reply to post by sk0rpi0n
.... why should religious folk pay serious attention to this "Columbia PhD"???
Richard Carrier, who apparently you mean by this "Columbia PhD", has a main thesis in this debate, even though he admits it was not a topic that
Craig had agreed to debate, which is: The Gospels record myth, not history.
He says that since it is not an official topic, he can only give a few examples, otherwise he could cite a lot more. I would be interested to know how
to find those other examples, maybe in one of the books he contributed to?
The first example he does use in this debate is Barabbas (from Mark), which he says is a name given to show a connection with Jesus as they are both
the "Son of the Father". He goes on to say there is no way the Romans would release a criminal guilty of murder and treason, though there may be a
case of a lesser criminal being released by the request of the people in a historical setting.
The next point is that there was no such custom of a prisoner being released on Passover, but there is something similar in the celebration of another
Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur. Apparently to Carrier, this has the Gospel having Jesus and Barabbas serving to fill the roles of the two goats, where one
is killed and the other is the scapegoat which is released and taken by the devil (or whatever, according to Carrier).
This supposedly makes his point that this is obviously not historically accurate but something added as myth in order to make a point of how Jesus
atoned for the sins as an anti-type of Old Testament religious practices.
The second example is the story (in Luke) of Cleopas which name means "tell all" (or "proclaim", according to Carrier). He is traveling after the body
of Jesus had vanished. Jesus appears to him and reveals the secret of the kingdom, then vanishes. Then he goes on to proclaim what he had been told.
This is similar to a story celebrated by Rome, of Romulus and Proculus which the Luke story emulates and inverts. Proculus (whose name also means
"proclaim) is traveling from Alba Longa to Rome after Romulus' body vanishes, Romulus instructs Proculus to tell the Romans they will achieve a great
empire if they are virtuous.
Using these names as search terms in Google, I found the article in
The Secular Web
where you can scroll down to Notes and
read #12, instead of me typing it all out. The point Carrier was making was that this was added not as historical trivia but was written in such a way
as to make use of already well know myth, to make a comparison between the Roman and Christian ideals, where Jesus was teaching humility rather than
the type of glory the Romans were seeking.
Another indication of the presence of myth according to Carrier is the reification of imaginary people into real people, giving the example of a
fictional person in a parable in Luke become a character in John who is a real person being raised from the dead, with the intention of contradicting
the message in the parable that raising people from the dead would not help people believe (according to Carrier).
His next indication of myth is the contradictory nature of the Gospels as being intentional to bring out symbolic meanings.
Then he says that the improbability of events is another method of showing in the Gospels that they were supposed to be understood symbolically (as
myth, again according to his thesis).
Carrier asserts that the author of Mark needs to have female characters in order to have someone parallel the Genesis story where you have the woman
ask "who will roll away the stone" at Jacob's well. Also to have the irony of beginning with the necessity of proclaiming the coming, and ending with
people being astonished to where they are unable to say anything.
The naked boy in Mark, he says represents death where the white linen represents the body of flesh and talks about the Christian's experience in
death, and compares it to initiatory ceremony in mystery religions, then having the young man seen in the empty tomb representing more from the pagan
cults of what a person experiences beyond death, and how to keep going to find the water of life.
I think I remember him talking about the story of Simon of Cyrene but I am not finding it in the video right now, but I think it had something to do
with traveling across Egypt and that is supposed to represent death (again, according to Carrier).
So to answer your question of why Christians should care what Carrier has to say, these are things, what I mentioned here, that are of interest to
Christian scholars and something people who are serious about the New Testament should be considering, even if you are only an amateur scholar like
myself. I was looking at a Christian book on Amazon yesterday called, Testimony of the Beloved Disciple: Narrative, History, and Theology in the
Gospel of John by Richard Bauckham, where it is a collection of essays by the author, one of which is titled, The Bethany Family in John 11-12;
History or Fiction?
edit on 12-7-2012 by jmdewey60 because: (no reason given)