New Offerings on the Earl Doherty/Jesus Myth Front

Though Earl Doherty has failed to make any impact in academic circles with his Jesus-Myth theory, there are still some who take the theory and Mr. Doherty seriously. I have done some writing responding to his theories, as have a few others. But the circle has been a rather small one. So it is refreshing to see another blogger taking a close look at Doherty’s arguments. Kevin Rosero, at his blog Rose and Rock, has been working on a series of posts responding to Mr. Doherty.

In Jesus Recently Decased, Mr. Rosero argues that there is evidence in Paul’s letters that Jesus was a relatively recent historical figure.

In Jesus Recently Deceased (Addendum), Mr. Rosero continues arguing that Paul’s letters attest a recently historical Jesus. He points out something that I have commented on regarding Doherty’s methodology. Doherty likes to make broad, sweeping statements, such as there being “no indication” in the “entire corpus” of a historical Jesus. But he only does this after dismissing (on poorly reasoned grounds no less) the large stack of verses that presumably could provide at least “some indication” that a historical Jesus was meant (such as Jesus being born of a woman, crucified on a cross, initiated a ceremonial meal with his disciples, and after his death being buried). This is not honest argument. As Mr. Rosero remarks, “He builds, in short, from a foundation that he has already cleared of possible stumbling blocks to make it look firmer than it is.”

In Earl Doherty on the corporeality of the gods, Mr. Rosero demonstrates the problematic inconsistencies in Doherty’s reference to pagan myths and gods as somehow being representative of what Christians meant when they referred to Jesus. Many pagans believed these although these gods were more than human they acted in human history. It is also perhaps true that others believed that these gods belong to a distant and murky past, but that hardly helps Doherty’s theories since he argues that the early Christians did not believe Jesus belonged to any past. Mr. Rosero makes a good case that Doherty fails to explain how these pagan myths fit into his theory.

In The Source of Paul’s Gospel, Mr. Rosero responds to Doherty's argument that Paul’s knowledge of Jesus was gained through personal, subjective visionary experiences. As Mr. Rosero shows, Paul learned some things about Christianity prior to his conversion (why else would he bother to persecute it?) and after it from sources other than heavenly visions. Mr. Rosero thoughtfully examines the Last Supper tradition and the tradition of the resurrection appearances in 1 Corinthians and examines their meaning.

If the topic interests you, these posts are worth reading.


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