An Expert Explains the Beginning of Christianity with Dr Richard Carrier

by Rocketman123 48 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    pistolpete, regarding Michael Licona believing in post mortem experiences, many Christians believe in accounts of Near Death Experiences and some consider such to be scientific evidence of such. Many Christians also believe that use of the Ouija board brings people in contact with evil spirits (whether they be considered demons or spirits of dead humans). So why would Christians think such beliefs by Licona would discredit him as a scholarly authority/expert? contains an interview of Licona in which Licona mentions the reasons for his beliefs, including why he believes in Near Death Experiences. In the interview Licona also mentions that he tried very hard to not let his Christian beliefs get in the way of his scholarly approach to the study of whether Jesus was resurrected or not & it mentions why Licona disbelieves (or doubts) the literalness of Matt. chapter 27's account of the bodily resurrection of saints. Regarding the latter, the interview says in part the following:

    "Could it be that, on the contrary, it was my detractors who were historicizing a text not intended as history? The biblical authors lived in a different culture from ours. So, there are going to be times when the literal meaning of the text is not how we should interpret it. Now, that’s not always easy for us to determine. Many early Christian males castrated themselves after misinterpreting Jesus’s teaching about some making themselves eunuchs for the sake of God’s kingdom (Matthew 19:12). Hermeneutical blunders can have tragic consequences! And notice these early Christians adopted a literal interpretation of a text not intended to be understood in that manner. If they could make such an error while being far more connected than are we to the culture in which Jesus lived, how much more might I be vulnerable to making a similar error!

    I empathize with the concern of the ultraconservatives that, taken to an extreme, one might attempt — as many already have — to make the same move with respect to Jesus’s resurrection and claim it’s a metaphor or “special effects.” But I provided reasons in my book why such a move will not work; specifically, we can establish that Jesus’s apostles clearly intended for us to understand Jesus’s bodily resurrection as a historical event. It is far from clear that Matthew had the same intent when it came to the saints raised at Jesus’s death.

    Most of the highly respected evangelical scholars sided with me in the controversy. Not all agreed with the interpretation of Matthew’s raised saints I had proposed. But they were all in agreement that this was entirely an interpretive matter and had nothing to do with whether the Bible contains any errors."
  • pistolpete

    regarding Licona's acknowledged belief in ghosts and in demons, a great many of his fellow Christians believe in such

    But the main reason Licona was criticized by many leading evangelicals back in 2011 was because he basically said that the resurrection in Matthew was not literal, and Licona questioned the inerrancy of the Bible. That being the case, anything coming from his mouth regarding the Bible was now in question considering he admitted the bible contain many false mistakes.

    Addressing this crisis, a group of leading evangelicals met in Chicago in 1978 under the auspices of the International Council on Biblical inerrancy to adopt what became known as The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy. Basically they condemned Licona for his views that he put in his book questioning the Bible’s inerrancy. They asked him to renounce what he said in his book.

    The problem was that any Christian who read Licona’s new book would read the statement where he defiantly says the bible is NOT INERRANT! This coming from a revered Bible Scholar.

    That was some 10 years ago and saying the bible was NOT INERRANT was taken differently than today. Today many Bible scholars agree the bible is Not Inerrant.

  • Disillusioned JW
    Disillusioned JW

    If you are saying that Licona has moved towards a theologically modernist view, one more in line with agnosticism and atheism, then I consider that a good thing since I am an atheist. But from what I read, including the article you provided a link to, Licona says he believes the Bible is inerrant but that one passage in the Bible was not written to be interpreted literally, but instead was written to be interpreted as a poetic special effect (like when people sometimes say while they made love 'the ground shook').

    At Licona says:

    'As a historian, I realize that a lack of data may prohibit us from affirming the historicity of a report, but does not justify rejecting it. As I read through the Greco-Roman and Jewish literature of that period, I found numerous examples of reports of phenomena similar to those Matthew reports to have occurred at Jesus’s death. These were connected to historical events having a huge amount of significance. In one case, Virgil lists 16 phenomena related to the death of Julius Caesar in what is certainly a poetic genre.

    So, for a number of reasons, I posited that Matthew’s raised saints may have been a poetic element of Matthew’s account of Jesus’s death — the addition of “special effects,” you might say. It’s much like we might say that the events of 9–11 were “earth-shaking” or that “it rained cats and dogs.” Kim Jong-IlWhen North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Il (right) died in December, 2011, it was reported that a snowstorm hit as he died. Ice cracked on the volcanic Chon lake near his reported birthplace at Mount Paektu. When the snowstorm ended at dawn, a message carved in rock glowed brightly until sunset saying, “Mount Paektu, holy mountain of revolution. Kim Jong-il.” Finally, on the day after his death, a Manchurian crane also adopted a posture of grief at a statue of the dictator’s father in the city of Hamhung. So, the same sort of rhetoric occurs even today.

    You cannot dehistoricize a story if Matthew did not intend for it to be read as history.

    A few ultraconservatives who have what I regard as an overly wooden view of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy accused me of dehistoricizing the biblical text, asserting that I didn’t believe Matthew’s story because of its supernatural nature. I was shocked! Did it not occur to them that my treatment of Matthew’s raised saints appeared in the context of a large book that contended for the physical resurrection of Jesus? The matter for me was whether Matthew had intended for his readers to think that some saints had actually been raised. My opinion was that he did not. And you cannot dehistoricize a story if Matthew did not intend for it to be read as history.'

  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze

    Skeptic Scholars (university type, not internet personalities) will concede these points as genuine history:

    1.) Jesus died by crucifixion.
    2.) He was buried.
    3.) Jesus’ death caused the disciples to despair and lose hope.
    4.) The tomb was empty.
    5.) The disciples experienced seeing what they believed and said were appearances of the resurrected Jesus.
    6.) The disciples were transformed from doubters to bold Christians, proclaiming the good news.
    7.) The resurrection was the central message.
    8.) The disciples preached the message of Jesus’ resurrection in Jerusalem.
    9.) The church was born and grew.
    10.) Orthodox Jews who believed in Christ made Sunday their primary day of worship.
    11.) James, the skeptic brother of Jesus was converted to the faith when he saw the resurrected Jesus.
    12.) Paul was converted to the faith.

    I put in bold the ones that seem to me the hardest to explain away.

  • Rocketman123

    Organized religion is an agreement to set of appealing lies that produces various results, some good, some bad.

    The supernatural agents in the heavens who were once thought to control and cause things to happen here on earth never actually existed, some today still believe they do.

  • Simon
    Skeptic Scholars (university type, not internet personalities) will concede these points as genuine history

    Sorry, but what?

    You start with an assumption that Jesus ever existed and the story is basically real.

    No one concedes those points, no one with half a brain.

    There is zero evidence of Jesus, it starts appearing hundreds of years after his death.

    Imagine there was zero evidence or mention of Abraham Lincoln except for stories being written now. How much confidence would you have he really existed? Very little is the honest answer. It would be pure fiction.

    We know Abe Lincoln did exist because the stories and accounts were contemporary - made when he lived. Not 100+ years later.

    The closer you get back to the supposed time of "Christ", the less mention of him there is, until about 100+ years when the inventions began.

    Apparently the most amazing man to ever walk the earth ... and no one thought to mention anything about him in their lifetimes.

    Almost like he's made up.

  • Rocketman123

    Good point Simon

  • Diogenesister
    Both Early Christianity and Early Rabbinic Judaism were far less orthodox and less theologically homogeneous than they are today.

    Yup. If only those that fight over religion would care to investigate they would find out they came from many belief systems, not one.

  • slimboyfat

    Yes, it’s funny how liberal scholars, reading the New Testament without a faith commitment to uphold, come to similar conclusions to JWs. Bart Ehrman argued in his book How Jesus Became God, that the early Christians believed Jesus was an angel. Richard Carrier, I think, goes one better and says the early Christians believed Jesus was the archangel Michael.

  • Sea Breeze
    Sea Breeze


    Seems like a good place to start. There is virtually 100% agreement among scholars that Jesus existed. The whole world counts time by this man's life. Here's what Atheist Scholar Bart Ehrman says on this issue:

    This is not even an issue for scholars of antiquity.... The reason for thinking Jesus existed is because he is abundantly attested in early sources.... If you want to go where the evidence goes, I think that atheists have done themselves a disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of mythicism, because frankly, it makes you look foolish to the outside world. If that’s what you’re going to believe, you just look foolish.

    Ehrman doesn't believe Jesus is God or that he was resurrected etc. But, he does say that it is foolish to believe he never existed.

    Here's a university lecture at the University of California in Santa Barbara by Gary Habermas, Phd. on other points getting the cross events back to within perhaps months of the writings and the 12 points that he claims most skeptic scholars will concede.

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