Two Jesus Myth Proponents Taken to Task by New Testament Scholar

One of the central myths accepted as true by proponents of the Jesus Myth is the notion that Paul does not believe that Jesus was a human being who walked the earth. Elsewhere I have listed the references in Paul's letters to a human Jesus, but because they value their myth, proponents of the Jesus Myth have contrived various far-fetched arguments meant to explain away these references.

One of the more obvious references to Jesus's humanity in Paul's letters is Romans 1:3, which states that Jesus "was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh." Richard Carrier and Earl Doherty have resorted to their own novel interpretation of the Greek to try and make this say something other than Jesus was born on earth as a human being. I have responded to this argument in one of my articles responding to Earl Doherty, Earl Doherty's Use of the Phrase "According to the Flesh". I am no expert in Greek, but I believe my article adequately refutes Doherty's argument. Especially significant, in my opinion, is that Paul clearly uses the phrase "according to the flesh" later in Romans to describe his own racial/cultural heritage (and again to describe that of Jesus).

In any event, Jeffrey B. Gibson -- bona-fide New Testament scholar and Moderator of the scholarly Cross Talk: Historical Jesus & Christian Origins discussion group -- decided to spend some time discussing the Jesus Myth idea over at the Secular Web. I am not sure if he was just bored or was atoning for his sins, but because Jesus Myth proponents have not submitted their theories to peer review, it is rare that a real scholar spends any time discussing them. But Gibson persevered and posted on Cross Talk about the abuse of the Greek in Romans 1:3 by Carrier and Doherty. In his opening post, Gibson states that "Carrier's remarks are those no one skilled in Greek would make, that they were contradicted by much of the data contained in the very source he uses as the basis for his remarks, and that to make his case, Carrier has not only neglected to tell anyone this; he has also distorted, misread, and/or misrepresented the evidence from LSJ that he does quote and appeal to."

Gibson will be laying out his argument in detail in future posts. I contributed my own modest post and will be following this thread with interest. Check it out. You do not have to be a member of Cross Talk to observe.


Steven Carr said…
Gibson explains that 'kata sarka' does not mean a vertical motion. Perhaps that is what is confusing Doherty who thinks that ruling out vertical motion means that Paul did not think Jesus descended to earth.

Doherty should have looked at Galatians 4:24.

There Ishmael, like Jesus, was descended 'kata sarka', 'according to flesh', while Isaac was descended in a different way - not descended 'kata sarka'.

This does not mean Ishmael did not walk the earth!
BK said…
I think that those who contend that Paul did not believe that Jesus existed as an actual human person who walked on the earth are really grasping at straws. The very idea of an incarnation and a dying which is taught in Paul's writings insist on a real living person, and efforts to spiritualize it are disingenuous, at best.

I look forward to reading Dr. Gibson's arguments.
Layman said…

If you have the stomach for it, you can go to the Infidels site, click on Gibson's profile, and follow his debates there.
Layman said…
I comment on the Ishmael usage in my article:

Here is the excerpt:

"For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the bondwoman and one by the free woman. But the son by the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and the son by the free woman through the promise. This is allegorically speaking, for these women are two covenants: one proceeding from Mount Sinai bearing children who are to be slaves; she is Hagar. Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother. For it is written, "Rejoice, Barren woman who does not bear; break forth and shout, you who are not in labor; for more numerous are the children of the desolate than of the one who has a husband." And you brethren, like Isaac, are children of promise. But as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also."

Gal. 4:22-29.

Again we have Paul hitting home on his theme that it is the things accomplished by the promise, or by the Spirit, that are important. Things that are done "according to the flesh" are not demonic, they are physical. Yet they do not ensure salvation. Those who are born "according to the Spirit" are in God's will--they are Christians. Paul has juxtaposed the Israelites (descendants of Rebecca) with the descendants of Hagar. It is the Israelites who were now relying on their descent "according to the flesh" from Abraham for salvation and Christians who were relying on the power of God:

"The child of Hagar is the child 'born according to the flesh'; but that corresponds, not to the descendants of Ishmael, but to the Jews, or at least those of them who relied on their physical ('according to the flesh') descent from Abraham.... In contrast, the son 'born according to the Spirit' corresponds not to the descendants of Isaac, but to those who received the Spirit. Isaac, in other words, represents a different kind or line of descent, one which stands in contrast to merely physical descent. Isaac represents those born through the power of divine promise, which is another way of saying, through the power of God's spirit."

James D.G. Dunn, The Epistle to the Galatians, page 257. Professor Dunn goes on to note that here and in Romans Pau uses the "according to the flesh/according to the Spirit" in "explicit antithesis (Rom. i.3-4; viii 4, 5, 12-13). His analysis is right on. Here, as in Rom. 1, Paul is using "according to the flesh" to denote physical descent and using "according to the spirit" to denote through the power of God's spirit.
Layman said…
Forgot the link:

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