An atheist's overview of historical apologetics

A blogger who goes by the moniker 'exapologist' has put together a pretty decent summary (for an ex-apologist!) of the standard evangelical case for the reliability of the Gospel portraits of Jesus, as well as various ancillary issues. What do you think? Is it on target? I found it pretty illuminating myself. Can anyone see any weak links?


Metacrock said…
It's pretty decent. I don't' see any use of Koester or any liberal sources. I understand he's giving a summary of Evangelical or conservative scholarship. I try to use liberals as much as I can. I use them to the logical extent that they can be used to back up more conservative positions.

Koester's thing about the dating of the pre Mark redaction containing the empty tomb and showing up around AD 50 is fantastic back up for the McDowell arguments about not enough time for myth to develop.

I generally see myself as a "liberal" but I back certain "conservative" view points.

Then there's the problem with using these labels which I think has gotten totally out of hand.
J.D. said…
I'm not very impressed with the 'not enough time for myth to develop' argument. There's loads of evidence that myths and misperceptions can spring up and take root almost overnight. A better avenue is empirical: detailed study of the Jesus tradition shows a conservative tendency: even though myths COULD have sprung up, they didn't, at least not along the trajectories recorded in the Gospels.
This comment has been removed by the author.
Very helpful thanks for posting it. I have typically enjoyed exapologist's posts at Victor's blog.

I am very stingy. If we had a bunch of eyewitnesses that said a resurrection happened yesterday, I'd be like 'Umm, whatever. Enjoy your crack pipe.' Show me video, multiple reliably skeptical types witnessing, preferably myself as well. News vans, lots of independent recording devices. Plus it has to be someone that we really know is dead. Not some BS with someone being pronounced dead in an ER and "miraculously" coming back in an hour.

Without such relatively strict standards, I'd waste my time exploring every nutball's alien abduction story.

Anyway, it's the above type of reasons that make me think many of these "skeptical" historical scholars aren't really thinking things through. What would make you believe it happened yesterday, much less 2000 years ago filtered through the writings of its advocates? And if it is impossible, in principle, for these ancient writings to meet your standards for yesterday, why do you even bother using your obvious intellectual talents to "debunk" this stuff?

That said, I do enjoy the historical scholarship, and that summary by exapologist is one of the less screechy one's I've seen by a skeptic on the internet (internet skeptics tend to give really crappy arguments against Christianity: even worse than in-person skeptics tend to give).
J.D. said…
For me one of the more compelling reasons for believing Jesus was resurrected was the transformation in eschatological expectations that occurred among his followers. Seeing a vision of Jesus after death might have led his followers to believe that he had become an angel or another similar figure. But Paul's theology about Jesus being the first-fruits of the general resurrection is found nowhere else, so far as I know, in Jewish thought of that time period. At least this claim was made about no one else. But I also think a critical part of the case for the resurrection is the occurrence of contemporary visions of Jesus. Philip Wiebe makes the case quite well in his book of the same title.
Jason Pratt said…
Cool! Don't have time to look it over yet, but Exap is a good opponent to spar with. (As is BDK, glad to see you here. {g})

This reminds me that I've been meaning to write up a small series of entries considering the question I once raised while debating Keith Parsons in an exchange of posts on Victor's site: why would the Sanhedrin not have presented a body, even if they didn't have the body?

(I had to put off discussing what I expect the answer is, until I could put forward another argument--which I finally did more than a year ago here on the Cadre. I've been very busy on other projects since then, though. {lopsided g})


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