream and arguably much more influential. The editors of this article need to settle the question "what is this article about, exactly?", or this article should be proposed for deletion. davigoli (talk) 17:19, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

My humble opinion is that a certain chaos results from an imprecise terminology. The claims like "Jesus was historical", "Jesus never existed" etc. have no value when their meaning is not precisely specified and scholarly argued. (Similarly a claim like "biblical scholars and historians regard the thesis as "effectively refuted"" has no value if there is no reference to a scholarly argued refutation ...) As I understand this, the "strong claim" discussed above should be specified somehow like "a thorough methodological treatment of the evidence regarding the beginnings of Christianity that we have provides better reasons for concluding the nonhistoricity of Jesus of the New Testament than for concluding the historicity". (This can be viewed as the claim of, e.g., Earl Doherty, who provides a very detailed, and in my view clearly scholarly, argumentation for this "strong claim".) A "weaker claim" can be then exemplified by the above citation of R.M.Price "Even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered". This weaker claim does not say directly that the evidence points more decisively to the nonhistoricity, but says that we have no good basis for a conclusion in favour of the historicity. (In fact, the argumentation in Price's books gives very good reasons for leaning towards the nonhistoricity.) But I am afraid it is very difficult to find a consensus among the editors how to write all this. This is no wonder, since the official scholars themselves seem not to be unified in terminology, methodology etc. For those interested, I am adding a reference to the Jesus Project http://www.jesus-project.com/; it seems delayed but one can read the original introduction http://www.jesus-project.com/intro.htm. (I am just citing: The Jesus Project, as CSER has named the new effort, is the first methodologically agnostic approach to the question of Jesus’ historical existence.) It seems that their first meeting will happen soon:

http://www.centerforinquiry.net/amherst/events/sources_of_the_jesus_tradition_an_inquiry/

One can deduce that such efforts have to overcome various problems even nowadays from http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/response_rjh.htm. So let us hope that the members of academic community themselves will clarify the "strong claims" and "weak claims" etc., and that we (wiki-editors) can then cite scholarly opinions with the appropriate references to the appropriate scholarly works.Jelamkorj (talk) 23:44, 26 November 2008 (UTC)

Price

We should be careful about calling Price an advocate of a "weak" Jesus Myth theory. I've noticed that BruceGrubb is quoting a statement Robert Price made in a debate transcribed here. The quote comes from Price's opening statement, in which he discusses four senses in which Jesus can be considered a fiction: "1) it is quite possible that there was no historical Jesus. 2) Even if there was, he is lost to us, the result being that there is no historical Jesus available to us. And 3) the Jesus who "walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am his own" is an imaginative visualization and in the nature of the case can be nothing more than a fiction. And finally, 4) "Christ" as a corporate logo for this and that religious institution is a euphemistic fiction, not unlike Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, or Joe Camel, the purpose of which is to get you to swallow a whole raft of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors by an act of simple faith, short-circuiting the dangerous process of thinking the issues out to your own conclusions."

Sense #1 is what we've been calling the "strong" claim. That's the subject of this article. Price tends to say that he thinks Jesus' ahistoricity is likely, rather than saying that Jesus definitely didn't exist, but he still clearly thinks that the "strong" claim is convincing. #2, which BruceGrubb claims is a version of the Jesus Myth theory, is in fact a mainstream idea--that there was a historical Jesus, but the Gospels, etc. don't give us reliable information about him. Note that Price refers to Paul Tillich in connection with this idea ("Paul Tillich said that the historical Jesus can never be known with certainty")--but I don't think anyone can claim that Tillich was an advocate of the Jesus Myth. (As I type this, I remember all of the surprising things that editors have said on these talk pages, and I wonder if we're now going to start getting long posts about how Tillich should be in this article...)

As I said, sense #2 is a mainstream idea. Note that Price does not say that this idea is the Jesus Myth. Price does use the words "myth", "mythical", and related words several times in the article--but in reference to sense #1. In fact, Price refers to the "Christ-Myth Theory", but only in connection with sense #1, the idea that there was no historical Jesus--he says "40 years is easily enough time for legendary expansion anyway, but the Christ-Myth Theory does not require that the Christ figure was created in Pontius Pilate's time, only that later, Pilate's time was retrospectively chosen as a location for Jesus." Price does not say that sense #2 is a version of the Jesus Myth. This is unsurprising, since elsewhere he clearly defines the Jesus Myth hypothesis as the idea that there was no historical Jesus--see his essay The Quest of the Mythical Jesus, which starts "When, long ago, I first learned that some theorized that Jesus had never existed as an historical figure, I dismissed the notion as mere crankism, as most still do." The second paragraph continues "From this eminently reasonable position (its cogency reinforced by the unfolding of the messiahship of Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson) I eventually found myself gravitating to that crazy view, that Jesus hadn’t existed, that he was mythic all the way down, like Hercules." At the end of this essay Price again takes an "agnostic" stance ("There may once have been an historical Jesus, but for us there is one no longer") but if one reads the entire essay it's clear that the Jesus Myth is about whether a historical Jesus existed or not.

As for the title of the article, I agree it's problematic (not only "myth", but also "hypothesis" cause all sorts of problems), but the policy that governs article names, WP:NAME, is pretty clear--we use whatever name is most commonly used. As far as I can tell, this idea is usually called the Christ Myth or the Jesus Myth (probably stemming from Arthur Drews' Die Christusmythe). So I don't think we can get away from having "myth" in the title. "Hypothesis", however, might be something we can get rid of. --Akhilleus (talk) 04:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


I disagree flatly about the title of the article. "Jesus Myth" is sufficiently broad a term that it cannot be considered the intellectual property of a single author (Burton Mack for instance has a book called "Christian Myth", and perhaps dozens of other similar instances could be found); also, "Jesus Myth" is an frequently-used turn of phrase in comparative mythology. If we are to retain the term "myth", we should disambiguate with a name that associates strongly with the most outspoken proponents of the "strong" idea, whoever they may be. Perhaps in some other field of study that did not brush so closely against serious mythological studies, the use of "Myth" to denote "fiction" might be appropriate, but here it's just reckless. davigoli (talk) 06:03, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
I don't like the title of the article, but "Jesus myth" and "Christ myth" are commonly used to name this theory; as I've noted, this probably stems from the title of Arthur Drews' Die Christusmythe--so it does resonate strongly with an outspoken proponent, as you put it. "Nonexistence hypothesis", which is what Van Voorst calls it, might be an alternative, but that is a far less commonly used name. --Akhilleus (talk) 15:55, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
When I say "associate strongly with the most outspoken proponent", I mean we should put that person or school's name in the title, not simply adopt whatever vague terminology they originally used. There are potentially many things that have been or could be called "Jesus Myth"; which one of those things is this article talking about? You seem to want to associate it narrowly with a few scholars, so those scholars should be clearly implicated in the title. davigoli (talk) 18:40, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Fair enough, note Price's references to the "Christ-Myth school" (quoted in this diff). There is a readily identified group of writers who are referred to as Christ-Myth theorists--those are Drews, Robertson, Smith, Bauer, etc. Would "Christ-Myth school" be a better name? What else would you suggest? --Akhilleus (talk) 05:57, 30 November 2008 (UTC)
"Christ-Myth School" is indeed a good candidate, as it narrows the idea to a specific school of thought rather than a broad-brush category of thought. On a side note, this article is currently the #1 Google result for such terms as "Jesus myth" and "Jesus mythology"; the narrow "Christ-Myth" school is most likely not the first source of information that people searching on this term are probably looking to find. So count me in as a vote to rename to "Christ-Myth School". davigoli (talk) 02:01, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
That's fine with me, but we should create a new talk page section (and perhaps a request on WP:RM) to see what other editors think about the new title. Just because we've agreed in the middle of an extensive talk page thread doesn't mean that others will agree with us, or that they've even noticed what we're dicussing. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:36, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Changing the article's title is not going to do much good as John E. Remsburg (Remsberg)'s The Christ uses the term "Christ Myth" for three of the chapters in his book but he fully accepts the possibility that Jesus might have existed. As a notable person Remsburg would allow the exact same mess we are seeing with the title Jesus Myth Hypothesis as he used the very term "Christ Myth" and admits to the possibility of a historical Jesus.--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:27, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Sounds like your main objection is with the title "Christ Myth School", not with the idea in general of changing the title. Do you have any other candidates you might suggest? davigoli (talk) 22:14, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Price also states in The Quest of the Mythical Jesus that "The burden of proof would seem to belong with those who believe there was an historical man named Jesus. I fully admit and remind the reader that all historical hypotheses are provisional and tentative.", "I admit that a historical hero might attract to himself the standard flattering legends and myths to the extent that the original lines of the figure could no longer be discerned. He may have lived nonetheless. Can we tell the difference between such cases and others where we can still discern at least some historical core? Apollonius of Tyana, itinerant Neo-Pythagorean contemporary of Jesus (with whom the ancients often compare him) is one such. He, too, seems entirely cut from the cloth of the fabulous. His story, too, conforms exactly to the Mythic Hero Archetype. [...] It might be that Jesus was just as historical as these other remarkable individuals, and that it was mere chance that no contemporary documentation referring to him survives. But we cannot assume the truth of that for which we have no evidence.", "And it implies an historical Jesus of a particular type. It implies a Jesus who was a latter-day Judah Maccabee, with a group of brothers who could take up the banner when their eldest brother, killed in battle, perforce let it fall. S.G.F. Brandon made a very compelling case for the original revolutionary character of Jesus, subsequently sanitized and made politically harmless by Mark the evangelist. Judging by the skirt-clutching outrage of subsequent scholars, Mark’s apologetical efforts to depoliticize the Jesus story have their own successors. Brandon’s work is a genuine piece of the classic Higher Criticism of the gospels, with the same depth of reason and argumentation. If there was an historical Jesus, my vote is for Brandon’s version." and the concluding paragraph of the essay "I have not tried to amass every argument I could think of to destroy the historicity of Jesus. Rather, I have summarized the series of realizations about methodology and evidence that eventually led me to embrace the Christ Myth Theory. There may once have been an historical Jesus, but for us there is one no longer. If he existed, he is forever lost behind the stained glass curtain of holy myth. At least that’s the current state of the evidence as I see it."
Reading Price's essay through my anthropological training I get a different view of what Price considers the "Christ Myth Theory". Akhilleus fails to mention introduction was used nearly entirely verbatim into an article called Christ a Fiction (1997) which concludes with the "So, then, Christ may be said to be a fiction in the four senses that 1) it is quite possible that there was no historical Jesus. 2) Even if there was, he is lost to us, the result being that there is no historical Jesus available to us. And 3) the Jesus who "walks with me and talks with me and tells me I am his own" is an imaginative visualization and in the nature of the case can be nothing more than a fiction. And finally, 4) "Christ" as a corporate logo for this and that religious institution is a euphemistic fiction, not unlike Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, or Joe Camel, the purpose of which is to get you to swallow a whole raft of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors by an act of simple faith, short-circuiting the dangerous process of thinking the issues out to your own conclusions." statement. Furthermore in both versions Price calls point 2 above as a "variation on the theme" and sums it up with the "My point here is simply that, even if there was a historical Jesus lying back of the gospel Christ, he can never be recovered. If there ever was a historical Jesus, there isn't one any more. All attempts to recover him turn out to be just modern remythologizings of Jesus. Every "historical Jesus" is a Christ of faith, of somebody's faith. So the "historical Jesus" of modern scholarship is no less a fiction." quote. Clearly this puts the mythologized to the point that nothing remains camel nose and all in the Jesus myth hypothesis tent.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:12, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
In fact, Christ a Fiction (1997) and the opening statement in the Price-Rankin debate are identical, as far as I can see. I "fail[ed] to mention" this because, for some reason, I'm not familiar with everything that Price has ever published on his website--not that it's reasonable to expect that. Why do you think it's significant that Price re-used this essay, anyway?
The main point, of course, is that in that essay Price only calls position #1 the Christ-Myth theory. There's no reason to think that he was saying #2 was the Christ Myth, or for that matter, positions 3 & 4. Price is, I think, capable of talking about several ideas in an essay--there's no necessary reason to think that once he mentions the Christ Myth, everything in the essay must be about the Christ Myth.
On the other hand, if you think that everything in that essay is about the Christ Myth, that entails that not only #2 but also positions 3 & 4 are part of the Christ Myth. Do you believe that "'Christ' as a corporate logo for this and that religious institution is a euphemistic fiction, not unlike Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, or Joe Camel, the purpose of which is to get you to swallow a whole raft of beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors by an act of simple faith, short-circuiting the dangerous process of thinking the issues out to your own conclusions" is a version of the Jesus Myth? Also, since Price mentions Paul Tillich as someone who says that the historical Jesus can't be known with certainty, do you think Tillich should be labeled as a proponent of the JMH? --Akhilleus (talk) 05:02, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
The entire essay is about Christ being a fiction (which is why the essay is called Christ a Fiction) and stops five paragraphs short of the full opening statement and so is not "identical". Last I checked Ronald McDonald, Mickey Mouse, and Joe Camel didn't exist so yes saying Christ is a religious corporate logo is part of the Jesus myth; if you think about it that is not too far from the position of Joseph Wheless. System theory did away from the kind of compartmentalization strawman you are doing with Paul Tillich and that was back in the 1970s. The issue again goes back to where do Mead, Ellegard, Thompson, and now Wells fit into the "strong" position? They certainly don't say that Jesus was a total fiction but rather had a historical foundation in a earlier religious teacher and they have been in this article for years. Trying to narrow the JMH at this stage of the game IMHO smacks of trying to turn the entire article into a strawman.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:46, 28 November 2008 (UTC)

I can see that there are really terminology problems which arise when the basic terms and issues are not specified precisely. I know I will be not much active in trying to help repair this (one of the reasons being that I am not a native English speaker), I just felt like adding a further comment. The terminology problems seem inherent to this sort of study - unlike the sciences close to mathematics, the scholars in the areas like New Testament seem not much used to clarify the notions first, to explain their methodology, to discuss thoroughly (and scholarly) the opponents views, etc. It is then difficult for us to try to overcome these problems by ourselves. I will just try to concentrate on one aspect. I understand Akhilleus as follows: In the history of the New Testament research (until nowadays) there also appeared scholarly works which have in common an active proposing of the idea that the Jesus of the New Testament is a completely fictional character, i.e., he did not exist as a historical personage; and this wiki-article should give information about the respective authors and their ideas, together with a concise mention of their (small) impact on the mainstream scholarship in the New Testament studies. I agree with Akhilleus that an article concentrated on this topic is worth being a separate item in Wikipedia, as it is now. (The articles on comparative mythology, on the attempts to reconstruct a historical Jesus, etc. are, of course, related to this topic but they are handled separately.) A problem is how to label this topic - but this label should be only a working term, a commonly agreed abbreviation of the contents which should be clearly defined in the beginning of the article. But how to specify the idea that Jesus of the New Testament was not historical? If, e.g., Wells suggests that Paul (an author of a part of the New Testament) meant, by his "Christ Jesus", a (historical) man in the 1st century BCE or earlier, is Wells thus suggesting that Jesus of the New Testament was not historical? It does not sound logical. If somebody suggests that Jesus of Nazareth was not born from a virgin, was not walking on the water, was not resurrected after his death, etc., does he thus suggest that Jesus of the New Testament was not historical? We do not classify such a suggestion in this way. From all the context, to me it seems reasonable a specification along the following lines: by a claim "Jesus of the New Testament was historical" we mean that there was a Jew Jesus from Galilee who gathered some disciples, was crucified under Pontius Pilate in Jerusalem, and his disciples then started an activity which can be viewed as the start of the religion Christianity; that assumption also includes that all authors of early Christian literature (like the New Testament epistles) had this (very recent) Jewish person in mind when writing about Jesus Christ. Now we could say that those who suggest that this did not happen are suggesting that "Jesus of the New Testament was not historical". Then it is clear that Wells belongs to this "nonhistoricity" camp, since for him at least some author(s) of the New Testament epistles had no above mentioned recent historical personage in mind. ... OK, I am aware that you will probably skip over this contribution of mine viewing this as a "complicated attempt to play with words" or something like that. Anyway, I just wanted to stress that when the topic is not defined precisely, one can hardly expect a consensual writing.Jelamkorj (talk) 09:57, 30 November 2008 (UTC)

I agree with you regarding Wells but the problem is how Jesus-Myth (or Christ-Myth) is defined and there is no real consensus on that. The problem keeps going back to what I will call the Volney school of the JMH that held to the 'softer' position of "confused memories of a historical but obscure Messianic claimant could have contributed to Christianity" which was picked up by John E. Remsburg (Remsberg) in The Christ where in three chapters titled Christ-Myth he admits twice that Jesus might have existed. Like it or not the 'softer' part of the JMH or Christ-Myth has been there from the beginning (ie Volney) and so the issue is did the Volney school of the JMH effectively die with Remsburg or is more focus on the easily targeted Dupuis part of it?--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:14, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Change to the lead

This needed rewriting badly. A hypothesis is never an argument (otherwise just saying "I think this is true" would be considered an argument that it is true). The hypothesis is in fact a point of view. DJ Clayworth (talk) 21:24, 29 October 2008 (UTC)

I agree the article is a mess but the only effort at truly cleaning it up has been User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis efforts which have been largely ignored. Sadly this article state is common among controversial topics; the New Chronology article is a similar train wreck and Creationism article is also a mess.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:30, 30 October 2008 (UTC)
That something is labeled a hypothesis doesn't preclude it from really being an argument, perhaps even against another hypothesis. Terjen (talk) 06:08, 1 November 2008 (UTC)
No, but hypotheses generally aren't themselves arguments - they're provisional statements of fact or explanations (see Hypothesis). Arguments are lines of reasoning that are used to support or oppose hypotheses, assertions of fact or recommended courses of action (see Argument). The Jesus myth hypothesis is used in a variety of arguments challenging Christianity as a whole, or particular interpretations of it. The hypothesis itself is that Jesus, as represented in the New Testament, was not a historical figure but rather a mythological construct. I'd suggest that this article should focus first on clearly and concisely defining the hypothesis asserts, and only then discuss how it is used to challenge other points of view. EastTN (talk) 22:03, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
The definition of the word "hypothesis" is almost utterly irrelevant. That just happens to be the title of the article. Its content is what matters. It should be obvious that there are detailed arguements. Is anyone actually trying to make a useful point here? Paul B (talk) 22:13, 3 November 2008 (UTC)
I do think there's a real point buried here. On a quality level, defining the Jesus myth hypothesis as an "argument" is incorrect. No one expects an encyclopedia to be written by expert English stylists, but words should be used correctly. If this is ever to reach good article status, the writing is going to have to be cleaned up. On a more substantive level, characterizing it as an "argument" creates a tone that may not be helpful to the reader. Rather than a question of fact to be evaluated on its own merit, this characterization may suggest to the reader that the hypothesis is a line of reasoning that's advanced in support of (or opposition to) to a particular cause or world view. That may be how some editors view it - merely as a tool used to attack a more traditional understanding of Christianity. That approach would seem, though, not to take the hypothesis seriously in it's own right - as a Wikipedia article should. To the extent we can document that people have used the hypothesis to challenge other views of Jesus, we should certainly include that. But the hypothesis itself shouldn't be defined in terms of that particular use. EastTN (talk) 20:16, 4 November 2008 (UTC)

EastTN, what is so difficult to understand here? No, the article "should" not "take the hypothesis seriously in it's own right": not if it can be shown that mainstream academia does not. Wikipedia reflects academic mainstream, it does not opt what to "take seriously" on its own. --dab (𒁳) 08:11, 27 November 2008 (UTC)

You've misunderstood me - I never meant to suggest that the hypothesis is correct. But it is a real hypothesis in the sense that it asserts the truth or falsity of certain things, which means that the hypothesis itself can be either true or false. It's not just a rhetorical flourish in a broader debate (although it is certainly used that way). What I was trying to say is that the article should clearly describe what the hypothesis asserts, and then clearly and accurately describe what the work of academics tells us about it (and I agree with your judgment of the academic consensus on this). We should also describe how the hypothesis has been used in arguments about Christianity. I just don't think we should describe the hypothesis itself as nothing but an argument, as if it were the academic equivalent of someone saying "no, yo mama!" EastTN (talk) 22:19, 8 December 2008 (UTC)
Dbachmann, there are "mainstream" academics who take it very seriously, as long as the subject is not defined too narrowly. For example, there is Hyam Maccoby theorie, or, as another example, John Shelby Spong in his book Liberating the Gospels[11]. There is also some interesting discussion going back to ancient sources[12] Malcolm Schosha (talk) 12:48, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Who says that Maccoby or Spong are JMH advocates? In the review that you linked to, Doherty says that it is not Spong's intention to cast doubt on a historical Jesus. --Akhilleus (talk) 13:43, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Spong considers the Gospel stories not to be historical descriptions, but midrashic in nature. To quote the article I linked to:

The difficulties of the Gospels evaporate, however, with the aid of Spong's key—actually two keys. The evangelists did not conceive of their writings as history, he declares. Rather, they were stories, never intended to be taken literally, which served to illustrate the meaning of Jesus (that is, the presumed historical Jesus) according to a longstanding Jewish practice. This practice was known as "midrash". In this particular expression of midrash (there are many ways this word and concept can be applied), the writer retold an existing biblical story in a new story and new terms, basing many of its details on specific scriptural passages. Thus Jesus was portrayed as a new Moses, in settings and with features which paralleled the stories of Moses; he was represented as performing actions such as "cleansing the Temple" which embodied ideas expressed in prophets such as Zechariah. In this way, all the significances and associations of the older context would automatically be soaked up by the new one. To the knowledgeable reader or listener, a story or anecdote modelled on an identifiable prototype in scripture would convey a meaning and inspiration far deeper and more detailed than that contained in the simple words themselves. This was the power of midrash.

In other words he sees the accounts of the life of Jesus as intended to be educational myths. Malcolm Schosha (talk) 13:56, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
There are many, many proponents (Burton Mack, Karen Armstrong, Rudolf Bultmann, et al.) of a view that the popular or orthodox conception of Jesus consists mostly of mythological embellishment around a largely unknowable historical personage. The extremes on either side maintain either that there never was such a historical personage (ie., that Jesus is entirely fictional), or on the other hand, that Biblical or other accounts are entirely historically accurate. Neither of these last two views are mainstream scholarship. The primary scholarly debates around historicity seem to center on exactly how much can be known about the historical figure of Jesus (more than 0%, less than 100%), and how much embellishment has taken place.
For the purposes of this article, we need to do a better job distinguishing between the "strong" claim that there never was a historical personage of Jesus, and the "weak" claim that challenges the historicity of certain attributes, sayings, or events put forth in the Bible or other contemporary texts. That is to say, it seems that, for some editors of this article, any challenge to the historical accuracy of Biblical accounts amounts to a "fringy" or marginal theory, which is absolutely not the case in mainstream scholarship. This article, in its current form, purports to marginalize the "weak" claim, while actually doing nothing more than refuting the "strong" claim. davigoli (talk) 18:54, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Davigoli, I'm a bit confused by your post. As I've said, this article is about what you're calling the "strong" claim--and only that. The "weak" claim, as you note, and as I've said, is a mainstream claim. The "weak" claim is not the Jesus Myth hypothesis. If one reads the Price essays linked in the post above, or looks at how Earl Doherty uses the term on his website, it's very clear that Jesus Myth theory=no historical Jesus. That's pretty much what this article says, unless I'm missing something. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:05, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Akhilleus: Thanks for the response. Please see the diff of my recent edit to the lead to see what I found ambiguous in the previous wording. Also, this article spends a lot of time discussing mythological influences (Horus, Mithras, etc.) on the Christ-myth that are of interest to either the "strong" or the "weak" camp. Since these topics have no bearing on the evidence for a historical Jesus personage, where possible, references to mythological influences should be removed from this article - they're already covered in Jesus Christ in comparative mythology. davigoli (talk) 19:12, 27 November 2008 (UTC)


Ok, let me have it - I've reworded a few sentences in the lead to focus more solidly on the "strong" claim, since a consensus seems to be emerging that the strong claim is indeed what this article is about. Since that's the case, discussions of "historicity" in the article should probably clarify that the JMH argues against the existence of Jesus, since "historical" is an ambiguous and debatable term. davigoli (talk) 19:09, 27 November 2008 (UTC)
Actually there nothing even resembling a consensus and there is a large range in the JMH as demonstrated by Price. Furthermore, this change doesn't really help as you have scholars like Van Voorst spin doctoring the position of Wells (which is just a variation of the positions of Mead, Ellegard, and Thompson) as a "final argument against the nonexistence hypothesis" even though "this Jesus was not the Christ that the later canonical Gospels portray." That is on par with someone who takes "The Great Game" regarding Sherlock Holmes a little too far and claims a record of a John Watson who fought in the first Boar War is "proof" Watson wasn't a fictional character and ergo neither was Holmes. When you actually read Wells' summation of his argument on page 244 of Jesus Myth? it is clear he regards Paul's Jesus as living in the 1st century BCE at the latest and that the Gospels were an effort to make Paul's Jesus seem more contemporary. It still boils down to Wells saying the Jesus outside of Paul's writings is at best a composite character with with each Christian sect having their own set of Gospels portraying a Jesus that best suited their views. Price's The Pre-Nicene New Testament: Fifty-four Formative Texts shows that some degree of formative process went into forming the New Testament as we know it was going on.--BruceGrubb (talk) 00:13, 28 November 2008 (UTC)
It seems, without having read too many of the authors brought up here (Price, Van Voorst, Wells, etc.), but having read quite a bit of others (Mack, Armstrong, Pagels, White, and others), that most critical Bible scholars don't really have a strong opinion on the historicity of Jesus. While some may have speculated that it's possible that Jesus is entirely fictional, and some may have even weighed the evidence and found it lacking, the truth of the matter seems to be that the "strong" claim doesn't have that many adherents who would insist that Jesus is definitely fictional, and from a theological, mythological, and historical viewpoint, that so much of the New Testament account is "mythologized" that it doesn't particularly make a difference whether there was once a real person under there or not. The most interesting aspects of the JMH are the "weak" aspects, since they emphasize that most of the persona we identify with Jesus is in fact the product of the human imagination, with no basis in any historical person. This is of course why this article is so controversial, and why (I suspect) many would like to keep the focus on the "strong" claim, which can then be construed as "fringy".
If someone here can make the case that the "strong" hypothesis (that Jesus is entirely, not just partly or mostly, fictional) has had serious scholarly backing, and that there is a significant school of thought that insists on a completely fictional Jesus, then perhaps this article should remain about that subject. My suspicion, however, is that such a school of thought has never existed, because most serious scholars realize that the events are too remote to have such certainty about. If this is the case, this warrants a complete rewrite of this article to emphasize the "weak" hypothesis, and perhaps deletion or merging with Jesus in Comparative Mythology. There are plenty of Jesus articles as it is. davigoli (talk) 06:23, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
Ok, after doing a quick review of the sources, it seems the authors associated with the "strong" position are:
Feel free to add more, if you can think of any. From what I can tell, Doherty is not taken seriously even among other JMH proponents, and Price and Wells, while leaning toward the "strong" position, allow for the possibility of a historical Jesus figure of some sort; in fact, their positions on this have softened somewhat. I really don't see how this can be construed as a serious intellectual movement, even a discredited one, as it doesn't really seem like many scholars have even put too much weight on the subject. In fact, as I've said elsewhere, the most interesting aspects have to do with the mythological persona of Jesus, to which the fact of a literal historical person is almost entirely irrelevant. As Burton Mack says:

If we want to render a cultural critique, it is the relationship of the Christ of the gospel to the cultures that pattern our social constructions that needs to be addressed. Skirting the narrative gospels to get "back" to the historical Jesus will not work. No reconstruction of the historical Jesus can account for the narrative gospel in the first place, or challenge the narrative gospels and the portrayal of Jesus they present in the popular imagination. The current quest for the historical Jesus does not raise questions about the supposed reasons for the importance of the historical Jesus. It does not raise questions about the effective difference Christianity makes as a social presence and cultural influence in our world. It has not asked what it is about the Christian gospel and religion that is inappropriate, inadequate, troubling, or even dangerous as we face the social and cultural issues of our time. New Testament scholars have not found a way to broach, much less discuss questions such as these in the public forum. The quest for the historical Jesus actually avoids these questions. It seeks, on the model of the Protestant reformation, to leap-frog over the "wrongheaded" myths and rituals of the Christian churches to land at the beginning where the pure, clean impulse of an uncontaminated Jesus can rectify and rejuvenate Christian faith. That is mythic thinking with an apron-string attachment to Christian mentality. It will not produce a scholarly account of Christian origins. And it will not produce a rejuvenated (Christian) spirituality unbeholden to the gospel accounts." (Christian Myth: Origins, Logic, and Legacy, pp. 39-40)

And that's a viewpoint that I think most every Bible-critical scholar - whether "strong" or "weak" on the JMH - would put at the forefront of their views, and would seek to emphasize over the relatively marginal debates about historicity. davigoli (talk) 07:13, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Davigoli, the JMH is certainly marginal, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't have its own article. The JMH (the denial of Jesus' historicity) is a distinct trend in the study of the historical Jesus; its main proponents are Bruno Bauer, the so-called Radical Dutch School, John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith, Arthur Drews, and George Albert Wells. Price and Doherty are well-known proponents of the view right now, but they pale in comparison to the impact that the theory had in the early 20th century, when Drews in particular was well-known--extensive coverage in newspapers, public demonstrations, etc. Some eminent theologians discussed his work at public debates, and there were refutations in the popular and academic press.

Albert Schweitzer devoted several chapters to the theory in the second edition of The Quest of the Historical Jesus, and Van Voorst and William Weaver (both cited in this article) devote book chapters to the theory. (Neither Van Voorst nor Weaver call it the "Jesus Myth", though, they prefer to use terms such as "nonexistence hypothesis", perhaps because of the ambiguity of the word "myth".)

What you're calling the "weak" hypothesis is not the Jesus Myth; it is (sometimes) a mythical (small "m") theory, but not everything that talks about a mythologized Jesus is the Jesus Myth theory. This is easily confirmed by looking at Doherty, Price, etc., who use "Christ Myth theory" (and variants) to refer to the non-historicity thesis. For example, Price says: "The power of Burton Mack’s case is such that he has managed to convince the great proponent of the Christ-Myth theory in our day, George A. Wells, to abandon the ground he defended for so long. Wells now significantly qualifies his own argument to the effect that, while there was a Cynic-style sage named Jesus underlying Q1, this shadowy figure did not give rise to the mythic Christ of the gospels, and that we must look elsewhere for the antecedents of the latter." (Deconstructing Jesus, p. 115) Here, Price is saying that Wells has abandoned the Christ-Myth theory and now acknowledges that there was a (Cynic-style) historical Jesus. Elsewhere in the same book, Price says: "Some of Frazer's contemporary critics reacted to his speculations a bit too vehemently, apparently confusing his ideas with those of the Christ-Myth school. To this Frazer responded thusly: 'The doubts which have been cast on the historical reality of Jesus are my judgment unworthy of serious attention.'" (Deconstructing Jesus, p. 84.) Price distinguishes between the Christ-Myth theory and Frazer's analysis, which was a thoroughgoing comparative mythological analysis, and probably the classic source for Jesus as a dying and rising god. The distinction between the "Christ-Myth school" and Frazer's analysis is precisely whether there was a historical Jesus or not--otherwise, there is a great deal of common ground between Frazer and someone like Robertson or Drews.

So, as I've said many times, the article should be about the "strong" claim, because that's what the JMH is. That's what Drews and Wells advocated, that's how contemporary sources, such as Price, describe the Christ-Myth theory, and that's how reliable secondary sources such as Van Voorst and Weaver describe the theory.

The idea that the NT Jesus is a "social construction" that met the needs of (diverse) early Christian communities is not a fringy position, but it's not the subject of this article. As I've already said, Mack, Armstrong, and the others that you mention should be covered in other articles. Indeed, insofar as Price is talking about the origins of early Christian texts and the various Christian communities they served, that material might belong in another article also. It's worth noting that in Deconstructing Jesus Price doesn't describe himself as a Christ-Myth theorist, so it might be better to characterize his approach as one that is inspired (in part) by the Christ-Myth theory. --Akhilleus (talk) 15:52, 29 November 2008 (UTC)

Akhilleus wrote: The idea that the NT Jesus is a "social construction" that met the needs of (diverse) early Christian communities is not a fringy position, but it's not the subject of this article. Akhilleus, this is the argument that you have long used to keep this article in a straight jacket, and it is a view that is not supported by the introduction to the article. Malcolm Schosha (talk) 16:23, 29 November 2008 (UTC)
It wasn't even supported of the body of the article back when and several others had to fight tooth an nail back in January 2008 to get the composite idea in the beginning of the article despite the fact it was already in the body of the article. I finally gave the verbal smackdown that basically said 'if it is poorly worded then reword the blasted thing rather than delete it'. KrytenKoro did this with the comment "this is how it should have been reworded, instead of throwing your awful hissy-fit". Calling people on deleting poorly worded passages that shows the theory is more than it really is because they were lazy to reword them is not 'throwing a awful hissy-fit' but is pointing out that the theory is being portrayed in a strawman like manner and the the editors in question seem to be more concerned with their own personal agendas than with FACTS. The FACT is the the JM does contain more than the Jesus never existed idea; one only need to look at "History of the hypothesis" and "Early proponents" for JMer who supported a historical Jesus (Volney, Loman, Russell are still in the article). Kenosis gave the best summation of the whole situation but nothing really came of it and nearly 2 years later we are still hashing out issues. Kenosis said later on that page "Jesus myth hypothesis covers the hypotheses that either totally dispute the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, or which think Jesus of Nazareth is actually a composite of mutliple persons, or which in some other way assert that there is no meaningful resemblance between the facts and the stories that have come down to the present day.--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:12, 2 December 2008 (UTC)

As you may have discovered, I've revised to lead to contrast the "strong" position (which, I suppose, is the main topic of this article) with the broader "weak" position. I'd appreciate any feedback or further discussion of the changes I've made or the problems that remain. One phrase I might take issue with is the statement, in the third sentence: "the idea that the Gospel Jesus has had so much added that no details regarding an actual historical person can be determined". This is almost identical to the form-critical position of the Rudolf Bultmann school: "we can now know almost nothing concerning the life and personality of Jesus, since the early Christian sources show no interest in either, [and] are moreover fragmentary and often legendary." I would maintain that this last point has much broader acceptance than the "strong" view in itself: to wit, we're interested here in a "strong" view that conveys certainty in the fictionality of the Jesus persona, that, as portrayed by Robert Price in "The God Who Wasn't There", Jesus was a fabrication of Paul or other early Christians, and that there was no historical founder of Christianity named Jesus. However, I suppose a great degree of the vagueness of the "historicity" debate centers on what exactly we expect to find. How much of a Jesus should we expect to reconstruct, to what degree do we expect it to be concordant with gospel accounts, etc. The question, for scholars, is not an easy one. Lucky for us, we're not the ones attempting to decide these questions. We are, however, attempting to faithfully record the various positions taken around them, and respect the complexities of the discussion at hand. --davigoli (talk) 05:23, 1 December 2008 (UTC)

The problem is "Volney believed that confused memories of a historical but obscure Messianic claimant could have contributed to Christianity when they become linked with solar mythology." Since Volney is identified as one the "founders" of the Jesus Myth Hypothosis this puts the "weak" theory in from the get go.--BruceGrubb (talk) 19:12, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Looking back through the archives I also found Akhilleus stated 14:13, 25 May 2008 "Again, the key point of the JMT is that it denies that Jesus was historical; in other words, the Jesus who was born sometime around 4 BCE and was crucified sometime in the 30s CE never existed as an actual person. [...] It would be enough to clearly describe the versions of the JMT that are out there--all deny that the gospels are based on a real person who was crucified in the 30s, but some versions argue that the gospels are based on an earlier figure who lived ~100BCE." I should note this also this disproves his claim "I've said many times, the article should be about the "strong" claim, because that's what the JMH is." by his own words.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:11, 2 December 2008 (UTC)


The idea that the Jesus of the New Testament is based on a historical figure who lived ~100 BCE is a version of the "strong" claim. It still fulfills the criterion that "the Jesus who was born sometime around 4 BCE and was crucified sometime in the 30s CE never existed as an actual person." Or are you telling us that G.R.S. Mead says that there was a historical Jesus (born around 4 BCE, crucified ~30 CE)?
Also, can you provide any examples of a reliable source saying that Bertrand Russell is an advocate of the JMH? --Akhilleus (talk) 20:41, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
Again you totally missed the point I was making, Akhilleus. You yourself have agreed that the "some versions argue that the gospels are based on an earlier figure" is part of the JMH which is Wells' current position but this position is as odds with the JMH according to Van Voorst as accepting "Jesus probably did exist" ('NonExistence Hypothesis', in Houlden, James Leslie (editor), 'Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia', page 660) Problem is this is at odds with "Volney believed that confused memories of a historical but obscure Messianic claimant could have contributed to Christianity when they become linked with solar mythology". Yet Volney is presented as one of the "great forerunners" of the JMH. As I have mentioned before Mead has been called a Jesus myther which again throws Van Voorst's claim of Wells no longer being in the JMH crowd out the window because Wells is now in the same area as Mead and as Volney. So either Van Voorst is right and ideas like Volney's are not part of JMH or you are right and Van Voorst is wrong.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:04, 3 December 2008 (UTC)


This is a tricky angle to cover. Clearly there are many, many proponents of the "weak" claim out there, probably many more than of the "strong" claim. However, the "weak" claim essentially overlaps with a more generic comparative-mythology analysis of the New Testament which proposes (as Mack, Meyer, et al. would have it) that early Christians, regardless of the existence of a historical founder, were heavily influenced by the mythological milieu of their time; that there was a sufficient gap between the alleged death of Jesus and the earliest written gospel accounts of his life during which the Church was largely kept going by oral tradition; that the early church was rife with sectarian divisions, which gave rise to a variety of competing theological gospel pictures (including, among others, the Gnostic gospels in the Nag Hammadi, rejected by Irenaeus et al. during the formation of the canonical New Testament); and that the standardization of New Testament doctrine and theology was only formally decided in the 4th century at Nicea, which gives plenty of time for all manner of picking-and-choosing among the earlier contradictory or enigmatic texts based on ostensibly theological criteria to shape the overall picture - a picture in turn influenced, in the minds of the individuals at the Council, by the mythological thinking of their time. This seems to be the standard picture accepted by serious (non-apologist) historians of early Christianity.
Pertaining to this article, this would also seem to be consonant with the JMH; however, I'm not sure how many of these scholars would associate themselves with the it. The problem then becomes discerning, among scholars with essentially identical or at least compatible views on the early church, which ones should be associated with the JMH and which ones not. Among scholars who hold to the "weak" view, then, some call this view the JMH and others just call it good scholarship. So how are we to distinguish? davigoli (talk) 20:36, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
You distinguish by seeing who actually claims that they're talking about the "Christ-Myth Theory". Very few people say that. Or, you look at who is said to be an advocate of a "Christ-Myth Theory" or a "nonexistence hypothesis" by reliable secondary sources. Again, very few people are named as such (but some notable people are, so it's still worth having an article). I doubt that anyone who holds to the "weak" position as you've just described it calls it the Christ-Myth Theory, the Jesus Myth hypothesis, the nonexistence hypothesis, or whatever else you want to call it. If you're holding up Price as an example of someone who holds the "weak" claim, please note that he does not call this specific claim the Christ-Myth Theory. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:52, 2 December 2008 (UTC)
On the other hand, this might be a pretty good indication of how Price defines the Christ Myth. --Akhilleus (talk) 01:20, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually things are not a clear cut as that. John E. Remsburg (Remsberg)'s The Christ goes into detail regarding the many views in 1909 regarding Jesus in Chapter 9 of his book and then goes on for the next three chapters on the Christ-Myth. Problem is while he used the pulled from other myths heavily Remsburg never said Jesus didn't exist. In fact, in chapter 10 he says "Jesus of Nazareth and his disciples, if they existed, were probably monotheists, believed that Jehovah was the only God, and neither believed nor claimed that Jesus was other than the son of man. As generations passed the man became obscured, his deeds were magnified until at length he was accepted as the Son of God, and a God himself. The deification of Jesus, then, together with the apotheosis of other mortals, cannot be regarded as an evolution from Jewish monotheism to a higher plane, but rather as a relapse from monotheism to polytheism." and again in chapter 12 he states "Jesus, if he existed, was a Jew, and his religion, with a few innovations, was Judaism. With his death, probably, his apotheosis began. During the first century the transformation was slow; but during the succeeding centuries rapid. The Judaic elements of his religion were, in time, nearly all eliminated, and the Pagan elements, one by one, were incorporated into the new faith." His presidency of the American Secular Union and 3,000 some lectures certainly met the standard of notable.
So here we have three chapters that have the title Christ Myth that hold to some of the ideas of Volney but also to the idea that Jesus might have existed in the proper time period written by a notable person. Look like the "strong" argument just did a major crash and burn and the weak one got expanded.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:47, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

Requested Move

The following discussion is an archived discussion of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the proposal was withdrawn. JPG-GR (talk) 06:59, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

On the grounds that the current title is vague and not sufficiently specific to the topic it purports to cover, I'm requesting that this article be renamed to "Christ-Myth School". Other proposals for a new name are welcome. It has become evident that this article receives more attention than is probably warranted; most of this is due to the current title, "Jesus Myth Hypothesis". Even though "Jesus Myth" is a phrase commonly used by proponents of the claims (namely, that the figure of Jesus is entirely fictional), the terms in question are so popular, and the terms in combination sufficiently vague, that it would be prudent to rename this article to avoid diverting undue attention. The "Jesus Myth" theory in this article pertains only to the historicity question, and though it touches tangentially to parallels in other Roman religions, does not contribute to the mainstay comparative mythology studies that deserve greater weighting with the terms "Jesus myth" (the current article for such studies is Jesus in Comparative Mythology. Currently, this article is the #1 Google search result for the terms "Jesus myth" and "Jesus mythology"; though this may be the fault of Google, we're not helping it any with a misleading title. Feel free to add your comments below. davigoli (talk) 08:04, 3 December 2008 (UTC)

The problem is not just the article's title. If you put in Jesus Myth in amazon you get a really weird selection of books. Thomas L. Thompson is certainly not a JMH supposrter by any stretch of the imagination but his book The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David comes up in amazon under the search Jesus Myth as does a lot of 'noise'. Adding to the problem is that users of amazon can use any 'tag' they think fits. So you have books like the Jesus Puzzle have 8 tags for "Historical Jesus" as well as "Mythical Jesus" but NO tags for Jesus Myth and one for Christ Myth. Ironically the last tag brings up Shattering the Christ Myth by James Patrick Holding in support of of a historical Jesus. Searching for Christ Myth is even more confusing as you get an even wider range of books under that. The scholars may (and that is a very big may) have an idea what Jesus/Christ myth means but John Q Public doesn't seem to have clue one.--BruceGrubb (talk) 10:59, 3 December 2008 (UTC)
  • Conditional Oppose. Let us have some evidence that this is actually called the "Christ-Myth School", preferably not limited to its opponents. Then we can see. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:13, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
    Strongly Oppose.. As the example of John E. Remsburg (Remsberg)'s The Christ changing the name is not going to address the real problem--the JMH has a large range including the idea Jesus might have existed but so much has been added from other mythology nothing of the actual person remains.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:57, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
    Conditionally Oppose. Upon reflection, the title "Christ Myth School" is possibly a worse title than the present one, as the concept of "Jesus" concerns the historical teacher, whereas the concept of "Christ" concerns the transcendent resurrected Messiah; the "Christ" elements are precisely the less-historically-corroborated ones, and the ones of most interest to comparative mythology studies. I still think the article should be renamed ("Jesus Nonexistence Hypothesis"? "Nonexistent Jesus Hypothesis"? Not sure yet), but this title isn't an improvement. --davigoli (talk) 00:28, 8 December 2008 (UTC)

Discussion

One reason "Christ-Myth School" is undesirable is that it misstates the subject. It is perfectly possible to believe that Jesus, son of Mary, existed as a human being, and that Christ is a myth; many do, and some of them are even theists. This article, however, deals with those who don't believe in the existence of Jesus. Septentrionalis PMAnderson 18:18, 4 December 2008 (UTC)

Hm. I thought the advantage of "Christ-Myth school" is that it denotes a group of people who hold a certain position (or range of positions). I don't really have time to do a proper demonstration, but here are some examples of how the term is used: [13]. But notice that "Christ-Myth Theory" is more common on Google Books: [14], and that it's generally used in reference to the denial of Jesus' historicity. And yeah, I know, Google Books is not the most convincing demonstration of usage. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:37, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Generally doesn't mean always, Akhilleus. Nevermind that your example does NOT bring up such known books are Jesus Puzzle or Jesus Myth; to bring up those books you have to look for Jesus Myth which brings up a staggering 634 compare to the paltry 166 results your limited search gets (to be fair looking for just Christ-Myth gets you 759 matches). Furthermore, a double quote search will only find that exact phrase so "Christ-Myth Theory" will NOT find any passages using terms like "Christ-Myth school" (79 matches), "Christ-Myth hypothesis" (6 results), and so on. Hardly good evidence for changing the name of the article especially as John E. Remsburg (Remsberg)'s The Christ would just open the door you are trying in all desperation to shut because he calls his theory "Christ myth" but does NOT say Jesus didn't exist but rather that even if Jesus did so much pagan mythology has been added that nothing of the actually historical man remains and he says this twice in two different chapters.--BruceGrubb (talk) 20:57, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for the additional search results, BruceGrubb. Through your search for "Jesus-Myth" I found Shattering the Christ Myth by J.P. Holding, a book-length treatment of the Jesus Myth theory which defines it as the denial of Jesus' historicity. Holding writes: "Remsberg himself seemed equivocal in his commitment to a Christ-myth thesis. He says in his chapter listing these names that it 'may be true' that a teacher in Palestine did exist. John Remsberg, The Christ (Prometheus Books: 1994), 18. But it is clear that his sympathies did lie with mythicists." (Shattering the Christ Myth, p. 94 n. 108.
I don't really have very strong feelings about the proper name of this article, but it would be nice to find a title that tells the casual reader that this article is about a particular subject, rather than any treatment of early Christianity that happens to combine the words "Jesus" or "Christ" and "myth". --Akhilleus (talk) 21:23, 4 December 2008 (UTC)
I would refrain from using J.P. Holding as an authority as he calls Mead a Christ Myther in his Baal of Hay article a position that put him at odds with Van Voorst who holds that Wells' present position is not part of the JMH; J.P. Holding directly contradicts Van Voorst in his Fairy Castles Built on Sand citing Doherty and saying the same thing about Doherty that I said about James Charlesworth ("Even worse, the dreaded "Most/The majority of scholars say...", "Scholarship says...", and "Scholars like X say..." routine, which I personally hoped had died a painful death long ago, here resurfaces with a vengeance.")! If you use Holding then you must accept my position regarding Charlesworth as J.P. Holding is a package deal--you can't cherry pick which views of his you like and which you think are garbage.--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:05, 5 December 2008 (UTC)


My big beef with the title - as well as the article in general - is that it's not clear what's meant by "Jesus" or "Myth". Some here (notably BruceGrubb) seem to want a very broad definition of these terms, but in that case, it's also not clear to me what this article is supposed to cover that is not already covered between Jesus in Comparative Mythology and Historicity of Jesus. What does this article do that those articles don't? If this article has a reason to exist, it must be dealing with something more specific than what those articles already address. davigoli (talk) 02:21, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I don't understand why this continues to be a problem. I think I've already made clear what I think this article is about, I'm not going to repeat myself. The way I defined the subject is exactly the way I find it defined in reliable scholarly treatments of the matter--if you haven't read the Van Voorst chapter, I urge you to do so, it's more illuminating than all 17 archives of this talk page (or whatever number we're up to now).
A different way of describing what the subject of this article might be to say that it covers the arguments of specific scholars/authors--we start with Volney/Dupuis, go to Bruno Bauer, then to John M. Robertson, William Benjamin Smith and Arthur Drews, then modern proponents like Wells, Price, and Acharya S (about whom I've actually found an academic source). Other authors could be added, but the point here is that these people are regarded as advocating a similar line of argument about the (non-)historical Jesus, and thus can be effectively regarded as a school of thought. This line of thought is notable, but decidedly outside the mainstream, so it shouldn't receive detailed coverage in an article like Historicity of Jesus--there's enough detail here for a discrete article. (Oh, dear, I'm repeating myself after all.) --Akhilleus (talk) 03:06, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
But you just demonstrated the problem, Akhilleus. You called Wells and Price supporters of the JHM when even Doherty says Wells holds to the "Jesus-as-myth" theory and Price's position has always been that you can't prove the Jesus of the canonical Gospels is a historical person. Both these positions are totally different from the "strong" position that Jesus didn't exist in any shape, way, or form. I noticed that you have not even touched on John E. Remsburg (Remsberg)'s use of the term "Christ Myth" which holds to the "soft" position. (Holding's aka Robert Turkel comments don't count as they can be shown to be in conflict with better known scholars and his research skill are highly questioned and all he admits to is having a Masters' Degree in Library Science--no history, anthropological, linguist, or even theology degree here. Robert Turkel quite bluntly is a joke and so little is independently know that the page on him was removed)--BruceGrubb (talk) 13:26, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I'll try and see if I can get my hands on a copy of the Van Voorst chapter you cite (I think my library has a copy), but even so, I don't see how a scholarly "movement" or "school" of any kind can be defined by its critics, who perhaps have a vested interest in lumping their enemies together and overgeneralizing their viewpoints. If there is a cohesive school, evidence must exist that these scholars work together or directly influence each other. Otherwise, it's just smoke and mirrors. davigoli (talk) 17:43, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I don't agree with you on this point--one of the jobs of scholars is to identify trends and movements in thought. However, if you look at the beginning of Drews' The Christ Myth I think you'll see that he thought of himself as part of a movement, and has a detailed description of his forerunners--which are Volney, Dupuis, etc. The material there is much like what you find in Schweitzer's coverage in The Quest of the Historical Jesus, available here. Robert Price, where I got the phrase "Christ-Myth school", from, certainly doesn't regard authors like Drews and Wells as "enemies", either. --Akhilleus (talk) 17:49, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
The foreword to George Albert Wells' The Jesus Legend (which is by R. Joseph Hoffman) says "In short, the old Christ myth school fell victim to its own rather amateurish approach to the anthropology of religion, its fascination with the ways of the Religionsgeschitchtliche-Schule..." However, on the same page Hoffman also refers to "myth theorists" and "old style myth theorists", so "Christ myth school" seems to be an ad hoc coinage rather than a settled terminology. But note that Hoffman has a specific group of authors in mind, of whom Arthur Drews is the one paid most attention. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:01, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree that scholars should identify and record intellectual trends, but then these scholars should be held to account for their reasoning behind this, and their conclusions should be backed with peer review and some form of consensus. I simply don't see any evidence that the trends identified by Van Voorst are a consensus view on the existence of a "Christ-Myth school". davigoli (talk) 19:37, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Um, that seems a bit odd. Aside from the fact that Van Voorst isn't the only one identifying these authors are sharing a common view regarding Jesus' historicity (Schweitzer, Drews, Weaver, and Price all say so), I can't see any justification for rejecting Van Voorst's analysis. Do you have a substantive reason for disagreeing with him? Or is it simply that he doesn't use the term "Christ-Myth school"? (He doesn't even use the term "Christ-Myth theory" or a variant thereof, except in reference to Drews.) --Akhilleus (talk) 19:44, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
The burden of proof lies with the one making the claim. The only reason I need to reject his claims is that I haven't seen them presented in a convincing way, backed, as I've said, by peer reviews, independent verification, and scholarly consensus. This is the exact same standard I hold - and, hopefully, any of us holds - for all research. davigoli (talk) 19:55, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Well, that certainly should be the principle you follow in deciding which claims to believe and which to disbelieve. However, Wikipedia articles are guided by content policies, the most important being neutral point of view, verifiability and no original research. The upshot is that Wikipedia articles present the views of reliable sources (academic scholarship where possible), instead of the personal views of Wikipedia editors. Van Voorst is clearly an expert on the topic, his work qualifies as a reliable source, and the objections of individual editors are unimportant, unless they are objections that have been published in other reliable sources. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:11, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
A further point: you said above that "Mack, Armstrong, and Pagels should definitely be covered, but not in this article--not unless they said there was no historical Jesus." Their exclusion from this article is contingent upon "no historical Jesus", but as we've shown, there isn't a consensus that this actually means anything specific. All three of these authors would agree that the New Testament depiction of Jesus is largely a-historical fiction, but beyond that, what does "no historical Jesus" mean? Mack thinks that the "quest for the historical Jesus" is a misleading waste of time, that a definite proof or disproof of a historical person is unattainable and detracts from more important questions. Armstrong and Pagels have a similar view to the Jesus Seminar consensus, namely that a historical Jesus was most likely a mortal, itinerant preacher that has been greatly embellished and mythologized by gospel accounts. This is largely in line with the "weak" claim. The point, once again, is that "historical Jesus" is not very well defined and means different things depending on who uses the term. If we are to expand this article to include various forms of the "weak" claim, then these authors should also be included. davigoli (talk) 19:52, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Davigoli, I don't mean to be rude, but I'm having trouble understanding why we're having this problem. Yes, "historical Jesus" can mean many different things, and there are many scholars who think looking for the historical Jesus is a waste of time. But it's not that hard to see what it means in the context of this article--a Jewish guy named Jesus, born around 4 BCE, crucified in the 30s CE, whose career inspired (in some fashion) the Gospels and other NT texts (plus non-canonical gospels, pagan testimonia, etc. etc.), not to mention the "Jesus movement" or whatever else you want to call early Christianity(-ies).
As you just noted, Armstrong and Pagels think there was (most likely) some itinerant preacher who's been mythologized by the gospel accounts (and presumably Gnostic texts, etc.). No problem, they think there's a historical Jesus. Mack thinks looking for the historical Jesus is a waste of time, but posits a Cynic-like sage. No problem, he (apparently) thinks there was a historical Jesus, but we can't know what he was really like--we should spend our time looking at the evolution of the early church(es?) and the texts that served its/their needs. Worth covering, but in other articles. (Which would probably end up being more interesting to most Wikipedia readers than this one.)
In contrast, this article is about people who think that if you could travel back in time to 29 CE, you would find no actual, mortal person named Jesus; no real person to inspire the gospels (and other texts). Some of these people think that if you could go to a different time period (say, ~100 BCE), you'll find some other person who provides a historical kernel for the gospels; but this person, the teacher of wisdom or whatever you want to call him, is still not the historical Jesus.
And, as I've said before, there are enough notable people who have advocated the ahistoricity of Jesus that the amount of material that needs to be covered deserves its own article. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:07, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
No, it seems apparent to me that the intent of many of these authors (Wells, Drews, et al) is to cast doubt on the historicity of the Jesus as depicted in the canonical gospels, part of which might include casting doubt on the contention that Jesus is even based on a historical figure at all, but I think you'll be hard-pressed to find anyone who insists that Jesus must be entirely fictional; even those inclined toward this viewpoint seem to express caveats about their own certainty. In the end, they're mostly making a case that attempts to undermine the conventional evidence put forth for historicity, claiming that there's an absence of evidence, perhaps, but in the end they realize that you can't prove a negative, and remain open to the possibility of some form of historicity; the point of interest is simply that not much can be known for sure, so for that reason, they seem to exist along a continuum that reaches into the Jesus Seminar folks. davigoli (talk) 20:38, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Are we talking about the same Wells and Drews?
R.E. Witt, review of G.A. Wells, The Jesus of the Early Christians, Journal of Hellenic Studies 92 (1972) p. 224: "W. has sought to find out for himself whether Jesus ever existed. The answer meets us at the very outset on p. 6, though it may not be obvious as a reader looks at the book's title. The reputed Founder of Christianity is 'a figment of human brains'. Throughout all ten chapters...W.'s essentially iconoclastic attitude is unyielding so that his conclusion (p. 313) rings out like the crack of doom: 'Christian origins can be accounted for, with reasonable plausibility, without recourse to a historical Jesus.' For W. (pp. 218 ff.) jesus is as mythological a personage as William Tell, a character already dealt with by our author in an article 'Criteria of Historicity' published in German Life and Letters. Neither of the two lived, as contrasted with the Sixteenth Century Faust. (p. 224)"
S. Jackson Case, "Recent Books on the Question of Jesus' existence," American Journal of Theology 15 (1911) p. 626: "The question of whether Jesus ever lived continues to attract attention. Drews's Christusmythe, which answers this question negatively, has recently been rendered into English; and W. B. Smith, whose Der vorchristliche Jesus (1906) denied Jesus' historicity, now presents further arguments in support of his position." --Akhilleus (talk) 05:03, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
BTW, Mack (in The Christian Myth) certainly does entertain the notion that Jesus is a complete fabrication by the early Jesus people. The point for him - as for most of these people - is that the bulk of the orthodox notion of Jesus is the result of mythmaking on the part of early Christians, and most of these scholars are pretty agnostic about hard proof for or against historicity. davigoli (talk) 20:44, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
I wouldn't say it is hard to find those that hold Jesus is a total fiction; Joseph Wheless is one such author going so far as saying the whole story was planned by the Church. It should be noted that Van Voost holds that 'the based on a earlier historical teacher' view is support for a historical Jesus which is totally at odds with other scholars.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:42, 5 December 2008 (UTC)
Where exactly does Van Voorst say this? --Akhilleus (talk) 05:03, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
'NonExistence Hypothesis', in Houlden, James Leslie (editor), 'Jesus in History, Thought, and Culture: An Encyclopedia', page 660 (Santa Barbara: 2003) regarding Wells' book The Jesus Myth (reference 45 as of this post). I have read Wells given the reviews were totally at odds with what Van Voorst said. Page 244 gives a nice summation showing that while Well states that the Gospel Jesus was based on Paul's "earlier Jesus" there is nothing to show Paul's Jesus was contemporary. Wells gives a better explanation of this position in Can We Trust the New Testament? which was written after Jesus Myth. I should mention that Wells slams the door on Van Voorst's claim regarding an about face in that he states that he has never held to the view the early Christian writers believed Jesus never came to earth (pg 4).--BruceGrubb (talk) 08:35, 6 December 2008 (UTC)
The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

How to remove neutrality dispute?

I don't think we're there yet, but I'd like to take stock at this time of the outstanding contentions that need to be resolved before we can remove the neutrality dispute on this article. I understand that a big point remains the definition of the article title. The article as it stands seems to reflect the view that the JMH is primarily the "strong" view (Jesus is a complete fabrication), and thus authors who don't fit into that narrow view should be excluded; others here hold that even proponents of the narrow view admit a lack of certainty, and therefore the "weak" view should also be included; in this case, a much wider range of authors should by implication be admitted, including authors (such as I have mentioned elsewhere, eg. the Bultmann/Schweitzer school) who incline toward a limited historicity. That would make this a much different article. What else remains outstanding? Are there specific sentences or wordings in the existing article that could be revised? Or will it require a much larger refactoring to get there? davigoli (talk) 06:16, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

Also, I might add that in spite of outstanding contention, I think it's actually a pretty good article about the "strong" claims, as it's thoroughly referenced and relatively neutral in tone throughout, which is difficult to achieve in such a contentious topic. I do still think the title is unfortunately too broad for general consumption, however. davigoli (talk) 06:56, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

If these are two separate, identifiable approaches ("weak" vs. "strong"), why don't we think about creating a separate article for the "weak" view? It's a bit clunky, but a title along the lines of "Limited historicity of Jesus hypothesis" would seem reasonably descriptive. It would seem easier to create a balanced article on a single view at a time than to create a balanced article that has to cover both in an evenhanded fashion. EastTN (talk) 16:21, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Thing is, the "weak" form is "weak" because it covers a huge swath of possible beliefs that derive from the idea that the New Testament gospels are not an entirely factual account of the life of Jesus, up to the conclusion that Jesus was historical, but nothing can be known about him, and the gospels are almost entirely myth. As a whole, it doesn't make many claims that are "strong", ie, falsifiable, such as "Jesus is definitely historical" or "Jesus is definitely fictional", preferring to operate under working assumptions as early Christian scholarship develops. It seems to me that this is the area where the vast majority of serious, non-apologetic New Testament scholarship is done today -- between absolute fictionality and absolute truth -- and we may find that it is a very broad and difficult area to cover, full of controversy. davigoli (talk) 16:52, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
The problem seems to be that the "strong" (Dupuis) and "weak" (Volney) schools of thought appeared nearly simultaneously and most of the focus on both sides of the argument has been on the "strong" part of the spectrum nearly to the point that the "weak" part of the argument has gotten buried. Another problem is is History at best is a social science; by their very nature social sciences can't say anything definite in the same way the natural sciences can. At best all a social science can do is give probabilities and in the times before the printing press those probabilities get increasingly shaky the further back in time you go.
Schuyler, Robert L. (1977) in "The Spoken Word, the Written Word, Observered Behavior and Preserved Behavior; the Contexts Available to the Archaeologist" Historical Archaeology: A Guide to Substantive and Theoretical Contributions Vol 10, No. 2 pg 347-360 stated that for any research in historical archaeology to be truly successful that the researcher should be familiar with the range of data available and the context from which that data comes from and design his methodology accordingly. The "context from which that data comes from" is where the whole Historical Jesus issue has problems--each scholar has their own idea regarding that context and as Miner showed with his "Body Ritual among the Nacirema" paper that context can have the unintended effect of skewing your results. Richard Carrier is one of the few scholars who has tried to look at the whole thing through the historical anthropological prism but even by the standards of the 1970s when the field was emerging his efforts are somewhat primitive. Richard Carrier in Did Jesus Exist? Earl Doherty and the Argument to Ahistoricity (2002) uses euhemerization in regard to Jesus so we need to figure out how to put that back in.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:06, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Even if the "weak" form covers a wide range, it's still narrower than trying to cover both the weak and strong forms in a single article. Could we do something reasonable by focusing an article on theories that Jesus was a real person who was largely mythologized by the gospel accounts? It might give us a place to put material on that broad middle ground between "gospels as sober history" and "Jesus is purely mythological." EastTN (talk) 16:05, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
To a large extent that is covered by the [Historicity of Jesus] article but again there is a large amount of overlap. THe real problem is that you have people tying to strawman the argument by focusing only one the supposedly 'strong' position.--BruceGrubb (talk) 05:22, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
Inappropriately equating a "strong" position with a "weak" position to discredit the "weak" position by association is a problem. But that's not the only thing we should consider. There's a real difference between "no one by that name ever existed, and it's all made up out of whole cloth" and "yes, he lived, but there's been a lot (or a fair bit, or a little bit, etc.) of mythologizing done about him." That difference strikes me as categorical, rather than just one of degree, because the question of whether or not a real Jesus ever existed is a binary question of fact (we could argue whether we have enough evidence to conclusively settle that question of fact, but that's another matter). Focusing on the "strong" position is not necessarily a straw man - especially if we have another article that appropriately covers "weak" positions.
The Historicity of Jesus does cover a lot of related material. I'd like to point to the Jesus in comparative mythology article. If you drop down to the Jesus_in_comparative_mythology#Interpretations section, it includes several subsections that cover both "weak" arguments and the "strong" argument. The "strong" subsection points to this article as the "main" article (and I think that's a reasonable focus for this one). One of the "weak" subsections points to Christian mythology as a "further information" link - but there's no "main article" link for the "weak" position. What I'm suggesting is that there should be. It would be easier for readers to make sense of all this if summary articles such as the Historicity of Jesus and Jesus in comparative mythology could outline the range of positions including both weak and strong, and then link to appropriate articles on both. EastTN (talk) 19:04, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
I really don't like the idea that "question of whether or not a real Jesus ever existed is a binary question of fact" because it ignores examples like King Arther, Robin Hood, or John Frum. You can find some historical foundation for each of these people but they are nothing like the stories we currently have regarding them. For example, history does record an islander named Manehivi taking on the name John Frum in 1940 and causing some major problems but according the village elders the "real" John Frum (a white US serviceman) had appeared to them in a vision nearly 10 years earlier. As early as the 1960s as far as believers were concerned the John Frum that existed was the 1930s white US serviceman the religion described and not the 1940 native Manehivi history records. If John Frum's eixstance cannot be reduced to a binary question of fact then why can be Jesus especially as many historical records are largely lost to us?--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:36, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
I personally agree with your viewpoint, BruceGrubb, as do (so it seems) the vast majority of serious Bible scholars. Karen Armstrong:

Jesus himself remains an enigma. There have been interesting attempts to uncover the figure of the 'historical' Jesus, a project that has become something of a scholarly industry. But the fact remains that the only Jesus we really know is the Jesus described in the New Testament, which was not interested in scientifically objective history. There are no other contemporary accounts of his mission and death.

-- (The Bible: A Biography. p. 59. Atlantic Monthly Press, NY: 2007)
Burton Mack:

... Neither a Cynic-like Jesus nor any other portrayals of the historical Jesus can account for Christian origins. ... Even the earliest layers of the 'teachings of Jesus' do not contain the 'authentic' sayings of the historical Jesus or project a true picture of what he must have been like. Thus the process of 'mythmaking' had already begun, a process that eventually produced the narrative gospels and 'the Christian myth'. ... It is instead the process of social formation and mythmaking that needs full description and theoretical grounding if we want to redescribe and explain Christian origins.

-- (The Christian Myth. p. 19. Continuum, NY: 2001).
Resigned that we can never know anything with much certainty about Jesus, serious scholars are concentrating not on the question of historicity, but rather on the psychological, historical, and sociological dynamics at play in early Christianity to explain the formation of the gospels and the Christian movement in general. However, it seems there are a few scholars (I suppose, especially, Doherty) who take a hard-line stance that Jesus must not be a historical figure; I think this line of inquiry is a waste of time, as it seems to me the consensus is that the question of historicity will forever remain inconclusive, given the evidence we currently have. I think any position that goes about trying to "prove" something about Jesus' historical existence is beating a dead horse, but I do think that at this point the Jesus of the gospels is widely and most accurately regarded as a primarly mythical personality. It is our job as WP editors to reflect the current state of scholarship, not pronounce judgments on the kind of scholarship we'd like to see, and one scholarly vein is the contention that Jesus is purely fictional. Whether that viewpoint deserves an entire article, or whether it should be a mere subsection of another article, I'm not sure. I do think that Price and also Wells seem to not hew too tightly to the strict-ahistorical argument, preferring to argue instead a sort of "Ockham's razor" point of view, that a historical Jesus is not required to explain Christian origins, but stop short of insisting that Jesus could not have existed. I would actually rather see these guys presented as a footnote in a broader article about the mainstream view. I don't know if they warrant their own article. What do you think? --davigoli (talk) 23:12, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
One more point on semantics: The claim "Jesus is a mythological figure" is NOT tantamount to the "strong" claim (that there was no historical Jesus). I would say therefore that the quote from Acharya S is NOT a restatement of the JMH, and should be removed. --davigoli (talk) 23:51, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
This is where the ambiguity of "myth" comes in. Some writers do say that "Jesus is a mythological figure" with the meaning that "Jesus is a fictional character". I haven't read Acharya S herself, but everything I've read about her indicates that she thinks that there was no historical Jesus, and this is exactly what she means when she says he's mythical. This page on her website might be a starting point. --Akhilleus (talk) 00:52, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
Then we need a better quote from her. I agree that she looks to be a "strong" proponent but that's not what that quote says in unambiguous terms. In fact, I'd say in the context of this article, "myth" is a weasel word and should be avoided where possible; in the context of quotations, an excerpt should be chosen that unabmiguously reflects the author's stance. --davigoli (talk) 02:03, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
This is an excellent recommendation--although it might be good to make clear the sense in which each author uses "myth", rather than avoid the word. But clarity should definitely be a goal, and "myth" is a concept that it's easy to be unclear about. --Akhilleus (talk) 05:32, 14 December 2008 (UTC)


I may not have been clear. Let me take the Robin Hood example and use it for a moment. It's one thing to say that there was a particular person, such as Hereward the Wake, Roger Godberd, or William Wallace who lived and around whose life the tales of Robin Hood developed. It's a very different think to say that no single person was the nucleus for the Robin Hood myth. When we ask "was their a real person at the core of the story?" we're asking a binary question. We may not be able to answer the question due to the fog of time and lack of good sources, but the question itself is a binary one.
Similarly, it's one thing to say that a 1st century Palestinian Jew named Jesus lived, and that he formed the original nucleus for the gospel stories. It's entirely another to say that no such person lived, and that the original nucleus for the gospel stories was Osiris, or Bacchus, or some other purely mythological figure. Again, the question "was there a 1st century Palestinian Jew at ::::::::::::?" is a binary question - whether or not we have enough surviving information to answer that question is another issue.
Just because we may not be able to answer a question doesn't mean that the question itself isn't crisp (Fermat's last theorem was easy enough to understand - it was just the proof that was a bear). Similarly, our inability to answer a question doesn't mean that the question is unimportant. I still think it's relevant to distinguish between "Jesus myth" approaches that mean "Jesus is a purely mythological (i.e., fictional) character" and approaches that mean "the original Jesus has been mythologized (perhaps even to the point that the original Jesus is now almost unrecognizable.) EastTN (talk) 22:34, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
but your question still isn't "crisp". If the question is "was there a real person at the core of the story?" you have, of course, a yes-or-no question nominally, but it isn't clear what exactly you are asking about: what exactly is "the story" and what exactly is its "core". Unless you have a very clear idea of that, your question is meaningless, no matter how "crisply" it is phrased. Depending on which parts of the narrative you take as the "core" and which parts you consider "accretions", you will get a different answer. You can consider the Tammuz myth the "core", to which random details of a 1st century biography later accreted, or you can consider the 1st century biography the "core", which was later associated with elements of the Tammuz myth. These are two ways of looking at the same process, but the answer to your question will depend on which view you take. --dab (𒁳) 09:37, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Agreed. Take the question of "Does style have function?" in my own field of anthropology. Binford, Dunnel, and many others argued that question for years throughout several academic publications and at best could only say perhaps. Note that Van Voorst holds that Wells' current position "moved away from this hypothesis" and wonders what "about-face will have on debate over the nonexistence hypothesis" despite the fact that in his latter book Can We Trust the New Testament? Wells clearly states regarding the idea that the early Christians thought Jesus never existed on Earth "I have never maintained this view, although it has been often imputed to me by critics who have been anxious to dispose of my arguments without troubling wherein they consist." (pg 4) Having actually read Wells' Jesus Myth book I can tell that at best Wells holds to Jesus having existed in the PREVIOUS CENTURY ie the 1st century BCE if not earlier; Wells sums this up on page 244 of Jesus Myth. Van Voorst has thrown the idea that the "question of whether or not a real Jesus ever existed is a binary question of fact" out the window as he is saying support for a Jesus in the 1st century BCE is support for a historical Jesus. Though IMOH Van Voorst showed he was useless as a scholar he trotted out of of the worse tap dancing I have seen this side of of Chariots of the Gods to use Thallas. I should mention that Van Voorst used Eerdmans Publishing Co who I have shown through via Jesus Now and Then By Richard A. Burridge, Graham Gould to have at best very poor quality control.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:12, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
Exactly. If you try to pin down dates for Jesus' birth/death, why pick those biographical details and not others? Why birth/death and not, say, lineage, or various miracles, or the resurrection? Given their late dates, anything the gospels claim could be fabricated and mythologized, even if there was a historical Jesus. In my view, the "weak" JMH consists of saying "we can know nothing with certainty about the historical Jesus", where the "strong" JMH consists of saying "there most likely was no historical Jesus". From which point the "strong" view is quite radical, since in history reacting to a lack of evidence by trying to show that something didn't happen, rather than dismissing it as unknowable, is a bold claim. But the more I look at the writings of Wells and Price and others, the more I realize that's not what they're claiming at all. I might be open to a second "weak" article, but would like to see some more fleshed-out ideas for it first: what would we call it? whose ideas would it cover? what kind of broad outline would it use for the arguments involved? The more I think of it, the "weak" article is the other side of the coin from Historicity of Jesus, not from this article. --davigoli (talk) 17:51, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
I strongly, strongly disagree here. Theories that posit a Palestinian Jew named Jesus at the core of the gospel accounts don't necessarily depend on our ability to pin down his year of birth or death, etc. Can we really pin down the birth date of Sargon of Akkad? But, to get off the dime, let me suggest these three categories: 1) there was no historical Jesus; 2) there was/may have been a historical Jesus, but we can know nothing about him; and 3) there was a historical Jesus and the accounts we have are mythologized, but not to the extent that it's impossible to reconstruct something of his life. It doesn't strike me as too unreasonable to lup 1 & 2 together into a single article. But however you split it, approaches that hypothesize non-existence are fundamentally different from those that hypothesize existence. EastTN (talk) 15:09, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

(remove indent)John E. Remsberg in his book The Christ actually give us four broad catagories:

1. Orthodox Christians believe that Christ is a historical character, supernatural and divine; and that the New Testament narratives, which purport to give a record of his life and teachings, contain nothing but infallible truth.

2. Conservative Rationalists, like Renan, and the Unitarians, believe that Jesus of Nazareth is a historical character and that these narratives, eliminating the supernatural elements, which they regard as myths, give a fairly authentic account of his life.

3. Many radical Freethinkers believe that Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis, but that these narratives are so legendary and contradictory as to be almost if not wholly, unworthy of credit.

4. Other Freethinkers believe that Jesus Christ is a pure myth -- that he never had an existence, except as a Messianic idea, or an imaginary solar deity.

The first of these conceptions must be rejected because the existence of such a being is impossible, and because the Bible narratives which support it are incredible. The second cannot be accepted because, outside of these incredible narratives, there is no evidence to confirm it. One of the two last is the only true and rational conception of the Christ.

In his review of the Jesus Puzzle, Carrier talks about the "Argument to the Best Explanation" (in essesence a variation of Occam's Razor) and how it seems to better support the JMH rather than a historical Jesus. Given the wild (and sometimes borderline insane) efforts make the canonal Gospels fit the known historical record (Matthew and Luke are a major headache as they have the birth nearly 10 years apart under different rulers) one can see why simply throwing out the baby with the bath water (ie saying there was no historical Jesus) does seem a nice Occam's Razor solution to the mess.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:03, 16 December 2008 (UTC)

Those four categories work for me. Two things strike me: 1) there's a significant conceptual break between category 3 and category 4, and 2) this article seems to focus primarily on category 4. What I've been trying to say really boils down to the suggestion that we should have separate articles for the two categories. EastTN (talk) 22:04, 22 December 2008 (UTC)


It seems to me that the weakest section of this article remains "Comparisons with Mediterranean Mystery Religions", which should be thoroughly covered in Jesus in Comparative Mythology, and should need only a passing mention here. Especially paragraphs 3, 4, and especially 5 in this section recite background information that is treated in other articles, such as Mithraism, and doesn't need to be repeated here. Paragraph 7 has POV problems (while representing a valid viewpoint, the inclusion here of this one, and not others, seems motivated to discredit the arguments; a refactoring could make this quote acceptable). Likewise, the last two paragraphs represent a partisan criticism of the mythographic parallels, which have no immediate bearing on the "strong" claims. I think they are prime candidates for removal or refactoring. What do you think? davigoli (talk) 16:59, 10 December 2008 (UTC)

I agree. The "Comparisons with Mediterranean Mystery Religions" section doesn't seem to really fit and even if it could a summation with a reference to the Jesus in Comparative Mythology article. In fact, I would dare say that anywhere the is major overlap with an existing articles a summation need to be used and a link provided.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:06, 10 December 2008 (UTC)
Ok, I've made some significant cuts to that section. In my view, this section should only address the way in which parallels have been used to support or refute the "strong" claim, and not merely repeat parallels in general - we have other articles for that information. davigoli (talk) 01:21, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
On a similar note I have reorganized the article to where the history is presented, then the arguments, and finally the criticism. By having the history section all together rather than split in two at it was originally hopefully this will allow a more chronological structure than currently exists.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:04, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
It looks better, but it seems that having the history section all together like that now highlights how much "History" and "Early Proponents" should be consolidated somehow, since each section has its own timeline. Seems like "Early Proponents" and "Recent Proponents" might work better as subsections of "History". Regardless, that's a cleanup issue, not a neutrality one. --davigoli (talk) 19:08, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
The article has definitely improved. There's still more that can be done, though. I think the "proponents" sections should be the largest ones in this article, giving detailed coverage of each author. The material in the "history" section might then be naturally folded into the "proponents" section--by saying that Bauer's approach grew out of German biblical criticism, and that Robinson/Drews/etc. were dependent on comparative mythological analyses such as that of Frazer. --Akhilleus (talk) 19:24, 12 December 2008 (UTC)
While I agree the history section need to be seriously cleaned up first. I'm going with User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis's version as the lead in and cut out all the redundant or conflicting stuff. Hopefully this will allow us to better focus the article.--BruceGrubb (talk) 11:08, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Well I am still working on cleaning up the combination of User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis]]'s version and what we had originally. While the flow is a little messed up right now hopefully this will allow us to better the article. My main problem is there seems to be this "hole" from 1925 to the early 1980s--BruceGrubb (talk) 12:52, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Ok, finally got the User:EALacey/Jesus myth hypothesis's version and the existing one combined. THere are some gaps but I have tried to keep to a chronological flow as much as possible. That said I still seem to have a roughly 40 year "gap" (1930-early 1970s) to contend with.--BruceGrubb (talk) 18:13, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
This is clearly the framework we should be following, and thanks for taking the initiative to implement it. However, as the text stands at this moment, the article claims that James Frazer and Max Müller were Christ-myth theorists. This is certainly not the case, and I'm going to remove them. Müller and Frazer were in the article originally to illustrate the background of comparative mythology that writers like J.M Robertson drew on; if we can find sources that say these guys were influences on Christ-myth writers, that should go in the article. --Akhilleus (talk) 18:43, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for spotting all the screw ups I did in that. I knew that in merging the whole thing some aspects were going to slip through the cracks. But at least we have the article moving in something resembling the right direction. I'm going to add some more information on John E. Remsberg's book as his definition of myth is a little broad.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:10, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

"approaches that hypothesize non-existence are fundamentally different from those that hypothesize existence" -- this is wrong, because we know the context is historical. "non-existence of Jesus" is completely different from "non-existence of Aslan or Narnia", and rather similar to "non-existence of the Three Musketeers". Jesus obviously has a historical precedent in the wandering rabbis of 1st century Iudaea. Nobody would suggest that there were no historical wandering rabbis that could serve as the template for the gospel narrative a generation later. Were the "Three Musketeers" historical? Not in the sense that Dumas' novel is a historical account, but his characters are clearly based on the type of swashbuckling soldiery of 1630s France, so that to "hypothesize non-existence of the Three Musketeers" certainly wouldn't imply that there were no Musketeers in the 30 Year's War, or that Dumas wasn't drawing on that historical precedent. The only hypothesis that would be "fundamentally different from those that hypothesize existence" would need to posit that there were no sectarian movements or wandering rabbis in Roman occupied Iudaea, which is clearly nonsense. --dab (𒁳) 14:06, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

improper synthesis/original research

I see that Davigoli has already removed the tag, but I put an {{syn}} tag at the end of the introduction. The reason is, that by saying "The main point that separates the Jesus Myth hypothesis from the comparative mythology analysis of Jesus is the former believes so much has been added to the Gospel Jesus[4][5][6] that at best only the writings of Paul really tell us anything about the historical Jesus", and citing Joseph Campbell, Marvin Meyer, Michael White in support of this sentence, the article defines the Jesus myth hypothesis in a way that is not supported by sources. Sure, this has plenty of citations, but I doubt any source (except this article) will call Campbell, Meyer, or White proponents of the JMH.

The White quotes in particular are used improperly--he says nothing about whether the Gospels (or Paul) give us reliable information about the historical Jesus. Instead, on p. 118 White says that Jesus did not found a new religion, but rather a "Jesus movement" within Judaism, and on p. 132 talks about how the Jesus movement would have been understood as a cult in contemporary Greco-Roman society.

And then there's the citation to Burton Mack. In this edit summary, Davigoli says "Burton Mack isn't a JMH proponent - but he is a Bible scholar who has weighed in on these questions." But the article reads "However, for many scholars, the portion of the "Jesus Myth" view that holds that Jesus is entirely fictional is incidental to the more interesting questions surrounding the influences of early Christian thought", and cites Mack in support of this view. Looking at The Christian Myth I see no references to Bauer, Drews, etc. When Mack discusses the historical Jesus it's all authors like Rudolf Bultmann, Marcus Borg, John Dominic Crossan, and Paula Fredriksen. When Mack talks about the "Christ myth" or "christos myth", he means the kerygma (see [15] and [16]). This is quite different than the "Christ myth theory" that this article talks about. Yet the Mack quote is used as if he talks about the view that Jesus is entirely fictional--something that, as far as I can see, he never bothers to discuss.

Placing the JMH within the context of contemporary scholarship is a good idea. But not only is the introduction doing a poor job of doing so, it's also drawing conclusions from the quoted material that are not made by the authors who are quoted--an example of what Wikipedia calls an original synthesis of published material. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:22, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

You're drawing an unrelated conclusion out of these sources and my edits. The point is not that Burton Mack et al. are addressing the "Jesus Myth" or canonical JMH proponents (they're not), but that they are responding to the same evidence that JMH proponents use to make their case, but in a different manner. As we've discussed to death already, the "question of historicity" disappears under scrutiny: there's no "there" there, the evidence is inconclusive, but what esp. Meyer and Mack are doing is discussing the process of mythmaking in the early Church, as well as the figure of Jesus, whose historicity is basically avoided (neither questioned nor affirmed). This is essentially the "weak" view we keep talking about, and no, it's not JMH proper, but it needs to be here to be contrasted with the "strict" JMH view, to show that historicity is not a binary question and is, in fact, a sideshow to the real work being done in early Christian scholarship.
Also, BruceGrubb - nice work on the history section, it's a huge improvement. --davigoli (talk) 20:50, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
"The point is not that Burton Mack et al. are addressing the "Jesus Myth" or canonical JMH proponents (they're not), but that they are responding to the same evidence that JMH proponents use to make their case, but in a different manner." Well, that is my point. If Mack is not discussing the JMH, but the writers of this article use Mack to discuss the JMH, that's inappropriate synthesis. To quote the relevant section of the no original research policy: "If the sources cited do not explicitly reach the same conclusion, or if the sources cited are not directly related to the article subject, then the editor is engaged in original research." So the Mack quote needs to come out. It's not as if we lack for material showing where the JMH fits into contemporary scholarship; we can easily find something that directly addresses the theory. --Akhilleus (talk) 20:55, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
The Mack quote should stay, as it meets the criterion directly related to the article subject, which is an opinion pertaining to the evidence of early Christian mythmaking and conclusions drawn from that evidence. --davigoli (talk) 21:08, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
On second thought, reading through the lede, it seems as though there has been a lot of cruft in there pointing out some fairly nuanced points of argument. As these are essentially duplicated immediately below, I think we should keep arguments, historical timelines, and criticism out of the lede, and keep the lede pretty spare. What do you think? --davigoli (talk) 21:28, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
I agree but we should accurately portray the JHM throughout its history in the lead in. Even if the more middle of the road position that Remsberg and other have held and called "Christ-Myth" has falled to the fringes it needs to be mentioned. Especially as Remsberg's book has been recently republished twice: Prometheus Books (1994) and NuVision Publications (2007). WFIW "Prometheus has been a leader in publishing books for the educational, scientific, professional, library, popular, and consumer markets since 1969" and it is used six times for the existing references of Allegro, Hoffmann, Price, and Wells.
Also note WHERE the references are; I did NOT intend on them to reference to the whole sentence. I intended them to only refer to the "so much has been added to the Gospel Jesus" part and NOTHING else; that is why they are in the MIDDLE of the sentence.--BruceGrubb (talk) 21:47, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
That looks good; I didn't intend my edit to be a final version but thought it would help to start from scratch. --davigoli (talk) 22:02, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Thanks and yes the old lead in was a wordy mess. Remsberg is going to be the main headache as thanks to his 1909 book being republished in 1994 and 2007, him using Christ-myth in three of his chapters, and the lead in saying "Jesus myth hypothesis (also referred to as the Jesus myth theory, the Jesus myth, or the Christ myth)"
The statement "While all Freethinkers are agreed that the Christ of the New Testament is a myth they are not, as we have seen, and perhaps never will be, fully agreed as to the nature of this myth. Some believe that he is a historical myth; others that he is a pure myth. Some believe that Jesus, a real person, was the germ of this Christ whom subsequent generations gradually evolved; others contend that the man Jesus, as well as the Christ, is wholly a creation of the human imagination." shows you cannot keep out the "soft" side of the argument as Remsberg defines as it ranging from historical myth to total fabrication. However, having said that Herbert Cutner (1950) "Jesus: God, Man or Myth?" shows that as far as Cutner is concerned Remsberg's four positions have been reduced to three: Orthodox Christians, Conservative Rationalists, and pure myth. But then again Cutner also states also states he is not going to delve into the "Christ is a myth, of which Jesus of Nazareth is the basis" camp because "If we know nothing whatever about him, it is useless to discuss him." (pg 2) As I have been saying from nearly day one there is no excluded middle in the Jesus myth hypothesis.--BruceGrubb (talk) 22:35, 18 December 2008 (UTC)


So, what's your take on the controversial Burton Mack quote? It seems a lot of scholarship falls under this category: describing Christian origins as primarily an artifact of the human imagination and social evolution but leaving the historicity question itself untouched. Is this angle related to the JMH? If so, how? If not, why not? --davigoli (talk) 22:47, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
The quote in question was to support the sentence "However, the portion of the "Jesus Myth" view that holds that Jesus is entirely fictional is incidental to the more interesting questions surrounding the influences of early Christian thought" and that was put in by somebody else. I simply trusted the editor that put that in knew what he was doing. As far as how it relates to the whole Jesus myth hypothesis that goes back to Remsberg's three types of myth.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:13, 18 December 2008 (UTC)
Right, I'm the editor who put that quote in there. I'm wondering about your thoughts on its relevance, since Akhilleus seems to think it's not pertinent. I suppose more broadly, since we've discussed the JMH as being a variant of a broader view that the tenets of Christianity are mythical, should we represent the broader view and discuss how it relates to the specific proposition that Jesus is fictional? --davigoli (talk) 02:09, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
The problem is even the statement "Jesus is fictional" has a large range going from the Jesus of the Gospels is a fiction to Jesus is an entire fiction. Take Sherlock Holmes for example. While Holmes is a fictional character he is based on a mixture of Dr Joseph Bell and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle two people who undoubtedly lived and there have been several books and TV programs over the years presenting one or the other as the "real" Sherlock Holmes.
Similarly, we know that even in Paul's there were "other Gospels" (Galatians 1:6-9) and by the time Irenaeus wrote his Against Heresies (c180 CE) the number of Gospels had definitely increased. The fact that Irenaeus stated that "The thirty Æons are not typified by the fact that Christ was baptized in His thirtieth year: He did not suffer in the twelfth month after His baptism, but was more than fifty years old when He died." (Book II, Chapter 22) is one Joseph Wheless uses with nearly suppressed glee later on going as far as to say "In the work often cited, Bishop Irenaeus either falsely quotes the Gospel of Mark, or the sacred text has been seriously altered in our present copies" regarding some other point. While Wheless' ax grinding does get on the nerves and there are some really flaky interpretations and misreadings he does raise some good points. If as the Pro Historical Jesus camp state that Jesus was born c4 BCE and died c36 CE (a space of only 39 years) then how could Irenaeus expressly state Jesus lived at least 11 years longer than this span and that view was "as the Gospel and all the elders testify"? One does not need to be a scholar to realize something clearly is messed up somewhere.--BruceGrubb (talk) 05:25, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Exactly, the way I read things, most of these JMH authors may say something like "... and Jesus probably never existed in the first place!", simply as a way to punctuate their bigger point, namely, that the salient characteristics of the life of Jesus as told in the gospels is largely fiction. Focusing on the historicity question obscures the larger point about the mythological character of the gospels that, I would think, most or all of these authors would agree is their main point, regardless of any provable hypothesis of historicity. That puts them in a similar category with authors such as Burton Mack who stress the myth-making aspects of the New Testament while largely refraining from getting bogged down in the historicity question: they're making essentially the same points, it's just that some authors additionally delve into speculation about historicity. I think it's a gross mischaracterization of the efforts of these scholars (in general) to make the historicity the main point. --davigoli (talk) 06:39, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
The reason that anyone talks about the "Christ-myth theory" at all is because of the denial of Jesus' historicity. If it weren't for that, most of these authors would be even more obscure than they already are. That said, you're right that what is interesting in many of these authors is not the claim that Jesus didn't live, but rather their picture of how the Gospels were invented. Nevertheless, the claim that Jesus didn't exist is what unites these folks, and this shapes their treatment in secondary sources, e.g. Clinton Bennett, In Search of Jesus: Insider and Outsider Images, p. 202, under the heading "The Jeus-was-a-myth school": "I now turn to the genre of writers who argue that there never was a Jesus of Nazareth, that he never existed." (p. 202 isn't available on Google Books, but some other relevant pages are.) Another definition is given by William R. Farmer, "A Fresh Approach to Q," in Christianity, Judaism and Other Greco-Roman Cults, eds. Jacob Neusner, Morton Smith (Brill, 1975), p. 43: "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 an historical figure and the Christ of the Gospels was a social creation of a messianic community." --Akhilleus (talk) 15:00, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Actually this is not true as "Christ-myth theory" and "Jesus-myth theory" are NOT interchangeable though they tend to be used that way and there in is the real problem with this article. Strictly speaking a literally reading of "Christ-myth theory" would say that you are arguing about Christ being a myth; it doesn't make any evaluation regarding the person of Jesus as a myth which the "Jesus-myth theory" does. Take for example Thomas L. Thompson's The Messiah Myth: The Near Eastern Roots of Jesus and David. Now no one can claim Thompson holds to the idea there was non-historical Jesus but that there are enough questions to wonder how much we have is accurate (if any of it). The removed Joseph Campbell quote ("It is clear that, whether accurate or not as to biographical detail, the moving legend of the Crucified and Risen Christ was fit to bring a new warmth, immediacy, and humanity, to the old motifs of the beloved Tammuz, Adonis, and Osiris cycles.") is not too different to what outer edge JMH are saying only they push it a little further and say Jesus was totally made up. The range is large and is is clear from the Van Voorst and Wells contradiction that just what "Jesus-myth theory" means tends to vary from scholar to scholar. Once you have shown that then you can cite quotes till cows come home but all the quotes show is that is that how that individual scholar defines "Jesus-myth theory". That is why John E. Remsberg is so important as he does NOT expressly define what "Christ-myth" means but gives a range as to its meaning.--BruceGrubb (talk) 23:46, 19 December 2008 (UTC)
Ok, but the article is titled "Jesus myth hypothesis" not "Christ myth theory"; when I proposed a change to this title a while back it got shot down. I even changed my mind on it. Maybe this is a reason to reconsider it? It seems "Christ myth theory" is a bigger umbrella, since it doesn't rule on the historicity argument, and the purely mythic nature of Christ has much wider acceptance than non-historicity of Jesus. In fact, I'd say this division, and not the historicity question, is where the real division in Biblical scholarship lies: those who interpret the supernatural elements of the gospels (virgin birth, resurrection) as pure myth, and those who regard them as pure fact. I would say you'd have a hard time finding a fence-sitter on that question. --davigoli (talk) 00:01, 20 December 2008 (UTC)
While the article is indeed titled "Jesus myth hypothesis" the first sentence of the lead-in states "The Jesus myth hypothesis (also referred to as the Jesus myth theory, the Jesus myth, or the Christ myth) brings the historical existence of Jesus into question." As I have added to the article Rembserg makes a distinction between "Christ-myth" and "Jesus-Myth" but other people are not so careful to make the distinction and use the terms interchangeably which is IMHO where a lot of the problems come from.--BruceGrubb (talk) 14:11, 20 December 2008 (UTC)