Home > Uncategorized > Ehrman & Carrier: the historical Jesus (10)

Ehrman & Carrier: the historical Jesus (10)

This post continues from the original post in this series.

Carrier’s Roundup

Richard Carrier has posted his interpretation of the exchanges between himself and Bart Ehrman on the subject of the historicity of Jesus. Carrier’s description of these exchanges is open to criticism.

Doherty and scholars

Richard Carrier: “Ehrman wrote that Earl Doherty “quotes professional scholars at length when their views prove useful for developing aspects of his argument, but he fails to point out that not a single one of these scholars agrees with his overarching thesis,” which is simply false.”

Carrier misrepresents Ehrmans by truncating what he wrote. Ehrman said Doherty cites scholars in support of his specific thesis that Paul thought Jesus was crucified by demons in a spiritual realm, without saying that these scholars disagree with Doherty’s overarching thesis that ‘Jesus was crucified in the spiritual realm’. There is abundant evidence that Ehrman is correct on this point. See more here.

Ehrman on Tacitus

Richard Carrier: “Ehrman falsely claims that no “trained classicists or scholars of ancient Rome” have ever questioned the authenticity of the reference to Christ in Tacitus.”

Ehrman did not claim that. Here is what Ehrman actually wrote.

Bart Ehrman: ‘Some mythicists argue that this reference in Tacitus was not actually written by him—they claim the same thing for Pliny and Suetonius, where the references are less important— but were inserted into his writings (interpolated) by Christians who copied them, producing the manuscripts of Tacitus we have today. (We have no originals, only later copies.) I don’t know of any trained classicists or scholars of ancient Rome who thinks this, and it seems highly unlikely’.

Erhman is referring explicitly to the specific interpolation theory he describes, and he says ‘I don’t know of any trained classicists or scholars of ancient Rome who think this‘. He does not say ‘No trained classicsists or scholars of ancient Rome have ever questioned the authenticity of the reference to Christ in Tacitus’. See more here.

Erhman on sources

Richard Carrier: “Ehrman falsely claims “the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus were recent events” (of the 30s A.D.) is “the view of all of our sources that deal with the matter at all.””

This is misleading. Ehrman then goes on to list exactly which sources he is referring to; the four canonical gospels, the gospel sources, and the non-Christian sources such as Josephus and Tacitus. Ehrman was referring to the sources he was about to enumerate in the same paragraph as this sentence.

Carrier wrongly takes Ehrman to task for not mentioning writings which didn’t exist until 300 years and more after Jesus lived, and which are typically not regarded by scholars as sources for the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. The only scholars Carrier cites who treat these sources as valid sources for the historicity and history of Jesus, are those Carrier acknowledges himself are ‘fringe’. See more here.

Ehrman on Osiris

Richard Carrier: “Ehrman falsely claims that Osiris “return[ing] to life on earth by being raised from the dead” is a fabrication because “no ancient source says any such thing about Osiris (or about the other gods).” “

Actually Ehrman addressed Carrier’s claim that Osiris ‘did indeed return to earth in his resurrected body’. The specificity was Carrier’s; he said explicitly ‘in his resurrected body’. Erhman disproved this claim, and Carrier immediately abandoned this original claim for a new one.

Originally Carrier claimed Osiris is a legitimate parallel to Jesus because they both returned to earth in their resurrected body. When Ehrman proved Osiris didn’t return to earth in his resurrected body, Carrier dropped that claim and switched to a completely different claim, that Osiris is a legitimate parallel to Jesus because neither of them returned to earth in their resurrected body.

First Carrier said Osiris and Jesus are both said to have returned to earth in their resurrected body, and then he claimed neither of them are said to have done so. Then Carrier said that the difference wasn’t important anyway, despite the fact that this difference was a point he himself appealed to previously. See more here.

Well poisoning?

Richard Carrier: “Ehrman neatly combines a no-true-Scotsman fallacy with a fallacy of poisoning the well, by (perhaps unintentionally) misrepresenting my credentials (saying my Ph.D. is in “classics” and not, as it is in fact, “history” with a specialization in ancient religion and historiography), thus making it seem as if I’m less qualified to discuss this subject than I am.”

This is a highly misleading representation of what Ehrman wrote. Despite referring wrongly to Carrier’s degree as being in classics, Ehrman said the complete opposite of what Carrier claims. Here are Ehrman’s words:

Bart Ehrman:Richard Carrier, who along with Price is the only mythicist to my knowledge with graduate training in a relevant field (Ph.D. in classics from Columbia University)”

Carrier has represented Ehrman as saying the opposite of what he actually said. He did not commit a ‘no-true-Scotsman’ fallacy, nor did he commit the fallacy of poisoning the well. He identified Carrier as having graduate training in a relevant field. Carrier promptly represented him as saying the opposite.

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