Wednesday, February 01, 2017

On the Literacy of Richard Carrier

Image result for hulk incredibleIn my recent book, Jesus is No Myth: The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels, I offer a series of arguments for the truth of the first four books of the New Testament that everyone seems to agree are pretty novel.  Craig Blomberg, Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary, credits me with "a rare combination of forms of expertise," adding that "support for the credibility of Christianity can be found here that is available nowhere else."  Tim McGrew, head of the Department of Philosophy at Western Michigan, who may know as much about the history of Christian argumentation as anyone alive, wrote of the book's "fresh insights, penetrating analysis, and dry wit."

My first hostile reviewer seems to agree -- on the originality of the book, at least!  

Richard is author of On the Historicity of Jesus, a sort of "scholarly manifesto" for mythicism.  He was also my recent, virulently hostile debate partner on Justin's Unbelievable radio program, after which he posted a long, blistering review of both debate and book in which he expressed a wish that I die painfully.  

Carrier also admits the originality of Jesus is No Myth.  Only he sees that originality as a  mortal weakness, as proof that the book is unscholarly trash.  

And its author?  A liar.  Adjectives referring to reproduction and the afterlife are affixed to the noun "liar" when Carrier feels the need for emphasis.  Marshall is a liar who spits in the face of Moses warning against bearing false witness.  (A rare poetic touch in Carrier's work!)  A fellow who would improve the world by dying in a fire.

Let us count that as a negative review.

Which is thrilling, in a way.  In 21 years of writing books, this is my first known full-length negative review by anyone with a PhD.  (Hector Avalos has sniped around the edges a bit.)  Odd that it should come just after we finished a heated on-air discussion!  Apparently Carrier didn't feel our conversation went exactly as he had hoped? 

But Jesus is No Myth does contain many new arguments, and I'm eager to see how they do against someone as motivated and enterprising as Richard  "True gold fears no fire."  Let's see if the nuclear heat off Richard's raw melt-down manages to liquidate any of my arguments.

Or might Richard Carrier's scholarly objectivity lie in more danger?  

A few years ago philosopher Timothy McGrew and I argued, in a chapter of True Reason, that Carrier does not always represent ancient texts with perfect fidelity.  Maybe he's just nearsighted.  Maybe those crumbly old texts are just too hard to make out clearly!  My book is brand spanking new.  Let's see how well he reads it!

In earlier posts, I pointed to five errors Carrier committed in the first 50 minutes of our debate, and to twenty-five errors in his review of that debate.   

The rest of that same post is a review of Jesus is No Myth.   

Unlike Richard Carrier, who seems hate quoting me directly, I have nothing to fear from his words.  So I will quote most of his review, below, and in Part II of this analysis.  

Along the way, I'll number three things: Carrier's own errors (1, 2, 3 . . . ); purported errors on my part that are not described clearly enough to substantiate or rebut (1b, 2b, 3b . . . ); and errors on my part that Carrier substantiates (1c, 2c, 3c . . . ).  

The Godawful Book

Marshall’s Jesus Is No Myth! is full of crappy and illogical arguments, even bizarre crankery.  It has no coherent organization (1)rarely cites or addresses peer reviewed literature in any substantive or accurate way (2), and never once describes my book’s theory or the argument I make for it (3)—nor does he do so for any theory of ahistoricity, rendering his book completely useless for its one stated purpose: to defend historicity against its critics (4). Thus by any standard, garbage.
(1) The organization of the book is actually quite simple and clear.   The book has four parts:  
(I) Jesus is No Myth begins by addressing three popular modern critics of the gospels: Reza Aslan, Richard Carrier, and Bart Ehrman (ACE).  Aside from rebutting some of their central arguments about Jesus, and describing problems with their scholarship, it uses their work to introduce the central questions of my own book: (1) Who was (is) Jesus?  (2) Are there good historical reasons or criteria to trust the gospels, and (3) How do works which these and other skeptics find analogous to the gospels, compare on those criteria?
(II) The central part of the book introduces and analyzes 30 such criteria, all of which define the canonical gospels and (I argue, in a preliminary way) show that that they are historically credible. 
(III) The final main portion of the book then compares numerous ancient works, many of which have been offered as analogies to the gospels, by Carrier and others, on those 30 criteria, finding that none shares many of those "fingerprints of God on the gospels."  
(IV) I then conclude by pointing out that looking at the gospels from a Far Eastern perspective, as Carrier urges us to do, undermines the skeptical claim that the theological content of the gospels can be explained merely as borrowing from Near Eastern myths, and renders the Gospel message more universal and more remarkable.  
My argument may, in theory, be complete twaddle.  But its organization is certainly clear and coherent. And I clearly explain this outline in the introduction, xiv and xv.  A blind man could see it.  But not Richard Carrier.  
(2)  Jesus is No Myth is primarily a study of the gospels and ancient parallels, not the sort of oblique argument from authority which Carrier evidently favors.   But I do cite or "address" scholarship throughout the long portions of the book that are not direct analysis of primary materials -- even Carrier's, perhaps to the regret of some readers.  And I think I do so accurately -- but we'll see if Carrier can find any exceptions, which of course would be a service on his part.
(3).  "I bet you think this book is about you -- don't you, don't you!"  While Jesus is No Myth does refute Carrier's arguments, that is not its chief or only purpose, any more than the Navy Seal goal in raiding Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan was to kill mice in the walls.  And I refuted many of Carrier's main arguments, such as Rank Raglan, his critique of the Criteria of Embarrassment, and his theory of the Acts of Apostles.  That was enough, for my actual purposes, about which Carrier shows so much inexplicable confusion: 
(4)  "It's one stated purpose: to defend historicity against its critics."  
Uh, no.  That is not what my book is about.  At all. In fact, that is the one purpose I explicitly state the book is NOT about.  I make it clear, in a variety of ways that anyone with eyeballs and retinas should be able to recognize, that I have profound contempt for such a piddling authorial goal: 
(a) Yes, the title of the book is "Jesus is No Myth!"  But notice the verb tense.  Jesus is, not was, no myth.  I am not referring to a remote historical figure, but to the transcendent Christ introduced within the gospels. 
(b) Notice the subtitle: "The Fingerprints of God on the Gospels."  Not, "the fingerprints of historicity on the life of an obscure 1st Century figure."  I am referring to evidence for Jesus as divine -- not a nebulous "historical Jesus," but a historical Jesus who is as the gospels describe him. 
(c) Notice that of the four scholars I debunk, only Carrier is a mythicist.  And as he points out, I really don't bother to frame up the whole structure of his argument to topple it: I see my positive argument as more than enough to achieve that incidental goal. 
(d) The first sentence of the book is "Who was (or is) Jesus?"  Clearly solving that problem, not refuting Richard Carrier, is the "one stated purpose" of this book, and whether Jesus is an "is" or a "was" its essential question -- not whether Jesus is a "never has been."  
(e)  I explain all this in the introduction quite clearly: "I will argue that the historical Jesus does not require great intellect or scholarship to find, because he is not missing . . .  "  I am arguing, in other words, that the Jesus of the gospels is no myth, that the earliest Christian reports of the man are essentially accurate.  
(f) On page 19, introducing Carrier's own arguments, I write: "I do not find disproving so marginal a scholarly position as 'mythicism' worth much bother: we shall fry much bigger fish in this pan."  
Isn't that clear enough?  Far from being my "one stated purpose," disproving mythicism is the one purpose I explicitly and repeatedly state is not the goal of this book!  Carrier's crackpot theory is, I believe, destroyed by the facts I describe.  But like those mice in Osama bin Laden's hovel, its fate is mere collateral damage.   
 (g) And then there are the central portions of the book, which support my actual thesis: that the gospels are highly credible descriptions of the real historical Jesus, the divine Jesus, who is no myth.  
Among the many worthy causes in this world, one must list purchasing a seeing eye dog for Richard Carrier.

RC: "His book contains a constant stream of lies, of course. (5)  Not just the one I just documented. He also lies about me using Apollonius of Tyana (and Philostratus’s “Life” of him) as a parallel to Jesus (pp. 199-211). I never once do so anywhere in OHJ.  (6) He quotes me supposedly doing so in our debate (7), only by taking my remark out of context (8); but he is supposed to be addressing my peer reviewed case against historicity anyway, not casual offhand remarks (9). Anything else is a blatant straw man fallacy."
(5) Not my practice.  
(6) I never said Carrier makes that remark in On The Historicity of Jesus.  I make the context perfectly clear:

"When I met Carrier to debate the reasonableness of Christianity, I pressed him on the problem of parallels to the gospels.  I reminded him of how he had compared the 'miracle of the sizzling fish' (in the Greek historian Herodotus) to the Resurrection.  Carrier merely responded that he hadn't mentioned the fish during our debate.  But he suggested three new 'parallels' to consider."
All this is accurate, and describes our prior debate, a word it uses twice, NOT Carrier's book.  And then I quote Carrier's exact words offering his parallels to the gospels, including Apollonius.
Carrier's mis-citation here, accusing me of a "lie" no less, is astounding.    
(7) Not "supposedly."  Truly, as Carrier then admits.   
(8)  The context is accurately given.  
(9) Now here is an original excuse for publicly making a fabulous claim!  
"My original response to some of the arguments you give in this book, was a glib, off-the-cuff claim about supposed parallels to the gospels which I expressed with bombast and not a hint of doubt or caution before hundreds of people in Alabama.  I later bragged repeatedly about winning that debate, without ever letting out that some of my remarks were, in fact, utterly bogus, as I now in effect concede.  And I'm still bragging about winning that debate - I do in this very article!  And thousands or tens of thousands more have listened to what I said there on-line.  
"But it is utterly unfair to refute those public, and oft-bragged about remarks, no matter how completely bogus they were!   After all, I was only blowing smoke out of my nether regions!" 
And still are. 

RC: "In this month’s radio show Marshall balked at my suggesting that the Gospels have anything in common with Aesop’s Fables, even though I didn’t say the Fables, I said the Lives."
And admitted the error right away.  It didn't kill me.  How many times has Richard mentioned this one error, now?  I can't invest so much time into just one of his errors.   
RC: "Despite claiming  to have read my book,  he is evidently mysteriously unaware that it contains a whole numbered section on the parallels between the Gospels’ narratives and themes and those in the Lives of Aesop (again, not the Fables: “Element 46,” pp. 222-25). And indeed, in his book, where he claims to refute all parallels between the Gospels and other literature (10/ 1b), he never once mentions my comparison with the Lives.  So not only does he lie by misrepresenting the analyses he does try to denounce; he also lies by leaving out tons of analyses that undermine his book’s thesis, (11) even though he is falsely claiming to have addressed what we’ve argued—instead, he conspicuously dodges plenty of what we argue, and doesn’t tell his readers what he’s evaded or left out.
10. / 1b.   Do I really claim to refute all parallels in this book, as Carrier says I do?  I don't recall saying that.  This isn't my first book on the subject, after all.  In my previous books, I refute numerous other claimed parallels, including Epic of GilgameshIliad and the so-called "Gnostic Gospels."  And I am aware that I have not thoroughly dispensed of Dennis MacDonald's theory that Mark was deliberately copying from Homer.  
I don't think I said that.  But if Carrier can furnish a citation to that effect, though, I will gladly fix the over-statement (not, of course, "lie").  
11 /2b.  If there are any better parallels to the gospels, I'll be glad to analyze them in the same way.  It's a 310 page book, and cannot possibly cover everything.  But I analyzed the most popular, and have been traveling highways and biways for decades looking for decent parallels.
"His lies are also often compounded by idiocy.  For example, he includes a lengthy and embarrassing rant (12) against Frier’s Life Table, which exhibits average life expectancy in the ancient world using modern third world actuarial tables (which I then use in OHJ, “Element 22,” pp. 148-52), claiming I made up its contents (13), and that the table “can’t” be true because, he claims, the math in it entails crazy conclusions.  In fact, Marshall is just an idiot who sucks at math.  He makes egregious and embarrassing mistakes in reading the table, and his entire mathematical argument is a giant face-palm. (14 /3b)
12.  My analysis is dispassionate, with a hint of irony.  Not a "rant."
13. I do not claim Carrier made up this table.  In fact, I clearly say: 
"Richard Carrier often refers to a study, cited also on his web site, which claims an extraordinary high rate of death in the ancient world.  Carrier offers the following actuary data:" (JNM, 116)
Sometimes it really is hard not to use the word "lie."  But I am determined not to rob Richard of what seems to be his only intellectual weapon in this debate, and will leave it with him.  
But let the record show that "refers to" emphatically does not mean "made up."  I mention a "study" which clearly is not from Carrier himself.  And that I say this quite clearly, in the lines just above the data I cite from Carrier's website.  (Not from his book -- the reference is at the bottom of page 117.)
14 / 3b.  Egregious, face-palmable errors not explained.  I await with bated breath. 
"But the most shocking part of this is not his lousy math.  It’s that he is, again, a fucking liar. He clearly intimates that I just made this table up (14) and that it’s mathematically impossible. In actual fact he well knows it comes from the peer reviewed demographics literature.  He knows this because it says so, the sources fully cited, right atop the very page he is getting this from. That’s right. Frier’s Table is a real actuarial table built out of actual data taken from third world populations and published in standard peer reviewed demographics textbooks. If he thinks that table is impossible, he’s going to have to go argue with the actual professional demographers who built it. But more to the point, he conceals all this from his readers. That’s, again, lying.
I could continue listing lie after lie, but you get the point. Moving on…

Carrier gets a lot of mileage out of this one "lie -- he puts "lie" in two noun forms (one twice), in verb form, and adds a colorful adjective -- all based on his own patent failure to accurately read the words "refers to a study" in plain black and white on the pages of my book. 
    Marshall’s method consists of finding “stylistic and literary qualities” in the Gospels that prove they are historically true and accurate accounts and not literary constructs. (15)

    (15) Another bizarre and monumental misreading, which I corrected already during the debate itself.

    One of ten chapters in the central part of the book is entitled "Stylistic and Literary Qualities."  That chapter describes the 7 of 30 criteria which fall into this one category. 

    The other 23 do not! 

    But none of the “stylistic and literary qualities” he enumerates are peculiar to historically true books; (16) in fact they have no connection with how modern historians determine a source’s reliabilityHis method is wholly fabricated, and not even remotely based on how actual professional historians or literary critics do anything. (17) Marshall also confuses method with purpose, and structure with style  (4b); especially when he keeps misquoting me as saying many other works share “all” the qualities of the Gospels (31-34)meaning not every single conceivable property (despite his lying about my meaning that), but only the properties I was discussing at the time. (18)

    (16) I didn't say that all of those traits can only be found in historical texts.  This is a probabilistic argument: each criterion carries only part of the weight of the argument.  But Carrier overlooks Part III of the book, in which I compare the gospels on these traits to numerous works of ancient fiction.  My argument is empirical, not just logical.

    (17) I am an "actual historian."  And one thing historians are permitted to do, is come up with new arguments.  Though many of mine are, in fact, paralleled implicitly or explicitly in the literature.  (Some of them in work by Jesus Seminar fellows, others in conservatives scholars like Blomberg, while I cite Wright and the McGrews explicitly.) 

    Carrier is merely repeating the blurbs from Blomberg and McGrew about this book's originality, only seeing it as a vice rather than a virtue, and perhaps exaggerating it somewhat.  "I have never read these argument before, so they must be false."  You're so vain. 

    4b.  Again, we'll see if Carrier can offer any examples of my confusing these things.

    (18)  In our first debate, Carrier was not making an independent argument, but was criticizing an abbreviated form of the argument I now offer more fully.  So the question is not what Carrier's arguments were, but what my claims were.  Because I stated some of those traits, and mentioned there were a lot more, and it was in response to THAT that Carrier said these other works share "all the characteristics of the gospels."'

    The relevant "all" here must be traits that bear on the historicity of a given text.  Or, perhaps, since I was citing my earlier book, the 50 characteristics I show in that book that the gospels share.  Here is what I actually said in the debate:

    "I took the gospels and analyzed them according the 50 characteristics that define them. And then I compared them to ancient myth and works that contain myth, like The Epic of Gilgamesh, Hercules, the Iliad, the great Journey to the West in China, according to eight theological qualities, and 42 non-theological qualities. And I found that, again and again, the gospels tended to line up with historical works like Tacitus' Agricola, and most of all Confucius' Analects. In many of those 42 characteristics, the gospels not only lined up with the historical accounts, but exceeded them in historical value on all those characteristics.

    "Let me see if I can name a few of them quickly.
    Dramatic personae disappear in the gospels, they don't keep reappearing.

    Jesus overturns hierarchy.
    His unique, yes transcendent teachings, as most of the world recognizes, contrary to Richard Carrier's comments.
    Jesus notices individuals in a way most people don't in the ancient world.
    According to Walter Wink, the way his teachings about women, the way he treated women, was unique in the ancient world --"without parallel," are his exact words.
    There's a stylistic contrast between Jesus and the narrators, in the gospels.
    Jesus' radical dialogue with his culture."


    Carrier began by replying:

    "Now everything he says about the gospels is true of all kinds of faith literature in all religions.  He picks on certain kinds of examples that look different from the gospels.  But that's special pleading.  He's picking certain examples through selection bias to make his argument.

    "There are other examples that look more like the gospels, for example, the
    Book of Tobit. Or Plutarch's biography of Romulus. Or Philostratus' biography of Apollonius of Tyana. There are a lot of these examples of faith literature that look more like the gospels.  And if you wanted me to sit down and research and find the most similar example, I could. But it's not necessary. There's plenty of examples like this that have all the characteristics of the gospels."

    Carrier could have said "all the relevant characteristics," or "all the characteristics Marshall just mentioned," but he left it opened.  Contrary to his claim, I was charitable enough to reduce that to the traits relevant to our discussion, and especially the historically-relevant ones, which really matter in this context.

    However you take it -- even if you limit yourself just to the few traits I described explicitly in that debate -- Carrier's claim was bald-faced nonsense. 

    It is ridiculous, for instance, to claim that Apollonius of Tyana described a sage who treated women with revolutionary respect and kindness.  He generally seemed to avoid the female gender, in fact, aside from warning a young man against marrying a female vampire, and resuscitating one bride who had, apparently, fainted, and  a few such incidents. 
    RC: "All novels and myths have different messages and purposes and value schemes, and use different styles of presentation.  So finding differences in those properties tells us little to nothing about the underlying truth of what they’re saying.  What makes them the same in construct, meanwhile, is the method by which they are constructed.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s in prose or poetry, high style or low style, first person or third person, or any other trivial aesthetic variation.  They still use the same methods of communicating what they need: they are (a) biographical narratives represented as true, (b) yet they never name their sources, (c) or never critically discuss them (contrast the example I exhibit from Suetonius in Not the Impossible Faith, Chapter 7); (d) they are rife throughout with fabulous and improbable events; (e) they follow a deliberate story arc from introduction to climax; (f) they promote certain religious beliefs; (g) and they do so through a central hero. None of the differences Marshall looks at any of this. (19-20)

    19.  Actually, "story" (biographical narrative) and "represented as true" (a) are, in fact, two of my 30 criteria.  The first is the weakest of the 30, yet of some marginal value, for reasons I clearly explain.  More reading comprehension challenges on Carrier's part.  And of course a story represented as true, is far more likely to be true than one represented as an admitted tall tale.  So this is actually a small point in the gospels' favor. 

    20. Not one of the other five traits Carrier names here is of much value for ranking the historicity of a text.

    (b-c) Ancient Greek novels often name their sources, and even "critically discuss them," as I show.  But ancient history, including both Chinese and Hebrew history, often does not.  So that is not much help in determining historicity.

    (d) Craig Blomberg shows in considerable detail how credible many of the events described in the gospels are.  (The Historical Reliability of the Gospels.)  If Carrier is referring to miracles, of course that is the issue to be decided, and Craig Keener has shown that first-hand reports of miracles are common enough from reliable modern sources, as well.

    (e) The gospels follow a story arc?  They are, as Richard Burridge shows, typical of ancient biography, in focusing on key dramatic moments in Jesus' life.  Like Alexander the Great, Gandi, and Martin Luther King, Jesus did live a dramatic life, and one can hardly take marks against his biographers for noticing the drama ("story arc") that was his life.

    (f) Most Greek novels were actually pretty blasé about "promoting certain religious beliefs:" most were love stories, with religion a normal part of the background.  Carrier seems to be ignoring -- or misreading -- Part III of Jesus is No Myth. 

    (g) The gospels focus on a central hero?  Wow, how unique!  Think how different the dialogues and biographies of Socrates, Epictetus, Alexander, or Plutarch's Lives, would be if the authors found a hero to write about! 

    So sorry, Richard, aside from two criteria which I actually do use (opposite of how you think they should be used), not one of your criteria is of much use. 
    RC: "Contrary to his extended red herring fallacy, what real scholars actually use to identify myth and fiction are those properties I just listed—especially the impossibly ubiquitous occurrence of fabulous events throughout the narrative . . . 

    (Cut, various miracles from the gospels that Carrier relates in a mocking tone.) 
    "Need I go on? This is myth.  It’s exactly what myth looks like everywhere else.  And Marshall himself would call it myth had he read these same exact stories from any other religionHe would laugh at anyone who tried to argue him into believing those stories, using the same bogus stylistic analysis he attempts to scam us with himself.  (21) He would tell them that their stories never cite their sources (nor critically evaluate them), look a lot like other tales, follow a convenient propagandistic story arc, and are full of fabulous and improbable events, and therefore, even Marshall would say, they are clearly not true or accurate historical accounts of anything.  Likewise if he found all the same artificial structure and allegorical construction and emulation of prior myths (like those of Moses and Elijah) that I document in OHJ (e.g. pp. 396-506), none of which he ever even mentions in his book.

    (21)  Again, my analysis is not merely "stylistic."  That is a gross misreading.

    Carrier's argument here relies entirely on his own imagination, not on any empirical data.  He imagines there are some other texts that carry the 30 traits that I argue demonstrate the gospels to be historical.  Only the problem is, he can't find any such texts.  He has scoured the ancient world for gospel parallels, come up with obviously bogus parallels which I have (mostly) refuted already.  He gets angry when I mention his earlier blunders, and tries to pretend quoting him is somehow unfair!  Since he can't find any real parallels to the gospels, he asks the reader to imagine such texts exist. 

    He then asks to imagine what I would think of them, if they did exist.  Instead of engaging in such rampant speculation, let's cross that bridge if we ever come to it.  In 30 years of reading world literature, I have never come to anything remotely like the gospels -- and neither, evidently, has Richard Carrier. 
    RC: "Though Marshall will never tell you, real historians identify myth not by any of the stylistic features Marshall enumerates, but by quite different criteria (OHJ, pp. 389-95).  Which boil down to how much a narrative emulates prior myths and stories, how much it relies on fabulous and improbable events, and how little of its core features have any external corroboration (22) (OHJ, p. 394). The more a narrative hits all three of those criteria, the more likely its content is to be mythical. The clearest test case of that general point, for which we have the most, and most consistent, data, is the Rank-Raglan test (OHJ, pp. “Element 48,” pp. 229-34), which Marshall attempts a ridiculous rant against (I’ll examine that below).

    (22) Carrier accidentally stumbles on a third of my criteria here.  "External corroboration" is just another term for "multiple attestation," which I discuss, and argue strongly supports the Gospel story.   So it is ironic that Carrier rebukes me for distracting my readers from this important genuine criterion with my snake-oil quackery -- when that criterion is actually woven throughout the fabric of the book he pretends to be reviewing.   

    And as for "emulating prior myths and stories," again, the whole Section III of Jesus is No Myth, which Carrier apparently hasn't gotten to yet, analyzes those alleged parallels.  (As does my Jesus Seminar book).  
    RC: "Of Marshall’s thirty enumerated criteria, almost none relate to determining the historicity of a narrative. (23)  

    23.  An odd claim, since Carrier himself has just brought up at least three that I mention and faults me for not mentioning them -- not to mention many others that are frequently discussed by other scholars, whether Carrier has read those works or not.   

    RC: "They almost all relate to the authorial purpose in composing the story, which tells us nothing about whether the content they use to accomplish that purpose was historically true. The Gospels are counter-cultural fiction, and as such would be expected to do all the things Marshall marvels at (like criticize elite culture and values; make radical statements; claim prophecy has been fulfilled in unexpected ways) regardless of whether they did so with truths or fictions."

    This is all just empty assertion.
    RC: "Truthfully, the Gospels contain teachings no more radical than anything else taught by ancient Rabbis, Sages, and Cynic philosophers (OHJ, “Element 32,” pp. 173-75); even the Beatitudes are just a reworking of prior Jewish traditions (such as we’ve found at QumranOHJ, “Element 33,” pp. 175-77).  (24 / 5b)

    24. / 5b  The most profound ancient moralist I have found so far is the Stoic Epictetus.  He was no Jesus, though, and neither is any other ancient moralist I have found -- for reasons I give in this book.  But I'm always willing to consider new suggestions.

    RC: "But even if they have anything original in them, that does not entail it came from Jesus.  If Jesus could invent something impressively new, so could any Christian missionary.  No honest historian uses the criterion that “no one can ever have innovated radical ideas but Jesus.”  (25) That just isn’t a marker of historicity—anywhere, for anyone. Other than Christian fundamentalists.

    (25)  No honest historian would represent any of my criteria as saying that.   Of course I never say anything so ridiculous.  Carrier is jousting with straw men.   Which is why he provides practical no quotes of my actual arguments, throughout this long "review."  He has to make crap up, to stand a chance of winning the argument. 
    RC: "Of the few criteria Marshall relies on that bear any vague similarity to real criteria used to assess historicity, in not a single case does he ever rely on or address any of the peer reviewed literature regarding them, even though I cite and summarize that literature in Proving History (cf. Chapter 5), the book he claims to be responding to  (26)and no one can advance a discussion in the field who simply flat out ignores the entire present state of that discussion. (As for methods, BTW, I could also mention his ridiculous crank Chinese etymology (54) at the end of the book, which fully merits the classification of laughably bizarre, wherein he “proves” Jesus and the gospel were secretly hidden in ancient Chinese characters. But you don’t need me to explain why that’s delusional to the scale of hilarious.) (27)

    26.  This accusation dispatches itself.  Carrier claims that "in not a single case" do I "address any of the peer-reviewed literature regarding (these criteria)."  He then notes that I am responding to (ie, addressing) his own book partly on that topic -- which was (he often points out) peer-reviewed.

    So Carrier refutes himself. 

    Carrier also entirely overlooks chapters seven and eight, both of which describe criteria which established scholars have argued for.  NT Wright is one of the leading New Testament scholars in the world: he was even recognized by Marcus Borg as "the leading British" NT scholar. 

    So this claim is patent nonsense -- and of course I cite quite a few scholars.  But primarily, Jesus is No Myth is not an appeal to authority, but to the facts about ancient literature.  And it is also true that I purposely avoid flooding Jesus is No Myth with citations. 

    If my arguments are mistaken, then refute them, Richard.   I offer pages of historical reasons why the Argument From Embarrassment especially, which Carrier goes after with particular verve, is valid, regardless of what Carrier or anyone else thinks about it -- in agreement with I think most NT scholars, and many other historians.  And that includes, I show, Richard Carrier, who in practice uses CE without jumping through all the hoops that he demands others go through.   

    (27) As far as I know, Richard Carrier does not read Classical Chinese.  I have read almost all the Chinese classics in the original.  I studied under the scholar who wrote the chapter in the Cambridge History of Ancient China on classical Chinese language. 

    Carrier has a lot of nerve to accuse me of "ridiculous crank Chinese etymology."  Indeed, I don't engage in any etymology (the study of the origins and evolution of words) in that chapter.  Carrier again shows that he simply can't be bothered to read and understand a book he is determined to despise.    

    Marshall attempts some dishonest and illogical defenses of the traditional criteria (Jesus, pp. 66-81, 89-97), but I needn’t examine that further.  What I have already written in Proving History (Chapter 5, esp. pp. 124-69, “Criterion of Embarrassment,” and pp. 169-72, “Coherence,” and pp. 172-75, “Multiple Attestation”; also “Contextual Plausibility” and “Dissimilarity,” pp. 123-24, 137-38, 176) already refutes him(28) He also reveals considerable ignorance of classical literature—for instance, he seems not to know (in Jesus, pp. 68-70) that we have nearly a thousand epistles written by Cicero, by which we actually learn a great deal about his interests, beliefs, knowledge, sources, and concerns, precisely what we don’t have for any author of the Gospels. (29)

    28. I guess we'll just to have to take Richard's word for the fact that he understood my arguments this time, and already refuted them.   Considering the quality of his rebuttal so far, this seems like quite a leap of faith, though.   

    29.  Some background is needed here.  Carrier uses the Criterion of Embarrassment to support Cicero's alleged claim that Caesar crossed the Rubicon.  My point is that Carrier fails to show that his use of CE meets the eleven demands he says scholars should meet if they ever dare use the CE to support the gospels.  The issue here is not what historians may know about Cicero, but what Richard Carrier has actually established in defense of his argument.  And he has not established for Cicero's claims about Caesar crossing the Rubicon, any of what he says we need to establish, to use the CE as he insists it must be used.   So this is just a red herring, to distract from his own lack of trust in his own arguments. 

    RC: "And beyond outright ignorance, Marshall also deceives his readers by once again leaving out a great deal of the evidence and argument I present for my conclusions regarding these criteria, misrepresents what he does discuss, (30) and does not address any of the peer reviewed literature I cite and rely on for those conclusions. (He doesn’t even tell his readers that numerous leading experts have come to the same conclusions I have.) (31)  And then he builds absurd and illogical arguments that I think any non-insane person can see through without any help from me. (32)

    30.  Almost all the "misrepresentations" so far have been by Carrier, and some of them astoundingly awful.  More rank assertion, backed up by nothing.  And of course I "leave out" most of Carrier's 700 page book in my 310 page book that (despite his misreading) is not about him.  (You're so vain!) 

    31.  No, nor should I address Carrier's modern sources.  They are irrelevant.  Jesus is No Myth does not depend on arguments from authority: it establishes the truth of the gospels primarily through primary ancient literature.  I am using Richard Carrier's bad arguments as a foil, to tease out the truth about the criteria.  If his arguments fail (and I show that they belly-flop into a deep lagoon), they fail through their own lack of merits.   

    Frankly, I couldn't care less how many "leading experts" make the same errors that Carrier makes.  I critiqued the Jesus Seminar, Elaine Pagels, Karen King, and other liberal NT scholars in earlier books.  I also take Bart Ehman and Reza Aslan (neither of whom Carrier has mentioned so far -- "you're so vain") to task in about equal measure here.  If vague arguments from authority had any force in this field, one could simply say, "Almost the whole world of scholarship thinks mythicism is totally out to lunch," and have done with Carrier's books in one sentence.  Carrier is cutting his own throat by appealing to vague scholarly opinion against my direct citations of the primary evidence. 

    32.  Apparently all my other credentialed reviewers are insane.    So sad.  

    We continue our analysis here

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